Ever more wives for Muhammad
The Quran forbade Muhammad from marrying more women than those he already had:
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 (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses. And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things. S. 33:52 Hilali-Khan
Some Muslims claim that this text didn’t prohibit Muhammad from taking on additional spouses, but forbade him from marrying anyone who wasn’t within the lawful categories mentioned in Q. 33:50:
O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses - whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your 'Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your 'Ammah (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khalah (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess, - in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Hilali-Khan
He could therefore wed additional women provided that they were from among those made lawful to him. The late Rashad Khalifa in his English version of the Quran reflects this understanding:
Beyond the categories described to you, you are enjoined from marrying any other women, nor can you substitute a new wife (from the prohibited categories), no matter how much you admire their beauty. You must be content with those already made lawful to you. GOD is watchful over all things. S. 33:52
This is a rather forced reading of the verse, as well as a blatant distortion of the Arabic, which simply says that Muhammad COULD NOT take any other women after that point or replace his then current wives with others:
It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee… Pickthall
It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee… Y. Ali
It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you… Shakir
It is not allowed to thee to marry women after that, nor to change them for other wives even, though their goodness please thee… Sher Ali
Thereafter women are not lawful to thee, neither for thee to take other wives in exchange for them, though their beauty please thee… Arberry
It doesn’t say that he was only prevented from marrying those women who belonged to specific categories prohibited for him. No, it clearly states that he was forbidden to marry any further women, period – though still permitting him to have sex with female slaves in addition to his wives.
But this is where the problem lies for
thinking Muslims since Muhammad went on to marry other
women besides those whom he already had. According to Muslim sources the
traditional dating of Q. 33 is 5 AH, or five years after Muhammad’s flight to
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. (Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Qur'an: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/maududi/mau33.html)
Yet several years after the composition of this Sura Muhammad married Safiyyah the Jewess and Maymunah, who was the last of his nine wives that he married and left as widows. Noted Muslim historian and exegete al-Tabari provides the details surrounding these marriages:
According to Ibn
Humayd – Salamah – Ibn Ishaq, who said: When the Messenger of God returned to
Medina from Khaybar, he stayed there months of Rabi‘ I, Rabi‘ II, Jumada I,
Jumada II, Rajab, Sha‘ban, Ramadan, and Shawwal, sending out expeditions and
raiding parties during the period. Then in Dhu al-Qa‘dah, the month in which
the polytheists had turned him back [in the previous year], he set out to
perform the "Lesser Pilgrimage of Fulfillment" in place of the lesser
pilgrimage which they had turned him back. The Muslims who had been with him on
that lesser pilgrimage of his set out with him. It was the year 7.
When the people of
According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Muhammad b. Ishaq – Aban b. Salih and ‘Abdallah b. Abi Najih – ‘Ata’ b. Abi Rabah and Mujahid – Ibn ‘Abbas: The Messenger of God married Maymunah bt. Al-Harith on this journey while he was in a state of ritual purity; al-‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib married her to him.
to Ibn Ishaq: The Messenger of God stayed in
558. Dhu al-Qa‘dah of A.H. 7 began on 2 March 629. (Ibid., p. 134)
Then the Messenger of God married Safiyyah bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab b. Sa‘yah b. Tha‘labah b. ‘Ubayd b. Ka‘b b. al-Khazraj b. Abi Habib b. al-Nadir. Previously, she was married to Sallam b. Mishkam b. al-Hakam b. Harithah b. al-Khazraj b. Ka‘b b. al-Khazraj. After his death she was married to Kinanah b. al-Rabi‘ b. Abi al-Huqayq, who was killed by Muhammad b. Maslamah at the Prophet’s order. He was struck at the neck until he died. When the Prophet scrutinized the captives on the day of Khaybar, he threw his cloak over Safiyyah. Thus she was his chosen one (safiyyah) on the day of Khaybar. Then he proposed Islam to her and she accepted, so he freed her. That was in the year 6/627-28.
Then the Messenger of God married Maymunah bt. Al-Harith b. Hazn b. Bujayr b. al-Huzam b. Ruwaybah b. ‘Abdallah b. Hilal. Previously, she was married to Umayr b. ‘Amr of the Banu ‘Uqdah b. Ghiyarah b. ‘Awf b. Qasi, who was [from] Thaqif. She did not bear any children with him, and she was the sister of Umm al-Fadl, wife of ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib. The Messenger of God married her in Sarif during his Lesser Pilgrimage of Fulfillment (‘umrat al-qada). Al-‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib married her to him. (The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1990], Volume IX (9), pp. 134-135; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Kathir b. Zayd – al-Walid b. Rabah – Abu Hurayrah: While the Prophet was lying with Safiyyah Abu Ayyub stayed the night at his door. When he saw the Prophet in the morning he said "God is the Greatest." He had a sword with him; he said to the Prophet, "O Messenger of God, this young woman had just been married, and you killed her father, her brother and her husband, so I did not trust her (not to harm) you." The Prophet laughed and said "Good".
According to Muhammad b. Musa – ‘Umarah b. al-Muhajir – Aminah bt. Abi Qays al-Ghifariyyah: I was one of the women who led Safiyyah as a bride to the Prophet. I heard her say: I was not even seventeen, or I was just seventeen, the night I entered the Prophet’s [room].
Maymunah bt. Al-Harith b. Hazn al-Hilali.
Her mother was Hind bt. ‘Awf b. Zuhayr b. al-Harith b. Hamatah b. Jurash.
In pre-Islamic times Maymunah had been married to Mas‘ud b. ‘Amr b. ‘Umayr al-Thaqafi. He divorced her, and she was married to Abu Ruhm b. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza b. Abi Qays, of the Banu Malik b. Hisl b. ‘Amr b. Lu’ayy. He died, leaving her a widow, and the Prophet married her. It was al-‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib who gave her in marriage, [because] he was her guardian, as she was the full sister of his concubines (umm walad) [Lubabah al-Kubra] bt. Al-Harith al-Hilaliyyah, the mother of his son al-Fadl.
The Prophet married
Maymunah in Sarif [a place] ten miles from
According to al-Tabari (Volume 8, p. 116) the expedition to Khaybar occurred on al-Muharram 7 AH, approximately May-June 628 AD, and Muhammad married Safiyya shortly after this time. Thus, Muhammad broke the command of his own god by marrying more women!
"Not so fast," retorts the Muslim apologist. "Muslims are not unanimous regarding Q. 33 being composed in 5 AH since there are some who place the date at 7 AH," s/he says.
Indeed, there are sources which say that either the entire Sura was compiled in 7 AH, or at least specific parts of it were written during this time:
This surah was revealed near the end of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh year of the Hijrah… (The Majestic Qur’an: An English rendition of its Meanings [The Nawawi Foundation (Chicago) & The Ibn Khaldun Foundation (London), 2000], p. 418)
The late Maulana Muhammad Ali, although stating that most of this Sura was "revealed" in 4 AH, also believed that certain verses may have been composed later:
The battle of the Allies took place in Shawwal in the fourth year of the Hijrah, and the revelation of this chapter therefore belongs to that year. Most of the other subjects treated herein, such as those relating to the Prophet’s marriage with Zainab, and to his marriages in general, might be fixed a little later, but they cannot be placed beyond the seventh year of the Hijrah… (The Holy Quran: Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 823: http://www.muslim.org/english-quran/ch033-45.pdf)
In fact, the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali believed that Q. 33:52 was recited in the year 7:
This was revealed in
A.H. 7. AFTER THAT the Prophet did not marry again EXCEPT THE
HANDMAIDEN Mary the Copt, who was sent as a present by the Christian
Sadly for the Muslims this doesn’t really help their case and here is why. It seems rather apparent (at least to us) that the main reason why some Muslims dated Q. 33 at around 7 AH is because they were aware of the difficulties that an earlier dating would have for Muhammad’s credibility. Realizing that Muhammad had contracted marriages with a few women long after the year 5 AH some Muslim scholars decided to date this specific Sura to a period after these marriages had already been consummated in order to safeguard their prophet’s reputation. The late Muhammad Asad, a renowned commentator and translator of the Quran, is one example of a Muslim commentator who explicitly determines the date of revelation based on that reason.
Some commentators (e.g., Tabari) assume that this restriction relates to the four categories of women enumerated in verse 50 above: it is, however, much more probable that it is a prohibition barring the Prophet from marrying any woman in addition to those to whom he was already married (Baghawi, Zamakhshari). Some of the earliest, most outstanding authorities on the Quran, like Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd (all of them cited by Ibn Kathir), or Al-Hasan al-Basri (quoted by Tabari in his commentary on verses 28-29), link this prohibition of further marriages with the choice between the charms of worldly life and the good of the hereafter with which the wives of the Prophet were confronted on the strength of verses 28-29, and their emphatic option for "God and His Apostle" (cf. note on verse 29 above). All those early authorities describe the revelation of verse 52 and the assurance which it was meant to convey to the wives of the Prophet - as God’s reward, in this world, of their faith and fidelity. Since it is inconceivable that the Prophet could have disregarded the categorical injunction, "No [other] women shall henceforth be lawful to thee", the passage in question cannot have been revealed earlier than the year 7 H., that is, the year in which the conquest of Khaybar and the Prophet’s marriage with Safiyyah - his last marriage - took place. Consequently, verses 28-29 (with which, as we have seen, verse 52 is closely connected) must have been revealed at that later period, and not, as some commentators think, in the year 5 H. (i.e., at the time of the Prophet’s marriage with Zaynab). (Bold and underline emphasis ours)
Note the circular reasoning employed by Asad. He dates this specific Sura after Muhammad had already married all his wives on the grounds that he could not have violated the command of his god that forbade him from marrying additional women!
However, there are several instances of Muhammad transgressing the commands of the Quran (http://answering-islam.org/Muhammad/Inconsistent/index.html). Based on such reasoning, one would have to readjust some of the other revelations as well. For example, the revelation of the shares of inheritance would have to be placed even after Muhammad’s death, because he did not adhere to it, see this article: http://answering-islam.org/Muhammad/Inconsistent/making_wills.html
More importantly, even this date doesn’t salvage Muhammad’s reputation any. Some of the earliest Muslim sources provide examples of Muhammad contracting marriages with women long after 7 AH! Here, for example, is what Al-Tabari writes:
The Messenger of God married al-Shanba bt. ‘Amr al-Ghifariyyah, whose tribe were also allies of the Banu Qurayza. Some [authorities] allege that she was a Quraziyyah, and that her lineage is not know 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 Prophet’s son] Ibrahim died before she took her ritual purification bath. She said, "If he were a prophet, the person who is dearest to him would not have died," so the Messenger of God dismissed her by [giving her] divorce… He also married Qutaylah bt. Qays b. Ma‘dikarib, sister of al-Ash‘ath b. Qays, but he died before consummating his marriage with her, and she apostatized from Islam with her brother… (The History of al-Tabari, Volume 9, pp. 136, 138-139; bold and underline emphasis ours)
According to Islamic sources Ibrahim died in the year 10 AH, approximately three to five years after the composition of Q. 33 (depending on whether one accepts either 5 or 7 AH as the date of composition):
Besides these, he had two concubines. The first was Mariyah, the Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a present gift from Al-Muqauqis, vicegerent of Egypt — she gave birth to his son Ibrâhim, who died in Madinah while still a little child, on the 28th or 29th of Shawwal in the year 10 A.H., i.e. 27th January, 632 A.D. The second one was Raihanah bint Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a captive from Bani Quraiza. Some people say she was one of his wives. However, Ibn Al-Qaiyim gives more weight to the first version. Abu ‘Ubaidah spoke of two more concubines, Jameelah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh. [Za'd Al-Ma'ad 1/29] (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (THE SEALED NECTAR) Biography of the Noble Prophet, Saif-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition 1995], "The Prophetic Household", p. 485: http://www.ymsite.com/books/aram/ch7s11.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Here are a few additional women whom Muhammad married shortly before his death:
… The Messenger of
God arrived in
In this same 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-Ja‘d b. ‘Awf b. Mabhdul b. ‘Amr b. Ghanm b. ‘Adi b. al-Najjar) for nursing. Mariyah 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 God’s wives became very jealous. (The History of al-Tabari, Volume 9, pp. 38-39)
Mulaykah bt. Ka‘b al-Laythi.
According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – ‘Abd al-Aziz b. al-Junda‘i – his father – ‘Ata b. Yazid al-Junda‘i: The Prophet married Mulaykah bt. Ka‘b al-Laythi in Ramadan 8/January 630 and consummated the marriage. She was still married to him when she died.
According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah – [Ibn Shihab] al-Zuhri: The same [as the preceding account].
According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi]: Our masters deny this, saying that the Prophet never married a woman of the Kinanah.
The Prophet married Mulaykah bt. Ka‘b, who was famous for her outstanding beauty. ‘A’ishah went in to her and said "Are you not ashamed to marry the man who killed your father?" Mulaykah said that she sought refuge in God from the Prophet. [On hearing this] the Prophet divorced her. [People of] her clan came to the Prophet and said "She is small and has no mind of her own; she was beguiled [into saying what she did], so please take her back." But the Prophet refused. They then asked his permission to give her in marriage to a relative of hers, of the Banu ‘Udhrah; the Prophet consented, and the ‘Udhri married her.
was killed in the conquest of
Al-Kilabiyyah, after whose name opinions differ.
Some [scholars] say that she was Fatimah bt. Al-Dahhak b. Sufyan al-Kilabi. Others, that she was ‘Aliyah bt. Zabyan b. ‘Amr b. ‘Awf b. Ka‘b b. ‘Abd b. Abi Bakr b. Kilab, and yet another opinion that she was Sana bt. Sufyan b. ‘Awf b. Ka‘b b. ‘Abd b. Abi Bakr b. Kilab. [Furthermore], some hold that there was only one woman of the Kilab [married to the Prophet], about whose name opinions differ, whereas others believe that all of the [aforementioned] were [wives of the Prophet], each having her own story.
Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah – [Ibn Shihab] al-Zuhri – ‘Urwah [b. al-Zubayr] – ‘A’ishah: The Prophet married a Kilabi woman, and when she entered his [room] and he approached her she said "I seek God’s protection against you," whereupon the Prophet said "You have asked protection of a mighty one; go [back] to your family."
According to ‘Abdallah b. Ja‘far – ‘Abd al-Wahid b. Abi ‘Awn – Ibn Mannah: She uttered the formula "I seek God’s protection" (audhu bi-Allah) against the Prophet, for she had been dumfounded and had lost her mind. [Later], whenever she asked permission to enter and see the Prophet’s wives, she would say "I am the miserable one" and "I have been cheated."…
The Prophet had married [the Kilabiyyah] in Dhu al-Qa‘dah 8/February-March 630. She died in the year 60/October 13, 679–September 30, 680.
According to ‘Abdallah b. Sulayman – ‘Amr b. Shu‘ayb – his father – his grandfather: The Prophet had already consummated his marriage with her, but when he gave his wives the option [to leave him] she opted for her clan, so he divorced her. [Afterward], she used to collect dung and say "I am the miserable one." (Ibid., pp. 186-187; underline emphasis ours)
The Prophet married no other woman of the Banu Amir; also he never married anyone of the Kindah, except the Jawniyyah.
According to Ibn Umar [al-Waqidi] – Ibrahim b. Wathimah – Abu Wazjah [Yazid b. ‘Ubayd]: The Prophet married her in Dhu al-Qa‘dah 8/February-March 630, on returning from al-Ji‘ranah… The Prophet sent Abu Usayd [Malik b. Rabi‘ah] al-Sa‘idi to ask a woman of the Banu Amir in marriage on his behalf. Her name was Amrah bt. Yazid b. ‘Ubayd b. Ruwas b. Kilab. The Prophet married her; then it came to his knowledge that she had leprosy, so he divorced her. (Ibid., 188)
Whether some of these women were the same person with different names, or whether he didn’t consummate the marriage with some of them at all, this fact remains: Muhammad clearly contracted marriages after 7 AH, the year many Muslims believe to be the actual date that he received the injunction forbidding him from marrying any more women! That some unexpected circumstances prevented the consummation of these marriages doesn’t undermine the point that Muhammad had entered into the marriage contracts and his intention was to have intercourse with these women as his wives. Even if he could not follow through with his intention in some cases, he had taken definite steps to willfully break the clear commands of the Quran.
This also (perhaps) explains why Maymunah is said to be the last of his nine wives that he married. Muhammad either divorced these other women, or they or he happened to die before consummation could occur. They were, therefore, never counted among the nine women that Muhammad left behind as widows at the time of his death.
Hence, the conclusion we draw from the foregoing data should be plain to see to any open-minded reader: Muhammad sinned against his god by violating his commandments not to marry any more women. It is no wonder that the Quran commands Muhammad to seek forgiveness for his sins:
Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin, and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours. S. 40:55 Pickthall
So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. S. 47:19 Pickthall
He obviously realized that he needed to be forgiven for all those times he willfully disobeyed the express instructions of his lord!
On the other hand, one could ask: did Muhammad take the following statement:
That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future and complete His Favour on you, and guide you on the Straight Path; S. 48:2 Hilali-Khan
To mean that he could now do what he wanted?
No wonder Muhammad could not know whether he was truly forgiven, or still had to beg for forgiveness (or Allah did not know whether he wanted him to be completely forgiven), when we see Muhammad willfully breaking the commands of Allah.
"Ah ha!" says the Muslim. "You forgot to mention that Q. 33:52 has been abrogated by 33:50!" s/he smiles back, thinking that this sufficiently refutes the argument raised against Muhammad. In fact, the renowned Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir mentioned this view:
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 to 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. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8, (
And here is what he also wrote in one of his other books:
When the wives made their choices to be his wives, was the Prophet … prohibited from divorcing them? The scholars suggested firmly that it was not forbidden; however, Allah ... at first, denied him other women as a good reward to the Prophet's wives (for they chose Allah, his Prophet and the Hereafter), then He … made it lawful for him … ‘Aisha ... said: "Before his death, other women were lawful for him to marry" transmitted by Ashafi. (The Seerah of Prophet of Muhammad (S.A.W.), abridged by Muhammad Ali Al-Halabi Al-Athari [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2001: First Edition], Part II, pp. 99-100; bold emphasis ours)
There are at least two problems with this explanation. First, abrogation is nothing more than the attempt of trying to explain away the fact that the Quran contains contradictions. It also implies that Allah changes his mind and is therefore inconsistent and unreliable! Lest we be accused of distorting the Islamic doctrine of abrogation, or of reading into this something that is not there, here is what the late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyya sect wrote:
The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teachings of the Qur'an. A verse is considered to be abrogated when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur’an destroys this foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur’an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4 : 82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation. (Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], p. 32; bold and italic emphasis ours)
He is followed by Muhammad Asad who made the following comments in regards to Q. 2:106:
… The principle laid
down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical
dispensation by that of the Qur’an - has given rise to an erroneous
interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message')
occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an
(because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted
meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage
that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before
the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of
this assertion - WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE IMAGE OF A HUMAN AUTHOR CORRECTING, ON
SECOND THOUGHT, THE PROOFS OF HIS MANUSCRIPT, deleting one passage and
replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable
Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an t
have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ MAY
LIE THE INABILITY OF SOME EARLY COMMENTATORS TO RECONCILE ONE QUR'ANIC PASSAGE
WITH ANOTHER; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the
verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also
why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of
abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it;
and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total
elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a
cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In
short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must
be rejected … (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andalus
Limited 3 Library Ramp,
To, therefore, claim that Q. 33:52 has been lifted up or abrogated does little to defend Muhammad’s inconsistency since abrogation is simply another away of saying that Allah (or Muhammad) changed his mind and that the Quran contradicts itself.
This leads us to the second problem with the Muslim response, namely how this places Muslims in a rather embarrassing position. According to Islamic sources, Q. 33:50 was the passage which canceled the prohibition of Q. 33:52, and yet the former text (33:50) appeared before the latter verse (33:52). This means that an earlier citation has actually canceled out a text that came afterwards! Commenting on Indian Muslim scholar Shah Wali Allah's verdict that there are only five abrogated verses in the Quran, Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote:
(4) 33 : 52: "It is not allowed to thee to take women after this." This is said to have been abrogated by a verse which was apparently revealed before it: "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives" (33 : 50). As stated before a verse cannot be abrogated by one revealed before it. Apparently what happened was this. When 4 : 3 was revealed, limiting the number of wives to four, should exceptional circumstances require, the Prophet was told not to divorce the excess number, and this was effected by 33 : 50; but at the same time he was told not to take any woman in marriage after that, and this was done by 33 : 52. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 34; bold emphasis ours)
The late Iranian Muslim scholar Ali Dashti said regarding this rather strange phenomenon:
In Zamakhshari's opinion, ‘A’esha’s words show that verse 52 was abrogated by custom and by verse 49 (‘O Prophet, We have made lawful for you …’). But an abrogating verse ought to come after the abrogated one. Nevertheless Soyuti, in his treatise on Qor’anic problems entitled ol-Etqan, maintains that in this case the earlier verse abrogated the later one. (Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad [Mazda Publishers Costa Mesa, CA 1994; ISBN: 1568590296], p. 128; bold emphasis ours)
Talk about confusion and chaos!
In light of the foregoing how can a Muslim still believe that Muhammad was sinless, that Muhammad didn’t act inconsistently and commit gross sins? Isn’t it all too obvious that Muhammad did not hesitate to violate his own rules and commands whenever it suited his purpose? If so, how can this man be the pattern for others to follow and emulate?
Moreover, how can anyone sincerely believe that the Quran is a miracle in light of its chaotic and incomplete structure, along with how unintelligible and unclear it is for the most part?
It seems (to us, at least) that the real miracle is that people actually believe that Muhammad was a true prophet and the Quran a miracle from Allah, in spite of all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.