Hazrat Zaynab (S.A.), Aqeelat Bani Hashim
By: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi
She was the Prophet’s granddaughter and the principal of women after her mother Fatimah (s.a.). She had all noble and high qualities that she had inherited from her grandfather Prophet Muhammad, her father Imam Ali and her mother Fatimah (peace be on them). Therefore, she was the highest example of honor, chastity, dignity and jihad. She established the edifice of the intellectual rise, and spread political and religious awareness through her soul-stirring sermons and speeches she had made before the people of Kufa and in the royal palaces of the Umayyads. She exposed the reality of the Umayyads that was polluted with all kinds of crimes, sins and transgression of human rights. She proved the Umayyads’ treason against Muslims and their seizing of the rule from its actual people.
Zaynab (a.s.) was the first female from the progeny of the Prophet (S). The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) received this blessed neonate with great joy and delight. Imam Ali (a.s.) carried out the rituals of birth; he recited the azan in her right ear and the eqama in her left ear.
When the Prophet (S) was told about the birth of this blessed baby, he hurried to Fatimah’s house while he was distressed. He took the blessed baby and embraced her while his tears were flowing on his holy face.
Fatimah (s.a.) asked him, ‘What makes you cry? May Allah not make your eye cry!’
He said to her gently, ‘O Fatimah, Know that, after me and after you, misfortunes and calamities will be poured on this girl.’71
The Prophet (S) detected from behind the unseen what calamities would happen to his granddaughter and that she would be tried with what no woman had ever been tried with. Imam Ali (a.s.) shared the Prophet (S) in his pains and sorrows, and so did Fatimah (s.a.). Salman al-Farisi, the loyal friend of the Prophet’s family, came to congratulate Ameerul Mo'minin (a.s.) on the blessed birth of his newborn daughter but he found him sad and grieved talking about the calamities that this daughter would face, and so he shared with the family in their sorrow.
Fatimah (s.a.) asked Imam Ali (a.s.) to name the newborn baby and he said politely, ‘I would not precede the messenger of Allah (in that).’
Then Imam Ali (a.s.) asked the Prophet (S) to name the child, and the Prophet (S) said, ‘I would not precede my Lord.’
Gabriel came down to the Prophet (S) and said to him, ‘Name her Zaynab! Allah the Almighty has chosen this name for her.’
Gabriel (a.s.) revealed to the Prophet (S) the calamities that would face his granddaughter, and then they all burst in crying.72
Zaynab was surnamed as Umm Kulthum73. Some historians say that Umm Kulthum was another daughter of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Fatimah (s.a.), but we doubt this saying.
The following are some of Lady Zaynab’s (a.s.) epithets that inform of her high qualities:
Aqeelat Bani Hashim
Aqeelah means a noble, respectable lady among her tribe and honored in her family. Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was the most honored lady in Islam and the best Alawid woman. Her progeny prided on her and were called “the children of al-Aqeelah” or the “Zaynabites”.
Zaynab (a.s.) was the most learned woman (after Fatimah) in the Prophetic family. She was an authority for Muslim women concerning religious affairs, besides that some (male) companions referred to her in jurisprudential matters.
Aabidat Aal Ali (The Worshipper of Ali’s Family)
She was the most worshipping (after her mother) among all Muslim women. She left no recommendatory worship even in the most critical times. Even in the eleventh night of Muharram after the terrible event of Kerbala she offered all recommendatory worships including the Night Nafilah.
She was perfect in morals, honor, virtue, chastity and purity.
She was preferred to all Muslim women in her jihad, services to Islam and devotedness in the way of Allah.
Her Birth Date
Historians disagreed on the year of Zaynab’s (a.s.) birth. Some said she was born in the fifth year of hijra and some others said she was born in the sixth year. Some others said she was born in the ninth year which was refuted by Sheikh Ja’far an-Naqdi who thought that the most correct date of her birth was in the fifth year of hijra.
Zaynab (a.s.), the pure, veracious lady, grew up in the house of prophethood and the oracle of Gabriel and revelation. It was the purest and most honored house in the earth. Fatimah (s.a.) the principal of all women of the worlds, fed Zaynab (a.s.) with chastity, dignity, high moral standards and nobilities of character. She taught her the Holy Qur’an and made her memorize it. She taught her the verdicts of Islam and shed over her rays from her own ideals until she became a true copy of her.
Zaynab (a.s.) spent her childhood in the house of honor, glory and mercy. She saw her father Imam Ali (a.s.) participate with her mother in the house affairs and help her in her tasks. No harsh or bad word was ever heard in this house. She also saw her grandfather, the messenger of Allah (S) flow over her from his love and kindness and show her reverence and respect.
Zaynab (a.s.), the Prophet’s granddaughter, got the best kind of the Islamic education. She saw her brother al-Husayn (a.s.) highly revere and respect his brother al-Hasan (a.s.) and use no harsh or impolite word with him. Zaynab (a.s.), in particular, received great respect from her parents and brothers. When she came, her brother al-Husayn (a.s.) rose as a kind of respect, and when she wanted to visit the tomb of her grandfather the Prophet (S), her father and two brothers went with her. Her father Imam Ali (a.s.) put out the lamps on the tomb lest someone might see the figure of Zaynab.74 Thus, Zaynab was treated in her family with great respect and reverence.
Zaynab had all virtues and high characteristics and was the best of all women after her mother Fatimah (s.a.). Here we talk about some of her characteristics:
True Faith in Allah
Zaynab (a.s.) was brought up in the house of faith, and the love of Allah was impressed inside her mind and heart. It was one of her inseparable elements. She tolerated the severest of calamities in the way of Allah and in order to raise high the banner of Islam.
The true faith in Allah and the perfect devotedness to Him was a part of her personality. From her great faith was that when she attended the martyrdom of her brother Imam al-Husayn, she said at his headless body while looking at the Heaven, ‘O Allah, accept from us this sacrifice!’
On the night of the eleventh of Muharram after the martyrdom of her brother Imam al-Husayn (a.s.), his household, and supporters, she offered the prayer of gratefulness to Allah for that. Indeed humanity may bow in reverence before this infinite faith.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) had great patience and unequalled endurance before the calamities she faced especially on the day of Ashura’ when she saw her brother, who was the dearest one to her, surrounded by ten thousands of enemy forces that were the continuity of Abu Sufyan’s forces which had fought against the Prophet (S). However, her brother found no supporters on that day except the very few men of his loyal companions and family who all were martyred to leave him alone in the field before that huge fierce army. It was no long when those beasts attacked him with all kinds of weapons; swords, spears, arrows and stones. In that unbearable situation, she was very patient with true faith in Allah’s fate. No doubt, if anyone other than her faced those horrible situations, he\she would faint and collapse at once, but she (a.s.) stood before that calamity, which no reformer in history had been ever afflicted with, with bold heart and faithful soul submitting to the fate of Allah with all her feelings. Thus, she was one of those about whom Allah had said, “…and give good news to the patient. Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall surely return. Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the followers of the right course.” 2:155-157
“Verily the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure.” 39:10
“…and We will most certainly give to those who are patient their reward for the best of what they did.” 16:96
The Prophet’s granddaughter showed patience and bold-heartedness that history has never mentioned a woman like her before calamities and misfortunes.
Dignity and Honor
From the prominent characteristics of Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was her dignity and honor. After the martyrdom of her brother Imam al-Husayn (a.s.), she was taken as captive, with the rest of the household, from Kerbala to Kufa. All the luggage and jewels that they had were plundered. Hunger violently attacked the children of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), but Lady Zaynab (a.s.) disdained, out of dignity, from asking anyone of the vile policemen of ibn Ziyad for any food. When the caravan of the captives arrived in Kufa and the women of Kufa knew that the captives were from the Prophet’s progeny, they hurried to offer food for the children. Lady Zaynab (a.s.) said to the women of Kufa, ‘Charity is unlawful for us, we the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).’
When the children heard what their aunt said, they threw away the food from their hands and mouths saying to each other: my aunt says that charity is unlawful for us the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).’ Yes, it was the education of prophets that takes one to the highest degree of perfection. When the captives of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) were taken from Kufa to Sham, Lady Zaynab (a.s.) did not ask the villain guards, who accompanied the caravan, for anything for the children or for the women. She had inherited glory, dignity, honor and disdain from her grandfather (the Prophet) and her father (Imam Ali).75
Throughout history, no woman had been found braver, firmer and more determined than Lady Zaynab (a.s.). She stood steadfastly and bravely before the criminal Ubaydillah bin Ziyad, and she scolded and disdained him though she was captive. He said to her, rejoicing the killing of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), ‘Praise be to Allah Who has exposed and killed you, and refuted your notion.’
She said to him, ‘Praise be to Allah Who has honored us with His Prophet, and purified us from uncleanness (abomination) a thorough purification. It is a disbeliever that is exposed, and a dissolute that is refuted, and surely he is other than us, O ibn Marjanah.’
These fierce arrows threw this tyrant down from his throne to his grave and showed him before his slaves and rascal followers that he was the loser and Zaynab’s (a.s.) brother was the winner. However, he had nothing to say except to show his schadenfreude towards the Prophet’s progeny by saying, ‘How did you see the doing of Allah with your brother?’
She said, ‘I did not see except good. These are people whom Allah has determined the killing on, and so they went to their fates. Allah will gather between you and them, and you shall be argued and disputed. Then look for whom success shall be! May your mother lose you, O son of Marjanah!’
As for her situation in the palace of Yazeed and her revolutionary speech that shook the Umayyad throne and uncovered the vicious reality of the Umayyads and their previous and following supporters, we have talked about it in details in our book “Lady Zaynab, the Pioneer of Jihad in Islam”.
With the Immortal Tragedy
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) had accompanied her brother Imam al-Husayn (a.s.), the father of the free, in his immortal revolution that had supplied the Islamic world with the means of renaissance and development. She had a positive role in this blessed revolution that had changed the course of history and awakened Muslims from their torpor, and consequently, Muslim rose calling for a new dawn and a good rule. Revolts broke out everywhere against the Umayyad state until its pillars were destroyed, its roots were plucked out and it perished forever.
Anyhow, she witnessed all the scenes of her brother’s revolution, and she spread its values, and made eternal its goals through her wonderful sermons in Kufa, in the Umayyad palace in Damascus and in Medina. She aroused the public feelings and emotions, and made the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) not as an incidental talk, but as an important part in the essence of the Islamic life.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) lived moment by moment the horrible events that surrounded her brother in the desert of Kerbala when the armies of the Umayyads bit with their swords and spears her brother’s pure body and the other pure bodies of the Prophet’s progeny. They were not satisfied with that, but they maimed those pure bodies severely, and then they burnt the tents of the women and children who ran away in the desert here and there. She faced all these calamities, and nevertheless, the Umayyads were not satisfied until they took the women and the children of the Prophet’s household as captives driven from a country to another before the looks of the good and the bad. Was this the due reward that the Prophet (S), who had saved the Arabs from the abysses of ignorance, crimes and vices, deserved to be rewarded with?
All these terrible events, undoubtedly, resulted from those, who cried out after the death of the Prophet (S), ‘The Prophethood and the caliphate should not gather in one house.’ Hence, all the calamities that afflicted the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) were the consequences of those evil situations that those ill-willers had taken to separate the caliphate from the Prophet’s progeny whom the Prophet (S) had compared to the Qur'an, and who were the source of wisdom and honor in the world of Islam.
To the Better World
When Lady Zaynab (a.s.) was set free from capture and she went back to Medina, she resorted to weeping and crying. Day and night, she was attacked by the terrible memories of what her brother had faced in the desert of Kerbala, and she and her fellow women and children suffered of difficulties and misfortunes. Her tears were always flowing for her brother and family whose heads were harvested by the Umayyad swords, and whose bodies were maimed severely.
Those painful scenes often and always attacked her until she was too weak that she could not tolerate those distresses any more. She often said with regrets, ‘O my brother!’, ‘O my Husayn!’, ‘O my Abbas!’, ‘O my family!’, and then she fell to the ground faintly. The most beloved thing to her was to leave this world and join her grandfather (a.s.) to complain to him about the disasters, the capture, the killing, and the maiming that she and her family faced.
After the disaster of Kerbala, she lived not too long until diseases attacked her and made her even unable to speak. She received death eagerly to meet Allah, her grandfather and the rest of her family. Her pure soul was taken high to the Heavens surrounded by the angels to be received by the prophets of Allah, and there she would complain to her Lord about the calamities and disasters that no man had ever been tried with since the creation of the earth.
Lady Zaynab (a.s.) left to the better world on Sunday, the fifth of Rajab, in 62 AH.76 It was said that she had been buried in al-Baqee’ Graveyard (in Medina), and it was said in Sham because the Umayyad government had imposed on her house arrest. It was also said that she had been buried in Egypt. We have mentioned all that in details in our book “Lady Zaynab, the Pioneer of Jihad in Islam”.