Revisiting the issue of Muhammad’s marital privileges

Responding to a Muslim Dawagandist’s defense of his prophet’s blatant inconsistencies

Sam Shamoun

This is a continuation of our series of replies (*) to Jalal Abualrub’s material (*) which he produced for his debate with Christian philosopher and apologist David Wood (1, 2, 3).

Jalal comes to Muhammad’s defense by trying to disprove that his prophet acted inconsistently for marrying more women than he allowed for the rest of the Muslims. He writes:

7. "Quran limits the number of wives that a Muslim man can have to four … Muhammad failed to live up to his own standards since he had more than 4 wives and didn’t treat them all fairly."

The Quran never said the Prophet can only have four wives, {O Prophet (Muhammad)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives} (33:50).

Quranic Standard: {It is not lawful for you (O, Muhammad, to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives even though their beauty attracts you} (33:52).

Quranic Standard: {The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own-selves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage)} (33:6). (Is Muhammad a Prophet?)

The problem that Jalal faces is that the Islamic sources show that Muhammad continued to marry or betroth women long after the prohibition of Q. 33:52 had been imposed. This has led some scholars to conclude that Q. 33:50 abrogated Q. 33:52, even though the former verse was composed and came before the latter text was ever given! How, then, can a verse that came later be abrogated by an injunction which came before it? For more on these points and the confusion surrounding the composition of these specific references we suggest the following articles (1, 2)

Jalal continues:

The Prophet’s wife, Aishah, says he used to treat the wives fairly (Fat’hul-Qadir; ash-Shaukani). Whom should we believe, Aishah or Christians?

Prophet Muhammad did not fail to live up to his standard, nor did he write the Quran as Christians say.

Does Jalal mean the same Aisha who mocked Muhammad when his lord sent down "revelations" to justify his preferential treatment of certain wives over others, and for granting his messenger permission to take any woman who freely offered herself to him?

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

The Quran agrees with Aisha that Allah hastens to please Muhammad:

Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) THAT SHALL PLEASE YOU, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures (i.e. Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka'bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do. S. 2:144 Hilali-Khan

Here is how the Muslim exegetes explain this text:

(We have seen the turning of thy face to heaven…) [2:144]. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said once to Gabriel, peace be upon him: "I wish that Allah, exalted is He, directed me away from the qiblah of the Jews to a different qiblah' - he meant to say the Ka'bah because it was the qiblah of Abraham. Gabriel said to him: 'I am a slave like you; nothing is in my power. Do therefore request your Lord to direct you away from it toward the qiblah of Abraham'. Gabriel then rose in the sky while the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, kept looking at heaven in the hope that Gabriel would bring him the news of what he had requested. And so Allah revealed this verse". Abu Mansur Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Mansuri informed us> al-Hafiz 'Ali ibn 'Umar> 'Abd al-Wahhab ibn 'Isa> Abu Hisham al-Rifa'i> Abu Bakr ibn 'Iyash> Abu Ishaq> al-Bara' who said: "We prayed with Allah's Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, after his arrival to Medina for sixteen months toward Jerusalem. Then Allah knew the wish of His Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and so He revealed (We have seen the turning of thy face to heaven…)". This is narrated by Muslim from the report of Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah from Abu'l-Ahwas. It was also narrated by Bukhari from the report of Abu Nu'aym from Zuhayr, and both Zuhayr and Abu'l-Ahwas reported this narration from Abu Ishaq. ('Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab Al-Nuzul, translated by Mokrane Guezzou; source)

It seems obvious that the main purpose for Allah’s existence is to satisfy Muhammad!

The same Aisha who made the following candid admission concerning Muhammad’s polygynous relations?

Narrated Muadha:
’Aisha said, "Allah's Apostle used to take the permission of that wife with whom he was supposed to stay overnight if he wanted to go to one other than her, after this Verse was revealed:--

‘You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives) and you may receive any (of them) whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).’" (33.51) I asked Aisha, "What did you use to say (in this case)?" She said, "I used to say to him, ‘If I could deny you the permission (to go to your other wives) I would not allow your favor to be bestowed on any other person.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 312)

Aisha wasn’t the only one who felt neglected. Umar ibn al-Khattab gave this advice to his daughter Hafsa, one of Muhammad’s wives:

"… Then ‘Umar went on relating the narration and said. "I and an Ansari neighbor of mine from Bani Umaiya bin Zaid who used to live in ‘Awali Al-Medina, 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 instructions and orders and when he went, he used to do the same for me. We, the people of Quraish, used to have authority over 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. Once I shouted at my wife and she paid me back in my coin and I disliked that she should answer me back. She said, ‘Why do you take it ill that I retort upon you? By Allah, THE WIVES OF THE PROPHET RETORT UPON HIM, AND SOME OF THEM MAY NOT SPEAK WITH HIM FOR THE WHOLE DAY TILL NIGHT.’ What she said scared me and I said to her, ‘Whoever amongst them does so, will be a great loser.’ Then I dressed myself and went to Hafsa and asked her, ‘Does any of you keep Allah’s Apostle angry all the day long till night?’ She replied in the affirmative. I said, ‘She is a ruined losing person (and will never have success)! Doesn’t she fear that Allah may get angry for the anger of Allah's Apostle and thus she will be ruined? Don’t ask Allah’s Apostle too many things, and don't retort upon him in any case, and don't desert him. Demand from me whatever you like, and don’t be tempted to imitate your neighbor (i.e. ‘Aisha) in her behavior towards the Prophet), FOR SHE (i.e. Aisha) IS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU, AND MORE BELOVED to Allah’s Apostle. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 648)

And:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
that ‘Umar entered upon Hafsa and said, "O my daughter! Do not be misled by the manners of her who is proud of her beauty because of the love of Allah’s Apostle for her." By "her" he meant ‘Aisha. ‘Umar added, "Then I told that to Allah’s Apostle and he smiled (on hearing that)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 145)

Umar’s statements demonstrate that the wives were not happy with their situation and that Aisha specifically was rather proud of the fact that Muhammad loved her more than the rest. Nor was Hafsah the only wife who was neglected as a result of Muhammad loving and preferring Aisha:

Narrated ‘Urwa from ‘Aisha:
The wives of Allah's Apostle were in two groups. One group consisted of 'Aisha, Hafsa, Safiyya and Sauda; and the other group consisted of Um Salama and the other wives of Allah's Apostle. The Muslims knew that Allah’s Apostle loved ‘Aisha, so if any of them had a gift and wished to give to Allah's Apostle, he would delay it, till Allah’s Apostle had come to ‘Aisha's home and then he would send his gift to Allah’s Apostle in her home. The group of Um Salama discussed the matter together and decided that Um Salama should request Allah's Apostle to tell the people to send their gifts to him in whatever wife’s house he was. Um Salama told Allah’s Apostle of what they had said, but he did not reply. Then they (those wives) asked Um Salama about it. She said, "He did not say anything to me." They asked her to talk to him again. She talked to him again when she met him on her day, but he gave no reply. When they asked her, she replied that he had given no reply. They said to her, "Talk to him till he gives you a reply." When it was her turn, she talked to him again. He then said to her, "Do not hurt me regarding Aisha, AS THE DIVINE INSPIRATIONS DO NOT COME TO ME ON ANY OF THE BEDS EXCEPT THAT OF AISHA." On that Um Salama said, "I repent to Allah for hurting you." Then the group of Um Salama called Fatima, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle and sent her to Allah’s Apostle to say to him, "Your wives request to treat them and the daughter of Abu Bakr ON EQUAL TERMS." Then Fatima conveyed the message to him. The Prophet said, "O my daughter! Don’t you love whom I love?" She replied in the affirmative and returned and told them of the situation. They requested her to go to him again but she refused. They then sent Zainab bint Jahsh who went to him AND USED HARSH WORDS SAYING, "Your wives request you TO TREAT THEM and the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhafa ON EQUAL TERMS." On that she raised her voice AND ABUSED ‘Aisha TO HER FACE so much so that Allah’s Apostle looked at ‘Aisha to see whether she would retort. ‘Aisha started replying to Zainab till she silenced her. The Prophet then looked at ‘Aisha and said, "She is really the daughter of Abu Bakr." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 755)

The audacity of Muhammad to justify his preferential treatment of Aisha on the grounds that she was the only wife in whose bed inspiration would come!

And is this the same Aisha who stated that she had never seen any women treated as bad as Muslim women?

XXII. Green clothes

5487. 'Ikrima related that Rifa'a divorced his wife and then 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn az-Zubayr al-Qurazi married her. 'A'isha said that she [came] wearing a green veil (khimar) and complained to her and showed her some greenness [from bruising] on her skin. The women then used to help one another. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came, 'A'isha said, "I have never seen any woman endure what the believing women endure! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" 'Abdu'r-Rahman heard that she had gone to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, so he came with two of his sons by another woman. She said, "By Allah, I have no wrong action in respect to him, but he is of no more use to me than this," and she took hold of the fringe of her garment. 'Abdu'r-Rahman said, "By Allah, she lies, Messenger of Allah! I am completely strong and potent enough, but she is disobedient and wants to go to Rifa'a!" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If that is the case, you are not lawful to him (or proper for him, i.e. Rifa'a) until 'Abdu'r-Rahman has experienced your sweetness." He saw the two boys with him and asked, "Are these your sons? "Yes," he answered. He said, "This is someone about whom you claim what you claim, but, by Allah, they resemble him as a crow resembles another crow!" (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 80. The Book of Dress; source; underline emphasis ours)

According to Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s version of this report the green mark on the woman’s body was caused by her husband beating her:

Narrated 'Ikrima:

Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 715)

That same Aishah?

Moreover, is Jalal speaking of the same Muhammad who mistreated Sauda bint Zamah seeing that he wanted to divorce her simply because he was no longer attracted to her?

Muhammad's personal and family life were not always smooth. His wives sometimes bickered amongst themselves and even once engaged in a petty plot against him. A'ishah, for example, DISLIKED her Jewish co-wife, Safiyah, AND INSULTED HER PERIODICALLY. Muhammad had to defend her status and honor a number of times and scold the youthful A'ishah. Hafsah became jealous of her co-wife, Maria, when she found her and Muhammad resting[sic] in her apartment one day. Sawdah gave up her allotted day with the Prophet WHEN SHE REALIZED HE WAS NOT REALLY ATTRACTED TO HER. As for the conspiracy, A'ishah agreed with two other co-wives to convince the Prophet that eating honey made him unpleasant to be around. When Muhammad vowed to never eat honey again, she privately repented to her co-conspirators. Though these incidents were not the norm, they demonstrate that the women in Muhammad's life were as human as the rest of us. (Yahiya Emerick, Critical Lives: Muhammad [Alpha Books, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2002], p. 263; capital and underline emphasis ours)

And:

When ‘Aishah taunted her over her age, she feared that she could be divorced by the Prophet. But her desire was to be raised as the Prophet’s wife on the Day of Judgement. So she gifted away her day to ‘Aishah6 It is said that the Verse 128 of An-Nisa’ was revealed in reference to her. It said, …

"And if a woman fears from her husband either cruelty or desertion, then, there is no sin on the two that they should make peace between themselves, and peace is better."7, 8

She was a heavy woman, of slow movements. Once she said to the Prophet, "Last night I prayed behind you, but while bowing down I held my nose from the fear of the blood drops." (That is because the Prophet’s bowing and prostration were severely long). The Prophet smiled at her. And because of her weight and old age, the Prophet allowed her and others of her kind to leave Muzdalifah at Hajj at night before others could do.

6 Al-Bukhari/Al-Fath (19/273/H. 5212), Muslim (2/1085/H. 1463), Abu Dawud (2/602/The Book of Nikah/H. 2135), Ahmad: Al-Fathur-Rabbani (22/108) and (16/239): Sahih Ibn Majah (1/334/H. 1972) WHERE ALBANI SAID IT IS SAHIH.

7 Surat An-Nisa’: 128.

8 See Tabari: Tafsir (9/276-278) through a Sound (Sahih) chain, Abu Dawud (2/602/The Book of Marriage/H. 2135) and Albani: Sahih At-Tirmidhi (3/The Book of Tafsir/H. 2434), where Tirmidhi said that this has A HASAN-SAHIH (GOOD & SOUND) CHAIN WHICH WAS ALSO THE OPINION OF ALBANI. (A Biography of the Prophet of Islam In the Light of Original Sources: An Analytical Study, by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah Ahmad, translated by Syed Iqbal Zaheer [Darussalam Publishers and Distributors, Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharjah, Lahore, London, Houston, New York; First Edition: November 2005], Volume 2, Chapter 29: The Mothers of the Believers, pp. 866-867; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Yes, Jalal, whom should we believe, Aisha or Islamic dawagandists such as you who do not hesitate to lie in order to cover up Muhammad’s gross inconsistencies, immorality and mistreatment of his wives?

Jalal continues:

Muslims [sic] did not complain to Christians [sic] about any privilege Prophet Muhammad had.

Prophet Muhammad did not fail Biblical standard for multiple marriages: The OT mentions men having 2 wives (Genesis 4:19), 14 wives (2 Chronicles 13:21), 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), many wives (Judges 8:30), up to 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Muhammad only had 9.

It seems that Jalal meant to write that Christians did not complain to Muslims concerning Muhammad’s marriage privileges. Be that as it may, there are several problems with his arguments.

In the first place, David Wood wasn’t referring to Muhammad violating the OT standard for multiple wives, but to Muhammad breaking his own rules concerning polygynous marriages:

If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial. S. 4:3 Arberry

So it is nothing more than a red herring to bring up all of these OT examples of men having multiple women.

Secondly, with the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ monogamy becomes the standard for all marriages (*).

Thus, not only did Muhammad break his own instructions but also went against the very teachings of the Lord Jesus and his inspired spokespersons.

Thirdly, Jalal is simply arguing from silence when he says that Christians didn’t complain. Any Christian who knew his Bible, specifically the teachings of the NT concerning this issue, would have had major problems with Muhammad’s marriages.

Fourth, Jalal must have not read his own scripture carefully since the following reference,

Have you not seen those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They believe in Jibt and Taghut and say to the disbelievers that they are better guided as regards the way than the believers (Muslims). They are those whom Allah has cursed, and he whom Allah curses, you will not find for him (any) helper, Or have they a share in the dominion? Then in that case they would not give mankind even a Naqira (speck on the back of a date-stone). Or do they envy men (Muhammad and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty? Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah - Divine Inspiration to those Prophets not written in the form of a book), and conferred upon them a great kingdom. Q. 4:51-54 Hilali-Khan

Was supposedly "revealed" to censure the complaints of the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians, concerning Muhammad’s multiple wives and concubines:

(Or are they jealous) nay, they are jealous (of mankind) of Muhammad and his Companions (because of that which Allah of His bounty hath bestowed upon them?) the Scripture, prophethood and marrying many wives. (For We bestowed upon the house of Abraham) David and Solomon ((of old) the Scripture and Wisdom) knowledge, understanding and prophethood, (and We bestowed on them a mighty kingdom) We honoured them with prophethood and Islam and bestowed upon them sovereignty over the Children of Israel. David had 100 legitimate wives, and Solomon had 300 legitimate wives plus 700 concubines. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; source)

Or, nay, are they jealous of people, namely, of the Prophet (s), for the bounty that God has bestowed upon them, in the way of prophethood and abundance of women? In other words, they wish that he be deprived of such things, saying, 'If he were truly a prophet, he would not be concerned with women'. For We gave the House of Abraham, his forefather, the likes of Moses, David and Solomon, the Book and wisdom, and prophethood, and We gave them a mighty kingdom: David had ninety nine women, and Solomon had a thousand, free women and slavegirls. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

As a side note, it is interesting to see how these expositors take Solomon’s marriages to justify Muhammad’s polygynous affairs when dawagandists like Jalal use this as an example of the Bible being corrupted for narrating stories that slander God’s prophets! Yet the only way Solomon’s example can even count as valid justification for Muhammad’s multiple sexual and adulterous relations is if these Muslim expositors take for granted that such Biblical events actually did take place and are morally unobjectionable. After all, if these OT stories are nothing more than lies concoted to slander God’s true prophets and messengers then they cannot be used to defend what Muhammad did. These so-called fabrications would actually serve as evidence against what Muhammad did.

In other words, the Muslim claim that stories such as Solomon having a great number of women are some of the examples that the Bible has been corrupted presupposes that God’s true prophets would never have done such things. As such, honesty demands that Muslim polemicists be consistent and employ their very own logic which they use to attack the integrity of the Holy Bible for narrating such stories to Muhammad’s sexual experiences and admit that what their prophet did was morally reprehensible and repulsive.

Be that as it may, it seems that the above commentators didn’t know as much as the Muslim polemicists who use Solomon’s case as a reason to attack the integrity of the Holy Bible. They surely would not have used it as an example to defend Muhammad’s polygamous affairs had they known that Solomon’s story is nothing more than a fabrication intended to smear the reputation of a great prophet of God!

Returning to the issue at hand, we even have a transcript of one of the earliest Christian-Muslim debates where Christian apologist Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq al-Kindi mentions Muhammad’s marriages and lust for women as an argument against his prophethood:

"I turn to another subject. Now, we say that the bent of thy Master's life doth not answer to the boast that he 'was sent a Mercy and Blessing to the human race.' On the contrary, his chief object and concern was to take beautiful women to wife; to attack surrounding tribes, slay and plunder them, and carry off their females for concubines. His chief delights were, by his own confession, sweet scents and women—strange proofs these of the prophetic claim!1 His amour with Zeinab, wife of Zeid, I am averse from noticing out of respect for this my book;—excepting only that I will quote the passage which he himself gave forth as having come down from heaven in this matter:—

And when thou (O Prophet) saidst to him on whom God had bestowed favour, and upon whom thou, too, hast bestowed favour (i.e. Zeid the friend of the Prophet),—Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God; and thou concealedst in thy mind what God was minded to make known, and thou fearedst man,—whereas God is more worthy that thou shouldst fear him. And when Zeid had fulfilled her divorce, WE joined thee in marriage unto her, that there might be no offence chargeable to Believers in marrying the wives of their adopted sons, after they have fulfilled their divorce; and the command of God is to be fulfilled. There is no offence chargeable to the prophet in that which God hath enjoined upon him, according to the ordinance of God in respect of those that preceded him;—and the command of God is a predestined decree.—Sura xxxiii. 36, 37.2

Next is introduced the story of Ayesha's night adventure with Safwn, which created a great scandal at Medina, and made Mahomet suspicious of his favourite wife ;---whereupon Ali addressed him in the same sense, ending with these words: O Prophet of God! the Lord hath not straitened thee in this matter, and there are many other women besides her. "But he would not be persuaded, because of his uxorious fondness of Ayesha, whom only of all his wives he married a maiden, and who being young and bewitching had possession of his heart (and this was the cause of the enmity between Ali and Ayesha all their lives); so that in the end he promulgated a revelation of her innocence, in Sura Nr— Verily they that slander married women, etc. The story is notorious and needeth from me no further application."1

Of Zeinab he relates that after Mahomet had thrice sent her portion of meat she flung it back in his face, whereupon he swore that he would not go near his wives for a whole month; but, not having patience to wait till the end, he approached them after nine-and-twenty days.1 Safia, the Jewess, was taught by the prophet, when upbraided by her sister-wives, to answer, saying, Aaron is my father, Moses my uncle, and Mahomet my husband. Muleika of the Kinda tribe, when solicited by the prophet to be his wife, exclaimed, What! shall Muleika give herself to a merchantman?2 The remaining wives are little more than mentioned by name; in all he had fifteen wives and two slave girls. "Paul, the Apostle, said, He that hath a wife his object is how he may please her, etc.; and he spake the truth, for a man is ever occupied with what may please his wife. Our Saviour also said, No man can serve two masters at one and the same time; he must needs serve one and slight the other. Now, if it be so that a man cannot serve a single wife and please her without neglecting his Maker, how much more must thy Master have been taken up in seeking to please fifteen wives, besides two that were bond-maids? Add to this that he was all the while engaged also in raids and forays and military expeditions, in ordering his troops for the same, in sending out spies, and in planning how to circumvent his enemies, slay their men, take their women captive, and plunder their goods. How, then, could thy Master find leisure from all these cares and pleasures for fasting and prayer, worship, meditation, and preparation for the life to come? I am very sure that no prophet in olden times resembled him in these things." (The Apology of Al-Kindy - Written at the Court of Al Mamun (Circa A.H. 215; A.D. 830), edited and commented by Sir William Muir [Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), Second Edition, London, 1887], The Wives of Mahomet, 49-53; source)

Fifth, the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically the Torah of Moses, further told men to be fair with all their wives and commanded husbands to grant equal conjugal rights to all of their spouses:

"If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money." Exodus 21:7-11

Something which both Muhammad and the Quran fail to prescribe:

And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them, if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people's) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do. You will not be able to be equitable between your wives, be you ever so eager; yet do not be altogether partial so that you leave her as it were suspended. If you set things right, and are godfearing, God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. But if they separate, God will enrich each of them of His plenty; God is All-embracing, All-wise. S. 4:128-130

Interestingly, according to certain Muslim expositors the above was "revealed" in connection with Muhammad’s mistreatment of Sauda and his desire to divorce her:

Making peace is better than separation. An example of such peace can be felt in the story of Sawdah bint Zam'ah who WHEN SHE BECAME AGED, THE PROPHET WANTED TO DIVORCE HER, but she made peace with him by offering the night he used to spend with her to A'isha so that he would keep her. The Prophet accepted such terms and kept her.

Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Sawdah feared that the Messenger of Allah might divorce her and she said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do not divorce me; give my day to 'A'ishah.’ And he did …

In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that 'A'ishah said that when Sawdah bint Zam'ah BECAME OLD, she forfeited her day to 'A'ishah and the Prophet used to spend Sawdah's night with 'A'ishah …

<And making peace is better>. IT REFERS TO THE WIFE RELINQUISHING SOME OF HER MARITAL RIGHTS and his acceptance of the offer. Such compromise is better than total divorce, as the Prophet did when retained Sawdah bint Zam'ah. By doing so, the Prophet set an example for his Ummah to follow as it is a lawful act … (the preceding citation taken and adapted from Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged, Volume 2, Parts 3, 4 & 5, Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147 [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; first edition March 2000], pp. 599-601, and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Part 5, Sura An-Nisa, ayat 24-147, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa’i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000 first edition], pp. 193-194; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hence, Muhammad set the example and gave legislation for men to ignore and abuse some of their wives, thereby forcing women to find ways to satisfy their husbands in order to remain married to them, even if it means seeing less of their spouses so as to grant them more time to spend with those women whom they love more! And this is the very sunna of Muhammad that Jalal takes pride in following!

Jalal proceeds to further distort God’s true Word, the Holy Bible:

Bible on treating women: "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod … if he continue (if he lived!) a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money." (Exodus 21:20-21).

Here is the text in its immediate context:

"If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property… If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth." Exodus 21:20-21, 26-27

It is amazing how Jalal took a passage and twisted it to mean something other than what was intended, namely the safety and proper care of slaves! The Holy Bible is warning masters not to mistreat their servants since they will be punished for any harm that they inflict on them.

In fact, we are expressly told in other places of Holy Scripture that in cases where a person is murdered the murderer must be put to death, irrespective of whether the victim is a slave, gentile, woman etc.,

"But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." Genesis 9:4-6

The point of Genesis is that all human beings are image bearers of God:

"With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." James 3:9-10

And to therefore unjustifiably shed any person’s blood is a heinous crime, punishable by death:

"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die." Exodus 21:12-14

"If a man takes the life of ANY HUMAN BEING, he shall surely be put to death." Leviticus 24:17 NASB

Here is another translation of this same text:

"Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death." ESV

Finally:

"If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death." Numbers 35:30

Thus, the murderer must be put to death irrespective of his social status, as well as the status or gender of his/her victim.

Let us now contrast this with what the Quran says concerning the punishment for anyone who kills a slave:

O believers, prescribed for you is retaliation, touching the slain; freeman for freeman, slave for slave, female for female. But if aught is pardoned a man by his brother, let the pursuing be honourable, and let the payment be with kindliness. That is a lightening granted you by your Lord, and a mercy; and for him who commits aggression after that -- for him there awaits a painful chastisement. S. 2:178 Arberry

Notice how incoherent this passage actually is. Is the citation saying that a freeman who wrongly kills a slave man will not be put to death for it, nor the man who kills a woman? If so, does this also apply in the case of the reverse, i.e. a slave who kills a free man shall not be put to death or the woman who kills a man? What happens if a woman kills a slave or vice-versa?

More importantly, how can a person carry out just retribution when the above text places freemen, females and slaves on different levels? In other words, how can this be just when the formulation of the verse implies that a freeman will not be put to death for a slave, or for a woman etc.?

The commentators don’t help resolve the situation, but only compound the problem and complicate matters. Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub writes:

(178) It is related by Wahidi that this verse was sent down concerning two feuding Arab tribes. The stronger of the two vowed to kill a free man for a slave, a man for a woman, and two men for only one man of the other tribe. This practiced continued until Islam came and the verse was sent down to regulate the practice of retaliation (Wahidi, p. 44; see also Tabari, II, pp. 99-100).

Jurists have, however, disagreed concerning the details of this law. Zamakhshari reports, according to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, Hasan al-Basri, ‘Ata, and ‘Ikrimah, with whom both Malik and al-Shafi'i agreed, "A FREE MAN MAY NOT BE KILLED FOR A SLAVE, NOR A MALE FOR A FEMALE." They regarded the verse as explaining the ordinance (Q. 5:45): "A soul for a soul." On the other hand, according to Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, al-Sha'bi, al-Nakh'i, Qatadah, and Sufyan al-Thawri with whom Abu Hanifah agreed, this verse was abrogated by God's saying: "A soul for a soul." Hence the law of retaliation applies equally to the slave and the free man and the male and the female. They base their argument on the Prophet's saying, "The lives [lit. bloods] of all Muslims are equal" (Zamakhshari, I, p. 331). (Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY) Albany 1984], Volume I, pp. 185-186; underline and capital emphasis ours)

For more on the Quran’s confusion concerning the status of slaves and the punishment for those who abuse them we recommend the following articles (1, 2).

And here is what the Holy Bible says concerning the treatment of women, specifically wives:

"Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.’" Malachi 2:13-16

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:25-33

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." Colossians 3:19

Jalal could only wish that the Quran contained such legislation since he would be parading them as evidence that Islam honors women.

Yet it seems that Jalal has confused the Holy Bible with the teachings of his false prophet since it was Muhammad who permitted men to beat their wives whenever they fear that their spouses are being rebellious:

Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God hath gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband's absence, because God hath of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great! S. 4:34 Rodwell

Muhammad even allowed Muslims to beat their slaves:

Narrated Abdullah bin Zama:
That he heard the Prophet delivering a sermon, and he mentioned the she-camel and the one who hamstrung it. Allah's Apostle recited:--
'When, the most wicked man among them went forth (to hamstrung the she-camel).' (91.12.) Then he said, "A tough man whose equal was rare and who enjoyed the protection of his people, like Abi Zama went forth to (hamstrung) it." The Prophet then mentioned about the women (in his sermon). "It is not wise for anyone of you to lash his wife LIKE A SLAVE, for he might sleep with her the same evening." Then he advised them not to laugh when somebody breaks wind and said, "Why should anybody laugh at what he himself does?" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 466)

Notice that Muhammad didn’t prohibit the men from beating their wives; he simply told them not to beat them as they do their slaves, especially when they plan on sleeping with their spouses that same day! Thus, Muhammad allowed for the beating of both women and slaves.

For more on Islam’s abuse and degradation of women we recommend the following articles:

http://answering-islam.org/Women/index.html
http://answering-islam.org/Silas/wife-beating.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/women_inferior.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/women_slaves.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/women_polygamy.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/women_fields.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/women.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/women2a.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/women2b.htm

Lord Jesus willing, we will soon have more refutations to Jalal’s distortions and deliberate lies soon.

Further Reading

http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/badawi_mhd_marriages2.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/prepubescent.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/treatment_of_wives.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/sauda.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Newton/sauda.html
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_cruelty.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_safiyyah.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_safiyyah2.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_barra.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_mhd_wives_challenge.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_mhd_wives_challenge2.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Silas/kinana.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Vol1/2c.html
http://answering-islam.org/Muhammad/Inconsistent/idda_safiyyah.html
http://faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/safiyah.htm


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