Zaynab bt. Jahsh

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Zaynab bt. Jahsh
Personal Information
Full Name Barra bt. Jahsh b. Rayyab
Epithet Umm al-Mu'minin
Lineage Asad b. Khuzayma
Well-Known Relatives the Prophet (s), Zayd b. Haritha, Usama b. Zayd
Birth About 33 years before Bi'tha?/About 590?
Muhajir/Ansar Muhajir
Place(s) of Residence Mecca, Medina
Death/Martyrdom 20/641
Burial Place al-Baqi', Medina
Religious Information
Presence at Ghazwas Battle of Hunayn
Migration to Medina
Known for Wife of the Prophet (s)
Wives of the Prophet (s)






Zaynab (bt. Khuzayma)

Umm Salama

Zaynab (bt. Jahsh)


Umm Habiba




Date of Marriage

(27 BH/595)

(before Hijra/before 622)

(1,2, or 4/622, 623, or 625)





(5 or 6/626 or 627)

(6 or 7/627 or 628)




Zaynab bt. Jaḥsh (Arabic: زینب بنت جحش) (d. 20/641) is one of the Prophet Muhammad's wife. First, she married Zayd b. Haritha, the Prophet's (s) adopted son, but soon they separated. Then the Prophet (s) married her to break the Ignorance tradition which considered the adopted children as the biological ones.

After that the Prophet married her, some of his Sahaba affronted him; so the verses of hijab were revealed. On the other hand, some verses of Sura al-Tahrim were revealed about the jealousy of some wives of the Prophet (s) at her.

She was so generous that after her demise no money had left from her wealth. She passed away in 20/641 in Medina and was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery.

Name and Lineage

Her father was Jahsh b. Rayyab from Ghanm, a clan from Asad b. Khuzayma tribe. After that he emigrated to Mecca, he allied with Bani Umayya. Her mother was Umayma, 'Abd al-Muttalib's daughter and the Prophet's paternal aunt.

At first she was called Barra; however, after her marriage to the Prophet (s), he changed her name to Zaynab.


There is no exact information about her birthdate. However, as she passed away in 20/641, during the caliphate of 'Umar, and most biographers said that she lived 53 years, she was probably born 33 years before Hijra and about 10 years before the Prophet's (s)Mab'ath. Ibn Hajar mentioned that she was 50 when she passed away and also added that some have reported that she was 53.

Ibn Sa'd has quoted a report from al-Waqidi that she was 35 when she married the Prophet (s); this report indicates that she was born 29 or 30 years before Hijra.


Zaynab and her family were among the first emigrants to Medina. After their emigration, Abu Sufyan confiscated her family's houses in Mecca and sold them to 'Amr b. 'Alqama.

Marriage to Zayd

After Zaynab emigrated to Medina, the Prophet (s) asked her to marry Zayd. Before this proposal, Zaynab thought the Prophet (s) himself wants to marry; when she realized that he proposed her for Zayd, she rejected. However, when she saw the Prophet (s) wants her to get married to Zayd, she accepted.

Exegetes said that the 36th verse of Sura al-Ahzab [Note 1] was revealed about this event and it was after the revelation of this verse that Zaynab agreed to marry Zayd.

Divorce from Zayd

Zaynab and Zayd had arguments most of the times. Zayd complained about her to the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) always advised him to be patient and tolerate his wife. Eventually, they got divorce by the order of God revealed to the Prophet (s). According to biographers and historians, they got divorce in 5/626-7 or after the Battle of Banu l-Mustaliq in Sa'ban of 5/January 627.

Marriage to the Prophet (s)

By God's order and for breaking the Ignorance time tradition, which considered the adopted children as the biological ones, the Prophet (s) married Zaynab.

It is reported that Zaynab offered herself to the Prophet (s) without mahr (dowry).

Later she took pride in her superiority over the Prophet's wives as her marriage to the Prophet (s) was decreed in the heavens. After the marriage, the Prophet (s) held a wedding feat in which the gusts were severed mutton and bread.

It is said that the Prophet's (s) marriage to Zaynab took place in early Dhu l-Qa'da, 5/April, 627 and Zaynab was 35 years old at that time.

Distortion of the Story

By gossiping about this marriage, hypocrites and polytheists affronted the Prophet (s). In order to damage the Prophet's reputation, some hypocrites gossiped that the Prophet's desire for Zaynab caused the separation between Zayd and her. They narrated various incoherent and sometimes contradictory stories in this regard. Some exegetes of the Qur'an mentioned these stories in their commentaries on the 37th verse of Sura al-Ahzab [Note 2].

Studying the accounts about this event indicates that the first/seventh century exegetes, most probably made up these accounts based on the story of David and Uriya in the Old Testament. Ibn Hajar pointed that some narrators of these accounts are unreliable. However, Bosworth has explained the story of the Prophet's marriage to Zaynab based on these biased accounts.

Explained by distorted narrations, the story of the Prophet's marriage to Zaynab was an inseparable part of polemical Christian texts from early times. Most probably, the first Christian who used this story to criticize the Prophet (s) was John Damascene in his book The fountain of Knowledge after which it became an inseparable part of polemical Christian literature against Islam.


This story is mentioned in verses 36-39 of Sura al-Ahzab. Getting married to a cousin is a lawful act in Islam, so the Prophet's marriage to his aunt's daughter had no problem. However, about what has been reported that the Prophet (s) was interested in her beauty; it must be said that the Prophet (a) knew that she was a beautiful, well-mannered woman before her marriage to Zayd b. Haritha; though he asked her to marry Zayd b. Haritha.

The Prophet (a) had affection for Zayd and one or two years after bi'tha, the Prophet (s) married her freed slave-woman, Umm Ayman, to Zayd. Usama b. Zayd is the result of this marriage.

Revelation of Hijab Verses

Verses of hijab were revealed due to the troubles made by some companions of the Prophet (s) after his marriage to Zaynab. Ibn Sa'd and al-Tabarani have narrated various comprehensive reports in their exegeses of the 58th and 59th verse of Sura al-Ahzab[Note 3]. Likewise, other exegetes mentioned this point in explanation of the same verses.

During 'Umar's Caliphate

After that 'Umar founded the Diwan, he allocated an annuity of 12000 dirhams to her, as he did for some other wives of the Prophet (s). However, Zaynab only received that annuity for one year and she passed away in the following one. Zaynab believed that taking this money was a sedition and she had asked God to help her escaping from taking the annuity.


She was so generous that no dirham and dinar was left from her after her demise; as she had given all of them to the poor.

Even the Prophet (s) referred to this positive attribute of hers by a subtle irony and told his other wives "the fastest of you to join me after my death is the one who is more generous than the others."

Many historians have reported her story, in which she divided all her annuity of 12000 dirhams between orphans, widows and the poor in just a few moments.

Aisha said that she cared for orphans and widows and no one was more devout, pious, honest, observant about the members of her family and almsgiver than her.

In another report Aisha mentioned her as the second most beloved wife of the Prophet (a). Ibn 'Abd al-Barr and Ibn Jawzi reported that Zaynab believed that Aisha and she were equal in status and dignity in the eyes of the Prophet (a).

Zaynab's high position in the eyes of the Prophet (s), provoked the jealousy of some of his wives, which eventually led to revelation of the first verses of Sura al-Tahrim; although Zaynab has annoyed Safiyya bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab.

In the Battle of Hunayn, Zaynab accompanied the Prophet (s). After the Prophet's demise, she used to say, "I will not get on any mount even for Hajj."

When 'Umar behaved aggressively towards Zaynab, the Prophet (s) told him, "Be aware that Zaynab is Awwah" Awwah is an attribute of the prophet Ibrahim (a) mentioned in the Qur'an which means very humble before God and very weeper for His sake.


Zaynab was one of the narrators of the Prophet's hadiths. A few hadiths have been narrated form her, two of which is narrated both by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, Umm Habiba and Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh have narrated hadiths from her.

According to a hadith al-Tabari has narrated from the Faqihs of Hijaz, the Prophet (s) passed away in the Zaynab's house.


She was the first wife of the Prophet (s) to pass away after his demise. Zaynab passed away in 20/641 and 'Umar b. al-Khattab said his burial prayer (Salat al-Mayyit).

Ibn Sa'd and al-Dhahabi narrated that 'Umar banned men who were not her mahrams from participation in her tashyi' (carrying the dead body to burial place) to preserve her dignity as they would see the shape of her body; because at that time dead bodies were carried on a bier. However, when Asma' bt. 'Umays informed him that they have made a coffin for her and put her body in it, he allowed the public to participate in her funeral.

'Umar walked before her coffin and said, "What a nice cover, keeps the women bodies after their death out of men's sight."


Putting the dead body in coffin for Tashyi' was not common in Hijaz at that time, rather they would carry the body on a bier. This way the shape of the dead body was easily noticed as it was only covered by Kafan (shroud). For the first time Asma' bt. 'Umays, who had seen coffins in her home country, Abyssinia, made one for lady Fatima (a), the Prophet's daughter; however, as Fatima (a) was buried in secret, the first public Tashyi' with coffin was that of Zaynab bt. Jahsh.


Zaynab was buried in al-Baqi' Cemetery near the house of 'Aqil and house of Muhammad al-Hanafiyya. Some of her nephews and Usama b. Zayd, who all were her mahrams, put her in her grave and buried her.

On the burial day of Zaynab the weather was very hot that 'Umar ordered to set up a tent over her grave. It is said that it was the first tent set up on a grave in Islam.


Her only bequest was a house, which later, during the reign of Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik, was bought from heirs by 50,000 dirhams for al-Masjid al-Nabawi development project.


  1. A faithful man or woman may not, when Allah and His Apostle have decided on a matter, have any option in their matter, and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle has certainly strayed into manifest error. (Quran 33:36)
  2. When you said to him whom Allah had blessed, and whom you [too] had blessed, ‘Retain your wife for yourself, and be wary of Allah,' and you had hidden in your heart what Allah was to divulge, and you feared the people though Allah is worthier that you should fear Him, so when Zayd had got through with her, We wedded her to you, so that there may be no blame on the faithful in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have got through with them, and Allah's command is bound to be fulfilled. (Quran 33:37)
  3. Those who torment faithful men and women undeservedly, certainly bear the guilt of slander and flagrant sin. (58) O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw closely over themselves their chadors [when going out]. That makes it likely for them to be recognized and not be troubled, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful. (Quran 33:58-59)