Hazrat Zainab (A.S.): Messenger of the Karbala Revolution
The lunar month of Jamadi-Awwal 5th marks the birth anniversary of Hazrat Zainab (SA) the magnanimous daughter of Imam Ali (AS). The noble Lady of Islam safe-guarded the holy religion of Islam by conveying the message of the martyrs of the Karbala Movement through her fervent speeches which served to awaken Muslims all over the world. We have strove to honor the memory of this valiant untiring messenger through this brief article which is as follows:
Zainab (SA) was the auspicious offspring of the unique couple, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatima (SA).
When the baby-girl was brought before the Prophet (SAW), he held her in his lap and kissed her. Angel Jibrail came to him and conveyed the name that was to be hers and then began to weep. The Prophet (SAW) asked Angel Jibrail why he wept and he answered:
“O Prophet of Allah! From early in her life, this girl will remain entangled in tribulations and trials of this world. First she will weep over your separation (from this world). Thereafter she will mourn the loss of her mother, then her father, and then her brother Hassan. After all this she will be confronted with the trials of the land of Karbala and the tribulations of that lonely desert, as a result of which her hair will turn gray and her back will be bent.”
The life and example of Zainab (SA) crystallized the figure of the ideal woman in Islam. Her versatile and innumerable virtues and sublime personality, modesty, chastity and knowledge reminded one of her mother, Fatima (SA). In the realm of devotion and dignity, she followed the example of Bibi Khadija (SA) (Zainab’s grandmother). Traces of her father’s awe-inspiriting speeches can be found in her eloquent, fervent orations. Her revolutionary patience and forbearance was a reminder of her brother, Imam Hussain (AS).
During her childhood, Zainab (SA) used to rest on her father’s bosom, listening carefully to register his esteemed teachings in her fresh and keen mind.
Once Imam Ali (SA) asked his beloved daughter to repeat the number “one” after him. Zainab (SA) obeyed the father’s order. However, she refused to reiterate number “two” after the Imam (AS).
When she was asked to justify her deed, she said:
“Dear father, how can a tongue which has got used to saying “one” (referring to the Unity of Allah), reiterate word “two”.
Upon hearing his daughter’s meaningful assertion, Imam Ali (AS) became delighted and caressed and kissed her. Monotheism, in its truest sense, was deeply-rooted in her pure soul since her early childhood.
Another day, she asked her father: “O, father! Do you like me?”
“Sure, how can I not like you?” Imam Ali (AS) replied.
Zainab (SA) said: “Dear father, affection and the feeling of devotion only befit Allah, the Great, and what I request is your kindness.”
Such a belief reflects the height of gnosticism and insight in Zainab (SA). It also bespeaks of her monotheistic beliefs in other dimensions. However, the perception of such unique and exalted merits in her, is not surprising since she was an offspring of Fatima (SA) and was nourished at the virtuous lap of such a magnanimous mother. Zainab’s (SA) noble character was thus instructed by the spirit of her mother, Fatima (SA).
Besides, she was brought up in the company of two great Imams: Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) and enjoyed the companionship of the Holy Prophet (SAW), Imam Ali (AS),
In her character she reflected the best attributes of those who raised her. In sobriety and severity, she was likened to Ummul-Muminin Hazrat Khadija (SA) - her grandmother. In chastity and modesty to her mother Fatimat uz -Zahra (SA); in eloquence to her father Imam Ali (AS); in forbearance and patience to her brother Imam Hassan (AS) and in bravery and tranquillity of the heart to Imam Hussain (AS). Her face reflected her father’s awe and her grandfather's reverence.
In Medina, it was Zainab’s (SA) practice to hold regular meetings for women in which she shared her knowledge and taught them the precepts of the religion (Deen) of Islam as laid out in the Holy Qur’an. Her gatherings were well and regularly attended. She was able to impart the teachings with such clarity and eloquence that she became known as Fasihah (Skillfully fluent) and intensely eloquent (Balighah).
The depth and certainty of her knowledge earned her epithel given to her by her nephew, Imam Zaynul-Abidin (AS) of ‘Alimah ghayr Mu’allamah’ - she who has knowledge without being taught by anyone.
Zainab (SA) also Nicknamed Zahidah
She was also named Zahidah (Abstemious) and Abidah (Devoted) because of her abstemiousness and piety. She found little interest in worldly adornments. She always preferred the bliss and comfort of the next world over that of this world. Zainab (SA) held such an elevated position in the field of science as well as insight and wisdom, that she was usually referred to as an all-knowing scientist whose overflowing knowledge was not acquired from any specific school or teacher.
The indisputable competence, insight and mental growth seen in Zainab (SA) were so noteworthy that her brother, Imam Hussain (AS) revealed his secret will to her before attaining martyrdom. In a bid to safeguard the life of the 4th Imam (AS) who would take over the Imamate after Imam Hussain (AS), he called Zainab (SA) his successor for a while.
Gnosticism and Devotion to Allah
Hazrat Zainab (SA) in her great enthusiasm to fulfill religious duties including daily obligatory prayers, etc. had taken example from her beloved mother, Hazrat Fatima (SA). Even on the very same night when her brother. Imam Hussain (AS) attained martyrdom on the Day of Ashura (i.e. 10th Muharram, 61 AH), indeed one of the most distressing and arduous nights of her life, she prayed her mid-night prayers. It is narrated that, on that night her brother Imam Hussain (AS) asked her to remember praying for him in her mid-night prayers.
Her Devotion and Self-sacrifice
Although her husband, Abdullah ibn Ja’far Tayyar, was a wealthy man and enjoyed a comfortable life, Zainab (SA) preferred to accompany her brother on his tiresome and adventurous trip to Karbala. She even sent her two beloved sons, Muhammad and Oun to help Imam Hussain (AS) in carrying out his mission at the desert of Karbala. Both her two sons were martyred in the battlefield.
Her Role in the Negation of Oppression
Zainab (SA) assumed the task of delivering the message of the martyrs of Karbala to the people of her time and to the generation to come. She spared no time disclosing the plots hatched by the ruling system to distort the real importance of the Karbala Movement. Her provocative speeches delivered in the Court of Yazid in Kufa, when taken as a captive, still echo throughout the Muslim World.
Delivering a fiery speech in Kufa, at the seat of Ibn Ziyad, she condemned and unveiled his inhumane attitude. In a long speech in Damascus at Yazid’s court, she castigated vicious Yazid and cursed him because of his mischievous acts. She said:
“O Yazid! You are an oppressor and have inherited cruelty and atrocity from your ancestors. You are the grandson of “Hind” who disemboweled the martyr of Uhud (referring to Prophet’s uncle, Hamzah) and ate his liver. Hence, we cannot expect more than this from you. I regard confronting you as a shame. Now that I have been brought here at your court as a captive you and your gaudy court seem so worthless to me and I still curse and rebuke you with all my might.”
Thus was how Zainab (SA) relayed the message of the martyrs of Karbala to the people, enlightening their minds towards the realities. Through her awe-inspiring speeches, she sought to disclose the tyranny of Umayyad’s rulers. Like sparks of fire, her fiery speeches would penetrate deep into the hearts of the staunch enemies, making them tremble on their feet.
Indeed, it is with the deepest feeling of sorrow that we condole on this day, commemorating the death anniversary of this great lioness to Muslims all over the world, especially to those devoted women who are making her an example and are striving to carry out her holy mission.