Facts behind the controversial Marriages of our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (saw) - Part II
 by : Labina Ahmed


Reader's Comment: By all accounts, any man over the age of 30 or 40, marrying a 9 or 12 years old girl, would be considered a paedophile in our civilized times and you cannot justify it, however hard you may try. Would you ever marry your daughter to a 50 year old man? Also, what do you call an act of a holy man when he fancies his adopted son's wife and forces him to divorce her so that he could marry him? How can he be every Muslim's Role Model?

Guided Ones Reply

Any marriage is considered as legal and successful, if the three conditions hold good.

  • The marriage should have the blessings of one/both parents.
  • State/Society should not take any offense and acknowledge the matrimony.
  • None of the spouses should live to repent or convey his/her displeasure at the decision of his/her parents/guardians to bind him/her in such an alliance, long after the marriage has taken place. The husband and wife should be happy of being married with each other, till they die.

None of the three and especially the last one, seem to have been defied or negated by the marriage of the prophet with Ayesha (ra). I wouldn't mind marrying off my daughter or sister, if all the three conditions get satisfied and she doesn't live on to repent this decision taken by me on her behalf.

Now, let's start with the definition of 'a Paedophile', in our civilized times. Paedophiles are individuals for whom sexual fantasies about children occupy a very prominent place and persist over a long period of time. Some of them will never become child abusers. For others, however, this danger exists and may be considerable. Occasionally, individuals who realize that their fantasies are "abnormal" and who feel that they pose a threat to children take it upon themselves to consult a specialist.

Only when a paedophile translates his fantasies into action and sexually abuses a child has he committed an offence in the eyes of the law. Beyond puberty, the terms paedophile and paedophilia should not be used, though the mistake is widely made. Confusion arises here because, in the eyes of the law, a child is a person who has not yet reached the age of majority. This is set at 18 in many countries (though not all) and in all international conventions. Biologically, however, children become mature at a much earlier age.

There are a number of traits or aspects of paedophiles. These are not exclusive to paedophiles and indeed need not all occur in one paedophile to be apparent. As previously mentioned, paedophiles are not a homogenous group but a heterogeneous group. The traits delineated through a resulting profile, have been based on the research carried out in recent years. Lack of empathy with children, Low self esteem, Lack of impulse control, Denial, History of previous paedophile activity, Poor family relationships, Low IQ, Loneliness, depression and relationship needs or having been themselves sexually abused in the past.

My first question to these slanderers - If you accuse Muhammed(saw) of being a paedophile ( May God forbid and forgive me for using this term even hypothetically to relate it to him), then, how many of these traits, as mentioned above, are to be found in any credible or non-credible historical accounts of his life? Dig out a Single! 

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) married Hadrat Khadijah (ra) an old widowed lady. The proposal of marriage is reported to have come from her. At that time Muhammad (saw) was of 25 years while Khadijah (ra) was 40 years old. Hadrat Sauda (ra) was the second wife of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Both were around 50 years old when they got married.

   Even if we look at it from the perspective of the victim, the slander of Prophet being a paedophile falls flat on it's nose. What happens to the person who suffers from the acts of such paedophiles? Simply put, what are the short and long term health and emotional consequences on those who get abused as a child or an adolescent? 'Peters (1988)1 suggested that child sexual abuse interacts with family background to produce disruption of the child's developing self-esteem and sense of mastery of the world (agency). It is these deficits, in turn, that increase the likelihood of psychological problems in later life. This model of developmental deficits leading to social and personal vulnerabilities in adult life, which in their turn create an increased risk of mental health problems. Greater vulnerability to depression is found in women who lack an intimate and confiding relationship (Henderson and Brown 1988; Harris 1988; Romans et al. 1992). Depression is also associated with lowered self-esteem and a sense of hopelessness about one's ability to influence one's life (Browne et al. 1986, Ingram et al. 1986). Thus the social, interpersonal and sexual problems associated with a history of child sexual abuse may themselves provide fertile ground for the development of mental health problems, particularly in the area of depressive disorders.

Now let's compare these traits to the accounts of life history of Mother Ayesha(ra), the one, whom ignorant(s) consider as someone who suffered from 'child abuse' at an early age, by all civilized definitions.

   It's documented that amongst the all wives of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) Hadrat Ayesha (ra) held an prominent position. Hadrat Ayesha (ra) was the daughter of the first caliph of Islam Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique (ra). Hadrat Ayesha (ra) married at the age of 9,12 or 19 years. Accounts vary. Hadrat Ayesha (ra) was not only superior in knowledge to all the wives of the Holy Prophet (saw) but also to the various male companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw). She passed away at the age of 63 years and never once, did she complain of her marriage with the prophet neither was she displeased of her father's consent in having her married off to the Prophet(saw). Was she scared of saying so? In one of her accounts mentioned in the same book which tells her age to be around 9, she is reported to have remarked: "I looked at the full moon and compared it to the face of prophet of God and I could not decide which one was more beautiful." This is how she felt of her husband and conveyed it to others in her mature old age.

   During the lifetime of their husband many women are obedient but the real test arises after the death. An opportunity then comes to practically do what they have always liked and to abstain from what they disliked but forced to by their deceased husbands.  Even after the death of the Prophet, Ayesha(ra) meticulously followed all his commands and injunctions.  He had preached generosity.  She retained this trait to the end of her life.  He had said that for women Hajj is their jihad.  She made it a point to perform Hajj every year.

She was also courageous and brave; she would often visit the graveyard alone at night to pray for the departed souls. In the thick of engagements, she would go to battlefields carrying water in leather bags on her back to quench the thirst of the fighting and injured soldiers.  In the battle of trenches, when the Pagans had besieged Medina and an attack from the Jews was feared she would go around to inspect the plan of defense by the Muslims.  She had sought permission of the Prophet during his lifetime, to participate actively in the battles but was refused.  She was tender hearted and the fear of God never left her heart.  She used to keep herself busy in prayers.

And finally, for those who see prophet's life as nothing but full of wives and harem like existence, no better words can better describe the turmoil's that he faced and abject poverty and hardships he and his wives had to endure in the face of accomplishing their God given mission.

Mother Ayesha(ra) describes it in these words: "The family of Muhammad had never eaten their fill of wheat bread for three successive days since they had migrated to Medina till the death of the Prophet." (Volume 8, Book 76, Number 461)

Her final respect for the exalted character and truthfulness of her husband speaks for itself in these words:- 'Aisha said to 'Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, "Bury me with my female companions (i.e. the wives of the Prophet) and do not bury me with the Prophet in the house, for I do not like to be regarded as sanctified (just for being buried there).'' (Volume 9:Book 92:Number 428)

And what about Zainab(ra)?

   Coming to the story of Zainab(ra) who was the Holy Prophet's first cousin, being the daughter of his aunt, Umaimah, daughter of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Zainab a full blooded Arab was intensely proud of her ancestry and exalted social status. Islam had envisaged and given to the world a civilization and culture in which there were no class divisions, no hereditary nobility, no vested interests. All men and women were to be free and equal in the sight of God. The Holy Prophet wanted to start with his own family carrying into actual effect of this noble ideal of Islam. Zainab was one of the early converts to Islam, and the Holy Prophet proposed to her brother that she should be given in marriage to Zaid. Zaid (ra) was among the slaves whom the Prophet had set free in the early days of his prophetic mission. Zaid appeared to be more intelligent and more alert than the others. He belonged to a respectable family, had been kidnapped as a child and sold from place to place until he reached Makkah. Young Zaid, newly freed, saw at once that it was better to sacrifice freedom for the sake of slavery to the Prophet. When the Prophet set the slaves free, Zaid refused to be freed and asked leave to continue to live with the Prophet. He did so, and as time went on his attachment to the Prophet grew. But in the meantime Zaid's father and his uncle were on his track and they ultimately heard he was in Makkah. In Makkah they traced  him in the house of the Prophet. Coming to the Prophet, they asked for the liberty of Zaid and offered to pay as much ransom as the Prophet should demand. The Prophet said Zaid was free and could go with him as he liked. He sent for Zaid and showed him his father and uncle. After the parties had met and dried their tears, Zaid's father told him that he had been freed by his kind Master and, as his mother was much afflicted by the separation, he had better return home. Zaid replied, "Father! Who does not love his parents? My heart is full of love for you and mother. But I love this man Muhammad so much that I cannot think of living elsewhere than with him. I have met you and I am glad.. But separation from Muhammad I cannot endure." Zaid's father and his uncle did their utmost to persuade Zaid to return home with them but Zaid did not agree. Upon this the Holy Prophet said, "Zaid was a freed man already, but from today he will be my son." Seeing this affection between Zaid and the Prophet, Zaid's father and uncle went back and Zaid remained with the Prophet (Hisham).

The Prophet wished to marry Zainab to Zaid who in spite of having been liberated by the Prophet and called his son, unfortunately still carried the stigma of slavery in the minds of some people. It was exactly this invidious distinction between ‘free’ and ‘slave’ which the Holy Prophet sought to remove by Zainab’s marriage with Zaid. Both Zainab and her brother were averse to this match and only yielded under pressure from the Holy Prophet. It is related that they both desired that the Holy Prophet himself should marry Zainab. In fact when marriage was first proposed to Zainab, she gave her assent under the impression that the Prophet wanted her for himself, but the Prophet insisted that she should accept Zaid.

The marriage leveled to the ground of all class distinctions and divisions. It was a practical demonstration of Islam’s noble ideal. The marriage was however, not a happy one. The marriage however ended in failure not so much due to a difference in the social status of Zainab and Zaid as to the incompatibility of their dispositions and temperaments and also due to a feeling of inferiority from which Zaid suffered. Differences arose, and Zaid expressed a desire to the Holy Prophet of divorcing Zainab. The news was grieving for the Prophet, for it was he who had insisted upon the marriage, and he therefore advised Zaid not to divorce her. He feared that people would object that a marriage which had been arranged by the Prophet was unsuccessful. 

After Zainab(ra) was divorced the Holy Prophet took her in marriage, that being the wish of the lady and her relatives before her marriage with Zaid, and the Prophet was, now that the marriage arranged by him proved unsuccessful, morally bound to accept their wishes. Moreover, the Qur’an had declared against an adopted son being regarded as if he were a real son, and now there was an opportunity where the Holy Prophet could by his own example deal a death-blow to that custom. The reason is plainly given in the second part of the verse: “We gave her to thee as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers about the wives of their adopted sons.” This verse sounds self serving to many, but wait and continue to read Zainab's(ra) perspective on this marriage..

   The divorced women till today, are generally looked down upon in popular estimation, and this was a case in which a freed slave divorced a lady of high birth. By also taking such a divorced woman as his wife, the false notion that divorce degraded women was removed as well.  Thus by this act, to which he was morally bound because the lady had been at first offered in marriage to him, he elevated the whole class of divorced women who would otherwise suffer life-long humiliation in society.

This simple story is made the basis of a mean attack on the Holy Prophet. It is stated that the Holy Prophet, having seen Zainab by chance through a half-open door, was fascinated by her beauty, and that Zaid, having come to know of this divorced her, and then she became the Prophet's wife. That more and more prejudiced writers accept this in present age, only shows how far religious prejudice may carry "criticism." It is admitted Zainab was the daughter of the Prophet's real aunt; it is admitted that she was one of the early believers in Islam who fled to Madinah; it is admitted that the Prophet himself had arranged the marriage between Zaid and Zainab; and finally it is admitted Zainab desired, as did also her brother, before she was married to Zaid, that she should be taken in marriage by the Holy Prophet.

What was it then which prevented the Prophet from marrying her when she was a virgin and when she herself ardently desired to get married to him? Had he not seen her before? He was so closely related to her that on the face of it such a supposition is absurd. Then there was no seclusion before Zainab’s marriage with the Prophet, a fact the truth of which is attested by all writers. Having not only seen her when she was a virgin, but knowing her fully well on account of her close relationship to him and her early belief in Islam, while both she and her relatives were desirous that the Prophet should take her for a wife, what hindered the Prophet from marrying her? The story is so absurd that any man possessing ordinary common sense would unhesitatingly reject it.

If he had any desire for self-gratification or if he had any passion for the lady, he would not have refused her when she was offered to him as a virgin. Refusal of her hand in the first instance, and take her in marriage when being divorced she was lowered in general estimation, shows conclusively that his motive in this marriage was anything but self-gratification.

The good and noble Rev. Bosworth Smith finds nothing in this marriage to cavil at. He says “It should be remembered, however, that most of Muhammad’s marriages may be explained, at least, as much by his pity for the forlorn condition of the persons concerned, as by other motives. They were almost all of them widows who were not remarkable for their beauty of their wealth, but quite the reverse. May not this fact, and his undoubted faithfulness to Khadija till her dying day, and till he himself was fifty years of age, give us additional ground to hope that calumny or misconception has been at work in the story of Zainab" (Muhammad and Mohammedanism)

In the words of Ayesha(ra), this is how Zainab(ra) felt about her marriage with the Prophet(saw):

Zaid bin Haritha (Zainab's first husband) came to the Prophet complaining about his wife. The Prophet kept on saying (to him), "Be afraid of Allah and keep your wife." Aisha said, "If Allah's Apostle were to conceal anything (of the Quran he would have concealed this Verse." Zainab used to boast before the wives of the Prophet and used to say, "You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens."

And Thabit(narrator) recited, "The Verse:-- 'But (O Muhammad) you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest, you did fear the people,' (Quran 33.37) was revealed in connection with Zainab and Zaid bin Haritha." (Volume 9, Book 93, Number 516)

And yes, he always was and still remains a role model for Muslims who try to emulate his life achievements and levels of piety and righteousness based upon the narrations found in the books of Hadiths and passed over from generations to generations. If one chooses to find out, the statistics of Muslims, who chose to follow the most apparently lustful and sensous aspects of their prophets life, i.e the two you mentioned above, his marriage to a girl, almost 40 years below his age and a seemingly incestous relation ship with his daughter in law, you will be hardpressed to find even a respectable two digit number in percentage, except a few perverts here and there, which all societies have. Now read these few reports dealing with the clergy (not a few wayward common men):

Child Abuse - School covers up for absconding Swami.

Sodomy cases: Hare Krishnas - Lift the lid on History of Child Abuse

Priests, Paedophiles and Protestants - 70 churches/week in USA alone, are accused of Child Abuse in last decade.

I challenge you to dig out a few reports of any of such incidents/cases which were attributed to Muslim imams or priests assigned to any of the mosques or madrassas.

When statistics emanating from everywhere but the Muslim world, speak so loudly in defense of piety and credibility of God's messenger and his message, it's a sign of divine retribution to silence the ignorant, pitiable slanderers of our times and this is how God manifests it's presence in all times to come.


Reader's Comment: Dear brothers in Islam. As Salaam aleykum. JazakAllah Khair for the fine work you're doing in dispelling misconceptions and confusions in the minds of Muslims as well as non-Muslims. My question pertains to the following verse: “…They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them…”(Al-Baqarah: 187) which appears under the topic of spouses should guard their 'bedroom secrets'. Now I happen to read this hadeeth:[Volume 1, Book 6, Number 299: Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Aswad: (on the authority of his father) 'Aisha said: "Whenever Allah's Apostle wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar and start fondling her." 'Aisha added, "None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could."] Was it really necessary here that scholar Abdur Rehman or even Ayesha(ra) report the goings of their bedroom in so detail even if it contains a high moral value. I mean, wasn't it sufficient to just say that Prophet(pbuh) prohibited intercourse during menses? Please throw some light on this seemingly contradictory hadith wrt Quranic verse that I cited above. Thanks in advance for your time.

GuidedOnes Reply All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In his response, to the question you raised, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh `Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef, states:

“Dear brother, you should not be confused because there is no contradiction at all. The wives of the Prophet were like the mothers of the believers and hence they were unmarriageable to all Muslims after the Prophet’s demise. Almighty Allah says: “The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers.” (Al-Ahzab: 6) “And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah's sight would be an enormity.” (Al-Ahzab: 53) Whatever happens in the Prophet’s house is legislation for the whole Ummah to be guided by in their lives. Therefore, whenever a wife of the Prophet was asked about a matter related to the Prophet relation with his wives, she would explain it without shyness within the Islamic manners.

Almighty Allah says: “Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab: 21) “…And whatsoever the messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbids, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal.” (Al-Hashr: 7)

“Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honor him and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful.” (Al-A`raf: 157)

However, humans other than the Prophet are not legislators nor are their lives taken as an example to be followed and, therefore, are required not to reveal bed secrets. The Prophet is the example and model for Muslims and hence his life in its details is to be followed as an example for Muslims. Therefore, we are to know some of the home or bed secrets so that we know what is right to follow and be guided to the truth.”

Here, I would like to add that even in the Hadith you mentioned which abided by the highest standards of manners and noble language, it was necessary to explain what is permissible of physical contact between the spouses not only to state that intercourse was prohibited during menses.

If you are still in need of more information, don't hesitate to contact us. Do keep in touch. May Allah guide us all to the straight path!

Allah Almighty knows best. [Sheikh Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef  ]


  1. http://www.aifs.org.au/nch/issues9.html#sel

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