Abu al-As ibn al-Rabi'

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Abu al-As ibn al-Rabi' (Arabic: أبو العاص بن الربيع‎‎, ’Abū al-‘Āṣ ibn al-Rabī‘, died in February, 634 AD) was a son-in-law and companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. His original name was said to have been Hushaym or Yasser.[1]

Family[edit]

He was the son of Hala bint Khuwaylid.[2] His legal father was Al-Rabi ibn Abduluzza of the Abdshams clan of the Quraysh tribe; but he was known as a "bastard".[3] He became a successful merchant and was considered an important person in Mecca.[4]

His aunt Khadija regarded him as her son,[4]:313 and he frequently visited her home.[3] In due course Khadija asked her husband Muhammad to find him a wife. Muhammad gave Abu al-As their eldest daughter, Zaynab, apparently with some reluctance.[4]:313 Later, however, he spoke "warmly" of Abu al-As,[4]:314 "who told the truth and kept his promises"[5] and in whom he "found no fault as an in-law."[2]:22 Abu al-As and Zaynab had two children: Ali, who died in childhood, and Umama, who was later married to the fourth Caliph Ali.[2]:21

Opposition to Islam[edit]

When Muhammad, after declaring himself to be a prophet, lost popularity in Mecca, the Quraysh pressured Abu al-As to divorce Zaynab, saying they would give him any woman he liked in exchange. But Abu Al-As replied that he did not want any other woman and he remained with Zaynab.[4]:314 However, he refused to become a Muslim.[2]:21 Since Muhammad had no power of jurisdiction over Mecca, he too was unable to force his daughter to separate from her unbelieving husband. When the Muslims emigrated to Medina, Zaynab, although a convert, remained in Mecca with Abu al-As.[4]:314

In 624 Abu al-As fought in the Battle of Badr on the side of the polytheists and was captured by Abdullah ibn Jubayr al-Ansari.[2]:21 Zaynab sent a ransom for him via his brother Amr, including an onyx necklace that had been a wedding present from Khadija. At the sight of the necklace, Muhammad remembered Khadija and was moved. He sent Abu al-As back to Mecca without taking any of the ransom, on condition that Zaynab be sent to Medina. Hence Abu al-As was separated from Zaynab for the next four years.[2]:21–22[4]:313–314[6] In her absence, he wrote poetry for her:

I remember Zaynab when she leaned on the waymark.
I said to a person who lived in the Haram, "Water!
For the daughter of the Trustworthy." May Allah reward her!
Virtuous she is, and every husband praises what he knows.[2]:22

Conversion to Islam[edit]

In October 627 Abu al-As was returning from Syria with a caravan of merchandise when he was attacked by Muslim raiders. He escaped capture, but the raiders took the merchandise, much of which belonged to other people in Mecca. Abu al-As crept into Medina by night and asked Zaynab to grant him protection, which she immediately provided.[4]:316

The next morning he asked about the stolen property. Muhammad gave the raiders a choice: he asked them as a favour to restore his relative’s property. The raiders agreed to return everything, including "old skins and little leather bottles and even a little piece of wood."[4]:317 Abu al-As was then asked if he would like to become a Muslim and keep the Meccans' property. He replied, "It would be a bad beginning to my Islam if I were to betray my trust."[7]

Abu al-As continued his journey to Mecca and returned all his neighbours' investments to them. He then announced that he was a Muslim, "and I would have become a Muslim when I was with [Muhammad], but that I feared that you would think that I only wanted to rob you of your property." He emigrated to Medina in May or June 628.[4]:317

Muhammad allowed Abu al-As to live with Zaynab again without requiring a new contract or dower.[2]:23[4]:317 Alternative traditions, however, assert that Abu Al-As did make a new contract and pay a new dower.[2]:23 Their reconciliation only lasted about a year, for Zaynab died in April 630.[2]:24

After Zaynab[edit]

As a widower, Abu al-As returned to Mecca.[3] He married again to Fakhita bint Sa'id ibn Al-As ibn Abi Umayya, and they had a daughter, Maryam.[8] He never fought in any of the Islamic wars.[3] He died in Mecca in February 634.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba vol. 7 #10173, p. 224
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 21. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  3. ^ a b c d Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba vol. 7 #10176.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 313. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Muslim 31:6002.
  6. ^ Abu Dawud 14:2686.
  7. ^ Abdulmalik ibn Hisham. Notes to Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 740 note 397. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba vol. 8 #11567.
  9. ^ Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba vol. 7 #10176; vol. 8 #11567.