Weary, wounded, and heart-sore, Zainab bint Muhammad finally arrived in Madinah, to the overwhelming joy of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him), who rejoiced at the return of his eldest daughter. Zainab herself found comfort in being reunited with her father and sisters, but though her injuries had healed outwardly, the emotional ones took longer to fade away.
No one could take the place of Abu’l ‘Aas in her heart, and she spent her days quietly in the worship of Allah, begging Him to bring her husband back to her and guide him towards Islam.
Sometime later, Abu’l ‘Aas embarked on a journey with a merchant caravan, which was subsequently raided by a Muslim military unit. Once again a prisoner of the Muslim army, Abu’l ‘Aas was marched back to Madinah.
Zainab heard the news, and excited at the prospect of being reunited with her beloved, resolved once more to take action on his behalf.
Early one morning, the adhaan for salatul Fajr had been called, and the Muslims of Madinah were gathered behind The Prophet (PBUH) in preparation for prayer. Stepping forward amongst the lines of women, Zainab called out clearly, “O people! I have granted sanctuary to Abu’l ‘Aas ibn Rabee’!”
Stunned, the people remained silent and began their prayer. When the prayer was over, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) turned to the congregation and asked, “Have you all heard what I heard?”
They all nodded in confirmation.
The messenger of Allah continued, “In the Name of the One in Whose Hands my soul is, I knew nothing of this until I heard what you heard. Every Muslim has the right to grant sanctuary, and have it honored by all Muslims.”
Abu’l ‘Aas was released into Zainab’s custody, but they were both warned that as they were no longer considered husband and wife by the Shari’ah, they had to keep their distance from each other.
In the meantime, Prophet Muhammad gathered the wealth that the Muslims had captured from Abu’l ‘Aas’ caravan and informed them, “I know of nothing but good from my son-in-law; he has never broken an oath and he has never lied. Will you agree to return his wealth to him?”
Eager to please their Messenger, the Companions agreed and Abu’l ‘Aas was given everything which he had in possession at the time of his capture.
The only thing Zainab wanted now was for her beloved to accept Islam and be her husband once again. She beseeched him constantly, but just as before, he quietly refused. With tears in her eyes, Zainab watched Abu’l ‘Aas pack his belongings and leave for Makkah. It was as though her heart was breaking all over again, as she watched the only man she had ever loved leave her for a third time.
Unbeknownst to her, Abu’l ‘Aas went to Makkah for only one purpose. He swiftly distributed the property he had on him to its rightful owners, and ensured that nothing stayed with him that did not belong to him.
“O people of Quraysh!” he announced in the public square. “Have I withheld the property or goods from you, that you entrusted me with?”
They all confirmed that they had received their property and that they trusted him fully.
“Then I declare Laa ilaaha illAllah, Muhammadun RasulAllah!” Liberated, he continued, “By Allah, nothing stopped me from accepting Islam in Madinah except that I feared you would believe that I became Muslim only to steal your money. Now that it has been returned to you, I am free to declare my Islam.”
Without delay, overwhelmed with excitement to be rejoined with the love of his life, Zainab, one final time, Abu’l ‘Aas returned to Madinah.
Breathless from the exertions of his journey, Abu’l ‘Aas immediately approached The Prophet and declared not only his Islam, but his desire to be Zainab’s husband once more.
Smiling, Prophet Muhammad took Abu’l ‘Aas to Zainab’s house so that he could ask her himself. The expression of delirious, joyous love on her face was all the answer they needed…
Zainab bint Muhammad (PBUH) spent the remainder of her life in Madinah with her husband, Abu’l ‘Aas, and her two children – Umamah, her daughter, and Ali, her son. Umamah was the first of The Prophet’s grandchildren, and deeply beloved to him.
Abu Qatadah narrates a hadith found in Bukhaari and Muslim that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to take Umamah bint Abi’l ‘Aas to the masjid with him, and lead the prayers while carrying her.
A’ishah narrates that one day, The Prophet (PBUH) received a gold necklace unlike anything they had every seen before. All the wives of The Prophet were gathered in one house, and Umamah was a young girl playing in the sand next to the house.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked his wives, “What do you think of this necklace?” They all replied that it was amazing and unlike anything they had seen before.
He then said, “I will put it on the neck of the one most beloved to me from Ahlul Bayt (his family).”
A’ishah says that “the world became dark” (she was afraid that he would give it one of his other wives rather than her,” and she was sure that the other wives felt the same.
He then called for Umamah and placed the jewelry around her neck, leaving everyone satisfied and happy.
(Al-Haythami in Al-Mujma’)
This was not the only time that he singled her out for gifts. At one time, an-Najaashi sent many precious gifts, amongst them gold rings and precious stones from Abyssinia. Using a stick (or his fingers), The Prophet touched them and called Umamah and told her “Beautify yourself with this, my daughter.”
Zainab bint Muhammad (PBUH) died in the seventh year after the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, leaving behind her grief-stricken husband and her two children, Ali and Umamah.
After her death, they were both raised in the household of Allah’s Messenger and cared for by their aunt, Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her). After the deaths of The Prophet, Fatimah, and eventually their father Abu’l ‘Aas as well, they were placed under the guardianship of azZubair ibn al-Awwaam. It is said that Ali ibn Abu’l ‘Aas was martyred in the Battle of Yarmouk; as for Umamah, she grew up to marry Ali ibn Abi Talib, during the khilaafah of Umar ibn al-Khattab.