Muhammad’s Adulterous Lust for a Married Woman

In this post I am going to quote the various Muslim authorities that recount Muhammad’s lustful desires for the wife of his adopted son Zaid, resulting in Zaid’s divorcing her in order for his father to then commit adultery with, all due to the decree of Muhammad’s god who had predestined this adulterous union to take place. This all based on the following Quranic text:

And (remember) when you said to him (Zaid bin Harithah the freedslave of the Prophet) on whom Allah has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad SAW too) have done favour (by manumitting him) “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.” But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allah has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allah’s Command must be fulfilled. S. 33:37 Hilali-Khan

Here are the explanations of the Islamic commentators/scholars:

Only after some time Zaid complained to the Prophet regarding what he had suffered with Zainab. The Prophet came to them and admonished here and while he talked to her HE DEVELOPED LIKENESS FOR HER BEAUTY, COUNTENANCE, AND WIT. IT HAPPENED AS ALLAH DECREED. The Prophet then returned AND HAD IN HIS THOUGHT WHAT ALLAH HAD WILLED. Thereafter, the Prophet asked as to how had he been with her? He again complained about her. The Prophet said, “Fear Allah Allah and keep your wife with you” WHILE HE HAD IN HIS HEART SOMETHING ELSE… Then Prophet then came to Zaid and saw Zainab as she was standing – she was beautiful, fair complexioned, and among the best women of Quraish – therefore, the Prophet FELT AN INCLINATION FOR HER and (while leaving) said: “Praise be to Allah who turns the hearts.” Zaid discerned and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to divorce her for she has haughtiness and is arrogant with me, and her language also hurts me.” The Prophet said, “Hold on to your wife, and fear Allah.” Zaid, however, eventually divorced her. (Muqatil b. Sulaiman, al-Tafsir [Dar ‘Ihya’ al-Turath, Beirut, 1423 AH], Volume 3, pp. 492-494)

According to Yunus b. ‘Abd al-A‘la — Ibn Wahb — Ibn Zayd, who said: The Messenger of God had married Zayd b. Harithah to Zaynab bt. Jahsh, his paternal aunt’s daughter. One day the Messenger of God went out looking for Zayd. Now there was a covering of haircloth over the doorway, but the wind had lifted the covering so that the doorway was uncovered. Zaynab was in her chamber, undressed, AND ADMIRATION FOR HER ENTERED THE HEART OF THE PROPHET. After that happened, she was MADE unattractive to the other man. So he came and said, “Messenger of God, I want to separate myself from my companion.” Muhammad asked: “What is wrong? Has anything on her part disquieted you?” “No, by God,” replied Zayd, “nothing she has done has disquieted me, Messenger of God, nor have I seen anything but good.” The Messenger of God said to him, “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear God.” That is [the meaning of] the Word of God: “And when you said unto him on whom God has conferred favor and you have conferred favor, ‘Keep your wife to yourself, and fear God.’ And you did hide in your mind that which God was to bring to light.” You did hide in your mind [the thought] that “if he separates himself from her, I will marry her.” (Al-Tabari, Jami‘ al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an [al-Resalah Publishers, Beirut, 2000], Volume 20, p. 274)

The Messenger of God came to the house of Zayd b. Harithah. (Zayd was always called Zayd b. Muhammad.) Perhaps the Messenger of God missed him at that moment, so as to ask, “Where is Zayd?” He came to his residence to look for him but did not find him. Zaynab bt. Jash, Zayd’s wife, rose to meet him. Because she was dressed only in a shift, the Messenger of God turned away from her. She said: “He is not here, Messenger of God. Come in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother!” The Messenger of God refused to enter. Zaynab had dressed in haste when she was told “the Messenger of God is at the door.” She jumped up in haste and excited the admiration of the Messenger of God, so that he turned away murmuring something that could scarcely be understood. However, he did say overtly: “Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes the hearts to turn!”

When Zayd came home, his wife told him that the Messenger of God had come to his house. Zayd said, “Why didn’t you ask him to come in?” He replied, “I asked him, but he refused.” “Did you hear him say anything?” he asked. She replied, “As he turned away, I heard him say: ‘Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes hearts to turn!’”

So Zayd left, and having come to the Messenger of God, he said: “Messenger of God, I have heard that you came to my house. Why didn’t you go in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother? Messenger of God, perhaps Zaynab has excited your admiration, and so I will separate myself from her.” Zayd could find no possible way to [approach] her after that day. He would come to the Messenger of God and tell him so, but the Messenger of God would say to him, “Keep your wife.” Zayd separated from her and left her, and she became free.

While the Messenger of God was talking with ‘A’isha, a fainting overcame him. When he was released from it, he smiled and said, “Who will go to Zaynab to tell her the good news, saying that God has married her to me?” Then the Messenger of God recited: “And when you said unto him on whom God has conferred favor and you have conferred favor, ‘Keep your wife to yourself .’”–and the entire passage.

According to ‘A’isha, who said: “I became very uneasy because of what we heard about her beauty and another thing, the greatest and loftiest of matters – what God had done for her by giving her in marriage. I said she would boast of it over us.” (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1997], Volume VIII, pp. 2-3; bold emphasis mine)

According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – ‘Abdallah b. ‘Amir al-Aslami – Muhammad b. Yahya b. Habban: The Prophet came to Zayd b. Harithah’s house looking for him. Zayd was [at that time] called Zayd b. Muhammad, and the Prophet sometimes would miss him [after] a time and would say “Where is Zayd?” [Once] he went to Zayd’s house but did not find him [there]. Zaynab rose toward him and said “Come here, O Messenger of God,” but he turned away, muttering something unintelligible, except the words “Praised be God the Great, praised be God, who turns the hearts.” When Zayd came home his wife told him that the Prophet had come to his house. Zayd asked “Didn’t you ask him to come in?” She said “I proposed it to him but he declined.” Zayd asked “Did you hear him say anything?” She said: “When he turned away I heard him say something I did not understand, and I heard him say ‘Praised be God the Great, praised be God who turns the hearts.'” Zayd left [his house] and went to the Prophet. He said: “O Messenger of God, I heard that you came to my house. Why didn’t you come in? O Messenger of God, may my father and mother be your ransom! Perhaps [the problem is] that you like Zaynab? In that case, I shall divorce her.” The Prophet said “Keep your wife.” [But] Zayd could not touch her [after that]. He would come to the Prophet and tell him [about it], and the latter would say “Keep your wife,” and Zayd would say “O Messenger of God, I shall divorce her,” and the Prophet would say “Keep your wife.” Zayd divorced her [all the same] and abstained from her, and she became lawful [for marriage]. [One day], while talking to ‘A’ishah, the Prophet fainted. On regaining consciousness he smiled and said “Who will go to Zaynab to bring her the glad tidings that God from above gave her to me in marriage?” The Prophet [then] recited “Recall when thou wert saying to him upon whom Allah bestowed favor and upon whom thou didst bestow favor.” ‘A’ishah narrated: I was upset by both near and remote troubles, having heard of Zaynab’s beauty. What was more, the greatest and noblest of all things happened to her, as God from heaven gave her in marriage. I said [to myself] “She is going to boast of it to us.” … (Ibid., pp. 180-181; bold emphasis ours)

‘Abd b. Humaid and Ibn al-Mundhar relate from ‘Ikrima… one day the Prophet entered Zaid’s house and saw Zainab – she being his paternal cousin – and it was as if she struck his imagination. (Jalal al-Din Al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur fi al-Tafsir al-Ma’thur [Marakaz al-Hijr, Cairo, 2003], Volume 12, pp. 61-62)

Yunus b. Bukair – Abi Salama al-Hamadhani the freedslave of al-Sha‘bi– Sha‘bi said: Zaid was ill. The Prophet went to visit him. His wife Zainab bt. Jahsh was sitting near his head to nurse him. Just as she left to do something, the Prophet looked at her, lowered his head and said: Glory be to him who directs the hearts and eyes. Then Zaid said: Shall I divorce her for you O Allah’s Messenger? The Prophet said: No. At this Allah revealed: “When you (O Prophet,) were saying to the one who was favored by Allah and favored by you… and Allah‘s decree had to be enforced.” (Ibn Ishaq, al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah [DKI, Beirut, 2004], p. 283)

Ma‘mar – Qatada… Qatada said: Zaid came to the Prophet and said:  Zainab’s has been tough on me with her tongue and I wish to divorce her. But the Prophet told him, “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.” The Prophet, however, WISHED THAT HE WOULD DIVORCE HER BUT ALSO FEARED WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT SAY if he asked Zaid to divorce her. At this Allah revealed, “And you were concealing in your heart what Allah was going to reveal, and you were fearing people, while Allah is more entitled to be feared by you. So, when Zaid finished his desire for her,” Qatada explained: When Zaid divorced her. “We gave her into your marriage.” (‘Abdul Razzaq Al-San‘ani, al-Tafsir, editor Mahmud Muhammad ‘Abduh [DKI, Beirut, 1419AH) Volume 3, p. 40, No. 2346)

This short chain is authentic. Moreover, it is supported by another chain of narrators back to Qatada via Yazid b. Zurai‘ and Sa‘id b. Abi ‘Arubah. (Ibn Jarir Al-Tabari,, Jami‘ al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, [al-Resalah Publishers, Beirut, 2000], Volume 20, 273; Abu al-Qasim Al-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir [Maktaba Ibn Taimiya, Cairo n.d.], Volume 24, p. 42, No. 114)

[Muhammad b. al-Sa’ib] al-Kalbi said: The Messenger of Allah came to visit Zainab and while he saw her standing SHE ATTRACTED HIS ADMIRATION. At this the Messenger of Allah said: “Praise be to Allah who turns the hearts.” ZAID OBSERVED THAT THE PROPHET DESIRED ZANIAB and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to divorce her for she is arrogant and hurts me with her words.” The Messenger of Allah said to him, “Fear Allah and hold on to your wife.” Zaid kept her for as long as Allah willed and then divorced her. Thereafter, when her ‘iddah ended, Allah sent a revelation from heavens regarding her marriage with the Prophet. (Yahya b. Salam, al-Tafsir [DKI, Beirut, 2004)], Volume 2, pp. 721-722)

The Messenger of Allah wished that Zaid would divorce Zainab without being asked to do so. (Ibid., p. 721)

Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah al-Hadrami – al-Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Hulwani – Muhammad b. Khalid b. ‘Athma – Musa b. Ya‘qub – ‘Abdul Rahman b. al-Munib – Abu Bakr b. Suleman b. Abi Hathma: The Messenger of Allah went to the house of Zaid b. Haritha and asked permission to enter. Zainab asked him to enter while she did not have veil on her so she put sleeve of the coat of mail on her head. The Prophet asked her about Zaid. She said: “He has left shortly before O Messenger of Allah!” The Messenger of Allah stood up to leave while he muttered. Zainab said, “I followed him and listened him say, ‘Praise be to the One who turns the hearts.’ He kept saying this until he left.” (Al-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir, Volume 24, p. 44, No. 121)

According to Muhammad b. ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – ‘Abdallah b. ‘Amir a1-Aslami — Muhammad b. Yahya b. Habban, who said: The Messenger of God came to the house of Zayd b. Harithah. Zayd was always called Zayd the son Muhammad. Perhaps the Messenger of God missed him at that moment, so as to ask, “Where is Zayd?” He came to his residence to look for him but did not find him. Zaynab bt. Jahsh, Zayd’s wife, rose to meet him. Because she was dressed only in a shift, the Messenger of God turned away from her. She said: “He is not here, Messenger of God. Come in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother!” The Messenger of God refused to enter. Zaynab had dressed in haste when she was told “the Messenger of God is at the door.” She jumped up in haste and excited the admiration of the Messenger of God, so that he turned away murmuring something that could scarcely be understood. However, he did say overtly: “Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes hearts to turn!” When Zayd came home, his wife told him that the Messenger of God had come to his house. Zayd said, “Why didn’t you ask him to come in?” She replied, “I asked him, but he refused.” “Did you hear him say anything?” he asked. She replied, “As he turned away, I heard him say: ‘Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes hearts to turn!’” So Zayd left, and, having come to the Messenger of God, he said: “Messenger of God, I have heard that you came to my house. Why didn’t you go in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother? Messenger of God, perhaps Zaynab HAS EXCITED YOUR ADMIRATION, and so I will separate myself from her.” The Messenger of God said, “Keep your wife to yourself.” ZAYD COULD FIND NO POSSIBLE WAY TO [approach] HER AFTER THAT DAY. He would come to the Messenger of God and tell him so, but the Messenger of God would say to him, “Keep your wife.” Zayd separated from her and left her, and she became free. While the Messenger of God was talking with ‘A’ishah, a fainting overcame him. When he was released from it, he smiled and said, “Who will go to Zaynab to tell her the good news, saying that God has married her to me?”… (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat al-Kubra [DKI, Beirut, 1990], Volume 8, pp. 80-81)

Some Muslims shamefully appealed to David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba to justify what their prophet did:

Ibn Juraij said regarding the verse, “[There is no problem for the prophet in (doing) what Allah has prescribed for him, a customary practice of Allah in the case of those who have gone before] – and Allah‘s command is pre-determined by destiny.” This has been the practice of Allah in relation to Dawud and the woman (i.e. Bathsheba), and in relation to the Prophet and Zainab.” (al-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir, Volume 24, pp. 42-43, No. 119, 120)

The problem with this appeal is that, unlike Allah who both decreed and justified Muhammad’s adulterous lusts, the true God Jehovah rebuked and punished David for committing adultery and murdering the husband to cover up his guilt and shame (Cf. 2 Samuel 11-12).

Further Reading

Muhammad’s Sexual Privileges

Revisiting Muhammad’s Marriage to His Adopted Son’s Divorcee, Zaynab Bint Jash

An Examination of Muhammad’s Marriage Privileges

Zaid, Zaynab and Muhammad

Muhammad, Zaid and Zaynab Revisited

 

 

 

 

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