The account of Muhammad’s marriage to Zainab bint Jash is very disturbing and shows Muhammad to be at completely at odds with the God of the Bible on several issues: desire, divorce, and adoption, to name a few.
Islamic tradition recounts how Muhammad caught a glimpse of (unveiled) Zainab, the wife of his adopted son and former slave Zaid bin Harithah, and thought her very beautiful. On hearing this, Zaid offered to divorce Zainab so Muhammad could marry her. After some initial hesitation, he gets a revelation permitting the marriage. Sura 33:37:
“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.” (Sura 33:37. Sahih International)
Let’s analyse this verse in detail.
- “Keep your wife and fear Allah...”
This at least echoes Jesus’ teaching on seriousness of divorce (Matthew 19:8-9) but it’s all downhill from here.
2. “..while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose.”
What was Muhammad concealing within himself? That Allah wanted him to marry Zainab. So Muhammad’s feelings of lust and Zainab’s subsequent divorce are divinely decreed. What does the Bible say about looking lustfully at anyone you are not married to, let alone another man’s wife?
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
Allah’s permissive attitude to adultery is backed up elsewhere in Islamic tradition:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily Allah has fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in, and which he of necessity must commit. The adultery of the eye is the lustful look, and the adultery of the tongue is the licentious speech, the heart desires and yearns, which the parts may or may not put into effect. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6421, see also Number 6422)
3.“And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him.”
Muhammad feared the people? Because they might disapprove of his adulterous feelings towards the wife of his adopted son and advise him to repent or control himself? Unlike Allah, at least ‘the people’ have a conscience. Allah would rather Muhammad fear the consequences of his not pursuing the adulterous relationship decreed for him. This is a million miles away from the God who “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:13-16.)
4. “So when Zaid had no longer any need for her..”
So wives are only useful as long as you need them? Not ’til death us do part’ then.
5. “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.”
So Allah married Zainab to Muhammad as an act of kindness towards Zaid, who felt bad about getting rid of her because, like a plastic straw, she was no longer useful to him. And if believers should develop the hots for their adopted son’s wives – it’s ok: they too can be yours if they’ve served their purpose.
But what makes this even odder is that the Qur’an prohibits adoption anyway:
“God has not assigned to any man two hearts within his breast; nor has He made your wives, when you divorce, saying, ‘Be as my mother’s back,’ truly your mothers, neither has He made your adopted sons your sons in fact. That is your own saying, the words of your mouths; but God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. Call them after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of God. If you know not who their fathers were, then they are your brothers in religion, and your clients. There is no fault in you if you make mistakes, but only in what your hearts premeditate. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate” S. 33:4-5
Why would Muhammad want to make things easier on the people engaging in a forbidden practice? Why would all-knowing Allah reveal Sura 33:37 if he was about to forbid adoption anyway? Or is this is yet another revelation of convenience for Muhammad’s sexual gratification?
Compare this with with the Bible’s instructions to husbands on how to treat their wives:
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansingb] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)
There’s no way Muhammad is this God’s beloved prophet.
With thanks to Sam Shamoun