Sayyeda Zainab (a.s), the daughter of Imam Ali (a.s) and Sayyeda Fatima (a.s.), was an exemplary woman of great ability, intelligence, knowledge, insight, courage and perseverance. She performed her divine duties to the best of her ability. She was born to a family formed by the Prophet (SAW), the most outstanding figure in history. The Prophet's wife Sayyeda Khadija a devoted woman, was her maternal grandmother, and her paternal grandmother was Fatima daughter of Assad, who mothered and nursed the Prophet (SAW). The members of the family, in trio hierarchical order, were all great. Hazrat Zainab (as) was a brilliant star in the mandate sky that received rays of holiness from the five suns. It was through her holy origins and pious edification that she manifested so great a fortitude in Karbala (Iraq).
The life of the daughter of Hazrat Al-Zahra (a.s.) was always laden with hardships, but she never feared coping with difficulties, this enhanced her endurance and elevated her soul.
The Birth of Hazrat Zainab (a.s)
There is divergence of opinions about the birth date of Hazrat Zainab (a.s). Some say it was in Medina in the month of Jamadil-Alawwal, and others say it was in the month of Shaban, in the 6th Hijra year.
When Hazrat Zainab (a.s) was born, Imam Ali (a.s.) asked for the Prophet's advice as to her name, the same as it was in the case of Hassan and Hussein. They gave Zainab in swaddling clothes to the Prophet (SAW) and he waited for Allah's message. Gabriel appeared and said she should be named Zainab. The Prophet (SAW) kissed her and wept. They asked why he wept. He said Gabriel told me Zainab would be an eyewitness of the fate of her brother Hussein in Karbala.
Zainab, the Sage of Bani Hashim
In her childhood, Zainab studied with the Prophet (SAW) , and when Imam Ali (a.s) moved to Kufa, the respected women of Kufa requested Imam Ali (a.s) through their husbands to allow them to benefit from the knowledge of Hazrat Zainab (a.s.). Imam Ali (a.s) complied with their request and the interested women learned from her the expounding wisdom of the Holy Qur'an.
Ibn Abbas quoted Hazrat Zahra (a.s.) as having said that her daughter Zainab, like her father, was unparalleled in literary eloquence and courage. The speech she delivered in the assembly in presence of Yazid was at the zenith of eloquence and impressiveness. (Refer Famous Women, Dr. Ahmed Beheshti, p.51)
After the demise of the Holy Prophet (SAW), there came the period of distress and hardship in the life of Hazrat Zainab (a.s.) She stood by her mother as far as the question of supreme mandate of her father was concerned. When her mother delivered the Fadak sermon, she was only 4 years old, but narrated the sermon so lucidly and expressively that the people from Bani Hashim remembered it by heart. Later the Shiite scholars recorded it, that is why she is called Zainab the narrator of traditions.
After the martyrdom of Hazrat Zahra (a.s.), Zainab suffered many calamities. Their house was attacked and the usurpation of her father's rightful caliphate was a great shock to her. Her sublime devotion to the cause of Allah and Islam endeared her to her father Ali ,which reminded of her mother's endearment to her father, the Holy Prophet (SAW). All this was worthy of the grand status of Zainab (a.s.).
Hazrat Zainab's Marriage
Abdullah son of Ja'far Tayyar, a nephew of Imam Ali (a.s.) asked for Zainab's hand, and Imam Ali (a.s.) accepted it. Her marriage settlement was equal to that of her mother's. Imam Ali (a.s.) told Ja'far not to prevent Zainab from going on a journey with Imam Hussein (a.s), her brother.
Although Zainab's husband was a man of means, she lived a modest life, not a life of luxury. She and her husband were charitable to the needy people. The Arab tribes called Abdullah "the sea or the cloud of munificence".
Abdullah was also noted for his standing with Imam Ali (a.s.) in the holy wars (jihad). Ibn Hajar quoted the Prophet as having said that Abdullah was like him in character and had taken him by the right hand and prayed to Allah to extend His mercy over the household of Abdullah bin Ja'far.
The marriage of Zainab did not diminish her strong attachment to her family. Imam Ali (a.s) also felt a great affection for his daughter and nephew and when he became the Caliph of the Muslims and moved from Medina to Kufa, Zainab and Abdullah joined him. Zainab bore four boys by the names of Ali, Muhammad, Aun and Abbas and two girls, Umm Kulthum.
Zainab and Imamate
In her life, Zainab always saw the evildoers, oppressors, insurgents and breakers of covenants defy the truth and Imam Ali (a.s.), the supporter of the truth and justice had to quell their revolts. Finally, an evil hand gave Imam Ali (a.s.) a stroke from a poisoned sword on his head in the mosque. After Imam Ali (a.s.), his son Imam Hassan (a.s.) became the Caliph. Hassan was also greatly oppressed until at last he signed a peace treaty with the ruler of that time and moved to Kufa in the company of Zainab , her husband, and his own companions. Imam Hassan (a.s.) was poisoned by his treacherous wife, by the order of the Caliph of that time. After Imam Hassan, Imam Hussein (a.s.) became the Imam, but the ruler of Syria violated the peace treaty and appointed his son as his successor and insisted that Imam Hussein (a.s.) should pledge allegiance to him. Imam Hussein refused to pledge allegiance and made up his mind to move to Mecca.
Zainab said farewell to her husband and went with her brother accompanied by her sons Muhammad and Aun. They reached Mecca in 61 Hijra year.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) was informed that some agents of the ruler of that time had come to Mecca to assassinate him while circumambulating the Holy Ka'bah. Imam Hussein (a.s.) deemed it advisable to move to Kufa and let people know of his secret mission. They arrived at Karbala on the 2nd Muharram. Zainab had heard from her grandfather and father that Karbala would be the place where Imam Hussein (a.s.) would be martyred.
Zainab (as.) in Karbala
Zainab (a.s.) is the shining sun in the history of Islam and of humanity. Her brother's name and Karbala associate the idea of freedom, justice, humanity, virtue, fighting against despotism, with the realization of the sovereignty of Allah. The history of Karbala is based on two pillars: the rising of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and the rising of Zainab (a.s.). She was an outstanding figure in the history of Karbala endowed with divine steadfastness and fortitude. She sacrificed her two sons and one should not say anything if one devoted his life for the cause of Allah. After the martyrdom of her brother and her two sons, she said: "O my Lord! Accept our humble sacrifice to You."
When Zainab reached Kufa, she addressed people with fury words:
"Praise to Allah, and may the blessing of Allah be upon Muhammad and his progeny. O people of Kufa, you are hypocrites and deceitful. You feign to be sorry for the death of my brother and his companions. May you always shed tears. I find nothing in you but flattery, evil acts and thoughts, pride and spite and ill-will. By Allah! You deserve lasting sorrow instead of joy. Shame on you, your hands are imbrued with the blood of the son of the Holy Prophet, the one who was your sole refuge in case of adversity. By your evil act and disloyalty, you incurred the -wrath of Allan against you. Woe betide you! No one will intercede with Allah for you."
Her furious words provoked people of Kufa to avenge Hussein's martyrdom. This frightened Ubaidullah and his cruel agents. She also delivered a furious sermon in the court of the caliph that made his authority and despotic rule feel undermined.
"I fear no one but Allah. Make whatever evil plot you can. Blazes are waiting for you in the hereafter. You'll be accountable to Allah for your atrocities."
A Brief Biography of Hazrat Zainab (A.S)
A Brief Biography of Hazrat Zainab (A.S)
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