Abu-l Aas ibn ar-Rabiah

“Zaynab has sent this amount to ransom Abu-l Aas. If you see fit to set free her prisoner and return her possession to her, then do so.”

“Yes,” his companions agreed. “We shall do whatever we can to soothe your eyes and make you happy.”

The Prophet set one condition on Abu-l Aas before he freed him, that he should send his daughter Zaynab to him without delay.

As soon as he reached Makkah, Abu-l Aas began making arrangements to carry out his promise. He ordered his wife to prepare herself for the journey and told her that her father’s messengers were waiting for her just outside Makkah. He prepared provisions and a mount for her and instructed his brother, Amr ibn ar-Rabi’ah, to accompany her and hand her over personally to the Prophet’s emissaries.

Amr slung his bow over his shoulders, took up his quiver of arrows, placed Zaynab in her hawdaj and left Makkah with her in the broad light of day, in full view of the Quraysh.

The Quraysh were furious. They pursued Zaynab and Amr until they caught up with them. Zaynab was scared. Amr stood poised with his bow and arrow and shouted:

“By God, if any man come near to her, I would plunge this arrow in his neck”. Amr was known to be an excellent marksman.

Abu Sufyan ibn Hath, who had by this time joined the Quraysh group, went up to Amr and said: “Son of my brother, put away your arrow and let me talk to you.”

This Amr did and Abu Sufyan went on: “What you have done is not prudent. You left with Zaynab in full view of the people. All the Arabs know the disasters we suffered at Badr at the hands of her father, Muhammad. If you leave with his daughter in the open as you have done, the tribes would accuse us of cowardice and they would say that we have been humiliated. Return with her and ask her to stay in her husband’s house for a few days so that people could say that we brought her back. Thereafter you can take her away quietly and secretly from us and take her to her father. We have no need to detain her.”

Amr agreed to this and Zaynab returned to Makkah. A few days later, in the middle of the night Amr took Zaynab and handed her over to the Prophet’s emissaries just as his brother had instructed.

After the departure of his wife, Abu-l Aas stayed on in Makkah for several years. Then, shortly before the conquest of Makkah, he left for Syria on a trading mission. On the return journey from Syria his caravan consisted of some one hundred camels and one hundred and seventy men.

As the caravan approached Madinah, a detachment of Muslims took them by surprise. They impounded the camels and took the men as captives to the Prophet. Abu-l Aas however managed to escape. During the night which was pitch black, Abu-l Aas entered Madinah fearful and alert. He searched around until he came to Zaynab’s house. He asked her for protection and she gave it to him.

At dawn, the Prophet, peace be on him, came out to the masjid to perform the Dawn Prayer. He stood erect in the mihrab and said “Allahu Akbar” to begin the Prayer. The Muslims behind him did the same. At that point Zaynab shouted from the women’s section of the masjid:

“O people! I am Zaynab the daughter of Muhammad. I have given protection to Abu-l Aas. Do give him your protection also.”

When the Prayer was finished, the Prophet turned to the congregation and said: “Have you heard what I heard?” “Yes, Messenger of Allah,” they replied.

“By Him in Whose hand is my soul, I knew nothing of this until I heard what you heard. He is asking protection from the Muslims.”

Back at home the Prophet said to his daughter: “Prepare a place of rest for Abu-l Aas and let him know that you are not lawful for him.” He then summoned the men of the expeditionary force which had taken the camels and the men of the caravan and said to them:

“You have taken the possessions of this man. If you are kind to him and return his property, we would be pleased. If however you do not agree then the goods is booty sanctioned by God which you have a right to.”

“We would certainly return his possessions to him, Messenger of God,” they replied and when Abu-l Aas came to collect his goods, they said to him:

“You belong to the Quraysh nobility. You are the nephew of the Messenger of God and his son-in-law. Would you accept Islam? We would hand over all this wealth to you. You would then have for your own enjoyment whatever wealth and possessions the Makkans entrusted to you, and stay with us here in Madinah.”

“What an evil thing you are asking me do, to enter a new religion while committing an act of treachery!” Abu-I Aas retorted.

Abu-l Aas returned to Makkah with the caravan and handed over all the wealth and goods to their rightful owners. Then he asked:

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