We often are introduced to the people around the Prophet (PBUH) through his life and perspective. While there is good reason for this, it can also be of great benefit to learn about the companions of the Messenger as individuals. They were the people who Allah (SWT) calls in the Quran,
“[…] the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind”. (Quran 3:110)
It can be especially important to look to the lives of the honorable and honored wives of the Prophet (PBUH) to understand that they too were human beings who lived, ate, laughed, and struggled to please Allah (SWT). After the Prophet, can there be a better example for us than the Mothers of the Believers who were all promised paradise?
Continuing in our journey to find out if our mothers were funny, sensitive, outgoing, introspective, self-doubting, or fearless, we take a look at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife, Juwayriyah bint al-Harith (May Allah be pleased with her-RA).
Among the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wives, Juwayriyah bint al-Harith (RA) was outspoken and fiercely loyal. She stood up for justice and was devoted to the worship of Allah (SWT).
She was outspoken
Juwayriyah bint al-Harith (RA) was born with high status in her tribe. The daughter of the chief Banu al-Mustaliq, she was in her own right a princess and embodied that ideal in every way- beautiful, elegant, and strong. Aisha described Juwayriyah, saying, “She was a pleasant woman. No one saw her except he became captivated by her”.
When the Muslims learned that Banu al-Mustaliq, Juwayriyah’s tribe, was planning an assault on the Muslims, war broke out. The Muslims defeated Banu al-Mustaliq’s and their ambitions to distinguish the light of Islam. This defeat of her tribe drastically changed how Juwayriyah (RA) saw her life going.
Juwayriyah (RA) was taken captive and given as a slave to Thaabit ibn Qays. This was an unacceptable fate to her. But she did not shrink to the challenge before her. She approached Thaabit ibn Qays to negotiate for her release.
She agreed on sum for her freedom, but did not know how she, once a chief’s daughter now a penniless slave, could attain such wealth.
Still she did not buckle under the weight of her perceived fate. She petitioned and insisted on seeing the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)-the only man she knew who could help her. When she went to the Prophet (PBUH) she pled her case.
While the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, suddenly Juwayriyah
entered asking him concerning her ransom agreement (with Thaabit). […] She then started addressing the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘O Messenger of Allah! I am Juwayriyah, the daughter of al-Haarith – the leader of his people. You are not oblivious of what has happened to me. I fell in the share of Thaabit ibn Qays and agreed with him to ransom myself with nine Ooqiyah. So help me to free myself.’
This occasion when she demanded to speak with the Prophet (PBUH) lead first to her conversion to Islam and then to her marriage with the Prophet.
She was loyal and stood up for her people
Juwayriyah’s (RA) insistence to better her circumstances when she found herself and her people captives of war was not simply for herself. She knew that she, an influential member of her tribe, had a duty to her people because her position had weight.
No other person of import from her tribe stepped up to rescue them from captivity. So, she took it upon her own shoulders. Aisha said: “When the news of this marriage came to the people they began saying, ‘Will the Prophet’s in-laws be held as captives?!’ Then the people freed all the captives that were with them from the tribe of Banoo al-Mustaliq, and the number of those who were freed reached one hundred households because of the Prophet’s marriage to Juwayriyah.”
Juwayriyah’s (RA) loyalty to her people and her sense of responsibility to them embolden her to speak with the Prophet (PBUH). Accepting him as her husband was a political maneuver to better her people’s circumstance. But the love and the beautiful deen she found with the Prophet was an immense reward for her bravery.
She refused to be treated with inequality
It is no surprise that the same woman who demanded her freedom and in doing so attained the freedom and property of her people, would be the same woman to tell Umar (RA), powerful and formidable as he was, not to deal with her unjustly.
According to her biography:
After the demise of the Prophet (PBUH) both Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) and Umer Farooq (RA) granted [her and all the mother of the believers] 12,000 Dirhams during their “Khilafat” (Governing). It is also reported that Umer Farooq (RA) wanted to give Juwairiyah (RA) and Safiyah (RA) only 6,000 Dirhams each as pension. But they refused to take and stating that Umar Farooq (RA) did not consider them on par with the other “Ummul-Mumineen”. Ultimately granted them also 12,000 Dirhams as pension.
She knew her rights and knew she could demand them when she saw fit.
She was dedicated to Allah (SWT)
Some may look upon Juwayriyya (RA) with suspicion as one who had political ambition. But Juwayriyya’s own life stands as a testament to her devotion to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH). Juwayriyya spent most of her time in worship, remembrance of Allah (SWT), and deep contemplation long after she was freed and safe to live her life among her people.
It was narrated 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.”
Juwayriyah (RA) was a woman of strength who knew her own worth. She spoke her mind, stood up for her people, and refused to be treated with inequality. But above all, she was deeply committed in her worship to Allah (SWT). Juwayriyah was a pillar of strength and devotion we can all look to as an example.
First published: August 2017