Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting the Age of Aisha Pt. 4

Sam Shamoun

We come to the fourth segment of our rebuttal.

A Walking Contradiction

Recall what Brown wrote:

“… Finally, there are some elements of the Prophet's Sunnah that are actually prohibited for us, like continuous fasting and marrying more than four women…”

Brown could not have picked a worse example to justify what his prophet did. Muhammad clearly violated his own commandment that a man is to marry up to four wives only if and when he can love and treat them all equally; otherwise he is to have only one spouse:

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice. S. 4:3 Hilali-Khan

According to the hadiths, Muhammad would even force men who had more than four wives to divorce some of them:

“… This was because they used to marry as many women as they liked, as many as nine or ten. Qays Ibn al-Harth for example had eight wives. Allah forbade them from doing so and prohibited them from marrying more than four wives, saying: (marry of the women, who seem good to you) marry that which Allah has made lawful for you, (two or three or four) marry one, two, three or four but do not marry more than four wives…” ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul)

(741) Chapter: Regarding A Man Who Was Married To More Than Four Women, Or To Two Sisters, And Then He Accepts Islam

Narrated Al-Harith ibn Qays al-Asadi:

I embraced Islam while I had eight wives. So I mentioned it to the Prophet. The Prophet (said) said: Select four of them.

Abu Dawud said: This tradition has also been narrated to us by Ahmad b. Ibrahim from Hushaim. He said: Qais b. al-Harith instead of al-Harith b. Qais. Ahmad b. Ibrahim said: This is correct, i.e. Qais b. al-Harith.

Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani)           

Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 2241

In-book reference: Book 13, Hadith 67

English translation: Book 12, Hadith 2233 (Sunnah.com)

Muhammad, on the other hand, had nine wives at the time of his death:

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet used to pass by (have sexual relation with) all his wives in one night, and at that time he had nine wives. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 142)

26 The Book of Marriage

(1) Chapter: Mentioning the Command of the Messenger of Allah Concerning Marriage, His Wives and what Allah, The Mighty And Sublime, Permitted To His Prophet When It Is Forbidden To Other People, Because Of His Virtue And High Status

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

It was narrated that Ibn 'Abbas said: "When the Messenger of Allah died he had nine wives; he used to be intimate with all of them except one, who had given her day and night to 'Aishah."

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)           

Reference: Sunan an-Nasa'i 3197

In-book reference: Book 26, Hadith 2

English translation: Vol. 4, Book 26, Hadith 3199 (Sunnah.com; underline emphasis ours)

Both the Quran and hadiths attest that the reason Muhammad took so many wives was primarily because of his lust for beautiful women:

O Prophet (Muhammad)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses – whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your 'Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your 'Ammah (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khalah (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess, – in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside (her turn temporarily), it is no sin on you (to receive her again), that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them. Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing. S. 33:50-51 Hilali-Khan

And:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith ibn al-Mustaliq, fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, or to her cousin. She entered into an agreement to purchase her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman, most attractive to the eye.

Aisha said: She then came to the Apostle of Allah asking him for the purchase of her freedom. When she was standing at the door, I looked at her with disapproval. I realised that the Apostle of Allah would look at her in the same way that I had looked.

She said: Apostle of Allah, I am Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith, and something has happened to me, which is not hidden from you. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, and I have entered into an agreement to purchase of my freedom. I have come to you to seek assistance for the purchase of my freedom.

The Apostle of Allah said: Are you inclined to that which is better? She asked: What is that, Apostle of Allah? He replied: I shall pay the price of your freedom on your behalf, and I shall marry you.

She said: I shall do this. She (Aisha) said: The people then heard that the Apostle of Allah had married Juwayriyyah. They released the captives in their possession and set them free, and said: They are the relatives of the Apostle of Allah by marriage. We did not see any woman greater than Juwayriyyah who brought blessings to her people. One hundred families of Banu al-Mustaliq were set free on account of her. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 29, Number 3920)

And:

According to Ibn Humayd–Salamah–Muhammad b. Ishaq – Muhammad b. Ja‘far b. al-Zubayr – the Prophet’s wife ‘A’ishah, who said: When the Messenger of God divided the captives of the Banu al-Mustaliq, Juwayriyah bt. Al-Harith fell to the share of Thabit b. Qays b. al-Shammas (or to a cousin of his), and she contracted with him for her freedom. She was a sweet, beautiful woman who captivated anyone who looked at her. She came to the Messenger of God seeking his help in the matter of her contract. By God, as soon as I saw her at the door of my chamber, I took a dislike to her, and I knew that he would see in her what I saw… (The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, NY 1997], Volume VIII (8), pp. 56-57; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Note what the translator says concerning Muhammad’s reaction after seeing Juwayriyah:

“… Similar frankness appears in the account in A.H. 6 of Muhammad’s marriage to Juwayriyah, ‘a sweet, beautiful woman, who captivated anyone who looked at her’ (the words of ‘A’isha’s). She had been captured during the raid on the Banu al-Mustaliq and, in accordance with custom, became the slave of one of her captors. The latter agreed to free her in exchange for a sum of money. Juwariyah approached Muhammad for help, and the latter, CAPTIVATED BY HER BEAUTY, offered her ‘something better’ then payment of the price of her freedom – namely, marriage with himself…” (Ibid., p. xiii; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Juwayriyah wasn’t the only woman whose beauty caught Muhammad’s attention:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
We arrived at Khaibar, and when Allah helped His Apostle to open the fort, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtaq whose husband had been killed while she was a bride, was mentioned to Allah's Apostle. The Prophet selected her for himself… (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 522)

In fact, Muhammad was so captivated by Safiyya’s beauty that he gave up seven slaves in exchange for her!

(2991) Anas said: A beautiful slave-girl fell to Dihyah. The Apostle of Allah purchased her for seven slaves. He then gave her to Umm Sulaim for decorating her and preparing her for marriage. The narrator Hammad said: Safiyyah daughter of Huyayy should pass her waiting period in her (Umm Sulaim’s) house. (Sunan Abu Dawud, English translation with Explanatory Notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984], Volume II, Book XIII. Kitab al-Kharaj (Book of Tribute, Spoils & Rulership), Chapter 1109: On the Special Portion of the Prophet Taken Exclusively By Him From The Booty, p. 848; bold and italicized emphasis ours)

The translator has a rather interesting footnote here:

2414. As Safiyyah was already married and her husband had been killed, it was necessary for her to wait till she was purified for remarriage. (Ibid.; bold emphasis ours)

Now guess who was responsible in getting her husband murdered? If you guessed Muhammad you would be right.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Muhammad’s contemporaries accused him of being a womanizer:

“… Layla bt. al-Khatim b. ‘Adi b. ‘Amr b. Sawad b. Zafar b. al-Harith b. al-Khazraj approached the Prophet while his back was to the sun, and clapped him on his shoulder. He asked who it was, and she replied, ‘I am the daughter of one who competes with the wind. I am Layla bt. al-Khatim. I have come to offer myself [in marriage] to you, so marry me.’ He replied, ‘I accept.’ She went back to her people and said that the Messenger of God had married her. They 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 went back to the Prophet and asked him to revoke the marriage and he complied with [her request]…” (The History of Al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1990], Volume IX (9), p. 139; bold emphasis ours)

Even Muhammad’s child bride noticed something strange with Allah going out of his way to make sure that Muhammad’s carnal desires were fulfilled to his satisfaction:

Narrated Aisha: I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah's Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).' (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311)

Narrated Hisham's father: Khaula bint Hakim was one of those ladies who presented themselves to the Prophet for marriage. 'Aisha said, "Doesn't a lady feel ashamed for presenting herself to a man?" But when the Verse: "(O Muhammad) You may postpone (the turn of) any of them (your wives) that you please,” (33.51) was revealed, 'Aisha said, “O Allah's Apostle! I do not see, but, that your Lord hurries in pleasing you.”  (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 48)

For more on this topic we recommend the following rebuttals:

Muhammad’s multiple marriages

Never Shall He Be Satisfied

Muhammad’s Marriage to Safiyyah: A Case Study in Allah’s Mercy

Muhammad’s Marriage to Safiyyah Revisited

Muhammad and Safiyyah Revisited 3a, 3b

In light of the foregoing, what further evidence does Brown need before he comes to his senses and realizes that Muhammad was not a moral example for anyone to emulate, let alone a true prophet of God. After all, how can a 54-year-old man who married a 9-year-old prepubescent minor that was still playing with her dolls, and then went ahead and permitted other men to wed premature girls as well, who also lusted after and took his adopted son’s wife and then proceeded to abolish adoption because of it in order to save face, and who even gave himself the license to have more wives than what he allowed for others, be God’s inspired emissary for all peoples at all times?  

With that said, Brown must come to grips with reality and recognize that Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha violates even his own claim that all the surrounding cultures set puberty as the appropriate age for marriage, since all of Islam’s earliest and most reliable records clearly affirm that Aisha hadn’t reached puberty when Muhammad took her to his bed.

Brown must further face the fact that his assertion that no one complained about Muhammad’s marriage to a young girl is not only fallacious, seeing that it is nothing more than an argument from silence, but also totally irrelevant. After all, just because something is deemed to be appropriate by certain cultures doesn’t make it morally justifiable, especially when that practice results in irreparable psychological and physiological damage to children.

Besides, since Muhammad was supposed to be a role model for all times and places then his god would have surely known that marrying a premature minor, and permitting others to do so, would eventually come to be seen as pedophilia, as well as child abuse due to the great physical and emotional harm that such relationships cause to premature minors. Therefore, why didn’t Allah look out for the interests of these young girls, instead of doing what was best for Muhammad and his men? Where is the mercy and compassion in that?   

So much for Brown’s arguments.

Please make sure to read the postscript to this series of rebuttals.