Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reasons for Quran 66

Was the Quran 66 Revealed because of Mary the Copt or because of the Honey incident? According to authentic Hadith reports, it was because of the Honey incident. 

However according to the Tafsirs of Ibn Abbas and Al Qurtubi it was because of Mary the Copt. 

Ibn Abbaas states in his commentary:

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (O Prophet!): '(O Prophet!) i.e. Muhammad (pbuh). (Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee) i.e. marrying Maria the Copt, the Mother of Ibrahim; that is because he had forbidden himself from marrying her, (seeking to please thy wives) seeking the pleasure of your wives 'A'ishah and Hafsah by forbidding yourself from marrying Maria the Copt? (And Allah is Forgiving) He forgives you, (Merciful) about that oath. (Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind)) and so the Prophet (pbuh) absolved himself from his oath and married Maria the Copt, (and Allah is your Protector) and Helper. (He is the Knower) He knows that you forbade yourself Maria the Copt, (the Wise) in that which He enjoined about the expiation of oaths. (When the Prophet confided a fact unto one of his wives) i.e. Hafsah (and when she afterward divulged it) Hafsah divulged to 'A'ishah what the Prophet (pbuh) told her in confidence (and Allah apprised him thereof) and Allah informed him that Hafsah informed 'A'ishah, (he made known (to her) part thereof) part of what she said to 'A'ishah regarding the leadership of Abu Bakr and 'Umar; and it is said: about seeing Maria the Copt on his own (and passed over part) he did not mention making forbidding Maria the Copt on himself nor what he told her concerning the leadership of Abu Bakr and 'Umar after him, for he did not reproach him for this. (And when he told it her) when the Prophet (pbuh) informed Hafsah about what she said to 'A'ishah (she said) Hafsah said: (Who hath told thee) that I informed 'A'ishah? (He said) the Prophet (pbuh) said: (The Knower, the Aware hath told me) what you divulged to 'A'ishah.(If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant) if you two, i.e. Hafsah and 'A'ishah, repent of hurting and disobeying the Prophet (pbuh) ((ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban)) for your hearts have deviated from the Truth; (and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad)) but if you help one another to harm and disobey him (then lo! Allah, even He, is his protecting Friend) then Allah is his Protector and Helper against you, (and Gabriel) will help him against you (and the righteous among the believers) all true believers are helpers to him against you: Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, 'Ali, may Allah be well pleased with, and all other true believers; (and furthermore the angels are his helpers) and the angels are with all these his helpers against you.  (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Commentary on Chapter 66 Verses 1-4). 

Who was Ibn Abbas? Ibn Abbas was the founder of Quranic studies. And Ibn Abbas is Muhammad's first cousin, one of the Sahabah, a companion, eye witness to Muhammad. Ibn Abbas was during the time of Prophet Muhammad. He was a Tafsir Expert. 

Maria had her own apartment: 

Ibn Sa’d quoted Aisha (may God be pleased with her) as saying:

“I was never jealous of a woman like my jealousy of Maria. She was stunning, and the Messenger (peace be upon him) would visit her first when coming to our neighborhood, spending much of the day and night with her. He treated her well and that was the most difficult part of it.”(Narrated by Zubair ibn Bakkar ibn Abdullah Ibn Mus’ab az-Zubairi, al-Muntakhab min Kitab Azwaj an-Nabi, hadith no.40. Beirut: Mu`assasat ar-Risalah, 1403AH/1983AD. 1st ed.)

ACCORDING TO TAFSIR IBN KATHIR, VOLUME 10, Pages 57-77, The Whole reason for the Quran 66 was because The Prophet was spending more time in Zainab bint Jash's house drinking honey and Aisha and Hafsa conspired against the Prophet Muhammad. It says nothing about Maria or Mary the Copt. Another thing is Tafsir Ibn Abbas doesn't mention anything about Hafsa walking in on the Prophet and Mary the Copt, rather all it says is the Prophet put aside Mary the Copt because of Hafsa and Aisha's jealously and then later on married her. That is it. 

the story of Surah 66 to show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was allowed to break his oath to his wives. We thank Shamoun very much for this example, since it clearly interprets the hadith that he just cited. The oath that the Prophet (peace be upon him) took was wrong in and of itself because he forbade something that was permissible for himself. This is wrong just as Allah told him in Surah 66:1, for it is only Allah who has the right to forbid things for us.Because the oath was Islamically wrong, the Prophet (peace be upon him ) was allowed to break it. After he broke it, he did not do anything wrong.


According to Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 434 & Volume 8, Book 78, Number 682 it was Zainab's house, while according to Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Number 193 & Volume 9, Book 86, Number 102 it was Hafsa's house.

Is this not a contradiction?


This is not necessarily a contradiction.

Let's look at the first set of ahaadith which mention that it was in Zainab's house...

Saheeh Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 63, Number 192:

Narrated 'Ubaid bin 'Umar:

I heard 'Aisha saying, "The Prophet used to stay for a long while with Zainab 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."


Saheeh Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 78, Number 682:

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 '

And now let's take a look at the second set of ahaadith which mention that it was in Hafsa's house...

Saheeh Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 63, Number 193:

Narrated 'Aisha:

Allah's Messenger was fond of honey and sweet edible things and (it was his habit) that after finishing the 'Asr prayer he would visit his wives and stay with one of them at that time. Once he went to Hafsa, the daughter of 'Umar and stayed with her more than usual. I got jealous and asked the reason for that. I was told that a lady of her folk had given her a skin filled with honey as a present, and that she made a syrup from it and gave it to the Prophet to drink (and that was the reason for the delay). I said, "By Allah we will play a trick on him (to prevent him from doing so)." So I said to Sada bint Zam'a "The Prophet will approach you, and when he comes near you, say: 'Have you taken Maghafir (a bad-smelling gum)?' He will say, 'No.' Then say to him: 'Then what is this bad smell which i smell from you?' He will say to you, 'Hafsa made me drink honey syrup.' Then say: Perhaps the bees of that honey had sucked the juice of the tree of Al-'Urfut.' I shall also say the same. O you, Safiyya, say the same." Later Sada said, "By Allah, as soon as he (the Prophet ) stood at the door, I was about to say to him what you had ordered me to say because I was afraid of you." So when the Prophet came near Sada, she said to him, "O Allah's Messenger! Have you taken Maghafir?" He said, "No." She said. "Then what is this bad smell which I detect on you?" He said, "Hafsa made me drink honey syrup." She said, "Perhaps its bees had sucked the juice of Al-'Urfut tree." When he came to me, I also said the same, and when he went to Safiyya, she also said the same. And when the Prophet again went to Hafsa, she said, 'O Allah's Messenger! Shall I give you more of that drink?" He said, "I am not in need of it." Sada said, "By Allah, we deprived him (of it)." I said to her, "Keep quiet." '


Sahih Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 86, Number 102:

Narrated 'Aisha:

Allah's Messenger used to like sweets and also used to like honey, and whenever he finished the 'Asr prayer, he used to visit his wives and stay with them. Once he visited Hafsa and remained with her longer than the period he used to stay, so I enquired about it. It was said to me, "A woman from her tribe gave her a leather skin containing honey as a present, and she gave some of it to Allah's Messenger to drink." I said, "By Allah, we will play a trick on him." So I mentioned the story to Sauda (the wife of the Prophet) and said to her, "When he enters upon you, he will come near to you whereupon you should say to him, 'O Allah's Messenger! Have you eaten Maghafir?' He will say, 'No.' Then you say to him, 'What is this bad smell? ' And it would be very hard on Allah's Messenger that a bad smell should be found on his body. He will say, 'Hafsa has given me a drink of honey.' Then you should say to him, 'Its bees must have sucked from the Al-'Urfut (a foul smelling flower).' I too, will tell him the same. And you, O Saifya, say the same." So when the Prophet entered upon Sauda (the following happened). Sauda said, "By Him except Whom none has the right to be worshipped, I was about to say to him what you had told me to say while he was still at the gate because of fear from you. But when Allah 's Messenger came near to me, I said to him, 'O Allah's Messenger! Have you eaten Maghafir?' He replied, 'No.' I said, 'What about this smell?' He said, 'Hafsa has given me a drink of honey.' I said, 'Its bees must have sucked Al-'Urfut.' " When he entered upon me, I told him the same as that, and when he entered upon Safiya, she too told him the same. So when he visited Hafsa again, she said to him, "O Allah's Messenger! Shall I give you a drink of it (honey)?" He said, "I have no desire for it." Sauda said, Subhan Allah! We have deprived him of it (honey)." I said to her, "Be quiet!"

Looking at these two sets of ahaadith, we notice two key differences between them:

1) The set in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) drank the honey at Zainab's house affirms that it was the incident at Zainab's house which gave rise to the cause of the revelation of Surah 66, Ayah 1-4. No such thing was mentioned in the other set.


2) The one in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) drank the honey at Zainab's house shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) later on declared honey forbidden for himself (for he said "I will never drink it again"), while the other set of ahaadith wherein the Prophet (peace be upon him) drank the honey in Hafsa's house does not (for he only said "I have no desire for it")

What does this show? This shows that both of these sets of ahaadith are speaking about different incidents, hence there is no contradiction. It's very likely that the incident at Hafsa's house occurred before the one at Zainab's. [1] There's absolutely nothing far fetched and unreasonable regarding such a reconciliation.

In conclusion, there is no convincing reason for us to believe that these stories stand in contradiction with each other for they aren't even speaking about the same incident to begin with.


1) Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in his Fathul Baari says: , وَيُمْكِن أَنْ تَكُون الْقِصَّة الَّتِي وَقَعَ فِيهَا شُرْب الْعَسَل عِنْد حَفْصَة كَانَتْ سَابِقَة . وَيُؤَيِّد هَذَا الْحَمْل أَنَّهُ لَمْ يَقَع فِي طَرِيق هِشَام بْن عُرْوَة الَّتِي فِيهَا أَنَّ شُرْب الْعَسَل كَانَ عِنْد حَفْصَة تَعَرُّض لِلْآيَةِ وَلَا لِذِكْرِ سَبَب النُّزُول

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