Rafed English

Zainab’s Speech

The daughter of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) explained to people Ibn Ziyad's villainy and meanness in a speech which she delivered to them. She signaled to the large crowd to calm down. They did, standing as if birds were resting on their heads.

Nothing could quieten the commotion nor silence the numerous voices other than the divine dignity and the magnificence of Muhammad (S) that crowned the wise lady who descended from his Progeny (S).

When Zainab daughter of ‘Ali (‘a) signaled to people to calm down, they did. They stood speechless and motionless, and even the bells of their animals stopped ringing. It was then that she, calm and composed and with courage reminiscent of that of [her revered father] Hayder (‘a), addressed them saying:

 “All Praise is due to Allah Peace and blessings be upon my [grand]father Muhammad (S) and upon his good and righteous Progeny (‘a). May the resounding [of this calamity] never stops. Your similitude is one who unspins what is already spun out of the desire to violate [a trust]. You make religion a source of your income...

Is there anyone among you one who is not a boaster of what he does not have, a charger of debauchery, a conceited liar, a man of grudge without any justification, one submissive like bondmaids, an instigator, a pasture of what is not wholesome, a reciter of a story to someone buried?

Truly bad is that which your souls have committed. You have reaped the Wrath of Allah, remaining in the chastisement for eternity. Do you really cry and sob? By Allah, you should then cry a great deal and laugh very little, for you have earned nothing but shame and infamy, and you shall never be able to wash it away, and how could you do so?

The descendant of the Bearer of the Last Message (S), the very essence of the Message, the source of your security and the beacon of your guidance, the refuge of the righteous from among you, the one who saves you from calamity, the Master of the Youths of Paradise... is killed. O how horrible is the sin that you bear...!

Miserable you are and renegades from the path of righteousness; may you be distanced and crushed. The effort is rendered futile, the toil is ruined, the deal is lost, and you earned nothing but Wrath from Allah and from His Messenger (S).

You are doomed with servitude and humiliation. Woe unto you, O Kufians! Do you know whose heart you have burned, what a “feat” you have laboured, what blood you have shed, and what sanctity you have violated?

You have done a most monstrous deed, something for which the heavens are about to split asunder and so is the earth, and for which the mountains crumble. You have done something most uncanny, most defaced, as much as the fill of the earth and of the sky.

Do you wonder why the sky rains blood? Surely the torment of the hereafter is a greater chastisement, and they shall not be helped. Let no respite elate you, for rushing does not speed it up, nor does it fear the loss of the opportunity for revenge. Your Lord is waiting in ambush for you.”5
Imam al-Sajjad (‘a) said to her, “That is enough, O aunt, for you are, Praise to Allah, a learned lady whom none taught, one who comprehends without being made to do so.”6
The wise lady discontinued her speech. The crowd which had been brainwashed by lies and by greed stood stunned. Her statements caused many to wake up and the minds to listen to reason. Her speech had the greatest effect on people's hearts, so they realized the magnanimity of what they had committed; now they did not know what to do.
From the wasi did she inherit wisdom
Particularly hers in its beauty and oratory.
Whenever she expounds you would believe
From oratory she derives her treasures.
Or like a sword in the hand of a valiant she may be
With it he defended and won victory.
Or that she leads a whole regiment of hosts
And drives from facts' hosts a crowd.
Or in the Imamate's woods a lioness
For her roaring even heads bow down.
Or she is the tumultuous ocean whose waves
Crushed one another in knowledge, might and dignity.
Or from the Lord's Wrath lightning ensues
From which Harb's clan could not escape.
Or that Hayder on his steed wipes out
The hosts of misguidance one after another.
Or the summit of the pulpit embraced him,
So for the Shari’a did he ignite a light.
Or in wisdom has the wise lady
of Hashim shattered blindness greatly.7
5. This speech is compiled from the writings of Shaikh al-Tusi in his Amali as well as that of his son, from Al-Luhuf of Ibn Tawus,, Ibn Nama, Ibn Shahr Ashub, and from al-Tabarsi's book Al-Ihtijaj.

6. al-Tabarsi, Al-Ihtijaj, p. 166 (Najaf's edition).

7. Excerpted from a poem by the ‘Allama Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali al-Urdabadi in praise of the wise lady Zainab, peace be upon her.
Adapted from: "Maqtal al-Husayn; Martyrdom Epic of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram"

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