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33:50 The Prophet’s marriage to his wives

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O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

A’ishah said, “I often felt jealous of those women who offered themselves (in marriage) to the Prophet.”  (Bukhari)  A woman named Khawlah bint Hakim walked into the mosque one day and proposed to the Prophet, offering herself in marriage.  The Prophet remained silent for a few moments, and then a man stood up and said, “Messenger of God, marry her to me.”  The Prophet asked the man about the potential dowry he could offer her, and it turned out he had no possessions, so the woman accepted for her dowry that the man teach her what he knew of the Qur’an.  On another occasion, a woman named Umm Sharik entered the mosque and also offered herself in marriage to the Prophet.  The Prophet again declined the offer.  A’ishah, who was present, remarked (out of jealousy) that she thought any woman who so brashly offered herself in marriage to a man was something of a lowlife.  This verse was revealed to the Prophet to lay out specifically what sort of women he was allowed to take as wives.  It is said that Maymunah bint al-Harith, whom the Prophet did accept after she offered herself, is especially referenced here.

The Prophet received specific instructions and allowances for his own personal life.  He was allowed to have more than the maximum legal limit of four wives, due to his status, which made it possible to broker alliances through marriage, support widows and also marry those who were unwilling to marry others, such as Zaynab, who had very high standards regarding who her husband would be.  The Prophet married a total of eleven women (after his first wife died) while in Mecca and Medina, (though he was monogamous with his first wife Khadijah for over twenty-three years in Mecca until she died, bringing the total number of women he married in his lifetime to twelve).  He never had more than nine living wives at one time, for he had married several older widows, and some of them passed away before he did.  All of his marriages after Khadijah passed away were to support widows, demonstrate legal rulings, or cement alliances.


Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

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