Sawda he already possessed, and her slow softness and unimaginative mind had already begun to pall; Ayesha, with her beauty and shrewdness, her jewel-like nature, bright and almost as hard, could lessen the continual strain of his life, and induce by a kind of reflex action that tireless energy of mind find body which was the secret of his power. But these were not enough, and now he sought fresh pleasure in Haphsa, and in other and lesser women, though he never cast away his earlier loves, still with the same unformulated desire, to obtain some respite from the cares which beset him, some renewal of his vivid nature, burning with self-destroying fire.
The emotional stimulus, whose agents women were, became for him as necessary as prayer, and we see him in later life adding experience after experience in his search for solace, nevertheless cleaving most to Ayesha, whose vitality fulfilled his intensest need. Secondary to the necessity of refreshment came the not inconsiderable duty of securing the permanence of his power by the foundation of a line of male successors. His earlier marriages had been productive only of daughters, while his later unions, and also his most recent with Haphsa, had been unfruitful. But though so far no direct male issue had been vouchsafed him, he was careful to unite with himself the most important men in his state by marriage with his children, binding them thereby with the closest blood ties. Rockeya, now dead, had married the warrior Othman, and Fatima, the Prophet’s youngest daughter, was bestowed upon the bright and impetuous Ali, whose exploits in warfare had filled the Muslim with pride and a wondering fear. Of this marriage were born the famous Hassan and Hosein, names written indelibly upon the Muslim roll of fame.
As each inmate became added to his household, rough houses, almost huts, were built for their reception, but the Prophet himself had no abiding place, only a council-chamber, where he conducted public business, and dwelt by turn in the houses of his wives, but delighted most to visit Ayesha, who occupied the foremost position by virtue of her beauty and personality. Mahomet’s household grew up gradually near the Mosque in this manner; together with the houses of his sons-in-law, not far away, and the sacred place itself, it constituted the centre of activity for the Muslim world, witnessing the arrival and despatch of embassies, the administration of justice and public business, the performance of the Muslim religious ceremonial, the Kuranic revelations of Allah’s will. It radiated Mahomet’s personality, and concentrated for his followers all the enthusiasm and persistence that had gone to its creation, as well as the endurance and foresight ensuring its continuance.