Zainab bint Jahsh

I have seen in people qualities I like, that I like to model. But from what history has told us of  Zainab bint Jahsh, I have a complete role model. I see her as a pious woman, an achiever, an industrialist and a giver. I hope everyone gets to learn something significant from her life.

Early life

She was the cousin of the prophet (SAW). Her mother, Umayma being the daughter of Abdulmuttalib, the prophet’s Grandfather. Abdulmuttalib was one of the respected leaders of the Quraysh. Thus Zaynab bint Jahsh came from one of the noblest families and everyone expected her to eventually marry someone with the same high social status.
The prophet was aware that a person’s standing in the sight of Allah is important rather than his or her status in the eyes of people. He therefore wanted her to marry a young man, Zayd ibn Harith, whose background was very different from hers.
About Zayd
Zayd had been taken prisoner as a child during one of the inter tribal wars that had been common before the coming of Islam. He had been sold as a slave to the nephew of Khadija who had given Zayd to her as a gift and She In turn, had given him to the prophet(SAW).The prophet gave him his freedom and adopted him as his own son @ the age of eight.

The prophet had watched both of them grow and wanted to demonstrate to the people that their  parenthood is not what matters but their standing in the sight of Allah. He asked for Zaynab’s hand in marriage on behalf of Zayd. She and her family refused until the following aaya was revealed
  ‘It is not for a believing man or a believing woman when a matter has been decided by Allah and His messenger to have any say in their decision; and whoever disobeys Allah and his messenger has clearly gone astray’.(33:36)

After this verse was revealed, both Zayd and Zaynab agreed to the marriage and the prophet provided an handsome dowry to Zaynab on Zayd’s behalf.  The marriage however wasn’t a success. Although Both Zayd and Zaynab were the best of  people who feared Allah and his messenger, they were very different and in the end could not overcome their incompatibility. Zayd asked the prophet’s permission to divorce Zaynab more than once, and although he was counseled to hold on to his wife and fear Allah, in the end the divorce took place.

The prophet was then ordered by Allah to marry Zaynab which he did in 5A.H, when he was 58 years old and she was 35.Before Zaynab’s marriage to Zayd, she had wanted to marry the prophet and he had even been asked by her family if he would like to marry her or not. It was therefore a ‘dream come true’

When the prophet received the command to marry her, he smiled and said who will go and give Zaynab the good news? and he recited the aaya. Some say it was Zayd himself who took her the good news. When Zaynab heard the news, She stopped what she was doing and prayed to thank Allah. Afterwards she was fond of pointing out that her marriage was arranged by Allah.
  Her lifestyle

  • Zaynab was a woman who was always immersed in the worship of Allah.

It was related by Anas ibn Malik that once the prophet entered the mosque and found a rope hanging down between two pillars, so he said,” what is this?” He was told ,’It is for Zaynab. She prays and when she losses concentration or feels tired she holds on to it.’ The prohet said ‘untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh but when you lose concentration and become tired then you should stop. ’

  • She was also very generous to the poor and the prophet said this about her to his other wives, ‘She is the most generous of you’

The prophet said to Umar, ’Zaynab bint Jahsh is one who is full of prayer.’ A man said “messenger of Allah, what is that?”. He said ‘the one who is humble and earnest in prayer.
Aisha also said of her ‘I have never seen a woman so pure as Zaynab, so God-fearing, so truthful, so attentive to family ties, so generous, so self-sacrificing in everyday life, so charitable, and thus so close to Allah, the exalted.’

As with every marriage of the prophet, there is always at least, a lesson to learn. His marriage to Zaynab confirmed that it is permissible for cousins to marry. It also demonstrated that in Islam, an adopted son is not regarded in the same light as a natural son and that although a man may never marry a woman whom his natural son was married to and then divorced, the father of an adopted son is permitted to marry a woman who was once married, but is no longer married to that adopted son.
Her wedding feast was another occasion for an ayah to be revealed. After the walimat (wedding feast ),two men remained chatting and it was very hard for the prophet, who finds it hard to criticise people to ask them to leave. Allah then revealed the ayah known as the ayah of the hijab (33:53-56)
Her Death
Zaynab was with the prophet for six years and lived for another nine after his death, dying @ the age of 50.
Several years after the prophet had died, during d reign of Umar, great wealth came to the Muslims as a result of fighting the Persians. The treasures of the empire fell into their hands. Umar sent a pile of gold to Zaynab which she sent to all the poor people she knew until what remained was only eighty dinars. Because she believed so much money was a temptation, she asked Allah that she would never witness such a large distribution of wealth again.
Her prayer was granted. She wasn’t alive the following year when Umar was there to distribute money among the wives of the prophet.

It was related by Aisha that the prophet once said to his wives, ‘The one who has the longest hands among you will meet me again the soonest.’ Aisha added that they used to measure each other’s hands to see which was the longest and it was the hand of Zaynab, because she used to work by hand and give away in charity.



Ref- The wives of the prophet Muhammad by
Ahmad Thomson (Ta-ha publishers, uk)


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