How did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Hz. Zaynab bint Jahsh upon the order of Allah? What is the wisdom behind this marriage?

Details of the Question
How did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Hz. Zaynab bint Jahsh upon the order of Allah? What is the wisdom behind this marriage?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

(The month of Dhulqada in the 5th Year of the Migration)

Hazrat Zaynab bint Jahsh was the daughter of Umayma bint Ab­dul­mut­talib, the aunt of the Prophet. She had married Hazrat Zayd b. Haritha, the adopted child of the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah himself wanted her to marry Zayd.[1]

Zaynab and her family did not want that marriage but they gave consent to it when the Prophet insisted.

Zayd did not regard his wife Zaynab, who was dignified, equal to him spiritually. This caused lack of harmony in their marriage. As a matter of fact, Zayd went to the Prophet at the end of the first year of their marriage and said to him “O Messenger of Allah! I want to divorce my wife.”

The Messenger of Allah said to him, “Live with your wife; do not divorce her! Fear Allah!”[2]

However, Zayd felt through his foresight that Zaynab had a high ethics and that she had a nature that could be a wife of the Prophet. He did not regard himself equal to her in nature to be her husband; therefore, he divorced her. 

The Prophet became very sad due to the end of the marriage between Zayd and Zaynab because of “spiritual lack of harmony”. For he had wanted this marriage to take place. It was necessary to do something and to soften Zaynab’s relatives, who got sad due to this divorce.  

The iddah (the period a woman has to wait after divorce) of Zaynab ended.

One day, the Messenger of Allah was sitting together with Aisha and talking to her. Meanwhile, he received some revelation. Allah Almighty stated the following in the verses He sent down:

“Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: 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 dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them: and Allah's command must be fulfilled.

There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. 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 revelation ended, the Prophet smiled and said, “Who will go and give Zaynab the glad tidings that Allah married her off to me in the sky?”

As it is clearly understood from the verses, Allah Almighty ordered the Prophet to marry Zaynab. The Prophet married Zaynab as a result of this order. The statement, “We joined her in marriage to thee” in the verse indicates clearly that it was a heavenly marriage. That is, this marriage took place beyond the traditional and apparent acts and as a result of the decree of qadar; the Messenger of Allah obeyed the decree of qadar. It has nothing to do with bodily desires.

An Important Reason of This Marriage

The marriage established between the Prophet and Zaynab contains an important aspect of Islamic law and an aspect that interests all believers and is beneficial for them. It is stated in the following part of the verse: “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 a person adopted a child during the Era of Jahiliyya, people called him/her as if he was the real child of that person; and that child had the right to be an inheritor to that person. Naturally, that person could not marry a woman that his child divorced; it was forbidden.

Thus, the Prophet married Zaynab based on the command of Allah, showing that this belief and custom of the Era of Jahiliyya was wrong. It is stated by the verse that it would not be a sin for believers to do so.

The Gossips of the Munafiqs

When the Prophet married Zaynab, the munafiqs, who were eagerly waiting for opportunities to plot mischief and cause sedition among Muslims, started to talk against it a lot. According to the belief of Jahiliyya, it was haram for a man to marry a woman that his adopted son divorced; thus, they used it as means of gossiping against the Messenger of Allah, saying, “Muhammad rendered it haram fo a person to marry his son’s wife but he himself married the woman that his son Zayd divorced.”[4]The verse that was sent down settled the issue:[5]

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”[6]

Prophets look at and address their ummah like a father due to their duty of prophethood not due to their human personalities. Therefore, it cannot be mentioned that it is inappropriate for them to marry their daughters. The Quran spiritually states the following in order to eliminate the questions that could come to the mind:

“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. But in regard to his human personality he is not your father so that it should be inappropriate for him to take a wife from among you! And if he calls you “Son,” in respect of the rulings of the Shari’a, you cannot be his children!”[7]

The believers who have foresight and prudence will definitely notice, through our explanation, that the people who want to blame this pure and decent marriage, which has many wisdoms and lead to good things, in order to cast a shadow upon the high personality of the Messenger of Allah, act with bad intentions and deliberately.

Wedding Feast and a Miracle

It was a custom of the Messenger of Allah to give a feast to his Companions when he married. This custom has been going on as sunnah among Muslims.

When the Messenger of Allah married Zaynab, Umm Sulaym, the mother of Anas b. Malik, sent him some fried Madinah dates. The dates she sent were in a small bowl and they were barely sufficient for the Prophet and Hazrat Zaynab.  

Anas b. Malik, who is well-known as “Khadim an-Nabawi” (the Servant of the Prophet) narrates the incident as follows:

“The Prophet (pbuh) accepted what I brought and said, ‘Call Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them)’; he also mentioned the names of several people. I was surprised because the Messenger of Allah ordered me to call many people for a small amount of food. However, I could not act contrary to the command of the Prophet. I called all of them.

Then, he said to me, ‘Go to the mosque and invite all of the people in the mosque.’ I did so. I said to the people praying in the mosque, ‘the Messenger of Allah invites you to his wedding feast.’ They all came.

Eventually, the hall was full.

The Prophet said to me, ‘Is there anybody left in the mosque?’

I said, ‘No.’

He said, ‘Go outside and invite whomever you see.’

I called them. The rooms were full, too.

He asked, ‘Is there anybody left?’

I said, ‘No, O Messenger of Allah!’

He said, ‘Bring me the bowl.’

I brought the bowl to him.

He put his hand on the bowl and prayed for abundance. Then, he said, ‘Let everybody sit in circles of tens and eat what is in front of them.’

The guests sat and ate as they were ordered. Thus, all of the guests came in groups, ate and left.

I was looking at the oil and dates in the bowl. The people in the hall and the rooms ate from the bowl until they were full. What was left in the bowl was as much as I had brought.

The Messenger of Allah said to me, ‘O Anas! Put it away.’

I took the bowl and went to my mother. I told him all about the incident.

My mother said to me, ‘No need to wonder! If Allah had wished all of the people of Madinah to eat from it, all of them would have eaten and been full’.”[8]

Since the religion, call and prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad was universal, he was given all kinds of miracles. He showed many miracles regarding the increase of food. We quoted this miracle here due to its relevance to the issue. We pray as follows:

“O Lord! Give abundance to the material and spiritual sustenance that you grant us for the sake of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)!”

Sources:

1. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 8, p. 101.

2. Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 8, p. 101; Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 5, p. 354; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, Vol. 3, p. 491.

3. al-Ahzab, 37-38.

4. The custom of the Era of Jahiliyya regarding adopting children was abolished by the following verses of the Quran: “...Nor has Allah made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way.
"Call them by (the names) of their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah but if ye know not their father's (names, call them), your Brothers in faith, or your Mawlas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful..” (al-Ahzab, 4-5).

5. Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 5, p. 352.

6. al-Ahzab, 40.

7. Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, Mektûbat, p. 28-29.

8. Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 1051.

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