Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

10/29/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

To overcome the four-wife problem without forcing Muhammad to divorce one of his wives so as to allow for his marriage to Zaynab, a further revelation was needed

Four things are troublesome with respect to Muhammad's relationship with his fifth wife, Zaynab bint Jash.  First, there is the issue of Muhammad's problematic sexual appetite.  Second, there is the issue of facile divorce and remarriage entertained by Muhammad.  Third, there is the issue of the unseemly nature of marrying one's daughter-in-law (Zaynab was not only Muhammad's daughter-in-law, she was also his first cousin, being the daughter of his paternal aunt Umayma, but we'll ignore than for now).  Fourth, there is the issue of what we may call the convenience and self-justificatory character of Allah's revelations during this period which makes them highly suspect.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/29/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Muhammad, Zaynab, natural law, Islam, Muslim morality, Andrew M Greenwell, Esq.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Muhammad had two wives by the name of Zaynab.  The first, Zaynab bint Khuzayma, is not the subject of this article.  The second, Zaynab bint Jash, is the focus of this article.  The issue with Zaynab bin Jash extends beyond the problems associated with Muhammad's teachings and practices regarding polygamy which contravene the natural moral law, not to mention the law of the Gospel.

Four things are troublesome with respect to Muhammad's relationship with Zaynab bint Jash.  First, there is the issue of Muhammad's problematic sexual appetite.  Second, there is the issue of facile divorce and remarriage entertained by Muhammad.  Third, there is the issue of the unseemly nature of marrying one's daughter-in-law (Zaynab was not only Muhammad's daughter-in-law, she was also his first cousin, being the daughter of his paternal aunt Umayma, but we'll ignore that for now).  Fourth, there is the issue of what we may call the convenience and self-justificatory character of Allah's revelations during this period which makes them highly suspect.

To understand the problem with Muhammad's marriage to Zaynab, we should quickly explain family relations as they existed before Muhammad's marriage to her. 

Muhammad had no sons that survived infancy.  However, Muhammad had an adopted son, a former slave of his whose name was Zayd bin Haritha.  After his adoption, Zayd then became known as the son of Muhammad, Zayd bin Muhammad.  Zayd bin Muhammad married the young woman who was a first cousin of Muhammad named Zaynab bin Jash and who is the focus of this article.

According to the Muslim historians Ibn Sa'd and at-Tabari, on one occasion Muhammad sought Zayd at Zayd's house, but did not find him there.  He surprised Zaynab and happened to come upon her when she was not fully clothed.  Muhammad, seeing her scantily clad, formed a strong desire for her.  Though he apparently fought against the desire, it appears to have consumed his concupiscent heart and gotten the better of him.  "The heart of the Prophet," say the historians, "was filled with admiration for her.  He went away muttering something that was hardly understandable but for this sentence: 'Praise be to Allah who disposes the hearts.'" 

The comment was overheard by Zaynab who interpreted it as an expression by Muhammad of desire for her.  When Zayd returned home, Zaynab told her husband of Muhammad's comments, and Zayd promptly went to Muhammad and this dialogue is said to have ensued:

"'Perhaps you liked Zaynab. I can leave her.'
The Messenger of God said, 'Hold on to your wife.'
Zayd said, 'O Messenger of God, I will leave her.'
The Messenger of God said, 'Keep your wife.'

Muhammad admitted that he desired Zaynab, but feared what others might have thought had he required a divorce and married the former wife of his adopted son.  Zayd, however, apparently got the message either that Muhammad desired Zaynab.  Either that, or perhaps Zaynab desired to move up socially by becoming the wife of the leader of the Muslims.  In any event, Zayd divorced Zaynab and she was therefore made available to Muhammad.

The historians also mention that after this event, Muhammad was with his young wife 'A'isha when "he was taken in a trance, and when it lifted, he smiled and said, 'Who will go to Zaynab to tell her that God wedded her to me from heaven?'"   Apparently, in the silence of Muhammad's mind, his Allah had authorized Muhammad's prior lust, Zaynab's divorce from Zayd, and Zaynab's remarriage to Muhammad.  This is all very strange behavior for a God who was recorded by a real prophet to have said, "I hate divorce." (Malachi 2:16)

Despite this "divorce and re-marriage made in heaven," Muhammad confronted two problems.  First, he had already had a supposed revelation that Muslims were limited to four wives.  (Qur'an 4:3)  In marrying Zaynab he would have infringed upon the Qur'anic revelation since he already had four wives: Saudah, 'A'isha, Hafsah, and Umm Salamah.  Moreover, after he married Zaynab he faced the prospect of the unseeming nature of marrying one's adopted son's former wife and his maternal cousin, something redolent of incest.  The former was also clearly against the customary practice of the society in which he lived.  (Apparently there was no problem in marrying first cousins in that society, nor in Islam, as shari'ia allow intermarriage among first cousins.)

Not to worry.  A triad of new Qur'anic ayats--"revelations"--could solve these problems.  If we turn to Qur'an 33, we can find how perceptive and even sarcastic are the words of young 'A'isha, "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6.60.311; see also Sahih Muslim 8.3453).

First, a revelation (aya) to dispose of the adopted son problem:

"Allah . . . . has not made your adopted sons your [true] sons. That is [merely] your saying by your mouths, but Allah says the truth, and He guides to the [right] way." (Qur'an 33:4) 

Thus, Allah abrogated any custom regarding adoption.  From thenceforward, adoption was not allowed in Islam.  This nullified the adopted son and daughter-in-law problem.  From thence, Zayd was no longer known as Zayd bin Muhammad, but as Zayd bin Haritha.

Second, a revelation was needed to dispose of any suggestion that the marriage to Zaynab was motivated by lust.  Instead, through Allah's own "revelation" we have the assurance that this divorce-and-re-marriage was made in heaven, and for the express purpose of setting a legal precedent.  In other words, rather implausibly the "revelation" proposed that the marriage was for the common good of Islam and Muhammad was just the collateral beneficiary.

"And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, 'Keep your wife and fear Allah,' while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose.  And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him.  So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, we married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished." (Qur'an 33:37)

Third, to overcome the four-wife problem without forcing Muhammad to divorce one of his wives so as to allow for his marriage to Zaynab, a further revelation was needed.  And so a "revelation" was conveniently received that increased the number of wives that Muhammad could have relative to all other Muslims so as to relieve the "discomfort" to Muhammad of having to restrain himself to four wives:

"O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet [and] if the Prophet wishes to marry her, [this is] only for you, excluding the [other] believers.  We certainly know what We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right hands possess, [but this is for you] in order that there will be upon you no discomfort.  And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. . . . ." (Qur'an 33:50)

It is remarkable that Muhammad's followers fell for such obvious self-indulgence and self-justifications presented as revealed truths from the God who made the universe.  It is simply inconceivable that the God who is the author of the natural moral law, including the natural laws regarding marriage and family life, would so flippantly disregard that natural law, enjoin a divorce, grant a man the right to a fifth wife abrogating his supposed prior positive edict, order the marriage of a father in law to his daughter in law and first cousin, and prohibit wholly salutary customs (such as adoption), all for the purposes of easing the sexual "discomfort" of his supposed prophet for whom four wives and a handful of concubines was not enough.

No.  This incident is not something that may be flippantly disposed of with the constant refrain that Allah and his prophet know best, Allahu wa rasuluhu a'lam. Divine and prophetic positivism cannot undo the natural law.  While Allah and his alleged prophet may know what is best for the alleged prophet, that is, what is expedient, they do not seem to know what is best simpliciter, that is, what is good.  At least not in this instance.

(The author has written a book entitled The Heart's Witness Against Muhammad: Why the Natural Law Proves Muhammad False wherein Muhammad's teachings and actions are compared to the natural moral law.)

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

Twisted ISIS video shows militants executed by men in notorious orange jumpsuits Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State militants were captured and slaughtered on camera by a rebel group in Syria. The members of the rebel group were clad in orange jumpsuits, usually worn by ISIS prisoners and led 13 shackled jihadis to their deaths. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


GRISLY FIRST: Islamic State beheads women for acts of 'sorcery' in Syria Watch

Image of The Islamic State has previously stoned women to death on allegations of adultery. The Observatory says the latest instances were the first time it was aware of the group beheading women.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a heinous new low for the terror group Islamic State. There are reports from Syria that the jihadists have now beheaded two women for acts of what they describe as "sorcery." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These heinous acts are reportedly the first ... continue reading


Amazing discovery of ancient Roman soldier's footprints found in Israel Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The ancient, fortified city of Hippos-Sussita in Israel, located in the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, has surprised archeologists with a new addition to their host of history-defining discoveries. Director Michael Eisenberg, the excavation's director announced ... continue reading


ISIS shocks by beheading women for the first time ever Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS is known all over the world for their radical cruelty and use of rapid executions. Now, the jihadi militants have carried out yet another act of brutality, beheading two women in Syria, who they accused of "sorcery," according to activist reports. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


HISTORIC - Vatican signs treaty with 'State of Palestine' in hopes of promoting peace Watch

Image of Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher along with Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed a peace treaty recognizing the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher along with Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed a peace treaty recognizing the "State of Palestine." Signed in a ceremony in the Vatican, the goal is that the recognition will promote peace with Israel - as well ... continue reading


Women, children among the 120 civilians killed in Islamic State takeover of Kobane Watch

Image of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London said many of the dead were in their homes killed by rocket attacks. Others were struck down by sharp shooters as they tried to run away.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Re-entering the Syrian city of Kobane, long held up as a symbol of Kurdish resistance, Islamic State indiscriminately shot and killed dozens of women and children in a 24-hour period. The death toll hovers around 120, but that number may rise. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is there an AIDs epidemic in Syria? Islamic State fighter donated infected blood which has spread to several other fighters Watch

Image of An Indonesian man, infected with AIDs, donated blood to the Islamic State, and was executed for it.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Indonesian Islamic State fighter who was infected with AIDs has been executed by the Islamic State after he was accused of knowingly passing on the disease through blood donations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The currently unknown Indonesian man ... continue reading


Two men brutally flogged by Islamic State for breaking Ramadan rules Watch

Image of The two men are shown kneeling in front of a group of ISIS commanders. One of the commanders is seen carrying a large whip.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two men accused of breaking the fast during Ramadan are shown being brutally flogged by Islamic State soldiers in a new series of shocking photographs. LOS ANGELES, Ca (Catholic Online) - As released by the Islamic State Information Office of the State of the ... continue reading


Positive 'happy' Syrian social media campaign #SummerInSyria gathers shocking, heartbreaking images of dead children instead Watch

Image of Syria has been hit hard with a civil war over the last four years.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Summer in Syria online campaign, using the hashtag #SummerInSyria was meant to gather positive images of experiences in the country, despite four years of gruesome civil war. However, instead of gathering positive feedback from social media users, the #SummerInSyria ... continue reading


Kurdish militia sits north of Islamic State capital, awaiting Syrian offensive Watch

Image of So far the only group that has proved capable at defeating the Islamic State has been the Kurdish militias of Iraq and Syria.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Kurdish militia units have had some recent success in their fight for survival against the Islamic State in northern Syria, a leader with the militia says they have no intention of attacking the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa, and such an offensive should ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:24-29
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Thomas
July 3: St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter