Marriage has always been an important facet in Islam, an avenue where two genders under permissibility of a relationship meet and raise the next generations of Muslims. The Quran describes the relationship between husbands and wives as garments that cover each other.
The Ultimate Love Story
This was very much seen through the interaction between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his first wife, Lady Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.
During a time in Arabia when widows were seen as a curse and “obsolete” for marriage, Prophet Muhammad accepted her marriage proposal, marking one of the most loving and romantic relationships in Islamic History. While he could have chosen any young virgin wife, Prophet Muhammad, a young man of twenty five, married Khadijah, who had been twice widowed and was also fifteen years older than him. Even in today’s modern age, this type of relationship would bring upon a certain stigma.
Why marry a woman who is “old” and has grown up children of her own?
Well, it was decreed for this marriage to take place, to not be judgmental about relationships that bind two souls together, as long as it was done within the realm of legal marriage.
When Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation, he shook in fright as he descended from Cave Hira’. His wife, now a lady in her 50s, caught him and wrapped him in a blanket, assuring him that whatever he saw was not a curse, and that he was the man known as the Trustworthy, who was always kind to his family and friends, and never spoke an untrue word.
God would not forsake him. It was the moments with Khadijah alone that Prophet Muhammad managed to gather his thoughts, and it was with her help that they went together to consult her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, an elderly priest, as to what the revelation meant.
In his moments of fear and doubt, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, trusted his wife Khadijah above any other human being, and this was even before he was aware of his Prophethood appointment. He had automatically leaned towards the one person whom he loved most. After the revelations reeled in, it showed his choice of a spouse was the perfect one.
Khadijah followed the directions from the Quran to the tee. She gave away her riches in the name of charity, helped the poor and prayed openly behind her beloved husband. While the angered pagan Arabs taunted him with death threats and mocked him senseless, she stood by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in total faith and loyalty and even withstood the heavy embargo that was imposed upon Muslims.
She could have renounced her faith, but as she watched her husband lead by example, she became his most staunch follower, and it was through her husband’s leadership that Khadijah also earned the title of “leader” in her own right, and is recognized by God All-Mighty Himself, as one of the four perfect women in Islam.
Marriages after Khadijah
Things changed after Khadijah passed away. The heavy embargo that she had endured was too much for her elderly state. It was the year of sadness, when Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, put her down for her final rest. She had been his only wife for 25 years, and he was saying goodbye to his confidante, his best friend, his partner, and the mother to his six children.
But there was revelation thereafter, for Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to wed one wife after another (without divorce). This directive was for him alone while other believing men were encouraged to marry one wife up to four maximum.
There are many lessons that we can learn from Prophet Muhammad’s marriages. All of them, firstly, were directives from God. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never married out of his own desire but was guided by God to marry women who were later given the title “Mothers of Believers”, and honored as Mothers throughout Islamic History.
Moreover, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught wisdom as to how to handle disputes with wisdom in a polygamous household, setting examples for other men to follow, if they were even able to be fair to two wives.
All Wives Were Honored as Per the Quran
Prophet Muhammad remained to be the best of all husbands. He always reminded his male companions to be kind to their wives as he was kind to his wives, and that he was of the best character when it came to dealing with marital relations.
He repaired his own clothing, did his household chores, ran errands, all while taking care of his family and continuing his dawah work amongst the Muslims, new Muslims and those who were interested in Islam.
He treated all his wives in fairness. It was known that marrying many women was not a luxury for Prophet Muhammad. He still lived in hardship and worked hard to provide for all of them, with whatever little sustenance he had. His wives too were of full understanding of what the marriage entailed as they too abandoned the worldly life for the Hereafter.
While all the Mothers of Believers were given adequate lodging and sustenance, they were treated with equity. Aisha daughter of Abu Bakr for example, was the youngest wife of the Prophet and was the only wife who had been unmarried before. Because of this, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, provided more time and attention to her as the other women he had married were more mature in dealing with marital affairs.
As a young wife, Aisha was playful, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, would race her when they were in the outdoors. Once, a group of Abysinians in the middle of a sporting event piqued her interest, and Aisha watched with curiosity by her husband’s side, until she grew bored and withdrew on her own accord.
Aisha grew up to be very independent and it was through the years of her inquisitiveness, always asking the Prophet of certain narrations or sayings, that gave rise to her intellect and recognition as one of the most important scholars in Islamic History.
Prophet Muhammad encouraged her questions to ensure every detail that could cause unearthed ambiguity, and it is mostly through a young girl’s eyes of innocence, could this be done.
(to be continued In-Shaa-Allah…)
By Maria Zain