These are three stories, a supposedly true events, which are often repeated separately with pride by many Scholars as a proof of virtues of women and the kindness of the Messenger of God. Linking of the stories, pardon me, is my handiwork.
A young woman approached Prophet Mohammed and confessed to him that she had committed adultery (Faahisha), and wished to be purified. There was no written Quran then, but she had heard her uncle recite from a stone-slab, on which he had written what the Prophet had didctated the latest message from Jibreel:
“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death does claim them.”
It is not on record if the Prophet asked her if she believed that her uncle had recorded the holy verse or if she heard it from some other source. Since the Prophet had to rack his own memory, he asked the woman to come next day.
The woman went away happily. Confinement to the house was what she was used to anyway. Probably the event did take place while she was inside her house. In a joint family, uncles, cousins and step-brothers and step-fathers used to be great lovers then, as they are today.
The Prophet thought and thought. He recalled at least three more Surahs that Jibreel dictated to him when he came in flying on his six hundred wings, gems and pearls dripping from them like drops from a houri’s wine jar in heaven. Once the great angel had dictated:
As for him, however, who is driven [to what is forbidden] by dire necessity 11 and not by an inclination to sinning – behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace. (5:3:10)
When he racked his brain again, hoping someone would note down all those commandments that come streaming in according to need and regretting he could not write them down himself, the Prophet remembered another Surah :
The woman or man found guilty of fornication – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.
That night, while playing tongue-in-cheek with eight-year-old Aisha and gently massaging her with his tool between her young soft thighs, the Prophet decided that a hundred lashes for the woman as Allah commanded would be just right. Perhaps he should ask the name of the co-conspirator in the evil deed of unmarried love. Hundred lashes each would be more entertaining for the war-weary followers.
She came the next day with the news that further complicated matters. She said she was pregnant by the sin. This called for further racking of the brain or even consultation with Jibreel with six hundred wings and dripping pearls. The Prophet told her to return after she delivered the baby. The sin was compounded with pregnancy, which was the woman’s fault. The Prophet gave no further thought to the partner in her crime. The burden of it rested, along with the foetus, on the womb of the woman.
“Come back to me after you delivered the baby”, commanded the Prophet.
During the next seven months, the Prophet was too busy to wonder if the woman would run away and escape punishment. He spent all his time at Madina, judging the division of spoils of plunder among the soldiers, himself and Allah, apart from the heavy work involved in carrying out his legal duties with eleven women in bed.
The woman hadn’t forgotten. Ever a true believer, she came back one day cradling a beautiful baby in her arms. The Prophet, ever fond of babies, coochi-cooed the little one and told the woman to go back, feed the baby well and come back after it was weaned.
The young woman went home, pleased that the Messenger was smiling. She felt forgiven. Swignging the the baby in his cradle she sang:
The Messenger didn’t ask who donnit,
He didn’t ask why I donnit
He’s like Allah, all-forgivin’
There’ll be no lashes and no smashes,
Forgiveness by Surah Five- three
Will keep Ma a-livin’, my Babe…e..
The woman returned to the Holy Prophet two years later. The little one had had his drink of Mama’s last drop of milk. He walked with her, pleased to be holding his mother’s hand.
The Prophet was rejoicing after the latest message that came from Allah and wondering how to celebrate the message with his companions. The cause of happiness was permission to acquire his adopted son’s beautiful wife. It happened like this
Zaynab bint Jash, his cousin from his father’s side, being the latter’s sister’s daughter, had grown up with him in the same house. He knew her, and liked her, but not in terms of adding her to his harem.The thought had not occurred to him.
Zayd was a slave boy gifted to him by his first wife Khadijah, now deceased. Being gracious and broad-minded, the Prophet adopted Zayd as his own son. Allah was very kind to Muhammad, but had never given him a son. Since the boy grew up to be a fine handsome young man, he wanted his cousin Zaynab to marry him.
Zaynab was not happy marrying a former slave. But Allah’s Messenger could not be defied; so the marriage took place. As Allah was to say later, Zayd had what he wanted from her and both were, for all we know, quite happy.
Then one day Allah’s Messenger had reason to want to see Zayd in a huury. The front door was open, so he walked in. Through a sheer curtain, he spied the voluptuous shape of Zaynab, who had just had a bath, and had not dressed as yet. Well, you know what happens to virulent men at the age of sixty at such a vision. It happened to the even more virulent Messenger of God. He wanted his cousin in bed.
The Prophet rushed back lest he sin, but opened his heart to a trusted companion, who passed it on to another trusted companion, and thus the chain stretched till it reached Zayd’s ears.
Now Zayd was a grateful son, although adopted, and knew that angering the Messenger was the same as angering Allah. He rushed back to his adopted father.
“Abba,” he said,”you can have my wife, I’ll divorce her.”
That was good news, but what would the community think about the Prophet marrying his son’s – even adopted son’s – wife after forcing a divorce?”
Aisha, the very young, but very wise wife of the Prophet had once prophesied:
“Whenever Allah’s Messenger has a need for one, Allah sends him a message.”
Precisely that was what happened, Jibreel rushed in, his six hundred wings jangling and dripping pearls and gems, and passed the latest post:
When thou saidst to him whom God had blessed and thou hadst favoured, ‘Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God,’ and thou wast CONCEALING WITHIN THYSELF what God should reveal, FEARING OTHER MEN; and God has better right for thee to fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished what he would of her, THEN WE GAVE HER IN MARRIAGE TO THEE, so that there should not be any fault in the believers, touching the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them; and God’s commandment must be performed. S. 33:37
Accordingly, Zayd divorced Zaynab by saying Talaq, talaq, talaq three times, Allah’s Messenger married her by saying Nikah once, and took her straight to bed.
When he was thoroughly done and happy, came aknock on the door.
When he saw the woman with a cheerful face and the plump and handsome infant, he recollected her tale. And he knew what to do.
Celebration by public entertainment. A Messenger can any time modify Allah’s message. He proposed to do just that.
He promptly called the nearest companion and said:
“Take care of this child and bring him up. Make him a good Muslim. No sin shall visit on him.”
While the woman waited for her pardon as per Surah No. 5:3, the Prophet got a ditch dug up deep enough to cover her up to her chest. It is not known whether she wailed aloud or whimpered Allahu Akbar while she was seated comfortably in the ditch, her head and shoulders above the ditch.
Then Allah’s Messenger ordered that she be stoned, which the believers did with great enthusiasm in the spirit of celebration, all the time shouting that Allah is Great; but His penal code for adultery is too indulgent, so the Messenger of Allah, Peace Be Upon Him, is more right.
While some of the revelers ran to pick more stones, Qazi Khalid bin Walid, one of Prophet’s favorite disciples, raised a huge rock above his head and lobbed it on the woman’s head. Her head split, blood splattered on the face of the pious Qazi, for which crime he cursed her.
The ever merciful Prophet did not rebuke him, but advised him to be gentle, for she had repented. Then he got her buried, presumably satisfied that his own view prevailed.
Then he went back to the bed of his adopted son’s divorced wife. While on his way, Jibreel flew down and whispered in his ears:
“An adopted son must be named after his real father. Adopted son is no son.”
Thus Zayd lost in a jiffy his wife as well as the status of the Prophet’s son.
The circumstances in which the Prophet celebrated his new wedding is not often mentioned in Hadiths or other scriptures; I thought circumstantial evidence leads to the possibility that the two events are linked.
The repenting woman’s sad fate is repeated in most books that interpret Islam for the faithful and teaches women how to conduct themselves. IThe contradiction between the Quranic verses of mercy and the Prophets exemplary punishment confused Umar, the father-in-law of Muhammad and the second Caliph of Islam. God ordered a hundred lashes each for fornicators, or shutting them up without harm’or even forgiving them if the cause was reasonable enough, but his Messenger never asked her who the parnter in sin was, or if she was hungry or thirstly when she succumbed to a perptertator, but had her stoned to death. Who was right?
While he was intrigued by the contradiction, another woman came to the Caliph and confessed to fornication.”
The woman explained, “I was extremely thirsty in the desert. When I went far in search of water, I sighted a black tent which belonged to an Arab. I approached him and asked for water. But he refused to give me any water without my having adultery with him. I did not agree to his devilish desires and ran away into the desert. My eyes became sunken and I felt as if each of my bones were breaking. I returned to this man and in exchange of a drink of water I gave my body to him.”
Umar decided that Allah would prefer that his most favorite and last Messenger be obeyed in preference to his own command. The woman should be stoned.
However, Ali, the Messenger’s son-in-law, intervened. He quoted Allah’s command in Surah 5:3
is But whoever is compelled by hunger, in inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving Merciful.’
This time, due to Ali’s intervention, Allah won. The woman was set free.
As for Umar, he made his view very clear : “I’d say the Prophet is right because he led by example, not the Quran, In future, such women should be stoned.
A woman a day is stoned in some part of the world, gladdening the heart of the Prophet who still “sleeps intact and full-blooded in his grave, Peace Be Upon Him.