Muhammad Married His Daughter-in-law

Muhammad Married His Daughter-in-law

We read in Sura al-Ahzab 33:37,

“When thou saidst to him whom God has blessed and thou hadst favoured, ‘Keep thy wife to thyself; and fear God’, and thou wast concealing within thyself what God should reveal, fearing other men; and God has better right for thee to fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished what he would of her, then We gave her in marriage to thee, so that there should not be any fault in the believers, touching the wives of their adopted son, when they had accomplished what they would of them; and God’s commandment must be performed.”

وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِي أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَتُخْفِي فِي نَفْسِكَ مَا اللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى النَّاسَ وَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَن تَخْشَاهُ فَلَمَّا قَضَى زَيْدٌ مِّنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا لِكَيْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَائِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ مَفْعُولًا

Most expositors agree that this verse speaks of Zainab, Zaid’s wife, whom Muhammad saw dressed in a chemise with a veil over her face when he went to Zaid one day on certain business. She was fair, and her physical appearance was perfect among the women of the Quraish, so that he was bewitched by her beauty. Then he said, “Praise be to him, who changes hearts!” and left. When Zaid arrived home, she told him, and he looked into the matter diligently. He came to Muhammad and said, “I want to leave my wife.” Muhammad said to him, “What is the matter with her? Did she do anything to make you suspicious of her?” Zaid said, “No by God. All I saw in her was good. But she treats me as inferior on account of her nobility, and hurts me with her tongue [i.e., with what she says].” So God himself who gave me in marriage, and fear God” [that is, “Do not leave her”].

Yet, after this, Muhammad said that God rebuked him and said to him, “Why did you say, ‘keep the wife to thyself?’ Were you afraid the people would find fault with you and say, ‘He ordered a man to divorce his wife and afterward he himself married her’? Muhammad, do not fear the people. “But thanks to Gabriel, Muhammad did not have to fear the people and was able to announce his desire to take her from his son; not only that, but now all Muslims can also marry the wives of their adopted sons as long as the latter have accomplished what they wanted from them. 

How could Muhammad allow himself to lust after Zaid’s wife, who was in next of kin? How could he lie to the Arabs and tell them things other than what he really had in mind, and turn Gabriel into an enemy of Zaid so as to deprive him of his wife and take her for himself? Instead of reporting and asking for forgiveness, he praised God and said, “Praise be to him, who changes hearts!” Is it consistent with the holiness of an archangel like Gabriel to condone Muhammad’s lustful desire and turn this wrong act into a law, thus removing all shame for this moral principle that Zainab used to boast to Muhammad’s other wives and say, “It was your fathers who gave you in marriage, but it was God himself who gave me in marriage.” 

Last edited 06/24/2001