The Heart's Witness Against Muhammad: Serial and Simultaneous Polygamy
Muhammad's polygamous practices and teachings and his teachings on concubinage are the first proved indictment against his claim to be a prophet of the God Most High.
Muhammad's polygamous practices and teachings and his teachings on concubinage are the first proved indictment against his claim to be a prophet of the God Most High. They offend against marriage and offend against the natural dignity of women, who have a natural right that their husband remain faithful to them, and that any marital relationship involve an exclusive one-on-one union. They violate the Sixth Commandment which proscribes adultery.
In the areas of marriage, family, and the exercise of sexual faculties, reason's verdict would seem to be overwhelmingly against Muhammad. Muhammad's actions violated the natural law in some fundamental precepts as well as in its more distant determinations. Put all together, the violations of Muhammad of natural law principles of marriage and human sexuality place it beyond reasonable doubt that Muhammad's life was hardly virtuous in this regard. His is not a life that ought to be imitated.
Indeed, we must concur with St. Thomas Aquinas's judgment in his Summa Contra Gentiles: Muhammad did not restrain his sexual urges, but rather he "gave free rein to carnal pleasure," voluptati carnali habenas relaxans. This relaxation of sexual mores is highly unseemly for an alleged man of God, one of allegedly perfect virtue. Worse, as we shall see, he invoked God in an effort to justify it.
In this article, we shall look generally at the area of Muhammad's marriages and his practice of simultaneous polygamy. In subsequent articles we will look at some specific issues arising from his marital and sexual life.
We may start by observing that in his life Muhammad showed a marked change between his life in the town of Mecca when he had no political power, and his life in the town of Medina once he left Mecca in the Hegira and gained political power. Just like there was an Alexander drunk and an Alexander sober, so there is one Muhammad ante Hegiram and another Muhammad post Hegiram.
In Mecca, Muhammad lived a sexually unobtrusive, monogamous married life with his first wife Khadija bint Khuwaylid until her death shortly before Muhammad's migration or Hegira from the town of Mecca to the town of Medina (originally known as Yathrib). There is no reason to distrust Sahih Muslim (31:5975) which states Muhammad married no other woman until his first wife died. There is no evidence of any sexual improprieties in Muhammad's behavior while married to Khadija, and his marital and sexual behavior would seem to have been commendable, indeed unimpeachable, up until after Khadija's death.
The same cannot be said regarding Muhammad's ten-year Medinan phase. Without doubt, Muhammad, once released from his marital relationship with Khadija and once having his hands on political power, wealth, and the spoils of war, not only taught but practiced a rather extreme form of polygamy and sexual libertineness. He thus made polygamy and concubinage forever part of the alleged revelations of Allah. In Surah 4:3 (a Medinan Surah), Muhammad limited simultaneous polygamy for his followers to four women (and unlimited concubines).
Two things regarding Muhammad's teaching on polygamy should be noted. First, the polygamy taught by Muhammad was strictly polygynous, since only men could have multiple women spouses simultaneously. Women could not have multiple spouses simultaneously. The second thing that ought to be noted is that the four-woman limitation applied to Muslims generally; it did not apply to Muhammad, who excluded himself from Surah 4:3 by another convenient Qur'anic revelation, which addressed his own circumstances.
In other words, there was one marriage and sexual law for all Muslims, and another one for Muhammad alone.
Muhammad expressly excluded himself from the four-wife-only Qur'anic revelation. He operated under a unique dispensation (found in Qur'an 33:50):
"O Prophet!" God the creator of women supposedly says. "Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr [bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage], and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses - whom Allāh has given to you, and the daughters of your 'Amm [paternal uncles] and the daughters of your 'Ammah [paternal aunts] and the daughters of your Khāl [maternal uncles] and the daughters of your Khālah [maternal aunts] who migrated [from Mecca] with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess,--in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allāh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most ...
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