Zainab bint Muhammad PBUH - A Knight in Love
Lady Knights

Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

Where the Qurashi tribes of Mecca sent an army against the Muslims in Medina to wipe them out. With that army marched Abi Al-Aaz bin Rabiah, who had joined the Qurashi army due to pressure from his tribesmen, despite the fact that his beautiful wife, Zainab, was a Muslim, and her father, Muhammad PBUH had brought Islam to the people of Mecca.

When the Qurashi army met the Muslim army, in a place called Badur, they outnumbered them three to one and so were confident of a swift victory. How could the Qurashis not win when their side had the greater numbers and most experienced warriors? But such are the fortunes of war, for on that day they were utterly and thoroughly defeated by the Muslims. Many of the Qurashi men were captured and even more were killed in the great Battle of Badur.

When the tattered remnants of the once great Qurashi army came straggling back into Mecca, many people learned of the unthinkable defeat. On that day, Zainab also learned of the capture of her dashing young husband, Abi Al-Aaz, by the Muslims. As harrowing as that news was, she couldn't feel anything but relief because he was still alive.

When the Qurashis sent a delegation to Medina to ransom back their captured warriors, Zainab gathered what money she could to ransom Abi Al-Aaz. When she looked at what she had gathered, she realized how little it really was, so she took off the necklace she always wore and held it in her hand. The necklace was the most precious possession she had. It had been a wedding gift to her from her mother, Khadija, who had passed away recently. With a firm nod, Zainab made her decision and added the necklace to the gold and sent it all to the men of the Qurashi delegation.

When the Qurashi delegation arrived in Medina, it was graciously received by the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The Qurashi delegation offered some shamefaced pleasantries and then started presenting the various ransoms they had brought. Among them was a ransom with some gold and a heartbreakingly familiar necklace.

When the Prophet PBUH saw the necklace, he recognized it as a favorite necklace of his beloved wife, Khadija, which she had given to their eldest daughter, Zainab, on her wedding day. His eyes filled with tears and his throat tightened. After a moment of pain filled silence he spoke to the Muslims around him, "If you see fit to release her captive and return to her what is hers, then do so."

The Muslims, eager to relieve their Prophet's pain and knowing who the wife of Abi Al-Aaz was, agreed with alacrity.

When Abi Al-Aaz was freed, the Prophet PBUH told Abi Al-Aaz to return Zainab to him. Abi Al-Aaz agreed and as soon as he returned to Mecca he told Zainab that he would arrange for her to go to her father in Medina. Zainab was glad at the news, for she had missed her family sorely, yet she mourned Abi Al-Aaz's stubbornness in not becoming a Muslim and going with her. Abi Al-Aaz insisted that his pride could not allow it to be known that he had forsaken the pagan religion of his ancestors for love of a woman, so he asked his wife to understand this and forgive him his obstinacy.

When Zainab was ready, Abi Al-Aaz could not stand to see Zainab go. So he had his brother, Keenanah bin Al-Rabiah, escort her out of Mecca. The two were to meet a delegation of Muslims sent by Muhammad PBUH to safely bring Zainab to Medina. No sooner had they left Mecca than word spread that Zainab was going to rejoin her father.

Some of the young men of Mecca decided that allowing her to leave so publicly would be seen as a sign of weakness on their part and could not be tolerated. So they followed after the two and quickly overtook them. Foremost was a man named Habaar bin Al-Aswud who was eager to be the first to draw blood. So he rushed forward and, with his spear, attacked the camel on which Zainab rode.

The wounded camel grew agitated by the attack and Zainab was thrown off its back. When she landed, Zainab fell on a nearby rock and miscarried, which was when she first realized she had been pregnant. Furious, Keenanah knelt, tossed his quiver down before him, put an arrow to his bow and said, "By God, any man who approaches shall do so with an arrow in him."

Cowed, the pursuers retreated to a safe distance. Kneeling there, Keenanah feared for Zainab's life as he saw her skirts getting darker and darker with blood, but he dared not go to her aid lest her would-be attackers charge them again and finish what they had started.

Not long after, some of the Qurashi elders arrived, led by Abu Sufyan who called out and convinced Keenanah to allow him to approach and negotiate. Once he was within speaking distance, Abu Sufyan said, "You made a mistake. You left with the woman publicly. You know of the defeat we have just suffered at the hands of Muhammad. If you leave so publicly with his daughter, people will think it is because we have been brought low and have become weak. On my life, we have nothing to gain from keeping her from her father and there is no revenge to be had from her. Take the woman back to Mecca and once the loud voices have quieted and people speak of our power in keeping her here against her father's will, you can sneak her out and secretly return her to her father."

Keenanah knew that Zainab had been sorely hurt when she fell from the camel, so he agreed to Abu Sufyan's plan. With a promise of safety from the elders who had come after the attackers, Keenanah carefully gathered up the swooning Zainab and returned with her to Mecca.

Some days later, one of the men who worked as a herder for Zainab's husband approached her and gave her a ring. When she looked at the ring, she demanded to know where the herder had gotten it. He explained that a man he had met outside of Mecca had given it to him. Zainab closed her hand tightly around the ring, feeling the hard metal biting into her palm, and fought back tears. The ring belonged to her father and she remembered it well. Just holding the ring made her feel like her father was holding her hand and she suddenly felt so very comforted and safe that her welling tears overflowed and streamed in twin rivers down her lovely face.

That night, Zainab slipped out of Mecca on foot and went to the place the herder had described to her. There, she found Zaid bin Haritha waiting for her. He and his companions were the ones her father had sent to bring Zainab home to him. Without a moment's hesitation, she climbed onto the back of Zaid's horse and left with him and his men. She could not wait to see her father and sisters again! After everything that had happened, she needed to see them again and be with them so very much!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Years later, Abi Al-Aaz traveled to Al-Sha'am with a Qurashi caravan. He was going to trade his own goods, and goods that had been entrusted to him, in that far northern land.

As the Qurashi caravan passed close to Medina, it was attacked by a Muslim raiding party intent on taking back some of the riches the Qurashi tribes had taken from Muslims they had tortured and murdered. Abi Al-Aaz managed to evade the raiders and fled and, not knowing what else to do, he slipped into Medina at night and sought out Zainab. Once he saw her he begged her to grant him sanctuary for he feared that if anyone knew he was there he would be killed. Zainab, with her emotions swirling at the sight of her long absent husband, calmed Abi Al-Aaz's panic and granted him sanctuary but she told him to wait quietly for morning.

When morning came, the Muslims gathered for Salaat Al-Fajur (dawn prayer). Once they stood and started Salaat Al-Fajur, Zainab called out, "O' People, I have granted sanctuary to Abi Al-Aaz bin Rabiah!"

Since a Muslim should not interrupt his or her prayers except for the most dire of circumstances, no one reacted until the salaat (prayer) was done. Then, Zainab's father turned and said to the gathered worshippers, "O' People, have you heard what I heard?"

The Muslims in the mosque replied, "We have."

Zainab's father, Muhammad PBUH, then continued, "In the Name of the One who holds Muhammad's soul in His Hand, I knew nothing of this until I heard what you heard. Even the most humble of Muslims may give sanctuary and have it honored by all Muslims."

Then Muhammd PBUH, left the mosque and went to speak to his daughter, Zainab, privately. He told her to care well for Abi Al-Aaz but not to let him near her for she was no longer his and he was no longer hers. Then Zainab's father asked the Muslims who had taken part in the raid to return to Abi Al-Aaz all of the goods he had set out with. Eager to please the Prophet PBUH, the Muslims returned every last scrap that had been taken.

Abi Al-Aaz gratefully received his goods and without delay returned with them to Mecca. He immediately gave everyone who had entrusted him with goods everything that was theirs. When he was done he called out, "O' People of Quraish, did I neglect to give anyone the money or goods I was entrusted with?"

They replied, "No, we have found you to be both trustworthy and generous."

Abi Al-Aaz then said, "Then I Witness that there is no god except The God and that Muhammad is his Worshipper and Messenger! By God, nothing prevented me from becoming a Muslim in Medina except the fear that you would think I had become a Muslim in order to steal your money. Now that God has returned it to you, I am finished with it and I am a Muslim!"

Abi Al-Aaz then left and, again without delay, returned to Medina.

These last few years had been some of the most difficult Abi Al-Aaz had suffered through. He had spent a lot of his time thinking about Zainab and how much he missed her. Not long after they had been married he had insisted on staying married to her when his family had ordered him to divorce her in order to hurt her father, the Messenger of God. He had also refused to divorce her when the elders of Quraish offered him any woman in Mecca in return for divorcing her, again in order to hurt her father. Finally, he had refused his family's increasingly insistent offers of finding him a replacement bride, since his wife had deserted him by leaving for Medina.

Now, after discarding his stubborn pride and publicly becoming a Muslim for love of a woman, he would be reunited with the love of his life, Zainab. As he rode to Medina, Abi Al-Aaz smiled.

When Abi Al-Aaz arrived, Muhammad PBUH, asked his daughter, Zainab, if she would like to take Abi Al-Aaz back. Zainab, still deeply in love with her stubborn and dashing husband, agreed. And so, after many long years of sorrowful separation, Zainab and Abi Al-Aaz were finally reunited.

*Written by © 2011. Care to read or leave Comments?

  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Abi Al-Aaz bin Al-Rabiah: أبي العاص بن الربيعة
    • Abu Sufyan: أبو سفيان بن حرب
    • Habaar bin Al-Aswud: هبار بن الأسود
    • Keenanah (or Kinanah) bin Al-Rabiah: كنانة بن الربيعة
    • Muhammad : خاتم الأنبياء الرسول محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم
    • Zaid bin Haritha: زيد بن حارثة
    • Zainab bint Muhammad : زينب بنت محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم

  1. Al-Dhahabi, A. (2004 AD). سير أعلام النبلاء [Biographies of Notable Nobles]. Beirut: International Ideas Home. Volume 2. Page 1753-1754.
  2. Al-Dimishqi, A. (2009 AD, 1430 H). البداية و النهاية [The Beginning and the End]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya Publishing and Distributing. Volume 1. Book 3. Page 88-90, 110-114.
  3. Qutub, M., Al-Daouk, M., Al-Doemee, A. (2003 AD, 1424 H). نساء حول الرسول - تراجم و قصص [Women About the Messenger - Biographies and Stories]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya Publishing and Distributing. Page 391-399.

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