The Surah derived its name from the words lima tuharrimu of
the very first verse. This too is not a title of its subject
matter, but the name implies that it is the Surah in which
the incident of tahrim (prohibition, forbiddance) has been
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.
Theme and Topics
This is a very important Surah in which light has been thrown
on some questions of grave significance with reference to some
incidents concerning the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom
be Allah's peace).
First, 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 has been delegated
even to the Prophet of Allah himself, not to speak of any other
man. The Prophet as such can declare something lawful or unlawful
only if he receives an inspiration from Allah to do so whether
that inspiration is embodied in the Qur'an, or imparted to,
him secretly. However, even the Prophet is not authorized to
declare anything made permissible by Allah unlawful by himself,
much less to say of another man.
Second, 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. Whenever such an act has
emanated from a Prophet, it was rectified and rectified immediately
so that the Islamic law and its principles should reach the
people in their absolute purity not only through the Divine
Book but also through the excellent example of the Prophet,
and they should include nothing which may be in disagreement
with Divine Will,
Thirdly, and this automatically follows from the above mentioned
point, that when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was
checked on a minor thing, which was not only corrected but
also recorded, it gives us complete satisfaction that whatever
actions and commands and instructions we now find in the pure
life of the Holy Prophet concerning which there is nothing
on record in the nature of criticism or correction from Allah,
they are wholly based on truth, are in complete conformity
with Divine Will and we can draw guidance from them with full
confidence and peace of mind.
The fourth thing that we learn from this discourse is that
about the Holy Messenger himself, whose reverence and respect
Allah Himself has enjoined as a necessary part of the Faith
of His servants, it has been stated in this Surah that once
during his sacred life he made a thing declared lawful by Allah
unlawful for himself only to please his wives; then Allah has
severely reproved for their errors those very wives of the
Holy Prophet, whom He Himself has declared as mothers of the
faithful and worthy of the highest esteem and honor by them.
Then, this criticism of the Prophet and the administration
of the warning to the wives also has not been made secretly
but included in the Book, which the entire Ummah has to read
and recite for ever.
Obviously, neither the intention of making mention of it in
the Book of Allah was, nor it could be, that Allah wanted to
degrade His Messenger and the mothers of the faithful in the
eyes of the believers; and this also is obvious that no Muslim
has lost respect for them, in his heart after reading this
Surah of the Qur'an. Now, there cannot be any other reason
of mentioning this thing in the Qur'an than that Allah wants
to acquaint the believers with the correct manner of reverence
for their great personalities.
The Prophet is a Prophet, not God, that he may commit no 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
by unnoticed. This gives us the satisfaction that the noble
pattern of life left by the Prophet wholly and fully represents
the will of Allah. Likewise, the Companions of the holy wives
of the Prophet, were human, not angels or super men.
They could commit mistakes. Whatever ranks they achieved became
possible only because the guidance given by Allah and the training
imparted by Allah's Messenger had moulded them into the finest
models. Whatever esteem and reverence they deserve is on this
very basis and not on the presumption that they were infallible.
For this reason, whenever in the sacred lifetime of the Prophet
(upon him be peace) the Companions or holy wives happened to
commit an error due to human weakness, they were checked.
Some of their errors were corrected by the Holy Prophet, as
has been mentioned at many places in the Hadith; some other
errors were mentioned in the Qur'an and Allah Himself corrected
them so that the Muslims might not form any exaggerated notion
of the respect and reverence of their elders and great men,
which might raise them from humanity to the position of gods
and goddesses. If one studies the Quran carefully, one will
see instances of this one after the other. In Surah Al-Imran,
in connection with the Battle of Uhud, the Companions have
been addressed and told:
"Allah did fulfill His promise (of help) to you : in the initial
stage of the battle, it was you who were killing them by Allah's
leave until you lost heart and disputed about your duty and
disobeyed your leader, when Allah showed you what (the spoils)
you coveted for there were among you sortie who hankered after
the life of this world, and others: who cherished the life
after death. Then Allah caused your retreat before the disbelievers
in order to test you, but the fact is that even then Allah
pardoned you, for Allah is very gracious to the believers." (v.
In surah An-Nur, in connection with the Slander against Hadrat
Aisha, the Companions were told,
"When you heard of it, why did not the believing men and the
believing women have a good opinion of themselves, and why
did they not say: this is a manifest slander?......Were it
not for Allah's grace and mercy towards you in this world and
in the Hereafter, a painful scourge would have visited you
because of the slander. (Just consider) when you passed this
lie on from one tongue to the other and uttered with your mouths
that of which you had no knowledge. You took it as a trifling
matter whereas it was a grave offense in the sight of Allah.
Why did you not, as soon as you heard of it, say 'It is not
proper for us to utter such a thing? Glory be to Allah! This
is a great slander'."Allah admonishes you that in future you
should never repeat anything like this, if you are true believers." (vv.
In surah Al-Ahzab, the holy wives have been addressed thus: "O
Prophet, say to your wives If you seek the world and its adornments,
come, I shall give you of these and send you off in a good
way. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and the abode
of the Hereafter, you should rest assured that Allah has prepared
a great reward for those of you, who do good." (vv. 28-29).
In Surah Jumu'ah about the Companions it was said:
"And when they saw some merchandise and amusement they broke
off to it and left you (O Prophet) standing (in the course
of the Sermon). Say to them : that which is with Allah is far
better than amusement and merchandise, and Allah is the best
of all providers." (v. 11).
In Surah Al-Mumtahinah, Hadrat Hatib bin Abi Balta'ah, a Companion
who had fought at Badr, was severely taken to task because
he had sent secret information to the disbelieving Quraish
about the Holy Prophet's invasion before the conquest of Makkah.
All these instances are found in the Qur'an itself, in the
same Qur'an in which Allah Himself has paid tribute to the
Companions and the holy wives for their great merits, and granted
them the certificate of His good pleasure, saying: "Allah became
well pleased with them and they with Allah." It was this same
moderate and balanced teaching of the reverence and esteem
of the great men, which saved the Muslims from falling into
the pit of man worship in which the Jews and the Christians
fell, and it is a result of the same that in the books that
the eminent followers of the Sunnah have compiled on the subjects
of the Hadith, Commentary of the Qur'an and History, not only
have the excellences and great merits of the Companions and
holy wives and other illustrious men been mentioned,
but also no hesitance has been shown in mentioning the incidents
relating to their weaknesses, errors and mistakes, whereas
those scholars were more appreciative of the merits and excellences
of the great men and understood the bounds and limits of reverence
better than those who claim to be the upholders of reverence
for the elders today.
The fifth thing that has been explicitly mentioned in this
Surah is that Allah's Religion is absolutely fair and just.
It has for every person just that of which he becomes worthy
on the basis of his faith and works. No relationship or connection
even with the most righteous person can be beneficial for him
in any way and no relationship or connection with the most
evil and wicked person can be harmful for him in any way.
In this connection three kinds of women have been cited as
examples before the holy wives in particular. 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 Holy Prophet Muhammad
(upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings).
But since they were disbelievers, their being the wives of
the Prophets did not help them and they fell into Hell. 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,
and her being the wife of a staunch disbeliever did not cause
her any harm, and Allah made her worthy of Paradise.
The third example is of Hadrat Maryam (Mary) (peace be upon
her), who attained to the high rank because she submitted to
the severe test to which Allah had decided to put her. Apart
from Mary no other chaste and righteous girl in the world ever
has been put to such a hard test that in spite of being unmarried,
she might have been made pregnant miraculously by Allah's command
and informed what service her Lord willed to take from her.
When Hadrat Maryam accepted this decision, and agreed to bear,
like a true believer, everything that she inevitably had to
bear in order to fulfill Allah's will, then did Allah exalt
her to the noble rank of Sayyidatu an-nisa' fil- Jannah: "Leader
of the women in Paradise" (Musnad Ahmad).
Besides, another truth that we learn from this Surah is that
the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) did not receive from
Allah only that knowledge which is included and recorded in
the Qur'an, but he was given information about other things
also by revelation, which has not been recorded in the Qur'an.
Its clear proof is verse 3 of this Surah. In it we are told
that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) confided a secret
to one of his wives, and she told it to another. Allah informed
the Holy Prophet of this secret. Then, when the Holy Prophet
warned his particular wife on the mistake of disclosure and
she said:"Who has informed you of this mistake of mine7" he
replied: "I have been informed of it by Him Who knows everything
and is All Aware."
Now, 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, or to so and so?If there is no such verse in the Qur'an,
and obviously there is none, this is an express proof of the
fact that revelation descended on the Holy Prophet besides
the Qur'an as well. This refutes the claim of the deniers of
Hadith, who allege that nothing was sent down to the Holy Prophet
(upon whom be peace) apart from the Qur'an.