Zainab bint Muhammed ﷺ
Nabi ﷺ said something to the effect, glad tidings to those of you whose first child is female. In a time where having a daughter was looked down upon, Nabi ﷺ gave glad tidings to the ones whose first child is female.
Nabi ﷺ had four daughters and until I joined the Ummah Heart classes, my knowledge on them was very basic. Through these classes, Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umme Kulthoom and Fatima R.A. became a part of my life and their stories are ones I think of every single day.
Zainab is Nabi’s ﷺ eldest daughter. Zainab comes from the words “zain” which means beauty and “ab” which means father. We don’t know the description of how she looks but from this meaning, we learn that she was the beauty of her father. Zainab R.A. was married to Abu Al-Aas Ibn Rabi and their love story is quite possibly my favourite. It all started when Abu Al-Aas came to Nabi ﷺ and asked for her hand, Nabi ﷺ went to her and asked “What about Abu Al-Aas?” to which she blushed like a red rose and remained silent. Khadeejah R.A. gave Zainab R.A. her own necklace as a wedding gift. They get married.
Nabi ﷺ gets nabuwwat, she accepts Islam while Abu Al-Aas does not. She asks him “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. They remain together. They have two children, Ali and Umaymah. It is time to migrate, her entire family’s leaving, she asks again “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. She stays in Makkah with him and their children. It is time for badr, he fights on the side of the kuffar and gets captured, Zainab R.A. sends her necklace as ransom, Nabi ﷺ sees the necklace, cries and says “how desperate is the love of my daughter for her husband that she sends the necklace of her mother”, sets Abu Al-Aas free and sends back the necklace of Khadeejah R.A. but also tells Abu Al-Aas that revelation has come down and a muslim women is not allowed to be married to a non-muslim man so he needs to send Zainab R.A. home and to tell Zainab R.A. to never part with the necklace of her mother.
Zainab R.A. is waiting outside her home for him, she opens her arms to embrace but he steps away from her and tells her what Nabi ﷺ said and she asks again “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. As she is leaving, an enemy of Islam shoots her with an arrow and she falls off her conveyance. She remains in Makkah while Hind (the wife of Abu Sufyaan) nurses her back to health. As she leaves again, she tells Abu Al-Aas “I will never get married, I will wait my entire life for you and I will make dua that you accept Islam”. In the Qur’aan, love is translated as a commitment.
Years pass and one day Abu Al-Aas comes knocking at the door to seek shelter from the muslims who were after him. He explains that he was away on business and came through muslim territory. She allows him inside and then goes straight to Nabi ﷺ and tells Nabi ﷺ what happened. Nabi ﷺ tells her that if she offers him protection, no one can harm him. Zainab R.A. announces that Abu Al-Aas is under her protection. She then tells him that he is free to leave. She asks him once again “won’t you accept Islam?” He doesn’t say anything and runs back to Makkah. When he reaches Makkah, he concludes his business dealings and then says “I testify in the shade of the Ka’bah, Ash-hadu Allah Ilaha Ilaha Illallah, Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammedur Rasoolullah, now leave me alone and let me go back to my family, I am going back to my Zainab.” He runs back to Madinah, goes in front of his father-in-law Nabi ﷺ and says “Oh Nabi of Allah, I have accepted Islam, Ash-hadu Allah Ilaha Ilaha Illallah, Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammedur Rasoolullah, please can I marry Zainab again?” Nabi ﷺ holds out his hand and says “Welcome oh Abu Al-Aas, but like how we asked her the first time, we need to ask her permission again.” Nabi ﷺ takes his hand and goes to Zainab R.A.’s house. She opens the door and sees her father with Abu Al-Aas R.A. but this time, she doesn’t know what to, she remains silent. Nabi ﷺ says to her “Oh my daughter Zainab, what about Abu Al-Aas for you?” The narration says that just as her cheeks turned red as a young girl, her cheeks turned red as a rose as an older woman. She remains silent and her nikaah is performed again with Abu Al-Aas.
They lived happily together for a year in Madinah. But after a year of being together, as a result of her injuries, she passed away. On the day she passed away, Madinah was dark, Abu Al-Aas R.A. would not stop crying. Nabi ﷺ looked at her and his face went pale because her death reminded him of Khadeejah R.A. Nabi ﷺ performed her janazah and placed her into her final resting place.
Every time, Nabi ﷺ would see Abu Al-Aas, he looked grief-stricken. Nabi ﷺ would ask him “Oh Abu Al-Aas, what is wrong?” He would say “I miss my Zainab.” Not long after, Abu Al-Aas passed away. It is possible that he passed away because of heartache.
Since hearing this story, I have not been able to stop thinking of it. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read my notes and I make dua that all of us are blessed with a love as strong as Zainab and Abu Al-Aas R.A.