The Life of Lady Zaynab (a.s.)
To throw light upon the odorous memories and to work perseveringly for obtaining the items of such memories; these two things cast on souls good manners, virtues, and acquaintance with the conducts of the past personalities who were characterized by high merits, piety, righteousness, and decency.
Thus, the noble deep-rooted character of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) should not be passed over because she has contained all points of immaculacy, majesty, dignity and distinguished origin. She has also possessed renowned bearings in the fields of perseverance on the principles, courage, eloquence and full-heartedness in addition to asceticism, chastity, piety, holiness and magnanimity.
On that account, it is necessary for seekers of merits and fact finders to adopt from her precious life account and please the ears by listening to her admirable, odorous memories so as to take from her a model of self-disciplining, knowledge and aspiration.
Let us now refer to a brief presentation of the life of Lady Zaynab (a.s.).
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) enjoyed the most exalted lineage since she ramified from the tree of prophecy and Imamate and combined all the elements of honor and dignity. The family of Imam Ali (a.s.) has been the most elevated all over history in fields of struggle against wrong and adaptation of the issues of human rights. For the sake of these issues, sons and descendants of Imam Ali (a.s.) have provided hundreds of martyrs.
Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sgrandfather from the maternal side was Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) who exploded springs of knowledge and wisdom on this earth, founded the features of civilization and development constructed a noble society controlled by justice and law smashed the customs, superstitions, and pagans of the savage, tribal society that prevailed in the Arab Peninsula called for worshipping the One Creator and brought to his nation abundant goodness. Indeed Almighty Allah sent Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) as mercy for humankind.
From this great personality, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) inherited defense of the right and struggle for elevating the word of Allah (s.w.t.) highly.
Her grandmother, from the maternal side, was Khadijah (a.s.) who supported Islam in its darkest days, struggled for sake of Allah (s.w.t.) in the ever-best way, and spent her entire fortune for sake of her religion. She therefore has been one of the two supports on which Islam relied in existence. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to appreciate for his loyal wife her situation in her life and after her death.
From this great grandmother, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) inherited the highest moral standards and perseverance on principles. Copying her grandmother, she supported her brother Imam al-Husain (a.s.) in his revolution and supplied his great uprising with elements of eternity.
Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sfather is Imam Ali Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) (commander of the faithful Believers): chief of the Prophet’s successors, leader of the pious ones and head of the worshippers. Ali (a.s.) was the representative, successor and heir of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). His merits are innumerable and his situations for sake of Allah (s.w.t.) are incomparable. He was the most knowledgeable, the most self-possessed, the most magnanimous, the most generous, the most ascetic, the most courageous, the most reputable, the best worshipper, the most loyal, the most faithful and the most pious among Muslims.
Historians have recorded unanimously that Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was imitating her father in behavior, knowledge and conduct. She too, adopted positively all of her father’s goals and situations for sake of supplying Islam with elements of continuity. Hence, she, along with her brother Imam al-Husain (a.s.), could thwart the Umayyad infidels’ plots aimed at wiping out Islam and replacing it with the pre-Islamic customs.
Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’smother was Lady Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.) the Veracious (a.s.) who was a copy of her father in adoration of Allah (s.w.t.), piety, self-discipline, knowledge, virtue, clemency, veneration and the other features of perfection. Her father named her as the Chiefs of the Women of the World.[^38] From this cause her father addressed his best words of laudation and respect to his daughter who was the ideal woman on this earth.
This was the mother, educator and instructor of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) who was nourished on all features of human perfection,
Let us also refer briefly to the grandfather and grandmother of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) from the paternal side.
Abu Talib, Father of Imam Ali (a.s.) was the protector of Islam as he defended Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) so bravely and suffered in this course unbearable troubles. Only under the guardianship of Abu Talib (a.s.) could Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) propagate for his divine mission and spread his principles fearlessly. With the demise of his protector, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) expressed his great loss and grief. He therefore called that year as ‘year of grief’. After the demise of Abu Talib (a.s.), the enemies of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) agreed on assassinating him, but Allah (s.w.t.) saved and ordered him to flee to Yathrib and let his cousin, Ali (a.s.) sleep in his bed for making the assassinators understand that he was still there.
From this great personality, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) drew the best lessons of defending the principles.
Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sgrandmother was Fatimah bint Asad (a.s.); an example of faith and purity. On her hands, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was brought up and treated so kindly and tenderly since she used to take care of him rather than her sons and bestow upon him with all colors of sympathy and love. Hence, she was highly respected by him; when she departed life, he (s.a.w.a.) dressed her his own shirt and laid down in her grave as expressions of his great love for her.
From this great mother, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) learnt the best lessons of love and support for sake of her religion and its legal leaders.
We, also, should not neglect the fact that Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and Imam al-Husain (a.s.) participated in composing the unparalleled personality of their sister Lady Zaynab (a.s.) since she spent a long term of her life under their custody.
The two Imams’ merits and virtues are too many to be contained. As a result, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) called them ‘Chiefs of the Youth of Paradise.’[^39]
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) imitated the morals and ethics of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) who was known of his composure and liberality in addition to all the high moral standards. As he noticed that his grandfather and parents take care of Zaynab (a.s.) Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) encompassed her with very much love and compassion and preferred her to the other harem of the Prophet’s Household.
Imam al Husain’s (a.s.) relation with his sister Zaynab (a.s.) has been the melody of seekers of human perfection. She could occupy his feelings and emotions for the genuineness of her estimation, elevation of her ethics, and high moral standards. She was the most dependable in the sight of Imam al-Husain (a.s.) who used to take counsel with her in all of his affairs. She also accompanied him in all the stages of his revolution. Without Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sstruggle, efforts and honorable situations, the revolution of Imam al-Husain (a.s.) would have been lost. As an example of Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sgreat standing in the sight of her brother Imam al-Husain (a.s.) is that when he bade her last farewell on the day of ‘Ashura’, he asked her to mention him in her Night Prayer.[^40]
Through the second part of this book, we will refer to sections of the unmatched relation between Imam al-Husain (a.s.) and his sister, Lady Zaynab (a.s.).
The Blessed New-born
The life of the Prophet’s family was highly flourishing with the existence of the two Imams al-Hasan (a.s.) and al-Husain (a.s.) who occupied their grandfather’s heart completely. Their patents, too, were highly delighted as they saw their two sons before them and as they saw the Prophet’s love for them. Once, he (s.a.w.a.) expressed his love for these two sons by saying:
هٰذَانِ رَيْحَانَتَايَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا
“These two are my only basils that I take from this world.”[^41]
In the midst of this delightful atmosphere, Lady Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.) became pregnant for the third time. Everybody, including the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), was waiting for the new baby.[^42]
With more delight and pleasure, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) gave birth of a she-baby who would exceed all Muslim women in fields of faith, honor, chastity, and perseverance on the principles. The Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) and the Prophet’s companions received the news of the birth of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) with gladness.
Imam Ali (a.s.) hurried to take his newborn, kissed her frequently, and held the Shariate ceremonies of newborns. The Imam (a.s.) recited azan[^43] in his newborn’s right ear and iqamah[^44] in the left. Hence, the first voice that penetrated the newborn’s hearing was her father’s, shouting:
Allaho Akbar - Allah is the Greatest.
Laa elaaha illallaah - thereis no god but Allah.
These great words found a strong ground in the inner self of Lady Zaynab (a.s.). They, later on, became the most significant elements of her personality. In the future, she would adopt the calling to the true application of these words for which she would encounter horrible adversities.
As soon as he was informed about the news of the giving birth of this newborn, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) hurried to his daughter’s house, embraced the newborn to his chest warmly and began to weep. It was a surprising view for the mother, Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.) to see her father’s tears drop on his face“What for are you weeping, father?” asked she.
“Fatimah,” said the father (s.a.w.a.) with sad tone,“you should know that this daughter will have to suffer horrible misfortunes and tragedies after my and your demise.” [^45]
At these moments, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) perceived the horrifying hardships that would afflict his granddaughter. Naturally, Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.) participated in her father’s griefs at these moments. Then the close friend of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.), Salman, came to congratulate on that occasion but he found the Household (a.s.) sinking in griefs and unhappiness. Hence, he also participated in that ceremony of consolation.[^46]
Choosing The Name
The blessed mother carried her newborn to the father and asked for choosing a name for her.
“I will not precede the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in such a matter,” answered the father modestly. He then took the newborn and asked him to choose a name for her.
“I will not precede my Lord in such a matter” answered the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) modestly.
From the Heavens then ascended Archangel Gabriel to say to the Prophet, “This newborn’s name is ‘Zaynab’ (a.s.).[^47] Almighty Allah has chosen this name for her.”[^48]
She was also given the nickname ‘Umme Kulsum’ or ‘Umme al-Hasan’.[^49]
Epithet is a word or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.[^50] Epithets, then, show one’s mental characteristics, whether good or bad. Thus, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) had many epithets that expressed some aspects of her personality.
The Arabic A’qeelah means the gentlewoman who is honorable among her people and venerated in her house.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was such an honorable and virtuous lady that all her descendants have been called Banu al-A’qeelahsons of the gentlewoman.
During the journey of Imam al-Husain (a.s.) from Medina to Karbala, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was the chiefs of the harem and was obeyed and respected by everybody.
It is to add that she was also called Aaqelato Bani Hashim - the gentlewoman of the Hashemites’, and Aaqelat ut-Talibiyyin the gentlewoman of the sons (and descendants) of AbuTalib (a.s.).
For her supreme knowledge, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was called al (Aalemah) the she-knowledgeable. Historians have confirmed that she was an authority for Muslim ladies who used to refer to her in their religious affairs. Of course, she received such knowledge from her grandfather, parents, and brothers who were the sources of knowledge for the Islamic Ummah. Furthermore, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) has had similar epithets, such as al-Arifah (The well versed)and al-Muwasaqah (The trustworthy).
3) A’bidato Aali-A’li
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was recognized also as being distinguished worshipper among Muslim ladies. She committed herself to all the recommendable rites of Islam to the degree that even at the most horrible night of her life - i.e. the night of the tenth of Muharram 61 A.H, she offered the supererogatory prayers. Thus, she was called A’bidato Aali-A’li (The she-worshipper) of Ali (a.s.)’s Household.
In all aspects of human perfection, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) preceded everybody and occupied the leading position. She therefore is called al-Kaamelah (The perfect).
Because of her great Jihad, service for Islam and steadfastness for sake of Allah (s.w.t.), Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sVirtue has exceeded all limits and therefore, she was proudly conferred with the epithet of al-Faazelah (The virtuous).
6) al-Siddiqah al-Sughra
Like her mother who is known as the Senior Veracious, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was so veracious that she gained worthily the epithet of al-Siddiqah al-Sughra (The Junior Veracious Lady).
7) Umm al-Masaa’eb
Because she had to suffer various and innumerable misfortunes all over her lifetime, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was called Umm al-Masaa’eb (Mother of misfortunes).
Let us refer to some of these misfortunes that she saw in a period of about one month:
1) She saw al-Hurr ibn Yazid force Imam al-Husain (a.s.) to stop and reside in a desolate place.
2) She saw the Imam’s few companions in comparison with the great numbers of the enemy’s army.
3) She saw most of the Imam’s so-called partisans abandon him and join his enemies.
4) She saw the women’s fear and worry when they had to reside in Karbala.
5) She saw the enemies deprive her people and her of water.
6) She had to take care of the children and women while they were crying out of thirst.
7) Shehadtowitnessherbrother’sfeelingsof disappointment and loneliness.
8) She had to witness the martyrdom of her two sons, as well as the other relatives and companions whom were martyred one by one, the martyrdom of al-Abbas (a.s.) however was the most disastrous for her.
9) She saw how Imam al-Husain (a.s.) was without any supporter or helper, while he was seeking help.
10) She saw the cut off head of Imam al-Husain (a.s.) lie on Spearheads.
11) She saw the enemies attack her brother’s caravan and Women and trying to set fire on the tents.
12) She had to gather the scattered children and women who fled to everywhere in that desert.
13) She had to pass by the dead severed body of her brother.
14) She had to ride on saddle less, lean camels and to help the children and women to ride on such animals.
15) She had to exert all efforts for taking care of the ill nephew and consoling him.
16) She had to go through the scenes of being captives and driven from a town to another whilepeople were looking at them as rebels.
It is narrated that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) once said,“To weep for the misfortunes of Zaynab (a.s.) is as same as to weep for her brothers; al-Hasan (a.s.) and al-Husain (a.s.).” [^51]
Year of Birth
Historians and narrators have had different opinions about the year of Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sbirth. Some have referred to the fifth year after Hijrah[^52] others to the sixth, and a third party to the ninth. The last opinion however is inaccurate[^53] and the most acceptable is the first.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was brought up at the hands of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), Imam Ali (a.s.), and Lady Fatimah the Veracious (a.s.). In other words, she was brought up in the lap of the divine prophesy, spent her early life in the house of the divine mission, suckled the milk of the most perfect woman of all ages, and was nourished at the hands of the Commander of the Faithful Believers. Hence, she enjoyed a divine upgrowth and spiritual education and received garments of elevation, eminence, chastity, and decency. After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his daughter Fatimah (a.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.) married Umamah[^54] who took care of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) perfectly since this lady was known of her piety and submission to the Lord.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.), hence, was covered by the most exalted colors of education, honor, dignity, mercy, and compassion. She learnt from the behaviors of her parents and brothers many things that composed her perfect personality.
For instance, whenever she visited her brother Imam al-Husain (a.s.), he would stand up as a sign of reverence and respect for her. Whenever she wanted to visit the Holy tomb of her grandfather, her father and two brothers used to accompany her. They also used to extinguish any light so that nobody would see her.[^55]
She was really the inheritor of Imam Ali(a.s.)’svalues, moralities, and ethics. To the scholars and narrators of Hadees[^56] Lady Zaynab (a.s.) enjoyed a great position. They, therefore, used to refer to Imam Ali (a.s.), during the Umayyad reign who banned any mention to the Imam’s name, by saying ‘Father of Zaynab (a.s.) reported...’
From early life, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was marvelous in intelligence and cleverness. She learnt by heart the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings regarding Islamic laws, rules of education, and principles of ethics. She also memorized the famous, confounded the speech of her mother, Lady Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.) that she delivered in the Prophet’s Masjid protesting against Abu Bakr’s usurpation of the Islamic Ummah’s leadership, which was the right of Imam Ali (a.s.) according to the instructions of Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) as well as confiscation of Fadak that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had given to her as gift within earshot of all Muslims. In addition to many other narrations, she narrated her mother’s speech when the Muslim ladies visited her in her final disease.
Her father too was greatly admired by her sharp cleverness. One day she asked him, “Father, do you love us?” He answered “Of course I do, daughter. I do love you because you are the fruit of my heart.” She replied politely, “Father, love is exclusively for Almighty Allah, while it is compassion which is for us.”[^57]
As he was teaching her the numbers, he asked,“Say one.” She said, “One.” As he asked her to say“two” she kept silent.“Why do you not say two?” asked the father. She answered “A tongue which pronounces ‘one’ cannot say ‘two’[^58] As he heard this great answer her father kissed and embraced her.[^59]
She also used to say:
مَنْ اَرَادَ اَنْ لَا يَكُوْنَ الْخَلْقُ شُفَعَائَهٗ اِلَي اللهِ فَلْيَحْمِدُه ٗ . اَلَمْ تَسْمَعْ اِلٰي قَوْلِه: سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَه ٗ . فَخَفِ اللهَ لِقُدْرَتِه عَلَيْكَ، وَ اسْتَحِ مِنْهُ لَقُرْبِه مِنْكَ.
“Anyone who intends not to have the creatures as interceders for him before Allah (s.w.t.) should praise Him. Listen to His saying:‘Allah listens to anyone who praises Him.’* Hence, one should fear Allah for He has ability over him, and should feel shy of Him for He is very close to him.”[^60]*
This statement in fact implies that she was so virtuous and perfectly adhered to Allah (s.w.t.).
Moreover, she represented her brother, Imam al-Husain (a.s.) whenever he would be absent. Hence, Muslims used to refer to her in the questions of the Islamic laws. For her extensive knowledge, Imam Zayn al-Abideen (a.s.), Abdullah ibn Ja’far, Lady Fatimah daughter of Imam al-Husain (a.s.), Muhammad ibn Amr, and Ata ibn al-Sa’ib used to report her sayings.[^61]
In Kufa and during her father’s reign, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) had special sessions to which Muslim ladies used to come for listening to her precious lectures about Islam and exegesis of the Holy Qur’an. She thus was the most trustworthy reference from whom Muslim ladies used to take concerning questions about Islam, moral instructions and general ethics.
For her tremendous virtue too, Abdullah ibn Abbas[^62] frequently asked her for answers of questions that he ignored. He also reported proudly, a good number of narrations on her authority. In this regard he would say:
حَدَّثَنَا عَقِيْلَتَنَا زَيْنَبُ بِنْتُ عَلِيٍّ.
“Our A’qeelah[^63] (i.e. the Honorable gentlewoman), Zaynab (a.s.) daughter of Ali (a.s.) narrated to us that... etc.”
One of his reports that he related on the authority of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was Lady Fatemah al-Zahra’s (a.s.) famous speech in the Prophet’s Masjid.
She also represented Imam Zayn al-Abideen (a.s.) during his illness. About her, he (a.s.) said:
اِنَّهَا عَالِمَةٌ غَيْرُ مُعَلَّمَةٍ.
“She is so knowledgeable that she does not need other’s knowledge.”[^64]
Finally, she was the most eloquent speaker in Islam; she could shake the enemies’ emotions, disorder the public opinion, and provoke the publics against the Umayyad ruling regime when she delivered her famous speeches in Kufa and Damascus. In fact, these speeches hint at her precious cultural and literate fortunes.
In addition, the reasons beyond her peculiar scholarly capacity may be mentioned in the following points:
1- She was always pious and observant towards the Almighty Allah’s commandments and instructions. To be God-fearing and pious achieves knowledgeability and notable learning. This is clear in Almighty Allah’s saying:
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُـلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيْمٌ
“And be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you and Allah knows all things.”[^65]
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was so God-fearing and pious. She dedicated a good time of her daily activities to her Lord; she was sinking in praising and glorifying Him. At nights when sounds calm and eyes sleep, she used to turn her face and heart towards her Lord with teary eyes, fearful heart, and hopeful mind to say confidently:
يَا مَنْ لَبِسَ الْعِزَّ وَ تَرَدّٰي بِهوَ تَعَطَّفَ بِالْمَجْدِ وَ تَحَلّٰي بِه، اَسْئَلُكَ بِمَعَاقِدِ الْعِزِّ مِنْ عَرْشِكَ وَ مُنْتَهَي الرَّحْمَةِ مِنْ كِتَابِكَ وَ بِاسْمِكَ الْاَعْظَمِ وَ جَدِّكَ الْاَعْلٰي وَ كَلِمَاتِكَ التَّامَّاتِ الَّتِيْ تَمَّتْ صِدْقًا وَ عَدْلًا اَنْ تُصَلِّيَ عَلٰي مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ الطَّيِّبِيْنَ الطَّاهِرِيْنَ وَ اَنْ تَجْمَعَ لِيْ خَيْرَ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ.
O You Who dresses and adorns Himself with valor! O You Who deigns and dons Himself with glory! I implore to you by the seats of might in Your Throne, by the utmost of mercy in Your Book, by Your Grandest Name, by Your most high Majesty, and by Your Perfect Words that have been accomplished truly and honestly, [I implore to You] to send Blessings upon Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and the family of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and to arrange for me the good of both this world and the world to come.
2) Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was well known of her unparalleled intelligence, apposite opinion, and wisdom. Her words were as regulated as necklace and her opinions were to the point. She was the ideal of eloquence and expressiveness. Allah (s.w.t.) gifted her utmost of knowledge, morality, composure, religiousness, and ethics. This is not strange since she was the granddaughter of the Holy Prophet, the daughter of the model parents of Islam and the sister of the two Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise. In her grandfather, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) takes pride saying:
وَ مَنْ كَجَدِّيْ النَّبِيَّ الْعَرَبِيِّ الْهَاشِمِيِّ الْقِرَشِيِّ الَّذِيْ اصْطَفَاهُ اللهُ تَعَالٰي وَ اخْتَارَهٗ لِيُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ طَرِيْقَ الْحَيَاةِ مِنْ خَيْرٍ وَ شَرٍّ فِيْ اَسْلُوْبِهِ الْعَذِبِ الْجَمِيْلِ وَ عِبَارَتِهِ الطَّلِيَّةِ الْمُمْتِعَة الَّتِيْ تَفِيْضُ رِقَّةً وَ حَنَانًا وَ ع َطِفًا وَ اِشْفَاقًا.
“None is like my grandfather; the Arab, the Hashemite, and the Qurayshite Prophet whom is selected by Allah (s.w.t.), the Elevated, for guiding people to the path of life in its good and evil branches, and he did in such a handsome approach and pleasant, articulate statements full of softness, tenderness, sympathy, and compassion.”[^66]
3) She was taught by the most knowledgeable pair in Islam; her father and mother, and it is so natural that a student of these persons would be so intelligent and knowledgeable.
About Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sacumen and sagacity, let us listen to the following narration recorded by Ibn Humayd in his book entitled al-Musnad and al-Yafi’l in Mir’at al-Zaman:
One day, Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and Imam al-Husain (a.s.) were discussing some of their grandfather’s sayings,
“The Halal is obvious and the Haram is also obvious, but between these two there are many dubious matters most of people ignore. To avoid such dubious matters is acquittal for the religion and the honor, while to fall in such dubious matters is plunging into the Haram, A shepherd who grazes about a shelter will decisively pasture in it. There is a shelter to every kingdom, and the shelter of Allah is what He deems unlawful. There is too a single morsel in each one’s body; when this morsel be good, the whole body will be so, and when this morsel be bad, the whole body will be so. This is the heart.”[^67]
Commenting on this statement, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) said:
Listen to me, Hasan and Husain (a.s.)! Your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), has acquired the ethics of the Lord. It is Almighty Allah Who disciplined him so perfectly. In this regard the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)says,My Lord has disciplined me, and He has done so perfectly.**
None is like my grandfather; the Arab, the Hashemite, and the Qurayshite Prophet whom is selected by Allah (s.w.t.), the Elevated, for guiding people to the path of life in its good and evil branches, and he did in such a handsome approach and pleasant, articulate statements fullof softness, tenderness, sympathy, and compassion.
The Halal is obvious and the Haram is also obvious, butbetweenthesetwo,therearemanydubious matters. Accordingly, the religion is of three degrees; Halal, Haram, and dubious matters. The Halal is what Allah, the Exalted, has deemed lawful by way of a text in the Holy Qur’an or through the explanations of the Prophet,suchasthelegalityofpurchaseand rendition...
The Haram is whatever Allah (s.w.t.) has deemed unlawful in the Holy Qur’an. It is also the contrary of the Halal.
The dubious matter is everything that is unknown whether Halal or Haram.
A faithful believer who intends to achieve happiness in this world and bliss in the world to come must perform all that which Allah (s.w.t.) has made incumbent, follow the path drawn by the Holy Qur’an, take my grandfather the Prophet, as example, and go away from the dubious as much as one can.
To avoid the dubious matters is acquittal for the religion and the honor and also purity for both. It also achieves sincere obedience to the Lord.“Now, surely, sincere obedience is due to Allah alone”* .[^68]*
For those who follow the line of the dubious matters, it is not safe to have their feet slipped and thus they commit unlawful deed. There is a shelter beside each possession, but the shelter of the All-king is what He deems unlawful. The Holy Prophet says, ‘Avoid the unlawful and you will be the most pious.’
Allah the Exalted has put in each human being a minute gem and morsel; when it is good, the whole bodywillbegood,pureandclearfromfilth, impairments and acts of disobedience to the Lord of the Worlds. This is the heart. If one’s heart is sound, he will be attentive to the affairs of his religion and the principles of its law and will see real happiness lie in straightness on the lights of the guidance of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. Those who follow this straight path and these divine instructions will be within the winners on the Day of Resurrection.
Our life is in fact only a stage among many stages that lead either to Paradise or to Hell. Death will be the end, and no blame falls after it. Nothing is after this world except Paradise or Hell.”
As she finished, Imam al-Husain (a.s.) said to her,
“How great you are! You are surely from the tree of Prophecy and the core of the Divine Message.”
She once said:
“My grandfather has decided for us (i.e. women) rights that are incumbent upon our husbands in the same way as he has decided rights for our husbands that are incumbent upon us.” In this regard, the Holy Qur’an says:
وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ
And they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them[^69] .
My noble Grandfather also says:
‘A woman who offers the five obligatory prayers, observes fasting on the month of fasting, guards her chastity, and obeys her husband shall have the choice to enter Paradise from any gate she likes.’
Ibn Asakir, in his al-Tareekh, records the following:
After she arrived in Egypt, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) once came over an indisposition. The chiefs of Egypt decided to fetch her physician but she refused saying:
“We are not among those who hope for this world or for perpetuation in it. We are the Household of Prophecy and the most desirable meeting for us is the meeting of our Lord. A physician, however cannot change one’s decided term of death.”
Ibn Humayd, Abu Asim and Ibn Abu Shaybah narrated that Abdullah ibn Abbas said:
Once, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) recited Allah’s saying:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ... وَطَائِفَةٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَمَعَكَ
O you who have wrapped up in your garments... and (also) a party of those with you.
She then commented:
“Thanks to Allah (s.w.t.), we are included with this party [of those who are with the Prophet].”
The evidences on Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’seloquence and rhetoric are her addresses in more than one occasion. These addresses changed the public opinion against Yazid and the Umayyad State and showed the real goals of Imam al-Husain’s (a.s.) revolution. Later on, these addresses will be referred to in details.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) enjoyed a peculiar rank in the world of mysticism. In this regard, Allamah al-Burghani says:
“Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sspiritual rank is very nigh to that of the Immaculate Imams...”
Al-Rawandi, in al-Tiraz al-Muzahhab, says: “In addition to her high spiritual rank, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) comes after her mother in virtue, high merit, peculiarity, majesty,knowledge,infallibility,chastity,illumination, light, honor and splendor.”
Muhammad Riza al-Isfahani, in Jannat al-Khulud, records:
“Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was the nearest to her parents in eloquence, asceticism, management and courage. After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husain (a.s.), she was the custodian of her family members and furthermore the Hashemite’s.
Ibn Anbah, in Ansab al-Talibiyyin, says:
“Lady Zaynab (a.s.) is distinguished by her innumerable merits, elevated peculiarities, praiseworthy characters, admirable habits, remarkable prides and manifest virtues.”
When Lady Zaynab (a.s.) attained maturity famous celebrities competed with each other for asking for her hand. Her father, however, refused them all.
Abdullah son of Ja’far son of Abu Talib (a.s.) also asked for her hand. He was one of the noblest men of the Hashemites and one of the most generous men of the Arabs. Besides, Imam Ali (a.s.) loved him very much. He therefore responded to him and accepted to give him Lady Zaynab (a.s.) in marriage.
Abdullah’s father was Ja’far who is described as the most similar to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in morality and nature.[^70] He was one of those who preceded others in embracing and defending Islam. He emigrated twice, once to Abyssinia and the other to Medina and was well known of his pity and sympathy to the poor and paupers. Like his brother Imam Ali (a.s.) Ja’far was very much respected by the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.) who housed him next to his Masjid because he recognized Ja’far’s strong faith and sacrificing himself for sake of Islam.
In the eighth year after Hijrah, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) appointed Ja’far as the commander of the Muslim army in their campaign at Mu’tah. In this battle, Ja’far had been martyred after his two arms were severed because he held fast on the pennon. About this situation the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“Allah the Exalted shall have given Ja’far two wings with which he will fly in Paradise everywhere he wishes, instead of his two severed hands.”
Ja’far therefore is named ‘Zul-Janahayn’ (the two-winged). The martyrdom of Ja’far was one of the most difficult misfortunes that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had to encounter. Hence he (s.a.w.a.) said:
“For Ja’far and his matches, weeping should be ceaseless.”[^71]
Abdullah’s mother was the great lady Asma bint Umays. She was within the earlier embracers of Islam. Accompanying her husband; she immigrated to Abyssinia where she gave birth of Abdullah, Awn and Muhammad. She then immigrated to Medina. After Ja’far’s martyrdom, Asma was married by Abu Bakr and gave birth of Muhammad who is one of the most celebrated men of Islam. When Abu Bakr died, Imam Ali Amir al-Mu’mineen (a.s.) married her and she gave birth of a boy called Yahya.[^72]
Asma stuck sincerely to the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) and had strong relationship with Lady Fatemah al-Zahra (a.s.). She reported about sixty ahadees directly on the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
She acted as a tender mother for Imam al-Hasan (a.s.), Imam al-Husain (a.s.), and Lady Zaynab (a.s.) as soon as she entered Imam Ali(a.s.)’shouse as a wife. They therefore appreciated her situations, nice treatment, and tenderness.
She thus was an example of chastity, purity, and loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.).
Abdullah ibn Ja’far was such a nonesuch person that none, including his enemies, could hide admiration for his unparalleled personality. About him, Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said, “Abdullah ibn Ja’far is worthy of all honor. He preceded everyone else to the noble deeds and qualities.”[^73]
He was loyal to the Ahl al Bayt (a.s.) in general and Imam al-Husain (a.s.) in particular, though he did not join the Imam’s caravan to Karbala. Historians have recorded that Abdullah held the biggest obsequies for the martyrdom of Imam al-Husain (a.s.), though his two sons were also martyred in the same time. During that ceremony, one of the slaves said to him, “We have suffered long because of al-Husain (a.s.)!” As he heard this statement, Abdullah threw a sandal on that slave out of his rage and said, “Son of the fetid one! How dare you say such a thing about al-Husain (a.s.)? By Allah (s.w.t.) I swear, had I been with him, I would not have left him before I would be killed there. To me, he is undoubtedly more favored than my two sons are. What makes my misfortune easy is that they were killed with him without complaint or impatience. Thanks to Allah (s.w.t.), if I could not support al-Husain (a.s.) during his fighting my two sons did.”[^74]
He was also well known of his generosity about which narrators have reported many marvelous stories. Because of the Prophet’s supplication to Allah (s.w.t.) for him, he was the richest among people of Medina. Besides, he was so virtuous. He reported many narrations on the authority of his uncle, Imam Ali Amir al Mu’minin (a.s.), and his two cousins, Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and Imam al-Husain (a.s.).
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) gave birth of four sons and a daughter; Awn, Ali al-Zaynab, Muhammad, Abbas, and Lady Umme Kulsum.
Awn was virtuous and well-mannered. He accompanied his (maternal) uncle, Imam al-Husain (a.s.), to Iraq. In the battle of Karbala, Awn fought very bravely and took pride in his father, Abdullah, and grandfather, Ja’far.
After a brave round of fighting, Awn was attacked by the vicious Abdullah al-Ta’i who could kill him.[^75]
Umme Kulsum, daughter of Lady Zaynab (a.s.), was famous for her beauty, chastity, and personality. She was highly respected by all people in general and the Hashemites in particular. As an attempt to curry favor with the Hashemites so as to find himself a respectful position in the Muslims view, Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan sent a missive to his governor in Medina, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, ordering him to ask the hand of Umme Kulsum, daughter of Lady Zaynab (a.s.), for his son, Yazid.
Marwan ibn al-Hakam knew that Imam al-Husain (a.s.) would surely refuse and thwart the matter. He therefore postponed it as he looked for a proper opportunity. He seized the opportunity of Imam al-Husain’s (a.s.) travel and hurried to Abdullah ibn Ja’far who understood the whole matter. He said to Marwan that he should wait until Imam al-Husain (a.s.) would come back from his journey.
When the Imam was back, Abdullah rushed at him informing of the whole story. The Imam became very angry, for he rejected completely that his niece would become the wife of the sinful, lewd grandson of Abu Sufyan. He therefore hurried to his sister, Lady Zaynab (a.s.), and asked her to bring her daughter, Umme Kulsum, before him. When the daughter came, the Imam told that her cousin al-Qasim, son of Muhammad ibn Ja’far, would be the worthiest of marrying her. The mother welcomed, the daughter accepted, the father showed no rejection, and the Imam gave her a big dowry.
They kept the matter secret until the wedding night came. On that night, the Imam invited many personalities among who was Marwan ibn al-Hakam who thought that the invitation was held for announcing the Imam’s acceptance of Yazid’s marriage to his niece, Umme Kulsum. Yet, he was disappointed when the Imam declared the marriage of al-Qasim to Umme Kulsum. Marwan reported the matter to Mu’awiyah who, accordingly felt malice towards the Imam.[^76]
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) contained all elements of nobility and virtue that Almighty Allah bestowed upon her grandfather, her father, her mother and her two brothers. She inherited their peculiarities and copied their high moral standards.
By virtue of her ethical inheritances and unmatched peculiarities, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) is indeed the greatest lady in Islam as she signalized its true values and principles. Along with her mother, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) struggled in the best way and stood firmly against the factional currencies that tried using all their possibilities and powers, to throw curtains on the real leaders and guides of the Islamic Ummah.
In the same way as Lady Fatemah al-Zahra stopped strongly with Imam Ali (a.s.) and opposed the illegal government of Abu Bakr through her splendid speech as well as her honorable situations, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) stopped to the last spark of life with her brother, Imam al-Husain (a.s.) and opposed the black government of the Umayyad rulers who aimed openly and frankly at uprooting Islam and erasing its existence by excluding the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) from the Muslims’ social and political lives.
Let us now refer to some of such peculiarities that made Lady Zaynab (a.s.) at the head of Muslim women:
In the center of calling to Almighty Allah, and the house where the revelation of the Divine Message was descended, and the pivot from which the word of monotheism advanced to cover, with its bright rays, all the peoples on this earth; in this very house Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was brought up. She was fed with the core of true faith and the reality of Islam; hence, love for Almighty Allah was in her nature and, later on, became a distinctive feature in her personality that led her to stand all the misfortunes and adversities she had to encounter from her early life.
Firm faith and exclusive devotion to Almighty Allah were the features that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)’s family enjoyed in a special way. Each member of this exalted family expressed his/her firm faith distinctively. Lady Zaynab (a.s.), for instance, stopped at the severed body of her brother Imam al-Husain (a.s.), and expressed her firm faith by saying:
اَللّٰهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا هٰذَا الْقُرْبَانَ
“O Allah! accept this offering from us.”
These words have been the best example on the sublimity of the prophetic inheritance. They also showed the reality of Islam through the lesson that each sacrifice must be purely offered for Almighty Allah’s sake.
Humanity, in all ages, must bow before such unparalleled faith, which was the secret beyond the perpetuity of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) and her principles.
On the cruelest night in the life of Lady Zaynab (a.s.), as well as the Islamic Ummah, she offered a Thanksgiving Prayer while she was completely surrounded by horrific tragedies; the bodies of the Prophet’s family and their pure companions were thrown before her eyes without covers, fire was playing in the canopies of the Alawid ladies who became shelterless after the savage, merciless soldiers had usurped their jewelries and properties, and children had nothing to do other than weeping and crying. In the midst of this shocking situation, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) directed her face towards her Lord to thank Him for that grace.
Indeed, such faith is more perpetual than civilizations, fortunes and even perpetuity itself.
Since early life, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) armed herself with steadfastness against misfortunes. She first was deprived of her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), who loved her very much and sympathized with her. She then saw the horrible events that surprised her parents immediately after the Prophet’s demise. Her father was taken away from the position that Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) chose for him. Her mother was severely mistreated by the people until she departed life while she was in the flush of her youth. She then saw people of Kufa cheat her brother Imam al-Hasan (a.s.), and let him down to the degree that he had to make a peace treaty with Mu’awiyah, the mortal enemy of Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.). A few years later, the Imam was assassinated by poison. She saw him vomit blood to death.
On the tenth of Muharram, 61 AH, she had to see the ever bitterest adversities, her brother Imam al-Husain. (a.s.), yielded to death after he had lost all supporters and helpers, the swords of the wicked Umayyad soldiers killed the Alawid youths, children and even babies.
Before all these unbearable misfortunes, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) stood like an unshakable mountain. She faced all these with the weapon of steadfastness and resisted all the events with conviction. Thus, she is intended in Almighty Allah’s saying:
وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِيْنَ. الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيْبَةٌ قَالُوْا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ. أُولٰۤئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ
And give good news to the patient who, when a misfortune befalls them, says: Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall surely return. Those are they on whom are Blessings and mercy from their Lord.[^77]
Many poets have depicted Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’ssteadfastness in the most beautiful and expressive way.
She, being the Prophet’s granddaughter, showed steadfastness and endurance before the enemies of Allah (s.w.t.). By virtue of her determination and persistence, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) could withstand all adversities and misfortunes.
Dignity was a prominent feature in the personality of Lady Zaynab (a.s.). After the killing of Imam al-Husain (a.s.), she, as well as the Prophet’s granddaughters was taken as captives from Karbala to Kufa and all their personal properties were usurped. While the children were harshly harmed by hunger, she looked down upon asking some food from the soldiers of the Umayyad army. When the captives’ caravan arrived in Kufa, and the women there knew that the captives had been the Prophet’s family, they hurried to serve some food for the children. Preventing this thing Lady Zaynab (a.s.) spoke to the ladies of Kufa:
اَلصَّدَقَةُ مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْنَا اَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.
“It is forbidden for us, the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.), to have from alms.”
As soon as they heard these words from their aunt, the child threw from their hands and even mouths everything they had taken from these ladies and preferred feeling hungry to accepting alms that are forbidden for them.
This is the fruit of the education of the choice ones; the prophets, the veracious, and their real followers.
Along the captives’ journey from Kufa to Damascus, Lady Zaynab (a.s.), because of her disdain and sense of honor, did not ask for any aids for the children and women though they were in urgent need for such.
Thus, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) did not succumb to anything other than Almighty Allah. She showed dignity, honor, and disdain inherited from her grandfather and father in spite of hardships.
No one can ever doubt the courage of the Prophet’s family. The members of this family gave the best examples of bravery and courage. For instance, Imam Ali (a.s.), the head of the Prophet’s family, said:
“Even the Arabs helped each other to fight me, I will never flee.”
He showed the best sorts of courage during the battles and campaigns of Islam. His son, Imam al-Husain (a.s.), also gave the best examples of bravery and courage. On the day of Ashura, he amazed his enemies and could stop so bravely and steadfastly before their great numbers. Despite the horrifying misfortunes that he had to encounter on that day, he did not show surrender or weakness. On the contrary, his steadfastness increased with the increase of his misfortunes. He alone attacked thirty thousand soldiers and could oblige them to turn the backs just like goats that run away from a lion. Even when he fell to the ground out of his heavy wounds, they were too scared to approach him.
Patterning after her family members, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) behaved so courageously before the criminals who killed her brother. As she had to stop before Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, while she was considered as captive, she despised and disrespected him. He therefore showed his gloating over her misfortunes by saying, “Thanks to Allah (s.w.t.) Who unmasked, killed and belied your revolution.”
As a reply, she said courageously:
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَكْرَمَنَا بِنَبِيِّه، وَ طَهَّرَنَا مِنَ الرِّجْسِ تَطْهِيرًا. إِنَّمَا يَفْتَضَحُ الْفَاسِقُ وَ يُكَذِّبُ الْفَاجِرُ، وَ هُوَ غَيْرُنَا، وَ هُوَ غَيْرُنَا يَا بْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ...
Thanks to Allah (s.w.t.) Who honored us with His Prophet and purified us from uncleanness thoroughly. It is only the lewd whom is unmasked, and it is only the dissolute that is belied. We are not any of these two. Indeed, we are not any of these two, sons of Marjanah[^78]
This statement was in fact more lethal than weapons. She said it while she, as well as the ladies of the Prophet’s family was under captivity and their protectors’ heads were on spearheads.
These words too, took the tyrant from his throne to his grave. Before his servants and officials, these words made him realize the fact that he was the real defeated and the very unmasked, while the real triumphant was Imam al-Husain (a.s.) the killed one and his companions.
As he received these shocking words, Ubaydullah, son of Marjanah, had nothing to say; he therefore spoke a word of wreak as an attempt to cover his failure and incapability to answer, he addressed her, “How do you see that which Allah (s.w.t.) has done to your brother?”
Bravely and steadfastly Lady Zaynab (a.s.) answered with words of triumph:
مَا رَأَيْتُ إِلَّا جَمِيْلًا- هٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمٌ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقَتْلَ فَبَـرَزُوْا إِلٰى مَضَاجِعِهِمْ- وَ سَيَجْمَعُ اللَّهُ بَيْنَكَ وَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَتُحَاجَّ وَ تُخَاصَمُ- فَانْظُرْ لِمَنِ الْفَلَجُ يَوْمَئِذٍ. ثَكَـلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا ابْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ.
It was nothing but good. Those were peoples whom Allah (s.w.t.) knew they would be killed. They therefore came to the places where they would be slain. Allah (s.w.t.) will gather you with them for judgment and sentence. See, who will be the triumphant on that day. Woe shall be you, son of Marjanah, then.
These words are surely a source of pride, not only for Lady Zaynab (a.s.), but also for Islam and Muslims. They are also regarded as endless glory for the Prophet’s family.
Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’ssituations in the royal place of Yazid, her situation with the Syrian man, and her everlasting revolutionary speech shook the Umayyad throne and revealed the baseless reality of Yazid and those who enabled him to come to power.
In the coming chapters, these situations will be discussed in details.
Abstention From Worldly Pleasures
Imitating her father who divorced the worldly pleasures returnlessly[^79] and her mother who possessed nothing other than a rug made of leaves of date-palm trees and a skin of a ewe; Lady Zaynab (a.s.) abandoned all the worldly pleasures and stuck to Almighty Allah and deeds of charity. She had never saved anything for tomorrow.[^80]
She left everything for accompanying her brother, Imam al-Husain (a.s.), while she was the wife of the wealthiest man of Medina; all that was for supporting her religion and defending its principles and values.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) stopped against the tyrants so firmly that she represented the right and the justice perfectly. In all situations, she replied the tyrants courageously and faced their falsity with words of light that have perpetuated and acted as models of stopping against any tyrant for sake of the right and justice.
While she was surrounded by the policemen and the attendants whom were invited by Yazid to witness his false victory, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) replied each and every single word that Yazid said fearlessly until she unmasked him and proved the genuineness of his brother’s issue. Moreover, she threatened and showered at the tyrant with severe words of rebuke as if she was the governor and he was the captive. Referring to Verses from the Holy Qur’an and items of logic, she did not leave any argument to the tyrant. Her words were the swords with which Yazid and his likes have been killed.
The same thing she did before the other tyrant, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who tried to gloat at her misfortunes, but all his attempts were faced by sharp words and a strong style that obliged him to keep silent. She ignored him completely, and that was enough shame for him.
Her intrepidity was clear during the journey of her brother after she had taken various honorable roles in his undying revolution. She managed the Imam’s affairs with a nonesuch activity despite the enemies’ siege. A single look at the bright face of her brother would remove any tiredness she might have felt.
She also took care of the children and harem after the Imam’s martyrdom, and that was really a hard mission that ordinary women cannot manage. The source of such power and firmness was that she understood Imam al-Husain’s (a.s.) revolution perfectly and exerted all efforts for giving success to it.
These have been some features of the unmatched personality of Lady Zaynab (a.s.). As a matter of fact, this lady’s personality included all features of moral highness and perfection. To refer to all these features requires great efforts and very much time, though Lady Zaynab(a.s.)’sfeatures are timeless. This is the reason why only a few features of her personality have been mentioned here.