“And (remember) when you said to him (Zayd bin Harithah) on whom Allah has bestowed grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you have done favour (by manumitting him): “Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.” But you hid in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., their saying that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that 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. And Allah’s Command must be fulfilled.” [Noble Quran 33:37]
Zainab r.a was prophets first cousin belonging to the noble family of quraish. She was the divorced wife of zaids r.a the adopted son of the prophet. Every actions of the Prophet pbuh was implemented with the objective to bring reforms in the society in general and in a person in specific, and also to eradicate the social evils practiced in the society… Getting married to Zainab r.a was also based on the same objective… to eliminate the traditional custom of unethical adoption and most important that they used to consider adopted son like their own offspring, we all know the religion of Islamic teachings were going to be completed with true faith in the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad pbuh. If this implementation was not done during the last messengers era then would be difficult for further generations to adapt to this. The prophet was the seal of all prophets. His actions were required to be an example for years to come. The implication is that it was Allah’s mandate to the Holy Prophet to wipe out all prejudices and declare all prohibition that pagan custom had unnecessarily imposed upon the people, as lawful. In this respect the Prophet’s action was well defined and left no room for doubt.
Finality of Prophethood : “O people ! Muhammad has no sons among ye men, but verily, he is the Apostle of God and the last in the line of Prophets. And God is Aware of everything.” (Surah Al Ahzab: 40)
which means that no messenger nor even a Prophet charged with the mission of carrying out reforms in the sphere of Law or society which might have been omitted (God forbid) during the lifetime of Muhammad pbuh will ever succeed him. Since Allah ordained the ministry of Prophet Muhammad pbuh to be final, it was, therefore, imperative that he should accomplish the task of uprooting this pagan custom. This marriage had Divine sanction behind it and was made to serve as a lawful precedent for Muslim men to be allowed to marry the wives of their adopted sons after they had been divorced by their husbands. So that Ummah should not have any confusion. 1500 years ago the custom and traditions and beliefs were of the times of ignorance. It had to be reformed and made pure and logical.
The fact that in a general aspect, the security of the widows and divorced woman was to be upheld and strengthened. Allah’s wisdom and knowledge behind it that a woman was to be left by his husband and if she is alone all by herself then she would be misused or abused or ill treated by the household or any institution as well as she could be targeted with evil intentions in her times of grief and mental breakdown by evil people.
To encourage widow or divorced remarriage, even if the woman was the spouse of the adopted son. In such cases she could be vulnerable and in need of care comfort and refuge. To abolish these ignorant customs which were found even after years in civilizations and could be found later on too, where they abandoned or neglected divorced or widowed woman, this command had to be implemented by the prophet pbuh for Allah’s divine wisdom and wise command as an example for mankind as to how important is the security and protection of the rights of woman and to elevate her status and rank which was misused and forgotten by the ages of ignorance.
And on the contrary to eliminate the fact that prophet pbuh had a lineage and blood relation with Zaid RA (Prophet’s adopted son), this was commanded. So as to make it clear that the prophet had no sons that were his own so that there couldn’t be any kind of abuse or disrespect in the Prophet’s dignity and honour in respect to his lineage or any other. Remember that the Quran is the constitution for every age civilization and time over a prolonged period until the promised day of judgement comes. It’s message and commands are flexible but it presents the roots of justice for all ages be it advanced or not. It is a command on a vast scale.
We might have not yet perceived situations were these laws fit perfectly but still we can relate almost the whole of the Quran perfectly at any point of time with all existing aspects with proper reasoning and rationality and a righteous, ethical and wise point of view. The Quran itself is the proof of itself. To believe firmly in these facts, it provides detailed evidences of knowledge the abstract and physical world. Prophet Muhammad pbuh obeyed the God’s order despite the social pressure and false hype. Hence the precedent of no man but Muhammad pbuh has the potential of wiping out the idea of all pagan customs from the souls of men for all times to come.