Prophet Muhammad and polygyny - II

Prophet Muhammad and polygyny - II
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Second: The Legislative Aspect

The second point of wisdom behind polygny has a legislative dimension. This form of marriage was established to abrogate the repulsive traditions followed by the Arabs in the pre-Islamic times, such as the tradition of adoption. This practice was a norm inherited from past generations. According to this tradition, a man could take a strange boy as his own son, treat him exactly as his real son in terms of heritage, marriage, divorce, unlawful affinity (prohibited relationships through marriage), prohibited forms of marriage, and other matters agreed upon as sacred norms in that pre-Islamic period.
At that time, a man might adopt a son of another person and say to him: “You are my son; I inherit you and you inherit from me.” Islam neither endorsed this habit nor left people to grope in the darkness of ignorance. Allah abolished adoption by inspiring Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) (may Allah exalt his mention) to adopt a son prior to his messengership. The son he adopted was Zayd bin Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him, whom people used to call “Zayd bin (the son of) Muhammad.”
Al-Bukhari and Muslim (whose books are the most authentic after the Quran) narrated that 'Abdullah bin 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said: “We used to call Zayd bin Haarithah nothing but (Zayd bin Muhammad) till the revelation of the Quranic verse: “Call them [i.e., those children under your care] by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah…” [Quran: 33:5] The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) then said to Zayd: You are Zayd bin Haarithah bin Sharaheel.”
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) married his cousin, Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, to Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, while he was his adopted son. After a lengthy marriage, their relationship deteriorated. Being from a noble, high-class family, Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, used to look down on her husband who was a slave before he was adopted by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). She occasionally uttered harsh words against him whenever a dispute broke out between them. The consequence of this marital misunderstanding was divorce.
Allah the Exalted then ordered Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) to marry her, so that the vicious tradition of adoption was abolished practically and the Islamic principles thus established. Being the supreme model of the Muslim Nation, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was ordained by his Lord, the Glorious, to practically inaugurate the divine legislation of abrogating adoption.
 
Third: The Social Aspect
The social dimension of the wisdom of the Prophet’s marriage is clearly manifested in his marriage to the daughter of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who was his first faithful minister.
To maintain good relations with his tribe, the Quraysh, he married several women from different family branches of that tribe. This wise strategy, moreover, enhanced the ties amongst those tribal sub-divisions themselves.
These marriage relationships played a vital role in attracting the resistant hearts of those tribesmen, changing their hostility into tender inclination towards the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and his Message. Brought to the folds of Islam, these tribes became its loyal supporters and devotedly served the Prophet’s cause (religion). They sacrificed their wealth and lives for the pre-eminence and victory of Islam.
The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) married 'Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, the daughter of his most intimate, lovable companion – Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who was the first man to believe in the prophethood of Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). This loyal follower devoted his life and wealth in the cause of Islam and in defence of the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) found no better way of rewarding Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, for his courageous devotion than becoming his son-in-law. This marriage relationship further strengthened their friendship and enhanced their mutual affinity.

He also married Hafsah, daughter of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both – his second faithful minister. This marriage was a matter of honour to 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, and a great reward for his accepting Islam, truthfulness, faithfulness, and complete devotion to the religion. 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was the prominent hero of Islam by whom Allah reinforced Islam and the Muslims and raised high the banner of the religion. By the marriage of his daughter to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) 'Umar shared with Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with them, the great honour of being the Prophet’s father-in-law.

Fourth: The Political Aspect
Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) – as mentioned earlier – made marriage relations with members of some tribes in order to reconcile their hearts with his and to gain their support. It is a fact that when a man marries into a family, he will maintain strong bonds with his in-laws and, accordingly, ensure their assistance and protection. The following examples demonstrate clearly how the political dimension of the Prophet’s marriages was embodied:
Example 1:
The Noble Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) married Juwayriyah, daughter of Al-Haarith – the chieftain of Bani Al-Mustaliq (a well-known tribe), after she was captured along with her clan. She came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) asking for some money to ransom herself. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) suggested to her that he would pay her due ransom and marry her, which she wholeheartedly accepted. The Muslims then proclaimed: “The Prophet’s in-laws under our hands (i.e. as prisoners)?” They therefore freed all the captives. To this act of noble tolerance and magnanimity by the Muslims, the captives’ reaction was to profess Islam. Thus, they joined the folds of Allah’s religion and became believers.

Example 2:
The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also married Safiyyah, daughter of Huyay bin Akhtab - the chieftain of the Jewish tribe of Bani Quraythah. After the Muslims in the battle of Khaybar killed her husband, she was taken prisoner. The advisory body (a company of men of thought and opinion) suggested that, being the mistress of Bani Quraythah, nobody was as worthy of her company (as a husband) as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). After consulting with his Companions, the Noble Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) ordered her presence and entitled her to choose between two options: either that he frees her and takes her as a wife, or that he frees her to join her tribe.
Admiring his graciousness, tolerance, nobility, and supreme conduct, she chose to be his wife after being set free. With her conversion to Islam, a great number of her tribesmen also converted.
So, deeply reflect upon the magnificent policy of the Noble Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and ponder his supreme and sublime wisdom.

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