An Examination of The Quran and Islamic Tradition
The Quran claims that:
The prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. S. 33:6
The late Muslim translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali records that Ubayy b. Kab, a companion of Muhammad and considered to be one of the best reciters/readers, had an additional clause which was also attested by other Muslim readers:
"In spiritual relationship the Prophet is entitled to more respect and consideration than blood-relations. The Believers should follow him rather than their fathers or mothers or brothers, where there is conflict of duties. He is even nearer - closer to our real interests - than our own selves. IN SOME QIRAATS, LIKE THAT OF UBAI IBN KA'B, occur also the words and he is a father to them, which imply his spiritual relationship and connect on with the words, and his wives are their mothers. Thus his spiritual fatherhood would be contrasted pointedly with the repudiation of the vulgar superstition of calling any one like Zaid ibn Haritha by the appellation Zaid ibn Muhammad (xxxiii. 40): such an appellation is really disrespectful to the Prophet." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1104, fn. 3674)
Ubayy b. Kab was one of the four men from whom Muhammad told Muslims to learn the Quran:
Abdullah bin Amr mentioned Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Muadh and Ubai bin Ka'b." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521)
He was also one of only four men who is said to have collected the entire Quran. One early Muslim compiler, Ibn Sad, recorded:
" When the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, breathed his last, NOT MORE THAN FOUR PERSONS HAD THE QUR'AN IN ITS ENTIRETY. All of them were of the Ansars and there is a difference about the fifth one. The persons of the Ansars who had collected it in its entirety were Zayd Ibn Thabit, Abu Zayd, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal and Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, and the person about whom there is a difference was Tamim al-Dari." (Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, Volume II, parts I & II, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi- 110 002 India], pp. 457-458; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Interestingly, the late Muhammad Asad actually inserted this variant within brackets into his translation of the Quran:
"The Prophet has a higher claim on the believers than [they have on] their own selves, [seeing that he is as a father to them] and his wives are their mothers "
Asad seeks to justify the inclusion of this variant on the grounds that many of Muhammad's companions used to recite this by way of explaining the text!
Thus, connecting with the preceding mention of voluntary, elective relationships (as contrasted with those by blood), this verse points to the highest manifestation of an elective, spiritual relationship: that of the God-inspired Prophet and the person who freely chooses to follow him. The Prophet himself is reported to have said: "None of you has real faith unless I am dearer unto him than his father, and his child, and all mankind" (Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Anas, with several almost identical versions in other compilations). The Companions invariably regarded the Prophet as the spiritual father of his community. Some of them - e.g., Ibn Masud (as quoted by Zamakhshari) or Ubayy ibn Kab, Ibn Abbas and Muawiyah (as quoted by Ibn Kathir) - hardly ever recited the above verse without adding, by way of explanation[sic], "seeing that he is [as] a father to them"; and many of the tabiin - including Mujahid, Qatadah, lkrimah and Al-Hasan (cf. Tabari and Ibn Kathir) - did the same: hence my interpolation, between brackets, of this phrase. (However, see also verse 40 of this surah and the corresponding note.) As regards the status of the Prophet's wives as the "mothers of the believers", this arises primarily from the fact of their having shared the life of God's Apostle in its most intimate aspect. Consequently, they could not remarry after his death (see verse 53 below), since all the believers were, spiritually, their "children". (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], pp. 639-640, fn. 8: source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Asad erroneously assumes that the variant was nothing more than an explanatory note inserted by certain scribes as opposed to being a part of the original verse which was eventually dropped or omitted since it conflicted with the Uthmanic version.
As another renowned Muslim scholar of the past wrote:
An unusual reading of the Qur'an includes, "He is a father to them," but it is no longer recited since it is AT VARIANCE with the version of Uthman. (Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad), Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], pp. 29-30; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Notice how the above source demonstrates that even as late as the twelfth century A.D. (the book is dated at 544 A.H./1149 A.D.) this variant reading was known and being discussed by Muslims! Furthermore, it shows that it was deliberately expunged from the recitation on the grounds that it conflicted with the Uthmanic text. Thus, we have a Muslim indirectly admitting that verses were being deliberately expunged on the assumption that the Uthmanic text was more reliable than the others, a position which is not supported by the Islamic data. They didn't omit the variant on the basis that it was weakly attested, but on the gratuitous presupposition that Uthmans corrupted version of the Quran was truly authentic at every point.
We therefore have a clause, whose authority is attested by some of the most qualified compilers and reciters of the Quran, which is missing from the present text!
Now there maybe another reason why Muslims expunged this variant reading from the standardized text. In the same chapter where this reading appeared we find the following statement:
Muhammad is not the father of any man among you (rijalikum), but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. S. 33:40 Pickthall
Carefully contrast the two statements and note the glaring inconsistency:
"and he (Muhammad) IS a father to them"
"Muhammad IS NOT the father of any man among you"
These statements obviously contradict each other which may account for why the variant reading was omitted from the Uthmanic recension of the Quran.
A Muslim may claim that these passages are not at all contradictory since Q. 33:40 is referring to biological relations, not spiritual ones. They may say that this particular text speaks of Muhammad not being the father of any MAN, which clearly shows that biological parentage is in view.
There are several problems with this explanation. First, the context contrasts Muhammads fatherhood with his prophethood implying that a spiritual, not biological, relationship is in view. In other words, the text is essentially saying that Muhammad wasnt a spiritual father to the believing men, but he was their messenger and prophet.
Moreover, because Muhammad was so averse to spiritual fatherhood and sonship (i.e. Jesus is not Gods Son) it seems that he wanted to eradicate the very notion of such a concept with Q. 33:40, to make sure that such a doctrine doesnt creep in through the back door. After all, if Muhammad could be the spiritual father of the believers, why cant Allah? Muhammad (or one of the reciters or scribes who may have seen the problem) may have dropped the other phrase from Q. 33:6 since he may have come to realize that a belief in his spiritual fatherhood would spell trouble for his anti-Christian polemics and also for the assertion of Q. 33:40.
This leads us to our second point. The Quran uses the terms rijal ("man") to refer to both men and women collectively. Note, for instance, the following passages:
Among the Believers are men (rijalun) who have been true to their covenant with God: of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme), and some (still) wait: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least: S. 33:23 Y. Ali
Ibn Kathir, in his commentary, writes that some hadiths say that this verse was revealed about a man named Ans Ibn Al-Nudair and his companions who were killed in the battle of Badr. Others say it may have been about a man named Musa Ibn Talhah, but according to Ibn Kathir the verse applies to people (i.e. both men & women) who have given their life in battle for Allahs cause and have not changed their loyalty to Allah:
<of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah;> "They died true to their covenant and loyal, and some are still waiting to die in a similar manner, and some of them have never changed in the least." This was also the view of Qatadah and Ibn Zayd. Some of them said that the word Nahbah means a vow
<but they have never changed in the least.> means, they never changed their covenant or were disloyal or committed treachery, but they persisted in what they had promised and did not break their vow, unlike the hypocrites who said
<"Truly, our homes lie open." And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.> [33:13]
<And indeed they had already made a covenant with Allah not to turn their backs,> [33:15]
<That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth, and punish the hypocrites, if He wills, or accept their repentance by turning to them.> Allah tests His servants with fear and shaking so as to tell the evil from the good, as each will be known by his deeds. Although Allah knows what the outcome will be before anything happens, still He does not punish anyone on the basis of His knowledge until they actually do what He knows they will do. As Allah says
<And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard and patient, and We shall test your facts.> (47:31). This refers to knowing something after it happens, even though Allah knows it before it comes to pass. Allah says
<Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen> (3:179). Allah says here
<That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth,> meaning, for their patience in adhering to the covenant they had made with Allah and keeping their promise
<and punish the hypocrites,> who are the ones who broke the covenant and went against the commands of Allah, for which they deserve to be punished, but they are subject to His will in this world. If He wills, He will leave them as they are until they meet Him [in the Hereafter], when He will punish them, or if He wills, He will guide them to give up their hypocrisy and to believe and do righteous deeds after they had been wrongdoers and sinners. Since His mercy and kindness towards His creation prevail over His wrath (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
This surely includes women, that is unless a Muslim wants to argue that female believers are not included within the covenant or that Allah doesnt test Muslim women to see if they too will prove faithful to the covenant or not.
The Companions of the Garden will call out to the Companions of the Fire: "We have indeed found the promises of our Lord to us true: Have you also found Your Lord's promises true?" They shall say, "Yes"; but a crier shall proclaim between them: "The curse of God is on the wrong-doers; - Those who would hinder (men) from the path of God and would seek in it something crooked: they were those who denied the Hereafter." Between them shall be a veil, and on the heights will be men (rijalun) who would know every one by his marks: they will call out to the Companions of the Garden, "peace on you": they will not have entered, but they will have an assurance (thereof). When their eyes shall be turned towards the Companions of the Fire, they will say: "Our Lord! send us not to the company of the wrong-doers." And the dwellers on the Heights call unto men (rijalan) whom they know by their marks, (saying): What did your multitude and that in which ye took your pride avail you? S. 7:44-48 Y. Ali
In explaining whom the rijal are, Ibn Kathir states on the basis of the hadith that these are people (i.e. men & women) whose deeds took them out of hell but their sins kept them away from heaven, and who wait patiently for Allah to judge in their favor:
The People of Al-A`raf
After Allah mentioned that the people of Paradise will address the people of the Fire, He stated that there is a barrier between Paradise and the Fire, which prevents the people of the Fire from reaching Paradise. Ibn Jarir said, "It is the wall that Allah described
<So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment.> [57:13] It is also about Al-A`raf that Allah said
<and on Al-A`raf will be men>." Ibn Jarir recorded that As-Suddi said about Allah's statement
<And between them will be a screen> "It is the wall, it is Al-A`raf." Mujahid said, "Al-A`raf is a barrier between Paradise and the Fire, a wall that has a gate." Ibn Jarir said, "Al-A`raf is plural for `Urf, where every elevated piece of land is known as `Urf to the Arabs." As-Suddi said, "Al-A`raf is so named because its residents recognize (Ya`rifun) the people. Al-A`raf's residents are those whose good and bad deeds are equal, as Hudhayfah, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and several of the Salaf and later generations said." Ibn Jarir recorded that Hudhayfah was asked about the people of Al-A`raf and he said, "A people whose good and bad deeds are equal. Their evil deeds prevented them from qualifying to enter Paradise, and their good deeds qualified them to avoid the Fire. Therefore, they are stopped there on the wall until Allah judges them." Ma`mar said that Al-Hasan recited this Ayah
<and at that time they will not yet have entered it (Paradise), but they will hope to enter (it).> Then he said, "By Allah! Allah did not put this hope in their hearts, except for an honor that He intends to bestow on them." Qatadah said; "Those who hope are those among you whom Allah informed of their places." Allah said next
<And when their eyes will be turned towards the dwellers of the Fire, they will say: "Our Lord! Place us not with the people who are wrongdoers."> Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the people of Al-A`raf look at the people of the Fire and recognize them, they will supplicate, O Lord! Do not place us with the people who are wrongdoers."
Allah states that the people of Al-A`raf will admonish some of the chiefs of the idolators whom they recognize by their marks in the Fire, saying
<"Of what benefit to you was your gathering "> meaning, your great numbers
<" and your arrogance"> This Ayah means, your great numbers and wealth did not save you from Allah's torment. Rather, you are dwelling in His torment and punishment. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas
<Are they those, of whom you swore that Allah would never show them mercy> refers to the people of Al-A`raf who will be told when Allah decrees
<(Behold! It has been said to them): "Enter Paradise, no fear shall be on you, nor shall you grieve."> (Source)
Hence, the term rijal must necessarily apply to both men and women in this case.
And that persons (rijalun) from among men used to seek refuge with persons (bi-rijalin) from among jinn, so they increased them in wrongdoing: S. 72:6 Shakir
In his exegesis of this text Ibn Kathir explains that humans use to seek refuge and protection from the jinn:
<And verily, there were men among mankind who took shelter with the males among the Jinn, but they increased them in Rahaq.> meaning, we used to think that we had some virtuous status over mankind because they used to seek refuge with us whenever they (men) would settle in a valley or any place in the wilderness, the open country steppes and other places. This was the custom of the Arabs in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. They used to seek refuge with the greatest Jinn of a particular place so that no harm or evil would afflict them. Like one would do if he entered into the land of his enemies, in the vicinity of a great and powerful man, he would seek the protection and guardianship of that man. So when the Jinns saw that the humans were seeking refuge with them due to their fear of them, they increased them in Rahaq which means fear, terror and fright. They did this so that the people would be more afraid of them and seek refuge with them even more. As Qatadah said concerning this Ayah
<but they increased them in Rahaq.> means, "the Jinns were courageous and increased in insolence against them." As-Suddi said, "A man used to set out with his family (on a journey) until he came to a piece of land where he would settle. Then he would say, `I seek refuge with the master (Jinn) of this valley from the Jinns, or that myself, my wealth, my child or my animals are harmed in it." Qatadah said, "When they sought refuge with them instead of Allah, the Jinns would overcome them with harm because of that." Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from `Ikrimah that he said, "The Jinns used to fear humans just like humans fear them, or even worse. So whenever humans would come to a valley the Jinns would flee. So the leader of the people would say, We seek refuge with the leader of the inhabitants of this valley. So the Jinns said, We see these people fleeing from us just like we flee from them. Thus, the Jinns started coming near the humans and afflicting them with insanity and madness." Thus, Allah said
<And verily, there were men among mankind who took shelter with the males among the Jinn, but they increased them in Rahaq.> meaning, in sin. Abu `Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` and Zayd bin Aslam, all said
<in Rahaq> "This means in fear.'' Mujahid said, "The disbelievers would increase in transgression." Concerning Allah's statement
<And they thought as you thought,> means, "the Jinns were courageous and increased in insolence against them." As-Suddi said, "A man used to set out with his family (on a journey) until he came to a piece of land where he would settle. Then he would say, I seek refuge with the master (Jinn) of this valley from the Jinns, or that myself, my wealth, my child or my animals are harmed in it." Qatadah said, "When they sought refuge with them instead of Allah, the Jinns would overcome them with harm because of that." Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ikrimah that he said, "The Jinns used to fear humans just like humans fear them, or even worse. So whenever humans would come to a valley the Jinns would flee. So the leader of the people would say, We seek refuge with the leader of the inhabitants of this valley. So the Jinns said, We see these people fleeing from us just like we flee from them. Thus, the Jinns started coming near the humans and afflicting them with insanity and madness." (Source)
Since women also sought protection from the jinn it is therefore obvious that this is another example of rijal referring to both men and women together.
All of these examples indicate that the word rijal can and often does include women, that is unless Muslims want to argue that women will not be part of those on the heights who call out, or are not part of the group who proved faithful to the covenant etc.
In light of this Q. 33:40 can legitimately be translated as, "Muhammad is not the father of any PERSON among you." Therefore, to argue that this means that Muhammad wasnt the biological father of any one is blatantly wrong since he had several daughters one of whom, Fatimah, even outlived him. Clearly then, Muhammads fatherhood in verse 40 must be of a spiritual nature. But this plainly contradicts the variant reading of Q. 33:6 which says that Muhammad IS the spiritual father of the believers.
Third, even if one were to insist that verse 40 is referring to strictly biological relations, and specifically to male sons not daughters, this would still be wrong. Shortly after this verse was "sent down" one of Muhammads concubines gave birth to his son.
The Messenger of God arrived in Medina from this expedition toward the end of Dhu al-Hijjah/ April 630
In this year in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, Mariyah gave birth to Ibrahim, and the Messenger of God entrusted him to Umm Burdah bt. al-Mundhir b. Zayd b. Labid b. Khidash b. Amir b. Ghanm b. Adi b. al-Najjar (her husband was al-Bara b. Aws b. Khalid b. al-Jad b. Awf b. Mabhdul b. Amr b. Ghanm b. Adi b. a-Najjar) for nursing. Mariyah had received Salma, freed bondmaid of the Messenger of God, who went to Abu Rafi and informed him that Mariyah had given birth to a son. Abu Rafi then announced the good news to the Messenger of God, who gave him a gift of a slave. When Mariyah gave birth to a son, the Messenger of Gods wives became very jealous. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1990], volume IX, pp. 39-40)
God granted Rayhanah bt. Zayd of the Banu Qurayzah to his Messenger [as booty]. Mariyah the Copt was presented to the Messenger of God, given to him by al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria, and she gave birth to the Messenger of Gods son Ibrahim. These were the Messenger of Gods wives; six of them were from the Quraysh. (Ibid, p. 137)
The Messenger of God also had a eunuch called Mabur, who was presented to him by al-Muqawqis with the two slave girls; one of them was called Mariyah, who he took as a concubine, and the other [was called] Sirin, whom he gave to Hassan b. Thabit after Safwan b. al-Muattal had committed an offense against him. Sirin gave birth to a son called Abd al-Rahman b. Hassan. Al-Muqawqis had sent this eunuch with the two slave girls in order to escort them and guard them on the way [to Medina]. He presented them to the Messenger of God when they arrived. It is said that he was the [with whom] Mariyah was accused of [wrongdoing], and that the Messenger of God sent Ali to kill him. When he saw Ali and what he intended to do with him, he uncovered himself until it became evident to Ali that he was completely castrated, not having anything left at all of what men [normally] have, so [Ali] refrained from killing him. (Ibid, p. 147)
The translator writes in a footnote:
297. She was a Coptic maiden sent by the Muqawqis to Muhammad in 6/627-28 as a gift of honor, and the Prophet made her his concubine (Tabari, Volume 9, p. 39)
In order to appreciate the significance of this, we need to mention the dating of Q. 33. Muslim sources date this particular surah around 627 A.D., or approximately the fifth year of Muhammads migration to Medina. The late Muslim scholar al-Maududi wrote:
Period of Revelation
The Surah discusses three important events which are: the Battle of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Clans), which took place in Shawwal, A. H. 5; the raid on Bani Quraizah, which was made in Dhil-Qa'dah, A. H. 5; and the Holy Prophet's marriage with Hadrat Zainab, which also was contracted in Dhil-Qa'dah, A. H. 5. These historical events accurately determine the period of the revelation of this Surah. (Source)
Part of this surah includes the circumstances leading to Muhammads marriage to his adopted sons divorcee, Zaynab b. Jash. Al-Tabari, in agreement with al-Maududi, says that Muhammad married Zaynab in Dhu al-Qadah of the fifth year of the Hijrah (c. 627). This marriage took place shortly after Muhammads adopted son at the time, Zayd ibn Haritha, had divorced Zaynab. The Quranic passages relating to this situation (i.e. 33:36-38) were also "revealed" during this time. (See The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, Volume 8, pp. 1-4 and The History of Al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, volume 9, p. 134, fn. 895)
Muhammads marriage to his adopted sons divorcee caused such a scandal that Q. 33:40 was "sent down" forbidding people to call Zaid the son of Muhammad:
<Muhammad is not the father of any of your men,> After this it was not permitted to say Zayd bin Muhammad, i.e., he was not his father even though he had adopted him. No male child of the Prophet lived until puberty. Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, bore him Al-Qasim, At-Tayyib and At-Tahir, but they died in childhood. Mariyah Al-Qibtiyyah bore him Ibrahim, but he also died in infancy. He also had four daughters from Khadijah: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with them all. Three of them died during his lifetime, Fatimah lived long enough to be bereaved of him, then she died six months later. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, source)
Hence, we can safely conclude that Q. 33:40 was "revealed" no later than 627-628 A.D. Now Muhammads son, Ibrahim, was born in the year 630 A.D., approximately three years after the pronouncement that Muhammad was not the father of anyone.
Therefore, Allah was clearly mistaken when he said that Muhammad wasnt the biological father of anyone since he had several daughters during this period, and even went on to have a son afterwards, even though this son died shortly after his birth.
But this poses additional problems. If we take the assumption that Q. 33:40 refers to biological sons alone, and therefore excludes daughters, this would only make it obvious that Allah caused Ibrahim to die in order to insure that his claim wouldnt be falsified. Keep in mind that the Quran says that Allah determines when a person shall die:
Allah is He Who created you and then sustained you, then causeth you to die, then giveth life to you again. Is there any of your (so-called) partners (of Allah) that doeth aught of that? Praised and Exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)! S. 30:40 Pickthall
Thus, Allah determined that the child would die in his infancy.
But Allah was too late since the son was already born and for a short period of time Muhammad was the actual father of a young male child, thereby falsifying Allahs statement!
Furthermore, the Quran and hadith say that it is Allah who determines the gender of the child:
O mankind! If you are in any doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make it clear for you. And we cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward we bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you is he who dieth (young), and among you is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammed) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind (of growth). S. 22:5
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud:
Allah's Apostle the true and truly inspired, narrated to us, "The creation of everyone of you starts with the process of collecting the material for his body within forty days and forty nights in the womb of his mother. Then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period (40 days) and then he becomes like a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then an angel is sent to him (by Allah) and the angel is allowed (ordered) to write four things; his livelihood, his (date of) death, his deeds, and whether he will be a wretched one or a blessed one (in the Hereafter) and then the soul is breathed into him. So one of you may do (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise so much that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Paradise but then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) and (ultimately) enters Hell (Fire); and one of you may do (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) so much so that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Hell (Fire), then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and ultimately) enters Paradise." (See Hadith No. 430, Vol. 4) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 546)
In light of this, there was no need for Allah to give Muhammad a son and then cause him to die. It would have been rather easy for Allah to give Muhammad a daughter instead, which would have prevented all this tragedy and spared Muhammad from the extreme pain and suffering over losing a son. Interestingly, one of Muhammads former wives saw the significance behind the childs death:
The Messenger of God married al-Shanba bt. Amr al-Ghifariyyah, whose tribe were also the allies of the Banu Qurayza. Some [authorities] allege that she was a Quraziyyah, and her lineage is not known because the Banu Qurayzah perished. It is also said that she was a Kinaniyyah. She menstruated when she entered [the house of] the Messenger of God and [the Prophets son] Ibrahim died before she took her ritual purification bath. She said, "If he were a prophet, the person who was dearest to him would not have died," so the Messenger of God dismissed her by [giving her] divorce. (The History of Al-Tabari, volume IX, p. 136)
The problem isnt just with Muhammads prophethood, but with Allah being unable to prevent humans from falsifying his claims, an inability which resulted in an innocent child having to die.
The Muslim may wish to refute all of the above by following a different line of argumentation. A Muslim may say that Q. 33:40 is referring to Muhammads circumstances at that particular time. When this verse was "revealed" in the fifth year of the migration, Muhammad had no sons. It is not negating the fact that Muhammad would have children later on.
But this argument assumes that the word rijalikum refers only to sons, and doesnt include daughters which, as we have seen, is simply not the case. Besides, this leaves us with the problem of Zaid b. Haritha who, up until that time, was called the son of Muhammad. It wasnt until after this particular text was given that Zaid was no longer called Muhammads son, having been denied the status of a real son. In fact, Allah went so far as to deny adoption altogether!
This makes it more than obvious that Q. 33:40 was only given in order to spare Muhammad the humiliation of having married his own adopted sons divorcee. The way this was done was by denying adopted children the same status as biological offspring, which meant that Zaid wasnt a real son of Muhammad. This further meant that he couldnt be accused of taking his sons wife after all, since Zaid wasnt his biological child. Talk about a "revelation" of convenience!
To help our readers to both appreciate and understand the issues that were raised, we present a list of the problems.
Contradictions in the Qur'an
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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