Wasn’t Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Hazrat Zaynab a marriage of convenience? How come he received a revelation which allowed him to marry her?
Messengers of God are picked directly by the Almighty. Their lives, viz a viz dissemination of the Almighty’s message to humanity, are also governed by the One who appointed them to this post. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was no different from his predecessors.
To form an opinion about a particular aspect of someone’s life, it is only fair to look at other aspects of his life too, and then form an opinion.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was recognised as the most dignified and honourable person in his community. It was his clan (which later turned against him after his prophethood) who had given him the titles of ‘truthful’ and ‘trustworthy’. No one could ever point a finger at him about his character and honesty. Even on the night of his migration to Medina he had the valuables of his enemies kept at his home as everyone had such strong faith in his honesty. The Prophet (PBUH) was offered everything under the sun to stop preaching God’s message but he turned down all of those offers. He was offered wealth, women and the leadership of the Quraish, but nothing could deter him from his duty. After his claim that he was the appointed apostle of God and that his primary message was to believe in just one God, his own close relatives turned against him. His family was thrown out of Mecca for three years to live in miserable conditions in the valley known historically as ‘the Valley of Abu Talib’. His life was in constant danger and his enemies were continuously planning to take his life. The despicable treatment he received in ‘Taif’ is well-known. The Prophet (PBUH) was always at the forefront of every battle he had to fight against the idolaters; he would often get wounded, yet nothing could deter the Prophet’s (PBUH) grit and determination to impart his message.
The Prophet could not read or write, yet produced the greatest living wonder in the history of mankind in the Quran; a book which is free from any inconsistencies and does not contain a single verse which any scientist or academic has proven to be wrong in any sense in the last 1400 years, and in fact, there are many verses in the Quran which have been proven to be scientifically correct, making all serious-minded people wonder how someone could give such accurate information about science 1400 years ago.
Now, coming to the original question, that of how can it be proven that the Prophet’s (PBUH) marriage to Hazrat Zaynab (RA) was not a marriage of convenience? My answer to all the honest and fair people would be to kindly look at his life. Can you ever imagine the most truthful and trustworthy person of his time trying to forge a revelation just to get married to a lady who he had seen since her childhood (as Hazrat Zaynab (RA) was the Prophet’s (PBUH) first cousin)? It would have been an honour for Hazrat Zaynab to marry him, yet to uplift the position of slaves in that society he urged his cousin to marry his freed slave Hazrat Zayd. Since she was from the esteemed family of Quraish, the Prophet’s intention was to raise the status of slaves in Arab society. Unfortunately, the marriage broke down despite the Prophet’s continuous efforts to make it work. Once Hazrat Zaynab got divorced, the Prophet (PBUH) felt pressure that since this marriage took place in part due to his involvement, and now that Hazrat Zaynab, who was relatively young and carried the stigma of being the divorcee of a slave, would not find anyone to marry her. It was at this stage when the Almighty Allah came to the Prophet’s rescue, as in the Prophet’s (PBUH) mind, he was now convinced that only by marrying Hazrat Zaynab could he heal the pain she had endured. Of course, the main hindrance was the flawed tradition of Arabs, as they considered an adopted son’s wife as sacred as one’s own son’s wife. Since the Quran was to be the final revelation of God and the Prophet (PBUH) the final messenger, the Almighty Allah decided to put an end to this flawed tradition.
Just to let people know that if they consider that there was any negative intention on part of Prophet (PBUH) with regards to this marriage then they must remember that the Prophet (PBUH) first got married at the age of 25 to Hazrat Khadija (RA) who was twice widowed and was 15 years older than the Prophet. The Prophet could have had relations with the slave girls till the time he got married but even his worst enemies don’t accuse him of that. His marriage with Hazrat Khadija (RA) lasted 25 years. During this prime phase of his life he never thought of marrying any other woman, despite the fact that in Arab society even women considered polygamy as a very respectable tradition and took pride in being the wife of someone who had more wives than other people. Other marriages of the Prophet (PBUH) after Hazrat Khadija’s death were purely for either taking care of his two young daughters, the spread of religion or making peace with the enemy tribes. Each and every marriage of the Prophet (PBUH) can be satisfactorily explained.
Another important point to note is that when the allowance of accepting more wives to the Prophet (PBUH) was given it was clearly conveyed to him in the Quran that he could marry women belonging to a very specific area (Surah Ahzab 33:verses 50 -52). The Prophet (PBUH) was also not allowed to divorce his wives. Compared to this, other Muslims could marry any women and also had the liberty of divorcing and marrying as many times as they liked.
In view of the above explanation, I think it would be very unfair to even consider that there was any element of lust (God forbid) in the Prophet’s mind for any of his marriages.