Surah Tahrim (Arabic: التحريم) is the 66th chapter of the Qur’an composed of 12 ayat. It is classified as a Medinan Surah. The Surahs title in English is the “Banning” or “Prohibition”.
This surah is similar to Surah Talaq as it deals with spouses and rules for family arrangement. It advises spouses not to ignore Allah’s rules in their love for their partner. It specifically references incidents that took place between different Prophet’s and their wives.
“O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him.”
Surah Tahrim Ayat 8
Read Surah Tahrim with Translation and Transliteration
Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَآ أَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ لَكَ ۖ تَبْتَغِى مَرْضَاتَ أَزْوَٰجِكَ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌۭ
Yaaa ayyuhan nabiyyu lima tuharrimu maaa ahallal laahu laka tabtaghee mardaata azwaajik; wallaahu ghafoorur raheem
1. O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
قَدْ فَرَضَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ تَحِلَّةَ أَيْمَـٰنِكُمْ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ مَوْلَىٰكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ ٱلْعَلِيمُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ
Qad faradal laahu lakum tahillata aymaanikum; wallaahu mawlaakum wa huwal’aleemul hakeem
2. Allah has already ordained for you [Muslims] the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your protector, and He is the Knowing, the Wise.
وَإِذْ أَسَرَّ ٱلنَّبِىُّ إِلَىٰ بَعْضِ أَزْوَٰجِهِۦ حَدِيثًۭا فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَتْ بِهِۦ وَأَظْهَرَهُ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ عَرَّفَ بَعْضَهُۥ وَأَعْرَضَ عَنۢ بَعْضٍۢ ۖ فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَهَا بِهِۦ قَالَتْ مَنْ أَنۢبَأَكَ هَـٰذَا ۖ قَالَ نَبَّأَنِىَ ٱلْعَلِيمُ ٱلْخَبِيرُ
Wa iz asarran nabiyyu ilaa ba’di azwaajihee hadeesan falammaa nabba at bihee wa azharahul laahu ‘alaihi ‘arrafa ba’dahoo wa a’rada ‘am ba’din falammaa nabba ahaa bihee qaalat man amba aka haaza qaala nabba aniyal ‘aleemul khabeer
3. And [remember] when the Prophet confided to one of his wives a statement; and when she informed [another] of it and Allah showed it to him, he made known part of it and ignored a part. And when he informed her about it, she said, “Who told you this?” He said, “I was informed by the Knowing, the Acquainted.”
إِن تَتُوبَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا ۖ وَإِن تَظَـٰهَرَا عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ مَوْلَىٰهُ وَجِبْرِيلُ وَصَـٰلِحُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ ظَهِيرٌ
In tatoobaaa ilal laahi faqad saghat quloobukumaa wa in tazaaharaa ‘alihi fa innal laaha huwa mawlaahu wa jibreelu wa saalihul mu’mineen; walma laaa’ikatu ba’dazaalika zaheer
4. If you two [wives] repent to Allah, [it is best], for your hearts have deviated. But if you cooperate against him – then indeed Allah is his protector, and Gabriel and the righteous of the believers and the angels, moreover, are [his] assistants.
عَسَىٰ رَبُّهُۥٓ إِن طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَن يُبْدِلَهُۥٓ أَزْوَٰجًا خَيْرًۭا مِّنكُنَّ مُسْلِمَـٰتٍۢ مُّؤْمِنَـٰتٍۢ قَـٰنِتَـٰتٍۢ تَـٰٓئِبَـٰتٍ عَـٰبِدَٰتٍۢ سَـٰٓئِحَـٰتٍۢ ثَيِّبَـٰتٍۢ وَأَبْكَارًۭا
‘Asaa rabbuhooo in tallaqakunna anyyubdilahooo azwaajan khairam minkunna muslimaatim mu’minaatin qaanitaatin taaa’ibaatin ‘aabidaatin saaa’ihaatin saiyibaatinw wa abkaaraa
5. Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ قُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًۭا وَقُودُهَا ٱلنَّاسُ وَٱلْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَـٰٓئِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌۭ شِدَادٌۭ لَّا يَعْصُونَ ٱللَّهَ مَآ أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo qooo anfusakum wa ahleekum naaranw waqoodu han naasu wal hijaaratu ‘alaihaa malaaa’ikatun ghilaazun shidaadul laa ya’soonal laaha maa amarahum wa yaf’aloona maa yu’maroon
6. O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لَا تَعْتَذِرُوا۟ ٱلْيَوْمَ ۖ إِنَّمَا تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena kafaroo la ta’tazinul yawma innamaa tujzawna maa kuntum ta’maloon
7. O you who have disbelieved, make no excuses that Day. You will only be recompensed for what you used to do.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ تُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ تَوْبَةًۭ نَّصُوحًا عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمْ وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ يَوْمَ لَا يُخْزِى ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِىَّ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ ۖ نُورُهُمْ يَسْعَىٰ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَـٰنِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَآ أَتْمِمْ لَنَا نُورَنَا وَٱغْفِرْ لَنَآ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدِيرٌۭ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena amamano toobooo ilal laahi tawbatan nasoohan ‘asaa rabbukum any-yukaffira ‘ankum sayyi aatikum wa yudkhilakum jannaatin tajree min tahtihal anhaaru yawma laa yukhzil laahun nabiyya wallazeena aamanoo ma’ahoo nooruhum yas’aa baina aydeehim wa bi aymaanihim yaqooloona rabbanaaa atmim lanaa nooranaa waghfir lana innaka ‘alaa kulli shai’in qadeer
8. O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will proceed before them and on their right; they will say, “Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, You are over all things competent.”
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ جَـٰهِدِ ٱلْكُفَّارَ وَٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَ وَٱغْلُظْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَمَأْوَىٰهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ ٱلْمَصِيرُ
yaaa ayyuuhan nabiyyu jaahidil kuffaara walmunaa-fiqeena waghluz ‘alaihim; wa maawaahum jahannamu wa bi’sal maseer
9. O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.
ضَرَبَ ٱللَّهُ مَثَلًۭا لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ ٱمْرَأَتَ نُوحٍۢ وَٱمْرَأَتَ لُوطٍۢ ۖ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَـٰلِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيْـًۭٔا وَقِيلَ ٱدْخُلَا ٱلنَّارَ مَعَ ٱلدَّٰخِلِينَ
Darabal laahu masalal lillazeena kafarum ra ata Noohinw wamra ata Loot, kaanataa tahta ‘abdaini min ‘ibaadinaa saalihaini fakhaanataahumaa falam yughniyaa ‘anhumaa minal laahi shai anw-wa qeelad khulan naara ma’ad Daakhileen
10. Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”
وَضَرَبَ ٱللَّهُ مَثَلًۭا لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱمْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ٱبْنِ لِى عِندَكَ بَيْتًۭا فِى ٱلْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِى مِن فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِۦ وَنَجِّنِى مِنَ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
Wa darabal laahu masa lal-lillazeena aamanumra ata Fir’awn; iz qaalat rabbibni lee ‘indaka baitan fil jannati wa najjinee min Fir’awna wa ‘amalihii wa najjinee minal qawmiz zaalimeen
11. And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”
وَمَرْيَمَ ٱبْنَتَ عِمْرَٰنَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ ٱلْقَـٰنِتِينَ
Wa Maryamab nata ‘Imraanal lateee ahsanat farjahaa fanafakhnaa feehi mir roobinaa wa saddaqat bikali maati Rabbihaa wa Kutubihee wakaanat minal qaaniteen (End Juz 28)
12. And [the example of] Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garment] through Our angel, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient.
Tafsir of Surah Tahrim
The Qur’an was revealed as a book of proof that Islam is the one true religion and to be a book of guidance. Beyond reading the book daily we should seek to understand its meaning and its teachings.
There’s no one right way to do this, each person has a different learning style so you should do whatever you find effective. We believe written text provides a more structured format and can be more dense than a formal talk. You can branch off easily and explore different ayat of different Surahs as needed and learn at your own pace. Below we have included three different tafseer of Surah Tahrim which include one by Ibn Kathir.
Tafsir Surah Tahrim by Ibn Kathir
(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Al-Bukhari recorded that `Ubayd bin `Umayr said that he heard `A’ishah claiming that Allah’s Messenger used to stay for a period in the house of Zaynab bint Jahsh and drink honey in her house. (She said) “Hafsah and I decided that when the Prophet entered upon either of us, we would say, `I smell Maghafir on you. Have you eaten Maghafir’ When he entered upon one of us, she said that to him. He replied (to her),
(No, but I drank honey in the house of Zaynab bint Jahsh, and I will never drink it again.)” Then the following was revealed;
(O Prophet! Why do you fobid that which Allah has allowed to you) up to,
(If you both turn in repentance to Allah, your hearts are indeed so inclined;) in reference to `A’ishah and Hafsah.
(And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives,) which refers to this saying,
(But I have drunk honey.) Ibrahim bin Musa said that Hisham said that it also meant his saying,
(I will not drink it anymore, I have taken an oath to that. Therefore, do not inform anybody about it.) Al-Bukhari also recorded this Hadith in the Book of Divorce; then he said, “Al-Maghafir is a type of sap, and in Ar-Rimth (a type of citrus) its taste is sweet…” Al-Jawhari said, “The `Urfut is a tree of the shrub variety, which secretes Maghfur.” Muslim collected this Hadith from `A’ishah in the Book of Divorce in his Sahih, and his wording is the same as Al-Bukhari in the Book of Vows. In the Book of Divorce, Al-Bukhari recorded that `A’ishah said, “Allah’s Messenger liked sweets and honey. After performing the `Asr prayer, he used to visit his wives, going close to them. So he went to Hafsah, daughter of `Umar, and stayed with her more than his usual stay. I (`A’ishah) became jealous and asked about that. It was said to me, `A woman of her family sent her a small vessel of honey as a gift, and she gave a drink to Allah’s Messenger made from it.’ I said, `By Allah, we will contrive a plot against him.’ I said to Sawdah bint Zam`ah, `When the Messenger visits you and draws close to you, say to him, `Have you eaten Maghafir’ And when he says to you, `No’, then ask him, `What is this odor’ He will say to you, `Hafsah has given me a drink of honey.’ Then you should say to him, `The honeybees might have eaten from Urfut, and I will also say the same to him. Safiyyah, you should also say this.’ Sawdah later said, `It was under compulsion that I had decided to state that which you told me; soon, by Allah, he was standing at my door.’ So when Allah’s Messenger came near her, she said, `O Messenger of Allah! Did you eat Maghafir’ He said, `No.’ She again said, `Then what is this odor’ He said,
(Hafsah gave me honey to drink.) She said, `The honeybees might have eaten from `Urfut.’)” `A’ishah continued, “When he came to me I said the same to him. He then visited Safiyyah and she also said similar to him. When he again visited Hafsah, she said, `O Messenger of Allah, should I not give you that (drink)’ He said,
(I do not need it.) Sawdah said, `By Allah! We have prevented him from drinking honey.’ I said to her, `Keep quiet!”’ Muslim also recorded this Hadith, but this wording is from Al-Bukhari. In the narration of Muslim, `A’ishah said, “The Messenger of Allah used to hate to have a bad odor coming from him” This is why they suggested to him that he ate Maghafir, because it causes a bad odor. When he said,
(No, I had some honey.) They said that the bees ate from a tree that is called Al-`Urfut, which has Maghafir gum, suggesting that this is the reason behind the bad odor they claimed was coming from him. The latter narration, collected through `Urwah from `A’ishah, mentions that it was Hafsah who gave the Prophet the honey. In another narration collected from `Ubayd bin `Umayr, from `A’ishah, it was Zaynab bint Jahsh who gave the honey to the Prophet , while `A’ishah and Hafsah were the plotters. Allah knows best. Some might say that they were two separate incidents. However, it is not likely that the Ayat were revealed about both incidents, if indeed they were two separate incidents. Allah knows best. A Hadith that Imam Ahmad collected in the Musnad mentions that `A’ishah and Hafsah were the plotters. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “I was eager to ask `Umar about the two ladies among the wives of the Prophet , about whom Allah said,
(If you two turn in repentance to Allah your hearts are indeed so inclined;) Then I performed Hajj along with `Umar, and on our way back from Hajj he went aside (to relieve himself). I also went aside along with him carrying a tumbler of water. When he finished and returned, I poured water on his hands from the tumbler and he performed ablution. I said, `O Commander of the faithful! Who were the two ladies among the wives of the Prophet , to whom Allah said,
(If you two turn in repentance to Allah your hearts are indeed so inclined)’ `Umar said, `I am astonished at your question, O Ibn `Abbas.”’ – Az-Zuhri (a subnarrator) said that `Umar did not like the question, but he still answered it, saying that they were `A’ishah and Hafsah. “Then `Umar went on relating the story and said, `We, the people of Quraysh, used to have authority over our women. But when we came to live with the Ansar, we noticed that the Ansari women had the upper hand over their men, so our women started acquiring the habits of the Ansari women. At that time, I was residing at the house of Umayyah bin Zayd, in Al-`Awali. Once I got angry with my wife, and she talked back to me; I disliked her answering me back. She said, `Why do you dislike me talking back to you By Allah, the wives of the Prophet talk back to him, and some of them may not speak with him for the whole day, until nightfall.’ Then I went to Hafsah and asked her, `Do you talk back to Allah’s Messenger’ She said, `Yes.’ I asked, `Does any of you keep Allah’s Messenger angry all day long, until night’ She replied, `Yes.’ I said, `Whoever among you does this is a ruined, losing person! Doesn’t she fear that Allah may get angry for the anger of His Messenger and, thus, she will be ruined Don’t ask Allah’s Messenger too many things, and don’t retort him in any case. Demand from me whatever you like, and don’t be tempted to imitate your neighbor, for she is more beautiful than you, and more beloved to Allah’s Messenger than you.’ He meant `A’ishah.
I, and an Ansari neighbor of mine used to visit the Prophet in turns. He used to go one day, and I another day. When I went I would bring him the news of what had happened that day regarding the revelation and when he went, he used to do the same for me. In those days it was rumored that the Ghassan (tribe) were preparing their horses to invade us. My companion went and returned to us at night and knocked at my door. I came out to him. He said that a grave thing happened. I asked him, `What is it Have Ghassan come’ He replied that it was worse and more serious than that, adding that Allah’s Messenger had divorced all his wives. I said, `Hafsah is a ruined loser! I expected that would happen some day.’ So I dressed myself and I performed the Subh prayer. I went to Hafsah and found her weeping. I asked her, `Has Allah’s Messenger divorced all of you’ She replied, `I don’t know. He is there alone in the upper room.’ I went to the upper room and asked a black slave of the Prophet to ask for his permission to see me, and the boy went in and then came out saying, `I mentioned you to him and he remained silent.’ I then went out and came to the Minbar and found a group of people around it and some of them were weeping. I sat with them for some time, but could not endure the situation. So, I requested to the boy, `Will you get the permission for `Umar’ He went in and then came out saying, `I mentioned you to him, but he did not reply.’ So, I went to Minbar and sat with the people who were sitting by the Minbar, but I could not bear the situation, so I went to the boy again and said, `Will you get the permission for `Umar’ He went in and brought the same reply as before. When I was leaving, behold, he called me saying, `Allah’s Messenger has granted you permission.’ So, I entered the Prophet’s room, greeted him with the Salam and saw him lying on a mat without bedding on it, and the mat had left its mark on the body of the Prophet.
I said, `Have you divorced your wives, O Allah’s Messenger’ He raised his eyes to me and replied no. I said, `Allahu Akbar. O Allah’s Messenger! We, the people of Quraysh used to have the upper hand over our women. But when we came to Al-Madinah, we found a people whose women had the upper hand over them. Our women started learning this behavior from them. Once, I got angry with my wife, and she talked back to me. I disliked that behavior from her and she said, `Why do you dislike that I talk back to you By Allah, the Prophet’s wives talk back to him and one of them would ignore him the whole day, until the night.’ I said to her, `Whoever does this among them is the ruined loser! Does she feel safe from Allah getting angry with her on account of His Messenger’s anger In that case, she would be ruined.’ On that the Prophet smiled. I then said, `O Allah’s Messenger! I went to Hafsah and said to her, `Do not be tempted to imitate your companion (`A’ishah) for she is more beautiful than you and more beloved to the Prophet.’ The Prophet smiled again. When I saw him smiling, I said, `Does the Messenger feel calm’ He said, `Yes.’ So, I sat down and cast a glance at the room, and by Allah, I couldn’t see anything of importance, except three hides. I said, `Invoke Allah, O Allah’s Messenger, to make your followers prosperous, for the Persians and the Byzantines have been made prosperous and given worldly luxuries, even though they do not worship Allah.’ The Prophet sat upright and said,
(O Ibn Al-Khattab! Do you have any doubt These people have been given rewards of their good deeds in this world only.) I asked the Prophet , `Please beg Allah’s forgiveness for me, O Allah’s Messenger.’ The Prophet swore that he would not go to his wives for one month, because of his severe anger towards them, until Allah the Exalted and Most Honored censured him.” Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i also collected this Hadith using various chains of narration. Al-Bukhari and Muslim also collected it from Ibn `Abbas, who said, “For a whole year, I was eager to ask `Umar bin Al-Khattab about an Ayah. However, I hesitated out of respect for him. Once, he went on a Hajj trip and I accompanied him. On our way back, he stopped to relieve himself behind some trees of Arak. I stopped until he finished and then walked along with him and asked him, `O Leader of the believers! Who are the two women who helped each other (or plotted) against the Prophet ”’ This is the narration that Al-Bukhari collected, while Muslim recorded that Ibn `Abbas asked, “Who are the two women about whom Allah the Exalted said,
(but if you help one another against him, )” `Umar replied, “A’ishah and Hafsah.” Muslim mentioned the rest of the Hadith. Muslim also recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said to him, “When Allah’s Messenger stayed away from his wives, I entered the Masjid and found people striking the ground with pebbles. They said, `Allah’s Messenger has divorced his wives.’ That occurred before Hijab was commanded. I said to myself, `I must investigate this news today.”’ So he mentioned the Hadith in which he went to `A’ishah and Hafsah and admonished them. He then said, `I went in and found Rabah, the servant of Allah’s Messenger , sitting on a window sill. I called, `O Rabah, seek permission for me from Allah’s Messenger.”’ He then mentioned the story as we mentioned above. `Umar continued, “I said, `O Messenger of Allah, what trouble do you feel from your wives If you have divorced them, verily Allah is with you, His angels, Jibril, Mikal, I, Abu Bakr and the rest of believers are with you.’ Often, when I talked, all praise is due to Allah, I hoped that Allah would testify to the words that I uttered. And so the Ayat of option was revealed. Allah said,
(Maybe his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him in your place wives better than you,) and,
(but if you help one another against him, then verily, Allah is his Protector, and Jibril, and the righteous among the believers; and after that the angels are his helpers.) I said, `Messenger of Allah, have you divorced them’ He said, `No.’ I stood at the door of the Masjid and called out at the top of my voice, `The Messenger of Allah has not divorced his wives.’ It was on this occasion that this Ayah was revealed,
(When any matter pertaining to peace or alarm comes to them, they broadcast it; whereas, if they would refer it to the Messenger and those who have been entrusted with authority among them, those of them who are engaged in obtaining intelligence would indeed know (what to do with) it.)(4:83) It was I who understood (and properly investigated) this matter.” Similar was said by Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Ad-Dahhak and others. The Ayah,
(and the righteous among the believers;) refers to Abu Bakr and `Umar. Al-Hasan Al-Basri added `Uthman to them. Layth bin Abi Sulaym said from Mujahid:
(and the righteous among the believers;) includes `Ali bin Abi Talib also. Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said, “`Umar said, `The wives of the Prophet were all jealous for his affection, and I said to them,
(Maybe his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him instead of you, wives better than you.) Thereafter, this Ayah was revealed.”’ We mentioned before that `Umar said statements that were confirmed by the Qur’an, such as about the revelation about Hijab ﴿see 33:53﴾ and the captive idolators after the battle of Badr ﴿see 8:67﴾. `Umar’s suggestion to take the Station of Ibrahim as a place for prayer and Allah revealed this Ayah;
(And take you the Maqam (station) of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.) (2:125) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Anas said that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “I heard news that the Mothers of the faithful had a dispute with the Prophet . So I advised them, saying, `Either stop bothering Allah’s Messenger or Allah might provide him better wives than you. Al-Hasan Al-Basri added `Uthman to them. Layth bin Abi Sulaym said from Mujahid:
(and the righteous among the believers;) includes `Ali bin Abi Talib also. Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said, “`Umar said, `The wives of the Prophet were all jealous for his affection, and I said to them,
(Maybe his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him instead of you, wives better than you.) Thereafter, this Ayah was revealed.”’ We mentioned before that `Umar said statements that were confirmed by the Qur’an, such as about the revelation about Hijab ﴿see 33:53﴾ and the captive idolators after the battle of Badr ﴿see 8:67﴾. `Umar’s suggestion to take the Station of Ibrahim as a place for prayer and Allah revealed this Ayah;
(And take you the Maqam (station) of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.) (2:125) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Anas said that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “I heard news that the Mothers of the faithful had a dispute with the Prophet . So I advised them, saying, `Either stop bothering Allah’s Messenger or Allah might provide him better wives than you. Abu `Abdur-Rahman As-Sulami, Abu Malik, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi, and others.
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas;
(Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)) He said, “Work in the obedience of Allah, avoid disobedience of Allah and order your families to remember Allah, then Allah will save you from the Fire.” Mujahid also commented on:
(Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)) saying, “Have Taqwa of Allah and order your family to have Taqwa of Him.” Qatadah said, “He commands obedience to Allah, to not disobey Allah, he orders his family to obey His orders and helps them to act upon His orders. When one sees disobedience, he stops them and forbids them from doing it.” Similar was said by Ad-Dahhak and Muqatil; “It is an obligation for the Muslim to teach his near family members, and his male and female slaves what Allah has made obligatory for them and what Allah has forbidden for them.” There is a Hadith that confirms the meaning of this Ayah. Ahmad, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ar-Rabi` bin Sabrah said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Order the children to pray when they reach the age of seven and when they reach the age of ten, discipline them for (not performing) it.) This is the narration that Abu Dawud collected; At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Hasan.”
(whose fuel is men and stones,) indicating that the Children of Adam will be fuel for the Fire that will feed it,
(and stones) in reference to the idols that were worshipped, just as Allah said in another Ayah,
(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell!) (21:98) `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Mujahid, Abu Ja`far Al-Baqir and As-Suddi said that these are sulfur stones that are more putrid than rotten corpses, according to Mujahid. Allah’s statement,
(over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe,) means, their nature of behavior is stern, because the mercy has been taken out of their hearts for those who disbelieve in Allah,
(severe) meaning, their structure is powerful, strong and frightening,
(who disobey not the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.) meaning, whatever Allah commands them, they rush to obey Him, without delay for even a twinkling of an eye. They are able to fulfill the command; they are called Az-Zabaniyah, meaning, the keepers and guards of Hell, may Allah give us shelter from them.
(O you who disbelieve! Make no excuses this Day! You are being requited only for what you used to do.) meaning, on the Day of Resurrection, the disbeliever will be told, “Do not offer any excuse this Day, because it will not be accepted from you; you will only be recompensed for what you used to do. Today, you will receive the punishment for your actions.”
Allah the Exalted said,
(O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!) meaning, a true, firm repentance that erases the evil sins that preceded it and mend the shortcoming of the repenting person, encouraging and directing him to quit the evil that he used to do. Allah said,
(It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow) And when Allah says, “it may be,” it means He shall.
(the Day that Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believe with him) meaning, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not disgrace those who believed in the Prophet ,
(Their light will run forward before them and in their right hands.) as we explained in Surat Al-Hadid,
(They will say:”Our Lord! Keep perfect our light for us and grant us forgiveness. Verily, You are Able to do all things.”) Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and Al-Hasan Al-Basri and other said, “This is the statement that the believers will say on the Day of Resurrection, when they witness the light of the hypocrites being extinguished.” Imam Ahmad recorded that a man from the tribe of Banu Kinanah said, “I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah during the year of the Conquest (of Makkah), and heard him say,
(O Allah! Please, do not disgrace me on the Day of Resurrection.)”
Allah the Exalted orders His Messenger to perform Jihad against the disbelievers and hypocrites, the former with weapons and armaments and the later by establishing Allah’s legislated penal code,
(and be severe against them) meaning, in this life,
(their abode will be Hell, and worst indeed is that destination.) that is, in the Hereafter.
Allah the exalted said,
(Allah sets forth an example for those who disbelieve) meaning, the disbelievers who live together in this life with Muslims, their mixing and mingling with Muslims will not help the disbelievers, nor will it avail them with Allah, until and unless they gain faith in their hearts. Then Allah mentioned the parable, saying,
(the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of our righteous servants,) means, they were the wives of two of Allah’s Messengers and were their companions by day and night, eating with them and sleeping with them, as much as any marriage contains of interaction between spouses. However,
(they both betrayed them.) meaning, in the faith, they did not adhere to the faith sent through their husbands nor accepted their message. Therefore, all the intimate knowledge of their husbands neither helped them nor prevented punishment, hence Allah’s statement,
(So, they availed them not against Allah) means, because their wives were disbelievers,
(and it was said) meaning, to these wives,
(Enter the Fire along with those who enter!) The part of the Ayah that reads,
(but they both betrayed them) does not pertain to committing illegal sexual intercourse, but to refusing to accept the religion. Surely, the wives of the Prophets were immune from committing illegal sexual intercourse on account of the honor that Allah has granted His Prophets, as we explained in Surat An-Nur. Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas, “They betrayed them by not following their religion. The wife of Prophet Nuh used to expose his secrets, informing his oppressive people whenever any person embraced the faith with Nuh. As for the wife of Prophet Lut, she used to inform the people of the city (Sodom), who committed the awful sexual act (sodomy), whenever a guest was entertained by her husband.” Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “No wife of a Prophet ever committed adultery and fornication. Rather, they betrayed them by refusing to follow their religion.” Similar was said by `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak and others.
This is a parable that Allah made of the believers, in that, if they needed to, their association with the disbelievers will not harm them. Allah the Exalted said,
(Let not the believers take the disbelievers as protecting friends instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allah in any way, except you indeed fear a danger from them.) (3:28) Qatadah said, “Fir`awn was the most tyrannical among the people of the earth and the most disbelieving. By Allah! His wife was not affected by her husband’s disbelief, because she obeyed her Lord. Therefore, let it be known that Allah is the Just Judge Who will not punish anyone except for their own sins.” Ibn Jarir recorded that Sulayman said, “The wife of Fir`awn was tortured under the sun and when Fir`awn would finish the torture session, the angels would shade her with their wings. She was shown her house in Paradise.” Ibn Jarir said that Al-Qasim bin Abi Bazzah said, “Fir`awn’s wife used to ask, `Who prevailed’ When she was told, `Musa and Harun prevailed’, she said, `I believe in the Lord of Musa and Harun.’ Fir`awn sent his aides to her and said to them, `Find the biggest stone. If she insists on keeping her faith, throw the stone on her, otherwise she is my wife. When they came to her, she looked up to the sky and was able to see her house in Paradise. She persisted on the faith and her soul was then captured. The stone was thrown on her lifeless body.” This is the meaning of her statement,
(My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir`awn and his work,) means, `deliver me from him, because I am innocent of his actions,’
(and save me from the people who are wrongdoers.) Her name was Asiyah bint Muzahim, may Allah be pleased with her. Allah said,
(And Maryam, the daughter of `Imran who guarded her chastity (private part).) meaning, who protected and purified her honor, by being chaste and free of immorality,
(And We breathed into it (private part) through Our Ruh,) meaning, through the angel Jibril. Allah sent the angel Jibril to Maryam, and he came to her in the shape of a man in every respect. Allah commanded him to blow into a gap of her garment and that breath went into her womb through her private part; this is how `Isa was conceived. This is why Allah said here,
(And We breathed into it through Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of her Lords Kalimat, and His Kutub,) meaning His decree and His legislation.
(and she was of the Qanitin.) Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah drew four lines on the ground and said,
(Do you know what these lines represent) They said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,
(The best among the women of Paradise are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint `Imran and Asiyah bint Muzahim, wife of Fir`awn.) It is confirmed in the Two Sahihs from Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Many men have reached the level of perfection, but none among women have reached this level except Asiyah — Fir`awn’s wife, Maryam–the daughter of `Imran, and Khadijah–the daughter of Khuwaylid. And no doubt, the superiority of `A’ishah to other women is like the superiority of Tharid to other meals.) In my book, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, I have mentioned these Hadiths using their various chains of narration in relating the story of Prophet `Isa and his mother Maryam, peace be upon them, all praise be to Allah.
This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat At-Tahrim, all thanks and praise are due to Allah.
Cause of Revelation
It is recorded in Sahih of Bukhari and in other collection of Ahadith, on the authority of Sayyidah A’ishah ؓ that it was a daily practice of the Messenger of Allah to visit each of his wives after Asr prayer for a short time inquiring about their welfare. Once he visited Sayyidah Zainab ؓ and spent more time with her than normal and had some honey offered by her. Sayyidah ` A’ishah ؓ says: “I developed some envy and in consultation with Hafsah ؓ decided that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would visit any one of us, she should say to him ‘you have had Maghafir’, (a herb that resembled gum with a slightly unpleasant smell.) “1 They executed their plan. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “I have not had any Maghafir. I only had some honey.” The Holy wife said: “It is possible that the honeybee might have sat on the Maghafir shrub and drank its nectar. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ ، because of his natural dislike for unpleasant odour, swore and promised not to take honey any more. However, he did not want the feelings of Sayyidah Zainab ؓ to be hurt, and therefore he said to his wife that the incident should be kept secret and should not be recounted to anyone else. But she told about it to another wife.
 It should be noted here that these words were spoken by them in an interrogative accent, and therefore it was not a false statement. (Muhammad Taqi Usmani).
Some reports say that it was at the house of Sayyidah Hafsah that he was served with honey, and that the wives who planned were Sayyidah ` A’ishah, Saudah and Safiyyah ؓ . Other reports recount the incident in other ways. It is possible that many incidents of similar nature might have taken place and these verses were revealed after them. [Bayan-ul-Qur’ an].
In brief, these verses tell us that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ banned a lawful thing [honey] on himself by swearing an oath. If such an act is done for a genuine need or expedience, [maslahah], it is permissible; it is not a sin. But the incident does not show that there was no such need for him to have the trouble of baning a lawful thing on himself. He had done this for the pleasure of his holy wives. In such circumstances, it was not necessary for him to have pleased them. Therefore, the verse, compassionately addresses the Holy Prophet ا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ لَكَ ۖ تَبْتَغِي مَرْضَاتَ أَزْوَاجِكَ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ( O Prophet, why do you ban (on yourself) something that Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the pleasure of ‘your wives? And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very Merciful… 66:1) According to the principles of general stylistics, the Qur’an does not address the Holy Prophet’ by his name but by his Prophetic title thus: ‘0 Prophet’ which is his special honour. Although this is a loving question posed by way of compassion, it could have created the misunderstanding that he has committed a major error and he is being questioned about it. The concluding phrase allays this suspicion: وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ; meaning that even if it would have been a sin (for the sake of argument), then ‘Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very Merciful.’
There are three ways in which one can prohibit a ‘lawful thing’ for himself, the details of which were given under verse  of Surah Al-Ma` idah in Ma’ ariful Qur’an Vol.3/pp239-241. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ‘0 those who believe, do not make unlawful good things that Allah has made lawful for you__[5:87] The three ways may be summarised here thus:  If someone holds a lawful thing as unlawful as part of his religious belief, it is kufr and an enormous sin.  If he does not believe it as unlawful in religion, but bans something on himself by swearing an oath without any need to do so, it is a sinful act, and it is necessary for him to break the oath and expiate, which will be discussed later. However, If this is done for some need or advantage, it is permissible but undesirable.  If someone neither believes a lawful thing to be unlawful, nor swears an oath to ban it on himself, but makes a resolve in his/her mind to abandon the lawful thing for ever. If this resolution for permanent abandonment is with the intention of reward, it would be an innovation (bid’ah) in the established religion and monasticism which is a reproachable sin. If such a restriction is not with the intention of reward, but rather for some other reason, such as for treatment of a physical ailment or spiritual malady, it is absolutely permissible. Reports about some noble Sufis who abandoned some lawful things fall under this last category.
In this incident, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ swore an oath to abstain from honey. After the revelation of the verse, he broke the oath and expiated for it. As reported in Ad-Durr-ul-Manthur, he emancipated a slave in payment of his expiation. [Bayan-ul-Qur’ an]
[66:2] Allah has prescribed (the way of) absolution from your oaths. And Allah is your protector, and He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
قَدْ فَرَضَ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ تَحِلَّةَ أَيْمَانِكُمْ (Allah has prescribed [the way on absolution from your oaths….66:2). This verse reminds that where it is necessary or better to break the oath, Allah has prescribed a way to absolve oneself from the liability of the oath by expiation, the details of which are given in other verses.
[66:3] And (remember) when the Holy Prophet told one of his wives something in secret. So, when she disclosed it (to another wife), and Allah made it known to him, he told (the disclosing wife) part of it, and bypassed another part. So when he informed her about it, she said, “Who told you about this?” He said, “It is told to me by the All-Knowing, the All-Aware.
وَإِذْ أَسَرَّ النَّبِيُّ إِلَىٰ بَعْضِ أَزْوَاجِهِ حَدِيثًا (And [remember] when the Prophet ﷺ told one of his wives something in secret…66:3). The Holy Prophet ﷺ confided a certain secret in one of his wives. According to most versions of the authentic report, the ‘secret’ in this verse refers to the ban the Holy Prophet ﷺ imposed on himself about honey, but at the same time he did not want Sayyidah Zainab’s ؓ feelings to be hurt and therefore he directed the wife to keep it secret from others, but the disclosing wife divulged the secret to another wife, as follows in the next verse. Although there are some other reports that explain the ‘secret’ in some other way, what has been mentioned above is in accordance with the most authentic narrations.
فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَتْ بِهِ وَأَظْهَرَهُ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِ عَرَّفَ بَعْضَهُ وَأَعْرَضَ عَن بَعْضٍ (So, when she disclosed it [to another wife], and Allah made it known to him, he told [the disclosing wife] part of it, and bypassed another part…66:3). In other words, when the disclosing wife divulged the secret to another wife, and Allah disclosed this fact to the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، he complained to the disclosing wife about her disclosure, but he did not convey to her the whole information. Instead, he communicated part of it to her and withheld part of it. This was because of the Holy Prophet’s magnanimity and high morals. If he had disclosed the entire information he had received from Allah, it would have embarrassed her most profoundly. Who was the disclosing wife and who was the one to whom the secret was disclosed? The Qur’an is silent on their identity and does not name them. According to the best received narratives, it would appear that it was Sayyidah Hafsah ؓ whom the Holy Prophet ﷺ directed to keep the matter secret, and she divulged it to Sayyidah ` A’ishah ؓ as recorded in Bukhari on the authority of Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ which will be narrated later.
Some narratives report that when Sayyidah Hafsah ؓ divulged the secret, the Holy Prophet ﷺ decided to divorce her, but Allah sent Jibra’l (علیہ السلام) to him, preventing him from divorcing her on the ground that she offered many prayers and kept fasts abundantly. Her name appears in the list of his wives in Paradise. [Mazhari]
[66:4] ( O two wives of the Holy Prophet,) If both of you repent to Allah, then (your conduct calls for it, because) your hearts have diverted. And if you back each other against him (the Holy Prophet), then Allah is his supporter, and Jibril and righteous believers and, after all that, angels are his helpers.
إِن تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا [0 two wives of the Prophet,] If both of you repent to Allah, then [your conduct calls for it, because] your hearts have diverted….66:4). The reference here is made to two of his blessed wives who, as mentioned above in brief, contrived to draw the Holy Prophet ﷺ into swearing an oath and making the aforementioned promise to abstain from honey. Who are they? Bukhari and other collections of Traditions record a lengthy Tradition about this on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ who narrates that he was always on the look-out to enquire of Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ as to who were the two wives to whom reference had been made in the above verse. So, when Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ was on his way to pilgrimage, the former joined him. One day, in the course of the journey, the latter went to answer the call of nature. When he returned, the former had arranged water for the latter’s ablution. He poured water on his hands. Whilst pouring the water for ablution, he enquired as to who were the two wives to whom reference is made in the dual verb اِن تَتُوبَآ (If both of you repent) Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ asked him in surprise: ‘Do you not know who they were?’ Ibn ` Abbas ؓ said: ‘No!’ Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ said they were Hafsah and ‘A’ishah ؓ and then proceeded to recount a lengthy story related to this incident which also contained some incidents that took place earlier. The details of the incident are available in Tafsir Mazhari. This verse addresses the two blessed wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and requires them to turn to Allah as their hearts have deviated, albeit what they did, stem from their love for the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، but in the process they, in consultation with one another, adopted a way that hurt the Holy Prophet ﷺ . This is a sin for which repentance was necessary.
وَإِن تَظَاهَرَا عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ مَوْلَاهُ وَجِبْرِيلُ (And if you back each other against him [the Prophet ﷺ], then Allah is his supporter, and Jibra’l (علیہ السلام) and righteous believers and, after all that, angels are his helpers….66:4). The current verse warns the wives that if they do not repent and please the Messenger of Allah ﷺ ، they will not cause any loss to him, because Allah is his Protector, and so are Jibril, every right-acting believer and, furthermore, the other angels too will come to his support, and it will be the wives themselves who will suffer loss.
[66:5] It is hoped that, if he divorces you, Allah will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive to Allah, believing, devout, penitent, steadfast in worship, fasting, previously married and virgins.
عَسَىٰ رَبُّهُ إِن طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَن يُبْدِلَهُ أَزْوَاجًا خَيْرًا مِّنكُنَّ (It is hoped that, if he divorces you, Allah will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive to Allah, believing, devout, penitent, steadfast in worship, fasting, previously married and virgins….66:5). The verse refutes the possible thought of the wives that if they are divorced, the Holy Prophet ﷺ will probably not get women better than themselves. The verse under comment responds to their assessment of the situation. It purports to say that nothing is beyond Allah’s power. If he divorces them, Allah will give him in exchange better wives than he has at the moment. This does not necessarily imply that there were better wives than the present holy wives at that time. Possibly such women were not available at that point of time, but, should the need have arisen, He could make other women better than they are. These verses specifically dealt with the holy wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، their deeds, their moral reform, their discipline and training. Similar injunctions are given in the verses that follow for the general body of Muslims and believers.
[66:6] O those who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire, the fuel of which is human beings and stones, appointed on which are angels, stern and severe, who do not disobey Allah in what He orders them, and do whatever they are ordered to do.
قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ (0 those who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire…66:6). This verse addresses the general body of Muslims and enjoins upon them to safeguard themselves and their families from a fire of Hell whose fuel is people and stones. Then the verse goes on to describe the intensity and horror of the Hell-Fire. Towards the end of it the angels in charge of it, whose name is Zabaniah, are described. They are harsh and terrible from whom no inmate of Hell will be able to rescue himself by force, power, strength, flattery or bribery.
The word أَهْلِيكُمْ (your families) comprehends wife, children and slaves [males as well as females]. It is not inconceivable to include full-time servants in the imperative like slaves. When this verse was revealed, Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ inquired: “O Messenger of Allah, we understand how to save ourselves from Hell, that is, we guard ourselves against sins and carry out the Divine injunctions, but how do we safeguard our families from Hell?” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ replied: “Instruct them to refrain from deeds that Allah has prohibited, and ask them to carry out deeds that Allah has enjoined. This will rescue them from the Hell-Fire.” [Ruh-u1-Ma’ ani]
Education and Training of Wife and Children: Every Muslim’s Responsibility
The jurists have pointed out that, according to the verse under comment, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to educate the wife and children in matters of Shari obligations, and in matters of halal and Haram and train them diligently to act upon them. A hadith says, “May Allah shower His mercy upon a person who says: ‘0 my wife and children, (be mindful of) your prayers, your fasting, your alms, your indigent, your orphan, your neighbour! It is hopeful that Allah will gather all these with him in Paradise” ‘Your prayers, your fasting’ and so on’ implies ‘Take care of them. Do not ignore them.’ The phrase مسکینکم یتیمکم ‘Your indigent, your orphan and so on’ implies ‘Fulfill their rights towards them willingly and readily.’ Righteous elders have said that the person deepest in punishment on the Day of Judgment will be the one whose family is ignorant and unaware of the religion. [Ruh]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَعْتَذِرُوا الْيَوْمَ ۖ إِنَّمَا تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (0 those who disbelieve, do not make excuses today. You will only be recompensed for what you have been doing….66:7) After advising the general body of believers, the current verse turns attention to the non-believers who are asked not to try to make excuses, because they will not be accepted. They will be told that they are merely being repaid for what they did.
[66:7] O those who disbelieve, do not make excuses today. You will only be recompensed for what you have been doing.
[66:8] O those who believe, turn to Allah with a faithful repentance. It is hoped from your Lord that he will write off your faults, and will admit you to the gardens beneath which rivers flow, on the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will run before them and to their right hands. They will say, “Our Lord, perfect for us our light, and forgive us. Indeed you are powerful over everything.”
تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا (…turn to Allah with a faithful repentance…66:8). The word taubah, literally, means ‘to turn’ or ‘to return’, in the sense of turning or withdrawing from sins. In the terminology of the Qur’an and Sunnah, it signifies ‘to regret committing sins in the past and to firmly resolve abstaining from them in future’. Taubah is qualified in the verse by the word نصوح nasuh. If it is taken as the infinitive of nasaha / nasihah, it signifies ‘to make pure and sincere’; and if it be derived from nasahah, it signifies ‘to repair clothes by sewing’. In terms of the first meaning, the expression nasuh signifies sincere/faithful [repentance], free from pretence and hypocrisy. In this interpretation, a sinner is required to regret the sins he has committed and give them up purely for the pleasure of Allah and for fear of Divine chastisement. In terms of the second meaning, nasuh would signify that ‘the sinner is required to repair the torn clothes of righteous deeds’. Sayyidna Hasan Basri (رح) says that taubatan nasuha signifies that a person should regret his past evil actions, and make a firm resolve never to repeat them. Kalbi says the phrase taubatan nasuha signifies that a person should pray for pardon with his tongue, regret in his heart, and should prevent the limbs of his body from committing sins in the future.
Sayyidna ` Ali ؓ was asked as to what is ‘taubah’ and he replied that it consists of six elements:  to regret one’s past evil deeds;  to carry out Divine duties that were missed;  to restore the rights that were usurped;  to ask forgiveness of a person who has been wronged by him physically or verbally;  to make a firm resolve of avoiding the sin in future; and  to consume one’s self in obedience of Allah as one thus far consumed one’s self in His disobedience. [Mazhari]. In fact, all of the conditions of ‘taubah’, put forward by Sayyidna ` Ali ؓ ، are recognized by all the scholars. However, some have described them concisely and others in details.
عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ (It is hoped from your Lord that he will write off your faults…66:8). The verb ` asa means ‘it is hoped’. In this context, it purports to mean ‘promise’, but the expression of ‘hope’ is used to indicate that taubah or any other righteous deeds are not the just and equal price for the Paradise or the divine forgiveness. In fact, one compensation for man’s good deeds has already been given to him in this world in the form of worldly blessings. Therefore, as regards the law of equality, it is not necessary that he is further compensated by the Jannah. It entirely depends on Divine grace and favour as is mentioned in a Hadith which says: ‘Your actions alone cannot salvage you.’ The Companions inquired: ‘0 Messenger of Allah, not even you?’ He replied: ‘No, not even me unless the Divine grace and mercy covers me.’ [Bukhari and Muslim as quoted by Mazhari]
[66:9] O Prophet, carry out jihad (struggle) against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh with them. And their final abode is Jahannam (Hell), and it is an evil end.
[66:10] Allah has cited for the disbelievers the example of the wife of Nah and the wife of Lat. Both were married with two of Our righteous slaves, but betrayed them. So they could not avail them at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire along with those who enter.”
ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ ( Allah has cited for the disbelievers the example of the wife of Nuh (علیہ السلام) and the wife of Lut (علیہ السلام) …66:10). Towards the end of this Surah, Allah has set forth examples of four women. The first example comprises two women who were the wives of two Holy Prophets (علیہما السلام) .
They, in matters of religion, opposed their husbands and secretly sided with the unbelievers and pagans. As a result, they ended up in the abyss of Hell, and their marital relation with the prophets could not save them from the punishment. The name of the wife of Nuh (علیہ السلام) is said to be Waghilah, while the name of the wife of Lut (علیہ السلام) is said to be Walihah. [Qurtubi] Some scholars have attributed other names to them.
The third woman is the one who was the wife of the Pharaoh, the worst disbeliever and claimant of godhead, but she believed in Musa (علیہ السلام) . She was given such a high rank by Allah that she was shown her place in the Paradise, right here in this world, and the infidelity of her husband did not prove to be an impediment in her achieving this high rank.
The fourth woman is Maryam (علیہا السلام) . She was not wife of anyone, but her faith and virtuous deeds earned for her such a high degree that she was invested with perfections of the prophets, even though she was not a prophet according to the majority of scholars. Verse  serves as a warning to the unbelievers who think that they will attain salvation merely by their companionship with believers, the good company will not rescue them in the Hereafter if they persist in their disbelief. So likewise, a disbeliever’s disbelief will not harm a believing relative. Therefore, the auliyas’ and ambiyas’ wives should not carelessly take for granted that they will attain salvation on account of their husbands nor should the wife of a disbeliever think that his disbelief will harm her. Every person, man or woman, should be concerned about his/her own faith and action.
[66:11] And Allah has cited for the believers the example of the wife of Fir’aun (the Pharaoh), when she said, “My Lord, build for me, near You, a house in the Paradize, and deliver me from Fir’aun and his deeds, and deliver me from the unjust people.”,
ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِندَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ (And Allah has cited for the believers the example of the wife of Fir’aun (the Pharaoh), when she said, “My Lord, build for me, near You, a house in the Paradise…66:11) This is the example of the wife of Fir’aun (the Pharaoh) whose name was ` Asiyah bint Muzahim. When Musa (علیہ السلام) accomplished his task in defeating the sorcerers who embraced Mosaic faith, she too embraced the Mosaic faith and became a Muslim. Fir’aun ordered that she should be tortured severely and tormented harshly. According to some reports, her hands and feet were pegged with nails to the ground and a huge rock was placed on her chest, so that she might not be able to move. In this state she supplicated to Allah as mentioned in this verse. According to other reports, it was suggested that a huge rock be dropped on her. They had hardly dropped the rock and she prayed to Allah as quoted in the verse. Allah then showed Sayyidah ‘Asiyah ؓ her house in Paradise, and while looking at this vision her soul departed. When the rock fell on her body, it was lifeless. [Mazhari].
[66:12] and (also the example of) Maryam, daughter of ` Imran who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our spirit, and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was one of the devout.
وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ (and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was one of the devout….66:12) The phrase ‘Words of her Lord’ refers to scriptures that were revealed to the Holy Prophets ﷺ . The word kutub [Books] refers to the well-known celestial books – Injil, Zabur and Torah. The concluding statement وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ (and she was one of the devout….66:12) describes the quality of Sayyidah Maryam (علیہا السلام) . The word qanitin is the plural of qanit and signifies ‘devout and obedient’. Sayyidna Abu Musa (علیہ السلام) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whilst many men have attained spiritual perfection, among women only Sayyidah ` Asiyah ؓ ، wife of Fir’aun, and Sayyidah Maryam, daughter of ` Imran (علیہما السلام) ، achieved this perfection.” [Bukhari and Muslim as quoted by Mazhari]. Apparently, ‘perfection’ in this context refers to ‘characteristics of Prophethood’. Despite being a woman, she achieved them. [Mazhari]. And Allah knows best!
The Commentary on
Tafseer By Abul A’la Maududi
66. Surah At Tahrim (The Prohibition)
The Surah derived its name from the words lima tuharrimu of the very first verse. This too is not a title of its subject matter, but the name implies that it is the Surah in which the incident of tahrim (prohibition, forbiddance) has been mentioned.
Period of Revelation
In connection with the incident of tahrim referred to in this Surah, the traditions of the Hadith mention two ladies who were among the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) at that time Hadrat Safiyyah and Hadrat Mariyah Qibtiyyah. The former (i. e. Hadrat Safiyyah) was taken to wife by the Holy Prophet after the conquest of Khaiber, and Khaiber was conquered, as has been unanimously reported, in A. H. 7. The other lady, Hadrat Mariyah, had been presented to the Holy Prophet by Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt, in A. H. 7 and she had borne him his son, Ibrahim, in Dhil-Hijjah, A. H. 8.These historical events almost precisely determine that this Surah was sent down some time during A.H. 7 or A. H 8.
Theme and Topics
This is a very important Surah in which light has been thrown on some questions of grave significance with reference to some incidents concerning the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace).
First, that the powers to prescribe the bounds of the lawful and the unlawful, the permissible and the forbidden, are entirely and absolutely in the hand of Allah and nothing has been delegated even to the Prophet of Allah himself, not to speak of any other man. The Prophet as such can declare something lawful or unlawful only if he receives an inspiration from Allah to do so whether that inspiration is embodied in the Qur’an, or imparted to, him secretly. However, even the Prophet is not authorized to declare anything made permissible by Allah unlawful by himself, much less to say of another man.
Second, that in any society the position of a Prophet is very delicate. A minor incident experienced by an ordinary man in his life may not be of any consequence, but it assumes the status of law when experienced by a Prophet. That is why the lives of the Prophets have been kept under close supervision by Allah so that none of their acts, not even a most trivial one, may deviate from Divine Will. Whenever such an act has emanated from a Prophet, it was rectified and rectified immediately so that the Islamic law and its principles should reach the people in their absolute purity not only through the Divine Book but also through the excellent example of the Prophet, and they should include nothing which may be in disagreement with Divine Will,
Thirdly, and this automatically follows from the above mentioned point, that when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was checked on a minor thing, which was not only corrected but also recorded, it gives us complete satisfaction that whatever actions and commands and instructions we now find in the pure life of the Holy Prophet concerning which there is nothing on record in the nature of criticism or correction from Allah, they are wholly based on truth, are in complete conformity with Divine Will and we can draw guidance from them with full confidence and peace of mind.
The fourth thing that we learn from this discourse is that about the Holy Messenger himself, whose reverence and respect Allah Himself has enjoined as a necessary part of the Faith of His servants, it has been stated in this Surah that once during his sacred life he made a thing declared lawful by Allah unlawful for himself only to please his wives; then Allah has severely reproved for their errors those very wives of the Holy Prophet, whom He Himself has declared as mothers of the faithful and worthy of the highest esteem and honor by them. Then, this criticism of the Prophet and the administration of the warning to the wives also has not been made secretly but included in the Book, which the entire Ummah has to read and recite for ever. Obviously, neither the intention of making mention of it in the Book of Allah was, nor it could be, that Allah wanted to degrade His Messenger and the mothers of the faithful in the eyes of the believers; and this also is obvious that no Muslim has lost respect for them, in his heart after reading this Surah of the Qur’an. Now, there cannot be any other reason of mentioning this thing in the Qur’an than that Allah wants to acquaint the believers with the correct manner of reverence for their great personalities. The Prophet is a Prophet, not God, that he may commit no error. Respect of the Prophet has not been enjoined because he is infallible, but because he is a perfect representative of Divine Will, and Allah has not permitted any of his errors to pass by unnoticed. This gives us the satisfaction that the noble pattern of life left by the Prophet wholly and fully represents the will of Allah. Likewise, the Companions of the holy wives of the Prophet, were human, not angels or super men. They could commit mistakes. Whatever ranks they achieved became possible only because the guidance given by Allah and the training imparted by Allah’s Messenger had moulded them into the finest models. Whatever esteem and reverence they deserve is on this very basis and not on the presumption that they were infallible. For this reason, whenever in the sacred lifetime of the Prophet (upon him be peace) the Companions or holy wives happened to commit an error due to human weakness, they were checked. Some of their errors were corrected by the Holy Prophet, as has been mentioned at many places in the Hadith; some other errors were mentioned in the Qur’an and Allah Himself corrected them so that the Muslims might not form any exaggerated notion of the respect and reverence of their elders and great men, which might raise them from humanity to the position of gods and goddesses. If one studies the Quran carefully, one will see instances of this one after the other. In Surah Al-Imran, in connection with the Battle of Uhud, the Companions have been addressed and told:
“Allah did fulfill His promise (of help) to you : in the initial stage of the battle, it was you who were killing them by Allah’s leave until you lost heart and disputed about your duty and disobeyed your leader, when Allah showed you what (the spoils) you coveted for there were among you sortie who hankered after the life of this world, and others: who cherished the life after death. Then Allah caused your retreat before the disbelievers in order to test you, but the fact is that even then Allah pardoned you, for Allah is very gracious to the believers.” (v. 152).
In surah An-Nur, in connection with the Slander against Hadrat Aisha, the Companions were told,
“When you heard of it, why did not the believing men and the believing women have a good opinion of themselves, and why did they not say: this is a manifest slander?……Were it not for Allah’s grace and mercy towards you in this world and in the Hereafter, a painful scourge would have visited you because of the slander. (Just consider) when you passed this lie on from one tongue to the other and uttered with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge. You took it as a trifling matter whereas it was a grave offense in the sight of Allah. Why did you not, as soon as you heard of it, say ‘It is not proper for us to utter such a thing? Glory be to Allah! This is a great slander’.”Allah admonishes you that in future you should never repeat anything like this, if you are true believers.” (vv. 12-I7).
In surah Al-Ahzab, the holy wives have been addressed thus: “O Prophet, say to your wives If you seek the world and its adornments, come, I shall give you of these and send you off in a good way. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, you should rest assured that Allah has prepared a great reward for those of you, who do good.” (vv. 28-29).
In Surah Jumu’ah about the Companions it was said:
“And when they saw some merchandise and amusement they broke off to it and left you (O Prophet) standing (in the course of the Sermon). Say to them : that which is with Allah is far better than amusement and merchandise, and Allah is the best of all providers.” (v. 11).
In Surah Al-Mumtahinah, Hadrat Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah, a Companion who had fought at Badr, was severely taken to task because he had sent secret information to the disbelieving Quraish about the Holy Prophet’s invasion before the conquest of Makkah.
All these instances are found in the Qur’an itself, in the same Qur’an in which Allah Himself has paid tribute to the Companions and the holy wives for their great merits, and granted them the certificate of His good pleasure, saying: “Allah became well pleased with them and they with Allah.” It was this same moderate and balanced teaching of the reverence and esteem of the great men, which saved the Muslims from falling into the pit of man worship in which the Jews and the Christians fell, and it is a result of the same that in the books that the eminent followers of the Sunnah have compiled on the subjects of the Hadith, Commentary of the Qur’an and History, not only have the excellences and great merits of the Companions and holy wives and other illustrious men been mentioned, but also no hesitance has been shown in mentioning the incidents relating to their weaknesses, errors and mistakes, whereas those scholars were more appreciative of the merits and excellences of the great men and understood the bounds and limits of reverence better than those who claim to be the upholders of reverence for the elders today.
The fifth thing that has been explicitly mentioned in this Surah is that Allah’s Religion is absolutely fair and just. It has for every person just that of which he becomes worthy on the basis of his faith and works. No relationship or connection even with the most righteous person can be beneficial for him in any way and no relationship or connection with the most evil and wicked person can be harmful for him in any way. In this connection three kinds of women have been cited as examples before the holy wives in particular. One example is of the wives of the Prophets Noah and Lot, who, if they had believed and cooperated with their illustrious husbands, would have occupied the same rank and position in the Muslim community. which is enjoyed by the wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings). But since they were disbelievers, their being the wives of the Prophets did not help them and they fell into Hell. The second example is of the wife of Pharaoh, who in spite of being the wife of a staunch enemy of God believed and chose a path of action separate from that followed by the Pharaoh’s people, and her being the wife of a staunch disbeliever did not cause her any harm, and Allah made her worthy of Paradise. The third example is of Hadrat Maryam (Mary) (peace be upon her), who attained to the high rank because she submitted to the severe test to which Allah had decided to put her. Apart from Mary no other chaste and righteous girl in the world ever has been put to such a hard test that in spite of being unmarried, she might have been made pregnant miraculously by Allah’s command and informed what service her Lord willed to take from her. When Hadrat Maryam accepted this decision, and agreed to bear, like a true believer, everything that she inevitably had to bear in order to fulfill Allah’s will, then did Allah exalt her to the noble rank of Sayyidatu an-nisa’ fil- Jannah: “Leader of the women in Paradise” (Musnad Ahmad).
Besides, another truth that we learn from this Surah is that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) did not receive from Allah only that knowledge which is included and recorded in the Qur’an, but he was given information about other things also by revelation, which has not been recorded in the Qur’an. Its clear proof is verse 3 of this Surah. In it we are told that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) confided a secret to one of his wives, and she told it to another. Allah informed the Holy Prophet of this secret. Then, when the Holy Prophet warned his particular wife on the mistake of disclosure and she said:”Who has informed you of this mistake of mine7″ he replied: “I have been informed of it by Him Who knows everything and is All Aware.” Now, the question is where in the Qur’an is the verse in which Allah has said “O Prophet, the secret that you had confided to one of your wives, has been disclosed by her to another person, or to so and so?If there is no such verse in the Qur’an, and obviously there is none, this is an express proof of the fact that revelation descended on the Holy Prophet besides the Qur’an as well. This refutes the claim of the deniers of Hadith, who allege that nothing was sent down to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) apart from the Qur’an.
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
1-7 Do not make something unlawful which Allah has made lawful and Wives of the Holy Prophet are admonished on their behavior with him
(66:1) O Prophet, why do you forbid what Allah has made lawful for you?1 Is it to please your wives?2 Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Compassionate.3 (66:2) Allah has prescribed for you a way for the absolution of your oaths.4 Allah is your Guardian. He is All-Knowing, Most Wise.5 (66:3) The Prophet confided something to one of his wives and then she disclosed it (to another); so after Allah revealed to the Prophet (that she had disclosed that secret), he made a part of it known to her and passed over a part of it. And when he told her about this (i.e., that she had disclosed the secret entrusted to her), she asked: “Who informed you of this?” He said: “I was told of it by He Who is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”6 (66:4) If the two of you turn in repentance to Allah (that is better for you), for the hearts of both of you have swerved from the Straight Path.7 But if you support one another against the Prophet,8 then surely Allah is his Protector; and after that Gabriel and all righteous believers and the angels are all his supporters.9 (66:5) Maybe if he were to divorce you, your Lord might grant him in exchange wives better than you10 – those who truly submit to Allah,11 are full of faith, obedient,12 disposed to repentance,13 and given to worship14 and fasting15 – both previously wedded ones and virgins. (66:6) Believers, guard yourselves and your kindred against a Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones,16 a Fire held in the charge of fierce and stern angels who never disobey what He has commanded them, and always do what they are bidden.17 (66:7) (It will then be said): “Unbelievers, make no excuses today. You are being recompensed for nothing else but your deeds.”18
1. This is not, in fact, a question but an expression of disapproval. The object is not to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) why he had done so, but to warn him that his act to make unlawful for himself what Allah had made lawful is not approved by Allah. This by itself gives the meaning that nobody has the power to make unlawful what Allah has made lawful; so much so that the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself also did not possess any such power. Although the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not regard this as unlawful as a matter of faith nor legally but only forbade himself its use, yet since he was not an ordinary man but Allah’s Messenger, and his forbidding himself something could have the effect that his followers too would have regarded it as forbidden, or at least reprehensible, or the people of his community might have thought that there was no harm in forbidding oneself something his Allah had made lawful, Allah pointed it out to him and commanded him to refrain from such prohibition.
2. This shows that in this case the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not made a lawful thing unlawful because of a personal desire but because his wives had wanted him to do so, and he had made it unlawful for himself only in order to please them. Here, the question arises: why has Allah particularly made mention of the cause of making the thing unlawful besides pointing out the act of prohibition? Obviously, if the object had been to make him refrain from making a lawful thing as unlawful, this could be fulfilled by the first sentences and there was no need that the motive of the act also should have been stated. Making mention of it in particular clearly shows that the object was not to check the Prophet (peace be upon him) only for making a lawful thing as unlawful, but along with that to warn the his wives also to the effect that in their capacity as the Prophet’s wives they had not understood their delicate responsibilities and had made the Prophet (peace be upon him) do a thing which could lead to making a lawful thing as unlawful.
Although it has not been mentioned in the Quran as to what it was that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had made forbidden upon himself, yet the traditionists and commentators have mentioned in this regard two different incidents, which occasioned the revelation of this verse. One of these relates to Mariyah Qibiyyah (Mary, the Copt lady) and the other to his forbidding upon himself the use of honey.
The incident relating to Mariyah is that after concluding the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah, one of the letters that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent to the rulers of the adjoining countries was addressed to the Roman Patriarch of Alexandria also, whom the Arabs called Muqawqis. When Hatib bin Abi Baltaa took this letter to him, he did not embrace Islam but received him well, and in reply wrote: I know that a Prophet is yet to rise, but I think he will appear in Syria. However, I have treated your messenger with due honor, and am sending two slave-girls to you, who command respect among the Coptics. (Ibn Saad). One of those slave-girls was Sirin and the other Mariyah (Mary). On his way back from Egypt, Hatib presented Islam before both and they believed. When they came before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he gave Sirin in the ownership of Hassan bin Thabit and admitted Mariyah into his own household. In Dhil-Hijjah, A.H. 8 she gave birth to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) son, Ibrahim. (Al-Istiab; Al-Isabah). This lady was very beautiful. Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Al-Isabah has related this saying of Aishah about her: No woman’s entry into the Prophet’s household vexed me so much as that of Mariyah, because she was very beautiful and pleased him much. Concerning her the story that has been narrated in several ways in the Hadith is briefly as follows:
One day the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited the house of Hafsah when she was not at home. At that time Mariyah came to him there and stayed with him in seclusion. Hafsah took it very ill and complained of it bitterly to him. Thereupon, in order to please her, the Prophet (peace be upon him) vowed that he would have no conjugal relation with Mariyah in future. According to some traditions, he forbade Mariyah for himself, and according to others, he also swore an oath on it. These traditions have been mostly reported by the immediate successors of the companions without mentioning any intermediary link. But some of these have been reported from Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas and Abu Hurairah also. In view of the plurality of the methods of narration, Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari has expressed the view that there is some truth in the story. But in none of the six authentic collections of the Hadith has this story been narrated. In Nasai only this much has been related from Anas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) had a slave-girl with whom he had conjugal relations. Then, Hafsah and Aishah began to point out this to him repeatedly until he forbade her for himself. There upon, Allah sent down this verse: O Prophet, why do you make unlawful that which Allah has made lawful for you.
The other incident has been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Nasai and several other books of Hadith from Aishah herself and its purport is as follows:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) usually paid a daily visit to all his wives after the Asr Prayer. Once it so happened that he began to stay in the house of Zainab bint-Jahsh longer than usual, for she had received some honey from somewhere as a gift and the Prophet was very fond of sweet things; therefore, he would have a drink of honey at her house. Aishah states that she felt envious of this and spoke to Hafsah, Saudah and Safiyyah about it and together they decided that whoever of them was visited by the Prophet, she should say to him: Your mouth smells of maghafir. Maghafir is a kind of flower, which gives out an offensive smell, and if the bee obtains honey from it, it is also tainted by the same odor. They all knew that the Prophet was a man of very fine taste and he abhorred that he should emit any kind of unpleasant smell. Therefore, this device was contrived to stop him from staying in the house of Zainab and it worked. When several of his wives told him that his mouth smelt of maghafir, he made a promise not to use the honey any longer. In one tradition his words are to the effect: Now, I will never have a drink from it: I have sworn an oath. In another tradition he only said: I will never have a drink from it, and there is no mention of the oath. And in the tradition which Ibn al Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani and Ibn Marduyah have related from Ibn Abbas the words are to the effect: By God, I will not drink it.
Our eminent scholars regard this second version as correct and the first as unreliable. Imam Nasai says: About honey the Hadith reported from Aishah is authentic, and the story of forbidding Mariyah for himself by the Prophet (peace be upon him) has not been narrated in a reliable way. Qadi Iyad says: The truth is that this verse was sent down concerning honey and not Mariyah. Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al- Arabi also regards the story about honey as correct and the same is the opinion of Imam Nawawi and Hafiz Badruddiu Aini. Ibn Humam writes in Fath al-Qadir: The story of the prohibition of honey has been narrated in Bukhari and Muslim from Aishah who was herself a party to it; therefore, it is much more reliable.
Hafiz Ibn Kathir says: The truth is that this verse was sent down about forbidding honey upon himself by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
3. That is, although the act of making a lawful thing unlawful only in order to please your wives was an act unbecoming of your high and responsible office, yet it was no sin, which might have entailed a punishment. Therefore, Allah has only pointed it out to you and corrected it, and has forgiven you for this error.
4. It means: Act according to the method Allah has prescribed for absolution from oaths by expiation in( Surah Al-Maidah, Ayat 89 )and break your promise that you have made to forbid yourself of a lawful thing. Here, an important legal question arises and it is this: Is this command applicable to the case when a person has forbidden upon himself a lawful thing on oath, or is forbidding oneself a lawful thing by itself tantamount to swearing an oath, whether the words of the oath have been used or not. The jurists in this regard have expressed different opinions:
One section of them says that mere forbidding oneself of a lawful thing is not an oath. If a person without swearing an oath has forbidden upon himself a wife, or some other lawful thing, it is an absurd thing which does not entail any expiation, but he can resume without any expiation the use of the thing that he had forbidden for himself. This is the opinion of Masruq, Shabi, Rabiah and Abu Salamah; and the same view is held by Ibn Jarir and all the Zahiris. According to them forbidding oneself of something would be an oath only in case express words of oath are used when forbidding it for oneself. In this regard, their reasoning is that since the Prophet (peace be upon him) while forbidding himself a lawful thing had also sworn an oath, as has been reported in several traditions, Allah told him to act according to the method that had been appointed for absolving oneself from oaths.
The second group says that to forbid oneself something without using the words of oath is not an oath by itself, but the case of the wife is an exception. If a person has forbidden himself a garment, or an article of food, it is meaningless, and one can use it without expiation. But if concerning a wife or a slave-girl he has said: I forbid myself an intercourse with her, she would not become unlawful and forbidden, but one would have to expiate the oath before going in to her. This is the opinion of the Shafeis. (Mughni al-Muhtaj). And a similar opinion on this question is held by the Malikis. (Ibn al-Arabi, Ahkam al-Quran).
The third group says that to forbid oneself something is by itself an oath even if the words of oath have not been used. This is the opinion of Abu Bakr. Aishah, Umar, Abdullah bin Masud, Zaid bin Thabit and Abdullah bin Abbas. Although from Ibn Abbas another opinion has been reported in Bukhari to the effect: If a man has forbidden himself his wife, it is meaningless, yet it has been interpreted to mean that according to him this is not divorce but an oath which entails an expiation. For, in Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Majah, another saying of Ibn Abbas has been reported that to forbid oneself one’s wife entails an expiation, and in Nasai the tradition is to the effect that when Ibn Abbas was asked his opinion on this, he said: She is not forbidden to you, but you must pay the expiation. And in Ibn Jarir’s tradition the words of Ibn Abbas are to the effect: If the people forbid themselves what Allah has made lawful for them, they must expiate their oath. This same is the opinion of Hasan Basri, Ata, Taus, Suleman bin Yasar, Ibn Jubair and Qatadah, and the same has been adopted by the Hanafis. Imam Abu Bakr al- Jassas says: The words of the verse lima tuharrimu do not indicate that the Prophet (peace be upon him) along with forbidding himself the lawful thing had also sworn an oath, therefore, one will have to admit that tahrim (to forbid oneself something) itself is an oath; for after it Allah made obligatory the expiation of the oath in connection with the prohibition. Farther on he writes again: Our companions (i.e. the Hanafis) regard tahrim as an oath in case it is not accompanied by the intention of divorce. If a person forbade upon himself his wife, he in fact said: By God, I will not come near you, thus, he committed ila (act of temporary separation). And if he forbade himself an article of food, etc, he in a way said: By God, I will not use that article. For Allah first said: Why do you forbid that which Allah has made lawful. And then said: Allah has appointed a way to absolve you from your oaths. Thus, Allah has regarded tahrim as an oath, and the word tahrim in its meaning and legal effect becomes synonymous with an oath.
Here, for the benefit of the common man, it would be useful to tell what the legal command is, according to the jurists, in respect of someone forbidding upon himself his wife and the other things besides the wife.
The Hanafis say that if without the intention of divorce somebody forbade upon himself his wife, or swore an oath that he would not have conjugal relations with her, this would be ila (temporary separation), and in this case he would have to expiate his oath before having the sexual relation. But if with the intention of divorce he said: You are unlawful to me, it will have to be ascertained what was his real intention. If his intention was of three divorces, the three divorces will take place, and if the intention was of a lesser number, of one or two divorces, only one divorce will take place in either case. And if somebody says: I have forbidden myself whatever was lawful for me, this would not apply to the wife unless he said these words with the intention of forbidding himself the wife. Apart from the wife, one cannot use the thing he has forbidden upon himself until he has expiated the oath. (Badai as-Sanai: Hedayah; Fath Al-Qadir, al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran).
The Shafeis say that if one forbids upon himself the wife with the intention of divorce or zihar, the intended thing would become effective, whether it is a revocable divorce or an irrevocable divorce or zihar. And if a person used the words of tahrim with the intention of both divorce and zihar, he would be asked to choose one, or the other, for both divorce and zihar cannot be established at one and the same time. Divorce dissolves marriage but in case of zihar it continues and if without any intention the wife is forbidden, she would not become forbidden, but expiation of the oath would become necessary. And if another thing, apart from the wife, is forbidden, it would be meaningless; there is no expiation for it. (Mughni al-Muhtaj).
The Malikis say that if a person forbids upon himself anything other than the wife, it neither becomes forbidden nor entails an expiation. But if he says to the wife: You are unlawful, or unlawful for me, or I am unlawful for you, this would amount to a triple divorce in any case whether this was said to a wife with whom marriage has been consummated, or to one with whom it has not yet been consummated, unless his intention was of less than three divorces. Asbagh says: If a person says: whatever was lawful for me, is unlawful, the wife also becomes forbidden unless he makes an exception of the wife. In al- Mudawwanah, distinction has been made between the wife with whom marriage has been consummated and the wife with whom it has not been consummated. If one forbids upon himself the former, a threefold divorce will take place irrespective of the intention, but in case of the latter the same number of divorces would take effect as was intended, and if there was no intention of any particular number, it would be considered a triple divorce. (Hashiyah ad- Dusuqi). Qadi Ibn al-Arabi in his Ahkam al-Quran has cited three statements of Imam Malik: (1) That forbidding oneself the wife amounts to an irrevocable divorce. (2) That it amounts to three divorces. (3) That in case of the wife with whom marriage has been consummated it amounts to three divorces, but in case of the one with whom it has not been consummated, to only one divorce if one was intended. Then he says: The correct thing is that forbidding oneself the wife amounts to one divorce only. For if the man uses the word divorce instead of calling her unlawful without specifying the number, only one divorce will take place.
Three different views in this regard have been reported from Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal: (1) That to forbid oneself the wife, or to make a lawful thing absolutely unlawful for oneself, is zihar, whether zihar was intended or not. (2) That this is an express allusion to divorce, and it amounts to pronouncing a triple divorce whether only one divorce was intended. (3) That it is an oath, unless the man had the intention of divorce or zihar and in this case the same would take effect as was intended. Of these only the first one is the best known view among the Hanbalis. (Al-Insaf).
5. That is, Allah is your Master and Guardian of your affairs. He knows best in what lies your own good, and whatever commands He has given, they are all based on wisdom. The first thing means: You are not independent in this world, but you are servant of Allah and He is your Master; therefore, none of you possesses any power to alter or change the ways and methods prescribed by Him; the best thing for you is to entrust your affairs to Him and continue to obey Him.
The second thing means that all the methods and laws that Allah has enjoined, are based on knowledge and wisdom. Whatever He has made lawful, has been made lawful on the basis of knowledge and wisdom and whatever He has made unlawful also has been made unlawful on the basis of knowledge and wisdom. Nothing has been made lawful or unlawful at random. Therefore, those who believe in Allah should understand that it is Allah Who is All-Knowing and All-Wise and not they. And their well-being lies only in carrying out duly the commands given by Him.
6. Different things have been reported in different traditions, saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had told such and such a thing to one of his wives in confidence, which she disclosed to another wife. But for us, in the first place, it is not right to investigate it, for it is on the disclosure of a secret that Allah is taking a wife to task, it cannot therefore be right for us to inquire into it and try to uncover it. Secondly, in view of the object for which this verse was sent down, it is not at all important to know what the secret was. Had it any connection with the object of the discourse, Allah would Himself have mentioned it. The real object for which this incident has been related in the Quran is to warn the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives and through them, the wives of the responsible people among the Muslims not to be careless in the matter of guarding secrets. Had it been only a private and personal affair, as is generally the case between the husband and the wife in the world, there was no need that Allah should have directly informed the Prophet (peace be upon him) of it through revelation, and then did not rest content only with giving the information, but should also have recorded it in the Book which the whole world has to recite forever. The reason why it was given such importance was that this wife was not the wife of an ordinary husband but of that illustrious husband, whom Allah had appointed to the office of the highest responsibility, who was locked in an incessant battle with the disbelievers, polytheists and hypocrites at all times and under whose leadership a fierce conflict was going on for establishing Islam in place of paganism. In the house of such an illustrious man there could be countless things which if not kept secret but disclosed before time, could harm the great mission which he was performing. Therefore, when a lady of the house happened to show this weakness for the first time in that she disclosed a secret that had been told her in confidence, to another (a member of her own household), the weakness was immediately pointed out to her, not secretly but openly in the Quran, so as to impart training in the guarding of secrets not only to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) but also to the wives of all responsible people of the Muslim community. In the verse the question whether the secret disclosed pertained to a matter of any consequence or not, and whether its disclosure could cause any harm to the mission or not, has been altogether ignored. What has been disapproved and pointed out in particular is that the secret was disclosed to another. The higher the position of responsibility a person holds the more dangerous would be the leakage of secrets from his house. No matter whether a thing is of any consequence or not, once a person becomes careless in the matter of guarding secrets, he may reveal important things as well as trivial matters.
7. The word saghat in the original is from saghy which means to swerve and to become crooked. Shah Waliyullah and Shah Rafiuddin have translated this sentence thus: Crooked have become your hearts. Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Abbas, Sufyan Thauri and Dahhak have given this meaning of it: Your hearts have swerved from the right path. Imam Razi explains it thus: Your hearts have swerved from what is right, and the right implies the right of the Prophet (peace be upon him). And Allama Alusis commentary is although it is incumbent on you that you should approve what the Messenger (peace be upon him) approves and disapprove what he disapproves, yet in this matter your hearts have swerved from conformity with him and turned in opposition to him.
8. The word tazahur means to cooperate mutually in opposition to another person, or to be united against another person. Shah Waliyullah has translated this sentence, thus: If you mutually join together to cause distress to the Prophet. Shah Abdul Qadir’s translation is: If you both overwhelm him. Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s translation says: And if you both continued to work thus against the Prophet. And Shabbir Ahmad Uthmami has explained it thus: If you two continued to work and behave thus (against the Prophet, peace be upon him).
The verse is clearly addressed to two ladies and the context shows that these ladies are from among the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for in ( verses 1-5 of this Surah ) the affairs concerning the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives only have been discussed continuously, and this becomes obvious from the style of the Quran itself. As for the question who were the wives, and what was the matter which caused Allah’s displeasure, the details are found in the Hadith. In Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nasai, a detailed tradition of Abdullah bin Abbas has been related, which describes the incident with some variation in wording. Ibn Abbas says:
I had been thinking for long time to ask Umar as to who were the two of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives, who had joined each other against him, and about whom Allah sent down this verse: In tatuba…..; but I could not muster courage because of his awe-inspiring personality until he left for Hajj and I accompanied him. On our way back while helping him to perform ablutions for the Prayer at one place I had an opportunity to ask him this question. He replied: they were Aishah and Hafsah. Then he began to relate the background, saying: We, the people of Quraish, were used to keeping our women folk under strict control. Then, when we came to Al-Madinah, we found that the people here were under the control of their wives, and the women of Quraish too started learning the same thing from them. One day when I became angry with my wife, I was amazed to see that she argued with me. I felt badly about her conduct. She said: Why should you feel so angry at my behavior. By God, the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) answer him back face to face, (the word in the original is li yuraji nahu) and some one of them remains angrily apart from him for the whole day. (According to Bukhari: the Prophet, peace be upon him, remains angry and apart from her the whole day). Hearing this I came out of my house and went to Hafsah (who was Umar’s daughter and the Prophet’s, peace be upon him, wife). I asked her: Do you answer back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) face to face? She said: Yes. I asked: And does one of you remain apart from him for the whole day, (according to Bukhari: the Holy Prophet remains angry and apart from her for the entire day). She said: Yes. I said: Wretched is the one from among you, who behaves thus. Has one of you become so fearless of this that Allah should afflict her with His wrath because of the wrath of His Prophet (peace be upon him) and she should perish, So, do not be rude to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Here also the words are: la turaji-i, nor demand of him anything, but demand of me whatever you desire. Do not be misled by this that your neighbor (i.e. Aishah) is more beautiful and dearer to the Prophet (peace be upon him). After this I left her house and went to the house of Umm Salamah, who was related to me, and talked to her on this subject. She said: Son of Khattab, you are a strange man: you have meddled in every matter until you are now interfering in the affair between Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and his wives. She discouraged me. Then it so happened that an Ansari neighbor came to my house at night and he called out to me. We used to sit in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) assembly by turns and each used to pass on to the other the news of the day of his turn. It was the time when we were apprehending an attack by the Ghassanids any time. On his call when I came out of my house, he said that something of grave significance had happened. I said: Have the Ghassanids launched an attack? He said: No, but something even more serious. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has divorced his wives. I said: Doomed is Hafsah (the words in Bukhari are: Raghima anfu Hafsah wa Aishah). I already had a premonition of this.
We have left out what happened after this, how next morning Umar went before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and tried to appease his anger. We have described this incident by combining the traditions of Musnad Ahmad and Bukhari. In this the word murajat which Umar has used cannot be taken in its literal sense, but the context shows that the word has been used in the sense of answering back face to face and Umar’s saying to his daughter: La turaji-i Rasul Allah clearly has the meaning: Do not be impudent to the Messenger of Allah.
Some people say that this is a wrong translation, and their objection is: Although it is correct to translate murajaat as answering back, or answering back face to face, yet it is not correct to translate it as being impudent. These objectors do not understand that if a person of a lower rank or position answers back or retorts to a person of a higher rank and position, or answers him back face to face this very thing is described as impudence. For example, if a father rebukes his son for something or feels angry at his behavior, and the son instead of keeping quiet or offering an excuse, answers back promptly, this could only be described as impudence. Then, when the matter is not between a father and a son, but between the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah and an individual of his community, only a foolish person could say that it was not impudence. Some other people regard this translation of ours as disrespectful, whereas it could be disrespectful in case we had had the boldness to use such words in respect of Hafsah from ourselves. We have only given the correct meaning of the words of Umar, and these words he had used while scolding and reproving his daughter for her error. Describing it as disrespectful would mean that either the father should treat his daughter with due respect and reverence even when scolding and rebuking her or else the translator should render his rebuke and reproof in a way as to make it sound respectful and reverent.
Here, what needs to be considered carefully is that if it was such an ordinary and trivial matter that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) said something to his wives they would retort to Him, why was it given so much importance that in the Quran Allah administered a severe warning directly to the wives themselves? And why did Umar take it as such a grave matter that first he reproved his own daughter, then visited the house of the other wives and asked them to fear the wrath of Allah? And, above all, was the Prophet (peace be upon him) also so sensitive that he would take offense at minor things and become annoyed with his wives, and was he, God forbid, so irritable that once having been annoyed at such things he had severed his connections with all his wives and retired to his private apartment in seclusion? If a person considers these questions deeply, he will inevitably have to adopt one of the two views in the explanation of these verses. Either on account of his excessive concern for reverence for the wives he should not at all mind if a fault is imputed to Allah and His Messenger, or else he should admit in a straightforward way that at that time the attitude and behavior of these wives has actually become so objectionable that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was justified in becoming annoyed over it, and more than that, Allah Himself was justified that He should administer a severe warning to the wives on their unseemly behavior and attitude.
9. That is, you would only harm yourselves if you upheld and supported each other against the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), for none could succeed against him whose Protector is Allah and who had Gabriel and the angels and all the righteous believers on his side.
10. This shows that the fault did not lie only with Aisha and Hafsah but the other wives also had some share in it. That is why, after them, all the other wives too, have been warned in this verse. No light has been thrown on the nature of the error in the Quran. However, some details are found in the Hadith, which we shall relate below.
In Bukhari, a tradition has been reported from Anas, saying that Umar said: The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives because of their mutual envies and rivalries had utterly displeased him. At this I said to them: It may well be that if the Prophet (peace be upon him) divorced you, Allah would give him in your place better wives than you. Ibn Abi Hatim has, on the authority of Anas, reported the statement of Umar in these words: I was informed that a discord had been created between the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his wives. At this I went to each of them and asked them to refrain from vexing the Prophet (peace be upon him); otherwise Allah would give him in their stead better wives than themselves. So much so that when I went to the last of them (and according to a tradition of Bukhari, to Umm Salamah), she said to me: O Umar, is not the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself enough to admonish his wives? Then why should you come out to counsel them. This made me quiet, and after this Allah sent down this verse.
In Muslim, Abdullah bin Abbas has related that Umar said to him: When the Prophet (peace be upon him) separated himself from his wives, I went to the mosque and found the people worried and upset and playing with pebbles and saying to one another: The Prophet (peace be upon him) has divorced his wives. After this Umar related his visiting the apartments of Aishah and Hafsah and admonishing them. Then he said: I went before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: Why do you feel upset with regard to your wives? If you divorce them, Allah is with you, all the angels and Gabriel and Michael are with you, and I and Abu Bakr and all the believers are with you. I thank Allah that seldom has it so happened that I said a thing and did not have hope from Allah that He would testify to what I said. So, after this these verses of Surah At-Tahrim were sent down. Then I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): Have you divorced your wives? He said: No. Thereupon I stood at the entrance of the Mosque and announced in a loud voice: The Prophet has not divorced his wives.
The traditions related in Bukhari from Anas and in Musnad Ahmad from Abdullah bin Abbas, Aishah and Abu Hurairah say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had pledged to remain away from his wives for a month and he retired in seclusion to his apartment. When 29 days passed, Gabriel came and said: You have fulfilled your oath: a month has come to completion. Hafiz Badruddin Aini in Umdat al-Qari has related this on the authority of Aishah: The wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had become divided into two parties. One party consisted of Aishah herself and Hafsah, Saudah and Safiyyah, and the other of Zainab, Umm Salamah and the rest of the wives. These traditions indicate to some extent the conditions that existed in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) domestic life at that time, which made it necessary that Allah Almighty should intervene and reform the attitude of the wives. Although the wives were the best ladies of society, yet they were human beings and were not free from human weaknesses. Sometimes, when it became difficult for them to lead a life of continuous poverty and hardship, they would become restive, impatient and would start pressing the Prophet (peace be upon him) for better maintenance. At this Allah sent down (verses 28-29 of Surah Al-Ahzab )and admonished them to the effect: If you seek the world and its adornments, our Messenger will give you of these and send you of in a good way. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and the Hereafter, you should bear up against the hardships with patience, which you might have to face when living with the Messenger. (For details, see( E.N. 41 of Surah Al-Ahzab )and the introduction to it). Then on account of the feminine nature they sometimes happened to behave in a way, which though not unusual in everyday human life, did not go well with the unique dignity and great responsibilities of the house to which Allah had given them the honor to belong. So, when it was apprehended that those things might embitter the Prophet’s domestic life and might even adversely affect the great mission that Allah had entrusted to him, He sent down this verse in the Quran, and reformed them so that the wives may realize the responsibilities of the position and rank which they had attained as the life-companions of the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah, and should not regard themselves as ordinary women and their household as a common household. The very first sentence of this verse was such as might have caused their hearts to shudder. There could be no severer warning for them than this: It may well be that if the Prophet (peace be upon him) divorces all of you, Allah will give him in your place better wives than yourselves. In the first place, even the thought of being divorced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was unbearable for them: more than that, this would deprive them of the honor of being mothers of the believers, and the other women whom Allah would give as wives to the Prophet (peace be upon him) would be better than them, After this it was no longer possible for the wives to behave in a way as would have occasioned a reproof from Allah. That is why we find only two places in the Quran where these selected and distinguished ladies have been administered a warning, in Surah Al-Ahzab and here in Surah At-Tahrim.
11. In the places where the words Muslim and momin have been used together, Muslim means the one who carries out Ddivine commands practically, and momin the one who believes sincerely and truly. Thus, the foremost quality of the best Muslim wives is that they should be believing in Allah and His Messenger and His religion (deen) sincerely and also practically following Allah’s religion in their morals, habits, customs and conduct.
12. Obedient has two meanings and both are implied here.
(1) They are obedient to Allah and His Messenger.
(2) They are obedient to their husbands.
13. The word when used as attribute of a man does not imply the one who offers repentance only once but the one who continues to implore Allah again and again for the forgiveness of his mistakes, whose conscience is alive and active, who is always aware of his weaknesses and errors and is penitent for them. Such a person never feels proud, arrogant and conceited, but is gentle and clement by nature.
14. A worshiper can never be so heedless of God as a nonworshiper. This also helps much in making a woman a good wife. Being devout she adheres to the bounds set by Allah, recognizes and discharges the rights of others and keeps her faith fresh and alive at all times. Because of these qualities she can better be expected that she would not reject obedience to divine commands.
15. The word saihat in the original has been interpreted by several companions and large number of their successors to mean the same as saimat (those given to fasting). The reason why the word siyahat journeying has been used for fasting is that in the ancient times journeys were mostly undertaken by the monks and ascetics, who had no provisions and had to go without food till they got something to eat from somewhere. On that account fasting also is a kind of asceticism, for a faster has to remain hungry until the time of breaking the fast. Ibn Jarir in his commentary of (Surah At-Taubah Ayat 12) has cited a saying of Aishah, saying: The journeying (i.e. asceticism) of the Ummah is fasting. Here, making mention of fasting as an attribute of the pious wives does not mean that they observe the obligatory fasting month of Ramadan only but that they observe voluntary fasts also besides the obligatory fasts.
Addressing the wives Allah’s saying: If the Messenger (peace be upon him) divorces all of you, Allah will give him in your place better wives who will have this quality does not mean that the wives were not virtuous, but it means; Give up your wrong conduct which is causing so much distress to the Prophet (peace be upon him); instead, pay attention to developing in yourselves these noble qualities to the highest degree.
16. This verse tells that a person’s responsibility is not confined to making effort to save himself from the punishment of God but it is also his responsibility that he should so educate and also train to the best of his ability members of his family to become Allah’s favorite servants, who have been entrusted to his care in the natural process of life; and if they might be following a path to Hell, he should try, as much as he can, to correct them. His concern should not only be that his children should lead a happy and prosperous life in the world but, more than that, he should be anxious to see that they do not become fuel of Hell in the Hereafter. According to a tradition reported in Bukhari by Abdullah bin Umar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Each one of you is a herdsman and is accountable with regard to his herd. The ruler is a herdsman and is accountable with regard to his subjects. The man is a herdsman of his family and is accountable with regard to them. And the woman is a herdsman of her husband’s house and his children and is accountable with regard to them.
“Whose fuel…stone’ probably implies coal. Ibn Masud, Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Suddi say that this will be brimstone.
17. That is, they will enforce on every culprit precisely the same punishment which they will be commanded to enforce on him without making any alteration in it, or showing any pity for him.
18. The style of both these verses contains a severe warning for the Muslims. In the first verse the Muslims have been addressed and told that they should save themselves and their households from the dreadful punishment. In the second that this will be said to the disbelievers while subjecting them to punishment in Hell. This by itself gives the meaning that the Muslims in the world should avoid adopting that conduct and behavior in consequence of which they may have to meet with the fate as the disbelievers in the Hereafter.
8-12 O believers! Turn to Allah in sincere repentance if you want to be forgiven and Example of the wives of Nuh and Lut who will go to hell and example of Fir’on’s wife and Maryem who will go to paradise
(66:8) Believers, turn to Allah in sincere repentance;19 maybe your Lord will expunge your evil deeds and admit you to the Gardens beneath which rivers flow.20 This will be on the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who have embraced faith and are with him;21 their light will be running before them and on their right hands, and they will say: “Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Surely You have power over everything.”22 (66:9) O Prophet, strive against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe with them.23 Hell shall be their resort. What a grievous end! (66:10) Allah has set forth for the unbelievers the parable of the wives of Noah and Lot. They were wedded to two of Our righteous servants, but each acted treacherously with her husband,24 and their husbands could be of no avail to them against Allah. The two of them were told: “Enter the Fire with all the others who enter it.” (66:11) Allah has set forth for the believers the parable of Pharaoh’s wife. She prayed: “My Lord, build for me a house with You in Paradise and deliver me from Pharaoh and his misdeeds;25 and deliver me from the iniquitous people.” (66:12) Allah has also set forth the parable of Mary, the daughter of Imran,26 who guarded her chastity,27 and into whom We breathed of Our Spirit,28 and who testified to the words of her Lord and His Books. She was among the obedient.29
19. Literally, taubat an-nasuh-an may either mean that one should offer such true repentance as may have no tinge of pretense and hypocrisy in it, or that one should wish his own self well and repenting of sin should save oneself from the evil end, or that one should so adorn and improve his life after repentance as to become a cause of admonition for others, and seeing his example others also also reform themselves accordingly. These are the meanings of taubat an-nasuh which are indicated by its literal sense. As for its religious meaning, its explanation is found in the Hadith which Ibn Abi Hatim has related on the authority of Zirr bin Hubaish. He says: When I asked Ubayy bin Kaab the meaning of taubat an-nasuh, he said that he had asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) the same question, and he had replied: It implies that when you happen to commit an error, you should feel penitent for it, then should implore Allah for forgiveness remorsefully, and then should refrain from committing the same error again. This same meaning has been reported from Umar, Abdullah bin Masud and Abdullah bin Abbas also, and in a tradition Umar has defined taubat an-nasuh, thus: After offering repentance one should not even think of committing the sin, not to speak of repeating it. (Ibn Jarir). Ali once heard a desert Arab chanting the words of repentance and forgiveness quickly and mechanically and remarked: This is the repentance of the liars. The man asked: What is true repentance? Ali replied: It should be accompanied by six things
(1) You should feel penitent for the wrong you have done. (2) You should carry out the duties that you have ignored. (3) Restore the rights that you have usurped. (4) Ask forgiveness of him whom you have wronged. (5) Make a resolve not to repeat the sin again. (6) Consume yourself in obedience to Allah as you have so far been consuming it in wrongdoing, and cause it to taste the bitterness of obedience as you have so far been causing it to enjoy the sweet taste of disobedience and sin. (Al- Kashshaf).
In connection with repentance there are also some other points which should be well understood. (1) That repentance, in fact, is to show remorse for an act of disobedience only because it is a disobedience of Allah. Otherwise to make a resolve to refrain from a sin because it is harmful for health, for instance, or it is likely to cause defamation or financial loss, is no repentance. (2) That man should offer repentance as soon as he realizes that he has committed disobedience of Allah and should compensate for it without delay in whatever form possible and should not defer it in any way. (3) That violating one’s repentance again and making a jest of repentance and repeating the sin again and again of which one has repented, is a proof of the falsity of one’s repentance. For the essence of repentance is penitence, and breaking his repentance repeatedly is a sign that it has not been motivated by penitence. (4) that if the person who has repented sincerely and resolved not to repeat the sin again, happens to repeat it once again because of human weakness, it will not revive his past sin. However, he should offer a fresh repentance for the latter sin and should resolve more firmly that he would not commit the sin in future. (5) That it is not necessary to renew one’s repentance again every time one remembers the disobedience committed in the past, but if one’s self derives pleasure from the remembrance of the past, sinful life, one should offer repentance again and again until the remembrance of the sins causes remorse instead of pleasure and enjoyment. For the person who has actually repented of disobedience because of fear of God cannot derive pleasure from the thought that he has been disobeying God. His deriving pleasure from it is a sign that fear of God has not taken root in his heart.
20. The words of the verse deserve deep consideration. It has not been said that if you repeat, you will surely be forgiven and will certainly be admitted to Paradise, but that: If you offer true repentance, it may well be that Allah will treat you kindly. It means that it is not incumbent upon Allah to accept the repentance of the sinner and to grant him Paradise instead of subjecting him to punishment but it will be His kindness and compassion that He may forgive well as reward His servant. One should have hope of His forgiveness, but one should not commit a sin with the confidence that he will achieve forgiveness by repentance.
21. That is, He will not allow the reward of their good deeds to go to waste. He will not let the disbelievers and the hypocrites taunt the believers that they had gained nothing in spite of their worship. Humiliation will be the fate of the rebels and the disobedient and not of the faithful and obedient.
22. When this verse is read along with (verses 12-13 of Surah Al-Hadid), it becomes clear that the running of the light before the believers will take place when they will be proceeding towards Paradise from the Plain of Resurrection. There it will be pitch dark all around and those who will have been condemned to Hell, will be groping about in it. The light will only be with the believers by which they will be traveling on their way. On this critical occasion, hearing the wailings and groaning of those groping in the dark the believers will be feeling terror stricken. In view of their past errors and shortcomings they will be afraid lest they too should be deprived of their light and made to grope about like those wretched people. Therefore, they will pray: O our Lord, forgive us our sins and let our light remain with us until we reach Paradise. Ibn Jarir has cited Abdullah bin Abbas as explaining the meaning of Rabbana-atimim lava nurana thus: They will implore Allah Almighty that their light be allowed to remain with them and kept from going out until they have crossed the bridge across Hell. The commentary given by Hasan Basri, Mujahid and Dahhak is also almost the same. Ibn Kathir has cited theirs this saying: When the believers see that the hypocrites have been deprived of the light, they will pray to Allah for the perfection of their light. (For further explanation, see (E.N. 17 of Surah Al-Hadid).
23. For explanation see (E. N. 82 of Surah At-Taubah).
24. This betrayal was not in the sense that they had committed an indecency but in the sense that they did not follow the Prophets Noah and Lot (peace be upon them) on the way of faith but sided with their enemies against them. Ibn Abbas say: No Prophet’s wife has ever been wicked and immoral. The betrayal of these two women in fact was in the matter of faith and religion. They did not acknowledge the religion of the Prophets Noah and Lot (peace be upon them). The Prophet Noah’s wife used to convey news about the believers to the wicked of her people, and the Prophet Lot’s wife used to inform the immoral people about those who visited him in his house. (Ibn Jarir).
25. From Pharaoh and his work: from the evil end that Pharaoh would meet in consequence of his evil deeds.
26. It may be that the name of Mary’s father was Imran, or she may have been called daughter of Imran because she belonged to the family of Imran.
27. This is a refutation of the accusation by the Jews that the birth of Jesus was, God forbid, the result of a sin of his mother. Their same accusation has been called a monstrous calumny in (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 156). (For explanation, see (E.N. 190 of Surah An-Nisa).
29. For the explanation of the object for which these three kinds of women have been cited as an example, see the Introduction to the surah.