Sayyidah Juwairiyah bint Harith, may Allah be pleased with her, was a very charming, sweet and very beautiful lady. All who saw Sayyidah Juwairiyah (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) were stunned by her exceptional beauty. Brought up as she had been in one of the foremost families of the time, she was not only beautiful but graceful, elegant and eloquent. Anyone who saw her could not help being captivated by her charm and pleasant demeanour. Her father was Harith ibn Abi Dirar, who was the chief of the Banu Mustaliq. When Sayyidah Ayesha (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) first saw Sayyidah Juwairiyah (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) she exclaimed that she was as beautiful as a fairy.
She married the beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Him) in Sha’baan 5 A.H., when the beloved Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam was fifty-eight years old and she was twenty, not long after his marriage to Sayyidah Zainab bint Jahash. 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.
Before her marriage to the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) her name was Barrah, but beloved Prophet SallAllahu Alaihi wa Sallam changed it to Juwairiyah. Sayyidah Zainab bint Jahash, Zainab bint Umm Salamah and Maimoonah bint Harith Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhunna were also named Barrah, but the beloved Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam changed their names as well.
Marriage of Sayyidah Juwairiyah bint Harith (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha):
News reached the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) on Sha‘ban 2nd to the effect that the chief of Bani Al-Mustaliq, Al-Harith bin Dirar had mobilised his men, along with some Arabs, to attack Madinah al-Munawwarah. Buraidah bin al-Haseeb al-Aslami was immediately despatched to verify the reports. He had some words with Abi Dirar, who confirmed his intention of war. He later sent a reconnoiterer to explore the positions of the Muslims but he was captured and killed. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) summoned his men and ordered them to prepare for war. Before leaving, Sayyiduna Zaid bin Harith was mandated to see to the affairs of Madinah al-Munawwarah and dispose them. On hearing the advent of the Muslims, the disbelievers got frightened and the Arabs who were with them defected and ran away for their lives. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr as-Siddiq Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu was entrusted with the banner of the Emigrants, and that of the Helpers went to Sa‘d bin ‘Ubada. The two armies were stationed at a well called Muraisi. Arrow shooting went on for an hour, and then the Muslims rushed and engaged with the enemy in a battle that ended in full victory for the Muslims. Some men were killed, women and children of the disbelievers taken as captives, and a lot of booty fell to the lot of the Muslims. Only one Muslim was martyr by mistake by a Helper. Amongst the captives was Sayyidah Juwairiyah, daughter of Al-Harith, chief of the disbelievers.
It is written that after this battle the prisoners were distributed among the soldiers, and Juwairiyah (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) 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 Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alaihi wa Sallam), he decided to keep back two camels that he liked. So he hide the two camels in a valley just outside Madina Munawwarah and continued with the rest. When he arrived in the presence of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alaihi wa Sallam) he presented the camels and asked that these be accepted in lieu of his daughter’s freedom. The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alaihi wa Sallam) 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, Sayyidah 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 Alaihi wa Sallam).
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 Sayyidah Ayesha (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha). She was permitted to see the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Him) and was taken to him while he was with Sayyidah 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.”
Moved deeply by this unexpected elevation in her status, she exclaimed she would be more than happy to accept. She was freed, and swearing allegiance to Islam, she married the beloved Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam). 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 Sayyidah 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). This is when Sayyidah A’isha said of Sayyidah Juwairiyah, “I know of no woman who was more of a blessing to her people than Juwairiyah bint al-Harith.”
Virtues of Sayyidah Juwairiyah (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha):
Most of the time she would be found engrossed in prayer. It has been related by Juwairiyah that early one morning the Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) 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 (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) 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.’” [Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Dhikr, Hadith 6575]
Which reminds us of the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
قل لو كان البحر مدادا لكلمات ربي لنفد البحر قبل ان تنفد كلمات ربي ولو جئنا بمثله مددا
“Proclaim, ‘If the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, the sea would indeed be used up and the Words of my Lord would never – even if we bring another like it for help.’” [Surah al-Kahf, Verse 109]
Sayyidah 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 demise. She passed away at the age of sixty-five in Safar in the year 50th after Hijrah during the caliphate of Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan. The governor of Al-Madinah, Marwan bin Hakam led the funeral prayer and she was buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
O the contented soul! Return towards your Lord – you being pleased with Him, and He pleased with you! Then enter the ranks of My chosen bondmen! And come into My Paradise! [Surah al-Fajr, Verses 27-30]