What does the phrase “the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief” mentioned in the verse mean?

The Details of the Question

- Can you explain the fact that the Prophet did not have to share the bedtime among his wives equally mentioned in verse 51 of the chapter of al-Ahzab?
“Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction - that of all of them - with that which thou hast to give them: and Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All- Knowing, Most Forbearing.”
- I read the tafsir of Ibn Kathir, but I did not understand the phrase “the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief”:
- What does the phrase “the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief” mentioned in the verse mean?
- Does this verse mention the anxiety that a wife of the Prophet may have to be unfair to another spouse and does this verse ease the tension for them?
- And what kind of comfort is it for the spouses? For example, if it is the second wife’s turn and if he goes to the first wife and does not get permission, this rule may be comforting for the first wife, but not for the second wife?
- However, I believe it has a different meaning from the example I have given; I understand the other parts, and I also read the hadith that despite this verse, our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) took permission from one of his wives when it was her turn. It shows his greatness.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verse in question is as follows:

“Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction - that of all of them - with that which thou hast to give them: and Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All- Knowing, Most Forbearing.” (al-Ahzab, 33/51)

In the verse, the common denominator of the cooling of the eyes of the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction: the Prophet (pbuh) was rendered free in his dealings with them and was not forced to act according to a certain rule - unlike other believers. Although the Prophet (pbuh) was not obliged to do this, his sincere treatment of all of them equally caused the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction. (Razi, the interpretation of the verse in question)

Here come the details after this short information:

The cooling of their eyes: Although the Prophet (pbuh) had the authority to delay the turn of the wife in whose room he was to stay if he wished, he did not do such a thing, based on his own desire; he treated all of them equally in terms of their turns, which cooled the eyes of his wives.

The prevention of their grief: Although Allah rendered him free in the treatment of his wives, he treated them equally in a way that pleased them and he did not treat his wives in a way that they would be uneasy, which relieved their grief.

Their satisfaction: If a certain division had been ordered by Allah, they would have said, “It is Allah’s command that the Prophet (pbuh) did not delay our turns and treated us equally” However, despite the fact that he was given the right to choose regarding the issue, his wives said, “The Prophet (pbuh) does not delay the turn/day of one of us; nor does he advance the turn/day of another one of us, not because it is Allah’s command, but because he loves us wholeheartedly.” Thus, all of them were satisfied and content with it. (See Razi, Tabari, Mawardi, Qurtubi, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question)

To sum up, the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) preferred a way of treatment that pleased his wives though he was rendered free by Allah in the division of days among his wives made all of them (individually and one by one) pleased, contented and satisfied.

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