Surah Ahzab Ayat 37 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 37
And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, “Keep your wife and fear Allah,” while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished.
Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: “Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah.” But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah’s command must be fulfilled.
(O Prophet), call to mind when you said to him whom Allah had favoured and you had favoured: “Cleave to your wife and fear Allah,” and you concealed within yourself for fear of people what Allah was to reveal, although Allah has greater right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, We gave her in marriage to you so that there should not be any constraint for the believers regarding the wives of their adopted sons after they had accomplished whatever they would of them. And Allah’s command was bound to be accomplished.
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.
And when thou saidst unto him on whom Allah hath conferred favour and thou hast conferred favour: Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah. And thou didst hide in thy mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and thou didst fear mankind whereas Allah hath a better right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zeyd had performed that necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled.
And as you (This is addressed to the prophet) have said to him on whom Allah has (graciously) favored and you have (much) favored, “Retain your spouse to yourself, and be pious to Allah, ” and you were concealing within yourself what Allah would display, and being apprehensive of mankind; and Allah truly has better right for you to be apprehensive of Him. So, as soon as Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, (i.e., accomplished his purpose, and divorced her. The reference is to Zaynab) We espoused her to you so that there should not be any restriction for the believers concerning the spouses of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them; and the Command of Allah has been performed.
When you [Prophet] said to the man who had been favoured by God and by you, ‘Keep your wife and be mindful of God,’ you hid in your heart what God would later reveal: you were afraid of people, but it is more fitting that you fear God. When Zayd no longer wanted her, We gave her to you in marriage so that there might be no fault in believers marrying the wives of their adopted sons after they no longer wanted them. God’s command must be carried out:
Quran 33 Verse 37 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Ahzab ayat 37, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(33:37) (O Prophet), call to mind when you said to himwhom Allah had favoured and you had favoured: “Cleave to your wife and fear Allah,” and you concealed within yourself for fear of people what Allah was to reveal, although Allah has greater right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, We gave her in marriage to you so that there should not be any constraint for the believers regarding the wives of their adopted sons after they had accomplished whatever they would of them. And Allah’s command was bound to be accomplished.
67. The discourse from here to ( verse 48) was sent down after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had married Zainab, and the hypocrites, the Jews and the mushriks had started a relentless propaganda campaign against him. While studying these verses one should bear in mind the fact that this divine discourse was not meant for the instruction of the enemies who were engaged in a willful campaign of vilification and slander and falsehood to defame the Prophet (peace be upon him) intentionally and to satisfy their rancor. But its real object was to protect the Muslims against the influence of their campaign and to safeguard them against doubts and suspicions. Evidently, the word of Allah could not satisfy the unbelievers. It could give peace of mind only to those who knew and believed it to be Allah’s word. There was a danger that those righteous people also might be confused and influenced by the objections that were being raised by their enemies. Therefore, on the one hand, Allah removed all possible doubts from their minds, and on the other, taught the Muslims as well as the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself how they should conduct themselves under the circumstances.
68. It refers to Zaid as has been mentioned clearly below. In order to understand how Allah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) had favored him, it is necessary here to relate his story briefly. He was the son of Harithah bin Shurahbil, a person of the Kalb tribe, and his mother, Suda bint Thalabah, was from the Bani Maan, a branch of the Tay tribe. When he was eight years old, she took him along to her parents. There the people of Bani Qain bin Jasr raided their camp, plundered their goods and took some men prisoners including Zaid. Then they sold Zaid at the fair of Ukiiz near Taif. His buyer was Hakim bin Hizam, a nephew of Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her). Hakim brought him to Makkah and presented him to his paternal aunt. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) married Khadijah, he found Zaid in her service and was so impressed by his good manners and conduct that he asked her to give Zaid to him. Thus, this fortunate boy entered the service of the best of men, whom Allah, after a few years, was going to appoint a Prophet (peace be upon him). Zaid at that time was 15 years old. Afterwards, when his father and uncle came to know that their child was at Makkah, they came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and requested him to return him in exchange for a payment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I shall call the boy and leave it to him whether he would like to go with you or stay with me. If he chose to go, I would take no payment but would let him go with you. However, if he chose to stay back, I am not the one who would send away a person who would like to stay with me.” They said, “This is perfectly right and just. Please ask the boy.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) called Zaid and asked him: “Do you know these two gentlemen?” He said, “Yes, this is my father and this is my uncle.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “Well, you know them as well as me. You have the choice to go with them, or stay with me if you so desire.” He said, “I have no wish to leave you and go with anyone else.” His father and uncle said: “Zaid, will you prefer slavery to freedom, and choose to stay with others in preference to your parents and family?” He replied, “After what I have seen of this person, I cannot prefer anything else of the world over him.” Hearing this reply, the father and uncle of Zaid were reconciled to his remaining with the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) set Zaid free immediately and proclaimed before a gathering of the Quraish in the Kabah, “Bear witness that hence forth Zaid is my son: he will receive inheritance from me and I from him.” Thereafter, he began to be called Zaid bin Muhammad by the people. All this happened before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) advent as a Prophet. Then, when he was blessed with Prophethood by Allah, there were four persons who accepted his claim to it without a moment’s hesitation as soon as they heard of it from him. They were Khadijah, Zaid, Ali and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them all). Zaid was 30 years old then, and had already spent 15 years in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) service. In the fourth year after Hijrah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) married him to his first cousin Zainab, paid her dower on his behalf and provided them with necessary articles for setting up the house.
This is to what Allah has alluded in the verse, saying: “Upon whom Allah has bestowed favor, and upon whom you (O Muhammad) have done favor.”
69. These words were said when the relations between Zaid and Zainab had become very strained, and after making repeated complaints Zaid had finally told the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he intended to divorce her. Although Zainab had accepted to be married to him in obedience to Allah and His Messenger’s command, she could not overcome her feeling that Zaid was a freed slave, who had been brought up by her own family, and she in spite of being the daughter of a noble Arab family, had been wedded to him. Due to this feeling she could never regard Zaid as her equal in matrimonial life, and this caused more and more bitterness between them. Thus after a little more than a year the marriage ended in divorce.
70. Some people have misconstrued this sentence to mean this: The Prophet (peace be upon him) desired to marry Zainab and wanted that Zaid should divorce her. But when Zaid came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said that he wanted to divorce his wife, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped him from this only half heartedly. At this Allah said: “You were keeping hidden in your heart that which Allah intended to reveal.” The real meaning, however, is contrary to this. If this the sentence is read with (verses 1, 2, 3 and7 of this Surah), one can clearly see that in the very days when bitterness was increasing between Zaid and his wife, Allah had hinted to His Prophet (peace be upon him) that when Zaid had divorced his wife, he would have to marry the divorced lady. But since the Prophet (peace be upon him) knew what it meant to marry the divorced wife of the adopted son in the contemporary Arab society, and that too at a time when apart from a handful of the Muslims the entire country had become jealous of him, he was hesitant to take any step in that direction. That is why when Zaid expressed his intention to divorce his wife, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, “Fear Allah and do not divorce your wife.” What he meant by this was that Zaid should not divorce his wife so that he was saved from facing the trial, otherwise in case the divorce was pronounced he would have to comply with the command, and thus provoke a severe storm of criticism and vilification against himself. But when the Prophet (peace be upon him) deliberately forbade Zaid to divorce his wife so that he himself might be saved from what he feared would cause him defamation, Allah found this below the high position that He wanted His Prophet to enjoy, whereas Allah intended to effect a great reform through this marriage of the Prophet. The words “And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you should fear Him,” clearly point to the same theme.
The same explanation of this verse has been given by Imam Zain-ul-Aabedin Ali bin Husain (may Allah be pleased with him). He says, Allah had indicated to His Prophet (peace be upon him) that Zainab would be included among his wives. But when Zaid complained about her to him, the Prophet (peace be upon him) admonished him to fear Allah and keep his wife. At this Allah said to His Prophet, “I had informed you that I would give Zainab you to in marriage. But when you were forbidding Zaid to divorce his wife, you were hiding that which Allah was going to reveal.” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir on the authority of Ibn Abi Hatim).
Allama Alusi in his Ruh-al-Maani has also given the same meaning of it. He says, “This is an expression of displeasure on abandoning the better course, w
37. And (remember) when you said to him on whom Allah has bestowed grace and you have done a favor: “Keep your wife to yourself, and have Taqwa of Allah.” But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So, when Zayd had completed his aim with her, We gave her to you in marriage, so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them. And Allah’s command must be fulfilled.
Allah tells what His Prophet said to his freed slave Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, who was the one on whom Allah had bestowed grace, i.e., through Islam and following the Messenger .
(and you have done a favor ﴿to him﴾) means, by freeing him from slavery. And he was a great leader, held in high esteem and beloved by the Prophet . He was known as the beloved, and his son Usamah was known as the beloved son of the beloved. `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Messenger of Allah never sent him on a campaign but he appointed him as its commander, and if he had lived after him he would have appointed him as his Khalifah.” This was recorded by Imam Ahmad. The Messenger of Allah had given him in marriage to the daughter of his paternal aunt, Zaynab bint Jahsh Al-Asadiyyah, may Allah be pleased with her, whose mother was Umaymah bint `Abd Al-Muttalib. For her dowery he gave her ten Dinars, sixty Dirhams, a veil, a cloak and a shirt, fifty Mudds of food and ten Mudds of dates. This was stated by Muqatil bin Hayyan. She stayed with him for a year, more or less, then problems arose between them. Zayd complained about her to the Messenger of Allah , who told him, “Stay with your wife and have Taqwa of Allah.” Allah says:
(But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him.) Ibn Jarir narrated that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “If Muhammad were to have concealed anything that was revealed to him of the Book of Allah, he would have concealed this Ayah:
(But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him.)”
(So, when Zayd had completed his aim with her, We gave her to you in marriage,) meaning, `when her marriage to Zayd was over and he had separated from her, We married her to you,’ and the One Who was her Wali (guardian) in this marriage was Allah Himself, in the sense that He revealed to the Prophet that he should go in unto her without any Wali, contractual agreement, dowery or witnesses among mankind. Imam Ahmad recorded that Thabit said that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “When Zaynab’s `Iddah finished, may Allah be pleased with her, the Messenger of Allah said to Zayd bin Harithah,
(Go to her and tell her about me (that I want to marry her).) So, he went to her and found her kneading dough. He (Zayd) said, `When I saw her I felt such respect for her that I could not even look at her and tell her what the Messenger of Allah had said, so I turned my back to her and stepped aside, and said, `O Zaynab! Rejoice, for the Messenger of Allah has sent me to propose marriage to you on his behalf.’ She said, `I will not do anything until I pray to my Lord, may He be glorified.’ So she went to the place where she usually prayed. Then Qur’an was revealed and the Messenger of Allah came and entered without permission. We were there when she entered upon the Messenger of Allah , and for the wedding feast we offered bread and meat. Then the people left, and some men stayed behind conversing in the house after they had eaten. The Messenger of Allah went out and I followed him. He started to go around all the apartments of his wives, greeting them, and they said, `O Messenger of Allah, how did you find your (new) wife’ I do not know whether I or someone else told him that those people had left, so he went and entered the house, and I went to enter after him, but he drew the curtain between himself and I. The ruling of Hijab was revealed and he exhorted the people as Allah had exhorted them:
(Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you).” This was also recorded by Muslim and An-Nasa’i. Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, used to boast to the other wives of the Prophet , saying, `Your families arranged your marriages, but Allah arranged my marriage from above the seven heavens.”’ In (our Tafsir of) Surat An-Nur we mentioned that Muhammad bin `Abdullah bin Jahsh said: “Zaynab and `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with them, were boasting to one another; Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, said, `I am the one whose marriage was revealed from above the heaven.’ `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, `I am the one whose innocence was revealed from heaven.’ So, Zaynab conceded that, may Allah be pleased with her.”
(so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them.) means, `We permitted you to marry her, and We did that so that there would no longer be any difficulty for the believers with regard to their marrying the ex-wives of their adopted sons.’ Before prophethood, the Messenger of Allah had adopted Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, and he was known as Zayd, the son of Muhammad. Allah put a stop to this when He said:
(nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons) until:
(Call them after their fathers, that is more just with Allah) (33:4-5). Then this was confirmed and made even clearer by the marriage of the Messenger of Allah to Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, when Zayd bin Harithah divorced her. Allah says in Ayat At-Tahrim:
(the wives of your sons from your own loins) (4:23) which specifically excludes adopted sons. This custom (of adopting sons) was widespread among them.
(And Allah’s command must be fulfilled.) means, `this that has happened was decreed by Allah and was inevitable.’ Allah knew that Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, would become one of the wives of the Prophet .
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