About Zaynab bint Khuzayma
Zaynab bint Khuzayma (RA):
Zaynab bint Khuzayma, may Allah be pleased with her, was married to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Ramadan, 4 AH, soon after his marriage to Hafsa when he was fifty-six years old and she was thirty years old. After she had been made a widow when her husband was martyred at Badr, she offered herself in marriage to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who accepted her proposal and married her. Zaynab bint Khuzayma was so generous to orphans and the poor that she came to be known as the ‘Mother of the Poor’. She died only eight months after her marriage, may Allah be pleased with her, and although not a great deal is known about her today, there will be many who will testify to her generosity on the Last Day.
Zaynab bint Khuzayma was born into a noble family. She was the widow of ‘Ubaida, who was martyred at the historic Battle of Badr.
Zaynab married the Prophet Muhammad around the year 626 CE. For her kindness and generosity to orphans and the needy, she was known as “Umm al-Masakin” or “Mother of the Poor.” She passed away just two years after their marriage at the age 31, one of the two wives—along with Khadjia—who died before the Prophet.
Marriage to Muhammad:
The following year shortly after his marriage to Hafsa bint Umar, Muhammad approached her with a mahar of either 400 dirhams or 12 ounces of gold, and offered to marry her. There has been debate about how the marriage was proposed, in Ibn Kalbi’s al-Isaba, he claimed that Muhammad proposed to her directly – while Ibn Hashim wrote that her uncle, Quobaisa bin Arm al-Hilali had arranged the marriage proposal.
It was said the marriage, which took place during the month of Ramadan, was meant to assure his followers that their deaths in battle would not mean their families would starve and be neglected. She was the first of his wives to come from outside the Quraysh tribe.
At one point, a poor man came to her house to beg for some flour, and she gave him the last of her own, and went without food that night. Muhammad was moved by her compassion, and told his other wives about it and preached that “if you have faith in Allah…he would provide for your sustenance, even as he doeth for the birds, who leave their nest hungry in the morning, but return full at night”.
Zaynab bint Khuzayma:
It is also said that the Battle of Uhud left a great many widows, and that Mohammed exhorted his men to marry them so they could have homes. This may be true, but in fact Mohammed married Zaynab about a month BEFORE Uhud. So it wasn’t the specific reason why he married her. (In fact, Zaynab’s third husband was one of those who died at Uhud. If he had never divorced her, she would not have been available to marry Mohammed at that time. So if Mohammed had wanted to reduce the number of homeless single women in the community, perhaps he should have made it more difficult for men to get divorces!)
Some say that Mohammed wanted a son, so he was looking for a woman of childbearing age. Zaynab was about thirty. But she hadn’t exactly proved fertile – and she had had FOUR previous husbands. Three of these men had been Mohammed’s cousins, while Zaynab herself was a second cousin, so perhaps he felt personally responsible for her.
We don’t really know much about this Zaynab because she died only a few months after marrying Mohammed. Not even the chattery Ayesha had much to say about her.
Zaynab bint Jahsh was another of Mohammed’s cousins. After her first husband died, Mohammed pressured her into marrying his adopted son, Zayd. Zaynab and her brother both protested, because her first husband had been an aristocrat while Zayd was an ex-slave. Furthermore, Zayd was already married, so being a second wife to such a low-status man would be even more humiliating for Zaynab. But Zaynab’s brother was killed at the Battle of Uhud (as I’ve already mentioned above, for he had been the third husband of the other Zaynab), and then Allah sent down a revelation that Muslims were not allowed to disobey the Prophet’s orders, so Zaynab had to marry Zayd. Proud and sharp-tongued, she made certain that this unwanted marriage would be unhappy.
There are two theories about why Mohammed married the second Zaynab, but they are both connected with the same series of events. One day Mohammed accidentally saw Zaynab in her petticoat and realised she was very beautiful (and he presumably didn’t mean her face, at which he’d been looking for 34 years!). Zayd offered to divorce Zaynab so that Mohammed could marry her, but because the custom was that a man could not marry his ex-daughter-in-law, Mohammed discouraged it. However, Zayd’s home-life had become so uncomfortable that he divorced Zaynab anyway.