In Mecca there lived a family consisting of four sisters and their parents. One of the sisters was named Zaynub. When she grew out to be a young beautiful woman her maternal uncle asked her mother Khadijah to ask if Zaynub wanted to marry his son. Khadijah discussed this issue with her husband and they both asked Zaynub for her consent. She stayed silent; at that period of time if a girl stayed silent when asked to marry meant that she is ready but is too shy to express it. This is how Zaynub was married to her cousin Amr Bin Al’aas.
Khadijah gave her own very necklace to her daughter at her marriage as a gift. Amr and Zaynub together developed a beautiful intimacy and with each second their love increased for each other. In the later years they welcomed their first baby girl, Umama, then came their son, Ali.
But as life cannot be the way you want, time changed. The light of Islam shooed away the darkness which overshadowed the entire world. Zaynub welcomed herself into the light while her husband couldn’t bring himself to do that. This drastic change in their lives began to test their love for each other.
The non-Muslims of Mecca started asking Amr to divorce Zaynub at once, that there are many beautiful women in Mecca who are dying to marry the handsome and rich Amr but Amr was impossible as he dearly loved his wife and couldn’t even think to part himself from Zaynub. Besides, the two younger sisters of Zaynub got divorced and came back to live with their parents, then soon her mother died. This was the very sad period for the family of Zaynub.
When the non-Muslims wrecked the havoc so much so that it became unbearable for Muslims to live in Mecca the Muslims were ordered to leave that place at once. So, everyone following the family of Muhammad migrated towards Medina, a safer place. Zaynub stayed behind with her husband setting an example of an impeccable love.
Muslims grew strong in Medina and soon the fight of Badr was in air. Zaynub became restless as she didn’t want her husband to die while he was still a non-Muslim. She was relieved to know that he was alive but enslaved by Muslims. She sent her necklace to her father and demanded the freedom of his husband. Muhammad couldn’t control his tears at the sight of the beautiful necklace that once belonged to his beloved wife, Khadijah. He understood his daughter’s feelings and asked everybody if it would be fair to free the slave named Amr and to send back what has been received as ransom. The companions of Prophet agreed at once.
Alas! For the time of separation had come for such noble lovers. Before Amr left for Mecca Muhammad sought his promise that he would send Zaynub to Medina as they were no more in a marital relationship according to Islam because the verse 221 of Chapter 2 had been revealed which said:
And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.
After the revelation of this verse all those men and women who themselves were Muslims but their spouses were not separated as their marriages dissolved themselves.
Inspired by the culture and values of Islam, which he comprehended as a slave, Amr agreed at once and asked Zaynub to go to Medina. She asked him to convert but didn’t find him ready for such a step yet she had instilled the love of Islam in his heart with her humble, loving, and principle-centred attitude.
When Zaynub was ready to depart with her kids Amr said to his brother Kinana:
“Help her leave Mecca, there will be a few Muslims waiting for her. You know that I cannot bear this separation. I have neither the courage to leave such a virtuous wife nor can I replace her even with most beautiful woman of Quraysh. Take care of her even if it consumes all of your arrows but don’t you let anyone near her.”
As Quraysh had eyes on the slightest of actions taking place they got to know about the egress of Zaynub and were able to stop them before they could leave Mecca. Kinana, following the advice of his brother, fought with them yet those men hauled Zaynub down the camel and she fell mercilessly onto the ground and suffered a miscarriage. Her condition turned so severe at the spot that the people of Quraysh left and Kinana chose to take her to Medina instead of taking her back to her husband.
With time, she recovered her health and spent her time following the path of Islam and caring for her children. She didn’t remarried as she found her heart deeply in love with Amr despite of all the differences and so she preferred to wait for him.
It took them 6 years to meet again. Once while an attack on a trading caravan Amr saved his life and came to Medina. He found out where Zaynub was living and asked her for her protection. She allowed him into her little home and early the next morning she announced to the people of Medina that Amr is in her protection and no one will harm him without her consent.
Everybody accepted her proclamation as per ritual. Muhammad came to visit her daughter as soon as he heard it and advised her understanding perfectly her situation:
“O daughter! Be gracious and offer courtesy to your guest but don’t be involved with him as if you were his wife because he is not lawful for you as a polytheist.”
Not only Zaynub but every Muslim treated Amr with respect and returned him all the wealth which they had attained after the attack.
That was all it took to melt his heart wholly and he proposed his wish to be a Muslim. Other Muslims suggested that if he converts he can keep all of the wealth of caravan as it belongs to Polytheists and he had the right to keep it according to the rule but he said:
“How bad it would be if I’ll start my Islam with treachery!”
He went to Mecca, returned the wealth to those it belonged, verified that he has returned everything and possess no more money of others, declared Islam in front of everyone, and came back to Medina.
Prophet Muhammad gave again his hand happily in the hand of his beloved and patient daughter Zaynub. Their happiness was intense and elusive. Amr found himself caring for his wife and children and practising Islam as much as he could.
This happiness didn’t last longer than a year. Zaynub still had pains from the brutal miscarriage she faced six years back so she died of those pains. It was as if she was living only to see her Amr as a true believer of Islam.
Amr felt miserable, his heart wretched but he didn’t let his tongue say a single ungrateful word which would make his dear God angry but his eyes spoke of the sorrow he felt in his being. He couldn’t stop his tears at her funeral no matter who consoled him. Peace entered his heart when Muhammad came and touched his shoulder. His tears dried instantly.
He never remarried and gave all his love to his children, Umama and Ali. It is said that he was more inclined towards Umama because she very much looked like her mother. Some narrations also tell that Ali died in his childhood so all the focus of Amr was on his daughter.
Soon his heart regained the strength but the empty space at the loss of such a beautiful wife could not be attained. Once he was ready to live a fulfilling life he devoted himself to Islam. He fought many wars as he was a brave and tough man and he practised Islam in every way he could and became one of the dearest companions of Prophet Muhammad.
A few years later he died peacefully as a true Muslim.
Zaynub fought a war of love; she had either to choose God or Amr. She took the right decision by making her God happy and then God fulfilled all which arose in her heart. She didn’t disappoint God so God too didn’t disappoint her.
Looking at Amr it is realised that he was blessed because of Zaynub but it would have been impossible if he hadn’t accepted the truth after knowing it.
So, ultimately, the decisions matter.
These are the kind of people for which the Lord has said that He has bought the souls of such people for in-exchange they will be given paradise.
R.A is a symbolic form of ‘Radhi Allahu Taala Anha’ which means ‘Allah has become pleased with her’.
The name of Amr bin Al’aas is Abul Aaas bin Rabiyah according to some of the narrations.
Reason: I’ve used the name of Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and his companions various times but didn’t used P.B.U.H and R.A with their names so that the story could maintain a flow.