Polygamy was practised in its worst form before the emergence of Islam. It imposed no limit on number of wives a man could have. Many men had over one hundred wives. There was no law to restrict the number. These women had no rights to food, love, clothes, protection and inheritance. At a time like this when such practices were deep rooted in the customs of the nations, the MessangerB.A.P.U.H of Allah brought gradual and smooth order into this practice. HeB.A.P.U.H bore great hardship and personal sacrifice upon himself by supporting multiple needy and impoverished women.

Those who assess and judge this practice in the light of present day luxurious life style where excess of wealth, drinking and adulterous behaviour is common, forget that social advancement, sexual freedom and such rights of the women are the major factors which are forcing them into prostitution hardship and frustration. The poor or modern slaves and their spouses are more vulnerable to the great evil of adultery. Every day we hear accusations of sexual harassment by head of state, ministers and members of clergy, co-workers in factories and the public against women.

We all know why such things happen. It is the dual life style and character of these people, which makes them indulge in such behaviour. They have invented their own standards of morality, freedom and values of life. The Muslims with permission from the Lord marry more women and take full responsibility of children and maintenance. On the other hand his counterpart Western men in their free for all premarital and post marital affairs are as a rule polygamous and take no responsibility.

The Holy ProphetB.A.P.U.H took eleven women into matrimonial bondage at different times in different places under different circumstances. A brief account of his marriages and its background is presented here. Some of these details will be a repetition but it could not be avoided.

One must realise that it is during young age when the body is physically at its best. The desire for opposite sex is also maximum. It is proven in science that anxiety or over work reduces this urge. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H did not have the urge for another woman while married to KhadijahR.A for 25 years. Multiple marriages contracted during the period when he was old and under immense pressure with stress of wars, siege of Medina and religious duties could not be to fulfil his worldly desire? He is known to have kept himself awake in prayers night after night until Allah Subhan directed him (Surah Muzzamil) that he must take rest during the night. How could he have time to spare for human desire?


O thou folded

In garments


Stand (to prayers) by night,

But not all night,


Half of it,

Or a little less,


Or a little more;

And recite the Qur-an

In slow, measured rhythmic tones.

(Surah Muzzammil V-1-4)

His first wife KhadijahR.A was born in 556 AD i.e. 15 years before the year of the elephant and the birth of our ProphetB.A.P.U.H. Her father Khawalid bin Asad belonged to the famous tribe of Banu-Asad. Her first husband was Abu Hala bin Nias-Bin Zarara Tamimi. She had two sons from this husband named Hind and Hala.

Her second husband was Attiq bin Ayed Mukhzoomi. She had one daughter from this husband. Her both husbands died.

Once she dreamt that the sun had descended into her house and there was no house left unlit in the city Makkah. When KhadijahR.A told this dream to her cousin Warqa bin Noafal, he explained the dream as prediction to the sacred marriage of KhadijahR.A with MuhammadB.A.P.U.H. He was 25 years old at that time while KhadijahR.A was a widow and 40 years old.

Six children were born from this wedlock, two sons and four daughters i.e. Qasim, ZainabR.A, RuqqayahR.A, KalsoomR.A and FatimaR.A were born before the Prophethood while another son Abdullah was born after the Prophethood. He died at the age of two. MuhammadB.A.P.U.H was 40 years old when Gabrael told him in the cave of Hira that he was the messenger of God.

KhadijahR.A used to bring meals to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H herself inspite of the fact that she had many servants. Once Gabrael told the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, that Allah has granted a beautiful house of pearls to KhadijahR.A in heavens.

KhadijahR.A died at the age of 65 after having been happily married to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for 25 long years. The date she died was 10th of Ramadan.

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H showed great compassion and consideration for the character and good nature of KhadijahR.A. The consideration of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H is altogether different from the consideration of any young and handsome worldly man. He remained devoted and loyal to his chosen wife and did not indulge in polygamy while KhadijahR.A was alive.

His second wife SoudhaR.A bint Zumha belonged to the Quraysh family and the tribe of Amer bin Loue. She was married to Sukran bin Umro and had the unique honour of being the first lady of this tribe who embraced Islam. She had a son named Abdul Rehman from this husband. Once SaudhaR.A dreamt that the ProphetB.A.P.U.H of Allah came to her house and put his foot over her neck.

Her husband died when she was 50 years old. Khaulah bint Hakeem who used to look after the Prophet’sB.A.P.U.H household asked for the marriage of SaudhaR.A to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. It was the month of Shawal in the 10th year of the Prophethood when she got married. She joined the ProphetB.A.P.U.H seven months after he had reached Medina. SaudhaR.A treated all fellow wives with love affection and without jealousy.

SaudhaR.A knew the craft of making leather goods. She was quite well off on account of leather goods trade. She was a great Philanthropist person. She would distribute to the poor whatever she earned.

She died in the 14th Hijra year at the ripe age of 72 years. She is buried in the Baqee graveyard.

Her marriage to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H was primarily for looking after the day to day responsibilities of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H where four small children had to be cared and looked after by some body. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H married a fifty-year-old woman when he could have married a younger woman. He was very busy and working hard for the spread of the new religion. The Prophet’sB. A.P.U.H considerations for marriage are different from ordinary man. His wife was so old that she voluntarily gave her matrimonial rights to the fellow wives. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H never divorced her.

Women could freely meet and discuss personal and worldly matters without any veil or reservation at that time like other women the ladies of the Prophet’sB. A.P.U.H house also went out freely for business, visiting their relatives and to attend the matters relating to natural call. Until such time (Surah Ahzab) Verses 32-33 were revealed.



O Consorts of the Prophet!

Ye are not like any

Of the (other) women:

If ye do fear (God),

Be not too complaisant

Of speech, lest one

In whose heart is

A disease should be moved

With desire: but speak ye

A speech (that is) just.


And stay quietly in

Your houses, and make not

A dazzling display, like

That of the former Times

Of ignorance; and establish

Regular Prayer, and give

Regular Charity; and obey

God and His Apostle.

And God only wishes

To remove all abomination

From you, ye Members

Of the Family, and to make

You pure and spotless.

(Surah Ahzab, V-32-33)

His third wife AyeshaR.A bint Abu Bakr belonged to the tribe Tayem bin Mairah-Bin Kaab. Her father was a cloth Merchant.

When the Messenger of Allah was born on first Rabi-ul-Awal. The year was named the year of the Elephant. This year was also named as First Muhammedee year. On the first Rabi-ul-Awal of the second Muhammadee year the ProphetB.A.P.U.H became one year old. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H got married to KhadijahR.A on 26th Muhammadee year i.e. the age of 25 years. He migrated to Medina in 54th Muhammadee year i.e. at 53 years of age and died in 64th Muhammadee year i.e. at 63 years of age.

AyeshaR.A was born in the 26th Muhammadee year. She was five years old when MuhammadB.A.P.U.H became ProphetB.A.P.U.H in 41 Muhammadee year i.e. at the age of 40. She married the Messenger of Allah in 51 Muhammadee year i.e. at the age 15 and she migrated to Medina in 54 Muhammadee year when she was 18 years. She moved into the Prophet’sB. A.P.U.H house at the age of 19 years. When the ProphetB.A.P.U.H died in 64 Muhammadee year or 10th Hijra. AyeshaR.A had completed 28 years of age.

Ayesha’sR. A age is further confirmed by the Ahadees or practised traditions of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. All aspects of ProphetB.A.P.U.H life style become traditions and are followed by his followers. Not a single example is available in Islamic history amongst the four caliphs and many centuries after them where a true follower of Islam married a 6-year or 9 year old. This is the reason why the age used in this book is 19 years. AyeshaR.A remained married to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for 8 years.

The house where AyeshaR.A moved with her husband consisted of one room that was 15 feet wide and 12 feet long. Its walls were made from earthen bricks and its roof was built with branches of date trees and their leaves. Blankets were placed over the roof to prevent rain, water from entering the house. There was a room on the second story adjacent to this house.

The furniture in the house consisted of a bed, a mat of palm leaves, one leather pillow, filled with skin of the date leaves, two pots to store flour and dates one pot for storage of water and a glass for drinking water.

Ayesha’sR.A position amongst other wives is unique as the angel Gabrael showed the ProphetB.A.P.U.H her picture and gave Allah’s massage to marry her. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H received Gabrael in her house with Surah’s of Quran. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H died in this house and he is also buried there.

After the death of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H Ayesha’sR.A father Abu BakrR.A became the Caliph. His Caliphhood remained for two years three months and ten days.

After the death of Abu BakrR.A, UmarR.A became the Caliph, he was stabbed and died. Both close friends of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H are buried in Aysha’sR.A house. After Umar UsmanR.A became the Caliph he was also martyred and AliR.A became the Caliph. After AliR.A HassanR.A became the Caliph.

It was Caliph Ameer Moaivia bin Abi Sufyan who followed HassanR.A and brought all factions of Muslims together. His caliphood started in 41st Hijrah in the month of Rabi-ul-Awal.

In 57th Hijra year AyeshaR.A fell seriously ill and on 17th of Ramadan died at the age of 73. She is buried in Baqee’s graveyard.

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H had no say in this marriage since Gabrael had showed him her picture and told him that she is your bride. AyeshaR.A was such a special person that Allah Subhan interfered to settle the intrigue created by some intrigures by revealing her innocence.


Those who brought forward the lie are a body

Among yourselves; think it not

To be an evil to you

On the contrary it is good

For you: to every man

Among them (will come The punishment) of the sin

That he earned, and to him

Who took on himself the lead

Among them, will be

A Penalty grievous.

(Surah Al-Nur; V-11)

Similarly in the verse 12 of the same Surah is given:


Why did not the Believers---

Men and Women---When ye

Heard of the affair,---put

The best construction on it

In their own minds

And say, "This (charge)

Is an obvious lie"?

(Surah Al-Nur; V-12)

And in the verse 13 is said:


Why did they not bring

Four witnesses to prove it?

When they have not brought

The witnesses, such men,

In the sight of God,

(Stand forth) themselves as liars!

(Surah Al-Nur; V-13)

All actions of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H are with Allah’s consent and there is no way out for him His love, care and regard for AyeshaR.A can be explained for his obedience and complete submission to Allah’s will.

His fourth wife HafsahR.A bint Umar belonged to the tribe of Bani Adi, and was previously married to Khanais-bin-Hazafa, who died in the battle of Badr. HafsahR.A was now a widow and only 21 years at this time.

She married the ProphetB.A.P.U.H of Allah in the month of Shahban in the third Hijrah year. She was well-educated person. She used to record the Surah of the Holy Quran on paper and keep in safety. She kept these pages with her throughout her life. When the ProphetB.A.P.U.H died she was 24 years old she spent seven and a half years as Prophet’sB. A.P.U.H companion. Writing and compilation of the Holy Quran was done with Hafsah’sR.A help. She died at the age of 63 in 45th Hijrah year at the time of Caliph Ameer Maavia.

She could read and write. Temperamentally she was hot tempered due to which people were reluctant to marry her. She lost her husband in very young age. Her father a close friend of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H was worried about her wellbeing. This marriage helped Islam as it was Hafsah’sR.A efforts to write and save Quranic Surah which later helped Caliph UsmanR.A to compile the first complete manuscript of written Quran. She remained with the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for 7 years and six months only.

His fifth wife ZainabR.A bin Khizeemah was previously married to Ubaid bin Al-Haris who died in the battle of Badr. She married again to Abdullah bin Hajush. He was also killed in the war. She was a widow again. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H married her when she was fifty. She lived only for eight months and died in the month of Rabi-ul-Akher in the 4th Hijra year.

This marriage to a widow who was living in hardship having lost two previous husbands in the war was on compassionate grounds only.

His sixth wife Ume-SalmaR.A bint Abi Umayyah was previously married to Abu Salma who died because of a wound sustained in the battle of Uhud on the third Jamadi-ul-Sani in fourth Hijra. She had four small children from this husband and no one to support. She was only 30 years old at this time. She married the ProphetB.A.P.U.H in the month of Shawal in the fourth Hijrah. After marriage she moved into the house vacated by ZainabR.A, who had died six months ago. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H looked after four children too. She died in 59th Hijrah year at the age of 80 years.

This marriage too was motivated by compassion where a young widow with four small children and no one to look after got a home and sustenance for her and her children.

His seventh wife ZainabR.A bint Hajush was first cousin of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H and quite beautiful. If the ProphetB.A.P.U.H had wished to marry her, he could have done so without any difficulty. He requested her to consent for marriage to his adopted son and freed slave Zayd with whom she got married but could not get along well. This marriage ended in divorce. Her marriage to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H was motivated by submitting to Allah’s will where in (Surah Ahzab) tradition to refuse marriage with adopted son’s divorcee was rejected and to defy law of inheritance prevailing for adopted son.


God has not made

For any man two hearts

In his (one) body: nor has

He made your wives whom

Ye divorce by Zihar

Your mothers: nor has He

Made your adopted sons

Your sons. Such is (only)

Your (manner of) speech

By your mouths. But God

Tells (you) the Truth, and He

Shows the (right) Way


Call them by (the names Of) their fathers: that is

Juster in the sight of God.

But if ye know not

Their father’s (names, call

Them) your Brothers in faith,

Or your Maulas.

But there is not blame

On you if ye make

A mistake therein:

(What counts is)

The intention of your hearts:

And God is Oft-Returning,

Most Merciful

(Surah Ahzab, V-4-5)

His eighth wife JavairiaR.A bint Haris was the daughter of Haris of Umro-bin-Amer who belonged to Yemen where Queen Sabha ruled those days. Her father was settled in Hajjaz. Haris was the leader of his tribe.

Her name given by her father was Burah. When she grew older, she married a man named Musahfah. Her father Haris bin Abi Zarar and her husband Musahfah were deadly against the Muslims and the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. Her husband was killed in the Battle of Bani Mutlik but her father fled away from the scene. In this battle six hundred prisoners were taken amongst whom was Burah the daughter of the Chief of the tribe. She was given to Salit bin Qais Ansari as maid. She protested in front of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, and said, "She is daughter of a chief of the tribe, and not used to being a slave and maid servant".

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H paid money for her freedom and set her free, she was so moved by this noble gesture of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H that she refused to go to her father but to stay in service of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H asked her hand in marriage and sent a massage to her father who happily agreed. When she married the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, she was 20 years old. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H changed her name from Burah to JavariaR.A. The father of Burah was so moved by these acts of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H that he also embraced Islam. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H set free forty more slaves of this tribe. When other Muslims came to know of this gesture, they all set free their slaves and thus this great tribe embraced Islam and became a great source of strength for the Muslims.

When the ProphetB.A.P.U.H died JavairiaR.A was 21 years old. She lived with the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for one year only. She died at the age of 71 years in the 56th Hijrah year. She is buried in the Baqee graveyard.

Javairia’sR.A family and her tribesmen were strong and deadly opponent of the Islam and the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. Her marriage to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H helped conversion of whole of this strong tribe. These new converts became a source of great strength for future spread of Islam in the region.

His ninth wife Ume-HabibahR.A bint Abu Sufyan was named Rumla. She was married to Ubaid Ullah. When atrocities of Quraysh of Makkah against Muslims increased, Rumla and Ubaid Ullah migrated to Hubsha, where Najashi was the king. Ubaid Ullah impressed by the wealthy way of life of Christians in the Kingdom, revoked his faith and became a Christian. Rumla divorced him and started to live there as a widow.

The king of Hubsha embraced Islam in the sixth Hijrah year on the invitation of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. When the ProphetB.A.P.U.H learnt that Ume HabibahR.A was living in Hubsha in great hardship, he sent a proposal to the king Najashi to ask her hand in marriage. She happily agreed to this proposal. She had a daughter named Habibah from her previous husband. Ume HabibahR.A was 36 years old when she married with the ProphetB.A.P.U.H.

Her father was Abu Sufyan, the chief of Quraysh of Makkah. He once came to meet with the ProphetB.A.P.U.H in Medina. He had met her daughter after 14 years. She refused him the privilege to sit on the bed of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, as he was non-Muslim and unclean.

He was very upset on this behaviour of her daughter. He later embraced Islam, and took part in the battle of Yarmouk in Caliph Usman’s time. He lost his second eye in this battle. His first eye was lost in the Battle of Ta’if. He died in the third Hijrah year at the age of 96 years. He is buried in the Baqee graveyard.

Ume HabibahR.A died at 74 years of age in the 44th Hijrah. She is buried in the house of Caliph Ali’R.As house in Medina.

Abu Sufyan was chief of the Quraysh of Makkah. He was also a great opponent of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H and Islam. His daughter, who had migrated to Hubsha along with other Muslims, was divorced and living there in hardship. Her marriage to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H relieved her hardship and brought her father and his relatives under the umbrella of Islam. This marriage was motivated by political reasons and for the cause of Islam.

His tenth wife SafiaR.A bint Haye was the daughter of Haye bint Akhtab who was a great scholar of Taura and chief of Banu Naseer. He broke the pact reached between the ProphetB.A.P.U.H and the Jews of the neighbouring tribes of Medina. When expelled from Medina, he was accepted as chief of the Jews of Khyber. He was from amongst the direct descendants of Prophet Haroon the real brother of the Prophet Moses.

SafiaR.A was married to Salam bint Mushkum who belonged to the Tribe of Banu Qareenta. He was a great swordsman and a poet. There was great disparity amongst the views of SafiaR.A and her husband. They were divorced soon after their marriage. Soon she married again to Kunana bin Rabeeh bin Abi-Alhaqeeq.

Haye-Ibn-i-Akhtab broke his pledge for the third time and joined Quraysh of Makkah and other tribes to attack Medina in the Battle of Moat. This was a sever violation of the pledge where Jews had agreed not to fight against Muslims. When the siege of Medina was broken and the Jews were forced to retreat, the ProphetB.A.P.U.H was informed about the continuos intrigue of Banu Qareenta. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H perused and surrounded their tribe to stop them from further intrigue. He rounded up their men and killed them in the battle. Their women and children were taken captives.

After the death of Haye-Ibn-i-Akhtab, Kanana bin Rabee, the second husband of SafiaR.A became the chief of Jews of Khyber and continued his intrigues against the Muslims. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H attacked them in their fortresses in Khyber to put an end to their intrigues forever.

The Jews of Khyber surrendered and accepted their defeat. The land confiscated from Jews of Banu Naseer and other Jews of Medina was returned to the Jews of Khyber on the condition that they would cultivate and give half of its yield to the Muslims. After the Battle of Khyber ended, SafiaR.A whose husband had been killed in the battle was taken captive.

She was brought before the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. As she was the daughter of the chief of Banu Naseer and Banu Kareenta, the ProphetB.A.P.U.H paid money for her freedom and set her free.

She accepted Islam instead of returning to her people. She decided to stay with the ProphetB.A.P.U.H who married her in the month of Jamadi-ul-Awal in the seventh Hijra year.

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H stayed in Khyber for few days where Jews invited him on a feast. A Jewish woman added poison in the cooked meat and offered to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. When SafiaR.A married the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, she was 17 years old. She remained married to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for four years. She died at the age of 60 and is buried in the Baqee graveyard.


She was Jewish by religion and daughter of a Jew scholar well respected in the Jewish community of Arabia. Her marriage to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H put an end to the intrigues of Jews and the relations between Muslims and Jews improved considerably. She remained married to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for four years only.


His eleventh wife MaimoonaR.A bint Haris was daughter of the Haris Ameria Hilalia of the tribe of Qais-bin Eilan. Her given name was Burah. She was previously married to Masood bin Umer bin Ameer, which soon ended in divorce. Burah married again to Abu Duham bin Abdul Azee who also died soon. She had no children from these marriages.

She married the ProphetB.A.P.U.H while he was in Makkah performing Umra. The ProphetB.A.P.U.H changed her name from Burah to MaimoonaR.A. He was 59 years old at that time. She was the last woman whom he married. After this marriage all members of the tribe of Halab bin Amer became close and faithful allies of the Muslims.

On 29th of the month of Sufar Almuzapher in the 11th Hijra year the ProphetB.A.P.U.H got swear headache when he returned from a funeral. He was with Maimoona in her house during this illness but later moved to the house of AyeshaR.A.

She remained married to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H for three years and three months only. She was 39 years old when the ProphetB.A.P.U.H died. MaimoonaR.A died in the 51st Hijrah year at the age of 81 years. She is buried near Makkah where she met the ProphetB.A.P.U.H after marriage.

The timing of this marriage had great political benefit for Islam. MaimoonaR.A was closely related to Prophet’sB. A.P.U.H uncle Abbas, Khalid bin Walid and many important elders and leaders of Quraysh who were instrumental in sever opposition to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H and his religion. This marriage helped in rekindling the old Quraysh bondage’s and reconcile differences.


Islam and Polygamy

There is almost consensus of opinion that Islam allows polygamy. However it is permission and not the order or commandment of the Quran that a Muslim male should indulge in polygamy. Islam in fact did not introduce polygamy. Polygamy had been recognised and established institution in almost all-human societies since times immemorial. Polygamy has existed among the Hindus, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Athenians, Hebrews, Romans and even in Christians. At the advent of Islam, it was existing among the pagan Arabs in its worst form. Though Islam also maintained the polygamy, but it introduced many steps to reform this institution. Number of wives was restricted at four and the permission tied up with the condition of justice and equal treatment with all wives.

In recent times, Islam’s permission of polygamy has been subjected to much hostile criticism not only by its traditional non-Muslim opponents but also by some Western-educated Muslim thinkers who view this permission as an encroachment upon the rights of women. However, this notion is altogether misconceived, because polygamy in itself is not an evil for in some cases it becomes a real cultural, social and moral necessity.

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H in his lifetime took eleven women in marriage. Majority of these marriages as described above were contracted due to cultural, social, political and moral necessity. In war when a large number of men are killed, the women outnumber men and in this situation, polygamy becomes a social and economic necessity. In case of chronically ill and infertile wife, polygamy prevents break up of marriage as the husband can contract another wife to have children. Polygamous instinct of men as compared to women is also recognised in science. Restriction of number of marriages to one for some men would most certainly encourage society to embark on adultery and prostitution. The modern world where such restrictions have been legally imposed is full of evidence to such evils.

It is universally recognised that laws, orders and limitations imposed on ordinary people are not enforced on special people chosen from among the people by themselves or by the Almighty Allah. Let us first take the rights of the leaders chosen by people such as kings, presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and general managers. They all enjoy special privileges, usually defined by the constitution or parliament of the country. When we do not object to these privileges given to ordinary men, how can we question the privileges given to the prophets?

There are many examples in history where ordinary laws were not applicable to the Prophets. Prophet Christ was born without a father with special divine act similarly Prophet Moses killed a non-follower without declaring war. He could not be punished by the law of the land, as it was not applicable on him.

Allah subhan has the final authority in changing not only the man made law as in the case of Prophet Moses but also the laws of nature, made by himself for all other human beings as in the case of birth of the prophet Christ.

All wives of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H helped to compile the most authentic traditions of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H, which were to be used for the generations of Muslim, men and women all over the world after his demise. His list of marriages included widows, freed and captive slaves, divorcees and Jewish women. What ProphetB.A.P.U.H does in his life becomes automatically a tradition to be followed by his fellows. Lot of those marriages he contracted were to set an example and a tradition for his followers for all times and circumstances. As regards numbers the prophets in the past had many wives therefore may be that Allah did not wish his ProphetB.A.P.U.H to limit this number and thus have some bearing on the other prophets. Situations are also subject to change in times of war, famine and peace and any tradition set by the ProphetB.A.P.U.H could have created problems for the future followers especially when MuhammadB.A.P.U.H was the last prophet to come.

The ProphetB.A.P.U.H did not have any shortage of young and beautiful wives if he had so wished for. The most important task for the ProphetB.A.P.U.H is to live and die for the cause for which he is chosen. His tolerance, resilience and patience in any of his personal actions are neither comparable nor matchable to any other mortal. He suffers extreme personal hardship for his cause. He starves, he bleeds, he migrates, he fights, he prays, he forgives and he marries for the pleasure and will of his Creator. He is chosen as his messenger to spread his laws and messages. His personal demands, wishes and pleasures have no say in front of the will of his Creator. To judge his actions the whole background of his mission has to be kept in mind.

The Holy Quran is quite clear on the number. Islam has restricted man’s right of contracting plural marriages to a maximum of four at a time, while the rights of wives in case of multiple marriages of the husband have been protected. The relevant injunctions of the Qur’an are:


If ye fear that ye shall not

Be able to deal justly

With the orphans,

Marry women of your choice,

Two, or tree, or four;

But if ye fear that ye shall not

Be able to deal justly (with them),

Then only one, or (a captive)

That your right hands possess,

That will be more suitable,

To prevent you

From doing injustice.

(Surah Al-Nisaa, V-3)


Ye are never able

To be fair and just

As between women,

Even if it is

Your ardent desire:

But turn not away

(From a woman) altogether,

So as to leave her (as it were)

Hanging (in the air).

If ye come to a friendly

Understanding, and practise

Self-restraint, God is

Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

(Surah Al-Nisaa, V-3,129)

Thus verse No. 3 of Surah Al-Nisaa gives permission of polygamy to man, but it restricts the maximum number of wives at four. The permission is also subject to the proviso that the husband must do justice with all the wives. ‘Adl’ or justice used in this verse has not been defined. However all the commentators of the Qur’an unanimously hold that justice in this verse means equal treatment in food, clothing and lodgement. But some consider that in addition to food, clothing and lodging there must be equal treatment in time allotted for love and affection also.

The Quran in its verse No. 129 of Surah Al-Nisaa, which has been reproduced above, holds that you cannot deal equally with all of your wives however much you wish. From this verdict of the Quran (which is in fact a true statement of the human nature) and the linking of permission with the condition of justice, some scholars believe that monogamy is the rule in Islam while polygamy is the exception.

Injunctions of the Quran regarding abolition of prostitution and other instruction pertaining to relations with the bondwomen have led some writers to believe that sexual relations outside the ambit of marriage are absolutely ruled out by Islam. According to them, cohabitation with bondwomen and slave-girls without marriage is unlawful.

Muhammad Asad, who is one of such thinkers, while commenting on verse 3 of Surah Al-Nisaa in his book, "The Message of the Quran" writes that condition of having maximum four wives is applicable in the case of free women as well as slave-girls. According to him, "Contrary to the popular view and the practice of many Muslims in the past centuries, neither the Quran nor the life-example of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H provides any sanction for sexual intercourse without marriage". Sexual relations with female slaves are permitted only because of marriage, and that in this respect there is no difference between them and free women.

All reverred ladies (wives) of the sacred house were looked after with great reverence and respect by the caliphs after demise of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H. They were given allowance of twelve thousand dirhams every year which most ladies distributed amonst the needy and poor. They kept hardly any thing for themselves. How the wives of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H are different from other ladies is also clear from the divine intervention in the case of SaudahR.A who was tall and heavy in build and therefore could be easily recognised. One day Caliph UmarR.A spoted her in the street and recognised her. She did not like this and reported the matter to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H who kept quite. Allah Subhan interfered and Surah Ahzab (Verses 32 & 33) were revealed to the ProphetB.A.P.U.H and the wives of the ProphetB.A.P.U.H were advised to stay quietly in their houses.

Detail of Marriages of ProphetB.A.P.U.H