“And you said to the one who was blessed by Allah, and blessed by you: “Keep your wife and reverence Allah,” and you hid inside yourself what Allah wished to proclaim. And you feared the people, while it was Allah you were supposed to fear. So when Zayd ended his relationship with his wife, We had you marry her, to establish that there is no wrongdoing for the believers in marrying the wives of those they call ‘sons’ if their relationship is ended. And Allah’s command is always done.” (Qur’an 33:37)
Comments: Here the Qur’an has abolished the practice of not marrying the wives of those who are called ‘sons‘, but are not biological sons after the relationship has ended.
“There is no blame on the prophet in doing anything that Allah has decreed upon him. Such was Allah’s way with the people of old. And Allah’s command is a determined duty. “ (Qur’an 33:38)
“Those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him, and do not fear anyone but Allah; and Allah is sufficient to take account.” (Qur’an 33:39)
“Muḥammed is not the father of any man among you but is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets. And Allah has perfect knowledge of all things.” (Qur’an 33:40)
Comments: If the Blessed Messenger (saw) is being chided for anything in here it is for ” And you feared the people, while it was Allah you were supposed to fear. “
What is interesting is that those who object to the Blessed Messenger (saw) marrying Zaynab have absolutely no objections to other reforms and changes that God implements in the society of that time.
The Qur’an in fact set about many new edicts in regards to marriage laws changing many of the previous practices that were common.
Among them are:
“And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- and abominable custom indeed. Also˺ forbidden to you for marriage are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal and maternal aunts, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, your mothers-in-law, your stepdaughters under your guardianship if you have consummated a marriage with their mothers—but if you have not, then you can marry them—nor the wives of your own sons, nor two sisters together at the same time—except what was done previously. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. You are forbidden to marry women who are already married, except for those whom your right hands held in trust Allah has ordained all of this for you. Other women are lawful to you as long as you seek to marry them and not for unlawful intimacy. If you wish to enjoy women through marriage, you will give them their bridal-gift. If you should mutually choose, after fulfilling this obligation, to do something else with the bridal-gift, you will not be blamed. God is All-Knowing and All-Wise.” (Qur’an 4:22-24)
“Those who renounce their wives by calling them mothers should know that their wives could never become their mothers. Their mothers are those who have given birth to them. The words that they speak are certainly detestable and sinful. But Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 58:2)
You will not fail to note that in the above two passages you have:
“nor the wives of your own sons.”
as well as: “Those who renounce wives by calling them, mothers“.
“Allah has not made for a man two hearts in his interior. And He has not made your wives whom you declare unlawful your mothers. And he has not made those you call ‘sons’ your true sons. That is merely a saying by your mouths, but Allah says the truth, and He guides to the right way. Call them by their father’s name; it is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers-then they are still your brothers in religion and those entrusted to you. And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but only for what your hearts intended. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 33:4-5)
It has to be the absolute epitome of hypocrisy that people who image some scandal with the Blessed Prophet and Zaynab -may Allah be pleased with her to say absolutely nothing to the following:
“Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who argues with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah. and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things). If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mothers), they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact, they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is one that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again). But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered,- (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: You are admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that you do. And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones, this, that you may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger. Those are limits (set by) Allah. For those who reject (Him), there is a grievous Penalty.” (Qur’an 58: 1-4)
As many of you may know regarding what is considered the historical context of these verses Khawlah bint Tha‘labah went to the Blessed Messenger (saw) to complain about her husband. Many times it is reported that the Blessed Messenger (saw) gave his verdict about the matter.
Here we have the case of this woman who even after hearing the decision of the Blessed Messenger (saw) continued to argue with him! In other words, the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) wasn’t good enough for her! That’s right. She didn’t say simply say, “Yes oh Messenger of Allah, thank you!” No! This woman went to the highest authority of justice and wisdom that there is. She took her pain directly to Allah (swt)!
So Allah (swt) took the side of the woman over the side of the Blessed Messenger (saw)!
Why are the critiques of Islam so silent about this?
That is a man practice Zihar that he cannot even have sexual intimacy with her until he:
Frees a slave
Fast consecutively for 2 months
Feed 60 indigent people
What supposed scandal was going on here?
Or no one dares to interact with verses such as the following:
“It was not Allah who instituted traditions like the slit ear she-camel, or she-camel let loose for free pasture, or idol sacrifices for twin births in animals, or stallion camels freed from work: It is blasphemers who invent a lie against Allah, but most of them lack wisdom.” (Qur’an 5:103)
What type of ‘scandal‘ do people imagine happened here? Islam could have gone on quite well by allowing those traditions to continue by simply altering the intention towards Allah.
Zaid bin Thabit (r.a) is a noble scribe. Think about this. If you felt that some man was making gestures towards your wife and you were upset about that why would you be entrusted with the most important aspect of that man’s integrity-namely the claim that is a Prophet?
Would it not be the ultimate test of a person’s loyalty? Zaid bin Thabit was absolutely essential in the compilation of the Qur’an at the behest of Abu Bakr (r.a)
Zaid (r.a) was one of the scribes of the Qur’an and he never when writing anything down said anything negative about the Blessed Messenger.
In fact I believe that Zaid bin Thabit (r.a) is among those mentioned here:
‘It is in honored records, Exalted and purified, in the hands of scribes, noble and dutiful.” (Qur’an 80:13-16)
The Summary of the Blessed Messenger’s marriage to Zaynab can be as follows:
That those whom we call our ‘sons’ -i.e adopted are not our biological sons.
That we can marry divorcees.
That a woman who was divorced by someone who is not our real son but simply whom our mouths call a ‘son’ is completely permissible in Islam.
There are real issues with what is essentially a Christian polemic is the following as well:
“Keep your wife and reverence Allah,” and you hid inside yourself what Allah wished to proclaim. And you feared the people, while it was Allah you were supposed to fear.” (Qur’an 33:37)
What was it that the Blessed Messenger (saw) hid in himself that Allah (swt) wished to proclaim?
The previous verse informs us: “Keep your wife and reverence Allah.”
We know from the extra Quranic historical sources that the Blessed Messenger (saw) had married Zaid to Zaynab. If the Blessed Messenger (saw) had nefarious intentions as is assumed why didn’t the Blessed Messenger (saw) simply marry her himself, especially before she new any man?
Not only do we have the above it is interesting how no one wants to discuss this eye-opening verse:
“It is not lawful for you to marry more women after this, nor to change them for other wives, even though their beauty may please you, except any that your right hand possesses. Allah is watchful over all things.” (Qur’an 33:52)
Logically anyone who is the type of person that the polemicist image the Blessed Messenger (saw) to be, would not put such restrictions on themselves.
What is the Christian motive behind this polemic?
Ultimately we have to ask what is the Christian motive behind this polemic? It is rather simple.
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example to follow for him who places hope in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Qur’an 33:21)
The purpose of the Christian polemic is two-fold.
a] to establish that the Blessed Messenger (saw) is not an ideal role model.
b] because it directly contradicts Christian teachings of marriage and divorce.
The irony is that this focus by Christian polemics towards the Blessed Messenger (saw) and Zaynab brings about an amazing opportunity to speak with Christians and the Christian community about something that troubles their hearts and minds very deeply. That is the D-word.
What is the D-word? Divorce.
Here are some statements from the New Testament on Divorce.
“But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.“-(Matthew 5:32)
Even more blunt is the following text:
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.“-(Luke 16:18)
It is very clear from the above text that Christians cannot marry anyone who is a divorcee. It is also clear that a man who divorces his wife and marries another woman has himself committed adultery.
“If the individual believer had Biblical grounds for divorce, then he or she is permitted to remarry – but only in the Lord.”–(1 Corinthians 7:39)
“For example, by law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.“-(Romans 7:2-3)
Even from these two passages, it is clear that the only Biblical mandate to remarry is ‘unto death do you part’. Even then you cannot marry someone who is a divorcee. You can only marry either someone else who is a widow or someone who has never been married.
It is an opening for us as Muslims to talk about the issues of marriage and divorce. It has to be the single fundamental biggest issue that faces Christian communities and certainly does not bring comfort and peace to the minds and hearts.
Not to mention the issues of who can and cannot receive communion.
Not only is this a big issue for Roman Catholics, but it is also a pressing issue for the Protestant community.
The Christian position on divorce has troubled many a Christian heart and soul.
The wisdom of the Blessed Prophet [saw] marrying Zaynab -a divorcee is that this opens up a huge opportunity for Muslims to invite Christians.
“Knower of what is open, Exalted in Might, Full of Wisdom.” – (Qur’an 64:18)
“And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.”(Qur’an 5:83)