14 Nov The Prophet and His Wives.Part3
The choice God’s Messenger gave to his wives.
The wives of the Messenger were given the choice of remaining with him or leaving:
O Prophet, say to your wives: “If you desire the life of this world and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek God, His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, verily God has prepared for you, the well-doers among you, a great reward.” (33:28-29)
A few of his wives who wanted a more prosperous life asked:
“Couldn’t we live a little more luxuriously, like other Muslims do? Couldn’t we have at least a bowl of soup everyday, or some prettier garments?”
At first sight, such wishes might be considered fair and just. However, they were members of the family that was to be an example for all Muslim families until the Last Day.
The Messenger reacted by going into retreat. The news spread, and everyone rushed to the mosque and began to cry. The smallest grief felt by their beloved Messenger was enough to bring them all to tears, and even the smallest incident in his life would disturb them. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, seeing the event in a different light as their daughters were directly involved, rushed to the mosque. They wanted to see him, but he would not leave his retreat. Eventually, on their third attempt, they gained entry and began to rebuke their daughters. The Messenger saw what was happening, but only said:
“I cannot afford what they want.”
The Qur’an declared:
O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women (33:32).
Others might save themselves by simply fulfilling their obligations, but those who were at the very center of Islam had to devote themselves fully, so that no weakness would appear at the center. There were advantages in being the Prophet’s wife, but these advantages brought responsibilities and potential risks. The Messenger was preparing them as exemplars for all present and future Muslim women. He was especially worried that they might enjoy the reward for their good deeds in this world, and thereby be included in:
You have exhausted your share of the good things in your life of the world and sought comfort in them (46:20).
Life in the Prophet’s house was uncomfortable. For this reason, either explicitly or implicitly, his wives made some modest demands. As their status was unique, they were not expected to enjoy themselves in a worldly sense. Some godly people laugh only a few times during their lives; others never fill their stomachs. For example, Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad never laughed. He smiled only once, and those who saw him do so asked him why he smiled, for they were greatly surprised. He told them:
“Today, I learned that my son ‘Ali died. I was happy to hear that God had loved him, and so I smiled.”
If there were such people outside of the Prophet’s household, his wives, who were even more pious and respectful of God and regarded as “mothers of the believers,” would certainly be of a higher degree.
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