Der Prophet und Polygamie

(part 1 of 2)


Most people in the West see polygamy as fundamentally bad and their practice as immoral. In contrast to being aware that each age and society has its own norms, they judge themselves only by the standard of their own society and time.

For a Muslim, the standard of morality has been established through divine revelation, the Quran and the Sunnah, and not through changing modern views. In addition, the great Hebrew patriarchs – Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, and Solomon, to name a few that are quoted in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, were undeniably polygamous. [1] The example of Jesus is irrelevant, although he had tolerated polygamy because he did not marry at all during his mission on earth. It is unclear why the Hebrew prophets took multiple wives because their life stories are largely unknown. A careful study of the biography of Prophet Muhammad – which has been preserved down to the smallest detail – provides the reasons for his numerous marriages.


1. A perfect role model

Muhammad is the last prophet, a grace for all mankind and a perfect example for all times. He gave the world an ideal example of a decent life up to the age of 25, then a monogamous life with a noble widow and a polygamous life over fifty. He married the young woman and the old, the widow and the divorced, the happy and the emotional, the daughters of tribal leaders and freed slaves. He was a model of perfection in all the diversity that life had to offer.

2. Religious education and preservation of the private life of the Prophet

The ´Mothers of the Believers´, an honorable title given to the women of the Prophet to honor them, were religious scholars and spiritual advisors who guided the believers, especially women, during and after the Prophet’s lifetime. Islam has many special regulations solely for women regarding purity, menstruation, ablution, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, breastfeeding and testimony, to name a few. These special laws for women had to be communicated. It is natural for women to feel more comfortable talking to the Prophet’s wives about such things. In addition, the Prophet’s women initiated them into the ways of married life, how to start families and on matters of female spirituality.

Through marriages with women from different tribes, the Prophet opened the door to spreading knowledge about Islam to them. The Prophet’s women spread the knowledge among their tribes. For example, Aisha’s knowledge was taken up by her sister Umm Kulthum, by her still brother Auf bin Harith, her nephews Qasim and Abdullah and her nieces Hafsah and Asma among others. The knowledge of Hafsah was transmitted through her brother Abdullah ibn Umar, through his son Hamza and his wife Safiyah. Among Maimuna’s disciples were her nephews, the most famous of whom was Abdullah ibn Abbas, who was influential in the interpretation of the Quran. Umm Habieba taught her knowledge to her brothers Mu’awiyah and Utbah, and to her nephews and nieces. From this we see


[1] According to the Bible:
Abraham had three women according to the Bible (1 Book of Moses 16: 1, 16: 3, 25: 1)
Moses had two women (2 Book of Moses 2:21, 18: 1-6; 4 Book of Moses 12: 1)
Jacob had four women (1 Book of Moses 29:23, 29:28, 30: 4, 30: 9)
David had at least 18 women (1 Samuel 18:27, 25: 39-44; 2 Samuel 3: 3, 3: 4-5, 5:13, 12: 7-8, 12:24, 16: 21-23)
Solomon had 700 wives (1 Kings 11: 3).


(part 2 of 2)

3. Preservation of the Sunnah

The ´mothers of the faithful´ played an important role in conveying the sunnah of the Prophet – the second source of Islamic law after the Quran. Nothing of the Prophet’s life was hidden from them, and they were authorized to deliver everything they knew about his personal life. Together they reported about three thousand hadiths [1] from the Prophet. Aisha transmitted 2,210 hadiths, while Umm Salama transmitted 380. The remaining women reported between five and sixty hadiths. Umm Habieba and Hafsah each reported sixty, Maimunah handed down 46 and Zainab reported eleven. [2]

4. Break with the traditions of idolaters & putting the law into practice

One of the Prophet’s marriages was concluded to prohibit the idolaters from adopting children, adding them to the descendants of the adoptive parents, giving them their names and granting them all the rights that their biological children had. The Quran says:

“God has not made your adopted sons your (real) sons. That is (only) talk from your mouths; But God speaks the truth and He shows (you) the way. ”(Quran 33: 4)
This tradition was so deeply rooted that the Prophet hesitated to marry Zainab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid, until God revealed:

„And you hid what you harbored within yourself, what Allah wanted to uncover, and you feared people, while Allah is whom you really should fear.“ (Quran 33:37)
The Prophet married Muhammad Zainab to break with this pagan custom. In this regard, God says:

„But then, when Zaid ended his marital relationship with her, We married her to you so that the faithful would not be embarrassed about the women of their adopted sons.“ (Quran 33:37)

5. Join the tribes through marriage to prevent violence & bloodshed

His marriages with Juwairiyah and Safiyah came about to join warlike tribes and to prevent violence and bloodshed in the future. The Arabian Peninsula was marked by decades of war. For years, the tribes fought and took vengeance on minor matters, and it was extremely difficult to bring about an armistice between them. The adoption and spread of Islam made peace between hostile tribes, but many still had hostile, sick feelings, especially those who had not yet adopted Islam. Through marriage, the tribes had to accept their truce, and many of these sick feelings were resolved through pride in the marriage of a tribe member to the Prophet.

6. Protection of widows and orphans

As previously mentioned, most of the Prophet’s wives were widows whom he had married during the war to protect them. The last years of the Prophet’s life for the growing Muslim nation were years of war, when Muslims had to protect their lives and their religions. As a result, hundreds of companions were killed, leaving widows and orphans without someone to look after them. Prophet Muhammad set the example of surviving companions to marry the widows to support them, so most of his wives were widows.


Morals and morals should never be judged on the premise of limited social norms; rather, they should be assessed against clearly undeniable previous standards. Throughout human history, polygamy had been the norm in society. Even today, there are many cultures other than Islam that are encouraged to do so. But even if you do not understand the nature of polygamy due to various environmental and cultural influences, you should still strive for a careful, objective view. If anyone examines the Prophet’s life impartially, the honest researcher will surely find that his reasons for the marriages were those that should significantly strengthen the Muslim community,

[1] Hadith: a tradition of the sayings, deeds, tacit approvals or descriptions of the Prophet.
[2] Muqaddima Ibn Salah, edited by Dr. Bint Shati ‚


Source: https://www.islamland.com/deu/articles/der-prophet-und-polygamie

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