Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A quick change of fortunes- Juwayriyyah (Barrah bint Al-Harith) - The wife of the Prophet (pbuh)

A quick change of fortunes- Juwayriyyah (Barrah bint Al-Harith) - The wife of the Prophet (pbuh)

It is universally agreed by Muslim historians that no woman ever brought her own people greater blessings than Juwayriyyah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Her original name was Barrah bint Al-Harith, and we spoke last week of her falling into captivity, after her father, the chief of the Al-Mustalaq tribe, had planned to raid Madinah, but the Prophet’s quick action foiled his plans and led to a few of his people being killed, including Juwayriyyah’s own husband, and a large number of them taken captive, facing a life of slavery.

When she agreed terms with her master, Thabit ibn Qays, to buy her own freedom, she went to speak to the Prophet. Ayesha reported that as she opened the door, she saw a young, very attractive woman of about 20. “No one would see her without being fascinated by her beauty.” She was apprehensive and shy, but that could only make her look prettier.

Addressing the Prophet, she said: “Messenger of God! I am the daughter of Al-Harith ibn Abi Dirar, the chief of his people. I have come into such misfortune as you are certainly aware of. My lot fell to Thabit ibn Qays and I agreed with him terms to buy my freedom. I am here to appeal for your kind help.” Her face reflected her hearty appeal. She was aware that this was the only man who could easily bring about a speedy change of her situation. Hence, she waited for the answer, letting her eyes continue the appeal.

The Prophet reflected a little, recognizing her situation. He then said to her: “Would you consider a better offer?” All she had hoped for was a portion of the price she needed to pay for her freedom, but she was told that she could have a better alternative. What could that be? Would the Prophet give her most of the price? What else could he be thinking of? Her voice betrayed her eagerness to know as she said: “What offer, Messenger of God?” He said: “I will pay whatever you agreed on, and you be my wife.”

Could that be true? Could her situation be immediately transferred from that of a captive of war needing to beg help to buy her freedom to that of a wife of God’s messenger and the head of the Muslim state? She would then be in a much better position than the one she had among her own people, as the daughter of her tribe’s chief and the wife of one of its best young men. Hence, she immediately accepted.

Within a few days, the wedding took place. According to some reports, her father arrived in Madinah shortly before it was due to take place, and was present at the marriage. He started his journey with the aim of securing his daughter from captivity. By the time he arrived in Madinah, his daughter had accepted the Prophet’s offer and preparations for her marriage to him were under way. The Prophet changed her name, as he did with Umm Salamah’s daughter and Zaynab bint Jahsh, each of whom was also called Barrah. Barrah means “devout and dutiful.” He said: “You do not know who of you is truly devout and dutiful. So, do not make such a claim.” He called his new wife Juwayriyyah, which means “little young woman.”

- By Adil Salahi

No comments: