Islam and Discrimination: Wedding of Jowaibir and Zalfa (Equality in Islam, Racism and Islam)
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 6:07:16 AM
"O Messenger of Allah, I have neither wealth nor beauty; nor I have a noble descent or lineage. Who will marry me? And which woman likes to be wife of a poor, short, black and ugly man like me?"
"O Jowaibir! God has changed the individual's worth through Islam. Many people were high-placed in the pre-Islamic society and Islam brought them down. Many were despised non-entities and Islam bestowed them with honor and high rank and brought them up. Islam abolished the un-Islamic discrimination and pride of lineage. Now all people irrespective of their color and origin are equal. Nobody has superiority over others but through piety and obedience to Allah. Among the Muslims, only that person would be higher than YOU whose virtues and deeds are better than you. Now do as I tell you."
These words were exchanged one day between the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Jowaibir when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) came to see the Companions of the Suffa (Ashab al-Suffa).
Jowaibir was a native of "Yamamah" where he came to know about the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the advent of Islam. He was poor, black and short, but at the same time intelligent truth seeking and a man of determination. He came to Medina to look at Islam from near; in a short time he embraced Islam. Since he had neither money, house nor any friends, he temporarily was accommodated along with other poor Muslims in the Mosque by permission of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When it was revealed unto the Prophet Muhammad (saw) that the Mosque was not a place of habitation, it became necessary to shift them elsewhere. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) selected a site outside the Mosque and erected a shed for them. The place was named as "Suffa" and the residents were known as "Ashab al-Suffa" - all of them poor from places far away from Medina.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) came to visit them one day. Noticing Jowaibir among them he decided to bring him out of this forlorn life. It was beyond the fancy of Jowaibir to own a house and have a wife in his condition. And that was why he replied to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as to how it was possible for anyone to accept him in matrimony when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) advised him to marry. But the Prophet Muhammad (saw) removing his doubts explained to him the changes brought about in the social outlook of the people by Islam.
After bringing Jowaibir out of his inferiority complex, he directed him to the house of Ziad ibn Lubaid to request him for his daughter's hand in marriage.
Ziad ibn Lubaid was one of the wealthiest persons of Medina and commanded high respect among his tribes. When Jowaibir entered his house, he was surrounded by his relatives and some of his tribes-men. Jowaibir took a seat, paused for a moment and then raising his head said, "I have brought a message from the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Do you like to hear it confidentially or openly?"
Ziad ibn Lubaid: "A message from the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is an honour to me, better you tell it openly."
"The Prophet Muhammad (saw) has sent me to request you for your daughter for myself".
Ziad ibn Lubaid asked: "Did he himself make this suggestion to you?"
Jowaibir replied: "I don't speak on my own accord. Everybody knows me, I am not a liar"
Ziad ibn Lubaid said: "Strange! We don't give our daughters to persons of unequal status nor outside our tribe. You go back I shall go to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and have a talk with him myself."
Jowaibir left the house murmuring, "By Allah (SWT), whatever the Noble Qur'an teaches and whatever is the purpose of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) is totally against what Ziad ibn Lubaid says."
Those nearby heard the murmurings of Jowaibir. Zalfa, the lovely daughter of Ziad ibn Lubaid, and the beauty queen of Medina, heard these words of Jowaibir. She came to her father and asked: "Father, what was that man who just went out saying? And what did he mean?"
Ziad ibn Lubaid said: "He had come to ask for your hand in marriage and was claiming that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had sent him for this purpose".
"Isn't it possible that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had really sent him, and thus your rejection may amount to disobedience of the Prophet Muhammad's (saw) order?"
Ziad ibn Lubaid asked: "What do you feel about it?"
Zalfa said: "I feel you should bring him back before he reaches to the Prophet Muhammad (saw), and then go yourself to find out the truth."
Ziad ibn Lubaid brought Jowaibir back to his house with due respect, and then himself hurried up to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When he saw him he said:
"O Messenger of Allah, Jowaibir came to my house and brought such and such a message from you, I would like to inform you that our custom is to give our daughters to persons of equal status and belonging to our tribe, who are all your helpers and companions."
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "O Ziad, Jowaibir is a faithful man. That dignity and honor which you are talking about has now been abrogated. Every believer man is equal (for marriage purpose) to every believer woman."
Ziad ibn Lubaid returned to his house and explained the matter to his daughter, Zalfa. She said, "Please do not reject the proposal put by the Prophet Muhammad (saw). This matter concerns me. I accept Jowaibir whatever his condition may be. If the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is pleased with it, I am also pleased."
The wedding was duly solemnized; Ziad ibn Lubaid paid "Mahr" (dowry) from his own wealth and offered good articles to the newly married. They asked the bridegroom, "Have you got a house where to take the bride?" Jowaibir said, "No, I had never thought that I would get a wife and settle in domestic life. It was the Prophet Muhammad (saw) who came suddenly and had a talk with me and sent me to Ziad ibn Lubaid's house".
Ziad ibn Lubaid arranged for him a house equipped with complete household equipments, and transferred the bride superbly adorned with ornaments and perfumes.
Night came. Jowaibir did not know where the house was meant for him. He was guided to the house and led to the bridal-chamber. When he saw the house and its equipments and looked at the dazzling bride, his past came to his mind and he said to himself, "How poor I was when I entered this city. I had nothing - neither money nor beauty, neither any lineage nor family - now Allah (SAW) made these affluences available to me through Islam. Indeed it is Islam that has brought such changes in the social outlook of the people beyond any imagination. How grateful I am to Allah (SAW) for bestowing upon me all these Blessings!"
In spiritual ecstasy he went to a corner of the room; spent the night in recitation of the Noble Qur'an and prayer. It was dawn when he came to himself and then decided to fast in gratitude to Allah (SAW).
When women came to see bride Zalfa in the morning they found her untouched. They kept the matter secret from Ziad ibn Lubaid. Two nights and days passed in the same manner. Jowaibir was fasting during days and praying during nights. The women of the family of the bride were worried. They thought perhaps Jowaibir was impotent and had no need for a woman. At last, they put the matter before Ziad ibn Lubaid. He informed the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
The Prophet Muhammad (saw); called Jowaibir and asked, "Don't you have any desire for woman?"
Jowaibir replied: "Incidentally, I have very intense desire of that kind".
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said; "Then why didn't you go near your bride?"
"O Messenger of Allah, when I entered the house I found myself amidst that affluence. A state of gratitude and devotion took me over. I thought it necessary to offer thanks and prayers to Allah (SWT) before doing anything. Tonight I shall go near my wife."
Jowaibir and Zalfa lived a most happy life. When the call for a Jihad (Holy war) came, he participated in it with the enthusiasm typical of a brave Muslim, and achieved martyrdom under the banner of Islam. After his martyrdom, Zalfa was the most sought after woman for a wife and people were eager to pay the greatest Mahr for her.