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The Sex Life of the Prophet

 
 

Question
:

Was Islam's "perfect man" sexually restrained?


Summary Answer
:

The Quran (which was narrated by Muhammad) refers to Muhammad's life as "as beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah" (33:21) and "an exalted standard of character" (68:4).  Yet, thanks to Allah's extraordinary interest in his personal sex life (as immortalized in the Quran) the prophet of Islam had sex with just about anyone he pleased.

Although the Qur'an didn't appear to have enough space for topics like universal love and brotherhood (which Muslims sometimes insist are there, but aren't), the list of sexual partners that Muhammad was entitled to is detailed more than once, sometimes in categories and sometimes in reference to specific persons (ie. Zaynab and Mary).

Muhammad was married to thirteen women, including eleven at one time.  He relegated them to either consecutive days or (according to some accounts) all in one night.  He had sex with a 9-year-old girl and married his adopted son's wife (after arranging a quick divorce).  On top of that, Muhammad had a multitude of slave girls and concubines with whom he had sex - sometimes on the very days in which they had watched their husbands and fathers die at the hands of his army.

So, by any realistic measure, the creator of the world's most sexually restrictive religion was also one of the most sexually indulgent characters in history.


The Qur'an:

Allah managed to hand down quite a few "revelations" that sanctioned Muhammad's personal pursuit of sex to the doubters around him.  Interestingly they have become part of the the eternal, infallible word of the Qur'an, to be memorized by generations of Muslims for whom they have no possible relevance.

Qur'an (33:37) - "But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed."  No doubt millions of young Muslims, trying to outdo one another at memorizing the Qur'an, have wondered about what this verse means and why it is there.  In fact, this is a "revelation" of convenience that Allah just happened to hand down at a time when Muhammad lusted after his daughter-in-law, Zaynab, - a state of affairs that disturbed local customs.  The verse "commands" Muhammad to marry the woman (following her husband's gracious divorce).  As for why this should be part of the eternal word of God...?

Qur'an (33:50) - "O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her-- specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; "  This is another special command that Muhammad handed down to himself that allows virtually unlimited sex, divinely sanctioned by Allah.  One assumes that this "revelation" was meant to assuage some sort of disgruntlement in the community over Muhammad's hedonism.

Qur'an (33:51) - "You may put off whom you please of them, and you may take to you whom you please, and whom you desire of those whom you had separated provisionally; no blame attaches to you; this is most proper, so that their eyes may be cool and they may not grieve, and that they should be pleased"  This is in reference to a situation in which Muhammad's wives were grumbling about his preference for sleeping with a slave girl (Mary the Copt) instead of them.  Accordingly, Muhammad may sleep with whichever wife (or slave) he wishes without having to hear the others complain... as revealed in Allah's literal and perfect words to more than a billion Muslims. 

Qur'an (66:1-5) - "O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives?... Allah has already ordained for you, the dissolution of your oaths "  Another remarkably personal passage of sexual convenience in a book billed as Allah's perfect and eternal message to mankind.  Muhammad was caught sleeping with a slave woman on the night that he was supposed to be with one of his wives.  Initially promising to be faithful, "Allah" tells his prophet to break that promise and enjoy sex with his slaves.  If his wives objected then "it may be if he divorced you (all) that his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you." 

Qur'an (4:24) - "And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess."  Allah even permitted Muhammad and his men to have sex with married slaves, such as those captured in battle.


From the Hadith:

 

Muslim (8:3309) - Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was only nine.  (See also Bukhari 58:234 and many other places).  No where in the reliable Hadith or Sira is there any other age given.

 

Bukhari (62:18) - Aisha's father, Abu Bakr, wasn't on board at first, but Muhammad explained how the rules of their religion made it possible.  This is similar to the way that present-day cult leaders manipulate their followers into similar concessions.

 

Muslim (8:3311) - The girl took her dolls with her to Muhammad's house (something to play with when the "prophet" was not having sex with her).

 

Bukhari (6:298) - Muhammad would take a bath with the little girl and fondle her.

 

Muslim (8:3460) - "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you could sport with her and she sport with you, or you could amuse with her and she could amuse with you?" Muhammad posed this question to one of his followers who had married an "older woman" instead of opting to fondle a child.

 

Bukhari (4:232) - Muhammad's wives would wash semen stains out of his clothes, which were still wet from the spot-cleaning even when he went to the mosque for prayers.  Between copulation and prayer, it's a wonder he found the time to slay pagans.

 

Bukhari (6:300) - Muhammad's wives had to be available for the prophet's fondling even when they were having their menstrual period.

 

Bukhari (93:639) - The Prophet of Islam would recite the 'Holy Qur'an' with his head in Aisha's lap, when she was menstruating.

 

Bukhari (62:6) - "The Prophet used to go round (have sexual relations with) all his wives in one night, and he had nine wives."  Muhammad also said that it was impossible to treat all wives equally - and it isn't hard to guess why.

 

Bukhari (5:268) - "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, 'Had the Prophet the strength for it?' Anas replied, 'We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty men.' "

 

Bukhari (60:311) - "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires."  These words were spoken by Aisha within the context of her husband having been given 'Allah's permission' to fulfill his sexual desires with a large number of women in whatever order he chooses.  (It has been suggested that Aisha may have been speaking somewhat wryly).

 

Muslim (8:3424) - One of several narrations in which a leering Muhammad orders a clearly startled woman to suckle a grown man with her breast so that he will become "unlawful" to her - meaning that they can live under the same roof together.

 

Tabari IX:137 - "Allah granted Rayhana of the Qurayza to Muhammad as booty."   Muhammad considered the women that he captured and enslaved to be God's gift to him.

 

Tabari VIII:117 - "Dihyah had asked the Messenger for Safiyah when the Prophet chose her for himself... the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims."  He sometimes pulled rank to reserve the most beautiful captured women for himself.

 

Tabari IX:139 - "You are a self-respecting girl, but the prophet is a womanizer."  Words spoken by the disappointed parents of a girl who had 'offered' herself to Muhammad (he accepted).
 


Additional Notes:

Muhammad's sexual antics are an embarrassment to those Muslims who are aware of them.  This is particularly so for their prophet's consummation of his marriage to Aisha when she was only nine years of age.  The thought of a 53-year-old man sleeping and bathing with a young girl is intensely unpleasant and it reflects the disgusting character of a sexual glutton rather than a holy man.  Critics even allege that Muhammad was a pedophile.

 

Some Muslims respond by denying the hadith itself, which is a mistake.  The accounts of Muhammad sleeping with a 9-year-old are no less reliable than those on which the five pillars of Islam are based.  They have been an accepted part of tradition and did not become controversial until social mores began to change with the modern age.

 

The charge of pedophilia may or may not be true, depending on how it is defined.  Technically, Muhammad did have a sexual relationship with a child, but Aisha was also the youngest of his twelve wives.  Zaynab was in her 30's when she attracted the unquenchable lust of the prophet.  We don't know the age of Muhammad's sex slaves.  They may or may not have been as young as Aisha, but there is no point in speculating.

 

Prior to the medical advances of the last century, marriage occurred at a much younger age across all societies.  When life expectancy was in the mid 20's (or lower), it made no sense to wait until 19 to start having children; otherwise, one ran the risk of not being around to raise them.  In short, childhood as we know it was abbreviated by the reality of the times. 

 

Another strong piece of evidence against Muhammad being a pedophile is that, according to the same Hadith, he waited from the time Aisha was six (when the marriage ceremony took place) until she turned nine to consummate the relationship.  Although the text doesn't say why, in all probability it was because he was waiting for her to begin menstrual cycles - thus entering into "womanhood."  It is unlikely that a pedophile would be concerned about this.

 

On the other hand, Muhammad passed down revelations from Allah that clearly condoned sleeping with underage girls, even by the standard of puberty.  Qur'an (65:4) relates rules for divorce, one of them being that a waiting period of three months is established to determine that the woman is not pregnant.  But the same rule applies to "those too who have not had their courses," meaning girls who have not begun to menstruate.  (In our opinion, this would have been a great time for Allah to have said something else instead like, "a real man is one who marries an actual, grown woman"... but that's just us).

 

Thanks to Muhammad's extremely poor judgment (at best) and explicit approval of pedophilia, sex with children became deeply ingrained in the Islamic tradition.  For many centuries, Muslim armies would purge Christian and Hindu peasant villages of their menfolk and send the women and children to harems and the thriving child sex slave markets deep in the Islamic world. 

 

When it comes to child marriage, contemporary clerics warn fellow Muslims against succumbing to the disapproval of the Christian West: "It behooves those who call for setting a minimum age for marriage to fear Allah and not contradict his Sharia, or try to legislate things Allah did not permit. For laws are Allah’s province; and legislation is his excusive right, to be shared by none other. And among these are the rules governing marriage.”

 

The Ayatollah Khomeini, who married a 12-year-old girl, even gave his consent to using infants for sexual pleasure (although warning against full penetration until the baby is a few years older).  In April, 2010, a 13-year-old Yemeni girl died from injuries suffered to her womb during "intercourse".

 

Some clerics show relative mercy on underage girls by advocating a process known as "thighing" (also known as child molestation in the West).  According to a recent fatwa (number 23672), an imam answers this question: "My parents married me to a young girl who hasn't yet reached puberty. How can I enjoy her sexually?" by telling the 'man' that he may "hug her, kiss her, and ejaculate between her legs."

 

A prominent member of Saudi Arabia's highest religious council said in 2012 that girls can be married "even if they are in the cradle," then went on to explain that intercourse may occur whenever "they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the man."

 

Muhammad's penchant for girls so much younger than him was such that at least two of his father-in-laws (Abu Bakr and Omar, the first two Caliphs) were actually younger than him as well.  This disappointing pattern is very much at odds with the sort of sexual discipline that one might expect of a true "prophet of God."

 

Muhammad's pursuit of Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son is almost as tough for Muslims to explain.  This is because it not only raises a similar question of moral character, but also casts suspicion on whether his so-called prophecies were really divine revelation or dictates of personal convenience.  According to one biographer, even Aisha appears to be somewhat doubtful of Muhammad's claim that Allah commanded him to marry Zaynab, wryly remarking, "Truly Allah seems to be very quick in fulfilling your prayers."

 

So controversial was Muhammad's desire to marry his adopted son's wife that he had to justify it with a stern pronouncement from Allah on the very institution of adoption, which has had tragic consequences to this day.  Verses  33:4-5 are widely interpreted to imply that Islam is against adoption, meaning that an untold number of children in the Islamic world have been needlessly orphaned - all because Muhammad's lustful desires for a married woman went beyond even what the other six wives that he possessed at the time and a multitude of slaves could satisfy.

 

Some Muslims deny that Muhammad was married to more than four women at a time, merely on the basis that the Qur'an only gives permission for marrying four.  Unfortunately, Muslims historians disagree.  Only one of Muhammad's last eleven wives died before him (Zaynab bint Khuzayma).  The rest outlived him by many years.

 

Muhammad forbade his ten widows from remarrying, even making sure that this "divine" order was forever preserved in the eternal word of Allah - Qur'an (33:53).  To add insult to injury, they were all summarily disinherited from Muhammad's estate by his successor (courtesy of another divine order "given" to Abu Bakr from Allah).

 

In summary, Islam's holiest texts portray Muhammad not as a perfect man, but as a sexual hedonist.  Not only did he become fat from indulging in food, but his pursuit of sex was no less gluttonous.  On top of it all, he used personal "revelations" from Allah to justify his debauchery to the gullible masses which, to this day, continue to be venerated and memorized as if they are the holiest of utterances.


Further Reading:  Was Muhammad a Pedophile?

 

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