This is the real love story between Zainab bint Muhammad and Abu al-âAas ibn Rabeeâ [ra]; Zainab was the daughter of the Prophet (saw) and her cousin Abu al-âAas, was Khadeeja [ra]âs nephew. He was one of the nobles of the Quraish, and the Prophet (saw) loved him very much.
One day Abu al-âAas went to the Prophet (saw) before he had received his mission of Prophethood and said:
âI want to marry your eldest daughter.âÂ So the Prophet replied: âI must ask her first.âÂ He (saw) went to Zainab and asked her: âYour cousin came to me and he wishes to marry you, do you accept him as your husband?â Her face turned red with bashfulness and she smiled.
So Zainab married Abu al-âAas, the beginning of a great love story. They had two children; Ali and Umaymah. During this course of time Muhammad became a Prophet while Abu al-âAas was away from Makkah. Â Abu al-âAas returned to find his wife a Muslim. When he first came back, his wife said,
âI have great news for youâ. Â He stood up and left her. Zainab was surprised and followed him as she
said, âMy father became a Prophet and I have become a Muslim.â
He replied, âWhy didnât you tell me first?â
Hence a big problem began between the two; a problem of religion and belief. She told him, âI wasnât going to disbelieve in my father and his message, he is not a liar, and he is âThe Honest and Trustworthyâ [Al-Siddiq wal Ameen].
Iâm not the only believer; my mother and my sisters became Muslims, my cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib became a Muslim, your cousin Uthman ibn Affan became a Muslim, and your friend, Abu Bakr, became a Muslim.â He replied, âWell, as for me, I donât want people to say, âhe let down his people and his forefathers to please his wifeâ. And I am not accusing your father of anything.âÂ Then he said, âSo will you excuse me and understand?â She replied, âWho will excuse and understand you if I donât? I will stay beside you and help you until you reach the truth.â And she kept her word for 20 years.
Abu al-âAas remained an unbeliever, and then came the migration. Zainab went to her father and asked him for the permission to stay with her husband. The Prophet (saw) Â replied, âStay with your husband and childrenâ. So Zainab stayed in Makkah, until the battle of Badr occurred. Abu al-âAas
was to fight in the army of Quraish against the Muslims. For Zainab, it meant that her husband will be fighting her father, a time Zainab had always feared. She kept crying out: âO Allah, I fear one day the sun may rise and my children become orphans or I lose my fatherâ.
So the battle started, and ended in victory for the Muslims. Abu ElâAss was captured by the Muslims, and news of this reached Makkah. Zainab asked, âWhat did my father do?â They told her, âThe Muslims wonâ. So she prayed to Allah, thanking Him. Then she asked: âWhat did my husband
do?â They said: âHe was captured.â She said, âIâll send a payment to release him.âÂ She didnât own anything of much value, so she took off her motherâs necklace, and sent it with Abu al-âAas brother to the Prophet. While the Prophet (saw) was sitting, taking payments and releasing captives,
he saw Khadeejaâs necklace. He held it up and asked: âWhose payment is this?â They said: â
Abu al-âAasibn Rabee.â He cried and said âThis is Khadeejaâs necklace.â As soon as the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saw that necklace, he had a feeling of extreme compassion and his heart palpitated for the great memory. The Companions who were present there gazed in amazement having being captivated by the magnificence of the situation.
After a long silence, the Messenger of Allah (saw( stood up and said, âO my people, this man is my in-law, should I release him? And do you accept the return of this necklace to my daughter?â They answered in unison âYes, O Messenger of Allah!â The Prophet (saw) gave the necklace to Abu al-âAas and said to him, âTell Zainab not to give away Khadeejaâs necklace.â Then he (saw) said, â Abu al-âAas, Can we speak privately?â
He took him aside and said, âAllah has ordered me to separate between a Muslim and a disbeliever, so could you return my daughter to me?â Abu al-âAas reluctantly agreed. Zainab stood on the gates of Makkah waiting for the arrival of Abu al-âAas. When he finally came he said, âI am going awayâ. She asked, âWhere to?â He replied, âIt is not me who is going, it is you. You are going to your father. We must separate because you are a Muslim.âÂ She implored him, âWill you become a Muslim and come with me?â But he refused.
So Zainab took her son and daughter and traveled to Madinah, and for 6 years she refused to remarry, hoping that one day Abu al-âAas would come. After 6 years, Abu ElâAss was traveling in a caravan from Makkah to Syria. During the journey, he was intercepted by some of the Prophetâs companions. He escaped and asked for Zainabâs home. He knocked on her door shortly before the dawn prayer. She opened the door and asked him, âDid you become a Muslim?â He whispered âNo, I come as a fugitive.â She implored him once more âCan you become a Muslim?â
Again his answer was a negative. âDo not worry.â She said, âWelcome my cousin, welcome, the father of Ali and Umaymah.â After the Prophet (saw) prayed the dawn prayer in congregation with the people, they heard a voice from the back of the mosque, âI have freed Abu al-âAas ibn Rabee.â Zainab had granted Abu al-âAas freedom. The Prophet (saw) asked, âHave you heard what I heard?â They all said, âYes, Messenger of Allah.â Zainab said, âHe is my cousin and the father of my children and I have freed him.â
The Prophet (saw) stood up and said, âO people, I declare that this man was a very good son-in-law, he never broke his promise, and neither did he tell lies. So if you accept, I will return his money back and let him go. If you refuse itâs your decision and I will not blame you for it.â The companions agreed, âWe will give him his money.â So the Prophet sws said to Zainab, âWe have freed the one you have freed, O Zainab.â
Then he (saw) went to her and told her âbe generous to him, he is your cousin and the father of your children, but donât let him get near you, he is prohibited for you.â She replied, âSure, father, Iâll do as you say.â She went in and told her husband, âO Abu al-âAas, didnât you miss us at all? Wonât you become a Muslim and stay with us?â But he refused. Abu al-âAas then took the money and returned to Makkah. Once he returned he stood up and announced, âO people, here is your money. Is there anything left?â
They replied, âNo, Abu al-âAas, there is nothing left, thanks a lot.â So Abu al-âAas, âI testify that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is His Messenger.â Then he went back to Madinah and ran to the Prophet (saw) Â as he said, âDear Prophet, you freed me yesterday, and today I say that I testify there is no god but Allah and you are His Messenger.â He asked the Prophet, âWill you give me the permission to go back to Zainab?â The Prophet (saw) smiled and said, âCome with meâ; he took him to Zainabâs house and knocked on her door. The Prophet (saw) said, âO Zainab, your cousin came to me and asked if he can return to youâ. Just like 20 years before, her face turned red with bashfulness and she smiled.
The sad thing was, a year after this incident, Zainab died. Abu al-âAas shed hot tears because of her death and drove those who were around him to tears. The Messenger of Allah (saw) came with eyes full of tears and a heart full of sorrow. Zainabâs death reminded him of the death of his wife, Khadeejah. He told the women, who gathered around Zainabâs corpse, âWash her three times and use camphor in the third wash.â He performed funeral prayers on her and followed her final resting place. Abu al-âAas returned to his children, Ali and Umaymah. Kissing them and wetting them with his tears, he remembered the face of his departed darling. May Allah be pleased with Zainab, the prophetâs daughter! May He reward her with Paradise for her patience, endurance and struggle! Abu al-âAas would cry so profusely that the people saw the Prophet himself weeping and calming him down. Abu al âAas would say, âBy Allah, I canât stand life anymore without Zainab.
He died just one year after Zainabâs death
Let His Love Lead the Way, in the Blessings and Obedience of ALLAHâ¦Endeavour to Live Your Day!
Courtesy of Sharif Ali for making this available to Malawi Muslims Official Website