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The holy prophet of Islam did many shameful things, which are well documented in authentic early Islamic sources, namely the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira. I was aware of many of his shameful acts, not of fact that he even had married his son's wife. Not only that, through this process, Muhammad eliminated an age-old noble tradition of adoption, which the Arabs had been practicing before the advent of Islam.

A few years ago, my wife and I became adoptive parents. We adopted a few children from our locality, who needed a safe and loving home to grow up in. This was a decision in my life that I will never regret about. We became the family of those kids in unfortunate situation. They are now our kids; we have a multi-racial family with love for every one. They have a safe haven, and a conducive environment for grooming a good future.

This most satisfying event in my personal life also made me curious to research what Islam says about adoption. I was shocked by my finding. Please do not trust what Islamists of our day write about adoption, which are just lies or deceptions, designed to show Islam in a better light than it is. No Muslims will deny the following verses of the Qur’an:

Allah has not made for a man two hearts in his interior. And He has not made your wives whom you declare unlawful your mothers. And he has not made your adopted sons your [true] sons. That is [merely] your saying by your mouths, but Allah says the truth, and He guides to the [right] way. (Quran 33:4-5, Sahih International trs.)

There is no adoption in Islam, period. Muhammad took that away in the process of justifying his desire to marry his young and beautiful daughter-in-law, Zaynab, wife of his adopted son Zayd. Adoption, in the sense we know today, does not exist in Islam. It did exist before Islam, then Muhammad cancelled it just to convince his Muslim followers that his marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh, his daughter-in-law, was blessed by the almighty. My adopted kids are the same as my own kids. They have my name. They are equal members of my family. They will be my inheritors when I leave this world. Such Muhammad made such a concept of adoption is considered null and void just to fulfil his carnal desire toward his daughter-in-law.

In what follows, I will just restrict the discussion to the story of how Muhammad married his daughter-in-law.

Historical background

Muhammad had married Khadija in his first marriage. She had a slave, named Zayd bin Haritha, whom Khadija gave to Muhammad after their marriage. Tradition has it that Zayd’s father managed to locate him at Khadija’s household and came to look for him. Having been grown up at Khadija’s household for many years, Zayd decided not to go back with his father. Thereafter, Muhammad, still a Pagan, manumitted him, and adopted as his son. Later on, Muhammad arranged the marriage between Zayd and Zaynab bint Jahsh, thus Zaynab becoming Muhammad’s daughter-in-law.

Soon after, a specific incident turned things upside down, and Muhammad starts longing for Zaynab as his own consort. Al-Tabari has recorded the story as thus (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, State University of New York Press, 1997, VIII:2-3):

The Messenger of God came to the house of Zayd b. Harithah. (Zayd was always called Zayd b. Muhammad.) Perhaps the Messenger of God missed him at that moment, so as to ask, "Where is Zayd?" He came to his residence to look for him but did not find him. Zaynab bt. Jash, Zayd’s wife, rose to meet him. Because she was dressed only in a shift, the Messenger of God turned away from her. She said: "He is not here, Messenger of God. Come in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother!" The Messenger of God refused to enter. Zaynab had dressed in haste when she was told "the Messenger of God is at the door." She jumped up in haste and excited the admiration of the Messenger of God, so that he turned away murmuring something that could scarcely be understood. However, he did say overtly: "Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes the hearts to turn!"

When Zayd came home, his wife told him that the Messenger of God had come to his house. Zayd said, "Why didn't you ask him to come in?" He replied, "I asked him, but he refused." "Did you hear him say anything?" he asked. She replied, "As he turned away, I heard him say: ‘Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes hearts to turn!’"

So Zayd left, and having come to the Messenger of God, he said: "Messenger of God, I have heard that you came to my house. Why didn’t you go in, you who are as dear to me as my father and mother? Messenger of God, perhaps Zaynab has excited your admiration, and so I will separate myself from her." Zayd could find no possible way to [approach] her after that day. He would come to the Messenger of God and tell him so, but the Messenger of God would say to him, "Keep your wife." Zayd separated from her and left her, and she became free.

While the Messenger of God was talking with 'A'isha, a fainting overcame him. When he was released from it, he smiled and said, "Who will go to Zaynab to tell her the good news, saying that God has married her to me?" Then the Messenger of God recited: "And when you said unto him on whom God has conferred favor and you have conferred favor, ‘Keep your wife to yourself.’" – and the entire passage.

According to 'A'isha, who said: "I became very uneasy because of what we heard about her beauty and another thing, the greatest and loftiest of matters – what God had done for her by giving her in marriage. I said she would boast of it over us."

So, the sum of it is: Zayd divorced his wife soon after. Revelation came to Muhammad telling him: “Marry Zaynab man. What is wrong with you? She is halal for you.”

History tells us that he married her and it is reported to be Muhammad only wedding on which he threw a great feast, clearly showing that he liked this marriage the most among all women he had married. Hadith, quoted at the end of this article, testifies to that fact.

Now Arabs before Islam were decent people. They were tolerant and accepting of many religions and beliefs. They did not attack others in the name of religion. Their women also had a decent standing in society. History tells us that there were women who led in battles, who had successful business, who were poets, and even chiefs of their tribes. All of this was negated when Islam took hold in Arab societies. As far as our story is concerned, Arabs saw Zayd as Muhammad’s son. In fact, he was called Zayd bin Muhammad (Zayd son of Muhammad). It was unthinkable for them to see a man marrying his own daughter-in-law even if divorced. To justify his evil desire toward her, Muhammad resorted to divine revelations saying that Zayd, being adopted, was not his son in the eyes of Allah, thus disbanding adoption as we know it from Islam. Thus, Muhammad facilitated his marriage with his daughter-in-law after Zayd divorced her, realizing that Muhammad was craving for her flesh.

Here is how the Qur’an justified Muhammad’s vice:

And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, "Keep your wife and fear Allah ," while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished. (Quran 33:37)

Indeed, as Ayesha said to Muhammad once, “I see your God hastens to satisfy your needs.”

The website Answering Islam has an excellent treatise on this subject, the interested reader can read here: http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/zaynab.htm

Substantive conclusion

Muhammad did a shameful act in marrying his adopted son’s wife and rubber-stamped by revealing divine verses sanctifying it. In the process, he eliminated adoption as we know it from Islam.

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Supplementary hadiths

Bukhari

Narrated Anas: The Prophet offered a wedding banquet on the occasion of his marriage to zainab, and provided a good meal for the Muslims. Then he went out as was his custom on marrying, he came to the dwelling places of the mothers of the Believers (i.e. his wives) invoking good (on them), and they were invoking good (on him). Then he departed (and came back) and saw two men (still sitting there). So he left again. I do not remember whether I informed him or he was informed (by somebody else) of their departure)."  (Book #62, Hadith #84)

Narrated Anas: The Prophet did not give a better wedding banquet on the occasion of marrying any of his wives than the one he gave on marrying zainab, and that banquet was with (consisted of) one sheep.  (Book #62, Hadith#97)

Narrated Thabit: The marriage of zainab bint Jahash was mentioned in the presence of Anas and he said, "I did not see the Prophet giving a better banquet on marrying any of his wives than the one he gave on marryingzainab. He then gave a banquet with one sheep."  (Book #62, Hadith #100)

Muslim

Anas b. Malik (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave no better wedding feast than the one he did (on the occasion of his marriage with) zainab. Thabit al-Bunani (one of the narrators) said: What did he serve in the wedding feast? He (Anas) said: He fed them bread and meat (so lavishly) that they (the guests) abandoned it (of their own accord after having taken them to their hearts' content). (Book#008, Hadith #3332)

Sunan al-Nisa’i

Anas bin Malik said: Zainab bint Jahsh used to boast to the other wives of the Prophet and say: "Allah married me to him from above the Heavens." And the Verse of Hijab was revealed concerning her. (Sunan an-Nasa'i 3252, Sahih, In-book reference Book 26, Hadith 57; English translation: Vol. 4, Book 26, Hadith 3254)