Zaynab was the daughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Khadijah, the first Muslim. She was married to her cousin Abul' As bin Rabi', who belonged to the family of 'Abdul Shams bin 'Abdul Manaf His mother was Halah bint Khuwaylid, Khadijah's sister.
Zaynab was the Prophet's eldest daughter and the first of his offspring. Her marriage to Abul 'As was before the advent of Islam. They cherished one another, and she had a special place in the hearts of her husband, her mother-in-law, and her own parents. The joy between the
Two families increased when the couple was blessed with two babies, a boy named 'Ali and a girl named Umamah.
Zaynab's life passed smoothly until the most memorable point in the history of Makkah came. Her father was chosen to be a Prophet. Thereupon she suffered and struggled in a way that was trying enough on men let alone women.
Zaynab managed to face those difficulties and became worthy of being the daughter of Muhammad, the leader of all Prophets and the last of all Messengers.
Being a daily visitor to her fathers house, she was well informed from the onset of his prophethood of all the trials he faced. When she learned of her father being the Prophet of the Ummah, she immediately declared her belief in it. How could she not have believed if she already Knew her father's manners and moral values? Was it possible not to believe when she loved him in a way that she never loved anyone else?
But she worried whether her husband would believe in her father's message or deny it. She
contemplated the matter deeply. She told him about the great honor her father had by having a religion revealed to him. She did so enthusiastically and he listened carefully. After she had finished, she asked him his opinion, but she was startled to find him silent, and when she insisted fearfully to have an answer, he said that he did not consider it suitable for him to believe in the new faith. She declared firmly that she believed in her father. He left the house in silence.
Zay1iab's position towards da'wah was always of a steadfast nature. Despite her deep love for her husband, she did not hesitate to hold fast to her faith, even if he insisted on turning his back to it.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to call others to Islam. Some people of the Quraysh accepted it, while others rejected it. The more people came to Islam, the more hostile the enemies became.
The resisting front of the Quraysh met one day to discuss -the problem. They had tried all means of fighting the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his religion, but this time they thought of a new idea. One of them said, "You are first helping Muhammad to be carefree, and so he can concentrate on his da 'wah. Send his daughters back to him and that will make him busy again." What a devilish idea!
Muhammad's daughters, Ruqayah and Umm Kalthum, were married to the Prophet's two cousins Utbah and Utaybah, while Zaynab was married to Abul As bin Rabi'.
The Chieftains of Makkah liked the idea and hurried to Abu Lahab, the Prophet's uncle and father-in- law of his two daughters. He was surprised by the demand that his two sons should divorce Muhammad's daughters.
It was true that Abu Lahab was a bitter enemy of his nephew, but divorcing the two women was considered a shameful act at that time. Thus Abu Lahab hesitated and remained silent. They suspected what was going on in his mind, so they left him to the devices of his wife, Umm
Jamil bint Harb, who was carrying the banner of animosity against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his religion. As soon as Umm Jamil rebuked her husband for his delay in carrying out the plan, he immediately submitted and forgot all the noble motives of preserving blood ties.
Umm Jamil called her sons and said to them, "Listen to what the elders of your tribe want to tell you."
They said, "We hear and obey."
As Umm Jamil was domineering with her sons, she told them that they were ordered to divorce Muhammad's daughters and choose other women from the Quraysh. The command was non-negotiable, resulting in the two husbands hurrying back to their wives and ordering them
to return to their father's house.
The Quraysh were happy to have succeeded in that plan, and they hurried to Abul 'As to persuade him to divorce Muhammad's third daughter. They said to him, "Divorce your wife and we' ll marry you to any woman you like."
But they were struck by his answer. "No, by Allah, I will never leave my wife and I don't want to have any other woman."
The conspirators left in disappointment because of their failure to persuade him to divorce his wife. Although the man did not want to follow Muhammad, he loved his wife and saw it a matter of shame and lowness to divorce her just to please the insolent chieftains of the Quraysh.
Many events followed: suffering, patience, and struggling on the part of the Prophet and his followers, and cruelty, injustice, and oppression on the part of the Quraysh. Zaynab was part of those events. How could she live happily with her loving husband while her father was belied and his followers were tortured?
Her suffering was shared with her family throughout the support for their father, whether verbal or in the heart. Then came the decisive day in Makkah when the Quraysh tried to murder the Prophet (peace be upon him). Allah commanded His Messenger to emigrate, and he did.
The Islamic da'wah proliferated swiftly towards the expected victory in the town receiving the immigrants to Madinah. Loneliness encompassed Zaynab after the death of her mother and the significant step of her father, who emigrated with her sisters. Although it was hard on her, the news of the great victories of Islamic da'wah in Madinah helped relieve her. She always hoped that her husband would believe and take her to Madinah, but he stood his ground in neither believing nor committing any act of aggression. He remained a loving husband and never
allowed anyone, no matter who, to hurt her.
As time passed, the Islamic front grew more disciplined, while the disbelieving front grow more
chaotic. At last, time came to put an end to such conflict, for the peninsula could not embrace the two opposing doctrines concurrently. Then came the Battle of Badr.
The unbelievers were sure that victory was on their side as they were, large in number and the Muslims were few.
All the prominent figures of Makkah joined in the fighting against Muhammad, among them Abul 'As, Zaynab's husband. Zaynab's heart was filled with grief as her father, the dearest one on earth to her heart, led the believers to meet the Quraysh. She wished the war would
never be waged, as she would be hurt no matter who won.
The messengers of the Quraysh returned to Makkah with the news of the expected victory and the tremendous Quraysh preparations that would defeat the Muslims at the first moment. There was talk of the spoils of war and the celebrations they would make for the victory. Such news exacerbated Zaynab's grief, as her love and loyalty were only to her father and his army of
believers. She was anxious for their victory, but at the onset of the battle, news to the contrary reached the women, children, and sick of Makkah who were the only dwellers remaining behind.
Muhammad and his companions conquered the Quraysh, and its chieftains. were killed, captured, or chased away. When the survivors returned from Badr to Makkah, Zaynab set off to search for her husband, fearing his absence. On asking the survivors, she was informed that he was among the prisoners of war and was taken to her father in Madinah. It was only then that the weight on her heart lightened. As long as he was in her father's trust, he would be well treated, if not for his status in the Quraysh, at least for her place in her father's heart.
A few days after the defeat of the Quraysh, she began to anticipate the release of the captives, and so relatives journeyed to pay the ransom for them. The family of Abul 'As were prepared to do so, but Zaynab insisted to pay the ransom herself. She gave her brother-in-law a necklace that her mother had given her as a wedding present and asked him to give it to her father to set her husband free.
Amr bin Rabi', the brother of Abul 'As, approached the Prophet with out-stretched hand saying, "Zaynab, the daughter of Muhammad, sent me with this necklace to ransom my brother Abul 'As bin Rabi'
As the Prophet opened the package before him, he found Khadijah's necklace. It reminded him of the ones dearest to his heart, namely his wife and daughter. His heart softened and he said to those around him, "This is Khadijah's necklace sent to me by Zaynab to ransom her husband, Abul 'As bin Rabi'. If you agree to set her husband free and give her back the necklace, then do so, please."
They cried in unison, "We do, O Messenger of Allah."
Abul 'As observed the whole event. This incident became engraved on his heart and affected him afterwards.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Abul 'As to come closer and when he did, he whispered to him and Abul 'As nodded consent, then left for Makkah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) turned to those Muslims sitting with him and said, "By Allah, we have never eschewed his praise as a son-in-law."
Aoul 'As reached Makkah and headed straight for his home. His heart was broken as the Prophet (peace be upon him) had made him promise to allow Zaynab to emigrate because Islam had separated them. Zaynab the believer was no longer tit for Abu 'As the polytheist,
despite the love and kinship that had tied them together for many years. In fact, Islam has honored the Muslim woman by prohibiting her marriage to a non-Muslim. When Abul
'As entered his house, his face did not look like that of a loving husband who had survived war and come back to his beloved. Zaynab welcomed him, but he did not react to sweet words of praise. Sensitive to his cold response, she asked him what was wrong and was told to emigrate to her father in Madinah within a few days.
(And what about you, cousin?" she asked. But he was silent. She could not believe that her husband would allow her travel to another city without him, but she read it clearly in his face. Zayd bin Harithah would come from Madinah to accompany her and meet her in a place near
Makkah named Batn Ya'j uj.
When the day came, Abul 'As asked his brother Kinanah to take her to Batn Ya'juj where Zayd would be waiting.
Zaynab was in the fourth month of pregnancy, so her husband prepared a comfortable howdah for the journey.
It was daylight and Kinanah escorted her out of Makkah, but there was an incongruous group of people ahead who spotted them and considered her emigration in the broad daylight a blatant challenge to them. They hurried to their weapons and chased her. Those who caught up with her caravan asked Kinanah to take her back, but he refused. Then one of them, Habbar bin Al- Aswad, tried to cow her with his spear, but she fell from her camel, bled, and lost her baby.
Kinanah began to take out his arrows and threaten the men, saying, "By Allah, if any one of you approaches me, I'll shoot." They all retreated as they saw him insist on defending Zaynab. Abu Sufyan bin Harb then stepped in and said, "Put away your arrows. We want to talk to you."
Kinanah did so, and Abu Sufyan declared, "You were wrong in taking the woman in front of everyone, even though you already knew what befell us at the hands of Muhammad. This will make people think that we have been humiliated and weakened. We gain nothing by keeping her here. Take her home till people calm down and think that we have managed to stop her. Then take her secretly to her father."
Kinanah looked at Zaynab and saw her bleeding heavily. He thought it would be better for her to return to her house to recover and then set off on her journey again. He took her home where she was nursed by the women of the family.
The men who hurt Zaynab were jubilant of their deed and even _thought that her return to her husband's house was a victory over the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hind bint 'Utbah saw what they did together with her husband, Abu Sufyan, and she teased them saying sarcastically, "In war you are like women and in peace you are harsh." Her mockery concerned their defeat by Muhammad on one occasion and their victory over his daughter on another.
This group of men left overwhelmed with shame. Even their women and daughters criticized their hateful deed. Zaynab recovered quickly and, withinafew days, was guided by Kinanah to Zayd bin Harithah. His return to Makkah was one of pride.
Zaynab's journey was long. She yearned for her great father, who received her on her arrival in the typical way any father receives his daughter after a long absence and troubled journey.
Zaynab was honored to stay in her father's house. The more the days passed after leaving her husband, the more she wondered why she didn't hear about him and how he could tolerate the separation although he loved her. Wasn't it he who had refused the Quraysh's offer of
marriage to their most beautiful woman if he agreed to divorce her? Wasn't it he who was famous for his poetry which he used to recite each time he left her for trading expeditions, mentioning her sweet nature and the honorable manners of her father? All of these meant that she had a special place in his heart. How could he forget her? Her confusion by this absence remained despite her knowing his love for her. There was no news of him remarrying, so why was he so late? She expected him to knock at her door declaring his conversion to Islam and his subsequent reunion in the house he had always loved. Even though she waited a long time, she never last hope in her husband's return.
On one of his trading expeditions to the Levant, he was accosted by the Muslim army, who blocked his way and took all his possessions. Abul 'As fled, finding only Madinah, and in it his wife, as his refuge. He knocked at her door and surprised her. She exclaimed in confusion,
"Welcome cousin! Are you at last guided to what is right?"
Abul 'As lowered his head, then raised it in embarrassment and said, "In fact, I did not come as a Muslim. I came as a fugitive from the Muslims in pursuit of me and I am seeking refuge with you from them."
Zaynab had mixed feelings: pain from the frustrating answer and hope for his conversion. She said, "Welcome Abu 'Ali. Whoever seeks refuge with the Messenger of Allah will never be disappointed?
The night passed and the adhan of Fajr prayer was called. Zaynab felt her father getting ready for the prayer. She prepared herself to do something that no woman had dared to do before her. She would declare loudly that she had offered refuge to Abul 'As, but on second thought, she doubted whether her father would approve of her action. Was it permissible for a woman to offer refuge to anyone?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was about to raise his voice with takbir to start the prayer with the Muslims behind him. Zaynab decided to carry out what she intended to do. She brought her head outside the door and cried in a loud voice, "I have offered refuge to Abul i 'As bin Rabi'." Her cry was heard by everyone.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) had finished the prayer he said, "O people, did you hear what I heard?"
They said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah, We heard what you heard."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, "By Him in Whose hands my soul is, I did not know about this till I heard what you heard. The Muslims are one hand against their enemies, and we will offer refuge to whomever she has offered it."
When he (peace be upon him) had finished his prayer, he went to his daughter, who was with Abul 'As. She hurried to her father in anxiety and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Abul 'As is my cousin and the father of my sons, and I have given him refuge."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) smiled and said, "We offer refuge to whomever you offer it, my daughter. Be generous to him, but don't let him touch you as it is still not legally acceptable."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) left for his house, and she followed him and asked him to let Abul 'As get back what had been taken from him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) promised to do so. She returned to Abul 'As satisfied and looked at him in an accusing manner. He managed to leave her, but he returned her a promising look.
Abul 'As attended the Prophet's while his Companions surrounded him. The amount of respect and obedience paid to the Prophet amazed him. Such love and loyalty had never been seen by him in any of the travels he made to the Persian or Byzantine emperors. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) motioned to speak, everybody listened with great respect.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, pointing to Abul 'As, "That man is one of us, as you know, and you have taken his money. lf you are benevolent to him and give him his money back, I'll appreciate that. But if you don't want to give it to him, it will be your right, as it is from the spoils of war that Allah has favored you with."
Then the Companions answered in unison, "We will give him his money back." After saying so, they collected his property and returned it to him. Then they asked him, "ls there anything else?"
He answered, "No. May Allah reward you the best."
Abul 'As set off to Makkah with his money and goods. The Prophet (peace be upon him) followed him with his eyes saying, "When he spoke to me, he was true, and when he promised, he fulfilled his word."
When Abul 'As reached Makkah, he called the people of Quraysh to collect their share of the profit. After they all had taken their money, he said to them, "O people of Quraysh, is there anyone who has not taken his money'?"
They said to him, "No, may Allah reward you the best. We have always seen you as faithful and generous."
Then he pronounced to them, "Then, I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. By Allah, what hindered me from declaring my coming to Islam was that l was afraid lest you should think I wanted to take your money. Now that I have returned your money, I declare my Islam."
The people were dumbstruck. And, as for him, he emigrated quickly to Madinah, stood before the Prophet and uttered the two testimonies. All the Muslims hastened to congratulate him. They were always pleased with whatever pleased the Prophet (peace be upon him) and they always knew that the Prophet had wished Abul 'As to be a Muslim.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted his daughter to return to her husband, and thus Zaynab's house, as well as all the houses of the Prophet's family, was overwhelmed with happiness. The people realized that the Prophet really loved his daughter and was pleased to see her reunited with her husband.
A year after this event, Zaynab became ill and died. Her husband mourned deeply for her loss. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood by him and his grief was not less than her husband's.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) sent for the women who were washing her dead body and said to them, "Wash her three or five times with water and lotus, and then add the essence of camphor in the final wash. Start by her right side and the areas of ablution, and when you finish, inform me."
The women did as he (peace be upon him) A instructed, and when they had finished they told him. He gave them a piece of his clothing and said, "Wrap her in it." The women took the Prophet's garment, put it on her and buried her.
Zaynab's daughter, Umamah, remained as the sweet memory of her mother. She was one of the loveliest members of the Prophet's family and dearest to his heart. 'A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was once given a necklace as a present and said, "l'll give it to the dearest one in my family."
All the women said, "The daughter of Abu Quhafa ('A'ishah) will take it." But he called Umamah to him and hung it around her neck.