Have you ever wondered why lady Zainab (as) is so revered by the Muslims? What makes her so great that even after 14 centuries we remember her and take inspiration from her? Is she respected just because she was the daughter of Imam Ali (as) and Lady Fatima (as) or because she achieved a great status through her faith, patience, and determination in face of calamities?
Lady Zainab (AS) has several attributes and titles such as Al-Aqilah or the noble woman, Al-Aalimah or the most knowledgeable woman, and Aminatu al-Allah, the trustee of Allah (SWT).
She enjoyed the most exalted lineage, her mother was Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (as), who was a reflection of her father in the worship of Allah, piety, self-discipline, virtues, clemency, veneration, and other features of perfection. Her father Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) named her the lady of the women of the worlds. Lady Zainab was nurtured by such a great mother.
Lady Zaynab’s father is Imam Ali (as) who is known as chief of the prophets’ successors, leader of the pious ones, and head of the worshippers. Imam Ali (as) was the representative, successor, and heir to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp). His merits are innumerable and his sacrifices for Islam are unrivaled. He was the most knowledgeable, self-possessed, magnanimous, generous, abstinent, trustworthy, faithful, and pious, and the best worshipper and the bravest among Muslims. In other words, he was the best Muslim after the Holy Prophet of Allah (pbuh&hp).
Lady Zaynab, hence, was born in the most pious family and raised in the care of the best human beings. She learned many things that made up her perfect personality, from the etiquettes of her parents and brothers. From early life, Lady Zaynab was marvelous in her intellect and wisdom. She had learned the Holy Quran by heart as well as the Prophet’s sayings regarding Islamic laws, rules of education, and principles of ethics.
She represented her brother, Imam al-Hussain (as), whenever he was absent. Hence, Muslims used to refer to her in the questions concerning Islamic laws. It was because of her extensive knowledge that Imam Zayn al-Abidin (pbuh), Abdullah ibn Jafar, Lady Fatimah the daughter of Imam al-Hussain (as), Muhammad ibn Amr, and Ata ibn al-Saib used to quote her sayings. In Kufa, during her father’s rule, Lady Zaynab had special sessions to which Muslim ladies came to listen to her lectures on Islam and the exegesis of the Holy Quran. She was thus the most trustworthy reference from whom Muslim women took advice regarding questions about Islam, moral instructions, and general ethics.
Since early life, Lady Zaynab had equipped herself with steadfastness against misfortunes. She witnessed the death of her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&H), who loved her very much and sympathized with her. She then saw the horrible events that surprised her parents, immediately after the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh&hp) demise. Her father was taken away from the position that Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) chose for him. Her mother was severely mistreated by people until she left this world at a young age. She then saw the people of Kufa cheat her brother, Imam al-Hasan (as), and abandoned him, thus forcing him to make a peace treaty with Muawiya, the mortal enemy of Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT). A few years later, this Imam was assassinated by poison. She saw him vomit to blood to death.
As though all these calamities were not enough for her, on the tenth of Muharram, 61 H., she had to witness the most bitter of adversities; her brother, Imam al-Hussain (as), was martyred without any supporter and helper; the wicked and heartless soldiers of Yazid killed every male member of Imam Hussain’s (as) family including Lady Zainab’s two sons and all the companions of Imam Hussain (as). Lady Zaynab stood like an unshakable mountain in face of all these unbearable misfortunes. She faced all these with the weapon of steadfastness and resisted all the events with conviction. She is the perfect embodiment of the ayat (verse) from the Holy Quran:
“and give good news to the patient —those who, when an affliction visits them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him do we indeed return.’ It is they who receive the blessings of their Lord and [His] mercy, and it is they who are the [rightly] guided.” (2:155-7)
Lady Zainab was a flag bearer of truth after all her family members were killed right in front of her eyes in Karbala and took up on herself to spread the true message of Karbala wherever she went. Whether it was the streets of Shaam (Syria) or the Palace of Yazid. She bravely spoke against the tyrant Yazid and invoked public opinion against his ruthless killing of Imam Hussain (as), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp)
She is an immortal role model for all the women of the world who never feared anyone but Almighty Allah (swt). Indeed, we understand from her that patience means standing firmly with determination on the command of Allah (swt).
If Imam Hussain (as) is the leader of the martyrs, his sister Zainab is the shield that defended Imam Hussain’s (as) image after his martyrdom, if Abbas is your role model, Zainab was the strength of Abbas if Ali Akbar is your hero, his aunt Zainab was his source of fortitude and support. The true message of Karbala would never have reached us, had it not been for the sacrifices of Zainab, the daughter Ali.
- Lady Zaynab | Al-Islam.org
- A Summary of Lady Zaynab's Sermon in the Court of Yazid - Al-Islam.org Blog
Being a Muslim and living in or traveling to non-Muslim countries, always brings about the challenge of where to eat and what to eat. For Muslims who are adventurous eaters, food is not just something to provide energy for a more useful life, although that would be the desire for a real Muslim believer. But here we are not discussing such high levels of faith.
Here we are just Muslims in non-Muslim countries, facing different cultures and tastes and those giant advertised burgers, seafood, various kinds of Italian Pizza, etc., and at some point, we realize that we are not capable of going home and enjoying our toast and fried eggs. That is where we seek an inspiring call, inviting us to eat and enjoy life, and that is where that verse of the holy Quran echoes in our minds: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32) and thus, we decide to find those “lawful provisions”; The Halal food.
Finding restaurants of all types in all different parts of the world that serve Halal food is not a difficult job these days. From the Far West to the Far East we can see restaurants with a Halal label on their signs. But have you ever happened to ask the restaurant staff if the food is Halal? And have you ever heard the firm reply “Yes, madam. Feel sure. Even our pork is Halal!” This point, my friends, is where our project of finding a real Halal restaurant begins.
In some non-Muslim countries, the population of Muslims in some specific cities or specific areas of the town is quite noticeable. Often, in these areas, the number of Halal restaurants owned and run by Muslim managers is large. We could usually trust these restaurants as the managers care about Islamic law, and therefore the food they serve.
However, in some western countries, my friends and I have come across restaurants in which their managers came from Islamic countries, and so we thought that the food would be Halal. But after some local investigations, we realized that the manager is not a practicing Muslim, and the food they serve is not Halal. Now, what do we do?
Since selling Halal food brings more customers to the burger shops or restaurants, many non-Muslim restaurant owners have decided to serve Halal meat. Therefore, apart from the Halal label on their signs, they keep a certificate in the restaurants, usually hung on the wall someplace all caring customers can see.
Now you might be thinking about how we can trust those certificates? How do we know they are not fake? From the Islamic law viewpoint, you can trust that and enjoy your meal . Do keep in mind the verse that says: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (2:185)
Even in some coffee shops that serve sandwiches, the managers have provided an extra sandwich-maker for Muslim customers with which they do not roast pork and other non-Halal sandwiches.
Living in a non-Muslim country, it is prevalent to socialize with non-Muslim friends or colleagues. It often happens that our group of friends or colleagues decide to dine together at a fancy restaurant that may not be Halal. It is understandable that isolating yourself from the group may have some personal or social consequences. What can we do at these times?
First of all, we can remind the rest of the group that we only eat Halal food, and they may agree to dine at a Halal restaurant. But if they did not accept, what does Islamic law say about eating vegetarian or Halal food in restaurants that serve pork or wine? According to Islamic law, if we did not have a choice, we should not be too harsh on ourselves, and we should trust the vegetarian or Halal food of non-Halal restaurants .
Thinking deeply of the verse “Then let mankind look at his food.” (80:24), one may realize the importance of the food we eat and its influence on the human soul. Apart from Islamic law, almost all Muslim jurists emphasize that we should be extra careful about what we eat. Because what we eat affects our souls.
Therefore if we intend to treat our souls and ascend the steps of spirituality, it is necessary to find food we are sure of is Halal. In such cases, it would be good to be fussy about eating in non-Halal places. And if the spirituality of the soul matters to us more than socializing with friends, then better to be isolated for a while, rather than preventing the soul from its spiritual growth.
Before the appearance of a group called ISIS, I always wondered if it is possible for people to easily behead men, to kill children and cut the bodies into pieces. I had repeatedly heard and read the event of the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who was the leader (Imam) of Muslims at his time, and the males of his family and companions were martyred, beheaded and cut into pieces.
While I was reading those events, I started thinking about what kind of a person is capable of doing such horrible acts? Who were the people of that era who stood against their leader and watched him getting martyred and beheaded, because he could not morally and ethically accept the caliphate of a corrupt leader over the Muslim society?
I found answers to my questions in the past few years when some terrorist groups began to take advantage of some of the verses of the Holy Quran and use it as a pretext for their evil purposes. These terrorist groups, the most recent of them Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS, are very much the same as those who considered themselves Muslims and stood against the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the leader of Muslim society, who was the manifestation of Islam, under the name of supporting the corrupt oppressor caliph; Yazid.
Having people with different attitudes who all believe that they are true Muslims makes it hard for truth-seekers to find the right path in life.
In this article, we will revise the reasons for which a group like ISIS would appear, grow and spread in the world in the name of Islam. We will try to clarify a few points by which we can make a border between the real Islam and the unreal Islam that is being used as the tool of terrorism.
To begin, let’s see what the main types of Muslims that we face these days are.
The passive depiction of Islam is the sort of Islam that is at peace with EVERYTHING in this world. Whatever happens, the passive Muslim will not show any reactions. These types of Muslims believe in having a safe and calm life. They have no considerable social or political involvements. If an issue arises in the community or the society, they prefer to remain silent and show no reactions toward it, as it may cause some harm to them or their benefits.
One may think that this type of Islam is the best as it does not harm the believer or others in the society. But the fact is that according to Islam or any other Abrahamic religion, he who remains silent, at a time when he has to stand against an oppressor or to help a human in a reasonable need, has no value in the eyes of God in this world or the other .
It is also firmly narrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that “whoever starts his day with no efforts on Muslims’ issues IS NOT A MUSLIM” . This is how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) excludes passive Muslims from the true Islam.
In the same way it is stated in the Holy Quran that: “Why should you not fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed men, women, and children, who say, ‘Our Lord, bring us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us a guardian from Yourself, and appoint for us a helper from Yourself’?” (4:75)
The wild representation of Islam is much worse, much more inaccurate and much further from the real context of Islam than the passive representation. Silent Muslims will cause damages to others by not helping them at the right time, while Wild people who act, using the name of Islam, will hurt the society, families, and a whole generation that is to come.
All terrorists who call themselves Muslims and make the world an unsafe place for human beings are amongst those wild creatures. They kill children, men and women all over the world by using their invented and wrong interpretations of a few verses of the Holy Quran, trying to demolish the religion of God.
They ignore all the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors that emphasize tolerance, kindness toward human beings and animals, protecting the environment, supporting the truth, gentle speaking, respecting the humankind, and observing the rights of the previous religions.
Facing this representation of Islam, one may think that these people are either very ignorant and indolent that will not even spend some time on understanding the real Islam, OR use some parts of Islam as a part of a bigger plot by which they can reach their hypocritical goals.
But put aside the passive and the wild representations of Islam, and let us find out what the true Islam is and how we can recognize the true Islam from among its different representations.
We do not insist that every truth-seeker should conclude accepting Islam as his religion, but there are hints and guidelines for every truth-seeker to realize the true path of life.
Here we will count a few of these hints:
A) Have no prejudice in searching for the truth
It is important that even those who have specific beliefs, start researching and rebuilding their mindset. If we do not keep thinking about our beliefs, we will be dogmatic people who have no logical answers to other people’s questions about their ideas.
Not being prejudiced about our views gives us an open mind. Therefore, if we face a belief that may be contrary to ours, but we find it closer to the truth than ours, we should be able to change our idea and follow the best route.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression” .
B) Support the truth
“Do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know” (2: 42).
Most of us experience situations in which we have to choose between our benefits and the truth. This is what we call fairness. It is essential to be careful about taking the right side even if it is against our benefits. Although sometimes by supporting the truth we may lose our worldly benefits, it is important to remember that reaching the ultimate purpose of humanity is hidden in taking the right side.
C) Listen carefully and completely
“… So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect” (39: 17- 18).
Unfortunately, the wrong presentations of Islam come from the point where people take some advice from the Quran and leave the rest instead of looking at it as a whole. For example, those who stand for the rights of Muslim women and try to revive their rights, stick to a few verses of the Quran that are about women.
They do not understand Islam’s aim of ordering women to observe the Islamic dress code, so they start campaigns against it. While if they read the Quran as a whole alongside with the prophet’s teachings, and put different pieces of the puzzle together, they will realize that the Islamic dress code, plus men’s and women’s etiquette of looking, plus men’s role in supporting the family and women’s role in calming the atmosphere of the house, and many other pieces of the puzzle are to make the society a better place for all members to live in.
D) Animals’ Rights
According to the Quran, all the creatures [including animals] have been created to serve human being (2: 29). But if we need to use animals for our needs, we should not forget that we have a huge responsibility towards them as living creatures. The rights of animals are of much importance in Islam, and we have a lot of narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors with regards to them.
An example is a narration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “When you stop riding an animal, do not keep sitting on them while having a [lengthy] conversation with others; instead, descend and [let the animal rest, and] then talk” .
E) Love for humanity
And finally, the Golden Rule that if we all follow, we will experience a peaceful life in this world and the hereafter is stated in the letter of Imam Ali (AS) to his son who said:
“O, my child! Make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself” .
At the beginning of this article, we read those who martyred Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions on the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, are the ones who took advantage of the name of Islam to gain their worldly desires. We discussed that the same thing is happening in our era and different terrorist groups, by misusing the name of Islam, try to divert people from the true guidance and the peaceful path of life.
This reminds me of the famous saying “every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala.”; Which means the confrontation between right and wrong always exists. This may be a simple confrontation in family relations, at work or in the community, or it may be a more significant conflict between the countries.
No matter we are Muslim or Christian or Jewish. The fact is that the history repeats itself. And it is vital for us to be wise enough to realize the truth and support it. Imam Hussain (AS) on the tenth day (Ashura) faced the massive army of Yazid and told them:
“If you neither believe in religion nor fear the hereafter, then at least be free from tyranny and arrogance” .
- Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 311.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 164.
- The Quran, Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’), verse. 75.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 4, p. 2770.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 173.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 214.
- Nahjul – Balagha; letter 31.
- wedMajlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.74, p. 91.