Islam

Faithful Until the Very End: A Story of Love, Separation and Tragedy

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Zafir Malik, UK

This is a story of devotion, loyalty and faith. It is a beautiful account of how true love triumphs despite all the adversity. This is the story of Hazrat Zainab’s (ra) marriage and how she endured all hardships for the sake of Allah’s religion and Allah’s Messenger (sa).

Hazrat Zainab (ra) was the eldest daughter of Prophet Muhammad (sa) from his first wife Hazrat Khadijah bint Khuwailid (ra). Hazrat Zainab (ra) was born when the Holy Prophet (sa) was approximately 30 years old. [1] As per Arab traditions of the time, Hazrat Zainab (ra) was married at an early age to Abul ‘Aas bin Rabi’, who was the son of Hazrat Khadijah’s (ra) sister, Halah. [2] For the dowry, Hazrat Khadijah (ra) gave her daughter a precious Yemeni necklace [3], regarding which a famous incident will be mentioned later on.

Abul ‘Aas bin Rabi’, belonged to the Banu Abd-Shams tribe of the Quraish and was a skilful trader. Despite not initially becoming a Muslim, he was known among the Quraish for his honesty and truthfulness. [4] It was perhaps these very qualities that enabled him to accept the light of Islam and the manner in which he did so bears testimony to this.

When the Holy Prophet (sa) announced that he was a prophet sent by God, at the time Abul ‘Aas was away on a business trip. Hazrat Zainab (ra) immediately accepted his mission and became a Muslim. Whilst Abul ‘Aas was on his trip, he heard about the claim and confirmed it upon arrival in Makkah. Hazrat Zainab (ra) informed him that she had accepted Islam. Abul ‘Aas asked: ‘O Zainab! Did you not consider what would happen if I did not accept the claim of the Holy Prophet (sa)?’ Filled with the light of faith and unwavering love for her father, Hazrat Zainab (ra) replied: ‘How could I reject my father, who is Sadiq (Truthful) and Amin (Trustworthy)? By God! He has spoken the truth. Besides, my mother, sisters, Ali bin Abi Talib, Abu Bakr, Uthman from your own tribe, and your cousin Zubair bin Al-‘Awam have all become Muslim. I believe that you will not reject my father’s claim or his prophethood.’ Abul ‘Aas replied: ‘I have no doubts about your father, nor do I call him a liar. In fact, nothing would please me more than to adopt your faith alongside you. But I fear that my people will rebuke me saying that I abandoned the religion of my ancestors for the sake of my wife.’ [5]

Although Abul ‘Aas did not accept Islam, he remained faithful to his wife and stood by her despite Makkan persecution. At the time the Holy Prophet (sa) made his claim, his other two daughters – Hazrat Ruqayyah (ra) and Hazrat Umm Kulthum (ra) – were engaged to the two sons of Abu Lahab. Owing to his enmity and hostility toward the Holy Prophet (sa), Abu Lahab forced his sons to break off the engagement with the aim of causing the Holy Prophet (sa) pain. The Makkans did the same with Abul ‘Aas, they went to him and said: ‘Divorce your wife and send her home. We will then marry you to the most charming and noble woman from all of the Quraish.’ But Abul ‘Aas replied: ‘No. By God, I will not divorce her and I would not forsake her for any woman in the world.’ [6]

After continued persecution by the people of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (sa) was commanded by God Almighty to migrate. And so, the Muslims began leaving and headed towards Madinah. Just imagine what Hazrat Zainab (ra) would be feeling at this point; her father, sisters and fellow Muslims were migrating and leaving her behind, where she would have to stay amongst the very people who drove them out.

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But this separation was not to last long. Two years after the migration, Muslims were forced to defend themselves in the famous Battle of Badr. The Muslims were victorious and took the captives back to Madinah. Among the captives was Abul ‘Aas bin Rabi’. Again, it would be hard to imagine what was going through Hazrat Zainab’s (ra) mind; on the one hand, she would feel a sense of relief and joy that her father was alive and that her fellow Muslims were granted victory, but on the other hand, her husband was now in captivity. Staying faithful to her husband, she immediately sent his ransom. She sent the very same Yemeni necklace her mother – Hazrat Khadija – had given to her as part of her dowry. When the Holy Prophet (sa) saw this necklace, it reminded him of his late wife and tears began to flow from his eyes. He turned to the companions and said: ‘If you agree, return these items to Zainab.’ [7] The companions needed only a hint from the Holy Prophet (sa). The Holy Prophet (sa) then set Abul ‘Aas free on the condition that he send Zainab (ra) to Madinah. Abul ‘Aas fulfilled his promise. He organised for Hazrat Zainab (ra) to travel to Madinah. However, some Makkans tried to stop her from going and a wretched man named Habbar bin Aswad attacked her camel with a spear. The straps of the camel saddle were cut and she fell to the ground. The shock and trauma resulted in a miscarriage, and it would be these deep injuries that would lead to her demise. [8]

Hazrat Zainab (ra) and Abul ‘Aas would not see each other for the next four years. Alone in Makkah, Abul ‘Aas would think of no one other than his companion, whom he loved dearly. In an expression of this love, one day whilst on a trip to Syria, he even wrote a poem for Hazrat Zainab (ra):

‘I remember Zainab when she leaned on the waymark.

I said to a person who lived in the Haram, “Water!

For the daughter of the Trustworthy.” May Allah reward her!

Virtuous she is, and every husband praises what he knows’ [9]

Neither Hazrat Zainab (ra) nor Abul ‘Aas would marry in the time they were apart and as destiny would have it, they were to be reunited once again. Six years after the migration to Madinah, in Jumada al-Ula, Abul ‘Aas was returning from Syria with a trade caravan of the Quraish. Since the Muslims were in a state of war with the Quraish, the Holy Prophet (sa) sent a contingent under the command of Zaid bin Harithah (ra) to intercept the caravan. They reached the caravan at a place called ‘Is, which was at a distance of four days’ travel from Madinah. They took the wealth of the caravan and brought the prisoners to Madinah.

Historians differ as to whether Abul ‘Aas was among those captured or whether he headed for Madinah when he saw the Muslims advancing. But what is certain is that Abul ‘Aas reached Madinah late at night and somehow managed to send word to Hazrat Zainab (ra) to help him in his predicament. And so, just as the Holy Prophet (sa) began the morning prayers, Hazrat Zainab (ra) said in a loud voice: ‘O Ye Muslims! I have granted Abul ‘Aas protection.’ Astonished by this, when the Holy Prophet (sa) finished the prayers, he turned to the companions and asked if they too heard what he did. They replied in the affirmative. The Holy Prophet (sa) then said: ‘By God, I had no prior knowledge of this, but the community of the believers is like a single soul. If one of them grants protection to an infidel, to honour it is incumbent.’[10] Hazrat Zainab (ra) then asked if the possessions taken from the caravan would be returned to Abul ‘Aas as he was entrusted with the wealth by the Makkans. At this the Holy Prophet (sa) gathered the people and said: ‘You know Abul-‘Aas is my relative. If you choose to favour him by returning his possessions it will make me happy. If however, you do not agree then the goods are your spoils sanctioned by God and you have a right over it.’ [11]The companions were such that they understood the wish of their master and were ever ready to fulfil his commands. They returned everything taken from this caravan to Abul ‘Aas, who then left for Makkah.

When Abul ‘Aas reached Makkah, he returned all the possessions to their owners. When he had cleared all his debts, he gathered all the Quraish and asked if he owed anything to anyone. The Quraish replied: ‘Indeed, now we have no claim concerning you. May God reward you in an excellent manner. You are indeed an honourable and generous person.’ Upon hearing this, Abul ‘Aas loudly proclaimed: ‘Since I have now handed over to you what is rightfully yours, I now declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. By God, the only thing that prevented me from declaring my acceptance of Islam while I was with Muhammad in Madinah was my fear that you would think that I did so only to acquire your wealth. Now that I have discharged my trust in this matter, I now declare that I am a Muslim.’ [12]

This incident highlights the lofty character of Hazrat Abul ‘Aas and how he lived up to not only his own title of ‘trustworthy’, but also demonstrated that he was a worthy son-in-law of Al-Amin – the most trustworthy. The Holy Prophet (sa) always held him in high regard. He once said about him: ‘I married one of my daughters to Abul ‘Aas bin Rabi’) before Islam and he proved truthful in whatever he said to me… whenever he spoke to me, he spoke the truth, and whenever he made a promise, he fulfilled his promise.’ [13]

Hazrat Abul ‘Aas returned to Madinah in Muharram of 7 A.H. and after a separation of nearly 6 years, he and Hazrat Zainab (ra) were reunited. However, this reunion was short-lived, as the following year, Hazrat Zainab (ra) passed away owing to the injuries she had suffered during the migration. [14] The Holy Prophet (sa) loved Hazrat Zainab (ra) dearly and while lowering her into the grave, he prayed: ‘O Allah! Ease the suffering of Zainab and make the confined space of the grave spacious for her.’ [15]

About the AuthorZafir Malik serves as the Associate Editor of The Review of Religions, having graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya UK – Institute of Modern Languages and Theology. He is also an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and regularly appears as a panellist on MTA International and Voice of Islam radio station answering questions on Islam. 


ENDNOTES

[1] Dr Dhulfiqar Kazim, Azwaj-e-Mutahharat Encyclopaedia (New Delhi, India: Farid Book Depot Ltd., 2004), 24

[2] Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets – Volume 1, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2011) 149

[3] Muhammad Ibn Sa’d, The Women of Madina, (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 1997) 22, Hadrat Zainab, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Ltd., 2014) 11

[4] http://www.alsiraj.net/English/albayt/html/page12.html, https://www.alim.org/history/prophet-companion/37/

[5] Dr Dhulfiqar Kazim, Azwaj-e-Mutahharat Encyclopaedia (New Delhi, India: Farid Book Depot Ltd., 2004), 245-246

[6] https://www.alim.org/history/prophet-companion/37/

[7] Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets – Volume 2, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2013) 162

[8] Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets – Volume 2, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2013) 161-162

[9] Muhammad Ibn Sa’d, The Women of Madina, (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 1997) 22

[10] Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets – Volume 3, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2017) 15-16

[11] https://www.alim.org/history/prophet-companion/37/

[12] Dr Dhulfiqar Kazim, Azwaj-e-Mutahharat Encyclopaedia (New Delhi, India: Farid Book Depot Ltd., 2004), 254

[13] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Fadail Ashab an-Nabi (sa), Hadith No. 3729

[14] Dr Dhulfiqar Kazim, Azwaj-e-Mutahharat Encyclopaedia (New Delhi, India: Farid Book Depot Ltd., 2004), 255

[15] Hadrat Zainab, (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Ltd., 2014) 38-39