Islam and Adultery

An Examination of Muhammad’s Marriage Privileges

Dimitrius & Sam Shamoun

God’s pure Word, the Holy Bible, condemns the coveting of another man’s wife:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17 NIV

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Deuteronomy 5:21 NIV

It also says that those who have lustful desires for another man’s wife are guilty of adultery:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28 NIV

The Quran says that Allah gave Muhammad certain privileges not given to anyone else:

O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers - We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess - that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. S. 33:50 Pickthall

The Quran also mentions that Allah wed Muhammad to Zaid’s wife after the latter had divorced her:

And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown a favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in your soul what Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed. There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him; such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute: S. 33:37-38 Shakir

According to the Muslim sources, the Zaid mentioned above is Zaid ibn Haritha, a former slave of Muhammad’s first wife, Khadijah, whom Muhammad emancipated and adopted as his son. The Muslim sources say that Muhammad went to visit Zaid and found his wife, Zaid b. Jash, unveiled and admired her beauty. Zainab heard Muhammad praise her beauty and shared it with her husband. This made Zaid uncomfortable and decided to divorce her in order that Muhammad could then marry her. For more on this topic, please consult this page.

One of Islam’s premiere Muslim commentators, al-Qurtubi, enumerates the privileges Allah gave Muhammad. The following is taken from the Commentary of al-Qurtubi on Surah 33:50. All bold and capital emphasis ours.

And any believing woman who dedicates herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed (Nikah) her; this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large).

As for what was granted and made lawful (by Allah) to the prophet –pbuh– they are 16 issues:-

"Yas-tan-kih" comes from the word "Yan’kah." For it is said in different forms "Nakaha" and "Istan-kaha" just as it is said "Ajab" and "Ista-jab"… It is permissible to use the word, "Istan-kaha," to mean one whom requests marriage or one who requests sexual intercourse. (Source; translation ours)

Original Arabic text:

وَأَمَّا مَا أُحِلَّ لَهُ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَجُمْلَته سِتَّة عَشَرَ : الْأَوَّل : صَفِيّ الْمَغْنَم . الثَّانِي : الِاسْتِبْدَاد بِخُمُسِ الْخُمُس أَوْ الْخُمُس . الثَّالِث : الْوِصَال . الرَّابِع : الزِّيَادَة عَلَى أَرْبَع نِسْوَة . الْخَامِس : النِّكَاح بِلَفْظِ الْهِبَة . السَّادِس : النِّكَاح بِغَيْرِ وَلِيّ . السَّابِع : النِّكَاح بِغَيْرِ صَدَاق . الثَّامِن : نِكَاحه فِي حَالَة الْإِحْرَام . التَّاسِع : سُقُوط الْقَسْم بَيْن الْأَزْوَاج عَنْهُ , وَسَيَأْتِي . الْعَاشِر : إِذَا وَقَعَ بَصَره عَلَى اِمْرَأَة وَجَبَ عَلَى زَوْجهَا طَلَاقهَا , وَحَلَّ لَهُ نِكَاحهَا . قَالَ اِبْن الْعَرَبِيّ : هَكَذَا قَالَ إِمَام الْحَرَمَيْنِ , وَقَدْ مَضَى مَا لِلْعُلَمَاءِ فِي قِصَّة زَيْد مِنْ هَذَا الْمَعْنَى . الْحَادِيَ عَشَرَ : أَنَّهُ أَعْتَقَ صَفِيَّة وَجَعَلَ عِتْقهَا صَدَاقهَا . الثَّانِي عَشَرَ : دُخُول مَكَّة بِغَيْرِ إِحْرَام , وَفِي حَقّنَا فِيهِ اِخْتِلَاف . الثَّالِث عَشَر : الْقِتَال بِمَكَّة . الرَّابِع عَشَر : أَنَّهُ لَا يُورَث . وَإِنَّمَا ذُكِرَ هَذَا فِي قِسْم التَّحْلِيل لِأَنَّ الرَّجُل إِذَا قَارَبَ الْمَوْت بِالْمَرَضِ زَالَ عَنْهُ أَكْثَرُ مِلْكه , وَلَمْ يَبْقَ لَهُ إِلَّا الثُّلُث خَالِصًا , وَبَقِيَ مِلْك رَسُول اللَّه صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى مَا تَقَرَّرَ بَيَانه فِي آيَة الْمَوَارِيث , وَسُورَة " مَرْيَم " بَيَانه أَيْضًا . الْخَامِسَة عَشَر : بَقَاء زَوْجِيَّته مِنْ بَعْد الْمَوْت . السَّادِس عَشَر : إِذَا طَلَّقَ اِمْرَأَة تَبْقَى حُرْمَته عَلَيْهَا فَلَا تُنْكَح .

" أَنْ يَسْتَنْكِحهَا " أَيْ يَنْكِحهَا , يُقَال : نَكَحَ وَاسْتَنْكَحَ , مِثْل عَجِبَ وَاسْتَعْجَبَ , وَعَجِلَ وَاسْتَعْجَلَ . وَيَجُوز أَنْ يَرِد الِاسْتِنْكَاح بِمَعْنَى طَلَب النِّكَاح , أَوْ طَلَب الْوَطْء .


Allah granted Muhammad certain privileges, even the privilege of breaking Allah’s own commandments such as marrying more than four wives. But the most troubling privilege in the list is the one where Muhammad could cause a man to divorce his wife if Muhammad desired her and wanted to marry her. A Muslim cannot claim that this is simply al-Qurtubi’s erroneous interpretation or opinion since the Quran itself mentions how Allah wed Muhammad to Zaid’s divorcee. The traditions provide additional details and tell us that it was Muhammad’s desires for Zainab which led Zaid to divorce her.

To further complicate things, the Quran makes adultery permissible in specific cases:

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath God ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, - desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and God is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 4:24 Yusuf Ali

Since this command applied to Muhammad and all the Muslims, this means that Muhammad and the others were allowed to have sex with married women whom they had either taken captive or owned as slaves.

The sad and tragic thing about this is that this command hasn't been rescinded, which means that Muslims are still allowed to rape married women they take captive or possess as slaves. See these articles for further discussion of this topic.

Thus, the Allah of Islam allows his messenger to covet his neighbor’s wife (actually his adopted son’s spouse) and thereby commit adultery in his heart. Allah even allowed Muhammad along with the other men (as well as Muslims of today) to commit adultery with married women whom they have enslaved or taken captive. In light of the teachings of the Holy Bible, the true Word of God, we are forced to conclude that Allah is not the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob nor is Muhammad a true messenger.

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