(1) (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
*1) This is not, in fact, a question but an expression of disapproval. The object is not to ask the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) why he had done so, but to warn him that his act to make unlawful for himself what AIIah 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 Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself also did not possess any such power. Although the Holy Prophet 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 AIIah 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 Holy Prophet had not made a lawful thing unlawfirl 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 unlawfirl, 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 Holy Prophet only for making a lawful thing unlawful, but along with that to warn the holy 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 Holy Prophet do a thing which could lead to making a lawful thing unlawful. Although it has not been mentioned ill the Qur'an as to what it was that the Holy Prophet had forbidden himself yet the traditionists and commentators have mentioned in this regard two differ. ent incidents, which occasioned the revelation of this verse. One of these relates to Hadrat Mariyah Qibiyyah (Mary, the Copt lady) and the other to his forbidding himself the use of honey. The incident relating to Hadrat Mariyah is that after concluding the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah one of the letters that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) sent to the rulers of the adjoining countries was addressed to the Roman Patriarch of Alexandria also, whom the Arabs called Muqawqis. When Hadrat Hatib bin Abi Balta a 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 1 think he will appear in Syria. However, 1 have treated your messenger with due honour, and am sending two slave-girls to you, who command respect among the Coptics. "(Ibn Sa'd). One of those slave-girls was Sirin and the other Mariyah (Mary). Un his way back from Egypt Hadrat Hatib presented Islam before both and they believed. When they came before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) he gave Sirin in the ownership of Hadrat Hassan bin Thabit and admitted Hadrat Mariyah into his own household. In Dhil-Hijjah, A.H. 8 she gave birth to the Holy Prophet's son, Ibrahim. (Al-Isti'ab; Al-Isabah). This lady was very beautiful. Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Al-Isabah has rclated this saying of Hadrat 'A'ishah about her: "No woman's entry into the Holy Prophet's household vexed me so much as 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 Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) visited the house of Hadrat Hafsah when she was not at home. At that time Hadrat Mariyah carne to him there and stayed with him in seclusion. Hadrat Hafsah took it very iII and complained of it bitterly to him. Thereupon, in order to please her the Holy Prophet 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 Hadrat 'Umar,. Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Abbas and Hadrat 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 Nasa'i only this much has been rclated from Hadrat Anas: "The Holy Prophet had a slave-girl with whom he had conjugal relations. Then, Hadrat Hafsah and Hadrat `A'ishah 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 AIlah has made lawful for you?" The other incident has been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and several other books of Hadith from Hadrat `A'ishah herself and its purport is as follows: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) usually paid a daily visit to aII his wives after the `Asr Prayer Once it so happened that he began to stay in the house of Hadrat Zainab bint-Jahsh longer than usual, for she had received sane honey from somewhere as a gift and the Holy Prophet was very fond of sweet things; therefore, he would have a drink of honey at her house. Hadrat 'A'ishah states that she felt envious of this and spoke to Hadrat Hafsah, Hadrat Saudah and Hadrat Safiyyah about it and together they decided that whoever of them was visited by the Holy 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 odour. They all knew that the Holy Prophet was a man of very fine taste and he abhorred that he should emit any kind of unpleasant smell. There fore, this device was contrived to stop him from staying in the house of Hadrat 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 Nasa'i says: "About honey the Hadith reported from Hadrat 'A'ishah is authentic, and the story of forbidding Hadrat Mariyah for himself by the Holy Prophet 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 Hadrat `A'ishah 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 for himself by the Holy Prophet. " *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. "