The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had emigrated to Medinah with the remaining members of his young Ummah… except for his daughter, Zainab. She had asked permission to stay behind in Makkah with her husband, Abu’l ‘Aas ibn Rabee’, who had sworn his loyalty and protection to her, and whom she could not bear to part with. For a little while, life was stable and, if not ideal, at least somewhat peaceful.
Soon enough, however, rumors of war began to spread. Within months, the Quraysh gathered a huge force and marched onto Badr – with Abu’l ‘Aas ibn Rabee’ amongst their ranks.
Tears streaming down her face, Zainab cried out to her Lord, “O Allah, I fear one day the sun may rise and my children become orphans, or that I will lose my father!”
When news of the Muslims’ victory at Badr came to Makkah, Zainab feared the worst. Was her father hurt? Was her husband dead? She soon learned that Abu’l ‘Aas had been captured as a prisoner of war. Overwhelmed with relief, but realizing that his fate was in the hands of the Muslims, she quickly decided to pay a ransom for his return. Wisely, she chose a wedding gift from her mother, Khadijah, and sent it to Madinah.
When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the ransom for Abu’l ‘Aas, he immediately recognized what his daughter had sent. Instantly, he was flooded with memories of his wife Khadijah, and his hands trembled with emotion as his Companions watched him in surprise.
Recovering himself, the Messenger of Allah turned to his Companions and asked, “Do you agree to this ransom?” Understanding that their Prophet wanted nothing more than to make his daughter happy, the companions readily agreed.
Before Abu’l ‘Aas returned to Madinah, Prophet Muhammad took him aside and quietly informed him that a command had come from above the seven heavens: Allah decreed that no Muslim woman was allowed to remain with her non-Muslim husband. Abu’l ‘Aas promised to send Zainab to Madinah, and left for Makkah.
Zainab’s joy at seeing her husband return safely was made bittersweet by the knowledge that she now had a great choice to make: obey Allah’s order and be reunited with her father and sisters, or defy her Lord’s command and remain with her beloved husband.
As difficult as the test was, for Zainab there was only one real option. How could she disobey Allah and risk His Anger, when all that truly mattered was His Pleasure?
Abu’l ‘Aas knew that it was time to fulfill his promise to The Prophet, but the pain of having to send his wife away was too great for him to take her himself. Instead, he had his brother, Kinaanah ibn Rabee’, to escort her to Madinah.
When Kinaanah and Zainab began to head for the outskirts of Makkah, the Quraysh understood what was happening. Angry and resentful from their bitter defeat at Badr, some of the young men of Quraysh refused to let their enemy’s daughter leave so easily.
Led by a man named Habaar ibn al-Aswad, they quickly overtook the two travelers and attacked them. A spear struck Zainab’s camel, and in its agony, threw her from her saddle. She fell to the ground, and the sight of blood soaking her skirts confirmed that she had just lost the child she carried in her womb.
Realizing that not only had his sister-in-law been attacked, but that she had just suffered a miscarriage, Kinaanah knelt before her, nocked an arrow to his bow, and threatened, “By Allah, any man who approaches will do so with an arrow in his chest!”
The young men of Quraysh withdrew sullenly, slowly and painfully, Zainab and Kinaanah returned to Makkah. Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, a prominent leader amongst the Quraysh, and Zainab’s grand-uncle, came to quietly advise Kinaanah. “It is still too soon after our defeat at Badr for you to leave with this woman so publically. By Allah, we have nothing to gain by keeping her from her father and no revenge to be had, but if you travel so openly, it will be said that we have become weak. Wait a while, and then leave in secret.”
They waited long enough for Zainab to heal from her ordeal before embarking once again towards Madinah. This time, they were met with no opposition, and found Zaid ibn Harithah waiting for them on the outskirts of Makkah. As quickly as possible, Zainab followed Zaid ibn Harithah towards Madinah… and her father, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).
To be continued…