This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.We cannot leave our discussion of Muhammad without first an introducing to his many wives. Philip Schaff describes Muhammad's proclivity for multiple wives in this manor.
"Mohammed was a slave of sensual passion. Ayesha, who knew him best in his private character and habits, used to say: ‘The prophet loved three things, women, perfumes and food; he had his heart’s desire of the two first, but not of the last’… He had at least fourteen legal wives, and a number of slave concubines besides. At his death he left nine widows. He claimed special revelations which gave him greater liberty of sexual indulgence than ordinary Moslems (who are restricted to four wives), and exempted him from the prohibition of marrying near relatives." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Section 42. Life and Character of Mohammed)Mecca, where Muhammad lived, was a center for trade along the African trade route and Muhammad himself was quite skilled at trade. His reputation for skill, honesty, and trustworthiness attracted the attention of a rich merchant in Mecca name Khadijah.
"She had already been married twice, and since the death of her second husband it had been her custom to hire men to trade on her behalf. Now Muhammad had come to be known throughout Mecca as al-Arnin, the Reliable, the Trustworthy, the Honest, and this was initially owing to the reports of those who had entrusted their merchandise to him on various occasions. Khadijah had also heard much good of him from family sources; and one day she sent word to him, asking him to take some of her merchandise to Syria." (Muhammad, his life based on the earliest sources, Chapter 12 Questions of Marriage)It was shortly after returning from a business trip to Syria that Khadijah send him an offer of marriage. Muhammad accepted and Khadijah became his first wife, even though she was fifteen years his senior. From all accounts it was a happy marriage and a mostly monogamous one, with the possible exception of the female slaves which he owned and with whom it was not considered cheating in his age and culture. After her death he married other wives, and multiple wives, one being as young as nine years old. Ayesha was his favorite whom he married when she was nine and he fifty five. He even declared that she would be his bride in paradise.
"She was then only nine years old, a child of remarkable beauty, as might have been expected from her parentage... Small preparations were made for the wedding -not enough, at any rate for 'A'ishah to have had the sense of a great and solemn occasion... In her own words: 'I was playing on a see-saw and my long streaming hair was dishevelled. They came and took me from my play and made me ready.'... Her removal to the Prophet's house changed nothing in this respect... 'One day,' said A'ishah, 'the prophet came in when I was playing with the dolls and he said: "0 'A'ishah, whatever.game is this?" I said: "It is Solomon's horses", and he laughed.'" (Muhammad, his life based on the earliest sources, Chapter XL The New Household)While marriage to a nine year old might offend our modern senses, no one of his day seems to question or denounce his marriage to such a young girl.
We will discuss the topic of polygamy as a Muslim doctrine in a later post, but what stands our here is Muhammad's justification for additional wives based upon his position of a prophet. Christian doctrine clearly teaches that those with greater responsibility and oversight within the church ought to be those who exercise the most self-control over the sexual apatites. Paul repeatedly writes, "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife." (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV) Even more disturbing is Muhammad's use of prophesy to secure his own sexual wants in the face of his wives and his people.
Muhammad had received a Copt slave from the governor of Egypt whom he was quite smitten with. However, his wife Hafsa was jealous of her and forced Muhammad to swear to stay away from her and to leave her alone. However, he had recently begun to associate with her again which made Hafsa very mad. Conveniently, Muhammad received a prophesy from Gabriel justifying his renewed affections for the slave girl.
"O Prophet, why forbiddest thou what God has made lawful to thee, seeking the good pleasure of [desiring to please] thy wives? And God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. God has ordained for [allowed] you the absolution [release] of your oaths." (Koran 66:1-2)God is a God who keeps His promises, yet here here he grants permission for Muhammad to break his. Furthermore, it is quite unbecoming for any prophet of God to prophesy permission for his own indigence in sexual pleasures. Such abuse of the prophetic does not originate with God but in the lustful and carnal heart of man.