The life of Zainab (AS): Daughter of Fatimah (AS) and Imam Ali (AS)

There are always great people in history who successfully move through the stages of spiritual development, reach the top, and become role models for human generations. One of the shiniest examples of such people is undoubtedly Lady Zainab (AS), the daughter of Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Fatimah (AS).


She was born to a family formed by the Prophet (PBUH), the most outstanding figure in history. Her parents were also great figures from whom the principle of Imamate originated [1]. So Zainab (AS) shared with her brothers and sister the extraordinary position of having such examples to look up to, emulate and learn from [2].


She had barely attained the age of seven when her beloved mother passed away. Her mother's death had closely followed her cherished grandfather's passing away. Some time later Imam Ali (AS) married Umm ul-Banin (AS), whose devotion and pledge encouraged Zainab (AS) in her learning.


Lady Zainab (AS)'s Marriage


After receiving her father’s consent, Zainab (AS) married her first cousin, Abdullah, the eldest son of Imam Ali (AS)’s elder brother Ja'far al-Tayyar.


Although Abdullah was a man of means, she lived a modest life, avoiding luxury. Having been brought up under the direct care of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Imam Ali (AS), Abdullah was a man of pleasing manners and was known for his sincere hospitality to guests and selfless generosity to the poor and needy [3].


He never prevented his wife from accompanying her father, and two brothers, Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS). It has been narrated that Zainab (AS) asked Abdullah, as a marriage stipulation, to always let her accompany Imam Hussain (AS); Abdullah accepted it wholeheartedly and some years later, also sent their two sons with her to support Imam Hussain (AS) at the battle of Karbala.


lady Zainab, wife, Islam, Muslim women

Her character


While still a young girl she was fully able to care and be responsible for the comforts and ease of her husband, children, father, brothers, and sister. However, in her own wants, she was frugal and unstintingly generous to the poor, homeless and parentless [4].


She found little of interest in worldly adornments, always preferring the bliss and comfort of the Next World over that of this world. Being Humble and of high morals, her main concern was to strive to please Allah, and in doing so, she avoided anything which was the least bit doubtful [3].


In fact, her character reflected the best attributes of those who raised her. In sobriety and serenity she was likened to her grandmother, Khadija (AS), in chastity and modesty to her mother Fatimah Zahra (AS), in eloquence to her father Imam Ali (AS), in forbearance and patience to her brother Imam Hasan (AS), and in bravery and tranquility of the heart to Imam Hussain (AS). Her face reflected her father's awe and her grandfather's reverence [3].


Her knowledge


In the pure environment where she was raised, Zainab (AS) absorbed the Islamic teachings that the Prophet (PBUH) imparted. Accordingly, she was endowed with an abundant amount of knowledge she shared with women in regular meetings in Medina and later in Kufa.


In her well-attended gatherings, Zainab (AS) conveyed the precepts of the religion of Islam as explained in Holy Quran with absolute clarity, eloquence, and fluency. She has also narrated many quotes (hadiths) from her grandfather Muhammad (PBUH), her mother Fatimah Zahra (AS) and her father Imam Ali (AS).


Lady Zainab,  Hijab, women


Her Modesty


Women’s modesty is of great importance in the religion of Islam. There are some verses in the Holy Quran that explain the necessity of Hijab and modesty and warn people about it. Zainab (AS) always appeared in modest clothes in the society and spoke firmly in a non-provocative way.  


In observing such rules and principles about Hijab, she was exemplary, and so she became a role model for all Muslim women.


Her Patience

The life of Zainab (AS) was always laden with hardship, but she never feared to cope with difficulties. As a young and a six or seven- year- old girl, she lost her beloved mother, only a few months after her grandfather’s passing away.


Some years later in Kufa, she had to bear her father’s loss after he was martyred by a stroke from a poisoned sword on his head in the mosque while he was praying. Then she was faced with another hardship when her older brother Imam Hassan (AS) was killed by poison under the order of the Caliph of that time.


And the hardest suffering she went through was when she witnessed her younger brother’s and his companions’ martyrdom in the battle of Karbala. Zainab (AS)’s conscious patience made her endure all such difficulties just for God’s satisfaction. This kind of patience is achieved only through strong faith in Allah.


Zainab (AS) had heard from her father say: “one cannot fully understand the truth of faith unless they have three features: awareness of the religion, patience through sufferings and good life strategies” [5].


Zainab (AS)’s Vocation


Being raised in the Prophet Muhammad’s family, Zainab (AS) was fully familiar with the truth of religion. So she could not bear it when she saw the religion was being distorted and the insurgents, evildoers, and breakers of covenants defy the true Islam of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), promoted by Imam Hussain (AS).


She found out that the people of the time were absolutely ignorant about the religion. Accordingly, nothing of the religion would remain except the surface if she had not informed the people of those oppressions and tyrannies. Zainab (AS), therefore, obediently accompanied Imam Hussain (AS) to wipe such improprieties and falsehood from Islam.


She would follow her vocation by revealing the tyranny of the oppressors courageously in her thought-provoking sermons in the court of Yazid. This would soothe the inconsolable women and children and help them realize that their sacrifices and devotions were not in vain. Certainly, if it were not for Lady Zainab (AS)’s dedications, the truth of religion would fade away.