Zainab Bint Jahash (Radhiallahu Anha)
One day Allah’s Messenger (salllahu alihuwa sallam) said to the mother of the believers, “Among you she would meet me first in Hereafter whose hands would be long.”
Among the mother of the believers, “Zainab was the first lady who died first, and she became the guest of Paradise.”
Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) would often give charity. Generosity is referred to long hands. Let us have some glimpses on her biography..
Zainab’s (Radhiallahu Anha) lineage
She was the daughter of Umaimah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim, who was the Messenger of Allah’s paternal aunt. Her brother was the distinguished general, “Abdullah bin jahash another brother was a noted author of religious poetry, Abu Ahmad bin Jahash. Her sister was another famous women Companion, Hamnah bint Jahash. Her mother was Umaimah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim. Her paternal uncles were the ‘Leader of the Martyrs Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib, and Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, who was renowned for his works of charity. Her paternal aunt was Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib bi Hashim.
Convert to Islam, Her Migration and Marriage
She was born about thirty years before the Hijrah of the Prophet . She was influenced by the teachings of her brother, “Abdullah bin Jahash, to convert to Islam. Beautiful, intelligent, wise and of noble birth she was the envy of many.
Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) was migrated with the brothers and relatives upon receiving the order from Prophet to Madinah.
Time passed peacefully in Al-Madinah, and the ties between the immigrants and the Ansar, the original inhabitants created an atmosphere of brotherly love and affection. In the context of such an ideal society the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) suggested to his cousin Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) that he had decided to get her engaged to Zaid bin Harithah, his adopted son and a freed slave. When Zainab heard this she was stunned; she told him that she was form a noble family and she was neither keen nor willing to marry a freed slave. She was doubtful if they could get along with each other. He answered that he had chosen Zaid for her and she should accept him. Before Zainab could answer him, an Ayah was revealed to the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) this was Ayah of Surat Al-Ahzab,
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option I their decision. And whoever disbelieves Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plane error.” (33:36)
Thus Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) and Zaid (Radhiallahu Anhu) were married, but separated as they were by totally different social backgrounds they were never happy, and their marital life was far from peaceful.
Zainab was biased and from the very beginning the relations were always strained. Zaid felt that the respect and importance that a husband should get from his wife was never given to him. Disappointed in his marriage, he went to the prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) and told him that he was very upset as he and Zainab seemed totally incompatible. The advice that he received from his mentor, Allah as incorporated in the Noble Quran,
“Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.” (33:37)
But in spite of all the best efforts the marriage did not work out, and finally he divorced Zainab.
Arabs thought it was wrong for a man to marry the widow or divorcee of his adopted son. Allah wanted to abolish this uncivilized custom, so he sent the Angel Jibril to tell the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) in secret that Zainab would one day be his wife. He was very distressed as it was against the accepted norm of behavior. He feared social censure and was very ashamed and embarrassed at the implications. But the decision had been made in the heavens by Allah, and soon he received the revelation.
When Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) completed her period of waiting, the Prophet sent her a proposal through Zaid bin Haritha. When he went to her, she was kneading dough; keeping his back turned to her, he gave her the Prophet’s (salllahu alihuwa sallam) message, that he wanted her to join the select group of the Mothers of the believers. She said she could not answer immediately, but would have to consult her Maker. She began praying to Allah for guidance. She was still in the middle of her prayer, when the Prophet received a revelation that the marriage had already been performed in the Heavens by Allah Himself. After this Heavily order, the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) immediately went to Zainab without observing any of the formalities that were observed with acquaintance and friends. He did not inform her in advance nor did ask for permission. There are some exceptional points to be noted regarding this marriage.
1) Only the order of the Quran was based as a guardian or a witness
2) It abolished a barbaric custom that equated a blood relationship with an adoptive one; in which the father could not marry an adopted son’s ex-wife or widow
3) Zainab used to say very proudly to the other Mother of the believers that her marriage had been performed not by her family but by Allah above the Heavens with His beloved Prophet
4) When the hypocrites criticized the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) for this marriage, Allah replied, “There is no blame on the Prophet in that which Allah had made legal for him …..(33: 38-39)
5) And to clarify the finer points still further He revealed Ayat which again are part of Surat Al-Ahzab,
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything. (33:40)
6) The Occasion of this wedding Allah revealed revelation regarding Hijab.
Some of her virtues
She was an innately good woman who used to devote a great deal of her time to prayer and fasting. On her death she left a house which was bought by waleed bin ‘Abdul Malik for fifty thousand Dirhams and included by him in the precincts of the Prophet Masjid at Al Madianh. The Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) told ‘Umar bin Khattab (Radhiallahu Anhu) that she was a god fearing woman, hospitable, modest. She was so generous and soft-hearted that the poor and distressed of the city broke into tears when they heard thy lost their benefactress and patron. She was also one of the fortunate who the Prophet said would go to Paradise.
Ayesha (Radhiallahu Anha) says that in terms of values and position. Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) was her equal. She said she had never seen any other person who was so eager to get closer to Allah. To gain nearness to Him she was more charitable than most, and her generous behavior with relatives was impeccable. When Ayesha was wrongfully accused, the whole of Al Madinah was polluted with taunts and filthy talk; in fact even the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) was disturbed. The Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) asked Zainab what her opinion was of Ayesha. The noble character of this lady is revealed in her answer; she promptly said she did not wish to be involved , and did not want to defile and taint her ears, her eyes and her tongue with such terrible accusations. Swearing by Allah she say, she found Ayesh to be a truly God-fearing lady of exemplary character. She found in her the most wonderful traits of integrity, sincerity and honesty. She said she had not seen in her anything but goodness and virtue. Ayesha narrated that Zainab very easily have taken advantage of the situation and passed derogatory remarks about her, for after all, in a sense they were rivals. “Ayesha syas she never forgot the fact that she stood by her at the worst time in her life when almost the whole world had turned against her.
When Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) passed away Ayesha (Radhiallahu Anha) recalled an occasion when the Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) said that among the Mother of the Believers, she would meet him first who had the longest arms.
Ayesha (Radhiallahu Anha) says Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) worked with her own hands, and what she thus earned she spent on works of charity. She says she was a God-fearing, straight-forward lady who practiced abstinence. All her actions were aimed at pleasing Allah. Sometimes she could lose her temper, but then she was quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. She was very pure at heart and never carried resentments and grudges
Beside the verses in Sura Al-Azhab there are some other verses revealed to Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) in Sura At-Tahrim which was related to the wives of Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) and Zainab was one of them.
Zainab (Radhiallahu Anha) made a little Masjid in a corner of her house and used to spend a lot of time there in prayer and meditation. The Prophet (salllahu alihuwa sallam) would also pray there sometimes. She believed strongly in asking Allah for counsel through prayer and supplication, before taking any action. All her life’s major decisions were made in this way. In fact even when the Prophet proposed she turned to prayer for guidance.
This righteous lady died during the caliphate of ‘Umar Farooq (Radhaillahu Anhu) at the age of fifty-three. When she realized she was about to meet her Maker, she told the people around her that she already prepared a shroud for herself. If Umar Farooq (Radhaillahu Anhu) sent one for her, one should be used and the other given away in charity. She was such a modest lady that a curtain was drawn in front of her dead body, even though it was wrapped in a shroud.
Umar Farooq (Radhaillahu Anhu) led the funeral prayers and all her close relative- Osamah bin Zaid, Muhammd bin Abdullah bin Jahash, ‘Abdullah bin Abi Ahmad bin Jahash and Muhammad bin Talhah bin Abdullah got down into the grave to lower her gently into her final resting place in Jannatul Baqi.’
Indeed Zainab (Radhiallahu anha) is a role model to our sisters. We advice our sisters to devote their time in prayer, fasting meditation, charity and all other acts which bring them closer to Allah. With regret, we find some of our sisters spending their time in front of Television and other disobedient acts. May Allah guide us all and May He (Subhana Wa T’ala ) make us easy to follow the path of Sahaba and Sahabiyat (Radhiallahu anhuma Jamiyan)…
Taken from the Book …
Great Wome of Islam “Who were given the good news of Paradise”
By.. Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar and Revised by Sheikh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpur (May Allah please with them both) – Published by Darussalam