(Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them…) [33:51]. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “This verse was revealed when some of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, felt jealous [of other co-wives] so much so that they harmed him and asked for increase in their maintenance. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not sleep with them in the same bed for a month until the verse of choice [33:29] was revealed. Allah, exalted is He, commanded him to ask them to choose between this worldly life and the Afterlife. He was commanded to divorce those who chose this worldly life and keep whoever among them chose Allah, glorified is He, and His Messenger as mothers of the believers who will never marry after him. He was also given permission to receive anyone of them he wanted to receive and defer anyone he wanted to defer; they had to be content whether or not he apportioned something for them, and regardless of whether or not he prefers some over the others with regard to the apportioning of provision and the time spent with them. It was all up to him to do as he wished. All of them accepted these terms. However, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, gave an equal part of maintenance to all his wives, even though Allah, exalted is He, had granted him wide compass [in his dealings with them]”. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Muzakki informed us> ‘Abd al-Malik ibn al-Hasan ibn Yusuf al-Saqati> Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Halwani> Yahya ibn Ma‘in> ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abbad> ‘Asim al-Ahwal> Mu‘adhah> ‘A’ishah who said: “After the verse (Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them…) was revealed, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to seek permission from us [to go to another of his wives] when it was the turn of one of us [to spend time with him]”. Mu‘adhah asked her: “What did you use to say?” I used to say: “If this is my turn, I would not prefer anyone else to have you instead of me!” This was narrated by Bukhari> Hibban ibn Musa> Ibn al-Mubarak and also by Muslim> Shurayh ibn Yunus> ‘Abbad; and both ‘Abbad and Ibn al-Mubarak related it from ‘Asim.
Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi , trans. Mokrane Guezzou