Polygamy of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
In this video, I want to explain on the polygamous marriages of the Prophet and try to give the reasons behind them. First of all, polygamy did not start with the Prophet Muhammad. Of course it existed before Islam. Actually it was always there since the early times of human history. We know that there are some other prophets who had multiple wives at least mentioned in the Bible such as Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon. So it was a common human practice which was not seen unusual, or abnormal in earlier ages.
When it comes to Prophet Muhammad, we see that he had many wives, especially when he lived in Medina where he spent his last 10 years of his life. Actually he needed to marry multiple wives because, not every woman was able to come to the masjid, listen to the Prophet and learn Islam for several reasons. So he needed to reach them so that his mission is functioned in a broader sense.
Of course the reasons of his multiple marriages may differ. But we can say that all of them were related to his role as the leader of the new Muslim community. When we look at his life, we see that when he was a youth he was known by his chastity, integrity, and trustworthiness. He was single until the age of 25. At the age of 25 he was married to Khadija who was a widow older than him. So for the first 50 years of his life, the Prophet had only one wife. All other marriages came after the age of 50.
We can classify the reasons of his marriages as educational, social and political reasons.
The educational reason has to do with conveying the message of Islam. These women functioned to learn the several aspects of the religion, in terms of family life, from the Prophet and then convey the domestic part of the religion to the other Muslims. Without their teaching, that part would be missing. Because people needed to know all aspects of the Prophet’s family life in order to learn that part of Islam in a broader way. So these women who shared his home and life with him, witnessed his home life and transferred the information to us. Sometimes other women would come and ask some private questions to the wives, and then they would provide answers for them. So these wives became both students and companions to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and also the carriers of the religion to others. By this way, each wife conveyed the message of Islam to their own families, relatives and clans, and all other Muslims by sharing their experiences, the faith and the manners.
In terms of social reasons; Most of the wives of the Prophet were widows who were left behind with their orphans. Actually all of them, except Aisha, were widow. Most of them lost their husbands in battle or in exile. So the prophet helped these women by taking them and their children under his protection. He protected widows like Sawda, Hafsa, Zaynab binti Khuzayma, Umm Salama, Ummu Habiba, Safiyya, who lost their husbands for several reasons.
As for political reasons; some tribes and clans had felt hatred for Islam and the prophet. And had it not been for the marriage bond of the prophet with them, their hatred may have not been gone away. For instance, Juwayriya, Safiyya, and Ramla (also known as Umm Habiba) were the daughters of the important people of their tribes. The first two ones were the heads of the Jewish communities; and the third one was the daughter of Abu Sufyan. By these marriages, the Prophet established a bond of kinship with Jews and Umayyads. So their hatred was diminished and went away eventually because of these family ties.
So these are the certain reasons behind the multiple marriages of the prophet of Islam. I hope this helps understanding him better in some sense.