The Prophet Muhammad married 12 women. As a result, he was accused by Western writers of being a womanizer (نعوذ بالله). In fact, he was not at all and there are valid reasons why he married 12 times.
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These are the list of his wives;
- Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
- Sawdah bint Zam’ah
- A’ishah bint Abu Bakr
- Hafsah bint ‘Umar
- Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (The mother of the indigent)
- Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah
- Zaynab bint Jahsh
- Juwariyah bint al-Harith
- Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
- Safiyyah bint Huyay
- Maymunah bint al-Harith
There are four major reasons why Muhamad (PBUH) married 12 times.
1. He protected widows
He married Bibi Khadija, a widow older than him. Two years later, at the age of 27, he married Bibi Sawda’h Binte Zama’h, another widow he met when he migrated to Medina. The latter’s husband died while her father and brother threatened to kill her. He then married Bibi Zainab Binte Khuzayma and Bibi Umme Salma, who were widows and important links to forging his opponents.
2. To reinforce relationships with different tribes
In the 5th Hijri, the battle of Banu Mustaliq, two hundred families of a tribe were taken by Muslims in slavery. The Prophet Muhammad asked for the release of Bibi Juwarriyah, daughter of the chief of the tribe and a widow, and married her. He then released the families as well, an act which inevitably impressed the people of Banu Mustaliq and all of the two hundred families accepted Islam.
3. To foster friendship
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) married to Bibi Aisha Binte Abi Bakr, Bibi Hafsa Binte Abi Khattab, Bibi Umme Habiba Binte Abi Sufyan, Bibi Safiyyah Binte Huaiy Ibn Akhtab and Bibi Maimoona Binte Al-Harith in order to encourage friendship with his companions and those who wanted to be part of his family.
4. To defy the taboos
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) married to his cousin, Bibi Zainab Binte Jahash who was a divorcee. Before this marriage, the first husband of Bibi Zainab was an Arab slave who the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) released and adopted him as a son. According to Arab traditions, an adopted son was regarded as a real son, and so his wife. In order to break that taboo, the Prophet married to Bibi Zainab.