The Prophet (peace be upon him) as a Father

Here comes the role of Muhammed (peace be upon him) as a father. We have discussed him while speaking about the noble women Companions who attained, during the early days of Islaam, honour and glory through their reversion to Islaam. These women fulfilled more than what was required from them and, as a result, became role models for us and for all nations throughout history.

Some of them were Mothers of the Faithful in the light of Allah's saying: {And his wives are their mothers}, thereby attaining the greatest meaning of motherhood.

But now we are going to discuss the personalities of his daughters, Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah, may Allah be pleased with them!

Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her) gave birth to the Prophet's daughters in succession. They were like roses whose calyxes had opened, with their fragrance exuding all over the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) household. They were to the Messenger of Allah like a cool breeze in the bitter night of the Quraysh’s denial, a shinning smile that kindled hope in his heart and a strong emotional support to proceed upon the arduous journey along the straight path.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had been denied real parental love, compassion and care since his childhood. This is because his father died while he was still in the womb of his mother - Aminah bint Wahb - and when he began recognising faces, his mother also passed away.

This left its mark on the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), making him very compassionate, extremely soft and tender-hearted. All of this was a divine training for him for that promised day, the day when he was to be commissioned as a Prophet and Messenger.

Only Allah knows the reason behind the death of all the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sons, including the last of them: Ibraaheem who born to him by Maariyah the Copt. Ibraaheem had only lived for a few months; he crawled, babbled, laughed, cried and had started to even articulate a few words before the Angel of Death visited his home.

Allah had also Willed that his daughters, Zaynab, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom would all die during his lifetime. As for Fatimah, she survived her father, only to join him a few months after his death.


There was a report that al-Akhnas ibn Shareeq came to Abu Jahl, Hisham ibn al-Mugheerah al-Makhzoomi and asked him: "Abu al-Hakam, what is your view about what you heard from Muhammad?"

Abu Jahl responded,

"What did I hear from him? We and the children of 'Abd Manaaf always vie for nobility. They fed the people and we did the same, they provided for the travellers and we did the same and they gave generously and we did the same. And when we came to each other like two competing horses, they then claimed to have a Prophet among them who received revelations from the heaven… By Allah! We shall never believe in him!"

The Qurayshi had a narrow-minded and complex concept of Prophethood. This emanated from their traditions which were mixed with empty clamour and utter superciliousness. They did not realise that the Message, Prophethood and Da'wah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is guidance and mercy from Allah for the entire mankind. Not only that, it is also a mental and emotional liberation for humanity.

It is this very ignorance that led some of the Quraysh into rejecting and waging war against this Message of Islaam throughout the twenty-three years of the Prophet's call towards the Message of his Lord.

However, this opposition was defeated when Allah permitted His Messenger (peace be upon him) to conquer Makkah, purify the Ka'bah and destroy the idols, thereby removing their impact from the people's hearts and minds. Indeed, Allah has full power and control over His affairs, but most men know not.

The life of Zaynab (may Allah be pleased with her) with her husband Abu al-As was a clear manifestation of this struggle.

She was born ten years before her father was commissioned as a Prophet. She belonged to the noblest parents in the world. Her father: Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah (peace be upon him) is the one Allah has sent as a mercy for mankind, the chief of the Prophets and the Seal of all the Messengers. Her mother Khadeejah is a leader and role model for all women. She has the highest lineage, nobility, virtue and knowledge. She was also married to the dearest of Allah's creatures, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Zaynab's Upbringing

orangeZaynab (may Allah be pleased with her) was born to a esteemed Qurayshi scion, with a noble and respectable descent which had no equal in all of Arabia. She was well received by an unparalleled, reputable and pure home because her parents led a happy marriage based upon mutual love, sincere affection and great respect.

Her honourable father (peace be upon him) loved his beloved wife dearly. She compensated him, through her abundant compassion and kindness, for all the hardships he may have suffered in childhood. In turn, her great mother Khadeejah saw a living treasure in her dear husband who dazed her by his amazing qualities. She therefore opened her heart to him which had been closed due to her previous unpleasant marriage. She then embraced life anew, full of hope and expectations.

Zaynab was a sweet basil that exuded a pleasant fragrance and overwhelming splendour. Like the children of other noble Arabs, she too was given a wet nurse and when she returned to her parent’s home, the gracious home of her parents embraced her with great love and affection once again.

When she grew up into an adolescent, her mother started training her in domestic responsibilities and chores and tried to keep her away from childish frivolities.

While still a young girl, Zaynab was for her small sister Fatimah a great educator and caring mentor. She would take care of her affairs and play with her. This responsibility became even greater after the death of their mother, Khadeejah.

A Marriage Proposal

When Zaynab attained marriage-age, her cousin (who was the son of her maternal aunt), Abuul-‘Aas ibn Rabee came forward, asking for her hand in marriage. He was very close to his aunt Khadeejah, who treated him like her own son and showed love and compassion to him.

Abul-‘Aas was fascinated by Zaynab's beauty, pleasant talk, tenderness and good nature. We must remember that this was before the Qur’aan was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore the verses pertaining to Hijaab were not as yet revealed.

Zaynab was also comfortable in his presence and loved to listen to his speeches and jokes. For, despite his young age he was one of the leading merchants of Makkah and a wise reader who commanded the respect of both the young and old.

In this way two hearts opened up for each other and the feeling of love and affection flowed between them.


Abul-‘Aas came forward and asked for Zaynab’s hand in marriage. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) received him well and listened to what he had to say attentively but requested that he be given some time to ask for Zaynab’s consent.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then went to his daughter Zaynab and said, “Daughter, your cousin, Abu al–‘Aas Ibn Rabee’ is interested in you.”

Zaynab kept quiet out of shyness, and did not utter a single word. Her face became red… but the beating of her pure heart and the lowering of her eyes was the best answer for her father (peace be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) smiled and did not repeat the question. He then went back to Abul–‘Aas and gave him a congratulatory handshake and prayed to Allah for blessings.

At Her Matrimonial Home

At their matrimonial home, Zaynab and her husband enjoyed much happiness and mutual love.

Abu al-‘Aas, being a trader and a well-placed person among his people travelled a lot. He would be away in Syria for days and nights, while Zaynab would miss him dearly.

mountainblueZaynab as a Mother

Zaynab bore two children from Abul-‘Aas, a boy named ‘Ali and a girl named Umaamah. These two children were the Prophets (peace be upon him) first grandchildren.

One day, when Abul-‘Aas was away on one of his journeys, a great event occurred: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was commissioned to deliver a Divine Message. Like her mother and sisters, she also followed her father and embraced Islaam.

When her husband returned from his journey, she informed him of what had happened when he was away and he also heard the same from the people of Makkah.

The Separation

Abul-‘Aas turned to his beloved wife Zaynab and said:

“By Allah, I have nothing against your father and nothing is dearer to me than following the same path as you. But I'd hate for people to say that I have disappointed my clan by disbelieving in the deities of my ancestors in order to please my wife. Can you please excuse me?” .

Suddenly, they separated as if a barrier had been erected between them. On that night, neither of them slept. This continued on for subsequent nights. The atmosphere of their household was filled with anxiety, sorrow and caution. Their bliss had turned into hell.

It should be noted here that this decision of Abul-‘Aas to follow the path of his people was out of haughtiness, stemming from the time of ignorance that had prevailed over many others like him. This arrogance was caused by tribalism and utter superciliousness.

A Persevering Believer

The disbelievers’ persecution of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and the early Muslims became more severe. So he, along with his followers and the members of his household were isolated for many years in the valleys of Aboo Taalib beside the valley of Abu Qubays. The Quraysh had sanctioned embargos on them and prevented anyone from helping them.

During this period Zaynab was very sad and distressed. She would cry and cry and then resign her fate to Allah hoping that he would one day provide a way out for them.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) experienced great persecution at the hands of the polytheists, especially whenever he went to pray at the Ka’bah, in the vicinity of the sacred mosque.

Those who persecuted the Muslims the most were a group who were known as ‘The Deriders’. Their leader was the notorious Abu Jahl ‘Amr ibn Hisham who one day said:

“O Quraysh! Muhammad has brought what you have seen; insulting your house, abusing your deities and disrespecting your ancestors. I am therefore making a covenant to Allah that tomorrow I will carry a heavy rock and when he prostrates in his prayer, I will crush his head with it. Then if you like you can surrender me to justice or protect me. And members of ‘Abd Manaaf clan can do whatever they like.”

The following day, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to perform his prayers as usual and these Qurayshi men were there in the vicinity of the sacred mosque waiting to see what Abu Jahl would do. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prostrated, Abu Jahl carried the rock and headed for where the Prophet (peace be upon him) was praying. When he came close to the Prophet, he retreated in defeat and terror and the rock then dropped from his hands. Some men from the Quraysh went to him and asked, “What’s wrong with you, Abul-Hakam?!” he said,

“I aimed at doing what I promised you i'd do, but when I moved close to him a large male camel came to me. By Allah, I have not seen the like of it. It really wanted to eat me!”

When this was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) he said, “That was angel Gabriel. If he had moved closer, he would have seized him.”

After a while Khadeejah, the loving mother and wife died. Soon after Abu Talib, the Prophet’s affectionate uncle also died.

Then the Quraysh, driven by their ignorance and polytheism, further mercilessly persecuted the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his followers. Zaynab’s heart pained by this new spate of persecution levied against her father and his beloved companions.


Zaynab woke up one morning to hear that the Quraysh were in pursuit of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), who had left for Makkah, heading towards Yathrib (Madeenah) as an emigrant. Later, when she heard of his safe arrival there he was happy and felt comforted.

After some days, an envoy came with Zayd ibn Harithah from Yathrib and took Zaynab’s two sisters, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah to Madeenah. As for Zaynab, she remained in Makkah in her husband’s house waiting for Allah’s decision concerning her situation.

Days of Criterion

Allah revealed: {They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months [i.e. the 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar]. Say, ‘Fighting therein is a great [transgression] but a greater [transgression] with Allah, to disbelieve in him, to prevent access to al-Masjid-al-Haraam [at Makkah], and to drive out its inhabitants, and al-Fitnah is worse than killing…} (Qur’aan, [2]:217)

He, the Almighty also says: {Permission to fight [against disbelievers] is given to those [believers] who are fought against, because they have been wronged. And surely, Allah is able to give them [the believers] victory. Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our lord is Allah’…} [Qur'an, [22]:39-40]

Before the battle of Badr, which took place on the 17th of Ramadhan 2 A.H, there was a skirmish between a Muslim army, under the leadership of Abdullah ibn Jahsh, and a group of Quraysh polytheists. During this encounter, Wafid ibn Abdullah at-Tameemi shot Ibn al-Hadrami with an arrow and killed him. The matter between the two sides almost led to a full-fledged battle but the timely intervention of Majid ibn Amr prevented that. This was when the two sides signed a truce.

Even then, the Quraysh capitalized this incident and started spreading it within different tribes. They said that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had violated the sacredness of the holy months by shedding blood and stirring up the fire of war.
It is on account of the above that Allah revealed, {They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months…}

Which was then followed by the permission to fight; Allah the Almighty says, {Permission to fight [against disbelievers] is given to those [believers] who are fought against, because they have been wronged.}

After this, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was informed of the return of a caravan of the Quraysh from Syria, under the leadership of Abu Suffiyan. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called upon his Companions to set out and intercept the caravan, as perhaps Allah will make them take it as booty.

desertgoodpicThey set out from Madeenah in a group of about three hundred men. They had with them no more than seventy camels which they took turns in riding. They had only two horses, one of which belonged to Miqdaad ibn ‘Amr. When they approached Badr, which was a small village that had palm trees and water, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) realised that Abu Sufiyan had known the Muslims’ departure from Madeenah to intercept him and his caravan. Sufiyaan thus took another way that was nearer to the coast, thereby escaping with his caravan.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also informed that Abu Sufiyan had sent a message to the Quraysh seeking reinforcement. Abu Sufiyaan had sent Damdam ibn ‘Amr to inform the Quraysh that Muhammad and his Companions had departed from Madeenah with the intention of prevailing over the caravan with all its men.

When Damdam arrived at Makkah, he cried out from on top of the mountain of Abd Qubays to the Quraysh that they should rescue their property before Muhammad came and seized it. He screamed,

“The caravan! The caravan! O Quraysh!”

The whole of Quraysh then rose up to the call of Abu Sufiyan and rescued their wares. The fully-equipped reinforcement was led by Abu Jahl.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then consulted his Companions concerning this new development, as he wanted to know their opinion. They had come out in order to intercept the caravan, but now the situation had changed. They were now going to be confronted by a legion of the Quraysh that had up to one thousand fighters. What should they do?
The most trusted adviser, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first to speak and spoke wisely. Then ‘Umar spoke and did so excellently. Then Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, the Ansari chief spoke, he said:

“Allah’s Messenger! We believed in you and accepted your word as the truth. We testified to what you brought (that it) is the truth, and it was upon that that we gave you our covenants and pledges. Proceed to do whatever is shown to you by Allah. By Allah, if you were to march with us to the furthest place on the earth, we will follow you and no man from amongst us would stay behind. We exercise patience in war and we are sincere in our fight whenever we confront the enemy. Perhaps, Allah will show to you in us that which will make you happy.”

Then Miqdad spoke and said:

“Messenger of Allah! Carry on with whatever Allah reveals to you. By Allah, if you take us to this sea and embarked on it, we shall definitely do so with you. By Allah, we will not say as the children of Israel said to Moses, ‘You, and your Lord, go and fight. We shall remain here.’ Rather, we will say, ‘Go, you and your Lord and fight, we shall fight along with you.’”

The Battle Takes Place

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was pleased with what he heard. So he continued his march along with the Muslims to Badr. They camped there, waiting for the arrival of the Quraysh who had already arrived there before the Muslims.
Hubab ibn al-Mundhir then came and addressed the Prophet saying,

“Messenger of Allah! Was there any revelation from Allah that commanded us to camp in this particular place and not to move elsewhere or is this matter subject to opinion, war and strategies?”

The Prophet answered that the matter was subject to opinion, war and strategy.

Hubab then said:

“If that is the case, we should then move to another place where there is water so that we can be the ones who will be close to it, and we can drink and give drink to our animals while our enemies will not have that opportunity.”

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) agreed with the opinion of Hubab and did as he said. They then made something like a pond around the water. In this way, they were ready to meet the expected enemy.

Abul-‘Aas is Taken as a Captive!

Abul-‘Aas had set out with the Quraysh to protect their commodities from the Muslims. A fight ensued, the Muslims won and Abul-‘Aas fell captive into the hands of the Muslims.

When the captives were shown to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he took Abul-‘Aas aside and said to those who were holding him, “Treat the captives well.”

Zaynab was in an unenviable position. When it was time to ransom the captives, she wanted her husband to be returned to her. She took out her clothes and a necklace that used to be her mother’s who had presented it to her as a gift on her wedding day. Zaynab then gave this necklace to her husband’s brother, ‘Amr ibn Rabee’ so that he could present it as ransom for her husband.

As soon as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saw the necklace, he experienced an overwhelming feeling of extreme compassion, as his heart remembered his beloved wife Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her).

The Companions who were present gazed in amazement, having being captivated by the Prophet’s feelings. After a long silence, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) addressed his Companions who were holding Zaynab’s husband, “If you can release her captive to her and return her property (the necklace) to her, do so.”

They all said,

“Yes, we will do so, Messenger of Allah!”

The Separation

Before releasing him, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) requested Abul-‘Aas to send his wife Zaynab to him, as Islaam had separated between them. Abul-'Aas swore a pledge that he would do so.

Abul-‘Aas then returned to Makkah and his wife was very happy to have him back, but sorrow and distress was to fill her heart once again when Abul-‘Aas told his wife,

“Zaynab, I have come here to bid you farewell.”

And he told her about the pledge that he had sworn to her father and that he had to send her to him.

Zaynab reluctantly departed from Makkah and bade Abul-‘Aas an emotional farewell. He told her,

“Zaynab, whatever happens, I shall always love you as long as I live. Your presence shall forever continue to fill this house, which had witnessed the sweetest and most pleasant days of our life.”

Zaynab wiped away her flowing tears and began her journey.

The Quraysh stopped her on her way and returned her to Makkah. She was terrified by what had happened and was pregnant. She began bleeding until this led her to miscarry. Abul-‘Aas gave his protection to her in his house and took care of her until she regained some strength.

One day, quietly and inconspicuously he sent her towards Madinah in the company of his brother Kinanah until she was safely brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

Kinanah returned to Makkah reciting poetic verses which went as follows:

“I wonder how Habbar and some riffraff of his people,

wanted to prevent me from guarding Muhammad’s daughter.

I do not mind their multitude as long as I live

and I can have my hand in my sword.”

Captive once again!

Abul-‘Aas travelled to Syria with a caravan of the Quraysh. When information reached the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that this caravan was on its way back from Syria, he sent Zayd ibn Haarithah with one hundred and seventy riders to intercept it. They met the caravan at a place called ‘Ees, in Jumadah al-Oola, year 6 A.H. They successfully captured it and returned to Madeenah, taking those who were guarding the caravan as captives.

His Escape to Zaynab

turqoiuseflowerglowingAfter those who were with him had either been killed or captured, Abul-‘Aas could no longer face the situation. He used the cover of the night to escape into what looked like a bush of heavily-branched trees and hid in it. He remained motionless and even tried to hold his breath so that the dogs would not hear him. He stayed there, within the chilling fierce cold wind fearing his fate. While he was there, his disturbed heart was longing for his beloved Zaynab; Zaynab with whom he had known happiness, security and peace of mind.

He thought of what to do after part of the night had passed. The Muslims who had attacked him, killed his companions and prevailed had taken his wealth and had left the place after giving up all hope of finding him.

What should he do now? Should he come out of his hiding place and head for Makkah alone with no provision or animal to ride on? Or should he go to the house of Zaynab, his beloved and dutiful ex-wife who would never refuse to give him shelter and protection?

He was overwhelmed by love and sincere feelings for her. So he quietly began sneaking towards her house, under the cover of the night; when he finally reached her door, he anxiously knocked.

Zaynab awoke in a state of fear wondering who could be knocking at her door at this hour of the night. She asked who was at the door and the voice she heard was a recognised one: It was the fearful and shaking voice of Abul-‘Aas!

She opened the door and met her beloved husband...but in this meeting, it was their eyes that spoke, rather than their tongues; it were their hearts that embraced each other, rather than their bodies.

Zaynab allowed Abul-‘Aas in, fed him, offered him a seat and provided for him all that which would make him comfortable and relaxed. In spite of having regained some peace of mind, Abul-‘Aas was still anxious and afraid, and could only utter a few words.

Zaynab knew that he had come to seek her protection and shelter and for her to intercede on his behalf to her father. She assured him that, if Allah willed, she would do whatever she could to help him...

When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) finished the Fajr prayer, Zaynab stood up and called out, interceding on behalf of her former husband:

“I have given protection to Abul-‘Aas ibn Rabee!”

The Messenger of Allah said, “O people, did you hear what I have just heard?” The Sahaabah answered in the affirmative. He then said, “I swear by Him in Whose Hand is my life, I knew nothing of this matter until I heard what you have also heard (right) now.” And he added, “The Muslims are like one hand against those who are outside their community and the lowest of the Muslims is entitled to give protection on behalf of the rest of his co-Muslims. So we give protection to who she has given protection.”

When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) returned home, his daughter Zaynab came to him and requested that Abul-‘Aas be given back what was taken from him. He agreed but warned her that she cannot allow him to have relations with her because she was unlawful for him, as long as he remained a polytheist.

Something Begins to Change

tree-sunlight_smallWhen Abul-‘Aas felt that he had attained security in Madeenah and that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had provided refuge and shelter to him, he began to experience the qualities of magnanimity and truthfulness which Islam possessed, he realised that the blind state of ignorance in which he was living had misled him for a long time.

He now realised how Zaynab’s love for him and his love for her was firmly-rooted in the hearts of both of them. When he realised all this, he willingly wanted to enter into the folds of this pure religion without any coercion from anyone. He wanted to proclaim his acceptance of Islaam but...

It was over this ‘but’ that Abul-‘Aas pondered over a little. His Arab gallantry and tribal pride swirled up in him. He promised himself that he would not allow his proclamation of Islaam to be attributed to any influence or pressure. He did not want anyone in Makkah to claim or think that he accepted Islaam for the love of this life and out of the fear of death or for the love of anyone or anything.

He resolved to proclaim his acceptance of Islaam daringly in Makkah, in front of all. This was also because people in Makkah had entrusted him with their wealth and properties and he wanted to return these trusts to their owners. If he remained in Madeenah and announced his Islaam there, people would say he did so to get out of giving back the trusts to whom they were due. And this is what his sense of honour and pride would not permit.

Therefore, he returned to Makkah, returned the trusts to their rightful owners and then proclaimed his Islaam openly, infront of the Quraysh and in the presence of many people. He did so with a dignified and honourable bearing. After that, he returned to Madeenah as a Muslim and an immigrant.

Upon his arrival to Madeenah, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) returned Zaynab back to him. This reunion took place after their Islamic marriage contract was performed. Once again, the two love birds were united.

The Final Separation

For a whole year, in happiness and contentment, the loving couple continued to live in Madeenah. Then came the eternal separation after which there is no reunion, except in the abode of the Hereafter. Zaynab died at the beginning of the fifth year of Hijrah from complications of a haemorrhage which she had been suffering from since her migration.

Abul-‘Aas fell into such grief that those who looked towards him would also be moved to tears.

The Messenger of Allah’s (peace be upon him) eyes were also full of tears, and his heart full of sorrow. The death of his daughter Zaynab reminded him of the death of his wife Khadeejah.

He said to the women gathered around Zainab’s body, “Wash her three times and use camphor in the third wash.” After this the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed her funeral prayers and followed her to her final resting place, her place of burial.

Abul-‘Aas returned home to his children, ‘Ali and Umamah. He began kissing them and wiping away their tears with a heart full of grief at the departure of his beloved, his life, his wife, his friend and his sister in Islaam.

May Allah be pleased with Zaynab, the Prophet’s daughter!

May He reward her with paradise for her patience, endurance and struggle. Aameen!


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