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AS A HUSBAND
The Messenger of Allah sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam was the perfect head of family. Managing many wives with ease, being a lover of their hearts, an instructor of their minds, an educator of their souls, he never neglected the affairs of the nation nor compromised his duties. This is a clear proof of his prophethood. If this were the only proof, it would have been enough.
Such was the eminence of our blessed Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam that he managed to live a life of great happiness with wives of different ages, temperaments, family backgrounds and differing levels of intellect. All his wives but 'A'ishah ( R.A.) were widows, taking this into account all had very good mutual relations and endured an extremely contented life as members of his auspicious household.
He treated his wives equally and they in return loved him infinitely; each wife doing her utmost to please him. This was a household who lived in happiness with the others.
The blessed Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam was scrupulous in maintaining perfect equality amongst his wives as far as it was in his power. He visited them on their appointed turns, as far as possible with absolute justice and integrity. He made no distinction concerning the matters of worldly provision and needs. As far as human emotions and feelings of love and affection are concerned even the greatest man, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam had no control over them, and so the Prophet clearly loved A'ishah ( R.A.) more than his other wives. This exceeding love of one wife did not lead to the neglect or lack of love for the remaining wives. The Almighty has mentioned this weakness of man in the following words :
" It is not within your power to be perfectly equitable in your treatment with all your wives, even if you wish to be so; therefore, do not lean wholly towards one wife so as to leave the others in a state of suspense. If you behave righteously and fear Allah, you will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful." ( 4 : 129 )
From the above it is made clear that a husband cannot wholly and literally maintain his affections equally amongst his wives, even if it is his greatest wish to do so, as the wives themselves cannot be equal in respect of the qualities they possess. Thus, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam would seek Allah's pardoning for any unintentional leanings. He would make this prayer : " I may have unintentionally shown more love to one of them than the others and this would have been injustice. So, Oh Lord, I take refuge in your grace for those things which are beyond my power." Even so, each of his wives, because of his generosity and kindness, felt she was his most beloved.
There are many incidents in the books of Ahaadith and Seerah which mark the sweetness, love and nobility of their mutual relationship. It has been reported that once Safiyyah (R.A) was weeping as the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam happened to pass by. Safiyyah (R.A.) was of Jewish origin and on this occasion she was dismayed when her origin was reminded to her sarcastically. She informed the Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam, expressing her sadness. Our Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam comforted her saying, " If they repeat it, give them this response : My father is the Prophet Haroon, my uncle is the Prophet Musa and my husband is, as you see, the Prophet Muhammad, the chosen one. What do you have more than me to be proud of?"
The above incident gives a clear indication towards the excellent management undertaken by the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam in minor, delicate incidents that would take place between his wives. It is reported by 'A'ishah ( R.A.) that whenever Allah's Messenger intended to embark on a journey, he cast lots amongst his wives to establish whom would accompany him. This way no one would have cause to complain.
When speaking to his Companions the blessed Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam used to say, " The best among you is he who treats his wife the best."
On another occasion, he said, "Whatever you spend on yourself, your children, your wife, and your servant is charity on your part." ( Muslim, Abu Dawood, Nasai )
According to Hadhrat Sa'ad ( R.A.) " The Prophet visited me at Makkah while I was ill. I said to him : I have property; may I bequeath all my property in Allah's cause?"
He said, " No."
I said, "Half of it ?"
He said, "No."
I said, "One third of it ?"
He said, "One third is alright, yet it is still too much, for you would do better to leave your inheritors wealthy than leave them poor, begging of others. Whatever you spend will be considered a charity for you, even a morsel of food you put in the mouth of your wife !" (Bukhari )
Seerah books and alike compilations are filled with the duties and tasks undertaken by the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam. These duties were not restricted to his blessed life outside his home life, but were very much a part of this aspect of his blessed life too. After the morning prayer, the Holy Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam used to come to talk to 'A'ishah ( R.A.) if she was awake, otherwise lay down on his side and rested for a while. When he came into the house during the day, he did normal work like any ordinary man.
Hadhrat Aswad reported that he asked 'A'ishah ( R.A.) what the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam used to do in his house. She replied, "He keeps himself busy in the service of his family and when the time for prayer comes he goes out to prayer. " ( Bukhari )
She also said, " Allah's Messenger patches his sandals, sews his garments, and conducts himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He is a human being, milking his sheep and doing his own daily work."( Tirmizi )
We learn from the above of the very normality of the Prophet's home life. It cannot be said for an instant that he shunned away his duties as a husband due to his external roles. The Holy Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam took every incident as it came and enjoyed the natural instinct of his wives. In spite of heavy state responsibilities he, in his capacity as a husband, treated all his wives quite normally enjoying their occasional feminine delicacies without any pressures.
Counsel and consultation, like every good deed, were both practised by the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam first in the context of his own family and then in the wider community.
Women are secondary beings in the minds of many, including those who claim they are defending women's rights. For us, a woman is a part of a whole, a part which renders the other half useful. We believe that when the two halves come together, the true unity of a human being appears. When this unity does not exist, humanity does not exist.
The following highlights an occasion when the blessed Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam consults his wife, Umme Salama (R.A.) upon a very important moment of indecision.
In the treaty of Hudaibiyyah the Sahaabaa (R.A) wanted to reject the treaty and go on to Makkah and face the possible consequences. The Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam ordered those with him to slaughter their sacrificial animals and leave their pilgrim attire. Some of the Companions were hesitant. They had hoped for a change in his decision but he repeated his order. It did not change their reluctance. They did not oppose him, but still hoped he might change his mind as they had set out with the intention of pilgrimage and did not want to stop half way. Noticing the reluctance of some of the Companions, the Ruler of the two worlds sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam returned to his tent and asked the opinion of his wife, Umme Salama ( R.A.). This great lady explained her opinion, fully aware that the Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam did not need her advice. We should learn that there is nothing wrong in exchanging ideas with the womenfolk of our families.
She said, "Oh Messenger of Allah! Do not repeat your order. They may resist and thereby perish. Slaughter your sacrificial animal and change out of your pilgrim attire. They will obey you, willingly or not, when they recognize the certainty of your order." Immediately he took a knife in his hand, went out and began to slaughter his sheep. The Companions began to do the same. Everybody understood that there would be no change in his decision.
Ultimately, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam introduced new dimensions into the relationship between man and woman, enriching the family with love, pleasure and comfort. She was guaranteed her marital, social, economic and legal rights.
There is a treasury of lessons to be learnt from the marital relations of the Holy Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam with his wives for married people whom are in search of a real and lasting peace and happiness.