The emancipation of Zayd İbn Harithah –Allah be well pleased with him- and his adoption by Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

Abducted by the tribe of Banî Qayn, the young Zayd ibn Harithah was brought to the Ukaz Festival to be sold. Eventually buying him for four hundred dirhams was Hakim ibn Hizam, who then offered him to his aunt Khadijah –Allah be well-pleased with her-. Upon seeing the young boy for the first time, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- said:

 “Had I been the owner of this slave I would have certainly emancipated him!”

“In that case he is yours”, said Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her-, hearing her husband’s words.

The mercy of all worlds, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- then immediately set him free from slavery. (Ibn Hishâm, I, 266; Ibn Saad, III, 40)

Agonized by the abduction of his son, Zayd’s father was in the meantime looking for him everywhere. After a long search, by some information passed on to him by the returning pilgrims, he found the traces of his son in Mecca, to where he immediately set out with his brother. Finding the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- not long after, he informed the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- of his intention to take his son back and of his willingness to pay the required ransom, appealing to him to be merciful and quoting a reasonable price. But the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had something else in mind.

“Can we not find another solution for this?” he asked them.

“What other solution is there?” they replied, thinking the only way for them to regain custody of Zayd would be through paying his ransom out of the slavery they supposed he was still in.

“Let’s call Zayd here and leave him free to decide between me and you”, said the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. “If he chooses you, then you may take him without paying anything. But if he prefers me, you have to understand that by Allah, I can tell someone wanting to stay with me to leave!”

Both Zayd’s father and uncle were elated with the suggestion of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, commending him for his kindness and generosity, confident that Zayd would choose them, after which they could leave Mecca with him without having to pay any ransom. The idea that he might choose to stay never crossed their minds. But the words of Zayd proved them wrong:

“I swear by Allah, I will not prefer anyone over you! You are like a father and mother to me. My preference is to remain here with you.”

When his father and uncle showed their disappointments over his choice, Zayd said:

“I have seen such extraordinary things from him that I could never possibly prefer anyone over him. I will never leave him.”

Moved by Zayd’s loyalty, the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- took him by the hand to the Kaabah where he proclaimed:

“My fellow people! Bear witness that Zayd is now my son, he shall inherit me and I shall inherit him.”[1] Zayd was thus officially adopted by the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. The great honor conferred upon the young Zayd was a reason for relief and happiness for both his father and uncle as they returned to their hometowns with their hearts at ease. (Ibn Hishâm, I, 267; Ibn-i Sa’d, III, 42)

Zayd’s brother Jabala ibn Hârithah -Allah be well-pleased with him- narrates another version of the story:

“I went to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- to ask him to send Zayd with me.

‘He is here. If he wants to go with you I will not stop him from doing so,’ he said. But Zayd did not accept my request, telling him:

‘I will never prefer anyone over you.’

Much later I understood that my brother Zayd had greater wisdom than I.” (Tirmidhî, Manâqıb, 39/3815)

[1] Following that day, Zayd began to be called ‘Zayd ibn Muhammad’, up until the abolishment of adoption with the 5th and 40th verses of Surah Ahzab.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect, Erkam Publications