Originally posted by accountability:
May I not agree with you, let me just understand. An orphan someone found on street, raised him as your son, Then he gets young and marries, somehow he divorces his wife (You know the context)......
yes,,we really need to know the context.
"And when thou saidst to him to whom Allah had shown favour and to whom thou hadst shown a favour: Keep thy wife to thyself and keep thy duty to Allah; and thou concealdest in thy heart what Allah would bring to light and thou feardst men, and Allah has a greater right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zaid dissolved her marriage-tie, We gave her to thee as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers about the wives of their adopted sons, when they have dissolved their marriage-tie. And Allah's command is ever performed." (Qur'an 33:37)
"Zaid was a freed man already, but from today he will be my son." Seeing this affection between Zaid and the Prophet, Zaid's father and uncle went back and Zaid remained with the Prophet (Hisham).
Zainab was the Holy Prophet's first cousin, being the daughter of his aunt, Umaimah, daughter of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Zainab a full blooded Arab was intensely proud of her ancestry and exalted social status.
The Prophet wished to marry Zainab to Zaid who in spite of having been liberated by the Prophet and called his son, unfortunately still carried the stigma of slavery in the minds of some people. It was exactly this invidious distinction between ‘free’ and ‘slave’ which the Holy Prophet sought to remove by Zainab’s marriage with Zaid.
The marriage leveled to the ground of all class distinctions and divisions. It was a practical demonstration of Islam’s noble ideal.
The marriage was however, not a happy one. The marriage ended in failure not so much due to a difference in the social status of Zainab and Zaid as to the incompatibility of their dispositions and temperaments and also due to a feeling of inferiority from which Zaid suffered. Differences arose, and Zaid expressed a desire to the Holy Prophet of divorcing Zainab.
The news was grieving for the Prophet, for it was he who had insisted upon the marriage, and he therefore advised Zaid not to divorce her.
The failure of the marriage naturally grieved the Prophet but it also served as a very useful purpose. In pursuance of Divine command, the Prophet himself married Zainab, thus cutting at the very root of another obnoxious and deep seated Arab custom, that it was sacrilege to marry the wife of one’s adopted son. The custom of adoption was abolished and with it went also this foolish notion.
Thus Zainab’s marriage with Zaid served one very noble object and its failure another highly successful purpose.
According to one interpretation, it is to this circumstance that the words refer, "and thou feardest men, and Allah has a greater right that thou shouldst fear Him.” According to this interpretation it is also to the same matter that the words ‘"and thou concealdest in thy heart what Allah would bring to light” refer, for the Prophet did not like that the disagreements between Zainab and Zaid should become generally known. The Prophet’s injunction to Zaid not to divorce his wife is contained in unmistakable terms in the Holy Qur’an. But it was all in vain, and Zaid at last divorced Zainab.
According to another interpretation, however, the words ‘and thou concealdest in thy heart to thou shouldst fear Him, are a continuation of the advice which the Prophet gave to Zaid not to divorce Zainab. This interpretation suits the context even better than the first interpretation, for as we further on told in verse 39, the Prophets fear none but God. "Those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him, and fear none but Allah. And Allah is Sufficient to take account" (Qur'an 33:39)
After Zainab was divorced the Holy Prophet took her in marriage, that being the wish of the lady and her relatives before her marriage with Zaid, and the Prophet was, now that the marriage arranged by him proved unsuccessful, morally bound to accept their wishes. Moreover, the Qur’an had declared against an adopted son being regarded as if he were a real son, and now there was an opportunity where the Holy Prophet could by his own example deal a death-blow to that custom. The reason is plainly given in the second part of the verse: “We gave her to thee as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers about the wives of their adopted sons.”
The divorced woman is generally looked down upon in popular estimation, and this was a case in which a freed slave divorced a lady of high birth. By also taking such a divorced woman as his wife, the false notion that divorce degraded women was removed as well. Thus by this act, to which he was morally bound because the lady had been at first offered in marriage to him, he elevated the whole class of divorced women who would otherwise suffer life-long humiliation in society. This simple story is made the basis of a mean attack on the Holy Prophet. It is stated that the Holy Prophet, having seen Zainab by chance through a half-open door, was fascinated by her beauty, and that Zaid, having come to know of this divorced her, and then she became the Prophet's wife. That Muir and Arnold, not to mention more prejudiced writers accept this, only shows how far religious prejudice may carry "criticism." It is admitted Zainab was the daughter of the Prophet's real aunt; it is admitted that she was one of the early believers in Islam who fled to Madinah; it is admitted that the Prophet himself had arranged the marriage between Zaid and Zainab; and finally it is admitted Zainab desired, as did also her brother, before she was married to Zaid, that she should be taken in marriage by the Holy Prophet. If he had any desire for self-gratification or if he had any passion for the lady, he would not have refused her when she was offered to him as a virgin. Refusal of her hand in the first instance, and take her in marriage when being divorced she was lowered in general estimation, shows conclusively that his motive in this marriage was anything but self-gratification.
The good and noble Rev. Bosworth Smith finds nothing in this marriage to cavil at. He says “It should be remembered, however, that most of Muhammad’s marriages may be explained, at least, as much by his pity for the forlorn condition of the persons concerned, as by other motives. They were almost all of them widows who were not remarkable for their beauty of their wealth, but quite the reverse. May not this fact, and his undoubted faithfulness to Khadija till her dying day, and till he himself was fifty years of age, give us additional ground to hope that calumny or misconception has been at work in the story of Zainab" (Muhammad and Muhammadanism)