*1 This is not, in fact, a question but an expression of disapproval. The object is not to ask the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) why he had done so, but to warn him that his act to make unlawful for himself what AIIah had made lawful is not approved by Allah. This by itself gives the meaning that nobody has the power to make unlawful what Allah has made lawful; so much so that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself also did not possess any such power. Although the Holy Prophet did not regard this as unlawful as a matter of faith nor legally but only forbade himself its use, yet since he was not an ordinary man but Allah's Messenger, and his forbidding himself something could have the effect that his followers too would have regarded it as forbidden, or at least reprehensible, or the people of his community might have thought that there was no harm in forbidding oneself something his AIIah had made lawful, Allah pointed it out to him and commanded him to refrain from such prohibition.
This shows that in this case the Holy Prophet had not made a lawful thing unlawfirl because of a personal desire but because his wives had wanted him to do so, and he had made it unlawful for himself only in order to please them. Here, the question arises: why has Allah particularly made mention of the cause of making the thing unlawful besides pointing out the act of prohibition? Obviously, if the object had been to make him refrain from making a lawful thing unlawfirl, this could be fulfilled by the first sentences and there was no need that the motive of the act also should have been stated. Making mention of it in particular clearly shows that the object was not to check the Holy Prophet only for making a lawful thing unlawful, but along with that to warn the holy wives also to the effect that in their capacity as the Prophet's wives they had not understood their delicate responsibilities and had made the Holy Prophet do a thing which could lead to making a lawful thing unlawful.
Although it has not been mentioned ill the Qur'an as to what it was that the Holy Prophet had forbidden himself yet the traditionists and commentators have mentioned in this regard two differ. ent incidents, which occasioned the revelation of this verse. One of these relates to Hadrat Mariyah Qibiyyah (Mary, the Copt lady) and the other to his forbidding himself the use of honey.
The incident relating to Hadrat Mariyah is that after concluding the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah one of the letters that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) sent to the rulers of the adjoining countries was addressed to the Roman Patriarch of Alexandria also, whom the Arabs called Muqawqis. When Hadrat Hatib bin Abi Balta a took this letter to him, he did not embrace Islam but received him well, and in reply wrote: "I know that a Prophet is yet to rise, but 1 think he will appear in Syria. However, 1 have treated your messenger with due honour, and am sending two slave-girls to you, who command respect among the Coptics. " (Ibn Sa'd). One of those slave-girls was Sirin and the other Mariyah (Mary). Un his way back from Egypt Hadrat Hatib presented Islam before both and they believed. When they came before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) he gave Sirin in the ownership of Hadrat Hassan bin Thabit and admitted Hadrat Mariyah into his own household. In Dhil-Hijjah, A.H. 8 she gave birth to the Holy Prophet's son, Ibrahim. (Al-Isti'ab; Al-Isabah). This lady was very beautiful. Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Al-Isabah has rclated this saying of Hadrat 'A'ishah about her: "No woman's entry into the Holy Prophet's household vexed me so much as of Mariyah, because she was very beautiful and pleased him much. " Concerning her the story that has been narrated in several ways in the Hadith is briefly as follows:
One day the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) visited the house of Hadrat Hafsah when she was not at home. At that time Hadrat Mariyah carne to him there and stayed with him in seclusion. Hadrat Hafsah took it very iII and complained of it bitterly to him. Thereupon, in order to please her the Holy Prophet vowed that he would have no conjugal relation with Mariyah in future. According to some traditions, he forbade Mariyah for himself, and according to others, he also swore an oath on it. These traditions have been mostly reported by the immediate successors of the Companions without mentioning any intermediary link. But some of these have been reported from Hadrat 'Umar,. Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Abbas and Hadrat Abu Hurairah also. In view of the plurality of the methods of narration, Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari has expressed the view that there is some truth in the story. But in none of the six authentic collections of the Hadith has this story been narrated. In Nasa'i only this much has been rclated from Hadrat Anas: "The Holy Prophet had a slave-girl with whom he had conjugal relations. Then, Hadrat Hafsah and Hadrat `A'ishah began to point out this to him repeatedly until he forbade her for himself. There upon, Allah sent down this verse: 'O Prophet. why do you maKe unlawful that which AIlah has made lawful for you?"
The other incident has been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and several other books of Hadith from Hadrat `A'ishah herself and its purport is as follows:
"The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) usually paid a daily visit to aII his wives after the `Asr Prayer Once it so happened that he began to stay in the house of Hadrat Zainab bint-Jahsh longer than usual, for she had received sane honey from somewhere as a gift and the Holy Prophet was very fond of sweet things; therefore, he would have a drink of honey at her house. Hadrat 'A'ishah states that she felt envious of this and spoke to Hadrat Hafsah, Hadrat Saudah and Hadrat Safiyyah about it and together they decided that whoever of them was visited by the Holy Prophet, she should say to him: 'Your mouth smells of maghafir ' Maghafir is a kind of flower, which gives out an offensive smell, and if the bee obtains honey from it, it is also tainted by the same odour. They all knew that the Holy Prophet was a man of very fine taste and he abhorred that he should emit any kind of unpleasant smell. There fore, this device was contrived to stop him from staying in the house of Hadrat Zainab and it worked. When several of his wives told him that his mouth smelt of Maghafir, he made a promise not to use the honey any longer. In one tradition his words are to the effect "Now, I will never have a drink from it: I have sworn an oath. " In another tradition he only said: "I will never have a drink from it," and there is no mention of the oath And in the tradition which Ibn al Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani and Ibn Marduyah have related from Ibn 'Abbas the words are to the effect: "By God, I will not drink it!"
Our eminent scholars regard this second version as correct and the first as unreliable. Imam Nasa'i says: "About honey the Hadith reported from Hadrat 'A'ishah is authentic, and the story of forbidding Hadrat Mariyah for himself by the Holy Prophet has not been narrated in a reliable way." Qadi 'Iyad says: "The truth is that this verse was sent down concerning honey and not Mariyah." Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-'Arabi; also regards the story about honey as correct and the same is the opinion of Imam Nawawi and Hafiz Badruddiu 'Aini. Ibn Humam writes in Fath al-Qadir "The story of the prohibition of honey has been narrated in Bukhari and Muslim from Hadrat `A'ishah who was herself a party to it; therefore, it is much more reliable." Hafiz Ibn Kathir says: "The truth is that this verse was sent down about forbidding honey for himself by the Holy Prophet. "
*3 That is, "Although the act of making a lawful thing unlawful only in order to please your wives was an act unbecoming of your high and responsible office, yet it was no sin, which might have entailed a punishment. Therefore, Allah has only pointed it out to you and corrected it, and has forgiven you for this error. "(66:2) Allah has prescribed for you a way for the absolution of your oaths.4 Allah is your Guardian. He is All-Knowing, Most Wise.5
It means: "Act according to the method AIIah has prescribed for absolution from oaths by cxpiation in AI-Ma'idah :89 and break your promise that you have trade to forbid yourself a lawful thing. " Here, an important legal question arises and it is this: Is this Command applicable to the case when a person has forbiddcn himsclf a lawful thing on oath, or is forbidding oncsclf a lawful thing by itsclf tantamount to swearing an oath, whether the words of the oath have been used or not'? The jurists in this regard have expressed different opinions:
One section of them says that mere forbidding oncsclf a lawful thing is not an oath. If a person without swearing an oath has forbiddcn himself a wife, or some other lawful thing, it is an absurd thing which does not entail any expiation, but he can resume without any expiation the use of the thing that he had forbidden himself. This is the opinion of Masruq, Sha'bi, Rabi'ah and Abu Salamah; and the same view is held by Ibn Jarir and all the Zahiris. According to them forbidding oneself something would be an oath only in case express words of oath are used when forbidding it for oneself. In this regard, their reasoning is that since the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) while forbidding himself a lawful thing had also sworn an oath, as has been reported in several traditions, AIIah told him to act according to the method that had been appointed for absolving oneself from oaths.
The second group says that to forbid oncsclf something without using the words of oath is not an oath by itself, but the case of the wife is an exception. If a person has . forbiddcn himself a garment, or an article of food, it is meaningless, and one can use it without expiation. But if concerning a wifc or a slave-girl he has said: "I forbid myself an intercourse with her," she would not become unlawfirl and forbiddcn, but one would have to expiate the oath before going in to her. This is the opinion of the Shafe'is. (Mugni al-Muhtaj). And a similar opinion on this question is held by the Malikis. (Ibn al-'Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur an).
The third group says that to forbid oneself something is by itsclf an oath even if the words of oath have not been used. This is the opinion of Hadrat Abu Bakr. Hadrat 'A'ishah, Hadrat 'Umar, Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit and Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas (may Allah bless them aII). Although from Ibn 'Abbas another opinion has been reported in Bukhari to the effect: "If a tnan has forbidden himsclf his wifc, it is meaningless," yet it has been interpreted to mean that according to him this is not divorce but an oath which entails an expiation. For in Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Majah, another saying of Ibn 'Abbas has been reported that to forbid oneself one's wife entails an expiation, and in Nasa'i the tradition is to the effect that when Ibn 'Abbas was asked his opinion on this, he said: "She is not forbidden to you, but you must pay the expiation." and in Ibn Jarir's tradition the words of Ibn 'Abbas are to the effect: "If the people forbid themselves what Allah has made lawful for them, they must expiate their oath." This same is the opinion of Hasan Basri, 'Ata, Ta'us. Suleman bin Yasar. Ibn Jubair and Qatadah, and the same has been adopted by the Hanafis. Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas says: `The words of the verse lima tuharrimu do not indicate that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) along with forbidding himself the lawful thing had also sworn an oath, therefore, one will have to admit that tahrim (to forbid oneself something) itself is an oath; for after it Allah made obligatory the expiation of the oath in connection with the prohibition." Farther on he writes again: 'Our companions (i.e. the Hanafis) regard tahrim as an oath in case it is not accompanied by the intention of divorce. If a person forbade himself his wife, he in fact said: "By God, I will not come near you," thus, he committed ila' (act of temporary separation! . And if he forbade himself an article of food. etc, he in a wav said: "By God, I will not use that article." For Allah first said: "Why do you forbid that which AIIah has made lawful?" and then said. "AIIah has appointed a way to absolve you from your oaths." Thus, Allah has regarded tahrim as an oath, and the word tahrim in its meaning and legal effect becomes synonymous with an oath."
Here, for the benefit of the common man, it would be useful to tell what is the legal command according to the jurists in respect of forbidding oneself one's wife and forbidding oneself other things besides the wife.
The Hanafis say that if without the intention of divorce somebody forbade himself his wife, or swore an oath that he would not have conjugal relations with her, this would be ila (temporary separation), and in this cast he would have to expiate his oath before having the sexual relation . But if wit h the intention Of divorce he said: "You are unlawful to me," it will have to be ascertained what was his actual intention. If his intention was of three divorces, the three divorces will take place, and if the intention was of a lesser number, of one or two divorces, only one divorce will take place in either case. And if some body says: "I have forbidden myself whatever was lawful for me, this would not apply to the wife unless he said these words with the intention of forbidding himself the wife. Apart from the wife, one cannot use the thing O11e has forbidden oneself until one has expiated the oath. Badai as-Sana'i: Hedayah; Fath Al-Qadir,' al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur an.
The Shafe'is say that if one forbids oneself the wife with the intention of divorce or zihar, the intended thing would become effective, whether it is a revocable divorce or an irrevocable divorce, or zihar. And if a person used the words of tahrim with the intention of both divorce and zihar, he would be asked to choose one, or the other, for both divorce and zihar cannot be established at one and the same time. Divorce dissolves marriage but in case of zihar it continues and if without any intention the wife is forbidden, she would not become forbidden, but expiation of the oath would become necessary. And if another thing, apart from the wife, is forbidden, it would be meaningless; there is no expiation for it. (Mughni al-Muhtaj).
The Malikis say that if a person forbids himself anything other than the wife, it neither becomes forbidden nor entails an expiation. But if he says to the wife, "You are unlawful, or unlawfirl for me, or I am unlawful for you," this would amount to a triple divorce in any case whether this was said to a wife with whom marriage has been consummated, or to one with whom it has not yet been consummated, unless his intention was of less than three divorces. Asbagh says: 'If a person says: whatever was lawful for me, is unlawful, the wife also becomes forbidden unless he makes an exception of the wife." In al-Mudawwanah, distinction has been made between the wife with whom marriage has been consummated and the wife with whom it has not been consummated. If one forbids oneself the former, a threefold divorce will take place irrespective of the intention, but in case of the latter the same number of divorces would take effect as was intended, and if there was no intention of any particular number, it would be considered a triple divorce (Hashiyah ad-Dusuqi). Qadi Ibn al-'Arabi in his Ahkam al-Qur'an has cited three statements of Imam Malik: (1) That forbidding oneself the wife amounts to an irrevocable divorce; (2) that it amounts to three divorces; and (3) that in case of the wife with whom marriage has been consummated it amounts to three divorces, bat in case of the one with whom it has not been consummated, to only one divorce if one was intended Then he says: 'The correct thing is that forbidding oneself the wife amounts to one divorce only. for if the man uses the word divorce instead of calling her unlawfirl without specifying the number, only one divorce will take place."
Three different views in this regard have been reported from Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal: (1) That to forbid oneself the wife, or to make a lawful thing absolutely unlawful for oneself, is zihar, whether zihar was intended or not; (2) that this is an express allusion to divorce, and it amounts to pronouncing a triple divorce whether only one divorce was intended; and (3) that it is an oath, unless The man had the intention of divorce or zihar and in this case the same would take effect as was intended. Of these only the first one is the best known view among the Hanbalis. (Al-Insaf)
That is, "Allah is your Master and Guardian of your affairs. He knows best in what lies your own good, and whatever Commands He has given, they are aII based on wisdom. "The first thing means: "You are not independent in this world, but you are servant of Allah and He is your Master; therefore, none of you possesses any power to alter or change the ways and methods prescribed by Him; the best thing for you is to entrust your affairs to Him and continue to obey Him. "
The second thing means that all the methods and laws that AIIah has enjoined, are based on knowledge and wisdom, Whatever He has made lawful, has been made lawful on the basis of knowledge and wisdom and whatever He has made unlawful also has been made unlawful on the basis of knowledge and wisdom. Nothing has been made lawful or unlawful at random. Therefore, those who believe in AIIah should understand that it is Allah Who is AII-Knowing and All-Wist and not they. and their well-being lies only in carrying out duly the Commands given by Him.
*6 Different things have been reported in different traditions, saying that the Holy Prophet had told such and such a thing to one of his wivcs in confidence, which she disclosed to another wife. But for us, in the first place, it is not right to investigate it, for it is on the disclosure of a secret that AIIah is taking a wife to task it cannot therefore be right for us to enquire into it and try to uncover it. Secondly, in view of the object for which this verse wa: sent down, it is not at alI important to know what the secret was. Had it any connection with the object of the discourse, Allah would Himself have mentioned it The real object for which this incident has been related in the Qur'iin is to warn the Holy Prophet's wives and. through them, the wives of the responsible people among the Muslims not to be careless in the matter of guarding secrets. Had it been only a private and personal affair, as is generally the case between the husband and the wife in the world there was no need that AIIah should have directly informed the Holy Prophet of it through revelation, and then did not rest content only with giving the information, but should also have recorded it in the Holy Book which the whole world has to recite forever. The reason why it was given such importance was that this wifc was not the wifc of an ordinary husband but of that illustrious husband, whom AIIah had appointed to the office of the highest responsibility, who was locked in an incessant battle with the disbelievers, polytheists and hypocrites at aII times and under whose leadership a fierce conflict was going on for establishing Islam in place of paganism. In the house of such an illustrious man there could be countless things which if not kept secret but disclosed before time, could harm the great mission which he was performing. Therefore, when a lady of the house happened to show this weakness for the first time in that she disclosed a secret that had been told her in confidence, to another (a member of her own household), the weakness was immediately pointed out to her, not secretly but openly in the Qur'an, so as to impart training in the guarding of secrets not only to the wivcs of the Holy Prophet but also to the wives of aII responsible people of the Muslim community. In the verse the question whether the secret disclosed pertained to a matter of any consequence or not, and whether its disclosure could cause any Iran» to the mission or not, has been altogether ignored. What has been disapproved and pointed out in particular is that the secret was disclosed to another. The higher the position of responsibility a person holds the more dangerous would be the leakage of secrets from his house. No matter whether a thing is of any consequence or not, once a person becomes careless in the matter of guarding secrets, he may reveal important things as well as trivial matters.(66:4) If the two of you turn in repentance to Allah (that is better for you), for the hearts of both of you have swerved from the Straight Path.7 But if you support one another against the Prophet,8 then surely Allah is his Protector; and after that Gabriel and all righteous believers and the angels are all his supporters.9
*7 The word saghat in the original is from Baghy which means to swerve and to become crooked. Shah Waliyullah and Shah Rafi'uddin have translated this sentence thus: "Crooked have become your hearts." Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, Sufyan Thauri and Dahhak have given this meaning of it: "Your hearts have swerved from the right path." Imam Razi explains it thus: "Your hearts have swerved from what is right, and the right implies the right of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace)." And 'Allama Alusi's commentary is Although it is incumbent on you that you should approve what the Holy Messenger (upon whom he peace) approves and disapprove what he disapproves, yet in this matter your hearts have swerved from conformity with him and turned in opposition to him. "
The word tazahur means to cooperate mutually in opposition to another person, or to be united against another person. Shah Waliyullah has translated this sentence, thus: "If you mutually join together to cause distress to the Prophet. " Shah 'Abdul Qadir's translation is: "If you both overwhelm him." Maulana Ashraf 'AII Thanwi's translation urns: "And if you both continued to work thus against the Prophet. " And Maulana Shabbir Ahmad 'Uthmami has explained it thus: ,"lf you two continued to work and behave thus (against the Prophet)."
The verse is clearly addressed to two ladies and the context shows that these ladies arc from among the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for in vv. 1-5 of this Surah the affairs concerning the Holy Prophet's wives only have been discussed continuously, and this becomes obvious from the style of the Qur'an itself. .As for the question who were the wives, and what was the matter which caused Allah's displeasure, the details are found in the Hadith. In Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i, a detailled tradition of Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas has been related, which describes the incident with sane variation in wording. Ibn 'Abbas says:
"I had been thinking a long time to ask Hadrat 'Umar as to who were the two of the Holy Prophet's wives, who had joined each other against him, and about whom Allah sent down this verse: In tatuba.....; but I could not muster courage because of his awe-inspiring personality until he left for Hajj and I accompanied him. On our way back while helping him to perform ablutions for the Prayer at one place I had an opportunity to ask him this question. He replied: they were 'A'ishah and Hafsah. Then he began to relate the background, saying: "We, the people of Quraish, were used to keeping our women folk under strict control. Then. when we came to Madinah, we found that the people here were under the control of their wives, and the women of Quraish too started learning the same thing from them. One day when I became angry with my wife, I was amazed to see that she argued with me. I felt badly about her conduct. She said, 'Why should you feel so angry at my behaviour? By God, the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) answer him back face to face,' (the word in the original is li yuraji nahu) and some one of them remains angrily apart from hire for the whole day. (According to Bukhari: the Holy Prophet remains angry and- apart from her the whole day). Hearing this I came out of my house and went to Hafsah (who was Hadrat `Umar's daughter and the Holy Prophet's wife). I asked her. Do you answer back to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) face to face? She said: Yes. asked: And does one of you remain apart from him for the whole day (According to Bukhiiri: the Holy Prophet remains angry and apart from her for the entire day). She said: Yes. I said: Wretched is the one from among you, who behaves thus. Has one of you become so fearless of this that AIIah should afflict her with His wrath because of the wrath of His Prophet and she should perish? So, do not be rude to the Prophet (here also the words are: la turaji-'i), nor demand of him anything, but demand of me whatever you desire. Do not be misled by this that your neighbor (i.e. Hadrat `A'ishah) is more beautiful and dearer to the Holy Prophet. After this I left her house and went to the house of Umm Salamah, who was related to me, and talked to her on this subject. She said: Son of Khattab, you are a strange man: you have meddled in every matter until you are now interfering in the affair between Allah's Messenger and his wives. She discouraged me. Then it so happened that an Ansari neighbor came to my house at night and he called out to me. We used to sit in the Holy Prophet's assembly by turns and each used to pass on to the other the news of the day of his turn. It was the time when we were apprehending an attack by the Ghassanids any time. On his call when I came out of my house, he said that something of grave significance had happened. 1 said: Have the Ghassanids launched an attack? He said: No, but something even more serious! The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has divorced his wives. I said: Doomed is Hafsah (the words in Bukhari are: Raghima anfu Hafsah wa `Aishah). I already had a premonition of this."
We have left out what happened after this, how next morning Hadrat 'Umar went before the Holy Prophet and tried to appease his anger. We have described this incident by combining the traditions of Musnad Ahmad and Bukhari. In this the word muraj`at which Hadrat `Umar has used cannot be taken in its literal sense, but the context shows that the word has been used in the sense of answering back face to face and Hadrat `Umar's saying to his daughter: La turaji- `I Rasul Allah clearly has the meaning: Do not be impudent to the Messenger of Allah, Some people say that this is a wrong translation, and their objection is: Although it is correct to translate muraja `at as answering hack, or answering hack face to face, yet it is not correct to translate it as "bing impudent" . These objectors do not understand that if a person of a lower rank or position answers back or retorts to a person of a higher rank and position, or answers him back face to face this very thing is described as impudence. For example, if a father rebukes his son for something or feels angry at his behaviour, and the son instead of keeping quiet or offering an excuse, answers back promptly this could only he described as impudence. Then, when the matter is not between a father and a son, but between the Messenger of Allah and an individual of his community, only a foolish person could say that it was not impudence.
Some other people regard this translation of ours as disrespectful, whereas it could be disrespectful in case we had had the boldness to use such words in respect of Hadrat Hafsah from ourselves. We have only given the correct meaning of the words of .Hadrat 'Umar, and these words he had used while scolding and reproving his daughter for her error. Describing it as disrespectful would mean that either the father should treat his daughter with due respect and reverence even when scolding and rebuking her or else the translator should render his rebuke and reproof in a way as to make it sound respectful and reverent.
Here, what needs to be considered carefully is that if it was such an ordinary and trivial matter that when the Holy Prophet said something to his wives they would retort to Him, why was it given so much importance that in the Qur'an AIIah administered a severe warning directly to the wives themselves? And why did Hadrat 'Umar take it as such a grave matter that first he reproved his own daughter, then visited the house of the other wives and asked them to fear the wrath of Allah? And, about alI, was the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) also so sensitive that he would take offence at minor things and become annoyed with his wives, and was he, God forbid, so irritable that once having been annoyed at such things he had severed his connections with all his wives and retired to his private apartment in seclusion? If a person considers these questions deeply, he will inevitably have to adopt one of the two views in the explanation of these verses Either on account of his excessive concern for reverence for the holy wives he should not at aII mind if a fault is imputed to AIIah and His Messenger, or else he should admit in a straightforward way that at that time the attitude and behaviour of these holy wives has actually become so objectionable that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was justified in becoming annoyed over it, and more than that, AIIah Himself was justified that He should administer a severe warning to the wives on their unseemly behaviour and attitude.
*9 That is, "You would only harm yourselves if you upheld and supported each other against the Messenger of AIlah (upon whom be Allah's peace), for none could succeed against him whose Protector was Allah and who had Gabriel and the angels and alI the righteous Believers on his side. "(66:5) Maybe if he were to divorce you, your Lord might grant him in exchange wives better than you10 – those who truly submit to Allah,11 are full of faith, obedient,12 disposed to repentance,13 and given to worship14 and fasting15 – both previously wedded ones and virgins.
This shows that the fault did not lie only with Hadrat 'A'isha and Hadrat Hafsah but the other wives also had some share in it. That is why, after them, aII the other wives too, have been warned in this verse. No light has been thrown on the nature of the error in the Qur'an. However, some details are found in the Hadith, which we shall relate below.
In Bukhari, a tradition has been reported from Hadrat Anas, saying that Hadrat 'Umar said: "The Holy Prophet's wives because of their mutual envies and rivalries had utterly displeased him. At this 1 said to them: It may well be that if the Holy Prophet divorced you, Allah would give him in your place better wives than you. " Ibn Abi Hatim has, on the authority of Hadrat Anas, reported the statement of H_ adrat Umar in these words: "I was informed that a discord had been created between the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and his wives. At this I went to each of them and asked them to refrain from vexing the Holy Prophet; otherwise Allah would give him in their stead better wives than them selves. So much so that when I went to the last of them (and according to a tradition of Bukhari, to Umm Salamah), she said to me: O `Umar, is not the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself enough to admonish his wives? Then why should you come out to counsel them? This made me quiet, and after this Allah sent down this verse.'
In Muslim, Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Abbas has related that Hadrat 'Umar said to him: "When the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) separated himself from his wives, I went to the Mosque and found the people worried and upset and playing with pebbles and saying to one another: 'The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has divorced his wives.' After this Hadrat `Umar related his visiting the apartments of Hadrat 'A'ishah and Hafsah and admonishing them. then said: I went before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and said: Why do you feel upset with regard to your wives? If you divorce them, AIIah is with you, alI the angels and Gabriel and Michael arc with you, and I and Abu Bakr and all the Believers are with you. I thank Allah that seldom has it so happened that I said a thing and did not have hope from AIIah that He would testify to what I said. So, after this these verses of Surah At-Tahrim were sent down. Then I asked the Holy Prophet: Have you divorced your wives'? He said: No. Thereupon I stood at the entrance of the Mosque and announced in a loud voice: The Holy Prophet has not divorced his wives."
The traditions related in Bukhari from Hadrat Anas and in Musnad Ahmad from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin `Abbas, Hadrat 'A'ishah and Hadrat Abu Hurairah say that the Holy Prophet had pledged to remain away from his wives for a month and he retired in seclusion to his apartment. When 29 days passed, Gabriel carne and said; "You have fulfilled your oath: a month has come to completion."
Hafiz Badruddin 'Aini in 'Umdat al-Qari has related this on the authority of Hadrat 'A'ishah: The wives of the Holy Prophet had become divided into two parties. one party consisted of Hadrat 'A'ishah herself and Hadrat Hafsah. Hadrat Saudah and Hadrat Safiyyah, and the other of Hadrat Zainab, Hadrat.Umm Salamah and the rest of the wives.
These traditions indicate to some extent the conditions ,that existed in the Holy Prophet's domestic life at that time, which made it necessary that AIIah Almighty should intervene and reform the attitude of the holy wives. Although the wives were the best ladies of society, yet they were human beings and were not tree from human weaknesses. Sometimes when it became difficult for them to lead a life of continous poverty and hardship, they would become restive, impatient and would start pressing the Holy Prophet for better maintenance. At this AIIah sent down vv. 28-29 of Surah AI-Ahzah and admonished them to the effect: 'If you seek the world and it adotnments,.0ur Messenger will give you of these and send you of in a good way. But if you seek AIIah and His Messenger and the Hereafter, you should bear up against the hardships with patience, which you might have to face when living with the Messenger." (For details, see E.N. 41 of Surah Al-Ahzab and the Introduction to it). Then on account of the feminine nature they sometimes happened to behave in a way, which though not unusual in everyday human life, did not go well with the unique dignity and great responsibilities of the house to which AIIah had given them the honour to belong. So, when it was apprehended that those things might embitter the Holy Prophet's domestic life and might even adversely affect the great mission that AIIah had entrusted to him, He sent down this verse in the Qur'an, and reformed them so that the holy wives may realize the responsibilities of the position and rank which they had attained as the life-companions of the Last Messenger of Allah, and should not regard themselves as.ordinary women and their household as a common household. The very first sentence of this verse was such as might have caused Their hearts to shudder. There could be no severer warning for them than ,this: `It may well be that if the Prophet divorces aII of you, Allah will give him in your place better wives than yourselves." In the first place, even the thought of being divorced by the Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) was unbearable for them: more than that, this would deprive them of the honour of being Mothers of the Believers, and the other women whom Allah would give as wives to the Prophet would be better than them, After this it was no longer possible for the holy wives to behave in a way as would have occasioned a reproof from AIlah. That is why we find only two places in the Qur'an where these select and distinguished ladies have been administered a warning, in Surah Al-Ahzab and here in Surah ,At-Taltrim.
*11 In the places where the words .muslim and mu min have been used together, muslim means the one who carries out Divine commands practically, and mu min the one who believes sincerely and truly Thus, the foremost quality of the best Muslim wives is that they should be believing in AIIah and His Messenger and His Religion (din) sincerely and also practically following Allah's Religion in their morals, habits, customs and conduct.
*12 "Obedient" has two meanings and both are implied here (1) They are obedient to AIIah and His Messenger: (2) they are obedient to their husbands.
*13 The word ta'ib when used as attribute of a man does not imply the one who offers repentance only once but the one who continues to implore AIIah again and again for the forgiveness of his mistakes, whose conscience is alive and active, who is always a are of his weaknesses and errors and is penitent for them. Such a person never feels proud, arrogant and conceited, but is gentle and clement by nature.
*14 A worshipper can never be so heedless of God as a non-worshipper. This also helps much in making a woman a good wife. Being devout she adheres to the bounds set by AIIah, recognizes and discharges the rights of others and keeps her faith fresh and alive at aII times. Because of these qualities she can better be expected that she would not reject obedience to Divine Commands.
The word sa ihat in the original has been interpreted by several companions and large number of their successors to mean the same as sa imat 1 those given to fasting). The reason why the word siyahat journeying has been used for fasting is that in the ancient times journeys were mostly undertaken by the monks and ascetics, who had no provisions and had to go without food till they got something to eat from somewhere. On that account fasting also is a kind of asceticism, for a faster has to remain hungry until the time of breaking the fast. Ibn Jarir in his Commentary of At-Taubah 12 has cited a saying of Hadrat 'A'ishah, saying: "The journeying (i.e. asceticism) of the Ummah is fasting. Here, making mention of fasting as an attribute of the pious wives dces not mean that they observe the obligatory fasting month of Ramadan only but that they observe voluntary fasts also besides the obligatory fasts.
Addressing the holy wives Allah's saying: "If the Holy Messenger divorces aII of you, AIIah will give him in your place better wives who will have this quality" does not mean that the wives were not virtuous, but it means; "Give up your wrong conduct which is causing so much distress to the Holy Prophet; instead, pay attention to developing in yourselves these noble qualities to the highest degree.'
Thts verse tells that a person's responsibility is not confined to making effort to save himself from the punishment of God but it is also his responsibility that he should so educate and train to the best of his ability members of his family also to become Allah's favourite servants, who have been entrusted to his care in the natural process of life; and if they might be following a path to Hell, he should try. as far as he can, to correct them. His concern should not only be that his children should lead a happy and prosperous life in the world but; more than that, he should be anxious to see that they do not become fuel of Hell in the Hereafter. According to a tradition reported in Bukhiiri by Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Umar, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: "Each one of you is a herdsman and is accountable with regard to his herd: the ruler is a herdsman and is accountable with regard to his subjects; the man is a herdsman of his family and is accountable with regard to them; and the woman is a herdsman of her husband's house and his children and is accountable with regard to them."
Whose fuel...stone" probably implies coal. Ibn Mas' ud, Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Suddi say that this will be brimstone.
*17 That is, they will enforce on every culprit precisely the same punishment which they will be commanded to enforce on him without making any alteration in it, or showing any pity for him.(66:7) (It will then be said): “Unbelievers, make no excuses today. You are being recompensed for nothing else but your deeds.”18
*18 The style of both these verses contains a severe warning for the Muslims. In the first verse the Muslims have been addressed and told that they should save themselves and their households from the dreadful punishment; in the second that this will be said to the disbelievers while subjecting them to punishment in Hell. This by itself gives the meaning that the Muslims in the world should avoid adopting that conduct and behaviour in consequence of which they may have to meet with the fate as the disbelievers in the Hereafter: