MUHARRAM SERIES – Sermon of the Lady Zaynab at Yazid’s court

SHAFAQNA – The story of Karbala can never be fully grasp if we omit the strength of those women who accompanied Imam Hussain to martyrdom. It is they, who defined and anchored the role of women – not as mere companions but warriors themselves.

If ink has flowed to hail the courage of Imam Hussain ibn Ali as he faced the fury of an army, what then should we write of his sister, Lady Zaynab, who, stood defenceless before Evil, and still managed to crumble an empire with words of truth.

It is true Jihad Lady Zaynab offered as she spoke against injustice where it might have been easier to draw a sword.

There are great many lessons to learn from our Imams and the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad – it is their wisdom which allowed each of them to discern righteousness, and forge a just path.

Without our Lady’s grace and patience, we would not have learnt dignity in mourning and sorrow. The epitome of pride it is as a free woman Lady Zaynab stood in the court of Yazid, and if shackled she came to him, her spirit none could tame.

As AhlulBayt was dragged to Yazid court to be mocked and further abused, Yazid rose from his throne to claim his victory and assert once more his revenge upon the household of the prophet.

Yazid recited the blasphemous poetic verses of Abdullah ibn Zab’ari Sahmi which he had composed, adding a few words of his own to openly admit that he, in fact, had sought revenge upon the descendants of Muhammad because Muhammad and his companions had killed his polytheist ancestors.

Lady Zaynab, the daughter of Ali rose and spoke … the words which passed her lips still echo unmatched. If Imam Hussain gave his life so that guidance would be ours to follow, Lady Zaynab laid all of her grace and all of her patience, so that we would learn of pious perseverance.

“O Yazid! Allah and His Prophet have said that committing sins and considering the signs of Allah to be false is ridiculing them.

O Yazid! Do you think that we have become humble and despicable owing to the martyrdom of our people and our own captivity? As you have blocked all the paths for us, and we have been made captives and are being taken from one place to another, do you think that Allah has taken away his blessings from us? Do you think that by killing the godly persons you have become great and respectable and the Almighty looks at you with special grace and kindness?

For this reason and on account of this incorrect thinking you have become elated and arrogant. You have become boastful because you have seen that the matters have taken a turn in your favour. You have, however, forgotten what Allah says:

“The disbelievers must not think that our respite is for their good We only give them time to let them increase their sins. For them there will be a humiliating torment.” (Surah Ale Imran, 3: 178)

Then lady Zaynab reminded Yazid that on the day of the conquest of Mecca which took place in 8 A.H. the Holy Prophet did favour all the men and women of Mecca by setting them free. Yazid himself was a descendant of those freed persons. His father Mu’awiyah, his grandfather Abu Sufyan and Mu’awiyah’s mother were among those who were set free.

On that day the Holy Prophet proved magnanimous. He did say: “Go, for all of you are free.”

In the second part of her speech Lady Zaynab recalled the mercy of her grand-father.

“O son of the freed ones! Is it justice that you keep your women and slave-girls in seclusion but have made the helpless daughters of the Holy Prophet ride on swift camels and given them in the hands of their enemies so that they may take them from one city to another.

Why shouldn’t Yazid be spiteful against us, it is he, who looks at us with hostility. You say with perfect intrepidity and without imagining that you are committing a sin: ‘I wish that my ancestors who were killed in Badr had been present here today’. Then you strike Imam Hussain in his teeth with a stick in your hand!

Why shouldn’t you be like this, although you have done what you wanted to do and have pulled out the roots of piety and virtue! You have shed the blood of the sons of the Holy Prophet and have hidden the brilliant stars on the earth from amongst the descendants of Abdul Muttalib under the clouds of oppression and injustice.

However, you shall go before Allah soon. You shall meet your ancestors and shall also be taken to their place. At that time you will wish that you had been blind and dumb and had not said that it was a day of rejoicing for your ancestors”.

At this stage the daughter of Imam Ali prayed to Allah and said: “O Lord! Procure our right and take revenge upon those who have oppressed us.

By Allah you have pulled off your skin and cut off your flesh. You will soon go before the Prophet of Allah and will see with your own eyes that his children are in Paradise.

It will be the day when Allah will deliver the descendants of the Holy Prophet from the state of being scattered and will bring all of them together in Paradise. This is the promise which Allah has made in the Holy Quran. He says: “Do not think of those who are slain for the cause of Allah as dead. They are alive with their Lord and receive sustenance from Him.” (Surah Ale Imran, 3: 169)

O Yazid! On the day when Allah will be the Judge and Muhammad will be the petitioner, and your limbs will give evidence against you, your father, who made you the ruler of the Muslims, will receive His punishment. On that day it will become known what reward the oppressors earn, whose position is worse and whose party is more humble?

O enemy of Allah and O son of the enemy of Allah! I swear by Allah that I consider you to be humble and not fit even to be reprimanded and reproached. But what am I to do? Our eyes are shedding tears, our hearts are burning, and our martyrs cannot come to life by our reprimanding and reproaching you. My Hussain has been killed and the partisans of Satan are taking us to the fools so that they may get their reward for insulting Allah.

Our blood is dripping from their hands and our flesh is falling down from their mouths. The sacred bodies of the martyrs have been placed at the disposal of the wolves and other carnivorous animals of the jungle. If you have gained something today by shedding blood, you will certainly be a loser on the Day of Judgment. On that day nothing but your deeds will count. On that day you will curse Ibn Marjana and he will curse you. On that day you and your followers will quarrel with one another by the side of the Divine scale of Justice.

On that day you will see that the best provision which your father made for you was that he enabled you to kill the children of the Prophet of Allah. I swear by Allah that I do not fear anyone except Him and do not complain to anyone else. You may employ your deceit and cunning efforts, but I swear by Allah that the shame and disgrace which you have earned by the treatment meted out to us cannot be eradicated.”

The daughter of Fatima Zahra ended her speech with offering thanks to Allah.

“I thank Allah Who has concluded the task of the chiefs of the youths of Paradise with prosperity and forgiveness and accommodated them in Paradise. I pray to Allah that He may elevate their ranks and favour them more with His kindness, for Allah is Omnipotent”.


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  1. […] most would have receded in fear, Zaynab did not; she could not. With all her might she told her persecutor: “…Although calamities have forced me to speak to you, Indeed, your reach is trivial in my eyes […]

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