Peace Unto to the Impeccable Lady Hadrat Zainab (SA),
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
Peace be upon you, O’ (Grand) Daughter of the Chief of Prophets,
Peace be upon you, O’ Daughter of the Leader of the Pious.
Peace be upon you, O’ Daughter of the Commander of the faithful,
Peace be upon you, O’ (Grand)Daughter of Muhammad (SAWA), the Chosen (al-Mustafa),
Peace be upon you, O’ Daughter of Ali (AS), the Content (with the decree of Allah, i.e. al-Murtaza),
Peace be upon you, O’ Daughter of Fatema (SA), the Radiant (az-Zahra),
Peace be upon you, O’ (Grand)Daughter of Khadija (SA), the Elder,
Peace be upon you, O’ Righteous One,
Peace be upon you, O’ the Learned, the Rightly Guided One,
Peace be upon you, O’ Generous, Noble one,
Peace be upon you, O’ the Pious and the Pure One,
Peace be upon you, O’ you who were thoroughly tested by sufferance (by God) like Husain (AS), the Oppressed,
Peace be upon you, O’ you who were kept far from your home,
Peace be upon you, O’ you who were held captive in (different) cities.
Today we mourn the mourner of the immortal tragedy of Karbala. The 15th of Rajab was the day in the year 67 AH, when the lady who laid the foundations for the life-inspiring mourning ceremonies for her brother Imam Husain (AS) that the faithful have continued to hold in the months of Moharram and Safar, left the world a martyr.
Zainab (SA), the Heroine of Karbala, although not divinely decreed to be an infallible like her mother Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), had reached such a state of perfection that she is not only referred to as Sani-e Zahra (The Second Zahra) but was also considered a deputy of her brother Imam Husain (AS) following his martyrdom. The great Shaikh Saddouq wrote over a thousand years ago: Kaanat Zainab laha niyabata khassa an-il-Husain wa kaan-an-naas yarja’ouna alayha fi’l-halaal wa’l-haraam hatta bariun Zain al-Abedin min marazahu (Zainab [SA] had a special deputation on behalf of [Imam] Husain [AS]. People used to refer to her in [jurisprudential] matters related to the sanctioned and forbidden until [her nephew, Imam] Zain al-Abedin [AS] recovered from his illness.)”
No Wonder, Zainab (SA) was not just the maternal grand daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) but also the daughter of Imam Ali (AS) regarding whom the Almighty’s Last Messenger to mankind, has said: “man aradahu an yanzar ila Adama fi ‘ilmehi, wa ila Nuhin fi ‘azmehi, wa ila Ibrahima fi hilmehi, wa ila Musa fi haibatehi, wa ila Eisa fi zuhdehi, fa al-yanzur ila Ali ibn Abi Taleb. (Whoever wants to see Adam in his knowledge, Noah in his resolve, Abraham in his prudence, Moses in his awe, and Jesus in his piety, should look at Ali ibn Abi Taleb).”
It is said that Hazrat Zainab (SA) bore a striking resemblance to her maternal grandmother, the Mother of All True Believers (Omm al-Mominin), Hazrat Khadija (SA). Her paternal grandmother was no less a personality than Fatema bint Asad (SA), the lady who had brought up the orphaned Prophet as her own son. She was married to her first cousin, Abdullah (AS), the eldest son of her paternal uncle Ja’far at-Tayyaar (AS), who inherited all characteristics of his martyred father and also greatly resembled the Prophet in appearance and manners.
Zainab (SA) was the mother of four children – three sons and a daughter – named ‘Aun, Muhammad, Ali and Umm Kulsoum respectively. The first two achieved martyrdom in Karbala on the Day of Ashura after displaying their valour which made even the enemies recall the prowess of their grandfathers, Ja’far at-Tayyaar (AS) and Imam Ali (AS).
Her piety could be gauged from the fact that while bidding farewell to everyone in the encampment Imam Husain (AS) turned to her and said: “Ya Ukhtah! La tansani fi nafelat al-layl (O Sister! Don’t forget me during the late midnight prayer).” Her nephew Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) says that never did Hazrat Zainab (SA) neglect tahajjud and the daily nawafel (the supererogatory prayers), and used to perform them while seated because of the hardships of captivity during which the noble captives were bound with ropes and given very little to eat. At times she used to go without food for days by feeding the children with her share of the meagre meals. This is proof of her lofty spiritual status.
Hazrat Zainab’s (SA) clarity of language and choice of words to expound the mission of her brother in the court of the tyrant Yazid is rather unique. History is incapable of doing full justice to her sermons that ensured eternity for the mission of Imam Husain (AS). Scholars, pointing to a single phrase from her memorable sermon in the court of Damascus, say that besides being an indicator of her firm faith, trust in God, sincerity of purpose and dauntlessness under the most adverse circumstances, it shattered to pieces the power and pride of Yazid. Her bold address to the seemingly proud caliph with the words: “Ain al-adl yabna at-tulaqa (Is it justice O’ sons of freed slaves)” shook the very foundations of Omayyud rule and exposed its illegitimacy not only for the courtiers but for all generations to come. By her use of the word tulaqa (plural of taleeq or freed slave), Zainab (SA) was reminding the ruler how her grandfather the Prophet had on the day of the peaceful surrender of Mecca to Muslims, shown magnanimity to the arch infidel Abu Sufyan, his accursed wife Hind and his equally criminal son Mua’wiyah (the grandfather, grandmother and father of Yazid) despite the fact that Hind had so savagely carved out the liver of the Prophet’s martyred uncle Hamza at the Battle of Ohod and tried to chew it. On the day of the liberation of Mecca, the Prophet had called Abu Sufyan, Mua’wiyah and their other idolatrous kinsmen tulaqa or freed slaves, and had spared their dirty lives by accepting their lip service to Islam in order to teach humanity a lasting lesson that what evil such despised ingrates do when opportunity comes their way to strike at the humanitarian principles that they had always opposed.
No doubt, she reigns gloriously over the capital of her tormentors, Damascus from her golden-domed shrine with pilgrims flocking for homage from the all over the globe while Yazid burns in the eternal flames of hell.