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The Women who are Lawful for the Prophet

Allah says, addressing His Prophet that He has made lawful for him of women his wives to whom he has given the dowery, which is what is meant by "their due'', which is used here, as was stated by Mujahid and others. The dowery which he gave to his wives was twelve and half `Uqiyah (measures of gold) so they all received five hundred Dirhams except for Umm Habibah bint Abi Sufyan, to whom An-Najashi, may Allah have mercy on him, gave four hundred Dinars (on behalf of the Prophet) Safiyyah bint Huyay, whom he chose from among the prisoners of Khaybar, then he set her free, making her release her dowery. A similar case was that of Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith Al-Mustalaqiyyah -- he paid off the contract to buy her freedom from Thabit bin Qays bin Shammas and married her. May Allah be pleased with them all.

﴿ وَمَا مَلَكَتۡ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّآ أَفَآءَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡكَ

(those (slaves) whom your right hand possesses whom Allah has given to you,) means, `the slave-girls whom you took from the war booty are also permitted to you.' He owned Safiyyah and Juwayriyah, then he manumitted them and married them, and he owned Rayhanah bint Sham`un An-Nadariyyah and Mariyah Al-Qibtiyyah, the mother of his son Ibrahim, upon him be peace; they were both among the prisoners, may Allah be pleased with them.

﴿ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّـٰتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَـٰلَـٰتِكَ

(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) This is justice which avoids going to either extreme, for the Christians do not marry a woman unless there are seven grandfathers between the man and the woman (i.e., they are very distantly related or not at all), and the Jews allow a man to marry his brother's daughter or his sister's daughter. So the pure and perfect Shari`ah came to cancel out the extremes of the Christians, and permitted marriage to the daughter of a paternal uncle or aunt, or the daughter of a maternal uncle or aunt, and forbade the excesses of the Jews who allowed marriage to the daughter of a brother or sister which is an abhorrent thing.

﴿ وَٱمۡرَأَةً۬ مُّؤۡمِنَةً إِن وَهَبَتۡ نَفۡسَہَا لِلنَّبِىِّ إِنۡ أَرَادَ ٱلنَّبِىُّ أَن يَسۡتَنكِحَہَا خَالِصَةً۬ لَّكَ

(and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her -- a privilege for you only,) means, `also lawful for you, O Prophet, is a believing woman if she offers herself to you, to marry her without a dowery, if you wish to do so.' This Ayah includes two conditions. Imam Ahmad recorded from Sahl bin Sa`d As-Sa`idi that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah and said, "O Messenger of Allah, verily, I offer myself to you (for marriage).'' She stood there for a long time, then a man stood up and said, "O Messenger of Allah, marry her to me if you do not want to marry her.'' The Messenger of Allah said:

« هَلْ عِنْدَكَ مِنْ شَيْءٍ تُصْدِقُهَا إِيَّاهُ؟ »

(Do you have anything that you could give to her as a dowery) He said, "I have only this garment of mine.'' The Messenger of Allah said:

« إِنْ أَعْطَيْتَهَا إِزَارَكَ جَلَسْتَ لَا إِزَارَ لَكَ، فَالْتَمِسْ شَيْئًا »

(If you give her your garment, you will be left with no garment. Look for something.) He said, "I do not have anything.'' He said:

« الْتَمِسْ وَلَوْ خَاتَمًا مِنْ حَدِيد »

(Look for something, even if it is only an iron ring.) So he looked, but he could not find anything. Then the Messenger of Allah said to him:

« هَلْ مَعَكَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ شَيْءٌ؟ »

(Do you have (know) anything of the Qur'an) He said, "Yes, Surah such and such and Surah and such,'' he named the Surahs. So, the Messenger of Allah said:

« زَوَّجْتُكَهَا بِمَا مَعَكَ مِنَ الْقُرْآن »

(I marry her to you with what you know of the Qur'an.) It was also recorded by (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) from the Hadith of Malik. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded a narration from his father that `A'ishah said: "The woman who offered herself to the Prophet was Khawlah bint Hakim.'' Al-Bukhari recorded that `A'ishah said, "I used to feel jealous of those women who offered themselves to the Prophet and I said, `Would a woman offer herself' When Allah revealed the Ayah:

﴿ تُرۡجِى مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ وَتُـٔۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُۖ وَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَيۡتَ مِمَّنۡ عَزَلۡتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكَۚ

(You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you) I said, `I see that your Lord hastens to confirm your desires.''' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said: "The Messenger of Allah did not have any wife who offered herself to him. '' This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. In other words, he did not accept any of those who offered themselves to him, even though they were lawful for him -- a ruling which applied to him alone. The matter was left to his own choice, as Allah says:

﴿ إِنۡ أَرَادَ ٱلنَّبِىُّ أَن يَسۡتَنكِحَہَا

(and (if) the Prophet wishes to marry her) meaning, if he chooses to do so.

﴿ خَالِصَةً۬ لَّكَ مِن دُونِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَۗ

(a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers.) `Ikrimah said: "This means, it is not permissible for anyone else to marry a woman who offers herself to him; if a woman offers herself to a man, it is not permissible for him (to marry her) unless he gives her something.'' This was also the view of Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi and others. In other words, if a woman offers herself to a man, when he consummates the marriage, he has to give her a dowery like that given to any other woman of her status, as the Messenger of Allah ruled in the case of Barwa` bint Washiq when she offered herself in marriage; the Messenger of Allah ruled that she should be given a dowery that was appropriate for a woman like her after her husband died. Death and consummation are the same with regard to the confirmation of the dowery, and the giving of a dowery appropriate to the woman's status in the case of those who offer themselves to men other than the Prophet is an established ruling. With regard to the Prophet himself, he is not obliged to give a dowery to a woman who offers herself to him, even if he consummated the marriage, because he has the right to marry without a dowery, Wali (representative) or witnesses, as we have seen in the story of Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her. Qatadah said, concerning the Ayah:

﴿ خَالِصَةً۬ لَّكَ مِن دُونِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَۗ

(a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers.) no woman has the right to offer herself to any man without a Wali or a dowery, except to the Prophet .

﴿ قَدۡ عَلِمۡنَا مَا فَرَضۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمۡ فِىٓ أَزۡوَٲجِهِمۡ وَمَا مَلَڪَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُهُمۡ

(Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (servants) whom their right hands possess,) Ubayy bin Ka`b, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ibn Jarir said, concerning the Ayah:

﴿ قَدۡ عَلِمۡنَا مَا فَرَضۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمۡ فِىٓ أَزۡوَٲجِهِمۡ

(Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives) means, `concerning the limiting of their number to four free women, and whatever they wish of slave-girls, and the conditions of a representative, dowery and witnesses to the marriage. This is with regard to the Ummah (the people), but We have granted an exemption in your case and have not imposed any of these obligations upon you.'

﴿ لِكَيۡلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيۡكَ حَرَجٌ۬ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا

(in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)

﴿ تُرۡجِى مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ وَتُـٔۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُۖ وَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَيۡتَ مِمَّنۡ عَزَلۡتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكَۚ ذَٲلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰٓ أَن تَقَرَّ أَعۡيُنُہُنَّ وَلَا يَحۡزَنَّ وَيَرۡضَيۡنَ بِمَآ ءَاتَيۡتَهُنَّ ڪُلُّهُنَّۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡۚ وَڪَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَلِيمً۬ا

(51. You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you: that is better that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them. Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.)

The Prophet has the Choice of either accepting or rejecting Women who offer Themselves to Him

Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to feel jealous of the women who offered themselves to the Prophet. She said, "Would a woman not feel shy to offer herself without any dowery'' Then Allah revealed the Ayah,

﴿ تُرۡجِى مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ وَتُـٔۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُۖ

(You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will.) She said, "I think that your Lord is hastening to confirm your desire.'' We have already stated that Al-Bukhari also recorded this. This indicates that what is meant by the word:

﴿ تُرۡجِى

(postpone) is delay, and

﴿ مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ

(whom you will of them) means, `of those who offer themselves to you.'

﴿ وَتُـٔۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُۖ

(and you may receive whom you will.) means, `whoever you wish, you may accept, and whoever you wish, you may decline, but with regard to those whom you decline, you have the choice of going back to them later on and receiving them.' Allah says:

﴿ وَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَيۡتَ مِمَّنۡ عَزَلۡتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكَۚ

(And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you (to receive her again).) Others said that what is meant by:

﴿ تُرۡجِى مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ

(You can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them,) means, `your wives: there is no sin on you if you stop dividing your time equally between them, and delay the turn of one of them and bring forward the turn of another as you wish, and you have intercourse with one and not another as you wish.' This was narrated from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Abu Razin, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and others. Nevertheless, the Prophet used to divide his time between them equally, hence a group of the scholars of Fiqh among the Shafi`is and others said that equal division of time was not obligatory for him and they used this Ayah as their evidence. Al-Bukhari recorded that `A'ishah said: "The Messenger of Allah used to ask permission of us (for changing days) after this Ayah was revealed:

﴿ تُرۡجِى مَن تَشَآءُ مِنۡہُنَّ وَتُـٔۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُۖ وَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَيۡتَ مِمَّنۡ عَزَلۡتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكَۚ

(You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you.)'' I (the narrator) said to her: "What did you say'' She said, "I said, `If it were up to me, I would not give preference to anyone with regard to you, O Messenger of Allah!''' This Hadith indicates that what is meant in this Hadith from `A'ishah is that it was not obligatory on him to divide his time equally between his wives. The first Hadith quoted from her implies that the Ayah was revealed concerning the women who offered themselves to him. Ibn Jarir preferred the view that the Ayah was general and applies both to the women who offered themselves to him and to the wives that he already had, and that he was given the choice whether to divide him time among them or not. This is a good opinion which reconciles between the Hadiths. Allah says:

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰٓ أَن تَقَرَّ أَعۡيُنُہُنَّ وَلَا يَحۡزَنَّ وَيَرۡضَيۡنَ بِمَآ ءَاتَيۡتَهُنَّ ڪُلُّهُنَّۚ

(that is better that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them.) meaning, `if they know that Allah has stated that there is no sin on you with regard to dividing your time. If you wish, you may divide you time and if you do not wish, you need not divide your time, there is no sin on you no matter which you do. Therefore if you divide your time between them, this will be your choice, and not a duty that is enjoined upon you, so they will feel happy because of that and will recognize your favor towards them in sharing your time equally among them and being fair to all of them.'

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡۚ

(Allah knows what is in your hearts.) means, `He knows that you are more inclined towards some of them than others, which you cannot avoid.' Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah said: "The Messenger of Allah used to divide his time between his wives fairly and treat them equally, then he said:

« اللَّهُمَّ هَذَا فِعْلِي فِيمَا أَمْلِكُ، فَلَا تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلَا أَمْلِك »

(O Allah, I have done as much as I can with regard to what is under my control, so do not blame me for that which is under Your control and not mine.)'' It was also recorded by the four Sunan compilers. After the words "so do not blame me for that which is under Your control and not mine,'' Abu Dawud's report adds the phrase:

« فَلَا تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلَا أَمْلِك »

(So do not blame me for that which is under Your control and not mine.) meaning matters of the heart. Its chain of narration is Sahih, and all the men in its chain are reliable. Then this phrase is immediately followed by the words,

﴿ وَڪَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا

(And Allah is Ever All-Knowing,) i.e., of innermost secrets,

﴿ حَلِيمً۬ا

(Most Forbearing.) meaning, He overlooks and forgives.

﴿ لَّا يَحِلُّ لَكَ ٱلنِّسَآءُ مِنۢ بَعۡدُ وَلَآ أَن تَبَدَّلَ بِہِنَّ مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجٍ۬ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكَ حُسۡنُہُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ يَمِينُكَۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ رَّقِيبً۬ا

(52. It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives even though their beauty attracts you, except those whom your right hand possesses. And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things.)

The Reward of His Wives for choosing to stay with the Messenger

More than one of the scholars, such as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd, Ibn Jarir and others stated that this Ayah was revealed as a reward to the wives of the Prophet expressing Allah's pleasure with them for their excellent decision in choosing Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, when the Messenger of Allah, gave them the choice, as we have stated above. When they chose the Messenger of Allah their reward was that Allah restricted him to these wives, and forbade him to marry anyone else or to change them for other wives, even if he was attracted by their beauty -- apart from slave-girls and prisoners of war, with regard to whom there was no sin on him. Then Allah lifted the restriction stated in this Ayah and permitted him to marry more women, but he did not marry anyone else, so that the favor of the Messenger of Allah towards them would be clear. Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: "The Messenger of Allah did not die until Allah permitted (marriage to other) women for him.'' It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i in their Sunans. On the other hand, others said that what was meant by the Ayah,

﴿ لَّا يَحِلُّ لَكَ ٱلنِّسَآءُ مِنۢ بَعۡدُ

(It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this,) means, `after the description We have given of the women who are lawful for you, those to whom you have given their dowery, those whom your right hand possesses, and daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, maternal uncles and aunts, and those who offer themselves to you in marriage -- other kinds of women are not lawful for you.' This view was narrated from Ubayy bin Ka`b, from Mujahid in one report which was transmitted from him, and others. At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said: "The Messenger of Allah was forbidden to marry certain kinds of women apart from believing women who had migrated with him, in the Ayah,

﴿ لَّا يَحِلُّ لَكَ ٱلنِّسَآءُ مِنۢ بَعۡدُ وَلَآ أَن تَبَدَّلَ بِہِنَّ مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجٍ۬ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكَ حُسۡنُہُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ يَمِينُكَۗ

(It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives even though their beauty attracts you, except those whom your right hand possesses.) Allah has made lawful believing women, and believing women who offered themselves to the Prophet for marriage, and He made unlawful every woman who followed a religion other than Islam, as Allah says:

﴿ وَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلۡإِيمَـٰنِ فَقَدۡ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ ۥ

(And whosoever disbelieves in faith, then fruitless is his work) (5:5). Ibn Jarir, may Allah have mercy on him, stated that this Ayah is general in meaning and applies to all the kinds of women mentioned and the women to whom he was married, who were nine. What he said is good, and may be what many of the Salaf meant, for many of them narrated both views from him, and there is no contradiction between the two. And Allah knows best.

﴿ وَلَآ أَن تَبَدَّلَ بِہِنَّ مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجٍ۬ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكَ حُسۡنُہُنَّ

(nor to change them for other wives even though their beauty attracts you, ) He was forbidden to marry more women, even if he were to divorce any of them and wanted replace her with another, except for those whom his right hand possessed (slave women).

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَدۡخُلُواْ بُيُوتَ ٱلنَّبِىِّ إِلَّآ أَن يُؤۡذَنَ لَكُمۡ إِلَىٰ طَعَامٍ غَيۡرَ نَـٰظِرِينَ إِنَٮٰهُ وَلَـٰكِنۡ إِذَا دُعِيتُمۡ فَٱدۡخُلُواْ فَإِذَا طَعِمۡتُمۡ فَٱنتَشِرُواْ وَلَا مُسۡتَـٔۡنِسِينَ لِحَدِيثٍۚ إِنَّ ذَٲلِكُمۡ ڪَانَ يُؤۡذِى ٱلنَّبِىَّ فَيَسۡتَحۡىِۦ مِنڪُمۡۖ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَسۡتَحۡىِۦ مِنَ ٱلۡحَقِّۚ وَإِذَا سَأَلۡتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَـٰعً۬ا فَسۡـَٔلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَآءِ حِجَابٍ۬ۚ ذَٲلِڪُمۡ أَطۡهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمۡ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّۚ وَمَا كَانَ لَڪُمۡ أَن تُؤۡذُواْ رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَآ أَن تَنكِحُوٓاْ أَزۡوَٲجَهُ ۥ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦۤ أَبَدًاۚ إِنَّ ذَٲلِكُمۡ ڪَانَ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ عَظِيمًا إِن تُبۡدُواْ شَيۡـًٔا أَوۡ تُخۡفُوهُ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمً۬ا

(53. O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behavior) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allah's Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily, with Allah that shall be an enormity.) (54. Whether you reveal anything or conceal it, verily, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.)