Tafseer On Quran 33:50

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Background

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

Analysing Verse

“O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war …” – Quran 33:30

There are number of injunctions laid out in Surah 33:50 which is specifically in relation to Prophet Muhammed (p) when he was alive. The commentators of the Quran will explain the verse in more detail below.

Related articles:

(1) – “Prophet Muhammed’s Wife Mariya (Maria)

(2) – “Maria The Copt – Wife Of Prophet Muhammed

(3) – “Safiyyah, Huyayy, Kinana And Khaybar Affair

Commentaries

Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

“3741 This introduces no new exemption or privilege. Verses 50-52 merely declare the points in which, on account of the special circumstances (see n. 3706 above), the Prophet’s marriages differed from those of ordinary Muslims. This is considered under four heads, which we shall examine in the four notes following.
3742 Head 1. Marriage with dower (4:4): this is the universal Muslim marriage. The difference in the Prophet’s case was that there was no limitation to the number of four (4:3), and women of the People of the Book (5:5) were not among his wives, but only Believers. These points are not expressly mentioned here, but are inferred by his actual practice. Obviously women who are expected to instruct other women in Islam must be Muslims.
3743 Head 2. Women Prisoners of War: the same remark as the last note. The point does not now arise, as the whole condition and incidents of war have been altered and slavery has been abolished by international agreement.
3744 Head 3. These are first cousins, and not within the Prohibited Degrees of Marriage (see 4:23 -24). These are specially mentioned here by way of limitation. None of them could marry the Prophet unless she had performed the Hijrah with him. If she had not so performed it in spite of her close relationship, she could not be credited with any great fervour for Islam, or be considered suitable for instructing other women in Islam.
3745 Head 4. A believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet: obviously this case, like the last, is only applicable to the Prophet, and is hedged around with the limitations that the Prophet considers it a suitable and proper case of true service to the community, and not merely a sentimental woman’s freak. Some Commentators think there was no such case. But others, with whom I agree, think that this applies to Zaynab bint Khuzaymah, who had dedicated herself to the poor and was called the Mother of the Poor ( Umm al masakin). Similarly, the last head might possibly refer to Zaynab bint Jahsh, who was a daughter of the Prophet’s paternal aunt, herself a daughter of ‘Abd al Muttalib.
3746 The ordinary law of Muslim marriage will be found chiefly in 2:221-235, 4:19 -25, 4:34 -35, and 5:5.
3747 The words “this only for thee . . . right hands possess” are parenthetical, and the words “in order that. . .” connect on with the previous clauses beginning with “O Prophet, We have made lawful . . . wishes to wed her.”
3748 Marriage is an important relationship not only in our physical life, but in our moral and spiritual life, and its effects extend not only to the parties themselves but to children and future generations. A number of special problems arise according to special circumstances. Every man and woman must seriously consider all sides of the question and must do the best in his or her power to temper instincts and inclinations with wisdom and guidance from Allah. Allah wishes to make every one’s path easy, for He is indeed “Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (The Meaning of The Noble Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 219, online source http://www.ulc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/English-Quran-With-Commentaries.pdf )

Dr. Muhammad Asad:

“57 The term ajr is in this context synonymous with faridah in its specific sense of “dower” (mahr): see surah 2, note 224.
58 As pointed out in several places (see, in particular, note 32 on 4:25), Islam does not countenance any form of concubinage, and categorically prohibits sexual relations between a man and a woman unless they are lawfully married to one another. In this respect, the only difference between a “free” woman and a slave is that whereas the former must receive a dower from her husband, no such obligation is imposed on a man who marries his rightfully owned slave (lit., “one whom his right hand possesses”) – that is, a woman taken captive in a “holy war” (jihad) waged in defence of the Faith or of liberty (note 167 on 2:190 and note 72 on 8:67) -: for, in such a case, the freedom conferred upon the bride by the very act of marriage is considered to be equivalent to a dower.” (The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, page 899, online source http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/cmje/religious_text/The_Message_of_The_Quran__by_Muhammad_Asad )

Maulana Muhammad Ali:

“50a. That his wives were lawful for the Prophet goes without saying. It appears that this revelation came after 4:3, which limits the number of wives a man can take under exceptional circumstances to four. The Prophet was, however, told that he should not divorce the excess number for this reason. The marriages of the Holy Prophet have furnished his critics with the chief implement of attack on him, and the low-minded missionary has gone so far as to call him a voluptuary on that account, though he dare not apply that word to the husband of a hundred wives. Therefore I give below full particulars regarding the Prophet’s marriages. His life as regards his marriages may be divided into four periods. Briefly these are: (1) A celibate life up to twenty-five. (2) A married state with one wife from 25 to 54. (3) Several marriages from 54 to 60. (4) No further marriage after 60. As regards the first period, the life of a celibate youth living in a warm country till 25, the testimony of a hostile writer like Sir William Muir is that “all authorities agree in ascribing to the youth of Muhammad a modesty of deportment and purity of manners rare among the people of Mecca”. In fact, in Arabia at the time profligacy was the order of the day and it was among people who prided themselves on loose sexual relations that the Prophet led a life of transcendent purity. Then comes the second period from 25 to 54. His first marriage was contracted while he was twenty-five years of age, and the widow Khadijah whom he married was forty years old, i.e., fifteen years his senior. It was with her, and her alone, that he passed all the years of his youth and manhood until she died three years before the Hijrah, when he was already an old man of fifty. This circumstance alone is sufficient to give the lie to those carpers who call him a voluptuary. After her death, while still at Makkah, he married Saudah, a widow of advanced age. He also married ‘A’ishah, his only virgin wife, while still at Makkah, but her marriage was consummated five years afterwards in the 2nd year of the Hijrah. Then followed the flight to Madinah, and subsequent to the Flight he had to fight many battles with his enemies, the Quraish, or such tribes as sided with the Quraish. The result of these battles was a great discrepancy between the number of males and females, and as his favourite followers fell in the field of battle fighting with his enemies, the care of their families devolved upon the Prophet and his surviving companions. In the battle of Badr fell Khunais, son of Hudhafah, and the faithful ‘Umar’s daughter Hafsah was left a widow. ‘Umar offered her to ‘Uthman and Ab∂ Bakr in turn, and she was at last married by the Holy Prophet in the third year of the Hijrah. ‘Abd Allah, son of Jahsh, fell a martyr at U√ud, and his widow Zainab, daughter of Khuzaimah, was taken in marriage by the Prophet in the same year. In the next year Ab∂ Salamah died, and his widow, Umm Salamah, was taken to wife by the Prophet. The events are narrated in the last section, leading to Zainab’s divorce by Zaid; the Prophet married her in the fifth year of the Hijrah under circumstances already narrated. Umm Habibah was one of his devoted followers who fled to Abyssinia with her husband, ‘Ubaid Allåh, who there became a Christian, and when he died his widow found comfort in being taken as a wife by the Holy Prophet in the seventh year of the Hijrah. Besides these widows of his faithful followers whom it fell to his lot to take under his protection, the Prophet took three widows of his enemies in marriage, and in each case this step led to the union and pacification of a whole tribe. These three, Juwairiyah, Maim∂nah and Safiyyah, he married in the years six and seven of the Hijrah. Regarding one of these, it is sufficient to note that, when the Prophet took Juwairiyah for a wife, over a hundred families of the tribe of the Banu Mustaliq, to which tribe she belonged, were at once liberated by the Muslims. The fourth period is that when war came to an end; a reference to this is contained in v. 52: “It is not allowed to thee to take wives after this”. Thus it will be seen that all the marriages of the Prophet were due either to feelings of compassion for the widows of his faithful followers or to put a stop to bloodshed and ensure union with some tribe. Compare also 4:3a, where it is shown that the permission for polygamy was given under similar circumstances; in fact, many of the companions had to follow the example of the Prophet.
50b. As pointed out in the beginning of the last note, the Prophet was specially allowed to retain all his wives when the number allowed was brought down to four in the case of other believers. This was the only privilege allowed to the Prophet and it is to this that the words, especially for thee, refer. What God ordained for the believers is contained in 4:3, and on the revelation of that verse any Muslim who had more than four wives had to divorce the excess number.” (The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 838 – 840)

Malik Ghulam Farid:

“The Holy Prophet’s marriages were motivated by highly considerations and not by those imputed to him by his ignorant and ignoble critics. With the solitary exception of his marriage with A’ishah, which later circumstances fully justified, he married only widows or divorced women. He married Hafsah whose husband was killed in the battle of Badr; Zainab biny Khuzaimah whose husband was killed in the battle of Uhud; Umm Salmah whose husband died in 4 A.H.; and Umm Habibah, daughter of Abu Sufyan, who became a widow in 5 or 6 A.H. (in exile in Abysinnia). He married Juwairiyah and Safiyyah, both widows, in 5 A.H. and 7 A.H. respectively, seeking a union with and pacification of their tribes. It is worthy of note that a hundred families of the Bani Mustaliq were liberated by Muslims when the Holy Prophet married Juwairiyah. Maimunah, another widow, it is said, offered herself to be taken in marriage by the Holy Prophet which offer he condescended to accept in the interest of education and training of Muslim women. He married Zainab, the divorced wife of Zaid in 5 A.H., in order to put a stop to a foolish custom prevailing among the Arabs and in order also to assuage her wounded feelings as the respected lady had felt deeply humiliated at being divorced by Zaid. He married Mariah in 7 A.H. and thus by raising a freed slave girl to the highly eminent spiritual status of the ‘Mother of the Faithful’ he gave a death blow to slavery. Such were the pious and righteous motives of our noble Master in marrying widows and divorced women, by no means noted for their youth or beauty. His critics deliberately ignore the patent fact that up to the age of 25 he lived the spotless life of a celibate. Then in the prime of his youth he married a lady many years his senior and lived with her a most happy life till he was an old man of fifty and she about sixty-five. After her death he married Saudah, another lad of very advanced age. He married all his other wives, to which exception has been taken by evil-minded carpers, between 2 A.H. and 7 A.H., a period when he constantly engaged in active fighting and his life was perpetually in danger and the fate of Islam itself hung in the balance. Could any person in such situation of danger and uncertainty conceive contracting marriage after marriage from bad motives such as are attributed to the Holy Prophet by his evil-minded critics? After this he lived for about three years as virtual ruler of the whole of Arabia when all the comforts and amenities of life were at his disposal, and yet he entered into no further marriage. Does not this face alone establish the honesty and sincerity of the Holy Prophet’s motives in contracting his marriages? The words ‘if she offers herself for marriage to the Prophet’ have been taken as specially referring to Maimunah who is reported to have offered herself to be taken into marriage by the Holy Prophet. The clause, this provision is only for thee and not for other believers,’ means that it was a special privilege of the Holy Prophet and was due to the special nature of his duties as a Divine Prophet. The clause may also refer to the special permission granted to the Holy Prophet, to retain all his wives, after the commandment contained in 4:4 was revealed limiting to four the number of wives allowed to Muslims at one time. The words, ‘We have already made known what We have enjoined on them concerning their wives,’ refer to the commandment contained in 4:4, according to which only four wives at the most at a time are allowed to a Muslim. But in view of the Holy Prophet’s own and his wives very high spiritual status and other spiritual and moral considerations, exception was made in the case of the Holy Prophet in the opening words of this verse.” (The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary By Malik Ghulam Farid, page 860 – 861)

Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an – Qutb:

“The Prophet’s Wives
The Prophet is then told which women are lawful for him o marry, and the special dispensation for him after the limit of four wives was imposed in an earlier sūrah: “You may marry of other women as may be agreeable to you, two or three or four.” (4: 3) At the time the Prophet had nine wives, each of whom he married for a specific reason. `Ā’ishah and Ĥafşah were the daughters of his two closest Companions, Abu Bakr and `Umar. Umm Ĥabibah bint Abī Sufyān, Umm Salamah, Sawdah bint Zim`ah and Zaynab bint Khuzaymah5 were women from the Muhajirīn who had lost their husbands and the Prophet wanted to honour them. None of them was young or very pretty. Marrying them was merely an honour the Prophet gave them. As for Zaynab bint Jaĥsh, we have already discussed her marriage to the Prophet in detail. The other two were Juwayriyyah bint al-Ĥarith and Safiyyah bint Huyay. Both were taken captive in war, but the Prophet freed them from bondage and married them to strengthen relations with their tribes and communities. Moreover, their marriage o the Prophet was an honour. Both accepted Islam after their people suffered the hardship of defeat. They had all become ‘mothers of the believers’ and had the honour of being so close to God’s Messenger, choosing God, His Messenger and the life to come over the luxuries and comforts of this world, when that choice was offered to them. It would have been very hard for them to be divorced when the maximum number of wives a Muslim may have was fixed at four. God looked at their situation and exempted His Messenger from that rule, permitting him to retain all his wives. Then, the Qur’ān stipulated that he must not add to them or replace any of them. Thus, the Prophet’s exemption from the maximum of four wives was given specifically to those whom he had already married, so that they would not be deprived of this honour. The following verses clearly indicate this:
Prophet! We have made lawful to you the wives whom you have paid their dowries, as well as those whom God has placed in your right hand through war, as also the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you; and any believing woman who offers herself to the Prophet and whom the Prophet might be willing to wed: [this latter] applies to you alone and not to other believers. We well know what We have made obligatory to them in respect of their wives and other women their right hands possess; and thus no blame shall attach to you. God is Much-Forgiving, Merciful. You may defer any of them you please, and take to yourself any of them you please. No blame will attach to you if you invite one whose turn you have previously set aside: this makes it more likely that they will be contented and not distressed, and that all of them will be satisfied with whatever you have to give them. God knows what is in your hearts. God is indeed All-Knowing, Forbearing. You [Muhammad] are not permitted to take any further wives, nor to exchange these for other wives, even though you are attracted by their beauty, except for any that your right hand may possess. God keeps watch over all things. (Verses 50-52)
These provisions make it lawful for the Prophet to marry any woman from the types mentioned, even though this might take the number of such wives above the maximum of four which applied to all other Muslims. These types included the women whom he had already married and paid their dowries; any slave he came to own; his paternal and maternal cousins who had migrated with him, but not those who had not already migrated and any woman who presented herself as a gift o the Prophet without taking a dowry or having a guardian, if he wished to marry her.6 God made this a special privilege for the Prophet since he was the guardian of all believers, men and women. All other men are subject to the rules God has imposed concerning their wives and women slaves. Thus the Prophet had no restrictions placed on his actions with regard to retaining the ones he had already married or to responding o the circumstances of his special position. The Prophet is then given the choice to marry any woman who offered herself to him as a gift, or to so delay the same. If he so delayed, he could go back o her at any time. Moreover he was free o have sex with any of his wives he wished and to delay any: “This makes it more likely that they will be contented and not distressed, and that all of them will be satisfied with whatever you have to give them.” (Verse 51) It is clear that all these provisions take into account the Prophet’s special circumstances and the fact that many were keen to be honoured by being close to him. God knew all this and, as we know, He determines all situations in accordance with His knowledge and compassion: “God knows what is in your hearts. God is indeed All-Knowing, Forbearing.” (Verse 51) (In The Shade Of The Quran (‘Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an’), by Sayyid Qutb volume 14, page 80 – 81)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

“The Women who are Lawful for the Prophet
Allah says, addressing His Prophet that He has made lawful for him of women his wives to whom he has given the dowery, which is what is meant by “their due”, which is used here, as was stated by Mujahid and others. The dowery which he gave to his wives was twelve and half `Uqiyah (measures of gold) so they all received five hundred Dirhams except for Umm Habibah bint Abi Sufyan, to whom An-Najashi, may Allah have mercy on him, gave four hundred Dinars (on behalf of the Prophet ) Safiyyah bint Huyay, whom he chose from among the prisoners of Khaybar, then he set her free, making her release her dowery. A similar case was that of Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith Al-Mustalaqiyyah — he paid off the contract to buy her freedom from Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas and married her. May Allah be pleased with them all. (those (slaves) whom your right hand possesses whom Allah has given to you,) means, `the slave-girls whom you took from the war booty are also permitted to you.’ He owned Safiyyah and Juwayriyah, then he manumitted them and married them, and he owned Rayhanah bint Sham`un An-Nadariyyah and Mariyah Al-Qibtiyyah, the mother of his son Ibrahim, upon him be peace; they were both among the prisoners, may Allah be pleased with them. (and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts) This is justice which avoids going to either extreme, for the Christians do not marry a woman unless there are seven grandfathers between the man and the woman (i.e., they are very distantly related or not at all), and the Jews allow a man to marry his brother’s daughter or his sister’s daughter. So the pure and perfect Shari`ah came to cancel out the extremes of the Christians, and permitted marriage to the daughter of a paternal uncle or aunt, or the daughter of a maternal uncle or aunt, and forbade the excesses of the Jews who allowed marriage to the daughter of a brother or sister which is an abhorrent thing. (and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her — a privilege for you only,) means, `also lawful for you, O Prophet, is a believing woman if she offers herself to you, to marry her without a dowery, if you wish to do so.’ This Ayah includes two conditions. Imam Ahmad recorded from Sahl bin Sa`d As-Sa`idi that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah and said, “O Messenger of Allah, verily, I offer myself to you (for marriage).” She stood there for a long time, then a man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, marry her to me if you do not want to marry her.” The Messenger of Allah said: (Do you have anything that you could give to her as a dowery) He said, “I have only this garment of mine.” The Messenger of Allah said: (If you give her your garment, you will be left with no garment. Look for something.) He said, “I do not have anything.” He said: (Look for something, even if it is only an iron ring.) So he looked, but he could not find anything. Then the Messenger of Allah said to him: (Do you have ﴿know﴾ anything of the Qur’an) He said, “Yes, Surah such and such and Surah and such,” he named the Surahs. So, the Messenger of Allah said: (I marry her to you with what you know of the Qur’an.) It was also recorded by (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) from the Hadith of Malik. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded a narration from his father that `A’ishah said: “The woman who offered herself to the Prophet was Khawlah bint Hakim.” Al-Bukhari recorded that `A’ishah said, “I used to feel jealous of those women who offered themselves to the Prophet and I said, `Would a woman offer herself’ When Allah revealed the Ayah: (You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you) I said, `I see that your Lord hastens to confirm your desires.”’ Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah did not have any wife who offered herself to him. ” This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. In other words, he did not accept any of those who offered themselves to him, even though they were lawful for him — a ruling which applied to him alone. The matter was left to his own choice, as Allah says: (and ﴿if﴾ the Prophet wishes to marry her) meaning, if he chooses to do so. (a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers.) `Ikrimah said: “This means, it is not permissible for anyone else to marry a woman who offers herself to him; if a woman offers herself to a man, it is not permissible for him (to marry her) unless he gives her something.” This was also the view of Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi and others. In other words, if a woman offers herself to a man, when he consummates the marriage, he has to give her a dowery like that given to any other woman of her status, as the Messenger of Allah ruled in the case of Barwa` bint Washiq when she offered herself in marriage; the Messenger of Allah ruled that she should be given a dowery that was appropriate for a woman like her after her husband died. Death and consummation are the same with regard to the confirmation of the dowery, and the giving of a dowery appropriate to the woman’s status in the case of those who offer themselves to men other than the Prophet is an established ruling. With regard to the Prophet himself, he is not obliged to give a dowery to a woman who offers herself to him, even if he consummated the marriage, because he has the right to marry without a dowery, Wali (representative) or witnesses, as we have seen in the story of Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her. Qatadah said, concerning the Ayah: (a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers.) no woman has the right to offer herself to any man without a Wali or a dowery, except to the Prophet. (Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (servants) whom their right hands possess,) Ubayy bin Ka`b, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ibn Jarir said, concerning the Ayah: (Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives) means, `concerning the limiting of their number to four free women, and whatever they wish of slave-girls, and the conditions of a representative, dowery and witnesses to the marriage. This is with regard to the Ummah (the people), but We have granted an exemption in your case and have not imposed any of these obligations upon you.’ (in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (Tafsir Ibn kathir on surah 33:50, online source:
http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/33/50 )

Ali Unal:

“24. On the injunctions about the women whom Muslim men can lawfully marry, see sūrah 4: 22–25, notes 7–9.
25. On these injunctions, see: 2: 221; 4: 3–4, notes 2–3.
26. Because of his mission, there are some exceptional rules for the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. Unlike other believing men, he was allowed to marry a believing woman who would come to him without demanding any bridal due. While all other Muslim men could marry the daughters of their uncles and aunts, whether they had emigrated or not, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was allowed to marry any among them provided they had emigrated. There were other exceptions that were just pertinent to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings: for example, the Tahajjud Prayer (in the last third or later part of the night) was prescribed for the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, until his death; this is only supererogatory for other Muslims. Like other Prophets, his inheritance could not be shared by his “heirs” but was used as alms for the Muslim Community. Eating of the Zakāh was forbidden to him and his family, while all other needy Muslims could partake of it. The permission for him to marry as many as nine women was also exceptional for him, while other Muslims can only have four women together in marriage. While all other Muslim men can marry until their death, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was prohibited to marry after some point in his life, as stipulated in verse 52 of this surah.
27. These special conditions were not introduced due to a need for women, but rather merely because of the role women played in the fulfillment of the Messenger’s mission. Islam has specific rules for women, and many of those rules can only be learned from women teachers and could be put to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, only by women who had close relationships with him. So the reasons behind the Messenger’s several marriages, while differing from case-to-case, all have to do with his role as the leader of the new Muslim community, and his responsibility to guide his followers toward the norms and values of Islam.
The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, married his first wife, fifteen years older than him, when he was 25 years old, fifteen years before his Prophethood began. He lived with her for almost 25 years, and after her death, he lived for nearly six years without a wife. Given the cultural and moral climate in which he lived, not to mention his youth and other factors, he nevertheless enjoyed an impeccable reputation for chastity, integrity, and trustworthiness. As soon as he was called to the Prophethood, he acquired enemies who made all sorts of charges. However, not even his fiercest enemies attacked his reputation, for doing so would have caused them to be ridiculed and discredited immediately. It is important to realize that his life was founded upon chastity and self-discipline from the outset, and remained thus. All his other marriages began when he was 53 years old, an age when very little real interest and desire for marriage remains, especially in Arabia where people grow old relatively earlier, and when, especially in those days, people’s average life-expectancy was much lower.
Some marriages were contracted for specific reasons such as:
The Prophet’s wives were young, middle-aged, and elderly. The accurate requirements and norms of Islamic family life for every age could be learnt within the Prophet’s household better, and then conveyed to other Muslims through his wives.
Each wife was from a different clan or tribe, which allowed the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, to establish bonds of kinship and affinity throughout Arabia. This caused a profound attachment to him to spread Islam among the diverse peoples of the new Ummah, and also brought about and secured equality and brother/sisterhood among both in practical matters and in terms of religion.
Both before and after the Prophet’s death, each wife proved to be of great benefit and service. They conveyed and interpreted Islam to their people in all its inner and outer experiences, as well as the qualities, manners, and faith of the man who was the living embodiment of the Qur’ān in every aspect of his life. In this way, all of their people learned the Qur’ān, the Traditions, tafsīr (Qur’ānic interpretation and commentary), and fiqh (understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah as law). Thus, through his wives, these people became fully aware of Islam’s essence and spirit.
These marriages allowed the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, to establish kinship ties throughout Arabia, and thus to move freely wherever he wished and to be accepted as a member in each family. In addition, everyone so connected to him felt that they could approach him personally for guidance on any issue. The entire tribe also benefited from this connection; they considered themselves fortunate and took pride in their new relationship. For example, such relationships were established for the Umayyads (through Umm Habībah), the Hashimites (through Zaynab bint Jahsh), and the Banū Makhzūm (through Umm Salamah).
It is also a highly notable fact that all the Prophet’s wives (except ‘Ā’ishah and Māriyah) were divorcees or widows, thus underlying the importance and care that needs to be given to lone women in Islamic society, as against the then-prevalent norm of casting them off to a life of destitution.” (The Qur’an With Annotated Interpretation in Modern English Ali Unal, page 817 – 819)

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