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    After the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Madinah by siege at the Battle of the Trench, the Quraish were continuously looking for ways of stirring up trouble for the people of Madinah. It was with that purpose in mind that they urged one of their allies, the Bani l-Mustaliq, to make a raid on Madinah. However, neighboring tribes who were more favorably disposed towards the Prophet  made sure that he was informed of the plan. Eight days later before the Bani l-Mustaliq had even finished preparations to set out, the Prophet and his army were camped out in the territory of the Bani l-Mustaliq, near one of their watering holes. A swift attack by the Prophet's men resulted in a quick surrender without much resistance. About two hundred families were taken captive, as well as two thousand camels and five thousand sheep and goats.

    Among the captives was Juwairiyah , the daughter of Harith, chief of the defeated clan. She fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays , who fixed a very high price for her ransom. She therefore went to the Prophet to ask for his help in buying her freedom. He was that day in the apartment of Aishah and it was she who opened the door to Juwairiyah . She was immediately struck by the great beauty of Juwairiyah and knew that the Prophet would likewise be impressed. Juwairiyah approached the Prophet and asked for his help in paying her ransom. He replied that he would do even better than that. When she asked what could be better than that, he replied that he would buy her freedom and that he would marry her.

    Juwairiyah gladly accepted the Prophet's offer, but before the marriage could take place her father arrived with camels for her ransom. There were not as many camels as he had originally intended to offer, for on his way he had hidden two of them. They were such fine animals that he could not bear to part with them. When he offered the remaining camels to the Prophet for his daughter's ransom, the Prophet asked him where the other two camels were and described to Harith the exact place where they had been hidden. Then Harith accepted Islam and two of his sons took the shahadah with him. He sent for the two camels and gave them with the others to the Prophet for his daughter's freedom. Juwairiyah herself then embraced Islam and was given in marriage to the Prophet by her father.

    When the other Muslims learned that the Bani l-Mustaliq were now related to the Prophet through the marriage, they released all the remaining captives. About one hundred families were thus set free. Aishah commented later that she knew of no woman who brought greater blessings to her family than Juwairiyah .

Bonnie L. Hamid

Published: January 2007

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