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Qur'an 66:10 says "Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. ...". However, it is forbidden for a Muslim man to marry a disbeliever:

It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman if she is Christian or Jewish, but it is not permissible for him to marry a non-Muslim woman who follows any religion other than these two. -- Islam Q&A

And to my knowledge, this is a typical opinion.

I'm trying to figure out how these two items fit together. Perhaps Qur'an 66:10 means that they're wives were people of the book. Or perhaps this rule didn't apply during the time of Prophets Lut and Nuh.

Question: How could Prophets Lut and Nuh marry disbelievers when it's forbidden?

  • The rule didn't apply to them – Mohammad Sakib Arifin Mar 16 '17 at 14:58
  • They most probably became disbelievers after the marriage. – Mohammad Sakib Arifin Mar 16 '17 at 15:09
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    The prophets probably married them before they were chosen as prophets – Armaan Mar 16 '17 at 16:53
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Firstly, whereas the beliefs of faith have remained same throughout time for all nations and Prophets ... the law has varied. Incest was permitted during the time of Prophet Adam. Wine was permitted from the beginning of time to the time of the Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h). Jews were required to offer 3 prayers and not 5, and they weren't required to fast the month of Ramadan and they were told to observe the Sabbath. Prophet Solomon reportedly had hundreds of wives and not four. The Qiblah was the Ark, the Tabernacle and later the Temple of Solomon rather than the Kaabah.

Secondly, the wives of Prophets Noah and Lut were not disbelievers from the beginning, nor open disbelievers as the Quran further elaborates that they betrayed their husbands. In books of Tafsir we are told that they acted like the Hypocrites ... relating information to the disbelievers and bad-mouthing their husbands to the people behind their backs. A hypocrite is treated for all legal purposes like a Muslim since we can not judge what they hide in their hearts. This whole verse is essentially targeted at the Hypocrites, since they were the ones who lived with the Muslims and the Prophet.

This is a quote from Tafsir Ibn Abbas:.

Allah explains (an example) a trait (for those who disbelieve) by mentioning the two disbelieving women: (the wife of Noah) Wahilah (and the wife of Lot) Wa'ilah, (who were under two of our righteous slaves) messengers (yet betrayed them) yet opposed them in religion, displaying belief outwardly while hiding their disbelief inwardly, such that they kept their hypocrisy in their hearts; but they did not betray their husbands in the sense that they committed adultery, for no wife of a prophet had ever done this, (so that they the husbands availed them naught) benefited them naught (against Allah) against the chastisement of Allah; i.e. the righteousness of their husbands did not benefit them while they were disbelievers (and it was said (unto them): Enter the Fire) in the Hereafter (along with those who enter) the Fire.

From Al-Jalalayn:

God has struck a similitude for those who disbelieve the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants yet they betrayed them in their religion for they both disbelieved — Noah’s wife called Wāhila used to say to his people that he was a madman while Lot’s wife called Wā‘ila used to tell his people the whereabouts of his guests when they stayed with him at night by lighting a fire and during the day by making smoke. So they that is Noah and Lot did not avail the two women in any way against God against His chastisement and it was said to the two women ‘Enter both of you the Fire along with the incomers’ from among the disbelievers of the peoples of Noah and Lot.

From Qurtubi:

وهذا إجماع من المفسرين فيما ذكر القُشَيريّ. إنما كانت خيانتهما في الدِّين وكانتا مشركتين. وقيل: كانتا منافقتين. وقيل: خيانتهما النميمة

The Mufassirin agree that their betrayal was in matters of faith. Both were Mushrik. It was said: Both were Munafiq (Hypocrites). It was said: Their betrayal was back-biting.

  • Can you report something saying acted like hypocrites and bad mouthed their husbands ? I recall no mention of that in their respective tales (unlike some other wives of prophets / biblical characters who actually did, see Samson for instance ) – user5751924 Mar 16 '17 at 23:21
  • FYI, The some of your premises are highly debated (wine being permitted or incest being OK). It's hard to imagine all of us being children of incest, harder to imagine prophets drinking wine. What's bad is just bad. Both are things that human logic points to. They're not things that require religion to tell us. Yet the direction of Qiblah, number of wives (4 or 5 or 12, etc.) are things that human logic doesn't have a say. Your 2nd paragraph is on spot. That is people are judged based on their public actions and hypocrites can abuse that – Honey Mar 17 '17 at 13:11
  • @Honey If you are in for literal interpretation, we are all children of Adam and Eve. That necessitates incest at some point. Tradition states that children were born in pairs\twins (a son and a daughter) and it was permitted for a person to marry a sibling who was not his or her twin. Tradition also states that the conflict between Cain and Abel was related to that. I don't know of any established alternate interpretations other than a metaphorical reading vis evolution. Wine was permitted (if disliked) even during much of lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h). – UmH Mar 17 '17 at 14:22
  • And I am not implying that any of the Prophets partook in wine, simply stating that it was permitted to consume by religious law. – UmH Mar 17 '17 at 14:25
  • @uma some traditions state that each child wed an angel. I know you're not saying consume wine, but from what you're saying it's possible. Yet regardless of that, my argument isn't really that. It's that human intellect ie our brains/wisdom are the same. Stealing/killing/lying/backbiting/eating dirty food/being dirty/not praying/etc. were bad 10000 years ago and today. Losing your intellect/wisdom was bad 10000 years ago and today. Imagine if it wasn't prohibited and people were praying drunk. Imagine people getting drunk and doing things they weren't suppose to do. Rape/murder/accidents... – Honey Mar 17 '17 at 14:31
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The answer has nothing to do with laws changing. Laws changed, from the beginning of time, this isn't one of them. If something is bad, then it's bad. The punishment of something may change. The time of prayer may change, but never in your prayers you would praise Satan. The direction may change but never it would never be that you can pray to an idol. Punishment may change, it may be lessened, may be increased but it would never be to the extent that it would be unjust. Drinking wine is forbidden because our intellects tell us it leads to rape/murder/unintended behaviors. Basically whatever that our logic forbids religions also forbids. Our logic is Allah's speaking messenger to us. Same as prophet. I mean ask yourself do we really mistreat our parents because Islam tells us?! OR because our God-given intellects tells us such but also religion says the same.

Allah has set some traditions, among them is that people are to be judged based on their public actions, not the actions of their hearts. This is the general rule/tradition. Though Allah may place an exception. His general rule is that fire burns, but he may place an exception for Prophet Ibrahim. His general rule is that no more than 4 wives, but he place an exception for Prophet Muhammad. His general rule is that God will not punish people for their non-public hypocrisy. There may be exceptions to that as well. But the story of Prophet Lut and Nuh weren't among them.

For a moment think that you're living in an Islamic environment and a prophet is there. If he's to judge people based on their hidden actions then it would be like: This person committed zina last night, that person drank wine, this person conspired against me, that person stole, that person did that...let's punish them one by one. And we're all sinners unfortunately (Him having being gifted Allah's knowledge is different from him using it).

Additionally this is a test for the prophets to know of the hypocrisy of others and still treat them based on their public actions.

If his wives were committing crimes/sins publicly only then the prophet would take action

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The sharia'a of those prophets was not the same as that of Prophet Mohammad. All prophets had been monotheists but having their own sharia'a which was provisional and not Universal like the present sharia'a of prophet Mohammad. Whatever was the status of Prophet Nuh's and Prophet Lot's wives was not in contradiction of their sharia'a. That is why they married them.

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