Published on 3rd
Allama Rai Muzammal Hussain Abid
Sayyeda Zainab ('a), the daughter
of Imam Ali ('a) and Sayyeda Fatima ('a), was an exemplary
woman of great ability, intelligence, knowledge, insight,
courage and perseverance. She performed her divine duties to
the best of her ability. She was born to a family formed by
the Prophet ('s), the most outstanding figure in history. The
Prophet's wife Sayyeda Khadija, a devoted woman, was her
maternal grandmother and her paternal grandmother was Fatima
daughter of Assad, who mothered and nursed the Prophet ('s).
The members of the family, in three successive generations, were
Sayyeda Zainab ('a) was a brilliant star in the mandate sky
that received rays of holiness from the five suns. It was
through her holy origins and pious edification that she
manifested so great a fortitude in Karbala (Iraq).
The life of the daughter of Sayyeda Al-Zahra ('a) was always
laden with hardships but she never feared coping with
difficulties. This enhanced her endurance and elevated her
The Birth of Hazrat Zainab
There is divergence of opinions about the birth date of
Sayyeda Zainab ('a). Some say it was in Medina in the month of
Jamadil-Alawwal and others say it was in the month of Shaban in the 6th Hijra year.
When Sayyeda Zainab ('a) was born, Imam Ali ('a) asked for
the Prophet's advice as to her name, the same as it was in the
case of Hassan and Hussein. They gave Zainab in swaddling
clothes to the Prophet ('s) and he waited for Allah's
message. Gabriel appeared and said she should be named Zainab.
The Prophet ('s) kissed her and wept. They asked why he wept.
He said Gabriel told me Zainab would be an eyewitness of the
fate of her brother Hussein in Karbala.
Zainab, the Sage of Bani Hashim
In her childhood, Zainab studied with the
Prophet ('s) and
when Imam Ali ('a) moved to Kufa, the respected women of Kufa
requested Imam Ali ('a) through their husbands, to allow them
to benefit from the knowledge of Sayyeda Zainab ('a). Imam
Ali ('a) complied with their request and the interested women
learned from her the expounding wisdom of the Holy Qur'an.
Ibn Abbas quoted Sayyeda Zahra ('a) as having said that her
daughter Zainab, like her father, was unparalleled in literary
eloquence and courage. The speech she delivered in the
assembly in presence of Yazid was at the zenith of eloquence
and impressiveness. (Refer Famous Women, Dr. Ahmed Beheshti,
After the demise of the Holy Prophet
('s), there came the
period of distress and hardship in the life of Sayyeda Zainab ('a).
She stood by her mother as far as the question of supreme
mandate of her father was concerned. When her mother delivered
sermon, she was only 4 years
old, but narrated the sermon so lucidly and expressively that
the people from Bani Hashim remembered it by heart. Later the Shiite
scholars recorded it, that is why she is called Zainab the
narrator of traditions.
After the martyrdom of Sayyeda Zahra ('a), Zainab suffered
many calamities. Their house was attacked and the usurpation
of her father's rightful caliphate was a great shock to her.
Her sublime devotion to the cause of Allah and Islam endeared
her to her father Ali, which reminded of her mother's
endearment to her father, the Holy Prophet ('s). All this was
worthy of the grand status of Zainab ('a).
Hazrat Zainab's Marriage
Abdullah son of Ja'far Tayyar, a nephew of Imam Ali ('a)
asked for Zainab's hand, and Imam Ali ('a) accepted it. Her
marriage settlement was equal to that of her mother's. Imam
Ali ('a) told Ja'far not to prevent Zainab from going on a
journey with Imam Hussein ('a) her brother.
Although Zainab's husband was a man of means, she lived a
modest life, not a life of luxury. She and her husband were
charitable to the needy people. The Arab tribes called
Abdullah "the sea or the cloud of munificence".
Abdullah was also noted for his standing with Imam Ali ('a)
in the Muslim battles. Ibn Hajar quoted the Prophet as
having said that Abdullah was like him in character and had
taken him by the right hand and prayed to Allah to extend His
mercy over the household of Abdullah bin Ja'far.
The marriage of Zainab did not diminish her strong attachment
to her family. Imam Ali ('a) also felt a great affection for
his daughter and nephew and when he became the Caliph of the
Muslims and moved from Medina to Kufa, Zainab and Abdullah
joined him. Zainab bore four boys by the names of Ali,
Muhammad, Aun and Abbas and two girls, Umm Kulthum.
Zainab and Imamate
In her life, Sayyeda Zainab ('a) always saw the evildoers, oppressors,
insurgents and breakers of covenants defy the truth and Imam
Ali ('a) the supporter of the truth and justice had to
quell their revolts. Finally an evil hand gave Imam Ali ('a)
a stroke from a poisoned sword on his head in the mosque.
After Imam Ali ('a), his son Imam Hassan ('a) became the
Caliph. Hassan was also greatly oppressed until at last he
signed a peace treaty with the ruler of that time and moved to Kufa in the company of Zainab, her husband, and his own
companions. Imam Hassan ('a) was poisoned by his treacherous
wife by the order of the Caliph of that time. After Imam
Hassan, Imam Hussein ('a) became the Imam but the ruler of
Syria violated the peace treaty and appointed his son as his
successor and insisted that Imam Hussein ('a) should pledge
allegiance to him. Imam Hussein refused to pledge allegiance
and made up his mind to move to Mecca.
Zainab said farewell to her husband and went with her brother
accompanied by her sons Muhammad and Aun. They reached Mecca
in 61 Hijra year.
Imam Hussein ('a) was informed that some agents of the ruler
of that time had come to Mecca to assassinate him while
circumambulating the Holy Ka'bah. Imam Hussein ('a) deemed
it advisable to move to Kufa and let people know of his secret
mission. They arrived at Karbala
on the 2nd Muharram. Zainab had heard from her grandfather and
father that Karbala would be the place where Imam Hussein ('a)
would be martyred.
('a) in Karbala
Zainab ('a) is the shining sun in the history of Islam and
of humanity. Her brother's name and Karbala associate the idea
of freedom, justice, humanity, virtue, fighting against
despotism with the realization of the sovereignty of Allah.
The history of Karbala is based on two pillars: the rising of
Imam Hussein ('a) and the rising of Zainab ('a). She was
an outstanding figure in the history of Karbala endowed with
divine steadfastness and fortitude. She sacrificed her two
sons and one should not say anything if one devoted his life
for the cause of Allah. After the martyrdom of her brother and
her two sons, she said, "O my Lord! Accept our humble
sacrifice to You."
When Zainab ('a) reached Kufa she addressed people with words of
"Praise to Allah, and may the blessing of Allah be
upon Muhammad and his progeny. O people of Kufa, you are
hypocrites and deceitful. You feign to be sorry for the death
of my brother and his companions. May you always shed tears. I
find nothing in you but flattery, evil acts and thoughts,
pride and spite and ill-will. By Allah! You deserve lasting
sorrow instead of joy. Shame on you, your hands are imbrued
with the blood of the son of the Holy Prophet, the one who was
your sole refuge in case of adversity. By your evil act and
disloyalty you incurred the wrath of Allan against you. Woe
betide you! No one will intercede with Allah for
Her furious words provoked people of Kufa to avenge
Hussein's martyrdom. This frightened Ubaidullah and his cruel
agents. She also delivered a furious sermon in the court of
the caliph that made his authority and despotic rule feel
She ('a) said:
"I fear no one but Allah. Make whatever evil plot
you can. Blazes are waiting for you in the hereafter. You'll
be accountable to Allah for your atrocities."
Dr. Ahmed Beheshti,
Author: Allama Rai Muzammal Hussain Abid
Photo: Still taken from Muharram Video from Singapore.
Chief Editor: Hj Nurzaynab El-Fatah
Production: Hj S. Abidin
Modification Date: 19th January, 2009/22nd
Publication ID: 02zainabA. Hazrat
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