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always his share was the largest and heaviest. That is why he had more than one wife, and had more wives than any of his companions 3. There were many war prisoners captured by the Muslims and entitled to security and protection. They were not killed or denied any right, human or physical. On the contrary, they were helped to settle down through legal marriages to Muslims instead of being taken as concubines and common mistresses. That also was another moral burden on the Muslims and had to be shouldered jointly as a common responsibility. Here, again, Muhammad carried his share and took some responsibilities by marrying two of those captives 4. The Prophet contracted some of his marriages for sociopolitical reasons. His principal concern was the future of Islam. He was most interested in strengthening the Muslims by all bonds. That is why he married the minor daughter of Abu Bakr, his First Successor, and the daughter of Umar, his Second Successor. It was by his marriage to Juwairiah that he gained the support for Islam of the whole clan of Bani al-Mustaliq and their allied tribes. It was through marriage to Safiyah that he neutralized a great section of the hostile Jews of Arabia. By accepting Mary the Copt from Egypt as his wife, he formed a political alliance with a king of great magnitude. It was also a gesture of friendship with a neighboring king that Muhammad married Zaynab who was presented to him by the Negus of Abyssinia in whose territory the early Muslims found safe refuge 5. By contracting most of these marriages, the Prophet meant to eliminate the caste system, the racial and national vanities, and the religious prejudices. He married some of the humblest and poorest women. He married a Coptic girl from Egypt, a Jewess of a different religion and race, a negro girl from Abyssinia. He was not satisfied by merely teaching brotherhood and equality but he meant what he taught and put it into practice 6. Some of the Prophet’s marriages were for legislative reasons and to abolish certain corrupt traditions. Such was his marriage to Zaynab, divorcee of the freed slave Zaid. Before Islam, the Arabs did not allow divorcees to remarry. Zaid was adopted by Muhammad and called his son as was the custom among the Arabs before Islam. But Islam abrogated this custom and disapproved its practice. Muhammad was the first man to express this disapproval in a practical way. So he married the divorcee of his "adopted" son to show that adoption does not really make the adopted child a real son of the adopting father and also to show that marriage is lawful for divorcees. Incidentally, this very Zaynab was Muhammad’s cousin, and had been offered to him for marriage before she was taken by Zaid. He refused her then, but after she was divorced he accepted her for the two legislative purposes: the lawful marriage of divorcees and the real status of adopted children. The story of this Zaynab has been associated in some minds with ridiculous fabrications as regards the moral integrity of Muhammad. These vicious fabrications are not even worth considering here (see Qur’an, 33:36,37,40) These are the circumstances accompanying the Prophet’s marriages. For the Muslims there is no doubt whatsoever that Muhammad had the highest standards of morality and was the perfect model for man under all circumstances. To non-Muslims we appeal for a serious discussion of the matter. They, then may be able to reach sound conclusons Marriage and Divorce One of the most distorted concepts of Islam is the real meaning of marriage. In addition to the brief statement made earlier in this survey, a few more remarks may be useful. Marriage in Islam is not a business deal negotiated by two partners, nor is it a secular contract whereby material benefits and obligations are evaluated in contrast to one another. It is something solemn, something sacred, and it would be erroneous to define it in simply physical or material and secular terms. Moral charity, spiritual elevation, social integrity, human stability, peace and mercy constitute the major elements of marriage. It is a contract to which God Himself is the First Witness and

Islam in Focus  

By HAMMUDAH ABDALATI Table of Contents Chapter - II

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