Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Ifk of the Jewel of Medina, Part Two

Sherry Jones has, in the past few weeks, conducted a number of interviews to manage the backlash her book has stirred up. She has gone to great lengths to try and paint her book as innocuous, declaring her intentions were good.

Jones will have heard of the commonly used phrase ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’, what matters is the end product not the intended aims.

One of the outcomes of this book is the restating of slander against Rasool Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam). For a very long time a motley crew of anti-Islam/pro Christianity proponents and self-proclaimed defenders of ‘Judeo-Christian civilization from the global jihad’ have made allegations against the relationship between the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) and his wives. In particular the attack has centred on what is perceived as being the Achilles heel of the Muslims, namely the Prophet’s (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Aisha. Although Sherry Jones does not dwell into the subject, she does choose to use the term “child bride”.

In a recent interview, Jones was asked,

You keep repeating that ‘Aisha was a child bride, reinforcing that she was a child, which is contrary to the belief back then, which is that when a woman reached puberty, she was a woman and thus eligible for marriage.

Her response to this was,

When she married Mohammad she was a child. ..She was a child when she married him, she had not reached puberty she was 9 in my book. And if you count [...] engagement which was considered as binding as marriage so if you count that then by our western term she was married at age 6.

Jones positions herself as a ‘neutral bridge builder’. Remember, she claims she was driven to write this book after September 11, as a result of the distorted outlook of Islam. What she ends up doing, is to both display her ignorance and play on stereotypes.

It is important to defend the honour of the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) against the re-hashed claims that he married a ‘child bride’, I will seek to do this through a number of arguments:

The historical evolution of the age of consent points to the clear fact that throughout history, societies have chosen arbitrary ages for marriage. The fact that countries to this day differ on the age at which sexual interaction can occur, whether through marriage or outside of marriage, indicates that there is no universal consensus on what delineates maturity and thus capacity for marriage or sexual relations.

Secondly, the Messenger of Allah’s (SalAllahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Aisha was an exception to his other marriages. I do not argue this because I am ashamed of the Prophet’s (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Aisha, but merely to counteract the orientalist lie that Rasool Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) was driven by base desires in his decision to marry.

Before we begin, I feel it is important that Muslims argue well to respond to the spurious lies and propaganda and realise that the ones that spread them do so, not out of a want to discover the truth, but to try and create doubt into the minds of Muslims in order to weaken our resolve. It is important that we acknowledge the lies of the ones that harbour deep animosity towards Islam and Muslims. The response to these lies must not be defensive, revisionist and apologetic. We cannot be ashamed of the Messenger’s (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) actions because they have been placed in the dock and accused of being out of the step with the age in which we live.

Some Muslims have sought to question the authenticity of the narrations that state very clearly that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married Aisha (radiAllahu anha) at the age of 6 and consummated the marriage at the age of 9.

Narrated by Aisha:

The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234:

Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 236:

Narrated by Hisham’s father:

Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consummated that marriage when she was nine years old.

Sahih Muslim Book 008, Number 3310:

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported:

Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

There is no dispute over this matter. Some Muslims have tried to argue using a mixture of logic, hearsay and questionable assertions, despite the good intentions of these Muslims, there was never any controversy over this matter, except when the orientalists started to deluge the Muslims with questions designed to shake their certainty in Islam.

The Age of Consent

It is very clear that historically there has been a wide variation on the age at which consent through marriage is deemed meaningful.

In the Talmud, the primary book of law of the Jews, it is noted,

GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: A girl of the age of three years may be betrothed by intercourse; so R. Meir. But the Sages say: Only one who is three years and one day old. What is the practical difference between them? - The school of R Jannai replied: The practical difference between them is the day preceding the first day of the fourth year.35 R. Johanan, however, replied: The practical difference between them is the rule that thirty days of a year are counted as the full year. An objection was raised: A girl of the age of three years and even one of the age of two years and one day may be betrothed by intercourse; so R. Meir. But the Sages say: Only one who is three years and one day old.

The age of consent is recognised in Jewish law as being 3 years and one day

The influential founder of Canon law, Gratian, in the twelfth century, accepted the traditional age of puberty for marriage (understood as being between 12 and 14) but he also said consent was “meaningful” if the children were older than seven.

Canonical (Christian Law) interpretation judges “meaningful” consent above the age of seven.

The seventeenth-century lawyer Henry Swinburne distinguished between the marriages of those under seven and those between seven and puberty. He wrote that those under seven who had said their vows had to ratify it afterwards by giving kisses and embraces, by lying together, by exchanging gifts or tokens, or by calling each other husband or wife.

Philip Stubbes, wrote that in sixteenth-century East Anglia, infants still in swaddling clothes were married. The most influential legal text of the seventeenth century in England, that of Sir Edward Coke, made it clear that the marriage of girls under twelve was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was nine even though her husband be only four years old.

When historian Magnus Hirschfeld surveyed the age of consent of some fifty countries (mostly in Europe and the Americas) at the beginning of the twentieth century, the age of consent was twelve in fifteen countries, thirteen in seven, fourteen in five, fifteen in four, and sixteen in five. In the remaining countries it remained unclear. In England and the United States, feminist agitation in the late nineteenth century called attention to the young age of consent and called for changes in the law. By the 1920s the age of consent, a state issue in the United States, was raised in every state and ranged from fourteen to eighteen, with most states settling on sixteen or eighteen.

During the latter part of the last century and the early part of the present one, attitudes towards sexual activity began to change in America and so did attitudes toward the age of consent. California was one of the first states to raise the age of consent. It raised it from ten to fourteen in 1889 and then from fourteen to sixteen in 1897. Then, in 1913, California again raised it from sixteen to eighteen.

In the sixteenth century, canonist Egidio Bossi argued for this interpretation on the grounds that a child could hardly be considered as being in a position to give consent. However, he recommended that the age of consent be fixed at only six or seven years of age. ["Rape and Marriage in the Medieval Canon Law," in James A. Brundage, ed., Sex, Law and Marriage in the Middle Ages (Brookfield, Vermont: Ashgate, 1993), 67.]

When Victoria came to the throne, the age of consent for girls was effectively 10.

Therefore a little over one hundred years ago in the United States and under two hundred years ago in England, the age at which marriage was legal was ten years old.

To this day, there exist a wide array of ages at which consent is deemed lawful, these variations reflect, the fact that the determination of the age of consent through marriage or otherwise will always be an arbitrary judgement when human beings define the demarcation between legal and illegal. This is why Paraguay defines 12 as the age of consent, whilst neighbouring Brazil opts for 14. In Europe the Vatican, at 12, has the lowest age of consent, whilst the rest of Italy specifies 14 years of age. The USA define the age of consent state by state, which is why there is a discrepancy between the lowest age, 14 in South Carolina, to the highest, 18 in North Dakota.

Again, this illustrates the wide variance between countries in our present age and is demonstrative of the stab in the dark legislating that effectively arbitrates on such sensitive of matters. On the whole, internal pressures, affected changes in age of consent laws - the prevalence of child prostitution, the changes in public opinion towards child abuse all contributed to legislation that effectively raised the age of consent. At different points in the history of nations, a number of groups lobbied for changes to occur, most prominently in England, feminists, social purity groups and reformers. Today, some feminists argue that the age of consent laws have gone too far, they have criminalised those they were meant to protect, and balance can only be restored by bringing the age down to 12.

What makes one view better than another, or more correct? There is no objective standard which validates any one opinion.

Some may accuse me of veering down a tangent in order to obfuscate, others may have lost the plot paragraphs ago, but what I am saying is, how can people look at the marriage of Rasool Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) and objectively argue that this was wrong.

If the marriages of RasoolAllah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) were depraved and exploitative, his pagan adversaries would have used his actions in their propaganda campaign. The fact they didn’t coupled with the reality of multiple reports that record the prophet’s marriages point to the realisation that criticism in this regard is a modern phenomenon.

William Montgomery Watt contextualises the Western antagonism to Islam in general and the Rasool Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) in particular,

From the standpoint of Muhammad’s time, then, the allegations of treachery and sensuality cannot be maintained. His contemporaries did not find him morally defective in any way. On the contrary, some of the acts criticized by the modern Westerner show that Muhammad’s standards were higher than those of his time. In his day and generation he was a social reformer, even a reformer in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before…. he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men. That is not the work of a traitor or an old lecher’. [Prophet and Statesman, William Montgomery Watt, p.234)

The prophet's wives

Sherry Jones shows her ignorance when she says,

I read that Mohammad's wives were beautiful. He's a man, a flesh and blood man so what's wrong with him having desires for his wife? That's perfectly holy and perfectly legal, there's nothing wrong with that. He explains every single time to 'Aisha the political importance of these marriages. I'd also like to add that this is all from 'Aisha's point of view. She was known to be a very jealous wife. She was jealous of his wives.

There is no quality in any of his (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) wives that is shared by them all so as to infer a single reason why our Rasool salAllahu alaihi wasallam married nine wives at any one time. It is reported that some of his wives possessed beauty, whilst others were not noted for this characteristic.

What we can say is the reality of his marriages, indicate they were marriages of a Prophet, not the marriages of a man marrying for sex and satisfaction of the base instinct. By returning to the historical reality we find that he married Khadija (radiAllahu anha) while he was twenty-three years of age, he was in the prime of his youth, whilst Khadija (radiAllahu anha) was a widow, 15 years his senior. Yet Khadija (radiAllahu anha) remained his sole wife for twenty-eight years.

He did not consider, whilst married to Khadija (radiAllahu anha), marrying more than one wife, despite living in a time when marrying more than one wife was widely practiced amongst the Arabs. Before he was sent with the Message, he spent seventeen years with Khadija (radiAllahu anha) sharing a quiet and tranquil life. And he lived with her approximately eleven years after the Prophethood (Bi'tha), in a life of da'wa and struggle against the kufr thoughts; in spite of this he did not consider marrying again. It was not known of him during his life with Khadija (radiAllahu anha) or before his marriage to her that a man tempted by the alluring charms of women in an age where the Tabarruj (display of beauty) of the Jahiliyya used to tempt the people. It is strange indeed to believe after passing the age of fifty a sudden change took place in him (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) which drove him to marry until he had taken ten wives. Within five years in the sixth decade of the Prophet's life he gathered more than seven wives, and in the remaining seven years of the sixth decade and beginning of the seventh the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) gathered nine wives. At such an age can these marriages be attributable to a sexual desire for women or to motives linked to satisfying the base instincts of man? Or were there other motives, which were required by the Prophetic mission? In order to understand this issue, let us examine the incidents surrounding the Prophet's marriages.

In the eleventh year of the Prophethood, i.e. the year Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) died, the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) considered getting married. He was fifty, so he proposed to 'A'isha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, his friend and the first one who believed in his Prophethood from the men. When she was just a child of six he contracted a marriage with her but did not consummate it for a period of three years until she was nine, which was after the Hijra. However, at the time in which he contracted the marriage with 'A'isha he married Sawda bint Zam'a. Sawda was a widow of al-Sukran b. 'Amr b. 'Abd Shams, who was one of the Muslims who had migrated to Abbysinia but died on his return to Makkah. Sawda had embraced Islam with her husband and she had emigrated with him. She had suffered the same difficulties and hardships he suffered and faced the same harm he had faced.

After the death of her husband he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married her. It has not been reported that Sawda was beautiful, or that she possessed wealth or standing, that would make any of the worldly aspects influence the Prophet's marriage to her. Since the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) had married her after the death of her husband, the only thing we can deduce from this is that he married her to support her and raise her to the position of the mother of the believers. When he migrated he positioned the house of Sawda close to the masjid.

This was the first house the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) built for any of his wives.

The Messenger of Allah was very close to his companions Abu Bakr and Umar, they were his two wazeerain (assistants/ministers).

The Messenger of Allah salAllahui alaihi wasallam said,

"My two wazirs from the people of the earth are Abu Bakr and ‘Umar." (Tirmidhi)

The Messenger hoped to strengthen his relationship with them both, the most pronounced way of achieving this would be through marriage.

Therfore, in the first year of the Hijra, after the brotherhood between the Ansar and Muhajirin had been instituted, the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) consummated his marriage with 'A'isha (radiAllahu anha) and he housed her next to the house of Sawda (radiAllahu anha), close to the masjid. He allowed his first Wazir (assistant) and friend Abu Bakr as-siddiq (radiAllahu anhu) to visit him at his daughter's home.

In the second year of the Hijra, after the battle of Badr and before Uhud, he married Hafsa (radiAllahu anha) the daughter of 'Umar b. al-Khattab.(ra) Hafsa, before being married to the Prophet, was the wife of Hanish who was one of the early converts to Islam. He died leaving her for seven months before the Messenger married her. By marrying Hafsa he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) enabled his second Wazir, his companion 'Umar b. al-Khattab (radiAllahu anhu) to visit him at Hafsa's home. So the marriages to A'isha (radiAllahu anha) and Hafsa were marriages to the daughters of his two Wazirs (assistants), the daughters of two companions who persevered with him in Da'wah, fought alongside him, assisted him the task of ruling in Madinah. So such marriages were not only for the purpose of marriage. Although 'A'isha (radiAllahu anha) was beautiful and the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) found her attractive this was not the case with Hafsa (ra), which indicates that his marriage to both of them was for a purpose other than sexual gratification.

During the battle of Banu Mustaliq, in the fifth year of the Hijra, he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married Juwayriyya bint al-Harith ibn Abi Dirar. The reason behind his marriage to her was for the purpose of drawing her father closer to the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) and raising her position. Juwayriyya was from the captives of Banu Mustaliq, and had fallen in the hands of one of the Ansar. She was the daughter of the leader of Banu Mustaliq, so she wanted to free herself from her master to whom she had become a slave-girl. Her master increased the ransom money knowing that she was the daughter of the leader of Banu Mustaliq. So her father approached the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) with the ransom required to free her, which he did. Then after believing in the Message of the Prophet he became a Muslim, and he took his daughter Juwayriyya to the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) and she too embraced Islam, so the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) asked her father for her hand in marriage. He married her to the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) himself so the Prophet's marriage to her was in fact a marriage to the daughter of a leader of a tribe, which he had subdued. His (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) objective was to win the friendship of its leader through marrying his daughter.

In the seventh year of the Hijra after the victory of Khaybar he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married Safiyya daughter of Huyai ibn al-Akhtab who was one of the leaders of the Jews. The story of his marriage to her began when she was taken along with other captives which the Muslims seized from the fortress of Khaybar. Some of the Muslims advised the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam): "Safiyya is a noble lady of Banu Qurayza and Banu Nadhir. She is not suitable for anyone other than you", hence the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) freed and married her. This was therefore done for her protection and to free her from the bondage of slavery, and as well to raise her status. It has been narrated that Abu Ayyub Khalid al-Ansari feared that Safiyya harboured hatred against the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) who had killed her father, husband and people. For this reason he spent the night, girded with his sword, around the tent in which the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) consummated the marriage with Safiyya on the way back from Khaybar. When the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) woke up in the morning he noticed him outside the tent and asked him: "What is the matter?" He replied: "I feared for you from this woman. You have killed her father, husband and her people and she has just recently come out of kufr." So the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) set Abu Ayyub's mind at rest, and Safiyya remained loyal to the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) until Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) took his soul.

Later, in the eighth year of Hijra he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married Maymuna the sister of Umm al-Fadhl, the wife of al-'Abbas b. 'Abd ul-Muttalib. He married her at the end of the pilgrimage [Umra al-qada]. The account of his marriage to her began when Maymuna was twenty-six years of age and that she had delegated her sister Umm al-Fadhl to find a suitor for her, but when she saw the predicament of the Muslims at the pilgrimage she herself yearned for Islam.

Therefore al-’Abbas proposed to his nephew, our Master Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) on her behalf. He proposed to the Prophet at her behest and the Messenger agreed to marry her. The three days which the treaty of Hudaybiyah had stipulated had expired, but the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) wished to use his marriage to Maymuna as a means to increase the understanding between himself and the Quraish. When Suhayl b. ‘Amr and Huwayteb b. ‘Abd ul-’Uzza came to him representing Quraish they said to Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wasallam): “Your time in Makkah has expired, so leave us.” He (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said to them: “What is the matter with you? Why do you not leave me? I will hold a wedding feast amongst you. We will prepare food for you so why not attend it?” Their response to him was “we have no need of your food so depart from us”; the Messenger _ did not hesitate; he left along with the Muslims behind him. As for his (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Zaynab bint Khuzayma and Umm Salama, they were marriages to the two wives of his companions who had been martyred on the battlefield. Zaynab was the wife of ‘Ubayda b. al-Harith b. al-Muttalib who was martyred on the day of Badr, she was not of marked beauty, but she was known for her good nature and kindness to the extent that she became known as the ‘mother of the needy.’ She had passed her youth, but the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married her in the second year of the Hijra, after the battle of Badr and after the martyrdom of her husband. She stayed with him for only two years until Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) took her soul. Which meant after Khadija, she was the only one who died before the Prophet.

As for Umm Salama, she was the wife of Abu Salama, who had a number of sons with her. Abu Salama was injured in Uhud then recovered from it, so the Prophet agreed to let him fight Banu Asad. He defeated them and returned to Madinah victorious with the booty that had been captured but the injury he sustained at Uhud worsened and he remained ill until his death shortly thereafter. The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) was present while he was on his deathbed, and he remained by his side, praying for his well-being until he died. The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) then closed Abu Salama’s eyes. Four months after his death, the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) proposed to Umm Salama herself, but she made excuses that she had a big family and that she had passed her youth. The Prophet however persisted until he married her and he himself saw to her children’s upbringing. So it is clear that the Messenger married those two wives to care for the family of two of his companions after their death.

As for his marriage to Umm Habiba bint Abu Sufyan, this was a marriage to a believing woman who had emigrated to Abbysinia fleeing with her deen intact. She had remained patient in the path of Islam after her husband had apostatised. That is because this Umm Habiba was Ramla the daughter of Abu Sufyan, the leader of Makkah and head of the Mushrikin. She was the wife of a cousin (son of a paternal aunt) of the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam), ‘Ubayd Allah b. Jahsh al-Asadi. ‘Ubayd Allah embraced Islam with his wife Ramla whilst her father was still upon kufr. She was afraid of hurting her father so she migrated, encumbered by her pregnancy, with her husband to Abbysinia. There in the place of refuge, Ramla gave birth to her daughter Habiba bint ‘Ubayd. Thereafter, she was known as Umm Habiba although her husband ‘Ubayd Allah b. Jahsh did not take long before he left the fold of Islam and professed his belief in Christianity, the religion of the Abbysinians and tried to take his wife Ramla away from Islam, but she patiently persevered in her deen. Then the messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) sent for al-Nejashi (the Negus) delegating him to perform the marriage of Umm Habiba to the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam). Al-Nejashi informed Umm Habiba of this, so she delegated Khalid b. Sa’id b. al-’As to give her in marriage, and her marriage contract with the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) took place. Khalid undertook the marriage contract on her behalf and al-Nejashi for the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam). When the Muhajirin of Abbysinia returned to Madinah after the battle of Khaybar, Umm Habiba returned with them and entered the house of the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam). Madinah celebrated the wedding of the Messenger to Umm Habiba and she lived in his house.

As for his (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh this challenged the legal/tribal norms in two ways.

Firstly, by challenging the concept of equivalence or matching in marriage. The tribal society in which the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) inhabited believed a man of a noble class or standing should marry a woman similar noble upbringing and could not marry a freed slave. Islam came to challenge this and sought to build taqwa as a key feature for difference between people.

Secondly, it established a distinction between adoption and paternity. At the time if a man adopted a son or daughter, they would take the name of the adopted father, they would inherit, to all intents and purposes they would replicate the biological relationship between birth parents and children. Islam destroyed this practice and established a new set of legal norms. A man could not adopt a son and usurp the biological ties of kinship. The adopted son could not inherit, the relationship between the adopted son’s wife and adopted father would not be the same as those enjoyed by a biological father and his daughter in-law. The Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married Zaynab, the wife of Zayd, his adopted son after Zayd divorced her.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) married his cousin (daughter

of his paternal aunt), who was from the leaders of the Quraish to Zayd, a former slave that had been freed and his adopted son. Zaynab bint Jahsh was a daughter of Umayma bint ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the paternal aunt of the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam). She was raised under his care and attention and because of this, she was to him like a daughter or a younger sister. He used to know her and knew whether she was attractive or not

before she had married Zayd, and he had seen her from the time she was an infant crawling, until her childhood and through to her adolescent years.

She was not a stranger to the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam), but rather she was similar in position to his daughter. He (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) proposed to her on behalf of his freed slave Zayd but her brother ‘Abd Allah b. Jahsh refused for his sister, being that she was from Quraish and a Hashimite in addition to being a daughter of the aunt of the Messenger of Allah, to be the bride of a slave bought by Khadija and later freed by Muhammad. He felt that this was a great shame for Zaynab as it used to be a great dishonour for the Arabs, as daughters of the nobility did not marry slaves even if they were given their freedom. But Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) wanted these baseless considerations, which existed within people solely on the basis of tribalism to be erased and for them to comprehend that there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab except in Taqwa and to understand Allah’s saying:

“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has more taqwa”.[Al- Hujurat: 13]

He did not consider it right that a woman from other than his family should set the precedent, in relation to the demolition of tribal traditions. So, Zaynab bint Jahsh, daughter of his aunt, became the one to depart from the traditions of the Arabs and to destroy their customs, paying no attention to what the people may say about her, which she was afraid to hear. He (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) let Zayd, his slave whom he had adopted and who gained the right, due to the customs and traditions of the Arabs, to inherit from him like the rest of his sons, to be the one who would marry Zaynab. This was so that he would be ready for the sacrifice that the All-Wise Legislator had prepared for those who were adopted and taken as sons. The Messenger _ insisted that Zaynab and her brother ‘Abdullah accept Zayd, his freed slave, as her husband. However Zaynab persisted in her refusal as did her brother ‘Abdullah. As a result Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam), it was revealed:

“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error” [Al- Ahzab: 36]

Hence, nothing remained for ‘Abdullah and Zaynab other than to submit to Allah’s will, so they said: ‘We consent O Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam).’ Zayd consummated his marriage with Zaynab after the Prophet had sent her the dowry.

However, married life between Zayd and Zaynab was not good; on the contrary, from the start it was unsettled and embittered and continued to be unsettled and embittered. Zaynab, herself was not happy with this marriage after it had taken place even though it was a command from Allah and His Messenger. She did not obey her husband, and she did not soften in her approach towards him. Rather, she used to boast to Zayd that the bondage of slavery had not befallen her and she made life difficult for him. Zayd complained to the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) on numerous occasions and explained to him about her bad treatment of him. He sought permission from the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) a number of times to divorce her.

The Prophet used to reply: “Hold on to your wife”. Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) revealed to the Messenger that Zaynab will be one of his wives. This was distressing for the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) who feared that people will say that Muhammad has married his son’s wife and will censure him for that since he (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) had adopted Zayd as a son. Therefore, he did not want Zayd to divorce her, but Zayd urged the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) to allow him to divorce her. Despite the fact that the Prophet knew that she would be one of his wives as Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) had informed him by way of revelation, he still said to Zayd: “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah”. As a result of this Allah mildly reproached him since Allah had already informed him Zaynab would be his wife.

This is the meaning of the verse,

“But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him.” [Al- Ahzab: 37]

Ibn Jarir narrated that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “If Muhammad were to have concealed anything that was revealed to him of the Book of Allah, he would have concealed this Ayah.

The matter that he concealed was the knowledge that Zaynab will be his wife even though she was the wife of someone he had adopted. This is what Allah would make manifest afterwards, which was his marriage to a divorcee of someone he had adopted as his son. So when Allah informed the Messenger that Zaynab, the wife of his freed slave whom he had adopted will be his wife he hid this knowledge and strictly insisted that Zayd hold on to his wife and not to divorce her, despite Zayd’s insistence, his complaints about her, and the discord in their marital life ever since they married.

However, Zayd insisted on divorcing her so the Messenger gave him permission, and he eventually divorced her without any knowledge that the Messenger would marry her and without Zaynab herself knowing that the Messenger would take her as his wife. This is illustrated by what Ahmad, Muslim and an-Nisa’i have reported via Sulayman b. al-Mughira on the authority of Thabit that Anas said: “When the ‘Iddah (divorce period) of Zaynab was over, Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) asked Zayd to mention to this to her. So I (Zayd) went to her and said: “O Zaynab rejoice! Allah’s Messenger sent me to propose to you on his behalf.” She said: “I do not do anything until I see my Lord order me.” So she stood at her place of worship and Allah’s Messenger came to her without permission when the verses of the Qur’an (pertaining to her marriage) were revealed:

“So when Zayd 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 sin to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons.”[Al- Ahzab: 37]

Zayd did not know about the command for Rasool Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) to marry Zaynab until he was told and Zaynab was unaware of this also and responded “I do not do anything until I see my Lord order me.” i.e. she left the matter to Allah to guide her in this marriage. The ‘Illa (reason) of this marriage is so that there is no sin on the believer in marrying the wife of someone they had adopted.

This is the account of the Messenger’s marriages to his wives. It is clear from the account of the marriages that each one was for an objective other than the mere aim of marrying. The intent of the Prophet’s marriage to more than four wives and why this number is unique to him from the rest of his Ummah becomes clear. The fact that the objective was not the agitation of the procreation instinct of a man who had passed the age of fifty is quite evident, since he was a man who was busy with the Da’wa, engaged in conveying the Message of his Lord to the world so that he may revive a people and mould them into an Ummah whose only aim in life was to carry the Message of Allah to the world. His aim was to build the society anew after he had demolished the previous edifice, and establish a state pushing ahead the world before it, in order to carry the Call of Islam to the people.

The animosity of those that try and paint a distorted picture of our Master, Muhammad SalAllahu alaihi wasallam is clear. It is the same animosity that fanned the flames of the crusader venom. It is the same enmity that motivated the west to work tirelessly to infiltrate the lands of the Muslims under the guise of science and education through missionary schools. It is the same crusader hatred that shapes western policy towards Muslim lands, through NGOs, human rights organizations, financial institutions, aid agencies and their like.

The realization that our unification as an Islamic Ummah can challenge the existing order is as frightening to the west as was the revolution the Messenger and his companions brought to Makkan society, and then manifested in the first Islamic State in Medina.

We need as an ummah to stand up against the attacks and realize just as the challenges of the orientlists of old were driven by a want to protect the prevalent systems, so too are the attacks we witness today, they are rehashed and less sophisticated but just as driven by the desire to protect value systems that are crumbling. We must also realize that the only way we can defend the honour of the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) is by working to resurrect the Khilafah that will not hesitate to practically protect the Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam), his family, his companions and all they strove, fought and died for.

On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their legs will bear witness against them as to what they used to do.) On that Day Allah will pay them the recompense of their deeds in full, and they will know that Allah, He is the Manifest Truth.) [Al- Noor: 24-25]

Yusuf Patel


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