Quran 33:53-55 Not Allowed To Marry The Prophet’s Wives

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Madinan verse (Mawdudi, and Dr. Muhammed Asad).

Analysing Verses

“O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior] was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allah is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. AND IT IS NOT [CONCEIVABLE OR LAWFUL] FOR YOU TO HARM THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH OR TO MARRY HIS WIVES AFTER HIM, EVER. Indeed, that would be in the sight of Allah an enormity.
There is no blame upon women concerning their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or their women or those their right hands possess. And fear Allah. Indeed Allah is ever, over all things, Witness.” – Quran 33:53-55


Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi:

“95. (if they appear before them unveiled, and without a curtain or screen). The reference is to the Prophet’s wives.
96. i.e., Muslim women. Other women being in the position of strangers required as much as the formality of a veil as men.
97. i.e., their handmaids.
98. (in infringing any of these ordinances, O wives of the Prophet!).” (Tafsir-Ul-Qur’an – Translation and Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an [Published By Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazaar Karachi: Pakistan] by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, volume 3, Page 457)

George Sale commentary

“C i.e., Either such a he shall divorce in his lifetime, or his widows after his death. This was another privilege peculiar to the Prophet. …” (The Koran translated by George Sale, online source https://archive.org/stream/TheKoranTranslatedByGeorgeSale/GSale-Quran#page/n133/mode/1up )


“13 On the basis of the special relationship mentioned above, another characteristic of the Holy Prophet is that his wives are forbidden to the Muslims just like their own real mothers although their adopted mothers are in no sense their real mothers. This thing is peculiar only to the person of the Holy Prophet and of no other man in the world.
In this connection, one should also know that the wives of the Holy Prophet are mothers of the believers only in the sense that the Muslims are under obligation to have reverence and respect for them, and no Muslim could marry them. As for other matters they are not like the mothers. For example, apart from their real relatives, all other Muslims were non-mahram for them from whom they had to observe Purdah; their daughters were not like real sisters for the Muslims, so that no Muslim could marry them; their brothers and sisters were not like the maternal uncles and aunts for the Muslims; they could not be inherited by a Muslim, unless a close relative, as a mother is inherited by her son. Another noteworthy point in this connection is that according to the Qur’an, this status accrues to all the wives of the Holy Prophet among whom Hadrat ‘A’ishah is also included. But, when a section (of the Muslims) made Hadrat `AIi and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them) and their children the center of their Faith and made the whole system of religion revolve around them, and made Hadrat `A’ishah also, along with many other Companions, the target of curse and abuse, this verse became a hindrance for them, for according to it every person who claims to be a believer has to acknowledge her as his mother. Consequently, to overcome this difficulty a strange claim was made to the effect: The Holy Prophet had given Hadrat ‘Ali the authority that after his death he could allow any of his wives he liked to retain her position of the holy wife and divorce any other on his behalf. Abu Mansur Ahmad bin Abu Talib Tabrasi has written this in Kitab al-Ihtijaj and Suleman bin `Abdullah al-Bahrani has related that the Holy Prophet said to Hadrat `Ali “O Abul Hasan: this honor will last till the time that we remain steadfast on obedience to Allah. Therefore, you may divorce any of my wives, who after me disobeys Allah by revolting against you, and deprive her of the honor that belongs to the mothers of the faithful. ” This is a false -tradition even according to the principles of reporting Hadith. But if one studies vv. 28-29 and 51-52 of this very Surah Al-Ahzab itself, one finds that this tradition goes against the Qur’an as well. For after the revelation of the “verse of the option” (v. 29), the Holy Prophet’s right of divorce against those of his wives who chose to remain with him through every difficulty had been curtailed. For further explanation, see E.N.’s 42 and 93 below.
Moreover, if an unbiased person only uses his common sense and considers this tradition carefully, he will find that it is utterly absurd and highly derogatory in respect to the Holy Prophet. The rank and position of the Messenger of Allah is very high and exalted. It cannot even be expected of an ordinary man that he would think of divorcing his wife after his death and on leaving the world would authorize his son-in-law to divorce her on his behalf if there arose a dispute between him and her in the future. This shows what regard these sectarians have for the honor and reverence of the Holy Prophet himself; and even for the Divine Law.
“100This is the explanation of what has been said in verse 6:”…the Prophet’s wives are mothers of the believers.”
101That is, “If a person entertains an evil thought in his heart against the Holy Prophet, or harbors an evil intention about his wives, it will not remain hidden from Allah, and he will be punished for it.”
102For explanation, see E.N.’s 38 to 42 of Surah An-Nur. ‘Allama Alusi’s commentary in this connection is also noteworthy. He says, “Brothers and sons of brothers and sisters include all those relatives who are unlawful for a woman, whether they are blood relations or foster relations. This list does not mention the paternal and maternal uncles because they are like the parents to the woman, or perhaps they have been left out because there was no need to mention them after mentioning their sons, For the reason for not observing purdah from the brother’s son and sister’s son is the same as of not observing it from the paternal and maternal uncles.” (Ruh al-Ma ani.)
103For explanation, see E. N. 43 of An-Nur.
104For explanation, see E. N. 44 of An-Nur.
105It means this: After the coming down of this absolute Command no person outside the circle of the relatives, who have been made an exception, should be allowed to enter the houses without purdah being observed from them, ” Another meaning is: “The woman should never adopt the attitude that they should observe purdah when the husband is present, but should appear without purdah before the other men, when he is away. Such a conduct may remain hidden from the husband but not from Allah.
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an, online source http://www.englishtafsir.com/ )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

“They [the Prophet’s wives] would not be at fault with regard to [socialising with] their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their own, believing, women, or what their right hands own, of slavegirls or [male] servants, in seeing them or conversing with them without a screen. And fear [O women] God, in what you have been commanded. Surely God is Witness to all things, with nothing being hidden from Him.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn on Surah 33:55 – online source
http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=33&tAyahNo=55&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 )

Muhammad b. al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi (d. 146/763):

“(It is no sin for them) the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as the wives of the believers (with their fathers) that their fathers should enter in on them or converse with them, (or their sons: or their brothers, or their brothers sons, or the sons of their sisters) from the father’s side or the mother’s side (or of their own women) the women who belong to their own religion; for it is unlawful for a Muslim woman to strip herself of her clothes in front of Jewish, Christian or Magian women, (or their slaves) i.e. women slaves, not male slaves. (O women! Keep your duty to Allah) fear Allah about all these in relation to their entering in on you and their conversation with you. (Lo! Allah is Witness over all things) relating to your works.”
(Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas on Surah 33:55 – online source
http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=33&tAyahNo=55&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 )

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

“Relatives before Whom a Woman does not need to observe Hijab
When Allah commands women to observe Hijab in front of men to whom they are not related, He explains who are the relatives before whom they do not need to observe Hijab. This is like the exceptions stated in Surat An-Nur, where Allah says:
(And not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or their right hand possessions, or the Tabi`in among men who do not have desire, or small children who are not aware of the nakedness of women.) (24:31). The Ayah contains more detail than this, which we have already discussed in the Tafsir of the Ayah and do not need to repeat here. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ash-Sha`bi and `Ikrimah said concerning the Ayah, (It is no sin on them before their fathers…) I said, “What about the paternal uncle and the maternal uncle — why are they not mentioned” He said: “Because they may describe her to their sons, so it is disliked for a woman to remove her covering in front of her paternal uncle or maternal uncle.” (or their own women,) means that they do not have to observe Hijab in front of other believing women. (or their (female) slaves.) Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said: “This means female slaves only.” This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. (And (O ladies) have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Witness over everything.) means, and fear Him in private and in public, for He witnesses all things and nothing is hidden from Him, so think of the One Who is always watching.
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir on Surah 33:55 – Online source http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/33/55 )

Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an – Qutb

“Having made this warning, the sūrah makes the exception of some close relatives with whom the Prophet’s wives did not have to be so guarded: “It is no sin for them [to appear freely] before their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their womenfolk, or such men slaves as their right hands possess. [Wives of the Prophet!] Always remain God-fearing; for God is witness to all things.” (Verse 55) These are the relatives a woman cannot marry, i.e. her mahram. In fact it is lawful for all Muslim women to appear before these relatives in normal clothes, without covering their heads. I could not establish with any degree of certainty whether this verse addressing the Prophet’s wives in particular or verse 31 of Sūrah 24, Light, addressing all Muslim women was revealed first. It is more likely, however, that the order was first issued to the Prophet’s wives and then made applicable to others. We should note here the instruction to always be conscious of God, and the reference o His awareness of everything. “Always remain God- fearing; for God is witness to all things.” (Verse 55) This is indeed the best guarantee that people will pay heed.” (In The Shade Of The Quran (‘Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an’), by Sayyid Qutb, volume 14, page 85)

Scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

“3760 This refers back to the Hijab (screen) portion of verse 53 above. The list of those before whom the Prophet’s wives could appear informally without a screen is their fathers, sons, brothers, brothers 1 or sisters’ sons, serving women, and household slaves or servants. Commentators include uncles (paternal and maternal) under the heading of “fathers”. Their women is held to mean all women who belonged to the Muslim community: other women were in the position of strangers, whom they received not so intimately, but with the formality of a screen as in the case of men. Compare with this list and the wording here the list and the wording in 24:31, which applies to all Muslim women. In the list here, husbands and husbands’ relatives are not necessary to be mentioned, as we are speaking of a single household, that of the central figure in Islam, nor men-servants nor children, as there were none. In the wording note that for Muslim women generally, no screen or Hijab (Pardah) is mentioned, but only a veil to cover the bosom, and modesty in dress. The screen was a special feature of honour for the Prophet’s household, introduced about five or six years before his death.” (The Meaning of The Noble Qur’an, page 292, online source http://www.ulc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/English-Quran-With-Commentaries.pdf )

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