She is also the wife of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had adopted a Sahabi by the name of Zayd radiyallahu ‘anhu. Initially, it was permissible to adopt a son. When he became mature, Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam decided to get him married. So he sent a proposal to her brother on behalf of Zayd radiyallahu ‘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’ala 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 Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but he stopped him and tried to make him understand. However, Rasulullah sallallahu ‘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 radiyallahu ‘anhu divorced her. On the expiry of her ‘iddah, Rasulullah sallallahu‘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 salat. After the salat, she made a fervent du’a to Allah. Allah revealed a verse to Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioning that He has made your nikah with her. He then went to her and recited the verse to her. Zaynab radiyallahu ‘anha used to mention this to her co-wives by saying: “Your nikah was sanctioned by your parents while my nikah was sanctioned by Allah Ta’ala.”
The first orders concerning purdah were revealed during her nikah. 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 Rasulullah sallallahu ‘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 radiyallahu ‘anha hands turned out to be the longest. However, the first to leave this world after him was Hadrat Zaynab bint Jahsh radiyallahu ‘anha. It was only then that they all realized that it referred to generosity. In short, her generosity was also appreciated by Allah and His Rasul sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. ‘A’ishah radiyallahu ‘anha says: “I have not come across any woman better than Zaynab. She was perfect in her Deen, 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, Rasulullah sallallahu ‘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 Sharee’ah).