Koranic evidence that the Prophet coveted his son’s wife

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Note: We were unable to provide links to the English translations. The links, therefore, refer to the original Arabic sources. If the researcher is familiar with both English and Arabic, he/she will be able to compare the two languages and judge the credibility and accuracy of the translation for themselves.

Aš-Šaʿrāwī relates how the Prophet coveted Zaynab, the wife of his son
Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5, 21, 36, 37, 38, 50, 51: Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh. If you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in religion and your kinsmen. Excepting what your hearts may intend deliberately, there will be no sin upon you for any mistake that you may make therein. And Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful. … There is certainly a good example for you in the Messenger of Allāh – for those who look forward to Allāh and the Last Day, and remember Allāh much. … A believing man or woman may not have any option in their matter, when Allāh and His Messenger have decided on a matter, and whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger has certainly strayed into manifest error. … When you said to him whom Allāh had blessed, and whom you [too] had blessed, ‘Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh,’ and you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge, and you feared the people though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him, so when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her, We wedded her to you, so that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have had accomplished their desire with them, and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled. There is no blame on the Prophet in respect of that which Allāh has made lawful for him: Allāh’s precedent with those who passed away earlier (and Allāh’s commands are ordained by a precise ordaining), … O Prophet! Indeed We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand owns, of those whom Allāh gave you as spoils of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncle, and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncle, and the daughters of your maternal aunts who migrated with you, and a faithful woman if she offers herself to the Prophet and the Prophet desires to take her in marriage (a privilege exclusively for you, not for [the rest of] the believers; We know what We have made lawful for them with respect to their wives and those whom their right hands own, so that there may be no blame on you ), and Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful. You may put off whichever of them you wish and consort with whichever of them you wish, and there is no sin upon you [in receiving again] any [of them] whom you may seek [to consort with] from among those you have set aside. That makes it likelier that they will be comforted and not feel unhappy, and all of them will be pleased with what you give them. Allāh knows what is in your hearts, and Allāh is all-knowing, all-forbearing.

Comment:
Because of the seriousness of the story that led to the revelation of this Sūrah, as well as the complexity of ideas and its overlapping contents, we decided to explain it in a different way from the one we have followed in this chapter. This story is by far the most serious one in this research. If you have never heard of it before, brace yourself for a violent shock!
We will divide the story into several chapters to make it easy for the reader to follow it. We will also furnish the reader with all the evidence from the most renowned Muslim scholars.
And now let us start relating the story

 

 Chapter One: The Messenger forces Zaynab to marry his adopted son against her will
Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 36: A believing man or woman may not have any option in their matter, when Allāh and His Messenger have decided on a matter, and whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger has certainly strayed into manifest error.
Commentary of Al-Jalālayn on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 36:
“A believing man or woman may not have any option (that is, a choice) in their matter, when Allāh and His Messenger have decided on a matter,” i.e., any other than the one imposed by Allāh And His Messenger. The verse was revealed with regard to ʿAbdullāh b. Jaḥš and his sister, Zaynab. The Prophet had asked her in marriage for Zayd b. Ḥāritha, but they both were against the idea … Later they accepted because of the verse “and whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger has certainly strayed into manifest error.” Thereupon, the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, wedded her to Zayd.

Commentary Ibn Kathīr on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 36:
Al-ʿAwfī said …. the divine saying “A believing man or woman may not have any option,” was revealed as follows: The Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, went ahead to ask for a girl in marriage for Zayd b. Ḥāritha … He entered in to Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš, … he asked her in marriage, but she said, “I will not marry him.” The Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, “Yes, you will marry him.” She asked, “Oh Messenger of Allāh, am I to be forced into obedience with regard to myself?” As they kept on talking, Allāh revealed this verse to the Messenger…. “A believing man or woman may not have any option.” She finally said, “Do you accept him as a husband for me, Oh Messenger of Allāh.” The Messenger said yes. She said, “As long as I am not disobeying the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, I give myself to him in marriage.”

Explanation:
The story begins with the Prophet going over to ask for the hand of Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš, in marriage for his adoptive son, Zayd, but she turned him down. The Prophet said to her, “But must marry him.” Zaynab said to him, “Do I have to marry him against my will?” Then Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 36 was revealed: A believing man or woman may not have any option in their matter, when Allāh and His Messenger have decided on a matter, and whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger has certainly strayed into manifest error. Zaynab said to the Messenger of Allāh, “Do you accept him as a husband for me?” The Prophet said yes. She said to him, “Well, I agree to marry him for fear of disobeying Allāh and his Messenger.”

 

Chapter Two: the Prophet goes to visit his adoptive son and his wife after their marriage and covets Zaynab, the wife of his son, for himself
Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37 When you said to him whom Allāh had blessed, and whom you [too] had blessed, ‘Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh,’ and you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge, and you feared the people though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him, so when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her, We wedded her to you, so that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have had accomplished their desire with them, and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled.

Commentary of Aṭ-Ṭabarī on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
Yūnus told me that … the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, wedded Zayd b. Ḥāritha to the daughter of his aunt Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš. “The Messenger of Allāh went out one day to pay him a visit. There was a curtain on the door made of hair. A gust of wind lifted up the curtain and blew it aside, and she was lightly dressed in her room. The Prophet immediately took to her. When this happened, she was made hateful to the other (i.e., her husband). He (i.e. Zayd) came [to the Prophet] and said: O Messenger of Allāh, I want to leave my wife.

 

Commentary of Al-Qurṭubī on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
…. and Muqātil said: The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, wedded Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš, to Zayd. She remained with him [as wife] for a while. One day the Prophet Muḥammad, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, paid an unexpected visit to Zayd. As he saw Zaynab standing, who was pale, beautiful and plump, being a most perfect women of Quraysh, he fell in love with her and said, “Praise be to Allāh who changes the hearts! Zaynab heard him praise Allāh and mentioned it to Zayd. Zayd realized what had happened, went to the Messenger of Allāh and told him, “Permit me to divorce my wife. She is very proud and behaves arrogantly towards me. She even insults me verbally. The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, “Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh.” It was also said: Allāh sent a gust of wind that blew the curtain aside when Zaynab was at home dressed in her nightgown. The Prophet saw Zaynab and fell in love with her and Zaynab could perceive that the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, fell in love with her when he came to visit Zayd. When her husband arrived, she told him what had happened. It was then that it occurred to Zayd to divorce her.

 

Explanation:
To sum up the narratives contained in the Islamic commentaries: The Prophet did not find Zayd at his tent but found his wife, Zaynab. Allāh sent a gust of wind that opened the door of the tent so that he could see her lightly dressed (with bare head or body). She was white and beautiful and he fell in love with her. She, too, realized that and heard him say, as he was leaving, “Praise be to Allāh who changes the hearts.” She reported all that to her husband Zayd, who realized that the Prophet wanted to have his wife.

 

 

 Chapter Three: Zayd goes to the Messenger of Allāh and divorces his wife
Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37 When you said to him whom Allāh had blessed, and whom you [too] had blessed, ‘Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh,’ and you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge, and you feared the people though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him, so when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her, We wedded her to you, so that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have had accomplished their desire with them, and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled.

 

Commentary of Aṭ-Ṭabarī on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
The most praiseworthy Allāh said to his Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, by way of reproof: (And) remember, oh Muḥammad “When you said to him whom Allāh had blessed” by guidance, “and whom you [too] had blessed” by granting him liberty, i.e., Zayd b. Ḥāritha, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him. “Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh.” That is because Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš, according to the reports, was seen by the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, while she was still married to his freed slave. She was made hateful to Zayd when Allāh knew of what occurred in the heart of his Prophet. It was for this reason that her husband wanted to leave her.
Zayd mentioned it to the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, but the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, told him “Keep your wife for yourself,” although he, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, would have liked him to divorce her so that he himself could marry her. “… And fear Allāh,” and fear Allāh in the duty you owe him with regard to your spouse. “… and you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge,” means: And you hide to yourself the fact that you prefer him to leave her so that you could marry her once he has left her. And Allāh is bound to reveal the truth about it, which you have hidden inside you. “And you feared the people though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him.” The most praiseworthy Allāh says: You fear that people should say, “He commanded a man to divorce his wife so that he may marry as soon as he has divorced her,” but Allāh is worthier than people are that you should fear Him.

 

Commentary of Al-Jalālayn on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
The most Exalted Allāh said: “When …. you said to him whom Allāh had blessed” by the Islamic religion “and whom you [too] had blessed” by setting him free, namely Zayd b. Ḥāritha. He had been captured as slave in the Jāhiliyya (i.e., before Islam) and was bought by the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, before he was made a Prophet by Allāh. The Prophet, then, freed and adopted him. “Keep your wife for yourself, and fear Allāh,” with regard to divorcing her. “And you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge,” i.e., to reveal the fact that you love her and that if Zayd left her, you would marry her. “And you feared the people,” that they may say that he married the wife of his son. “Though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him” in all things. You should marry her and do not worry what people will say. And then Zayd divorced her … And in Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Anas b. Mālik, this verse “And you had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge” was revealed on account of Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš, and Zayd b. Ḥāritha … “You said to him whom Allāh had blessed” …etc. Aṭ-Ṭabarī and other authorities hold that the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, found Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš pretty, while she was still married to Zayd b. Ḥāritha. He was eager for Zayd to divorce her so that he could marry her.

 

Commentary of Al-Qurṭubī on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
…. At-Tirmiḏī narrated …. on the authority of ʿĀʾisha, may Allāh be pleased with her, …. “and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled” and that the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, when he married her, people said: He married the wife of his own son.” Allāh, therefore, revealed: “Muḥammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allāh and the Seal of the Prophets.” [Al-Aḥzāb 33: 40] …. And Allāh, the most blessed and exalted, revealed “Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh. If you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in the faith and your kinsmen.” [Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5], because the kinsman of a person is his or her brother. “That is more just with Allāh,” means it is fairer. Ibn ʿAbbās said: “and you had hidden in your heart,” i.e., your love for her. “And you feared the people,” i.e., you feel ashamed of them. It was said: You have feared and hated if Muslims would blame you if you told him to divorce her. Since they would say: He ordered a man to divorce his wife then he married her after her husband divorced her. “Though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him” in all situations. It was said that it means: Allāh is worthier of your feeling of shame. You should not have ordered Zayd to keep his wife after Allāh let you know that she will become your own wife. Allāh found fault with him in all these respects … The Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, feared that the people would defame him for marrying Zaynab, after Zayd, his freed slave, had divorced her, and having himself ordered him to divorce her. For that, Allāh found fault with him, for fearing people with regards to something Allāh has permitted for him. For he did tell Zayd, “Keep your wife” although he knew that he should divorce her. Allāh let him know that he is worthier to be feared, namely in all situations…. As to the rumor that the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, fell in love with Zaynab, Zayd’s wife – or that he perhaps desired her, which some lewd people bandied about – this can only be said by someone who is ignorant of the infallibility of the Prophet …. and the divine saying: “and fear Allāh” concerns divorcing her, namely do not divorce her … And it was said that “fear Allāh” means do not defame her.

Explanation:
This is a summary of the previous interpretations on Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37, which concerns the subject of our study. When Zaynab recounted to Zayd what had happened, and the fact that the Prophet said “Praise be to Allāh who changes the hearts,” Al-Qurṭubī says that Zayd recognized or realized that the Messenger of Allāh wanted her for himself. He, therefore, went to the Prophet, complaining of Zaynab and telling him that he wanted to divorce her. Muḥammad said to him, “Keep your wife and don’t divorce her.” He also said to him, “Fear Allāh,” i.e., neither defame nor divorce her. For this, Allāh reproachful him and told him, “You had hidden in your heart what Allāh was to divulge,” because he concealed his own feelings for Zaynab when he hid his desire that that Zayd should divorce her. However, why did the Prophet do that? “And you feared the people though Allāh is worthier that you should fear Him.” He was afraid of the people’s opinion if he forced his adopted son to divorce his own wife so that he could to marry her. Allāh reproached the Prophet because he ought to fear Allāh and should not hide his desire for Zaynab, which is from Allāh. So all the Messenger could do was agree that Zayd should divorce her. The verse began by reminding Muḥammad that Allāh blessed Zayd by the Islamic religion and that the Prophet blessed him by adopting him.

 

4 – Chapter Four: Abolition of adoption so that the Prophet could marry Zaynab
We now move on to Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5: “Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh. If you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in religion and your kinsmen. Excepting what your hearts may intend deliberately, there will be no sin upon you for any mistake that you may make therein. And Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful.”

Commentary Ibn Kathīr on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5:
This divine command “Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh,” which abrogates the state of affairs that obtained at the beginning of Islam, when it was permitted to call adopted sons after the man who adopted them. Then Allāh commanded that they should be given back the names of their biological fathers, and stated that this was fairer and more just. Al-Bukhārī, may Allāh have mercy on him, narrated that ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar said: “Zayd b. Ḥāritha, may Allāh be pleased with him, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allāh, was always called Zayd, the son of Muḥammad, until [the words of the] Koran were revealed: “Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh.”
This was also narrated by Muslim, At-Tirmiḏī, and An-Nasāʾī. They [i.e., the womenfolk] used to deal with them as sons in every respect, including being alone with them as Mahrams (unmarriageable persons) and so on. Hence, Sahla, the daughter of Suhayl, the wife of Abū Huḏayfa, may Allāh be pleased with them both, said: “O Messenger of Allāh! We used to call Sālim our son, but Allāh has revealed what He has revealed. He used to come into my house. I, however, perceive that something rankles in the heart Abū Huḏayfa about that. The Prophet said, “Suckle him and he will become Mahram (unmarriageable person) to you.” (An authentic Ḥadīth) Hence when this ruling was abrogated, Allāh made it permissible for a man to marry the ex-wife of his adopted son, and the Messenger of Allāh married Zaynab, the daughter of Jaḥsh, the divorced wife of Zayd b. Ḥāritha, may Allāh be pleased with him, Allāh said: “So that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them” (Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33:37). And Allāh says in the verse of proscription (abolition): “The wives of your sons from your own loins” (Sūrah An-Nisāʾ4:23). The wife of an adopted son is not included because he was not born from the man’s loins. A “foster” son through breastfeeding is the same as a son born from one’s own loins, from the point of view of Sharīʿah.

 

Explanation:
Summary of Ibn Kathīr’s comment on Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5, which concerns the subject of our study. Adoption was a common institution in Islam; a fact borne out by the fact that the Prophet himself had an adopted son, namely Zayd. The Messenger, however, abrogated adoption; i.e., canceled it, claiming that Allāh sent down a verse in which he commanded Muslims: “Call them after their fathers. That is more just with Allāh. If you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in religion and your kinsmen. Excepting what your hearts may intend deliberately, there will be no sin upon you for any mistake that you may make therein. And Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful.” (Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 5) This means: call them by the names of their biological fathers, this is fairer with Allāh. But if you do not know who their biological parents are, call them by the name of any one of their brothers or next of kin. Ibn Kathīr adds an incident that resulted from the cancellation of adoptions. Sahla, the daughter of Suhayl, the wife of Abū Huḏayfa, may Allāh be pleased with them both, went to the Messenger of Allāh and said to him: “O Messenger of Allāh! We had an adopted son, called Sālim, and since Allāh has revealed what He has revealed, and thus abolished adoption, Sālim is not my son any more. Now when he come in to me, I perceive that my husband Abū Huḏayfa resents it and is uncomfortable about it, because, after the abolition of adoption, Sālim became a stranger to me, and he is an adult man, not a child anymore.” The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, “Suckle him and he will become Mahram (unmarriageable person) to you.”

The Ḥadīth is cited in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim > book of suckling 17 > on suckling an adult person no. 1453. This became the guiding rule for all fatwas on suckling (breastfeeding) adult persons. It has also been cited in S̱aḥīḥ An-Nasāʾī: Narrated by: ʿĀʾisha. The traditionist: Al-Albanī – the source: Ṣaḥīḥ An-Nasāʾī – the page or the number: 3323. Summary of the traditionist’s judgment: Authentic.

 

Chapter Five: Muḥammad marries Zaynab
Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
“So when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her, We wedded her to you, so that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have had accomplished their desire with them, and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled.”

Commentary of Aṭ-Ṭabarī on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
... in the divine saying:So when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her, We wedded her to you,the most praiseworthy Allāh says: When Zayd b. Ḥāritha accomplished or finished his need of Zaynab, for “waṭar” means need …
We wedded her to you,” that is: We will wed Zaynab to you after Zayd divorces her and she has become irrevocably divorced by him. “So that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons,” means: with regard to marrying the wives of their adopted sons, who are not their biological children, once they have divorced them and they have become irrevocably divorced by them …
Bišr narrated to us: … on the authority of Qatāda, that he said: “So that there may be no blame on the believer in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter had accomplished their desire with them,means: if they divorce them. Now the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, had adopted Zayd b. Ḥāritha.
Yūnus narrated to me: …. with regard to the divine sayingSo when Zayd had accomplished his desire with her…” to His saying, “and Allāh’s command is bound to be fulfilled,” that it was so because he (i.e., Zayd b. Ḥāritha) was not his biological son. This is the signification of the Allāh’s statement: “… and the wives of your sons who are from your own loins.”

 

Commentary of Al-Jalālayn on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 37:
Zayd subsequently divorced her and she completed her [obligatory] waiting period (ʿidda). Allāh, exalted be He, says: So when Zayd had fulfilled whatever need he had of her, We joined her in marriage to you — the Prophet consummated his marriage with her without [the customary] permission [from her legal guardian] and treated the Muslims to [a feast of] bread and meat — so that there may not be any restriction for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have fulfilled whatever desire they have of them. And Allāh’s command, that which He has decreed, is bound to be fulfilled.

 

Commentary of Al-Qurṭubī:
It has been narrated that the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said to Zayd: “I have nobody who is closer to me than you. So ask for Zaynab’s hand in marriage on my behalf.” Zayd said, “I went and gave her my back, out of respect for the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him. I asked for her hand in marriage [on his behalf] and she was happy. She said, “I will only do what my Lord commands.” Then she went to where she [usually] prays. It was then that the Koranic verse was revealed. The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, married her and had sexual relations with her …. I gave her my back and retreated. I said, “Oh Zaynab, the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, has sent a message mentioning you.” She said, “I will only do what my Lord commands.” Then she went to where she [usually] prays. It was then that the Koranic verse was revealed. The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, came and entered her room without asking for permission.” [The narrator added:] As you have seen us, the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, treated us to [a feast of] bread and meat when the day stretched on …. Our scholars hold that: The Messenger’s statement, may peace be upon him, to Zayd “mention her on my behalf” means “ask for her hand in marriage,” as was evident from the first Ḥadīth. This was a test and a trial for Zayd, in order to prove his patience, loyalty, and obedience. I say: One might extrapolate from this that a man can say to another, “Ask for the hand of so-and-so in marriage,” meaning the other man’s divorced wife, without feeling any shame about it. But only Allāh knows.

 

Explanation:
After Zayd had divorced Zaynab and after abolishment of adoption there was nothing to keep the Prophet from having Zaynab for himself; for the Messenger could now lawfully marry her. He asked from Zayd in particular to request her hand on his behalf. But why did he ask Zayd in particular? Al-Qurṭubī explains that there two reasons for the Messenger’s choice of Zayd. The first reason was to test Zayd and prove his patience, loyalty, and obedience. The second reason was for the Messenger to establish a rule, which is: if there were a man who divorced a woman and a friend of this man wanted to marry her, there is no shame if he requested his friend, who is the woman’s ex-husband, to ask for her hand in marriage on his behalf. Actually, Zayd asked for Zaynab’s hand in marriage for the Messenger and Zaynab agreed. The Messenger married her so that there would be no shame for anyone who marries the divorced wife of his adoptive son. This way breast-feeding became the only cause of adoption; namely if a woman breastfed any child or adult man, he becomes like her son and it is, therefore, illegal for her to marry him. The Messenger advises Suhayla to breast-feed Sālim, although he was an adult man, so that he may become her son by breastfeeding. This ought to remove any ill feelings her husband had about his presence.

 

Chapter Six: Huge, exclusive, sexual privileges
50 …. O Prophet! Indeed We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand owns, of those whom Allāh gave you as spoils of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncle, and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncle, and the daughters of your maternal aunts who migrated with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet and the Prophet desires to take her in marriage (a privilege exclusively for you, not for [the rest of] the believers; We know what We have made lawful for them with respect to their wives and those whom their right hands own, so that there may be no blame on you), and Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful. You may put off whichever of them you wish and consort with whichever of them you wish, and there is no sin upon you [in receiving again] any [of them] whom you may seek [to consort with] from among those you have set aside [earlier]. That makes it likelier that they will be comforted and not feel unhappy, and all of them will be pleased with what you give them. Allāh knows what is in your hearts, and Allah is all-knowing, all-forbearing.

 

Aṭ-Ṭabarī’s Commentary on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 50:
… as to the divine saying: “and those whom your right hand owns, of those whom Allāh gave you as spoils of war,” it means: We have made lawful to you your slave women, who you took captive, whom you owned by having taken them captive. They have become yours thanks to the victory Allāh granted you …
Now as to the divine saying: “and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet,” it means: We have made lawful to you a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet without bridal money (mahr).
I have also been told by Muḥammad b. ʿAmr …. on the author of Mujāhid: As to the divine saying: “And a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet,” it means without a marriage contract (ṣadāq). He used not to do that and it was made lawful for him in particular, to the exclusion of all other believers.
He also narrated that that was in the reading of ʿAbdullāh: “And a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet,” …. There is no harm if he has sexual relations with a slave woman as long as he acquires her, and a slave woman as long as she is in his possession.
Now as to the divine saying: “And the Prophet desires to take her in marriage,” it means: If he wants to marry her, she is lawful to him as a wife, even if she offered herself to him without bridal money. “A privilege exclusively for you.”
Bišr also narrated to us…. on the authority of Qatāda: “A privilege exclusively for you, not for [the rest of] the believers,” means: A woman is not at liberty to offer herself to a man without the supervision of a guardian or a bridal gift, unless [she offers herself] to the Prophet, in which case she becomes exclusively his of all people. Some claim this verse was revealed on account of Maymūna, daughter of al-Ḥārith, that she was the one who offered herself to the Prophet.
As to the divine saying: “A privilege exclusively for you, not for [the rest of] the believers,” it mean that this is not for other believers … It was narrated that the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, was free to marry any woman he wanted before this verse was revealed, but Allāh restricted him to these [wives] but did not count them [i.e., did not put a maximum number on how many he may take in marriage]. As to the rest of the ummah, he restricted them to [marrying] two, three and four.
…. up to the divine saying: “with respect to their wives.” Allāh has only made lawful for believers to marry two, three, and four ….
As to Allāh’s statement: “We know what We have made lawful for them with respect to their wives,” he said: One of the laws that Allāh imposed on them was that marriage must be contracted under the supervision of a guardian and two witnesses.
… As to the divine saying: “And those whom their right hands own,” the Most Exalted Allāh says: We know what We have made lawful for the believers … and made permissible for them through taking captives and concubinage, as well as other means of possession.
As to the divine saying: “So that there may be no blame on you), and Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful,” the Most Exalted Allāh says: … So that there may be no sin or discomfort for you in marrying those you have married from those categories which I have permitted you to marry under the designations named in this verse ….
Commentary of Ibn Kathīr on Al-Aḥzāb 33: 50:
The Most Exalted Allāh says, addressing his Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, …. [with regard to] Ṣafiyya daughter of Yaḥya, for he [i.e., the Prophet] selected her from the captives of Khaybar, then set her free …. and as to the divine saying: “And those whom your right hand owns, of those whom Allāh gave you as spoils of war,” means: And Allāh permitted you to take concubines from the spoils of war. For he [i.e., the Prophet] took possession of Ṣafiyya and Juwayriyya, set them both free and married them. He also took possession of Rīḥāʾna daughter of Šimʿōn Al-Naḍriyya and Maria the Copt, who became mother of his son Ibrāhīm, may the peace of Allāh be on them both, and made them both his concubines ……. Then the Most Exalted Allāh revealed: “We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand owns.” Now as to the divine saying: “And a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet and the Prophet desires to take her in marriage (a privilege exclusively for you…” till the end of the verse, it means: It is lawful for you, O Prophet, to take a believing woman, if she offers herself to you, and marry her without bridal money if you wanted to … Imām Aḥmad said …. that the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, was visited by a woman, who said to him, “O Messenger of Allāh, I hereby offer myself to you.” She kept standing there for a long time. After a while, a man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allāh, give her to me in marriage if you have no need of her.” The Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, “Do you have anything to give her as bridal gift?” “I have nothing except for this tunic of mine,” he said. The Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, “If you gave her your tunic you will remain without one. Look for something else.” The man answered, “I cannot find anything else.” He said, “Search! You may even have an iron ring.” The man search but found nothing. The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said to him, “Do you memorize any part of the Koran?” He said, “Yes, Sūrah such and such and Sūrah such and such.” He mentioned them by name. The Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said to him, “I hereby wed you two by virtue of what you know of the Koran.” …. On the authority of ʿĀʾisha, she said … “People said: The Messenger of Allāh married thirteen woman … Maymūna daughter of al-Ḥārith, who offered herself to the Prophet … There were lots of women who offered themselves to the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, according to Al-Bukhārī … On the authority of ʿĀʾisha, she said: I used to feel jealous of those women who offered themselves to the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, and say [to myself]: “Would a woman offer herself?” So much so that when the Most Exalted Allāh revealed: “You may put off whichever of them you wish and consort with whichever of them you wish, and there is no sin upon you [in receiving again] any [of them] whom you may seek [to consort with] from among those you have set aside [earlier],” I said: I see that your Lord only hastens to fulfil your desire…” “And the Prophet desires to take her in marriage,” namely if he so chose … because he has the right to get married without bridal money, guardian, witnesses or any such things, as in the story of Zaynab, daughter of Jaḥš,… The divine saying: “We know what We have made lawful for them with respect to their wives,” means that Allāh restricted marriage to four free women and any number of slave women … We have given you permission and not imposed on you any such restrictions “so that there may be no blame on you, and Allāh is all-forgiving, all-merciful.”

 

Explanation:
Allāh gave the Messenger very special privileges, never before given to anyone else … and never after. By this, I mean: “And a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet and the Prophet desires to take her in marriage, a privilege exclusively for you, not for [the rest of] the believers.” This means that Muḥammad had the right to marry any woman who would offer herself to him, provided that he desired her, without the agreement of a guardian, without bridal gift, and without any procedure, witnesses, a marriage contract or a maximum number, to the contrary of all other Muslim men, who are restricted to only four wives in number. But both the Prophet and Muslim men have been allowed to enjoy sexual relations with “those whom their right hand owns,” i.e., slave women. In other words, they can enjoy any number of women captured during Islamic battles, regardless of whether the captive women want such relations or not. For example, Ṣafiyya daughter of Ḥuyayy, whom he selected from the captives of Khaybar and set free. Allāh brought this episode to completion by a revelation, saying that this verse was revealed so that Muḥammad should not feel ashamed or guilty because the privileges he enjoyed were different from those of the common people. Ibn Kathīr lists the names of concubines or captive women who belonged to Muḥammad. Ibn Kathīr also narrates a story about a woman who offered herself to the Messenger, who apparently was not to the Prophet’s liking. She remained standing there for a long time and got no reply from the Prophet. After a while a man stepped in and asked the Messenger to give her to him in marriage if he had no need of her. The Prophet asked him if he possessed anything to give her as bridal gift. Only the Prophet was allowed to marry a woman without bridal gift or dowry. The man replied that he possessed nothing except for his tunic (i.e., his garment). The Messenger of Allāh told him that if he gave her his tunic, he would remain without a tunic, and ordered him to look for something else. The man said that he could not find anything else to give her. The Prophet told him to look for anything, even if it were an iron ring. He searched but did not find anything. The Prophet asked him, “Do you memorize any part of the Koran?” He said, “Yes, Sūrah such and such and Sūrah such and such.” Thereupon the Prophet said to him, “Marry her by those Sūrahs.” Ibn Kathīr, quoting Al-Bukhārī, cited a tradition concerning women who offered themselves to the Prophet. He mentioned that ʿĀʾisha used to feel jealous of those women who offered themselves to the Prophet, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, and used to say to herself: “Would a woman offer herself?” So much so that when the Most Exalted Allāh revealed: “You may put off whichever of them you wish and consort with whichever of them you wish, and there is no sin upon you [in receiving again] any [of them] whom you may seek [to consort with] from among those you have set aside [earlier],” she said to Muḥammad: “I see that your Lord only hastens to fulfil your desire…”

 

Comment:
This story or Sūrah is a real travesty that shows all the ruthlessness, tyranny, and lust of Muḥammad. It opens up with him forcing Zaynab to marry his adoptive son, Zayd, against her will, using his conventional ruse of the necessity of obedience to Allāh and his Messenger, otherwise she would “certainly stray into manifest error.” Where is the freedom of choice? Why must she act against her will? But later, when he had seen her exposed body, he lusted after her and wanted to have her for himself, even though he was married to many others. And again, poor Zaynab was forced to be divorced from Zayd, just as she was forced to marry him. Interestingly, Allāh found fault with the Prophet for having kept his lustful and possessive emotions inside him, on the basis that such emotions were from Allāh himself. Here Muḥammad gets rid of the first obstacle preventing him marrying her, namely that she was already married. But there was still another problem, namely that it was not permissible to marry the divorced wife of his adoptive son. So he resorts to the same old trick of Allāh revealing a verse in order to abolish adoption altogether. This way he got rid of the second obstacle. Interestingly it was in this Sūrah itself that the Prophet is said to be a good example: “There is certainly a good example for you in the Messenger of Allāh.” Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb 33: 21. More interestingly, when the Prophet wanted to marry her, he sent Zayd, her divorcee, in order to ask for her hand in marriage on his behalf. Aṭ-Ṭabarī explains that the reason why he chose Zayd was to prove Zayd’s patience, loyalty, and obedience to himself. We cannot but ask: Wasn’t it enough for you, O Messenger of Allāh, to take Zayd’s wife away from his bosom in order to marry her?! Wasn’t it enough to abolish adoption, so that Zayb would not be considered your son? Why did you have to subject him to such mean-spirited humiliation by making him ask for the hand of his own divorcee on your behalf? Was this additional abuse of Zayd really for the purpose of testing his obedience?
Did the Prophet know that in his pursuit to fulfill his lusts, millions of orphans were deprived of the possibility of a family adopting them?
Yet the travesty does not end here, for the Prophet gave himself huge sexual privileges, contrary to other Muslim men. The Messenger reduced the worth of women to a commodity to be bought and sold, as though they were no human beings. As proof of this attitude, it should be enough to cite the case of Ṣafiyya, who was captured during the raid on Khaybar, after the Prophet murdered her husband Kināna and the rest her relatives. The Prophet had bestowed Ṣafiyya on Diḥya al-Kalbī like a commodity, but a man came to the Prophet and told him that she was the lady of her people, and was, therefore, worthy only of the Prophet himself. When the Messenger of Allāh summoned her, he liked her and took her for himself. He raped her and then married her on the same today he murdered all her family and her clan. (It is written in Aṭ-Ṭabaqāt Al-Kubrā by Ibn Saʿd, section on the raid of the Messenger of Allāh, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, on Khaybar, that the Messenger of Allāh had their heads cut off, took their families captive, and sent a man to bring Ṣafiyya over, who made her walk through the dead bodies of her own people. The Prophet of Allāh, peace be upon him: asked him, “Why did you do that?” He answered, “O Messenger of Allāh, I wanted to annoy her.”). For more on the story of Ṣafiyya,
Another story is narrated by way of commentary on this Sūrah (Commentary of Ibn Kathīr on verse 50) with regard to a woman who offered myself to him but he did not want her. The Messenger of Allāh kept silent for some time. After some time, another man came to the Prophet, wanting her, as though she were merchandise to be sold and bought. The Prophet actually gave her to him in marriage in return for some Koranic Sūrahs he memorized!
A most amazing story is mentioned in the commentary of Ibn Kathīr, by way of explanation to verse 50, concerns Sahla, the daughter of Suhayl, the wife of Abū Huḏayfa, who came to the Messenger of Allāh, after the abolishment of adoption, and said to him, “When Sālim, our adoptive son, who is now an adult, enters our home, I perceive that something rankles in the heart of Abu Huḏayfa (her husband). He, may the prayer and peace of Allāh be upon him, said, ‘Suckle him so that he may become unlawful for you (maḥram).'” This way Allāh opened the door to the breastfeeding of grown-ups; i.e., the legal opinion (fatwa) that allows a woman to let an adult man suckle her breast. As we know, Muḥammad married ʿĀʾisha when she was only six years old and had sexual relations with her when she was nine years old. This is the same ʿĀʾisha who used to be upset with women who offered themselves to the Messenger of Allāh up until this verse was revealed: “You may put off whichever of them you wish and consort with whichever of them you wish, and there is no sin upon you.” When this happened, ʿĀʾisha said, “I see that your Lord only hastens to fulfil your desire.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī > Book of Marriage > Section on “Is it permissible for a women to offer herself to someone?” This tradition also occurs in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim > Book of Breastfeeding > Section on The permissibility of offerings one’s turn [to have sexual intercourse] to one’s adversary (i.e., the wife of one’s husband in a polygamous marriage). For more on breast-feeding an adult man, see chapter twelve > miscellaneous topics > section VI: breast-feeding of an adult man in Islamic traditions.)
And finally, the Prophet unleashed hell on his own nation by the statements he made and the behaviors he practiced. As an example to his followers, he encouraged insatiable sexual lust and a contemptuous outlook to women, as mere instruments to satisfy man’s lust. At this point, a question comes to mind: if Muḥammad were the last messenger to be sent from God, why would the nature of God’s dealings with humankind and prophets change?! Hasn’t God said according to the Koran: “We make no distinction between any of His Messengers.” (Sūrah Al-Baqara 2: 85) How did God all of a sudden turn into an unjust despot, encouraging his messenger to covet women?! How can he be the same God of the Bible, who wrote in the Mosaic Law: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20: 17) How could God bless Muḥammad’s lust for the wife of his own son, even though he reproved David and severely punished him in a very similar situation to that of Muḥammad in this story? In David’s story, David watched a woman as she was bathing. He had her come to him and committed adultery with her. Later he conspired to have her husband killed. As a result, God sent him a prophet who said to him, “7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.” (2 Samuel chapter 12: 7 – 11)
Would it make sense that the same God who dealt this way with David would make it easy for Muḥammad to satisfy his insatiable lust for the wife of his son, instead of reproving him for looking lustfully at her when she was scantily clothed? There is a world of difference between Muḥammad and Christ our Lord, who said in Matthew 5: 28 – 30: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Yes, what a great difference there is between Christ and Muḥammad! In order to achieve his desire, Muḥammad caused his entire Islamic nation innumerable problems. By abolishing adoption, he deprived millions of orphans of enjoying the normal and full parenthood of people who would love to adopt children. And in order to solve the problem of the children who had been adopted before the abolishment of adoption, he allowed married women to breastfeed adult men. And in so doing, he led the entire Islamic nation out of the fire and into the frying pan! But on the contrary, if we compare this behavior with that of our Lord Jesus, we realize that he was crucified on our behalf in order to save us from the punishment for sin, although he was innocent. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.2 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”
Isaiah 53: 4 -9.
The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified for us

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