Marrying several Women and Why the Prophet peace be upon him had many wives? The commentary of Ibn Hajr al asqalani.
Imam al Bukhari made a chapter
Kitab an-Nikah, Chapter 4: About (marrying) several women
Ibn Hajr commented
يعني لمن قدر على العدل بينهن
Meaning for the one who has power of doing justice between them. [Fath al Bari]
Imam al Bukhari mentioned the following hadith in the chapter 4.
Ibn `Abbas asked me (Ibn Jubayr), “Are you married?” I replied, “No.” He said, “Marry, for the best person of this nation (i.e. Prophet peace be upon him) of all other Muslims, had the largest number of wives. (in this Ummah)” [al Bukhari 5069]
Ibn Hajr al asqalani commented:
زاد فيه أحمد بن منيع في مسنده من طريق أخرى عن سعيد بن جبير ” قال لي ابن عباس وذلك قبل أن يخرج وجهي – أي قبل أن يلتحي – هل تزوجت ؟ قلت لا ، وما أريد ذلك يومي هذا ” وفي رواية سعيد بن منصور من طريق أبي بشر عن سعيد بن جبير ” قال لي ابن عباس : هل تزوجت ؟ قلت ما ذاك في ” الحديث .
The narration of Musnad Ahmad bin Man`i from the rout from Saeed bin Jubayr states: Ibn Abbas said this to me before my beard started to grow, Are you married? I said: no, I have no plans to marry right now… [Fath al Bari]
Then he said:
والذي يظهر أن مراد ابن عباس بالخير النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وبالأمة أخصاء أصحابه ; وكأنه أشار إلى أن ترك التزويج مرجوح ، إذ لو كان راجحا ما آثر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم غيره ، وكان مع كونه أخشى الناس لله وأعلمهم به يكثر التزويج لمصلحة تبليغ الأحكام التي لا يطلع عليها الرجال ،
Apparently the meaning of Ibn Abbas by “Khayr” is Prophet peace be upon him and the meaning of “Ummah” is his Close companions, He wanted to say that, not marrying is Marjooh, if not marrying was raajeh then why Prophet peace be upon him did many marriages? Even after that He (peace be upon him) was the best, Then the reason of many marriages of Prophet peace be upon him was tableegh of the Ahkaam which the men (of this ummah) were not aware. [Ibid]
Then Ibn Hajr mentioned many reasons of why the Prophet peace be upon him marry the wives, some of them are:
أن يكثر من يشاهد أحواله الباطنة فينتفي عنه ما يظن به المشركون من أنه ساحر أو غير ذلك .
That to refute the claim of Mushrikeen i.e. He (peace be upon him) was a Saahir. By marrying, his personal life affairs were known. (meaning Saahir is indulge in Amaliyaat of sihr but this was not the case with Prophet peace be upon him.)
لتتشرف به قبائل العرب بمصاهرته فيهم .
Due to the marriages, the tribes of Arabs had a sharf that they are relatives of Prophet peace be upon him.
نقل الأحكام الشرعية التي لا يطلع عليها الرجال ، لأن أكثر ما يقع مع الزوجة مما شأنه أن يختفي مثله .
Tableegh of the Ahkam which are not known to men.
الاطلاع على محاسن أخلاقه الباطنة ، فقد تزوج أم حبيبة وأبوها إذ ذاك يعاديه ، وصفية بعد قتل أبيها وعمها وزوجها ، فلو لم يكن أكمل الخلق في خلقه لنفرن منه ، بل الذي وقع أنه كان أحب إليهن من جميع أهلهن .
That he was best to his wives, like when he married Umm Habiba ra her father (Abu Sufiyan ra) was one of the worst enemy of Islam that time, Then Married to Safiya when her father was killed (due to his enmity against Islam and waged war against the Prophet peace be upon him) If He (peace be upon him) was not the best then why would they marry him? Safiya ra loved him (peace be upon him) more than any of her relative.
من تحصينهن والقيام بحقوقهن
Even after having many wives he completely fulfilled the rights of his wives.
The Pride of Aisha ra and the reason behind the marriages of the Prophet peace be upon him.
I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)! Suppose you landed in a valley where there is a tree of which something has been eaten and then you found trees of which nothing has been eaten, of which tree would you let your camel graze?” He said, “(I will let my camel graze) of the one of which nothing has been eaten before.” (The sub-narrator added: `Aisha meant that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) had not married a virgin besides herself .) [Sahih al Bukhari no. 5077]
The words of the Prophet peace be upon him “the one of which nothing has been eaten before.” points towards the fact that all of his marriages were due to the order of Allah or any other reason, otherwise if He would have choice to marry, He would marry the virgins. [Tofiq al Bari Sharah Sahih al Bukhari vol 8 page 164]