She is also the wife of Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had adopted a Sahâbi by the name of Zayd radiyallâhu ‘anhu. Initially, it was permissible to adopt a son. When he became mature, Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam decided to get him married. So he sent a proposal to her brother on behalf of Zayd radiyallâhu ‘anhu. This brother and sister (i.e. Zaynab) did not consider Zayd to be equal to them in status and lineage. They were therefore hesitant in the beginning. However, Allah Ta’âlâ revealed a verse wherein He mentions that once the prophet decides on something, a Muslim should not make any excuses. They therefore accepted the proposal and the marriage was performed. However, the husband and wife could not live together in an amicable manner. The situation reached a stage whereby Zayd decided to divorce her. He came to consult Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam but he stopped him and tried to make him understand. However, Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam gauged that these two will be unable to live together and that they were definitely heading for a divorce. He began thinking to himself that right from the beginning, the brother and sister were not happy about entering into this marriage, but they accepted after I told them to do so. If the divorce takes place, the brother’s and sister’s burden will be lessened but they will be broken-hearted. What could he do in order to console them? Eventually he came to the conclusion that if he marries her, she will be greatly consoled and relieved. Apart from this, he could find no solution. At the same time, he also realized that the disbelievers will begin accusing him of marrying his son’s wife. Although an adopted son does not become one’s real son, who can stop people from thinking and speaking in this way? More so when the disbelievers will begin making a mountain out of a mole-hill. He was still thinking and pondering over all this when Zayd radiyallâhu ‘anhu divorced her. On the expiry of her ‘iddah, Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam was inclined towards proposing to her. Eventually, he sent his proposal. She replied that she will ask her Creator and that she is not going to make up her own mind in this regard. If He sanctions it, He will make the way easy. Upon saying this, she performed her ablution and offered salât. After the salât, she made a fervent du‘â to Allah. Allah revealed a verse to Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioning that He has made your nikâh with her. He then went to her and recited the verse to her. Zaynab radiyallâhu ‘anhâ used to mention this to her co-wives by saying: “Your nikâh was sanctioned by your parents while my nikâh was sanctioned by Allah Ta’âlâ.”
The first orders concerning purdah were revealed during her nikâh. She was very generous. She used to practice handicrafts and give in charity from the income that she received from these handicrafts. Once, all the wives got together and asked Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “Who will join you first after your demise?” He replied: “The one whose hands are the longest.” This is an Arabic mode of expression to show generosity. However, this did not cross the minds of his wives. They were under the impression that it referred to actual length. They therefore took a stick and began measuring their hands. Hadrat Saudah’s radiyallâhu ‘anhâ hands turned out to be the longest. However, the first to leave this world after him was Hadrat Zaynab bint Jahsh radiyallâhu ‘anhâ. It was only then that they all realized that it referred to generosity. In short, her generosity was also appreciated by Allah and His Rasûl sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
‘Â’ishah radiyallâhu ‘anhâ says: “I have not come across any woman better than Zaynab. She was perfect in her Dîn, feared Allah a lot, very honest in her speech, very kind and cordial to her relatives, very charitable, and she used to work very hard with her handicrafts so that she could give more in charity.” Speaking about her, Rasûlullâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “She was very humble-hearted and used to beseech Allah abundantly.”
Lesson: O women! You have read about the greatness of generosity, the benefits of handicrafts and referring to Allah for all your needs. Don’t ever consider it disgraceful to do any work with your own hands. Do not look down upon any craft or occupation (provided it is acceptable in the Sharî‘ah).