Q: What is the story of Zayd Ibn Harithah regarding his marriage to Zaynab whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) later married? How did the marriage begin and how did it end? We are told by some Westerners that the Prophet (peace be upon him) fell in love with Zaynab and other claims that I cannot quote. Please, answer me.

(Part No. 18; Page No. 138)  A: Zayd was the son of Harithah ibn Sharahil Al-Kalby, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), whom the Prophet manumitted and adopted, so he was known as Zayd ibn Muhammad until Allah revealed the Ayah (Qur'anic verse) that reads, Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers Therefore, he was then called Zayd ibn Harithah. As for Zaynab, she was the daughter of Jahsh ibn Riyab Al-Asadiyyah. Her mother was Umaymah bint `Abdul-Muttalib the paternal aunt of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). As for the story of the marriage of Zayd to Zaynab, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is the one who arranged it for him, because he was his freed-slave and adopted son. Thus, he approached her on behalf of Zayd but she refused and said: I am of a better lineage than he is. It was narrated that Allah in this regard revealed his saying, It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allâh and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error. Therefore, she responded in obedience to Allah and to fulfill the wish of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). She lived with Zayd for nearly a year. Thereafter, there arose between them the kinds of problems that may arise between a husband and a wife, and Zayd complained about her to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), because of their position in relation to him, him being his freed slave and adopted son, and Zaynab being the daughter of his paternal aunt Umaymah. In fact, Zayd showed his wish to divorce her, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to keep her and be patient, even though he (peace be upon him) had known through a revelation from Allah that he would divorce her and she would become the Prophet's wife. (Part No. 18; Page No. 139) However, he was afraid that the people would criticize him for marrying his son's ex-wife, as it was forbidden during the Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance). Allah thus rebuked His Prophet for it in the Ayah that reads, And (remember) when you said to him (Zaid bin Hârithah رضي الله عنه - the freed-slave of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) on whom Allâh has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islâm) and you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم too) have done favour (by manumitting him): "Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allâh." But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allâh has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allâh will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., their saying that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allâh had a better right that you should fear Him. The Ayah means - and Allah knows best - you hide in yourself that which Allah have told you, i.e. that Zayd would divorce his wife Zaynab and that you would marry her, in achievement of Allah's command, and in fulfillment of His wisdom. Nevertheless, you feared people's comments and criticism of you for doing so, while Allah more deserves to be feared. Accordingly, you have to announce what He has revealed to you regarding your situation and that of Zayd and his wife Zaynab without worrying about what the people would say or how they would criticize you. With regard to the Prophet's marriage to Zaynab, the Prophet (peace be upon him) proposed to her after her `Iddah (waiting period) was over following her divorce from Zayd. Allah then gave her to him in marriage without any Waliy (a legally accountable person acting for a woman regarding marriage) or witnesses, because he (peace be upon him) is the Waliy of all believers, and is closer to them than their own selves. Allah (Exalted be He) said, The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves Thus, Allah abolished the Jahiliyyah-based custom of adoption, and made it permissible for Muslims to marry the wives of adopted sons after they get separated from each other by death or divorce, as a mercy from Him towards the believers and so as to ward off (Part No. 18; Page No. 140) hardship. As for the reports which say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw Zaynab from behind a screen, was attracted to her and fell in deep love with her, and on knowing this, Zayd began to dislike her and out of love to give precedence to the Prophet (peace be upon him) over himself divorced her so that he might marry her after him, they were reported through no sound Sanad (chain of narrators). Prophets are of the highest status, very chaste, of noble character and are honorable in attitude to do such a thing. Moreover, it is the Prophet (peace be upon him) who arranged her marriage to Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him). Moreover, she was the daughter of his paternal aunt, to whom if he had been attracted, he would have kept her for himself in the first place, especially since she was reluctant to marry Zayd and did not agree to it until the Ayah was revealed. Undoubtedly, it was the Divine Decree arranged to abolish Jahiliyyah-based customs, to show mercy to people and to make things easier for them. In this regard, Allah (Exalted be He) said, So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allâh’s Command must be fulfilled. There is no blame on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in that which Allâh has made legal for him. That has been Allâh’s Way with those who have passed away of (the Prophets of) old. And the Command of Allâh is a decree determined. Those who convey the Message of Allâh and fear Him, and fear none save Allâh. And Sufficient is Allâh as a Reckoner. Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allâh and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allâh is Ever All-Aware of everything. (Part No. 18; Page No. 141) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.