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Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in the English language. I also studied at Temple University in the US.
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In a Nutshell:
The books of seera and hadith don't detail the conversion of Zayd ibn Haritha (ra). We have only been told he was one of the first companions to embrace Islam. Given the historical context, it is probable the Messenger (saw) did not proactively invite him to Islam, like Ali (ra), Zayd (ra) would have asked him about the new rituals he had started to perform and then accepted Islam based upon the Prophet's (saw) explanation.


When the Messenger (saw) first received revelation, he was not asked to give invite people to Islam as individuals. Rather, he was commanded to focus on the Quraysh's leaders, those influentials who society trusted and between them could collectively reorient Meccan society in accordance to revelation.

Scholars disagree on who the first companion to embrace Islam after Khadija (ra) was, whether it was Ali, Abu Bakr or Zayd ibn Haritha (ra).

They generally conclude Ali (ra) was the first of the youth, Abu Bakr (ra) was the first of the men and Zayd (ra) was the first of the slaves.

Zayd ibn Haritha (ra) was a slave of Hakim ibn Hizam from whom Khadija (ra) took Zayd as a servant for the Prophet (saw) before the initiation of the revelation.

A while later, Zayd's father tracked Zayd to Mecca and asked the Prophet (saw) to return him his son (because Zayd had originally been kidnapped and enslaved). The Prophet (saw) allowed Zayd (ra) to decide what he wanted to do. Zayd chose to stay with the Prophet (saw) rather than returning to his father.

It was narrated that his father told him:

وَيْحَكَ يَا زَيْدْ، أَتَخْتَارُ العُبُودِيَةَ عَلَى الحُرِيَةِ وعَلَى أَبِيكَ وأَهْلِ بَيْتِكَ؟! قالَ: نَعَمْ، قَدْ رَأَيْتُ مِنْ هَذَا الرَجُلِ شَيْئًا، مَا أَنَا بِالّذِي أَخْتَارُ عَلَيْه أَحَدًا أَبَدًا
"What is wrong with you Zayd, do you choose slavery over freedom and over your father and family?
Zayd replied, 'Yes, I have seen from this man (Muhammad) goodness and I am not the one who would choose anyone over him.'" (Ibn Abd al-Barr, al-Isti'ab, Vol. 2, p. 545, Ibn 'Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq, Vol. 17, p. 348, Suhili, ar-Rawq al-Aneef, Vol. 2, p. 291, and others)

After this incident, the Muhammed (saw) went to the Ka'ba and announced the freedom and adoption of Zayd (ra) as his son; an action that was later cancelled by the Qur'an:

وَمَا جَعَلَ أَدْعِيَاءكُمْ أَبْنَاءكُمْ ... ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّهِ فَإِن لَّمْ تَعْلَمُوا آبَاءهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَمَوَالِيكُمْ
"And he has not made your adopted sons your (true) sons. … Call them by (the names of) their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, then they are (still) your brothers in religion and those entrusted to you." (Qur'an 33:4-5)

Zayd's Conversion

The details of Zayd's conversion is not mentioned in the books of seera, it is only mentioned that he was one of the first companions to embrace Islam.

Ibn Ishaq narrated:

ِوَأْسلَمَ زَيْدُ بنُ حَارِثَةَ ... وكانَ مِمّا أَنْعَمَ اللهُ بِهِ عَلَى عَلِيٍّ أنّهُ كَانَ فِي حِجْرِ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَمَ قَبْلَ الإِسْلَام
"Zayd ibn Halitha (ra) became a Muslim … It was a grace of Allah bestowed upon him that he was in the house of the Messenger (saw) before Islam." (Ibn Ishaq, as-Sira wa al-Maghazi, Vol. 1, pp. 137-138)

But in light of the following reasons, one can say it is likely the Messenger (saw) did not proactively invite him individually to Islam, rather Zayd (ra) may have asked him about his new prayers and accepted Islam based on his response:

  1. The close relationship between the Messenger (saw) and Zayd (ra) as clarified above;
  2. Zayd's living in the house of the Messenger (saw);
  3. Zayd's love towards the Messenger (saw);
  4. The approach of dawa the Messenger followed in calling the influentials and leaders to an Islamic way of life for their peoples;
  5. The trustworthiness of the Messenger (saw).

Zayd (ra) probably had a similar conversion story to that of his colleague Ali ibn Abi Talib, as they both lived in the house of the Messenger (saw) at the time. He probably saw the Messenger (saw) performing different rituals to what Meccans used to perform, subsequently embracing Islam.


The books of seera and hadith don't detail Zayd's conversion to Islam. We have only been told he was one of the first companions to embrace Islam. Given the historical context, it is probable Zayd (ra) may have asked the Messenger (saw) about his rituals and he accepted Islam as a consequence.


Ibn Abd al-Barr, al-Isti'ab
Ibn 'Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq
Suhili, ar-Rawq al-Aneef
Ibn Ishaq, as-Sira wa al-Maghazi

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