Thursday, 9 April 2009

Is the Qur’an clear, complete and not contradictory, about Muhammad’s multiple marriages?

Either Muslim Scholars or Muhammad got it wrong…

Till now we have discussed how Muhammad’s multiple marriages violates his own teachings regarding the number of wives a man can have at any given time.

Here, we want to analyze his multiple marriages in light of the Qur’an’s assertion that it is fully detailed, complete, and that it is a perspicuous scripture.

As we stated in our article the Qur’an expressly limits the number of wives a Muslim can have to four:

Muslims assert that Allah in Surah 33:50 exempted Muhammad from this restriction. However, the text nowhere says that Muhammad was given the right to take more than four wives:

The reader should be able to see that the privilege given to Muhammad wasn’t that he could have more than four wives, but rather that he could take any woman who willingly offered herself to him. The ahadith solidify that this is the meaning of the passage:

Narrated Aisha: I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah’s Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily)." (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311)

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: I felt jealous of the women who offered themselves to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Then when Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed this: "You may defer any one of them you wish, and take to yourself any you wish; and if you desire any you have set aside (no sin is chargeable to you)" (xxxiii. 51), I ('A'isha.) said: It seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3453)

Some commentators have understood this to mean that Muhammad could marry any woman who willingly forfeited the bridal price or dowry (mahr), something not permitted to any other Muslim:

The relevant clause reads, literally, "if she offered herself as a gift (in wahabat nafsaha) to the Prophet". Most of the classical commentators take this to mean "without demanding or expecting a dower (mahr)", which, as far as ordinary Muslims are concerned, is an essential item in the marriage agreement (cf. 4:4 and {24}, and corresponding notes; also surah {2}, note [224]). (The Message of the Qur’an translated and explained by Muhammad Asad [The Book Foundation, England 2003], fn. 60, p. 728) (1)

When we analyze Q. 33:50, the meaning becomes pretty clear: he was permitted to wed women without having to pay a dowry whereas the rest could not. The Qur’an never gave Muhammad the sanction to exceed four wives, and yet narrations deemed to be authentic by Sunni Muslims say that he transgressed the limits imposed by Allah by taking a total of nine wives! Hence, if the hadiths are correct then this simply provides more evidence that Muhammad was a sinner who expressly violated the very laws he claimed were given by Allah.

And this despite the fact that Muhammad forced some of his followers to divorce any wives that exceeded the number of four after S. 4:3 was revealed.

Moreover, as a result of its lack of clarity and intelligibility, the Qur’an goes on to contradict itself in a matter of two verses. In light of this contradiction, it comes as no surprise that some commentators claimed that Q. 33:50 abrogated or canceled out 33:52!

Interestingly, Q. 33:52 provides additional attestation that Muhammad couldn't have more than four wives or divorce any of them for others. The text implies that Muhammad had reached the limit of the wives he could have, a number which could not exceed four per Q. 4:3, and that is why he was forbidden from taking additional spouses. In fact, this passage placed an additional restriction on Muhammad: Muhammad couldn't divorce his wives whereas other Muslims could. Thus, according to the Qur’an Muhammad would have to marry no more than four wives whom he could never divorce!

The Qur’an never expressly allowed Muhammad to have more than four wives. Q. 33:52 forbade Muhammad from having additional wives whereas Q. 33:50 says that he was allowed to add more women to his harem.

So much for the Qur’an’s claim of being a fully detailed and clear book, one that is free from discrepancies!

(1) It is not at all clear whether the statement, "a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her (in arada al-nabiyyu an yastankihaha)," actually means that Muhammad could marry any woman without paying her a dowry. The text may actually be suggesting that
Allah permitted Muhammad to have intercourse with any woman who gave herself to him without having to marry her! This is due to the word yastankihaha which the renowned commentary al-Qurtubi defined as:

"Yas-tan-kih" comes from the word "Yan’kah." For it is said in different forms "Nakaha" and "Istan-kaha" just as it is said "Ajab" and "Ista-jab"… It is permissible to use the word, "Istan-kaha," to mean one whom requests marriage or one who requests sexual intercourse. (Al-Qurtubi on Q. 33:50, translated from the Arabic by brother Dimitrius; Arabic Source)

The following Muslim source candidly acknowledges that the word literally means to have sexual intercourse:

a. Nikah linguistically means (to unite and to bring together). The REAL LITERAL meaning of Nikah is ‘to have sexual intercourse’; and the METAPHORICAL meaning of Nikah is ‘the bond of marriage’. (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah - Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, From Hadith No. 1783 to 2718, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 3, Chapter 9. Chapters On Marriage, p. 57)

Interestingly, one Muslim "apologist" admits that it is possible that the word here means sex:

Surah 33:50 “O Prophet…Merciful”.

Over here it seems most LIKELY to mean sexual intercourse, however it could mean both. (Bassam Zawadi, The Meaning Of The Word "Nikah" In The Qur’an; Source)

Thus, if the word does refer to mere intercourse, as opposed to marriage, then the meaning would be that Muhammad could sleep with a woman who gave herself to him without having to first marry her! This would be similar to Allah permitting men to have sex with their slave girls without being required to marry them, even if these slave women happened to have husbands at the time (cf. Q. 4:3, 24)!

For more on the meaning of the word Nikah, from which yastankihaha originates, we recommend the following article: Link; Link


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