Zainab bint Muhammad. Painted 2016 to 2017 by Moldovan-born British artist, Gheorghe Virtosu, b. 1968. Oil on canvas, 146 cm high by 183 cm wide. 57 X 72 inches.
'Poignant and beautiful, would be the words chosen by many to describe the love story of Zainab bint Muhammad and Abu al-‘Aas ibn Rabee’ RA. Who was Zainab? She was the beautiful, beloved and eldest daughter of the Noble Prophet Muhammad SAW. There are so many lessons and observations to reflect upon this beautiful love story between Zainab and her husband Abu al 'Aas. Despite his reluctance to embrace Islam, Zainab's love and devotion for her husband never diminished and her sincere prayers were eventually answered. Zainab’s death reminded him of the death of his wife, Khadeejah. He told the women, who gathered around Zainab’s corpse, “Wash her three times and use camphor in the third wash.” He performed funeral prayers on her and followed her final resting place. Abu El’As returned to his children, Ali and Omama. Kissing them and wetting them with his tears, he remembered the face of his departed darling. Abu El’As would cry so profusely that the people saw the Prophet (ﷺ) himself weeping and calming him down. Abu Al’As would say, “By Allah, I can’t stand life anymore without Zainab”. He died one year after Zainab’s death. May Allah be pleased with Zainab, the Prophet’s daughter and grant her Jannat-ul-Firdause for her patience, endurance, and struggle. Ameen.'
Gender issues are one of the most topical subjects in the contemporary art, which comes as no surprise, since even today, in the 21st centuries, we still face the number of prejudices, connected with male/female gender roles. Traditionally, Muslim countries are perceived as the most conservative ones, with the patriarchal system making women the rightless ‘staffage.’ However, often Muslim political and religious thinkers attempt to prove this no more than a stereotype, and that Islam helped to improve the role of women in the local society. According to some documentary evidence, the Pre-Islamic time period was defined by the harsh attitude towards women: the female infanticide was a common practice; women of lower class had no rights to own the property and were generally treated more like the trophies in the tribal warfare or a part of one’s possessions. For instance, a woman could be ‘inherited’ by her husband’s son after his death (unless she’s the mother of that son).