62 – After The Siege

When Sa’d had passed judgment on Bani Qurayzah he returned to his sick-bed in the Mosque. He had already prayed that if God had any more fighting for him to accomplish against His enemies He would let him live, and if not that He would let him die; and now his condition grew rapidly worse. One night not long after the siege the Prophet found him apparently unconscious. He sat down at his head which he gently raised and laid against his breast, and then he prayed: “O Lord, verily Sa’d hath striven upon the path, with fullness of faith in Thy messenger, leaving naught undone that was his to do. Take then unto Thyself his spirit with the best acceptance wherewith Thou takest the spirits of thy creatures.” Sa’d heard the Prophet’s voice, and opening his eyes he said: “Peace be on thee, O Messenger of God, I bear witness that thou hast delivered thy message.” An hour or two later, after the Prophet had returned home, Gabriel came to him and told him that Sa’d was dead.

When they carried his bier to the cemetery, the bearers were amazed at the lightness of their load, for Sa’d was a heavy man, but when they mentioned this to the Prophet he said: “I saw the Angels carrying him.” They set down the bier at the edge of the grave and he led the funeral prayer, with a multitude of men and women praying behind him. Then when they lowered the body unto the grave the Prophet’s face turned suddenly pale and he said three times Subhan Allah, “Glory be to God!”, this being an affirmation of the Absolute Transcendence of God, sometimes uttered, as now, with reference to a limit that needs to be transcended. All those who were present repeated it and the cemetery resounded with the glorifications. Then after a moment he gave utterance to the words of victory, Allahu Akbar, “God is most Great”, and the cemetery resounded again as the magnification was likewise taken up by those who were present. Afterwards, when asked why he had changed color, the Prophet said: “The grave closed in upon your companion, and he felt a constriction which, if any man could escape it, Sa’d would have escaped. Then God gave him blissful relief.”[1]

It was at the dawn of one of the days which followed, when the Prophet was in the apartment of Umm Salamah, that he announced to her: “Abu Lubabah is forgiven.” “May I not give him the good tidings?” she said. “If thou wilt,” he answered, so she stood at the door of her apartment which opened into the Mosque, not far from the pillar to which he had bound himself, and called out: “O Abu Lubabah, be of good cheer, for God hath relented unto thee.” The men who were in the Mosque surged upon him to set him free, but he stopped him saying: “Not until the Messenger of God set me free with his own hands.” So the Prophet passed by him on his way to the prayer and loosed his bonds.

After the prayer Abu Lubabah came to the Prophet and said that he wished to make an offering in expiation of what he had done, and the Prophet accepted from him a third of his property, for the Revelation which had set him free had said: Take alms of their wealth to purify them,[2] the reference being not only to Abu Lubabah but also to other good men at fault who freely admitted that they were wrong.

About five months after the campaign of the Trench, the Prophet heard that a rich caravan of Quraysh was on its way from Syria, and Zayd was sent to waylay it with a troop of a hundred and seventy horse. They captured the entire merchandise, including much silver which was the property of Safwan, and most of the men were taken captive. Amongst the few who escaped was Abu l-‘As, the Prophet’s son-in-law; and as he approached Medina, near which he was bound to pass on his way to Mecca, he was filled with longing to see his wife and their little daughter Umamah. Under cover of night he entered the city at considerable risk and was somehow able to find where Zaynab lived. He knocked at the door and she opened it and let him in. It was not far from daybreak, and when Bilal made the call to the prayer Zaynab left him in the house with Umamah and went to the Mosque to take her place as usual with her sisters and stepmothers in the front rank of the women, behind the ranks of the men. The Prophet made the initial magnification which the men repeated after him; and in the brief moment of silence which ensued Zaynab cried out with all the strength of her voice: “O people, I give protection to Abu l-‘As the son of Rabi’.” Then she entered the prayer herself with the magnification.

When the Prophet had pronounced the final greeting of Peace, he rose and turned to face the congregation saying “Did ye hear what I heard?”, and there was a murmur of affirmation throughout the Mosque. “By him in whose hand is my soul,” he said, “I knew naught of this until I heard what I heard. The meanest Muslim can grant protection which shall be binding on all other Muslims.” Then he  went to his daughter and said: “Receive him with all honor, but let him not come unto thee as a husband, for thou art not his by law.” She told her father that Abu l-‘As was troubled by the loss of he merchandise which he himself had acquired by barter in Syria on behalf of various men of Quraysh who had entrusted their goods to him, for he was one of the most trusted men of Mecca. So the Prophet sent word to those of the expedition who had taken the property of Abu l-‘As: “This man is related to us as ye know, and ye have taken property of his. If ye should be good as to return it unto him, that would please me; but if ye will not, it is booty which God hath given you, so that yours is the better right to it.” They said they would give it back to him, and they even went so far as to return old water-skins, small leather bottles and pieces of wood. Everything was returned to him without exception; and since there were signs that he had thoughts of entering Islam, one of the men said to him: “Why dost thou not enter Islam and take these goods unto thyself, for they are the property of idolaters?” But he answered: “It were a bad beginning to my Islam, that I should betray my trust.” He took the goods to Mecca and gave them to their owners. Then he returned to Medina and entered Islam, pledging his allegiance. So Zaynab was united once more with her husband, and there was great rejoicing in the family of the Prophet and throughout the city.

[1] W. 529
[2] Qur’an 9 : 103

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