What follows are words from over a year ago shared by a dear friend and companion, Asia Ahmed, from Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa and Ustadha Umm Abdullah Hayel.
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. And salutations and greetings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
I intend to study and teach, take and give a reminder, take and give benefit, take and give advantage, to encourage the holding fast to the book of Allah and the way of his messenger, and calling to guidance and directing towards good hoping for the countenance of Allah and His pleasure, proximity and reward, transcendent is He.
Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa (may Allah protect and preserve him) spoke about the beautiful love story of Abu Darda and Umm Darda (may Allah be pleased with them); they were each others’ soul-mate, a match made in heaven. When Abu Darda became ill and it was clear he was not going to recover from his illness Umm Darda expressed her love to her husband. As he was lying down Umm Darda was next to him and began to cry, she said to her husband, “listen to me, you asked for my hand in marriage from my parents in this world, now I’m proposing to you to be your wife in Jannah so ask Allah for me to be your wife in Jannah.” She went onto say ,”just like my parents accepted your proposal in this world accept my proposal to be your companion in the next world.” He asked her not to marry after his passing so that they could be together in paradise. She received proposals by different men after her husband passed away, she refused saying, “I cannot accept your proposal as I am already engaged to Abu Darda in Jannah.”
Ustadha Umm Abdullah Hayel (May Allah protect and preserve her) also shared a great love story; that of Sayyida Zaynab (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) and her marriage to Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’. Sayyida Zaynab accepted Islam while her husband was away on a business trip, on his return she informed him of what had happened and that she had accepted Islam, he was surprised by what he heard and said to his wife “did it not occur to you that you may declare faith and I do not declare faith and that we may be on different religions?” He went on to say “Did it not occur to you that this could be the cause of our separation?”
Zaynab continued to live with her husband but he did not accept Islam saying “people might say I declared faith because of my wife,” in that community it was a shameful thing for the Arabs to do anything for the sake of their wives.
Abu al-‘As has a lot of love for his wife, he refused to send her home when the Quraysh wanted to hurt the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) and they tried persuade and bribe the son-in-laws of the Prophet to send their wives home, so that he would be become busy and concerned with his daughters. He was offered wealth and women in place of Zaynab, his response was “no, I will always choose Zaynab.”
Zaynab stayed with her husband during the boycott. During this time she continually speaks about her faith in the hope that his heart my soften and become inclined towards God and His Messenger.
The time of Hijra arrives and the Muslims migrate to Madina, her father and sisters leave Makka to settle in Madina. Zaynab remains behind with her husband heartbroken at the thought of being separated from her father and sisters.
Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ participated in the battle of Badr with the Quraysh against the Muslims. The night he went out to battle Zaynab embraced her children, ‘Ali and Umaima, she said, “tonight either my children will be orphaned or I will be orphaned.” Her husband was taken captive by the Muslims. Zaynab insisted on paying his ransom herself, she sent her messenger to Madina taking the ransom a beautiful Yemeni necklace wrapped in a black cloth. The messenger gives it directly to the Prophet, when he saw the necklace he felt a surge of tenderness for his daughter because it was the very same necklace Sayyida Khadija had given it to her daughter, Zaynab, on her wedding night. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) consults his companions and they agree to free Abu al-‘As and to also return the necklace to Zaynab. As Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ was leaving Madina the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) went to him and whispered something into his ear.
When he returned to Makka his wife is overjoyed but she notices her husband is not the same, he is very sombre and reserved. Zaynab asks him if he is ok and if anything had happened. Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ shares what has been burdening him, he said with a heavy heart to his wife “your father has asked me to return you to him Islam has now parted us.” The verses about marrying non-Muslims had been revealed in Madina.
He stays true to his word and makes preparations for Zaynab and his children to travel to Madina. As they began their journey the Quraysh pursue them to seek revenge for the loss they experienced at Badr; they could not get to the Prophet so they decided to hurt the Prophet through his daughter. Kanana ibn al-Rabi’, Zaynab’s brother-in-law, accompanies her to the meeting point. Zaynab is pregnant at this time the camel she is riding on is attacked by Habar ibn al-Aswad, the camel rears up and causes her to fall, she begins to bleed profusely and is badly wounded. She loses the baby and it is buried there. Kanana defends her and Abu Sufyan advises him to return home with her and leave at night so they do not attract the attention of the Quraysh. Kanana returns to his Makka, when Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ sees his wife he is distressed and does not allow anyone to nurse her except himself.
He nurses her better and then sends a message to Madina when she is well to travel. Zaynab arrives in Madina and is reunited with her father and sisters. She is not inclined to any man, her heart is still with Abu al-‘As. When it was Sayyida Fatima’s wedding she helped with the preparations and was reminded of her own wedding with Abu al-‘As.
Zaynab would constantly supplicate to God to soften her husband’s heart, many years had passed, she still loved him. It was in the 6th year of Hijra, just before Fajr, Zaynab hears a knock on her door, she asks “who is it?” She opens the door and sees her husband, Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’, she asks him “have you come as a Muslim?” He says “no, I’ve been attacked by Muslims and my trade-caravan has been taken.” He hopes to seek sanctuary with her. Her house was next to the mosque and at this point she can hear the Prophet leading the Fajr prayer, she calls out several times “O People of Madina I have Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ under my protection.” Then she invites her husband in and makes wudhu to pray Fajr. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) finishes the prayer and asks the congregation if they had just heard what he had heard? They said that they had. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) makes his way to Zaynab’s house and is told what had happened, he says to her, “my dear daughter be generous to him but know you are not halal for him.”
Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ is happy to see his wife and his children. He is pleased with how she has raised their children and praises her. She sits with him and speaks to him about Islam and her life in Madina. At Dhuhr he is taken to the mosque and the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) has gathered those men who had taken his trade-caravan. After the Prophet’s consultation they return everything to him. Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ checks and is surprised to see that every single item that had been taken had been returned, nothing was missing. He gathers his things and returns to Makka.
Zaynab is heartbroken, she had spent the whole night in prayer asking God to soften his heart and he took his caravan and returned to Makka. Abu al-‘As upon his return to Makka called everybody one-by-one and handed over all the wealth and goods to their rightful owners. He asked them all if they had all had their goods returned, they replied “yes.” Then Abu aI-‘As announced that he was now Muslim and that the only thing preventing him from declaring his acceptance of Islam while in Madina was fear that they would assume he did so only to appropriate their wealth.
Abu al-‘As then left for Madina where the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) received him hospitably and returned his wife to him. After 19 years of separation they are reunited. In the 8th year of Hijra Zaynab becomes severely ill, they have only been together for 2 years in Madina. He doesn’t allow anyone to nurse her, he looks after her himself. She was surrounded by her family when her soul left her body Abu al-‘As ibn al-Rabi’ continued to speak to his wife as though she was alive, saying “wake-up Zaynab, wake-up.” He couldn’t part with her. He began to cry so intensely that all those who were present were moved to tears as they witnessed his grief and sorrow at the loss of his wife. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) held his shoulder and comforted him, he moved him away and the women of Madina washed and shrouded her, she was buried on the same day.
Their stories are stories of great love, strength and inspiration. May al-Wadud allow us to learn and live the lessons from their examples of true and great love. May Allah continue to bless the beautiful love story of the two beautiful teachers who shared these precious gems with us and the one who shared these with us.
Any mistakes, errors or misinterpretations of words are from me. Please correct me when you spot any mistakes.