Hafsah: The Qur’an’s Keeper
The wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) shared all the normal traits that women have in common. They competed for the Prophet’s love and feelings. Therefore, if one of them was able to do something that pleased him while the others could not do the same she would not hesitate to do it. Zaynab bint Jahsh used to give the Prophet a special type of honey, which he particularly liked. The Prophet used to stop at each of his wives’ homes every afternoon, enquiring whether they needed anything. Then he would spend the night with whoever it was her turn. One day, he came into Ayesha’s place after having had his honey at Zaynab’s. As he entered, Ayesha said to him: “You have had some Maghafir.” (Maghafir was a sweet drink that gave an unpleasant smell). He said that he only had honey at Zaynab’s. She said: “Then the bees that produced that honey must have fed on Maghafir.” The Prophet was unhappy because he was keen that he should always have a good smell.
He then went to Hafsah, and she said to him the same thing. He was really upset, and he said that he would not have that honey again. God then revealed Surah 66, which opens with a statement that the Prophet should not forbid himself something God made lawful to him. It warns the Prophet’s two wives that they must never collude in a scheme against him, or else they would face God’s anger.
An event that shocked the Muslim community in Madinah was that the Prophet’s wives asked him for a more comfortable standard of living. He felt that worldly comforts should not be their preoccupation. When they persisted, he was angry and swore that he would not come near them for a month. They were very unhappy to have so displeased him. After a month was over he acted on God’s instructions, giving them a choice between staying with him, even though he was a life of hardship, or leaving him for a more comfortable life. He would then divorce anyone who chose the latter option and give her good gifts. Every one of them chose to remain his wife. None would prefer anything to be a wife of the Prophet and a mother of all believers.
That was perhaps the last point of disagreement in which Hafsah was involved. After that, she realized that she had to restrain her feelings in order to be more worthy of her position. She turned to her devotion with more dedication.
During Abu Bakr’s short reign as Caliph, the Qur’an was collected in a single volume. This was the first complete copy of the Qur’an. It remained with the Caliph until he passed away. It was then kept by the second Caliph, Umar until he died. Thereafter, it was with Hafsah and remained in her custody as long as she lived. During Uthman’s reign, the Qur’an has collated anew, and several copies were written down. When these copies were completed, the first copy that was with Hafsah was used to check their accuracy. A copy was sent to each main population center to serve as the reference copy. Hafsah’s copy was returned to her and remained in her custody until she died.
– By Adil Salahi