Overview - Surah 66: at-Tahrim (The Prohibition )

Surah Introduction

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This is a Madani Surah revealed around the 7th year of Hijrah. The Surah tells the spouses not to ignore Allah’s rules in their love for each other.  It refers to an incident that took place between the Prophet and his wives.  This incident is used to instruct the Believers to understand the nature of Halal and Haram and to understand that the success and salvation in the Hereafter will not be based on family or tribal relations, but purely on faith in Allah.


  1. The rules of Allah are supreme. Save yourselves and your families from fire.
  2. Allah requires true repentance. Salvation is not based on family or tribal relations but on Iman and Taqwa.

The Surah takes its name from the first Ayat, يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ لَكَ "O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you,.." [66:1]

There are 12 Ayat in this Surah. 


Total Ayat12
Total Words *249
Root Words *100
Unique Root Words *0
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 107th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 20th year of Prophethood (7th Year Hijri)
Events during/before this Surah*
, Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers, Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah, , Battle of Uhud, Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr, Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah, , 2nd Pledge of Aqabah, 1st Pledge of Aqabah, Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1, 2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Nuh, Lut
Surah Index
Angels, Disbelievers, Disbelievers (striving hard against) , Gabriel, Hell, Hypocrites, Jihad (striving hard against disbelievers) , Lot, Mary, Muhammad (admonished) , Muhammad (reacted against something lawful) , Noah, Pharaoh, Prayer (content) , Revelation, Women (righteous guard intimacies revealed to them)

Central Theme

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This is a very important Surah in which light has been thrown on some questions of grave significance with reference to some incidents concerning the wives of the Prophet.

First, that the powers to prescribe the bounds of the lawful and the unlawful, the permissible and the forbidden, are entirely and absolutely in the hand of God and nothing has been delegated even to the Prophet of God himself. The Prophet as such can declare something lawful or unlawful only if he receives an inspiration from God to do so, whether that inspiration is embodied in the Qur’an, or imparted to him secretly. However, even the Prophet is not authorized to declare anything made permissible by God unlawful by himself, much less to say of another man.

Second, that in any society the position of a Prophet is very delicate. A minor incident experienced by an ordinary man in his life may not be of any consequence, but it assumes the status of law when experienced by a Prophet. That is why the lives of the Prophets have been kept under close supervision by God so that none of their acts, not even a most trivial one, may deviate from Divine Will. Whenever such an act has emanated from a Prophet, it was rectified and rectified immediately so that the Islamic law and its principles should reach the people in their absolute purity not only through the Divine Book but also through the excellent example of the Prophet, and they should include nothing which may be in disagreement with Divine Will.

Thirdly, this automatically follows from the above mentioned point, that when the Prophet was tested, which was not only corrected but also recorded, it gives us complete satisfaction that whatever actions, commands and instructions we now find in the pure life of the Prophet, concerning which there is nothing on record in the nature of criticism or correction from God, they are wholly based on truth, are in complete conformity with Divine Will and we can draw guidance from them with full confidence and peace of mind.

The fourth thing that we learn from this discourse is that about the Messenger himself, whose reverence and respect God Himself has enjoined as a necessary part of the Faith of His servants, it has been stated in this Surah that once during his sacred life he made a thing declared lawful by God unlawful for himself only to please his wives; then God has severely reproved for their errors those very wives of the Prophet, whom He Himself has declared as mothers of the faithful and worthy of the highest esteem and honour by them. Then, this criticism of the Prophet and the administration of the warning to the wives also has not been made secretly but included in the Book, which the entire ‘nation of Muslims’ (Ummah) has to read and recite forever. Obviously, neither the intention of making mention of it in the Book of God was, nor it could be, that God wanted to degrade His Messenger and the mothers of the faithful in the eyes of the believers; and this also is obvious that no Muslim has lost respect for them, in his heart after reading this Surah of the Qur’an. Now, there cannot be any other reason of mentioning this thing in the Qur’an than that God wants to acquaint the believers with the correct manner of reverence for their great personalities. The Prophet is a Prophet, not God, that he may commit no error. Respect of the Prophet has not been enjoined because he is infallible, but because he is a perfect representative of Divine Will, and God has not permitted any of his errors to pass by unnoticed. This gives us the satisfaction that the noble pattern of life left by the Prophet wholly and fully represents the will of God. Likewise, the Companions of the wives of the Prophet, were human, not angels or supermen. They could commit mistakes. Whatever ranks they achieved became possible only because the guidance given by God and the training imparted by God’s Messenger had molded them into the finest models. Whatever esteem and reverence they deserve is on this very basis and not on the presumption that they were infallible. For this reason, whenever in the sacred lifetime of the Prophet, the Companions or wives happened to commit an error due to human weakness, they were checked. Some of their errors were corrected by the Prophet, as has been mentioned at many places in the hadith; some other errors were mentioned in the Qur’an and God Himself corrected them so that the Muslims might not form any exaggerated notion of the respect and reverence of their elders and great men, which might raise them from humanity to the position of god’s and goddesses. If one studies the Qur’an carefully, one will see instances of this one after the other.

The fifth thing that has been explicitly mentioned in this Surah is that God’s Religion is absolutely fair and just. It has for every person just that of which he becomes worthy on the basis of his faith and works. No relationship or connection even with the most righteous person can be beneficial for him in any way and no relationship or connection with the most evil and wicked person can be harmful for him in any way. In this connection three kinds of women have been cited as examples before the wives in particular. One example is of the wives of the Prophets Noah and Lot, who, if they had believed and cooperated with their illustrious husbands, would have occupied the same rank and position in the Muslim community which is enjoyed by the wives of the Prophet Muhammad. But since they were disbelievers, being the wives of the Prophets did not help them and they fell into Hell. The second example is of the wife of Pharaoh, who in spite of being the wife of a staunch enemy of God, believed and chose a path of action separate from that followed by the Pharaoh’s people, and her being the wife of a staunch disbeliever did not cause her any harm, and God made her worthy of Paradise. The third example is of Mary (Maryam) who attained to the high rank because she submitted to the severe test to which God had decided to put her. Apart from Mary no other chaste and righteous woman in the world ever has been put to such a hard test that in spite of being unmarried, she might have been made pregnant miraculously by God’s command and informed what service her Lord willed to take from her. When Mary accepted this decision, and agreed to bear it like a true believer, everything that she inevitably had to bear in order to fulfill God’s will, then did God exalt her to the noble rank of ‘Leader of the women in Paradise’

Another lesson we learn from this Surah is that the Prophet did not just receive from God knowledge which was included and recorded in the Qur’an, but he was given information about other things also by revelation, which has not been recorded in the Qur’an. Its clear proof is verse 3 of this Surah. In it we are told that the Prophet confided a secret to one of his wives, and she told it to another. God informed the Prophet of this secret. Then, when the Prophet warned his particular wife on the mistake of disclosure and she said: “Who told you this?” He replied: “I was informed by the Knowing, the Acquainted.”

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Many scholars give the tahrim [prohibiting] of the Prophet of a certain type of honey upon himself as the cause for the revelation of this Surah.

Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Surah at- Talaq [65] instructs that the limits of Allah must be observed even if one dislikes his wife and in Surah at-Tahreem [66] we have been guided to observe the limits set by Allah despite ones love for his wife. 
  • Surah at-Talaq [65] mentions in the first Ayat, if the Prophet was to divorce. In Surah at-Tahrim, we have the Ayat, "Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you..." [66:5].

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • Save yourself and your family from the Fire. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا "O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire..." [66:6]  
  • (66:8) is the longest Ayat of this Surah,

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ يَوْمَ لَا يُخْزِي اللَّـهُ النَّبِيَّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ ۖ نُورُهُمْ يَسْعَىٰ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَتْمِمْ لَنَا نُورَنَا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ "O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will proceed before them and on their right; they will say, "Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, You are over all things competent." (66:8)

Period of Revelation

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In connection with the incident of Tahreem (prohibition) referred to in this Surah, the traditions mention two wives of the Prophet. There are differing narrations about the cause of revelation, but it seems the most authentic narrations allude to the incident surrounding the Prophet prohibiting of honey for himself.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Do not make something unlawful which Allah has made lawful.
  • Wives of the Prophet are admonished on their behavior with him.
  • Believers are commanded to turn to Allah in sincere repentance if they want to be forgiven.
  • Example of the wives of Nuh (Noah) and Lut (Lot) who will go to hell and the example of Fir'on's (Pharaoh's) wife and Maryam who will go to paradise.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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