How Muhammad determined the (poor) state of women under Islam
Qur’an limits the number of wives that a Muslim man can have to four … Muhammad failed to live up to his own standards since he had more than 4 wives and didn’t treat them all fairly.
Aisha wasn’t the only one who felt neglected. Umar ibn al-Khattab gave this advice to his daughter Hafsa, one of Muhammad’s wives:
"… Then ‘Umar went on relating the narration and said. "I and an Ansari neighbor of mine from Bani Umaiya bin Zaid who used to live in ‘Awali Al-Medina, used to visit the Prophet in turns. He used to go one day, and I another day. When I went I would bring him the news of what had happened that day regarding the instructions and orders and when he went, he used to do the same for me. We, the people of Quraish, used to have authority over women, but when we came to live with the Ansar, we noticed that the Ansari women had the upper hand over their men, so our women started acquiring the habits of the Ansari women. Once I shouted at my wife and she paid me back in my coin and I disliked that she should answer me back. She said, ‘Why do you take it ill that I retort upon you? By Allah, THE WIVES OF THE PROPHET RETORT UPON HIM, AND SOME OF THEM MAY NOT SPEAK WITH HIM FOR THE WHOLE DAY TILL NIGHT.’ What she said scared me and I said to her, ‘Whoever amongst them does so, will be a great loser.’ Then I dressed myself and went to Hafsa and asked her, ‘Does any of you keep Allah’s Apostle angry all the day long till night?’ She replied in the affirmative. I said, ‘She is a ruined losing person (and will never have success)! Doesn’t she fear that Allah may get angry for the anger of Allah's Apostle and thus she will be ruined? Don’t ask Allah’s Apostle too many things, and don't retort upon him in any case, and don't desert him. Demand from me whatever you like, and don’t be tempted to imitate your neighbor (i.e. ‘Aisha) in her behavior towards the Prophet), FOR SHE (i.e. Aisha) IS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU, AND MORE BELOVED to Allah’s Apostle. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 648)
And: Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: that ‘Umar entered upon Hafsa and said, "O my daughter! Do not be misled by the manners of her who is proud of her beauty because of the love of Allah’s Apostle for her." By "her" he meant ‘Aisha. ‘Umar added, "Then I told that to Allah’s Apostle and he smiled (on hearing that)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 145)
Umar’s statements demonstrate that the wives were not happy with their situation and that Aisha specifically was rather proud of the fact that Muhammad loved her more than the rest. Nor was Hafsah the only wife who was neglected as a result of Muhammad loving and preferring Aisha:
Narrated ‘Urwa from ‘Aisha: The wives of Allah's Apostle were in two groups. One group consisted of 'Aisha, Hafsa, Safiyya and Sauda; and the other group consisted of Um Salama and the other wives of Allah's Apostle. The Muslims knew that Allah’s Apostle loved ‘Aisha, so if any of them had a gift and wished to give to Allah's Apostle, he would delay it, till Allah’s Apostle had come to ‘Aisha's home and then he would send his gift to Allah’s Apostle in her home. The group of Um Salama discussed the matter together and decided that Um Salama should request Allah's Apostle to tell the people to send their gifts to him in whatever wife’s house he was. Um Salama told Allah’s Apostle of what they had said, but he did not reply. Then they (those wives) asked Um Salama about it. She said, "He did not say anything to me." They asked her to talk to him again. She talked to him again when she met him on her day, but he gave no reply. When they asked her, she replied that he had given no reply. They said to her, "Talk to him till he gives you a reply." When it was her turn, she talked to him again. He then said to her, "Do not hurt me regarding Aisha, AS THE DIVINE INSPIRATIONS DO NOT COME TO ME ON ANY OF THE BEDS EXCEPT THAT OF AISHA." On that Um Salama said, "I repent to Allah for hurting you." Then the group of Um Salama called Fatima, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle and sent her to Allah’s Apostle to say to him, "Your wives request to treat them and the daughter of Abu Bakr ON EQUAL TERMS." Then Fatima conveyed the message to him. The Prophet said, "O my daughter! Don’t you love whom I love?" She replied in the affirmative and returned and told them of the situation. They requested her to go to him again but she refused. They then sent Zainab bint Jahsh who went to him AND USED HARSH WORDS SAYING, "Your wives request you TO TREAT THEM and the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhafa ON EQUAL TERMS." On that she raised her voice AND ABUSED ‘Aisha TO HER FACE so much so that Allah’s Apostle looked at ‘Aisha to see whether she would retort. ‘Aisha started replying to Zainab till she silenced her. The Prophet then looked at ‘Aisha and said, "She is really the daughter of Abu Bakr." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 755)
The audacity of Muhammad to justify his preferential treatment of Aisha on the grounds that she was the only wife in whose bed inspiration would come!
And is this the same Aisha who stated that she had never seen any women treated as bad as Muslim women?
XXII. Green clothes
5487. 'Ikrima related that Rifa'a divorced his wife and then 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn az-Zubayr al-Qurazi married her. 'A'isha said that she [came] wearing a green veil (khimar) and complained to her and showed her some greenness [from bruising] on her skin. The women then used to help one another. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came, 'A'isha said, "I have never seen any woman endure what the believing women endure! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" 'Abdu'r-Rahman heard that she had gone to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, so he came with two of his sons by another woman. She said, "By Allah, I have no wrong action in respect to him, but he is of no more use to me than this," and she took hold of the fringe of her garment. 'Abdu'r-Rahman said, "By Allah, she lies, Messenger of Allah! I am completely strong and potent enough, but she is disobedient and wants to go to Rifa'a!" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If that is the case, you are not lawful to him (or proper for him, i.e. Rifa'a) until 'Abdu'r-Rahman has experienced your sweetness." He saw the two boys with him and asked, "Are these your sons? "Yes," he answered. He said, "This is someone about whom you claim what you claim, but, by Allah, they resemble him as a crow resembles another crow!" (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 80. The Book of Dress (Link))
According to Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s version of this report the green mark on the woman’s body was caused by her husband beating her:
Narrated 'Ikrima: Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 715)
The same Muhammad mistreated Sauda bint Zamah seeing that he wanted to divorce her simply because he was no longer attracted to her:
Muhammad's personal and family life were not always smooth. His wives sometimes bickered amongst themselves and even once engaged in a petty plot against him. A'ishah, for example, DISLIKED her Jewish co-wife, Safiyah, AND INSULTED HER PERIODICALLY. Muhammad had to defend her status and honor a number of times and scold the youthful A'ishah. Hafsah became jealous of her co-wife, Maria, when she found her and Muhammad resting [sic] in her apartment one day. Sawdah gave up her allotted day with the Prophet WHEN SHE REALIZED HE WAS NOT REALLY ATTRACTED TO HER... (Yahiya Emerick, Critical Lives: Muhammad [Alpha Books, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2002], p. 263)
Some Muslims, in order to find some justification, try to make some comparison to Christianity, in reference to any privilege Prophet Muhammad had. They say:
“Prophet Muhammad did not fail Biblical standard for multiple marriages: The OT mentions men having 2 wives (Genesis 4:19), 14 wives (2 Chronicles 13:21), 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), many wives (Judges 8:30), up to 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Muhammad only had 9.”
There are several problems with his arguments.
In the first place, we are not referring to Muhammad violating the OT standard for multiple wives, but to Muhammad breaking his own rules concerning polygynous marriages:
If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial. S. 4:3 Arberry
So it is nothing more than a red herring to bring up all of these OT examples of men having multiple women.
Secondly, with the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ monogamy becomes the standard for all marriages (Link) !
Thus, not only did Muhammad break his own instructions but also went against the very teachings of the Lord Jesus and his inspired spokespersons.
Thirdly, it is not enough to simply argue from silence to say that Christians didn’t complain. Any Christian who knew his Bible, specifically the teachings of the NT concerning this issue, would have had major problems with Muhammad’s marriages.
Returning to the issue at hand, we even have a transcript of one of the earliest Christian-Muslim debates where Christian apologist Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq al-Kindi mentions Muhammad’s marriages and lust for women as an argument against his prophethood:
"I turn to another subject. Now, we say that the bent of thy Master's life doth not answer to the boast that he 'was sent a Mercy and Blessing to the human race.' On the contrary, his chief object and concern was to take beautiful women to wife; to attack surrounding tribes, slay and plunder them, and carry off their females for concubines. His chief delights were, by his own confession, sweet scents and women—strange proofs these of the prophetic claim! His amour with Zeinab, wife of Zeid, I am averse from noticing out of respect for this my book;—excepting only that I will quote the passage which he himself gave forth as having come down from heaven in this matter:
And when thou (O Prophet) saidst to him on whom God had bestowed favour, and upon whom thou, too, hast bestowed favour (i.e. Zeid the friend of the Prophet),—Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God; and thou concealedst in thy mind what God was minded to make known, and thou fearedst man,—whereas God is more worthy that thou shouldst fear him. And when Zeid had fulfilled her divorce, WE joined thee in marriage unto her, that there might be no offence chargeable to Believers in marrying the wives of their adopted sons, after they have fulfilled their divorce; and the command of God is to be fulfilled. There is no offence chargeable to the prophet in that which God hath enjoined upon him, according to the ordinance of God in respect of those that preceded him;—and the command of God is a predestined decree.—Sura xxxiii. 36, 37.2
Next is introduced the story of Ayesha's night adventure with Safwân, which created a great scandal at Medina, and made Mahomet suspicious of his favourite wife ;---whereupon Ali addressed him in the same sense, ending with these words: O Prophet of God! the Lord hath not straitened thee in this matter, and there are many other women besides her. "But he would not be persuaded, because of his uxorious fondness of Ayesha, whom only of all his wives he married a maiden, and who being young and bewitching had possession of his heart (and this was the cause of the enmity between Ali and Ayesha all their lives); so that in the end he promulgated a revelation of her innocence, in Sura Nûr— Verily they that slander married women, etc. The story is notorious and needeth from me no further application." …
Of Zeinab he relates that after Mahomet had thrice sent her portion of meat she flung it back in his face, whereupon he swore that he would not go near his wives for a whole month; but, not having patience to wait till the end, he approached them after nine-and-twenty days. Safia, the Jewess, was taught by the prophet, when upbraided by her sister-wives, to answer, saying, Aaron is my father, Moses my uncle, and Mahomet my husband. Muleika of the Kinda tribe, when solicited by the prophet to be his wife, exclaimed, What! shall Muleika give herself to a merchantman? The remaining wives are little more than mentioned by name; in all he had fifteen wives and two slave girls. "Paul, the Apostle, said, He that hath a wife his object is how he may please her, etc.; and he spake the truth, for a man is ever occupied with what may please his wife. Our Saviour also said, No man can serve two masters at one and the same time; he must needs serve one and slight the other. Now, if it be so that a man cannot serve a single wife and please her without neglecting his Maker, how much more must thy Master have been taken up in seeking to please fifteen wives, besides two that were bond-maids? Add to this that he was all the while engaged also in raids and forays and military expeditions, in ordering his troops for the same, in sending out spies, and in planning how to circumvent his enemies, slay their men, take their women captive, and plunder their goods. How, then, could thy Master find leisure from all these cares and pleasures for fasting and prayer, worship, meditation, and preparation for the life to come? I am very sure that no prophet in olden times resembled him in these things." (The Apology of Al-Kindy - Written at the Court of Al Mamun (Circa A.H. 215; A.D. 830), edited and commented by Sir William Muir [Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), Second Edition, London, 1887], The Wives of Mahomet, 49-53: Link)
Fourth, the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically the Torah of Moses, further told men to be fair with all their wives and commanded husbands to grant equal conjugal rights to all of their spouses:
"If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money." Exodus 21:7-11
Something which both Muhammad and the Qur’an fail to prescribe:
And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them, if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people's) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do. You will not be able to be equitable between your wives, be you ever so eager; yet do not be altogether partial so that you leave her as it were suspended. If you set things right, and are godfearing, God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. But if they separate, God will enrich each of them of His plenty; God is All-embracing, All-wise. S. 4:128-130
Interestingly, according to certain Muslim expositors the above was "revealed" in connection with Muhammad’s mistreatment of Sauda and his desire to divorce her:
Making peace is better than separation. An example of such peace can be felt in the story of Sawdah bint Zam'ah who WHEN SHE BECAME AGED, THE PROPHET WANTED TO DIVORCE HER, but she made peace with him by offering the night he used to spend with her to A'isha so that he would keep her. The Prophet accepted such terms and kept her.
Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Sawdah feared that the Messenger of Allah might divorce her and she said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do not divorce me; give my day to 'A'ishah.’ And he did …
In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that 'A'ishah said that when Sawdah bint Zam'ah BECAME OLD, she forfeited her day to 'A'ishah and the Prophet used to spend Sawdah's night with 'A'ishah …
Hence, Muhammad set the example and gave legislation for men to ignore and abuse some of their wives, thereby forcing women to find ways to satisfy their husbands in order to remain married to them, even if it means seeing less of their spouses so as to grant them more time to spend with those women whom they love more! And this is the very Sunna of Muhammad that Muslims take pride in following!
And here is what the Holy Bible says concerning the treatment of women, specifically wives:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:25-33
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." Colossians 3:19
Muslims could only wish that the Qur’an contained such legislation since he would be parading them as evidence that Islam honors women.
Yet Muslims confuse the Holy Bible with the teachings of the Qur’an and of Muhammad, who permit men to beat their wives whenever they fear that their spouses are being rebellious:
Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God hath gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband's absence, because God hath of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great! S. 4:34 Rodwell
Muhammad even allowed Muslims to beat their slaves:
“… The Prophet then mentioned about the women (in his sermon). "It is not wise for anyone of you to lash his wife LIKE A SLAVE, for he might sleep with her the same evening" …(Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 466)
Notice that Muhammad didn’t prohibit the men from beating their wives; he simply told them not to beat them as they do their slaves, especially when they plan on sleeping with their spouses that same day! Thus, Muhammad allowed for the beating of both women and slaves.
To be continued under “Muhammad’s Cruelty and Unjust Treatment of his Wives Exposed, Part II