Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA
Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA is one of those ladies who are of great significance in the history of Islam. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was first cousin of Rasulullah SAW from his father’s side. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA is considered to be one of the ten most prominent women of Islamic history. Her name was Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA and her surname was Umm-Hakam.
Rasulullah SAW’s life had two phases. One phase pertained to his stay at Makkah i.e. till Rasulullah SAW was fifty-three years old. It shows that Rasulullah SAW stayed at Makkah for thirteen years as the apostle of Allah. The second phase of his life concerns the period after his migration to Madina. This period is extended over ten years.
The Makkah period deals with the early years of Islam when his activities were only restricted to preaching. Ten years of Madinite period deal with the establishment of Islamic state and its formative period. In the Makkan period, when Rasulullah SAW announced his apostleship and called the people to Islam, the conditions were most unfavorable. Some of the people knew that Islam is nothing but truth but could not declare it in open, because anybody who appeared to be sympathetic towards Islam, or Rasulullah SAW, had to face the hostility and enmity of the whole Makkan society.
The plight of the women was much worse, because during those days women were maltreated and their status was low. Burying the newly born girl babies alive was a normal routine. On reaching the age of puberty many parents used to sell their daughters to let their girls turn into bond-maids (However certain good families cared about daughters too, but on the whole, women-hood was a maltreated lot) and slave girls. Cruelty of husbands was order of the day and the fair sex was meted out the most unfair treatment.
The women could not imagine of any honorable social status, they could not generally acquire knowledge and education or embrace any faith or creed uncommon to the society. Those were the conditions in which Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA embraced Islam. After embracing Islam, her life was turned into a hell for her. When Rasulullah SAW allowed the Muslims to migrate to Madinah, Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA also accompanied the migrants. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was no ordinary woman; she was a renowned poetess, a knowledgeable intellectual and highly respected figure in the Arab literary circles.
Islam is a revolutionary and matchless ideology. It proves that ideas are more precious and valuable than ordinary human beings. A perusal of the human history would reveal that Islam is not one of those ideologies which prop up with the help of some human efforts and vanish after a few decades. Rather, this is a divine truth which enlightens everything that comes under its focus. The life of Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA is of historical significance. Her life portrays the practical implementation of Islamic teachings of equality of all human beings, brotherhood, love, fraternity among all classes and zenith of morality. All Muslims are proud of her life. The marriage of Zaid bin Harith RA with Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA is of no lesser significance. In those days, nobody could ever think of such a marriage. Zaid bin Harithah RA was a slave and Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA hailed from a respectable family of Quraish and a great intellectual.
This marriage proved the equality of all believers in Islam: “None of you is more respectable than others except by virtue of being more pious and of good conduct”. The history of human race cannot present another example prior to Zaid bin Harithah RA and Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA’s marriage, when a slave had married a woman of high gentry. This marriage was also strongly resented by Quraish but Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA agreed to it because it was being arranged at the instance of Rasulullah SAW. This marriage confirmed that a white man is not superior to a black man, because according to Islam, superiority is always judged on merits of piety, virtuous conduct and superior faith. Zaid bin Harithah RA had all these qualities and so in appreciation of Zaid’s merits, Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was married to him.
At the time of her marriage, Islam was having a two-pronged orientation. On one hand Muslims were preaching to non-Muslims about the teachings of Islam and on the other hand the Muslims were imparted training, education and discipline. The people could never have understood the spirit of the new faith if the Muslims had not presented a new faith if the Muslims had not presented a new set of codes and morality through their actions and deeds. The marriage of a slave to a woman from the aristocracy undeniably demonstrated the social equality that Islam stood for.
After a few months of marriage, Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA and Zaid bin Harithah RA developed matrimonial differences. Divorce is not a welcome step and Islam considers it to be one of the worst permissible acts. Narrow minded societies, cultures and religions had negated the right of divorce as in Christianity. But negation of this right creates many immoral practices. Islam provided a way out and allowed it only when it is inevitable. The differences between Zaid bin Harithah RA and Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA increased until Zaid bin Harithah RA came to Rasulullah SAW and complained, “Zainab is quite rude to me. I cannot pull on with her and wish to divorce her.”
Rasulullah SAW consoled him, called Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA and admonished her. A few more months passed but the cleavage could not be bridged and finally Zaid bin Harithah RA, divorced Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA. This behavior is an example for all Muslims. It proves that we should not be hasty in deciding to terminate a marriage. After spending a few days, everybody started asking about the future of Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA. Rasulullah SAW himself proposed her for giving a chance of rehabilitation to Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA. This proposal created a lot of confusion as Zaid bin Harithah RA had lived, with Rasulullah SAW as a son since his childhood. Everybody used to call Zaid bin Harithah RA as son of Rasulullah SAW.
Then Allah SWT, through a revelation, approved this marriage. This approval from Allah further showed that prohibition of marriage applies only to blood relations such as real paternal or maternal uncle, nephew, brother, sister etc. and not with reference to other relations. And so, Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was married to Rasulullah SAW and thus became the mother of the faithful Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA‘s marital life has another significant even to its credit. The order of Hijab (The order for hiding of face and body, from all others than blood relations, to the Muslim women) is attributed to, due to Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA.
The background of this policy decision is as follows. After the marriage of Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA and Rasulullah SAW, meals were offered to the Muslims. People came in great number. Some people stayed back after eating and gossiped. Rasulullah SAW waited for them to. Rasulullah SAW did not like it, because he knew that free mixing of men and women leads to sin. On this occasion, he received the holy revelation from Allah SWT through Angel Gabriel in these words:
“O people who have the faith. Do not enter the dwellings of Rasulullah SAW without permission, nor stay watching for the time of meal except that you are invited to meals. Do come then and disperse when you have taken food and don’t indulge in (undue) conversation, for such act of yours creates uneasiness for Rasulullah SAW, but he is shy of saying anything and Allah does not feel shy is telling the truth. And whenever you ask for something from the wives of Rasulullah SAW, do so from behind the door or curtain”.
After this revelation from Allah, Rasulullah SAW hung curtains at the entrance of his houses and forbade the people not to enter the house of Rasulullah SAW without permission. This incident resulted in an important commandment of Islam i.e. Hijab, and further substantiated the importance of Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA used to take pride in her marriage and said, “My marriage has been accorded with the will of Allah. It is unlike other marriages of Rasulullah SAW.
Mohammad bin Umar RA reported that one day Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA addressed Rasulullah SAW and said, “O Prophet of Allah I am not like your other wives, who got married to you due to the consent of their father, brothers or families but I was married to you with the consent of Allah”. Apart from this, she excelled in many other aspects as well. Saidatuna Aisyah RA once said, “Among the wives of Rasulullah SAW, Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was the only one who claimed equality with me”. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA’s marriage repealed a few old customs prevalent prior to Islam, and established some new rules and policies as under:
Prior to this marriage, there was an old Arab tradition that the adopted son was considered as good as real son. Allah clarified that adopted relations cannot be taken as blood relations. This marriage bridged the cleavage between a slave and so called aristocracy. A clear concept of divorce, how and when to exercise this right, also evolved. An important commandment of Islam, i.e. Hijab came into force.
Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA had an excellent character and only a few other women of her era could match her. She was generous, beautiful, had full faith in Allah. She was a contented woman. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA, She always patronized the poor and helped the orphans and needy. Ibn-e-Sa ‘ad has reported in one of his chronicles in these words:
“Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA did not leave anything as inheritance after her death. Whatever she got during her life, she doled out as charity to the poor, needy and orphans”. Although, she had a high social status, and was in a position to exploit her status for her benefit being wife of Rasulullah SAW. But she never did so, neither during the lifetime of Rasulullah SAW nor after his death.
Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA loved to earn her livelihood by hard labor and never shirked work. She knew the skill of tanning animal skins. She earned much through this art but always gave away all as charity, that was superfluous after meeting her needs. By virtue of these qualities, whoever met her was deeply impressed. Another incident expresses the qualities of honesty and straightforwardness she possessed. During the reign of Saidina Umar ibn Al Khattab as the second pious Caliph, he fixed a stipend of twelve thousand Dirhams per annum for Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA as Rasulullah SAW’s wife to meet her day to day expenses. For the first time, she did not decline and accepted it, but said, “O, Allah doesn’t give it to me next year because this is nothing but a trouble”.
Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA immediately distributed the money among her relatives and poor people. When Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA came to know of it, he remarked, “She is a great lady”. Then he visited her place, waited outside for quite some time, then sent the following message to her, “I have come to know, what you did with the money”. Later he sent another thousand Dirhams for meeting the expenditure of her personal needs, but Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA, distributed that money too among the poor and the needy.
Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was a God-fearing and pious lady. Once Rasulullah SAW was distributing some goods and cash out of war spoils among the common Muslims. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA interrupted him on some trivial matter. Saidina Umar Al Khattab RA, admonished her and said, “Don’t interfere”. Rasulullah SAW came to her rescue saying,
“Umar, don’t say anything to her. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA is a very pious lady”. This is no less a credit that she got Rasulullah SAW. Saidatuna Aisyah RA praised her in these words:
“No woman has better that Zainab in traits of truthfulness, kind heartedness, sacrifice, knowledge of religion and piety”. On another occasion, Saidatuna Aisyah said, “Zainab excelled every other contemporary woman as far as religious knowledge is concerned”. She further said, “May Allah take pity (This is a very common prayer in Islamic traditions and is used in positive meaning) on Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA . In this world she was blessed with a great status. Allah married her to His Prophet and she was the main reason for revelation of certain holy verses of Quran”.
Saidatuna Ummi-e-Salmah commented, “She was of good disposition, courteous and spent her time in worship prayers”. She had a successful life. She served the people in need until she died at the age of 53 during the caliphate of Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA distributed all the belongings among the poor to earn the pleasure of Allah. Her closet was later bought by Walid bin Abdul Malik (Walid bin Abdul Malik was a king of Umayyad’s dynasty) for fifty thousand Dirhams from her family.
Umayyad’s dynasty demolished the house and annexed the land with Masjid-e-Nabawi (The Mosque of Rasulullah SAW situated at Madinah). Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was so sensitive about her honor, that she advised her near ones before she breathed her last, “I have bought and prepared my coffin. If Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab (The then Caliph) sends the coffin, give that to some poor as charity”.
During his life, Rasulullah SAW had also great sense of appreciation for her beautiful nature. Since all his wives loved him, so everyone aspired to meet him in the next world after her death as early as possible. Once Rasulullah SAW addressed his wives and said, “One of you, having a bigger hand will meet me sooner than others in the next world”.
After the death of Rasulullah SAW, his wives used to measure their hands to see who would meet him first. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA died earlier than the rest. The wives of Rasulullah SAW then came to know the real meaning of Rasulullah SAW’s words. Saidatuna Aisyah RA explained, “Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA had a bigger hand than all of us because she used to give away charity in abundance out of her own earning”.
This incident shows that Rasulullah SAW loved Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA’s habit of giving alms. Saidatuna Zainab RA was fortunate in another aspect too. She had left a will that after her death, she should be carried to graveyard, on the same bier, which carried Rasulullah SAW. After she breathed her last, she was taken to the graveyard on the bier, she had desired. She was the first lady who was lifted on the same bier on which the Rasulullah’s body was carried. Prior to her, only Saidina Abu Bakar As Siddique RA was carried on that bier. Saidatuna Aisyah RA was deeply shocked on Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA’s death. Saidatuna Aisyah RA commented on her death in these words:
“Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was a blessed woman and a matchless wife. Her death had deprived the widows and orphans”. Saidatuna Zainab Bint-e-Jarsh RA was a great woman; her personality was overwhelmed by her beautiful conduct. May Allah rest her soul in peace.
Selected Video about Saidatuna Zainab binti Jarsh RA.