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HomeProphet Muhammad (pbuh)Why Did The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Practice Polygamy?

Why Did The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Practice Polygamy?


The names of the women whom the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him)[1] married are as follows: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her), Sawda bint(daughter) Zamʿa, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, Hafsa bint Umar, Zaynab bint Khuzayma, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Hind bint Abu Umayya (Um Salamah), Ramla bint Abu Sufyan (Um Habeebah), Juwayriyya bint Al Harith, Safiyya bint Huyayy, Maria al-Qibtiyya,Maymunah bint Al Harith.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stayed married to Khadijah for around twenty years and did not marry another woman during this marriage. It should be stated that this was a very unusual choice for the Arab people at that time. Because it was not common in Arab people at that time for a man to be married to a single woman during his youth when he felt the strongest biologically.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Khadijah got married when Khadijah proposed to him. Kadijah is among the strong women of her time. She had two marriages before the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and had children from these marriages. There is a very large age difference between her and the prophet Muhammed (PBUH).[2]The Prophet(PBUH) did not marry for about two years after Khadijah’s death.[3]

Sawda bint(daughter) Zamʿa was left alone with her children after her husband passed away. The prophet Muhammed (PBUH) proposed to Sawda after his lost to his first wife Khadijah after two and a half years. She was 55 years old when she married to the prophet Muhammed (PBUH).[4]

The only woman that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married when she was young is Aisha.  He married Aisha because of his position at home and the fact that he was the leader of the Islamic state and Muslims, he needed support in carrying the heavy burden on his shoulders. [5] As a matter of fact,Aisha has been the source of many family-related information for Muslim women and is among the companions who transmitted the most hadith.

Hafsa who was given the good news that she is garanted Paradise and the daughter of one of the caliphs of prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Umar. Due to the death of Hafsa’s husband in the battle of Uhud, Umar arranged the marriage  between Hafsa and the prophet Mohammed (PBUH).[6]

Zaynab bint Khuzayma lost her husband in the Battle of Badr. Because of her widowhood,  the prophet Muhammad(PBUH) accepted herself as his wife. After staying 3 months together, Zaynab passed away.[7]

Zaynab bint Jahsh first married  to the prophet Muhammad’s(PBUH) freed slave , Zayd. This marriage ended due to the lack of balance between the spouses.[8] Zaynab was married to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)  by the order of Allah. [9]

Hind bint Abu Umayya (Um Salamah) was widowed with four children due to the loss of her husband in the Battle of Uhud. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married Um Salamah to protect her and her children.[10]

Ramla bint Abu Sufyan (Um Habeebah) is the daughter of Abu Sufyan[11] and was among the first Muslims with her husband. Um Habeebah and her husband are among the convoys who migrated to Abyssinia(Ethiopia) due to the persecution of Muslims in Mecca in the first period of Islam. However, her husband left Islam and became a Christian in Abyssinia. Although Um Habeebah tried her best, she could not change her husband’s faith. At the end noticing that her efforts were fruitless she divorced her husband.  The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made a marriage proposal to her after hearing that Umm Habeebah was alone in a foreign country. [12]

Juwayriyya bint Al Harith is the daughter of the leader of the Bani Al-Mustalaq tribe, which was the enemy of Muslims. In the war of this tribe with the Muslims, her husband died and she became a prisoner of the Muslims. Because she could not pay the ransom she asked for help from the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the prophet(PBUH) proposed marriage to her. This offer was not a choice between bondage or marriage rather It was a choice between either returning home or getting married. Juwayriyya also accepted this marriage proposal.[13]

Safiyya bint Huyayy is the daughter of the leader of the  a Jewish tribe Bani Nadir tribe. She lost her husband during the war of Khayber and became a widow. At the end of the war, she became a prisoner of the Muslims.[14] Hz. After the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told Safiyya about Islam, he asked her to choose between two options. These choices were as follows: Either she will remain a Jew and return to her tribe, or she will choose Islam and become the Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) wife. Safiyya chose to become a Muslim and She was married to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).[15]

Maria al-Qibtiyya was among the girls who was sent as a gift for the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) by the ruler of Egypt Muqawqis.The Muslim ambassador explained Islam to these two girls on their way back to Medina, and they converted to Islam and became Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married Maria.  The prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) son who was named İbrahim was born by Maria.[16]

The real name of Maymunah bint Al Harith was Barrah. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) changed this name to Maymunah. Maymune had two marriages before the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and she married the prophet (PBUH) at her own request.

In the Quran the wives of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are described as the mothers of all Muslims: ” The Prophet has a stronger affinity to the believers than they do themselves. And his wives are their mothers.”[17]

The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not marry for the sole purpose of obtaining worldly pleasure. In the last ten years of his life the prophet married the ten women and Maria, who was sent as a gift by Muqawqis. If getting worldly pleasure was at the forefront of the prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) marriage it would not be in the last ten years of his life; He would have preferred to marry more than one woman in his youth.

The historical process shows that a woman whose husband has passed away will continue her life with her children, encountering very difficult conditions if there is no one to protect her. Considering this fact, the marriages of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with older women and women with children will be more understandable. Also, the fact that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was married to needy, widowed, elderly women with children rather than young and single girls who could satisfy him also shows that he did not marry for personal satisfaction.

The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) marriage to more than one woman has provided various benefits such as family law and learning the right practices that should be applied in different situations of women. Muslim women asked the wives of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) questions they would be afraid to ask a man.[18]

The tribes of some of the women the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married became Muslims because of the kinship that occurred.[19] Thus, the spread of Islam accelerated. Most of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married when they were in difficult conditions, Hz. She was married to Mohammed. By marrying these women, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) both saved them from a difficult situation and became an example for Muslims in this regard.


[1] The cover photo is taken from the movie “Muhammad: The Messenger of God” directed by Majid Majidi.
[2] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was twenty five years old when he married Khadija; Khadija was forty years old when she married him.
[3] The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat),1/131.
[4] İbn Sa’d, The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8/52-53; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 6/211.
[5] İbn Sa’d, The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8/58; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 6/211.
[6] İbn Sa’d, The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8/83
[7] The Sira, 4/296-297; The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8/115; Al-Isti’ab, 4/1853.
[8] Al- Bukhari, Oneness, Uniqueness of Allah (Tawheed), 22.
[9] Al-Ahzab, 37-38
[10] The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8:89-90.
[11] Abu Sufyan is the leader of one of the Arab communities. He is among the Companions who converted to Islam with the conquest of Mecca.
[12] Ibn Abd al-Barr, Al-Isti’ab,IV, 422; Imam Ibn Hajar,Al-Asabah Fi Tamyeeze Al-Sahaba, IV, 299.
[13] The Sira, 3:307; The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8:117.
[14] The Sira, 3:351.
[15] The Book of the Major Classes (Tabakat), 8:123.
[16] see, “What is the Condition of Children Who Died According to Islam?”
[17] Al-Ahzab,6
[18] Among the Companions (followers) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), one of the seven people famous for giving many fatwas is Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
[19] Juwayriyya is the daughter of the leader of the tribe of Bani- Mustalaq. The marriage of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with Juwayriyya, who was a captive of Muslims, was seen as a respectable behavior by this tribe. Afterwards, the tribe of Bani- Mustalaq converted to Islam and became Muslims.