Born: 595 CE
Father: Khuzaimah bin Abdullah
Mother: Hind bint Auf
Epithet: Ummul-Masakeen (Mother of the poor)
Tribe: Banu Hilal
Demise: 4 AH
Islam lays great emphasis on the status of women. Whether they are singles, wives, daughters, sisters, mothers or widows, she is held in great esteem and honour. The Holy Prophetsa acknowledged the importance and role of women in society. Not only did he encourage them to assert their dignity, demand their rights and discard any notion of inferiority, he liberated them from socio-political norms and taboos which ran deep into the patriarchal society of Arabia.
In his life, the Prophetsa of Islam entered into numerous unions on account of various circumstances including educating his community on the importance and rights of widows in Islam. It is reported on the authority of Safwan bin Sulaim:
“One who cares for the widows and the poor is like the one who fights in the way of Allah. [I shall regard him as one] who stands up (for Salat) without rest and as one who fasts without break.” (Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 1969)
Hazrat Zainabra bint Khuzaimah was also a widow when the Holy Prophetsa married her. She was the daughter of Khuzaimah bin Abdullah bin Amr and Hind bint Auf. Before the Holy Prophetsa, she was married to Hazrat Abdullahra bin Jahash. He was martyred at the Battle of Uhud leaving Hazrat Zainabra a widow.
Hazrat Zainabra belonged to a respectable family which had a distinguished line of descent.
A number of historians have mentioned her mother, Hind bint Auf, as “the noblest mother-in-law on earth”.This is due to the fact that she was the mother of several companions of the Holy Prophetsa.
Five of her daughters married notable companions:
After the demise of Hazrat Zainabra, her stepsister and daughter of Hind bint Auf, Hazrat Maimoonara was also married to the Holy Prophetsa. Thus, two of Hind’s daughters were among the Ummahat-ul-Momineen i.e. Mothers of the faithful.
Another one of her daughters Hazrat Lubabara bint Al-Haris was married to Hazrat Abbasra bin Abdul Mutalib, the Prophet’ssa uncle. Their children included a prominent companion of the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbasra.
Hind was also mother of Hazrat Asmara bint Umais. Hazrat Asmara married Hazrat Jafarra bin Abi Taliband after his death, she married Hazrat Abu Bakrra and had a son with him, Hazrat Muhammad bin Abi Bakrra. Later, she also married Hazrat Alira bin Abi Talib.
Another daughter, Hazrat Salma bint Umaisra was married to Hazrat Hamzara bin Abdul Mutalib, the Prophet’ssa uncle and one of the most distinguished martyrs in Islamic history. They had a daughter named Umamara who was also a companion of the Holy Prophetsa.
Lubaba al-Sughra was also one of Hind’s daughters and the mother to one of the greatest commanders in the history of Islam, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid.
Thus, Hind bint Auf was not only the mother-in-law of the Holy Prophetsa, she was also the grandmother of Hazrat ibn Abbasra, Hazrat Khalid bin Walidra, Hazrat Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and Hazrat Umamara and several other companions of the Prophet of Islamsa, therefore rightfully earning her the aforementioned title.
Such was the prestigious and noble family Hazrat Zainabra hailed from.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra recounts her marriage in his book, The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets, on page 385 of the second volume, in the following words:
“The Holy Prophetsa had a paternal cousin whose name was Abdullahra bin Jahash, and he was martyred in the battle of Uhud, leaving behind his wife Zainabra bint Khuzaimah without support. The Holy Prophetsa, who was an unparalleled model of kind treatment towards near relatives, sent a proposal of marriage to Zainabra bint Khuzaimah himself and upon her consent, took her into a bond of matrimony. At the time, Hazrat Zainabra was 30 years of age, more or less.”
A few months into the marriage, she passed away. Aside from Hazrat Khadijara, she is the only wife of the Prophetsa to have died during his lifetime.
It is narrated by Hazrat Aishara that the Holy Prophetsa foretold his wives:
“Among you, she would meet me first in the Hereafter whose hands are the longest.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 1420)
The long hands were the symbol of practising charity. Although she died during the lifetime of the Holy Prophetsa, it has been indicated by some that this hadith may have been fulfilled in her person. However, it has been disputed and many have agreed it was Hazrat Zainabra bint Jahash, another wife of the Prophetsa who was the first to pass away after the Prophet’ssa demise.
Irrespective of difference of opinions, Hazrat Zainabra bint Khuzaimahwas known for her generosity and sympathy for the needy even before Islam, which earned her the epithet of Ummul-Masakeen – the mother of the poor.
Mother of the poor
On numerous occasions, the Holy Quran and ahadith have emphasised on the compassionate treatment of the needy. As a matter of fact, the commandments pertaining to the weak and poor have been linked with those regarding parents and relatives which signifies the importance they hold in the eyes of Islam as the Holy Quran states in verse 84 of Surah al-Baqarah, “Showkindness to parents and to kindred and orphans and the poor.”
The Holy Prophetsa too gave particular attention to the poor and the less fortunate in society. In fact, he prayed to God that may he be resurrected among the poor. Hazrat Abu Saeed Al Khudrira is reported to have said in Ibn-e-Majah:
“Love the poor, for I heard the Messengersa of Allah in his supplication say, ‘O Allah, cause me to live poor and cause me to die poor, and gather me among the poor (on the Day of Resurrection).’”(Ibn-e-Majah, Book 37, Hadith 4264)
Hazrat Zainabra was renowned for her charity and had no parallel in benevolence and munificence. Once, she was approached by a poor man at her house asking for food. She gave away the last morsel she had and went without food that night. The Holy Prophetsa was moved and told his wives and companions of the gesture, stating:
“If you have complete faith in Allah, to which He is entitled, He shall provide for your sustenance just as He does for the birds; they leave their nests hungry in the morning but return full at night.”(Tirmidhi, Hadith 2344)
Her marriage to the Prophetsa of Allah was short-lived and she passed away a few months after their union in Rabi‘ al-Awwal 4 AH. The Holy Prophetsa led her funeral prayers and she was buried in Jannat-ul-Baqi.
Since during the life of Hazrat Khadijara, the current form of Janaza [funeral] prayer was not prescribed, Hazrat Zainabra had the honour of being the only wife whose funeral prayer was led by the Messenger of Allahsa himself.