A'uzu billahi minashaitanir rajim; Bismillah ir rahman ir rahim
In order to fully understand the Quranic injunctions mentioned in verse 33:37 regarding the marriage of a man with his adopted sons’ wives, we may have to delve into the history. This verse had been revealed in context of Hazrat Zainab (ra)’s marriage. Hazrat Zaid bin Harithah (ra) was an Arab but had been forcibly sold as a slave during his childhood. After her marriage with Prophet Mohammad (saw), Hazrat Khadeeja (ra) had gifted Hazrat Zaid to the Prophet (saw). Prophet Mohammad (saw) had freed Hazrat Zaid and adopted him (as his son). Prophet Mohammad (saw) had sent the proposal for his adopted son Zaid to his cousin (paternal aunt’s daughter), named Zainab (ra). Hazrat Zainab (ra) and her brother were hesitant about accepting Hazrat Zaid’s proposal because they belonged to a highly respectable family whereas Hazrat Zaid was a freed slave. In the previous verse, i.e. 33:36 it has been made clear that nobody amongst the Muslims had any right to contravene the decisions made by Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw). Therefore, Hazrat Zainab agreed to marry Hazrat Zaid. However, Hazrat Zainab and Hazrat Zaid did not get along well because of the difference in the family backgrounds. Hazrat Zaid often discussed about his incompatibility with Hazrat Zainab with Prophet Mohammad (saw) and also contemplated divorcing her. The Prophet (saw) used to dissuade him from divorcing his wife and would advice him to make adjustments in his marital life. At this point, the Prophet (saw) was enlightened by Allah (swt) that the divorce of Hazrat Zaid and Hazrat Zainab is inevitable and after their divorce Hazrat Zainab would become Prophet Mohammad’s (saw) wife. The Divine Order for this marriage had put to an end the custom, which was prevalent during the Jahilliyah, in which the adopted sons were considered to be natural sons. The verse 4:23 of the Holy Quran has prohibited marriage between a man and the former wives of his son, proceeding from his loins. However, this prohibition is related to a man’s marriage with his natural son’s wives and not to the adopted son’s wives. On the contrary the Jahilliyah custom prohibited the marriages between a man and his adopted son’s former wives. Therefore, the marriage of the Prophet (saw) and Hazrat Zainab (ra) was specifically commanded through a Divine revelation and its goal was to end the pagan belief that the adopted sons were like natural sons and so the wives of the adopted sons were also similar to daughter-in-laws.
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