This morning, as I read through the “Chapter on Tahrīm”, a few thoughts came to mind & I feel obliged to share them with you.
(1) Absolute Infallibility Belongs to Allāh Alone: The Chapter begins with a subtle censure of the Prophet’s ﷺ decision to please one of his wives by depriving himself of what Allāh had permitted for him.
Al-Imām Al-Qurtubī mentioned three different views held by the Mufassirūn concerning the interpretation of the phrase, مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكَ ۖ “What Allāh had permitted for you”.
The closest to the truth, claims Al-Qurtubī is
ثبت في صحيح مسلم عن عائشة رضي الله عنها أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يمكث عند زينب بنت جحش فيشرب عندها عسلا ، قالت فتواطأت أنا وحفصة أن أيتنا ما دخل عليها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فلتقل : إني أجد منك ريح مغافير !أكلت مغافير ؟ فدخل على إحداهما فقالت له ذلك . فقال : ” بل شربت عسلا عند زينب بنت جحش ولن أعود له ” . فنزل : لم تحرم ما أحل الله لك إلى قوله إن تتوبا
It is recorded in Sahīh Muslim on the authority of ‘Āishah who said “the Messenger of Allāh used to stay in the house of Zaynab bint Jahsh and drink honey in her house. So, Hafsah and I decided that when the Prophet entered upon either of us, we would say, `I smell Maghāfir on you. Have you eaten Maghāfir? When he entered upon one of us, she said that to him. He replied, “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.”
It is known in the Sharī’ah that all the prophets of Allāh possess the quality of infallibility. This is a matter of consensus among the Ummah. Shaykh bn Bāz رحمه الله said:
“All the Muslims are unanimously agreed that the Prophets (peace be upon them) – especially Muhammad– are infallible and protected from error in that which they conveyed from Allāh.”
However, verses like this indicate that their infallibility is NOT absolute since they are also prone to errors and minor sins (like every other human being) in matters outside their DIVINE assignment.
Thus, this Sūrah affirms absolute infallibility for Allāh ALONE.
(2) Jealousy is a Natural Trait in Women
The reason for revelation of this Sūrah is an incident born out of jealousy. ‘Ā’isha and Hafsah رضي الله عنهما were envious of Zaynab bint Jahsh in whose house the Prophet ﷺ used to stay for a while to drink honey. So they conspired to ruin that moment by claiming that whatever he had taken was giving him a foul breath. Thus, the Prophet ﷺ pledged to never drink from the honey again.
From this we learn that not even the best women of this Ummah and mothers of the faithful are free from ENVY and JEALOUSY. This is why those among our brothers who have more than one wife must exercise patience with their wives when they exhibit such traits of jealousy among themselves.
A lot of time, such attitudes are not unconnected to their unflinching affection for their husbands and their unwillingness to have his attention shared, let alone diverted away from them.
(3) Knowledge of the Unseen is Exclusive To Allāh
وَإِذْ أَسَرَّ النَّبِيُّ إِلَىٰ بَعْضِ أَزْوَاجِهِ حَدِيثًا فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَتْ بِهِ وَأَظْهَرَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ عَرَّفَ بَعْضَهُ وَأَعْرَضَ عَن بَعْضٍ ۖ فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَهَا بِهِ قَالَتْ مَنْ أَنبَأَكَ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَ نَبَّأَنِيَ الْعَلِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ
And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives, then she told it. And Allāh made it known to him; he informed part thereof and left a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said: “Who told you this” He said: “The All-Knower, the All-Aware has told me.”
It is established consistently in the Qur’ān that no one possesses the knowledge of the ghayb (Unseen) but Allāh. If the prophet ﷺ had any knowledge of the unseen, he wouldn’t have been caught unawares by the conspiracy orchestrated by his wives.
Some of the verses affirming absolute knowledge of the unseen for Allāh are:
قُلْ لَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
وَعِنْدَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ
قُلْ لَا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ وَلَوْ كُنْتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ إِنْ أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
All the aforementioned verses affirm absolute knowledge of the unseen for Allāh ALONE. No one shares in this knowledge with Him. It is whatever of the hidden knowledge that He wishes to share with His creatures that He sent in the form of Wahy (revelations) to His prophets and messengers.
عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ فَلَا يُظْهِرُ عَلَى غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا إِلَّا مَنِ ارْتَضَى مِنْ رَسُولٍ
(4) Your Family is Your Primary Da’wah Constituency
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا قُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَكُمۡ وَاَهۡلِيۡكُمۡ نَارًا وَّقُوۡدُهَا النَّاسُ وَالۡحِجَارَةُ عَلَيۡهَا مَلٰٓـئِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعۡصُوۡنَ اللّٰهَ مَاۤ اَمَرَهُمۡ وَيَفۡعَلُوۡنَ مَا يُؤۡمَرُوۡنَ
O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.
This verse indicates that the primary responsibility of every man and woman is to guide his family to the worship of Allāh and warn them sternly from what He has prohibited. This is the only way He can save them from the Hell fire. It is for this reason that one of the first instructions to the Prophet ﷺ was:
وَأَنْذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الأَقْرَبِينَ
“And warn your close relatives.”
The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ emphasized the importance of this role when he said:
❝All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. … Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.❞
Thus, spouses owe each other the duty of establishing the laws of Allāh in their home, just as parents also owe this to their children. Callers to the path of Islām must first put their homes in order before extending the call to outsiders. Their families must reflect their Da’wah, otherwise they may become objects of scorn and ridicule in society.
(5) Sincere Tawbah Expiates Sins
A sincere Tawbah is one that satisfies the following conditions:
a. Regrets and Remorse over one’s sins
b. Abandoning the sin immediately
c. Strong determination to never commit such sins in future
d. Returning the rights of others to them
Because of the imperfections and natural proclivity of man to committing sins, Allāh has given him windows of opportunity to rectify himself, one of which is sincere repentance. He has equally promised the repentant servants expiation of sins and admission into Jannah.
The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ emphasized the importance of Tawbah in several ahādīth, some of which are:
التائب من الذنب كمن لا ذنب له
The one who repents from sins, is like one without any sin
من تاب قبل أن تطلع الشمس من مغربها تاب الله عليه
Whoever repents before the sun rises from its west, Allāh will accept his repentance
إن الله يقبل توبة العبد ما لم يغرغر
Verily, Allāh will accept the repentance of His slave so long as the death rattle has not yet reached his throat
كُلُّ بَنِي آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ, وَخَيْرُ اَلْخَطَّائِينَ اَلتَّوَّابُونَ
Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.
(6) Allāh Tests People Through Marriage
The latter part of the Sūrah is a paradoxical parable of the wicked and devilish wives of two illustrious prophets of Allāh, Nūh and Lūt. Allāh establishes by this parable a fundamental issue:
Allāh tests people through marriage
Prophets Nūh and Lūt were pious and devout servants of Allāh who were sent to call their people to the way of Allāh. Sadly, their wives betrayed them by disbelieving in their Da’wah and Allāh destroyed them both. Neither the piety of their husbands nor their status could save them from being destroyed.
Conversely, the wife of Fir’aun was a pious woman married to a tyrant. Yet, she was firm in her faith and served her Lord until her gruesome murder by her wicked husband. His evil way did not hinder her from being devout to her Lord till she breathed her last.
Thus, Allāh tests pious men and women through their marriage. Their marriage may not be a true reflection of who they really are. So whoever is tested with such wicked spouses should be patient and prayerful. Allāh says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ ۚ وَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“O believers! Indeed, some of your spouses and children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon, overlook, and forgive ˹their faults˺, then Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”