How did the marriage of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with Zaynab b. Jahsh happen? What was the reason for that marriage?
Zaynab b. Jahsh was the daughter of Umaymah b. Abd al-Muttalib, the aunt of the Noble Prophet. Earlier, she was married to Zayd b. Harithah, who was an adopted child of Our Prophet. The Noble Prophet, himself had gone and asked for her hand on behalf of Zayd. (1)
Although Zaynab and her family did not want that marriage, they just consented to that marriage upon Our Prophets insistence.
Zayd did not find his proud wife Zaynab equal to himself spiritually. That matter caused spiritual incompatibility. Because of that, when the first year of their marriage just finished, Zayd came to Our Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! I want to divorce my spouse.
Our Prophet (pbuh) replied him, Keep your spouse, do not divorce her! Fear Allah. (2)
However, with his perceptiveness, Zayd realized that Zaynab had been created with a high ethics and that it was in her nature to be a prophets wife. Since he found himself to be equal to her as a spouse by nature, he divorced her.
Our Prophet was very sorry for the ending of the marriage between Zayd and Zaynab because of spiritual incompatibility. The Pophet himself had wished that marriage to happen. It was necessary to remedy the situation and to give consolation to and make up with Zaynab and her relatives who were grieved because of the event.
Zaynabs iddah (a limited period of waiting for women after divorce and before re-marriage prescribed by Islamic law) was over.
One day, the Noble Prophet was sitting and talking to our mother Aisha. At that time, a revelation came to him. Allah stated as follows in the verses that were revealed:
Then when Zayd had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to you: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them (they have divorced them). And Allah's command must be fulfilled.
There is no blame on the Prophet in that which Allah has made legal for him. It was the practice (approved) of Allah amongst those of old that have passed away, and the command of Allah is a decree determined. (3)
When the state of revelation ended, our Prophet (pbuh), the master of the universe, smiled and said: Who will tell Zaynab the good news that Allah has joined her in marriage to me in the heaven?
As it can be understood from the verses clearly, Almighty Allah ordered our Prophet (pbuh) to marry Zaynab. The Noble Prophet obeyed that order and married Zaynab. The declaration in the verse, We joined her in marriage to you indicates clearly that this marriage is a heavenly contract. Therefore, that marriage was out of ordinary and above common and external relations and purely upon the order of Allah. Thus, the Grand Messenger submitted to the decree of Allah. It is not pertained to carnal desires of soul at all.
An important reason for that marriage
As that marriage established between our Prophet (pbuh) and Zaynab by Allahs order has an important injunction of the Sharia, it also has an aspect of wisdom and benefit pertaining to the believers. It was declared in the part of the relevant revelation meaning: In order that [in future> there may be no difficulty to the believers in [the matter of> marriage with the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them (they have divorced them).
In the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), when someone adopted a child, people used to name that adoptive child by that persons name and the adopted child could benefit from the inheritance of that person like his full children. As a result of that belief, a person could not marry a woman that his adopted son had divorced; it used to be forbidden.
As it is seen, as our Prophet married Zaynab by submitting to the decree of Almighty Allah, it was manifested that that belief and custom of the Age of Ignorance was superstitious. It was stated that there would be no difficulty and sin in question for the believers for such an action.
The Gossips of the Dissemblers
When our Prophet married Zaynab, the dissemblers (munafiqs), waiting for an opportunity to stir up sedition and disorder among the believers in every matter, began to talk out of place about that subject. Deeming marrying the divorced wife of someones adopted son as forbidden according to the belief of the Age of Ignorance and making it as a matter of gossip against the Prophet, they raised a fuss by saying: Muhammad forbade marrying ones sons wife. However, he married Zayds wife that he divorced. (4) The revelation that came gave an answer to that issue clearly as follows: (5)
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but [he is> the Messenger of Allah and the Seal (last) of the Prophets and Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything. (6)
Divine Messengers looking to their communities and addressing them in fatherly fashion, is due to the functions of prophethood; it is not in respect of their human personalities. From this point of view, their taking wives from them cannot be said to be inappropriate. In order to eliminate any questions that can arise in minds about that issue, the Noble Quran declares spiritually in the last verse we quoted as follows:
On account of Divine mercy, the Prophet has compassion for you; he deals with you in fatherly fashion, and in the name of prophethood, you are like his children. However, in regard to his human personality he is not your father so it should not be inappropriate for him to take a wife from among you. And if he calls you Son, in respect of the rulings of the Sharia, you cannot be his children! (7)
Certainly, how those who exert every effort with the intention of blackening such a clean and pure marriage which have reasons from many aspects and conduce favors and who exert every effort with the intention of humiliating our Grand Messengers exalted personality through it behave so far away from good intention that it will not be overlooked by the believers having prudence and perception in the light of our explanation.
The Wedding Feast and a Miracle
Organizing a wedding feast for his companions in his marriages was a custom of the Noble Prophet. That custom has been continued till present as a practice among Muslims, too.
On the occasion of the Prophets (pbuh) marriage to Zaynab, Anass mother, Umm Sulaym, sent them some Madinah dates fried in oil. The dates that were sent were in a small bowl and were just enough for the Prophet and Zaynab.
Anas b. Malik, famous with the name the Servant of the Prophet, who brought them that one handful of dates, tells the event as follows:
The Prophet accepted the daes I had brought and told me: Invite Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). He also mentioned some more persons names. I was astonished at the Messenger of Allahs ordering me to invite several persons for a little food. However, I could not behave against his order. I invited all of them.
Then, he told me: Look and invite whoever is present in the mosque. I did so. I went to the mosque and invited everyone praying in the mosque I encountered: Come to the Messenger of Allahs wedding feast.
They came. At last, the table was full. He asked me: Is there anybody left in the mosque? I said: No.
Then, he told me: Look and invite whoever is on the road.
I invited them. All of the rooms were filled. He asked: Is anybody absent? I said: No, O the Messenger of Allah.
He told me: All right, bring the bowl.
I brought the bowl and put it in front of him. He put his hand on the bowl and prayed for abundance. After that, he said: Tell them to make circles of ten and eat from the front of them.
The invitees sat down as they were told and ate till they were full. In this manner, all invitees came in groups, ate and went. I was gazing at the dates in the bowl. The dates in the bowl I had brought remained the same although everybody in the hall and in the rooms had eaten from it till they were full.
The Messenger of Allah told me: O, Anas! Remove it.
I removed the bowl. Then, I went near my mother. I told the incident as it had occurred. My mother told me: There is no need for you to be astonished! If Allah had desired all people of Madinah to eat from it, they would all have eaten it and would have been full. (8)
As the religion, the invitation and the prophethood of our prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is universal, he was distinguished by miracles that related to almost all species the universe. He manifested several miracles related to increase in food by his prayers. We narrated that miracle in point of its relevance to the subject. And we pray as:
Oh, our Sustainer! For the sake of the blessings You bestowed on Your Most Noble Messenger, bestow the blessings of abundance on the material and spiritual favors with which You have provided us!
1. Tabaqât, 8:101.
2. Tabaqât, 8:101; Tirmizi, Sunan, 5:354; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, 3:491.
3. the Quran, The Confederates (al-Ahzab); 37-38 (33: 37,38)
4. The custom of the Age of Ignorance related to adopting children was abolished by the following verses of Quran: nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) way.
Call them by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allah. But if you do not know their fathers (name, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your Mawlas (friends). But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Quran, The Confederates (al-Ahzab); 4-5 (33: 4,5)
5. Tirmizi, Sunan, 5:352.
6. the Quran, the Confederates (al-Ahzab); 40 (33: 40).
7. The Letters (Maktubat), p. 47.
8. Muslim, 2:1051.
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