Mohammad-and Saudah


In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.


One Christian critic on the Internet wrote: “Ibn Kathir also said: “Concerning Q. 4:128 ‘Aisha said: ‘It concerns the man who has two wives. One of them has become old or is ugly and he does not like her company much, so she says: “Do not divorce me, and you are free from your obligations towards me.” “This Hadith is established in the Two Sahihs. What the verse seems to say that their reconciliation, on the condition that she gives up some of her rights, and the acceptance of the husband of that is better than complete separation, just as the Prophet kept Sauda on the condition that she gave her day to ‘Aisha and did not divorce her but kept her amongst his wives and this was done in order that his nation might take him as their example and that this act is lawful and permissible.”

Now the picture is clear; ‘Aisha became the love of Mohammad, and Sauda became the servant of the daughters of the prophet. And after so many years where Sauda cooked, washed, mended, served the prophet and his daughters and comforted the prophet in his sorrows after the death of his first wife, when Sauda became old Mohammad wanted to divorce her for no reason except that she became old and unattractive. Bokhari Vol 3, # 259, 583; Vol 6, # 318,” the Christian alleged.

Response:(Please note: the “highlighted” portion in the above-text quoted by the Christian is NOT the words of ‘Aisha or the hadith, it is the opinion of the commentator, Ibn Kathir).

   Regarding the claim that “Ibn Kathir also said: “Concerning Q. 4:128 ‘Aisha said: ‘It concerns the man who has two wives. One of them has become old or is ugly and he does not like her company much, so she says: “Do not divorce me, and you are free from your obligations towards me,”IT DOES NOT REFER TO SAUDAH AND THE PROPHET. ‘Aisha did not say her statement was in reference to the Prophet wishing to divorce Saudah.

   The Prophet did not keep Saudah “on the condition that she gave her day to ‘Aisha and did not divorce her.” To understand this relation between the Prophet, Saudah and ‘Aisha, reading of Qur’an 4:128 and the hadith of Bokhari Vol; 7, # 134 and 139 are necessary; the following is stated in Bokhari Vol. 7, # 134 and 139:

           (96) CHAPTER. ‘If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part…’ ([Qur’an] 4:128).  [Hadith] 134: Narrated ‘Aisha (Allāh be pleased with her) regarding the verse:  ‘If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part…’ ([Qur’an] 4:128). “It concerns the woman whose husband does not want to keep her with him any longer, but wants to divorce her and marry some other lady, so she says to him: ‘Keep me and do not divorce me, and then marry another woman, and you may neither spend on me, nor sleep with me.’ This is indicated by the statement of Allāh (The Most High): ‘There is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between them both and (such) settlement is better.” ([Qur’an] 4:128).”

This Qur’anic verse (4:128) and this hadith are NOT about the Prophet and Saudah. There is no instance in the Prophet’s life of any of his wives “fearing cruelty or desertion” from him; or of him declaring that he wanted to divorce any of his wives –even though he had the option of taking on or putting off any wives he desired–(Qur’an 33:50-51) and when he did neither; nor could the Prophet had divorced or wanted to divorce Saudah when she became “old and unattractive” because after he was given the choice to take on or put off any wives he desired Allāh forbade him to take or put away any of his wives after this choice–(Qur’an 33:52).

   This Qur’anic verse, as its import shows, is of a general nature and not specifically directed in a matter relating to the Prophet. The following statement in Bokhari Vol, 7 #139 makes the matter even clearer.

       Regarding Saudah giving up her time to ‘Aisha, Bokhari notes Vol; 7, # 139 notes: (99) CHAPTER. (What is said regarding) the woman who gives up her turn with her husband to one of his other wives, and how to divide the turns.  [Hadith] 139. Narrated ‘Aisha:Saudah bint Zam’a gave up her turn to me (‘Aisha), and so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to give me (‘Aisha) both my day and the day of Saudah.”

   Clearly these two hadiths –139, and 134 which are coupled to Qur’an 4:128– are NOT related to each other. There is no reference to any “fears (of) cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part.” In all probability Saudah gave up her time because of her advanced age. According to Bokhari Vol; 6 # 318, Saudah was a “fat huge lady;” and “a widow of advanced age,” as Muhammad Ali notes, when the Prophet married her.

   It is preposterous to charge that the Prophet divorced, or wanted to divorce, Saudah because she became “old and unattractive” when she was “old and unattractive” to begin with, at the time of her marriage to the Prophet. Thus, Saudah could not have feared cruelty or desertion by the Prophet because she had become “old and unattractive.”

   It is preposterous to entertain that the Prophet would divorce or want to divorce any of his wives because they had become “old and unattractive,” seeing that many of his wives were widows and with children when he married them. Moreover, a divorce in the sight of Allāh is a shameful deed; it is doubtful that the Prophet, who is/was the best exemplar, would then divorce, or want to divorce, Saudah, which would not only be a shameful deed but would set a poor example for his community. To divorce one’s wife because of her age and/or looks could hardly be exemplary. Men also lose their looks. If man is justified in leaving his wife because of age and looks, then women, seeing that they have rights as the rights against them–(Qur’an 2:228), would also be justified to leave husbands that have become “old and unattractive.”

   If the Prophet was a voluptuary –as Christians and the critics are fond of portraying him– and if he wanted to divorce any of his wives because she had become “old and unattractive” it is not credible that he would have held on to marriage-ties to widows and to the “old and unattractive” seeing that Allāh gave him the right to divorce any or all of his wives in favor of those whom he “pleases” and “desires”–(Qur’an 33:51). And lustful old men usually relish vestal nubiles.

   Contrastingly while the Christian carps blindly at the Prophet Mohammad and whereas a divorce is the last resort in Islam –it is better for the couple to part in friendship than live in misery– Christianity teaches, “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery”–(Matt. 5:32. So the woman that puts away the man causes him to commit adultery; and the woman that marries him that is divorced is guilty of adultery).

According to Christianity, it is better that the couple should go to their graves in marital misery than have bliss with another; and that the divorced woman should spend her remaining (fifty years or more) of life denying her God-instilled feminine desires. (For Christian’s teachings on women see Christianity-subjugates women).

Christians believe that by blackening Mohammad they could snare a convert for Christ. This is reminiscent of Christians of yesteryear as noted by Muhammad Ali (writing about late nine-teenth century India):

“The preaching of the Christian missionary until a short time ago was of quite a different character from what it is today. In those days, the Christian missionary was under the impression that the darker the picture he drew of the Prophet of Islam, the greater would be his success in winning over converts from among the Muslims (and some ignorant ones were snared)…Some of the Christian controversial books of those days must indeed be ranked as the filthiest literature that has ever been produced, apart from the fact that the founder of the Arya Samaj and some of his blind votaries imitated the Christian missionary, and, later on, the Arya Samajist preacher even surpassed the Christian missionary in the art of vituperation

…To call the Holy Prophet an impostor, Dajjal or Anti-Christ, a deceiver, a dacoit, the slave of his sensual passions whose lust knew no bounds, and to attribute every conceivable crime to him became a habit with these Christian controversialists.1

In fact, as Muhammad Ali continued, one Christian’s writings “were found to be so grossly abusive that even Christians began to complain of them.”

Like their fathers and grandfathers of yesteryear Christians have descended to the despicable depth of depicting Mohammad as depraved.

While the Christian (and critic) tries to paint Mohammad as a libertine, let us see what facts reveal about Mohammad. Mohammad was born in 570 AC (After Christ). He received the call to prophethood in 610. He died in 632. His ministry lasted 22/23 years.

For twenty-five years Mohammad lived a life of celibacy. For twenty-nine years, from 25-54, he lived in a monogamous marriage, with a woman fifteen years his senior. Only from 54 did he enter into multiple marriages. After the death of his first wife, Khadijah, Mohammad married Saudah, “a widow ofadvanced age;” then ‘Aisha; Hafsa, a widow; Zainab, “daughter of Khuzaimah,” a widow; Umm Salmah, a widow; Zainab, the former wife of Zaid; Umm Habibah, a widow; Juwairiyah, Maimunah, and Safiyyah, three widows taken as war captives, whose marriages “in each case” “led to the union and pacification of a whole tribe;” and in the case of his marriage to Juwairiyah “a hundred families” of her tribe, “the Bani Mustaliq” “was at once liberated by the Muslims;” and Mary, the Coptic.2

During this twenty-three year period of his mission the Prophet Mohammad suffered persecution; bloodied from stoning (at Ta’if); death threats; exile; fasted, and spent two-thirds of the night in prayer–(Qur’an 17:79; 73:2-4, 20; 76:25-26); went hungry; cobbled his own shoes and mended his own garments; sought the welfare of the poor and the orphans and the Woman; fought the slave-masters and freed the slaves; fought at least four wars –Badr, Uhud, Hunain and Allies–and toiled alongside his people, planned for the welfare of the State, and preached the Divine Message to the people. Surely, such a person can hardly be labeled a voluptuary.

   If Mohammad had sought to have the female sex “abandoned” to his desire, it is doubtful that he would have waited until the heat of his youth had dissipated, neither would he have pursued widows who were old and laden with children, there were scores of virgins of beauty and youth (which lustful old men often relish) for him to command. And when he became victorious, instead of enrobing himself in fine silk and jewelry, wore only coarse garments; instead of choosing a crown and scepter of gold and gems, he had only a wooden staff; instead of choosing a bed of cushion and linen, had only a mat of palm fiber; (and as noted, instead of choosing a harem of vestal nubiles, he ennobled in the sanctity of marriage the elderly, the widow, and the fallen); instead of leaving monuments of stones to himself he charged us with the precepts of God.

   This man who never lied, refused all wealth, and who returned the riches to his conquered subjects could hardly be viewed as an “impostor” whose enthusiasm of his “youth” was to gratify the “appetites” of a man. The reasons for the Prophet Mohammad’s several marriages were manifold: (1) Social (2) Federal (3) Diplomatic (4) Compassion (5) Divine Instructions (6) Religious expediency. (For a comment on “fables invented by Christian writers who seek to vilify Islam” see Muhammad Ali’s Qur’anic comm. 2517 –to Qur’an 66:1. MA’s translation of the Qur’an can be viewed/downloaded at


1. Muhammad Ali, The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, pp. 78-80, 81

2. Muhammad Ali, Qur’anic comm. 2000.