Harem tales: The merry wives of Muhammad

Almost to the day he died, Muhammad continued to add women to his harem, either as wives or concubines. Most married him voluntarily, others were taken as captives and had no choice in the matter. The following account of his love life is from It’s All About Muhammad, A Biography of the World’s Most Notorious Prophet:

ACCORDING TO THE STANDARD ACCOUNTS, MUHAMMAD HAD THIRTEEN wives and concubines, beginning with Khadija, his wealthy wife of twenty-five years who died three years before he fled Mecca to Yathrib. Then came Sauda, the stout, matronly woman he married several months after Khadija’s death as a caretaker for his children; Aisha, Abu Bakr’s daughter whom he married shortly after he arrived in Yathrib when she was nine years old; Umar’s daughter Hafsa, a twenty-year-old widow when he married her; Zaynab Khuzayma, who died eight months after the marriage; Umm Salama, an early convert and widow of one of Muhammad’s first cousins; Zaynab the daughter of Jahsh, a maternal first cousin previously married to Muhammad’s adopted son Zayd; Juwayriya, the Bedouin princess taken as booty after he conquered her Mustaliq tribe; Ramlah, the daughter of Muhammad’s foremost Meccan enemy Abu Sufyan; Rayhana, a Jewish woman enslaved after the massacre of the Qurayza Jews; Safiya, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl taken as booty during the conquest of Khaybar; Maria the Copt, given to him as a slave by the ruler of Egypt along with her sister, a mule, and a eunuch; and Maymuna, the thirty-six-year-old half-sister of Zaynab Khuzayama.

These were the established wives whose involvement with Muhammad is given detailed attention in the early histories and biographies. A deep search of the literature, however, reveals Muhammad acquired or attempted to acquire many other women during his years in Yathrib, particularly during the several years leading up to his death—at least another twenty, but perhaps many more. He offered dowries of gold, the fame of being married to the man God talked to, and an assured place in Paradise, but none of these relationships worked out. Some were brief marriages that ended in divorce due to conflicts or disenchantment; some were marriages performed at a distance by proxy, but which also ended in divorce when the bride saw Muhammad or Muhammad got a gander at the bride. In several cases, the established wives conspired to undermine new or emerging rivals. To his embarrassment, several women to whom he proposed flatly rejected his advance.

His endless womanizing confounds unless seen as yet another compulsion, like the elaborate and exhausting prayer rituals he performed day and night, each a fleeting fix for deep psychological problems. We read of unions with Fatima, the daughter of Shuray, and Saba, the daughter of Asma, and Sharaf, the sister of the Angel Gabriel look-alike Dihya, and Amra, the daughter of Zayd of the Kilab tribe who had been previously married to Muhammad’s first cousin Fadl, the son of Abbas. We learn that two of the women he married by proxy died on the way to join him in Yathrib: Khawla the daughter of Hudhayl, a famous tribal chieftain in Syria, and Sana, who was also known as Nashat, a Yemeni woman. These women and many others are hardly more than names. There is more detail about Amra, the daughter of Yazid: When she was brought to Muhammad and he disrobed her, he discovered she had leprosy and sent her back to her tribe. And we know something about Duba, the daughter of Amr, famed for her beauty and Rapunzel hair. Eager for a marital connection to Muhammad, her clan had played up her beauty to entice him into an engagement, but he backed out when he learned she was in fact old, her looks faded.

 Aisha was the daughter of one of Muhammad's most trusted people, Abu Bakr, who became the first caliph of Islam following his death. Muhammad was betrothed to her when she was six years old and he was fifty years old. She was turned over to him as his wife three years later, and it is recorded that he slept with her then for the first time. She was nine years old, had a collection of rag dolls, and played dolls with girls that he allowed to visit her. She later told interviewers she did not understand what was happening to her the first time he penetrated her.

Aisha was the daughter of one of Muhammad’s most trusted people, Abu Bakr, who became the first caliph of Islam following his death. Muhammad was betrothed to her when she was six years old and he was fifty years old. She was turned over to him as his wife three years later, and it is recorded that he slept with her then for the first time. She was nine years old, had a collection of rag dolls, and played dolls with girls that he allowed to visit her. She later told interviewers she did not understand what was happening to her the first time he penetrated her.

Several of the established wives made a sport of scuttling the prospects of some of the more promising upstarts, as they did to Asma, the daughter of a leading sheikh of the Kindah tribe. After converting, the sheikh offered Muhammad his daughter, touting her as the most beautiful among Arab widows. He explained that her husband had only recently died, and now her heart inclined to Muhammad. Muhammad offered him twelve gold coins for Asma and held firm when the man plied him for more. News of her beauty reached the established wives before she got to the mosque. Once there, she was taken to the wives’ quarters where Aisha and Hafsa, mischief in their hearts, prepared her for Muhammad’s bed. One of them said to her, “The Prophet likes a woman brought before him to say, ‘I seek Allah’s protection from you.’” So, when she entered his room and he locked the door, let down the curtain, and reached out to her, the woman said, “I seek Allah’s protection from you.” Muhammad, who had worked himself up in anticipation of the finale, was taken aback. It was a formulaic petition he himself had invented, and it meant she did not want him to touch her. Deeply offended, he divorced the hapless women and sent her back to her tribe despite protestations that she had been duped.[1]

With similar guile, Aisha removed a young woman named Mulayka as a rival. She was the daughter of a Bedouin leader who was killed during the skirmish with Khalid’s forces the day Muhammad conquered Mecca. Muhammad was aroused by accounts of Mulayka’s youth and beauty and contracted marriage with her from a distance. She would likely have become a permanent fixture at the mosque, but when she arrived in Yathrib, Aisha said to her, “Are you not ashamed to marry the man who killed your father?” Mulayka, devastated by the rebuke, ended up uttering the same words to Muhammad as Asma: “I take refuge with Allah from you.” She was sent packing as well.[2]

Tattling wives did in a couple of others. A woman named Shanba of the Ghifari tribe was set to sleep with Muhammad after her period was over, proving that she was not pregnant. During the waiting period, a child that had been born to Maria the Copt died, Muhammad’s only offspring other than his children with Khadija. Shanba was heard to remark, “If he were a prophet, his son would not have died!” One of the established wives reported her comment to Muhammad, and he divorced her.[3] Another victim of the tattlers had a habit of peeking through the cracks of the door to her room at the young bucks going to and from the prayer area or hanging around the mosque courtyard. It is unknown how long she and Muhammad had been married, but it was long enough for her to have a room of her own. When Muhammad learned of her behavior, he spied on her and divorced her after catching her in the act.[4] Muhammad’s reputation as a skirt chaser scuttled another. We read of Layla, a Khazraj girl who came up behind him at the mosque one day and startled him by smacking him on the back. When he turned around, she said, “I am the daughter of him who feeds the birds and outpaces the wind. I am Layla, daughter of al-Khatim. I have come to you to present myself to you. Will you marry me?” He liked what he saw and said, “Consider it done!” She went back to her people to announce the marriage, but her relatives said, “What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting woman, but the Prophet is a womanizer. Seek an annulment from him.” She returned to Muhammad to request an annulment, and he complied.[5][6]

Because Muhammad married a young girl, it is permissible today for Muslims to do the same. This practice can be found throughout the Islamic world.

Because Muhammad married a young girl, it is permissible today for Muslims to do the same. This practice can be found throughout the Islamic world.

Muhammad’s appearance doomed other unions. During the last few years of his life, he put on weight to the point of corpulence. His face became fleshy; he walked with a lurch that left unnaturally wide footprints; when he was seated cross-legged, it looked like he could never get up again without help. He had taken to applying henna to his beard so that it went from salt and pepper to blazing orange. People who saw him for the first time sometimes remarked, “That is your prophet?”[7] The only thing he had going for him was his reputation for getting what he wanted and his claim that God talked to him, but even that did not impress some of the ladies. When the chieftain of a powerful Yemeni tribe paid a visit to him to swear allegiance, he brought his daughter Umayma as an offering in marriage. It was arranged for Muhammad to meet with her in a garden. Various accounts are given, but in all of them it appears the woman found him repugnant. “Can a princess give herself in marriage to an ordinary man?” she said. When he reached out to touch her, she told him to keep his hands off of her and appealed for Allah’s protection against him. He became furious and only calmed down when the go-between, a nephew of her father, said, “Don’t let that bother you, Messenger of God. I have someone more beautiful for you.” He arranged for Muhammad to marry his sister Qatila. She turned out to be the last of the would-be wives, because he died while she was en route to join him in Yathrib.[8]

Perhaps the rejection that hurt him most deeply came from his first love, Umm Hani, one of Abu Talib’s daughters. They had been raised together under Abu Talib’s roof and Muhammad had one day asked his uncle for her hand, but his uncle turned him down and married her instead to a Meccan nobleman named Hubayra. Neither Umm Hani nor Hubayra believed in Muhammad’s claims about himself, particularly Umm Hani, who knew from their early life together of Muhammad’s maladies. She better than anyone understood that his delusion of being taken up into Heaven from her home one night was the product of his illnesses. She had attempted to stop him from talking about it, without success. Her husband was a poet, and until the day of the conquest of Mecca he had never ceased to ridicule Muhammad in verse. After the conquest, Umm Hani joined the rest of the Meccans in converting to avoid the death penalty, while Hubayra fled for his life to Najran where he died a disbeliever. According to Muhammad’s rules, conversion annulled a prior marriage if the spouse remained an unbeliever, so that Umm Hani’s conversion cleared the way for him to propose to her. But she turned him down with lame excuses, such as the fact she had young children and she did not want them bothering him. She also pointed to one of the self-serving verses he had composed several

Mass marriage of adult males to young girls that took place recently in Gaza.

Mass marriage of adult males to young girls that took place recently in Gaza.

years earlier to justify his earlier marriage to Zayd’s former wife, which stated that the only Meccan women allowed to him for marriage were those who had emigrated with him.[9] “So I became unlawful to him because I did not emigrate with him. I was one of those who were converted to Islam against their will,” she later told an interviewer.[10]

The net result of these misadventures was that Muhammad ended his life with an official harem count of only thirteen women. Three of them died before him: Khadija, Zaynab Khuzayma, and Rayhana. That left ten women he was cohabitating with in his latter years. He rotated among them, spending a night with each in turn when he was in town, taking one or two of them with him when he was on the warpath. Though there were ups and downs among the established wives and occasionally acute tensions, the majority of his wives did not make too much of a fuss over the fact they were but one of many. They benefited from their status as wives of Muhammad and enjoyed honorific titles such as “Mother of the Believers” and “Consort of Purity.” Though they sometimes accused him of stinginess, Muhammad was a reliable provider and made certain they had what they needed—food, clothing, spending money, all paid for from his share of the spoils of war. After the conquest of Khaybar and Fadak and the seizure of the Jewish date plantations and crop fields, Muhammad awarded each of his established wives eighty camel loads of dates and twenty of barley.

Apart from the two Jewish wives who had been traumatized by his mass murder of their loved ones, the only wife who appears to have suffered deep psychological damage from Muhammad was Aisha, whom he married when she was but a child. Throughout her marriage, she continually experienced severe jealousy as new women came onto the scene to compete for Muhammad’s affection, transforming her into an angry and disruptive presence at the mosque. Stories are told of her smashing dishes of food sent by other wives to her room when Muhammad was with her and of catfights and loud arguments with other wives.[11]

Muhammad acquired Safiya, a 17-year-old Jewish woman, after torturing and beheading her husband following the conquest of the Jewish oasis of Khaybar. He told his men to select women for themselves from among the captives, and when he heard of Safiya's beauty, ordered Bilal, a black former slave, to bring her before him. He offered her freedom as her dowry if she married him.

Muhammad acquired Safiya, a 17-year-old Jewish woman, after torturing and beheading her husband following the conquest of Khaybar. He told his men to select women for themselves from among the captives, and when he heard of Safiya’s beauty, ordered Bilal, a black former slave, to bring her before him. Captivated by her beauty, he offered her freedom as her dowry if she married him.

Her relationship with Muhammad was psychologically complex. As a girl she needed devoted love to thrive emotionally, yet to Muhammad she was merely a favorite among his other wives because of her youth. He had sex with her for the first time when she was nine years old, and she later said that she did not understand what was happening to her the first time he penetrated her. Back then, the only other spouse was Sauda, and she was more like a mother to Aisha than a rival for Muhammad’s affection. Muhammad began accumulating more wives two years after marrying Aisha with his marriage to Umar’s daughter Hafsa, who was twenty years old at the time.
Seeing Muhammad shift his affection away from her to Hafsa gave Aisha the first stab of jealousy. It became so severe that on one occasion she wished for death. This occurred when Muhammad took both of them on a raid. On the way, Hafsa rode her camel next to Muhammad, and they chatted amiably while Aisha trailed behind, in anguish over being forgotten and ignored. When they made a rest stop, Aisha wandered barefoot into a grassy area and begged God for a scorpion or snake to bite her and put an end to her misery.[12]

Wittingly or unwittingly, Muhammad fanned her jealousy by often praising his first wife to her face. Whenever he slaughtered an animal, he would praise the memory of Khadija and send choice cuts to her sister Hala and other women who had been close to her. Khadija was the best wife he had ever had, Muhammad would often tell Aisha. Khadija had believed in him when no one else did and was the first to embrace his religion. She was so great a wife that God had instructed him to tell her before she died that that she would have a palace in Paradise made of precious stones and pearls. Aisha would counter that Khadija had been nothing more than a talkative, meddlesome old woman with inflamed gums in the place of teeth. “Allah has given you somebody better than her,” she would say, referring to herself.[13]

What compounded her anguish was that Muhammad was not so much indifferent to her feelings as completely oblivious. He continuously violated her heart, as when he gleefully informed her while in bed with her that Allah had just granted him permission to marry Zaynab, his former daughter-in-law, or when he proposed to the comely Juwayriya while in Aisha’s presence. She had no recourse, as Muhammad was incapable of seeing the impact of his behavior on her. Again and again, he tried to convince her that her jealousy had nothing to do with him; it came from a devil that possessed her. She should cheerfully accept what almighty Allah, in his mercy and kindness, allowed his prophet. His reasoning was of no avail. In the grip of her devil, she spied on him, peeping through cracks in the door when he was with a new wife. On one occasion he beat her after she followed him. He had gone out from her room late one night, and suspicious he was heading for an amorous rendezvous, she tailed him. It turned out he had only gone to a nearby cemetery to perform sets of his prayer routines. He realized she had been following him after he returned to her room and saw she was out of breath. When she admitted to having followed him, he hit her. In one account of the incident, he slapped her hard; in another, he punched her in the chest.[14]

Instead of exorcising her devil, the chastisement pushed her into aggressiveness. She subverted Muhammad’s new love interests whenever she could, as she did with Mulayka and Asma and others. She was quick to anger with other wives. On one occasion she punched and kicked Sauda for a perceived slight. Having witnessed the mass beheading of the Qurayza Jews, she absorbed Muhammad’s hatred for Jews and was merciless with Safiya after he brought her from Khaybar as a new wife. She became a prankster as well. On one occasion she and Hafsa convinced the slow-witted Sauda that the fearsome Dajjal was on the way to Yathrib at the head of hordes of blood-dripping monsters that had broken free of Gog and Magog. Sauda became so frightened that she hid in a shed and only came out after Muhammad found out about the cruel prank and coaxed her out of hiding. She pulled some pranks on Muhammad as well, once convincing him that he emitted an offensive body odor every time he ate honey given to him by one of the wives Aisha was jealous of. For that prank, she recruited Sauda, who took part in it because she was afraid of Aisha, to repeat to Muhammad about his body odor whenever he ate the honey. He had a horror of body odor to the point that he constantly washed and brushed his teeth. He even banned garlic and onions for people joining in congregational prayer or who had appointments to see him. Having heard that he stank from two of his wives, he refused to eat any more of the honey.

Her behavior turned cruel when she raised doubts about Muhammad’s paternity of Ibrahim, the child he had with Maria the Copt. Maria was a fair-skinned Egyptian with wavy hair. Everyone raved about her beauty, particularly Muhammad. He began spending more time with her than anyone else, moving her to one of the Nadir properties he had seized several years earlier to keep her apart from the rest of the wives. This became a necessity after she became pregnant. With the announcement she was expecting, all

Then Umar’s daughter Hafsa turned hostile on him. He had no one to blame but himself over this: She returned to her room from a visit to relatives one day to find him in her bed on top of the Christian slave girl. She screamed hysterically: “In my room, on my day, and on my own bed!”[17] Like any husband caught in the act, Muhammad was red faced and was eager to hush it up. It was not exactly adultery, but it upset the rotation schedule, the modus vivendi that he had established among his wives—one night with each in turn. He swore he would not have anything more to do with Maria and begged Hafsa not to say anything about it to anyone, but she told Aisha and soon everyone knew.

Muhammad’s apology was not enough for Hafsa. Following the example of Aisha, she began to talk back to him and joined with Aisha in plotting ways to upset him. Her father Umar found out about it as a result of a heated argument with his wife. When he rebuked her that it was not the place of a woman to argue with a man, she said that Hafsa argued with Muhammad all the time to the point that he would be upset for an entire day. If Hafsa could argue with Muhammad, she could argue with Umar. Umar was shaken. This was surely the influence of Yathrib women. In Mecca, men dominated their women, but Yathrib women ran roughshod over their men. Aisha had taken up the bad habits of Yathrib women, and now she had infected his daughter. He stormed into Hafsa’s room at the mosque. Hulking over her, he scolded her and warned her she was on the path to ruin for upsetting “Allah’s Apostle.” If she kept at it Muhammad would likely divorce her. He blamed Aisha and warned Hafsa against her influence. Then he sought out Aisha and Umm Salama and gave them a tongue lashing as well. They were all on the road to ruin, he warned. If they earned Muhammad’s anger they earned Allah’s anger, and if they earned Allah’s anger they were doomed to hellfire. Aisha told Umar to mind his own business; so did Umm Salama.

Even without the back talking of Aisha and Hafsa Muhammad was losing patience with his wives. Their bickering over everything had become nightmarish. Not just one wife but nine were hammering him. For a time it was about Maria. Lately, the wives were complaining to him about Aisha. She was his favorite, and because of that whenever anyone brought gifts for him, they would always leave them with Aisha. It was not right. People with gifts should have the courtesy to bring them to the woman whose day it was to be with him. Then there was the intractable problem of Zaynab. Zaynab acted like a snotty princess. She considered herself superior to all the other wives because she was the only one among them whom Allah Almighty had authorized Muhammad to marry. She knew the verses he had come up with when he was in bed with Aisha, and she happily recited them to anyone foolish enough to challenge her about it. That was a tough one for Muhammad to deal with: Allah had said to him what he said while he was in bed with Aisha, and there was no way to change what Allah said. He let them fight it out.

Following the conquest of Mecca and the battles of Hunayn and Taif, Aisha and Hafsa teamed up to cause Muhammad yet another harem headache by organizing the wives to pressure him for a greater monthly allowance. They got him to meet with them as a group to discuss their demands, but it did not go favorably for them. Possibly arranged ahead of time, Umar and Abu Bakr showed up. Umar listened to the wifely complaints for a while, then stood up to tell a story of what happened when one of his wives, the daughter of his Yathrib “brother,” pestered him for money. “I wish you had seen it,” he said to Muhammad. “I got up and slapped her.” Muhammad laughed and said in essence, “That was only one woman. Take a look around, they all want more money out of me.” At that, Umar and Abu Bakr grabbed their daughters by the hair and beat them, a lesson to all the wives. “You ask Allah’s Messenger for what he does not possess,” they shouted as they slapped away, but Aisha and Hafsa held firm. “By Allah, we do not ask Allah’s Messenger for anything he does not possess.”[18]

Muhammad blew up at this. It is said that he became so upset that he stormed out of the room and declared himself on strike from his wives. He had had enough! He was furious about their bickering and their demands for more money, and he was still fuming at Hafsa for telling Aisha he had had sex with Maria in her room. That had caused him no end of embarrassment. He announced he intended to boycott them for an entire month. He climbed a ladder to a loft at the back of the residential quarters and posted a muscular Abyssinian slave at the foot of it to keep people away. For twenty-nine days, he never came down. Food was brought to the slave, who climbed the ladder to hand it off to him.

The boycott was ill-timed. While he was hiding out, reports reached Yathrib that the Ghassanids of Syria were preparing to make war on him. They were Christianized Arabs who controlled a large swath of what is now southern Syria and Jordan and had helped the Byzantines in their recent victory over the Persian empire. They were well equipped, battle-hardened, and fearsome. Spurred by Muhammad’s recent incursions into Syria and encouraged by Heraclius, the Ghassanids were preparing to make war on Muhammad, or such were the reports reaching Yathrib. The believers were in a fright. They were leaderless in a time of mortal danger. Muhammad was not even leading them in prayer any longer, nor was it he on the preacher platform giving them the guidance of Allah. Muhammad must have known about the geopolitical developments, but he remained cloistered, tossing around verses in his head to deal with the situation caused by his wives.

Toward the end of his boycott, a rumor coursed through the valley like a flash flood that Muhammad had decided to divorce them all. Umar learned about it from a friend who kept him informed of developments. The man pounded on his door early one morning shouting, “Open, open!” In a fright, Umar rushed to the door. “Are the Ghassanids coming?” “No,” the man said. “It’s even greater and more horrifying than that. Allah’s Apostle has divorced his wives!”[19]

Such was not the case, but the rumor was fanned by a verse Muhammad had crafted that sported with the idea of divorce: “Maybe his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you.” The verse went on to define the characteristics of the ideal wife: A widow or a virgin, it mattered not as long as she was submissive, believing, pious, penitent, devout, and inclined to fasting.[20] Muhammad had recited these new verses to someone, very likely the Abyssinian slave, with instructions to repeat them in the mosque. Once they were thus publicized, the divorce rumor was born.

After learning the horrifying news, Umar ran to find Hafsa. She was in her room weeping. A scowling Umar said, “Did I not warn you about that? Did the Prophet divorce all of you?” Tears streaming down her face, she wailed, “I don’t know.”[21] He called her a loser and went to the loft, but he could not get by the slave. The slave announced his presence three times, but Muhammad did not acknowledge him. Frustrated, Umar said in a loud voice so that Muhammad could hear that he had not come to seek any favors for Hafsa. Quite the contrary: “By Allah, if Allah’s Messenger would command me to strike her neck, I would certainly do it.”[22] That did it. Muhammad let him climb up. Umar found him laying on his side on a palm mat, his head propped up on one arm. He had welts on his skin from the palm fronds, and the sight caused Umar to weep that his beloved prophet was living like a pauper. Other than the simple bed, there was little in the loft: leather water bags hanging from a rafter, a modest stock of dates, a chamber pot. Once he got a grip on his emotions, Umar brought Muhammad up to date about the Ghassanid threat and finally asked him point blank if he had divorced his wives. He let out a sigh of relief when Muhammad shook his head. When Umar first climbed into the loft, Muhammad was in a foul mood, but after hearing Umar’s stories about his arguments with his wife and his thoughts about the differences between Meccan and Yathrib women, he softened up and even smiled. Umar advised him to take a hard line with his wives.

After a long chat, they climbed down the ladder and went to the wives’ quarters. It was day twenty-nine of Muhammad’s rebellion against his wives, and he had thoroughly shaken up the entire Submitter community, particularly his wives. They were guilt-ridden wrecks, so that when he gave them the choice of divorce and the freedom to pursue the wealth of the world or staying with him subject to his restrictions and modest lifestyle, they gladly accepted to remain with him.

The boycott of his wives over, Muhammad prepared to make war on the Ghassanids.


1. Tabari, vol. 39, p. 190.
2. Ibid., p. 165.
3. Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 416.
4. Tabari, vol. 39, p. 187.
5. Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 428.
6. Another instance of such a marriage proposal occurred when a woman stood up during a mosque assembly and brazenly asked Muhammad to marry her, but she got less than she had hoped for her boldness. When Muhammad did not give an answer, a man stood up and said, “Messenger of Allah, marry her to me if you have no need of her.” Muhammad grilled him about what he had to offer her as a dowry. He was a pauper and possessed nothing more than the clothes he wore, but he boasted that he had memorized a number of Koran chapters. Muhammad announced that his knowledge of the Koran was her dowry, and he pronounced them man and wife on the spot.—Malik’s Muwatta, trad. 1069.
7. In his book, Understanding Muhammad, a Psychobiography, Ali Sina compiled evidence that Muhammad suffered from acromegaly, a disorder that in the last years of his life caused an abnormal enlargement of his head, fingers, hands, legs, and feet. He became barrel-chested as a result of it and walked with a lurch.
8. Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, pp. 423-4.
9. Koran, 33:50: “O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her—specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
10. Tabari, vol. 39, p. 197.
11. “The Role of Aisha in the History of Islam,” http://www. alhassanain.com/english/book/book/history_library/various_books the_role_of_Aisha_ in_the_ history _of_Islam_volume_1/005.html. The article contains traditions by the Sunni theologian Ahmad Ibn Hanbal whose work is unavailable in English except where included in translated works such as those of Ibn Kathir. He recorded numerous anecdotes about Aisha’s jealous behavior, most of them citing her as the source.
12. Sahih Muslim, trad. 5991.
13. Sahih Al-Bukhari, trad. 3821.
14. “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain.”—Sahih Muslim, trad. 2127. Another tradition found in Sahih Muslim about the incident does not mention the physical violence but records Muhammad’s explanation for her jealousy: “Aisha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported that one day Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came out of her (apartment) during the night and she felt jealous. Then he came and he saw me (in what agitated state of mind) I was. He said: ‘Aisha, what has happened to you? Do you feel jealous?’ Thereupon she said, ‘How can it be (that a woman like me) should not feel jealous in regard to a husband like you?’ Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: ‘It was your devil who had come to you,’ and she said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, is there along with me a devil?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Is devil attached to everyone?’ He said:. ‘Yes.’ I (Aisha) again said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, is it with you also?’ He said ‘Yes, but my Lord has helped me against him and as such I am absolutely safe from his mischief.’”—Sahih Muslim, trad. 6759.

What you don’t know about Muhammad can hurt you. Find out all about him and you will understand why Muslims do what they do: Amazon.com

What you don’t know about Muhammad can hurt you. Find out all about him and you will understand why Muslims do what they do: Amazon.com

15. Ibn Kathir related the tradition about the Angel Gabriel’s intervention in the matter: “When Mariya gave birth to Ibrahim, the Messenger of God seemed almost to begin having suspicions about him. Then Gabriel came down to him and said, ‘Peace be upon you, father of Ibrahim!’”—Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 432.
16. Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 433.
17. Swarup, Ram, Understanding the Hadith, p. 79.
18. Sahih Muslim, trad. 3506.
19. Sahih Al-Bukhari, trad. 5191.
20. The complete verse reads: “Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows, and virgins.”—Koran, 66:5.
21. Sahih Al-Bukhari, trad. 5191.
22. Sahih Muslim, trad. 3507.

This article may be used in whole or in part provided the following attribution is given: F. W. Burleigh is the author of It’s All About Muhammad, a Biography of the World’s Most Notorious Prophet. He blogs at www.itsallaboutmuhammad.com.