By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
02 September, 2014
All Reformers, past and present are primarily concerned with bringing radical changes to existing malpractices in human societies. These changes are often strongly opposed when they erode the privileges of some sections of society.
In particular, when changes impinge on the old social and religious sectors, the privileged class and clergy counters it with a campaign to malign the very character of the reformer. The tool used is the holy Apocryphal corpus. For Muslims it is called Hadith.
Here it is attempted at common-sense level to refute the character assassination of Messenger Muhammad on the premise that:-
If Hadith written centuries later and under very a different environment is believed as gospel, then why not accept the logical deductions without succumbing to any holy reverence of a human being who endeavoured to implement universal moral and ethical changes in society?
For example, Messenger Muhammad’s marriages had brought paradigm changes, which are embodied in Quran. However the Hadith compilers and its followers for their own reasons opposed them.
First off: Dictionary definitions of marriage;
- The condition of being a husband or wife; the relation between persons married to each other; --Matrimony.
- The ceremony, act or contract by which man and woman become husband and wife.
- Marriage-bed - A generic term describing the right to procreate within marriage.
- Polygamy- The practice or custom of having more than one spouse at the same time. Antonym-monogamy.
A mature couple, if fertile could procreate as a legal right- The child of marriage bed.
Common sense medical opinion on the subject is: -“A male is said to be fertile from the age of teens (~14). There is no concept of 'male fertility' as males can produce viable sperm at all ages after puberty.
A female similarly is said to be fertile from the age of 14 on onset of menstruation till the age of 45-50 (menopause, cessation of production of a viable ovum).Maximal fertility is between the ages of 20-35. Upper limit is 60's in rare cases.
For the above stated purpose, historical and Apocryphal knowledge of Muhammad’s marriages is that:-
-In all he had ten or eleven wives.
-While still in Makkah and at the age of about twenty five he had married his first wife, a rich lady, twice widowed and much senior to him. They had four girls and two sons. Both sons died in infancy.
-When she had passed away, he married two women a few years later, one about seventy and contrastingly the other, the child-bride of age seven or so – Sahih Bukhari Vol. 5 Chapter 43.
-This child-bride is said to be the daughter of his trusted friend and right-hand man, who became the first Khalifa/Head of State, after Muhammad’s death. This marriage was consummated two or more years later, after his migration to Madinah. The child-bride stayed with him till he passed away after twelve years or so in Madinah.
-During Muhammad’s remaining life in Madinah, where he consolidated his position as head of State by creating a viable State, he had married the rest of the ladies.
-He consummated marriage, with only ONE lady in Madinah and sired a child, a son from her.
-The son who, just as the two previous sons in Makkah, had died in childhood. This is confirmed by Quran 33-40.
-No child was born to the child-bride even in her mature age.
As for Mohammad’s super-human prowess:
The Bukhari “Sahîh Hadis” no.6, Vol 7, page 5 has this to say:-
“Narrated Anas, the Prophet used to go round (have sexual relations with) ALL his wives in one night, and he had nine wives”.
This is compares with other religious personalities:
On page 122 Hadith 169 volume 7Sahi, by Abu Huraira; a self-confessed fabricator (Vol.7 page 203, No.268), narrates how Solomon would sire only sons from hundred wives. See also 1 King 11-3 in the Bible. Krishna tops the list in having many times more wives.
The stories of Muhammad’s crush for his cousin, adopted son’s divorced wife--History of Tabari, Vol. 8I–is matched with the Biblical story of King David’s crush on Uriah’s wife.
Some logical conclusions can be drawn from the above:-
1- The Messenger was not infertile during his life in Madinah, as he begot a child from one lady in this period too.
2- Except for the elderly lady referred to above, the other women including the child-bride could not have been all barren as most were young and of child bearing age.
3- The second lady he sired child of marriage bed was within monogamous marriage and after the first wife had passed away.
History also shows that God chooses His messengers and reformers from those who show strength of character to bring about radical changes in existing society’s paradigms, even prior to being commissioned as Messengers.
And to usher in that social revolution is an integral part of that commission.
From The Quran:-
Chapter Four, ‘Nisa’- The Women - gives the following and is briefly quoted:-
Nikah-is: “……a solemn pledge” (4-6, 24):-
Nikah/Marriage therefore, is a Covenant between physically and intellectually mature man and a woman 4-21…
4-2: “Orphans in the community are like your family members (33-5). Be vigilant in guarding their rights (4-127). Protect their property honestly, and give it to them when they have come of age…”
4-3: “If you fear that you (the society) shall not be able to do justice with orphans (as may happen in times of war and political turbulence, the government shall announce a state of emergency), then, in order to accommodate widows and orphans, men of sound finances and character shall be encouraged to marry these widows; two, three and four (4-127). But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (4-34, 17-70, 18-28 & 20 for additional ref.), then, you must not take additional wives,…”.Translation by Dr Shabbir Ahmed’s Al Quran.
The phrase ‘…two, three and four’ is significant in that it excludes the first marriage as being the one with conjugal rights! See also 33-4.
So, Muhammad must have married the other ladies under non-conjugal covenants for their protection on terms such as, maintenance of human dignity and for peace-keeping strategies with warring tribes and not for the marriage bed relations.
The Quran thus ordained commands to its Believers to give shelter to orphans, widows and their families in the society to maintain harmony during emergencies; to ensure that no orphans and homeless are left in a civilised society.
On the charge of paedophilia, G.A. Parwez and others have argued, quite logically with calculation of ages of Ayesha and her older sister, the two daughters of Abu Bakr, and showed that the so called child-bride was at least seventeen or nineteen, if not if not older when married!
Therefore, as she did not give Muhammad a child even in mature age, she could not have been married to the Messenger with conjugal rights.
Alternatively Shabbir Ahmad quotes that the person named Ayesha was not the child of Abu Bakr but his sister Ayesha, who was widowed when her husband was killed in a battle.
In keeping with the TREND Muhammad had established in his life, of marrying widows and slaves of mature ages, the above make perfect logical sense.
Messenger Muhammad’s marriage to his adopted son’s divorced wife, Muhammad’s cousin- Ref. 33-37 of Quran; these important social issues arise;-
1-It is accepted by all that, because of incompatibility and social stigmas attached, the couple’s marriage was at breaking point. Under these pressures the husband wanted to divorce her but Muhammad advised against it.
2-Marriage amongst cousin was/is not forbidden in most senior religions.
Judaism and Christianity allow cousin marriage.
Arjuna fell in love with and married his first cousin.
Gautama Buddha was married to his first cousin.
However some in the modern medical fraternity discourage it…And
3-Adopted relationship is not blood relationship; so an adopted son is not that also.
Therefore as indicated in the verse, Muhammad’s hesitancy in granting them divorce and later to marry her himself, was because of fear of social stigma of marrying ex-slaves and adopted son’s divorced wife was considered anti-social and an immoral act.
But Muhammad was allowed to marry her and so defy the customs, as he had wanted to initially and break this nexus between upper and lower classes, in order to set up an egalitarian society as per 17-70.
Being human, Muhammad may have fallen for his cousin. The question must be asked: - did he scum to it in a base manner? The answer is NO; for it is agreed by all that:-
a)-He requested her husband not to divorce her when the husband wanted to.
b)-As given in the stories, Muhammad had walked away when exposed to the tempting situation. So nothing saintly about that. Any human with a speck of decency would do the same.
Therefore, his marriages had these salient features:
- They were not polygamous, paedophilic or immoral. Although there were many other vices in Arab society of the time, Paedophilia is not one of them.
- The orientalists ‘charge that it was the first wife’s wealth for which he had married her is refuted; for it is accepted in Hadith and history that it was she who had proposed this marriage, having been impressed by his honesty and integrity when he was in her employ.
Thus a radical change was initiated in the customs of the society where war captives and slaves customarily were not given any high State and social status. Instead he raised them to the status of mothers of believers as given in33-6.
In Quran, marriage is a covenant and commitment and must be made:
- With terms mutually agreed to by the mature couple.
- Right to procreate exists only in monogamous marriage.
- Marriage with multiple females is allowed with specially drawn covenant with non-conjugal rights.
From above it is possible to logically defend the very defendable; and reject the slanderous charges against a human social engineer and reformer, the messenger Muhammad.
It says in Quran45-6: Then Oh Believers: …in which stories after the revelation of God has come to them would they then believe in, (also 7-185)?
Incredibly those who proclaim Belief in the Book Quran also take Hadith as gospel truth!
Mankind is given the right in the Book to use God-given intelligence 25-73so why don’t they use it?
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer