Polygamy was common in seventh-century Arabia, as it has been in many other cultures, especially for a political leader; for instance, the patriarchs in the Hebrew Bible are described as having multiple wives, and the kings of Israel are depicted as having harems numbering in some cases into the hundreds. According to Muslim historians, the Prophet Muhammad’s marriages were contracted to assist needy widows and divorcees and to solidify the nascent community of Muslims by forging alliances among the tribes in and around Medina. In light of the time and place, there was nothing unique or unusual about Muhammad marrying several women. It is also noteworthy that he married a woman fifteen years his senior during his young adulthood and remained in a monogamous relationship with her for twenty-five years until her death when he was nearly fifty years old.
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