Sayyeda Zainab (s.a.), the daughter of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Sayyeda Fatima (s.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 (SAW), the most outstanding figure in history. The Prophet’s wife Sayyeda Khadija (s.a.) a devoted woman, was her maternal grandmother, and her paternal grandmother was Fatima daughter of Assad, who mothered and nursed the Prophet (SAW). The members of the family, in trio hierarchical order, were all great.
Sayyeda Zainab (s.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 (s.a.) was always laden with hardships, but she never feared coping with difficulties, this enhanced her endurance and elevated her soul.
Sayyeda Zainab (s.a.) and Imamate
In her life Zainab (s.a.) always saw the evildoers, oppressors, insurgents and breakers of covenants defy the truth and Imam Ali (a.s.), the supporter of the truth and justice had to quell their revolts. Finally, an evil hand gave Imam Ali (a.s.) a stroke from a poisoned sword on his head in the mosque of Kufa. After Imam Ali (a.s.), his son Imam Hassan (a.s.) 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.s.) was poisoned by his treacherous wife Joda, by the order of the Caliph of that time. After Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain (a.s.) became the Imam, but the ruler of Syria Mavia violated the peace treaty and appointed his son Yazid as his successor and insisted that Imam Hussain (a.s.) should pledge allegiance to him. Imam Hussain refused to pledge allegiance and made up his mind to move to Mecca.
Zainab (s.a.) 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 Hussain (a.s.) 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 Hussain (a.s.) 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 Hussain (a.s.) would be martyred.
Sayyeda Zainab (s.a.) in Karbala
Zainab (s.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 Hussain (a.s.) and the rising of Zainab (s.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 reached Kufa, she addressed people with fury words: “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. Shames on you, your hands are imbrued with the blood of the son of the Holy Prophet (SAW), the one who was your sole refuge in case of adversity. By your evil act and disloyalty, you incurred the wrath of Allah against you. Woe betides you! No one will intercede with Allah for you.” Her furious words provoked people of Kufa to avenge Hussain’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 undermined. She said: “I fear no one but Allah. Make whatever evil plot you can. Blazes are waiting for you in the hereafter. You’ll he accountable to Allah for your atrocities.”
The Foundation of Mourning (Majales A’azaa)
Another unique feature of Zainab’s character was her establishment of mourning ceremonies. This tradition which has lived in the memories and hearts of millions of Muslims to this day, has kept the sacrifices of Imam Hussein alive, and brought dynamism to every movement that aimed at removing injustices on earth.
After every Majlis, the women would offer their condolences to Zainab (s.a.) and the men to Imam Zain-ul-Abedeen. These majales made quite a stir in the cities, and the sound of crying and beating of chests and heads affected the minds of the inhabitants, and made them sadder and wiser to the events of Karbala.
In the end…
As it is said, “the word is mightier than the sword”, this should stay in the minds of all Muslims, particularly the women. They should realize that they could always make a difference. They can always reach for the better. Also, they can make their Ummah look better.
The Muslim women should read more about the hardships which faced the great women of Islam understand and practice the patience that characterized the life of Zainab (s.a.), and teach their children the value of these acts.
The men alone cannot win independence and prosperity, neither can the women. Together, and under the banner of Islam, they can achieve success.
“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.”