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The reports below are taken from ibn Sa'd's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, volume 1 parts 2 under sections 77 and 90 :

Volume 1, Parts 11.77. 1

'Ubayd Allah Ibn Musa informed us on the authority of Usamah Ibn Zayd, he on the authority of Safwan Ibn Sulaym, he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: Gabriel brought a kettle from which I ate and I was given the power of sexual intercourse equal to forty men.

Volume 1, Parts II.77.2

Abu Ghassan Malik Ibn Isma'il informed us: Isra'il informed us on the authority of Layth, he on the authority of Mujahid; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, was given the power equal to that of forty men and the people of paradise will be given the power equal to eighty men.

Volume 1, Parts II.77.3

Muhammad Ibn 'Abd Allah al-Asadi and Qabisah Ibn 'Uqbah informed us; they said: Sufyan informed us on the authority of Ma'mar, he on the authority of Tawas; he said: The Prophet, may Allah bless him, was granted the power of sexual intercourse equal to that of forty men.

and....

Volume 1, Parts II.90.2

Musa Ibn Isma'il informed us: Abu Bishr Sahib al-Basri informed us on the authority of Yunus, he on the authority of al-Hasan; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: I like not from worldly life but perfumes and women.

Volume 1, Parts II.90.3

'Abd Allah Ibn Ja v far al-Raqqi informed us: Abu al-Mulayh informed us on the authority of Maymun; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, did not receive from wordly luxuries except perfume and women.

Volume 1, Parts II.90.5

Al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us: Musa Ibn Qays al-Hadrami informed us on the authority of Salamah Ibn Kuhayl; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, did not obtain any thing from wordly objects dearer to him than women and perfumes.

Volume 1, Parts II.90.6

'Affan Ibn Muslim informed us: Abu Hilal informed us on the authority of Qatadah, he on the authority of Ma'qil Ibn Yasar; he said: Nothing was dearer to the Prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him, than a horse. Then he said: O Allah ! excuse me, nay ! the women.

Volume 1, Parts II.90.4

Al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us; Isra'il informed us on the authority of Abu Ishaq, he on the authority of a person who related on the authority of v Ayishah she said: The Prophet of Allah, may peace be on him, liked three worldly objects- perfume, women and food. He obtained two and did not obtain one. He obtained women and perfumes but did not get food.

A similar Hadith is found in Sunan an-Nasa'i :

It was narrated that Anas said: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.'"

Can anyone determine the validity and meaning of the reports above. There's a polemic going on that the Prophet's SAW marriage with the Mothers of the Believers was anything but "self-serving" and "ignoble" (Astaghfirullah). I need help.

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Why should this hadith be considered as an evidence for such claims?

Allah in the qur'an mentioned those things that He put as delights for the people in this life saying:

Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. (3:14)

So the hadith which was compiled by an-Nasa-i in "the book of the kind treatment of women/Chapter: love of women", with three different narrator chains on the authority of Anas ibn Malik () only shows that Muhammad () is a human and may love or like from among the things that were made as delights for humans. It is by no means an evidence of excess in this loving.

Among the sayings of the prophet () we may find:

  • The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman. (Sahih Muslim)

    This hadith basically is a recommendation to seek a pious wife as pious people may help each other to stay safe against the trials of this life.

  • "After me I have not left any trial more severe to men than women." (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

    This hadith can be regarded as a general case if one didn't chose a pious wife or didn't seek chastity in his relationships.

Let's take a deeper look at this hadith

An-Nasa-i mentioned it as follows:

  • 'In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.' (Sunan an-Nasa-i)

  • 'Women and perfume have been made dear to me, but my comfort has been provided in prayer.' (Sunan an-Nasa-i)

  • "Nothing was dearer to the Messenger of Allah after women than horses." (Sunan an-Nasa-i)

The meaning of this hadith is that his heart (feelings) tend to women and perfume so this expresses the attachment and affection. So it is nothing but a natural loving like if we said his attached to women and not to men (Astaghfir-u-Lah). If it was otherwise and he () was loving women in an excessive manner (Astaghfir-u-Lah) then we should consider answering the question why did he reject a woman that was willing to offer herself in marriage based on the verse:

O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you ... and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet [and] if the Prophet wishes to marry her … (33:50)

as we may read in the sunnah:

A lady came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and declared that she had decided to offer herself to Allah and His Apostle. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I am not in need of women." A man said (to the Prophet) "Please marry her to me." The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), "Give her a garment." The man said, "I cannot afford it." The Prophet said, "Give her anything, even if it were an iron ring." The man apologized again. The Prophet then asked him, "What do you know by heart of the Qur'an?" He replied, "I know such-and such portion of the Qur'an (by heart)." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Then I marry her to you for that much of the Qur'an which you know by heart." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Also why did Muhammad () remain monogam for fifty years if he () loved women in a rather inappropriate manner? Only after the death of Khadija () he () started practicing polygyny and if we studied his marriages we may find that there are some lessons for us to learn from them. Also note that if he was not married to such a lot of women we would miss a lot of rules of shari'a which he practiced in the secret of his home and only his wives could reveal and explain and the more of them could report this the more authentic these reports would be for those who didn't witness them. Allah ordered the wives of the prophets -especially- and his household and his mahrams in general saying:

And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is ever Subtle and Acquainted [with all things]. (33:34)

The explanation of imam as-Suyuti

In his commentary on Sunan an-Nasa-i imam as-Suyuti (see here in Arabic) pointed at a few things that must be taken into account:
In the following I'm translating from Arabic as these translations and interpretations are of my own take them with the necessary care!

قال بعضهم : في هذا قولان : أحدهما : أنه زيادة في الابتلاء والتكليف حتى يلهو بما حبب إليه من النساء عما كلف من أداء الرسالة ، فيكون ذلك أكثر لمشاقه وأعظم لأجره . Some said: there are two views on this matter. The first: This is an augmentation of trial and burdening. As it means that the amusement or delight of women may lead to a lost of focusing the primary task: delivering the message, so this means a bigger hardship and a greater reward.

والثاني : لتكون خلواته مع من يشاهدها من نسائه ، فيزول عنه ما يرميه به المشركون من أنه ساحر أو شاعر ، فيكون تحبيبهن إليه على وجه اللطف به ، وعلى القول الأول على وجه الابتلاء ، وعلى القولين فهو له فضيلة
As for the second: this is to restrict his times of "solitude" to those where his wives would be witnesses. And this way all the disbelievers pretend of him being a sorcerer or poet be lifted and rejected. This way making them dear to him is a favor of Allah to him. Based on the first view which says that it is a trial and both views make clear that it is one of his virtues.

Note that imam as-Suyuti was a hadith scholar and certainly not among the hardliners when it comes to qulifying narrators so his commentary includes a lot of rather da'if narrations among them one that at least supports my statement at the beginning (even if the hadith was qulaified as da'if):

"Four are from the Sunan of the Messengers: Al-Hayat, using Atar, the Siwak, and marriage." (Sunan abi Dawod)

Addition

Finally the additional expression:

my comfort has been provided in prayer

actually shows the thing he () liked or loved the most in this life which is the conversation with his (and our) Creator he also said:

O Bilal, call iqamah for prayer: give us comfort by it. (Sunan abi Dawod)

so while he () lived in this life and enjoyed some of its delights his heart and mind was already attached to the hereafter and the sweetness of looking at his Lords face.

As in Arabic the expression:

قرة العين

refers to the thing we like the most and make us the most feel well and happy.

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