The Prophet’s Wives Were Not Happy Co-Wives – and what happens when Muslim women say this out loud

A Note to Islamophobes excited to find something they can present as proof of a Muslim woman’s “oppression” because of Islam: This post is not an attack on Islam (I’m a Muslim and always will be; you can’t take that away from me. I also love my religion, and you can’t take that away from me, either. And I have much respect for my Prophet and his wives – again, you will not take any of this from me).  This post is about men feeling entitled to being heard, to policing women’s spiritualities, to commenting on the way women speak of religion, and so on. If you’re looking for proof from Muslim women that Islam is inherently evil and misogynistic, you’re reading the wrong blog. I do not believe Islam is inherently evil or misogynist; on the contrary, I *know* (not just believe) that it comes closest, of all religions, to being as feminist in nature as was possible before the 19th century. So shove it if you are here for dishonest reasons! But before you leave in disappointment, which you should, read this article I once wrote called As a Muslim Feminist – it explains briefly how your Islamophobia is one of the struggles that we Muslim feminists are constantly facing and why y’all are a part of the problem we are  forced to deal with.

Now for the post itself…

These days, I’m reading a lot of texts on the Prophet’s (pbuh) life, relationships with his wives, his companions, and the early Muslim community in general. They include the Prophet’s biographies (both English and Arabic) as well as biographies of his wives and the companions (again, both Arabic and English sources – yes, including hadith, but I don’t need to legitimate or defend my perspectives, so I’m not going to). Some of the information is new, other not so; some of the information is unsettling, other not so. So I decided to write a post on Facebook about discord in the Prophet’s household — and this is general information that a person can know without necessarily reading about the Prophet’s household because it’s all basic human problems, things that have to do with human relations on basic levels, problems that no one is exempt from no matter how amazing and how pious. So I put up a long status message on my FB about how the Prophet’s wives were actually NOT happy with each other, resented each other, were jealous of each other, didn’t want him to bring more and more brides; the Prophet (s) even got angry at them in response to their reactions to each other and didn’t speak to them for one whole month – a verse was revealed to give them the choices of remaining the Prophet’s wives and having goodness in the next world OR being divorced and enjoying the luxuries of the world. In this message on FB, I also expressed concern over the fact that we Muslims have romanticized the Prophet’s wives’ relationships with each other only to exploit Muslim women’s sincere desire to not disobey God, to the point that telling women that when they’re jealous or resentful of co-wives or not letting husbands to have multiple wives, they’re committing a sin. This is not only disingenuous but also inaccurate even according to hadiths themselves that have survived that discuss the Prophet’s wives relationship with each other.

And what happens when I do that? What could possibly go wrong when a Muslim woman sets out to break false claims about the Prophet’s wives through obvious facts that are not even secret but easily found in hadiths? What  could possibly happen when a Muslim woman does this knowing that many Muslims have simply chosen to turn a blind eye towards these facts and the reality of the tension in the Prophet’s home because it interrupts the perfect, linear narrative that we have fabricated about the Prophet’s wives’ relationships with each other and with him? Well, obviously, a man decides to regulate the mannerism in which I will discuss these issues and concerns. But, of course, he does not succeed because my women friends are too smart and aware to let men feel like they have power over us.

When women stand with each other, ain’t nothing that come in their way.

People, all of them Muslim women, responded to that post admitting that they had had similar suspicions, similar thoughts, similar questions and doubts – and they were glad that it was being discussed openly. Someone said she’d be excommunicated if she dared raise that issue on her own Facebook, and I told her that, yeah, at one point in my life, I would’ve felt the same way, but now I’m the one to initiate the excommunication because I no longer have space in my life and heart for anyone who cannot respect me. I no longer interact with anyone who does not respect me. I demand and deserve respect, and if you cannot give that to me, get out of my life. Others thought it was very brave of me to be discussing something SO utterly obvious. Seriously? What’s brave about admitting that the Prophet’s wives were human like you and me? Men go crazy the moment you ask them how they’d feel if their wives shared them with other men; women, too, don’t like it, but the difference is that we’re spiritually blackmailed into doing so, and if we dare to complain about it or protest it, our faith is put on trial. Muslim men, however, never have to worry about having their faith subjected to such scrutiny.

And then one male friend of mine put it upon himself to come and tell us how to talk about the Prophet and his wives the “correct” way!  What does he say, though? Well, he basically starts spiritually blackmailing me, saying things like “astaghfirallah” (how patronizing; except I was amused – but honestly, sometimes, nothing’s worse than someone–a man, especially–astaghfirallah’ing a woman, ok?) and that I was being disrespectful towards the prophet, that my “tone” was harsh and disrespectful (disrespectful towards misogynists and insecure men, yes, indeed), and Muslims would be offended to hear what I was saying there! He told us that we needed to respect “Muslims'” “sensibilities,” by which, we all gathered, he meant Muslim men’s sensibilities, since, like all other religious traditions, over the past several centuries, the Islamic tradition has largely served men to the point that many Muslim men equate offense to them with offense to God. These are some of the repercussions of a tradition that strives to please men with rare occasions of respecting women’s sensibilities. Never mind that women have been harmed, even oppressed, by many religious rulings issued and enforced by men – but let’s make sure to point it out to women when they dare to step on men’s right to do whatever the heck they want to do with no regards for women’s emotions and feelings and responses. I did tell him that I knew exactly what I was doing, was not going to take back anything I’d said, not even my tone, and that we can’t afford to censor information using tone as an excuse.

And the moment he started writing about how the information I had shared was offensive to Muslims and how the tone needed to take into consideration Muslims’ sensibilities and whatnot, The Fatal Feminist (TFF / Nahida) wrote one beautiful line: “I knew a man was going to show up with some tone policing.”

In response, he told her to “hold your horses” because he’s not policing anything (uh-huh, sure) and that he’s just concerned that I’m offending Muslims’ sensibilities and that this is a sensitive issue, and so on. So Nahida wrote back with:

I would advise you to refrain from asking me to “hold my horses” before you present a tired list of poorly disguised excuses for your patronizing tone toward [Orbala] and her heartfelt expression of what is obviously a painful spiritual reality for her. (Interesting how tone policers never examine how whiney or privileged they’re coming across in their own tones.)

This is a “sensitive issue” for Muslims? Is [Orbala] not Muslim? Am I not Muslim? Is every woman here who has commented on this thread not Muslim? In fact we have demonstratively proven that the only one who is sensitive here is *you.* And coincidentally–or not–you happen to be a man. And I can speak for [Orbala] when I say she doesn’t care whether or not she’s hurting your sensitivities, just like the male scholars you’ve undoubtedly failed to police in the past haven’t granted a smidgeon of compassion regarding how they “come across” when confronting the religious sensitivities of women like [Orbala] who are appalled by their unforgiving uncompassionate positions on polygamy.

Addressing TFF’s mention of a painful spiritual reality, I commented:

You know, I don’t think most Muslim men realize how difficult it is for us Muslim women to come to terms with some of the stuff we come across about the way the early Muslim scholars thought of us. It can, and it has, crushed faiths! In studying Qur’anic exegesis (compilation of the Qur’an first and then the fuqahas’ opinions on women and interpretations of women-related verses later on) in class one day, one female convert literally said out loud when we were discussing our responses to the new and shocking and unexpected information: “If I’d known any of this before I converted, I’d never have converted.” It’s difficult handling this kind of stuff, and it’s really sad that so many Muslim don’t realize that. I’d love to look into some confessional sort of scholarship out there on Muslim women scholars addressing this, sharing how they feel upon discovering some of the views that exist about (against) us, how they respond to it all, how they cope with it … how it changes or doesn’t change them … and so on.

When women love each other

Smart women. I love them, I love being around them, I love being associated with them, I love having them in my life, I love having them as close friends and associates.

These women recognized what was going on: a man thinking (in his case, subconsciously because I know he understands how patriarchy works) he could enter any space he feels like it and criticize a bunch of women about the way they were carrying themselves and expressing themselves, a man entering a space where a whole bunch of women trusting each other were safely sharing with each other how uncomfortable they are with some of the Prophet’s attitudes towards his wives and how they have often wondered why so many Muslim women are fooled into thinking that they have to accept polygamy as their husband’s right because the Prophet’s wives never complained (!!!) … and a man enters and attempts to remind us how weak our faith is because, astaghfirallah, how dare we speak that way of the Prophet and his wives! Because the women I surround myself with are smart enough to detect misogyny wherever they see it and unafraid to call misogynists out on their misogyny even if they attempt to sugarcoat it–because sugarcoated misogyny is still misogyny–the male eventually apologized and acknowledged that he had been in the wrong. I told him that I accepted his apology and thank him for for acknowledging and accepting why his interjection in the conversation the way he let it happen was problematic.

But now that I look back, I accepted his apology too quickly, and he did not deserve a “thank you” at all for recognizing his male privilege at last. I realize now that I was subconsciously feeling sorry and embarrassed for him because patriarchy tells him that he’s not supposed to apologize, that he has a right to say whatever he wants wherever he wants especially in front of and to women, that he is smarter than women, that nothing any woman has to say can ever be more important or smarter or more valuable than what he has to say. Except that then he is hit by reality where a crazy-ass intelligent group of women refuse to put up with his perpetuation of patriarchy. And he is shocked and ends up having to apologize … and I, while knowing all this, immediately accept his apology because, poor thing, we women put him in a position where he was forced to admit publicly that he was wrong! That’s so effing hard for men to do in a patriarchal society like America! But, ma’lesh – I’m not feeling sorry for men next time they are in such a position. When they choose to implicate themselves as perpetrators of misogyny themselves, that’s not anyone else’s fault. Even if they end up being pushed to apologize, and condemn patriarchy just by admitting guilt.

Everyone should know this. Never, ever interrupt women when they are talking. Never ever tell them that what they’re feeling or thinking or saying is out of place. And especially don’t do it if you’re a man and claim you’re an ally! If the women know what they’re doing, I hope they exercise their power and right to silence you. And not politely. We’re done feeling sorry for men when they apologize just because we know how hard it is for them to admit to being wrong or for them to apologize because it’s just not what “men” do!

As for what I’d said in my FB post, something along the lines of:

People (Muslims) make it seem like all was heaven over at the Prophet’s house (pbuh), that his wives didn’t object to each other or to his multiple and constant re-marriages, that they loved each other like any “true” or “the ideal” Muslimah should/would; in fact, women are often spiritually blackmailed into allowing or at least accepting and recognizing their husband’s right to have other wives in addition to them because the Prophet’s wives allowed him to have that many! (They didn’t quite allow it, actually; he did it without asking them, and they hated and feared it. This whole seeking permission of current wives for remarriage being a sunnah … yeah, no.) But in reality, those women couldn’t stand each other: They plotted against each other, they resented each other, and they were divided in groups and ganged up on whoever was not in their group. And as we all know, the Prophet made his preference for Aisha so obvious to each of them that they resented her just as she resented the ones who were more beautiful or smarter than she was. At one point, Umm Salamah even said to Muhammad, “I see that the rest of us are as nothing in your presence” in response to his intense love and preference for Aisha. When Sawdah, the oldest of them and whom he had married right after Khadija, gave her “turn” to Aisha (for non-Muslims unaware of this: the Prophet divided his nights/days equally amongst all his wives, and each wife had a “turn”), it wasn’t just because she was being nice (maybe so, not unlikely) but more so because she feared that he would divorce her, since she feared he had lost interest in her, and she knew that if she showed love for Aisha to Muhammad, he would appreciate it – because love shown to Aisha was love shown to the Prophet. Later on, another wife (Safiyah the Jew) gave her “turn” to Aisha for a night because Muhammad was upset with her (Safiyah), and she, too, knew that the best way to get his attention back was to donate her turn for the night to Aisha.  Then, of course, there was that time when for a whole 29 days or so, he didn’t speak to ANY of them because he was angry with them. [And I’m adding this part right now: And Umar, the Prophet’s friend and father-in-law, graciously packs his male privilege and takes it with him over to the Prophet’s house to tell each of his wives how to be good wives – and that’s where Umm Salamah says to him, “Excuse me?! Who put YOU in charge of us?! If Muhammad doesn’t like the way we treat him, he’ll let us know himself. It’s none of your business.” And all the other wives applauded her for standing up to Umar.]

I mean, c’mon – that many wives married to one man, it’s only fair that so much enmity and discord and disunity take place. Anyone denying it is simply choosing to idealize a relationship/relationships that never actually existed.

Girls, women: Know that when people “astaghfirallah” you, they’re claiming power over you, and you don’t have to re-evaluate your faith in response. Don’t let anyone spiritually blackmail you, question or challenge your faith or your love for God or Islam or the Prophet or anyone and anything else that’s important to you. Feel free to let them know that you don’t give a cow’s dung about offending them or anyone else with an empty sense of faith who thinks that there’s no room for honest expressions of our thoughts even in the spaces we feel most at ease speaking our minds in – just because they find it blasphemous (blasphemy itself is all just about someone insecure in their own faith thinking God is as low as they and would be offended; it’s arrogant, and it’s akin to shirk in that the person’s speaking for God as though God is incapable of speaking for Herself). Give no one, especially a man, permission to control or censor your choices to speak as you choose, as you are comfortable doing so. Control your own circle of friends and generously kick out of it anyone who disrespects you and harms you in any way, or treats you in any way you do not consent to. You don’t owe it to anyone to be friends with them, to love them, to keep them in your life.

Now, before I conclude this, I’d like to just say that coming up is a topic related to censorship and the stifling of critical thinking minds – and basic  questioning of established religious presets and “facts” (claims and opinions, really, rarely ever facts). It’s something on how we’re absolutely forbidden from even openly discussing how Umar, one of the Prophet’s companions and the 2nd caliph, was actually quite violent towards women, including his own wives. I’m talking beating women here, not just being aggressive. Stay tuned, good folks.

And, of course, death to patriarchy! Keep fighting it and resisting it in whatever ways you can and are comfortable doing so! It’s working – slowly but surely, it’s working.

P.S. #notallmen, ok?!

Advertisements

About Orbala

Pashtun. Interested in all things Pashtuns, feminism, and Islam/religion. And I want it to rain on my wedding day, pliss, inshaAllah.
This entry was posted in being human, Death to patriarchy, feminism, forbidden things, I can't believe this needs to be said out loud, Islam, Just stop, Muslim things, why we need feminism, your face is haraam and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to The Prophet’s Wives Were Not Happy Co-Wives – and what happens when Muslim women say this out loud

  1. Mohini Murti says:

    WoW. I luv luv your mind, keep the good work #Salam

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Aww, Thank you for reading! 😊 and W/S!

      Like

    • Mira says:

      Thank you for being a female Muslim voice within the tradition which has, for far too long, taken away women’s rights to their own experiences and narratives. I am proud to see fellow Muslim women supporting each other against the truly non-Islamic patriarchy that still shames, guilts, and coerces us into passive submission and clear subordination. I advocate for any channel, such as this one, where Muslim women can finally speak and have a voice and influence within Islam. May I suggest another blog to be added to your list, or just a recommendation for anyone who is interested: Muslimgirl.net

      Like

    • orbala says:

      Thank you for this comment, Mira! I’m sorry I just saw it 🙂 YESSS, MuslimGirl.net is fabulous!

      Like

  2. womanvista says:

    This is the best thing I have read … ever. This exactly. So much of love and as you have said I am also happy to have strong Muslim women like you as fierce role models. What a perfect article

    Liked by 1 person

    • orbala says:

      #blush! That’s so generous of you to say! 😃 Thank you for reading me! Absolutely – it is so important to have women around us who can empower us and remind us that fear is only going to harm us wimynfolk further!

      Like

  3. Annie says:

    um wow. love this. can’t wait for your next post on umar.

    Like

  4. saif says:

    you pin pointed a very critical issue, thats true as written in hadiths books. but let me bring something in your attention. that what ever the duties are obligated on muslims are so on the prophet. so if you read Holy Quran, there is room for only one wife. no more then one. in case there breaks out war and the majority of male of the society are martyred, so in those cases the women ratio to men is increased. and for this solution, men are allowed to marry upto four women with conditions that the women are mutually agree, and they are equally given rights. so other then this there is no room for second marriage in islam. having said that what is for muslims so is for the prophet. so how can prophet have more wives then one. in the holy quran there is no where mentioned of the many wives of the prophet. they are so in the hadiths books. which are subject to alteration. so our only answers lays in holy Quran that muslim are allowed to marry only one wife at a time.so how can prophet not do so. if this is Allah’s order so it is obligated on muslims and as well as on the prophet. the prophet has no relaxation in the duties and priciples of Holy Quran. the statement of the prophet having more wives is not only questionable but also not prooffull. i hope that helps your question

    Like

  5. f.inderella says:

    Umar? seriously? now that’s a shock! he’s my favorite companion of the prophet (pbuh) after Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him). I like him more because my father idolizes him, he’s my dad’s role model. Domestic abuse is the last thing I want to associate with Umar. Sigh. I am going to cry.

    Like

    • orbala says:

      I know 😦 Yeah, Umar. But honestly speaking, he’s a very interesting character. Yeah, he was violent towards women, wanted to control women himself if the Prophet (s.) wasn’t willing to do it, and even told the Prophet (s.) one day to not expose Meccan women to Medinan women because the latter were too strong-headed and might corrupt the former ones; BUT he also designated a woman — named Shifa’ bint Abdullah — to be the inspector and leader of Medinan markets during his caliphate. I mean, we’re talking a woman in charge of men, ruling over men, deciding who’s to do business there and how and so on. I would enjoy reading a book or a detailed article that discusses these two different sides of Umar.

      Also, hugs!

      Like

    • Basharat says:

      Re the different sides of Umar, this would be a good starting point: https://archive.org/details/UmarFarooqSeriesEpisode01

      Very well researched and written. Of course, the reaction from central ‘authorities’ was less than surprising since their job is the commodification and retail of religion and not the understanding of it. But if you are not of the ilk -you don’t seem to be – that prioritize form over spirit/intention then you will like this. Also, the scholarly consensus on the content is that it is accurate. The debate is on the permissibility of depicting prominent figures from early Islamic history…..which is a non-debate as far as I am concerned.

      Umar wanting to control women, or his tendency to become violent when that control was challenged is not contradicted by his appointment of Shifa to prominent designation. Equal economic/political opportunity (though it is a necessary step) does not mean you have transcended a deeply sexist cultural milieu. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh have had female heads of state……..still, deeply misogynistic, even though large swathes of voters who entrusted them with this responsibility were male.

      Also, I’m sure you’re already familiar with this but if not, please do read up on ‘the patriarchal bargain’ by Deniz Kandiyoti. I think its a relevant framework for understanding why the wives of the prophet begrudgingly and reluctantly tolerated each other (with the exception of Khadija, who was perhaps lucky to have been married to a great, honest, hardworking, and compassionate man, and not to a prophet…..both are one and the same with hindsight but as far as the nuances of a constantly evolving relationship are concerned, it makes a world of a difference).

      Like

  6. Mohammad Akram says:

    Salaam aapa.
    Nice and informative post.
    Non muslims often ask why are 4 marriages allowed???
    And i say it is allowed when there are reasons like your wife is not able to conceive then you can remarry with the consent of your first wife.
    I know my answer is silly!!!

    And one thing i would like to point out even if the Prophet’s wives were cordial with each other, does it mean all the muslim women have to live like that!!!!
    If a woman cannot live with his husband’s second wife…why her husband should marry again… Even if prophet’s wives were happy…that doesnot imply on every woman!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. yasmeen says:

    Salam, can you please link me to the sources you used to discover these issues? I’d like to read about them please.

    Like

  8. Satan McLucifer says:

    I appreciate your efforts and the blog, but I’m afraid it’s clear that Islam is not for women. Prior to Islam, women in Arabia didn’t need to cover up everytime they went out. Prior to Islam, there was no “mahram must accompany a woman when she travels” nonsense. Prior to Islam, women hired men and openly did business (Mo’s first wife). And it’s not just women…

    As a homosexual who loves his partner, I’m glad I left that cult of a religion. I’m glad I left it, because it’s simply a copy+pasta of Judaism (monotheism + weird laws of a tribal Israelite/Arab deity Yahweh/Allah), which is ironic given that Muslims repeatedly accuses the Jews for this or that.

    The Jews don’t believe in a Hell though. No, that absurd fiction was invented by the early Christians, and latter incorporated in Islam. Yeshua himself didn’t preach about Hell, nor did Paul. The former was simply a doomsday preacher, whose followers thought he would establish the Kingdom of God in their lifetime. But the prince of apocalype was crucified unexpectedly. And so Paul and his cronies radically changed Yeshua’s message in order to appeal to the Gentiles (they were not interested in an Israelite Kingdom of God). But the Church went further still, and soon found a way to keep people in Christianity by the threat of hellfire – a place where one is tortured in the lake of fire FOREVER. No hope for escape, no hope for redemption, no hope for forgiveness. Disgusting….I wonder how many people have been scarred psychologically by the Abrahamic cults….

    Sorry for the rant, but it was necesary….

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Naturally, I wholly disagree with you that Islam is not for women. Considering your idea of what is and isn’t for women, if you think any religion that came before, say, the 19th century is for women, you’re mistaken.

      Modern-day Judaism, given its history and the reforms it has been through due to the historical tragedies of the Jews, is significantly different from other modern religions. You’re mistaken, again, if you believe it was always that way. All religions can be re-interpreted over and over, in any time period, with respect to its followers’ circumstances and experiences with it, and all are therefore open to any and all reforms. I see no reason to compare it to others.

      I do no think your “rant” was necessary at all, but you’re lucky I allow people to speak their minds so long as they don’t get vile.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. muscab says:

    Hi i want to say something about this topic. First i want to ask the writer of this article do you believe that our prophet Mohammed pbuh didn’t make justice toward his wives? I hope you dont believe that. Then it doesn’t matter how they felt each other because all were human and not infallible (only our prophet is infallible). Furthermore because of the nature of human, one can become jealous from another. That is not shame. Second you can`t blame our prophet for marrying many wives as Allah allowed him to do so ( its one of many privacy that Allah gave to him ) and he did that for many reasons including to teach people that widowed women can be married also women with children (all of our prophets wives were not virgin except Aisha ). He also taught as one can marry woman older than him as in the case of khadija. He married jewish mulimah Safiah . All of these are lesson for the coming generations. Yet you point that they weren’t satisfied by the greatest man ever. Third how you dare to talk about our mothers ( yes ummahat almuminiin) like this. Like the way they weren’t satisfied and were giving their turn to Aisha to gain prophets heart. Its ridiculous ( that happened only one time when our prophet was sick just days before he died so is allowed to be nursed in Aisha home). Please note that Islam is the only religion that saved woman from slavery , from burying at life , gave them the right to inherit, so the feminism that you are claiming is not from you , its from western cviliazatin and their agenda to enslave women to provoke fitnah so please sorry if I was rude. I am not expert It just hurt me to hear nonsense towards my religion. Thank you

    Like

    • orbala says:

      “Second you can`t blame our prophet for marrying many wives as Allah allowed him to do so”

      Okay, did you even *read* what I wrote in the post? It looks like you didn’t – the post isn’t even about polygamy or my stance on it. Enlighten me and tell me what I think of polygamy. The post is about men (like you here) coming and regulating our conversations, thoughts, senses of spirituality, telling us what’s pious and what’s not, and so on.
      But any rate, no, there’s nothing I can do about what the Prophet (s) did or didn’t do because it’s in the past. BUT I can have an opinion on it, and if you don’t wanna hear it, please feel free to pretend I don’t exist or that my opinion doesn’t exist.

      “Third how you dare to talk about our mothers ( yes ummahat almuminiin) like this.”

      How dare I? No, how dare YOU come here and tell me what I can and can’t talk about and how I should be talking about it? Don’t ever dare to do that again.
      You clearly need to read up some original, primary sources on the Prophet’s wives to know that nothing I said has been false.

      “sorry if I was rude. I am not expert It just hurt me to hear nonsense towards my religion.”

      Then work on yourself and learn asap how to handle critical thought. That’s important for your survival if you feel offended when someone says something you don’t agree with or aren’t used to hearing.

      “so the feminism that you are claiming is not from you,”

      I study feminism so don’t tell me where it comes from, what it is, and so on. I’m more than happy to share any sources on feminism you’d like to read, though! I’m quite generous with my time and knowledge.

      “Please note that Islam is the only religion that saved woman from slavery , from burying at life , gave them the right to inherit,”

      You speak as though before Islam, all women everywhere were enslaved. Or as if they’re all liberated today everywhere. That’s amusing and a bit too hopeful for the kind of reality this world has us live in. No religion supports the enslavement of people or groups of people; it’s people who do. So claiming that “only Islam” does it is also, like, huh?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. yasmeen says:

    Salam, not sure if you saw my comments so I’ll copy/paste it one more time: can you please link me to the sources you used to discover these issues? I’d like to read about them please.

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Yasmeen, I was *just* about to respond to your comment to say that I just saw it while reading the comments above – apologies for the delayed response. Yes, I see it, and I appreciate your question; I’ll list the sources when I get home later today. But question: Do you speak Arabic? Or would you prefer I give the secondary sources translated into English? For the Arabic ones, I’ll have to check specific names/references later (nothing too specific, though – mainly Ibn Sa’ad’s Tabaqaat is a good place, some reports from Ibn Hanbal, Al-Tabari, and so on), but for the English sources, check out my section at the top of this page called “Books on Islamic Feminism.” My main recommendations would be Kecia Ali, Fatima Mernissi, and especially Nabia Abbott (the latter’s book called Aisha, the Beloved of the Prophet is a great place to start; it’s also not an Islamophobic read, so it’s something to appreciate).
      But yeah, those should help you get started. For further readings, then, I’d recommend their bibliographies or the references in footnote, which are pretty helpful for verifying their claims and the hadiths they cite and all; their conclusions are well-supported with what most Muslims would demand as authentic Islamic material.

      Liked by 1 person

    • yasmeen says:

      Thank you! I do speak Arabic, but my reading skills aren’t the best, however I would be very grateful to get these hadiths and sources in Arabic to show my halaqa teacher for discussion (and english for my personal reading). I feel like this topic is so under-taught and I want to know more about it, there’s just so much information it gets overwhelming 😥

      Like

    • orbala says:

      I hear ya! Your teacher’s probably not going to consider any English sources authentic even if they are well-cited, so the Arabic references are below. But before I go on, I want to suggest that you first make sure to read the books I’ve suggested (e.g., “Aisha, the Beloved of the Prophet,” or “The Wives of the Prophet” by Bint al-Shati’,” or “Sexual Ethics & Islam” or Fatima Mernissi’s “The Veil and Male Elite” … or all of these, if you haven’t yet read them – you probably have), understand them per your own understanding of them, look at the references provided for your own confidence, and then bring them up at your halaqa. Since you seem to know Arabic, you’ll be able to talk about these things competently. But first make sure to check them for yourself and verify them and then bring ’em up.

      And, knowing what most Muslim communities and their halaqas are like, be prepared for possible severe backlash from audience. They’re gonna grill you. But my duas with you for your patience and strength!

      Now …

      The sources below come in many volumes, and I’m not sure how to cite them exactly but lemme try; I’ll try to give examples of specific scenarios regarding the Wives and guide you to a specific volume. This should benefit other readers as well, but if you want something more specific references (like page numbers and whatnot), email me and I might even be able to send you the PDFs of the stuff to make things easier). But from what I understand, the Tabaqaat has been translated into English, most of the volumes anyway.

      – Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad (e.g., it’s in vol 6, Book 141, that we read about Hafsa’s tempting Aisha to break their fast together when it wasn’t time yet and then Aisha commenting that Hafsa was indeed the daughter of her father)
      – Ibn Hajar’s Kitab al-Isabah (e.g., in vol.4, the incident where Hafsa and Aisha play pranks on Sauda)
      – Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat al-Kabir (e.g., vol 8, Book 62 talks about the Prophet’s marriage to Umm Salamah and how she rejected his proposal (and every other man’s after her husband had died) and then telling Muhammad (s.) that she’s a jealous woman and he has a tendency to take many wives. There’s also a narration by Aisha, in Book 66, about her anger and resentment in response to the Prophet’s marriage to Umm Salamah, even commenting that she and Hafsa didn’t think Umm Salamah was all that! Ibn Sa’d also talks about, in vol. 8, book 53, how the wives were so jealous of Safiyah and made life so difficult for her because Muhammad visited her so often that she had to be moved to a house in Upper Medina… also included is the story of how Aisha and Hafsa wouldn’t stop bugging her about being a Jew, and so the Prophet gives Safiya a nice comeback to give the two the next time they bother her: “How can you be above me when Aaron is my father, Moses my uncle, Muhammad my husband!” which works….Ibn Sa’d also gives reports about Umm Salama’s standing up to Umar when he comes to tell the wives to be good, obedient wives, and Umm Salamah’s like mind your business…. or when Aisha tells the Prophet that he never seems to get enough of Umm Salamah when she asks him where he’d been, and he says at Umm Salamah’s.)
      – Tabari’s Tarikh (e.g., where Zaynab, formerly Zaid’s wife, boasts to Aisha and the other wives about how her marriage to the Prophet had been arranged by God from above

      For hadiths:

      – The Prophet’s leaving his wives for a month because of too much tension in the household (some reports say because the wives demanding too much more than he could afford, others tell completely different stories – see Ibn Sa’d’s vol 8, book 136, for example, involving Mary the Copt) is a well-known hadith (wait, isn’t it?), and it’s in Bukhari (vol 3, Book 31 – you can also google it). The Qur’anic verse revealed after this incident telling the wives that they can either choose Muhammad and enjoy the hereafter or leave him and enjoy this world instead is verse 33:28-29.

      – The wives feeling hurt over Muhammad’s preference for Aisha and approaching him about it only to be told by him that he prefers Aisha because it’s only in her presence that God sends revelation. We see this in Bukhari.

      Then there are verses like 66:4… should raise interesting questions about the wives’ relationships with each other. Tradition claims that the verse is for Aisha and Hafsa.
      And verse 66:5, also to the wives, telling them that if Muhammad divorced them all, he’d find better wives, more faithful, more pious, etc…

      – The accusation against Aisha, where the Prophet wasn’t at all supportive of Aisha and even ignored/left her for a month or so while she suffered alone, the first half of the month unaware of why he was being so cold towards her, is also a well-known hadith (Bukhari, Vol. 5, book 59, number 462- the hadith is available online in full. I LOVE her answer to her mother as the latter tells her to thank the Prophet for redeeming her through the revelation, and Aisha goes, “Oh, heck no! The only Being I must thank is Allah! The resta y’all failed me!” ha!)

      – Aisha telling the Prophet that God sure does hasten to fulfill his wishes and needs (Bukhari, vol. 6, Book 60, hadith number 311)

      I’ll continue another time ❤

      Liked by 3 people

    • yasmeen says:

      THANK YOU for all those resources, I will look into them inshAllah. I am very new to all of this lol so I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

      Like

  11. Actual Anonymous says:

    This was very interesting!
    Dislike it when “islamic pros” only point out such and so romantic things about the Mothers of the Ummah (well, romantic to them at least) and make them look obedient and dependent. It seemed really impossible, because Ayesha also had an attitude (which makes her awesome if you ask me. She needs no one but God telling her what to do) and a warrior quality in the other wife and so on and so forth. I’m glad to know, they were individuals with flaws but did their best.

    Also I dont like it how some make Khadeeja RA look like some side character. The best thing I have ever heard from Imams and scholars “prophet married her when he was 25 and she was 40+, had 6 kids (3 who died apparently??) and a happy life full of support and love”. Turns out beyond that, she was a rich business woman (which was unlikely for a woman at the time) who had 2 other husbands before , who helped with the Prophet’s finances a lot and did like almost everything scholars say that how “men have a degree over” and stood up for the Prophet when he was being laughed at (because who would mess with a woman with wealth at the time? Patriarchs would feel threatened).

    The women at the dawn of Islam CONTINUED KILLING GENDER ROLES AND EXPECTATIONS yet jurists or whatever keep insisting harmful gender roles to keep women silenced and stuck under not a glass ceiling but a CONCRETE WALL!

    I guess I went a bit off topic, but I love history of Islam written without barriers and bias.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. HISHAM says:

    Dear sister,
    I have read the blog and comments. I feel it is my right to comment on your views here, as a brother in islam. I appreciate your intellignce and creativity.
    It is my humble request that when you write about swahaba women and men, please avoid commenting on their shortcomings and faults. The behaviour and conducts of people has nothing to do with the Islamic laws.
    Even though you are much more knowledgeable than me, let me remember you some facts..
    When the Abu bakr (RA) handed over the affairs of muslims to Umar (RA) when he was about to pass away, the people reminded him about the harshness of Umar (RA). But Abu Bakr was sure that he has apppointed best of creations in the Ummah as his successor.
    Umar (RA) was very strict when the occasion demands it and some time he was harsh to the Swahaba people also. But he possessed great control over his desires and fear of Allah. It is Allah who puts love in the hearts of people. Irrespective of his harshness, muslims loved him very much and will continue to love him.
    You can find lot of incidents were Umar(RA) got mistakes in the life. When Allah caused him and his life as a real blessing to this Ummah, it is very sad to comment on his harshness.

    ” if anyone conceals a fault of muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in the hereafter”

    The rights of women and wives in islam should be taught to muslims in the light of quran and hadeeth. I recommend you to read Hayathu Sahaba (LIves of the Sahabah) written by Moulana Muhammed Yousuf Kandhalevi. You can find a lot of examples of love, compassion and respect of sahabah women and men towards each other.

    Like

    • orbala says:

      There’s nothing wrong w/ pointing shortcomings of people we’re supposed to believe are the best of role models. I disagree w/ your perspective.

      Like

    • orbala says:

      If you’d actually read the blog & comments, you woulda known that we’re resisting the false claim that the Prophets wives were all happy & it was all good over in their household. So totally disagree w/ you that we shouldn’t comment on the flaws they had. Nothing wrong w/ doing so. If you differ, cool.

      Like

  13. nuna says:

    Very interesting! I have a mixed feeling about what you wrote. I like it because you are enlightening people and introducing something “new” to some people. Muslims, especially men always talk about how perfect the wives of the prophet (PBU) were very happy and coexisted and were very peaceful with each other. I just didn’t like how it seemed like you were describing the prophet (PBU) as man who just married these women for the sake of getting married. And that his wives lived in fear of divorce all the time if they disagreed with him. I am not here to correct you or disagree with you, I just liked your message and I was worried that some people might walk away from your idea and just think you are being disrespectful to the prophet. Hopefully what I wrote makes sense I am typing this while feed my child. Totally relying on autocorect here :-). Thank you for your time

    Like

  14. Pingback: History of nonviolent initiatives in Israel and Palestine & literature review & Bibliography | israel palestine grassroots for peace

  15. Pingback: Oh, Yes! On a Sexual Revolution in Islam by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente |

  16. Pingback: Oh, Yes! On a Sexual Revolution in Islam by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

  17. Sakeena says:

    My friend sent me your article and asked my response. I plan to respond to this article in full, with its intellectual due, as the sentiment behind it is justified by hundreds of years of subjugation of women but the conclusions in it I don’t fully agree with and I feel my difference in perspective might (just might) pique your intellect, but I have to say THIS right away: I feel it’s strange that you choose to say, in speaking about God, “for Herself” yet you condemn others who choose to speak for God. In doing this, you yourself have chosen to speak for God, as God has referred to Himself exclusively with the Arabic “Howa” and all conjugations pertaining to God as spoken by Himself are in the male form. Not once has He chosen to speak of Himself in the female. Did you not see the irony of your words? Perhaps others interpret this male reference as an indication that to be female is to be inferior and further from God. Perhaps this male-reference gives females feelings of inferiority and being left out. Both of these are unfounded, misguided conclusions. God has no gender, no sex. Switching His reference to female when He so clearly elects the male, is just playing into these lowly interpretations of God’s intentions on choosing the male, and it’s speaking for Him in a way He does not. Why does God choose the male may be answered wrongly by many (many men), but it’s definitely NOT because to be female is to be inferior. To be straight up (which is my MO) I will put it out there that I am Shia and I have not grown up with any of the rosy-painted historical fantasies about the wives of the Prophet (saws) being united and all being perfect role models and Aishah being his favorite, nor the opinion that Umar was of fine character and an upstanding sahabi and a khulafal rashid but I DO believe that the Prophet (saws) was infallible and perfect in executing the commands of God and in living life to the prefect standard. Operating under this version of history and Islamic understanding leads me to very different conclusions than you, but you still may not feel they are valid. In the end, I’m a woman who is tired of feminazism and misogeny (I feel they are part and parcel of the same thing, turns on the same pendulum), and feel that if we all just follow Islam the way the Prophet’s family did, we would find that middle ground and high road where everyone is safe, protected, content, validated, connected, saved from their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths. (Yea, myself, I’m hella a work in progress)

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Thank you for your response, Sakeena.
      The Arabic هو also can be understood as gender-neutral, and no honest Muslim would claim that God is a male, so I differ with you that to address God in the feminine is speaking “for” God because God supposedly considers Herself a male.
      God “clearly” does not elect the male. I invite you to read, in particular, Amina Wadud’s and Asma Barlas’s reflections on this gender discussion.
      I also disagree with you on what the “middle” road is – if anything, it’s certainly not “God is a He because He says so.” God doesn’t say so.

      Thanks again!
      Salaam.

      Like

    • Sakeena says:

      Did you read the sentence where I wrote ” God has no gender, no sex.”? Did I claim God was male? God is neither He “because He said so” neither is He a “She” because you say so. He has no gender. But He elects “Howa.” In Arabic, this may be gender-neutral, as you say. The simply fact is that “Howa” translates to “He” in English. “Herself” is not gender-neutral. You are clearly referring to God as a female in a way He does not. Let me check out what Amina Wadud and Asma Barlas have to say about it, as you recommend. If you don’t agree that the middle road is a place where “everyone is safe, protected, content, validated, connected, saved from their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths” what, then, is your vision of a middle road?

      Like

    • orbala says:

      I understand what you’re saying, Sakeena – and I respectfully very much disagree. I’m saying that if God has no gender, then why be offended that some of us choose an unconventional gender pronoun for God? I prefer She. It’s okay with me that you and historically everyone else prefer He and still claim “He is neutral” – he is not a neutral pronoun. Not in English. In Turkish, Persian, oo works for both genders; you can use that, as I also like to.

      In English, “he” is not neutral, so your argument doesn’t hold. Today in English, when you write “he” to mean “a person,” people are supposed to correct you. You either use she/he / he/she, they (now grammatically accepted to mean “she/he/that person), or she. He is completely biased.

      In the middle place you speak of, who is this “everyone” you speak of that’s protected, safe, etc.? Certainly not everyone. Patriarchy is never a middle road, and it’s patriarchy that insists that God is to be addressed as a He because masculinity is neutral. That’s atrocious — and that’s shirk.

      Like

  18. nada says:

    may Allah guide our sisters of this poison of Feminism. so many inaccuracies in the article

    Like

  19. Rachel says:

    Although I’m not Muslim (I’m Christian) I read this post as I believe it’s important to learn about others beliefs through other means then the very bias media. I think your post was great, I think all faiths need to challenge issues and make reforms as a way of moving forward and living peacefully among each other. The impressions that non-Muslims get about Muslim women are suppression and generally considered second-class citizens (like how it is in Saudi Arabia), yet if dare challenge it get accused of islamphobia, therefore it’s down to the people of the faith to challenge men and their crazy desire to constantly control (often down to their own insecurity). Although I personally believe Muhammad was a false prophet, you believe otherwise, but at the end of the day he was still human and not God himself (a fact that seems to get overlooked at times) therefore even he’s prone to make some mistakes (I don’t mean to offend anyone just attempting to be logical here). But anyway keep up the good work and never lose faith sister. God bless. Xxx

    Like

  20. Relatable. I disregard hadith and extraquranic narrations in exegesis, but it’s interesting to analyze them separately. It hurts to see the women who leave because men’s (mis)interpretations of Islam have stolen their faith. Sometimes I feel like it’s not even worth fighting for because nothing’s changing.

    But everything’s worth fighting for. xoxxxxx

    Like

Your turn! You look like someone with a view.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s