Assalamu Alaikum,

I heard that prophet Muhammad has married many(9 to 13 I'm not sure) wives.

We read in the Quran:4:3 that we must don't have more than 4 wives.

Allah says:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].

So I would like to know:

  1. What's the exact number for his wife?
  2. And what's the wisdom or purpose (Hikmah) of this?

There are different quotes about number of Prophet (PBUH)'s wives. Amta Al-Asma book mentions them 15 persons however Ibn ishaq mentions them 13 persons and Al-Hakim in his book called Mustadrak mentions them 18 persons.

But pay attention Prophet (PBUH)'s marriage with all of them was before of the verse 4:3 Descension.

On the other hand Most of those marriages have political purpose; or Prophet (PBUH) took a woman as a wife after her husband died in the way of Islam in order to provide and protect her or took care of their children. And It is not because of his sexual drives or other which its document is the age and widow of his wives.

In addition there are some rules which are specific to Prophet (PBUH) like Qiyam Al Layl (prayers at two third of the night) which is compulsory on him despite of other Muslims (Surah Al-'Isrā',verse 79). And having this number of wives is specific to him, too. Because Muhammad, as the "perfect" Muslim in Islamic belief, was the only man that could ever treat them equally.

I would like to highlight another angle of this matter.

At the time when the verse limiting the number of wives to 4 was revealed, Muhammad (pbuh) had more than 4 wives.

He was given special dispensation by Allah to keep his wives as many as they were at the time, though he could not take any further wives after that verse.

It is hypothetical but I presume that he would have been allowed further wives up to 4 if the number of his wives had dropped below 4 due to death of his wives, after revelation of this verse.

His case was special for a number of reasons, in my understanding.

  1. Unlike other women, his wives were not permitted to remarry after his death. This prohibition was from Allah.

  2. As far as I know, he never divorced any of his wives.

  3. While Muslim men must establish turns for each wife, he was permitted to cancel the turn of one of his wives if he wanted to. As far as I know, even a Muslim woman may not cancel her turn if she wishes. This is part of establishing justice between wives.

Finally, Allah Knew that He was going to end the line of Muhammad (pbuh) in order to ensure that no doubt remained regarding the finality of his prophethood. This ties in with Allah allowing Muhammad (pbuh) to keep his wives rather than divorce them even though he had more than 4 wives because:

  1. It would have been unfair to the wives he did divorce and those wives were then not permitted to remarry.

  2. If they had been permitted to remarry, then there was a chance that they might have had a son and later people might have considered that male child to be continuing the line of Muhammad (pbuh). This could have caused ambiguity in the matter of the finality of prophethood.

Surat-al-Kausar is related to this matter in which Allah Consoled Muhammad (pbuh) regarding not having sons who survived.

May Allah increase our understanding of our religion. Allah Knows Best.

The others said it correctly.

It is an exception given to the prophet. Al-Ahzab:50-53

If you want me to give some references : http://www.islamhelpline.net/node/8257

Hope that answer your question.

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