Zaynab: The Poor’s Mother
The wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are known as the mothers of all believers. This status has been conferred on them by God, as He says in the Qur’an: “The Prophet has more claim on the believers than they have on their own selves; and his wives are their mothers.” (33: 6). One of them, however, has an additional title of motherhood. She is Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (radiAllahu anha), known as the mother of the poor. She earned this title because of her compassionate heart and her ready generosity. She was apparently always kind to the poor, and her kindness became greater when she married the Prophet.
The Prophet married Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (radiAllahu anha) in the third year of the Islamic calendar, only a few months after he had married Hafsah bint Umar (radiAllahu anha). The exact date of the marriage cannot be ascertained, as we have different reports none of which can be given greater weight. Moreover, there is some confusion about her earlier marriages. What is certain is that she was married to Ubaydah ibn Al-Harith (radiAllahu anha), who was the first martyr in the Battle of Badr, the first major battle fought by the Muslims under the Prophet’s leadership. Reports suggest that before Ubaydah, Zaynab was married to his brother Al-Tufayl, but other reports say that she was married to Jahm ibn Amr, who was her cousin.
Zaynab (radiAllahu anha) does not feature in any reports of major events that took place during the Prophet’s lifetime. This is mainly due to the fact that she did not stay long in the Prophet’s home. She died soon after her marriage. Some reports suggest that she only stayed with the Prophet for two or three months, while others put the figure at eight months. She then died, aged 30. Her short stay in the Prophet’s home meant that she was not involved in any disagreement or friction of the type that occurs between women living in the same home. Her marriage to the Prophet seems to be a mere short stay before she completed her journey of this life, passing away into the everlasting world.
It is important not to confuse this Zaynab (radiAllahu anha) with another wife of the Prophet with the same name. The other was Zaynab bint Jahsh (radiAllahu anha), who was also known for her kindness to the poor. That one was the Prophet’s own cousin and her marriage involved the implementation of new legislation clearly outlined in the Qur’an. We will have more to say about this when we look at the Prophet’s marriage to her.
Apart from Khadijah (radiAllahu anha), Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (radiAllahu anha) was the only one of the Prophet’s wives to die during his lifetime. All the others survived him. She was buried at Al-Baqee, the cemetery of Madinah, which was the resting place of many of the Prophet’s companions.
By: Adil Salahi