The Heart’s Witness Against Muhammad: Serial and Simultaneous Polygamy
By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
October 20th, 2012
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.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – Adultery, polygamy, concubinage, pedophilia, incest, and rape are all offenses against the dignity of marriage, the natural institution of the family, and the right and orderly use of the sexual faculties. They are regarded as violations of the natural law as it relates to marriage and are comprehended by the strictures of the Sixth Commandment not to commit 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 Merciful.”
It seems both unseemly and unfitting that Muhammad should exclude himself from the already loose strictures that bound the rest of his Muslim followers and which limited their polygynous practices to four wives (with easy divorce) and as many captives and concubines as their hearts or their lusts craved.
So unseemly and unfitting is this carved exception that one can literally still sense the dripping sarcasm behind Muhammad’s young (and favorite) wife ‘A’isha’s comment related in Sahih Muslim 8:3453 to the Qur΄anic revelation in 33:51 which essentially allowed Muhammad free reign to any believer who offered herself to him: “I felt jealous of the women who offered themselves to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Then when Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed this: “You may defer any one of them you wish, and take to yourself any you wish; and if you desire any you have set aside (no sin is chargeable to you)” (33:51), I (Aisha) said: It seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire.”
Yes, ‘Aisha, it seems to me also that this “god” of Muhammad hastened a bit too eagerly to satisfy Muhammad’s desires. God, it seems, was blasphemously recruited to witness against his own natural law to justify Muhammad’s lust and inability to live chastely in accord with that natural moral law. And this is most unseemly for a supposed man of God who is the perfect human.
Now Qur’an 33:50 includes a number of categories of women to which Muhammad had sexual access without supposedly committing adultery: (1) “wives,” strictly so called, (2) “those whom your right hand possesses,” (3) the “daughters of your ‘Amm [paternal uncles],” (4) “the daughters of your Khal [maternal uncles],” (5) the daughters of your Khalah [maternal aunts] who migrated [from Mecca] with you,” and (6) “a believing woman if she offers herself” to Muhammad.
So Muhammad’s particular marital and sexual law gave him a wide universe of sexual allowables. The sexual allowables included more than just his many legal wives, and also included both captive slavewomen (“those whom your right hand possesses” is a euphemism for slavewomen), his first cousins, and finally the broad category of a “believing woman if she offers herself” to him. This teaching makes a mockery of any natural law of marriage, a mockery of any prohibition regarding adultery, and a mockery of prohibitions against incest.
The Islamic scholar Montgomery Watt has taken all the categories identified in Qur’an 33:50 and sifted through the historical evidence. With respect to the category of wives and concubines, Watt identified fourteen as certain, nine of whom survived Muhammad. There may be more than fourteen in this category, perhaps as many as “a score of other women” as Watt noted. But he also observed: “There is much obscurity and dubiety about some of them; many tribes were doubtless eager to claim a matrimonial relationship with Muhammad, and to make the most of vague reminiscences. . . . The one thing that seems certain about this supplementary list is that none of the women in it formed a lasting union with Muhammad.” In other words, they were not wives and concubines, but involved some of these other categories of sexual allowables.
Watt identifies sixteen others as part of this “score of other women” in addition to the fourteen legal wives and concubines. Watt also identifies seven more women “between whom and Muhammad there was some talk of marriage without the plans ever being carried out.”
So Muhammad certainly had sex with fourteen women, but may possibly have had sexual congress with at least twenty women. And this sexual activity occurred in that ten-year period between 622 (when Muhammad left Mecca) and 632 (when Muhammad died).
It is apparent that Muhammad taught that polygamy (and concubinage) was in accordance with God’s will. He practiced polygamy (and concubinage) himself. He allowed polygamy (and concubinage) to his followers. It is, in the traditional Muslim’s view, part of the law of God, the Shari’a, that a man may marry up to four women (and have unlimited concubines, which is what explains the famous Turkish seraglios).
Both Muhammad’s practice and teaching regarding polygamy and concubinage are offenses against the natural moral law, are inimical to a healthy marriage life, are demeaning toward women, and contradict one of the forceful aspects of the marital relationship apparent in its true nature: fidelity and unity.
(Muhammad’s teachings regarding marriage, of course, also contradict the sublime teaching of Jesus on marriage, but that is to go beyond the natural moral law. Because of Muhammad’s teachings, Muslims will have great difficulty understanding the relationship of Christ and his Church as a relationship between a man and his one wife.)
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 the natural law of 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.
(This article is adapted from the book written by the author entitled, The Heart’s Witness Against Muhammad: Why the Natural Law Proves Muhammad False.)
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.