Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Quran and in the Bible

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4]

Divorce according the Quran

Having closely examined the Biblical teaching, the obvious question is: What about the Quran? Is the Quran as fair as MENJ pretends or would like us to believe? Let us see.

Does the Quran clarify reasons for divorce?

In the first place, the Quran doesn’t really stipulate what are the valid reasons for divorce. Here are basically all the references where the word divorce is mentioned:

For those who take an oath for abstention from their wives, a waiting for four months is ordained; if then they return, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. But if their intention is firm for divorce, God heareth and knoweth all things. Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what God Hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in God and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And God is Exalted in Power, Wise. A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold Together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you, (Men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by God. If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by God, there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by God; so do not transgress them if any do transgress the limits ordained by God, such persons wrong (Themselves as well as others). So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), He cannot, after that, re-marry her until after she has married another husband and He has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by God. Such are the limits ordained by God, which He makes plain to those who understand. When ye divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their ('Iddat), either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; but do not take them back to injure them, (or) to take undue advantage; if any one does that; He wrongs his own soul. Do not treat God's Signs as a jest, but solemnly rehearse God's favours on you, and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom, for your instruction. And fear God, and know that God is well acquainted with all things. When ye divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their ('Iddat), do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands, if they mutually agree on equitable terms. This instruction is for all amongst you, who believe in God and the Last Day. That is (the course Making for) most virtue and purity amongst you and God knows, and ye know not. S. 2:226-232 Y. Ali

There is no blame on you if ye divorce women before consummation or the fixation of their dower; but bestow on them (A suitable gift), the wealthy according to his means, and the poor according to his means; - A gift of a reasonable amount is due from those who wish to do the right thing. And if ye divorce them before consummation, but after the fixation of a dower for them, then the half of the dower (Is due to them), unless they remit it or (the man's half) is remitted by him in whose hands is the marriage tie; and the remission (of the man's half) is the nearest to righteousness. And do not forget Liberality between yourselves. For God sees well all that ye do. S. 2:236-237 Y. Ali

Those of you who die and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year's maintenance and residence; but if they leave (The residence), there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves, provided it is reasonable. And God is Exalted in Power, Wise. For divorced women Maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale). This is a duty on the righteous. S. 2:240-241 Y. Ali

O you who believe! when you marry the believing women, then divorce them before you touch them, you have in their case no term which you should reckon; so make some provision for them and send them forth a goodly sending forth. S. 33:49 Shakir

O Prophet, when you divorce women, divorce them when they have reached their period. Count the period, and fear God your Lord. Do not expel them from their houses, nor let them go forth, except when they commit a flagrant indecency. Those are God's bounds; whosoever trespasses the bounds of God has done wrong to himself. Thou knowest not, perchance after that God will bring something new to pass. S. 65:1 Arberry

As anyone can see not a single reference stipulates the grounds for divorce, but only speak of what to do when a divorce is about to take place or has already occurred. The closest one gets to a reason is Sura 4:34-35:

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye FEAR rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, AND SCOURGE THEM. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Aware. Pickthall

A man can discipline and subsequently divorce his wife if he fears rebellion on her part. But even this text poses problems since the grounds on which a person can chastise and beat his wife is simply based on the suspicion or fear of rebellion, not on the wife actually being rebellious! In other words, on the mere whim and fancy of the husband! (MENJ's words)

Please see these articles for more information on Quran-supported domestic violence in the Muslim household:

Does Muhammad’s example solidify the reasons for divorce?

Secondly, MENJ says that a Christian couple could divorce and remarry each other, ad infinitum. But this is wrong for two reasons. First, this assumes an unstable couple, and that is unfair. Second, this opinion can work against Islam as well. For example, where do the Islamic sources explicitly say that a Muslim couple could not repeat the endless cycle of divorce, the wife’s marriage to another man, her sex act with him, his divorce of her, and finally her reconciliation to her first husband?

However, in the case of divorce and rulings on reconciliation we should compare a stable Christian couple with a stable Muslim couple, after their divorce and during their desire to make amends. In fact, it is best to use Muhammad as an example. Isn’t he the best of the best, the model for all humankind—to lead us into the new millennium?

The Quran certainly presents Muhammad as a model for others to emulate:

Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of God. S. 33:21 Y. Ali

And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character. S. 68:4 Y. Ali

Ibn Kathir comments:

(And verily, you are on an exalted (standard of) character.) "It has been mentioned to us that Sa`d bin Hisham asked `A'ishah about the character of the Messenger of Allah , so she replied: `Have you not read the Qur'an' Sa`d said: `Of course.' Then she said: `Verily, the character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur'an.'" `Abdur-Razzaq recorded similar to this and Imam Muslim recorded it in his Sahih on the authority of Qatadah in its full length. This means that he would act according to the commands and the prohibition in the Qur'an. His nature and character were patterned according to the Qur'an, and he abandoned his natural disposition (i.e., the carnal nature). So whatever the Qur'an commanded, he did it, and whatever it forbade, he avoided it. Along with this, Allah gave him the exalted character, which included the qualities of modesty, kindness, bravery, pardoning, gentleness and every other good characteristic. This is like that which has been confirmed in the Two Sahihs that Anas said, "I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and he never said a word of displeasure to me (Uff), nor did he ever say to me concerning something I had done: `Why did you do that?' And he never said to me concerning something I had not done: `Why didn't you do this?' He had the best character, and I never touched any silk or anything else that was softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah. And I never smelled any musk or perfume that had a better fragrance than the sweat of the Messenger of Allah." Imam Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara' said, "The Messenger of Allah had the most handsome face of all the people, and he had the best behavior of all of the people. And he was not tall, nor was he short." The Hadiths concerning this matter are numerous. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi had a complete book on this subject called Kitab Ash-Shama'il. Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah said, "The Messenger of Allah never struck a servant of his with his hand, nor did he ever hit a woman. He never hit anything with his hand, except for when he was fighting Jihad in the cause of Allah. And he was never given the option between two things except that the most beloved of the two to him was the easiest of them, as long as it did not involve sin. If it did involve sin, then he stayed farther away from sin than any of the people. He would not avenge himself concerning anything that was done to him, except if the limits of Allah were transgressed. Then, in that case he would avenge for the sake of Allah." Imam Ahmad also recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said, ...

(I have only been sent to perfect righteous behavior.) Ahmad was alone in recording this Hadith... (Source; bold emphasis ours)

Muhammad Asad adds:

4 The term khuluq, rendered by me as "way of life", describes a person's "character", "innate disposition" or "nature" in the widest sense of these concepts, as well as "habitual behaviour" which becomes, as it were, one's "second nature" (Taj al-Arus). My identification of khuluq with "way of life" is based on the explanation of the above verse by Abd Allah ibn Abbas (as quoted by Tabari), stating that this term is here synonymous with din: and we must remember that one of the primary significances of the latter term is "a way [or "manner"] of behaviour" or "of acting" (Qamus). More over, we have several well-authenticated Traditions according to which Muhammad's widow A'ishah, speaking of the Prophet many years after his death, repeatedly stressed that "his way of life (khuluq) was the Qur'an." (Muslim, Tabari and Hakim, on the authority of Said ibn Hisham; Ibn Hanbal, Abu Da'ud and Nasa"i, on the authority of Al-Hasan al-Basri; Tabari, on the authority of Qatadah and Jubayr ibn Nufayl; and several other compilations). (Source)


Did We not exalt thy fame? S. 94:4 Arberry

Yusuf Ali says regarding the last verse:

6190. The Prophet’s virtues, the magnanimity of his character, and his love for mankind were fully recognised even in his lifetime, and his name stands higher among the heroic leaders of mankind. The phrase used here is more comprehensive in meaning than that used of various prophets in xxxvii. 19 etc.: "We left this blessing for them among generations to come in later times." (Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary, p. 1755)

However, we will learn four revealing and unpleasant truths about Muhammad and divorce.

First, he threatens to divorce a wife simply because she disclosed a secret.

O Prophet! why do you forbid (yourself) that which Allah has made lawful for you; you seek to please your wives; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Allah indeed has sanctioned for you the expiation of your oaths and Allah is your Protector, and He is the Knowing the Wise. And when the prophet secretly communicated a piece of information to one of his wives -- but when she informed (others) of it, and Allah made him to know it, he made known part of it and avoided part; so when he informed her of it, she said: Who informed you of this? He said: The Knowing, the one Aware, informed me. If you both turn to Allah, then indeed your hearts are already inclined (to this); and if you back up each other against him, then surely Allah it is Who is his Guardian, and Jibreel and - the believers that do good, and the angels after that are the aiders. Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins. S. 66:1-5 Shakir

According to Muslim sources Muhammad was upset over the fact that Hafsah had disclosed specific details to Aisha that she was told to hide. Several sources indicate that these details had to do with Hafsah catching Muhammad sleeping with his Coptic slave-girl named Mary on the day that was specifically designated for Hafsah. Muhammad swore never to touch Mary again if Hafsah promised not to tell anyone what happened.

Disclosing a secret that one has been entrusted with is truly a betrayal of confidence and a serious issue. This case, however, is of a different nature. Hafsa simply did not support Muhammad in the cover-up of the shameful thing he had done. It was Muhammad who had broken his word, i.e. that this would be Hafsa’s day. He had betrayed her by sleeping with another woman on her day.

When Hafsah did not cooperate in hiding his shameful behavior, Muhammad became angry and took an oath to separate himself from his wives for a month.

Sayyid Abu ‘Ala-Maududi notes:

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. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Islamic scholar E.M. Wherry in his A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran stated:

THE title of this chapter is taken from the statement of the first verse. According to Sale, who writes on the authority of Baidhawi, Jalaluddin, and Yahya, the occasion of this chapter was as follows: "Muhammad having lain with a slave of his, named Mary, of Coptic extract (who had been sent him as a present by al Muqauqas, governor of Egypt), on the day which was due to Ayesha or to Hafsa, and, as some say, on Hafsa’s own bed, while she was absent; and this coming to Hafsa’s knowledge, she took it extremely ill, and reproached her husband so sharply, that, to pacify her, he promised, with an oath, never to touch the maid again; and to free him from the obligation of this promise was the design of the chapter." (Source)

The late Muslim biographer, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, wrote that:

One day Hafsah went to her father's house complaining about this situation. While the Prophet was in her room, Mariyah came to him and stayed with him some time. Upon Hafsah's return she found the Prophet and Mariyah in her quarters and, as she waited for them to come out, her jealousy broke all bounds. When, finally, Mariyah left the quarters and Hafsah entered, she said to the Prophet: "I have seen who was here. By God, that was an insult to me. You would not have dared to do that if I amounted to anything at all in your eyes". At the moment Muhammad realized that such deep-lying jealousy might even move Hafsah to broadcast what she had seen among the other wives. In an attempt to please her, Muhammad promised that he would not go unto Mariyah if she would only refrain from broadcasting what she had seen. Hafsah promised to comply. However, she could not keep her promise as jealousy continued to affect her disposition. Hence, she intimated the secret to `A'ishah, who in turn reported it to the Prophet. He took it as evidence of Hafsah's failure to keep her promise. Perhaps the affair did not stop with Hafsah and `A'ishah but spread to the other wives. Perhaps, too, all of them had noticed the high esteem in which Mariyah was held and sympathized with `A'ishah and Hafsah's opposition to the Prophet. There is nothing unusual in the whole story, such gossip and petty jealousies being commonplace between man and his many wives. A man's affection belongs where he puts it within his household, and the controversy which the daughters of Abu Bakr and 'Umar had woven around the Prophet's affection for Mariyah was utterly groundless. Previously we had seen that some disaffection had risen between the Prophet and his wives on various occasions because of the pocket money he allocated to them, or because of the honey Zaynab used to serve. Therefore, they had all the more reason to feel slighted and no little alienated when they discovered their husband's inclination toward 'A'ishah or his esteem for Mariyah. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, tran. Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi [American Trust Publications, USA 1976; Malaysian edition by Islamic Book Trust], pp. 435-437; online edition)

The hadith provides some additional background information:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

I had been eager to ask ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab about the two ladies from among the wives of the Prophet regarding whom Allah said ‘If you two (wives of the Prophet namely Aisha and Hafsa) turn in repentance to Allah, your hearts are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet likes). (66.4) till ‘Umar performed the Hajj and I too, performed the Hajj along with him. (On the way) ‘Umar went aside to answer the call of nature, and I also went aside along with him carrying a tumbler full of water, and when ‘Umar had finished answering the call of nature, I poured water over his hands and he performed the ablution. Then I said to him, "O chief of the Believers! Who were the two ladies from among the wives of the Prophet regarding whom Allah said: ‘If you two (wives of the Prophet) turn in repentance to Allah your hearts are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet likes)?" (66.4) He said, "I am astonished at your question, O Ibn Abbas. They were ‘Aisha and Hafsa." Then ‘Umar went on narrating the hadith and said, "I and an Ansari neighbor of mine from Bani Umaiyya 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 Divine Inspiration and other things, and when he went, he used to do the same for me. We, the people of Quraish used to have the upper hand over our wives, but when we came to the Ansar, we found that their women had the upper hand over their men, so our women also started learning the ways of the Ansari women.

I shouted at my wife and she retorted against me and I disliked that she should answer me back. She said to me, ‘Why are you so surprised at my answering you back? By Allah, the wives of the Prophet answer him back and some of them may leave (does not speak to) him throughout the day till the night.’ The (talk) scared me and I said to her, ‘Whoever has done so will be ruined!’ Then I proceeded after dressing myself, and entered upon Hafsa and said to her, ‘Does anyone of you keep the Prophet angry till night?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You are a ruined losing person! Don't you fear that Allah may get angry for the anger of Allah’s Apostle and thus you will be ruined? So do not ask more from the Prophet and do not answer him back and do not give up talking to him. Ask me whatever you need and do not be tempted to imitate your neighbor (i.e., ‘Aisha) in her manners for she is more charming than you and more beloved to the Prophet.’" Umar added, "At that time a talk was circulating among us that (the tribe of) Ghassan were preparing their horses to invade us. My Ansari companion, on the day of his turn, went (to the town) and returned to us at night and knocked at my door violently and asked if I was there. I became horrified and came out to him. He said, ‘Today a great thing has happened.’ I asked, ‘What is it? Have (the people of) Ghassan come?’ He said, ‘No, but (What has happened) is greater and more horrifying than that: Allah’s Apostle; has divorced his wives.’" ‘Umar added, "The Prophet kept away from his wives and I said ‘Hafsa is a ruined loser.’ I had already thought that most probably this (divorce) would happen in the near future. So I dressed myself and offered the morning prayer with the Prophet and then the Prophet entered an upper room and stayed there in seclusion. I entered upon Hafsa and saw her weeping. I asked, ‘What makes you weep? Did I not warn you about that? Did the Prophet divorce you all?’ She said, ‘I do not know. There he is retired alone in the upper room.’ I came out and sat near the pulpit and saw a group of people sitting around it and some of them were weeping. I sat with them for a while but could not endure the situation, so I went to the upper room where the Prophet was and said to a black slave of his, ‘Will you get the permission (of the Prophet) for ‘Umar (to enter)?’ The slave went in, talked to the Prophet about it and then returned saying, ‘I have spoken to the Prophet and mentioned you but he kept quiet.’ Then I returned and sat with the group of people sitting near the pulpit. But I could not bear the situation and once again I said to the slave, ‘Will you get the permission for ‘Umar?’ He went in and returned saying, ‘I mentioned you to him but he kept quiet.’ So I returned again and sat with the group of people sitting near the pulpit, but I could not bear the situation, and so I went to the slave and said, ‘Will you get the permission for ‘Umar?’ He went in and returned to me saying, ‘I mentioned you to him but he kept quiet.’ When I was leaving, behold! The slave called me, saying, ‘The Prophet has given you permission.’

Then I entered upon Allah’s Apostle and saw him lying on a bed made of stalks of date palm leaves and there was no bedding between it and him. The stalks left marks on his side and he was leaning on a leather pillow stuffed with date-palm fires. I greeted him and while still standing I said, ‘O Allah's Apostle! Have you divorced your wives?’ He looked at me and said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Allah Akbar!’ And then, while still standing, I said chatting, ‘Will you heed what I say, O Allah’s Apostle? We, the people of Quraish used to have power over our women, but when we arrived at Medina we found that the men (here) were overpowered by their women.’ The Prophet smiled and then I said to him, ‘Will you heed what I say, O Allah’s Apostle? I entered upon Hafsa and said to her, "Do not be tempted to imitate your companion (‘Aisha), for she is more charming than you and more beloved to the Prophet."’ The Prophet smiled for a second time. When I saw him smiling, I sat down. Then I looked around his house, and by Allah, I could not see anything of importance in his house except three hides, so I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Invoke Allah to make your followers rich, for the Persians and the Romans have been made prosperous and they have been given (the pleasures of the world), although they do not worship Allah.’ Thereupon the Prophet sat up as he was reclining and said, ‘Are you of such an opinion, O the son of Al-Khattab? These are the people who have received the rewards for their good deeds in this world.’ I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Ask Allah to forgive me.’

Then the Prophet kept away from his wives for twenty-nine days because of the story which Hafsa had disclosed to ‘Aisha. The Prophet had said, ‘I will not enter upon them (my wives) for one month,’ because of his anger towards them, when Allah had admonished him. So, when twenty nine days had passed, the Prophet first entered upon ‘Aisha. ‘Aisha said to him, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! You had sworn that you would not enter upon us for one month, but now only twenty-nine days have passed, for I have been counting them one by one.’ The Prophet said, ‘The (present) month is of twenty nine days.’ ‘Aisha added, ‘Then Allah revealed the Verses of the option. And out of all his wives he asked me first, and I chose him.’ Then he gave option to his other wives and they said what 'Aisha had said."

(1) The Prophet had decided to abstain from eating a certain kind of food because of a certain event, so Allah blamed him for doing so. Some of his wives were the cause of him taking that decision, therefore he deserted them for one month. See Quran: (66.4) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 119)

For more on this issue regarding Hafsah and Mary please consult the following:

Another version is that Aisha decided to play a prank on Muhammad so as to prevent him from spending so much time with his other wives:

Narrated ‘Ubaid bin ‘Umar:
I heard ‘Aisha saying, "The Prophet used to stay for a long while with Zaynab bint Jahsh and drink honey at her house. So Hafsa and I decided that if the Prophet came to anyone of us, she should say him, ‘I detect the smell of Maghafir (a nasty smelling gum) in you. Have you eaten Maghafir?’" So the Prophet visited one of them and she said to him similarly. The Prophet said, "Never mind, I have taken some honey at the house of Zainab bint Jahsh, but I shall never drink of it anymore." So there was revealed: ‘O Prophet! Why do you ban (for you) that which Allah has made lawful for you … If you two (wives of Prophet) turn in repentance to Allah,’ (66.1-4) addressing Aisha and Hafsa. ‘When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to some of his wives’ (66.3) namely his saying: "But I have taken some honey." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Number 192)

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet used to stay (for a period) in the house of Zainab bint Jahsh (one of the wives of the Prophet) and he used to drink honey in her house. Hafsa and I decided that when the Prophet entered upon either of us, she would say, "I smell in you the bad smell of Maghafir (a bad smelling raisin). Have you eaten Maghafir?" When he entered upon one of us, she said that to him. He replied (to her), "No, but I have drunk honey in the house of Zainab bint Jahsh, and I will never drink it again." Then the following verse was revealed: ‘O Prophet! Why do you ban (for you) that which Allah has made lawful for you?… (up to) If you two (wives of the Prophet turn in repentance to Allah.’ (66.1-4) The two were ‘Aisha and Hafsa And also the Statement of Allah: ‘And (Remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives!" (66.3) i.e., his saying, "But I have drunk honey." Hisham said: It also meant his saying, "I will not drink anymore, and I have taken an oath, so do not inform anybody of that." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Number 682)

Whatever version of the story one chooses to accept, this point is clear. This Quranic text permitted Muhammad to divorce his wives solely because they had disclosed a secret! Muhammad basically sets the example for men to divorce their women on such trivial matters as failing to keep a secret. Putting it simply, Muhammad’s example gives Muslims the right to divorce their wives "for any whim or fancy." (MENJ's words)

Second, we mentioned earlier in the paper that Muhammad nearly divorced a woman named Sauda merely because she was old and overweight. Here again is what Ibn Kathir says:

<And human souls are swayed by greed.>

means, coming to peaceful terms, even when it involves forfeiting some rights, is better than parting. 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; I give my day to ‘A’ishah.’ And he did, and later on Allah sent down, …

<And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no sin on them both>

Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Whatever (legal agreement) the spouses mutually agree to is allowed." At-Tirmidhi recorded it and said, "Hasan Gharib"'. 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. There is a similar narration also collected by Al-Bukhari. Al-Bukhari also recorded that ‘A’ishah commented; …

<And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part>,

that it refers to, "A man who is married to AND OLD WOMAN, AND HE DOES NOT DESIRE HER and wants to divorce her. So she says, ‘I forfeit my right on you.’ So this Ayah was revealed." (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

For more on this please read the following:

Again, if a Muslim is to follow Muhammad’s pattern then that means he can dump his wife solely because he feels that she is too old and not attractive anymore.

Third, Muhammad commanded a number of his followers to divorce several of their wives:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar

Ghaylan ibn Salamah ath-Thaqafi accepted Islam and that he had ten wives in the pre-Islamic period who accepted Islam along with him; so the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to keep four and separate from the rest of them.

Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 945; taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)

Narrated Al-Harith ibn Qays al-Asadi:

I embraced Islam while I had eight wives. So I mentioned it to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him). The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Select four of them. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 12, Number 2233)

Apart from the glaring hypocrisy that Muhammad keeps all his wives when the restriction to four wives for a Muslim is given in the Quran (Muhammad has nine wives at the time of his death), it is interesting to note that he does not say, "Keep the first four and divorce those whom you married later". No, his instruction is that these men should pick those four wives they like most and then get rid of the others. Remember the title of MENJ’s article: The Divorce and Reconciliation of Marriage in Islam: Unparalleled Justice. Would these women have been impressed by the justice of Islam?

Fourth, Muhammad forced a man to divorce his wife whom he loved dearly, solely because his father hated her!

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar:
A woman was my wife AND I LOVED HER, but Umar hated her. He said to me: Divorce her, but I refused. Umar then went to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Divorce her. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5119)

So we discover, then, that the Quran is vague on the reasons for divorce, except for the husband merely fearing highhandedness from the wife, quite apart from whether she actually is highhanded. We also discover that Muhammad’s example on divorce is volatile, whimsical and unstable—the exact criticism that MENJ misguidedly levels against the Scriptures and their misuse by a fictional, unstable divorced couple. And MENJ has the audacity to complain about divorce in the Holy Bible based on his misreading of it.


The original article that triggered MENJ’s rebuttal and our reply here analyzed Sura 2:230, which unambiguously states that a divorced Muslim couple can reconcile if and only if the wife marries another man, has sex with him, and he divorce her. This clear reading of this bizarre verse still stands. MENJ has failed to make his case.

To see this tragedy in real-life, go to this question and answer at a traditional Muslim fatwa website. Apparently, a Muslim husband pronounced divorce three times, the divorce is final, and now he regrets his decision made in haste and anger. The Muslim cleric or scholar at that site knows Islam better than MENJ does on this sad ruling, because the cleric or scholar says that they are allowed to reconcile only if she follows the bizarre Quranic steps of her marrying someone else, consummating that marriage, and then his divorcing her. "Unparalleled justice" (MENJ's words) would allow this divorced couple to reunite without the ungodly intervening steps or without a weird analysis of different levels of anger. Let them reconcile—period.

Maybe MENJ should write that website for more information, so he can accurately learn about Sura 2:230 and his own religion, instead of bothering us with criticisms that fail to understand the Quran, Islam, the Bible, and our articles.

But on a larger scale, how can anyone claim with a straight face that Islam should lead all of humanity into the new millennium, on the issue of divorce generally, or on any issue? What right does Muhammad have, the alleged model for all of humankind, to teach us about marriage and divorce, since his own (multi)married life was less than exemplary? His unstable marriages and divorces and near-divorces for whimsical reasons do not present a picture of "unparalleled justice."

MENJ has failed to make his case, but this is not surprising since his prophet has also failed to make his case for being the final and best religious leader the world has ever seen, on the issue of marriage and divorce.

Our final section, an appendix on Ezra and Nehemiah, will answer MENJ’s charges and misinterpretations in regard to an event reported in these books.

Responses to Bismikaallahuma
Articles on Women in Islam and Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Articles by James Arlandson
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