Comparing Jesus and Muhammad
on Marriage and Divorce
Here we select some teachings of Jesus from the Gospels, then follow with teachings of Muhammad from the Koran, all relative to wives, marriage, divorce, adultery, etc. Finally we will conclude with a brief evaluation of their teachings, stressing the absolute dissimilarity between them.
The Words of Jesus
It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?"
4 He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
7 They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"
8 He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery."
10 The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry."
11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them.
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"
4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away."
5 But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
6 But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'
7 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.
9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
11 And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her;
12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Matthew 22 (See also Mark 12:18-25 and Luke 20:27-36)
23 The same day Sad'ducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question,
24 saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother must marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.'
25 Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother.
26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh.
27 After them all, the woman died.
28 In the resurrection, therefore, to which of the seven will she be wife? For they all had her."
29 But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Selections from the Koran
This text is an electronically scanned version of M. H. Shakir's translation of the Holy Qur'an, as published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc., P.O. Box 1115, Elmhurst, New York
[4.19] O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straiten them m order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.
[4.20] And if you wish to have (one) wife in place of another and you have given one of them a heap of gold, then take not from it anything; would you take it by slandering (her) and (doing her) manifest wrong?
[4.21] And how can you take it when one of you has already gone in to the other and they have made with you a firm covenant?
[4.22] And marry not woman whom your fathers married, except what has already passed; this surely is indecent and hateful, and it is an evil way.
[4.23] Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them), and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
[4.24] And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is
[4.25] And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other; so marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours; and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women. This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
4.129: And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
24.2: (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement.
24.3: The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believers.
24.4: And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors,
24.5: Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
24.6: And (as for) those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, the evidence of one of these (should be taken) four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely of the truthful ones.
24.7: And the fifth (time) that the curse of Allah be on him if he is one of the liars.
24.8: And it shall avert the chastisement from her if she testify four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely one of the liars;
24.9: And the fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be on her if he is one of the truthful.
24.10: And were it not for Allah's grace upon you and His mercy -- and that Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Wise!
24.26: Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women. Good women are for good men and good men are for good women
33.28: O Prophet! say to your wives: If you desire this world's life and its adornment, then come, I will give you a provision and allow you to depart a goodly departing
33.29: And if you desire Allah and His Apostle and the latter abode, then surely Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you a mighty reward.
33.30: O wives of the prophet! whoever of you commits an open indecency, the punishment shall be increased to her doubly; and this IS easy to Allah.
33.31: And whoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Apostle and does good, We will give to her her reward doubly, and We have prepared for her an honorable sustenance.
33.32: O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word.
33.33: And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.
33.37: And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown a favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in your soul what Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed.
33.38: There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him; such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute:
33.49: O you who believe! when you marry the believing women, then divorce them before you touch them, you have in their case no term which you should reckon; so make some provision for them and send them forth a goodly sending forth.
33.50: O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her -- specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
33.51: You may put off whom you please of them, and you may take to you whom you please, and whom you desire of those whom you had separated provisionally; no blame attaches to you; this is most proper, so that their eyes may be cool and they may not grieve, and that they should be pleased, all of them with what you give them, and Allah knows what is in your hearts; and Allah is Knowing, Forbearing.
33.52: It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you, except what your right hand possesses and Allah is Watchful over all things.
33.53: O you who believe! do not enter the houses of the Prophet unless permission is given to you for a meal, not waiting for its cooking being finished -- but when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken the food, then disperse -- not seeking to listen to talk; surely this gives the Prophet trouble, but he forbears from you, and Allah does not forbear from the truth And when you ask of them any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain; this is purer for your hearts and (for) their hearts; and it does not behoove you that you should give trouble to the Apostle of Allah, nor that you should marry his wives after him ever; surely this is grievous in the sight of Allah.
36.55: Surely the dwellers of the garden shall on that day be in an occupation quite happy.
36.56: They and their wives shall be in shades, reclining on raised couches.
36.57: They shall have fruits therein, and they shall have whatever they desire.
36.58: Peace: a word from a Merciful Lord.
43.69: Those who believed in Our communications and were submissive:
43.70: Enter the garden, you and your wives; you shall be made happy.
43.71: There shall be sent round to them golden bowls and drinking-cups and therein shall be what their souls yearn after and (wherein) the eyes shall delight, and you shall abide therein.
43.72: And this is the garden which you are given as an inheritance on account of what you did.
43.73: For you therein are many fruits of which you shall eat.
65.1: O Prophet! when you divorce women, divorce them for~ their prescribed time, and calculate the number of the days prescribed, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their houses, nor should they themselves go forth, unless they commit an open indecency; and these are the limits of Allah, and whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul. You do not know that Allah may after that bring about reunion.
65.2: So when they have reached their prescribed time, then retain them with kindness or separate them with kindness, and call to witness two men of justice from among you, and give upright testimony for Allah. With that is admonished he who believes in Allah and the latter day; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will make for him an outlet,
65.3: And give him sustenance from whence he thinks not; and whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him; surely Allah attains His purpose; Allah indeed has appointed a measure for everything.
65.4: And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.
65.5: That is the command of Allah which He has revealed to you, and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will remove from him his evil and give him a big reward.
65.6: Lodge them where you lodge according to your means, and do not injure them in order that you may straighten them; and if they are pregnant, spend on them until they lay down their burden; then if they suckle for you, give them their recompense and enjoin one another among you to do good; and if you disagree, another (woman) shall suckle for him.
65.7: Let him who has abundance spend out of his abundance and whoever has his means of subsistence straightened to him, let him spend out of that which Allah has given him; Allah does not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent to which He has granted it; Allah brings about ease after difficulty.
66.5: Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins.
In behalf of Muhammad it can be said that he was careful to establish equitable arrangements for marrying and divorcing. And, of course, equitable penalties for those who were unfaithful to spouses in any way. He provided for himself, however, special privileges. Ordinary believers were limited to four wives, but he appears to have place no limits on the number of wives, concubines, war captives and slave girls that he might himself possess -- treating all, of course, most equitably! He is said to have nine wives when he departed this world.
But there was no equity between men and women, between free and slave person. All were to be ruled by standards characteristic for each category, yet within the category there was equity. As to men being superior to women, the Koran is most specific:[4.34] Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.Spousal abuse (wife beating) is built into the Koran!
Muhammad took polygamy and slavery for granted. It was a fact of life in his Arabic world before he entered therein, and he saw no need to change anything. The world of Islam has from the beginning been a man's world. It is fortunate that other influences have moderated Muslim practices in modern times, such that women have greater rights in most modern Islamic states where, in general, most fundamental Islamic practices are subdued. The modern Islamic extremist is driven by an earnest desire to return to the strict teachings of the founder of Islam, and in this sense can be considered the most faithful of Muslims.
Muhammad's vision of Paradise is of a place for every pleasure, including in particular the conjugal pleasures with many wives. In contrast to the sparse deserts of Arabia, his Paradise is a garden through and beneath which rivers flow and in which grow trees with every kind of fruit, and on which the faithful recline with their wives on raised couches. His Paradise is a place where one can have his cake, and eat it too!
Jesus is no comparison with Muhammad. The man from Nazareth allows but one spouse till death, no divorce, and brands all attempts at marriage after divorce as adultery, the sin forbidden by the Seventh Commandment. In this system, when fully realized, the woman has equality with the man.
Jesus' vision of Paradise has no place for marriage. Why would a faithful Muslim want to go there? Let us hope and pray that modern Christians, who sadly have gone far astray, will return to the teaching of their prophet, and that modern Muslims, who have happily strayed, will not return to the teaching of their prophet!
Return to List of Papers email firstname.lastname@example.org Return to Home Page