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
One of the features of a believing Muslim is that he/she always wants to grow closer to Allah and constantly seeks His satisfaction. For this reason, there are numerous narrations from the infallible Imams (A.S) indicating the right time and place for seeking closeness to Allah.It is clear that God is the Most Gracious, and his Mercy is always bestowed upon humankind wherever they are. However, there are special times and places at which God’s benevolence towards His creatures becomes even greater. One of these occasions is the Day of Arafah.
The ninth day of Dhu al-Hijjah (the final month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is the day of Arafah when Hajj pilgrims stand on the plain of Arafat (a vast desert about 20 km southeast of Mecca) to pray. Arafah can be translated as knowing, understanding or theosophy .
According to historians, it was on the plain of Arafat where Adam and Eve met each other once again after their descent from heaven and long separation upon the Earth, and their sins were forgiven by Allah.
It also recalls how Gabriel taught the prophet Abraham (AS) all the Hajj rituals on the plain of Arafat.
The day of Arafah is so important that Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Shia Imam, recited the famous supplication of Arafah one year during his pilgrimage to Mecca on this day.
Arafah is one of the most blessed days in Islam that carries a lot of merits for the ones who are present on the plain of Arafat and other people elsewhere. This day in its blessedness and sacredness weighs the same as the Night of Qadr. It has been narrated, “People who were not able to achieve their purpose in the Night of Qadr or those who were not forgiven on that day, Arafah is the last opportunity for them” .
So, many Muslims occupy themselves with reciting the Holy Quran, prayer, and supplications hoping that there would be more opportunities for them to be forgiven by Allah on this special day. One of the best deeds performed by Shia Muslims is reciting Imam Hussain’s (AS) supplication of Arafah, which best represents the spirit of this day. Contemplation on this amazing supplication which encompasses facts about monotheism and its degrees will ultimately bring us closer to Allah.
In this supplication, we first praise God in a loving and friendly manner. Then we count the blessings God has bestowed upon us, and after confessing our misdeeds and sins, we ask Allah to forgive them. That is when we put forth our request to God. Now let’s recite and think about some of the most beautiful verses from this supplication (Dua): (You may also find the audio and the English subtitle of this supplication here.)
“Praise be to Allah Whose determination cannot be repelled by anything, whose gifts cannot be stopped by anything, and Whose making cannot be resembled by the making of anyone. He is the All-magnanimous, the All-liberal.”
“Even before that (before you showed me the right path), You had compassion on me, through Your excellent conferral and Your affluent bestowals. So, You fashioned my creation from semen that gushed forth and put me up in triple darkness among flesh, blood, and skin. You have not made me witness my creation, and You have not referred any part of my creation to me.”
“So, Exalted be You, O All-merciful, O All-beneficent. When I commenced (my life) by pronouncing words, You perfected for me the affluent bestowals and brought me up to an increase every year. When my creation was accomplished, and my power became straight, You put me under the obligation of Your Claim, which is that You inspired me with recognition of You and alarmed me by the wonders of Your wisdom.”
“As You created me from the best of soil, You, my God, have not wanted for me to have a certain favor (and to be deprived of another) and You, therefore, provided me with the various kinds of living and types of wealth, out of Your great and grand conferral upon me, and Your eternal kindness to me.”
“And I bear witness, O my God, with my true belief, and the fortitude of the determinations of my conviction and the purity of my open belief in Your Oneness and the essence of the secret of my conscience, and the ties of the canals of the light of my sight, and the lines of my forehead and the hallows of the courses of my breath, and the (nasal) cavities of my nose, and the courses of the meatus of my hearing, and whatever my two lips hide and cover up, …”
“I bear witness) that if I try my best and strive throughout all ages and at all times, if I live them, to thank properly only one of Your favors, I will not be able to do that, except through a favor of You, which also requires me to thank You for it, once again with new thanking and with praise that is newly acquired and newly prepared.”
“It is I who did wrong. It is I who had evil intention…I now acknowledge of my sins; so, (please) forgive them to me.”
Arafah is one of the best days to turn to God with sincere repentance. Allah, on this day, accepts the repentance of His servants and grant them forgiveness if they are truly regretful and determined to give up their sins.
“O Allah, (please) make me fear You as if I can see You. Make me happy by fearing You. Do not make me unhappy by disobeying You. Choose for me through Your decree. so that I will not long for hastening that which You have delayed or delaying that which You would hasten.”
Eventually, you will find yourself immersed in the ocean of Allah’s mercy, which is what a true believer always seeks.
“O Allah, Verily, You are the nearest of those who are prayed, You are the promptest of those who may respond, the most generous of those who may pardon, and the most responding of those who are asked. O All-beneficent of the world and the Hereafter, and All-merciful!”
In year 60 AH Imam Hussain (AS) left Mecca with his followers and family destined to Kufah, the city of which the people had invited Imam Hussain (AS) to be their leader in the battle against Yazid. Imam Hussain (AS) took his family with himself including some of his sisters, his wives, daughters, sons and so on. Not only did he take his family with himself, but also some of his followers were accompanied by their family.
Knowing that Imam Hussain (AS) was going to Kufah to wage a war against Yazid you may ask yourself why he jeopardized his family by taking them to this dangerous trip.
When Yazid, in spite of the terms of Muaviah’s agreement with Imam Hassan (AS), took over as the King of Muslims and became a Caliph, Imam Hussain (AS) didn’t acknowledge him as a proper king for the Islamic society so Yazid ordered the ruler of Medina to make Imam Hussain (AS) accept Yazid as a King though Imam Hussain (AS) turned down and said:
Yazid is an alcoholic person and kills innocent people and commits sins in public, so a person like me wouldn’t accept a person like him as their king (1)
Yazid had ordered the ruler of Medina that if Imam Hussain (AS) had refused to do as the Caliph said, the ruler must have cut his head and send it to Yazid besides if anybody else had done so, the ruler would have to do the same to them. (2) When Imam Hussain (AS) found out that he was in danger in Medina he moved to Mecca so that they couldn’t harm him because of sacredness of Kaaba.
It was then Imam Hussain (AS) decided to leave Mecca when the letters from about 18000 people of Kufah reached asking him (desperately) to help them fight against the tyranny and cruelty of Yazid and be their leader. Thus he was well aware of the fact that he was also in jeopardy in Mecca so he took his family with him to Karbala.
(The letters of about 18000 people of Kufah reached to Imam Hussain (AS) asking him (desperately) to help them fighting against the tyranny and cruelty of Yazid and be the leader of them, he decided to leave Mecca. He knew that he was also in jeopardy in Mecca so he took his family with him.) Bear it in mind that if he hadn’t taken them with him; it is obvious that Yazid would have taken Imam Hussain’s household as hostages in order to make him give in and obey the Caliph.
Actually, Imam Hussain (AS) cleverly understood what they were up to and ruined their plans so that he could approach to his objectives.
As an astute leader, Imam Hussain (AS) was well aware of what they were up to and their wickedness, and he ruined their plots so that he could pursue his objectives.
Imam Hussain’s household besides the martyrs’ in Karbala became mostly captivated by Umar ibn Sa’d’s forces and were at first taken to Kufah and not long afterwards to Damascus. If you scrutinize more carefully through history, you may find out that in case Imam Hussain’s household wasn’t there and got slaved, the message of Karbala would have been neglected forever.
To substantiate this fact it can be witnessed that Imam Sajjad (AS) and Lady Zeinab (SA) tried to brief people on what Yazid had done to them. They used every opportunity to talk to people and make speeches for them about Imam Hussain (AS) so that they would understand who really he was.
Once an old man in Damascus went to those enslaved women and told them:
“Thank God that killed your men and destroyed you and extricated the people from you and relieved the King”
Imam Sajjad (AS) replied: “O old man! Have you read the holy Quran?” “Yes” he replied.
Then Imam Sajjad said: “Haven’t you read this verse that says:
Say, ‘I do not ask you any reward for it except the love of [my] relatives.’ (42:23)"
He said: “Yes, I have (read that)”
Imam Sajjad (AS) then said: “We are the relatives of the Prophet (PBUH & HP)”
The old man was so sorry then because of what he said. (3)
The women? Imam Hussain’s children, wives, sisters informed the people of Damascus about the lies that Mu’aviah and Yazid had told them about Islam and Imam Hussain (AS) and told them that they were cheated.
The speeches of Imam Sajjad (AS) and Lady Zeinab (SA) in Damascus and Kufah are so famous.
The Slavery of those Women and Children Proved Imam Hussain’s Honesty
Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed everything he had even his little son, for his objective which was reminding people the original message of Islam. Yazid had told people that Imam Hussain (AS) is a liar and is only after taking over the kingdom. When Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his life and the life of his family for his goal (the sake of Islam), people understood that kingdom wasn’t the thing which Imam Hussain (AS) tried to obtain but he wanted to make people aware of the tyranny and the cruelty of Yazid and Banu-Umayyah.
When Imam Hussain (AS) was leaving Mecca, his brother Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiah told him:“What’s the rush? Why do you want to go?”
“I dreamt about the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) and he told me to leave Mecca because Allah wants to see me martyred.” Imam Hussain (AS) replied.
Then Muhammad said: “We belong to Allah and we turn back to him. Then why do you take these women and children, knowing your destiny?”
Imam Hussain (AS) said: “The Prophet (PBUH & HP) also said that Allah wants them to be enslaved as well” (4)
These words of Imam Hussain (AS) meant that saving the lost essence of Islam was the most important duty of him and that to achieve this goal there is no other way rather than fighting until death against the oppression of Yazid. In this way, people will be tested by Allah and also enlightened about the hideousness of Umayyad dynasty.
We believe that the infallible Imams are immaculate and they do not commit any sins or make mistakes. So when they do something, we do know and believe that they had enough reason to do so, even if we do not understand it. We may find some reasons by thinking about them but mostly we cannot be totally sure about the core of whatever they did and the reason why they had taken such actions.
- Maghtal al-Hussain (AS), Abd ar-Razzaq al-Mugharram, pg.129
- Tarikh of Ya’ghubi, Ahmad ibn Ya’ghub, vol.2, pg.241
- Al-Malhuf, Seyyed ibn Tavuss, pg.211
- The same, pg.128