From Merchant to Messenger
Wives of the Messenger
and revelations they inspired
Zaynab b. Jahsh 7)
God’s Messenger walked in on his daughter-in-law Zaynab, who was then married to his adopted son Zayd, when she was almost naked and “was troubled by her beauty”, or in the words of Tamam Khan “something happened between them”.
Zaynab was a cousin of the Prophet, the daughter of his paternal aunt Omayma. It was God’s Messenger himself who had insisted she be given in marriage to Zayd.
Barnaby Rogerson author of The Prophet Muhammad – A Biography writes that “Zayd soon divined that Muhammad had become entrance by Zaynab’s beauty and at once offered to divorce his wife … Zayd would do anything to please his adopted father whom he revered above all else on earth.”
Marrying your son’s former wife was taboo. It did not matter if he was adopted; the same ethical and moral restrictions applied as to a natural born son.
The Prophet refused Zayd’s offer until he received revelation 33:5 which changed the status of adopted sons from sons to “brothers in religion”. (see chapter 11, Allah Loves His Messenger Perhaps More Than He Loves Orphans, for all the relevant revealed truths).
Allah followed up these revelations with one in which He commands His Messenger to marry Zaynab (underlining mine):
33:37 … Then, when Zayd had satisfied his desire for her, We gave her to you in marriage; so that the believers should not be at fault, regarding the wives of their adopted sons, once they have satisfied their desire for them. For Allah’s Command must be accomplished.
After divorcing the adopted son and marrying the father who adopted him, Zaynab, according to Aisha, was not beneath using her status as both a wife and a cousin of the Messenger to lord it over the other wives.
It is also at their wedding that God’s Messenger is said to have performed his own loaves and fish miracle:
“… food was scarce. The small amount of date-paste grew until seventy-two people ate their fill.”
Zaynab died in 642, ten years after her husband/cousin's passing.