Q: Can you give me the biography of Sayyidah Juwariyah radhiallahu?
A: Juwairiyah binti Harith, radhiyallahu anhaa, married the Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in Sha’baan, 5 Hijri when Our Rasool was fifty-eight years old and she was twenty, not long after his marriage to Zainab bint Jahash, and as a result of the Muslims ‘ successful campaign against the Banu Mustaliq who were swiftly defeated after the Prophet’s surprise attack.
Before then she was married to Musaafi’ bin Safwaan who was not a Muslim and was killed in the very battle wherein she was captured.
Hazrat Juwairiyah was among the captives taken in this campaign. She was a very charming and sweet lady, and very beautiful. Anyone who saw her could not help being captivated by her charm and pleasant demeanour. Her father was Harith ibni Abi ZHiraar, who was the chief of the Banu Mustaliq.
Later on her father also embraced Islam. It is written that after this battle the prisoners were distributed among the soldiers, and Juwairiyah (radhiyallahu anhaa) fell to the lot of Thaabit bin Qais (or his cousin, according to some reports). Her father took along a number of camels as ransom for his daughter, hoping to buy her freedom. As he was on his way to Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), he decided to keep back two camels that he liked. So he hid the two camels in a valley just outside Madina and continued with the rest. When he arrived in the presence of Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) he presented the camels and asked that these be accepted in lieu of his daughter’s freedom. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) asked him: “And what about the two camels you hid in the valley?!?!” Haarith was totally flabbergasted. Immediately he uttered the Shahaadha and entered Islam, admitting that none besides Allah could have given information to the Messenger about these camels.
Meanwhile, Juwairiayh had made an agreement with her new master Thaabit to pay for her freedom. This was the famous Mukaatabat Contract in Islam in terms of which slaves could work and buy their freedom for a fixed sum of money. However, Juwairyah had no intention of working for her freedom. She had a better idea. She asked to see Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
In fact, she demanded to see the Prophet Muhammad, with the intention of asking him to help her with the ransom money. At that time The Messenger of Allah was in the house of Ayesha (Radhiyallahu anhaa). Seeing how beautiful she was, A’isha was not keen on her seeing the Prophet (for fear that he would propose marriage to her, thus bringing another rival into the equation)
But she persisted, and eventually she was permitted to see the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and was taken to him while he was with A’isha. After she had finished speaking, the Prophet thought for a moment, and then said, “Shall I tell you what would be better than this?” She said, “And what is that Our Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “I pay your freedom money, and you marry me.”
She immediately accepted. Although Juwairiyah was young and beautiful and of noble lineage, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was thinking of how to save her and all her tribe from an ignoble fate. By marrying Juwairiyah, the Banu Mustaliq would be able to enter Islam with honor, and with the humiliation of their recent defeat removed, so that it would no longer be felt necessary by them to embark on a war of vengeance that would have continued until one of the two parties had been annihilated. As soon as the marriage was announced, all the booty that had been taken from the Banu Mustaliq was returned, and all the captives were set free, for they were now the in laws of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Thus A’isha once said of Juwairiyah, “I know of no woman who was more of a blessing to her people than Juwairiyah bint al-Harith.” After they were married, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) changed her name from Barra to Juwairiyah.
It has been related by Juwairiyah that early one morning the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) left her room while she was doing the dawn prayer. He returned later that morning and she was still sitting in the same place. “have you been sitting in the same place since I left you?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied. Whereupon the Prophet said, “I recited four phrases three times after I left you, and if these were to be weighed against what you have been reciting since dawn, they would still outweigh them. They are:
سبحان الله وبحمده عدد خلقه ورضا نفسه وزنة عرشه ومداد كلماته
‘Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Him as much as the number of his creations, and His pleasure, and the weight of His Throne, and the ink of His words.'” Which reminds us of the following ayat of the Qur’an:
“Say: ‘If the sea were the ink for the words of My Lord, truly the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were completed, and even if We used the same again to assist.” [Qur’an 18:109]
Juwairiyah was married to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for six years, and lived for another thirty-nine years after his death, dying in 50 AH at the age of sixty-five, may Allah be pleased with her.
Mufti Siraj Desai