Wives of Prophet Muhammad
'Allamah Tabataba'i mentions the view in this link. It is not the dominant view of Shi'i scholars today, but I think it makes sense.
God knows best
The Verse 33 - 33 in Sura Al Ahzaab mentioned many things about the wives of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him and His Holy Progeny) but the specific part of the purification has been explained by the Prophet himself when he clearly said that: These are my Progeny who are been purified. My purified Progeny are Ali (a.s.), Fatima (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.). No one knows the meaning of Quranic verses more than the Prophet, because the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him and His Holy Progeny) is been asked by Allah and he is the responsible of explaining the meaning of Quranic Verses to the Ummah, that is why he explained exactly who are meant in the Verse 33 – 33 and he did not allow anyone from his wives to join when he put the Kisa (the Cloth) on Ali (a.s.), Fathema (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) Only with not allowing any of his wives even Umme Salama who was very pious wife but she was not allowed to join them. This is a very clear evidence that the Verse does not talk about the wives but only the purified Progeny of Ahlulbayt who are Ali (a.s.), Fathema (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.).
The term "Mother of the believers" means that no Muslim is allowed to marry any of the wives of the Prophet after him. Every wife of the Prophet is Ummul Mo'minen, but not Ummul Mo'minaat because there is no question of marriage with Mo'minaat.
In Quran (33:53), it very clear that no Muslim man can be allowed to marry any of the wives of the Prophet after him.
Aiysha, was called by a Muslim woman: O mother. Aiyasha replied: I am not a mother to you women, but mother to your men. This is mentioned in Sunan Al-Bayhaqi (7:70) and also in Tafseer Al-Qurtobi (14:123) and also in Al-Tabaqaat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa'd (8:67).
Khadijah (AS) is the greatest wife of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), but there were among the wives majority of pious and obedient wives, and few of disobedient wives who went against the orders of the Prophet (SAWA). Even one wife of the Prophet ( Qateelah or Qutaylah Bint Qays) left Islam after him, and got married with Ekrimah Ibn Abi Jahl. (Ibn Katheer narrating from Al-Haakim Al-Neesabori).
No doubt, that marriage was completely wrong, but it proves that not every wife of the Prophet was pious. So, the title of Ummul Mo'mineen establish a rule banning the marriage with any of the wives, but it does not means high status of piousness.
Most of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad were pious and very pious like lady Khadijah, Umm Salamah, Mariyah, Zainab, Jowairiyah, Safiyyah etc.
The marriages of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) were always based on the
benefit of Islam. He never got married with any young
women for the purpose of enjoyment but all his marriages were based on
serving Islam. If you take his marriages one by one and analyse the
reasons and the effect you will find that all the marriages were based
on serving Islam. He got married with ladies from certain tribes to
make the tribes supporting or at least not opposing Islam. He got
married to a lady who is Zainab bint Jhash to establish the rule of
Islam in marriage between the man and the wife of his fostered son as
the people Jaahiliyyah thought that such marriage is Haraam but the Prophet (SAWA) wanted to break the Jahilyyah concept of such marriage. In fact Allah (SWT) ordered the Prophet to get married with Zainab bint Jahsh as it is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an ( Sura al-Ahzaab, Verse 37) after Zainab Bint Jahsh was divorced from Zaid who was a fostered son and not real son of the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and the reason of the marriage is
also mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
The Holy Prophet (SAWA) got married
with ladies who came from leading families in their communities like
Lady Safiyah whose father was the leader of the Jewish community but
she became a very sincere Muslim. He also got married with Lady Mariah
who was from Egypt from a Christian family and she was a very sincere
lady. So all his marriages were just for serving Islam and supporting
Islam and making Islam more acceptable to people. In fact his marriage
with Juwairiyah was a cause of a big number of people from her tribe
becoming Muslims just because of his marriage with a lady from their
Lady Maria daughter of Sham'oon known as Maria Al-Qibtiyyah, is one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and Ummul Mo'mineen.
She was well behaving and pious follower of the Prophet (SAWA). Allah (SWT) granted the Prophet from Maria a son(Ebraheem) who passed away during his childhood.
'Aysha daughter of Abu Bakr who was also among the wives of the Prophet, did not like Maria and she has stated (according to Sunni books) that she was feeling jealous from Maria more than other wives. This was behind the trend of the followers of 'Aysha against Maria and claiming that she was not a wife but just concubine.
Lady Maria was not only a wife of the Prophet (SAWA) but also was one of the best of his wives in Madina, as far as her Faith and obedience.
Lady Maria was accused by some hypocrites including two of wived of the Prophet and their people, that her child Ebraheem was not from the Prophet (SAWA) but from another person. The story of this false allegation was mentioned in Quran and known by Al-Efk.
According to Shaykh al-Mufid (Kitab al-Irshad):
The Commander of the Faithful, peace be on him, had twenty-seven children, male and female:
3. Zaynab the elder
4. Zaynab the younger, who was given the kunya Umm Kulthūm.
Their mother was Fāṭima, the blessed, mistress of the women of the worlds, daughter of the master of those sent by Allāh and the seal of the prophets, the Prophet Muhammad.
5. Muḥammad, who was given the kunya Abū al-Qāsim. His mother was Khawla, daughter of Ja‘far b. Qays al-Ḥanafī.
7. Ruqayya They were twins.
Their mother was Umm Ḥabīb, daughter of Rabī‘a.
11. ‘Abd Allāh
(The last four) were martyrs with their brother al-Ḥusayn on the plain of Karbalā’. Their mother was Umm al-Banīn, daughter of Ḥizām b. Khālid b. Dārim.
12. Muḥammad, the younger, who was given the kunya Abū Bakr.
13. ‘Ubayd Allāh
Both of these were martyrs with their brother al-Ḥusayn on that plain. Their mother was Layla, daughter of Mas‘ūd al-Dārimī.
His mother was Asmā ̓, daughter of ‘Umays al-Khath‘amī, may Allāh be pleased with her.
15. Umm al-Ḥasan
The mother of these two was Umm Sa‘īd, daughter of ‘Urwa b. Mas‘ūd al-Thaqafī.
18. Zaynab, the youngest
19. Ruqayya, the younger
20. Umm Hānī ̓
21. Umm al-Kirām
22. Jumāna, who was given the kunya Umm Ja‘far.
24. Umm Salama
These, the blessings of Allāh be on them, had different mothers. Among the Shī'a, there are those who mention that Fāṭima, the blessing of Allāh be on her, after the Prophet had a miscarriage with a son, whom the Prophet, may Allāh bless Him and His Family, had (already) named during her pregnancy as Muḥsin.
According to this group there were twenty-eight children of the Commander of the Faithful, the blessing and peace of Allāh be on him. Allāh knows and judges best.
(End quotation from Kitab al-Irshad)
Edip Yuksel a contemporary Quranist scholar has discussed this verse in detail in his article Beating Women or Beating Around the Bush (Unorthodox Articles, Internet, 1998) that four key words or phrases have been mistranslated by traditional translators. To justify the misogynistic and patriarchal practices, deliberately or unknowingly, a majority of translators render the phrase kawamuna ala al-nisa as "in charge of women" rather than "providers for women" or "observant of women."
Interestingly, the same translators translate the same verb mentioned in 4:135; 5:8; 4:127; 2:229; 20:14; 55:9 as "observe/maintain." When the same verb is used to depict a relationship between man and woman, it somehow magically transforms into a prescription of hierarchy and authority.
The second key word that is commonly mistranslated is iDRiBuhunna. In almost all translations, you will see it translated as "scourge," or "beat" or "beat (lightly)". The verb DaRaBa is a multiple-meaning verb akin to English ‘strike’ or ‘get.’ The Quran uses the same verb with various meanings, such as, to travel, to get out (3:156; 4:101; 38:44; 73:20; 2:273), to strike(2:60; 7:160; 8:12; 20:77; 24:31; 26:63; 37:93; 47:4), to beat (8:50), to beat or regret (47:27), to set up (43:58; 57:13), to give (examples) (14:24; 16:75; 18:32; 24:35; 30:28; 36:78; 39:27;43:17; 59:21; 66:10), to take away, to ignore (43:5), to condemn (2:61), to seal, to draw over (18:11), to cover (24:31), and to explain (13:17). It is again interesting that the scholars pick the meaning BEAT, among the many other alternatives, when the relationship between man and woman is involved, a relationship that is defined by the Quran with mutual love and care (30:21).
The third word that has been traditionally mistranslated is the word NuSHuZ as "rebellion" or "disobedience" or "opposition" to men. If we study 4:34 carefully we will find a clue that leads us to translate that word as embracing a range of related ideas, from "flirting" to "engaging in an extramarital affair" – indeed, any word or words that reflects the range of disloyalty in marriage. The clue is the phrase before nushuz, which reads: ". . . they honor them according to God's commandments, even when alone in their privacy." This phrase emphasizes the importance of loyalty in marital life, and helps us to make better sense of what follows.
Interestingly, the same word, nushuz, is used later in the same chapter, in 4:128 – but it is used to describe the misbehavior of husbands, not wives, as it was in 4:34. In our view, the traditional translation of nushuz, that is, "opposition," will not fit in both contexts. However, the understanding of nushuz as marital disloyalty, in a variety of forms, is clearly appropriate for both 4:34 and 4:128.
The fourth word is the word QaNiTat, which means "devoted to God," and in some verses it describes both man and woman (2:116; 3:17;16:120; 30:26; 33:31; 39:9; 66:5). Though this word is mostly translated correctly as "obedient," when read in the context of the above-mentioned distortion it conveys a false message as if to imply that women must be "obedient" to their husbands as their inferior, while the word refers to obedience to God's law. The word is mentioned as a general description of Muslim women (66:12), and more interestingly the description of Mary who, according to the Quran, did not even have a husband! (66:12).
The traditional distortion of this verse was first questioned by Edip Yuksel in his book, "Kuran Çevirilerindeki Hatalar" (Errors in Turkish Translations) (1992, Istanbul).
Beating any one is not allowed in Islam and there is a criminal penalty ( Diyyah) on the person who commits it which depends on the effect on the body of the victim.
The Hadeeths explain the meaning of the Quranic verse as beating with Miswak ( tooth stick) which is physical beating but an act of warning or showing unhappiness when a wife insists on harming her husband or children.
Hadeeths blame those men who beat their wives and mention that many of them are more entitled to be beaten rather than to beat their wives.
The Prophet ( SAWA) said : Best of you are the best to their wives, and I am the best to my wives.
A practical way to get such counts is to use specialist hadith software or websites. It will need a good command over Arabic as such advanced and comprehensive search tools are not available in English.
Thank you for your question. It is not necessary for the wives to know each other or be friends in a polygamous marriage in Islam.
May you always be successful
There are no slaves today in the Muslim world, and thus the question is out of context and bears no benefit.
Thank you for your question. Yes, he can.
May you always be successful.