78. This is meant to instruct the Muslims to the effect: When the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah is being showered with taunts and abuses by the enemies and his person being made the target of a propaganda campaign to frustrate his mission, the believers should neither listen to these absurd things unconcerned, nor should become themselves also involved in the doubts and suspicions spread by the enemies, nor should resort to abusive language in retaliation, but they should turn to Allah and remember Him more than usual as a special measure. The meaning of remembering Allah much has been explained in (E.N. 63) above. “Glorify Him morning and evening” means to glorify Allah constantly, to express His holiness and purity by word of mouth and not merely by counting beads on the rosary.
79. This is meant to make the Muslims realize this: The jealousy and malice of the disbelievers and hypocrites towards you is only due to the mercy that Allah has shown you through His Messenger (peace be upon him). It is through him that you have been blessed with the faith, that you have come out from the darkness of unbelief and ignorance into the light of Islam, that you have developed the high moral and social qualities by virtue of which you stand distinguished above others. It is this which has filled the jealous people with malice and rage against the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah. However, in this state you should not adopt any unbecoming attitude which might alienate you from the mercy of Allah.
The word Salat when used with the preposition ala by Allah in respect of the servants, it means mercy and kindness and compassion and when used by the angels in respect of the human beings, it means the prayer for mercy. That is, the angels pray to Allah to bless the human beings with His bounty and favors. Another meaning of yusalli alaikum is: Allah blesses you with renown among the people and exalts you to a high rank so that the people begin to praise you and the angels begin to eulogize you.
80. This can have three meanings:
(1) That Allah will Himself receive them with: Peace be upon you, as has been stated in (Surah Ya Sin: Ayat 58): “they have been greeted with “peace” from the Merciful Lord.”
(2) That the angels will greet them, as stated in (Surah An- Nahl: Ayat 32): “This is the reward for those pious people whose souls are received in a pure state by the angels, who welcome them, saying: ‘Peace be upon you, enter into Paradise as the reward of your good deeds.”
(3) That they will greet one another among themselves, as stated in (Surah Yunus: Ayat 10), thus: “Therein their prayer will be Glory to Thee, O Lord, and their greeting: Peace be to you, and the burden of their hymn: Praise is for Allah alone, Lord of the universe.”
81. After admonishing the Muslims, Allah now addresses a few words of consolation to His Prophet (peace be upon him), as if to say: “We have blessed you with such and such a high rank and raised you to an exalted place of honor. Your opponents will not be able to harm you in any way by their propaganda campaign of slander and calumny. Therefore, you should not take their mischief to heart, nor give any weight to their propaganda. You should continue doing the duties of your mission, and let them utter whatever nonsense they like.” Along with this, incidentally, the other people, both the believers and the unbelievers, also have been told that the person they have to deal with is not an ordinary man but a great personality, whom Allah has raised to the highest ranks of honor and glory.
82. The meaning of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) being a “witness” is very vast. It includes three kinds of evidence:
(1) Verbal evidence, i.e. the Prophet (peace be upon him) should bear out the truth of the realities and principles on which Allah’s religion is based and tell the world plainly that they are the truth and all that is opposed to them is falsehood. He should rise to proclaim without hesitation and fear the Being of Allah and His Unity, the existence of the angels, the coming down of revelation, the occurrence of life-after-death, the Hell and Heaven, all are realities, even if they appear strange to the world, and the people mock the one presenting them, or call him a madman. Likewise, the Prophet (peace be upon him) should openly present before the people the concepts, values, principles and rules pertaining to morality and civilization and social life that God has revealed to him, and reject as wrong all the concepts and ways which are prevalent and are opposed to them, even if the whole world rejects them as wrong and violates them in practice. Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) should proclaim as lawful what is lawful in Allah’s law even if the whole world regards it as unlawful, and should proclaim as unlawful whatever is unlawful in Allah’s law even if the world regards it as lawful and pure.
(2) Practical evidence: That is, the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his own life should practically demonstrate all that he has been commissioned to present before the world. His life should be free from every shade of that which he calls evil, and his own character should clearly reflect that which he calls good; he should be the foremost in carrying out what he regards as obligatory, and most cautious in refraining from what he calls sinful. He should exert his utmost to enforce the code of life which he calls divine. His own character and conduct should bear out how sincere and truthful he is in his invitation; and his own self should be such a model of his teaching that anyone who sees him should know what kind of a man he wants to produce by the faith to which he invites the world, what kind of a character he wants to instill in him and what system of life he wants to be established through him in the world.
(3) Evidence in the Hereafter. That is, when the court of Allah is established in the Hereafter, the Prophet (peace be upon him) should give evidence to prove that he had conveyed to the people the entire message, without making any alteration or changes in it, that had been entrusted to him, and that he had shown no slackness in making the truth manifest before them, by word and by deed. On the basis of this evidence, it will be determined what reward the believers deserve and what punishment the disbelievers deserve.
From this one can have an idea of how great a responsibility had Allah placed upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) by raising him to the position of a “witness”, and how great should be the personality worthy of that high position. Evidently, there has been no slackness whatever on the part of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the matter of giving evidence with regard to the faith, verbally as well as practically. That is why in the Hereafter, he will be able to testify that he had made the truth plain to the people, and that is how Allah’s argument will be established against them; otherwise, if, God forbid, there had been any slackness on the part of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in providing evidence, he could neither be a witness against them in the Hereafter nor could any case be established against the deniers of the truth.
Some people have tried to give a different interpretation to the word witness. They say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Hereafter will bear witness to the acts and deeds of the people. From this they conclude that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is watching and witnessing the acts of all the people; otherwise he could not bear the witness. But according to the Quran this interpretation is absolutely wrong. The Quran tells us that Allah has arranged a different system for recording the acts of the people. For this purpose His angels are preparing the conduct book of every person. See (Surah Qaf: Ayats 17-18), and (Surah Al-Kahf: Ayat 49). After this He will make the people’s own limbs also to bear witness against them, (Surah Ya Sin: Ayat 65), (Surah Ha Mim As-Sajdah: Ayats 20-21). As for the Prophets, they are not to testify to the acts of the people, but to give evidence to prove that they had conveyed the truth to the people. The Quran clearly says:
On the Day when Allah will assemble all the Messengers, He will ask: What was the response you received? They will answer: We have no knowledge. You alone have the full knowledge of all that is hidden. (Surah Al-Maidah: Ayat 109).
In the same connection, the Quran says about the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) that when he will be questioned about the deviation of the Christians, he will say: “I was a witness to their conduct as long as I remained among them, but after You recalled me. You watched over them.” (Surah Al-Maidah: Ayat 117)
These verses clearly show that the Prophets will not be witnesses in regard to the acts of the people. As to what they will bear witness to the Quran gives an equally clear answer:
O Muslims, We have made you a community of the Golden Mean so that you may be witnesses in regard to mankind and the Messenger may be a witness in regard to you. (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 143).
(O Muhammad, warn them of) the Day when We shall call a witness from among every community to testify against it. And We shall call you to testify against these people. (Surah An-Nahl: Ayat 89).
This shows that on the Day of Resurrection the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) evidence in its nature will not be any different from the evidence for bearing which the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) community and the witnesses in regard to every other community will be summoned. Evidently, if it be an evidence in regard to the acts, then the omnipresence of all of them also becomes necessary. And if these witnesses will be called to give evidence to confirm that the Creator’s message had reached His creation, inevitably the Prophet (peace be upon him) also will be called upon to give a similar evidence.
The same is supported by the Hadith which Bukhari. Muslim, Tirmidhi. Ibn Majah, lmam Ahmad and others have related on the authority of Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Abbas, Abu ad-Darda, Anas bin Malik and many other companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), whose common theme is this: The Prophet (peace be upon him) on the Day of Resurrection will see some of his companions being brought, but instead of coming to him they will either be going or being pushed to the other side. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) will say: “O Allah, they are my companions!” Allah will say: “You do not know what misdeeds they committed after you.” This theme has been reported by numerous companions and with so many chains of authorities that there remains no doubt about its authenticity. This proves that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not at all a witness to each individual of his community and to each of his acts. As for the hadith which says that the acts of the people of his Ummah are presented before him, it does not in any way contradict this, because its purport is that Allah keeps him informed of the affairs of his Ummah, which does not mean that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is actually witnessing the acts of every person.
83. One should note that a person’s giving the good news of a good end for belief and righteous acts and the warning of an evil end for disbelief and evil acts, in his personal capacity, is a different thing, and another’s being appointed by Allah as a bearer of the good news and a warner is quite another thing. The one who is appointed to this office by Allah necessarily possesses an authority to give the good news and administer the warnings due to which his good news and his warnings are invested with legality. His giving a good news for an act has the meaning that the Greatest of all Judges, Who has sent him, approves of the act and holds it worthy of a reward. So, it is certainly imperative or obligatory or commendable in nature, and its doer will surely get a reward. On the other hand, his giving a warning of an evil end for an act has the meaning that the Sovereign forbids that act. So, it is certainly sinful and unlawful, and its doer will surely be punished. The good news and warnings of the one who is not divinely appointed cannot ever be invested with such an authority.
84. Here also the same difference as pointed out above exists between the preaching of a common man and of a Prophet. As for the invitation to Allah, it is given, and can be given, by every preacher, but he is not appointed by Allah to do so. Contrary to this, a Prophet rises to call the people towards Allah by the leave of Allah. His call is not mere preaching but has also the support of the authority of the Lord of the universe, Who sent him. That is why resistance and opposition to the inviter to Allah amounts to rebellion against Allah Himself precisely as resistance to a government official when he is performing official duty is regarded as hostile to the government itself.
85. This sentence is explicit that the word nikah here has been used for the contract of marriage only. The lexicographers have greatly disputed over the real meaning of the Arabic word nikah. One group of them says that as a word it is common both for intercourse and for the contract of marriage. The second group says that in its meaning it is common for both. The third group opines that its real meaning is the contract of marriage and for intercourse it is used only figuratively. And the fourth group expresses the opinion that its real meaning is intercourse and for the contract of marriage it is used only figuratively. Each group has cited Arabic poetry in support of its view. But Raghib Isfahani has emphatically asserted this: “The real meaning of the word nikah is contract of marriage; it has been used for intercourse metaphorically. It is impossible that its real meaning be intercourse and may have been used for the contract of marriage only metaphorically.” The argument he gives is that all the words that have been actually coined for intercourse in Arabic, or in other languages of the world, are obscene and vulgar. No gentleman would like to utter them in a civilized gathering. Therefore, it is not possible that a society should use the word which has actually been coined for this act for marriage as a metaphor. For conveying this meaning only chaste words have been used in every language of the world and not obscene words.
As far as the Quran and Sunnah arc concerned, nikah is a term, which either implies only contract of marriage, or intercourse after the contract of marriage; but it has nowhere been used for intercourse outside marriage. This kind of intercourse has been called zina (adultery) by the Quran and Sunnah and not nikah.
86. This is a unique verse which was sent down probably in the same period respecting some case of divorce, and so inserted in this context. This shows that it was sent down after the preceding and before the following discourse. Below is given a summary of the legal injunctions that have been derived from this verse:
(1) Although the word “believing women” has been used, which apparently may give the impression that the law enunciated in this verse is not applicable to the women of the people of the Book, yet all scholars are agreed that this very injunction is applicable to them also. That is, in case a Muslim has married such a woman, all the injunctions relating to her divorce, dower, waiting-period (iddat) and provision at divorce are the same as of marriage with a believing woman. The scholars have also agreed that Allah’s mentioning of the believing women here in particular is actually meant to tell the Muslims that only the believing women are suitable for them. That is, although it is permissible for them to marry Jewish and Christian women, it is not proper and commendable. In other words, the Quran seems to impress that Allah expects that the believers would marry only the believing women.
(2) The word mas (to touch) here has been used for intercourse by implication. Thus, the verse apparently implies that if the husband has not had intercourse with the woman, even though he has had seclusion with her and has even touched her with the hand, she will not have to observe the waiting-term (iddat) in case of divorce. But the jurists, for the sake of precaution, have decreed that if they have had seclusion proper (i.e. seclusion during which intercourse could be possible), waiting-period will have to be observed if divorce is pronounced after it, and the waiting-period would be annulled only in case divorce was pronounced before they have had the seclusion.
(3) The annulment of the waiting-period in case of divorce before the event of seclusion means that in this case the man forfeits his right to take the woman back as his wife, and the woman becomes entitled to marry anyone she likes immediately after the divorce. But it should be borne in mind that this applies only to the divorce which is pronounced before the event of the seclusion. If a woman’s husband dies before having the seclusion, the waitingperiod that has to be observed after death will not be annulled, but she will have to pass the same waiting-period of four months and ten days as is obligatory for a married woman in normal conditions. (Iddat is the waiting-period before the expiry of which a divorced woman or a widow is forbidden to remarry).
(4) The words “then there is no waiting term upon them,” show that the waiting-period is a right of the man on the woman. But it does not mean that this is only the man’s right. It, in fact, includes two other rights as well: the right of the children, and the right of Allah or of the law. The man’s right is on the basis that he has the right to take the woman back as his wife during the period, and also on the basis that the proof of the parentage of his children, which depends on the woman’s being pregnant or otherwise, becomes established in the waiting-period. The reason for including the right of the children is that the proof of a child’s parentage is necessary for the establishment of his legal rights, and his moral status also depends on this that his parentage should not be doubtful. The reason for including the right of Allah (or the right of the law) is that even if the people and their children become heedless of their rights, the divine law requires that their rights should be protected. That is why even if a man gives a warrant to a woman that after his death or after obtaining divorce from him, there will be no waiting-period binding on her from him, the divine law will in no case annul it.
(5) “So provide for them and send them off, a graceful sending.” The intention of this injunction would be fulfilled by acting in either of the two ways: If the dower had been fixed at the time of marriage, and then divorce pronounced before the event of seclusion proper, payment of half of the dower will be obligatory, as enjoined in ( Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 237). To give more than what is obligatory is not binding but certainly commendable. For instance, it is commendable that besides paying half of the dower the man should let the woman retain the bridal garments, or any other articles that he had sent her for the occasion of marriage. But if no dower had been fixed at the time of marriage, it is obligatory to pay her something before sending her away, and this something should be according to the status and financial means of the man, as has been enjoined in (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 236). One group of the scholars holds that something in any case has to be paid in case of divorce as an obligation whether dower has been fixed or not.
(6) “A graceful sending” does not only mean that the woman should be provided with something on divorce but this also that separation should be adopted in a gentlemanly way, without any kind of vilification. If a man does not happen to like a woman, or there has been some other cause of complaint due to which he does not want to keep the woman, he should divorce her like a gentleman and send her away. He should not start mentioning her faults and relating his complaints against her before the people so as to also prejudice them against her. This instruction of the Quran clearly shows that annexing the enforcement of divorce to the permission of a local council or court is fully against the wisdom and spirit of the divine law, for in that case there remains no chance of “sending her away gracefully”, but defamation, revilement and vilification do inevitably result even if the man does not so will. Moreover, the words of the verse also do not admit that the power of the man to divorce should be bound up with the permission of a local council or court. The verse is clearly giving the married man the power of divorce and placing on him alone the responsibility that if he wants to release the woman before touching her he must pay her half the dower as an obligation, or something else according to his means. From this the object of the verse clearly seems to be that in order to prevent divorce from being taken lightly the man should be placed under the burden of a financial responsibility so that he himself uses his power of divorce with sense, and there is no chance of an external interference in the internal affairs of the two families.
(7) Ibn Abbas, Said bin al-Musayyib, Hasan Basri, Ali bin al-Husain (Zain al-Abidin), Imam Shafei and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal have deduced from the words, “when you marry, and then divorce” that divorce takes effect only when marriage has been contracted. Divorce before the contract of marriage is without effect. Therefore if a person says, “If I marry such and such a woman, or a woman of such and such a tribe or nation, or any other woman, she is divorced,” it will be an absurd and meaningless thing; no divorce can take effect from this. The following Ahadith are presented in support of this view:
“The son of Adam is not entitled to use his power of divorce in respect of that which he does not possess.” (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah). And: “There is no divorce before marriage.” (Ibn Majah). But a great number of the jurists hold that this verse and these Ahadith apply in the case when a man says to a woman, who is not his wife, “You have divorce on you,” or “I divorce you.” Saying such a thing is no doubt absurd, and is of no legal consequence, but if he says, “If I marry you, you are divorced,” this is not divorcing before the marriage, but the person is in fact declaring his intent that when the woman is married to him, she will stand divorced. Such a declaration cannot be absurd and without effect, but, as a matter of fact, whenever the woman is married to him, divorce will fall on her. The jurists who hold the view have further differed as to what extent this kind of divorce will have effect.
Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Muhammad and Imam Zufar hold that divorce will take place in any case whether a person specifics a woman or a tribe or a nation, or talks generally so as to say. “Any woman whom I marry is divorced.” Abu Bakr al-Jassas has cited the same opinion also from Umar, Abdullah bin Masud, Ibrahim Nakhai, Mujahid and Umar bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah show mercy to them all).
Sufyan Thauri and Uthman al-Batti say that divorce will take place only in case the person says, “If I marry such and such a woman, she is divorced.”
Hasan bin Salih, Laith bin Saad and Amir ash-Shabi, say that such a divorce will take place even if something is said in general terms provided that a particular class of the people has been mentioned; for instance, if the person has said. “If I marry a woman of such and such a family, or such and such a tribe, or such and such city or country or nation, she is divorced.”
Ibn Abi Laila and Imam Malik, disputing the above opinion, have added a condition that the time limit also should be determined. For example, if the man said: “If I marry within this year or the next ten years such and such a woman or a woman from such and such a class, she is divorced,” divorce will take place, otherwise not. Imam Malik also adds that if the time limit is so long that the man is not expected to outlive it, his declaration will have no effect.
87. This, in fact, is an answer to the objection of the people who said that Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade others to keep more than four wives at a time but had himself taken a fifth wife. This objection was raised because at the time the Prophet (peace be upon him) married Zainab, he already had four wives with him:
(1) Saudah, whom he had married in the 3rd year before the Hijrah,
(2) Aishah, whom he married in the 3rd year before the Hijrah but who came to live with him in Shawwal, A.H. 1,
(3) Hafsah, whom he married in Shaban, A.H. 3, and,
(4) Umm Salamah, whom he married in Shawwal. A.H. 4. Thus, Zainab was his fifth wife. May Allah be pleased with them all. Here Allah has answered the objection of the disbelievers and the hypocrites, as if to say, O Prophet, We have made lawful for you all these five wives whom you have married by giving them their dowers. In other words, the answer means this: “It is We who have imposed the restriction of four wives on others, and it is also We ourselves who have made Our Prophet an exception to the restriction. When We could impose the restriction, We could also make the exception.”
Also, about this answer one should note that it was not meant to satisfy the disbelievers and the hypocrites but those Muslims to whom the opponents of Islam were trying to impart evil suggestions. Since they believed that the Quran is Allah’s speech and has been sent down in Allah’s own words, Allah declared through a clear and decisive verse that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not made himself an exception from the general law about four wives of his own accord, but the exception in regard to him had been decreed by Allah.
88. Besides making the fifth wife lawful for the Prophet, Allah in this verse also granted him the permission to marry a few other kinds of the women:
(1) The woman who came into his possession from among the slave-girls granted by Allah. According to this the Prophet (peace be upon him) selected for himself Raihanah from among the prisoners of war taken at the raid against the Bani Quraizah, Juwairiyah from among the prisoners of war taken at the raid against the Bani al- Mustaliq, Safiyyah out of the prisoners of war captured at Khaiber, and Mariah the Copt, who was presented by Maqauqis of Egypt. Out of these he set three of them free and married them, but had conjugal relations with Mariah on the ground of her being his slave-girl. In her case there is no proof that the Prophet (peace be upon him) set her free and married her.
(2) The ladies from among his first cousins, who emigrated along with him. The words “who emigrated with you” do not mean that they accompanied the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his migration journey but this that they also had migrated in the way of Allah for the sake of Islam. The Holy Prophet was given the choice to marry any one of them he liked. Accordingly, in A.H. 7 he married Umm Habibah. (Incidentally, in this verse it has been elucidated that the daughters of one’s paternal and maternal uncles and aunts are lawful for a Muslim. In this regard the Islamic Law is different both from the Christian Law and from the Jewish Law. Among the Christians one cannot marry a woman whose line of descent joins one’s own anywhere in the last seven generations, and among the Jews it is permissible even to marry one’s real niece, i.e. daughter of one’s brother or sister.
(3) The believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet (peace be upon him), i.e. who is prepared to give herself in marriage to the Prophet (peace be upon him) without a dower, and he may like to marry her. On account of this permission the Prophet (peace be upon him) took Hadrat Maimunah as his wife in Shawwal, A.H. 7, but he did not think he should have conjugal relations with her without paying her the dower. Therefore, he paid her the dower even though she did not demand or desire it. Some commentators say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not have any wife who had offered herself to him; but this in fact means that he did not keep any wife without paying her the dower although she offered herself to him.
89. If this sentence is taken to be related with the preceding sentence, it will mean that it is not permissible for any Muslim to take in marriage a woman who gives herself to him, without paying her the dower; and if it is taken to be related with the whole preceding passage, it will imply that the concession to marry more than four wives is only reserved for the Prophet (peace be upon him), not for the other Muslims. This verse also shows that certain commandments are specifically meant for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to follow and are not applicable to the other Muslims. A study of the Quran and Sunnah reveals several such commandments. For example, the Tahajjud prayer was obligatory for the Prophet (peace be upon him) but is voluntary for the Ummah. It is unlawful for him and his family to receive charities though it is not so for others. The inheritance left by him cannot be divided; as for the inheritance left by others relevant commandments have been given in Surah An-Nisa. Keeping of more than four wives was made lawful for him though he was not enjoined to do equal treatment with them. He was permitted to marry a woman who gave herself to him without any dower, and after his death his wives were forbidden for the Ummah. None of these privileges could be enjoyed by any other Muslim. Another special thing that the commentators have mentioned in this regard is that it was forbidden for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to marry a woman from among the people of the Book though it is lawful for the Muslims to do so.
90. This is the reason why Allah made the Prophet (peace be upon him) an exception to the general rule. “That there should be no difficulty (restraint) upon you.” does not mean that he was, God forbid, a very lustful person, and therefore, he was permitted to marry several wives so that he might not feel any hindrance due to the restriction to four wives. This meaning will be understood only by the person who, blinded by prejudice, forgets that the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the age of 25 married a lady who was 40 years old, and lived a happy, contented married life with her for full 25 years. Then, when she died, he marred another old lady Saudah, who remained his only wife for the next four years. Now, no sensible and honest person can imagine that when he became over fifty-three he was suddenly filled with lust and needed to have more and more wives. In fact, in order to understand the meaning of “no restraint”, one should, on the one hand, keep in view the great task whose responsibility Allah had placed on the Prophet (peace be upon him), and on the other hand, understand the conditions and circumstances under which he had been appointed to accomplish the great task. Anyone who understands these two things with an unbiased mind, will certainly realize why it was necessary to grant him freedom in respect of the wives and what hindrance was there for him in the restriction to four wives.
The task entrusted to the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that he should mold and chisel by all-round education and training an uncouth, uncultured nation which was not uncivilized only from the Islamic point of view but from a general viewpoint as well, into a highly civilized, refined and virtuous nation. For this purpose an unbiased mind will certainly realize why it was necessary to grant him freedom in respect of the wives and what hindrance was there for him in the restriction to four wives. For this purpose it was not enough only to train men but the training of the women was also equally necessary. However, the principles of social life and civilization which he had been appointed to teach forbade free mixing of the sexes together, and it was not possible for him to impart direct training to the womenfolk without violating this rule. Therefore, for imparting education to the women the only alternative left for him was that he should marry several women of different ages and mental capabilities and should prepare them by education and training to become his helpers, and then employ them to give religious instructions to the young, middle-aged and old women of the city and desert and teach them the new principles of morality and civilization. Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had also been appointed to abolish the system of life of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance and replace it with the Islamic system of life practically. For the accomplishment of this task a conflict was inevitable with those who upheld the system of ignorance, and this conflict was being encountered in a country where the tribal system of life was prevalent with all its peculiar customs and traditions. Under these conditions, besides other devices, it was also necessary that the Prophet (peace be upon him) should marry in different families and clans in order to cement many ties of friendship and put an end to enmities. Thus, the selection of the ladies whom he married was to some extent determined by this object besides their personal qualities. By taking Aishah and Hafsah as wives he further strengthened and deepened the relations with Abu Bakr and Umar. Umm Salamah was the daughter of the family to which Abu Jahl and Khalid bin Walid belonged, and Umm Habibah was the daughter of Abu Sufyan. These marriages neutralized the enmity of these families to a large extent; so much so that after Umm Habibah’s marriage Abu Sufyan never confronted the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the battlefield. Safiyyah, Juwairiah and Raihanah belonged to Jewish families. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) married them after setting them free, the hostile Jewish activities against him subsided. For according to the Arab traditions when the daughter of a clan or tribe was married to a person, he was regarded as the son-in-law of not only the girl’s family but of the entire tribe, and it was disgraceful to fight the son-in-law.
Practical reformation of the society and abolition of its customs of ignorance was also included among the duties of his office. Therefore, he had to undertake one marriage for this purpose also, as has been related in detail in this Surah Ahzab itself.
For these reasons it was essential that there should be no restriction for the Prophet in respect of marriage so that in view of the requirements of the great mission entrusted to him he could marry as many women as he wanted.
This also brings out the error of the view of those people who think that polygamy is permissible only under special personal requirements and apart from these there can be no other object for which it may be permissible. Evidently, the reason for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to marry more wives than one was not that the wife was sick, or barren, or that he had no male child, or that there was the question of the bringing up of some orphans. Without these restrictions, he married all his wives either in view of the educational requirements, or for the reformation of society, or for political and social objectives. The question is, when Allah Himself has not kept polygamy restricted to a few particular needs, which are being mentioned these days and the Messenger of Allah took several wives for many purposes other than these, how is another person entitled to propose some restrictions in the law and then claim that he is imposing these in accordance with the Shariah? As a matter of fact, the root cause for the imposition of these restrictions is the Western concept that polygamy is an evil in itself. That very concept has given rise to the idea that this unlawful thing can become lawful only in case of extreme circumstances. Now, however hard one may try to label this imported concept with Islam artificially, it is entirely alien to the Quran and Sunnah and the whole Muslim literature.
91. This verse was meant to relieve the Prophet (peace be upon him) of the domestic worries and anxieties so that he could carry out his duties with full peace of mind. When Allah clearly gave him the power and the authority to treat any of his wives as he liked, there remained no chance that those believing ladies would trouble him in any way, or would create complications for him by their mutual rivalries and domestic squabbles. But in spite of having this authority from Allah the Prophet (peace be upon him) meted out full justice to his wives. He did not prefer one to the other and would visit each of them regularly by turns. Only Abu Razin from among the traditionalists has said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited only four of his wives, Aishah, Hafsah, Zainab and Umm Salamah by turns and no turn had been fixed for the other wives. But all other traditionalists and commentators contradict this and prove by authentic traditions that even after having this authority the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited all his wives in turn and treated there alike. Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Abu Daud and others have reported on the authority of Aishah that even after the revelation of this verse the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) practice was that whenever he wanted to visit any of us, his wives, on the turn of another wife, he would first ask her permission for it. Abu Bakr al-Jassas relates from Urwah bin Zubair that Aishah told him, “As to our rants the Prophet (peace be upon him) never preferred any of us to the other, although it seldom happened that he did not visit all his wives on the same day, but he never touched a wife unless it was her day by turn.” And this also is a tradition from Aishah that during his last illness when it became difficult for him to move about he asked for his other wives’ permission to stay with her, and only on their approval he passed his last days in her apartment. Ibn Abi Hatim has cited this from Imam Zuhri that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not known to have deprived any of his wives of her turn. To this only Saudah was an exception, who on account of her advanced age had willingly surrendered her turn in favor of Aishah.
Here, nobody should entertain the doubt that Allah had, God forbid, shown an undue privilege to His Prophet (peace be upon him) and deprived his wives of their rights. As a matter of fact, the great objectives for the sake of which the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been made an exception to the general rule in respect of the number of wives, also demanded that he should be afforded full peace in domestic life and anything that could cause him distraction and embarrassment should be eradicated. It was a unique honor for the wives that they were privileged to be the life-partners of the greatest of all men like the Prophet (peace be upon him), and by virtue of this they got the opportunity to become his companions and helpers in the great task of reform and invitation that was to become the means of true success for mankind till the end of time. Just as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was offering every kind of sacrifice for the sake of this objective and the companions were also following his example according to their capabilities, so it was also the duty of his wives to display selflessness in every way. Therefore, all the wives accepted Allah’s decision with regard to themselves happily and willingly.
92. This is a warning for the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives as well as for all other people. For the wives it is a warning in the sense that if after the coming down of this divine command they did not feel reconciled to it in their hearts, they would not escape Allah’s punishment. And for others the warning is that if they entertained any kind of suspicion in their hearts in regard to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) matrimonial life, or harbored any misgiving in any recess of their minds, this would not remain hidden from Allah. Along with this Allah’s attribute of forbearance has also been mentioned so that they know that although even a thought of insolence in regard to the Prophet (peace be upon him) is punishable, yet if a person got rid of such a suspicion he might have the hope of His forgiveness.
93. This has two meanings:
(1) “No other woman except those made lawful to you in (verse 50 )above, is any more lawful to you” and,
(2) “When your wives have become pleased and ready to stay with you through every kind of hardship and have rejected the world in preference to the Hereafter, and are satisfied that you may treat them as you please, it is no longer lawful for you that you should divorce any of them and take another wife instead.”
94. This verse explains why one is permitted to have conjugal relations with one’s slave-girls besides the wedded wives, and there is no restriction on their number. The same thing has also been stated in (Surahs An-Nisa, Ayat 3), ( Al-Muminun, Ayat 6), and (Al-Maarij, Ayat 30). In all these verses the slave-girls have been mentioned as a separate class from the wedded wives, and conjugal relations with them have been permitted. Moreover, (Ayat 3 of Surah An- Nisa) lays down the number of the wives as four, but neither has Allah fixed the number of the slave-girls in that verse nor made any allusion to their number in the other relevant verses. Here, of course, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is being addressed and told: “It is no more lawful for you to take other women in marriage, or divorce any of the present wives and take another wife in her stead; slavegirls, however, are lawful.” This shows that no restriction has been imposed in respect of the slave girls.
This, however, does not mean that the divine law has provided the rich an opportunity to purchase as many slave-girls as they like for their carnal indulgence. This is in fact how the self-seeking people have exploited and abused the law. The law had been made for the convenience of the people; it had not been made to be abused. One could, for instance, similarly abuse the law concerning marriage. The Shariah permits a man to marry up to four wives and also gives him the right to divorce his wife and take another one. This law had been made in view of man’s requirements and needs. Now, if a person, merely for the sake of sensual enjoyment, were to adopt the practice of keeping four wives for a time and then divorcing them to be replaced by another company of them, it would be abusing the provisions of the law, for which the person himself would be responsible and not the Shariah. Likewise the Shariah has allowed that the women who are captured in war and whose people do not exchange them for Muslim prisoners of war nor ransom them, may be kept as slave-girls, and gave the persons to whom they are assigned by the government the right to have conjugal relations with them so that they do not become a moral hazard for the society. Then, as it was not possible to determine the number of the prisoners of war, legally also it could not be determined how many slave girls a person could keep at a time. The sale of the slaves and slave-girls was also allowed for the reason that if a slave or a slave-girl could not do well with a master, he or she could be transferred to another person so that the same person’s permanent ownership did not become a cause of unending torture for both the master and the captive. The Shariah made all these laws keeping in view human conditions and requirements for the convenience of men. If these have been made a means of sexual enjoyment and luxury by the rich, it is they who are to blame for this and not the Shariah.