The Quran tells us that the wives of Hz. Nuh and Hz. Lut were unbelievers. Was it permissible to marry unbelievers in their shari’ah?

The Details of the Question

- Or, did those prophets not know that their wives were unbelievers?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verse regarding the issue is as follows:

“Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false (acted treacherously) to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: ‘Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!’” (at-Tahrim, 66/10)

The statement “they were false (acted treacherously)  to their husbands” in the verse indicate that Hz. Nuh (Noah) and Hz. Lut (Lot) did not know that their wives were unbelievers. For, the concept “treachery” shows that the bad deed was done secretly. (see Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question)

It should not be forgotten that prophets do not know about ghayb unless Allah informs them. It is possible that those women were believers at first, deviated afterwards by obeying their souls and Satan and acted as hypocrites by hiding their denial.

Thus, they might have lived as believers in appearance though they were really unbelievers. As a matter of fact, the wife of Hz. Nuh is mentioned in the Torah when he left the ship after the deluge. (Ibn Ashur, ibid) This shows that she became a denier after the deluge because the unbelievers did not get on the ship; they were drowned.

The duty of the people is to act based on what is apparent even if they are prophets. Therefore, it is religiously permissible for those prophets to live with their wives, who were apparently believers.

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