The strength of Prophet Sulayman and his having sexual intercourse with ninety wives

Q: Khalid ibn Makhlad narrated on the authority of Mughirah ibn ‘Abdul-Rahman from Abu Al-Zinad from Al-A‘raj from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him), the son of Dawud (David, peace be upon him), said: ‘Tonight I will go around to seventy women each of whom will conceive a knight who will fight in the Cause of Allah. His companion said to him, ‘If Allah wills.’ But he (Sulayman) did not say so. Therefore, none of them got pregnant except for one who gave birth to a half-formed child. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Had he said it (i.e. ‘If Allah wills’) (he would have begotten sons and) they would all have fought in the Cause of Allah.” Shu`ayb and Ibn Abu Al-Zinad said: “They were ninety. This is the more correct.” Sahih Al-Bukhari, section of Prophets, vol., 1, part 13, p., 486, Al-Dalhi edition, chapter on the Ayah that reads: ...and remember Our slave Dâwûd (David), endued with power. Verily, he was ever oft-returning in all matters and in repentance (toward Allâh). This Hadith has been reported through many narrations. Its Isnad (chain of narrators) is authentic. The number of Sulayman’s wives is disputed (sixty, seventy, ninety-nine or one hundred). There is no doubt about the authenticity of this Hadith in terms of its chain of narrators. However, the content of the Hadith is blatantly incongruous with sound reason. It is obvious that the narrator misunderstood what the Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted to say. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was merely quoting some Jewish superstitions, which the narrator mistakenly reported as a true story. (Part No. 4; Page No. 295) If this was a true story, it would necessitate that Prophet Sulayman would spend the whole night having uninterrupted intercourse with his wives, which does not sound logical.


A: First, Hadith Mudtarib is a category of Hadith which is reported through different chains of narrators with equal degree of strength and it is not possible to give preponderance to any particular narration. If some of these narrations are stronger than others or are able to be reconciled with one another, then the Hadith will no longer be classified as Mudtarib. Accordingly, the different number of Prophet Sulayman’s wives in the aforesaid Hadith can not be considered an example of Idtirab for which the Hadith may be rejected. There are two reasons for this: (221/) The narration in which the number of wives is reported to be ninety is the preponderant one. Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih (Authentic Hadith Book) that Shu`ayb and Abu Al-Zinad said: “They were ninety. This is the more correct.” (222 /) It is possible to reconcile these different narrations. This is the view held by Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy upon him) while commenting on this Hadith. He stated: [The different number of wives (sixty, seventy, ninety, ninety-nine, one hundred) can be reconciled in the sense that the wives were sixty free women and the rest were concubines or vice versa. Seventy denotes the immense number of wives. Ninety and one hundred; they were less than one hundred and more than ninety. (Part No. 4; Page No. 296) Those who say that they were ninety wives, did not add the extra nine and those who say they were one hundred added them to the ninety. That is why hesitancy occurred in the narration of Ja‘far. ] Second, the allegation that the content of this Hadith is incongruous with sound reason is void. This is because it is based on the corrupt analogy of estimating the varying degrees of people’s health, bodily strength, sexual ability, and rapid or slow ejaculation. Reality proves that this varies from one person to another. Moreover, prophets were endowed with great physical strength and sexual ability, yet they were the chastest of men and were more capable of exercising self-restraint. Miraculously, prophets were endowed with chastity and the ability to guard their private parts from illicit intercourse despite the inherent nature of great sexual potency. It was easy for a prophet to have intercourse with as many as ten women in one hour and as many as one hundred in ten hours or less. They were given the ability to produce seminal discharge in five minutes or less. While commenting on this Hadith Ibn Hajar (may Allah be merciful to him) could infer the following: "The Hadith indicates that the prophets were favored with healthy bodies, great sexual potency and virility despite being occupied with worshipping Allah (Exalted be He). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a marvelous example in this regard. (Part No. 4; Page No. 297) Despite being devotedly engaged in the worship of Allah (Exalted be He), calling mankind to accept Islam and living off small amounts of food and drink which naturally weaken sexual desire, he used to visit all his eleven wives in one round during the day and night and would perform one Ghusl (ritual bath). This has been previously discussed in the chapter on Ghusl. It is also said: 'The sexual desire of one who fears Allah is stronger than one who does not, because the latter fails to guard his chastity.'" Third, it is an established fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most earnest of men in counseling his Ummah (nation) and was endowed with the power of speech, composed of brief but profound words, together with the perfect ability to express himself clearly, tersely, and eloquently. He would not deceive his nation through speaking ambiguous words nor would he, on account of stammering, fail to clarify his speech. The narrator, being an Arab to the core, could not have been ignorant of what the Prophet (peace be upon him) had explicitly stated about Prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him) in that he would go around to seventy women each of whom would conceive a child who would be a warrior fighting in the Cause of Allah but that Sulayman did not say: ‘If Allah wills’ which our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) confirmed by saying: “Had he said it (i.e., ‘If Allah wills’), they would have strived in the Cause of Allah and he would not have broken his oath.” Whoever claims that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was just quoting a false Jewish superstition and that the narrator mistakenly thought that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was stating a true story, will be following his vain desires and false whims and will be twisting the meaning of the Hadith out of its natural context and will be maligning the character of the Sahaby (Companion of the Prophet) who narrated the Hadith and making false claims about the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). (Part No. 4; Page No. 298) This is because he follows his erroneous imagination in claiming that the Hadith contradicts reason. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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