If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it,
for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will
be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not
be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because
you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.
When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has
no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than
to make a vow and not fulfill it. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
Sura 66 At-Tahrim (Banning, Prohibition)
- O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
- Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom.
- When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another), and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, "Who told thee this? "He said, "He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things)."
- If ye two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; But if ye back up each other against him, truly Allah is his Protector, and Gabriel, and (every) righteous one among those who believe,- and furthermore, the angels - will back (him) up.
- It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you,- who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith) and fast,- previously married or virgins.
- O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.
- (They will say), "O ye Unbelievers! Make no excuses this Day! Ye are being but requited for all that ye did!"
- O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow,- the Day that Allah will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands, while they say, "Our Lord! Perfect our Light for us, and grant us Forgiveness: for Thou hast power over all things."
- O Prophet! Strive hard against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed).
- 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 to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: "Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!"
- And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: "O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong";
- And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).
This is one of the most fascinating Suras in the entire Qur'an.
In 12 verses, Muhammad violates a deal that he made with his wives,
makes and breaks an oath, and receives a "revelation" from God just
in time to get him out of trouble.
Period of Revelation
This Sura is considered, by most commentators, as Medinan.
What is happening in this Sura? Syed Maududi talks around, but does
not address, the issues of this Sura in his commentary
- and for good reasons! Fortunately, Al-Baiz‚wi, (Commentary Vol.II,
pp. 340-341), gives an explanation of this passage:
"It is related that Mohammed was alone in company with Mary in
Ayshah's or Hafsah's turn. Hafsah became aware of that and therefore
scolded him about it. He declared he had taken an oath, but admitted
his unlawful behaviour, therefore these verses descended." ("Mizanu'l
Haqq, page 330). (The "Mishkat" names Zainab instead of Hafsah -
"Mishkat" II, pages 680-681).
The complete story is told in the Rauzatu'r Saf‚ , Vol. II, page 188):
"Mary (the Copt) was a Christian slave given to Mohammed 7 A.H. (628 A.D.)
by the Governor of Egypt, Elmokaukas. Her sister, Shereena was also
given at the same time. Mohammed became intimate with Mary and she
bore him Ibrahim, who died in 10 A.H. The intimacy took place in
the home and bed of his wife Hafsah (daughter of Umar) who was
absent at that moment and on the day which was either her or
Ayshah's turn. When Hafsah found this out and questioned him he
promised (on oath) not to touch Mary again if she would keep this
a secret, and promised that Umar and Abu-Bakr should be his
successors. Hafsah, however, told Ayshah about this event, and
for a full month Mohammed had no dealings with any of his wives,
living with Mary alone." During that period this "revelation"
was given. ("Der Koran", translated by Ludwig Ullman, Footnote 2
of Sura 66:1-2, page 456).
Another source tells us:
As she waited for them to come out, her jealousy broke all bounds.
When, finally, Mariyah left the quarters and Hafsah entered, she
said to the Prophet: "I have seen who was here. By God, that was an
insult to me. You would not have dared to do that if I amounted to
anything at all in your eyes". At the moment Muhammad realized that
such deep-lying jealousy might even move Hafsah to broadcast what
she had seen among the other wives. In an attempt to please her,
Muhammad promised that he would not go unto Mariyah if she would
only refrain from broadcasting what she had seen. (Haykal, The Life
of Muhammad, p. 436).
Muhammad's wives had to take revolving "turns" to be with their husband.
Muhammad ignored his own system and had sexual relations with Mary the
Copt on a day that was either Hafsah's or Aishah's "turn". Hafsah
discovered Muhammad's breach of protocol and became upset. Muhammad
promised her that he would not have sexual relations with Mary,
probably out of fear that Hafsah would tell his favorite wife, Aishah
- whom he married when she was a child of about 9 years of age.
Hafsah and Aishah were, according to the traditions, often competitors
for Muhammad's attention, and Hafsah told Aishah the entire sordid
story. We can only imagine the anger of Aishah and the other wives
of Muhammad. In retaliation, Muhammad boycotted the other wives, in
respect to his sexual relations with them, and co-habitated exclusively
with Mary. After one month, we are told by the traditions and the
Qur'an that Almighty God intervened on Muhammad's behalf.
If we believe the testimony of the Qur'an, God tells Muhammad that
it is acceptable for him to break his own oaths! Imagine Almighty
God promoting and commending a breach of an oath made by Muhammad,
especially under such circumstances as the satiation of Muhammad's
But wait, things become much worse! God warns Muhammad's wives
against conspiring against the "Prophet". If they do not heed this
warning, they will face Almighty God, the Archangel Gabriel and all
of the angels, as well as all of the righteous. What chance would
these poor women have against such opposition?
Another threat against the wives of Muhammad is that Almighty God,
in complete disregard to His revelations in earlier scriptures against
divorce, will permit Muhammad to divorce his wives AND find prettier
wives for him! But the intimidation does not end with the threats
of divorce! God threatens the wives of Muhammad AND their families
with the eternal fires of Hell! After Muhammad's lies and betrayal,
his wives are commanded to repent (for what I am honestly not sure)
and Muhammad is exhorted to fight against the unbelievers. We are
told that Almighty God then gave the wives of Muhammad "positive role
models" of female behavior, including Mary the mother of Jesus who
is incorrectly called the daughter
of Imran! But who cares about the details at a time like this?
In the Old and New Testaments, God said that the making and taking
of oaths was a very serious matter and was not to be entered into
lightly. However, if we believe the Qur'an, God allowed Muhammad
to break his own oaths for his own convenience to satisfy his own
desires! Why would God change his eternal will and his eternal word
to fulfill the desires of one man?
The Issue of Almighty God Interfering with Muhammad's Domestic Problems
Another difficulty with this Sura is the fact that God rushes head on
into Muhammad's domestic disputes in order to intervene on Muhammad's
behalf! If we believe the Muslim argument that the Qur'an is the
eternal, uncreated word of Almighty God, then why would God record
these threats for all of eternity? What moral lesson are we to learn
from all of this? Clearly these "revelations" were "received" by
Muhammad so that he could excuse himself from the consequences of
his own moral weaknesses. I can understand why the people in
Muhammad's day accepted this nonsense without question - they feared
for their lives. I cannot understand why people accept such hypocrisy
today as the alleged words of an Almighty and All-Righteous God!
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