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Muhammad’s Multiplicity of Marriages
The Quran limits the number of wives that a Muslim can have to four:
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three 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. S. 4:3
On at least two occasions Muhammad forced certain man who had more than four wives to divorce some of them:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar
Ghaylan ibn Salamah ath-Thaqafi accepted Islam and that he had ten wives in the pre-Islamic period who accepted Islam along with him; so the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to keep four and separate from the rest of them.
Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 945 taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
Narrated Al-Harith ibn Qays al-Asadi
I embraced Islam while I had eight wives. So I mentioned it to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Select four of them. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 12, Number 2233)
Yet Muhammad failed to live up to his own standards since he had more than 4 wives and didn’t treat them all fairly:
O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the captives of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makkah) with thee; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction - that of all of them - with that which thou hast to give them: and Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All- Knowing, Most Forbearing. It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as handmaidens): and Allah doth watch over all things. S. 33:50-52
The hadiths state:
Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were ELEVEN IN NUMBER." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268)
We presented ourselves along with Ibn 'Abbas at the funeral procession of Maimuna at a place called Sarif. Ibn 'Abbas said, "This is the wife of the Prophet so when you lift her bier, do not Jerk it or shake it much, but walk smoothly because the Prophet had NINE WIVES and he used to observe the night turns with eight of them, AND FOR ONE OF THEM THERE WAS NO NIGHT TURN." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 5)
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet used to pass by (have sexual relation with) all his wives in one night, and at that time he had NINE wives. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 142)
Indeed the marriages of the Prophet (S) have come over criticism by missionaries and Anti-Islamists alike. The Missionaries tend to say that Muhammad (S) self-served himself, by taking more then 4 wives, yet they ignore the amount of good, that came out of these marriages:
" It is quite evident that the marriages of the Holy Prophet were governed mainly by the feelings of compassion for the widows of his faithful followers, who had no meands to fall back upon after they were bereft of the love and care of their husbands. This fact has been acknowledged even by the critics of the Holy Prophet. " It should be remembered, however," says Bosworth Smith, " that most of Muhammad's marriages may be explained, at least, as much by his pity for the forlorn condition of the persons concerned, as by other motives."
Other marriaegs were contracted from the motives of policy, in order to conciliate the heads of rival factions.
Then there was also one more consideration, in no way less important than those discussed earlier, which led to these marriages. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the bearer of God's message not only for men, but also for women. The womenfolk needed the prophetic guidance, training and instruction in the same way as the males. The Holy Prophet was fully alive to this need of Muslim society. He had, therefore, in the best interest of the Ummah, endeavoured to create a new leadership amongst women, which, like its counterpart amongst men, could by precept and example, help the formation of new type of womanhood representing the teachings of Islam. How could this objective be achieved without first preparing the most perfect specimens of Muslim womanhood. The Holy Prophet allowed some women, belonging to different social groups, having different tastes and tendencies, and different intellectual standards to enter his household ashis wives and then by his close personal contact nurture and train their God-given factulties so perfectly in acccordance with the teachings of islam that they could serve as pillars of light not only for the womenfolk of the Islamic common-wealth, but for the whole of manking. One or two women could not undertake this heavy responsibility. A whole group was required to meet this need."
(Source: "The Life of Muhammad PBUH" by Abdul Hameed Siddique, Islamic Publications LTD.)
"As far as the issue of the Prophet’s marriages is concerned (peace and blessings be upon him) it is not problem for a Muslim who understands the ideal character of the Prophet and the circumstances under which his marriages were contracted. Quite often they stand as a stumbling block for non-Muslims to understand the personality of the Prophet, causing one to reach the wrong conclusion, which is not to the credit of Islam or the Prophet.
We will not give any conclusions of our own or denounce the conclusions of others. We shall present certain facts and allow the readers to see for themselves.
1. The institution of marriage enjoys a very high status in Islam. It is highly commendable and essential for the sound survival of society.
2. Prophet Muhammad never said that he was immortal or divine. Time and time again, he emphasized that he was a mortal being chosen by Allah to deliver His message to mankind. Although unique and distinguished in his life, he lived like a man and died as a man. Marriage, therefore, was natural for him, and not a heresy or anathema.
3. He lived in an extremely hot climate where the physical desires press hard on men, where people develop physical maturity at an early age, and where easy satisfaction was a common thing among people of all classes. Nevertheless, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had never touched a woman until he was 25 years of age when he married for the first time. In the whole of Arabia he was known by his upright character and was called Al-Amin (the trustworthy), a title which signified the highest standard of moral life.
4. His first marriage at this unusually late age was to Khadeejah, who was twice widowed and 15 years his senior. It was her who initiated the contract, and he accepted the proposal in spite of her age and marital status. At the time he could have quite easily found more beautiful women to be much younger wives, if he was inclined towards his physical desires.
5. He lived with Khadijah as her husband until he was over 50 years of age, and by her he had all his children with the exception of Ibrahim. She remained his wife until her death when she was over 65 years, and throughout her marriage the Prophet never took another wife or had any other intimacy.
6. Persecutions and perils were continually inflicted on him and the believers, particularly at the end of Khadijah’s life. It was during this time that his wife died and after her death, he stayed without re-marrying for some time. Sawdah, who had emigrated with her husband to Abyssinia in the early years of persecutions, sought shelter on her way back after her husband died. The natural course for her was to turn to the Prophet himself for whose mission her husband had died. The Prophet extended his shelter and married her. She was not particularly young or beautiful. She was an ordinary widow with a quick temper. Later in the same year, the Prophet proposed to `A'ishah who was seven years old and the daughter of his beloved Companion, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). The marriage was not consummated until sometime after the emigration to Madinah and when she had reached maturity. The motives of these two marriages can be understood to be anything except passion and physical attraction. However, he lived with the two wives for five to six years, when he was 56 years of age, without taking any other wife.
7. From the age of 56 to 60, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) contracted nine marriages in quick succession. In the last three years of his life he contracted no marriages at all. Most of his marriages were contracted in a period of about five years when he was passing the most difficult and trying stage in his mission. At that time the Muslims were engaged in decisive battles and entangled in an endless circle of external and internal problems. It was at that time that the Islamic legislation was in the making, and the foundations of an Islamic society were being laid down. The fact that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was the most dominant figure in these events and the center around which they revolved, and that most of his marriages took place during this particular period is an extremely interesting phenomenon. It invites the serious attention of historians, sociologists, legislators, psychologists, etc. It cannot be interpreted simply in terms of physical attraction and lust.
8. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) lived a simple and modest life. During the day he was the busiest man of his era as he was Head of State, Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, instructor, etc. At night he was spiritually devoted to Allah as he used to stay one to two-thirds of every night vigilant in prayer and meditation (Qur'an, 73: 20). His furniture consisted of mats, jugs, blankets and other simple things, although he was the king and sovereign of Arabia. His life was so severe and austere that his wives once pressed him for worldly comforts, but they never had any (cf. Qur'an, 33: 48). Obviously, that was not the life of a lustful and passionate man.
9. The wives he took were all widows or divorced with the exception of `A'ishah. None of these widowed and divorced wives was particularly known for physical charms or beauties. Some of them were senior to him in age, and practically all of them sought his hand and shelter, or were presented to him as gifts, but he accepted them as legal wives.
This is the general background of the Prophet's marriages, and it cannot give any impression that these marriages were in response to physical needs or biological pressures. It is inconceivable to think that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) maintained so large a number of wives because of personal designs or physical wants. Anyone, friend or foe, who doubts the moral integrity or the spiritual excellence of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on account of his marriages has to find satisfactory explanations of questions like these. Why did he first marry at the age of 25 after having had no association with any female? Why did he choose a twice-widowed woman, 15 years his senior? Why did he remain with her until her death when he was over fifty without having another wife? Why did he accept all those helpless widows and divorcees who possessed no particular appealing qualities? Why did he lead such an austere and hard life, when he could have had an easy and comfortable one? Why did he contract most of his marriages in the busiest five years in his life when his mission and career were at stake? How could he manage to be what he was, if the harem life or passions overtook him? There are many other points that can be raised and the whole subject cannot be simply interpreted in terms of masculine love and desire for women. It calls for serious and honest consideration.
Reviewing the marriages of Prophet Muhammad individually one does not fail to find the actual reasons behind these marriages. They may be classified as follows:
1. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to the world as an ideal model for mankind, and he was in all aspects of his life. Marriage in particular is a striking illustration. He was the kindest, most loving and charitable husband. He had to undertake all stages of human experience and moral tests. He lived with one wife and with more than one, with the old and the young, with the widow and the divorcee, with the pleasant and the temperamental, and with the renowned and the humble. But, in all cases be was the epitome of kindness and consolation, and so designated to experience all the different aspects of human behavior and situations. This could not have been a physical pleasure; it was a moral trial as well as a human task, and a hard one too.
2. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to establish morality and assure every Muslim of security, protection, moral integrity and a decent life. His mission was put to the test in his life and it did not stay in the stationary form of theory. As usual, he took the hardest part and did his share in the most inconvenient manner. Wars and persecution burdened the Muslims with many widows, orphans and divorcees. They had to be protected and maintained by the surviving Muslim men. It was his practice to help these women become resettled by marriage to his Companions. The Companions rejected some women and so some of those women sought his personal patronage and protection. Realizing fully their conditions and sacrifices for the cause of Islam, he had to do something to relieve them. One course of relief was to take them as his own wives and accept the challenge of heavy liabilities. So he did so and maintained more than one wife at a time when it was no fun or easy course. He had to take part in the rehabilitation of those widows, orphans and divorcees because he could not ask his Companions to do things that he himself was not prepared to do or participate in. These women were trusts of the Muslims and they had to be looked after jointly. What he did, then, was his share of responsibility, and as always his share was the largest and heaviest. That is why he had more than one wife and more than any of his Companions.
3. There were many prisoners of war captured by the Muslims who were entitled to security and protection. They were not killed or denied their rights: human or physical. On the contrary, they were helped to settle down through legal marriages to Muslims instead of being taken as concubines and common mistresses. That also was another moral burden on the Muslims, which had to be shouldered jointly as a common responsibility. Here, again, Muhammad carried his share and took some responsibilities by marrying two of those captives.
4. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) contracted some of his marriages for sociopolitical reasons. His principal concern was the future of Islam. He was interested in strengthening the Muslims by all bonds. That is why he married the young daughter of Abu Bakr, his First Successor, and the daughter of `Umar, his Second Successor. It was by his marriage to Juwayriyyah that he gained the support for Islam of the whole clan of Bani Al-Mustaliq and their allied tribes. It was through marriage to Safiyyah that he neutralized a great section of the hostile Jews of Arabia. By accepting Mariyah, the Copt from Egypt, as his wife, he formed a political alliance with a king of great magnitude. It was also a gesture of friendship with a neighboring king that Muhammad married Zaynab who was presented to him by the Negus of Abyssinia in whose territory the early Muslims found safe refuge.
5. By contracting most of these marriages, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) meant to eliminate the caste or class system, racial and national pride and superiority, and religious prejudices. He married some of the humblest and poorest women. There was his marriage to Mariyah from Egypt, a Jewish woman of a different religion and race, and a Negro girl from Abyssinia. He was not satisfied with merely teaching brotherhood and equality: actions speak louder than words.
6. Some of the Prophet's marriages were for legislative reasons and to abolish certain corrupt traditions. Such was his marriage to Zaynab, divorcee of the freed slave Zayd. Before Islam, the Arabs did not allow divorcees to remarry. Zayd was adopted by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and called his son as was the custom among the Arabs before Islam. But Islam abrogated this custom and disapproved of its practice. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was the first man to express this disapproval in a practical way. So he married the divorcee of his "adopted" son to show that adoption does not really make the adopted child a real son of the adopting father and also to show that marriage is lawful for divorcees. Incidentally, this very Zaynab was Muhammad's cousin, and had been offered to him in marriage before she married Zayd. He refused her then, but after she was divorced he accepted her for the two legislative purposes: the lawful marriage of divorcees and the real status of adopted children. The story of this Zaynab has been associated in some minds with ridiculous fabrications regarding the moral integrity of Muhammad. These vicious fabrications are not even worth considering here (see Qur'an, 33: 36, 37, 40).
These are the circumstances accompanying the Prophet's marriages. For the Muslims there is no doubt whatsoever that Muhammad had the highest standards of morality and was the perfect model for mankind under all circumstances. To non-Muslims we appeal for a serious discussion of the matter. Then, they may be able to reach sound conclusions."
(Source: Islam in Focus, p.177-179 by Hammudah Abdallati, bold and underlined emphasis ours)
Also, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qardawi states:
"Before the advent of Islam, it had been the habit of men to marry an unlimited number of women. The Old Testament states that David had 100 wives and Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. However, Islam nullified marriage to more than four women.
If a man became a Muslim and he had more than four wives, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would say to him: “Choose only four and divorce the rest.”
Polygamy is permissible in Islam on the condition that the man treats all his wives equally, otherwise he should marry one only. Allah Almighty says, “And if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only).” (An-Nisa': 3)
However, Allah Almighty granted Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) something that is not allowed to any other Muslim. He Almighty allowed him to keep the wives that he had married and did not order him to divorce, replace any of them, or to marry anymore women. Allah Almighty says: “It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth nor that thou should change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesses.” (Al-Ahzab: 52)
This is because the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) have a special status: they are mentioned in the Qur`an as Mothers of the Believers. Allah Almighty says, “The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers.” (Al-Ahzab: 6)
Due to this honorable position, they were forbidden to remarry after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah Almighty says, “And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the Messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him.” (Al-Ahzab: 53)
This means that if they were divorced, they would have been deprived of marriage for the rest of their lives, and they would also be deprived of the honor of being part the Prophet’s family, which is considered an unjust penalty when they had not done anything wrong.
Suppose that Allah had enjoined the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to choose only four of his wives and divorce the rest. This would mean that four of them would have been chosen to be the Mothers of Believers and the other five would have been deprived of the honor. This would have been a very awkward situation since none of those exemplary women deserved to be dismissed from the Prophet’s family and be denied the honor that she had gained.
Therefore, it was Allah’s will for them to remain as the Prophet’s wives as an exception to him only. This is based on Allah’s saying: “Lo! the bounty is in Allah's hand. He bestoweth it on whom He will. Allah is All Embracing, All Knowing.” (Al `Imran: 73)
As for the answer to the question: why did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) marry nine women in the first place? We can say that this is well known. He did not marry any of them for the reasons that the Orientalists falsely claim. It was not carnal desires, which made the Prophet marry any of his wives. If he were as they claim, he wouldn’t have been the young man married to a woman 15 years his senior. He was 25 when he married Khadijah who had been married twice before and had many children.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) lived all his youth with her in happiness. When she died, he called that year "The year of grief". He loved, respected and kept praising her so much even after her death to the extent that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to be jealous of Khadijah despite her having been dead.
At the age of 53, after the death of Khadijah and after Hijrah (emigration to Madinah), the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) began to marry his other wives. He married Sawdah bint Zam`ah, who was an elderly lady, in order to be his housewife. He married the daughter of Abu Bakr, who was his friend and Companion, in order to strengthen their relationship although she was still too young to be married. Then he married Hafsah, `Umar’s daughter, so that both of his Companions, Abu Bakr and `Umar, would be granted the same honor, even though Hafsah was a widow and was not pretty.
He also married Umu Salamah who was a widow. When her husband, Abu Salamah, died, she thought she would never find a better husband. They had both emigrated and suffered a lot for the cause of Islam. She said in her grief as a widow: “Lo! We are Allah’s and Lo! unto Him we are returning.” (Al-Baqarah: 156) She prayed to Allah to help her and recompense her with a better husband, but she wondered whether she could ever marry someone better than her late husband. So Allah recompensed her for her grief and bestowed on her a far better husband who was Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He married her and rewarded her for the loss of her husband and her abandoning her family in order to emigrate to Madinah.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) married Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith in order to encourage her family to be Muslims. In the expedition of Bani al-Mustaliq, the Muslims captured a lot of Juwayriyah's kinsfolk, and when the Companions of the Prophet knew that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had married her, they set the captives free because they had become kin of the Prophet Muhammad. And so kin must not be captured.
The other woman was Um Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan and who was the bitterest enemy of Islam. She had left her father and preferred to emigrate with her husband to Abyssinia (Al-Habashah) for the sake of Islam. But then her husband died and she became alone in a foreign land. What was the Prophet supposed to do in such case? Would he leave her without help? Of course not! So he sent his proposal to Negus (An-Najashi), the king of Abyssinia, and authorized him to pay her the dowry and to make the marriage contract while he was in Madinah. Another good reason for this marriage is that marrying the daughter of Abu Sufyan would make him less hostile to Islam due to the new kinship.
Therefore, he did not marry any of his wives for lust or worldly desires, but for the good of Islam in order to strengthen the ties between the people and the new religion, especially because kinship and blood relations were well respected among the Arabs.
In conclusion, by marrying those women, the Prophet aimed at unifying the Arabs and solving many problems. His wives became the Mothers of the Believers, teachers of the Muslim Ummah in family and women’s affairs, and related a lot about his family life even in the most private situations.
Everybody has private matters except the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who asked people to relate everything concerning his life in order to teach the Muslim Ummah and guide them to what is right.
The most important point is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) set a good example for Muslims in all aspects of life including family life. A Muslim man can draw very good lessons from the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and in the way he treated his wives."
(Source: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503544000 )
And Sheikh Ahmed Kutty states:
"The Prophet’s multiple marriages have their own wisdom and purpose ordained by Allah Almighty. In this he is no different than previous prophets such as Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Ya`qub (Jacob), Dawud (David), etc., who all had more than one wife. It is wrong to judge them by the standards of our modern secular values and ideals.
If we approach the marriages of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) based on his mission in light of the milieu he was called upon to fulfill, it is not hard to discover that his marriages were never primarily motivated by sexual considerations. Rather, they had much higher purposes in the divine plan. These goals were mainly related to his mission of unifying Arabs, and also, not less importantly, intended to set standards for reforming intractable customs that had caused so much misery and destruction for humanity.
Arabs before the rise of Islam were a race who fought relentlessly for even the most trivial matters, and no one before the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had ever succeeded in unifying them. The Prophet unified them; marriage proved to be one of the means of achieving this unity. Again, marriage to a widow was a curse in Arabia as well in other major parts of the world such as India. In most of these societies a widow was considered more like a pariah or curse for the entire family. Almost all of the women that the Prophet married were widows.
A still important factor to consider: The most sexually active phase in anyone’s life is before he reaches the age of fifty. We must remember that in this phase, the Prophet had only one wife, Khadijah, who was fifteen years older than him. The Prophet married her when he was twenty-five and she was forty years. She died at the age of sixty-five. It was only after her death and in Madinah, after he had dedicated himself to the task of building a nation, that he married a number of women belonging to different Arab clans, most of them widows. By marrying them he was setting a precedent to reverse the taboo of widow marriage. Secondly, he was paying back his due to some of the companions who had perished in battles leaving behind widows with children, just as he was also seeking to unify the Arab tribes. Such a function of marriage is inconceivable for us today.
Having said this, I must, however, further add: We need not apologize for the Islamic teachings concerning human sexuality. Unlike some religions that hold very negative views of sexuality, Islam celebrates sexuality within the framework of marriage, and looks at it in a fairly positive light, and the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) best represents this ideal.
The question of the Prophet’s multiple marriage should never pose a problem for the faithful when they heed the statement of Allah in the Qur’an concerning his marriages:
((Hence) no blame whatever attaches to the Prophet for (having done) what God has ordained for him. (Indeed, such was) God’s way with those that have passed away afore-time- and remember that God’s will is always destiny absolute!) (Al-Ahzab 33: 38)."
(Source: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503546160 )
Judging by the above, we can see that a large amount of good came out of the marriages of the Holy Prophet (S).
The Prophetic Household
Khadijah Bint Khuwailid: In Makkah — prior to Hijra — the Prophet’s household comprised him [pbuh] and his wife Khadijah bint Khuwailid. He was twenty-five and she was forty when they got married. She was the first woman he married. She was the only wife he had till she died. He had sons and daughters with her. None of their sons lived long. They all died. Their daughters were Zainab, Ruqaiya, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah.
Zainab was married to her maternal cousin Abu Al-‘As bin Al-Rabi‘ and that was before Al-Hijra. Ruqaiya and Umm Kulthum were both married to ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan ÑÖì Çááå Úäå successively (i.e. he married one after the death of her sister). Fatimah was married to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib; and that was in the period between Badr and Uhud battles. The sons and daughters that Fatimah and ‘Ali had were Al-Hasan, Al-Husain, Zainab and Umm Kulthum.
It is well-known that the Prophet [pbuh] was exceptionally authorized to have more than four wives for various reasons. The wives he married were thirteen. Nine of them outlived him. Two died in his lifetime: Khadijah and the Mother of the poor (Umm Al-Masakeen) — Zainab bint Khuzaima, besides two others with whom he did not consummate his marriage.
Sawdah bint Zam‘a: He married her in Shawwal, in the tenth year of Prophethood, a few days after the death of Khadijah. Prior to that, she was married to a paternal cousin of hers called As-Sakran bin ‘Amr.
‘Aishah bint Abu Bakr: He married her in the eleventh year of Prophethood, a year after his marriage to Sawdah, and two years and five months before Al-Hijra. She was six years old when he married her. However, he did not consummate the marriage with her till Shawwal seven months after Al-Hijra, and that was in Madinah. She was nine then. She was the only virgin he married, and the most beloved creature to him. As a woman she was the most learnèd woman in jurisprudence.
Hafsah bint ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: She was Aiyim (i.e. husbandless). Her ex-husband was Khunais bin Hudhafa As-Sahmi in the period between Badr and Uhud battles. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] married her in the third year of Al-Hijra.
Zainab bint Khuzaimah: She was from Bani Hilal bin ‘Amir bin Sa‘sa‘a. Was nicknamed Umm Al-Masakeen, because of her kindness and care towards them. She used to be the wife of ‘Abdullah bin Jahsh, who was martyred at Uhud, was married to the Prophet [pbuh] in the fourth year of Al-Hijra, but she died two or three months after her marriage to the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh].
Umm Salamah Hind bint Abi Omaiyah: She used to be the wife of Abu Salamah, who died in Jumada Al-Akhir, in the fourth year of Al-Hijra. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] married her in Shawwal of the same year.
Zainab bint Jahsh bin Riyab: She was from Bani Asad bin Khuzaimah and was the Messenger’s paternal cousin. She was married to Zaid bin Haritha — who was then considered son of the Prophet [pbuh] . However, Zaid divorced her. Allâh sent down some Qur’ânic verses with this respect:
"So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e., divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage." [Al-Qur'an 33:37]
About her, Allâh has sent down some verses of Al-Ahzab Chapter that discussed the adoption of children in detail — anyway we will discuss this later. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] married her in Dhul-Qa‘dah, the fifth year of Al-Hijra.
Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith: Al-Harith was the head of Bani Al-Mustaliq of Khuza‘ah. Juwairiyah was among the booty that fell to the Muslims from Bani Al-Mustaliq. She was a portion of Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas’ share. He made her a covenant to set her free at a certain time. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] accomplished the covenant and married her in Sha‘ban in the sixth year of Al-Hijra.
Umm Habibah: Ramlah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan. She was married to ‘Ubaidullah bin Jahsh. She migrated with him to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). When ‘Ubaidullah apostatized and became a Christian, she stoodfast to her religion and refused to convert. However ‘Ubaidullah died there in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] dispatched ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damri with a letter to Negus, the king, asking him for Umm Habibah’s hand — that was in Muharram, in the seventh year of Al-Hijra. Negus agreed and sent her to the Prophet [pbuh] in the company of Sharhabeel bin Hasnah.
Safiyah bint Huyai bin Akhtab: From the Children of Israel, she was among the booty taken at Khaibar battle. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] took her for himself. He set her free and married her after that conquest in the seventh year of Al-Hijra.
Maimunah bint Al-Harith: The daughter of Al-Harith, and the sister of Umm Al-Fadl Lubabah bint Al-Harith. The Prophet [pbuh] married her after the Compensatory ‘Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage). That was in Dhul-Qa‘dah in the seventh year of Al-Hijra.
Those were the eleven women that the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] had married and consummated marriage with them. He outlived two of them — Khadijah and Zainab, the Umm Al-Masakeen. Whereas the other nine wives outlived him.
The person missing in that list of the Prophetic household is Mariya Qibtiyya:
"The books of sirah (the biography of the Prophet Muhammad) differ on the number of his wives (may Allah bless all). The main reason behind the differences in the number of his wives is - in most of the cases - due to the reliance on weak non-authentic hadiths.
However, the vast majority of Muslim scholars agreed that the wives of the prophet (pbuh) were:
2. `A’isha bint Abu Bakr
3. Sawda bint Zum`ah
4. Hafsa bint `Umar
5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
6. Um-Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
8. Zaynab bint Jahsh
9. Juwariyah bint al-Harith
10. Safiyah bint Hayi ibn Akhtab
11. Maymunah al-Hilaliyah
12. Mariya al-Qibtiya (Who was from Egypt.)
(May Allah be pleased with all of them). These are the names upon whom the scholars agreed."
(Source: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1123996015774&pagename=IslamOnline-English-AAbout_Islam/AskAboutIslamE/AskAboutIslamE , bold and underlined emphasis ours )
For a more detailed discussion regarding Mariyah the Copt, please visit:
The two wives that he did not consummate marriage with were, one from Bani Kilab and the other from Kindah and this was the one called Al-Jauniyah.
Besides these, he had two concubines. The first was Mariyah, the Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a present gift from Al-Muqauqis, vicegerent of Egypt — she gave birth to his son Ibrâhim, who died in Madinah while still a little child, on the 28th or 29th of Shawwal in the year 10 A.H., i.e. 27th January, 632 A.D. The second one was Raihanah bint Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a captive from Bani Quraiza. Some people say she was one of his wives. However, Ibn Al-Qaiyim gives more weight to the first version. Abu ‘Ubaidah spoke of two more concubines, Jameelah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh. [Za'd Al-Ma'ad 1/29] (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (THE SEALED NECTAR) Biography of the Noble Prophet, Saif-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition 1995], "The Prophetic Household", pp. 483-485; online source)
(brother Umar missed this part)
From me, Osama Abdallah:
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had the authority to act as he was inspired, until he was told otherwise by GOD Almighty:
"It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as handmaidens): and God doth watch over all things. (The Noble Quran, 33:52)"
The Arabs 1500 years ago were, and many of them still are today, tribe-oriented. This means that they dealt and still deal with each others in tribal mentality. Marriage is one form in bringing alliance between tribes. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, married his wives, he didn't only marry the woman, but he also brought her tribe with her, especially if she was a daughter of an important figure in the tribe:
"(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for God loveth the righteous. (The Noble Quran, 9:4)"
"Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (Compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (Is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom ye have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to God: for God hath all knowledge and all wisdom. (The Noble Quran, 4:92)"
"Those who believed, and adopted exile, and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of God, as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid,- these are (all) friends and protectors, one of another. As to those who believed but came not into exile, ye owe no duty of protection to them until they come into exile; but if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people with whom ye have a treaty of mutual alliance. And (remember) God seeth all that ye do. (The Noble Quran, 8:72)"
Since the Muslims were dealing with so much hostility from the pagan Arabs, the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw that it was necessary to minimize the animosity with as many tribes as possible, especially those who were geographically closer to the Muslims. A perfect solutions by the perfect Prophet of GOD Almighty. Islam prevailed; paganism was defeated, and the enemies of GOD Almighty were crushed.