Who is Zaynab bint Muhammed?
Now granted release, the first thing Abu’l-As, the Prophet’s son-in-law who had fallen captive at Badr, did as soon as he returned to Mecca was to allow Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her- to leave to Medina. Around a month after Badr, the Blessed Prophet sent Zayd ibn Haritha and another Companion from the Ansar, towards Mecca, telling them to, “wait at the Valley of Yajij until Zaynab comes there and accompany her until you all arrive in Medina”.
Abu’l-As thus told Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her- she could go to Medina, to her father. She wasted no time preparing. Kinanah, Abu’l-As’s brother, arranged for a camel with a hawdaj, in which she would travel. Flinging his bow and bag of arrows around his shoulder, Kinanah then grabbed the reins of the camel as they headed out of Mecca during the day.
The news spread fast among the idolaters, however, and a mob set out to turn her back, catching upto them near Zituwa. Out of nowhere, Habbar ibn Aswad struck the hawdaj in which Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her- was seated, causing her to fall on a rock nearby. Pregnant at the time, Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her- had a miscarriage there and then, as she lay bloodied and bruised. She was in enormous pain. In defense, Kinanah crouched and placed an arrow in his bow; and pointing it towards the idolaters, shouted:
“Do not take another step or I will shower you in arrows!”
After a moment’s hesitation, the pursuers made tracks. But a while later, accompanied by another group of idolaters, Abu Sufyan arrived, telling Kinanah to put his bow and arrow aside, as they only wanted to have a word. After Kinanah laid down his bow and arrow, Abu Sufyan said:
“You made a wrong move by taking her out of Mecca in broad daylight, knowing all the trouble we have gone through and what we have been made to suffer because of Muhammad! By taking her daughter to him, blatantly, for all to see, you are only giving people reason to believe that it is a sign of our weakness and helplessness that you are able to take her out of town with such ease and that it is a consequence of our shameful defeat that you are doing so! I swear by my own life that we could not care less whether Zaynab is taken to her father or whether she remains here. Nor could such a thing provide us incentive to take revenge! Now listen to me…Take her back to Mecca. Once people quiten down and are convinced we were able to persuade to you to take her back, secretly take her out of Mecca, to her father!”
Kinanah did just that. After spending a few more nights in Mecca, waiting for things to quiten down, he set out once again with Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her-, this time at night. He handed her over to Zayd ibn Haritha and his friend who had been waiting at Yajij Valley, who then accompanied her to Medina, where she was eventually reunited with her father.
In the sixth year of Hegira, heading a caravan of Quraysh, Abu’l-As was to once again fall captive. At dawn, he sent a message to Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her-, pleading her to seek pardon from the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- on his behalf. As the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had just completed leading the fajr salat she stuck her head out of her chamber, and said:
“People…I am Zaynab, the Messenger of Allah’s daughter; and I have taken Abu’l-As under my protection!”
“We take under our protection, too, the person you have taken under your protection!” the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- responded.
“He is a relative, and besides, the father of my children; so that is why I took him under my protection”, Zaynab later explained to her father. The Blessed Prophet, addressing the Companions, then said:
“If you deem it appropriate to return his property to him then do so, but if not, you have rights over it anyhow!”
The Companions agreed, with ease, to return the property to Abu’l-As. Having retrieved the goods, Abu’l-As returned to Mecca; and after giving each shareholder of the caravan his due, called out:
“Is there a person left whom I have not given his due?”
“No”, replied those around.
“Have I fulfilled my duties to you?”
“For sure”, they said. “May you be rewarded in plentitude for you are an honorable and loyal man!”
“By Allah”, then Abu’l-As began to confess, “the only thing that held me back from accepting Islam in Medina was the fear that you might have been led to think that I only accepted Islam to seize your properties. But since that is done, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger!”
Abu’l-As then returned to Medina, where the Blessed Prophet had Zaynab and him remarry. (Waqidi, II, 553-554; Ibn Sad, VII, 32-33)
 Ibn Hisham, II, 297-299; Ibn Abdilbar, IV, 1854; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 362-363.