14.5 Solidarity through Intermarriages
The Arabs were very careful about their marriage connections because they were not a union of two individuals only, but of two clans. They had obligations to, as well as rights over, their relations by marriage. In this interval of peace in Medina, Mohamed gave his daughter Fatima in marriage to his cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, who had become a mighty warrior and a learned scholar. He married his daughter, Umm Kulthum, to Uthman ibn Affan, a rich merchant who had wielded great influence among the Meccans, but who had become a devout Muslim, renewed for his generous spending for the sake of religion. Then Mohamed himself married Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr who had been brothered to him since they were in Mecca. Sometime after, when the daughter of Umar ibn AI-Khattab became a widow, Mohamed asked for her hand. By these four marriages, the four most important men in Islam were gathered into one strong unified whole. It also placed Mohamed's two closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar, upon an equal footing.