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Period of Revelation

This Surah was revealed in A.H. 7 after the conquest of Khayber.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance
  1. Do not make something unlawful which Allah has made lawful.
  2. Wives of the Prophet are admonished on their behavior with him.
  3. Believers are commanded to turn to Allah in sincere repentance if they want to be forgiven.
  4. Example of the wives of Nuh (Noah) and Lut (Lot) who will go to hell and the example of Fir'on's (Pharaoh's) wife and Maryam who will go to paradise.

This is a very important Surah in which guidance is provided relating to questions of grave significance in reference to some incidents concerning the wives of the Prophet (pbuh).

  1. That the powers to prescribe the bounds of the lawful and the unlawful, the permissible and the forbidden, are entirely and absolutely in the hand of Allah and nothing of this sort has been delegated even to the Prophet of Allah, much less any other person.
  2. That in any society the position of a Prophet is very delicate. A minor incident experienced by an ordinary man in his life may not be of any consequence, but it assumes the status of law when experienced by a Prophet. That is why the lives of the Prophets have been kept under close supervision by Allah so that none of their acts, not even a most trivial one, may deviate from Divine Will.
  3. The Prophet (pbuh) was checked on a minor thing, which was not only corrected but also recorded. It gives us complete satisfaction that whatever actions, commands and instructions we now find in the documented life of the Prophet concerning which there is nothing on record in the nature of criticism or correction from Allah. We can trust that they are wholly based on truth, are in complete conformity with Divine Will and that guidance can be drawn from them with full confidence and peace of mind.
  4. It has been stated in this Surah that the Prophet, whose reverence and respect Allah Himself has enjoined as a necessary part of the faith of His servants, once during his sacred life made a thing declared lawful by Allah unlawful for himself only to please his wives. Allah severely reproved of their errors, the wives of the Prophet whom Allah Himself has declared as mothers of the faithful; worthy of the highest esteem and honor. Further, this criticism of the Prophet and the administration of the warning to his wives was made not secretly but included in the Book, which the entire Ummah has to read and recite forever. Obviously, the intention of making mention of this instance in the Book of Allah was not, nor could it have been, that Allah wanted to degrade His Rasool and the Mothers of the Faithful in the eyes of the believers. It is also obvious that no Muslim has lost respect for them after reading this Surah of the Qur'an. There cannot be any other reason of mentioning this instance in the Qur'an other than that Allah wants to acquaint the believers with the correct manner of reverence for their personalities. A Prophet is a Prophet, not God, and he may commit error. Respect of the Prophet has not been enjoined because he is infallible, but because he is a perfect representative of Divine Will, and Allah has not permitted any of his errors to pass unnoticed. This gives us the satisfaction that the noble pattern of life left by the Prophet wholly and fully represents the Will of Allah.
  5. It is made explicitly clear that Allah's religion is absolutely fair and just. It has for every person just the recompense of which he becomes worthy of on the basis of his faith and works. No relationship or connection, even with the most righteous person or the most evil person, can be beneficial for him in any way. In reference to this, three kinds of women have been cited as examples before the the Prophet's wives in particular.
  1. One example is of the wives of the Prophets Noah and Lot, who, if they had believed and cooperated with their illustrious husbands, would have occupied the same rank and position in the Muslim community which is enjoyed by the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Since they were disbelievers, however, their being the wives of the Prophets did not save them from hell.
  2. The second example is of the wife of Pharaoh, who in spite of being the wife of a staunch enemy of God believed and chose a path of action separate from that followed by the Pharaoh's people. Her being the wife of a staunch disbeliever did not cause her any harm, and Allah made her worthy of Paradise.
  3. The third example is of Sayyidah Maryam (Mary) (peace be upon her), who attained to her high rank because she submitted to the severe test Allah decided to put her too. Apart from Maryam, no other chaste and righteous woman in history has been put to such a difficult test. In spite of being unmarried she was miraculously made pregnant by Allah's command and informed of the service her Rabb willed to take from her. When Sayyidah Maryam accepted this decision, and agreed to bear, like a true believer, everything that she inevitably had to bear in order to fulfil Allah's Will, then did Allah exalt her to the noble rank of "Sayyidahtu an-Nisa'' Fil-Jannah (Leader of the women in Paradise)." (Musnad Ahmed).

We also learn from this Surah that the Prophet (pbuh) did not receive from Allah only that knowledge which is included and recorded in The Qur'an, but was additionally given information about other things also by revelation, which was not recorded in The Qur'an. Clear proof of this is found in verse 3 of this Surah. In it we are told that the Prophet (pbuh) confided a secret to one of his wives, and she told it to another. Allah informed the Prophet of this secret. Then, when the Prophet warned his particular wife on this mistake of disclosure she said: "Who has informed you of this mistake of mine?" He replied: "I have been informed of it by Him Who knows everything and is All Aware." The question is where in the Qur'an is the verse in which Allah has said "O Prophet, the secret that you had confided to one of your wives has been disclosed by her to another person?" There is no such verse in the Qur'an. This is an express proof of the fact that some times revelation thet descended on the Prophet was not included in the Qur'an, and refutes the claim of the deniers of Hadith, who allege that nothing was sent down to the Prophet (pbuh) apart from the Qur'an.