1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet

A Taste of Honey

Sayings and Deeds of the ProphetNot an insignificant percentage of the Koran is devoted to ensuring that Allah’s last and greatest spokesperson has a varied and abundant sex life while controlling his ever-expanding household of wives, concubines and slave-girls. The extent of allegedly holy text devoted to the domestic and libido issues of just one man adds an inordinate amount of weirdness to a Book that is said to have been carved in a tablet in Paradise at the beginning of eternity and is meant to guide humanity to God until He brings an end to His Creation—and even then, it will be around for as long as eternity endures.

A sample of this weirdness has to do with honey. In the Koran, Allah, Who is not amused as His tirade against the teenaged Aisha and her slightly older accomplice will attest, does not tell us whose idea it was to use the Prophet's love of honey to have some fun at His spokesperson's expense. For that, we have to look to the hadiths. In the first two narrations we are told that the prank was concocted by Muhammad's two youngest wives, Aisha and Hafsa.

Narrated Ubaid bin Umar:

I heard Aisha saying, "The Prophet used to stay for a long while with Zanab bint Jahsh and drink honey at her house. So Hafsa and I decided that if the Prophet came to anyone of us, she should say [to] him, 'I detect the smell of Maghafir (a nasty smelling gum) in you. Have you eaten Maghafir?'"

So the Prophet visited one of them and she said to him similarly.

The Prophet said, "Never mind, I have taken some honey at the house of Zainab bint Jahsh, but I shall never drink of it anymore."

So there was revealed: 'O Prophet ! Why do you ban (for you) that which Allah has made lawful for you . . . If you two (wives of Prophet) turn in repentance to Allah,' (66:1-4) addressing Aisha and Hafsa. 'When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to some of his wives.' (66:3) namely his saying: "But I have taken some honey."

Bukhari 63.192

Ibn 'Abbas, a companion of Muhammad, only learned the identity of the wives with whom Allah was so upset during a conversation he had with the Prophet's successor, Abu Bakr, while the former was answering the call of nature.

Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:

I had been eager to ask Umar about the two ladies from among the wives of the Prophet regarding whom Allah said (in the Qur'an saying): If you two (wives of the Prophet namely Aisha and Hafsa) turn in repentance to Allah your hearts are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet likes) (66:4), till I performed the Hajj along with Umar (and on our way back from Hajj) he went aside (to answer the call of nature) and I also went aside along with him carrying a tumbler of water. When he had answered the call of nature and returned, I poured water on his hands from the tumbler and he performed ablution.

I said, "O Chief of the believers! Who were the two ladies from among the wives of the Prophet to whom Allah said: 'If you two return in repentance (66:4)?'"

He said, "I am astonished at your question, O Ibn Abbas. They were Aisha and Hafsa."

Bukhari 43.648

In a longer narration about fun and games in the Prophet's house (perhaps it is about a separate incident), Muhammad has a taste of honey at Hafsa's house, not Zanab's, and Aisha is the sole instigator.

Narrated Aisha:

Allah's Apostle was fond of honey and sweet edible things and (it was his habit) that after finishing the Asr prayer he would visit his wives and stay with one of them at that time. Once he went to Hafsa, the daughter of Umar and stayed with her more than usual. I got jealous and asked the reason for that. I was told that a lady of her folk had given her a skin filled with honey as a present, and that she made a syrup from it and gave it to the Prophet to drink (and that was the reason for the delay).

I said, "By Allah we will play a trick on him (to prevent him from doing so)."

So I said to Sada bint Zam'a, "The Prophet will approach you, and when he comes near you, say: 'Have you taken Maghafir (a bad-smelling gum)?'

He will say, 'No.'

Then say to him: 'Then what is this bad smell which I smell from you?'

He will say to you, 'Hafsa made me drink honey syrup.'

Then say: 'Perhaps the bees of that honey had sucked the juice of the tree of Al-Urfut.'

I shall also say the same. O you, Safiyya, say the same."

Later Sada said, "By Allah, as soon as he (the Prophet ) stood at the door, I was about to say to him what you had ordered me to say because I was afraid of you."

So when the Prophet came near Sada, she said to him, "O Allah's Apostle! Have you taken Maghafir?"

He said, "No."

She said. "Then what is this bad smell which I detect on you?"

He said, "Hafsa made me drink honey syrup."

She said, "Perhaps its bees had sucked the juice of Al-'Urfut tree."

When he came to me, I also said the same, and when he went to Safiyya, she also said the same. And when the Prophet again went to Hafsa, she said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall I give you more of that drink?"

He said, "I am not in need of it."

Sada said, "By Allah, we deprived him (of it)."

I said to her, "Keep quiet."'

Bukhari 63.193

At one point, Muhammad, tiring of his wives shenanigans, threatened to divorce them all. It may have all been a charade to get them to behave.

Narrated Aisha:

When Allah's Apostle was ordered to give option to his wives, he started with me, saying, "I am going to mention to you something, but you shall not hasten (to give your reply) unless you consult your parents."

The Prophet knew that my parents would not order me to leave him.

Then he said, "Allah says: 'O Prophet (Muhammad)! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world and its glitter........a great reward." (33:28-29)

I said, "Then why I consult my parents? Verily, I seek Allah, His Apostle and the Home of the Hereafter."

Then all the other wives of the Prophet did the same as I did.

Bukhari 60.309