Hazrat Zainab (S.A.), the Untaught Sage
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“They said, ‘Immaculate are You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Holy Qur’an 2:32)
The above ayah of God’s Final Revelation to mankind, is the helpless answer of the celestial angels when asked by the Almighty Creator to tell certain names, after they had extolled their own virtues of ceaseless worship, while asking the Source of life as to why He had created the first ever human being – a species that was liable to wrought corruption and bloodshed on earth.
Divine Wisdom is beyond the ken of angels, let alone Iblis the genie, who refused to prostrate to Adam and was cast out as the eternally damned Satan, as well as those of the human race he has trapped in ignorance and sins.
To be brief, to the amazement of the angels, Adam, who was taught directly by God (and by no one else), gave the correct answers and thus proved till eternity that the Prophets and Saints among his progeny are repositories of divinely-inspired knowledge and wisdom, and have not been taught by any fallible fellow human.
In other words, those who wrongly style themselves as “Khalifa” (caliph in English, and as the Qur’an says Adam was God’s First Khalifa on earth), and yet are steeped in ignorance, and moreover commit the unpardonable sins of depriving, oppressing and killing the virtuous amongst the descendants of Adam, especially the immaculate members of the blessed household of the greatest-ever human being – Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) – are nothing more than devils, although in appearance they might look like human beings.
Today, on the eve of the blessed birthday of an impeccable daughter of Adam and Eve, let us cast a glimpse at the exemplary life of the Alematun-Ghayr-il-Mu’allema (the “Unschooled Scholar” or more precisely the “Knowledgeable Lady not schooled by anyone”).
This is how, Hazrat Zainab (SA), the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Khadija (SA), and the daughter of Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatema (SA), was addressed by her nephew, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), in the aftermath of the martyrdom of her brother, Imam Husain (AS)
It is said the immortal saga of Karbala would have remained incomplete if not for the endeavours of Hazrat Zainab (SA). Here was a sister who refused to let the mission of her martyred brother be confined to the epic Day of Ashura as the cowardly enemies of humanity had planned. Imprisonment did not dampen her spirits. She not just carried Imam Husain’s (AS) message to Kufa and made the Iraqis rue their betrayal of the Prophet’s grandson, but institutionalized its commemoration for all time.
Neither did she allow the dungeons of Damascus and the jam-packed court of the tyrant Yazid to drown the eloquence of her sermons that eventually apprised the Syrians of the treason of the Omayyuds against Islam. Nor was she content to merely lighten the burden of her bleeding heart on return home to Medina at the outpouring of grief of the people of Hejaz shocked by the tragedy that befell the Prophet’s Household.
With the veil of hypocrisy ripped off the ungodly face of the accursed ruler, Yazid, whom she rightly called “yabna at-tulaqa” (son of freed slaves) in front of the whole court filled with foreign dignitaries, including the Byzantine ambassador – who happened to be a descendant of Prophet David (AS) and was shocked at what the Muslims had done to the grandson of their own Prophet – the grand- daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) brought about a revolution transcending continents.
In fact, Hazrat Zainab (SA) along with her nephew, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), not only internationalized the tragedy of Karbala but as was the goal of her martyred brother, immortalized it for the salvation of humanity, so that mankind in every age, era or geographical place could sift truth from falsehood by contemplating on the uprising of Imam Husain (AS).
Thus, when any conscientious mind turns to the Epic of Ashura and the traumatic aftermath of history’s greatest tragedy, it will acknowledge that Islam and all humanitarian values, without the least doubt, are also indebted forever to the lady whose indefatigable role earned her the title of “Sharikat al-Husain” or partner in the mission of Imam Husain (AS).
However, in order to have a proper perspective of the multi-dimensional personality of Hazrat Zainab (SA) one has to understand that she did not emerge spontaneously on the scene of Karbala or at the scenarios schemed unsuccessfully by the avowed enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt in Kufa and Damascus, where the noble womenfolk and children of the Prophet’s Household were paraded behind the severed heads of their dear ones mounted on lances. As a matter of fact, Karbala and the two centres of power in Iraq and Syria merely provided the fitting climax to a fruitful life of almost six decades that started with her blessed birth during the days of the Prophet and ended in mournful martyrdom some four years after the heroic sacrifice of her brother.
Thus, although it is beyond our ken to fully gauge the pride of place in the history of human civilization of a lady, whose real merits only God Almighty, His Last and Greatest Prophet and the Infallible Imams know, we could at least have the honour of paying our humble homage to Hazrat Zainab (SA) by studying her eventful life ever since the day she opened her eyes in the abode of Divine Revelation, and by reflecting on the aura of spirituality surrounding her family and her own self.
Peace upon the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and upon those guarding her holy shrine from the blasphemous attacks of the devilish Takfiris.