SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Ruqayyah bint Hussain or Sukaina (Sakina is a derivative of “Sakoon” meaning “Peace”) was the daughter of Husayn ibn ‘Alī and Rubab (the daughter of the chief of the Kinda Imra al-Qays tribe).
Sayeda Sakina was born on 20 Rajab, 56 AH. Her titles includes Sakina, Ma‘sūmah, Aatika, Kulthūm, and Zaynab. Her early years were said to have been spent in Medina. Her brothers included Ali ibn Husayn, Ali al-Akbar ibn Husayn, Ali Asghar ibn Husayn. Her sisters included Fāṭimah aṣ-Ṣughrá and Fāṭimah al-Kubrá also known as Sakinah.
She accompanied her father, Imam Hussain, grandson of the Holy Prophet, when he traveled from Mecca to Kufa, now known as Iraq. On the 2nd Muharram 61 AH (680 CE), Imam Hussain and his 72 family and companions were forced to camp in the plains of Karbala by Yazid’s army of 1000 men. Yazid ibn Muawiyyah was the evil, power hungry leader who was on the throne but wanted to have the religious authority by getting allegiance from Imam Hussain. Imam Hussain could not give up his principles to falsehood and moreover save the future of true Islam. On the 10th of Muharram, the entire household of Imam his companions were killed and the survivors were captured. These survivors included Imam’s sisters, wives, and daughters including Sakina, the family members of the companions of Imam and Imam’s son Imam Zainul Abeddin who was ill and could not participate in the battle.
In Damascus Yazid thought that he has won his throne and was enjoying each moment and was imposing torments upon the women and children of Imam and his companions, however Imam’s sister Zaynab daughter of Ali, his son Imam Zainul Abeddin, Imam’s daughter Fatima al-Kubra and other delivered sermons and fought their case in front of entire court of tyrant.
Sayeda Sakina bint al-Husayn was the daughter of Hussain ibn Ali. Sakina is a derivative of “Sakoon” meaning “Peace”.
Sayeda Sakina was the most beloved daughter of Hussain ibn Ali and used to sleep on his chest every night. Hussain ibn Ali was often heard saying, “A house without Sayeda Sakina would not be worth living in”.
Like any other four-to-five year old, when Sayeda Sakina went to bed at night she wanted to spend some time with her father. Hussain ibn Ali would tell her stories of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and of the battles fought by her grandfather Ali ibn Abi Talib.
There was a special bond between Sayeda Sakina and her paternal uncle, Abbas ibn Ali. He loved her more than he did his own children. If Sayeda Sakina requested for anything, Abbas ibn Ali would not rest until he fulfilled her request. During the journey from Medina to Mecca and then Mecca to Karbala, Abbas ibn Ali was often seen riding up to the mehmil (a special saddle made for women) in which Sayeda Sakina sat to make sure that she had everything she wanted. Sayeda Sakina loved her uncle just as much. While in Medina, she would several times a day, visit the house in which Abbas ibn Ali lived with his family and his mother, Ummul Banin.
On the 2nd of Muharram, the army of Yazid ibn Muawiya began to gather at Karbala, Hussain ibn Ali said to his sister Zaynab bint Ali, “The time has come for you to get Sukaina used to going to sleep without me”. Sayeda Sakina would follow her father at night and Hussain ibn Ali had to gently take her to Zaynab bint Ali or Rubab.
On the 7th of Muharram, by the order of Yazid ibn Muawiya, the army didn’t let Hussain ibn Ali get water from the Euphrates. The water became scarce in the camp of Hussain ibn Ali, Sayeda Sakina shared whatever little water she had with other children. When soon there was no water at all, the thirsty children would look at Sayeda Sakina with their eyes full of hope. The situation got so bad that Sayeda Sakina’s lips were parched with thirst.
But soon, Sayeda Sakina came out holding a dried up mashk (water-bag), leading 42 other children, each holding a dry water-bag. The children were shouting as if in chorus, Al Atash, Ya Ammahu (I am thirsty, O my uncle Abbas!). She walked up to Abbas ibn Ali and told him that the children had all come to her asking for water. He could see that thirst, aggravated by the scorching heat of the desert, was squeezing their young lives out of them. Abbas ibn Ali went to Hussain ibn Ali and requested his permission to go and get water for Sukaina and the other children. Hussain ibn Ali rejected his request; once again, by saying to him that he is his army’s commander and because of that he cannot go and fight. Abbas ibn Ali used Sayeda Sakina request to gain Hussain ibn Ali’s permission, and Hussain ibn Ali agreed. Abbas put Sayeda Sakina’s mashk on the Alam (Flag), mounted his horse and rode up to Hussain ibn Ali.
When Abbas ibn Ali went to get the water, the children gathered around Sayeda Sakina with their little cups, knowing that as soon as Abbas ibn Ali would bring water, Sukaina would first make sure that they had some before taking any herself. Sayeda Sakina was standing next to Hussain ibn Ali, also with her eyes fixed on the Alam of Abbas ibn Ali. Abbas reached the river bank fighting Yazid’s men trying to block his way, killing anyone with his spear that tried to stop his progress. Abbas’ bravery was well known among the Arabs and the Yazid’s troops started to flee in different directions. As he bent down to fill the mashk, the Alam disappeared from sight. Sayeda Sakina was frightened and looked at her father. Hussain ibn Ali said, Sayeda Sakina, your uncle Abbas is at the river bank. Sayeda Sakina smiled and said, Alhamdulillah (all praise is for Allah), and called out all the children to welcome Abbas.
With the water-bag filled, Abbas ibn Ali wanted to get the water to the anxiously waiting children as quickly as possible. Seeing him gallop towards the camp of Hussain ibn Ali, Umar ibn Sa’ad shouted from the enemy ranks that if even a single drop of water reaches Hussain’s camp, it would be impossible to fight them on the battlefield. When arrows were coming from all sides, Abbas had only one thought in his mind, how to protect the water-bag than his life. Abbas ibn Ali lost both his arms during the attack, trying to save the water-bag. The Alam fell onto the ground. Sayeda Sakina could not see it any longer. She looked at Hussain ibn Ali, but he turned his face away. Sayeda Sakina began to tremble with fear and her eyes filled with tears. She raised her hands and prayed, “Ya Allah! Do not let them kill my uncle Abbas, I will not ask for water again and ran inside the tent to her mother”.
Becoming an orphan
The tyrannical forces of Yazid came to the tents. They looted all the belongings of Hussain ibn Ali and his supporters. They even snatched away the hijab of the ladies. Shimr, the most evil of Yazid’s men, came too. Sayeda Sakina was crying for her father. Instead of comforting words, Shimr slapped Sayeda Sakina’s face and pulled off earrings from her ears. Blood poured from little Sayeda Sakina’s ears. Surely they would stop now. But they did not. One-by-one they set fire to the tents. The helpless ladies and children ran from one tent to another. Sayeda Sakina’s dress was on fire, her ears were bleeding. All Sayeda Sakina wanted was her dear father.
She ran to the battlefield screaming: “Father, where are you? Father, father, speak to me father.” As the night descended, since Hussain ibn Ali’s head was cut off by Yazid’s army, Zaynab bint Ali, the daughter of Ali ibn Abi Talib, took it on herself to protect the ladies and children. She gathered all the ladies and children, in to one small space in between the gutted tents. Ali ibn Hussain lay on the ground surrounded by these widows and orphans. There was no fire, no light. Only the moon cast its dull light. After a little while, Zaynab bint Ali noticed that Sayeda Sakina was missing. She asked Rubab, but even she did not know where Sukaina was. The two holy ladies (A.S.) panicked and ran out of the tents looking for her.
The two ladies (A.S.) searched everywhere for the young girl but in vain. Finally, in desperation, Zaynab bint Ali went to the place where the body of her brother Hussain ibn Ali lay and cried, “O my brother, Sayeda Sakina, who you left in my care, is nowhere to be found. Where shall I look for her in this wilderness?” Just then, the moon came out from behind a cloud and Zaynab bint Ali saw Sayeda Sakina laid on her father, sleeping on his chest like she always used to.
She shook the child awake and said, “Oh, Sayeda Sakina! How did you recognize your father? A person can be recognized by their face or the clothes they wear. Your father is beheaded and his clothes are covered with red scars of blood.” Sukaina replied innocently, “I wanted to tell my father about what the people had done to me. I wanted to tell him how Shimr had robbed the earrings that my father had so lovingly given me. I wanted to tell him how he had ripped them from my ears leaving my earlobes torn and bleeding. I wanted to tell him how the beast had mercilessly slapped me’ when I cried in pain. When I was running aimlessly in the desert I thought I heard my father’s voice telling me he was here [Ilaiya Ilaiya Sakina]. I followed the voice and I found him lying here. I told him everything and then I felt like sleeping on his chest the way I always did, for the last time. So I kept my head on his chest and slept till you came.”
After the Battle of Karbala
Zaynab took the jug of water. As She went to Sayeda Sakina who had fallen into a fretful sleep. Gently she stroked Sayeda Sakina’s uncombed hair. Sayeda Sakina opened her eyes. Zaynab bint Ali said, “Here is some water Sukaina, please drink a little. You have been thirsty for so long. On hearing the word “water” Sayeda Sakina cried out hopefully, has my uncle Abbas come back? When she was told that Hurr’s widow had brought the water, she got up, went to Hurr’s widow, thanked her and then asked Zaynab bint Ali, Have you all drank water? Zaynab bint Ali shook her head. Sayeda Sakina asked, why then do you ask me to drink water? Zaynab bint Ali said, because, my dear, you are the youngest”. Sayeda Sakina replied, no, Asghar is the youngest.
From Karbala to Kufa
The next day, the caravan of the unfortunate was made to start traveling towards Kufa. Ali ibn Hussain, regardless of being fatally ill, was bound in heavy chains and forced to walk barefooted as the Ladies, including the granddaughters of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were forced to sit on bare backs of the camels and with their necks and hands tied tightly in ropes. The caravan suffered the tortures of the journey and when they reached Kufa they were forced to march through public roads and through the streets of Kufa. Suddenly the camel on Sayeda Sakina and the Zaynab bint Ali were seated, stopped near a house. Zaynab bint Ali eyes fell on Sayeda Sakina and immediately knew that she had something to say. She asked her and Sayeda Sakina answered, I want to ask you for something, I know my dear aunt, that at this moment it is impossible for you to fulfill it. When Zaynab bint Ali insisted, Sayeda Sakina replied, O my dear aunt my throat is so dry I do not think I can endure my thirst anymore. Sayeda Sakina’s words were heard by the women who were on the top of the houses so that they could see the holy caravan march clearly. Among these women, a goodhearted lady immediately got up from the crowd and rushed home to bring water for Sayeda Sakina.
From Kufa to Damascus
From Kufa, the next phase of the journey started for the family member of Hussain ibn Ali, as prisoners. This journey was to take them to Damascus, in Syria, which was the capital of Yazid. Sukaina was tied, with a rope, on a bare camel. At one point in the journey, Sayeda Sakina fell from her camel. The caravan didn’t stop. No one, apart from her family members, noticed the fall of Syeda Sakina. After this incidence, the wretched army changed the formation of the holy prisoners. Ali ibn Hussain, was already tied with chains in his neck and feet, the wretched army tied his son, Muhammad al-Baqir, on Ali ibn Hussain’s back and then the same rope was tied on his sister, Sayeda Sakina’s neck, so that Ali ibn Hussain could not stand straight. If he did stand straight, the rope used to get tight and strangle Sayeda Sakina.
Even at these times of hardship and misery, Sayeda Sakina always thought of the others first. She would console her mother on the death of Ali Asghar and when she saw any other lady or child weeping Sayeda Sakina would put her little arms around her. In those days, it used to take thirty two days, on a camel, to reach Damascus, but the family members of Hussain ibn Ali were taken in such a way that it only took them sixteen days to reach Damascus.
In the dungeon Zainab tried to console her and said that she should soon meet her father and with these words tried to make her go to sleep.But one night when Sakina was asleep she woke up crying and started to look for her father everywhere. All the Holy ladies tried to console her so she would stop crying but she didn’t get any peace and continued :”O my dear aunt , Where is my father? , a few minutes ago I was with my father and he kissed me and said that “my dear Sakina you will soon be with me.” But where is my father now?”
When Sakina told her dream all the Holy ladies started to cry and now this noise of crying was heard by Yazid at his court.Yazid sent the severed head of Imam Husain A.S to the prison and when Bibi Sakina received the head of her father she started to cry even more and hold it very tight and asked her father :”Who cut off my father’s head , who martyred my father, why are we held as captives?”
With these words of sorrow suddenly Sakina was quiet.Everyone thought that Bibi Sakina had finally gone to sleep again but this was not a temporary sleep, Sakina had now gone into a permanent sleep and joined her Holy Father in Heaven.Sayeda Sakina was buried in the same dungeon. Zaynab bint Ali held the still child as Ali ibn Hussain dug a grave for his sister in the dungeon. Sayeda Sakina’s clothes were burnt in Karbala, and due to injuries, had intermingled with her flesh. Therefore, she was buried in the same burnt, ripped clothes right there in the Dungeon of Syria. As the grave was being filled up after the burial the mother let out a scream. All the ladies huddled around her, and the prison walls began to shake with the cry, “Ya Sakina, Ya Mazloomah (O Sakina! O Oppressed one!)”. When the time came and they were released from the prison, Rubaab came to the grave of her beloved daughter, placing her cheek on Sakina’s grave and cried out, Speak to me Sakina. Only a word, my child, speak to me.” Also that the dungeon was black, no light and Bibi Sakina was afraid of dark.