Welcome to another episode of Islamic focus. I’m your host hammer Rashid. Today we have our 42nd program in our series dealing with Muhammad, the last messenger of Allah. Today we have a very interesting topic we’re going to be looking at the prophets, marriages I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal battery of St. Mary’s University brother Jamal Assalamu alaykum Ani.
Before we get into today’s program, can I have a very quickly summarize the program that we did last week on the profit sources. Certainly in the beginning, we just continued the discussion of the carryover from the prior program on the physical appearance of the Prophet. But the focus mainly was on the description of the household, the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him will describe briefly his life with Khadija, the children that he began to her and his adopted son, Zaid and the circumstances that led ultimately to that, and also finally on the addition to the household of his nephew, Ali, in order to help his uncle a difficult time. And in addition to this circle, we talked
also about another close circle of relatives like his Auntie Sophia that you used to visit him frequently, his suckling mother, he is a man who used to be serving his mother. So this was basically a sort of quiet and closely knit household, you might say.
Okay, let’s turn now to this question of the examination of the marriages of the Prophet some credits and looking at the life of the Prophet, particularly in many years where he married several other women suggests that this is not something that is befitting for a prophet to do. What is your reaction to criticism of that type? What to begin with? This kind of criticism usually comes from certain circles, mainly the missionaries and orientalist who are sometimes then says mission is or working in consonance, with the missionary type of activities.
That because this isn’t sometimes come in a political form,
outright attack on the person and integrity of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. It’s sometimes come in the disguise of what what might appear to be a scholarly type of objective research. But in this forms, this kind of criticism seem to reflect three things, one, partiality to
prejudice. Three, deficient scholarship even Yes, let me explain what I mean by each of these. It’s not just a historical thing. And the strange thing is that many of those critics unfortunately, have written books that are used as standard differences about Islam and the prophet and taught in universities, including writings of people like William were emailed Birmingham, Margolis, Washington, Irving, Father, lemons. And that’s taken almost like you know, by bids and teaching about Islam, even though it gives a very distorted picture of both Islam and the prophet of Islam really.
I would say, first of all, this kind of criticism reflect partiality because some of the site has referred to the multiple marriages of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, as he said, even in later years, and we see more details on that, as a reason, declared or subtle, to discredit him as a prophet, to negate his claim that the Quran was revealed from God and it’s the book of God. In the same time, some of those very writers who might be either believing Jews or Christians believe in the Bible, and believe in the prophets of the Old Testament is, even though it is no secret that many of the Israelite prophets were polygamous. Yes, including Abraham, the friend of God and the
patriarch of faith, including David and Solomon, each of whom is said to have had hundreds of wives David and Solomon.
But in the case of those prophets, Israelite prophets, the polygamous marriage is not regarded by those critics as sufficient ground, to reject them as prophets, to discredit them, or to reject the revelations that they brought. Only in the case of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, they find that to be something which is rather strange. And then, that’s enough justification to discredit him as a prophet, and even to cast doubt about the greatness of his character and personality.
Secondly, I said that this criticism also reflects a great deal of prejudice, because any examination of the writings of those writers
seems to indicate that those writers approach the topic with a foregone conclusion with
A priori assumption. And the clear motive, as one can discern from their approach is simply to more or less put their own prejudices, or confirm that on prejudice that they actually wanted to prove. To start with many times the writings could be a source of propaganda in the form, or appearance of a scholarly research or production. Thirdly,
it is also deficiency in scholarship on their part, because, first of all, they insist in some cases, on accepting weak and unauthentic reports, which has been criticized already by Muslim scholars
as the case of the marriage of the Prophet from Xena, and we’ve talked about that last time in detail, there’s nothing to hide.
So this is one aspect sticking to some unauthentic reports, if they think it can build a theory or support the kind of assumption is they want to support.
Sometimes also, they don’t tell the whole story. They pick and choose pieces from here and there about the marriages of the Prophet peace be upon him, their circumstances and their apparent motives which if studied carefully, it would not only observe the Prophet honorably
from an examination from all such kind of false assumptions and insinuations, but also even reveal many positive aspects of his character and personality and the compassion, which is behind those later marriages.
Sometimes also, they seem to assume, mistakenly, that monogamy is the only valid form of marriage in every time, every place, every culture, regardless of circumstances. And that’s what we’ve been talking about earlier about being sometimes too ethnocentric is that whatever is regarded as a custom as a norm, in a given society or culture in the West, must be good for all times for all places. I think there is a little bit of pride involved in that monogamy might be a general rule, yes, population wise. But it does not mean that it is the only valid form of marriage, this is sometimes and this that does not exist really in reality. I know some time ago, we spent quite a bit
of time in the previous series and commenting on the question of polygamy, but since it’s related to this question of the prophets, marriages, and so I’m sure many of our viewers may be struggling with the with the question, it might be helpful to have you perhaps comment a bit on and shed some light on this question of Islam and polygamy.
Okay, I can answer that question. But I’d like just to comment in the beginning that the answer here would be basically in the context of that series as it relates to the to the marriages of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. And as such, I cannot expect to do justice by giving you a very detailed and comprehensive
answer to that, for one reason that it came up only because of its relevance to the United States of the Prophet polygamous marriage of the Prophet. And the topic has been covered, as you said before, in great detail and the material on that are available, especially this is a woman and family in Islam. So I’m not trying to squeeze you covered in so many programs in detail in one question, even if I may take 10 minutes on that. But with this kind of reservations, let me give maybe 10 or 11 points to summarize some of the main points, point one,
polygamy in itself, or for the more accurate polygamy. But since polygamy is more common, polygamy in itself is not immoral. On the contrary, the availability of polygamy might actually help reduce immorality in society. Second, that the two religions that are closest to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity being People of the Scripture, people the book,
do not have in their scriptures, any text whatsoever, that very conclusively and clearly considers polygamy to be immoral, or something that is to be avoided, totally forbidden. In addition to the evidence we give before that many of the great Israelite prophets themselves were polygamous, there’s no such texts that conclusively say that it is it is to be forbidden. In addition to this, we must remember also, that the Jews in Europe in the Middle Ages,
were still practicing polygamy up to that time, six seventh century, maybe later even
in the Middle Ages also, and during the period of the domination and power of the church. Some of the kings
In Europe actually were polygamous. Martin Luther, the famous leader of the Reformation movement, expressed his clear opinion on bad that according to the Bible, polygamy is not forbidden. And he says the Lord did not forbid it. In 1631, there was a group of Christians particular sect called the anabaptist monster, who declared openly not only that polygamy is permissible but is encouraged, they said the true Christian even should get as many wives especially because they wanted to multiply and get larger number for the sick. And even in our day and age, right here in North America, as everybody knows the moments,
you know, still practice polygamy the recent event on television, some of the news that was taking place, relate to the polygamous marriage, and there have been several reports about polygamous families in especially in the state of Utah where lots of Mormons reside even though official Of course, they don’t declare it because of legal reasons.
What I mentioned on this might sound surprising to some. But all of this is based on Christian and Western differences, some of which are theological differences here. And for those who might wish to examine that further and verified, I just give three initial differences. One is the dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Heston, published in 1963, page 624. The second Encyclopedia biblica, published in 1902, volume three, page 2946. And a very important difference. Classic, and the study of human marriage is the history of human marriage by Edward Westermarck, the first edition, published in 1925, volume three, especially pages 42 and 43. So this is not just an invention, this
come from both theological and other Western sources in terms of what happened in among Jewish in Christian communities. My third point, that any further examination of the teachings of the Quran, pertaining to marriage will easily find out that monogamy is the general rule, not polygamy. It is unfortunate that there is such a miss, connecting polygamy with Islam to the point that the moment that somebody knows that you are Muslim, you say, Oh, are you the one who has four wives, how many wives he has, as it seems a very superficial way that as if there is nothing this number, polygamy and as if Islam really instituted or
put polygamy as a basic route that did not exist before? No, actually, any fair examination of the Quran shows that polygamy is the exception. monogamy actually is the basic route. And it is exception to deal with certain social or individual problems that otherwise would be very difficult to solve practically and morally otherwise. And that even then, Islam is the first revealed religion if you talk about Judeo Christian tradition, for example, Islam is the first revealed religion, that specifically and explicitly in its holy book, limited the maximum number of life’s which was often before that and required justice between them. Yes. The first point is that the only verse in the
Quran that spoke about sanctioning or accepting polygamy, and even then determining maximum than what has been practiced before. This verse was revealed after the Battle of crossroads, in which a number of Muslim males were martyred, leaving behind their widows and the orphans, who are in need, not just for a handout or food, but need also for the warmth of the family, and the love and care and the attention to be paid for the upbringing of their children. So that seems to indicate also the spirit behind it, that’s a compassionate spirit rather than simply, you know, having a harem or something of that nature. Firstly, that the basic concept of marriage in Islam, whether monogamous
or polygamous, for that matter, must be based on the acceptance and approval of all parties involved. You cannot just marry a second wife, for example, against her when she sees that this is a better option for her it is to his advantage, knowing that there is polygamous situation. And even the first wave, if she’s not happy with that she’s not forced into that marriage. And as we covered in the series on woman in Islam, she has a number of options including color without the approval of her husband, she can actually seek the notification of marriage. The sixth point is that there is an implied spirit also
from this discussion, but the permission or sanction to have polygamous marriage is simply to give practical and moral both practical and moral solution and answers to some problems and contingencies that might face individuals and societies from time to time or place to place. And let me give you an example practically. Today we know the kind of the Holocaust to which the Afghani people have
been subjected Yes, because of the Russian invasion. And the estimated that one and half million people were massacred in some form or the other, or were mustered in their struggle for freedom against the Russian invasion, one and a half million. Of course, the there are some women and children included in this, but the great bulk and majority are the healthy young youth, men who have been participating in that assistance. Now, this, let’s say million plus left behind what is the left behind orphans who need care, they left also behind daughters who are in the marriageable age also. Now, obviously, the need for those women the need for those children is not just a handout
with or charity or food ration. They have the need instinctive need as human beings also, they need the warmth of the family life, they need somebody to look after the upbringing of the children to educate them, to guide them in their lives. Just like when you’re talking about Big brother and Big Sister, yes, it’s more than just, you know, giving food to people that they No wonder we find that in Europe after the war, women themselves were demanding from the Allied forces to be allowed to have a system somewhat similar, but inferior actually to the standard system of polygamy, but you’re sharing husbands in order to make up for the great imbalance between the number of males and females
because of the circumstances of the ward. I think it would be an empty argument really to say that prohibition or restriction of polygamy in Afghanistan, after the war ends, for example,
is really bad, forgetting the other social benefits and human consideration that must be considered in the picture. And now, if polygamy is totally
regarded as illegitimate What is the result? The result is that women are exploited, they are used for pleasure. There is no commitment, there is no financial responsibility.
Their children is born with the illegitimate children, and you know how psychologically damaging this would be for them. There is no commitment on the part of the the person who had this cohabitation with them, to consider them, their children or his children or to look after this kind of illicit relationship, as we know result in aversion results in abandoning infants, you hear once in a while about somebody giving birth to a child, dumping them in the garbage cans or killing them or doing all kinds of things to them as if they are things not person, this seems to be sort of outcome, partly, at least, of this notion of considering anything but the facade of monogamy as the
only valid solution to the problems in society. The seventh point that to me, it is rather paradoxical if not outright amusing, really, that the criticism of polygamy comes from society’s
way which tolerate a person having officially one wife, and a dozen other mistresses, without responsibility without any commitment, with all the negative results morally in terms of children that we see that they regard as very repulsive, strange, if not outright, laughable that a person would have more than one wife, in the pure, clean, legitimate legalized, responsible relationship with is a commitment and responsibility for the wife and children. Indeed, the propaganda against polygamy in the Western society, seem to try to promote amis, as we indicated earlier that monogamy does exist in the West, it does not there have been several programs and that there have been
various reports by specialist in the area of human sexuality. I don’t want to go to chapter and verse there have been many recent reports on this, that indicate that by surveying candidate women and married men, that the few who do not have extra marital relationship, so it’s very strange, like I say, and quite amusing, if not sometimes hypocritical, even to regard polygamy especially if not abused, as something horrible, and not to regard this moral decay as something even more horrible. And that definitely, polygamy is definitely a much much better and more honorable type of solution to some of these problems. My point is that we must realize that accepted norms and customs in the
Western society in any particular point of history or time are not absolute standards. They are not the infallible yardsticks according to which all other cultures use at all other times and circumstances are to be judged. This is a very
sufficient judgment, prejudicial and at time to ethnocentric, religious and too proud of an approach, I think people like perhaps the sociologist and anthropologist are more appreciative of that, because they don’t fall normally, into this false assumption that what is good in a given society and a given time should be good for all kinds of societies in all levels of development in all circumstances. This is totally a really mistaken, but common notion, however, my ninth point is another observation that I know, I think, how a female especially in the West, even a Muslim female might feel when you start thinking of a polygamous type of marriage. And that’s only human. Yes,
that’s understandable. And that’s why it’s not the basic role. That’s typified by my wife. And by the way, it’s just my own UI
for 25 years, almost now, that sometimes when we’re discussing that, in theory, is not discussed for any plan.
She tells me, because I believe that she’s a better Muslim than I am. Thanks to God, I’m very happy with this. But she told me, Listen,
I know that this is a divine concession. I know that this isn’t the Word of God in the Quran, I realize that God has much better wisdom than you or anyone else, it might be useful, that it could be a good solution for some individuals, or social problems. I have complete face and that, but don’t you ever do it?
Okay, I understand, of course, I have no intention to do that. But I mean, that’s something which is understandable. But again, it goes back to the question as to whether that’s intended really to be, you know, the the norm or to deal with a situation like the description I give for the problem in Afghanistan, for example, my 10th point is that if monogamy, or if polygamy is assumed to be the norm, and each means take advantage of the maximum number of wives for that seems to assume a population with 80%. Yes, he did, and 20% needs and we know that this is very seldom found anywhere, you know, there’s some statistic that seems to show that the number of females is slightly more than
the number of males, but you don’t get this kind of complete disparity. And if it says, proves that it’s never intended really to be the, the basic rule, it’s just by exception, really. And when we talk by exception, we mean also that, looking at it, not from one individual point of view, but from the social
cultural menu, really, that you have to weigh the relative benefits and harms of restricting or permitting but still trying to control and provide safeguards for polygamy. It is surely a more morally, practically and socially superior, not just to apologize for its security solution to certain contingencies, then the rampant immorality and exploitation of women, neglect of children, and sometimes I would say even the hypocritical pretense that monogamy is indeed practiced, if you take the real sense not official marriages, real, sincere, faithful management monogamy being practiced in the West? I’m sorry that the question took a little long. But of course, as indicated
earlier, this is nothing but a capsulized and quick summary of what has been covered in so many programs before but I thought it might at least keep us in perspective, while we did with the managers of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. I want to commend you, I think you’ve done an excellent job and condensing and capitalizing the the the essence of this whole question. That’s not an easy thing to do in a relatively short period of time. You explain very well, the notion of polygamy in general.
Some may wonder, however, that if it would not be more consistent going back now to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, it would be not more consistent with this prophetic office, that he should opt for monogamy as opposed to polygamy, even if polygamy in and of itself is not bad. Okay, to begin with, let me comment on the you know, the use of the term prophetic office? Yes, because that question has come up quite frequently. I must say that the fact that he has a prophetic office even, might make polygamy even more desirable than otherwise the case we. And that’s not only applicable to Prophet Muhammad peace, it could be applicable to all prophets, in
order to advance the face in order to teach the people and communicate the message and establish relationship with many clans and families to guide them and establish this kinship, that might make them more receptive to the message of the Prophet. Actually, a prophetic office may make the Prophet even in a position to have more polygamous marriages in order to advance the faith. It’s more conducive, in fact in that in one sense, but in terms of even
The notion of opting for monogamy, it might be quite interesting. And perhaps a point that might not be known to the great majority of our viewers is that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, indeed opted for monogamy. For the greater part of his married life is over 80% of his life was a monogamous life out of his married life until he died between age 25, and about 6338 years, 31 years out of those 38 over 80% is where monogamous marriages
first with Khadija and after she dies with only soda, and we’ll come to that later. Yes. So that in itself seems to indicate the fallacy of thinking that some critics think that the Prophet have always been, you know, involved in polygamous marriages.
The Curious point also to remember is that all the other polygamous marriages of the Prophet took place within the last seven years of his life, from the age of 56, to about 63. So that’s less than, less than 10% 20% of his total marital life, and any careful examination of the personality of the Prophet, his behavior and character, and his life also before marriage seemed to clearly indicate that he was a person who is the farthest from being a pleasure seeker.
This point of the Prophet not being a pleasure seeking person. Could you develop this this last point a little bit further, what to begin with, as has been explained in a previous program, the prophet lived up to the age of 25, a life which was unblemished
in terms of the moral and sexual purity, in spite of his usefulness and his instinctive desire, like any other perfectly normal and healthy use,
he was he had never indulged in any illicit relationship, or did what other young people did in his time, especially at the time when this behavior on the part of us was tolerated and accepted, socially was available.
And if the prophets inclination, or if he had the least even
the least inclination to seek pleasures, he would have just behaved like other people. And as we know, from the previous program, even the occasion when he said, even of going to a party with the youth that caused him to sleep, and he never woke up and no companion, no contemporary of his could ever challenge his technique that he never was involved in any of those, you know, reprehensible activities or questionable things in terms of moral or spiritual or sexual purity for that matter. I believe that the importance of that period is more than what meets the eyes because you’re really talking about the period of adolescence use and sense and vigor. So you’re talking about the period
since he became adolescence, so maybe at the age of 13 to 25, for all that period, not a single slip. That is definitely not an easy standard to achieve at all. And even after marriage with Khadija Khadija we will see that it reflects more of a sexual purity than just pleasure seeking. Yes, indeed, we will have to conclude a nursing program at that point. I want to thank you all for watching the program today and invite you back next week and we’ll continue with our series Assalamu alaikum, peace be unto you