Women's Section

Snapshot Stories: Zainab (ra) Daughter of the Holy Prophet (sa)


Munavara Ghauri, UK

The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam and his wife Khadijah (ra) were blessed with four daughters. Zainab (ra) was the eldest. Reading about her life, I have learnt two remarkable lessons: one of a strong and enduring love, the other of incredible forgiveness.

The strong, resilient love that I wish to mention is the love Zainab (ra) shared with her husband – Abu al Aas (ra). She had married Abu al Aas bin Rabi (ra) prior to her father’s claim to prophethood. At the time of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) claim, her husband was away on business. Zainab (ra), like her mother, instantly accepted her father as a Messenger of Allah, having witnessed firsthand the purity and honesty of his character. Upon Abu al Aas’s (ra) return, Zainab (ra) informed her husband that she too had accepted her father as a Prophet of Allah. Abu al Aas (ra) felt conflicted in his loyalties. He loved Zainab (ra) dearly and believed in the truth of the Holy Prophet (sa), but he also belonged to the proud Quraish tribe of Mecca. He did not wish for them to accuse him of relinquishing the religion of his forefathers for the sake of his wife. So, he did not initially accept Islam. [1]

However, Abu al Aas (ra) was a kind and noble individual, and the mutual love he shared with Zainab (ra) was apparent. So much so, that even the Holy Prophet (sa) would compliment their harmonious relationship. [2] When the Quraish hostilities to the new community of Muslims intensified, they pressurised Abu al Aas (ra) to divorce Zainab (ra) and reassured him that they would find him another pleasing wife from the Quraish. However, due to his deep love for Zainab (ra), Abu al Aas (ra) refused.

Zainab’s (ra) love for Abu al Aas (ra) was to be tested when the ongoing conflict between the Meccans and the Muslims culminated in the Battle of Badr. Abu al Aas (ra) fought for the Meccans against his father-in-law, the Holy Prophet (sa), and the Muslims. The Muslims were blessed with victory and consequently Abu al Aas (ra) became a prisoner of war. When this news reached Zainab (ra), alongside other Meccans, she sent a ransom to purchase the freedom of her beloved husband. Zainab (ra) sent a ruby necklace that her mother had given her at the time of her marriage. When the Holy Prophet (sa) saw the necklace of his late wife Khadijah (ra), whom he dearly loved, he became emotional. Indeed, theirs had been the most beautiful example of an enduring love that transcended trials and tribulations. Consequently, the Holy Prophet (sa) requested the Muslims to forgo the necklace as a ransom from his daughter. The Holy Prophet (sa) was supremely just and so he would not allow his son-in-law to be freed without any compensation, unlike the other prisoners. Hence, it was decided that Zainab (ra)  herself would be the compensation for Abu al Aas’s (ra) freedom. Thus, she would be sent to Madina where the Muslims had now settled. [3]

It was during her journey to Madina that an incident with tragic consequences occurred. It would become a means to manifest the incredible forgiveness of the Holy Prophet (sa). Zainab (ra) was being escorted there by her brother-in-law, Kunana (ra), when two Meccans, one named Habbar (ra), malevolently besieged them. Consequently, Zainab (ra) fell from her camel and endured severe injuries and a miscarriage [4]. These injuries were to afflict Zainab (ra) for the rest of her life and led to her premature death some years later. It must have been a profound loss to both her exalted father – the Holy Prophet (sa) – and her dear husband, Abu al Aas (ra), who had by then accepted Islam. 

It was after the Conquest of Mecca that Habbar (ra) came to seek forgiveness from the Holy Prophet (sa) for causing the death of his beloved daughter. The Holy Prophet (sa) demonstrated an incredible feat of forgiveness, astonishing most, when he forgave Habbar (ra). By such benevolence, he proved what is stated in the Holy Qur’an that he was an ‘Excellent Model’ [5] for mankind.

And so, Zainab’s (ra) life taught me the incredible power of human love and forgiveness, and how one’s love of Allah the Almighty should always prevail. 

About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.


[1] Khalida Ghafoor Ahmad, Hadrat Zainab (Urdu), Islam International Publications Ltd, 2008, p3.

[2] Ibid, p.4.

[3] Ibid, p.5.

[4] Dr Karimullah Zirvi, Holy Prophet of Islam, KZ Publications, 2009, p.415. 

[5] Holy Qur’an, Ch.33V.22