(37) وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِي أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَتُخْفِي فِي نَفْسِكَ مَا اللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَي النَّاسَ وَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَن تَخْشَاهُ فَلَمَّا قَضَي زَيْدٌ مّـِنْهَا وَطَراً زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا لِكَيْ لاَ يَكُونَ عَلَي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَآئِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَراً وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ مَفْعُولاً
37. "And (remember) when you said to him on whom Allah had conferred favour (of faith) and you (too) had conferred favour (of freedom): 'Keep your wife (in wedlock) and be in awe of Allah', and you concealed within your self what Allah would bring to light, and you feared the people, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zayd had accomplished his concern with her (i.e., divorced her), we joined her in marriage to you, so that there should not be a difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when they have accomplished their concerns with them (i.e., have divorced them), and the command of Allah shall be performed."
Then, the Qur'ān refers to the well-known story of Zayd and his wife, Zaynab. This story relates to the story of the wives of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) which was mentioned in the former verses, and it is one of the sensitive issues of the life of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). It says:
had conferred favour (of faith) and you (too) had conferred
in awe of Allah', …"
The objective meaning of 'favour' is the favour of faith and guidance which He had given to Zayd-ibn-Hārithah, and the favour of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was that he manumitted him and favoured him as his own son.
It is understood from this verse that there had happened a conflict between Zayd and Zaynab which continued so long that they were at the threshold of divorce. Regarding to the word /taqūl/, which is a simple present Arabic verb, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) continuously and frequently advised and hindered them of being separated and divorced.
Whether this conflict was either for the lack of concord of the social condition of Zaynab, who was from a famous tribe, and that of Zayd, who was a manumitted slave, or because of some rude manners of Zayd, or neither of them, but there was not a spiritual and ethical accord between them. Sometimes it happens that two persons are good but they are different from the point of thought and taste so that they can not continue their common life with each other.
However, there is not a complicated problem here, but the verse continues saying:
bring to light, and you feared the people, and Allah had a
greater right that you should fear Him. …"
Of course, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was going to choose Zaynab as his wife for compensating the defeat that his niece, Zaynab, was faced with that even a manumitted slave had divorced her if the activities of reconciliation between the two spouses were not successful and they had to accept to be divorced, but he (p.b.u.h.) was afraid that people would object
him for two things, and the opponents might raise a tumult about it.
The first: Zayd was the holy Prophet's adapted son and, according to an ignorant custom, an adopted son had the same ordinances that a real son had. Among them was that they considered that to marry with the divorced wife of an adopted son was unlawful.
The second: How was the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ready to marry the divorced wife of a manumitted slave? Was it suitable for his rank?
It is understood from some Islamic narrations that, however, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had made this decision by the command of Allah and there is a frame of reference upon this meaning in the later part of the verse.
Thus, this subject was an ethical and humane one, and also it was an effective means for breaking two wrong ordinances of the Age of Ignorance (: marriage with the divorced wife of the adopted son, and marriage with the divorced wife of a slave). So, the verse continues saying:
(i.e., divorced her), we joined her in marriage to you, so
that there should not be a difficulty for the believers in
respect of the wives of their adopted sons when they have
accomplished their concerns with them (i.e., have divorced
And this action was something which should be fulfilled. The verse continues:
The Arabic term /'ad'iyā'/ is the plural form of /da'iya/ in the sense of 'adopted son'. The Arabic word /wataran/ means 'an important need'. The choice of this meaning concerning the divorce of Zaynab is, in fact, for the delicacy of the
statement that it explicitly mentions 'divorce' so that it would not be considered as a blemish by women and even by men, as if these two had been in need of each other to have a common life with each other for a length of time, and their separation had been for the sake of the end of this need.
The application of the Qur'ānic phrase /zawwajnākahā/ (we joined her in marriage to you) is an evidence that this marriage was a divine marriage. That is why, as history indicates, Zaynab used to boast over other wives of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) for this matter and she said: "You have been joined in marriage to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) by your relatives, but I have been joined in marriage to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) from heaven by Allah."
It is worthy noting that the act of Prophet's marriage with Zaynab happened in the fifth A.H.
Another notable matter is that, for removing any ambiguity, the Qur'ān states very clearly that the main aim of this marriage had been breaking a pagan tradition in the field of self-restraint of marriage with the divorced wives of the adopted sons. This is a general hint to the numerous marriages of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) which was not a simple matter, but it pursued some goals which had an effect in the fate of his godly school.
The Qur'ānic sentence: "… the command of Allah shall be performed" points to this matter that in such issues we must show decisiveness, and an action which is performable should be performed, and being surrendered to the tumults, in the issues which relate to the general and fundamental goals, is meaningless.
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 Kāmil by Ibn-i-'Athīr, Vol. 2, P. 177  Ibid