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Was Aishah favored over the other wives (may Allah be pleased with them all

Question

 

Somedays back a non-Muslim had asked a few questions which made me confused and I couldn’t answer it. I am really tensed about the things he spoke, Can please  you clarify those points.

The points are below

1) There was a Sahabi who asked to marry a barren woman by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), and Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) asked him to marry a highly fertile woman So that he can have children, however the Sahabi asked him thrice which indicates that he would be ok if he doesn’t have children then why was he abandoned to marry her? Moreover, hazrat Umm kulthum’s marriage to Hazrat Uthman too was childless yet the Sahabi was abandoned.

2) They say that a husband do justice with all the wives but as per Hazrat Aisha, she was only one wife of the Prophet who was given a virtue of having bath with from the same tub. Isn’t it an injustice with other wives? What if other men do the same thing?

3) Hazrat Aisha was known to be a favorite wife of our Prophet, wouldn’t it be a source of harm and jealousy for other wives? If men follow to do the same thing i.e openly considering one wife to be more loved by the comparison of other, how can it be consider fairness and what about the insecurity dwelling up inside of the other wife?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

1. In addition to safeguarding one’s chastity and fulfilling one’s desires in a halal manner, the ultimate purpose of marriage is to have children.

The Hadith you have referred to is narrated in Sunan Abu Dawud as follows [i]:

A man came to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and said: “I have encountered a woman of nobility and beauty but she cannot give birth (i.e. is barren). Should I marry her?” He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) replied: “No”. The man then came to him a second time and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) prohibited him. Then the man to him a third time and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Marry loving women who give birth for I will compete with you [i.e. your large numbers will be a source of pride] against other nations.”

The purpose of telling the companion not to marry the barren woman was because of the reason the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself stated at the end of the Hadith – to increase the numbers of the Ummah since this will result in pride and honor for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and also the Ummah.

The scholars of Hadith have expressly mentioned that this does not mean that there is a prohibition on marrying barren women. [ii]

One should not misunderstand the Hadith to mean that somehow this is discrimination against a barren woman because:

a. A man’s impotency is also sufficient reason for the wife to seek a dissolution to the marriage if she so desires since the ultimate purpose of marriage is to have children in addition to safeguarding one’s chastity. So here the same reasoning is applied to males as well.

b. The companion’s seeking permission three times does not mean that he would have been able to deal with his wife’s inability to get pregnant. This is because sometimes one himself is unaware of his own needs and another person knows better. In this case, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) knew what was in that companion’s best interest and advised him accordingly.

An example that makes the above clear is that when the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) would ask Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) which deeds were the best. The answer they would get would vary from one companion to another. The scholars have answered that the answer differed due to their personal situation, their own abilities, or what was the best deed at that particular time. [iii]

c. Great women such as the wives of Ibrahim and Zakariyah (alayhima al-salam) were also not able to conceive children initially. This is mentioned in the Quran:

“Then his wife came forward with a loud voice and struck her face
and said: ‘[I am] a barren old woman!” [51:29]

“He said, ‘My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?’
The angel said, “Such is Allah ; He does what He wills.”
[3:40]

d. Allah is the One, the All-Wise Who grants children to some and not to others:

“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males. Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent.” [42:49-50]

If you look at the points above, you will realize that Islam in no way discriminates against a barren woman. Further, one should not take things out of context by isolating a verse or Hadith without understanding it fully, otherwise it will result in doubt and suspicion. May Allah protect us. Ameen.

2.) What is mentioned in the inquiry regarding Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) only doing ghusl from one vessel with Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) is a false and unfounded allegation.

The truth is that authentic narrations establish that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) performed ghusl from one shared vessel with his other wives (may Allah be pleased with them all) as well and not just Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her).

In an authentic Hadith [Ibn Majah, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah], Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and his wives (may Allah be pleased with them all)
would make ghusl from one vessel.
[iv]

In addition, other authentic narrations from Umm Salamah and Maimunah (may Allah be pleased with them all) also confirm that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) performed ghusl from one shared vessel with each of them as well.

Narrations in both Bukhari and Muslim report that Umm Salamah and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) shared a vessel:

She narrates: “…the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and I used to do ghusl to cleanse ourselves from janabah from one vessel.” [v][vi]

Likewise, narrations in both Bukhari and Muslim report that Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated: “Maimunah told me that she used to perform ghusl, she and the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) from a single vessel.” [vii][viii] .

This act of sharing the vessel was an example of his (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) exalted standard of character and kind, loving treatment of the wives (may Allah be pleased with them all).

It has always been the habit of some misguided individuals to plant doubts in the minds of Muslims, using one false allegation or another. Don’t pay any attention to them and their false claims.

Know that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was on an exalted standard of character whether interacting with friend or foe, relative or stranger, Muslim or non-Muslim. Numerous accounts in his’ (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) biography [sirah]bear witness to that.

3.) Fairness [‘adl] between the wives is necessary. However, this does not extend to the inclination of the heart towards one wife or another – because one does not have control over the inclination of the heart. How can one have the same, exact amount of love and feeling for each wife?

The Quran itself states that as far as inclination of the heart (love and feeling) is concerned – one will never be able to equally love his wives:

“And you will never be able to be equal [in love and feeling] between wives, even if is your ardent desire [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah – then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.” [4:129]

It becomes clear from the above that when one is ordered to treat his wives equally, it does not refer to love and the inclination of the heart since one does not have control over these. Rather, it refers to equality in those things which the Divine Law has mandated which is spending the night and providing each wife with what she is entitled to with regards to food,  clothing, and shelter based on their (husband and wife’s) shared economic background. [ix][x]

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was well-aware that one cannot equally treat the wives with regard to love and feeling. As a result, in spite of being extremely fair in the division of time between his wives’, he (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to make the following dua [xi]:

“O Allah! This is my division regarding what I have control over, so do not reprimand me
regarding what You control and I do not control [love and inclination of the heart]!”

Further, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) has himself advised the Ummah [xii]:

“If a man has two wives and does not treat them equally [favors one of them over the other,] he will come on the Day or Resurrection with one of his sides leaning.”

It would be inconceivable for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) to warn us about the consequences of not treating our wives fairly and then favor Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) over the other wives (may Allah be pleased with them) regarding those matters which Islam has mandated equality in. Allah forbid that we even think of this as a possibility!

Take for example the fact that the jurists [fuqaha] have stated that when traveling one can take whichever wife he wants and it is not obligatory to be equal in this specific matter. However, the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was to draw lots to decide which wife to take. [xiii]

Again, this practice of drawing lots shows the care and concern Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) had for the feelings of his wives (may Allah be pleased with them).

Another vivid example of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) being fair and just and not taking sides with regards to Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) is when Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) broke a plate of food that Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) had sent for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).

He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did not make any exception for Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) and instead asked her to compensate Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) [xiv]:

“Aishah said: ‘I have never seen anyone cook food like Safiyyah. She made some food for the  the Messenger of Allah, and sent it to him. I lost my temper and  broke the vessel. I said: ‘0 Messenger of Allah, what is the expiation for what I have done?’ He said: A vessel for a vessel and food for the food.”

It is clear from the above that as far as all those aspects of treatment which one is ordered to be equal in, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was extremely fair, equal and just.

As mentioned above, he (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) even drew lots regarding which wife to take when traveling, which is not obligatory on the husband who has two or more wives to do so, but it is the preferred way since it is the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.

In spite of this fairness and equality, he (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) still used to supplicate to Allah to not make him (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) accountable for the inclinations of the heart over which one has no control.

In conclusion, he (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was fair and equal to the utmost degree – and his’ (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) actions show the Ummah the importance of maintaining equality amongst one’s wives and that one should fear Allah if he has more than one wife regarding any lapse in equality among them.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Sohail ibn Arif,
Assistant Mufti, Darul Iftaa
Chicago, USA

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

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