One day Muhammad goes to Zaid’s house but finds that he was not home. Zaid was the adopted son of Muhammad. Zaid’s beautiful wife, Zainab, was there all by her lonesome self.
She was clothed skimpily. He sees her and is smitten. One account says “she was in her chamber undressed and admiration for her entered the heart of the prophet.”
Being the stand-up moral guy that he was, he turns to leave but blurts out “Glory to God who causes hearts to turn.” When Zainab hears that, she perceives Muhammad was sexually attracted to her.
When Zaid finds out about this incident later, it is recorded that “she [became no longer] attractive to him [Zaid]. Perhaps out of jealousy, he began to despise her.
Zaid pays a visit to Muhammad fawning over him, “Messenger of Allah, you are so dear to me. Perhaps Zainab has excited your admiration and so I will separate myself from her.”
Being the sweet guy that he was, Muhammad tells him to stay married. The account records that Muhammad hid in his mind the thought that “if he (Zaid) separates himself from her, I will marry her.”
Unfortunately, the marriage of Zaid and Zainab (a marriage that Muhammad himself had arranged) was beyond repair and ends in divorce. But our shy-guy bridegroom Muhammad was worried what people would gossip if he swooped onto Zainab, the ex-wife of his own adopted son.
Allah to the rescue, as always, with some “just-in-time” revelations approving the marriage as well as the sudden prohibition of adoption, so that Zaid was no longer his adopted son. Thus conveniently paving the way for him to make Zainab his wife without feeling guilty and having to answer the pesky neighbors.
References: (Answering Islam – Jesus Is God)
Tabari VIII:4 “One day Muhammad went out looking for Zayd. Now there was a covering of haircloth over the doorway, but the wind had lifted the covering so that the doorway was uncovered. Zaynab was in her chamber, undressed, and admiration for her entered the heart of the Prophet. After that Allah made her unattractive to Zayd.'”
Tafsir Al-Jalalayn : Then on one occasion he [the Prophet] caught sight of her and felt love for her, whereafter [when he realised that] Zayd lost his affection for her and so said to the Prophet (s), ‘I want to part with. …….. He was to manifest of your love for her and of [the fact] that should Zayd part with her you would marry her, and you feared people, would say, ‘He has married his son’s wife!
Tabari VIII:1 “In this year the Messenger married Zaynab bt. Jahsh [a first cousin: Allah’s Messenger came to the house of Zayd bin [son of] Muhammad. Perhaps the Messenger missed him at that moment. Zaynab, Zayd’s wife, rose to meet him. She was dressed only in a shift…. She jumped up eagerly and excited the admiration of Allah’s Messenger, so that he turned away murmuring something that could scarcely be understood. However, he did say overtly, Glory be to Allah Almighty, who causes hearts to turn!’
So Zayd went to Muhammad. ‘Prophet, I have heard that you came to my house. Why didn’t you go in? Perhaps Zaynab has excited your admiration, so I will leave her.'”
Tabari VIII:3 “Zayd left her, and she became free. While the Messenger of Allah was talking with Aisha, a fainting overcame him. When he was released from it, he smiled and said, Who will go to Zaynab to tell her the good news? Allah has married her to me.’ Then the Prophet recited [Quran 33] to the end of the passage.
Aisha said, ‘I became very uneasy because of what we heard about her beauty and another thing, the loftiest of matters, what Allah had done for her by personally giving her to him in marriage. I said that she would boast of it over us.'”
Al-Zamakhshari’s commentary on this subject:
Keep thy wife to thyself (33:37): “that is, Zainab bint Jahsh. After having given her to Zaid ibn Haritha as a wife, the Messenger of God once caught sight of her, and she made an impression of him. At this sight he said: ‘Praise be to God who changes the heart!’ Previously his soul had turned away from her so that he had not desired her (as a wife). If he had desired her at that time, he would have asked her for her hand in marriage. Now Zainab heard of this praise and mentioned it to (her husband) Zaid, who understood and to whom God gave antipathy against her and aversion to intimacy with her. So Zaid said to the Messenger of God: ‘I might divorce my wife.”
“Muqatil narrated that the prophet married Zainab daughter of Jahsh to Zaid and she stayed with him for a while. Then one day the prophet –pbuh– came seeking Zaid but he saw Zainab standing; she was white skinned with a beautiful figure and one of the most perfect women in Quraish. So HE DESIRED HER and said, “Wondrous is Allah who changes the heart.” When Zaynab heard the prophet’s exaltation of her, she relayed it to Zaid who then understood (what he had to do). Zaid said to the prophet, “O prophet of Allah, allow me to divorce her, for she has become arrogant; seeing herself superior to me and she insults me with her tongue.”
Al-Qurtubi: “If Muhammad looks at a woman (and desires her) THEN IT IS NECESSARY FOR HER HUSBAND TO DIVORCE HER AND FOR MUHAMMAD TO MARRY HER.
Here is another of Muhammad’s sordid sexual misadventure. This time with Maria the Copt, the servant girl of one of his wife, Hafsa.