The Surah derived its name from the words lima tuharrimu of the veryfirst verse. This too is not a title of its subject matter, but thename implies that it is the Surah in which the incident of tahrim(prohibition, forbiddance) has been mentioned.
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 thewives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) at that time HadratSafiyyah and Hadrat Mariyah Qibtiyyah. The former (i. e. HadratSafiyyah) was taken to wife by the Holy Prophet after the conquest ofKhaiber, and Khaiber was conquered, as has been unanimously reported,in A. H. 7. The other lady, Hadrat Mariyah, had been presented to theHoly Prophet by Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt, in A. H. 7 and she hadborne him his son, Ibrahim, in Dhil-Hijjah, A. H. 8.These historicalevents almost precisely determine that this Surah was sent down sometime during A.H. 7 or A. H 8.
Theme and Topics
This is a very important Surah in which light has been thrown on somequestions of grave significance with reference to some incidentsconcerning the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace).
First, that the powers to prescribe the bounds of the lawful and theunlawful, the permissible and the forbidden, are entirely andabsolutely in the hand of Allah and nothing has been delegated even tothe Prophet of Allah himself, not to speak of any other man. TheProphet as such can declare something lawful or unlawful only if hereceives an inspiration from Allah to do so whether that inspirationis embodied in the Qur'an, or imparted to, him secretly. However, eventhe Prophet is not authorized to declare anything made permissible byAllah unlawful by himself, much less to say of another man.
Second,that in any society the position of a Prophet is very delicate. Aminor incident experienced by an ordinary man in his life may not beof any consequence, but it assumes the status of law when experiencedby a Prophet. That is why the lives of the Prophets have been keptunder close supervision by Allah so that none of their acts, not evena most trivial one, may deviate from Divine Will. Whenever such an acthas emanated from a Prophet, it was rectified and rectifiedimmediately so that the Islamic law and its principles should reachthe people in their absolute purity not only through the Divine Bookbut also through the excellent example of the Prophet, and they shouldinclude nothing which may be in disagreement with Divine Will,
Thirdly,and this automatically follows from the above mentioned point, thatwhen the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was checked on a minorthing, which was not only corrected but also recorded, it gives uscomplete satisfaction that whatever actions and commands andinstructions we now find in the pure life of the Holy Prophetconcerning which there is nothing on record in the nature of criticismor correction from Allah, they are wholly based on truth, are incomplete conformity with Divine Will and we can draw guidance fromthem with full confidence and peace of mind.
The fourth thing that welearn from this discourse is that about the Holy Messenger himself,whose reverence and respect Allah Himself has enjoined as a necessarypart of the Faith of His servants, it has been stated in this Surahthat once during his sacred life he made a thing declared lawful byAllah unlawful for himself only to please his wives; then Allah hasseverely reproved for their errors those very wives of the HolyProphet, whom He Himself has declared as mothers of the faithful andworthy of the highest esteem and honor by them. Then, this criticismof the Prophet and the administration of the warning to the wives alsohas not been made secretly but included in the Book, which the entireUmmah has to read and recite for ever. Obviously, neither theintention of making mention of it in the Book of Allah was, nor itcould be, that Allah wanted to degrade His Messenger and the mothersof the faithful in the eyes of the believers; and this also is obviousthat no Muslim has lost respect for them, in his heart after readingthis Surah of the Qur'an. Now, there cannot be any other reason ofmentioning this thing in the Qur'an than that Allah wants to acquaintthe believers with the correct manner of reverence for their greatpersonalities. The Prophet is a Prophet, not God, that he may commitno error. Respect of the Prophet has not been enjoined because he isinfallible, 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 bythe Prophet wholly and fully represents the will of Allah. Likewise,the Companions of the holy wives of the Prophet, were human, notangels or super men. They could commit mistakes. Whatever ranks theyachieved became possible only because the guidance given by Allah andthe training imparted by Allah's Messenger had moulded them into thefinest models. Whatever esteem and reverence they deserve is on thisvery basis and not on the presumption that they were infallible. Forthis reason, whenever in the sacred lifetime of the Prophet (upon himbe peace) the Companions or holy wives happened to commit an error dueto human weakness, they were checked. Some of their errors werecorrected by the Holy Prophet, as has been mentioned at many places inthe Hadith; some other errors were mentioned in the Qur'an and AllahHimself corrected them so that the Muslims might not form anyexaggerated notion of the respect and reverence of their elders andgreat men, which might raise them from humanity to the position ofgods and goddesses. If one studies the Quran carefully, one will seeinstances of this one after the other. In Surah Al-Imran, in connectionwith the Battle of Uhud, the Companions have been addressed and told:
"Allah did fulfill His promise (of help) to you : in the initial stageof the battle, it was you who were killing them by Allah's leave untilyou lost heart and disputed about your duty and disobeyed your leader,when Allah showed you what (the spoils) you coveted for there wereamong you sortie who hankered after the life of this world, andothers: who cherished the life after death. Then Allah caused yourretreat before the disbelievers in order to test you, but the fact isthat even then Allah pardoned you, for Allah is very gracious to thebelievers." (v. 152).
In surah An-Nur, in connection with the Slanderagainst Hadrat Aisha, the Companions were told,
"When you heard of it,why did not the believing men and the believing women have a goodopinion of themselves, and why did they not say: this is a manifestslander?......Were it not for Allah's grace and mercy towards you inthis world and in the Hereafter, a painful scourge would have visitedyou because of the slander. (Just consider) when you passed this lieon from one tongue to the other and uttered with your mouths that ofwhich you had no knowledge. You took it as a trifling matter whereasit was a grave offense in the sight of Allah. Why did you not, as soonas you heard of it, say 'It is not proper for us to utter such athing? Glory be to Allah! This is a great slander'."Allah admonishesyou that in future you should never repeat anything like this, if youare true believers." (vv. 12-I7).
In surah Al-Ahzab, the holy wiveshave been addressed thus: "O Prophet, say to your wives If you seekthe world and its adornments, come, I shall give you of these and sendyou off in a good way. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and theabode of the Hereafter, you should rest assured that Allah hasprepared 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 sawsome merchandise and amusement they broke off to it and left you (OProphet) standing (in the course of the Sermon). Say to them : thatwhich is with Allah is far better than amusement and merchandise, andAllah 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, wasseverely taken to task because he had sent secret information to thedisbelieving Quraish about the Holy Prophet's invasion before theconquest 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 theCompanions and the holy wives for their great merits, and granted themthe certificate of His good pleasure, saying: "Allah became wellpleased with them and they with Allah." It was this same moderate andbalanced teaching of the reverence and esteem of the great men, whichsaved the Muslims from falling into the pit of man worship in whichthe Jews and the Christians fell, and it is a result of the same thatin the books that the eminent followers of the Sunnah have compiled onthe subjects of the Hadith, Commentary of the Qur'an and History, notonly have the excellences and great merits of the Companions and holywives and other illustrious men been mentioned, but also no hesitancehas been shown in mentioning the incidents relating to theirweaknesses, errors and mistakes, whereas those scholars were moreappreciative of the merits and excellences of the great men andunderstood the bounds and limits of reverence better than those whoclaim to be the upholders of reverence for the elders today.
The fifththing that has been explicitly mentioned in this Surah is that Allah'sReligion is absolutely fair and just. It has for every person justthat of which he becomes worthy on the basis of his faith and works.No relationship or connection even with the most righteous person canbe beneficial for him in any way and no relationship or connectionwith 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 examplesbefore the holy wives in particular. One example is of the wives ofthe Prophets Noah and Lot, who, if they had believed and cooperatedwith their illustrious husbands, would have occupied the same rank andposition in the Muslim community. which is enjoyed by the wives of theHoly Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). Butsince they were disbelievers, their being the wives of the Prophetsdid not help them and they fell into Hell. The second example is ofthe wife of Pharaoh, who in spite of being the wife of a staunch enemyof God believed and chose a path of action separate from that followedby the Pharaoh's people, and her being the wife of a staunchdisbeliever did not cause her any harm, and Allah made her worthy ofParadise. The third example is of Hadrat Maryam (Mary) (peace be uponher), who attained to the high rank because she submitted to thesevere test to which Allah had decided to put her. Apart from Mary noother chaste and righteous girl in the world ever has been put to sucha hard test that in spite of being unmarried, she might have been madepregnant miraculously by Allah's command and informed what service herLord willed to take from her. When Hadrat Maryam accepted thisdecision, and agreed to bear, like a true believer, everything thatshe inevitably had to bear in order to fulfill Allah's will, then didAllah exalt her to the noble rank of Sayyidatu an-nisa' fil- Jannah:"Leader of the women in Paradise" (Musnad Ahmad).
Besides, anothertruth that we learn from this Surah is that the Holy Prophet (upon whombe peace) did not receive from Allah only that knowledge which isincluded and recorded in the Qur'an, but he was given information aboutother things also by revelation, which has not been recorded in theQur'an. Its clear proof is verse 3 of this Surah. In it we are toldthat the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) confided a secret to one ofhis wives, and she told it to another. Allah informed the Holy Prophetof this secret. Then, when the Holy Prophet warned his particular wifeon the mistake of disclosure and she said:"Who has informed you ofthis mistake of mine7" he replied: "I have been informed of it by HimWho knows everything and is All Aware." Now, the question is where inthe Qur'an is the verse in which Allah has said "O Prophet, the secretthat you had confided to one of your wives, has been disclosed by herto another person, or to so and so?If there is no such verse in theQur'an, and obviously there is none, this is an express proof of thefact that revelation descended on the Holy Prophet besides the Qur'anas well. This refutes the claim of the deniers of Hadith, who allegethat nothing was sent down to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace)apart from the Qur'an.