al-Sawād al-A’dham: Barīrah


Barīrah, the freed slave (mawlāh) of cĀisha, may Allāh be pleased with both of them, came to our mother once and said, “I have made a contract with my people that I would be free if I pay them seven uqiyyah (a unit of weight); one each year. Can you help me?”

Our mother replied, “If your people like I will arrange it and your wilāyah will belong to me.”

Barīrah went and informed her people of this proposition but they refused. When she came back to our mother the Messenger of Allāh was present. “I presented that to them,” she said, “but they insisted that the wilāyah should be theirs.”

The Messenger of Allāh heard that and made enquires. cĀisha told him what was going on, and he said, ”Take her, purchase her, and stipulate to them that wilāyah [will be yours] because wilāyah belongs to the one who emancipates.”

Then the Messenger of Allāh stood up among the people, praised and lauded Allāh, after which he stated, “Now to our topic, what is the matter with individuals amongst you who stipulate conditions that are not in the book of Allāh. Whatever condition is not in the book of Allāh is null and void, though it be a hundred [of them]. The decree of Allāh is more worthy and the stipulation of Allāh is firmer. Wilāyah is only for the one who emancipates.”

Ibn Hajr, may Allāh have mercy on him, writes in Fatḥ al-Bārī that a group of the a’immah (pl. ofimām) have concerned themselves with the story of Barīrah and written compilations on it. Dhahabi mentioned in Siyar ‘Aclām al-Nubalā that Ibn Khuzaimah and others have spoken of numerous benefits [derived from] her narration.Some have derived up to three hundred benefits from it.

cĀisha, may Allāh be pleased with her, said that there are three legal issues connected to Barīrah: her people wanted to sell her and stipulate that her wilāyah would be theirs, so I mentioned that to the Prophet who said, “Purchase her, and free her because wilāyah belongs to the one who emancipates,”; she was freed and the Messenger of Allāh gave her a choice, and she chose herself; the people used to give charity to her and she would give us gifts, I mentioned this to the Prophet who said, “It is charity for her but a gift for you, so eat it.”

In Ṭabaqāt Ibn Sacd it is written that Barīrah had a husband while she was a slave. When she was freed the Messenger of Allāh gave her a choice between being with [her husband] or being free of him, and she chose herself.

cĀisha, may Allāh be pleased with her, relates that the Prophet entered while a pot bubbling with meat (laḥm) was on the fire. He asked for some food, and was brought bread along with something to eat with it (udm). He enquired, “Didn’t I see a pot with meat in it?” They replied, “Indeed, O Messenger of Allāh! That meat was charity given to Barīrah and you don’t eat charity.” The Messenger of Allāh said, “It is a charity for her and it is a gift from her to us.”

cAbdul-Khāliq Ibn Ẓayd Ibn Wāqid relates on the authority of his father that cAbdul-Mālik Ibn Marwān said, “I used to sit with Barīrah in Madīnah and she would to say to me: O cAbdul-Mālik, I find in you certain traits. Indeed, you are qualified to govern, and if you [are put into power] beware of shedding blood because I have heard the Messenger of Allāh say, ”A man will be driven away from the doors of Jannah after it is seen that he has a cupping glass full of blood which he shed from a Muslim without any right.”