This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find 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.Prophets hold a special place in the religion of Muhammad. In the Koran, Muhammad instructs the prophets, their wives, and the people on how they should act and treat each other. In the ecclesiastical system of Islam, the prophets were above the people as parents are above their children.
"The Prophet is nearer to the believers [Nearer of kin to the faithful is the Prophet] than their selves [then they are to their own selves]; his wives are their mothers." (Koran 33:6)Oftentimes, when we thing of our different relationships, we think of them as being in different spheres of influence and intimacy. Setting aside our relationship to God for a moment, we can view our relationships in ever increasing concentric spheres where the closest spheres have greater influence over us and greater intimacy with us. At the center we have ourselves, then next comes our spouse, then our children, then our family, then the fellowship of believers, then those we share community and citizenship with, and finally the rest of the brotherhood of mankind. However, in Islam, next to ourselves, and sometimes of greater importance than ourselves, is to be the prophet, and greater than our family, even our mothers and fathers, is to be their wives (yes, wives plural). We are to see all our relationships as secondary to our relationship with the prophet and his wives. However, even Jesus, who came as a prophet and a savior, did not conduct Himself as superior to those whom He came to save but lived among them as their brethren. "For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 'I will proclaim your name to by brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.'" (Hebrews 2:11-12)
It is also interesting that we know very little about the wives of the prophets and, even though some of then did have wives, their calling and ministry in God was not determined by who they married. They were wives and mothers, but their marriage to a prophet did not make them a prophet's wife and a mother to the people. Furthermore, God specifically warns ministers, teachers, and husband and wives not to allow the church to interfere with the life of the family. Paul, in writing about women in the church, says, "If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home." (1 Corinthians 14:35) I believe this was written, at least in part, to prevent the church from coming between a husband and wife and from becoming a wedge in their relationship with each other.
In instructing how prophets, their wives, and the believers should live and treat each other, Muhammad gives commands to each of them. To the prophets, Muhammad writes,
"There is no fault in [blame attached to] the Prophet, touching what God has ordained for him [where God hath given him a permission] -- God's wont with those who passed away before [Such was the way of God with those prophets who flourished before thee]; and God's commandment is doom decreed [for God’s behest is a fixed decree]" (Koran 33:38)This command, supposedly by God, was given in the context of a Muhammad marrying the divorced wife of his adopted son. One could argue that such a marriage was not forbidden by the ancient Jewish law since it only forbade marrying "blood" relations. "None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18:6) However, the very fact that Muhammad felt the need to record this in his Koran, and the fact that he spoke these words to justify his own actions, indicates that there was an innate understanding among the people that this was wrong. However, Muhammad writes to give special privileges to prophets in regards to their marrying and their sexual appetites.
"O Prophet, We have made lawful for [allow] thee thy wives whom thou hast given their wages [dowered] and what [the slaves] thy right hand owns, spoils of war [booty] that God has given thee, and the daughters of thy uncles paternal and aunts paternal, thy uncles maternal and aunts maternal, who have emigrated [fled to Medina] with thee, and any woman believer, if she give herself [up] to the Prophet and if the Prophet desire to take her in marriage, [a privilege] for thee exclusively, apart from the believers [above the rest of the faithful]." (Koran 33:49)
The average Islam believer is limited to four wives. However, the prophet is allowed three wives for whom he gives dowry, as many female salves as he wishes to take as wives, as many daughters from his near relatives as he might desire. and any other woman from among the believers whom would consent to live with him without requiring a dowry. This privilege is not granted to all believers but is a special privilege to prophets (it must be remembered that, at the time Muhammad wrote this, there was no other prophets, just him).
Was such a special privilege for Muhammad and other prophets truly revealed to Muhammad by God? Well, first off, we know that God forbade the marrying of blood relations and one could say this extends to your aunt's and uncle's daughters. Secondly, we know that, when it came to the qualifications of elders and others who oversaw the church, Paul required that they must be "the husband of one wife." (1 Timothy 3:2) Paul understood the dangers of polygamy and how it can hinder and compromise the standing and ministry of a leader before the people. This would make me question a later revelation, supposedly by God, that would resend and reverse the previous injunction by Paul.
More to come...