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Maria al-Qibtiyya (may Allah be pleased with her) is said to have married the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and certainly everyone gave her the same title of respect as the Prophet’s wives, ‘Umm al Muminin’ ‘Mother of the Believers’. Maria was born in upper Egypt of a Coptic father and Greek mother and moved to the court of the Muqawqis when she was still very young. She arrived in Medina to join the Prophet’s household just after the Prophet returned from the treaty with Quraish which was contracted at al-Hudaybiyya. Maria gave birth to a healthy son in 9 AH, the same year that his daughter Zaynab died, and the Prophet named his new son Ibrahim, after the ancestor of both the Jews and the Christians, the Prophet from whom all the Prophets who came after him were descended. Unfortunately, when he was only eighteen months old, Ibrahim became seriously ill and died. Even though he knew that his small son would go to the Garden, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) could not help shedding some tears. When some of his Companions asked him why he was weeping, he replied, “It is my humanness.”

As Ibrahim’s body was being buried, the sun was eclipsed and it grew dark and gloomy. Some people thought this was connected with Ibrahim’s death, but the Prophet soon clarified this. “The sun and the moon are two of Allah’s signs,” he said, “they are not eclipsed because of anyone’s birth or death. When you see these signs, make haste to remember Allah in prayer.” Although the kafirun used to mock the Prophet Muhammad because he had no sons, and say that he was ‘cut off’ , Allah made it clear in the following surah that the station of the Prophet Muhammad was far above that of any other man;

In the name of Allah, The Merciful, the Compassionate: Surely We have given you AL Khawthar, so pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice. Surely he who mocks you is the one cut off. (Quran 108:1-3)

Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets, and Allah has knowledge of all things. (Quran 33:40)

Maria was honored and respected by the Prophet and his family and Companions. She spent three years of her life with the Prophet, until his death, and died five years later in 16 AH, (may Allah be pleased with her) For the last five years of her life, she remained a recluse and almost never went out except to visit the grave of the Prophet or her son’s grave. After her death, Umar ibn al Khattab led the prayer over her and she was buried in al Baqi.

Maymuna bint al-Harith, (may Allah be pleased with her), married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and she was thirty six years old. Maymuna’s sister, Umm al-Fadl Lubaba, was the mother of Abdullah ibn Abbas, the son of one of the uncles of the Prophet and the one of the wisest of his Companions. Umm al-Fadl was one of the earliest Companions of the Prophet. Once Abu Lahab, the enemy of Allah and the Messenger of Allah, entered the house of his brother, al-Abbas, and proceeded to attack Abbas client, Abu Rafi, because he had embraced Islam. Abu Lahab knocked him to the ground and knelt on him, continuing to beat him. Umm al Fadl grabbed a post that was there and cracked it across Abu Lahab’s head, saying, “Will you victimize him because his master is absent?” He treated in shame and died a week later.

Zaynab bint Khuzayma, Umm al Muminin, was also her half-sister. Her other sisters included Asma bint Umays, the wife of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, who later married Abu Bakr, and Salma bint Umays, the wife of Hamza, the “Lion of Allah”. Her full sisters were Lubaba, Asma and Izza. Maymuna was thus one of the ‘Ahlul- Bayt’ , ‘the people of the House’, not only by virtue of being a wife of the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but also because she was related to him. Zayd bin Arqam related that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I implore you by Allah! The People of my House!” three times. Zayd was asked who were the People of the House, and he said, “The family of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the family of Jafar ibn Abi Talib, the family Aqil ibn Abi Talib, and the family of Al Abbas ibn Abdal Muttalib.”

Maymuna or Barra as she was then called, yearned to marry the Prophet. She went to her sister, Umm al Fadl to talk to her about that and she, in turn, spoke to her husband, al-Abbas. Al-Abbas immediately went to the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with Maymuna’s offer of marriage to him and her proposal was accepted. When the good news reached her, she was on a camel, and she immediately got off the camel and said, “The camel and what is on it is for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” They were married in the month of Shawwal in 7 AH just after the Muslims of Medina were permitted to visit Mecca under the terms of the treaty of Hudaybiyya to perform umra. Allah Almighty sent the following ayat about this:

Any believing woman who dedicates herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her, that is only for thee and not for the believers. (Quran 33:50)

The Prophet gave her the name, Maymuna, meaning “blessed”, and Maymuna lived with the Prophet for just over three years, until his death. She was obviously very good natured and got on well with everyone, and no quarrel or disagreement with any of the Prophet’s other wives has been related about her. ‘A’isha said about her, “Among us, she had the most fear of Allah and did the most to maintain ties of kinship.” It was in her room that the Prophet first began to feel the effects of what became his final illness and asked the permission of his wives to stay in A’isha’s room while it lasted.

After the Prophet’s death, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Maymuna continued to live in Medina for another forty years, dying at the age of eighty, in 51 AH, (may Allah be pleased with her), being the last of the Prophet’s wives to die. She asked to be buried where had married the Prophet at Saraf and her request was carried out. It is related that at the funeral of Maymuna, Ibn Abbas said, “This is the wife of Allah’s Messenger, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so when you lift her bier, do not shake her or disturb her, but be gentle.” It is also related by Ibn Abbas that he once stayed the night as a guest of Maymuna, who was his aunt, and the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) They slept on their blanket lengthways and he slept at the end, crossways. After they had all slept for awhile, the Prophet rose in the middle of the night to pray the tahajjud prayer, and Ibn Abbas joined him.

They both did wudu, and he prayed eleven rakats with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Then they both went back to sleep again until dawn. Bilal called the adhan, and the Prophet did another two short rakats, before going into the mosque to lead the Dawn Prayer.

Ibn Abbas said that one of the dua’ahs that the Prophet made during this night was : “O Allah, place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light on my sight, light behind me, light in front of me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me and light below me; place light in my sinew, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; place light in my soul and make light abundant for me; make me light and grant me light.”

It is commonly agreed that it was after the Prophet had married Maymuna, giving him now nine wives (A’isha, Sawda, Hafsa, Umm Salama, Zainab bint Jahsh, Juwayriyya, Umm Habiba, Safiyya and Maymuna), that the following ayat was revealed:

It is not lawful for you (O Muhammad, to marry more) women after this, nor to exchange them for other wives, even though their beauty is pleasing to you, except those whom your right hand possesses (as maid servants); and Allah is always watching over everything. (Quran 33:52)

After this, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not marry again. When however, the Christian ruler, or Muqawqis, of Egypt, sent him two Christian slave girls 0 who were sisters as a gift (in response to the Prophet’s letter inviting him to embrace Islam), along with a fine robe and some medicine the Prophet, accepted one of the slave girls, Maria, into his household; he gave her sister Serene, to a man whom he wished to honor, namely Hassan ibn Thabit; he accepted the robe; and he returned the medicine with the message, “My Sunna is my medicine!” This occurred in 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and Maria was twenty years old.

Safiyya bint Huyayy, (may Allah be pleased with her) married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and she was seventeen years old. As in the case of juwayriyya bint Harith, this marriage occurred after one of the Muslims’ decisive battles, in this case, the battle of Khaybar. After the battle of Khaybar in which the Muslims defeated the Jews, two women were brought before the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) by Bilal, the black mu’adhdhin of Medina whose beautifully piercing voice constantly called the Muslims to prayer right up until the Prophet’s death- after which he could not bring himself to call the adhan anymore, until he was present at the surrender of Jerusalem to the khalif Umar in 17 AH. They had passed by those who had been killed in the fighting. One of the two women was shrieking and screaming, and rubbing dust in her hair, while the other was mute with shock.

The silent one was Safiyya, the daughter of Huyayy ibn Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nadir who had all been expelled from Medina in 4 AH after plotting to kill the Messenger of Allah by dropping a stone on his head as he sat talking with their leaders. The noisy one was Safiyya’s cousin. Safiyya could trace her lineage directly back to Harun, the brother of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon them). The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked someone to look after the woman who was screaming and then took off his cloak and placed it over the shoulders of Safiyya, whose husband had been killed in the battle. It was a gesture of pity, but from that moment she was to be honored and given great respect in the Muslim community. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) turned to Bilal and said, “Bilal, has Allah plucked mercy from your heart that you let these two women pass by those of their menfolk who have been killed?” This was considered a severe reprimand, for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) rarely criticized the behavior of those who served him. Anas ibn Malik, for example once said, “I served the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for eight years. He never once scolded me for something that I had done or for something that I had not done.”

Like Umm Habiba, Safiyya was the daughter of a great chief. The only person who could save her from becoming a slave after having enjoyed such a high position was the Prophet. Although her father had planned to assassinate Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) after the battle of Uhud, and had conspired with the Banu Qurayza to exterminate all the Muslims during the battle of al-Khandaq, it was characteristic of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he did not bear any grudges. For those who did wrong, he felt pity rather than anger, and for those who had done no wrong, he had even greater compassion. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) invited Safiyya to embrace Islam, which she did, and having given her, her freedom, he then married her. Some people may have wondered how it was that Safiyya could accept Islam and marry the Prophet when her father had been his bitter enemy, and when bloody battles had taken place between the Jews and the Muslims. The answer may be found in what she has related of her early life as the daughter of the chief of the Banu Nadir.

She said, (may Allah be pleased with her): “I was my father’s favorite and also a favorite with my uncle Yasir. They could never see me with one of their children without picking me up. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Medina, my father and my uncle went to see him. It was very early in the morning and between dawn and sunrise. They did not return until the sun was setting. They came back worn out and depressed, walking with slow, heavy steps. I smiled to them as I always did, but neither of them took any notice of me because they were so miserable. I head Abu Yasir ask my father, ‘Is it him?’ ‘Yes, it is.’ ‘Can you recognize him? Can you verify it?’ ‘Yes, I can recognize him too well.’ ‘What do you feel towards him?’ ‘Enmity, enmity as long as I live.’

The significance of this conversation is evident when we recall that in the Torah of the Jews, it was written that a Prophet would come who would lead those who followed him to victory. Indeed before the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Medina, the Jews used to threaten the idol worshippers of Yathrib, as it was then called, that when the next Prophet came to the believers were going to exterminate them, just as the Jews had exterminated other tribes who refused to worship God in the past. As in any case, of the Prophet Jesus, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who had been clearly described in the Torah – but rejected by many of the Jews when he actually came – the next and last Prophet was accurately described in the Torah, which also contained signs by which the Jews could easily recognize him. Thus Ka’b al-Ahbar, one of the Jews of that time who embraced Islam, relates that this Prophet is described in the Torah as follows:

‘My slave, Ahmad, the Chosen, born in Mecca, who will emigrate to Medina (or he said Tayyiba – another name given to Yathrib); his community will be those who praise Allah in every state.’

And ‘Amr ibn al-‘As said that it also says in the Torah:

‘O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bringer of good news and a warner and a refuge for the illiterate. You are My slave and My messenger. I have called you the one on whom people rely, one who is neither coarse nor vulgar, and who neither shouts in the markets nor repays evil with evil, but rather pardons and forgives. Allah will not take him back to Himself until the crooked community has been straightened out by him and they say, “There is no god but Allah.” Through him, blind eyes, deaf ears and covered hearts will be opened.’

It was thanks to these descriptions in the Torah, that the most learned rabbi of the Jews, ‘Abdullah ibn Salam, had embraced Islam on seeing Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and it was because of these descriptions that Huyayy ibn Akhtab was also able to recognize him. However Huyayy, like most of the other Jews, was deeply disappointed that the last Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was a descendant of Isma’il and not of Ishaq, (the two sons of the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon them), since the Jews of that time claimed exclusive descent from Ishaq, through the twelve sons of his son Ya’qub (who was also known as Israel), from whom the twelve tribes of Israel had originated. Not only did Huyayy resent the fact that the last Prophet had appeared amongst the Arabs, but also he did not want to lose his position of power and leadership over his people.

It was for these reasons that Huyayy secretly decided to oppose and fight the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) while in public he and the other leaders of the Jews made peace treaties with the Muslims and the Jews broke as soon as it seemed a favorable time to do so. Although Safiyya was Huyayy’s daughter, she had a pure heart and had always wanted to worship her Creator and Lord, the One who had sent Moses, to whom she was related, and Jesus, and finally Muhammad, may Allah be pleased with all of them. Thus as soon as the opportunity arose, not only to follow the last Prophet, but also to be married to him, she took it. Although Safiyya had in Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) a most kind and considerate husband, she was not always favorably accepted by some of his other wives, especially when she had first joined the Prophet’s household. It is related by Anas that on one occasion, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) found Safiyya weeping. When he asked her what the matter was, she replied that she heard thHafsa had disparagingly described her as ‘the daughter of a Jew’.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) responded by saying, “You are certainly the daughter of a Prophet (Harun), and certainly your uncle was a Prophet (Moses), and you are certainly the wife of a Prophet (Muhammad), so what is there in that to be scornful towards you?” Then he said to Hafsa, “O Hafsa, fear Allah!”

Once the Prophet was accompanied on a journey by Safiyya and Zaynab bint Jahsh when Safiyya’ s camel went lame. Zaynab had an extra camel and the Prophet asked her if she would give it to Safiyya. Zaynab retorted, “Should I give to that Jewess!” The Prophet turned away from her in anger and would not have anything to do with her for two or three months not to show his disapproval of what she had said. Some three years later, when Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was in his final illness, Safiyya felt for him deeply and sincerely. “O Messenger of Allah,” she said, “I wish it was I who was suffering instead of you.” Some of the wives winked at each other which made the Prophet cross and he exclaimed, “By Allah, she spoke the truth!”

She still underwent difficulties after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Once a slavegirl she owned went to the Amir al Muminin Umar and said, “Amir al Muminin! Safiyya loves the Sabbath and maintains ties with the Jews!” Umar asked Safiyya about that and she said, “I have not loved the Sabbath since Allah replaced it with Friday for me, and I only maintain ties with those Jews to whom I am related by kinship.” She asked her slavegirl what had possessed her to carries lie to Umar and the girl replied, “Shaytan!” Safiyya said, “Go, you are free.”

Safiyya was with the Prophet for nearly four years, She was only twenty-one when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died, and lived as a widow for the next thirty-nine years, dying in 50 AH, at the age of sixty (may Allah be pleased with her).

Umm Habiba Ramla bint Abu Sufyan, may Allah be pleased with her, in fact married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 1 AH, although she did not actually come to live with him in Medina until 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and she was thirty-five. Umm Habiba was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, who for some of his life was one of the most resolute enemies of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spending much of his great wealth in opposing the Muslims, and leading the armies of the kafirun against the Muslims in all the early major battles, including the battles of Badr, Uhud and al-Khandaq. Indeed it was not until the conquest of Mecca, when the Prophet generously pardoned him, that Abu Sufyan embraced Islam and began to fight with the Muslims instead of against them.

Umm Habiba and her first husband, who was called Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh, the brother of Zaynab bint Jahsh, were among the first people to embrace Islam in Mecca, and they were among those early Muslims who emigrated to Abyssinia in order to be safe. Once in Abyssinia, however, Ubaydullah abandoned Islam and became a Christian. He tried to make her become Christian, but she stood fast. This put Umm Habiba in a difficult position, since a Muslim woman can only be married to be a Muslim man. She could no longer live with her husband, and once they had been divorced, she could not return to her father, who was still busy fighting the Muslims. So she remained with her daughter in Abyssinia, living a very simple life in isolation, waiting to see what Allah would decree for her.

One day, as Umm Habiba sat in her solitary room, a stranger in a strange land far from her home, a maidservant knocked on her door and said that she had been sent by the Negus who had a message for her. The message was that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had asked for her hand in marriage, and that if she accepted this proposal that she was to name one of the accepted this proposal then she was to name one of the Muslims in Abyssinia as her wakil, so that the marriage ceremony could take place in Abyssinia even though she was not in the same place as the Prophet. Naturally Umm Habiba was overjoyed and accepted immediately. “Allah has given you good news! Allah has give you good news!” she cried, pulling off what little jewelry she had and giving it to the smiling girl. She asked her to repeat the message three times since she could hardly believe her ears.

Soon after this, all the Muslims who had sought refuge in Abyssinia were summoned to the palace of the Negus to witness the simple marriage ceremony in which the on the Prophet’s behalf and her wakil, Khalid ibn Sa’id ibn al-As, acting on her behalf. When the marriage was finalized, the Negus addressed the gathering with these words:

“I praise Allah, the Holy, and I declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger and that He gave the good news to Jesus the son of Mary.

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) requested me to conclude the marriage contract between him and Umm Habiba, the daughter of Abu Sufyan. I agreed to do what he requested, and on his behalf I give her a dowry of four hundred gold dinars.” The Negus handed over the amount to Khalid ibn Sa’id who stood up and said:

“All praise is due to Allah. I praise Him and I seek His help and forgiveness and I turn to Him in repentance. I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger whom He has sent with the deen of guidance and truth so that it may prevail over all other religions, however much those who reject dislike this. “I agreed to do what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) requested and acted as the wakil on behalf of Umm Habiba, the daughter of Abu Sufyan. May Allah bless His Messenger and his wife. Congratulations to Umm Habiba for the goodness which Allah has decreed for her.”

Khalid took the dowry and handed it over to Umm Habiba. Thus although she could not travel to Arabia straight away, she was provided for by the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from the moment and that they were married. The Muslims who had witnessed the marriage contract were just about to leave, when the Negus said to them, “Sit down, for it is the practice of the Prophets to serve food at marriages.” Joyfully everyone sat down again to eat and celebrate the happy occasion. Umm Habiba especially could hardly believe her good fortune, and she later described how eager she was to share her happiness, saying: “When I received the money as my dowry, I sent fifty mithqals of gold to the servant girl who had first brought me the good news, and I said to her, ‘I gave you what I did when you gave me the good news because at that time I did not have any money at all.’

“Shortly afterwards, she came to me and returned the gold. She also produced a case which contained the necklace I had given to her and gave it to me, saying, ‘The Negus has instructed me not to take anything from you, and he has commanded the women in his household to present you with gifts of perfume.’

“On the following day, she brought me ambergris, saffron and aloes wood oil and said, ‘I have a favor to ask of you.’

‘”What is it?’ I asked.

‘”I have accepted Islam,’ she replied, ‘and now I followed the deen of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Please convey my greetings of peace to him, and let him know that I believe in Allah and His Prophet. Please do not forget.'”

Six years later, in 7 AH, when the emigrant Muslims in Abyssinia were finally able to return to Arabia, Umm Habiba came to Medina and there the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who had just returned victorious from Khaybar, warmly welcomed her. Umm Habiba relates: “When I met the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), I told him all about the arrangements that had been made for the marriage, and about my relationship with the girl. I told him that she had become a Muslim and conveyed her greetings of peace to him. He was filled with joy at the news and said, ‘Wa alayha as salam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh’ – ‘And on her be the peace and the mercy of Allah and His blessing.'”

The strength of Umm Habiba’ s character can be measured by what happened shortly before the conquest of Mecca, when her father, Abu Sufyan, came to Medina after the Quraish had broken the treaty of Hudaybiyya, in order to try and re-negotiate a fresh settlement with the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims. He first went to Umm Habiba’s room and was about to sit down on the blanket on which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) slept when Umm Habiba, who had not seen her father for over six years, asked him not to sit on it and quickly folded it up and put it away. “Am I too good for the bed, or it is the bed too good for me?” he asked. “how can the enemy of Islam sit on the bed of the Holy Prophet?” she replied.

It was only after Abu Sufyan had embraced Islam, after the conquest of Mecca, and had become the enemy of the enemies of Islam, that Umm Habiba accepted and loved him again as her father. When she received the news that her father and brother Mu’awiya, who later became the Khalif of the Muslims, had become Muslims after the conquest, she fell down in prostration to Allah out of thankfulness. Umm Habiba spent four years of her life with the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and lived for another thirty-three years after he had died, dying at the age of seventy-two in 44 AH, may Allah be pleased with her.

Like all the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Umm Habiba spent much of her time remembering Allah and worshipping Him. She has related that once the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to her, “A house will be built in the Garden for anyone who, in the space of a day and a night, prays twelve voluntary rak’ats;” and she added, “I have never stopped doing this since I it from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessinof Allah be upon him).

Juwayriyya bint Harith, may Allah be pleased with her, married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 5 AH, when the Prophet was fifty-eight years old and she was twenty, not long after his marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh, and as a result of the Muslims ‘ successful campaign against the Banu Mustaliq who were swiftly defeated after the Prophet’s surprise attack. Among the captives taken in this campaign was the beautiful Juwayriyya, the daughter of al-Harith, who was the chief of the Banu Mustaliq. She was afraid that once the Muslims realized who she was, they would demand an exorbitant ransom for her safe release. After the Muslims had returned to Medina with their booty and prisoners, she demanded to see the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) hoping that he would help to prevent what she feared. Seeing how beautiful she was, A’isha was not keen on her seeing the Prophet.

But she persisted, and eventually she was permitted to see the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and was taken to him while he was with A’isha. After she had finished speaking, the Prophet thought for a moment, and then said, “Shall I tell you what would be better than this?”

He then asked her to marry him, and she immediately accepted. Although Juwayriyya was young and beautiful and of noble lineage, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was thinking of how to save her and all her tribe from an ignoble fate. By marrying Juwayriyya, the Banu Mustaliq would be able to enter Islam with honor, and with the humiliation of their recent defeat removed, so that it would no longer be felt necessary by them to embark on a war of vengeance that would have continued until one of the two parties had been annihilated. As soon as the marriage was announced, all the booty that had been taken from the Banu Mustaliq was returned, and all the captives were set free, for they were now the in laws of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Thus A’isha once said of Juwayriyya, “I know of no woman who was more of a blessing to her people than Juwayriyya bint al-Harith.” After they were married, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) changed her name was Barra to Juwayriyya.

It has been related by Juwayriyya that early one morning the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) left her room while she was doing the dawn prayer. He returned later that morning and she was still sitting in the same place. “have you been sitting in the same place since I left you?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied. Whereupon the Prophet said, “I recited four phrases three times after I left you, and if these were to be weighed against what you have been reciting since dawn, they would still outweigh them. They are: ‘Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Him as much as the number of his creations, and His pleasure, and the weight of His Throne, and the ink of His words.'” Which reminds us of the following ayat of the Qur’an:

Say: ‘If the sea were the ink for the words of My Lord, truly the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were completed, and even if We used the same again to assist. (Qur’an 18:109)

Juwayriyya was married to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for six years, and lived for another thirty-nine years after his death, dying in 50 AH at the age of sixty-five, may Allah be pleased with her.

Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 5 AH, when she was thirty-five and the Prophet was fifty-eight, but only after her pervious marriage, which had been arranged by the Prophet himself, had ended in divorce. As with all the marriages of the Prophet Muhammad, there was much for all the Muslims to learn from it. Zaynab bint Jahsh was the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, her mother Umayma being the daughter of Abdul Muttalib, Muhammad’s grandfather, who, while he was alive, had ensured the safety of his grandson, thanks to his position as one of the most respected leaders of the Quraish. Thus Zaynab bint Jahsh came from one of the noblest families of the Quraish, and everyone expected her to eventually marry a man with the same high social status.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was well aware that it is a person’s standing in the eyes of Allah that is important, rather than his or her status in the eyes of the people. He wanted her to marry a young man called Zayd ibn Harith, whose background was very different to that of Zaynab bint Jahsh. Zayd had been taken prisoner while he was still 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 a nephew of Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) who had given Zayd to her as a gift. In turn, Khadijah had given him to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the days before the revelation of the Qur’an had begun, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had given him his freedom and adopted him as his own son, at the age of eight.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had watched both Zayd and Zaynab grow up, and thought they would make a good couple, and that their marriage would demonstrate that it was not who their ancestors were, but rather their standing in the sight of Allah, that mattered. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked for her hand on behalf of Zayd, Zaynab had her family were shocked at the idea of her marrying a man who in their eyes was only a freed slave. Moreover, Zaynab had wanted to marry the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself and in fact he had already been asked by her family whether or not he would like to marry her. At first both she and her brother refused, but then the following ayat 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 most clearly gone astray. (Quran 33:36)

When Zayd, who had also had misgivings about the proposed match, and Zaynab realized that there was no difference between what the Prophet wanted and what Allah wanted, they both agreed to the marriage, the Prophet providing a handsome dowry for Zaynab on Zayd’s behalf. The marriage, however, was not a success. Although both Zaynab and Zayd were the best of people, who loved Allah and His Messenger, they were very different and in the end they could not overcome their incompatibility. Zayd asked the Prophet’s permission to divorce Zaynab more than once, and although he was counseled to hold onto his wife and to fear Allah, in the end the divorce took place. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then was ordered by Allah to marry Zaynab bint Jahsh, while he did in 5 AH, when he was fifty-eight years old, and she was thirty-five years old. In doing so, he demonstrated beyond doubt that in Islam an adopted son is not regarded in the same light as a natural son, and that although a father may never marry a woman whom his natural son has married and then divorced, the father of an adopted son is permitted to marry a woman who was once, but is no longer, married to that adopted son. Furthermore, by marrying Zaynab, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also confirmed that it is permissible for cousins to marry, and , at the same time, Zaynab was given her heart’s desire to be married to the Best of Creation.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) received the command to marry Zaynab while he was with A’isha. After he had received the revelation, he smiled and said, “Who will go and give Zaynab the good news?” and he recited the ayat that he had received. Some say that it was Zayd himself who told 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 had been arranged by Allah. It was at this point that the Prophet changed her name from Barra to Zaynab.

Zaynab’s wedding feast was also the occasion for another ayat of Qur’an to be sent down. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sacrificed a sheep and then commanded his servant, Anas, to invite the people to partake of it. After they had eaten, two men remained there after the meal chatting. The Messenger of Allah went out and said goodnight to his other wives and then came back and the two men were still there chatting. It was very hard on the Prophet who did not like to criticize people directly, and so he waited patiently until they left. Then Allah sent down the following ayat which is known as “The Ayat of Hijab”:

O you who believe! Do not go into the Prophet’s rooms except after being given permission to come and eat, not waiting for the food to be prepared, However, when you are called, then go in and when you have eaten, then disperse, and do not remain wanting to chat together. If you do that, it causes injury to the Prophet though he is too reticent to tell you. But Allah is not reticent with the truth. When you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a screen. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. It is not for you to cause injury to the Messenger of Allah nor ever to marry his wives after him. TO do that would be something dreadful in the sight of Allah. Whether you make something known or conceal it, Allah has knowledge of all things. There is no blame on them regarding their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their brothers’ s sons or their sisters’ s sons or their women or those their right hands own. Have fear of Allah. Allah is witness over everything. Allah and His angels pray blessings of the Prophet. O you who believe! Pray blessings on him and ask for peace for him. (Quran 33:53-56)

Zaynab was a woman who was constantly immersed in the worship of Allah. It is related by Anas ibn Malik that once the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) entered the mosque and found a rope hanging down between two of the pillars, and so he said, “What is this?” He was told, “It is for Zaynab. She prays, and when she loses concentration or feels tired, she holds onto it.” At this time the Prophet said, “Untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh, but when you lose concentration or become tired, you should stop.”

Zaynab bint Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with her) was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for six years, and lived for another nine years after his death, dying at the age of fifty, in 20 AH, and thus fulfilling the Prophet’s indication that she would be the first of his wives to die aftehim. Zaynab bint Jahsh, like Zaynab bint Khuzayma before her, was very generous to the poor, and indeed the Prophet said, when speaking of her to his other wives, “She is the most generous among you.”

It has been related by A’isha that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once said to his wives, “The one who has the longest hands among you will meet me again the soonest.” A’isha added, “They use to measure each other’s hands to see whose as longest, and it was the hand of Zaynab that was the longest, because she used to work by hand and give away (what she earned) in charity.” The Messenger of Allah 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.” A’isha also said that Zaynab, “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.”

Several years after the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had died, when Umar was the khalif, great wealth came to the Muslims as a result of their victories in fighting the Persians. The immense treasures of Chosroes, the Persian Emperor, fell into their hands, and when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) sent Zaynab a pile of gold as her share of the treasure, she called her maid servant and told her to take a handful of it to so-and-so, naming one of the poor people of Medina. One after another, she named all the poor people whom she knew, until they had all received a share of the treasure. Then she told her maidservant to see what was left. All that remained of the large pile of gold was eighty dinars, and this she accepted as her share, thanking Allah for it; but, because she believed so much money was a temptation, she asked Allah that she would never witness such a large distribution of wealth again.

By the time a year had passed, when Umar again came to distribute money amongst those wives of the Prophet who were still alive, her prayer had been granted for she had already passed away, may Allah be pleased with her.

Hafsa, may Allah be pleased with her, was the daughter of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al Khattab. She had been married to someone else, but was widowed when she as still very young, only eighteen. Umar asked both Abu Bakr and Uthman ibn Affan, one after another, if they would like to marry her, but they both declined because they knew that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had expressed an interest in marrying her. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to complain about their behavior, the Prophet smiled, and said, “Hafsa will marry one better than Uthman and Uthman will marry one better than Hafsa.” Umar was startled and then realized that it was the Prophet was asking for her hand in marriage. HE was overcome with delight. They were married just after the battle of Badr, when Hafsa was about twenty years old and the Prophet as fifty-six. By this marriage, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) strengthened the ties between two of his closest Companions, the two who would become the first two rightly guided khalifs after his death. He was now married to the daughter of Abu Bakr, A’isha and to the daughter of Umar, Hafsa.

Two of the other closest Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who would become the third and fourth Rightly guided Khalifs were also connected to the Prophet through marriage. Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) married Ruqayya, then daughter of the Prophet, in Mecca, and then, after her death in Medina, soon after the battle of Badr, he had married Umm Khulthum, also the daughter of the Prophet. It was because he married two of the daughters of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that Uthman was given the title of Dhun Nurayn, which means ‘the possessor of two lights’. And Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) had married Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Prophet, shortly before the Prophet had married A’isha.

Hafsa, like A’isha with whom she became close friends, was never at a loss for words, and was not afraid to argue with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was content to allow her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I think I shall so and so.” Whereupon his wife replied, “But it would be better if you did such and such.” “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar who was a fierce man who did not expect his wives to talk back at him. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah until she upsets him for the whole day.” Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) immediately put on his cloak and went directly to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “Indeed I do.” She replied. Umar was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came into the room and would not allow him to even touch her. So Umar went round to visit Umm Salama, to whom Umar was related in order to try and influence Hafsa’s behavior through her.

“I wonder at you, Ibn Khattab,” she said, after she had listened to him. “You have interfered in everything. Will you now interfere between the Messenger of Allah and his wives?” Sayiduna Umar when relating this incident, continued, “And she kept after me until she mad me give up much of what I thought proper.” Some sources say that the Prophet divorced Hafsa with a single divorce and that Umar was heart broken when this happened and began to throw dust on his head.

Then the Prophet took her back after Jibril had descended and said to him. “Take Hafsa back. She fasts and prays and she will be your wife in the Garden.” Like A’isha, Hafsa memorized the entire Qur’an by heart. The written copy of the Qur’an which was recorded by Zayd ibn Thabit on Abu Bakr’s instructions, and which was then given to Umar for safekeeping, was then given by Umar to Hafsa to look after. When Uthman eventually became the khalif, he instructed several written copies of the Qur’an to be made so that they could be sent to the main centers of the now rapidly expanding Muslim empire, and it was the copy in Hafsa’s keeping that was used, after it had been meticulously checked for its accuracy by referring to all the other written records of the Qur’an and to all the Muslims who knew the Qur’an by heart.

Hafsa lived with the Prophet in Medina for eight years, may Allah bless him and grant him peace and lived on for another thirty four years after his death, witnessing with joy the victories and expansion of Islam under her father’s guidance, and with sorrow the troubles that beset the Muslim community after the murder of Uthman. She died in 47 AH at the age of sixty-three. May Allah be pleased with her.

 

Mazar of Hazrat Hafsa (May Allah be pleased with her) in the Bab al-Saghir Cemetery south of the old city of Damascus.


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