Rafed English

Lady Zaynab's Epithets

Epithet is a word of phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person of thing mentioned.1 Epithets, then, show one's mental characteristics, whether good or bad. thus, Lady Zaynab had many epithets that expressed some aspects of her personality.


The Arabic 'Aqialah means the gentlewoman who is honorable among her people and venerated in her house.

Lady Zaynab was such an honorable and virtuous lady that all her descendants have been called Banu al-Aqilah- sons of the gentlewoman.

During the journey of Imam al-Husayn (a) from Medina to Karbala, Lady Zaynab was the chiefess of the harem and was obeyed and respected by everybody.

It is to add that she was also called 'Aqilatu Bani Hashim -the gentlewoman of the Hashemites,' and Aqilat ut-Talibiyyin - the gentlewoman of the sons ( and descendants) of Abu Talib.'


For her supreme knowledge, Lady Zaynab was called 'al-'Alimah -the she-knowledgeable-. Historians have confirmed that she was an authority for Muslim ladies who used to refer to her in their religious affairs.Of course, she used to refer to her in their religious affairs. Of course, she received such knowledge from her grandfather, parents, and brothers who were the sources of knowledge for the Islamic ummah. Fruthermore, Lady Zaynab has had similar epithets, such as 'al-'Arifah -the well-versed- 'and 'al-Muwathaqah -the trustworthy-'.


Lady Zaynab was recognized also as being distinguisghed worshipper among Muslim ladies. She committed herself to all the recommendable rites of Islam to the degree that even at the most horrible night of her life -i.e. the night of the tenth of Muharram, 61 AH -she offered the supererogatory prayers. Thus, she was called 'Abidatu Ali-Ali -the she- worshipper of 'Ali's household'.


In all aspects of human perfection, lady Zaynab preceded everybody and occupied the leading position. She therefore is called 'al-Kamilah -the perfect-'


Because of her great jihad, service for Islam, and steadfastness for sake of Allah, Lady Zaynab's virtue has exceeded all limits and, therefore, she was proudly conferred with the epithet of 'al-Fadhilah -the virtuous.'


Like her mother who is known as the Senior Veracious, Lady Zaynab was so veracious that she gained worthily the epithet of 'al-Siddiqah al-Sughra- the Junior Veracious Lady.


Because she had to suffer various and innumerable misfortunes all over her lifetime. Lady Zaynab was called Umm al-Masa'ib -Mother of misfortunes-.

Let us refer to some of these misfortunes that she saw in a period of about one month:

1)  She saw al-Hurr ibn Yazid force Imam al-Husayn to stop and reside in a desolate place.

2) She saw the Imam's few companions in comparison with the great numbers of the enemy's army.

3) She saw most of the Imam's so-called partisans abandon him and join his enemies.

4) She saw the women's fear and worry when they had to reside In Karbala'.

5) She saw the enemies deprive her people and her of water.

6) She had to take care of the children and women while they were crying out of thirst.

7) She had to witness her brother's feelings of disappointment and loneliness.

8) She had to witness the martyrdom of her two sons, as well as the other relatives and companions whom were martyred one by one. The martyrdom of al-'Abbas however was the most diastrous for her.

9) She saw how Imam al-Husayn was without any supporter or helper, while he was seeking help.

10) She saw the cut of head of al-Husayn lie on spearheads.

11) She saw the enemies attach her brother's caravan and women, trying to set fire on the tents.

12) She had to gather the scattered children and women who fled to everywhere in that desert.

13) She had to pass by the dead, severed body of her brother.

14) She had to ride on saddleless, lean camels and to help the children and women to ride on such animals.

15) she had to exert all efforts for takimg care of the ill nephew and consoling him.

16) She had to go through the scenes of being captives and driven from a town to another while people were looking at them as rebels.

It is narrated that the Holy Prophet (s) once said, "To weep for the misfortunes of Zaynab is as same as to weep for her brothers; al-Hasan and al-Husayn."2


1- Excerpted from the Oxford Talking Dictionary. Copyright 1998 The learning Company, Inc.

2- See Ja'far al-Naqdi, Zaynab al-kubra; 32.

Adopted from the book : "Lady Zaynab" by : "Ansariyan Publications"

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