Zaynab, the fifth wife of Islam’s prophet Muhammad

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Muhammad’s Marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh

Jannaṫ al-Baqī‘ (lit. 'Garden of the Baqi') is a cemetery in Medina, Saudi Arabia. It is where Zaynab is buried.
Jannaṫ al-Baqī‘ cemetery. This is the grave, where Zaynab and several wives of Muhammad are buried.

One of the wives of Islam’s prophet Muhammad was Zaynab bint Jahsh.

Clifford E. Bosworth, English historian and specialist in Arabic studies, gives the following account of Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab:

In the year 4/626 Muhammad saw Zaynab alone in her house, was taken with her and had Zayd [Muhammad’s adopted son] divorce her so that he himself might marry her, she being at that time about 35 years old. Zayd’s scruples were set aside by the Kuranic revelation XXXIII, 37-8, and she received a dowry of 400 dirhams.  Zaynab is reported as being proud of the circumstances of her marriage, and as saying that her marriage to the Prophet was superior to the other ones because it had the confirmation of divine revelation (“Zaynab” in the Encyclopaedia of Islam). 1This may have been the occasion for the hijab. The Qur’anic text most famously known as the ḥijāb verse is Qur’an 33:53, “O believers, do not enter the Prophet’s houses unless permission is given to you for a meal… and if you ask them [the Prophet’s wives] for something you need, ask them from behind a ḥijāb, that is purer for your hearts and their hearts.”
“There are variances in opinion as to the exact context in which this verse was revealed but many of the tafsīr accounts identify the occasion as Zaynab bt. Jahsh’s marriage to the Prophet. The guests invited to the wedding outstayed their welcome but they also failed to observe the proper etiquette when in proximity to the Prophet’s wives. The concept of ḥijāb here is actually a literal curtain/screen which the Prophet let fall between his chambers and his companions so as to afford his wives privacy and protection. It also prescribes a level of seclusion for the Prophet’s wives away from the public gaze by virtue of their special and specific status. In fact, the verses soon after in q 33:55 give a list of individuals with whom it is permissible for the wives to associate face to face (“their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, the [slaves] whom their right hands possess…The subsequent revelation in q 33:59, known as the “mantle verse,” addresses itself to the Prophet that he should “tell his wives and daughters and the women of the believers” that they should cover themselves in a mantle or a cloak (jalābībihinna) when outside.”
Source: Siddiqui, Mona, “Veil”, in: Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Muhammad’s fifth marriage to Zaynab was polygamous, and it violated Jesus’ teaching about lust, divorce, and remarriage,

Matthew 5:27–32
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:3–12
3And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
4He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
5and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
8He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
10The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
11But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

I’ve counted five ways Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab violated the 7th Commandment and Jesus’ teaching,

Why does Jesus’ and the Bible’s teaching about adultery matter?

God’s law reveals our sin and it reveals God’s righteousness. The sin of adultery deserves death.

Unlike Muhammad, Jesus never committed adultery. Jesus never sinned.

God’s righteousness is revealed in that Jesus died for sinners and He rose again from the dead. Muhammad is not the best man who ever lived. Jesus is.2Islam teaches a fictional view of sin and history. To learn more see, “The Day of Alastu. 

Here is a short video about Muhammad’s Marriage to Zaynab and discussion of David and Solomon’s marriages.


Was Muhammad an exception to God’s Law?

Muhammad’s recitation made a special exemption for Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab (Quran 33:4,37-40). Furthermore, it permitted him to have more than four wives, which is the limit it set for other men (Quran 4:3). 3Additionally, the Quran gave an additional prohibition from anyone marrying Muhammad’s widows (Quran 33:53).

Being able to recite and change rules to justify sinful behavior is not divine revelation. 

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How should we think about Muhammad’s prophetic claim and his recitation that makes him an exception to divine revelation?  Can Muhammad be a prophet when he contradicted Jesus’ teaching about adultery?4It is true that some Old Testament prophets had multiple wives and violated the 7th commandment.  One difference is that, unlike Muhammad, they did not recite revelation to justify their actions. How can Muhammad guarantee Paradise to others given his immorality and changing of God’s Revelation to suit his circumstances?

Muhammad is reported to have said,

“Whoever can guarantee (the chastity) of what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.”5Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 481).

What Muhammad did is not revelation from heaven. It has more in common with what other sinful, unholy, and powerful men have done throughout history when they abused their power for sex. 

Furthermore, Quran 33:37 does not help or solve any pressing problem of humanity contrary to what this verse claims:

Quran 33:37
And (remember) when you said to him (Zaid bin Harithah, the freedslave of the Prophet SAW) on whom Allah has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad SAW too) have done favour (by manumitting him) “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.” But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allah has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., Muhammad SAW married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allah’s Command must be fulfilled.

How many other men since Muhammad have married their adopted son’s wife?

You may also be interested in:

Quran 7:172 and the imaginary Day of Alastu

What every Muslim should know about the Bible and Injeel