Kaleef K. Karim
2. Fabricated stories
3. The Marriage Of Zaid To Zaynab
4. Zaid Complains To Prophet Muhammed About Zaynab
5. Scholars: The Divorce of Zaynab Took Place Due To Zayd Being a Former-Slave
6. Prophet Muhammed (p) Stopped Zayd A Number Of Times From Divorcing Zaynab
The marriage of Prophet Muhammed to Zaynab has been wrongly interpreted and some critics, Christian missionaries, and orientalists have taken the opportunity to attack the Prophet’s character with false and fabricated stories.
2. Fabricated stories
It is well known that the enemies make up lies about Prophet Muhammed. It is claimed that one day the Prophet (p) went over to see if Zaid was at home, but he did not find him there. While the Prophet was outside, one of the curtains moved or he saw her through the door, Zaynab’s shape of her body, and exclaimed some words of “Glory be to Allah the Great, Glory be to him Who overrule the hearts”, Zainab heard this, as it is claimed.
When Zaid (the husband) came home, Zaynab had told him what had occurred, so he immediately went over to see the Prophet, and said: “Just been told that you came to see me, but you did not go in to sit, if you like Zainab, I will divorce her.”
The Prophet refused this and told him to keep his wife and fear Allah. But Zaid at the end divorced Zainab and let Muhammed marry her. In another pseudo version of this story, it goes something along the lines of the Prophet going over to Zaid’s house, saw Zainab in her room busy making some food, when the Messenger looked at her, he exclaimed “Glory be to Allah, The Creator, Glory be Allah. After repeating those words, he went out. When Zaid came home, Zaynab told him what had occurred: Zaid in return told her, maybe you have appealed to the Prophet. Would you like me to divorce you so that you can marry him? It is claimed that she said that she may be worried if she gets divorced the Prophet wouldn’t marry her. Zaid went over to Muhammed and said that he wanted to divorce Zaynab, the Prophet said to him to keep his wife and fear God.
This version and the other similar versions before are lies manufactured by the enemies to degrade, smear the impeccable character of Prophet Muhammed.
The following scholars state that these are “baseless”, “fictitious” and “fabricated” stories.
Hadith scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979):
“The first opportunity for the use of the new strategy was afforded in Zil-Qa’dah 5 A. H. when the Holy Prophet married Hadrat Zainab (daughter of Jahsh), who was the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid bin Harithah. The Holy Prophet had arranged this marriage in order to put an end to the custom of ignorance, which gave the same status to the adopted son that was the right only of the son from one’s own loins. The hypocrites, however, considered it a golden opportunity to vilify the Holy Prophet from inside the community, and the Jews and the mushriks exploited it from outside to ruin his high reputation by this MALICIOUS SLANDER. For this purpose fantastic stories WERE CONCOCTED and spread to this effect: “One day Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) happened to see the wife of his adopted son and fell in love with her; he maneuvered her divorce and married her.” Though this WAS AN ABSURD FICTION IT WAS SPREAD WITH SUCH SKILL, CUNNING AND ARTFULNESS that it succeeded in its purpose; so much so that some Muslim traditionalists and commentators also have cited some parts of it in their writings, and the orientalists have exploited these fully to vilify the Holy Prophet. As a matter of fact, Hadrat Zainab was never a stranger to the Holy Prophet that he should see her by chance and fall in love with her at first sight. For she was his first cousin, being the daughter of his real paternal aunt, Umaimah, daughter of Abdul Muttalib. He had known her from her childhood to her youth. A year before this incident, he himself had persuaded her to marry Hadarat Zaid in order to demonstrate practically that the Quraish and the liberated slaves were equal as human being. As she never reconciled herself to her marriage with a liberated slave, they could not pull on together for long, which inevitably led to her divorce. The above mentioned facts were well known to all, YET THE SLANDERERS SUCCEEDED IN THEIR FALSE PROPAGANDA with the result that even today there are people who exploit these things to defame Islam. (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – chapter 24, online source)
Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888 – 1956):
“As for the story of Zaynab, daughter of Jahsh, the chroniclers, Orientalists, and missionaries have mixed it with SUCH PRODUCTS OF VIVID IMAGINATION that they have made of it a story of love and passion. Critical history, on the other hand, concludes that it is one of the truly great facets of Muhammad’s personality. It proves beyond question that Muhammad was the perfect example of faith and conviction, for it is an instantiation of the principle that the faith of man is complete only when he truly loves for his brother that which he loves for himself. Muhammad had made himself always the exemplar of his own legislation, especially of such laws as were intended to replace the tradition and customs of pre-Islamic Arabia. He was the examplar of the new system which God revealed through him as a mercy and guidance to mankind. For a repudiation of the whole story of Zaynab as reported by these chroniclers or Orientalists and missionaries, it is sufficient to realize that the said woman was the daughter of Umaymah and grand-daughter of `Abd al Muttalib the uncle of the Prophet of God-may God’s peace and blessing be upon him. It is sufficient to remember that this woman was brought up in sight of Muhammad and under his care, and on this account was regarded by him as a daughter or a young sister; that he knew too well whether she was beautiful or not before she ever married Zayd; that he saw her and followed her growth from childhood to maturity and youth; and that it was he who asked her hand for Zayd, his adopted son. Once the reader knows these historical data, THEN ALL THE FICTITIOUS ELEMENTS AND TALES SPUN ABOUT HIM, namely, that he passed by her house in the absence of her husband and was struck by her beauty; that he opened the door of her house and, as the breezes played with the curtains of her room, he saw her stretched in her nightgown like a real “Madame Recamier,” that his heart was so struck by her beauty that he instantly forgot Sawdah, `A’ishah, Hafsah, Zaynab, daughter of Khuzaymah and Umm Salamah, his wives-not to mention the memory of Khadijah of whom `A’ishah used to say that she had never felt jealous of any woman except Khadijah on account of the memory he kept of her-all these tales must dissolve. If any grain of them was true, Muhammad would have taken her in marriage himself at first, rather than give her in marriage to Zayd. This historical relationship between Zaynab and Muhammad rules out as utterly FICTITIOUS AND GROUNDLESS all the stories which have been attributed to Zaynab’s attractiveness.” (The Life Of Muhammad [Translated by Isma’il Razi A. al-Faruqi] by Muhammad Husayn Haykal, page 338, online source)
Scholar Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani (1857 – 1914):
“Tabari has it that once the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) visited the house of Zaid. Zaid was not at home, and Zainab was dressing herself. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw her doing that, and turned back saying: “Glory to Allah, Most High and glory to him who turns the hearts”. Zaid came to know of it. He came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, “I may divorce Zainab if you have come to like her.” I have quoted that DIRTY NARRATION WITH A PRICKING OF CONSCIENCE. BUT TO REPORT A BLASPHEMY IS NOT TO COMMIT A BLASPHEMY. This is the single report that forms the mainstay of authority for the Christian historians. But the poor fellows do not know what value this narration holds when critically viewed in the light of the principles set by the traditionalists. TABARI, THE HISTORIAN HAS TAKEN THIS STORY FROM WAQIDI, THE WELL-KNOWN LIAR AND FABRICATOR. HE COINED SUCH FICTIONS to provide some sort of sanction for the licentiousness of the ‘Abbasid caliphs.” (Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, page 128 – 129)
Maulana Muhammed Ali (1874 – 1951):
“THERE IS A BASELESS story that the Prophet, having seen Zainab by chance through a half-open door, was fascinated by her beauty, and that Zaid, having come to know of this, divorced her, and then she became the Prophet’s wife. THAT THIS STORY IS ABSURD is shown by the admitted facts that the Holy Prophet knew her very well before her marriage to Zaid, that he himself insisted on her marrying Zaid despite she and her relatives being desirous of her marriage with the Holy prophet, and that he strongly advised Zaid not to divorce her.” (English Translation Of The Holy Quran: With Explanatory Notes, From The English translation and commentary [Anjuman Lahore Publications, U.K., 2010] by Maulana Muhammed Ali, page 527)
Muhammed Fathi Mus’a:
“FABRICATION AND REFUTATION
THERE IS NO TRUTH IN WHAT WAS FABRICATED BY SOME ORIENTALISTS AND THOSE WHO BEAR SPITE AGAINST ISLAM AND THE PROPHET (peace be upon him). They fabricated the devilish idea that it was the obsession of love that made the Prophet (peace be upon him) marry Zaynab and that he concealed this love until he made Zayd divorce her. Verily this is a wrong view! For no one could ever prevent the Prophet from marrying Zaynab if he had wished to do so, because she was his cousin and relative. Previously, he had married Zayd with the support of the Prophet who convinced her to accept Zayd as husband. How come THEY FABRICATED LIES that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was in love with her after he had married her to another man? In condemning these SHEER LIES AND BASELESS IDEAS circulated by the orientalists, IMAM ABU BAKR IBN AL-ARABI said, ‘THEY ARE ALL LIES which should not be depended upon, for she used to be with him everywhere and time and there was not anything to prevent him from marrying her. Besides, they grew up together and he would always see her every now and then. Despite the fact that Zaynab did not hide her wish to marry the Prophet right from the beginning, he did not seize that opportunity to marry her, then what for Allah’s sake would have given birth to that unusual love which had not existed before! Allah forbids! THAT IS NONSENSE! (Ibn al-Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur’an, volume 3, page 1543). (The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad: Their Strives and Their Lives, by Muhammed Fathi Mus’a, page 134 -135)
“The Prophet’s enemies FABRICATED a wrong story that the Prophet fell in love with Zaynab when he once went to her house and she was not properly dressed. THIS ALLEGATION IS BASELESS. Zaynab was his first cousin, they were constantly in contact with each other and it was not the first time that the Prophet had seen her. If the Prophet had any such feeling he would have married her in her youth and not when she had crossed thirty. Again, it was the Prophet who arranged her marriage to Zayd.“ (Prophet Muhammad (S) And His Family: A Sociological Perspective [Authorhouse, 2011] by Shamim Aleem page 66)
Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik:
“They got the first opportunity when in Dhul-Qa’dah 5 A.H. the Prophet married Zainab (abph), the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid bin Harithah (abph). The Prophet married Zainab in accordance with the commandment of Allah to put an end to a custom of ignorance, which had given the same status to the adopted son as that of a son from one’s own loins. The hypocrites, the Jews, and the mushrikin considered it a golden opportunity to exploit the situation to vilify the Prophet and to ruin his high reputation with a malicious slander through concocting a story in the following words: “One day Muhammad (pbuh) happened to see the wife of his adopted son and fell in love with her; he maneuvered her divorce and married her.” Though this was an ABSURD FICTION, it was SPREAD WITH SUCH SKILL and cunning that it succeeded in its purpose to the extent that some Muslim commentators also have cited some parts of it in their writings, and the orientalists have wilfully exploited it to vilify the Prophet. The fact is that Zainab (abph) was never a stranger to the Prophet. She was his first cousin, being the daughter of his real paternal aunt, Umaimah, daughter of Abdul Muttalib, his real grand father. He had known her from her childhood to her youth. Just one year before this incident, he himself had persuaded her to marry Zaid (abph), who was a slave and to whom the Prophet had freed and then adopted as his son, this was to demonstrate that in Islam, even a freed slave has rights equal to that of Qureysh. But Zainab (abph) could not reconcile her psychological reservation about marriage with a liberated slave. Therefore, she and her husband could not continue together for long, which inevitably led to their divorce.” (English Translation Of The Meaning of Al-Qur’an: The Guidance for Mankind [Thirteenth edition: The institute of Islamic knowledge, Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 1997] by Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik, page 468)
Fatwa Islamiyah, Islamic Verdicts:
“As for what has been reported about the Prophet (peace be upon him) seeing Zainab from behind a curtain, that his heart was smitten by her, that he became infatuated with her, falling in love with her, and that Zaid came to know of this, hated her and the Prophet’s attraction to her, so he divorced her so that the Prophet (peace be upon him) could marry her after him – NONE OF THIS HAS BEEN AUTHENTICALLY REPORTED. The Prophets are too noble of character, too selfless, too virtuous of disposition, too high in rank and standing to do such a thing. Also, it was the Prophet (peace be upon him) who proposed to her on behalf of Zaid, may Allah be pleased with him, and she was his cousin, so if he had been in love with her, he could have married her himself in the first place, especially since she refused the proposal of Zaid and was unhappy with it, until the Verse was revealed, after which she accepted it.” (Fatwa Islamiyah, Islamic Verdicts, Volume 1, page 272 – 274)
3. The Marriage Of Zaid To Zaynab
It is well known historically that Zaid Ibn Harithah was a slave during the pre-Islamic ignorance (Jahiliyyah). Sayeda Khadija Bint Khuwaylid bought Zaid and gave him to Prophet Muhammed, he adopted Zaid in Makkah. This occurred before revelation came down. At the time Zaid was eight years old.
Zaid was known to be the son of Muhammed until revelation came down from God: That they should be named after their biological father’s name (Q. 33:5). Zaid was henceforth afterward called by his actual name, Zaid Ibn Harithah, from here on all the children that were adopted were called after their fathers’ names.
Prophet Muhammed asked his cousin Zainab to marry Zaid, she refused, her brother Abdullah and her mother also refused. On the ground that she came from a noble and high ranking family, while Zaid was a former slave, freed by Prophet Muhammed (p):
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) loved Zayd so much that when he reached the age of maturity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose Zaynab for him. She did not like to marry him, and Abd’Allah, also did not like such marriage. She told the Prophet ‘I WILL NOT MARRY HIM AS I AM THE BEST LADY IN THE TRIBE OF ABD SHAMS.’ But the Prophet (peace be upon him said, ‘Marry him, since I chose him as a husband to you.’ (Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz as-Sahabah’, ‘Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat Ahwal as-Sahabah’, Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d’ and ‘Al-bidayah wa an-nihayah.’) (cited, The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad: Their Strives and Their Lives, by Muhammed Fathi Mus’a, page 129)
Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373):
ZAYNAB bint Jahsh
Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 5 AH, when she was thirty-five and the Prophet was fifty-eight, but only after her pervious marriage, which had been arranged by the Prophet himself, had ended in divorce. As with all the marriages of the Prophet Muhammad, there was much for all the Muslims to learn from it. Zaynab bint Jahsh was the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, her mother Umayma being the daughter of Abdul Muttalib, Muhammad’s grandfather, who, while he was alive, had ensured the safety of his grandson, thanks to his position as one of the most respected leaders of the Quraish. Thus Zaynab bint Jahsh came from one of the noblest families of the Quraish, and everyone expected her to eventually marry a man with the same high social status.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was well aware that it is a person’s standing in the eyes of Allah that is important, rather than his or her status in the eyes of the people. He wanted her to marry a young man called Zayd ibn Harith, whose background was very different to that of Zaynab bint Jahsh. Zayd had been taken prisoner while he was still a child during one of the inter-tribal wars that had been common before the coming of Islam. He had been sold as a SLAVE to a nephew of Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) who had given Zayd to her as a gift. In turn, Khadijah had given him to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the days before the revelation of the Qur’an had begun, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) HAD GIVEN HIM HIS FREEDOM AND ADOPTED HIM as his own son, at the age of eight. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had watched both Zayd and Zaynab grow up, and thought they would make a good couple, and that their marriage would demonstrate that it was not who their ancestors were, but rather their standing in the sight of Allah, that mattered. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked for her hand on behalf of Zayd, ZAYNAB AND HER FAMILY WERE SHOCKED AT THE IDEA OF HER MARRYING A MAN WHO IN THEIR EYES WAS ONLY A FREED SLAVE. Moreover, Zaynab had wanted to marry the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself and in fact he had already been asked by her family whether or not he would like to marry her. AT FIRST BOTH SHE AND HER BROTHER REFUSED, BUT THEN THE FOLLOWING AYAT WAS REVEALED:
It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any say in their decision; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has most clearly gone astray. (Quran 33:36)
When Zayd, who had also had misgivings about the proposed match, and Zaynab realized that there was no difference between what the Prophet wanted and what Allah wanted, they both agreed to the marriage, the Prophet providing a handsome dowry for Zaynab on Zayd’s behalf. The marriage, however, was not a success. Although both Zaynab and Zayd were the best of people, who loved Allah and His Messenger, they were very different and in the end they could not overcome their incompatibility. ZAYD ASKED THE PROPHET’S PERMISSION TO DIVORCE ZAYNAB MORE THAN ONCE, AND ALTHOUGH HE WAS COUNSELED TO HOLD ONTO HIS WIFE AND TO FEAR ALLAH, in the end the divorce took place.” (Muhammad’s Life – The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad: ZAYNAB bint Jahsh [translated by: sheikh Muhammad Gemeiah, Office of the Grand Imam, Sheikh Al Azhar, Edited by: Aelfwine Acelas Mischler], by Ibn Kathir, online source)
Fatwa Islamiyah, Islamic Verdicts:
“With Regard to the story of Zaid’s marriage to Zainab, it was the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who arranged it for him, due to his having been his slave and adopted son; HE PROPOSED TO HER ON ZAID’S BEHALF, BUT SHE REJECTED HIM, SAYING: “I AM OF MORE NOBLE DESCENT THAN HIM.” Then, it was reported that Allah revealed regarding this His Words:
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allâh and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)
So she responded in obedience to Allah and in fulfilment of the wishes of His Messenger (peace be upon him. She lived with Zaid for about a year, then there took place between them what (often) takes place between a man and his wife (i.e. disagreement) and so Zaid complained of her to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), due to their relationship to him, for he was his (former) slave and his foster son, while Zainab was his paternal aunt’s daughter. And it seems that Zaid suggested divorcing her, so Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) ORDERED TO HOLD ON TO HER AND BE PATIENT WITH HER…” (Fatwa Islamiyah, Islamic Verdicts, Volume 1, pg. 272 – 274, online source)
The Revelation was sent down that when God and His Apostle have made a decree and order the believers, they cannot reject it. And those that do are on the path of error (Quran 33:36). Thus when the revelation came down they all submitted to God and His Messenger, and the marriage between Zayd and Zaynab went ahead.
4. Zaid Complains To Prophet Muhammed About Zaynab
Although the marriage went ahead as planned, throughout the marriage it is said that Zainab could not overcome her pride and used to constantly “boast” about her noble family and he was a slave, treating her husband harshly. Henceforth, with the arguments at home, it led to Zaid asking Prophet Muhammed (p) that he wanted to divorce her. The Prophet said to him to “keep your wife and fear God”.
The true reason Zaid wanted to divorce Zainab was due to the arguments and the personal issues they had at home. The treatment Zaid received by Zainab, led to divorce at the end, as the following authentic reports tell us:
“Narrated Anas: Zaid bin Haritha came to the Prophet COMPLAINING ABOUT HIS WIFE. The Prophet kept on saying (to him), “BE AFRAID OF ALLAH AND KEEP YOUR WIFE.” Aisha said, “If Allah’s Messenger were to conceal anything (of the Qur’an he would have concealed this Verse.” Zainab used to boast before the wives of the Prophet and used to say, “You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens.” And Thabit recited, “The Verse:– ‘But (O Muhammad) you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest, you did fear the people,’ (33.37) was revealed in connection with Zainab and Zaid bin Haritha.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 93, Hadith 516)
“Narrated Anas: “When this Ayah was revealed: ‘But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest… (33:37)’ about Zainab bint Jahsh, ZAID HAD COME TO THE PROPHET COMPLAINING, and he wanted to divorce her, so he consulted with the Prophet. The Prophet said: ‘KEEP YOUR WIFE TO YOURSELF, AND HAVE TAQWA OF ALLAH (Fear God) (33:37).'” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3212 (Sahih Darussalam))
“She (Zaynab) remained with him (Zayd) close to a year, or longer but then THEY QUARRELLED. Her husband COMPLAINED ABOUT HER to the Messenger of God (SAAS), and he would say to him, ‘Keep your wife for yourself and fear God.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 3, 198)
5. Scholars: The Divorce of Zaynab Took Place Due To Zayd Being a Former-Slave
The scholars go further and explain that the mistreatment Zaid received was due to him being a former slave:
“D. – Zainab could not overcome her pride and was constantly BOASTING ABOUT HER NOBLE FAMILY, TREATING HER HUSBAND HARSHLY AND HURTING HIS FEELINGS. It was even said that SHE DENIED HIM HIS RIGHT TO TOUCH HER. One day he came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, Zainab is becoming very harsh and I want to divorce her.’ Allah’s Apostle said: ‘KEEP YOUR WIFE, FEAR ALLAH AND DO NOT DIVORCE HER’.” (Why The Prophet Muhammad Married More Than One, [Translated by Ahmad Ibrahim El Orfaly, Cairo, 1414 – 1993 – A.D.] by Ahmad Muhammad El Howfy, Ph.D., Page 37)
Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani (1857 -1914) quotes from the book Fath al-Bari (1372 – 1449):
“Zaid came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying that ZANAB WAS SHREWISH WITH HIM and that he wanted to divorce her.’ But the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) persuaded him AGAIN AND AGAIN NOT TO DISCARD HER.’” (Fath al-Bari, Commentary on al-Ahzab). (Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, 127)
Dr. Adil Salahi:
“When the Prophet had settled in Madinah, he wanted to marry Zayd to one of his own relatives, Zaynab bint Jahsh, whose mother was Umaymah bint Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s own paternal aunt. SHE WAS NOT KEEN ON THE MARRIAGE. HER BROTHER WAS EVEN LESS AGREEABLE. After all, ZAYNAB BELONGED TO THE SAME FAMILY AS THE PROPHET, WHICH WAS THE NOBLEST FAMILY IN THE WHOLE OF ARABIA. In comparison to such a great lineage, who was Zayd? Was he not A MERE SLAVE to whom the Prophet had shown great kindness? He was being called Zayd Ibn Muhammad, it is true; but that appellation did not change the facts.
Zaynab, however, did not have much choice. She was a good Muslim and as such she could not refuse a wish expressed by the Prophet. The Prophet’s purpose behind marrying his own cousin to a former slave was to DESTROY FOR EVER ALL CLASS DISTINCTION. Zaynab and her brother consented to the marriage, with reluctance, to obey the Prophet. They realized that it was not up them to dissent, especially when God revealed in the Qur’an that an order by the Prophet was final, even when it involved the personal life of any believer. ‘No believer, man or woman, may have a choice in their own personal affairs when God and His Messenger have determined something (respecting such affairs.) He who disobeys God and His Messenger goes demonstrably stray.’ (33:36).
ZAYD’S MARRIAGE WITH ZAYNAB WAS NOT A HAPPY ONE. She had no love for him and could not rid herself of her class feelings. She always made him conscious that SHE THOUGHT HERSELF OF HER CLASS FEELINGS. SHE ALWAYS MADE HIM CONSCIOUS THAT SHE THOUGHT HERSELF FAR ABOVE HIM SOCIALLY. Zaid, who never accepted that he was a slave and never had a slave’s mentality, could not tolerate ZAYNAB’S ATTITUDE. He complained to the Prophet on several occasions. The Prophet was always ready to help. He counselled Zaynab to restrain her pride and to accept God’s decision with regard to her marriage. As the situation in Zayd’s home continued to flare up every now and then, the Prophet was then instructed by God to let Zayd divorce his wife, since he expressed his desire to do so frequently, although he did not do so in deference to the Prophet’s wishes. The Prophet was further instructed to marry Zaynab when her divorce process was completed.” (Muhammad: Man and Prophet: A Complete Study Of The Life Of The Prophet Of Islam by Adil Salahi [Kube Publishing LTD], page 611)
Dr. Nasser Al-Taee:
“Being the cousin of the Prophet, Zaynab was considered part of the NOBILITY. She was also a woman with tremendous pride and beauty. When Muhamad asked for her hand on behalf of his formally adopted son, ZAYNAB REFUSED ON THE GROUNDS THAT SHE WAS A NOBLEWOMAN WHILE ZAYD WAS FORMERLY A SLAVE before the Prophet freed him. As is customary in such moments of indecisiveness, God would deliver His revelations to aid His Prophet with the Prophet conduct:
‘And it behoves not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Mesenger have decided an affair, to exercise a choice in their matter. And who so disobeys Allah and His Messenger surely strays away in manifest error.’
When Zaynab heard the Sura, she abided by the Divine will and married Zayd. Shortly after their union, however, Zayd began to complain to Muhammad that ZAYNAB WAS MISTREATING HIM AND REJECTING HIM AS A HUSBAND and that he was considering divorcing her. THE PROPHET OBJECTED AND ORDERED HIM TO WORK ON THE MARRIAGE.” (Representations of the Orient in Western Music: Violence and Sensuality [Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010] by Nasser Al-Taee page 51 – 52)
Hadith scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979):
“The first opportunity for the use of the new strategy was afforded in Zil-Qa’dah 5 A. H. when the Holy Prophet married Hadrat Zainab (daughter of Jahsh), who was the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid bin Harithah. The Holy Prophet had arranged this marriage in order to put an end to the custom of ignorance, which gave the same status to the adopted son that was the right only of the son from one’s own loins. The hypocrites, however, considered it a golden opportunity to vilify the Holy Prophet from inside the community, and the Jews and the mushriks exploited it from outside to ruin his high reputation by this malicious slander. For this purpose fantastic stories were concocted and spread to this effect: “One day Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) happened to see the wife of his adopted son and fell in love with her; he maneuvered her divorce and married her.” Though this was an absurd fiction it was spread with such skill, cunning and artfulness that it succeeded in its purpose; so much so that some Muslim traditionalists and commentators also have cited some parts of it in their writings, and the orientalists have exploited these fully to vilify the Holy Prophet. As a matter of fact, Hadrat Zainab was never a stranger to the Holy Prophet that he should see her by chance and fall in love with her at first sight. For she was his first cousin, being the daughter of his real paternal aunt, Umaimah, daughter of Abdul Muttalib. He had known her from her childhood to her youth. A year before this incident, he himself had PERSUADED HER TO MARRY HADARAT ZAID IN ORDER TO DEMONSTRATE PRACTICALLY THAT THE QURAISH AND THE LIBERATED SLAVES WERE EQUAL AS HUMAN BEING. AS SHE NEVER RECONCILED HERSELF TO HER MARRIAGE WITH A LIBERATED SLAVE, THEY COULD NOT PULL ON TOGETHER FOR LONG, WHICH INEVITABLY LED TO HER DIVORCE. The above mentioned facts were well known to all, yet the slanderers succeeded in their false propaganda with the result that even today there are people who exploit these things to defame Islam. (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – chapter 24, online source)
Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888 – 1956):
“History, however, has more yet to tell. It proves that Muhammad asked for the hand of his own cousin Zaynab for his adopted son Zayd. HER BROTHER, `ABDULLAH IBN JAHSH, REFUSED TO LET HIS SISTER, THE HASHIMI AND QURAYSHI NOBLE GIRL THAT SHE WAS, AND THE FIRST COUSIN OF THE PROPHET IN ADDITION, BECOME THE WIFE OF A SLAVE whom Khadijah had bought and whom Muhammad had set free. SUCH A UNION WAS REGARDED BY HIM AS WELL AS BY THE ARABS IN GENERAL AS A THING OF GREAT SHAME. FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF THE ARISTOCRACY TO MARRY THEIR SLAVES, EVEN THOUGH THEIR SLAVES HAD BECOME FREE, WAS PLAINLY UNTHINKABLE. BUT MUHAMMAD SOUGHT TO WIPE OUT THESE RACIAL AND CLASS DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN MEN. HE SOUGHT TO EDUCATE THE WHOLE WORLD TO THE TRUTH THAT NO ARAB IS SUPERIOR TO ANY NON-ARAB unless it be in virtue and piety. For it was God who said, “Highest in God’s view is the most virtuous.” [Qur’an, 49:13]
Muhammad did not choose to force this noble principle upon a woman outside his own tribe and clan. Let it then be Zaynab, he thought, his very cousin, that will carry the first burden of this flagrant violation of Arabian custom. Let her be the destroyer of these pagan traditions. Let her cause herself, and therewith the whole tribe and religion of Muhammad, to endure all the criticisms that such an act would engender. And let Zayd, his awn adopted son, be the person of lesser lineage to marry the noble Makkan aristocrat. On the other hand, Arab custom and tradition demanded that the adopted son inherit from his adopted father, like the latter’s legitimate children. And since this custom too was the object of Muhammad’s attack, his choice of Zayd as the spear point of the first reform, would actually make of him-if he were prepared to give up the inheritance to which Arabian custom gave him title-the spearhead of another Islamic legislation prohibiting inheritance to any but the blood heirs and relatives of the deceased. Thus, Muhammad insisted that Zaynab agree to marry Zayd and that her brother `Abdullah ibn Jahsh accept Zayd as a brother-in-law. Indeed, this furnished the occasion for the revelation that “No believer, whether man or woman, has freedom to choose otherwise than as God and His Prophet have resolved in any given case. To do so is to disobey God and His Prophet, to err and fall into manifest misguidance.”[Qur’an, 33:36] Once the foregoing verse was revealed, neither `Abdullah nor his sister Zaynab had any alternative but to acquiesce in the Prophet’s order. The Prophet helped Zayd furnish a dowry for his bride-to-be and the marriage took place. After the wedding, THE HUSBAND FOUND IN HIS WIFE A WOMAN VERY HARD TO MANAGE AND TO LIVE WITH. HER PRIDE CONTINUED TO KNOW NO BOUNDS. Indeed, SHE CONTINUED TO DERIDE ZAYD, TO BOAST OF HER LINEAGE IN HIS PRESENCE AND TO LOOK DOWN ON HIM BECAUSE OF HIS HAVING ONCE BEEN A SLAVE. Zayd complained about her to the Prophet more than once and even consulted with him in the matter of divorcing her. All along, the Prophet would counsel him in these terms
“HOLD FAST TO YOUR WIFE AND FEAR GOD.” Zayd’s home life, however, did not improve and, unable to bear her false pride any longer, Zayd divorced her.” (The Life Of Muhammad [Translated by Isma’il Razi A. al-Faruqi] by Muhammad Husayn Haykal, page 338 – 339, online source)
Abdul Finni Abdul-Rahman Muhammed:
“Zainab (Bent Jahsh Al-Assadiyah
She was the Prophet’s cousin. She was also the divorcee of Zaid Ibn Haretha who was the adopted son of the Prophet. This marriage had a great influence on the people of Makka, because through this marriage, ISLAM EQUALIZED BETWEEN THE FREE-MEN AND THE SLAVE, and made the first step towards ending slavery. It also drew new limits adoption. The Prophet engaged his servant Zaid Ibn Haretha to his cousin Zainab, but SHE REFUSED THIS MARRIAGE BECAUSE SHE WAS FREE WOMAN WHILE ZAID WAS A SLAVE, AND HER BROTHER SUPPORTED HER IN THIS REFUSAL.
When Zainab heard this verse, she obeyed the Prophet’s command and accepted the marriage. Despite of her latter approval, Zainab was still unpleased with it, so after some days, SHE BEGAN ANNOYING HER HUSBAND AND DISCOMFORTING HIM. SHE WAS TOO PROUD OF HER FAMILY AND USED TO REMIND HER HUSBAND THAT SHE WAS MORE HONOURABLE THAN HIM. ZAID COULD NOT TAKE ANY MORE, so he went to the Prophet and complained his wife’s behaviour to him. The Prophet tried to patch things up and told Zaid to be more patient and keep his wife, but Zaid insisted that he could not go on living such marital life and BEGGED THE PROPHET TO ALLOW HIM TO DIVORCE ZAINAB.” (Zawjat Al-Nabi Muhammad: Wa Hakam Tahddin, [Al-Nashir Maktaba Midbolie] by Abdul Finni Abdul-Rahman Muhammed, page 44 – 45)
We deduce from the above evidences the following:
1. The Prophet married the former slave Zaid to Zaynab.
2. Zaynab, her brother and other family members did not want to her to be married to a former slave.
3. The Prophet insisted that they marry each other, to break and put a stop to the backward Jahiliya (pre-Islamic ignorance) culture of marriage being between certain classes only.
4. Zaynab eventually accepted to marry Zaid as revelations came down.
5. The marriage didn’t last long since there was a lot of arguments and “quarrels” at home. As stated, the scholars mentioned that Zaynab used to bring up her lineage and Zayd being a former slave. That she was from a noble family while Zayd was a former slave. These talks and others couldn’t contain Zayd to stay with her any longer.
6. Zayd went to Prophet Muhammed (p) wanting to divorce her due to the problems at home, the Prophet ordered him to stay married to her and to fear God. Zayd went back and forth for a while (weeks or months) every-time complaining about his marriage and every time the Prophet (p) exclaimed and told him to fear God and keep his wife. Eventually, it was too much for Zayd and divorce followed.
Furthermore, throughout the period when there were issues at home between Zaid and Zaynab, the Prophet beforehand received revelation that the marriage would end in divorce. At the same time, Muhammed (p) was informed by God that he would marry Zaynab. After the divorce, Muhammed (p) was ordered by God to marry Zaynab, in his heart, he did not want to marry her because she was married to his adopted son. He feared that people would talk about him. God sent down revelation that he should fear Him rather than the people in the society. The marriage went ahead as it was ordered by God Himself, and Muhammed had no say to disobey the order.
The Prophet’s (p) marriage to Zainab was done to break the taboo in the Arab society that adopted son’s wife are real sons. But God’s responded by saying that these are mere sayings from their mouths. The revelation had a big impact in the society, who was going to break that ancient tradition?
6. Prophet Muhammed (p) Stopped Zayd A Number Of Times From Divorcing Zaynab
As mentioned, Muhammed (p) himself disinclined towards this marriage as a verse from the Quran expounds:
“And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, “Keep your wife and fear Allah ,” while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And YOU FEARED THE PEOPLE, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished.” – Quran 33:37
We see from the verse it shows that the Prophet (p) was worried about public opinion than God’s command, but he nonetheless had to go ahead with it as God ordered him to do so. Who would be best to break that ancient tradition, it was none other than Muhammed himself. To open way that adopted son’s wife are not real sons, henceforth, marrying them was permitted and lawful.
The claim that Muhammed (p) was in “love” or was “lustful” towards Zaynab has no historical truth the incident. If this was the case, why did Prophet Muhammed (p) arrange the marriage between Zaynab and a former slave Zayd?
Moreover, why was the Prophet hesitant, why didn’t he immediately annul the marriage when he had the opportunity, remember Zayd went over a number of times to the Prophet complaining and saying that he wanted to divorce Zaynab as they had issues at home? Surely, if he was in “love” or “lustful” wouldn’t he have accepted the divorce the first time? But instead the Prophet kept telling Zayd to fear God and to stay married, as the following authentic reports show:
“Narrated Anas: Zaid bin Haritha came to the Prophet COMPLAINING about his wife. THE PROPHET KEPT ON SAYING (TO HIM), “BE AFRAID OF ALLAH AND KEEP YOUR WIFE.” Aisha said, “If Allah’s Messenger were to conceal anything (of the Qur’an he would have concealed this Verse.” Zainab used to boast before the wives of the Prophet and used to say, “You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens.” And Thabit recited, “The Verse:– ‘But (O Muhammad) you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest, you did fear the people,’ (33.37) was revealed in connection with Zainab and Zaid bin Haritha.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 93, Hadith 516)
“Narrated Anas: “When this Ayah was revealed: ‘But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest… (33:37)’ about Zainab bint Jahsh, Zaid had come to the Prophet COMPLAINING, and he wanted to divorce her, so he consulted with the Prophet. THE PROPHET SAID: ‘KEEP YOUR WIFE TO YOURSELF, AND HAVE TAQWA OF ALLAH (FEAR GOD) (33:37).'” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3212 (Sahih Darussalam))
“She (Zaynab) remained with him (Zayd) close to a year, or longer but then THEY QUARRELLED. Her husband COMPLAINED ABOUT HER to the Messenger of God (SAAS), and he would say to him, ‘KEEP YOUR WIFE FOR YOURSELF AND FEAR GOD.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 3, 198)
Those fanciful and fabricated stories used by missionaries and orientalists are nothing but lies to degrade the impeccable character of our Noble Messenger, as the evidence has shown. History is a witness that he never wanted to marry her in the first place, but God had a better purpose for this. There was Divine wisdom behind this marriage.
Please be aware, we will write a number of more articles expounding on the marriage of Zaynab to Muhammed (p), God Willing. For now, the claims brought up by the fabricators have been thoroughly debunked
Part 2 – “Muhammed’s Marriage To Zaynab: Closer Read Of Surah 33:37“.
Part 3 – “Revisiting Surah 33:37: Muhammed’s Marriage To Zaynab“.
Safiyyah, Huyayy, Kinana And Khaybar Affair
Prophet Muhammed’s Wife Mariyah (Maria) (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)
Muhammed, Jauniyya The “Prepubescent Girl”? (Part 1, And Part 2)
What Happened To The Captive Women In Awtas Incident?