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The Prophet’s Wives Series

Discovering the Personality of Zaynab bint Khuzayma

Part Five

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.” (Qur’an 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, Zaynab bint Khuzayma (may Allah be pleased with her).

Among the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wives, we know the least about Zaynab bint Khuzayma. She only lived 8 months after marrying the Prophet. For this reason, she is not mentioned much in the traditions. But we do know that she was generous and brave.

Zaynab was generous

Even before Islam came to direct its adherents to treat the weak and downtrodden in society well, giving them a helping hand; Zaynab had a giving spirit. She was well known to all around her for her care of the hungry and needy.

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But her generosity was not out of seeking reward or to be viewed as a good person. It was because she just could not bear to see a fellow human being in need. Her compassion for the poor was so great that the famous poets of the time immortalized her in their verse as “the mother of the poor”.

Zaynab converted early during the mission of the Prophet (PBUH). And with Islam’s directives to protect and provide for the weak and needy of society, Zaynab’s generosity only intensified. affirms that “Indeed, she was following the way of the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said in a supplication: ‘O Allah, make me live as a poor person, cause me to die as a poor person and resurrect me amidst the group of poor people!’”

Zaynab was brave

Zaynab recognized the truth of the message of Islam and accepted it into her heart at a time when it was dangerous to do so. In Zaynab’s day, becoming a Muslim was considered a perilous act, something that put your livelihood and even your life in danger.

Zaynab saw what was happening to those around her who were tortured and even murdered with impunity by the pagan Arabs of Quraysh. But she still chose to stand up for the truth when she recognized it. She refused to be intimidated into denying the message from her Creator.

When the persecution of the Muslims reached critical levels for the weakest of society, the first migration was organized. A trip to Abyssinia in Zaynab’s day would have been an incredible journey.

Travel in the 7th century is far removed from what we recognize it to be today. It was arduous work. The traveler of the 7th century would face hunger, thirst, bandits, exposure, exhaustion, and disease.

Despite all these risks, Zaynab chose to leave her home, family, and all she knew to protect her life and faith. And so, she traveled to a strange land of Abyssinia and became a muhajir, knowing the dangers that lay ahead of her in her journey.

Being brave and generous were just a few qualities of the Prophet’s wife, Zaynab, but they are the only one we can affirm today since little is known about her. One can only assume with such a giving and courageous soul, Zaynab’s other beneficial attributes must have been many.



About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.