In this Lecture, Vivienne Stacey explores why learning about Muhammad’s wives is essential for Muslims. The prophet’s wives have served as an example for Muslim women throughout Islamic history. These lectures were given at Columbia International University in partnership with the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. The Zwemer Center was founded in 1979 and exists to offer comprehensive courses on Islam, facilitate research, foster dialogues, offer seminars, conduct training, and provide resources for effective witness and ministry among Muslims. We also have a course study guide for these lectures that you might find helpful.


Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Vivienne Stacey’s Lecture on the wives of Muhammad:


So in this session then, we are, going to think about the Hadith a bit more, but particularly our subject is the wives of the prophet, the wives of Muhammad. Why they are so important is that they are models for the believer. Just as Mohammed is the ideal man, his wives have become models. They are called in Surah 33 and verse 6, the mothers of believers. The Quran itself calls them the mothers of believers.


So his wives are examples. So the role models are, the role models are the wives of Mohammed, so we better pay attention. Now I have a book here which, I got when I was visiting, an Islamic center and mosque in Hong Kong. I was given this free. It’s called the Ideal Muslim Husband, so I I thought I it’s interesting always to know what an ideal husband is supposed to be like, so I I dutifully read, the Ideal Muslim Husband, and I found it’s really a portrayal of Muhammad.


So in the same way, the wives of Muhammad have become ideals or role models, for Muslim women. And, role models that, Muslim men would like to find in roles they’d like to see in their wives or find in their wives. So we should we should pay fairly careful attention, to the matter of, the wives of Muhammad. You have best been reading chapter 17 of Phil Parshall’s book, and inside the community and knowing Muslims through their traditions. Maybe I just because we’re maybe I’ll just just read a little bit from it.


It says that Muhammad was over 50 years old when he married 6 year old Aisha. Aisha was his probably his favorite wife after the death of but after the death of Khadija. Khadija was his first wife, she was 40 when he married her, and she he was 25, and he never married anybody else until her death, so she is a model for believers. There some of the I some of the wives are more better known than others, and, but we cannot get away from the clear statement of the Quran, that mother where it talks about the mothers of believers, models, in other words, for believers as well. Let me just read 1 or 2 things from Phil Parshall’s chapter.


There’s the interesting someone yesterday mentioned or somebody previously in our studies, mentioned an important incident which occurred in the life of Aisha. Aisha was 18 when, Muhammad died. This incident is extremely controversial and unsettling. The story is repeated a number of times in the Al Bukhari collection of the Hadith, and this is Aisha’s version from Al Bukhari’s collection of what what happened. You can, I I don’t know if I should read it all, but, maybe I’ll read a little bit of it?


Aisha narrated, whenever, Allah’s apostle intended to go on a journey, he used to draw lots among his wives, and Allah’s apostle used to take with him the one on whom the lot fell. He drew lots amongst us during one of the battles which he fought. The lot fell on me, so I proceeded with Allah’s apostle after the revelation of the verse of the veil. I was carried on the back of a camel in my howda, or carriage, and carried downhill while still in a is still in it, when we came to a halt. So we went on till Allah’s apostle had finished from that battle of his and returned.


When we approached the city of Medina, he announced at night that it was time for departure. So So when they announced the news of departure, I got up and went away from the army camps, and after finishing from the call of nature, I came back to my riding animal. I touched my chest to find that my necklace, which was made of zippered beads, was missing, so I returned to look for my necklace and my search for it detained me. In the meantime the people who used to carry me on my camel came and took my howder, my carriage, and put it on the back of my camel on which I used to ride, as I as they considered that I was in it. In those days, women were light in weight, for they did not get fat, and flesh did not cover their bodies in abundance, as they used to eat but little food.


Those women therefore disregarded the likeness of the howler when lifting up, lifting and carrying it, and at that time I was still a young girl. They made the camel rise and all of them left. I found my necklace after the army had gone, then I came to their camping place and found no one who would respond to my call, so I intended to go back to go to the place where I used to stay, thinking they would muss me and come back to me. When I was sitting in my resting place, I was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. And then Safwan bin ul Mu’athalla, Aslami Aztakwani was behind the army.


When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and recognized me, as he’d seen me before the order of compulsory veiling was prescribed. So I woke up, when he recited the istruha, truly to God we belong and truly to him shall we return, Surah 2 156. As soon as he recognized me, I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allah we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him saying any any word besides his prayers. He dismounted from his camel and made it kneel down, putting his leg on its front legs, and then I got up and rode on it. Then he set out leading the camel that was carrying me till we overtook the army in the extreme heat of midday, while they were taking a halt or a rest.


Because of the event, some people brought destruction upon themselves and the one who spread the slander most was so and so. So this is the end of what is reported. Word quickly spread that Aisha had spent time alone with a young soldier. Rumour circulated that she’d had sex with a man. Mohammed became extremely upset and ordered Aisha to remain in her per parents home until he could determine the credibility of the accusations, and so on.


After some days, Muhammad became convinced of Aisha’s innocence. This was the occasion for the revelation of a new Quranic verse that set forth penalties for the sin of, slander. The prophet Elisha were then happily reunited. According to Aisha, narrated by Aisha, Abu Bakr, her father, came to me and hit me violently on the chest and said, you have detained the people because of a necklace. I kept as motionless as a dead person because of the possession of Allah’s prophet, of Allah’s apostle on my lap, though Abu Bakr had hurt me with the slap, and so on.


So there was a real to do about all this. Well it’s interesting to read it, and another very interesting matter pertaining to the Prophet’s wives I think is the matter of that Stuassa in her book, women in the Quran, the situation is that he he wants to marry, well, I’ll read it from here, there is a law that, a man should not marry the former wife of of an adopted son, so but marry but Muhammad wanted to do this, so he was given a special revelation about it, and it says, these revelations, dated by Muslim scholarship in the first 5th year after the Hijra are commonly linked with Zaineb bint Jahesh. Zaineb, the granddaughter of Abu al Mitalib, was Mohammed’s first cousin on her mother’s side. She had migrated early with her family to Medina, where the prophet, had arranged a marriage with her and Zayd ibn I Haritha, a former Arabian slave of Khadija whom the prophet had freed and adopted for a son. So this was not allowed, but Muhammad received a revelation, and this is included as one of the verses of the Quran.


I can’t find the reference here, but you can look it up in this book. It might be somebody’s got it. So these are revelations given a bit later to deal with situations which came up, during the progress of this new faith or as Islam spread and particularly in Medina in the later period there are revelations given to Muhammad which are included in the Quran, which deal with current things which arise. This was one of them. Anyway, we are, just to rather conclude rather briefly I think I think the basic thing that we have to think about is the models which and the kind of roles role models to which Muslims look.


If you go into a bookshop where women well, go into a Muslim bookshop or where books about Islam are sold or go into a mosque bookshop, go into large bookshops in Cairo, in Hong Kong, in Singapore, in London, in New York, and many of your cities probably, you’ll find textbooks for school school children and children’s books, and you’ll find some story or account of this wife of Aisha or this, or of Khadija. You’ll find stories about the and accounts of the wives of Muhammad, and they’re there because they’re role models, and so these kids should should read about it, and they should read about the heroes of the faith. Yeah? You have a question, I think. Yes?


Yes. I was wondering how similar, the Muslims with their traditions in the Hadith, how similar that is to the Pharisees in Jesus’ time when they had, I mean, they had parts of the scripture, but then they added all those traditions? That’s a good question. Yes. Once I gave a a gospel of Matthew, to a postmaster in a very small village where I was having a holiday or vacation area 7,000 feet up in the Himalayas, and, we used to go and collect our mail once a week.


I gave this postmaster a gospel of Matthew. I didn’t say very much about it, but, when I came back the next week to collect my mail, he said, I have a question, these Pharisees, are they the Muslims? So he saw a parallel between, the Muslims and and the Pharisees, not a not a matter of, hypocrisy or anything, but the kind of minute detail that the Pharisees were interested in. So yes, thank you for that question. So please do a little bit more, research or reading children’s textbooks about the wives of the prophets.


There’s a very good book in French on the wives of the prophets, but there are quite a lot of it, there’s quite a lot available in in other languages including English.