This is my 2nd entry on Prophet Muhammad SAW in this blessed day of 12th Rabiul Awal; equivalent to 14th January 2014. In this entry, I would like to etch something unusual and unique about the life chapter of Rasulullah SAW.
Yes, we know that Rasulullah SAW had circa 11-13 wives throughout his life (conflicts of opinions among the scholars). Of course, this is a tantalizing part for Islamophobia and Anti-Muslims as the branding of “sex maniacs”, “lecherous satyrs”, “paedophilia” are all spun and churned whenever polygamous marriages of Rasulullah SAW is discussed. Now of course, the cliche question arose is :-
“Why Moslem men of today are only permitted to practice polygamous marriage to merely 4 women whereas Rasulullah SAW married more than 10?”
The answer was simple. It has been customary in the Arabian culture that a man can have marriages with a lot of women (polygamous). But Rasulullah SAW rejected the idea when he was offered the sexually-“enticing” offer by the Quraish which by means to ask him to stop spreading Islam. During that time, Rasulullah SAW was still married to Khadijah bt Khuwailid, his first wife of which he remained the monogamous marriage until she died. Now, according to scholars (Wikipedia :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad’s_wives) , the marriages after the death of Khadijah were to :-
- Helping out the widows of his companions.
- Creating family bonds between him and his companions (Muhammad married the daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar, whereas Uthman and Ali married his daughters. He therefore had family bonds with all the first four Caliphs).
- Spreading the message by uniting different clans through marriage.
- Increasing credibility and sources to convey the tales of his intimate private family life. If he only had one wife, then it would have been a tremendous responsibility on the wife to convey Muhammad’s private acts of worship and family life, and people would vehemently tried to discredit her to destroy the credibility of these practices. However, with multiple wives, there were a lot more sources to the knowledge, making it more difficult to discredit. Therefore his marriages gave more women the opportunity to learn and teach the matters of his private life (his acts and way of interacted with people around him).
Therefore, it is not merely based on sexual endeavours. On top of that, in the olden Arab community where virginity was priced above all hierarchy of a maiden’s status, surely marrying widows was not as appealing as marrying a virgin! And ALL the women that Rasulullah SAW married were widows except for Aisyah R.A.!
But of course being a Messenger of ALLAH SWT, Rasulullah SAW always portrayed such sense of justice to all his wives – unlike the present Moslem men these days who usually follow the whispers of penises and libidos rather than the Iman (faith)! Therefore, around the end of 8th Hijrah, a revelation descended asking Moslem men to commit polygamous marriage (if they are capable to be JUST in terms of financial, sexual and emotional for all the wives!) only up to 4 women at one time as ALLAH SWT knows the limitation of mortal men to be justice if one were to be entangled with numerous spouses! The Chapter An-Nisa’ (Women), Ayat 3 says :-
“And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course. “
Hopefully that these disclaimers are able to clear the smoke. I mean of course for haters and doubters who already have pre-conceived notion about Prophet Muhammad SAW; you just can’t say anything because their minds already carved in that certain notions; so predictably, they won’t be accepting any explanations that seemed ‘vague’ and ‘unconvincing’ to them, right?
Anyway, those are disclaimer overtures. Now, come to the real gist. Actually, what I want to share is about two of the unknown wives of Rasulullah SAW but both were unique in terms of their races, religions and also origins, of which the key moral of the story is all about respecting other races and religions irregardless our differences.
The first woman I want to explore about is Saffiya binti Huyayy, a Jewish woman from Bani Nadir. She was the daughter of Huyayy ibni Akhtab, a Jewish leader who really hate and loathe Rasulullah SAW. Safiyya was married to Kenana Ibn Al-Rabi’, who was also a well-known Jewish leader and opponent of Rasulullah SAW. It was told that one night, Safiyya had a dream that the Heaven’s moon fell on her lap and she asked Kenana to interpret the dream. He was angry when he heard this for the interpretation was that Safiyya yearned to be married to Rasulullah SAW. He struck her face and the mark was reportedly still visible throughout her life.
The late Ofra Haza, one of Israel’s most famous singer of all time. Her beautiful and haunting voice penetrated Hollywood market with the likes of OST Prince of Egypt.
In the Battle of Khaybar, Bani Nadir was defeated by Moslems and Safiyya was held captive as her father and husband were killed. As the dowry for her marriage to Rasulullah SAW, her manumission was granted and Saffiya remained loyal to Islam and Rasulullah SAW although she was always being teased and jeered for her Jewish origin by Prophet Muhammad SAW’s other wives (bless their souls but they were no saints. Just flawed human like all of us and their mistakes were erected as guidance to all of us now). In defend of Safiyya, Rasulullah SAW once quoted :
“If they discriminate you again, tell them that your husband is Muhammad, your father was the Prophet Aaron (Harun A.S.) and your uncle was Prophet Moses (Musa A.S.). In this case I’m superior to you.”
Rasulullah SAW never discriminate his wives. He handled them with care and gentleness. One of the incidents to reflect was Safiyya’s camel fiasco on the way to perform Hajj in Makkah. Safiyya’s camel was the weakest of all and it knelt down. She wept and Rasulullah SAW came to her and wiped her tears tenderly. She was reported saying that the more Rasulullah SAW asked her not to weep, the more she went on weeping. Such a loving husband although his wife was of different breed and kind. Subhanallah.
Maria, one of characters in Indonesian “Ayat-Ayat Cinta”; an Egyptian Coptic Christian.
The other lady I would like to write about is Mariah Al-Qibthiya. She has always been my fascinating subject and I’ve always wanted to write about her but of course, prove to no avail till today. Who is she? Mariah Al-Qibthiya was an Egyptian Coptic Christian who was a gift from King Muqawqis, along with her sister, Sirin for Rasulullah SAW. Some scholars dubbed her as one of the wives (“Ummul Mukminin” or Mothers of All Believers) and some labelled her as one of the 4 concubines prior to the disbandment of slavery/concubine (“Ma Malakat Ay Manukum” or ‘What Your Right Hands Possess’; terminology for slaves in Quran) – Goodness knows!! But what is sure about Mariah Al-Qibthiya was that among all of the wives of Rasulullah SAW, she was the only one given the opportunity by ALLAH SWT to bore him a son named Ibrahim other than Rasulullah SAW’s first wife, Khadijah Khuwailid.
An Nisa (The Women); 4:3.
Now that was one of the highest recognition; a union of a Moslem leader and an ex-Coptic Christian simply define the respect and honouring human irregardless races and origins. ALLAH SWT is Great. There is always something to be learned, though implicitly, no?
Not much is known about her except that she was the mother of Ibrahim ibni Muhammad SAW; Rasulullah SAW’s last child who died at the age of 16-18 months old after the Battle of Tabuk. Mariah Al-Qibthiya never remarried after the death of Rasulullah SAW and was given the honor of Ummul Mukminin (Mother of All Believers) that she was buried at Baqi’ Cemetery – the graveyard for Rasulullah SAW’s Sahabah (friends) and kins.
Of course, there are various statements and studies conducted and abundant in the Internet. Some are quite malicious and biased with prejudices! But in the end what I am trying to say is that as a leader of Moslem who continue the preaching of Islam from the age of Prophet Adam A.S. until Prophet Isa (Jesus) A.S., Prophet Muhammad SAW showed us that compassion and respect are two strong essence that we as Muslims should adopt. It is shown through his relationships and life chapters with two of his wives, Safiyyah binti Huyayy, the Jewish lady & Mariah al-Qibthiya, the Egyptian Coptic Christian lady.
Peace Be Upon Him, Rasulullah SAW.