Who performed the marriage ceremony of the Prophet to his first wife Khadija? Because of its pre-Islamic period, before the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, there are some who say that the marriage was performed by the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib. Is this correct? Can you provide any other information? Associate Professor Casim Avcı - Istanbul University, Department of History
1 05.10.2011, Wednesday
Where the nikah (marriage contract or ceremony) of Prophet Muhammad to Khadija is referred to in the various sources – first and foremost those dealing with the life of the Prophet (sirah) – the parties that are mentioned are in particular the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib (together with some of his other uncles) on the Prophet’s side, and Khadija’s uncle Amr ibn Asad and paternal cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal on Khadija’s side. (While in some narrations it is stated that Khadija’s hand-in-marriage was sought from her father Khuwaylid ibn Asad, that it is also stated that he had previously died during the Battle of Fijar indicates that these narrations are not correct). The sources state that Abu Talib, Amr ibn Asad and Waraqa ibn Nawfal each made a speech during the marriage ceremony, but the name of the individual who performed the ceremony itself is not mentioned.
However much some of the contemporary sources suggest that the marriage ceremony was performed by Abu Talib, Waraqa ibn Nawfal or Amr ibn Asad, there is no such definitiveness in the primary sources. Arguably, expressions that the aforementioned individuals made during the ceremony such as “I have wedded Muhammad to Khadija” (or “wedded Khadija to Muhammad”) were understood to mean that they themselves performed the marriage ceremony. However, these expressions must be understood to mean “I allow them to wed.” This is because in this same source, the statement “I have wedded Khadija to Muhammad” (zawjatu or ankahtu) is repeated at the end of each of their speeches. In the sources, the phrases zawwaja or ankaha should not be taken to mean they “performed their marriage ceremony,” but “married them,” since such expressions are used in the same source in reference to each of these individuals.