Lady Zaynab

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This book throws lights on the great personality of Lady Zaynab (s.a.), daughter of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Fatimah az-Zahra (s.a.), granddaughter of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) and sister of Imam Husayn (a.s.) and describes her great role in the uprising of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) especially after his martyrdom, it recalls how she stood firmly against oppression and tyranny denouncing the great injustices and the forgeries made by the tyrant that called himself a Muslim caliph, Yazid ibn Mu’awuiyyah (‘lan).

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Lady Zaynab Compiler: Badr Shahin Publisher: Ansariyan Publications - Qum First Edition 2002 - 1423 - 1381 Sadr Press Pages: 240 Copies: 2000 Size: 143 x 205 mm ISBN: 964-438-399-0 (زينب كبرى (س
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Dedication

I pray that Almighty Allah, His Prophet, and his immaculate progeny accept this modest work. I have basically tried to present some documented facts about a lady who led a revolution against oppression and falsehood.

I dedicate this humble attempt to Imam al-Husayn bin Ali (a), the individual most beloved to Lady Zaynab, for he had trained her to become an exceptional character - a character that still stands out as unique. Consequently, she passed the Divine Trial so remarkably and achieved all goals of her brother.

To you, Imam al-Husayn (a), I dedicate this work ­ hoping for acceptance, because you have been the guide and inspirer to the seekers of righteousness, justice and real humanity.

Publisher’s Word

All praise is due to Almighty Allah Who will reward those who have sacrificed their lives for His sake and declared fearlessly their word for the right so as to extend justice and honesty on this earth and contribute towards achieving the purpose for which He has created this Creation.

May Allah’s peace and all blessings be upon Muhammad and his infallible Household who suffered troubles and encountered horrible adversities. They did so for the sake of taking the humankind towards eternal pleasure and service to Almighty Allah in the best possible way.

In the history of humankind, one can find names of many people whose principles encouraged them to declare the word of right and justice openly in the faces of the wrongdoers and the unjust. This book deals with one such lady who entered the field of strife against the wrong with remarkable strength and said what was right and just in the faces of the wrongdoers and oppressors.

This lady’s words still echo and disturb every tyrant. They still remind the history of her ordeals, which together with her brother’s revolution gave new birth to Islam after it had been deformed and vanquished at the hands of the illegitimate rulers who took over the leadership of the Islamic nation after the Prophet’s demise. This Lady was Zaynab - daughter of Imam Ali (a).

We must also yield to the fact that Imam al-Husayn (a) was accompanied by his sister, Lady Zaynab on his journey to Karbala only after he had found her to be the one who was most fit to take his giant revolution to completion. And, she completed the revolution so perfectly after his martyrdom.

Lady Zaynab was an individual who had attained perfection. She understood the part she would be playing in the revolution led by her brother even though the Islamic Shariah1 has ordered women to remain in their houses and it is not obligatory upon them to participate in jihad2. Notwithstanding this, Lady Zaynab, who was the daughter of the pure household of Prophet (S) where Islamic Shariah had been revealed, understood more than anyone else that the two missions that meant to be undertaken by her were advocacy for the rights of Ahlulbayt (a) and strengthening the foundations of religion. Hence, she carried out her religious duty with as much perfection as possible. She served as a precious jewel stone set in a ring in the series of gems that belonged to Islam.

From this we come to understand that the revolution of Lady Zaynab, the granddaughter of the Prophet of Islam and the daughter of its protector Imam Ali (a), was due to a divine directive. It is known to all that Islam could see light only by virtue of the wealth of Khadijah (Prophet Muhammad’s first wife) and the sword of Ali ibn Abu Talib (a). In the same way, Islam has subsisted after the Prophet (S) only by virtue of martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the revolution led by Lady Zaynab. It was only through the revolutionary speeches of Lady Zaynab, that the public came to recognize the falsehood of Muawiyah and Yazid and their enmity towards Islam.

The tragedy of Lady Zaynab forms the second half of the revolution of Imam al-Husayn (a). She stood steadfast against those unbearable misfortunes. She held full custody of the captives, orphans, and the ailing Imam Ali ibn Husayn (a). She disputed with the wrongdoers through her speeches and condemned the horrendous oppression and violation of human rights and dignity. She then rallied the public against the oppressive gang of the Umayyad rulers and their followers until they chose to return her to Medina so as to save their state. Nevertheless, the foundation of their state was completely smashed as a result of Lady Zaynab’s efforts.

The material of this book has been compiled using the most reliable reference books of history and biography. However, the books titled ‘Al-Sayidah Zaynab’ authored by Sheikh Jafar al-Naqdi and ‘Al-Sayyidah Zaynab’ authored by Sheikh Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi have been most relied upon in preparing the material of this book.

The Ansariyan Publications is thus pleased to introduce this work, which focuses light, in a brief yet documented way, on the life account, personality, and struggle of Lady Zaynab, to the gentle readers hoping they will benefit from knowing the unparalleled life circumstances of this great lady and derive benefit leading them to human perfection.

Finally, we pray to Almighty Allah to make the path of success paved for us and make our intentions purely proposed to Him. He is most certainly the source of success and good fortune.

Ansariyan Publications, 2002

  • 1. Shariah is the Islamic code of religious law, based on the teachings of the Quran and the traditional sayings of Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 2. Jihad is religious warfare or a war for the propagation or defense of Islam.

The Ahl ul-Bayt in The Quran And Sunnah

An Introduction to Ahl ul-Bayt

His Eminence Shaykh Musa Muhammad Ali states in his al-Sayyidah Zaynab1:

All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad, the most honorable of the prophets and the chief of the Messengers of Allah, and upon his household, companions and progeny.

Almighty Allah says:

رَحْمَتُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ ۚ إِنَّهُ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ.

The mercy of Allah and His blessings are on you, O people of the house, surely He is Praised, Glorious. (11:73)

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا 

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House and to purify you with a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ ۗ 

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. (42:23)

In his book titled al-Sahih, Muslim records the following:

Zayd ibn Arqam narrated: In a place between Mecca and Medina called ‘Khumm’, the Messenger of Allah (S) once delivered a speech to us. After statements of praising and thanking Almighty Allah, as well as statements to preach and remind about Him, the Prophet (S) said:

أَلاَ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَنِي رَسُولُ رَبِّي فَأُجِيبُ، وَأَنَا تَارِكٌ فِيكُم ثَقَلَيْنِ: أَوَّلُهُمَا كِتَابُ اللهِ فِيهِ الهُدىٰ وَالنُّورُ؛ فَخُذُوا بِكِتابِ اللهِ وَاسْتَمْسِكوا بِهِ... وَأَهْلُ بَيْتِي؛ أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي.

“O people, I am no more than an ordinary person, and the messenger of my Lord (i.e. angel of death) will shortly come to me and then I will respond. Among you, I have left two weighty things: first is the Book of Allah that includes right guidance and illumination. Persevere with the Book of Allah and hold fast on to it. Second is my household; remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household.”

The first thing one can learn from this directive of the immaculate Prophet (S) is that one who loves something must prefer it over himself, otherwise such a love will be false and untrue. To attain something after a serious effort is more pleasing and delightful than to get it without sweat.

The true love for the Messenger of Allah (S) can be shown by following his words and deeds, complying with his instructions, avoiding things that he deemed as forbidden, practicing his ethics, and following him in his love for his household (the Ahl al-Bayt), by showing love for them.

The Prophet’s household is of the real pure ones. It is they to whom Almighty Allah has given His love, bestowed them with a variety of miracles, purified them from the nature of soul, and saved them from following their own desires. As a result, all their thoughts have become completely connected to Almighty Allah.

Thus, love for the Prophet’s household has become the origin and the first step in the way towards Allah. All manners and ranks are only levels of love.

Out of His honoring them, Almighty Allah educated the ignorant through the Prophet’s family, guided the lost ones, and strengthened the weak. Therefore, to behave modestly before this pure household is a duty, to seek justice for their wronged ones is obligatory, and to serve them as much as possible is regarded as a way of seeking nearness to them.

It is Almighty Allah, the Creator, Who favored, awarded, purified, chastened, and honored the Prophet’s household. This is clear in His saying:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا.  

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you with a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

Therefore, everyone must bear in his or her heart that such a divine favor is a response to the Creator’s instruction and to carry out the Prophet’s call.

Love for the Prophet’s household can only be achieved by respecting them in their presence or absence; they hence should not be slandered or disrespected. Finally, it is forbidden to backbite, especially about the Prophet’s household and the sincere saints of Allah. So, Muslims should be wary of such a vicious trait. However, no one who indulges in such a thing will ever attain success, because the regard for the saints is as same as for the prophets, and to make distinction between them is to deprive them of their blessing and ingratitude for their grace.2

Regrettably, the inattentive and the deceived look at the people having honesty and loyalty, with despise. They issue misjudgments about them, charge them with deviation, and regard them as ignorant.

The clear-sighted ones, on the other hand, are persistently calm; they can see the unseen with eyes of discernment from beyond soft screens. Accordingly, misfortunes cannot defeat them and attacks of time cannot provoke them. In an instant, the flag of ease shall gleam for them, the clouds of obscurity will clear away and Almighty Allah will eradicate the interests of the conspirators.

On that account, men of perception, sagacity, decency, and observation hold faithful devotion, perfect constancy, sincere honesty and abundant esteem for the Prophet’s household out of their compliance to the Creator’s instruction, their honoring of the Prophet and their acceding to his commandment in the following Hadith:

Al-Tabarani, in his al-Mujam al-Kabir, Abu al-Shaykh, Ibn Habban, in his al-Sahih, and al-Bayhaqi; all recorded the Prophet’s following saying:

لاَ يُؤْمِنُ عَبْدٌ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ نَفْسِهِ، وَتَكُونَ عِتْرَتِي أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ عِتْرَتِهِ، وَأَهْلِي أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ، وَذَاتِي أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ ذَاتِهِ.

“A servant of Allah shall not be faithful believer unless he loves me more than he loves himself, loves my household more than he loves his household, loves my family more than he loves his family, and loves my soul more than he loves his soul.”3

Al-Bayhaqi, Abu al-Shaykh, and Ibn Habban, in his al-Sahih, all recorded the following hadith on the authority of Imam Ali (a):

The Messenger of Allah (S) was furious when he came out, sat on the minbar, thanked and praised Allah, and then said:

مَا بَالُ رِجَالٍ يُؤْذُونَنِي فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي؟ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لاَ يُؤْمِنُ عَبْدٌ حَتَّى يُحِبَّنِي، وَلاَ يُحِبَّنِي حَتَّى يُحِبَّ ذُرِّيَّتِي.

“What is the matter with those who hurt me concerning my household? I swear by Him Who grasps my soul in His hand that a servant (of Allah) shall not be faithful believer unless he loves me, and he shall not love me truly unless he loves my progeny.”

For this reason, Abu Bakr said:

“I love to respect the Prophet’s kinship more than I respect mine.”

Out of his honesty and wisdom, the Master of the Creation, Prophet Muhammad (S), who says nothing but truth, has said as reported by al-Tirmidhi, in his al-Sunan, and al-Hakim, in al-Mustadrak, on the authority of (Abdullah) Ibn Abbas:

أَحِبُّوا اللهَ لِمَا يَغْذُوكُمْ بِهِ مِنْ نِعَمِهِ، وَأَحِبُّونِي لِحُبِّ اللهِ، وَأَحِبُّوا أَهْلَ بَيْتِي لِحُبِّي.

“You should love Allah on account of the graces that He bestows upon you ceaselessly, and you should love me on account of your love for Allah, and you should love my household on account of your love for me.”4

As a commentary of the Prophet’s saying, “You should love Allah on account of the graces that He bestows upon you ceaselessly,” the author of Fayd al-Qadir says:

“This means that you should love Allah for the various material and tangible graces that He confers upon you, such as the facilitation of food and drink – as an example of the material grace, and the leading to success and right guidance, nomination of figures of knowledge, creation of senses, and dispense of the illuminations of conviction upon hearts are in addition to other tangible graces.”

Ibn Atta-Allah al-Iskandari says:

“In every moment, Almighty Allah confers upon you with graces for which you should love Him and must thank Him at all times.”

Accordingly, it is impossible to settle the thanking when its time slips away, since thanking must be renewed in every split second. In the same way, seeking forgiveness and evasion of sins must be renewed in every moment.

Almighty Allah says:

وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ 

“And if you would count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (16:18)

Hence, the Prophet (S) intended to say that one must love Almighty Allah because He is conferring upon us with His endless graces.

Al-Zamakhshari says in this regard:

“Grace denotes every advantage intended for charity. On this account, Allah the Exalted has created the whole world as grace. The world is in fact either animate or inanimate. The inanimate is grace for the animate, and the animate is a grace for liveliness, which in turn is a grace for the spirited, because without liveliness, the spirited would lose the ability to benefit by other graces. Thus, anything that can benefit is grace.”

As a commentary on the previous notion, al-Fakhr al-Razi says:

“The graces of Allah the Exalted are countless, because everything that He has given to us, such as advantages, pleasures, limbs and organs that we use for getting benefits and evading harms, things that He has created in this universe to reason out the existence of Him as the one and only Maker, and things that He has brought about so as to restrain from acts of disobedience; all these are graces. Furthermore, everything that brings pleasure is grace, and everything that does not bring pleasure but is used for evading harms is also grace, and everything that does not bring pleasure and is not used for evading harms is also grace since it can be used as evidence on the existence of the Maker and thus, a means to the recognition of and the obedience to Him. As a result, all creatures are His grace.”

It is now clear that a while a servant’s love for Allah does not need interpretation, Allah’s love for a servant needs interpretation.

In this regard, Imam al-Ghazzali says:

“Love for Allah is factual, not figurative. It is so because love, as linguists cite, denotes the soul’s tendency to something expedient and agreeable, while the excessive tendency is the ardent love. Since Allah the Exalted is All benevolent and pleasing, and tendency to benevolence and pleasantness is naturally satisfying, love for Him has become real. On the other side, Allah’s love for a servant is a figurative matter that stems from the Lord’s unveiling the divine screen between a servant and Him in order that the servant will see the Lord with his heart. It also stems from the Lord’s enabling the servant to be close to Him.”

The following is excerpted from Sharh al-Mawaqif:5

“Our love for Allah is a spiritual matter that depends on the conception of His continual, limitless perfection, and it necessitates perfect attention to His Sacred Presence without languor or whereabouts. While our love for things other than Him is a manner that depends on the imagination of perfection of pleasant, humane, or comparable things, such as the love for one’s beloved or the father’s love for his son. Moreover, love is satisfaction, an expression of will, and avoidance of protest.

In abstract context, Allah’s love for others is not real, because the reality of love denotes will, and will is associated with limited things only, and Almighty Allah has no limits. In other words, a will to do something denotes that this thing has not been done yet, and the will to avoid something denotes that it can be avoided. On that account, Almighty Allah is too exalted to will to do or avoid something, because He is the Everlasting, the eternally sought by all.”

The Prophet’s saying, “you should love me on account of your love for Allah,” means that because Allah the Exalted loves me, He specifies your love for me as an instruction that you must carry out. This meaning is stated in the following report narrated from authentic sources:

“When Allah loves a servant, Archangel Gabriel declares: Allah has loved so-and-so, you therefore must love him.”

The Prophet’s saying, “You should love my household on account of your love for me,” means that because I love my household for the sake of Allah’s love for them, you should also then love them.

The Prophet’s saying may also denote an instruction, which must be carried out, because love for the Prophet’s household is obligatory because of a person’s love for the Prophet (S). Almighty Allah says:

قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ ۗ وَمَنْ يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْنًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives.” (42:23)

Al-Fakhr al-Razi records that the Prophet (S) and his household are equal in five things:

During the Tashahhud6 of the prayers, blessings should be said to the Prophet and his household.

During the Taslim7 of the prayers, blessings should be said to the Prophet and his household. In the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah says:

سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ إِلْ يَاسِينَ .

Peace be on the family of Yasin. (37:130)

In context of purity; Almighty Allah addresses to Prophet Muhammad (S) by saying, “طه”, which means ‘pure.’

Almighty Allah says:

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّه

Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you. (3:31)

Almighty Allah says:

الْقُرْبَىٰ فِي الْمَوَدَّةَ إِلَّاأَجْرًا عَلَيْهِ أَسْأَلُكُمْ لَا قُلْ 

 

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. (42:23)

The Holy Quran, authentic hadiths, and consensus of Muslim scholars from different generations - all refer to the divine obligation of loving, adoring, esteeming, respecting, and honoring the household of Allah’s Messenger (S). Besides this, the reason also points towards this fact on the basis of previous proofs about this obligation, which is due because we owe gratitude for all the graces received from the All-benefactor Lord. Our Prophet (S), being the prophet of mercy, the guide of the ummah, and the savior of humankind, must be thanked, appreciated, respected and honored. To honor and love the Prophet’s household is a part of honoring and loving him.

On this basis, the four major guidelines of the Islamic Shariah, namely the Holy Quran, the holy Sunnah, consensus of the different generations of the Muslim scholars, and analogy, make it incumbent upon Muslims to love the Prophet’s household. It is impossible to refer to all these evidences within this brief essay, because it requires compilation of a large volume of text. However, the submission to this fact is an indisputable matter for both ordinary people and scholars. So, we have referred only to some points of this topic in order to enlighten those who love the Prophet’s household, for Almighty Allah says:

. إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ 

Surely, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the descendants of Abraham and the descendants of Imran above the nations. (3:33)

Undoubtedly, Prophet Muhammad (S) belongs to the descendants of Abraham and as a consequence, his household belongs to the descendants of Abraham. To conclude then, the Prophet’s household has been chosen by Allah.

Regarding Almighty Allah’s saying:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا. 

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you with a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

This is most surely clear-cut evidence on the special rank of the Prophet’s household. There are numerous further verses from the Holy Quran and hadith, which support each other in this regard. The best example is Allah’s saying:

قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ ۗ 

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. (42:23)

The authenticated frank hadiths regarding the Prophet’s household are innumerable. Let us refer to some of them:

Al-Tirmidhi, in his al-Sunan, and Abu Hatam reported the following hadith on the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam:

أَنَا حَرْبٌ لِمَنْ حَارَبَهُمْ وَسِلْمٌ لِمَنْ سَالَمَهُمْ.

I am at war with him whoever is in war with them (the Prophet’s household), and in peace with him whoever is in peace with them.

Al-Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmad recorded the following hadith:

مَنْ آذَىٰ قَرَابَتِي فَقَدْ آذَانِي، وَمَنْ آذَانِي فَقَدْ آذَىٰ اللهَ.

Anyone who hurts my relatives will be hurting me, and whoever hurts me is surely hurting Allah.

Imam al-Bukhari, in his al-Sahih, recorded the following on the authority of Abd-al-Rahman ibn Abu Layla:

Kaab ibn Ajarah met me and said, “May I present to you a gift that I have heard from the Messenger of Allah (S)?”

“Yes,” I answered, “give it to me.”

He spoke, “We asked the Prophet (S) how to send blessings on the Ahl al-Bayt, and he answered – “You should say:

قُولُوا: اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَىٰ إِبْراهِيمَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ إِبْراهِيمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ. اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَىٰ إِبْراهِيمَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ إِبْراهِيمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ.

Say: O Allah, have mercy upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad in the same way as you had mercy upon Abraham and the family of Abraham. You are surely the Praised ones and Glorious. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad in the same way as you blessed Abraham and the family of Abraham. You are surely Praised and Glorious.”

Commenting on this hadith, our master Jabir says:

“I do not believe in my prayers where I have not send blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad; I do not believe such prayers will be accepted.”

Al-Tirmidhi, in his al-Sunan, records the following on the authority of Umar ibn Abu Salamah, the Prophet’s stepson:

Regarding the following Verse:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا. 

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a with (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

When this verse was revealed, the Prophet (S) was in the house of Ummu-Salamah – the Prophet’s righteous wife. He summoned Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn and covered them with a cloak, which, covered his back too, and said:

اللَّهُمَّ هٰؤُلاَءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَطَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيراً.

“O Allah, these are my household; therefore, (I beseech You) to keep away the uncleanness from them and purify them with a thorough purifying.”

Seeing this, Ummu-Salamah asked, “Am I added to them, Allah’s Messenger?”

The Prophet (S) answered, “You are in your own position, and you are on the right.”8

These are the Ahl al-Bayt from whom Almighty Allah keeps away the uncleanness and whom He purified thoroughly. In the previous hadith, the Messenger of Allah (S) showed that this honor (of thorough purification) is dedicated to them individually and without the participation of anyone else.

According to the narration, this exclusive position verifies that Ummu-Salamah heard and saw the whole situation and asked the Prophet (S) to include her to them. As she tried to lift up that cloak and go under it, the Prophet (S) took the cloak’s edge from her hand and said, “You are in your own position, and you are on the right.”

Because this exclusive position is dedicated to the Ahl al-Bayt alone, nobody else should be added, not even Ummu-Salamah, the virtuous wife of the Prophet (S) and mother of the faithful believers (may Allah please all the mothers of the faithful believers) 9.

If it were permissible or acceptable for anyone else to have a share among this exclusive position of the Prophet’s household, it would be permissible for Ummu-Salamah to be under that cloak at least, in response to her desire, to sooth her, or to appreciate her faithfulness and loyalty. This is especially so because her wish was made to the one who “has a greater claim on the faithful –believers - than they have on themselves” and is “to the believers full of pity and merciful,”10 and he has been described as the kind, the sympathetic, the magnanimous, the generous, and the honest. Thus, it has become evident that this verse is dedicated only to those people who were within the cloak and not anyone else. This fact has also been proven by authentic narrations.

Thus, it has been proved that this verse is dedicated to the Prophet’s household who are distinguished by virtue of such honorable merits. In addition, the holy Sunnah is filled to the brim in the Islamic world with the narrations about virtues of the Prophet’s household:

In his (book entitled) al-Sahih, Muslim records the following on the authority of Yazid ibn Hayyan al-Taymi:

Husayn ibn Sabarah, Muslim ibn Zayd, and I went to Zayd ibn Arqam. After we had sat before him, Husayn asked, “Zayd, you have really attained great benefaction because you saw the Prophet (S), listened to his words, participated in his campaigns, and followed him in prayers. Now, Zayd, please narrate to us what you have heard from the Messenger of Allah (S).”

Zayd spoke: “O son of my brother, (I swear) by Allah I have become old in age, my days have become old, and I have forgotten some of these narrations that I used to memorize directly from the Messenger of Allah (S). You therefore should accept what I will tell you and should not ask me anything over and above my ability.”

He then added, “One day, in a place between Mecca and Medina called ‘Khumm’, the Messenger of Allah (S) delivered a speech to us.

After statements of praising and thanking Almighty Allah, as well as statements of preach and reminding of Him, the Prophet (S) said:

أَلاَ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَنِي رَسُولُ رَبِّي فَأُجِيبُ، وَأَنَا تَارِكٌ فِيكُم ثَقَلَيْنِ: أَوَّلُهُمَا كِتَابُ اللهِ فِيهِ الهُدىٰ وَالنُّورُ؛ فَخُذُوا بِكِتابِ اللهِ وَاسْتَمْسِكوا بِهِ... وَأَهْلُ بَيْتِي؛ أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي.

O people, I am no more than an ordinary person and the messenger of my Lord - the Angel of Death will shortly come to me and then I will respond. Among you, I have left two weighty things: first, the Book of Allah that includes right guidance and illumination. Persevere with the Book of Allah and hold fast on it. Second, my household; remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household.”

Husayn asked again, “Zayd, who are the Prophet’s household? Are his wives included within his household?”

He – Zayd - answered: “His wives are included within his household, but his Household are those who are forbidden to receive alms after him.”

Husayn asked, “Who are they, then?”

Zayd answered, “They are the family of Ali, the family of Aqil, the family of Jafar, and the family of Abbas.”

(Abdullah) ibn Abbas has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) had said:

يَا بَنِي عَبْدِ ٱلمُطَّلِبِ؛ إِنِّي قَدْ سَأَلْتُ اللهَ أَنْ يُثَبِّتَ قَائِمَكُمْ وَأَنْ يَهْدِيَ ضَالَّكُمْ وَأَنْ يُعَلِّمَ جَاهِلَكُمْ وَأَنْ يَجْعَلَكُمْ جُوَدَاءَ نُجَدَاءَ رُحَمَاءَ. فَلَوْ أَنَّ رَجُلاً صَفَنَ بَيْنَ ٱلرُّكْنِ وَالمَقَامِ فَصَلَّىٰ وَصَامَ، ثُمَّ لَقِيَ اللهَ مُبْغِضاً لأَهْلِ بَيْتِ مُحَمَّدٍ دَخَلَ النَّارَ.

O sons of Abd-al-Muttalib, I have beseeched Allah to make the chief among you stable (on the right course), guide the ones who are straying among you, teach the ignorant ones among you, and make you generous, noble and merciful. A man who lines up to stand between the Rukn and Maqam11 for praying (there) and observes fasting (there) shall most surely be entered into the fire of Hell if he meets Allah (on the Day of Resurrection) if he bears malice against the household of Muhammad.”

This hadith is recorded by al-Hakim (in his book titled al-Mustadrak) using the criterion of Muslim12.

The Prophet’s household is the most worthy of the Divine Care and love for the Messenger of Allah (S), because they are regarded as security for people on this earth.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, in his al-Musnad, and Abu Amr al-Ghifari have reported on the authority of Ali that the Messenger of Allah (S) had said:

النُّجُومُ أَمَانٌ لأَهْلِ السَّمَاءِ، فَإِذَا ذَهَبَتِ النُّجُومُ ذَهَبَ أَهْلُ السَّمَاءِ. وَأَهْلُ بَيْتِي أَمَانٌ لأَهْلِ الأَرْضِ، فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي ذَهَبَ أَمَانُ أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ.

Stars act as a security for the inhabitants of the heavens. If stars vanish, the inhabitants of the heavens will vanish, too. Likewise, my Household is acting as a security for the inhabitants of the earth. If they disappear, the inhabitants of the earth will disappear, too.

Nasr ibn Ali al-Jahdumi relates the following narration to Ali ibn Abu Talib:

The Prophet (S) took al-Hasan and al-Husayn from the hands and declared:

مَنْ أَحَبَّنِي وَأَحَبَّ هٰذَيْنِ وَأَبَاهُمَا وَأُمَّهُمَا كَانَ مَعِي فِي دَرَجَتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

Anyone who loves these two, their father, their mother, shall certainly be with me in the same position on the Day of Resurrection.

Sufyan ibn Waki and Abd ibn Hamid reported that Khalid ibn Mukhallad narrated the following to them on the authority of Usamah ibn Zayd:

One night, I visited the Prophet (S) who went out embracing two things that I could not see under a cloak. After I had asked him about the matter for which I visited him, I asked about the things that he was embracing. He (S) uncovered the cloak and they were al-Hasan and al-Husayn on his hips. He then said:

هٰذَانِ ابْنَايَ وَابْنَا ابْنَتِي. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُحِبُّهُمَا فَأَحِبَّهُمَا وَأَحِبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّهُمَا.

These two are my sons and my daughter’s. O Allah, I do love them and I beseech to You to love them and to love those who love them.

Al-Husayn ibn Hurayth has related that Abu Buraydah said:

Whilst the Prophet (S) was on the minbar delivering a speech to us, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, who were dressing red shirts, came towards him in stumbling steps. Immediately, the Messenger of Allah (S) descended from the minbar, carried them both, and put them before him. He then commented:

صَدَقَ اللهُ: "انَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلاَدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ" نَظَرْتُ إِلَىٰ هٰذَيْنِ الصَّبِيَّيْنِ يَمْشِيَانِ وَيَعْثُرَانِ فَلَمْ أَصْبِرْ حَتَّىٰ قَطَعْتُ حَدِيثِي وَرَفَعْتُهُمَا.

Truthful are the words of Allah (Who says):

“Your possessions and your children are only a trial.” (64:15)

As I saw these two boys walk stumblingly, I could not avoid interrupting my speech so as to lift them up from the ground.

Almighty Allah too has urged to respect the Prophet’s Household. In this regard, al-Bukhari, in his al-Sahih, records that Abu Bakr narrated the following saying of the Prophet (S):

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، أُرْقُبُوا مُحَمَّداً فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ.

O people, regard Muhammad through honoring his household.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, in his al-Sahih - records on the authority of Ali that the Prophet (S) said to Fatimah:

إِنِّي وَإِيَّاكِ وَهٰذَيْنِ (يعني حسناً وحسيناً) وَهٰذَا الرَّاقِدَ (يعني علياً) فِي مَكَانٍ وَاحِدٍ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ.

You, these two (i.e. al-Hasan and al-Husayn), this sleeping one (i.e. Ali), and I shall certainly be in the same position on the Day of Resurrection.

Al-Tabarani records on the authority of Ali that the Messenger of Allah (S) said:

أَوَّلُ مَنْ يَرِدُ عَلَيَّ الحَوْضِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي وَمَنْ أَحَبَّنِي مِنْ أُمَّتِي.

My household and those who love me among the individuals of my ummah shall be the first to join me on the Divine Pool.

Al- Tabarani, in his al-Mujam al-Saghir, records on the authority of Abdullah ibn Jafar that the Messenger of Allah (S) said:

يَا بَنِي هَاشِمَ، إِنِّي قَدْ سَأَلْتُ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَنْ يَجْعَلَكُمْ جُوَدَاءَ نُجَدَاءَ رُحَمَاءَ. وَسَأَلْتُهُ أَنْ يَهْدِيَ ضَالَّكُمْ وَيُؤْمِنَ خَائِفَكُمْ وَيُشْبِعَ جَائِعَكُمْ.

O sons of Hashim, I have implored to Allah the Exalted to make you generous, noble, and merciful. I have also asked Him to guide the straying ones among you, secure the fearful ones among you, and to supply the hungry ones among you.

In his al-Mustadrak, al-Hakim records the following Hadith on the authority of Anas ibn Malik and decides it as authentically reported:

The Messenger of Allah (S) said:

رشدني ربي في أهل بيتي من أقر منهم بالتوحيد ولي بالبلاغ ألا يعذبهم.

Concerning my household, my Lord has promised me that He shall not punish anyone of them who believes in Allah’s oneness and my (divine) message.

Al-Tabarani, in his al-Mujam al-Kabir, records on the authority of (Abdullah) Ibn Abbas the following hadith whose reporters are decided as trustworthy:
The Messenger of Allah (S) said to Fatimah:

إِنَّ اللهَ غَيْرُ مُعَذِّبِكِ وَلاَ وُلْدِكِ.

Most surely, Allah shall not punish your sons and you.

Ahmad, al-Hakim, and al-Bayhaqi record on the authority of Abu Said (al-Khidri) that the Messenger of Allah (S) said while he was on the minbar:

مَا بَالُ رِجَالٍ يَقُولُونَ أَنَّ رَحِمَ رَسُولِ اللهِ لاَ تَنْفَعُ قَوْمَهُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ؟ بَلَىٰ وَاللهِ، إِنَّ رَحِمِي مُوصِلَةٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ، وَإِنِّي، أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، فَرْطٌ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ الحَوْضِ.

What is the wrong with some individuals who claim that the kinship of Allah’s Messenger (S) shall not be helpful on the Day of Resurrection? This is definitely not correct. By Allah, I swear that my kinship is helpful in this world as well as the world to come. O people, I will precede you to the Divine Pool.

Al-Bukhari, in his al-Sahih, records the following on the authority of Abu Bakr:

While the Prophet (S) was delivering a sermon, al-Hasan came; therefore, the Prophet (S) said:

إِبْنِي هٰذَا سَيِّدٌ، وَلَعَلَّ اللهَ يُصْلِحُ بِهِ فِئَتَيْنِ مِنَ المُسْلِمِينَ.

This is my son. He is a chief. Perhaps, Allah will reconcile two Muslim parties through him.

Ibn Hajar, in Fath al-Bari (Commentary and explanations of al-Bukhari’s al-Sahih), records the following saying of al-Muhallab:

In the previous hadith, the Prophet (S) relates leadership to conciliation; therefore, this indicates that none deserve leadership except those through who people benefit.

Imam Ahmad and al-Tabarani, in his al-Mujam al-Kabir, records that Ali (a) has reported:

As the Messenger of Allah (S) assigned me as the judge of the Yemen, I said: “Messenger of Allah (S), you have chosen me while I am still young and many elderly men are there. Besides, I do not have full acquaintance with judiciary.”

The Prophet (S) answered:

إِنْطَلِقْ فَإِنَّ اللهَ سَيَهْدِي قَلْبَكَ وَيُثَبِّتُ لِسَانَكَ.

Go ahead, for it is Allah Who shall guide your heart and strengthen your tongue.

Ali then said: “After this statement, I have never failed.”

In fact, the authentic hadiths in this regard are innumerable, for the six most reliable reference books of hadith, as well as many others, are filled up with such narrations about honoring and esteeming the Prophet’s household’s exalted rank and unanimous elevated standing. Besides, this fact is known for everybody, and it is impossible to find a single faithful believer ignoring the esteem of the family of Allah’s Messenger (S).

Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, the grand scholar, says:

“All these reports appertained to the virtues of the Prophet’s household are mentioned in the famous books of hadith in authenticated series of narration. Refer to these books for the intended topic.”

The Prophet’s household is Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, and their descendants and offspring are attached to them. The hadith of Mubahalah – invocation of Allah’s curse - is the evidence on the fact that only the aforementioned five individuals enjoy the special rank given to the Prophet’s household.

Exegetes of the Holy Quran have confirmed the following incident:

Regarding Almighty Allah’s saying:

فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ

نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَلْ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِين. ثُمَّ

If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: “Come! Let us gather together, - our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie! (3:61)

When this Verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (S) embraced al-Hasan and al-Husayn, Fatimah walked after them, and Ali walked after them. He then asked them to say ‘Amen’ when he would invoke Allah… etc.13

On this incident, Jarallah comments:

“This verse is the strongest evidence on the virtue of the ‘Ashab al-Kisa’ (companions in the Cloak - the Prophet’s household)14.

The following Quranic Verse proves that their descendants follow them in virtue:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَاتَّبَعَتْهُمْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُمْ بِإِيمَانٍ أَلْحَقْنَا بِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ.

And (as for) those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring (52:21)

Scholars have confirmed that ‘offspring’ includes the descendants of the original Household up to the Day of Resurrection. On that account, the Prophet’s household includes his offspring and descendants up to the Day of Resurrection. From this point, scholars of Islamic laws have decided many verdicts, especially in questions of waqfs15 and the like. In this respect too, the question of the belonging to the Prophet’s daughter’s descendants and therefore to his lineage is very famous, and our great Imam Abu Hanifah al-Numan ibn Thabit has his clear opinion in this question.

Commenting on the previous Quranic Verse, the author of Mahasin al-Tawil says:

“The verse refers to those who imitate their ascendants in relation to faith and righteous deeds. The verse also shows that those descendants will be joined to their ascendants in Paradise and (eternal) bliss. Because the addressees in the verse are the Prophet’s companions who are sure of Allah’s promise, they receive the good tidings that their descendants who imitate them righteously will be added to them.”

The other Hashemites who are forbidden to receive anything from the alms enjoy a rank of honor higher than that of others, but they cannot attain the characteristics of the ‘Ashab al-Kisa’ and the Prophet’s progeny with regards to the obligation of loving, respecting, reverencing, and honoring them.

Scholars have had different opinions regarding Almighty Allah’s saying:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا. 

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you with a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

Some scholars have decided that this verse is dedicated only to the descendants of Ali and Fatimah, while others have included the families of al-Abbas, Jafar, and Aqil with them.

In his al-Risalah al-Zaynabiyyah, Jalaluddin al-Suyuti has recorded precious words concerning the identification of the Sharifs. He says:

“In the first age of Islam, the epithet of ‘Sharif’ was said to anyone who belonged to the Prophet’s household, whether through al-Hasan or al-Husayn, belonged to Ali whether through Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah or any other son, or belonged to Jafar, Aqil or al-Abbas.”

Thus, in the biographies mentioned in al-Dhahabi’s book of history, you can find many names such as, ‘Sharif of al-Abbas’, ‘Sharif of Aqil,’ Sharif of Jafar,’ or ‘Sharif of Zaynab.’

But, when the Fatimid dynasty ruled Egypt, they dedicated the epithet to the descendants of our masters al-Hasan and al-usayn. This matter has been followed in Egypt up to now.

Lady Zaynab married my master Abdullah ibn Jafar, her cousin. The first of her excellent, pure descendants were Sayyid Ali - the namesake of his grandfather, Sayyid Awn al-Akbar, Sayyid Abbas, Sayyid Muhammad, and Lady Ummu-Kulthum respectively. Lady Zaynab’s descendants are now numerous. They are, according to al-Sabban - the scholar, added to the Prophet’s family and household.

This fact is unanimously decided upon because the Prophet’s family is the faithful believers from the Hashemites, son of Abd-al-Muttalib, his progeny, and his descendants. Sons (and descendants) of one’s daughter are regarded as his progeny and descendants, and when such a man records something in his will for his descendants, the descendants of his daughter must have a share in it. This meaning however is more specific than the previous. As it is unanimously agreed then, it is forbidden for the descendants of Jafar to have from the alms, because they belong to the Prophet’s household.

Even though it is now dedicated to the descendants of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the epithet of ‘Sharif’ must be said to all the individuals who belong to the Prophet’s household, according to the old concept of this epithet.

The author of al-Mawahib says that the Messenger of Allah (S) had no descendants except those who came through his daughter Lady Fatimah al-Zahra. Hence, the Prophet’s noble progeny came through the two grandsons, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn. Those who belong to the descendants of the two Imams are called ‘Hasani’ and ‘Husayni.’ Besides, the name ‘Ishaqi’ is added to those who belong to Ishaq son of Jafar al-Sadiq son of Muhammad al-Baqir son of Imam Zayn al-Abidin son of Imam al-Husayn. He – Ishaq- was the husband of Lady Nafisah daughter of al-Hasan ibn Zayd ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn Ali.

Al-Sabban says that ‘sharifship’ is of various classes; a general one includes all the Prophet’s household, a special one is dedicated to the Prophet’s progeny and, hence, includes the descendants of Lady Zaynab and all of the Prophet’s daughter’s descendants, and a third class is restricted to al-Hasan and al-Husayn and called ‘sharifship of kinship.’

The evidence for those who claim that the name of Ahl al-Bayt is restricted to definite individuals is the following hadith, which is related from many authenticated ways of narration:

The Prophet (S), accompanied by Ali and Fatimah, holding the hands of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, entered. He asked Ali and Fatimah to come close and sit before him. He seated al-Hasan and al-Husayn on his thighs, covered them with a cloak, and recited (Allah’s saying):

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا. 

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)

According to another narration, the Prophet (S) then said:

اللَّهُمَّ هٰؤُلاءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَطَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيراً.

“O Allah, these are my household; (So, I beseech to You) Keep away the uncleanness from them, and purify them a with a thorough purifying.”

According to a third narration, the Prophet (S) then said:

اللَّهُمَّ هٰؤُلاءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَطَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيراً.

“O Allah, these are the family of Muhammad; (So, I beseech to You) make Your mercy and blessings on the family of Muhammad in the same way as You have made it on Abraham. You are certainly Praised, Glorious.”

Supporting those who claim generality of the expression of Ahl al-Bayt, al-Baydawi states that particularizing the expression to the five individuals only does not suit the verses that precede and antecede the intended verse (i.e. Verse of Purification). In addition, the hadith has mentioned those individuals particularly so as to refer to the Prophet’s household, not anyone else.

On the other hand, the particularization is mentioned for adding the particular progeny to them, for their special rank. As a result, this does not oppose the generality of the expression.

It is also credible that the particularization of these four individuals is intended for a divine commandment. This fact is proven by the hadith narrated by Ummu-Salamah:

Seeing the situation, Ummu-Salamah lifted an edge of the cloak and tried to be with them under it. But the Prophet (S) took the cloak’s edge from her hand. She then asked, “Am I one of them, O Allah’s Messenger?”

The Prophet (S) answered, “You are in your own position, and you are on the right.”

In al-Musnad, Ahmad (ibn Hanbal) and al-Tabarani narrate the following hadith on the authority of Abu Said al-Khidrii:

The Messenger of Allah (S) said:

نَزَلَتْ هٰذِهِ الآيَةُ في خَمْسَةٍ: فِيَّ، وَفِي عَلِيٍّ، وَحَسَنٍ، وَحُسَيْنٍ، وَفَاطِمَةَ.

This Verse (of Purification) has been intended for five individuals; they are Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Fatimah, and I.”

Ibn Abu Shaybah, Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, al-Tabarani, and al-Hakim (who decided the Hadith as authentic) all narrate the following on the authority of Anas:

Whenever he went out for the Fajr – dawn prayer (in the Masjid), the Prophet (S) used to pass by the house of Fatimah and declare:

الصَّلاَةَ أَهْلَ البَيْتِ. إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

Hurry for the prayer, O people of the House (i.e. the Ahl al-Bayt.)

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House, and to purify you a thorough purifying.(33:33)

At any rate, some narrations assert the generality of the expression. Muslim and al-Nassai narrate the following on the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam:

The Messenger of Allah (S) delivered a speech to us in which he said:

أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي.

Remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household, remember Allah concerning my household.”

He then was asked, “Who are the Prophet’s household?

Zayd answered, “His household are those who are forbidden to receive alms after him.”

He was asked, “Who are they, then?”

Zayd answered, “They are the family of Ali, the family of Aqil, the family of Jafar, and the family of Abbas.”

To sum it up, the individuals of the Prophet’s pure progeny have been granted a high level of honor exclusively because of the great virtue received through Lady Fatimah. They are dressed with the garb of honor and tribute, and are granted more respect and reverence.

  • 1. This introduction has been chosen here in order to prove that the love for the Ahl al-Bayt is not a claim or myth of the Shia. The author of this introduction belongs to the Hanafite Islamic School of Jurisprudence.
  • 2. This is an indication to Almighty Allah’s saying:

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ.

    O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of your duty to Allah; surely, Allah is oft-returning to mercy, Merciful. (49:12)

  • 3. Al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi decided this Hadith as authentic.
  • 4. Al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi decided this Hadith as authentic.
  • 5. Sharh al-Mawaqif has been authored by al-Sharif al-Jurjani.
  • 6. Tashahhud is the last obligatory part of the prayer, in which performers (of prayer) send blessings to Prophet Muhammad and his household, by saying:

    اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ.

  • 7. Taslim is the last obligatory pillar of a prayer referring to salutation.
  • 8. After recording this hadith, al-Bayhaqi commented: According to Abu-Abdullah al-Tirmidhi, this hadith is authentic and its narrators are trustworthy.
  • 9. In the Holy Quran (33:6), Almighty Allah says:

    النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ

    “The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves, and his wives are as their mothers.”

    Accordingly, the Prophet’s wives were called ‘mothers of the believers.’

  • 10. This is an indication to Almighty Allah’s saying in the Holy Quran (9:128)

     لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَحِيم.

    Certainly an Apostle has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) full of pity and merciful.

  • 11. The Rukn is the corner of the Holy Kaabah, and Maqam is the standing-place of Prophet Abraham near the Holy Kaabah.
  • 12. The most reliable reference books of hadith for our Sunni brethren are six each having independent criterion to decide a hadith’s degree of authenticity. Muslim is the compiler of one of these books and hence, he has his own criterion of a hadith’s degree of authenticity.
  • 13. The incident of Mubahalah – invocation of Allah’s curse - is very well known, for it is mentioned in almost all the books dealing with the Islamic history.
  • 14. The ‘Ashab al-Kisa’ (owners of the Cloak) is a name called on the Prophet (S), Imam Ali (a), Fatimah al-Zahra (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), and Imam al-Husayn (a), because the Prophet (S) covered these four individuals under a cloak and supplicated to Almighty Allah to remove uncleanness from them and purify them thoroughly. In this incident, the Prophet (S) named them as ‘my household’ (i.e. the Ahl ul-Bayt).
  • 15. Waqf is the endowment or settlement of property under which the proceeds are to be devoted to a religious or charitable purpose.

Introduction

Lady Zaynab, daughter of Imam Ali (a) and granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (S), was the first lady in the world of Islam to create a whole history of erecting edifices of right and justice, demolishing the gloomy castles of wrong and oppression, and recording, through her honorable circumstances, new standards of honor and dignity for Islam and Muslims throughout history. Thus, she has been a ring head in the series of the ideals and human glories that her fathers, brothers, descendants of her brothers, and their partisans introduced to humanity.

She contributed actively to construction of the edifices of renaissance of Muslim ideals and to the propagation of the religious and political cognizance. She achieved this at a time when the ruling authorities and their sycophant followers used propaganda media to overcast the pure mentality of people and even forge the intuitive facts of Islam.

Positively, Lady Zaynab aborted all these forgeries and brought into view the reality of the Umayyad rulers; the actual enemies of Islam. She, also, proved to the public that the Umayyad rulers were polluted by crimes and violations against human rights and that their authority was illegal since they usurped rights of others and appointed themselves as absolute rulers over Muslims without obtaining their satisfaction or consulting them.

Through her marvelous revolutionary speeches and situations, Lady Zaynab particularized minutely the reality that was hidden from the public, and focused light on the misdemeanor of the Umayyad rulers and their political plots.

Lady Zaynab, the Prophet’s granddaughter, was characterized by a personality that combined all the high moral standards and the honorable tendencies and, accordingly, she has been the best exemplary of honor, chastity, and dignity in addition to every virtue of human perfection. She had inherited the highest principles of charity including deep-rooted faith and trust in Almighty Allah in the most perfect manner from her parents and grandfather.

Historians have recorded remarkable portraits of situations where her incomparable faith and perseverance on principles were displayed. The leading roles of these situations were proudly awarded to Lady Zaynab. At the night that followed that horrible day of Ashura1 in Karbala, Lady Zaynab offered Thanksgiving Prayer to Almighty Allah for the tragedy which inflicted not only the Ahl al-Bayt (a), but also all human beings in general and Muslims in particular.

Another picture of Lady Zaynab’s tremendous faith is that on the day of ‘Ashura’ she stopped near the body of her martyred brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), whose head had been cruelly severed off by the swords of the criminal band of the Umayyad army, and uttered her immortal words:

اَللّهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ هَذا الْقُرْبَانَ، وَأَثِبْهُ عَلَى عَمَلَهِ.

“O Allah, accept this offering and reward him for his deed.”

Has humanity ever seen such a demonstration of faith?

The most destructive adversity that inflicted Islam at that time took the Ahl al-Bayt (a) away from the political theatre of Islam while everybody, especially those who contributed directly to setting aside of the Ahl al-Bayt from their rightful positions, remained aware with certainty about the divine decision of choosing them (i.e. the Ahl al-Bayt) as the leaders of the Islamic nation. Historians have recorded unanimously that after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (S), some individuals led a rebellion against his general decision about succession in the leadership of the Islamic nation, claiming that it is unacceptable for the Hashemites2 to have both prophethood and succession in leadership3.

This adversity resulted in handing the leadership and destiny of the Islamic nation over to unsuitable individuals who were the main reason beyond the downfall of Muslims.

The Islamic nation, as a whole, was thus deprived of the pure source of the knowledge of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), which was the natural extension of the divine knowledge of the prophets (a). Imam Ali (a), in consequence lived in complete confinement, away from the political and practical life of the Islamic nation during the entire regime of the three caliphs. And, when he was elected freely for the first time, as the leader of the Islamic nation, the capitalists, the greedy, the deviants, and the ignorant revolted against his just government and engaged him in opposition for many things.

By such engagement, the Islamic world was afflicted with a big loss when Imam Ali (a) did not have enough time to extend ideal justice and equality all over the Islamic state. As a matter of fact, the Immaculate Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) faced the same fate as their grandfather Imam Ali (a) when the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers prevented them from extending their ideals and knowledge among the people, causing humanity to lose on benefitting from such sources of wisdom.

It was because of the policies of the caliphs of Quraysh4, that the mortal enemies of Islam could come to power, rule over Muslims, and change the Islamic State into a kingdom dominated by personal interests and hereditary dynasty.

Thus, doing wrong and oppression became the distinctive features of the ruling authorities at that time. To be killed was the fate of men having freedom of thought, people were deprived of their rights, which became a possession in the hands of a few gangs who were loyal to the ruling authorities, and corruption found rich pasture in the Islamic provinces.

Wrong, oppression, and corruption attainted the climax in the reign of Yazid the dissolute. Historians have unanimously agreed on the fact that “Yazid was such an unjust, immoral, and sinful man that he did not believe in Allah and His Apostle for a single moment.” In abstract, Yazid’s policies exploded in every matter that violated Islam.

In the midst of these circumstances, nobody had the ability to utter a single word of right except Imam al-Husayn (a) who led his great revolution so that it paved the way for standing against every unjust individual and declaring the word of truth openly courageously.

Through its horrible chapters, the revolution of Imam al-Husayn (a) shook the worldwide conscience and carried an intellectual donation and bright lessons to all peoples who suffer the ordeals of colonialism and slavery.

Lady Zaynab contributed actively and positively in all the chapters and heroism associated with Imam al-Husayn’s revolution. In the first stage of the revolution, Lady Zaynab stood so bravely with her brother even though she knew the fate that he faced. Her strong will, fortitude, and determination on supporting her brother in his revolution were distinctive features of this revolution that changed the course of history and supplied the seekers of freedom with factors of renaissance and development.

Lady Zaynab believed in the revolution of her brother. She participated in his struggle against wrong and oppression in a vigorous manner, and achieved the goals of this great revolution. Through her innovative speeches in the porticoes of the Umayyad ruling capital, she stood for the genuine principles of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution. She could crystallize the public opinion and that found an actual cognizance in that, later on, it resulted in successive popular uprisings against the Umayyad regime.

She gave an unmatched example of willpower, deep-rooted faith, and steadfastness through her conduct in the horrific circumstances she had to encounter. In fact, the example of Lady Zaynab can be found neither in the Islamic history nor in the history of humankind.

This great lady saw the atrocious adversities that afflicted her family members and could treat these situations with perseverance and steadfastness as she submitted totally to the Almighty Allah.

She saw young men among her sons, nephews and cousins who had luminous personalities that were as pleasing as the moon, being killed with their organs severed and trampled so cruelly on the ground of Karbala. She saw even the newborns and the babies of her household slaughtered savagely in the hands of those inhumane criminals.

She saw the ladies of the Prophet’s house harshly exhausted by thirst while they wailed for their sons and brethren, but she kept trying to console and order them to be patient and steadfast.

She saw her brother, Chief of the Martyrs, surrounded by those wicked people whose swords, spears, and lances struck his body until they had so hideously beheaded him.

She saw those infidel invaders attack the tents for women and set them on fire while the Prophet’s harem had to run into the desert out of fear.

Lady Zaynab saw all these adversities and faced them with faith, perseverance, and submission to Almighty Allah.

The disaster of Karbala with all of its horrifying, hideous events that followed, including the capture, humiliation, and punishment imposed on men and women of the Ahl al-Bayt to set example, induces us to take a brief view of the political documents that inform us of the events that followed the Prophet’s demise directly. This is so because these are the rudimentary source that informs us of what underlay the misfortunes of the Ahl al-Bayt in particular and Muslims in general.

Most certainly, the most significant factors that resulted in the absolute domination of the Umayyad dynasty over the Islamic State were the plot of the Saqifah5 and the spurious forgery of the Shura6. It was because of these two baseless systems that had been introduced as an innovation, that the Umayyad infidels, even though they had been humiliated by Islam and deemed to be slaves, were able to fight against Islam with all their weapons once they had been released. They could thus come to power and prevail over Muslims and their destiny.

The ruling authorities that usurped the legal right of Imam Ali (a) showed a favor to the Umayyad rulers. This removed the mask of humility and meekness that Islam had placed on their faces. They granted the Ummayads abundant wealth and invested in them by appointing them to leading offices in the Islamic State. Muawiyahibn Abu Sufyan was the biggest beneficiary of such procedures. He was given the governorship of Syria and was granted special support and advocacy. When Umar ibn al-Khattab was informed that the governor of Syria, namely Muawiyah, exceeded all limits in violating the Muslims’ treasury as he built palaces, committed every sin forbidden by Islam, dressed silky clothes, and ate in golden and silver plates, Umar found him excuses by saying, “This is the Khosrow - King of the Arabs.”

Everybody knew that Islam had been devoid of any royalty or aristocracy. In the sight of Islam, all Muslims are of the same class. Nothing distinguishes them except piety and charity. It is ironic then that an individual such as Muawiyah who had opposed Islam openly and was forced to accept it so as to save himself from being killed was being described as the King of the Arabs!

In the Holy Quran, Muawiyah and his family have been described as the doomed tree7. In many texts that are authentically related to the Prophet (S), the Umayyad dynasty had been cursed. After all, they are only slaves of Muslims until the Prophet released them and they were named ‘the Released Ones.’

So summarily, the events of Karbala and the ordeals faced by the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are reviewed; it can be proven that they were primarily the results of the plot of Saqifah and the spurious forgery of Shura. Further to this, these two unfounded systems have been the reason behind all the ordeals that Muslims have faced throughout history.

As a matter of fact, the greatest and the most constructive service that can be offered to the Islamic nation is to hint at, propagate, and refer to the Ahl al-Bayt’s innumerable, genuine virtues and elevated ideals. This is so because these matters leave a direct effect on the spread of virtue and moral standards and the development of excellence in behavior. The Ahl al-Bayt (a) have acted through their words, deeds, and behaviors so that they appear to be rays reflected from Almighty Allah’s Light. They are, as proven by authentic reports narrated by the Prophet (S), those who ‘do not speak out of vain desire’. They are the ships of salvation for the Islamic nation and a match to the Book of Allah.

The life accounts of the Ahl al-Bayt have been schools of God-fearing, genuine faith, and struggle against the wrong. They dedicated their lives to the Almighty and acted perfectly and sincerely for His sake. Thus, the biography of any of them is no more than a record of their personality which is a model for God-fearing and obedience to the Lord. They spent their days with fasting and spent their nights with prayers and recitals of the Holy Book of Allah.

Both men and women of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) acted with earnestness to spread knowledge, wisdom, and high moral standards among people. They also spent their lives by distributing charity among the needy, being kind to the miserable, striving actively against the wrong, and exerting all possible efforts for opposing injustice and the unjust individuals no matter how powerful they were, and the positions they held.

They engaged with the issues of the Islamic nation so bravely; therefore, they were vulnerable to being killed at the hands of the unjust rulers who held the reins of the Islamic nations wrongfully.

Lady Zaynab daughter of Imam Ali (a) is one of the individuals of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) to whom all the above-mentioned activities and descriptions is applicable. She is one who has contributed to spreading the word of Allah on this earth and struggled intently against the oppressors. She had to suffer the most horrible adversities and misfortunes for the sake of this. After the killing of her brother Imam al-Husayn (a), Lady Zaynab, as well as the other harem of the Prophet’s household, were taken as captives and had to be presented before the wretched Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who had been given the position of the governorship of two Islamic provinces. Lady Zaynab showed such remarkable courage when facing Ubaydullah, that he lost self control and he hurried towards her to beat her.

The caravan of the Prophet’s household was then taken to Syria where they had to be presented before Yazid ibn Muawiyah. It was while facing this criminal descendant of the mortal enemies of Islam, that Lady Zaynab delivered her historical speech, which is considered as the most important feat that condemned and announced the Umayyad State and its partisans as illegal.

For the sake of Islam, this granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (S) had to suffer horrifying adversities and misfortunes, and due to her heroic and honorable struggle against wrong and oppression, women of this world must take her as their role model. It is through a deep understanding of her as a pioneer of struggle against wrong that all women should recognize their roles in adopting the issues of justice on this earth.

  • 1. Day of Ashura is the tenth of Muharram, observed as a day of mourning (the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husayn (a).
  • 2. The Hashemites are sons and descendants of Hashim, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 3. See Ahmed Hussein Yaqub, The Conception of the Sahaba’s Ultimate Decency and the Political Leadership in Islam; translated by Badr Shahin, Published by Ansariyan Publications – Qum, 1998.
  • 4. Quraysh is the tribe to which Prophet Muhammad (S) belonged.
  • 5. The Saqifah – Shed of Banu-Saidah - is the place where Abu-Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and Abu-Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah held a secret meeting, attended by the Ansar – the inhabitants of Yathrib who had received and supported the Prophet and the emigrants from Mecca. This meeting was held immediately after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (S) to name the one to hold the position of the leadership of the Islamic nation although all the attendants knew for certain that the Prophet (S), on more than one occasion, had nominated Ali ibn Abu-Talib as his successor and declared that this decision had been issued by the Almighty Allah.
  • 6. Although he declared before everybody that the Prophet (S) did not nominate anybody for his succession in the leadership of the Islamic nation, Abu-Bakr, in his final hours, nominated Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor and the next leader. The latter, however, created a mock council to elect the leader to succeed him. This system was called the Shura. For details, see the books of the Islamic history.
  • 7. See the exegetists’ explanation of the Quranic Verse:

    وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لَكَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ أَحَاطَ بِالنَّاسِ ۚ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ ۚ وَنُخَوِّفُهُمْ فَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلَّا طُغْيَانًا كَبِيرًا

    “And when We said to you: Surely your Lord encompasses men; and We did not make the vision which We showed you and the cursed tree in the Quran as well but a trial for men; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy. (17:60)”

The Life of Lady Zaynab

To throw light upon the fragrant memories and to work with perseverance to obtain the details of such memories are the two things that cast good manners, virtues, and acquaintance with the conduct of the past personalities who were characterized by high merits, piety, righteousness, and decency on the souls.

Thus, the noble, deep-rooted character of Lady Zaynab should not be overlooked. She possessed all that points towards her immaculate majestic, dignified, and distinguished origin. She also possesses renowned bearings in the fields of perseverance upon principles, courage, eloquence, and whole-heartedness besides asceticism, chastity, piety, holiness, and magnanimity.

On that account, it is necessary for seekers of merits and fact-finders to take from her precious life account and please their ears by listening to her admirable memoirs so as to gain from the fragrance of her personality, which is a model of self-discipline, knowledge, and aspiration.

Let us now refer to a brief presentation of the life of Lady Zaynab.

Lineage

Lady Zaynab enjoyed the most exalted lineage since she ramified from the tree of prophecy and Imamate and combined all the elements of honor and dignity. The family of Imam Ali (a) has been the most elevated one over the entire history in the field of struggle against wrong and in adapting the issues of human rights. The sons and descendants of Imam Ali (a) have provided hundreds of martyrs for this sake of these issues.

Lady Zaynab’s grandfather, from the maternal side, was Prophet Muhammad (S) exploded the springs of knowledge and wisdom on this earth, founded the features of civilization and development, constructed a noble society controlled by justice and law, smashed the customs, and superstitions of pagans and the savage tribal society that prevailed in the Arab Peninsula. He called for worshipping of the One Creator, and brought to his nation abundant goodness. Indeed, Almighty Allah sent Prophet Muhammad (S) as a mercy for humankind. From this great personality, Lady Zaynab inherited the value for standing in defense of the right and striving to elevate the Word of Allah.

Her grandmother, from the maternal side, was Khadijah who supported Islam in its darkest days. She struggled for sake of Allah in the best-ever way, and spent her entire fortune for the sake of her religion. She therefore has been one of the two supports on which Islam relied for its existence. The Prophet (S) used to appreciate his loyal wife and her situation in her life and after her death.

From this great grandmother, Lady Zaynab inherited the highest moral standards and perseverance on principles. Copying her grandmother, she supported her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), in his revolution and supplied elements of eternity to his great uprising.

Lady Zaynab’s father is Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin (commander of the faithful believers): chief of the prophets’ successors, leader of the pious ones, and head of the worshippers. Ali was the representative, successor, and heir of Prophet Muhammad (S). His merits are innumerable and his striving for the sake of Allah are incomparable. He was the most knowledgeable, the most self-possessed, the most magnanimous, the most generous, the most ascetic, the most courageous, the most reputable, the best worshipper, the most loyal, the most faithful, and the most pious among Muslims.

Historians have recorded unanimously that Lady Zaynab followed her father in behavior, knowledge and conduct. She, too, positively adopted all of her father’s goals and efforts for the sake of supplying Islam with sustenance. Hence, she, along with her brother Imam al-Husayn (a), could thwart the infidel plots of the Umayyad that were aimed at wiping out Islam and replacing it with the pre-Islamic customs.

Lady Zaynab’s mother was Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), the Veracious who was a copy of her father in adoration of Allah, piety, self-discipline, knowledge, virtue, clemency, veneration, and the other features of perfection. Her father named her as the Chief of the Women of the World1. For these reasons, her father directed the best words of laudation and respect to his daughter who was the ideal woman on this earth. Such was the mother, educator, and instructor of Lady Zaynab who had been nourished with all aspects of human perfection.

Let us also refer briefly to the grandfather and grandmother of Lady Zaynab from the paternal side.

Abu Talib, father of Imam Ali (a), was a protector of Islam as he defended Prophet Muhammad (S) so bravely and suffered unbearable torments in this course. Only under the guardianship of Abu Talib could Prophet Muhammad (S) propagate his divine mission and spread its principles fearlessly. With the demise of his protector, the Prophet (S) expressed his great loss and grief. He therefore called that year as ‘year of grief’. After the demise of Abu Talib, the enemies of the Prophet (S) agreed on assassinating him, but Allah saved and ordered him to flee to Yathrib and let his cousin, Ali, sleep on his bed to make the plotters believe that he was still there.

From this great personality, Lady Zaynab drew the best lessons to act for defending the principles.

Lady Zaynab’s grandmother was Fatimah bint Asad - an example of faith and purity. On her hands, the Prophet (S) was brought up and treated so kindly and tenderly since she used to take care of him rather than her sons and bestow upon him with all colors of sympathy and love. Hence, she was highly respected by him; when she departed life, he dressed her in his own shirt and laid her down in the grave himself as an expression of his great love for her. From this grand mother, Lady Zaynab received the best lessons of love and support for the sake of religion and its legal leaders.

We, also, should not neglect the fact that Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a) participated in developing the unparalleled personality of their sister, Lady Zaynab, since she spent a long part of her life in their custody. The merits and virtues of the two Imams are too many to be contained here. As a result, the Prophet (S) called them ‘Chiefs of the Youth of Paradise.’2

Lady Zaynab imitated the morals and ethics of Imam al-Hasan (a) who was known for his composure and liberal approach in addition to his high moral standards. As he had noticed that his grandfather and parents took great care of Zaynab, Imam al-Hasan also encompassed her with much love and compassion and preferred her to the other harem of the Prophet’s household.

Imam al-Husayn’s relation with his sister Zaynab has been the melody of seekers of human perfection. She could occupy his feelings and bring emotions from the genuineness of her estimation, elevation of her ethics, and high moral standards. She was the most dependable person in the sight of Imam al-Husayn (a) who used to take her counsel in all of his affairs. She accompanied him in all the stages of his revolution.

Without Lady Zaynab’s struggle, efforts, and honorable situations, the revolution of Imam al-Husayn (a) would have been lost. As an example of Lady Zaynab’s great standing in the sight of her brother Imam al-Husayn (a) is that when he bade her the last farewell on the day of Ashura, he asked her to mention him in her Night Prayer.3

Through the second part of this book, we will refer to sections of the unmatched relation between Imam al-Husayn (a) and his sister, Lady Zaynab.

The Blessed Newborn

The life of the Prophet’s family was flourishing with the existence of the two Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a) who occupied their grandfather’s heart completely. Their patents, too, were highly delighted when they saw their two sons and as they saw the Prophet’s love for them. Once, he (S) expressed his love for these two sons by saying:

هَذانِ رَيْحَانَتَايَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا.

“These two are my only basils that I take from this world.”4

In the midst of this delightful atmosphere, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra became pregnant for the third time. Everybody, including the Messenger of Allah (S), was waiting for the new baby.5

With further delight and pleasure, Lady Fatimah gave birth to a baby girl who was to exceed all Muslim women in fields of faith, honor, chastity, and perseverance to the principles. The Ahl al-Bayt and the Prophet’s companions received the news of the birth of Lady Zaynab with gladness.

Imam Ali (a) hurried to take his newborn, kissed her frequently, and held the Shariite ceremonies of newborns. The Imam (a) recited azan6 in his newborn’s right ear and iqamah7 in the left. Hence, the first voice that penetrated the newborn’s hearing was her father stating:

Allahu Akbar —Allah is the Greatest…

La ilaha illa (a)llah —there is no god but Allah.

These great words found a strong ground in the inner self of Lady Zaynab. They, later on, became the most significant elements of her personality. In the future, she would adopt the calling to the true application of these words for which she would encounter horrible adversities.

As soon as he was informed about the news of the giving birth of this newborn, the Prophet (S) hurried to his daughter’s house, embraced the newborn to his chest warmly, and began to weep. It was a surprise for the mother, Fatimah al-Zahra, to see her father’s tears drop on his face, “What for are you weeping for, father?” she asked.

“Fatimah,” said the father (S) with sad tone, “you should know that this daughter would have to suffer horrible misfortunes and tragedies after your and my demise.”8

At that time the Prophet (S) had perceived the horrifying hardships that would afflict this granddaughter. Naturally, Fatimah al-Zahra (a) participated in her father’s grieving at this time. Then when the close friend of the Ahl al-Bayt, Salman, came to congratulate on the occasion, he found the household immersed in grief and unhappiness. Hence, he also participated in that ceremony of consolation9.

Choosing the name

The blessed mother carried her newborn to the father and asked to choose a name for her.

“I will not precede the Messenger of Allah in such a matter,” answered the father modestly. He then took the newborn and asked him to choose a name for her.

“I will not precede my Lord in such a matter,” answered the Messenger of Allah modestly.

From the Heavens then ascended Archangel Gabriel to say to the Prophet, “This newborn’s name is ‘Zaynab’10. Almighty Allah has chosen this name for her.”11 She was also given the nicknames - ‘Ummu-Kulthum’ or ‘Ummu-al-Hasan’12.

Epithets

Epithet is a word or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. Epithets, then, depict one’s mental attitude and traits regardless of being good or bad.13 Thus, Lady Zaynab had many epithets that expressed aspects of her personality.

Al-Aqilah

The Arabic Aqilah means a noble woman, who is honored among her people and is venerated in her house, by virtue of her wisdom.

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

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

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

Al-Alimah

For her supreme knowledge, Lady Zaynab was called al-Alimah – the Woman of Knowledge. Historians have confirmed that she was an authority for Muslim ladies who used to refer to her for 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. Furthermore, Lady Zaynab has had similar epithets, such as ‘al-Arifah’ — the Knower of Reality’, and ‘al-Muwathaqah - the Reliable one.’

Abidatu Ali - Ali

Lady Zaynab was recognized also as being distinguished worshipper among Muslim ladies. She committed herself to all the recommended rites of Islam to the degree that even on 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 Most Worshipping woman of Ali’s household’.

Al-Kamilah

In all aspects of human perfection, Lady Zaynab preceded everybody and occupied the leading position. She therefore is called ‘al-Kamilah - the Perfect woman.’

Al-Fadhilah

Because of her great jihad, her service to Islam, and steadfastness for the 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 Lady.’

Al-Siddiqah al-Sughra

Just 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’.

Umm al-Masaib

As she had to suffer different and innumerable misfortunes all over her lifetime, Lady Zaynab was called Umm al-Masaib – Mother of misfortunes.

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

- She saw al-Hurr ibn Yazid force Imam al-Husayn to stop and put down camp in a desolate place.
• She saw the Imam’s with a few companions in comparison to the great numbers in the enemy’s army.

• She saw most of the Imam’s so-called partisans abandon him and join his enemies.

• She saw the women of the household fear and worry when they had to camp in Karbala.

• She saw the enemies deprive her people and her of water.

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

• She had to witness her brother’s feelings of disappointment and loneliness.

• She had to witness the martyrdom of her two sons, as well as the other relatives and companions who were martyred one by one. The martyrdom of al-Abbas however was the most disastrous for her.

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

• She saw the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) cut off and then being raised on spearheads.

• She saw the enemies attack her brother’s caravan and women, trying to set fire to the tents.

• She had to gather the children and women who dispersed and fled to everywhere in that desert.

• She had to pass by the dead and severed body of her brother while gathering the women and children of the family.

• She had to ride on lean, unsaddled camels and to help the children and women to mount on such animals.

• She had to exert all efforts for taking care of her ill nephew and consoling him.

• She had to go through the scenes of being made captive, then being driven from one town to another while people were looked 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.”14

Year of Birth

Historians and narrators have had different opinions about the year of Lady Zaynab’s birth. Some have referred to the fifth year after Hijrah,15 others to the sixth, and a third party to the ninth. The last opinion however is inaccurate,16 and the first is the most acceptable.

Early Life

Lady Zaynab was brought up at the hands of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, and Lady Fatimah the Veracious (a). In other words, she was brought up in the lap of the divine prophesy, spent her early life in the house of the divine mission, suckled the milk of the most perfect woman of all ages, and was nourished at the hands of the Commander of the Faithful Believers. Hence, she enjoyed a divine upbringing and spiritual education. She was garbed in the garments of elevation, eminence, chastity, and decency. After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (S) and his daughter Fatimah (a), Imam Ali married Umamah17 who took care of Lady Zaynab perfectly since this lady was known for her piety and submission to the Lord.

Lady Zaynab, hence, was raised up with the most exalted colors of education, honor, dignity, mercy, and compassion. She learnt many things that composed her perfect personality, from the behaviors of her parents and brothers.

For instance, whenever she visited her brother Imam al-Husayn, he would stand up as a sign of reverence and respect for her. Whenever she wanted to visit the holy tomb of her grandfather, her father and two brothers used to accompany her. They used to extinguish any lights there so that nobody could see her.18

She was really the inheritor of Imam Ali’s values, moralities, and ethics. To the scholars and narrators of Hadith,19 Lady Zaynab enjoyed a high position. They, therefore, used to refer to Imam Ali, during the Umayyad regime, which had banned any mention of the Imam’s name, by saying ‘Father of Zaynab reported…’

Scholarly Capacities

From early life, Lady Zaynab was marvelous in her intellect and wisdom. She had learnt the holy Quran by heart as well as the Prophet’s sayings regarding Islamic laws, rules of education, and principles of ethics. She had also memorized the famous, confounding speech of her mother - Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), which she delivered in the Prophet’s Masjid protesting against Abu Bakr’s usurpation of the Islamic ummah’s leadership, which was the right of Imam Ali according to the instructions of Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (S). She had objected to the confiscation of Fadak as well because the Holy Prophet (S) had given it to her as gift within earshot of all Muslims. She narrated her mother’s speech in addition to many other narrations, when the Muslim women visited her in her final times.

Her father, too, greatly admired her sharp wit. One day, she asked him, “Father, do you love us?” He answered, “Of course I do, daughter. I do love you because you are the fruit of my heart.” She replied politely, “Father, love is exclusively for Almighty Allah, while it is compassion which is for us.”20

As he was teaching her the numbers, he asked, “ Say: one.” She said, “one.” As he asked her to say “two,” she kept silent. “Why do you not say: two?” asked her father. She answered, “A tongue which pronounces ‘one’ cannot say ‘two.’”21 When he heard this great answer, he kissed and embraced her.22

She also used to say:

مَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ لا يَكونَ الخَلْقُ شُفَعَاءَهُ إلى اللهِ فَلْيَحْمِدْهُ. أَلَمْ تَسْمَعْ إلى قَولِهِ: سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ. فَخَفِ اللهَ لِقُدْرَتِهِ عَلَيْكَ، وَاسْتَحِ مِنْهُ لِقُرْبِهِ مِنْكَ.

“Anyone who intends not to have any other intercede for him or her before Allah should praise Him. Listen to His saying: ‘Allah listens to anyone who praises Him.’ Hence, one should fear Allah for He has authority over them, and should feel shy of Him for He is very close to them.”23

This statement in fact indicates that she was so virtuous and perfectly connected to Allah.

Moreover, she represented her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a) whenever he was absent. Hence, Muslims used to refer to her in the questions concerning Islamic laws. It was because of her extensive knowledge that Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a), Abdullah ibn Jafar, Lady Fatimah daughter of Imam al-Husayn, Muhammad ibn Amr, and Ata ibn al-Saib used to quote her sayings.24

In Kufa and during her father’s regime, Lady Zaynab had special sessions to which Muslim ladies came to listen to her precious lectures on Islam and exegesis of the Holy Quran. She was thus the trustworthiest reference from whom Muslim ladies took advice regarding questions about Islam, moral instructions, and general ethics.

For her tremendous virtue too, Abdullah ibn Abbas25 frequently asked her to answers the questions that he had ignored. He also proudly reported, a good number of narrations on her authority. In this regard, he would say:

حَدَّثَتْنَا عَقِيلَتُنَا زَيْنَبُ بِنْتُ عَلِيٍّ...

“Our Aqilah26 (i.e. the Wise Lady), Zaynab daughter of Ali narrated to us that… etc.”

One of the reports that he related on the authority of Lady Zaynab was Lady Fatimah al-Zahra’s famous speech in the Prophet’s Masjid.

Lady Zaynab also represented Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) during his illness. About her, he (a) said:

إِنَّهَا عَالِمَةٌ غَيْرُ مُعَلَّمَةٍ.

“She is so knowledgeable herself that she does not need to be taught by somebody else.”27

Finally, she was the most eloquent speaker in Islam; she could stir the emotions of enemies, divide the public opinion, and provoke the public against the ruling regime of Umayyads when she delivered her famous speeches in Kufa and Damascus. In fact, these speeches hint at her precious cultural and literate fortunes.

In addition, as a reason behind her peculiar scholarly capacity the following may be mentioned as key points:

She was always pious and observant towards the Almighty Allah’s commandments and instructions. By being God-fearing and pious one achieves knowledge and notable learning. This is clear in Almighty Allah’s saying:

. عَلِيمٌ شَيْءٍ بِكُلِّ وَاللَّهُ ۗ اللَّهُ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ ۖ اللَّهَ وَاتَّقُوا

“And be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things.” (2:282)

Lady Zaynab was so God-fearing and pious that she dedicated a good time of her daily activities to her Lord; she was immersed in praising and glorifying Him during this time. At nights when sounds calm and eyes sleep, she used to turn her face and heart towards her Lord with tearful eyes, fearful heart, and hopeful mind to say confidently:

يَا مَنْ لَبِسَ العِزَّ وَتَرَدَّى بهِ وَتَعَطَّفَ بالمجَدِ وَتحَلَّى بهِ، أسْألُكَ بمِعَاقِدِ العِزِّ مِن عَرشِكَ وَمُنتَهى الرَّحمْةِ مِن كِتابِكَ وَبِاسمْكَ الأعْظَم وَجَدَّكَ الأعْلى وَكَلِماتِكَ التَّامَّاتِ الَّتي تمَّتْ صِدقاً وعَدلاً أنْ تُصَلّيَ عَلى محَمَّدٍ وَآلِ محُمَّدٍ الطَّيّبين الطَّاهِرينَ وَأنْ تجَمعَ لي خَيرَيِ الدُّنيَا وَالآخِرَةِ.

O You Who dresses and adorns Himself with valor! O You Who deigns and dons Himself with glory! I implore to You by the seats of might in Your Throne, by the utmost of mercy in Your Book, by Your Grandest Name, by Your most High Majesty, and by Your Perfect Words that have been accomplished truly and honestly, (I implore to You) to send blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and to arrange for me the good of both this world and the world to come.

Lady Zaynab was well known for her unparalleled intelligence, apposite opinion, and wisdom. Her words were carefully chosen and brought together as beads in a necklace and her opinions were to the point. She was the ideal of eloquence and expressiveness. Allah gifted her the utmost of knowledge, morality, composure, religiousness, and ethics. This is not strange since she was the granddaughter of the Holy Prophet, the daughter of the model parents of Islam, and the sister of the two Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise. In her grandfather, Lady Zaynab takes pride saying:

ومَن كَجَدّي النّبيَّ العَرَبيّ الهاشمِيّ القِرشِيّ الّذي اصطَفاهُ اللهُ تَعالى وَاختَارَه لِيُبَينَ للنّاسِ طَريقَ الحيَاةِ مِن خَير وشَرٍّ في أسْلوبِه العَذِب الجَميلِ وعِبارَتِه الطّلية المُمتِعَة الّتي تَفيضُ رِقَّةً وَحناناً وعَطفاً وإشْفاقاً.

“None is like my grandfather; the Arab, the Hashemite, and the Qurayshite Prophet who has been selected by Allah, the Elevated, for guiding people about good and evil tracts in the path of life, and he did it with such a handsome approach and pleasant, articulate statements full of softness, tenderness, sympathy, and compassion.”28

The couple that was most knowledgeable in Islam - her father and mother, had taught her. So it was natural that a student of such personalities will also be intelligent and knowledgeable.

About Lady Zaynab’s acumen and sagacity, let us listen to the following narration recorded by Ibn Humayd in his book entitled al-Musnad, and al-Yafii in Mirat al-Zaman:

One day, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn were discussing some of their grandfather’s sayings, “The Halal is obvious and the Haram is also obvious, but between these two there are many dubious matters most of people ignore. To avoid such dubious matters is acquittal for the religion and the honor, while to fall in such dubious matters is plunging into the Haram. A shepherd who grazes about a shelter will decisively pasture in it. There is a shelter to every kingdom, and the shelter of Allah is in avoiding what He deems unlawful. There is also a single part in each one’s body; when this is good, the whole body will be so, and when this part is bad, the whole body will be so. This is the heart.”29

Commenting on this statement, Lady Zaynab said:

Listen to me, Hasan and Husayn! Your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, has acquired the ethics from the Lord. It is Almighty Allah Who disciplined him so perfectly. In this regard, the Prophet says, ‘My Lord has disciplined me, and He has done so perfectly.’

None is like my grandfather; the Arab, the Hashemite, and the Qurayshite Prophet who was selected by Allah, the Highest, to guide people towards their path of life with its good and evil branches, and he did this with such a handsome approach and pleasant, articulate statements full of softness, tenderness, sympathy, and compassion.

The Halal is obvious and the Haram is also obvious, but between these two, there are many dubious matters. Accordingly, the religion is of three degrees; Halal, Haram, and dubious matters. The Halal is what Allah, the Exalted, has deemed lawful by way of a text in the Holy Quran or through the explanations of the Prophet, such as the legality of trade and rendition…

The Haram is whatever Allah has deemed unlawful in the Holy Quran. It is also the contrary of the Halal.

The dubious matter is everything that is not known to be Halal or Haram.

A faithful believer who intends to achieve happiness in this world and bliss in the world to come must perform all that which Allah has made incumbent, follow the path drawn by the Holy Quran, take my grandfather, the Prophet, as an example, and go away from the dubious as much as one can.

To avoid the dubious matters is acquittal for the religion and the honor and also purity for both. It also achieves sincere obedience to the Lord.

أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ

“Now, surely, sincere obedience is due to Allah alone. (Quran; 39:3)”

For those who follow the lines of the dubious matters, it is not safe as their feet can slip and, thus, they might commit an unlawful deed. There is a shelter beside each that one possesses. However the refuge of the King-of-All becomes available by avoiding what He deems as unlawful. The Holy Prophet says, ‘Avoid the unlawful and you will be the most pious.’

Allah the Exalted has put in every human being a minute gem - a part of his entirety; when it is good, the whole body is good, pure, and clear from filth, impairments, and acts of disobedience towards the Lord of the Worlds. This is the heart. If one’s heart is sound, he will be attentive to the affairs of his religion and the principles of its law, and will see real happiness in remaining steadfast with the lights of the guidance of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Those who follow this straight path and these divine instructions will be among the winners on the Day of Resurrection.

Our life is in fact only a stage among many stages that lead either to Paradise or to Hell. Death will be the end, and no blame can fall after it. Nothing is after this world except Paradise or Hell.”

As she finished, Imam al-Husayn said to her, “How great are you! You are surely from the tree of prophecy and in the core of the Divine Message.”

She once said:

“My grandfather has decided for us (i.e. women) rights that are incumbent upon our husbands in the same way as he has decided rights for our husbands that is incumbent upon us.” In this regard, the Holy Quran says:

. حَكِيمٌ عَزِيزٌ وَاللَّهُ ۗ دَرَجَةٌ عَلَيْهِنَّ وَلِلرِّجَالِ ۚبِالْمَعْرُوفِ عَلَيْهِنَّ الَّذِي مِثْلُ وَلَهُنَّ

And they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them. (2:228)

My noble Grandfather also said:

“A woman who offers the five obligatory prayers, observes fasting on the month of fasting, guards her chastity, and obeys her husband shall have the choice to enter Paradise from any gate she likes.”

Ibn Asakir, in his al-Tarikh, records the following:

After she arrived in Egypt, Lady Zaynab once was overcome with an indisposition. The chiefs of Egypt decided to fetch her a physician, but she refused saying:

“We are not among those who hope for this world or for perpetuation in it. We belong to the Household of Prophecy and the most desirable meeting for us is the meeting with our Lord. A physician, however, cannot change one’s decided term of death.”

Ibn Humayd, Abu Asim, and Ibn Abu Shaybah narrated that Abdullah ibn Abbas has said:

Once, Lady Zaynab recited Allah’s saying:

 ۚ مَعَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنَ وَطَائِفَةٌ…الْمُزَّمِّلُ أَيُّهَا يَا

O you who are wrapped up in your garments… and (also) a party of those with you. (73:1… 20)

She then commented:

“Thanks to Allah, we are included with this party (of those who are with the Prophet).”

The public addresses of Lady Zaynab, on more than one occasion, are evidence for eloquence and rhetoric. These addresses changed the public opinion against Yazid and the Umayyad State and showed the real purpose of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution. Later on, these addresses will be referred to in detail.

Lady Zaynab enjoyed a peculiar rank in the world of mysticism. In this regard, Allamah al-Burghani says:

“Lady Zaynab’s spiritual rank is very nigh to that of the Immaculate Imams…”

Al-Rawandi, in al-Tiraz al-Mudhahhab, says:

“In addition to her high spiritual rank, Lady Zaynab comes after her mother in virtue, high merit, peculiarity, majesty, knowledge, infallibility, chastity, illumination, light, honor, and splendor.”

Muhammad Rida al-Isfahani, in Jannat al-Khulud, records:

“Lady Zaynab was the one nearest to her parents in eloquence, asceticism, management, and courage. After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn, she was the custodian of her family members and, furthermore, the Hashemites.

Ibn Anbah, in Ansab al-Talibiyyin, says:

“Lady Zaynab is distinguished by her innumerable merits, elevated attributes, praiseworthy characters, admirable habits, remarkable esteem, and manifest virtues.”

Marriage

When Lady Zaynab attained maturity, famous celebrities competed with each other for asking for her hand. Her father, however, refused all of them.

Abdullah son of Jafar son of Abu Talib also asked for her hand. He was one of the noblest men of the Hashemites and one of the most generous men of the Arabs. Besides, Imam Ali (a) loved him very much. He therefore responded to him and accepted to give him Lady Zaynab in marriage.

Abdullah’s father was Jafar who is described as the most similar to the Holy Prophet (S) in morality and nature.30 He was one of those who preceded others in embracing and defending Islam. He emigrated twice — once to Abyssinia and then to Medina, and was well known for his pity and sympathy to the poor and paupers. Like his brother Imam Ali, Jafar was very much respected by the Prophet of Allah (S) who housed him next to his Masjid because he recognized Jafar’s strong faith and the will to sacrifice himself for the sake of Islam.

In the eighth year after Hijrah, the Prophet (S) appointed Jafar as the commander of the Muslim army in their campaign at Mutah. In this battle, Jafar was martyred after his two arms were severed because he held fast on the pennon. The Holy Prophet (S) had then said about him:

“Allah the Exalted shall give Jafar two wings with which he will fly in Paradise everywhere he wishes, instead of his two severed hands.”

Jafar therefore is named ‘Dhul-Janahayn’ (the two-winged). The martyrdom of Jafar was one of the most difficult misfortunes that the Prophet (S) had to encounter. Hence, he (S) said:
“Weeping should be ceaseless for Jafar and his like.”31

Abdullah’s mother was the great lady Asma bint Umays. She was among those who embraced Islam early. Accompanying her husband, she migrated to Abyssinia where she gave birth of Abdullah, Awn, and Muhammad. She then immigrated to Medina. After Jafar’s martyrdom, Asma was married to Abu Bakr and gave birth of Muhammad who is one of the most celebrated men of Islam. When Abu Bakr died, Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin married her, and she gave birth to a boy called Yahya.32

Asma adhered sincerely with the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and had a strong connection with Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a). She reported about sixty hadiths directly on the authority of the Holy Prophet (S).

She acted as a tender mother for Imam al-Hasan, Imam al-Husayn, and Lady Zaynab as soon as she entered Imam Ali’s house as a wife. They therefore appreciated her nice treatment, and tenderness. She was thus an example of chastity, purity, and loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Abdullah ibn Jafar was such a person that none, including his enemies, could hide admiration for his unparalleled personality. Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan had said about him that, “Abdullah ibn Jafar is worthy of all honor. He preceded everyone else to perform the noble deeds and qualities.”33

He was loyal to the Ahl al-Bayt in general and Imam al-Husayn in particular, though he did not join the Imam’s caravan to Karbala. Historians have recorded that Abdullah held the biggest obsequies for the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn, though his two sons were also martyred in the same time. During that ceremony, one of the slaves said to him, “We have suffered long because of al-Husayn!”

As he heard this statement, Abdullah threw a sandal on that slave out of his rage and said, “Son of the condemned one! How dare you say such a thing about al-Husayn? By Allah I swear, had I been with him, I would not have left him before I would be killed there. To me, he is undoubtedly more favored than my two sons are. What makes my misfortune easy is that they were killed with him without any complaint or impatience. Thanks to Allah, if I could not support al-Husayn during his battle, my two sons did.”34

Abdullah ibn Jaffar was also well known for his generosity about which narrators have reported many marvelous stories. It was because of the Prophet’s supplication to Allah for him that he was among the richest people of Medina. Besides, he was so virtuous. He reported many narrations on the authority of his uncle, Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin (a), and his two cousins, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a).

Lady Zaynab gave birth to four sons and a daughter: Awn, Ali al-Zaynabi, Muhammad, Abbas, and Lady Ummu-Kulthum.

Awn was virtuous and well mannered. He accompanied his (maternal) uncle, Imam al-Husayn (a), to Iraq. In the battle of Karbala, Awn fought very bravely and brought pride to his father, Abdullah, and grandfather, Jafar. After a brave round of fighting, Awn was attacked by the vicious Abdullah al-Tai and killed by him.35

Ummu-Kulthum, daughter of Lady Zaynab, was famous for her beauty, chastity, and personality. She was highly respected by all people in general and the Hashemites in particular. As an attempt to curry favor with the Hashemites so as to find himself a respectful position in the Muslims’ view, Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan sent a missive to his governor in Medina, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, ordering him to ask the hand of Ummu-Kulthum, daughter of Lady Zaynab, for his son, Yazid.

Marwan ibn al-Hakam knew that Imam al-Husayn (a) would surely refuse and thwart the matter. He therefore postponed it as he looked for a proper opportunity. He seized the opportunity of Imam al-Husayn’s travel and hurried to Abdullah ibn Jafar who understood the whole matter. He said to Marwan that he should wait until Imam al-Husayn (a) would come back from his journey.

When the Imam was back, Abdullah rushed to him informing of the whole story. The Imam became very angry; he rejected completely that his niece would become the wife of the sinful, lewd grandson of Abu Sufyan. He therefore hurried to his sister, Lady Zaynab, and asked her to bring her daughter, Ummu-Kulthum, before him. When the daughter came, the Imam told that her cousin al-Qasim, son of Muhammad ibn Jafar, would be the worthiest of marrying her. The mother welcomed, the daughter accepted, the father showed no rejection, and the Imam gave her away with significant gift.

They kept the matter secret until the wedding night came. On that night, the Imam invited many personalities including Marwan ibn al-Hakam who thought that the invitation was held for announcing the Imam’s acceptance of Yazid’s marriage to his niece, Ummu-Kulthum. Yet, he was disappointed when the Imam declared the marriage of al-Qasim to Ummu-Kulthum. Marwan reported the matter to Muawiyah who as a result, harboured malice against the Imam.36

  • 1. Fatimah al-Zahra (a), the Veracious was praised not only by Prophet Muhammad (S) but also by everyone who lived in her time. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, in his al-Isabah, records that Aishah, the Prophet’s wife had said: “Nobody is preferred more than Fatimah except Prophet Muhammad (S)”. Abdullah ibn Abbas has said, that it is recorded in the previous reference book that - “The best women of Paradise are four: Khadijah, Fatimah, Mary, and Asiyah - the Pharaoh’s wife.”
    Al-Bukhari in his al-Sahih and Muslim in his al-Sahih, record the following: Al-Musawwir ibn Makhramah has quoted the Prophet (S) to say, “Fatimah is a part of me. Whatever hurts her is certainly hurtful to me and whatever pleases her is certainly pleasing to me.”
    Ali (a) reported the Prophet’s addressing to Fatimah: “Fatimah, most surely Allah is pleased when you are pleased and enraged when you are enraged.”
    Finally, reference books of Islamic history and narration are full of reports relating the elevated standing of Fatimah al-Zahra, the Veracious (a).
  • 2. See Yanabi ul-Mawaddah; 196.
  • 3. See Zaynab al-Kubra, 60.
  • 4. See Kanz al-Ummal; 7/110, al-Bukhari’s al-Sahih; Chapter: Kitab al-Adab, Majma al-Zawaid; 9/181, and Ibn Asakir’s at-Tarikh; 13/39.
  • 5. Although some historians say that the first female child of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra was Ruqayyah, nicknamed Ummu Kulthum, most of historians have proved Lady Zaynab was Lady Fatima’s first she-baby. As evidence it is cited that during the reign of the Umayyad State when the Ahl al-Bayt and their partisans were persecuted, anyone who wanted to relate something to Imam Ali, he would say, “Father of Zaynab said so-and-so.” This is because Zaynab was the elder daughter, and the enemies did not recognise this nickname. See Ibn Abu al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah.
  • 6. Azan is the call to prayer.
  • 7. Iqamah is the prefatory statements of the ritual prayer.
  • 8. See At-Tiraz al-Mudhahhab, 38
  • 9. See Batalatu Karbala; 21.
  • 10. In Arabic, the word ‘Zaynab’ is a name of a handsome, fragrant tree (see Ibn Manzhur’s Lisan al-Arab, vol. 6 p.88).
  • 11. See Zaynab al-Kubra, 16-7.
  • 12. See Zaynab al-Kubra, 17.
  • 13. Excerpted from the Oxford Talking Dictionary, copyright © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.
  • 14. See Jafar al-Naqdi, Zaynab al-Kubra; 32.
  • 15. Hijrah is the migration of Prophet Muhammad (a) and his family and companions from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D; the Muslim era reckoned from this history.
  • 16. Shaykh Jafar al-Nadir, in his Zaynab al-Kubra, p.18, refutes the narrations that Lady Zaynab was born in the ninth year of the Hijrah. He says: “Despite the variation in narrations, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra, the Veracious (a) died in the tenth or eleventh year of the Hijrah. If Lady Zaynab was born in the ninth year of the Hijrah, then when was Ummu-Kulthum, her sister, born, and when was al-Muhsin, the third son of Imam Ali, born?
    On this account, it is understandable that Lady Zaynab was born in the fifth year of the Hijrah.” Besides, Shaykh al-Naqdi has referred to other facts proving this opinion.
  • 17. Umamah is the daughter of Zaynab stepdaughter of Prophet Muhammad (S). Implementing the will of Fatimah al-Zahra, Imam Ali married Umamah after the demise of Lady Fatimah. It is also worth mentioning here that Umamah was greatly respected by Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 18. See at-Tabarani’s al-Mujam al-Kabir as related to Yahya al-Mazini
  • 19. Hadith is the body of traditions concerning the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 20. see Zaynab al-Kubra; 53.
  • 21. This means that one who believes honestly in the oneness of Almighty Allah must never betake another as god.
  • 22. See Rayahin al-Shariah, vol. 3 p.54, and Hajj Abd-ul-Hadi al-Shehristani’s Yanabi al-Rahmah (3), p.8. Ibn Asakir, Ibn Mandah and Ali Mullah al-Qari have also recorded this.
  • 23. See Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-Amili, Ayan al-Shiah; vol. 7, p. 140.
  • 24. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi’s al-Sayyidah Zaynab.
  • 25. Abdullah ibn Abbas is regarded as a grand authority of the Islamic ummah for his knowledge of Hadith and Islamic laws.
  • 26. Abdullah ibn Abbas used to say ‘our Aqilah’ because he belonged in kinship to Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 27. See al-Tabirsi’s al-Ihtijaj, p. 166.
  • 28. See Musa Muhammad Ali, al-Sayyidah Zaynab, 69.
  • 29. This hadith is recorded by al-Bukhari in his al-Sahih.
  • 30. See Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Istiab fi Marifat al-Ashab; vol. 1, p. 242
  • 31. See Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Usd al-Ghabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah; vol. 1, p. 289
  • 32. See Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Usd al-Ghabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah; vol. 5, p. 271
  • 33. See Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Usd al-Ghabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah; vol. 5, p. 171
  • 34. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 4:357.
  • 35. See Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 268.
  • 36. See Zaynab Aqilatu Bani Hashim; 27

Personality

Lady Zaynab contained all elements of nobility and virtue that Almighty Allah bestowed upon her grandfather, her father, her mother, and her two brothers. She inherited their peculiarities and copied their high moral standards.

By virtue of her ethical inheritance and unmatched characteristics, Lady Zaynab is indeed the greatest lady in Islam as she symbolises its true values and principles. Along with her mother, Lady Zaynab struggled in the best way and stood firmly against the factional currencies that tried, using all their possibilities and powers, to throw curtains on the real leaders and guides of the Islamic ummah.

In the same way as Lady Fatimah al-Zahra stopped strongly with Imam Ali (a) and opposed the illegal government of Abu Bakr through her splendid speech as well as her honorable situations, Lady Zaynab stopped to the last spark of life with her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a) and opposed the black government of the Umayyad rulers who aimed, openly and frankly, at uprooting Islam and erasing its existence by excluding the Ahl al-Bayt (a) from the Muslims’ social and political lives.

Let us now refer to some of such peculiarities that made Lady Zaynab at the head of Muslim women:

Faith

In the center from where call to Almighty Allah was raised, and the house where the revelation of Divine Message had descended, and the pivot from which the word of monotheism advanced to spread its bright rays to all the peoples on this earth – it was in this very house that Lady Zaynab was brought up. She was fed with the core of true faith and the reality of Islam. Hence, love for Almighty Allah was in her nature and, later on, became a distinctive feature of her personality that led her to stand up to all the misfortunes and adversities she had to encounter from her early life.

Firm faith and exclusive devotion to Almighty Allah were the features that Prophet Muhammad’s family enjoyed in a special way. Each member of this exalted family expressed his/her firm faith distinctively. Lady Zaynab, for instance, stopped at the severed body of her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), and expressed her firm faith by saying:

اَللّهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا هَذا الْقُرْبَانَ.

“O Allah, accept this offering from us.”

These words have been the best example on the sublimity of the prophetic inheritance. They also showed the reality of Islam through the lesson that each sacrifice must be purely offered for Almighty Allah’s sake.

Humanity, in all ages, must bow before such unparalleled faith, which was the secret beyond the perpetuity of Lady Zaynab and her principles.

On the cruelest night in the life of Lady Zaynab, as well as the Islamic ummah, she offered a Thanksgiving Prayer while she was completely surrounded by horrific tragedies; the dead bodies of the Prophet’s family and their pure companions were thrown before her eyes without shrouds, fire leaped across the canopies of the Alawid ladies who lost their shelter after the savage and merciless soldiers had usurped their jewelries and properties, and the children had nothing to do other than weeping and crying. In the midst of this apalling situation, Lady Zaynab turned her face towards her Lord to thank Him for His grace.

Indeed, such faith is more perpetual than civilizations, fortunes, and even perpetuity itself.

Steadfastness

Since early life, Lady Zaynab had equipped herself with steadfastness against misfortunes. She first was deprived of her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (S), who loved her very much and sympathized with her. She then saw the horrible events that surprised her parents immediately after the Prophet’s demise. Her father was taken away from the position that Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (S) chose for him. Her mother was severely mistreated by the people until she departed life while she was in the flush of her youth. She then saw people of Kufa cheat her brother, Imam al-Hasan (a), and let him down to the degree that he had to make a peace treaty with Muawiyah, the mortal enemy of Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (a). A few years later, this Imam was assassinated by poison. She saw him vomit blood to death.

On the tenth of Muharram, 61 AH, she had to see the most bitter of adversities; her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), yielded to death after he had lost all supporters and helpers; the swords of the wicked Umayyad soldiers killed the Alawid youths, children, and even babies. Lady Zaynab stood like an unshakable mountain in face of all these unbearable misfortunes. She faced all these with the weapon of steadfastness and resisted all the events with conviction. Thus, she is intended in Almighty Allah’s saying:

...وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ. الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ. أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ ...

“And give good news to the patient who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall surely return. Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord.” (2:155-7)

Many poets have depicted Lady Zaynab’s steadfastness in a most beautiful and expressive way. She being the Prophet’s granddaughter, showed steadfastness and endurance before the enemies of Allah. Lady Zaynab could withstand all adversities and misfortunes by virtue of her determination and persistence.

Dignity

Dignity was a prominent feature in the personality of Lady Zaynab.

After the killing of Imam al-Husayn (a), she as well as the other granddaughters of the Prophet (S) were taken as captives from Karbala to Kufa and all their personal properties were usurped. While the children were harshly afflicted with hunger, she desisted from asking the soldiers of the Umayyad army for some food. When the captives’ caravan arrived in Kufa, and the women there knew that the captives belonged to the Prophet’s family, they hurried to bring some food for the children. Preventing this thing, Lady Zaynab spoke to the ladies of Kufa:

الصَدَقَةُ مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

“It is forbidden for us, the Ahl al-Bayt, to receive from the alms.”

When the children heard these words from their aunt, they threw away from their hands and mouths all that they had accepted from these ladies and preferred hunger to accepting alms that was forbidden for them. This was the fruit of education by the choicest ones; the prophets, the veracious, and their real followers.

All along the journey of the captives, from Kufa to Damascus, Lady Zaynab did not ask for any aids for the children and women even though they were in dire need for such, because of her disdain and sense of honor.

Thus, Lady Zaynab did not succumb to any other than Almighty Allah. She showed dignity, honor, and disdain inherited from her grandfather and father in spite of her hardships.

Courage

No one can ever doubt the courage of the Prophet’s family. The members of this family gave the best examples of bravery and courage. For instance, Imam Ali (a), the head of the Prophet’s family, said:

“Even if all the Arabs helped each other to fight with me, I will never flee.”

He showed the best sort of courage during the battles and campaigns of Islam. His son Imam al-Husayn (a) also gave the best example of bravery and courage. On the day of Ashura, he amazed his enemies and could stop so bravely and steadfastly before their great numbers. Despite the horrifying misfortunes that he had to encounter on that day, he did not show any surrender or weakness. On the contrary, his steadfastness increased with the increase of his misfortunes. He alone attacked thirty thousand soldiers and could oblige them to turn the backs just like goats that run away from a lion. Even when he fell to the ground out of his heavy wounds, they were too scared to approach him.

Following her family members pattern, Lady Zaynab behaved so courageously before the criminals who killed her brother. When she had to stop before Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, while she was considered as captive, she expressed despise and disrespect for him. He therefore showed his gloating over her misfortunes by saying, “Thanks to Allah Who unmasked, killed, and belied your revolution.”

In reply, she said courageously:

اَلحَمْدُ للهِ ﭐلَّذِي أَكْرَمَنَا بِنَبِيِّهِ، وَطَهَّرَنَا مِنَ ﭐلرِّجْسِ تَطْهيراً. إِنَّمَا يُفْتَضَحُ ﭐلْفَاسِقُ وَيُكَذَّبُ ﭐلْفَاجِرُ، وَهُوَ غَيْرُنَا، وَهُوَ غَيْرُنَا يَا بْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ...

Thanks to Allah Who honored us with His Prophet and purified us from uncleanness thoroughly. It is only the lewd that has been unmasked, and it is only the dissolute that has been belied. We are not any of these two. Indeed, we are not any of these two, O son of Marjanah1. 2

This statement in fact was more lethal than strike of weapons. She said it while she, as well as other ladies of the Prophet’s family, were in captivity and the heads of their protectors were resting on spearheads.

It was these words that also took the tyrant down from his throne into his grave. To hear these words from her in presence of his servants and officials, made him realize in fact it was he who was the real defeated and the unmasked one, while the real triumph belonged to Imam al-Husayn (a), the killed one and his companions.

When he heard these shocking words, Ubaydullah, son of Marjanah, had nothing to say. He therefore spoke to inflict pain in his attempt to cover failure and inability to answer. He addressed her and asked, “How do you see that which Allah has done to your brother?”

Bravely and steadfastly, Lady Zaynab answered with words of triumph:

مَا رَأَيْتُ إِلاّ جَمِيلاً. هٰؤُلاَءِ قَوْمٌ كَتَبَ ﭐللهُ عَلَيْهِمُ ﭐلْقَتْلَ فَبَرَزُوا إلىٰ مَضَاجِعِهِمْ، وَسَيَجْمَعُ ﭐللهُ بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُمْ فَتُحَٰاجَّ وَتُخَاصَمَ. فَانْظُرْ لِمَنِ ﭐلْفَلَجُ يَوْمَئِذٍ. ثَكَلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا بْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ.

I see nothing but His Grace. These were those who were destined for being martyred. They therefore came to the place where they would be slain. Allah will gather you with them for judgment and sentence. You will see then, who will be the triumphant on that day. Woe shall be you, son of Marjanah, then.

These words were surely a source of gratification, not only for Lady Zaynab, but also for Islam and Muslims. They are also regarded to eternally glorify the Prophet’s family.

The circumstances that faced Lady Zaynab with the Syrian man, in the royal place of Yazid and her everlasting revolutionary speech, shook the Umayyad throne and revealed the baseless reality of Yazid and those who had enabled him to come to power. In the coming chapters, these situations will be discussed in details.

Abstention from worldly pleasures

Following her father who had shunned the worldly pleasures relentlessly3 and her mother who possessed nothing other than a rug made of leaves of date-palm trees and a skin of an ewe, Lady Zaynab abandoned all the worldly pleasures and stuck to Almighty Allah and deeds of charity. She had never saved anything for tomorrow. 4

She left everything when accompanying her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), even though she was the wife of the wealthiest man of Medina; all this was to support her religion and defend its principles and values.

Firmness

Lady Zaynab confronted the tyrants so firmly that she represented the strength of right and the justice perfectly. In all situations, she replied the tyrants courageously and faced their falsity with words of light that have perpetuated and acted as models of stopping against any tyrant for sake of the right and justice.

While the soldiers and the courtiers whom Yazid had invited to witness his false victory surrounded her, Lady Zaynab fearlessly countered each and every single word that Yazid said until she completely unmasked him and proved the genuineness of his brother’s issue. Moreover, she threatened and showered the tyrant with severe words of rebuke as if she was the governor and he was the captive. Referring to verses from the Holy Quran and items of logic, she did not leave any argument to the tyrant. Her words were like swords that struck Yazid and his likes to death.

The same thing she did before the other tyrant, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who tried to gloat at her about misfortunes, but all his attempts were rebuffed by sharp words and a style that obliged him to become silent. She ignored him completely and that was enough shame for him.

Her intrepidity was clear all through the journey with her brother and afterwards when she took up various honorable roles in his undying revolution. She managed the affairs of Imam with nonesuch activity despite the enemies’ siege. A single look at the bright face of her brother would remove any tiredness she might have felt.

She also took care of the children and harem after the Imam’s martyrdom, and that was really a hard mission that ordinary women cannot manage. The source of such power and firmness was that she understood Imam al-Husayn’s revolution perfectly and exerted all efforts for giving success to it.

These have been some features of the unmatched personality of Lady Zaynab. As a matter of fact, this lady’s personality included all features of moral highness and perfection. To refer to all these features requires great efforts and very much time, though Lady Zaynab’s features are timeless. This is the reason why only a few features of her personality have been mentioned here.

Lady Zaynab in Traditions

For her high position, Lady Zaynab was mentioned in a number of traditions ascribed to the Holy Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt (a). We have already referred to the Prophet’s saying that weeping for her is the same as weeping for her two brothers.

Shaykh Sulayman al-Hanafi in his famous book entitled Yanabi al-Mawaddah Section 58, records the following - we excerpt only the point of discussion:

Rabiah al-Sadi reported: As I asked Hudhayfah about a number of matters, he said, “Listen to this, understand it, and convey it to people. I have seen the Messenger of Allah and heard him say with my own ears that when al-Husayn ibn Ali came to him on the minbar and he seated him on his shoulders and said:

O people! This is al-Husayn; his grandfather and grandmother are the best of people. His grandfather is the Messenger of Allah and master of Adam’s descendants… And this is al-Husayn whose father, mother, brother, and sisters are the best of people… and his sisters are Zaynab and Ruqayyah… and his two sisters shall be in Paradise…5

This prophetic saying is a clear-cut proof on the exceptional position of Lady Zaynab as she is added to the list of Prophet and the Imams and is regarded as the best of people.

Shaykh al-Saduq in his Ikmal al-Din wa Itmam al-Nimah, reports the following - we excerpt only the point of discussion:

Ali ibn Mahziyar said that Abu al-Husayn Muhammad ibn Jafar al-Asadi said that Ahmad ibn Ibrahim said:

In the year 262, I visited (Lady) Hakimah daughter of Muhammad ibn Ali and sister of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari, and asked her about the religion… She then said, “This is what al-Husayn ibn Ali had done when he appointed his sister Zaynab as his representative openly, and hence any item of knowledge that was said by Ali ibn al-Husayn was ascribed to Zaynab.”

This is another proof on the high position of Lady Zaynab in the sight of Imam al-Husayn as he appointed her to carry the weighty inheritance of Imamate.

Shaykh al-Mufid records the following narration:

During the Battle of the Camel, Aishah gathered children and bondmaids, gave them drums, and ordered them to chant some poetic verses against Imam Ali. When Ummu Salamah, the Prophet’s widow, was informed about this, she decided to go there and reproach Aishah and the gathering women. Lady Zaynab asked to do this instead of Ummu Salamah since she knew these women very well. Hence, she disguised herself and her bondmaids and left towards these children and women. When she reached there, she noticed their vainness and futility. She then showed her reality to Aishah and said, “It is not strange from you and your companion (i.e. Hafsah) to help each other against Amir al-Muminin, since it was both of you who helped each other against his brother, the Messenger of Allah, until you were reproached by the Holy Quran.”6 Aishah felt ashamed and excused that these women had done this out of their ignorance.

This tradition gives a clear idea about the sagacity and wisdom of Lady Zaynab who participated in the defense of Islam with her father and brothers.

The following tradition is recorded in al-Tiraz al-Mudhahhab as quoted from Nasikh al-Tawarikh:

One of the miracles of the Holy Prophet (S) was that he used to put his tongue in the mouths of Fatimah’s suckling children and they were satiated. Zaynab and Ummu Kulthum were also engaged in receiving this blessing besides al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

This narration is in fact a sufficient honor for Lady Zaynab.

The following is recorded in Bihar al-Anwar, as quoted from Maani al-Akhbar:

Muhammad ibn Imran asked Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a) whether it is true that the Holy Prophet (S) had said that because Fatimah guarded her chastity, Allah would forbid Hell to take in her progeny. Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, “Yes, it is true. Her progeny are al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Zaynab, and Ummu Kulthum.”

The previous are only small excerpts of the traditions in which Lady Zaynab is mentioned. It has been already mentioned that she herself was a trustworthy narrator of prophetic traditions and incidents that she lived or heard from her mother.

Traditions of Lady Zaynab

The most famous narration of Lady Zaynab was her mother’s address of Fadak.

Ibn Abu al-Hadid, in Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, reports this address from a series of narrators, all of whom relate it to Lady Zaynab in more than one way. Abdullah ibn Abbas also relates the address to Lady Zaynab.7 She also narrated her father’s last words to her two brothers and his instructions on how to wash his dead body and where to bury him. She also narrated the story of Imam al-Husayn’s birth, as quoted from her mother (a).8

Lady Zaynab also narrated the story of the Heavenly Food that Lady Fatimah al-Zahra prayed to the Lord to give her so as to serve it to her father9. She also narrated the famous story of her mother’s prayer to the believers saying, “Neighbors should be preceded to the family members.”10

She also narrated to her nephew, Imam Zayn al-Abidin, the words of the Holy Prophet about what they would face after him.11 In the same manner, she narrated her father’s confirmation of Ummu Ayman’s narration about the same matter.

  • 1. Marjanah - Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad’s mother, was a notorious prostitute that everybody all over the Islamic State had heard of her name.
  • 2. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 6:263.
  • 3. This is an indication to Imam Ali’s famous word:
    “O world. O world! Get away from me. Why do you present yourself to me? Or are you eager for me? You may not get that opportunity to impress me. Deceive some other person. I have no concern with you. I have divorced you thrice whereafter there is no restitution. Your life is short, your importance is little, and your liking is humble. Alas! The provision is little, the way is long, the journey is far and the goal is hard to reach.”
  • 4. Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin (a) narrated this feature about his aunt, Lady Zaynab. See al-Timothy’s al-Sahih; 2:319, al-Hakim’s al-Mustadrak; 3:149, Ibn al-Athir’s Usd al-Ghabah; 5:523, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh Baghdad; 7:366, and others.
  • 5. This hadith is reported by Abu al-Shaykh Ibn Hayyan in al-Tanbih al-Kabir and is also recorded by Jamaluddin Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Zarandi in Durar al-Simtayn.
  • 6. The story of Aishah and Hafsah’s having hatched plots against the Holy Prophet (S) is very famous, since it is mentioned in the Holy Quran in details. See all books of tafsir regarding the surah of al-Tahrim.
  • 7. See Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani, al-Aghani.
  • 8. See al-Khazzaz, Kifayat al-Athar.
  • 9. See Imaduddin Muhammad ibn Ali al-Tusi, Thaqib al-Manaqib.
  • 10. See Shaykh Ahmad Zaynuddin al-Ihsaie, al-Majami.
  • 11. See Ibn Qawlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarah.

Horrifying Events

Lady Zaynab lived under the custody of her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (S), for a period of her early life. During this period, she was so tranquil and at ease, as he used to receive her with hospitality and honor. Her parents, too, showed her sympathy, love, and cordiality. She also saw the great triumphs of Islam and the defeats of its enemies.

The most significant thing, however, that Lady Zaynab noticed in her childhood was the Prophet’s special care for her parents and brothers.1 She realized the fact that such care and special treatment was not mere emotion or personal view. It originated from divine instructions to express appreciation for the perfect character those individuals enjoyed and to express their worthiness for being the leaders of the Islamic ummah.

These were the happiest days in the life of Lady Zaynab.

Nevertheless, that happiness did not continue. Prophet Muhammad (S) felt death approaching him, and told his daughter about it2. This news spread grief and feelings of sadness over the Prophet’s family as well as Muslims who had to think of a new life empty of their leader and Prophet.

Lady Zaynab’s Dream

Once, Lady Zaynab saw in sleep something horrible; so, she hurried to her grandfather to tell her dream. The Prophet (S) seated her in his lap, kissed her repeatedly, and asked her to tell her dream. She began:

“Last night, I saw as if a violent wind made everybody look black and dark. Hence, I ran towards a great tree and hung strongly to its leaves so that the wind would not take me away. The wind unfortunately tore away that tree and threw it to the ground. I hung to a strong branch from that tree, but the wind took it off. So, I hung to another, but the wind broke that too. I then hurried to hang on to one of two leaves from that tree, but the stormy wind broke it. I then woke up.”

As he heard the dream, the Prophet (S) burst into tears and said, explaining her dream:

“The tree is your grandfather. The first branch is your mother and the other is your father. The two other branches are your brothers, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. The world will be blackened when they leave it, and you will put on mourning dress for their misfortunes.”3

The Farewell Pilgrimage

When the Prophet (S) realized that he would soon depart life, he decided to hold a public meeting with Muslims and nominate the authorities and leaders who would lead them after him. For that very purpose, the Prophet (S) performed his final Hajj (ritual pilgrimage), which was called the Farewell Pilgrimage. He took from one place to another among Muslims so as to lead them to the courses of salvation and guide them to the leaders whom they should follow after him. He repeatedly said:

أَيُّهَا ﭐلنَّاسُ، إِنِّي تَرَكْتُ فِيكُمُ ﭐلثَّقَلَيْنِ: كِتَابَ اللهِ وَعِتْرَتي أَهْلَ بَيْتِي.

“O People, I have left among you the two precious things: the Book of Allah and my progeny—my household.”4

The Prophet (S) then stopped near the well of Zamzam and delivered a great speech in which he referred to all the issues that people would need to know about after him. Regarding the leadership of the ummah, he (S) declared openly:

إِنِّي خَلَّفْتُ فِيكُمْ مَا إِنْ تَمَسَّكْتُمْ بِهِ لَنْ تَضِلُّوا بَعْدِي أَبَداً: كِتَابَ اللهِ وَعِتْرَتِي أَهْلَ بَيْتِي. أَلاَ هَلْ بَلَّغْتُ

“I am leaving among you that which will save you from deviation forever if you only adhere to: the Book of Allah and my progeny—my household. Have I conveyed (to you this matter)?”

In one voice, all the one hundred thousand people in the audience responded by saying: “Yes, you have.”5

After he had accomplished the ritual of his final Hajj, Prophet Muhammad (S) received from the heavens a missive instructing him to nominate Imam Ali as his successor and as a general authority for the ummah. The missive was Almighty Allah’s saying:

ۗ النَّاسِ مِنَ يَعْصِمُكَ وَاللَّهُۚ رِسَالَتَهُ بَلَّغْتَ فَمَا تَفْعَلْ لَمْ وَإِنْۖ ۖ رَبِّكَ مِنْ إِلَيْكَ أُنْزِلَ مَا بَلِّغْ الرَّسُولُ أَيُّهَا يَا

. الْكَافِرِينَ الْقَوْمَ يَهْدِي لَا للَّهَا إِنَّ

O Apostle! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people. (5:67)6

Hence, he ordered the caravans of the pilgrims to stop and gather at a place called ‘Ghadir Khumm’. It was so hot then that the men had to stand with the edges of their cloaks tucked under their feet so as to avoid the heat arising from the ground.

In such a situation, he led a congregational prayer and asked his companions to make a platform like a pulpit. He stood towering over it and delivered the most important speech in the lives of all Muslims. The most important aspect of that speech was that he took Imam Ali (a) by the hand and raised him as much as he could, and declared openly and frankly:

مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلاَهُ فَهٰذَا عَلِيٌّ مَوْلاَهُ. اَللَّهُمَّ وَالِ مَنْ وَالاَهُ، وَعَادِ مَنْ عَادَاهُ، وَأَحِبَّ مَنْ أَحَبَّهُ، وَابْغَضْ مَنْ أَبْغَضَهُ، وَانْصُرْ مَنْ نَصَرَهُ، وَاخْذُلْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُ، وَأَدِرِ ﭐلحَقَّ مَعَهُ حَيْثُ دَارَ. أَلاَ فَلْيُبَلِّغِ ﭐلشَّاهِدُ ﭐلْغَائِبَ.

“Ali shall be the master of him whoever has taken me as master. O Allah, (I implore to You to) accede to him who accedes to Ali, be the enemy of him who makes an enemy of Ali, love him who loves Ali, hate him who hates Ali, give victory to him who supports Ali, disappoint him whoever disappoints Ali, and direct the right to the direction that Ali takes. It is obligatory upon those present here to convey this instruction to the absent.”7

As the Prophet (S) conveyed his Lord’s missive so completely, the Lord revealed,

. الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا لَكُمُ وَرَضِيتُ ۚنِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ دِينَكُمْ لَكُمْ أَكْمَلْتُ الْيَوْمَ

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen Islam for you as a religion. (5:3)”8

From her early life, Lady Zaynab realized this instruction of the Prophet and the homage that was due from the ummah to her father - Imam Ali (a). She also realized that the leadership of her father was a divine instruction and, hence, was one of the foundation pillars of this religion.

The Prophet’s Final Ailment

When he returned from the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet (S) felt sick. He was attacked by a very violent fever that obliged him to stay at bed. When Muslims heard of this bad news, they hastened to visit him in groups. He instructed them not to leave the leadership of Imam Ali (a) after his departure.9

Because the issue of Imam Ali’s next leadership was the most important, the Prophet (S) repeatedly focused on it at every situation. He used to say:

هٰذَا عَلِيٌّ مَعَ ﭐلْقُرْآنِ، وَﭐلْقُرْآنُ مَعَ عَلِيٍّ؛ لاَ يَفْتَرِقَانِ حَتّىٰ يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ ﭐلحَوْضَ.

“Ali is most certainly with the Quran and the Quran is most certainly with Ali. They shall never leave each other until they join me by the Divine Pool.” 10

He anticipated the violation of this decision after his death, so the Prophet (S) ordered the individuals who were suspected11 of doing so to join a phalanx and travel to Syria in a military campaign so as to avoid their rebellion after his death.12 Those individuals however understood the purpose of Prophet’s instruction. Therefore, they decided to rebel against his instructions and refused to join that campaign.

Despite his illness, the Prophet (S) went out, ascended the minbar13 and ordered his companions to join that campaign. And then finally, cursed anyone who would break this order.14 This strong threat made his view very clear to those individuals who did everything to avoid leaving Medina on these days.

The Calamity of Thursday

As a second, more visionary attempt to frustrate the conspirators’ wicked plots, the Prophet (S) in his final hours, when he was surrounded by his companions among whom were the conspirators, asked them to bring to him an inkwell and a pen so as to record for them his last, most important will. He instructed that the will would save them from going astray forever.15

The conspirators understood the Prophet’s intention; so, they aroused a cacophony by arguing noisily - some supported the Prophet’s demand while others rejected tenaciously. It was strange to witness such individuals, who realized the reality of the Prophet (S) that he would never speak out of personal desire,16 to object to his last will.

Some ladies who knew about this matter hurried to reproach these individuals for raising a disgraceful dare to challenge Prophet’s orders. The party who supported the Prophet’s demand was about to win, but someone (namely, Umar ibn al-Khattab) intruded hastily to declare these disastrous words: “The Prophet is hallucinating!”17

This incident was the most calamitous in the Islamic history. Abdullah ibn Abbas, the grand authority of the Islamic ummah, used to weep whenever he mentioned this incident. He called it ‘The Calamity of Thursday’. 18

Lady Zaynab, observing these events, realized the purposes of those individuals who aimed at taking her father away from the position that Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (S) chose for him. This incident however led to other adversities, one of which was that of Karbala.

Lady Fatimah al-Zahra’s Grief

Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) was the most grief stricken due to her father’s disease. She sat by him with a heart torn by grief and pain as if she was the one who was suffering agonies of death.19 Seeing his daughter and dearest one to his heart in such a state, the Holy Prophet (S) tried to entertain her and alleviate her grief. Hence, he said to her something confidentially. She burst into tears. He (S) then said something else, also confidentially, but this time she smiled.

When Aishah, the prophet’s wife, asked Lady Fatimah (a) about the secret behind her tears and then her smile, she turned her face away and did not tell her. She, however, told some righteous ladies about the matter. She said: “The first time, my father (S) told me that he would soon depart from this life. This news made me break into tears. The second time, he told me that I would be the first to join him in the heavens. He also told that I am the Chief of the Women of this ummah. This news gladdened me.”20

Lady Zaynab took part in her mother’s grief and pains. She was sad for her mother and grandfather. In his final moments, the Holy Prophet (S) supplicated to Almighty Allah to be the custodian of his household and to make the heart of every believing man and woman to ache for them.

In his final moments, he also asked the attendants to attend to his household and progeny:

قَدْ خَلَّفْتُ فِيكُمْ كِتَابَ اللهِ وَعِتْرَتِي أَهْلَ بَيْتِي. فَالمُضَيِّعُ لِكِتَابِ اللهِ كَالمُضَيِّعِ لِسُنَّتِي، وَﭐلمُضَيِّعُ لِسُنَّتِي كَالمُضَيِّعِ لِعِتْرَتِي. إِنَّهُمَا لَنْ يَفْتَرِقَا حَتَّىٰ يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ ﭐلحَوْضَ.

“I have left among you the Book of Allah and my progeny — my household. To waste the Book of Allah is as same as wasting my Sunnah, and to waste my Sunnah is as same as wasting my progeny. They (the Book of Allah and the Ahl al-Bayt) shall never leave each other until they join me on the Divine Pool.”21

Prophet Muhammad Departs Life

Thus, the Prophet (S) took his last breath in this world and departed life while he was in the lap of Imam Ali (a).22

The Imam then, prepared for the funeral ceremonies while he was hugely affected with deep sorrow. He bathed the Prophet’s dead body, put it in the coffin, offered the prayer for the deceased, and allowed Muslims to offer prayers for the body, saying: “Peace, Allah’s mercy, and blessings be upon you, O Prophet of mercy. O Allah, we declare honestly that he has conveyed to his nation everything that was revealed to him and he fought for Allah’s sake until Almighty Allah reinforced His religion and accomplished His Word. O Allah, guide us to follow that which was revealed to him, make us continue on this course, and join us to him.”23

Thereafter, Imam Ali (a) put the holy body of the Prophet (S) in the tomb and stood at the edge of the tomb shedding tears and uttering words of grief.

Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) was the saddest individual and appeared to be about to lose her soul because of grief and bitter weeping. In such horrible hours, she said:

“O Father, O Messenger of Allah, O Prophet of Mercy. From now on, the heavenly revelation will cease. From now on, Gabriel will not visit us. O Allah, (I implore to You to) join my soul to his and have mercy upon me by letting me see his face. O Allah, I implore to You not to deprive me of his recompense and intercession on the Day of Resurrection.”24

After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (S), his household was overtaken by waves of sadness and grief. Besides this, they were surrounded by waves of horror and fear because they anticipated that the Arabs would harm them so as to avenge themselves against the Prophet (S) who was seen as responsible for mourning to occur every house. In this regard, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a) said:

“When the Holy Prophet (S) departed life, his household felt as if they were left unsheltered; nothing, not even the heavens, would protect them from above, and nothing, not even the earth, would protect them from beneath.”

Lady Zaynab, while she was in her early years, suffered bitterly from this grand misfortune. She had to encounter its effects. She was only five years old when this adversity invaded her youthful heart. She saw her beloved grandfather depart forever, saw her father swallow grief because of losing his cousin, and saw her mother mourn and ardently weep for her father’s passing away. That day in fact marked the beginning of Lady Zaynab’s griefs and sufferings.

  • 1. Prophet Muhammad (S) referred to his household at almost every occasion and situation. He instructed Muslims to follow and take them alone as their guide, since deviation from religion would surely occur if their course were abandoned. In other words, Prophet Muhammad (S) presented his household as the one and only source of guidance for attaining Almighty Allah’s satisfaction. The following narration, for example, is recorded in al-Tabari’s Dhakhair al-Uqba, 24; Majma al-Zawaid, 9:169, Ansab al-Ashraf, 1:157, and many other reference books of Hadith:
    Prophet Muhammad (S) said: “The likeness of my household (Ahl ul-Bayt) among you (i.e. Muslims) is of the Noah’s Ark; anyone who embarks upon that ark will certainly be saved, but anyone who leaves it will certainly drown. Also, the like of my household among you is the Gate of Forgiveness for the Israelites, anyone who enters from that gate will be forgiven.”
  • 2. See Ibn Shahrashub’s Manaqib Ali (i) Abu-Talib; 1:167.
  • 3. See al-Tirmidhi’s al-Sahih, 2:308
  • 4. See al-Yaqubi’s al-Tarikh, 2: 91-2.
  • 5. See al-Ghadir, 2:34
  • 6. See al-Wahidi’s Asbab al-Nuzul, al-Razi’s al-Tafsir, and many other books of Tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Quran)
  • 7. See Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s al-Musnad; 4:281
  • 8. See al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh Baghdad; 8:29, al-Suyuti’s al-Durr al-Manthur, and many other reference books of history and Hadith.
  • 9. See Ahmad Husayn Yaqub’s The Conception of the Sahaba’s Ultimate Decency and the Political Authority in Islam; translated by Badr Shahin, Published by Ansariyan Publications – Qum, 1998.
  • 10. See al-Sawaiq al-Muhriqah, 124.
  • 11. Abu-Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Abu-Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah were the major individuals whom the Prophet (S) asked insistently to join that military campaign. Yet, they later on became the leaders of the rebellion.
  • 12. See al-Muttaqi al-Hindi’s Kanz al-Ummal; 5:312, Ibn Saad’s al-Tabaqat; 4:46, and Tarikh al-Khamis, 2:46.
  • 13. Minbar is a small set of steps in a mosque from which speeches are delivered.
  • 14. See al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, 3:34.
  • 15. This famous incident was recorded in the most reliable books of Hadith of the Sunnis, such as al-Bukhari’s al-Sahih, Muslim’s al-Sahih, al-Tabarani’s al-Mujam al-Awsat, and many others.
  • 16. Referring to Prophet Muhammad (S), Almighty Allah says (53:2-5):

    مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ عَلَّمَهُ شَدِيدُ الْقُوَىٰ

    “Your companion does not err, nor does he go astray; nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.”

  • 17. See Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 3:114.
  • 18. Though all reference books of Hadith have recorded this incident, most of them refused to mention the name of the one who said that calamitous statement openly.
  • 19. See Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s al-Musnad; 1:355
  • 20. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi’s Hayat al-Imam al-Hasan; 1:113.
  • 21. See al-Khwarizmi’s al-Manaqib; 1:114
  • 22. See al-Muttaqi al-Hindi’s Kanz al-Ummal; 2:55, Ibn Saad’s al-Tabaqat, and many other reference books of history.
  • 23. See al-Muttaqi al-Hindi’s Kanz al-Ummal; 4:54.
  • 24. See Tarikh al-Khamis; 2:192

The Caliphs’ Reign

The Holy Quran has depicted adeptly the tragedy that inflicted the Islamic ummah because of the absence of Prophet Muhammad (S) in a way that no one else can depict such a vision. Listen to the Holy Quran say:

وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِنْ مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ يَنْقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَنْ يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ 

And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whomever turns back upon his heels will by no means do harm to Allah in the least, and Allah will reward the grateful. (3:144)

In fact, the most disastrous tragedy that inflicted the Islamic ummah after Prophet’s demise was removal of the Prophet’s Household from the political field and handing the leadership to other unworthy individuals. Besides many adversities that the Islamic ummah suffered because of these events, the matter also resulted in coming to power of the Umayyad rulers. They behaved savagely with Muslims in general and with the Prophet’s Household in particular.

In a few words, the plot of taking Imam Ali away from the leadership was the major reason behind slaying of the Prophet’s Household and the genuine companions of Imam Husayn in Karbala, at the hands of the Umayyad army.

Thus the events that occurred during the reigns of the first three caliphs had left a clear imprint on the life of Lady Zaynab. Let us then refer briefly to these events.

The Plot of al-Saqifah

While Prophet Muhammad’s dead body had not been buried, some individuals from the Ansar1 hurried to hold a secret congress in Saqifah - shed - of Banu-Saidah for proposing one of them for the leadership of the Islamic ummah because they anticipated that the Muhajirun2 would seize power.

Saad ibn Ubadah, the chief of al-Khazraj tribe, delivered a speech in which he applauded the Ansar’s struggle for sake of Islam and that they were more worthy of leading the Islamic ummah than the tribes of Quraysh who antagonized the Prophet (S) and tried to assassinate him.

Another chief from the Ansar, namely al-Habbab ibn al-Mundhir, delivered a speech in which he warned his people from the people of Quraysh and advised them to give the people of Quraysh a share in power because he anticipated that the descendants of those whose fathers, sons, and brothers were killed during the Prophet’s campaigns would come to power and revenge themselves on the Ansar.

Unfortunately, the anticipation of al-Habbab ibn al-Mundhir came true; when Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, whose relatives were killed by those who defended Islam during the Prophet’s campaigns, came to power, he intentionally humiliated the Ansar and spread poverty among them. His son, Yazid, made what is worse; he usurped their properties, shed their blood, and abused their honors.

Sudden arrival of the Muhajirun

While the Ansar were discussing the affairs of the next leadership, they were surprised by the arrival of Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, Salim, and others from the Muhajirun. Despite secrecy of their congress, the Ansar were revealed and all their plots failed.

Taking advantage of the situation, Abu Bakr delivered a smooth-tongued speech in which he referred to the Muhajirun as the foremost in embracing and defending Islam. He then offered the position of vizier to the Ansar and kept the position of leadership for his people and him.

In his speech, Abu Bakr did not refer to the death of Prophet Muhammad (S) or to the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He should, at least, have demanded with postponing that congress for some time because the Prophet’s holy body had not been buried yet. He also should have referred to the Prophet’s repetitive instructions of nominating Imam Ali as his successor and representative.

However, his party hurried to support him and pay homage to him as the next leader. Umar ibn al-Khattab, by using his famous stick and tough style, played the greatest role in this play. In fact, they did their roles so successfully, because their plot had been already known and agreed upon. Omitting participation in the funeral ceremonies of the Prophet (S), the party of Abu Bakr carried him to the Prophet’s Masjid like a bridal procession.

Imam Ali and the illegal homage

When he heard of their plots, Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin refused to pay homage to the illegal government of Abu Bakr, because he considered this matter as flagrant violation of his rights. Imam Ali’s position in relation to the leadership of the Islamic ummah is as same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The floodwater flows down from him and the bird cannot fly up to him.3

However, Abu Bakr and his party agreed to coerce Imam Ali to pay his homage by any means. They therefore sent their forces to arrest him at home and bring him out forcibly. The Imam’s claims against them were so strong and effective that they could not say anything of logic to him.4 He then came back home without paying homage to Abu Bakr.

At home, waves of grief and sorrow surrounded the Imam whose right was usurped before his own eyes. The same waves surrounded his family members among whom was the little Zaynab who saw her father resist grief and opt for patience, and saw her mother weep for her father’s departure and her husband’s grievance.

Strict procedures against the Ahl al-Bayt

As he failed to coerce Imam Ali to pay homage to him, Abu Bakr resorted to a number of shameful means, hoping they would oblige the Imam (a) to renounce his right. They first canceled the Khums (one-fifth) tax that Almighty Allah gave exclusively to Prophet Muhammad and his family (a).

Abu Bakr then imposed an economic blockade on the Prophet’s Household by confiscating their properties and counting them on the public treasury so that they would not be able to revolt against his illegal government. He also confiscated the land of Fadak, which the Prophet (S) gifted to his daughter, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), in particular before the very eyes of all Muslims, including Abu Bakr himself.5

Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) was very angry at the behavior of Abu Bakr who shut all doors in her face in all aspects of life. Accompanied by a number of pious women, she entered the session of Abu Bakr in her father’s Masjid where many men from the Muhajirun and the Ansar were present. When a screen was put between her and the attendants, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), first, moaned so pathetically that everybody could not resist weeping. She then delivered an astounding speech.

At first, she referred to the Islamic knowledge, philosophy of the Islamic laws, and then took up some important issues. She mentioned her father’s great favors on those peoples who, before him, had lived in dimness of ignorance, incivility, and humiliation. She also referred to the virtue and precedence of her cousin uncle and husband, Imam Ali, and his struggle for the sake of Islam while others lived in luxury and did not make a single effort in this regard.

Before entering upon the main issue, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) expressed her great sorrow for the deviation and perversion that inflicted the Islamic ummah, and predicted the ummah’s imminent collapse and incurrence of adversities and misfortunes because of taking the Ahl al-Bayt (a) away from the positions that Almighty Allah and His Apostle chose for them. She then cited the question of depriving her of her father’s heritage by giving examples from the Holy Quran and the Islamic laws in this regard.

In point of fact, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) disproved the claims of Abu Bakr so unquestionably that nobody could answer her. She then put before his eyes the bitter future that he would most certainly encounter when he shall be judged by Almighty Allah and His Prophet (S). She then addressed to the Muslims, attempting to awaken their conscience regarding her right and revolting against the illegal government.6

However, she knew that they were too weak to be stirred up by any word or any situation. At any rate, the speech is regarded as the most impressive innovative speech throughout history of humankind.

Abu Bakr could not contain the situation, which was about to explode, so with his craftiness and use of an amazing diplomacy, he answered Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) with words of welcome and honoring. He lowered himself before her and showed that those strict procedures had not been his own opinion. Rather, they had been the Muslims’ decisions.

In summary, no rational individual could excuse Abu Bakr who, in addition to dressing himself with the position of leadership of the Islamic ummah, confiscated the Prophet’s heritage, seizing Fadak and other personal properties, and imposed an economical blockade on the Prophet’s family. He lied to fabricate against the Holy Prophet (S) and when he told that all Muslims had decided in unison to deprive Imam Ali (a) of his right to leadership.7

Lady Zaynab, witnessing all these events, understood the reality of those individuals who had caused troubles, pain and grief to her mother.

It is worth mentioning that Lady Zaynab, while she was only five year old, memorized her mother’s long and eloquent speech. She was the major narrator of that speech. This is in fact a clear sign of her extraordinary genius.

Rejected apologies

Abu Bakr and Umar tried to please Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) in every way, but she refused to receive them. They then turned towards Imam Ali and begged him to arrange a meeting with her. The Imam did and Lady Fatimah (a) permitted them.

When they both sat before her, she turned her face away from them. They then apologized for her, but she asked them:

“Now if I tell you something said by the Prophet of Allah (S), will you accept and follow it.”

“Of course we will,” answered they.

She asked,

“I ask you by Allah, have you heard the Prophet of Allah (S) say: ‘To please Fatimah is my pleasure and to enrage her is my anger. Hence, anyone who loves my daughter Fatimah has in fact loved me, anyone pleases my daughter Fatimah has in fact pleased me, and anyone who enrages Fatimah has in fact enraged me.’ Have you or not?”

“Yes, we have,” they confirmed, “We have heard the Prophet of Allah (S) say so.”

Furiously then, she addressed to Abu Bakr and his companion:

“I now call upon Allah and His angels to witness that you have enraged me and that you have never pleased me. I will certainly complain against you as soon as I will meet the Prophet (S).”

Moreover, she addressed even more intense words when she said,

“By Allah I swear that I will invoke Allah against you in every prayer I offer.”

Hence, Abu Bakr and his companion left without obtaining the satisfaction of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a).

Naturally, Lady Zaynab who witnessed these events closely took the same attitude and participated in her mother’s rage at Abu Bakr.

Sorrows of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra

Since her father’s demise, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) did not live a single moment of happiness or even a moderate temper. She used to weep day and night to the degree that some ‘powers’ in Medina asked her husband, Imam Ali (a), to persuade her to weep either in day or at night, not in both. She therefore started taking al-Hasan, al-Husayn, and Lady Zaynab to a place out of Medina and sit under a tree there to weep freely as much as she could. Her weeping reminded those people of Medina of their unjust situations and their evil hands extended to cut that tree.

Hence, she had to sit under sun’s heat to mourn the loss of her father. But it was very hard for Imam Ali (a) to let his wife and most beloved one to be exposed to the heat of the sun. He therefore hurried to build for her a house he called ‘Bayt al-Ahzan’ (House of Griefs) so that she would take for weeping and mourning her father (S). Thus, she, accompanied by her sons and daughter, used to sit at that gloomy house all the day, and the Imam (a) used to take them back home when night would fall. Her only source of pleasure was visiting her father’s tomb. She would want to go there, throw herself on the tomb and complain about what had happened to her after his departure.8

Demise of Lady Fatimah

As grief prevailed in her soul, the Prophet’s daughter lost all her strength; she could hardly stand up and do her daily activities. Lady Zaynab would help her mother as much as she could. She felt her grief, offered to aid her, and rested with her. Nevertheless, her health was declining, her body was exposed to illnesses, and she had to stay in bed.

Once, some ladies visited her. With a faint, sorrowful voice, she answered: “I have hated this world and I will be happy only if I depart you. I will meet Allah and His Prophet (S) with numerous sadness; my rights have been violated, my relationship to the Prophet (S) has not been respected, his will concerning me has not been regarded, and nobody has considered my sanctity.”9

Like a rose losing its bloom, the Prophet’s daughter began to wither, and death walked to her in speedy steps while she was in the vigor of youth.

When Imam Ali (a) attended on her request, she told him about her will, which included many points the most important of which were that: her holy body must be buried at the darkest hour of night, those who aggrieved, wronged, and violated her rights must never participate in her funeral ceremonies, and her tomb must not be known by anybody so that her issue and grievances would be objects of wonderment to the coming generations.

The Imam left her after he had guaranteed for her all these matters while he was sinking in sadness.

She also asked her daughter, Lady Zaynab, to do something prophetic in the future in a certain situation. The daughter promised her mother that she would do. She then asked Asma bint Umays to make for her a bedstead that would cover her pure body.10

On the last day of her life, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) seemed to be in a better state; because she realized that she would very soon join her father, she was glad. She washed her sons, made food for them, and asked them to visit their grandfather’s tomb. She then looked at them so deeply, turned to Lady Zaynab, and looked at her with the same look.

She then asked Asma to fetch her some water, then dress of mourning, and then put her bed in the centre of the house. Asma knew that these were the last moments of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra’s life; therefore, she became astounded.

Afterward, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a) began to recite verses of the Holy Quran until her holy soul ascended to the heavens to meet her father (S) after whose passing away, she had come to detest the worldly life. As Lady Zaynab’s eyes fell on the motionless body of her mother, she began to wail and cry out in grief.

As soon as al-Hasan and al-Husayn knew about their mother’s death, they threw themselves on her body and wept. But Asma asked them to go to the Masjid and tell their father about this heartbreaking news.

When their father heard, he felt as if his heart had cleft and wished he had departed life. He hurried to the house with tearful eyes, looked at the dead body, and said words full of sufferings. Lady Zaynab was there beside the body, crying out in grief after she had lost all hopes. For a child, there is nothing more difficult to cope than her mother departing forever.

The Imam asked Salman (the Persian) to inform the people who had quietly gathered at the door that the funeral would be at night. Nobody was allowed to see the dead body of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), not even Aishah, the Prophet’s widow.11

When the big part of that night went by, Imam Ali (a) washed the pure body while the two sons, the daughter, and Asma were looking with tearful eyes and broken hearts. He then put the body in the coffin and asked his children to take the last look at their mother. They hence threw themselves on their mother’s body. When only a few hours remained from that night, the Imam (a) offered the Prayer for Deceased, carried the body to the final resting place with the help of the choice ones, such as Salman and some Hashemite men, put it in the grave, heaped dust, and removed any sign of the grave. The Imam’s tears wetted the dust while he was referring to his wife, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra the Veracious (a), with words that expressed his deep sadness and great suffering.12

The Imam (a) then returned home to join his children weeping for their mother.

Thus, sadness and pain colored the childhood of Lady Zaynab who lost her grandfather (S), the compassionate, then, only a few weeks later, her tender mother. While she was in such an early age, Lady Zaynab realized the major goals that made those people oppress her mother and violate her rights. She therefore decided to follow her mother’s course and never succumb to the tyrants and the illegal rulers of the Islamic ummah.

Umar’s reign

After about two years of ruling, diseases surrounded Abu Bakr who nominated Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor though many celebrated personalities of the Islamic State objected this matter and complained about Umar’s rudeness. Nevertheless, Abu Bakr did not respond to such protests and went on stressing his unjustifiable decision.13

The most distinctive feature of Abu Bakr’s regime was persecution of the Prophet’s family and divesting them of the sacredness that the Prophet (S), due to a divine instruction, had cast on them. This matter in fact opened doors for the illegal rulers who reigned over the Islamic ummah in later times to illegally to persecute them and treat them severely. This means that Abu Bakr gave green light to the Umayyad rulers to perpetrate the massacre of Karbala during which Imam al-Husayn, along with his relatives and virtuous companions, was slain and his pure body was severed so crudely, and his harem, headed by Lady Zaynab, were taken as captives for nothing but their being the Ahl al-Bayt (S).

After Abu Bakr’s death, Umar held the affairs of the Islamic ummah with an iron hand. His ruling was so rude that even the major companions of the Prophet (S), such as Abdullah ibn Abbas, kept themselves away from him.14

Imam Ali (a), the true leader of the Islamic ummah, isolated himself from the social and political life during Umar’s reign in the same way as he had done during Abu Bakr’s reign. In fact, they tried their best to keep him away from any affair related to their government.15 Yet, they had to refer to him for every problem they faced.16

The Imam thus confined himself to his house while grief, bitterness, and gloom were his only companions. Like their father, Imam Ali’s sons took part in the grief that overcame their house, and were very angry with Umar. Imam al-Husayn (a), once, shouted at Umar who was climbing the Prophet’s minbar and asked him to descend since he – Umar - was unworthy of that place.17

Lady Zaynab, too, had the same feelings towards Umar to whom she referred in a statement included by her historical speech addressed to Yazid in his palace:

"وَسَيَعْلَمُ مَنْ سَوَّلَ لَكَ وَمَكَّنَكَ مِنْ رِقَابِ ﭐلمُسْلِمِينَ..."

“The one who seduced you and gave you the power due to which you are ruling over the Muslims shall certainly know…”

At any rate, Umar acted towards the Islamic ummah on the basis of his personal opinions. For example, he hated the Persians very much and they, in return, have hated him. He prevented any of them to enter Medina city, the capital of the Islamic state, unless he would be under full age and decided that they have no right to inherit except those who were born in the Arab lands.18

As a result, Umar was assassinated by a Persian slave whom he humiliated and ridiculed.19

In his final days, Umar thought for quite a while about whom he should assign the leadership of the Islamic ummah. As he recalled his old associates who participated actively in the implementation of the plan of taking the Prophet’s family away from leadership, he showed sadness for them, for death had wrenched them away.

Finally, he put a mean plot due to which Imam Ali would never be able to hold the position of leadership. He named his unsubstantiated play as Shura. He decided to choose six personalities who should nominate one of them for the caliphate. After Umar’s death, the six persons held their meeting.

After long discussions and disputations, Uthman ibn Affan, the representative of the Umayyad dynasty, was selected as the coming caliph. From its very first spark of life, the one and only purpose beyond fabrication of the emaciated play of Shura and its funny stipulations put in place by Umar, was to nominate Uthman as the caliph and to take Imam Ali away from this position.

Umar’s Shura, in fact, brought about seditions and disorder for the Islamic ummah. It was an important step in enabling the mortal enemies of Islam, the Umayyad family, to come to power and take revenge for their individuals who had been killed during the battle of Badr at the hands of Imam Ali, the Hashemite youths, and the pure Muslims.

Uthman’s reign

Once Uthman came to power, the Umayyad and the Abu Mait’s families surrounded him and controlled the ummah’s destiny. Uthman loved his relatives, the Umayyad family and lost himself in his loyalty to them.20 As a result, all the offices of the state were in their hands and all the fortunes of Muslims became theirs exclusively. Accordingly, disorder, rebellion, and public anarchy spread throughout the provinces of the state. Moreover, Uthman persecuted the foremost Muslims and the authorities of the ummah, such as Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Abdullah ibn Masud, and Ammar ibn Yasir. Even Aishah, the Prophet’s widow and Abu Bakr’s daughter, opposed Uthman, accused him of atheism, and urged people to kill him.

The matter reached its climax when complete provinces, such as Iraq and Egypt, mutinied. Some military phalanxes, as well, directed towards Medina, surrounded Uthman’s house, and demanded with taking Marwan ibn al-Hakam and the Umayyad individuals away from the state’s offices or abdicating his position.

He, in the first place, promised the mutineers he would respond to them, but he did not. They therefore assassinated him so violently and left his dead body in one of the dunghills of Medina without permitting anyone to bury it. However, Imam Ali asked the mutineers to bury the dead body, and they had to accept.

By closing the final part of Uthman’s reign, a new page of the Islamic history began. Without the seditious matters that Aishah, Mawiyah, Talhah, and al-Zubayr aroused against Imam Ali’s government, his reign would have rectified all the problems that the three caliphs caused to the ummah.

  • 1. The Ansar – supporters - were people of al-Madinah (formerly Yathrib) who supported the Prophet (S) and the emigrants of Mecca after they had to leave their home country.
  • 2. The Muhajirun – emigrants – were the people of Mecca who had left their home country after their people had treated them severely because they embraced Islam.
  • 3. This is the expression that Imam Ali (a) himself used when talking about the usurpation of his position that Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (S) had chosen for him. See Nahj al-Balaghah; sermon of al-Shaqshaqiyyah No. 3.
  • 4. See Ibn Qutaybah’s al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah; 1:11-2.
  • 5. For details, See Fadak in History, by Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, translated by Abdullah al-Shahin, Published by Ansariyan Publications – Qum, 2002.
  • 6. See Alam al-Nisa, 3:208 and Balaghat al-Nisa; 12-9
  • 7. Abu-Bakr claimed that he had heard Prophet Muhammad (S) saying: “We, the prophets, do not leave heritages. Anything that we leave must be regarded as alms.” Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a), however, proved the falsity of this claim through many Quranic Verses and rational evidences. For more details, See Fadak in History, by Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr.
  • 8. See Ibn Shahrasub’s al-Manaqib, 2:131
  • 9. See al-Yaqubi’s al-Tarikh, 2:95
  • 10. See al-Hakim’s al-Mustadrak, 3:162
  • 11. See Ibn Shahrasub’s al-Manaqib; 3:365
  • 12. See Nahj al-Balaghah; Commentary of Muhammad Abduh, 2:207.
  • 13. See Ibn Abil-Hadid, Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 6:343.
  • 14. For more details, see Abd-al-Husayn Sharafuddin, al-Nass wa al-Ijtihad.
  • 15. See Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah, 9:28.
  • 16. For details, see for instance, Qada al-Imam Ali. In fact, all books that dealt with the Islamic history have mentioned several narrations showing Umar ibn al-Khattab’s frequent reference to Imam Ali in every problem he faced. Moreover, Umar’s famous saying: “Without Ali, Umar would certainly have perished,” and many other like this one have been mentioned in every book dealing with Umar’s reign.”
  • 17. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi’s al-Sayyidah Zaynab, 114; Isabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah), 2:461.
  • 18. See Malik ibn Anas al-Muwatta; 2:12.
  • 19. See al-Masudi’s Muruj al-Dhahab; 2:212, and al-Istiab (published in the margins of al- Isabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah); 2:461.
  • 20. See Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s al-Musnad; 1:62

Imam Ali’s Reign

After they had overthrown Uthman’s government, the mutineers surrounded Imam Ali (a) and declared that they unanimously select him for the leadership of the Islamic ummah. As he anticipated the coming crises, the Imam (a) refused, but the public insisted and declared that they would not opt for anyone else, and that the Islamic ummah would be without leader if he would refuse.

Thus, the Imam (a) had to accept, and the people hurried to pay homage to him. Talhah, al-Zubayr, the military forces, the foremost warriors and authorities of Islam, and the entire public paid homage to the Imam (a).1 In fact, none of the first three caliphs, or any ruler of the Islamic state, won such a non-compulsory homage except Imam Ali (a).

The tribes of Quraysh received the leadership of Imam Ali (a) in the same way as they had received the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (S), with discomfort and gloom.2 They knew the Imam (a) from another angle; for them it was he who had beheaded their Heads and crushed their pride under the banner of Islam3. They also knew that the Imam (a) would never neglect their plundering the public treasures during the dark reign of Uthman

As soon as he held the position of leadership, Imam Ali (a), the one and only deserver of the epithet of Amir al-Muminin–the commander of the faithful believers, decided to confiscate all the fortunes that Uthman robbed from the public treasure and gave exclusively to his faithless relatives. He then deposed Uthman’s officials who spread injustice and persecution throughout the Islamic ummah. As a third step in his program of social justice, the Imam (a) declared equality among people and cancelled any distinction due to social class4.

On this righteous plan, Imam Ali (a) educated his sons who raised his slogan of justice, fought for its sake, and challenged all its oppressors and violators.

Rebellion against the Imam

Imam Ali (a) insisted on applying the instructions of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah honestly and impartially, so many straying powers opposed him in order to safeguard their personal interests that they had obtained illegally.

The first ones to declare rebellion against Imam Ali’s government were Talhah and al-Zubayr. Because the Imam treated them just like any other Muslim and refused to give them privileges at the expense of the others, they mutinied against him and breached the homage that they had paid to him. He also refused to invest in them with any official position because he knew their greediness.

One day, they both asked the Imam’s permission to leave for Mecca for performing Umrah5. The Imam gazed at them and said:

“By Allah I swear, you do not intend to perform Umrah. You intend to mutiny and breach your homage to me.”

However, the Imam (a) permitted them after he had asked them to pay homage to him again. Without hesitation, they did and swore they would never mutiny.

As soon as they fled to Mecca, they joined Aishah.

Even though she was in the lead of those who revolted against Uthman ibn Affan and decided his apostasy, Aishah could not stand the news of Imam Ali’s undertaking the position of the Islamic ummah’s leadership, because of her uncontrollable malice towards him.

Thus, Aishah’s completely changed her position towards Uthman. She began to mourn for him and betook his assassination as a pretext to overthrow the Imam’s government.6 Talhah and al-Zubayr, as well as the past profiteers of Uthman’s government, joined Aishah and decided to march towards Basra for fighting against the Imam’s authorities.

The lawless mutineers seduced Aishah by mounting her on a camel7 and calling her their mother. When she arrived in a place, dogs received her companions and her with barking. The barking reminded her of a word she had heard from the Holy Prophet (S). She asked in a terrified tone, “What is this place called?”

“It is called al-Hawab,” she was told.

The moment this name came to her ear, she became panic-stricken and asked them to take her back home. When she was asked for a reason, she answered that she once had heard the Prophet (S) saying to his wives, “I see coming that the dogs of al-Hawab will bark at one of you. Do not be it, little reddish one!89

All the mutineers’ efforts to make Aishah change her decision failed; therefore, they, led by Talhah and al-Zubayr, bribed some individuals to come and witness that the place was not called al-Hawab. That was the first perjury in Islam.10 Unfortunately, Aishah was deceived by that false testimony.

When the lawless mutineers arrived in the suburbs of Basra, Uthman ibn Hanif, the governor of Basra, sent Abu al-Aswad al-Duali to see the matter. The man met Aishah and al-Zubayr and discussed the matter with them so logically. Yet, they did not respond to him.

Abu al-Aswad told the governor that they had decided to fight. So, the two parties agreed on a temporary peace treaty as they waited for Imam Ali’s opinion.

Nonetheless, Aishah’s party breached the treaty, attacked the governor, arrested and tortured him, robbed the public treasury, and aroused sedition in Basra.

The Imam (a) then led his army to Basra to fight against the mutineers. As soon as he arrived there, he sent Abdullah ibn Abbas and Zayd ibn Sawhan to call them to peace. But their call was not responded to. He then sent a generous boy and ordered him to carry a copy of the Holy Quran and call them to peace and apply the instructions of the Quran.

The mutineers attacked him, severed his both hands, and threw darts at him until he departed life.

The Imam (a) then had to attack the other camp, which was led by Aishah. The mutineers could not resist the Imam’s army; as a result, Aishah tried to breath life in her soldiers’ determinations, but they were too weak to face his famous sword. They surrounded their mother’s camel, and the Imam (a) ordered Ammar ibn Yasir and Malik al-Ashtar to cut the camel’s legs because Aishah’s soldiers, according to the Imam’s expression, had betaken that camel as center. They did, and thus the fighting ceased with the bitter defeat of the lawless mutineers. That fighting was called ‘Battle of the Camel’.

The Imam (a) then issued a general amnesty and released Aishah to go back to Medina.11

From these events, Lady Zaynab realized, more deeply, the serious hostility that the tribes of Quraysh bore against her grandfather and father. She also understood the factuality of the Islamic ummah and the Muslims’ duties to it.

Muawiyah’s sedition

As a matter of fact, Aishah paved the way of mutiny to Muawiyah who, too, betook the issue of Uthman’s assassination as pretext to oppose the Imam’s impartial government.

The one and only reason beyond Muawiyah’s mutiny was that he knew for certain that the Imam would dismiss him from his position,12 divest him of all the fortunes that he usurped from the public treasury, and get even with him concerning his behaviors that violated Islam, such as wearing silk garments, using golden and silver bowels, and wasting huge riches in building palaces. Furthermore, the Imam (a) would not admit Umar’s purposeful glorifying and supporting him.

At any rate, Muawiyah rejected the Imam’s call to peace and paying homage to him. He gathered a big army and directed towards a place called Siffin on the Iraqi-Syrian borders. The first thing he did was occupying the two banks of the River Euphrates in order that the Imam’s army would not find water.

On the other side, the Imam (a) readied for meeting the mutinous forces. His armies could not reach the Euphrates for supplying themselves with water. He therefore sent one of his companions to meet Muawiyah and convince him to let the Imam’s army have water. Of course, Muawiyah refused out of his meanness. The Imam (a) then had to give orders of occupying the river and having water from it. The armies did, and the mutineers were defeated and taken away from the river’s banks. Afterwards, the commanders of the Imam’s army found it a good opportunity to make an eye for an eye, by depriving Muawiyah’s army of reaching the river, but the Imam (a), out of his matchless humanity and high morals, refused.

As an attempt to prevent bloodshed, Imam Ali (a) sent messengers of peace to Muawiyah’s camp, but the latter refused and resolved to enter the war against the Imam (a). As a consequence, the Imam had to battle against them. First of all, there were individual campaigns from both parties, because the Imam (a) hoped for Muawiyah’s responding to calls of peace. When the Imam (a) despaired and knew that Muawiyah was preparing for general attack, he had to recruit his soldiers. Thus, a fierce war, during which great figures of Islam such as Ammar ibn Yasir were martyred, broke out.13

The army of Muawiyah was defeated and their leader was about to flee. As a result of a secret conspiracy between Amr ibn al-As, the counselor of Muawiyah, and some commanders of the Imam’s army, headed by al-Ashath ibn Qays, the Syrian army raised copies of the Holy Quran on spearheads and called for its being the arbiter of the dispute.

Hence, the conspirers in the Imam’s army urged importunately the others to respond to the Syrian army’s call. Event though he had known the reality of that trick, the Imam (a) had nothing to do other than responding to his army’s demanding calls to peace. Before so, he had proven the falsity of Muawiyah’s trick and informed that Muawiyah and his party had never respected or even believed in the Quran, but the soldiers refused the Imam’s words, responded to Muawiyah’s trick, and even threatened to kill him if he would not respond.

That was not all, the Imam’s soldier’s selected Abu Musa al-Ashari to be their representative in the arbitration between Imam Ali and Muawiyah, while the Imam’s nominee was Abdullah ibn Abbas, the great Islamic authority. Once again, the Imam’s soldiers refused his representative and insisted on choosing the mindless Abu Musa. On the other side, the Syrian army selected Amr ibn al-As - the fox.

When the two met for appointing the time of arbitration Amr ibn al-As convinced, delusively, the mindless representative of the Imam’s army that they both should depose the two parties, Muawiyah and Imam Ali, so as to save the Islamic ummah from conflicts. The trick of the sly representative of Muawiyah’s party worked with the mindless representative of the Imam’s. Before the delegates of the two parties, Amr cheated Abu Musa to climb the minbar and declare his decision of deposing the Imam. After him, Amr climbed the minbar and decided to depose the Imam and nominate Muawiyah as the leader of the ummah.

Thus, Abu Musa al-Ashari had to flee towards Mecca after he had invented sedition and schism in the Imam’s party.

The Kharijites sedition

It is ironic that the very individuals who forced the Imam (a) to respond to Muawiyah’s trick of the Quran’s arbitration mutinied against him claiming that he should not have responded to that trick. They formed a political movement, which was called Khawarij (plural of Kharijite: dissidents). They were extremists; they killed numerous innocent people, such as Abdullah ibn Khabbab, the decent companion of the Prophet (S), and camped in al-Nahrawan.

The Imam (a) intended to direct towards Syria for fighting the mutinous Muawiyah, but his companions consulted him to fight, first, against the Kharijites whose danger on the Islamic ummah had been more serious than Muawiyah’s. The Imam (a) hence directed towards al-Nahrawan, fought against the Kharijites, and could kill them all except nine individuals only.14

Then, the Imam’s soldiers wearied of wars; therefore, they did not respond to him when he intended to fight against the disobedient Muawiyah despite urgings.

Decline of the honest government

If truth were told, the Orient has never known the like of Imam Ali’s government in honesty, justice, and impartiality. Unfortunately, the evil and opportunist powers of his time spared no efforts for stopping against his political and social plans of reformation. They forced him to enter wars that exhausted his military forces and occupied him from doing the reformative schemes of the state.

By the slowdown of the Imam’s soldiers, it was the best opportunity for Muawiyah to strengthen and arm his forces. Moreover, he began to wage campaigns against the Islamic provinces that were under Imam Ali’s ruling so as to make the public believe that the Imam (a) lost the ability to protect his people. Meanwhile, all the Imam’s attempts to arouse his soldiers’ determinations failed. He therefore supplicated to Almighty Allah to save him from such a frozen society whose individuals could not recognize his principles and policies of spreading justice and equality.

The assassination of Imam Ali

Groups of the Kharijites held a secret meeting in Mecca and discussed the current issues of the Islamic ummah. They agreed that Imam Ali (a), Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, and Amr ibn al-As stood behind the catastrophes of the ummah. They therefore decided to assassinate the three.

Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljim, the cursed, took upon himself the assassination of the Imam (a), while two others took upon themselves the assassination of the others. They specified a definite hour at which they would implement their plans. It was after the Fajr –dawn- Prayer on the nineteenth of Ramadan. Hence, Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljim, the cursed, returned to Kufa, which was the capital of the Islamic state, to do his mission. There, he met a Kharijite lady whose father and brother were killed during the Battle of al-Nahrawan. As he asked for her hand, she specified as dowry three thousand dirhams, a slave, a bondmaid, and the killing of Imam Ali (a). The cursed Abd-al-Rahman agreed and promised her of arranging for all these things.15

On the night of the eighteenth of Ramadan, Imam Ali (a) had strange feelings. He anticipated the imminent occurrence of a horrifying matter. It was Friday, and the Imam, that night, did not sleep. He spent it with recitation of the Holy Quran and offering prayers. When dawn was about to fall, he intended to leave for the Masjid, but some swans cried in his face. This happening gave a signal to the Imam (a) who said, “All power and might belong only to Allah. These cries will be followed by wailings.”16

He then came towards the door, but could difficultly open it. That was another sign he alone could understand. When he reached in the mosque, he, as usual, awoke people for offering the prayer. He then began his prayer. When he sat after the first Sajdah17, the cursed ibn Muljim struck him with the sword so heavily that the Imam’s forehead was cleft and the sword reached his brain. As soon as the Imam felt the stroke, he raised his voice with the statement:

فُزْتُ وَرَبِّ ﭐلْكَعْبَةِ.

“By the Lord of the Kaabah, I have triumphed.”

People hurried from every side and began to mourn the Imam (a) with melted hearts. They then carried him to his house and arrested the murderer. He however asked his son, Imam al-Hasan (a), to treat the murderer kindly. When the son wondered, the Imam (a) answered, “O son, we are the household of mercy and forgiveness. Feed him (i.e. your prisoner) from the food you eat and water him from the drink you take. If I will die, you may then retaliate upon him (according to Allah’s law of retaliation) by killing him. But, never do anything to his dead body, for I heard your grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S) say: “Never do anything to the dead body of even biting dogs.” If I will survive, I know what I will do with him. It is however better for me to pardon him, for it is my ethics to forgive. We, the Ahl al-Bayt, return on those who do wrong against us in forgiveness and generosity.

Lady Zaynab with her father

Lady Zaynab hurried to her injured father with tearful eyes and broken heart. She asked him whether the Prophet’s report, related by the righteous lady Ummu-Ayman, regarding the adversities and misfortunes that the Ahl al-Bayt would have to encounter in the future was true or not.

The Imam (a) said:

اَلحَدِيثُ كَمَا حَدَّثَتْكِ أُمُّ أَيْمَنَ. وَكَأَنِّي بِكِ وَبِنِسَاءِ أَهْلِكِ سَبَايَا بِهٰذا ﭐلْبَلَدِ، أَذِلاَّءَ خَاشِعِينَ تَخَافُونَ أَنْ يُتَخَبَّطَكُمُ ﭐلنَّاسُ. فَصَبْراًً صَبْراً، فَوَﭐلَّذِي فَلَقَ ﭐلحَبَّةَ وَبَرَأَ ﭐلنَّسَمَةَ مَا ِللهِ عَلَىٰ ظَهْرِ ﭐلأَرْضِ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلِيٌّ غَيْرُكُمْ وَغَيْرُ مُحِبِّيكُمْ وَشِيعَتِكُمْ. وَلَقَدْ قَالَ لَنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، حِينَ أَخْبَرَنَا بِهٰذا ﭐلخَبَرِ: إِنَّ إِبْلِيسَ لَعَنَهُ اللهُ فِي ذٰلِكَ ﭐلْيَوْمِ –أَيْ يَوْمَ قُتِلَ ﭐلحُسَيْنُ- يَطِيرُ فَرَحاً فَيَجُولُ ﭐلأَرْضَ كُلَّهَا بِشَيَاطِينِهِ وَعَفَارِيتِهِ، فَيَقُولُ: يَا مَعَاشِرَ ﭐلشَّيَاطِينِ، قَدْ أَدْرَكْنَا مِنْ ذُرِّيَّةِ آدَمَ ﭐلطَّلِبَةَ وَبَلَغْنَا فِي هَلاَكِهِمُ ﭐلْغَايَةَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهُمُ ﭐلنَّارَ. أَلاَ مَنِ اعْتَصَمَ بِهٰذِهِ ﭐلعِصَابَةَ فَاجْعَلُوا شُغُلَكُمْ بِتَشْكِيكِ ﭐلنَّاسِ فِيهِمْ وَحَمْلِهِمْ عَلَىٰ عَدَاوَتِهِمْ وَإِغْرَائِهِمْ بِهِمْ وَأَوْلِيَائِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ تَسْتَحْكِمَ ضَلاَلَةُ ﭐلخَلْقِ وَكُفْرُهُمْ وَلاَ يَنْجُو مِنْهُمْ نَاجٍ.

“Ummu-Ayman has told the truth. I see it coming that you, as well as your people’s harem, will be captives in this country. You will be submissive and terrified, fearing lest people might carry you off by force. At that time, be patient and adhere to patience, for, on that day, there will be no disciple (of Allah) on the earth except you, your followers, and you partisans. I swear this by Him Who split the grains and created the souls.

When he foretold us of these news, the Messenger of Allah (S) added: “On the same day as al-Husayn will be slain, Iblis18 the cursed will be overjoyed and will wander about the earth with his devils and afreets19 to declare: O devils, only today have we revenged ourselves on the descendants of Adam, attained our objective of wiping them out, and led them to the fire of Hell. Now, you must turn all your efforts towards filling people’s minds with doubt towards al-Husayn and his companions, inciting them to bear hostility against them, and provoking them against anybody who shows loyalty to them (i.e. al-Husayn and his companions) in order that people’s straying and atheism would be so guaranteed that none of them would be saved (on the Day of Resurrection).”

Even though he is the biggest liar, Iblis said the truth in that question. It is quite true that the good deeds of anyone who bears hostility against the Ahl al-Bayt are of no avail (no matter how great they are), and the sins, not the grand ones, of anyone who loves them and is loyal to them are of no harm.20

The Imam’s final advice

In his final hours, Imam Ali (a) advised his sons and daughters to cling to the high moral standards and abstinence from the transitory pleasures of this world.

To his two sons, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a), he said:

I advise you (both) to fear Allah and that you should not hanker after the (pleasures of this) world even though it may run after you. Do not be sorry for anything of this world that you have been denied. Speak the truth and act (in expectation) for reward. Be an enemy of the oppressor and helper of the oppressed.

I advise you (both) and all my children and members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches, to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order, and to maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard your grandfather (the Holy Prophet) saying, “Improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fastings.”

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of orphans. So, do not allow them to starve and they should not be ruined in your presence.

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of your neighbors, because they were the subjects of the Prophet’s advice. He went on advising in their favor until we thought he would allow them a share in inheritance.

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of the Quran. No one should excel you in acting upon it.

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of prayer, because it is the pillar of your religion.

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of your Lord’s House (the Kaabah). Do not forsake it so long as you live, because if it is abandoned you will not be spared (or you will be deprived of your Lord’s grace).

Fear Allah and keep Him in view in the matter of jihad with the help of your property, lives, and tongues in the way of Allah.

You should keep to a respect for kinship and spending for others. Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations. Do not give up bidding for good and forbidding from evil lest the mischievous gain positions over you, and then if you will pray, the prayers will not be granted.

Then the Imam (a) said:

O sons of Abd-al-Muttalib, certainly I do not wish to see you plunging harshly into the blood of Muslims shouting that Amir al-Muminin has been killed. Beware; do not kill on account of me except my killer.21

Wait until I die by his (Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljim) existing stroke. Then strike him one stroke for his stroke. But, never do anything to his dead body, for I heard your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, say: Never do anything to the dead body of even the dogs that bite.22

Lady Zaynab has narrated the final will of Imam Ali (a).

Afterwards, the Imam (a) began to recite Verses of the Holy Quran and suffer death agonies. Then, his pure soul elevated to the Supreme Comrade and joined the endless joy with the prophets, saints, and righteous people. Excellent is the companionship of such ones.

Imam al-Hasan (a), accompanied by his brothers, assumed responsibility for his father’s funeral ceremonies, and at the last part of night, they carried Imam Ali’s pure body to the final resting-place in al-Najaf.23 Lady Zaynab, while she was shedding tears heavily, participated in that funeral ceremony.

  • 1. See Ibn Abd-Rabbuh’s, al-Iqd al-Farid; 3:93.
  • 2. See Ahmad Husayn Yaqub’s The Conception of the Sahaba’s Ultimate Decency and the Political Leadership in Islam; translated by Badr Shahin, published by Ansariyan Publications, 1999.
  • 3. See al-Yaqubi’s al-Tarikh; 2:155
  • 4. See Ansab al-Ashraf; 1:160 (part I)
  • 5. Umrah is a non-obligatory pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah in Mecca. It is also called the Minor Hajj.
  • 6. See Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 3, p, 454.
  • 7. See Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 3, p, 475.
  • 8. Aishah was called ‘Humayra’ - the little reddish one.
  • 9. It is recorded in Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 2:497, that Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that Prophet Muhammad (S) once said to his wives who were all present before him, “Which one of you will be the rider of the giant camel and the dogs of al-Hawab will bark at her? To the right and left of this one will be numerous killed ones. All of them shall be in Hell. She will hardly escape.”
  • 10. See al-Masudi’s Muruj al-Dhahab; 2:342 and al-Yaqubi’s al-Tarikh; 2: 181.
  • 11. Imam Ali (a) pardoned all his enemies, such as Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr and Marwan ibn al-Hakam, and did not punish anyone of them. For more details, refer to al-Yaqubi’s al-Tarikh.
  • 12. Since Umar’s reign, Muawiyah ibn Abu-Sufyan, the mortal enemy of Islam and the son of the mortal enemy of Islam, was holding the position of governing Syria.
  • 13. That war was called ‘Battle of Siffin’.
  • 14. That conflict was called ‘Battle of al-Nahrawan’.
  • 15. See al-Hakim’s al-Mustadrak; 3:143
  • 16. See al-Masudi’s Muruj al-Dhahab; 3:291
  • 17. Sajdah is the obligatory prostration of the ritual prayers.
  • 18. Iblis is the name of the Devil
  • 19. Afreet is a powerful, evil jinnee. (See The Oxford Talking Dictionary; item: afreet.)
  • 20. See Kamil al-Ziyarat; 266.
  • 21. This is an indication to the seditions that Aishah and Muawiyah aroused because of Uthman’s assassination.
  • 22. See Nahj al-Balaghah; 3:85.
  • 23. See Zaynab al-Kubra; 60.

Imam Al-Hasan’s Reign

On the second day, Imam al-Hasan, surrounded by his brothers and the Hashemite youths, directed towards Kufa Masjid and delivered a funeral oration in which he used words as eloquently as his father. He showed that his father had been such a unique personality that none from the past and coming generations can be his like.

In the field of justice, Imam al-Hasan (a) declared the following fact about his father:

“He (i.e. Imam Ali) has not left behind him a single yellow (golden) nor white (silver) piece except seven hundred dirhams with which he had intended to have a bondmaid for his family. Yet, he ordered me to return them to the public treasury.”

As Imam al-Hasan (a) finished his speech, the public hurried to swear allegiance to him, even though the majority of them were not honest.

At any rate, Muawiyah realized the reality of Imam al-Hasan’s army whose individuals were controlled by weakness, loose morale, and inclination to rebel; he therefore challenged him to fight. Moreover, he led his army whose individuals were quite the opposite. They were completely obedient and submissive. They set camp in al-Madain.

Once they heard of this news, the hearts of Imam al-Hasan’s soldiers were filled up with horror and panic. Thus, they refused the Imam’s call to fight against Muawiyah. The Imam (a) still did not stop; he exerted all efforts for urging people to fight. Finally, a medley of men with different tendencies and thoughts responded to him and camped in al-Madain.

The commander in chief of the Imam’s army, namely Ubaydullah ibn Abbas, joined Muawiyah’s camp after he received a seductive bribe. As a consequence, disorder and sedition took over the Imam’s army and many reputed individuals, as well as eight thousand soldiers and the tribes of Rabiah, insinuated themselves into Muawiyah’s camp.1

The matter reached its climax when a gang headed to rob Imam al-Hasan’s baggage. The bribes were offered to attempt to assassinate him more than once and finally, a party in his army, most likely the Kharijites, accused him of atheism.

In view of this situation, Imam al-Hasan (a) had to make peace with Muawiyah, though unwillingly, so as to save his party from extinction.2

After the truce, Imam al-Hasan (a) had to leave Kufa, the city whose people disappointed his father and him. He left for Medina where people received him with such delight because he was one of the branches of that pure origin, the Holy Prophet (S).

As the rightful government faded and the wrongful one came to power, the life of Lady Zaynab entered a new phase that would bring new and yet more grievous adversities.

  • 1. See Ansab al-Ashraf; 1:223 (part I).
  • 2. See Shaykh Murtezha Al-Yasin’s Sulh al-Hasan and Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi’s Hayat al-Imam al-Hasan.

Muawiyah’s Reign

By Muawiyah’s coming to power, the pre-Islamic idol ruling force replaced the democratic rule of Islam. Vices, indecency, and violation of good manners found place to expand in Islamic nation with the consent of these individuals from Umayyad.1

Muawiyah had inherited enmity against the Holy Prophet (S) from his father who was the bitterest enemy of Islam, and from his mother Hind who, out of her malice against Islam, had eaten the liver of Hamzah during the Battle of Uhud. Furthermore, the son exceeded his parents in malice; he could not hide his real feelings especially because announcement of name of the Holy Prophet (a) during the azan - five-time per day declaration of prayer - was annoying him.2

In consequence, he hated the Prophet’s Household and offsprings in the extreme. He therefore issued the most malicious decision to conceal their virtues and merits.

Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafii; the founder of the Shafiite Islamic school of law, answered those who asked him to say his opinion about Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin:

“What can we say about a person whose partisans have had to hide his merits because of fear, and enemies have hidden his merits out of envy? But between these two, his merits that have become widely known are too numerous to be counted.”3

During the reign of Muawiyah, the partisans of Imam Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt had to suffer various sorts of persecution. For instance, the criminal Bisr ibn Artaah killed and burnt more than thirty thousand individuals. Samarah ibn Jundab killed eight thousand individuals from Basra, and Ziyad ibn Abih, who exceeded everyone else in criminality, cut the limbs of the Imam’s partisans.

Even the women who showed loyalty to Imam Ali (a) and the Ahl al-Bayt were not spared of the inhuman procedures of Muawiyah’s criminal authorities. Furthermore, Muawiyah gave the orders to destroy the houses of the Imam’s partisans and leave them homeless. He also deprived them of their shares from the public treasure4 and refused their testimonies in the official courts. Eventually, Muawiyah exiled more than fifty thousand of them to Khurasan, northeast of Persia.

By the way, those exiles propagandized Shiism in that province whose people, later on, changed into a strong front of opposition against the Umayyad ruling until they under the leadership of Abu Muslim al-Khurasani, were able to overthrow their oppressive state.

Assassination of Imam al-Hasan

Anyhow, the gravest crime of Muawiyah was assassination of Imam al-Hasan (a) after he had pledged, through a famous truce with the Imam, to hand the position of leadership to the Imam. Thus, he could establish an Umayyad royal state.

As he looked in the long list of the criminals who could do this mission so completely, he could not find anyone more qualified than Jadah daughter of al-Ashath, even though she was the Imam’s wife. This lady was brought up on betrayal and perfidy.

Muawiyah sent a lethal poison to Marwan ibn al-Hakam and asked him to seduce Jadah to poison her husband under promise of marriage to Yazid, Muawiyah’s son.

Due to her nature, Jadah did not hesitate; she poisoned the Imam’s food.

The Imam (a) began to suffer the pains of poison and vomit pieces of blood in a washtub. When Lady Zaynab visited him, he ordered to take away that washtub so that she would not see that hurting view. Yet, she became very sad as she realized that her brother would depart from her forever very soon.

The Imam (a) then advised his brothers and companions to adhere to the nobilities of character, good deeds, and fear of Allah. While he was reciting Verses of the Holy Quran, his soul exalted to the Heavens to join the endless world there.

Imam al-Husayn (a) undertook his brother’s funeral ceremonies and intended to bury him next to his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (S). But Aishah, owing to incitement of the Umayyads, rode a mule and shouted, “Do not take to my house those whom I do not like,” and created a big seditious matter due to which the blood of huge numbers of Muslims was about to be shed. Evading such a matter, Imam al-Husayn (a) had to change his mind and bury his brother in another place.

Assigning Yazid as the coming caliph

Muawiyah sealed his criminal reign with imposing his son, Yazid, as his successor. Like his father and grandfather, Yazid was known of his hypocrisy, treachery, and enmity against Islam. He, publicly, slighted all human values and principles. He used to drink wine in every moment of his life and some historians have specified dipsomania as cause of his death. He was also fond of breeding animals, especially monkeys.

In summary, Yazid represented all vices and offenses that had nothing to do with Islam or leadership of the Islamic ummah.

  • 1. See Sayyid Amir Ali’s Ruh al-Islam; 296
  • 2. See Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 2:297, and 10:101.
  • 3. See al-Muhaddith al-Qummi’s al-Anwar al-Bahiyyah.
  • 4. See Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 11:44.

The Black Reign

After the perdition of Muawiyah, the Islamic ummah was pervaded by a violent, terrorist reign, which did not submit to a tradition or law or respond to any humane emotion. Finally, it betook oppression and despotism as its slogan.

This is the very depiction of Yazid ibn Muawiyah’s reign, which persecuted Muslims so harshly.

During this reign, Lady Zaynab suffered the most difficult misfortunes and adversities, and the Prophet’s family had to encounter extreme eradication. They were slain, and the Umayyad soldiers cut their limbs and violated their dead bodies so inhumanely. Lady Zaynab saw these excruciating scenes with her own eyes; therefore, sadness and sorrow cut through her heart and she could not stop her tears and cries of mourning. That was not all. She, together with the Prophet’s harem, then was taken as captive and shown around the provinces of the Umayyad State. They were taken to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, son of the ill-famed Marjanah, and then to Yazid, grandson of the ill-famed Hind.1

In any case, Lady Zaynab suffered the cruelest adversities during the black reign of Yazid, the sinful tyrant who was an inexperienced, lecherous youth and had known nothing about leadership, policy, or management. He could not even manage or control himself; he submitted completely to his whims and his one and only lust was bloodshed.

When his cursed father died in Damascus, Yazid was away on a journey.2 When he received a message informing about his father’s perdition and his becoming the caliph of the Islamic ummah, he hurried to the capital accompanied by his immoral faction. From that moment itself people began to criticize him for his irresponsible behaviors.3

The first thing he did in Damascus was that he declared his determination to wage a destructive war against people of Iraq. People of Syria, however, welcomed this determination and declared their readiness to plunge themselves into such a war.4

Yazid’s most malicious opposition was in Medina; they were Imam al-Husayn (a) and Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr. He therefore issued the emphatic decision that al-Walid, the governor of Medina, must coerce these two to pledge themselves as submissive to the leadership of Yazid, but if they or any other individual, refused to pay homage to the new caliph, the governor must behead them.5

When he received these resounding instructions, al-Walid panicked because it was not easy to behead such personalities.6 Even Muawiyah who enjoyed terrible diplomatic capabilities could not dare assassinate Imam al-Husayn (S). How was it then possible for an ordinary governor like al-Walid to do it?

Al-Walid then sought the opinion of Marwan ibn al-Hakam, the chief of the Umayyad family, who suggested that these two personalities be compulsorily summoned at that very moment and asked to show compliance with the new leadership of Yazid, otherwise they would be beheaded.7

This opinion did not appeal to al-Walid, but he had to respond to Marwan.8

Refusal of Yazid’s Leadership

It was midnight when al-Walid ordered Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Uthman to summon Imam al-Husayn (a) and Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr. The messenger found them both in the Prophet’s Masjid and asked them to attend at the governor’s palace. They answered affirmatively. Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr turned his face to Imam al-Husayn (a) and wondered, “What do you think is the matter for which he has summoned us at this time?9

The Imam (a) answered, “I think that their tyrant ruler – i.e. Muawiyah – has died, and they have summoned us to pay homage to the new one before the news spread.”10

The Imam (a) then gathered his companions and directed towards the governor’s center. He first asked why he was summoned in such time. He was told that he should pay homage to the leadership of Yazid.

Asking for postponement, the Imam (a) said, “I do not pay homage secretly. You may ask me to do so when you ask all the people to pay homage, then people and I will share the same situation.”

This meant that the Imam (a) intended to declare his refusal of swearing allegiance to the leadership of Yazid openly, but Marwan understood it. He therefore shouted at al-Walid, “If he leaves you at this instant without paying homage, you will never be able to oblige him to pay it at any other time unless numerous victims from both sides will fall. Detain him now. He must pay homage or be beheaded.”

The Imam (a) turned to Marwan and raised his voice to say, “Son of al-Zarqa, is it you or he who will kill me? By Allah I swear, you have meanly lied.”11

The Imam (a) then turned to al-Walid to declare his determination to reject the matter completely:

أَيُّهَا الأَمِيرُ، إِنَّا أَهْلُ بَيْتِ النُّبُوَّةِ وَمَعْدِنُ الرِّسَالَةِ وَمُخْتَلَفُ المَلاَئِكَةِ وَمَحِلُّ الرَّحمَةِ. بِنَا فَتَحَ اللهُ وَبِنَا خَتَمَ. وَيَزِيدُ رَجُلٌ أَيُّهَا الأَمِيرُ، إِنَّا أَهْلُ بَيْتِ النُّبُوَّةِ وَمَعْدِنُ الرِّسَالَةِ وَمُخْتَلَفُ المَلاَئِكَةِ وَمَحِلُّ الرَّحمَةِ. بِنَا فَتَحَ اللهُ وَبِنَا خَتَمَ. وَيَزِيدُ رَجُلٌ فَاسِقٌ شَارِبٌ لِلخَمْرِ وَقَاتِلُ النَّفْسِ المحُتَرَمَةِ مُعْلِنٌ بِالفِسْقِ. وَمِثْلِي لاَ يُبَايِعُ مِثْلَهُ. وَلكِنْ نُصْبِحُ وَتُصْبِحُونَ وَنَنْظُرُ وَتَنْظُرُونَ أَيُّنَا أَحَقُّ بِالخِلافَةِ وَالبَيْعَةِ.

“O Governor, we are the household of prophecy, the core of the (divine) message, frequently visited by the angels, and (we are) the center of mercy. Allah has commenced with us and shall seal with us. Yazid is a lecherous, intoxicated man who kills the respectful soul and promulgates his acts of immorality. My like should never pay homage to him or his likes. Wait for us until next morning and you will see who is the worthiest of leadership (of the Islamic ummah) and being paid homage.”12

That was the first declaration of Imam al-Husayn’s refusal of Yazid’s illegal leadership.

Marwan blamed al-Walid for not acting on his advice. Al-Walid, however, reproached Marwan and declared that he would never kill Imam al-Husayn (a), because his killer would certainly serve as the fuel of Hell.13

The next morning, Imam al-Husayn (a) decided to leave Medina for Mecca. Before so, he visited the tomb of his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (S), and complained to Almighty Allah against the adversities that surrounded him, saying:

O Allah, this is the tomb of Your prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family, and I am the son of Your Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. I have been inflicted with the matter that You know of. O Allah, I do like all that which is good and I forbid all that which is evil. Hence, I now beseech to You, O Lord of Majesty and Honor, to choose for me that which draws Your pleasure and the pleasure of Your Prophet.14

In the darkest hour of night, Imam al-Husayn (a) directed towards the hidden tomb of his mother, Fatimah al-Zahra (a), and then turned to the tomb of his brother, Imam al-Hasan (a), where he revived the happy moments he spent with them.

In Mecca

When Imam al-Husayn (a) decided to leave for Mecca, he summoned his sister, Lady Zaynab, informed her about what he had decided to do, and asked her to take part in his ordeal. In view of her deep-rooted faith, she did not hesitate to respond to her brother’s call. Moreover, she was determined to participate and complete his revolution. Like Lady Zaynab, Imam al-Husayn’s wives, sons, brothers, and cousins agreed to join his revolution against the oppressors.

The next mornings, everybody was ready to begin the journey. Lady Zaynab was so upset though her brother, al-Abbas, was beside her; taking care of her and regarding her attentively. People of Medina, too, were so dismayed because they watched the Prophet’s family leaving them, perhaps, forever. Throughout the journey, Imam al-Husayn (a) was reciting repeatedly Almighty Allah’s saying:

“My Lord! Deliver me from the unjust people.”

By reciting this Holy Verse, Imam al-Husayn (a) likened his journey to that of Prophet Moses (a) who revolted against the tyrant of his time.15

He took the public way to Mecca declaring his challenge to the ruling authorities and making little of death, which, inevitably, shall inflict man in any land and at any moment.16 He had full confidence in Almighty Allah Who dominates everything thoroughly completely.

This journey away from Medina was the second one for Lady Zaynab; the first was with her father when he left Medina to settle in Kufa when he betook it as the capital of his state. On that journey, she was in a great caravan that contained her father, her brothers, her husband, and her honorable cousins. The journey back to Medina after Imam al-Hasan’s truce with Muawiyah was also comfortable and surrounded with honor and dignity. Yet, the third journey would be so sorrowful and dreary, since it was the enemies who led the caravan.

On Tuesday night,17 Imam al-Husayn (a) arrived in Mecca and resided in the house of Al-Abbas ibn Abd-al-Muttalib.18 People of Mecca visited him so frequently and used to ask him questions about the Islamic laws and others about his opinion of the ruling regime. When the season of the Hajj occurred, Hajjis and Mutamirs surrounded the Imam (a) and listened to his opinions and instructions. From that moment, he began to promulgate his revolution, and the publics began to understand the aim of his being in Mecca.

Due to such activities, the ruling authorities there in Mecca panicked and anticipated that he would betake Mecca as the center of his revolution against the oppressive regime of Yazid. The governor of Mecca came to the Imam (a) and asked the reason beyond his residence there. The Imam answered that he had come for seeking the refuge of Almighty Allah and the Holy House. As a result, the governor sent a missive to Yazid informing him about Imam al-Husayn’s arrival and the public surrounding him, attending his sessions, and listening to him.

This news confused Yazid who, immediately, sent a missive to Abdullah ibn Abbas asking him that he would pardon the Imam (a) provided he paid homage to him – Yazid – otherwise he would be punished. Answering to Yazid’s missive, Abdullah ibn Abbas asked the Imam (a) to leave Medina because the ruling authorities were bothering him. He also promised that he would meet the Imam (a) and see the matter.

At the same time in Iraq, there was a general rebel and refusal of paying homage to Yazid, because they regarded him as the inheritor of mortal enemies of Islam. The Shiite chiefs in Kufa held a meeting in the house of Sulayman ibn Sard al-Khuzai during which they delivered speeches showing the sins of the Umayyad individuals and calling to swear allegiance to Imam al-Husayn (a) as the true leader of the Islamic ummah.19

All the attendees shouted that they would certainly support and defend the Imam and would send him messages asking him to lead their revolution against the Umayyad rulers. So, many delegations met him and thousands of messages were sent to him by ordinary people and chiefs, such as Shibth ibn Rabi, Hajjar ibn Abjur al-Ujali, and Amr ibn al-Hajjaj20. As a result, Imam al-Husayn (a) decided to respond to them and send his cousin, Muslim ibn Aqil, to assess the real situation.21

Muslim ibn Aqil in al-Kufah

Muslim left for Kufa and resided there in the house of al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, one of the most celebrated faithful personalities22 - who called everybody to visit Muslim; therefore, everybody came to listen to the message of Imam al-Husayn (a) that Muslim carried. At least, forty thousand individuals from Kufa acknowledged Imam al-Husayn (a) as their leader whom they must defend and support.23

Muslim’s confidence and trust in the success of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution increased because of this huge number of supporters. He therefore sent a message to the Imam (a) asking him to hurry his coming to Kufa,24 and as a result, the Imam (a) prepared to leave.

Yazid’s agents in Kufa reported this news to him, and he, out of fear, sought the advice of Sirjawn, the Roman, who was his father’s best secretary. This cunning man had thought for quite a while before he suggested to Yazid to assign Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad as the new governor of Kufa.25

Although Yazid was angry with Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, he had to appoint him as the new governor of Kufa besides Basra.26 Thus, ibn Ziyad became the ruler of the entire Iraq. In addition, Yazid sent him a message asking him to capture, exile, or even kill Muslim ibn Aqil,27 and then followed it with another order to ask him to hurry - to even fly over to Kufa if he was able to.28

Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad in Kufa

Throughout his way from Basra to Kufa, Ubaydullah, accompanied by five-hundred men, did not stop for fear that Imam al-Husayn (a) would precede him. He disguised himself with black clothe over his face so that people would take him for the Imam. He entered the city and hurried towards the Qasr al-Imarah - Governorate Mansion - in fear and resentment because people welcomed him warmly as they really took him for Imam al-Husayn (a).29

As he reached there and knocked the door, the governor of Kufa, al-Numan ibn Bashir who also thought of him as the Imam (a) shouted from the balcony, “Son of Allah’s Messenger, I will not fulfill my pledge to you and I do not want to fight you…”30

“Open the door,” shouted Ubaydullah, “Or you will suffer a long nighttime!”31

Some of the crowded people who walked behind him came to know his reality; they therefore shouted, “This is indeed son of Marjanah.”

Thus, they ran away with their hearts filled with terror. Ubaydullah went towards the mansion and seized the weapons and fortune. He was gathered around by the agents of the Umayyad dynasty, such as Umar ibn Sad, Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawshan, Muhammad ibn al-Ashath, and other famous names among the hypocrites of Kufa. They began discussing the matters of the expected revolution and its chiefs, and went on plotting to eradicate it.32

Next morning, Ubaydullah gathered the people in the Grand Masjid of Kufa to declare his being the new governor. He promised the obedient with big prizes and threatened the disobedient with persecution and the mutineers with harsh punishment.33 He then showed items of horror by putting to death some individuals before he had interrogated them.34 He also filled the prisons with innocent people. All these means were aimed to control the country completely.

Once he knew about Ubaydullah’s arrival, Muslim changed his residential place. He moved to the house of Hani ibn Urwah, one of the most celebrated personalities of Kufa, who welcomed him hospitably and received his partisans to plan for the revolution.

The success that Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad achieved in the political fields is ascribed to the series of plans that he made. The introductory step was spying on the movements of Muslim to circulate his activities and realize his points of power and weakness. Ubaydullah chose his servant, Miqal, for this mission. He gave him some money and ordered him to make contact with the significant members of the revolution by claiming that he showed loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and that he had come to Kufa because he heard the call of Imam al-Husayn (a).

Miqal could first reach Muslim ibn Awsajah and show him false loyalty and, unfortunately, the latter was deceived; he therefore showed Miqal the residential place of Muslim ibn Aqil. Thus, Miqal frequented about the place and could comprehend everything about the expected revolt and report to his master, son of Marjanah.35

The second and most dangerous process was arresting Hani ibn Urwah who was chief of the tribes of Midhhaj—the great majority of the inhabitants of Kufa. This procedure spread a big wave of horror among people and sent a destructive strike to the expected revolution.

Before Ubaydullah, Hani denied the accusation; hence, they summoned Miqal, the spy, to testify the truth. However, Hani refused to give up his guest to the authorities.36 But the tyrant ordered his servants to draw Hani near him and went on beating him on the face with a bar he had in the hand. He then ordered to detain him in one of the rooms of the mansion.

This procedure shook the feelings of his kinsmen who, under the leadership of the traitors, Amr ibn al-Hajjaj, pushed themselves towards the mansion. Amr shouted, so as to make Ubaydullah hear him, “I am Amr, and these are the celebrities and chiefs of Midhhaj. Yet, we are not denouncing our loyalty to you nor are we mutinying against you.”

Furthermore, Amr said words of surrender and humility for which Ubaydullah did not care. He then asked Shurayh, the judge, to see Hani and then tell his tribe about his state. The judge entered the cell of Hani who shouted: “How strange this is! Have my people all died? If only ten persons from my tribe come to me they will certainly save me.”

When Shurayh left him, he said to his kinsmen, “I have seen your chief. He is alive. He has ordered you to go home.” Amr shouted, “Well, he has not been killed. Thanks to Allah!”

As if they have been granted the one and only opportunity to escape a dark prison, people of Midhhaj turned their faces back and ran away. It seems that there had been a secret agreement between the chiefs of Midhhaj and Ubaydullah on killing Hani, otherwise they would have attacked the mansion and saved their chief.

Muslim ibn Aqil knew about the situation of Hani who was an important member of the expected revolution; therefore, he openly declared the revolution against Ubaydullah. Thus, about four or forty thousand warriors joined him.37

Ubaydullah was delivering a speech when he heard the noise of the rebellion whose numbers were increasing and were directing towards the Governorate Mansion. Like a dirty dog, Ubaydullah hurried towards the mansion.38 He had only thirty policemen; he therefore used the meanest means that would save him — war of nerves.

Because he knew people of Kufa very well, he ordered their traitorous chiefs to slip among the troops of Muslim and spread the rumors that the armies of Syria would soon punish those who joined Muslim’s army, the government would deprive them of their salaries, and that martial laws would be applied against them. These rumors acted as bombs on the heads of the people most of who declared, “We should not engage ourselves in questions of policy!”39

Before long, most of them left Muslim who led the rest to the Masjid for prayer. Even during the prayer, the others left, and Muslim, as he finished the prayer, found himself alone!40 That night, he could not find a house to settle in. He therefore had to wander alone in the streets of Kufa.

Only a noble lady called Tawah had the courage to let Muslim in. As she served him food, Muslim refused to eat or drink because he was thinking about the fate that Imam al-Husayn (a) would face after the betrayal of those people. Son of Tawah came to know the whole story and with the first break of light next morning, he hurried to inform the ruling authorities about the matter, even though he had given his mother a binding oath that he would not tell anybody.

Three hundred horsemen, led by Muhammad ibn al-Ashath, attacked the house of Tawah, but Muslim faced them with such an unprecedented courage that he had inherited from his fathers.41 He alone could defeat those horsemen and kill a great number of them. The mean ones however began to throw stones and fireballs on him, and he was overcome.42

When Muhammad ibn al-Ashath returned to Ubaydullah and asked for more troops and weapons, the latter said with astonishment, “I have sent you to capture one man! But he did this to your troops!” He answered, “Do you think you have sent me to bring an ordinary man from Kufa or the neighboring cities? You have sent me to capture a courageous lion and a hero from the family of the best men in whose hands cutting swords are held fast.”43

Ubaydullah supplied him with more troops and weapons, but Muslim, the hero, kept on fighting against them so bravely. This facing took a long time during which Muslim suffered thirst and the troops of the ruling authorities were increasing around him, though they were too terrified to attack him. Finally, they stabbed him with their lances until they could capture him. After they had let him down, people of Kufa crowded to see how he was taken to the Mansion.

Muslim courageously refused submitting to the tyrant who, as a result, ordered Bukayr ibn Hamran to take him to the surface of the mansion and behead him. He also ordered Hani to be killed before the individuals of his tribe.

The dead bodies of Muslim and Hani were dragged on the ground in the streets of Kufa to demonstrate overturning rebellion in order to scorn its supporters.44

Leaving for Iraq

Before she left for Iraq in the company of her brother, Lady Zaynab had asked permission of her husband. And before Imam al-Husayn (a) left for Iraq, Abdullah ibn Abbas, his cousin, had tried to change his mind, but the Imam (a) refused. Hence, ibn Abbas asked him not to accompany his harem and family members, but the Imam (a) answered, “These are the trusts of the Messenger of Allah, and I cannot trust anyone with them.”

Then, Lady Zaynab said to ibn Abbas with tearful eyes, “Son of Abbas, do you suggest to our leader to leave us here and go alone? No, by Allah, we either live with him or die with him. We have nothing left except him.”45

Abdullah ibn Abbas could not control himself when he broke into tears and said, “It is truly difficult for me to leave you, cousin.”

One of the most excellent plans of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution was that his harem and family members were with him, especially Lady Zaynab who had the leading role in the process of the revolution’s perpetuity, accompanied him. As he anticipated the coming events, he planned for his sister an honorable role in perfecting his uprising, showing his sacrifice so that the Umayyad tyrants attempted to cover up were foiled and his own principles and aims were circulated.

As a matter of fact, the Imam’s harem contributed actively in the renaissance of the Muslim society and the overthrowing of the Umayyad regime’s false prestige. Through their enthusiastic speeches, the Imam’s harem commenced the revolutions against the regime that shook the entity of their illegal state.

In this regard, Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita says:

“Does anyone doubt the fact that if those ladies – of the Prophet’s family - had not challenged the ruling regime through their situations and addresses, the blood of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his sons would have gone for nothing and none would have demanded with the punishment of those killers and, accordingly, his revolution would have been useless?

On this account, Imam al-Husayn (a) had already planned for this step. He had full knowledge that none would be able to accomplish this mission so perfectly except for those ladies. As a result, he asked them to accompany him for adding another item to the oppression that they would encounter – when these ladies would be taken as captives.

In addition, the Imam’s purpose behind accompanying them was deep and political. He wanted them to accomplish his revolution and overthrow the illegal regime of the Umayyad rulers before they would eradicate Islam and take people back to the pre-Islamic customs and traditions.”46

Dr. Ahmad Mahmud Subhi says:

“Al-Husayn insisted on accompanying his harem and family members with him in order that people would testify of the inexcusable and inhumane crimes that their enemies would do to them. Thanks to this decision, the issue for which al-Husayn fought and revolted has not been lost in the desert with his blood. Without the existence of his family members and harem, all the incidents that occurred with al-Husayn and his enemies would have been completely forged and distorted, and all true testimonies would have been unavailable.”

Dr. Aishah Bint al-Shati says:

“Zaynab, al-Husayn’s sister, caused Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and the Umayyad dynasty to lose the elation of victory as she poured drops of deadly poison in their cups. All the events that took place after that, such as the rebellion of al-Mukhtar and the revolution of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, resulted in the decline of the Umayyad regime, the Abbasid dynasty’s coming to power and the inveteracy of Shiism - all these events were the result of Zaynab’s formation.”47

To sum it up, without Lady Zaynab, the tragic story of Karbala would have been recorded from the viewpoint of Imam al-Husayn’s enemies only, and the pure blood of the Imam, his relatives, and his companions, which was shed wrongly there, would have been lost in the desert.

At any rate, before he left Mecca, Imam al-Husayn (a) called for a general meeting during which he delivered an address:

الحَمْدُ للهِ، وَمَا شَاءَ اللهُ، وَلا قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللهِ، وَصَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ وَسَلَّمَ. خُطَّ المَوْتُ عَلَىٰ وُلْدِ آدَمَ مَخَطَّ القِلاَدَةِ عَلَىٰ جِيدِ الفَتاةِ، وَمَا أَولهَنِي إلىٰ أسْلافي إشْتِياقَ يَعْقُوبَ إلىٰ يُوسُفَ. وَخُيِّرَ لي مَصْرَعٌ أنَا لاَقِيهِ: كَأَنِّي بِأَوْصَالي تُقَطِّعُها عُسْلانُ الفَلَواتِ بَينَ النَّوَاوِيسِ وَكَربَلاءَ، فَيَمْلأَنَّ مِنِّي أَكْراشاً جُوَّفاً وَأَجْرِبَةُ سُغُباً. لاَ محِيصَ عَنْ يَوْمٍ خُطَّ بالقَلَمِ.

رِضَا اللهِ رِضَانَا أَهْلَ البَيْتِ، نَصْبِرُ عَلىٰ بَلائِهِ وَيُوَفِّينَا أَجْرَ الصَّابِرِينَ. لَنْ تَشُذَّ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ (صَلّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ) لحْمَتُهُ وَهِيَ مجَمُوعَةٌ لهُ في حَضيرَةِ القُدْسِ، تَقَرُّ بهِمْ عَيْنُهُ وَيُنجِزُ بِهِمْ وَعْدَهُ. مَنْ كَانَ باذِلاً فِينَا مُهْجَتَهُ وَمُوَطِّناً عَلىٰ لِقاءِ اللهِ نَفْسَهُ فَلْيَرحَلْ مَعَنا، فَإنَّني راحِلٌ مُصْبِحاً إنْ شَاءَ اللهُ تَعالىٰ.

All praise is due to Allah, only that which Allah wants will come to pass, there is no strength save in Allah, and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger. Death is mapped out for every human being in the same way as a necklace leaves a mark on a girl’s neck. For me, my eagerness to join my late fathers, the martyrs, is as same as Prophet Jacob’s eagerness to see (his absent son) Joseph.

I will unavoidably encounter the demise that has been chosen for me: I foresee that my limbs and organs will be severed by the wolves of the desert48 in a place between al-Nawawis and Karbala where they will fill their hungry bellies with me. No one can escape that which has been recorded with the Pen.49

Only that which pleases Allah will please us—the Ahl al-Bayt; we behave steadfastly against His tests (that He presents in forms of misfortunes) and He shall certainly pay us the rewards of the steadfast ones in full. The flesh of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, shall not go astray from his way and shall join him in the Sacred Position to delight him and fulfill the promise, which was made to him.

Hence, he who sacrifices his soul for us and determines to meet Allah may accompany me in this journey. Tomorrow morning, I will leave, if Allah, the Exalted, wills it.”50

In his last moments in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn (a) went towards the Holy House (Kaaba) and offered the Zuhr – noon - Prayer there. On the eighth of Dhul-Hijjah, 60 A.H., he left Mecca whose people saw him off with tearful eyes and depressed hearts. Throughout his journey, he used to tell the story of the martyrdom of Prophet John.

In a place called al-Sifah, Imam al-Husayn (a) met al-Farazdaq, the famous poet, and told him that the ruling authorities had plotted to assassinate him in Mecca.51 The Imam (a) asked him about the reality of people of Kufa that he had come from, and al-Farazdaq said, “Their hearts are with you, but their swords are against you.”52 He agreed with this opinion, but continued his journey in such a steadfast manner.

In a place called Dhat - Irq, the Imam (a) met Abu Hirrah who asked him why he had left Mecca. The Imam (a) answered:

“Woe to you, Abu Hirrah! When the Umayyads usurped my properties, I treated it patiently, when they insulted my honor, I also treated it patiently, and when they attempted to shed my blood, I escaped. By Allah I swear that because the oppressive party will kill me, Allah shall dress them with comprehensive humiliation and shall cause cutting swords to severe them. Allah shall also give a free hand to rulers who will humiliate them to the degree that they will be more humble than people of Sheba; a woman ruled them and had full hand on their properties and souls.”

The Imam (a) then left this man who could not understand the meaning of supporting the right and defending Islam.

In a place called al-Khuzaymiyyah, Lady Zaynab approached the Imam (a) and asked about their fate. He answered that she would have to face terrible difficulties and adversities. He said, “Sister, all that which is going to be is going to be.”53

In a place called Zarud, the caravan of the Imam (a) received a very bad news; Muslim ibn Aqil had been martyred in Kufa. The caravan burst into tears, and the Imam (a) turned towards the family of the martyr and asked, “Muslim has been martyred. What do you now see?”

They answered so firmly, “We will not go back unless we revenge for him or join him.” These words showed the determination of those heroes and made the Imam (a) trust his issue more.

That noon, Imam al-Husayn (a) took a siesta and saw a horrible dream. He woke up in terror, and his son, Ali al-Akbar, hurried and asked about this. The Imam (a) told his son that he had seen in sleep a horseman saying, “You are mending your paces while your deaths are taking you hurriedly to Paradise.” Explaining this dream, the Imam (a) told that they would be killed.

The son asked, “Are we not the right party?”

“Of course, we are. I swear it by Him to Whom all creatures shall return,” answered the Imam (a) confidently.

The son concluded, “O father, we shall then never care about death.”

This statement relieved the Imam (a) who expressed his gratitude for such faith.54

As they reached a place called Shuraf, the Imam (a) gave the orders of fetching as much water as possible from the springs there. A few steps after these springs, one of the companions saw something like date-palm trees and shouted to make the others notice. Some of those who had full knowledge of that area realized that it was nothing but arrowheads and ears of horses. Imam al-Husayn, too, realized that these were the vanguards of the Umayyad army. He therefore asked his companions whether they knew a near place to hide in. some referred to Mount Dhu-Husam to the left.

As the Imam’s caravan directed towards that mountain, the massive troops – of about more than one thousand horsemen as some historians have confirmed - under the commandment of al-Hurr ibn Yazid al-Riyahi whom Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad commissioned to wander through the desert until he would meet and capture the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (a), approached. It was midday and al-Hurr’s troops were too thirsty to continue their march. Seeing this, the Imam (a) felt pity for them and ordered his companions to give them from the water they had with them. Even the horses were given water.

After that, the Imam (a) delivered an articulate sermon to the troops of that army:

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، إِنهَّا مَعْذِرَةٌ إِلىٰ اللهِ وَإِلَيْكُمْ. إِنِّي لم آتِكُم حَتَّى أَتَتْنِي كُتُبُكُمْ وَقَدِمَتْ عَلَيَّ رُسُلُكُمْ أَنْ أَقْدِمْ عَلَيْنَا فَإِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَنا إِمَامٌ وَلَعَلَّ اللهَ أَنْ يَجْمَعَنَا بِكَ عَلَىٰ الهُدىٰ. فَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ عَلَىٰ ذٰلِكَ فَقَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ، فَأَعْطُونِي مَا أَطْمَئِنُّ بِهِ مِنْ عُهُودِكُمْ وَمَوَاثِيقِكُمْ. وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ لمَقْدَمِي كَارِهِينَ انْصَرَفْتُ عَنْكُمْ إِلىٰ المَكَانِ الّذِي جِئْتُ مِنْهُ إِلَيْكُمْ.

People: This is only an argument intended to release me from the responsibility that lies on me with regard to Allah and you. I came to you only after I had received your missives and your messengers who asked me to come to you since you had no leader and since you desired to be guided to the right guidance through my leadership to you. If you are still bearing this very tendency, then here I am. Show me pledges and covenants due to which I will be sure of your intentions. But if you dislike my coming to you, I will leave you and return to the place from which I came.55

Because most of the individuals in that army were among those who had sent missives and asked the Imam (a) to come to them and paid homage to him via his representative Muslim ibn Aqil, they could not answer him.

As time of the Zuhr Prayer fell, the Imam (a) ordered the muezzin56 to declare it. He then turned his face to al-Hurr and asked whether he would lead the collective prayer for his companions. “We will follow you in prayer,” answered al-Hurr politely. When they performed the Asr – afternoon - Prayer, the Imam (a) delivered another sermon:

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ؛ إِنَّكُمْ إِنْ تَتَّقُوا اللهَ وَتَعْرِفُوا الحَقَّ وَأَهْلَهُ يَكُنْ أَرْضَىٰ للهِ. وَنَحْنُ، أَهْلَ البَيْتِ، أَوْلىٰ بهٰذَا الأَمْرِ مِنْ هٰؤُلاءِ المُدَّعِينَ مَا لَيْسَ لهُمْ وَالسَّائِرِينَ فِيكُمْ بِالجَوْرِ والعُدْوانِ. فَإِنْ أَنتُمْ كَرِهْتُمُونَا وَجَهِلْتُمْ حَقَّنَا وَكَانَ رَأيُكُمُ الآنَ عَلَىٰ غَيْرِ مَا أَتَتْني بِهِ كُتُبُكُمُ، انْصَرَفْتُ عَنْكُم.

People: if you fear Allah and recognize the people of the right, this will surely please Him more than anything else. We—the Ahl al-Bayt are more worthy of holding the position of leadership than those who have claimed it by falsehood and governed you by means of wrongdoing and oppression. If you will dislike us and ignore our right and change your minds that you had expressed in your missives you sent to me, I will surely leave you…57

As he knew nothing about these missives, al-Hurr asked the Imam (a), “What are these missives you are mentioning?”

The Imam (a), thus, ordered one of his companions to fetch them and show to al-Hurr who, as soon as saw them, was shocked. He then said, “We are not among those who wrote these missives.”

Afterwards, the Imam (a) wanted to leave that place and return home, but al-Hurr prevented him and said, “I will not leave you until I lead you to Kufa to be present before Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad.”

“Death is nearer to you than doing so,” the Imam (a) answered and ordered his companions to ride and direct towards Medina. But al-Hurr prevented them. The Imam (a) said to him, “What do you want from us?”

“I want to lead you to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad,” answered al-Hurr.

“I will not follow you,” said the Imam (a).

“And I will not leave you,” answered al-Hurr.

War was about to break out, but al-Hurr could save the situation by saying, “I was not ordered to fight you. I was only ordered not to leave you until I have led you to Kufa. If you refuse, you may take a way that takes you neither to Kufa nor Medina so that I will write a report to Ubaydullah and hope Allah will save me from fighting you.”

Hence, the Imam’s caravan took another way southward, between al-Udhayb and al-Qadisiyyah58 and al-Hurr’s army watched them.

In a place called al-Bayda, the Imam (a) delivered a sermon:

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ قَالَ: "مَنْ رَأىٰ سُلْطَاناً جَائِراً مُسْتَحِلاً لحُرَمِ اللهِ نَاكِثاً لِعَهْدِ اللهِ مُخَالِفاً لِسُنَّةِ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ يَعْمَلُ في عِبَادِ اللهِ بِالإِثمِ وَالعُدْوانِ فَلَمْ يُغَيِّرْ عَلَيْهِ بِفِعْلٍ وَلا قَوْلٍ كَانَ حَقّاً عَلَى اللهِ أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُ مُدْخَلَهُ." أَلاَ وَإِنَّ هٰؤُلاءِ قَدْ لَزِمُوا طَاعَةَ الشَّيْطَانِ، وَتَرَكُوا طَاعَةَ الرَّحْمٰنِ، وَأَظْهَرُوا الفَسَادَ، وَعَطَّلُوا الحُدُودَ، وَاسْتَأْثَرُوا بِالفَيءِ، وَأَحَلُّوا حَرَامَ اللهِ، وَحَرَّمُوا حَلاَلَهُ، وَأَنَا أَحَقُّ مِمَّنْ غَيَّرَ.

People: the Messenger of Allah has said, “For anyone who knows an unjust ruler that is violating Allah’s sanctities, breaking the pledge of Allah, going against the Sunnah of the Prophet, and treating the servants of Allah with means of sin and oppression, and avoids denying so by a deed or a word, it will be incumbent upon Allah to take him to the place he deserves (i.e. Hell).” Those individuals – the Umayyad rulers - have adhered to the obedience to the Shaitan, deserted the obedience to the All-beneficent (Lord), made sins publicly, defied the doctrinal provisions, dedicated the treasuries to themselves, deemed lawful the things that Allah has decided unlawful, and deemed unlawful the things that Allah has decided lawful. I am more worthy of holding this position than those who have distorted (the principles of Islam).

وَقَدْ أَتَتْني كُتُبُكُمْ وَقَدِمَتْ عَلَيَّ رُسُلُكُمْ بِبَيْعَتِكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ لاَ تُسَلِّمُوني وَلاَ تَخْذِلُوني، فَإِنْ أَقَمْتُمْ عَلَىٰ بَيْعَتِكُمْ تُصِيبُوا رُشْدَكُمْ. فَأَنَا الحُسَينُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ وَابْنُ فَاطِمَةَ بِنْتِ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، نَفْسِي مَعَ أَنْفُسِكُمْ وَأَهْلِي مَعَ أَهْلِيكُمْ، فَلَكُمِ فِيَّ أُسْوَةٌ. وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَنَقَضْتُمْ عَهْدَكُمْ وَخَلَعْتُمْ بَيْعَتِي مِنْ أَعْنَاقِكُمْ فَلَعَمْرِي مَا هِيَ لَكُمْ بِنُكْرٍ؛ لَقَدْ فَعَلْتُمُوهَا بِأَبِي وَأَخِي وَابْنِ عَمِّي مُسْلِمٍ. وَالمَغْرُورُ مَنِ اغْتَرَّ بِكُمْ، فَحَظَّكُمْ أَخْطَأْتُمْ وَنَصِيبَكُمْ ضَيَّعْتُمْ. وَمَنْ نَكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنْكُثُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ وَسَيُغْنِي اللهُ عَنْكُمْ. وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ.

I have received your missives and your messengers who reported to me that you paid homage to me and that you would neither let me down nor disappoint me. If you keep your homage, you will certainly do the right thing. I am al-Husayn son of Ali and Fatimah; daughter of the Messenger of Allah. My soul will be with yours and my harem will be with yours. (They will face the same fate that you will face.) I am the example that should be followed.

However, if you break your homage and pledge, this is in fact not strange from you. You have already done it with my father, brother, and cousin Muslim (ibn Aqil). He who believes you is surely deceived. Anyhow, you have only missed your opportunity of success and neglected your chance of safety. He who breaches is only doing ill to himself. Allah will surely find me a substitution. Peace, Allah’s mercy, and His blessings be upon you.59

After this sermon, al-Hurr said to the Imam (a), “I only want to advise you. I am sure that you will be killed if you fight. I swear it.”

The Imam (a) answered, “Do you threaten me with death? Will misfortunes depart you if you kill me? I really do not know what to say to you. But, I will copy the saying of that man from the (tribe of) Aws whose cousin was threatened with death while he was going to defend the Prophet (S). He expressed in poetry:60

I will go on, and death is not shameful for a hero

Who intends good and fights for his Islam

And sacrifices his soul for the righteous men

And defies the perished ones and departs the wrong ones

If I live, I will not regret, and if I die, I will not be blamed

It is certainly sufficient humility to live in humbleness.

As he heard these words, al-Hurr left the Imam and realized that he had decided to sacrifice his soul for sake of saving the Muslims from the oppression and wrong of the Umayyad rulers.

Lady Zaynab, too, recognized that her brother, by saying these words, had decided to sacrifice himself and attain martyrdom. She therefore felt very sad and supplicated to Almighty Allah to grant him victory.

Al-Tarimmah led the Imam’s caravan because he knew that area better. The caravan however continued.61 The troops of al-Hurr were preventing it from heading towards the desert and trying to push it towards Kufa. Meanwhile, a rider appeared. It was a man carrying a message from Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad to al-Hurr: “As soon as you receive this message, lead al-Husayn to a derelict place in the desert where there is no shelter or water. I have also ordered this messenger to haunt you until you carry out this order.”62

  • 1. Hind, daughter of Utbah and wife of Abu-Sufyan, was the mortal enemy of Islam in general and the Hashemites in particular. It was she who tried to eat the liver of al-Hamzah ibn Abd-al-Muttalib after he had been killed during the battle of Uhud. About her ill-fame, listen to the following narration:
    After the conquest of Mecca, Hind, as well as her family members, had to pretend they were Muslims so as to save themselves from killing. She came to the Prophet (S) for declaring her conversion to Islam. The Prophet (S), according to a divine instruction, would listen to her pledge openly in the hearing of Muslims. He would dictate some principles and she would agree, otherwise her being Muslim would not be accepted. One of these principles was that the Prophet (S) asked her to pledge herself that she would not commit prostitution. As an answer, she said, “How come that a celebrated lady would commit prostitution?”
    As soon as he heard this statement from her, Umar ibn al-Khattab laughed to excess! This is because he knew her very well. This incident is recorded in almost all the reference books of Islamic history. See, for instance, Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 4 p. 365, Ibn Kuthayr, al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, vol. 3 p. 603, al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, vol. 2 p.338, al-Qurtubi, al-Tafsir, vol. 18 p. 72, Ibn Abil-Hadid, Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 18 p. 17, and Shaykh al-Amini, al-Ghadir, vol. 10, p. 170.
  • 2. See Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8 p. 152
  • 3. See al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam, vol. 1, p. 267, and Ibn al-Athir, al- Tarikh, vol. 3, p.266.
  • 4. See al-Baladhiri, Futuh al-Buldan, vol. 5, p. 6.
  • 5. See al-Yaqubi, al- Tarikh, vol. 2, p.241.
  • 6. See al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, vol. 4, p.25.
  • 7. See Abu-Mikhnaf al-Azdi, Maqtal al-Husayn, p.4.
  • 8. See al-Baladhiri, Futuh al-Buldan, vol. 5, p.12-3.
  • 9. See Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8 p. 160.
  • 10. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 264.
  • 11. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 264.
  • 12. See Sayyid Ibn Tawus al-Hasani, al-Lahuf fi Qatla al-Tufuf, p. 17, and Sayyid Murtada al-Askari, Maalim al- Madrasatayn, p.46
  • 13. See al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, vol. 5, p. 340.
  • 14. See Shaykh al-Shurayfi, Mawsuat Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 287 as quoted from al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn.
  • 15. See al-Numan al-Maghribi, Sharh al-Akhbar, vol. 3, p. 144.
  • 16. See al-Qanduzi al-Hanafi, Yanabi al-Mawaddah li Dhawi al-Qurba, p. 402.
  • 17. See Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, vol. 6, p. 190.
  • 18. See Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Madinat Dimashq, vol. 13, p. 68.
  • 19. Ibn Nama al-Hilli, Muthir al-Ahzan, p. 15
  • 20. See Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 95, and Ansab al-Ashraf, p. 157.
  • 21. See Abu-Hanifah al-Daynuri, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, p. 210.
  • 22. See Hamid ibn Muhammad al-Mahilli, al-Hadaq al-Wardiyyah, vol. 1, p. 125. Other historians have mentioned that Muslim ibn Aqil resided in the house of Muslim ibn Awsajah or Hani ibn Urwah (see Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah fi Marifat al-Sahabah, vol. 1, p. 332, and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib.)
  • 23. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 337.
  • 24. See Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 4, p, 224.
  • 25. See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 268.
  • 26. See Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 152.
  • 27. See Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 4, p, 265.
  • 28. See al-Dhahabi, Siyar(u) Alam al-Nubala, vol. 3, p. 299.
  • 29. See Muhammad ibn al-Fattal al-Nisapuri, Rawdat al-Waizhin, p. 174.
  • 30. See Abu-Mikhnaf al-Azdi, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 28.
  • 31. See Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-Amili, Lawaij al-Ashjan, p. 44.
  • 32. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi, al-Abbas ibn Ali, p. 133.
  • 33. See al-Fadl ibn Hasan al-Tabarsi, Ilam al-Wara bi Alam al-Huda, vol. 1, p. 438.
  • 34. See Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki, al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 197.
  • 35. See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 3, p.269.
  • 36. See al-Masudi, Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 7.
  • 37. See Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 351.
  • 38. See Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 154.
  • 39. See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 3, p.269.
  • 40. See Abul-Fida, al-Mukhtasar fi Akhbar al-Bashar, vol. 1, p. 300.
  • 41. See Baha al-Din Ali ibn Abd al-karim, al-Durr al-Nadid fi Taazi al-Imam al-Shahid, p 164
  • 42. See Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin wa al-Masawi, vol. 1, p. 43.
  • 43. See Abdullah al-Bahrani, al-Awalim al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 203.
  • 44. See Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhiri, Ansab al-Ashraf, p. 83.
  • 45. See Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, Madinat al-Maajiz, vol. 3, p. 485.
  • 46. See Muhammad al-Husayn Kashif al-Ghita, al-Siyasah al-Husayniyyah, p. 46-7.
  • 47. See Aishah Bint al-Shati, Zaynab; the Heroine of Karbala
  • 48. This means that those who will fight against me are as savage and wild as wolves.
  • 49. This is an indication to the absolute knowledge of Almighty Allah.
  • 50. See Ali ibn Abul-Fath al-Arbali, Kashf al-Ghummah fi Marifat al-Aimmah, vol. 2, p. 239.
  • 51. See Khalifah ibn Khayyat al - Asfari, Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p. 176.
  • 52. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Nawadir al-Mujizat, p. 107.
  • 53. See Shaykh Ali al-Namazi al-Shahrudi, Mustadrak Safinat al-Bihar, vol. 5, p. 450.
  • 54. See Muhamamd ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 4 p. 308, and Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 111.
  • 55. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 376.
  • 56. Muezzin is the caller to prayer.
  • 57. See Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 79.
  • 58. See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 3, p.280.
  • 59. See Ibn Shubah al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p. 505.
  • 60. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 4:305.
  • 61. See Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 111.
  • 62. See al-Baladhiri, Ansab al-Ashraf, p. 240.

In Karbala

Imam al-Husayn (a) wanted to reside in a place near a spring or a shelter, but al-Hurr prevented him and recited Ubaydullah’s message. As the situation reached its climax, Zuhayr ibn al-Qayn, one of the sincere companions of the Imam, suggested that they fight against al-Hurr and his troops, but the Imam (a) rejected this saying, “I will never begin the fighting.”1

Al-Hurr then obliged the Imam (a) to reside in a place, and the Imam (a) had to respond.

“What is this place called,” asked the Imam (a).

“This is Karbala,” answered one of the companions.

“O Allah: I seek Your protection against agony and ordeal,” supplicated the Imam (a) with tearful eyes.2

He then turned towards his companions and said:

أَرْضُ كَرْبٍ وَبَلاءٍ. هَا هُنَا مُنَاخُ رِكَابِنَا ومَحَطُّ رِحَالِنَا وَسَفْكُ دِمَائِنَا.

This is the place of agony and ordeal. This is the place where we, as well as our riding animals, will reside and our blood will be shed.

Al-Abbas, accompanied by the heroes of the Prophet’s household and the Imam’s companions, hurried to pitch tents for the harem, headed by Lady Zaynab, who were experiencing horror as they imagined the events that were to come about on this land.

The Imam (a) then raised his hands upward for supplicating to Allah and said:

اللّهُمَّ إِنّا عِتْرَةُ نَبِيِّكَ مُحَمَّدٍ، صَلّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، قَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا وَطُرِدْنَا وَأُزْعِجْنَا عَنْ حَرَمِ جَدِّنَا، وَتَعَدَّتْ بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ عَلَيْنَا. اللَّهُمَّ فَخُذْ لَنَا بِحَقِّنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَىٰ القَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ.

O Allah: We, the household of Your Prophet Muhammad, have been banished away from the sanctum of our grandfather and have been aggressed by the Umayyads. O Allah: Take vengeance upon those who oppressed us and support us against the wrongdoers.3

He then turned his face towards his household and companions and said:

إِنَّ هٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا قَدْ تَغَيَّرَتْ وَتَنَكَّرَتْ وَأَدْبَرَ مَعْرُوفُهَا، فَلَمْ يَبْقَ مِنْهَا إِلاَّ صَبَابَةٌ كَصَبَابَةِ الإِنَاءِ وَخَسِيسُ عَيْشٍ كَالمَرْعَىٰ الوَبِيلِ. أَلا تَرَوْنَ أَنَّ الحَقَّ لا يُعْمَلُ بِهِ وَأَنَّ البَاطِلَ لا يُتَنَاهَىٰ عَنْهُ؟ لِيَرْغَبِ المُؤْمِنُ في لِقَاءِ اللهِ مُحِقّاً. فَإِنّي لا أَرىٰ المَوْتَ إلاّ سَعَادَةً ولا الحَياةَ مَعَ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلاّ بَرَماً. إِنَّ النَّاسَ عَبِيدُ الدُّنْيَا وَالدِّينُ لَعِقٌ عَلَىٰ أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ يَحُوطُونَهُ مَا دَرَّتْ مَعَائِشُهُمْ، فَإِذَا مُحِّصُوا بِالبَلاءِ قَلَّ الدَّيّانُونَ.

This world has changed, snubbed, and its good has turned tail. Nothing has remained from it except a thing that is as scanty as the leftover of a cup and a mean life that is like a noxious grazing. Have you not noticed that the right is ignored and the evil is not forbidden? This is sufficient for making the believers desire for meeting Allah rightfully. I do not see death but as happiness and do not consider life with the wrongdoers but as boredom. People are certainly slaves of this world. The religion is only a statement on their tongues. They change it however their livelihood demands. If they are examined by misfortunes, the religious will be very few.4

By these words, Imam al-Husayn (a) informed his household and companions about the coming ordeals they would face, and declared his readiness to fight against the wrongful party to the last spark of his life. As they heard his words, those unmatched individuals who paved the way of freedom to humankind through their unparalleled situations spoke before their leader to show him their readiness to participate and continue the way whatever the sacrifices would be. The first companion to speak was Zuhayr ibn al-Qayn:

“Son of Allah’s Messenger: We have understood your words. We may stop supporting you if we understand that this world will perpetuate for us for good… etc.”

Another hero, namely Burayr ibn Khudayr, said similar words. The other heroes declared their situations of perseverance on their principles and readiness to sacrifice their souls for their leader. The Imam (a) thanked them for their feelings and blessed them.

In Kufa, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad felt happy when he was informed that the vanguards of his army seized Imam al-Husayn. He therefore began to plan for the next step; whom should he choose for the commandment of the army to kill the Prophet’s dearest one? As he reviewed the names of the candidates, he could not realize any individual meaner and more vicious than Umar ibn Saad.

At first, Umar refused to fight against the Imam (a), but Ubaydullah threatened he would dismiss him from the governorship of Ray – currently Tehran. Thus, he accepted and began his campaign towards Karbala with four thousand horsemen who joined the army of al-Hurr there. Umar ibn Saad was chosen for the most horrible crime, and he showed no blemish when he led armies to fight against the divinely selected Imam. He surrounded the Imam (a) from every side, laid siege for him, and blocked all the ways in order to prevent anybody from joining or supporting him.

In Kufa again, Ubaydullah gathered people and spoke: “O People: As you tried the descendants of Abu Sufyan, you have found them as exactly as you like. You have also known your leader, Yazid, as good and praiseworthy man. He treats his subjects kindly, gives everybody his deserved share of the public treasury, and honors people out of his wealth. He has ordered me to give each of you one hundred dirhams monthly in addition to your fixed shares of the public treasury. He has also ordered me to call you to participate in the campaign against his enemy al-Husayn. Hence, you should listen to and obey him…”5

Unfortunately, most of them carried out these orders and composed a huge army against the Imam small group. Afterwards, they traveled to Karbala and occupied the two banks, as well as all the branches, of the River Euphrates.

Some historians, however, have mentioned that three days before the encounter, Imam al-Husayn (a) was deprived of water.6 This in fact was the most horrible misfortune he had to face. The strange thing is that the band of the Umayyad army took pride in this criminal act that challenged all humanitarian values. One of them, for instance, shouted at Imam al-Husayn (a), “Husayn: you can see water flow like reptiles. You will not taste it before you die…”7

Expressing his joy at this situation, Amr ibn al-Hajjaj addressed, “Husayn, this is the Euphrates. Dogs, donkeys, and even pigs are licking its water. But we shall prevent you from having a single drop from it…”8

No single law or code on this earth allows any person, under any circumstances, to deprive women and children of water except the laws of the Umayyad dynasty whose individuals, from the first spark of Islam, advised each other to prevent the Prophet’s household from holding any position of leadership.

Facing this ordeal of the scarcity of water, Lady Zaynab undertook the difficult mission of gathering the thirsty children and women and trying to comfort them and promise with water. Her heart melted away as she saw those children and babies cry out of thirst while she had nothing to give.

Imam al-Husayn (a) then asked Umar ibn Saad to meet him individually. The criminal came with his son and servant to the Imam (a) who asked his brother al-Abbas and his son Ali al-Akbar to attend that meeting. The Imam (a) then asked Umar to think about the matter more seriously and to anticipate the inescapable misfortunes that he would certainly face in this world and the world to come if he would fight against him. Umar however tried to tender his excuses, but the Imam (a) proved all of them worthless. Finally, the Imam (a) recognized that Umar would never change his mind; therefore, he said to him, “What is the matter with you? May Allah kill you on your bed! May Allah never forgive you on the day when you will be resurrected! I foresee that you, if you do it, will not even be able to satisfy your appetite from the wheat of Iraq.”

Mockingly, Umar answered, “It will be enough for me to have from its barley!”9

Indeed, Almighty Allah responded to the supplications of Imam al-Husayn concerning Umar: the soldiers of al-Mukhtar slew him in his bed.

In the land of Karbala, Lady Zaynab faced the progression of calamities with the weapon of patience and steadfastness. At the night of the ninth of Muharram, the Umayyad armies advanced towards Imam al-Husayn’s small group. The Imam (a) was about to take a nap when his sister, Lady Zaynab, hurried to him with horror after she had heard the sounds of the foes coming towards them. She woke him up to say, “Brother, the enemies are approaching us.” He answered, “I have just seen the Messenger of Allah, my father Ali, my mother Fatimah, and my brother al-Hasan in sleep and they told that I will join them very soon.”

These words acted as a thunderbolt on Lady Zaynab and tore her sensitive, tortured heart. She therefore had nothing to do but slapping her face, shouting, “Alas for this!” The Imam (a) tried to relieve her by saying, “Alas is not yours, sister. Please, be quiet. May the All-beneficent have mercy upon you.”10

Al-Abbas, who did not leave his brother for a single moment, turned his face to him and said, “They have come for you.” The Imam (a) asked him to verify their intents. He said to him, “May I sacrifice myself for you, brother! Ride on and meet them to ask about their intentions.”

With twenty horsemen, al-Abbas hurried towards that army and asked what they wanted.

“The governor has ordered us to call you to submit to his orders, otherwise we will fight you,” they answered.11

Al-Abbas turned back to tell his brother about their intention. Meanwhile, Habib ibn Muzhahir delivered a sermon to that army; he admonished and warned them against the divine punishment they would face if they fought against the family of the Prophet (S). However, some of them answered him impudently.

When he heard the words of his brother, Imam al-Husayn said to him, “Go back to them and try your best to delay them until tomorrow morning so that we, on this night, will have time to pray to our Lord Who knows that I love praying to Him, reciting His Book, and supplicating to Him.”

Al-Abbas conveyed these words to the Umayyad army. Umar ibn Saad, because he feared that others would report his situation to the governor, offered the suggestion to Shimr who was his only competitor. He did not say anything, but Amr ibn al-Hajjaj intruded, “How strange this is! Even if they were from the non-Arabs, we would respond to their demand!”

In fact, Amr did not want to confess that their adversary party was the beloved grandson of the Prophet (S) and the Chief of the Youth of Paradise. This is because he anticipated that others would report any single word he would say to the ruling authorities.

As many others supported Amr’s opinion, Umar ibn Saad accepted to postpone waging war against the camp of the Imam (a). He ordered one of his soldiers to approach the camp of the Imam (a) and declare that the fighting would be postponed to the next day.

Thus, the fighting was postponed for a night and Umar ibn Saad’s army waited whether the Imam (a) would respond to them or fight.

The Imam gathered all his followers and gave a sermon:

أُثْني عَلَىٰ اللهِ أَحْسَنَ الثَّنَاءِ وَأَحْمَدُهُ عَلَىٰ السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَحْمَدُكَ عَلَىٰ أَنْ أَكْرَمْتَنَا بِالنُّبُوَّةِ، وَعَلَّمْتَنَا القُرْآنَ، وَفَهَّمْتَنَا فِي الدِّينِ، وَجَعَلْتَ لَنا أَسْمَاعاً وَأَفْئِدَةً، وَلَمْ تَجْعَلْنَا مِنَ المُشْرِكِينَ.

أَمَّا بَعْدُ: فَإِنِّي لاَ أَعْلَمُ أَصْحَاباً أَوْفَىٰ وَلاَ خَيْراً مِنْ أَصْحَابي، وَلاَ أَهْلَ بَيْتٍ أَبَرَّ وَلا أَوْصَلَ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتي. فَجَزَاكُمُ اللهُ عَنِّي خَيْراً. أَلا وَإِنِّي لأَظُنُّ أَنَّهُ آخِرُ يَوْمٍ لَنَا مِنْ هٰؤُلاءِِ. أَلا وَإِنِّي قَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَكُمْ فَانْطَلِقُوا جَمِيعاً فِي حِلٍّ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنِّي ذِمَامٌ. هٰذَا اللَّيْلُ قَدْ غَشِيَكُمْ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ جَمَلاً. وَلْيَأْخُذْ كُلُّ رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ بِيَدِ رَجُلٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِي وَتَفَرَّقُوا فِي سَوَادِ هٰذَا اللَّيْلِ وَذَرُونِي وَهٰؤُلاءِ القَوْمَ فَإنَّهُمْ لا يُرِيدُونَ غَيْرِي.

I praise Allah with the best words of praise and thank Him for good times and bad times. O Allah: I do praise You for You have honored us with prophecy, have taught us the Quran, have given us understanding of the religion, have conferred upon us with ears and hearts, and have not made us idol‑worshippers.

Indeed, I do not know any followers better than my followers nor any family better than my family. May Allah reward you all. Indeed, I think tomorrow will be the decisive day with these people. I have allowed you all to leave me alone and go on your own way. During this night, any one of you may leave. Any of you may take one of my family and leave and you may scatter in the murk of this night. Indeed, I am the one they want. When they get me, they will not go after anyone else.12

As soon as the Imam (a) finished his words, Abul-Fadl Al-Abbas, representing the Ahl al-Bayt, said to his brother:

“Why should we do so? Is it for that we will live after you? No! We supplicate to the Lord to forbid it.”13

The same situation was shown from the sons of Aqil, and the other companions who showed their readiness to sacrifice their souls for their Imam (a). Hence, everybody spent that night with worship and acts of obedience to Allah. They were waiting for the dawn of that day on which they would obtain their highest goal in this life - martyrdom.

Lady Zaynab’s panic

Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (a), the only survivor of the tragedy of Karbala, later on reported:

My aunt Zaynab was nursing me on that night (the night before the tenth of Muharram) when my father isolated himself in a tent. Only Juwayn, the servant of Abu Dharr, was with him mending his sword. The Imam (a) then cited (the following poetic verses):

O days, fie upon you! How poor a mate you are!

Too many are those who, in morns and eves, are

Dead or alone in isolation

Yet days never change and never show alternation

Every mortal shall take a way to their termination

The inevitable shall imminently occur

All matters to the Most High recur.

He repeated these words twice or thrice until I understood his purpose. Hence, I could not control my tears. However, I tried my best to stop weeping and keep silence. I understood that we would suffer horrifying ordeals after him. My aunt Zaynab, like other women who are prevailed by their tender hearts, could not control herself. She ran towards him with uncovered head and shouted before him:

وَاثُكْلاهُ! وَاحُزْنَاهُ! لَيْتَ المَوْتَ أَعْدَمَنِيَ الحَيَاةَ! يَا حُسَيْنَاهُ! يَا سَيِّدَاهُ! يَا بَقِيَّةَ أَهْلِ بَيْتَاهُ! أَسْتَسْلَمْتَ لِلْمَوْتِ وَيَئِسْتَ مِنَ الحَيَاةِ؟ اليَوْمَ مَاتَ جَدِّي رَسُولُ اللهِ، اليَوْمَ مَاتَتْ أُمِّي فَاطِمَةُ الزَّهْراءُ وَأَبي عَلِيُّ المُرْتَضَىٰ وَأَخِي الحَسَنُ الزَّكِيُّ. يَا خَلِيفَةَ المَاضِينَ وَثِمَالَ البَاقِينَ.

Oh, for my losing you! Oh, for my grief for you! May demise deprive me of life! Oh, for al-Husayn! Oh, for my master! Oh, for the only remaining one of my family members! Is it true that you have submitted to death and despaired of life? Only this day have my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, my mother, Fatimah al-Zahra, my father, Ali al-Murtada (the Pleased One), and my brother, al-Hasan al-Zaki (the Pure) died. You are the successor of the bygone ones and the last of their survivors.”

Hearing these words from his beloved sister, Imam al-Husayn (a) looked at her and said:

يَا أُخْتَاهُ؛ لا يَذْهَبَنَّ بِحِلْمِكِ الشَّيْطَانُ.

O dear sister: do not let Shaitan seize your toleration.

The Imam’s eyes overflowed with tears and he added, “After they had made me revolt, they wronged me.”

She then shouted:

يَا وَيْلَتَاهُ! أَتَغْتَصِبُ نَفْسَكَ اغْتِصَاباً؟ فَذَاكَ أَقْرَحُ لِقَلْبِي وَأَشَدُّ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِي.

Oh, woe! Do you take your soul by force? This is indeed more painful and more difficult for me to tolerate.

She then slapped her face, tore her cloth, and fell to the ground losing consciousness. The Imam (a) hurried to pour water on her face. When she regained consciousness, he consoled her with the following words:

يَا أُخْتَاهُ! إِتَّقِي اللهَ وَتَعَزَّيْ بِعَزاءِ اللهِ وَاعْلَمِي أَنَّ أَهْلَ الأَرْضِ يَمُوتُونَ وَأَهْلَ السَّمَاءِ لا يَبْقَوْنَ، وَأَنَّ كُلَّ شَيءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلا وَجْهَ اللهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ الخَلْقَ بِقُدْرَتِهِ وَإِلَيْهِ يَعُودُونَ، وَهُوَ فَرْدٌ وَاحِدٌ. وَإِنَّ أَبِي خَيْرٌ مِنِّي، وَأَخِي خَيْرٌ مِنِّي، وَلِكُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ بِرَسُولِ اللهِ أُسْوَةٌ.

يَا أُخْتَاهُ، إِنِّي أَقْسَمْتُ عَلَيْكِ فَأَبِرِّي قَسَمِي: لا تَشُقِّي عَلَيَّ جَيْباً، وَلا تَخْمِشِي عَلَيَّ وَجْهاً، وَلا تَدْعِي عَلَيَّ بِالوَيْلِ وَالثُّبُورِ إِذا أَنَا هَلَكْتُ.

O dear sister: Fear Allah, console yourself with the solace from Allah, and know that inhabitants of this earth shall inexorably die and the inhabitants of the heavens shall not survive forever. Also, be it known to you that everything shall perish except Almighty Allah Who has created all the creatures out of His omnipotence and they all shall return to Him. He is Single and the Only One. My father is better than I am and my brother is better than I am, and every Muslim must take an example from the Messenger of Allah (S).

O dear sister: I put you under this oath and please do not break it: never tear a piece of your cloth (as a sign of your sadness for me), never slap your face (for mourning at my death), and never invoke woe and perdition when I will be slain.

Imam al-Husayn (a), then, accompanied her to my tent.

To the companions of the Imam (a), that night was the brightest in their lives; they could not wait for the dawn of the next day on which they would join the heavens and settle in the endless bliss. Habib ibn Muzhahir, for instance, was so cheerful, and when asked why, he answered, “It is only a few hours and those tyrants will attack us with their swords to make us embrace the women of Paradise. This time then is most worthy of cheer.” The other companions who were filled with deep-rooted and unshakable faith uttered similar words.14

At that night, too, Imam al-Husayn (a) took a nap, and when he woke up, he told his family members and companions about his dream:

“I dreamt that dogs attacked me so savagely that they bit me. The most savage among them was a spotted one. As much as I understand from this dream, I foresee that I will be slain by a leprous man. I then saw, in dream too, my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (S), with a group of his companions addressing to me: You are the shahid of Muhammad’s family. The inhabitants of the heavens, especially the elevated ones, are glad because they anticipate that you will join them very soon. Tonight, be my guest. Please, hurry up and do not be slow.15

At that night, too, clouds of panic and terror covered the harem totally. They did not see a single moment of ease as each one of them imagined the horrifying future after the demise of their lord, Imam al-Husayn (a), and their protector, Abul-Fadl al-Abbas, as well as their family men. They had no weapon other than weeping and praying to Almighty Allah.

The most grievous one among them was their chief, Lady Zaynab, who watched all the events so attentively and already knew that all the responsibility would be hers. She also anticipated that none of her family men would survive after tomorrow; the black tomorrow.

Owing to her great concern about her brother, Lady Zaynab, on that night, watched the tents of the companions and the Hashemites so that she would be aware of their real situations and, hence, how would they behave tomorrow. She first went slowly near the tent of her brother, Abul-Fadl al-Abbas, to listen to him while he was delivering instructions to the Hashemite warriors:

Al-Abbas asked, “Brothers, nephews, and cousins: what are you going to do in the morning?”

“You decide, and we carry out,” they said.

Courageously, al-Abbas said, “Our companions and supporters are not our relatives. And our own people must carry a heavy burden. Next morning, we will be the first to fight and will precede our companions to death so that people will not blame us.”

Before he finished, they all shouted in one voice, “We all agree to this opinion.”

This conversation gave some hope to Lady Zaynab who, then, directed towards the tent of the companions to listen to them. They were gathering in the tent of their Head, Habib ibn Muzhahir, who asked them, “O companions: what are you going to do in the morning?”

“You decide, and we carry out,” they said.

Habib spoke, “Next morning, we will be the first to fight and will precede the Hashemites to death. We should never see a Hashemite person stained with blood. Otherwise, people will blame us and say that we made them fight before us so that we could save our souls.”

All the companions shouted in one voice, “We all agree to this opinion, Habib.”

Lady Zaynab hence understood that the companions would never let Imam al-Husayn (a) down and would defend him until the last spark of their lives. She therefore directed towards the tent of the leader, Imam al-Husayn (a), to report these news to him. The Imam (a) thanked Allah for them and their sentiments and told his sister that these individuals were the choice of the Almighty Allah.16

  • 1. See al-Fadl ibn Hasan al-Tabarsi, Ilam al-Wara bi Alam al-Huda, vol. 1, p. 451.
  • 2. The Arabic ‘karb’ means ‘agony’, and the Arabic ‘bala’’ means ‘ordeal’. Hence, the word ‘Karbala’’ is a combination of these two words. In fact, ‘Karbala’’ is an ancient name of the region it refers to. For more information about the origin of ‘Karbala’’, refer to Sayyid Sami al-Badri, The Holy Quran and Archaeology, Translated by Badr Shahin, Issue No. 1, Chapter: Karbala in the Ancient Oriental Linguistic Heritage, First Edition, 1421.
  • 3. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 383.
  • 4. See Ibn Shubah al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul; 287
  • 5. See Abu-Hanifah al-Daynuri, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, p. 253.
  • 6. See Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Mirat al-Zaman fi Tawarikh al-Ayan, p. 89.
  • 7. See Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Amali, p. 221.
  • 8. See Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhiri, Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 3, p. 181.
  • 9. See Ibn Shahrashub’s Manaqib Al Abi-Talib; 3:213.
  • 10. See Shaykh al-Shurayfi, Mawsuat Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 391 as quoted from Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 558.
  • 11. See Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, vol. 2, p. 90.
  • 12. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 285.
  • 13. See Abu-Mikhnaf al-Azdi, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 177.
  • 14. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 6:241.
  • 15. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 3.
  • 16. See Shaykh al-Shurayfi, Mawsuat Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 409.

Day of Ashura

The day of Ashura - the tenth of Muharram, was unique in its tragedies, misfortunes, and disasters. On that day, the Ahl al-Bayt had to suffer the most horrifying adversities ever of this world. Hence, it is certainly a day of grieving.

From early morning, when Imam al-Husayn (a) left his tent, he saw that facing him were innumerable warriors and their horses fill up the desert ground with their swords unsheathed, wanting to shed his blood. Thus, he asked for a copy of the holy Quran to be placed over his head and raised his hands upward in supplication to his Lord for seeking His refuge. He said:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ ثِقَتِي فِي كُلِّ كَرْبٍ، وَرَجَائِي فِي كُلِّ شِدَّةٍ وَأَنْتَ لِي فِي كُلِّ أَمْرٍ نَزَلَ بِي ثِقَةٌ وَعِدَّةٌ. كَمْ مِنْ هَمٍّ يَضْعُفُ فِيهِ الفُؤَادُ، وَتَقِلُّ فِيهِ الحِيلَةُ، وَيَخْذُلُ فِيهِ الصَّدِيقُ، وَيَشْمُتُ فِيهِ العَدُوُّ، أَنْزَلْتُهُ بِكَ وَشَكَوْتُهُ إِلَيْكَ رَغْبَةً مِنِّي إِلَيْكَ عَمَّنْ سِوَاكَ، فَفَرَّجْتَهُ وَكَشَفْتَهُ، وَأَنْتَ وَلِيُّ كُلِّ نِعْمَةٍ، وَصَاحِبُ كُلِّ حَسَنَةٍ، وَمُنْتَهىٰ كُلِّ رَغْبَةٍ.

O Allah: I place my trust in You in hard times and confide in you with hope during tribulations, and in You lies my faith and hope in every misfortune that inflicts me. Many were the griefs that constricted my heart, they were hardly curable, they caused my friends to disappoint me, and made my enemies rejoice (over my helplessness); but when I relegated them – i.e. the griefs - to You and complained about them to You, because I heartily intended You and no one else, You relieved them and helped. You are certainly the source of all graces, the cause of all favors, and the only intention worthy of aspiration.1

He then decided to deliver a speech before those troops so that they would become full acquainted with the reality of the situation. He rode towards them and raised his voice with the finest words of wisdom so that most of them, at least, would hear him. He said:2

أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَتَبّاً لَكُمْ أَيَّتُهَا الجَمَاعَةُ وَتَرْحاً، حِينَ اسْتَصْرَخْتُمُونَا وَالِهِينَ فَأَصْرَخْنَاكُمْ مُوجِفِينَ سَلَلْتُمْ عَلَيْنَا سَيْفاً كَانَ فِي أَيْمَانِنَا وَحَشَشْتُمْ عَلَيْنَا نَاراً اقْتَدَحْنَاهَا عَلَىٰ عَدُوِّنَا وَعَدُوِّكُمْ، فَأَصْبَحْتُمْ إِلْباً عَلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِكُمْ وَيَداً لأَعْدَائِكُمْ، بِغَيْرِ عَدْلٍ أَفْشَوْهُ فِيكُمْ وَلا لأَمَلٍ أَصْبَحَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ وَعَنْ غَيْرِ حَدَثٍ كَانَ مِنّا وَلا رَأْيٍ تَفَيَّلَ عَنّا. فَهَلاّ -لَكُمُ الوَيْلاتُ- تَرَكْتُمُونا وَالسَّيْفُ مَشِيمٌ وَالجَأْشُ طَامِنٌ وَالرَّأْيُ لَمَّا يُسْتَحْصَفْ. وَلَكِنْ إِسْتَسْرَعْتُمْ إِلَيْها كَتَطَائِرِ الدِّبَا وَتَدَاعَيْتُمْ عَنْها كَتَدَاعِي الفَرَاشِ. فَسُحْقاً وَبُعْداً لِطَوَاغِيتِ الأُمَّةِ وَشِذَّاذِ الأَحْزَابِ وَنَبَذَةِ الكِتَابِ وَنَفَثَةِ الشَّيْطَانِ وَمُحَرِّفِي الكَلاَمِ وَمُطْفِئيِ السُّنَنِ وَمُلْحِقِي العَهَرَةِ بَالنَّسَبِ، المُسْتَهْزِئِينَ الَّذِينَ جَعَلُوا القُرْآنَ عِضِينَ.

So then, fie and grief be on you, O people of this group. When you appealed for our help in distress and we hurried to help you exhausting ourselves, you have unsheathed against us a sword that had been in our right hands and ignited against us the fire that we had struck against both your and our enemy. You therefore formed groups to surround your allies and became a support for your enemies even though they did not spread justice among you and you had lost any hope in them. In addition, you have noticed that no heresy or new opinion has come out from us.

Why did you – woe be on you - not leave us while swords were sheathed, malice was hidden, and the decision was not taken? But, you hurried to your sedition like locusts and fell upon it like the falling of butterflies (in fire). Damn and be away with the idols of the ummah, those who were irregular in these groups, those who deserted the Book, those serving as expectorants of Shaitan, distorters of the meanings, extinguishers of the traditions, those vowing for the illegitimate ones and those who mocked and divided the Quran - believing in some parts and rejecting others.

أَهٰؤُلاءِ تَعْضُدُونَ وَعَنّا تَتَخَاذَلُونَ؟ أَجَلْ وَاللهِ إِنَّهُ لخَذْلٌ فِيكُمْ مَعْرُوفٌ، قَدْ وَشَجَتْ عَلَيْهِ عُرُوقُكُمْ وَتَوَارَتْ عَلَيْهِ أُصُولُكُمْ فَكُنْتُمْ أَخْبَثَ ثَمَرَةٍ شَجاً لِلنّاطِرِ، وَأُكْلَةً لِلغَاصِبِ. أَلا فَلَعْنَةُ اللهِ عَلَىٰ النَّاكِثِينَ الَّذِينَ يَنْقُضُونَ الأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلُوا اللهَ عَلَيْهِمْ كَفِيلاً. أَلا وَإِنَّ الدَّعِيَّ ابْنَ الدَّعِيِّ قَدْ رَكَزَ مِنّا بَيْنَ اثْنَتَيْنِ؛ بَيْنَ السِّلَّةِ وَالذِّلَّةِ، وَهَيْهَاتَ مِنَّا الذِّلَّةِ: يَأْبىٰ اللهُ لَنَا ذٰلِكَ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالمُؤْمِنُونَ وَحُجُورٌ طَابَتْ وَأُنُوفٌ حَمِيَّةٌ وَنُفُوسٌ أَبِيَّةُ أَنْ نُؤْثِرَ طَاعَةَ اللَّئَامِ عَلىٰ مَصَارِعِ الكِرَامِ. وَإِنِّي زَاحِفٌ إِلَيْهِمْ بِهٰذِهِ الأُسْرَةِ عَلىٰ كَلَبِ العَدُوِّ وَكَثْرَةِ العَدَدِ وَخِذْلَةِ النَّاصِرِ.

How is it that you are supporting them and disappointing us? Yes, why not? By Allah I swear, your disloyalty is expected because it is entwined with your arteries and it has ocurred in your origins. You therefore are the bitterest fruit that causes its caretaker to choke and gives a good taste to its usurper. May Allah curse the disloyal ones who disregard their firm oaths after they have already appointed Allah as their Guarantor. The illegitimate one, son of the illegitimate, has forced me to choose one of two things— either unsheathing of swords or ignominy. Ignominy is impossible for us. Allah, His Apostle, the (faithful) believers, the chaste laps, jealous noses (individuals), and noble souls (personalities) refuse for us to prefer obedience to the mean to the death of the honorable. So, I am advancing towards them with this family despite the alliances formed by the enemies, their great numbers and the betrayal of the supporters.

He then recited poetic verses:3

If we defeat, then we’ve been always triumphant

If we’re defeated, we’ve not wonted to impairment

Cowardice is not our manner, but it’s our

Time of death, and others’ time in power

If death is postponed for some, not all

It shall certainly on others fall

It has hence seized my people’s celebrities

As it had terminated the ancient humanities

If kings had remained forever, we’d have too remained

If chiefs had been maintained, we’d have too been maintained

Then say to the gloaters over our grief: wait

You shall for sure encounter the same fate!

أَمَا وَاللهِ لا يَلْبَثُونَ إِلاَّ كَرَيْثِ ما يُرْكَبُ الفَرَسُ حَتَّىٰ تَدُورَ رَحَا الحَرْبِ وَتُعَلَّقَ النُّحُورُ. عَهْدٌ عَهِدَهُ إِلَيَّ أَبِي عَنْ جَدِّي، صَلَّىٰ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ. فَأَجْمِعُوا أَمْرَكُمْ ثُمَّ كِيدُونِ فَلا تُنْظِرونِ، إِنِّي تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَىٰ اللهِ رَبِّي وَرَبِّكُمْ، مَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ إِلا هُوَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتِهَا، إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ.

By Allah I swear it, you shall not be respited for very long; very soon, horses will be ridden away, days will revolve around you like millstones, war will flare up, and necks will be decapitated. My father, on the authority of my grandfather, foretold me of it. So, you may plan against me without delay. I trust Allah Who is my Lord as well as yours. It is Allah Who controls the destiny of all living creatures. It is my Lord Who knows the right path.

Imam al-Husayn (a) then raised his two hands towards the heavens and invoked Allah’s curse upon them, saying:4

اللَّهُمَّ احْبِسْ عَنْهُمْ قَطَرَ السَّمَاءِ وَابْعَثْ عَلَيْهِمْ سِنِينَ كَسِنِيِّ يُوسُفَ وَسَلِّطْ عَلَيْهِمْ غُلاَمَ ثَقِيفٍ يَسُومُهُمْ كَأْساً مُصْبَرَةً، فَإِنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُونَا وَخَذَلُونَا وَأَنْتَ رَبُّنَا، عَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ المَصِيرُ.

O Allah, deprive them of every drop of blessings of the heavens, and inflict them with years of imprisonment like those (which occurred in the time) of Prophet Joseph, and set up upon them the man of the (tribe of) Thaqif5 as absolute ruler to subject them to the bitterest torture, for they have belied and disappointed us. You are our Lord on Whom we depend, to Whom we trust, and in Whose control everything lies.

The harem could hear some of these words; they therefore wept and cried, but the Imam (a) asked his brother Al-Abbas and his son Ali al-Akbar to ask them to stop this. He then continued with such bright words that should have led every deviant to the right path. However, the Umayyad army could not understand the Imam’s words because they were too ignorant to understand anything other than a criminal mind-set. Rather, they could not say a single word in answer to Imam Husayn (a).

The Imam (a) then addressed to some of them particularly and reminded them of the messages they had sent to him, but they denied the whole matter!

Qays ibn al-Ashath then asked the Imam (a) to surrender and submit to the Umayyad government, but the Imam (a), courageously and steadfastly, refused and declaring his unchangeable situation:

لا واللهِ! لا أُعْطِيكُمْ بِيَدِي إِعْطَاءَ الذَّلِيلِ وَلا أُقِرُّ لَكُمْ إِقْرَارَ العَبِيدِ.

“No, by Allah - I will never extend my hands towards you like the abject do, and I will never submit to you like slaves do”.6

The Imam’s companions, then, spoke similar words before the Umayyad army, but uselessly.

Finally, the Imam (a) decided to advise them again so that none of them would excuse he had not known the matter clearly.

At these moments, the conscience of al-Hurr ibn Yazid woke up. He began to think of his destiny if he should fight against Imam al-Husayn (a) who represented the right party and the true religion of Allah. Finally, he decided to join him. He went to Umar and said, “Do you really want to fight against this man?”

“Yes I do,” answered ‘Umar, “I want to as intensely as possible.”

“Why do you not respond to his calls and accept one of the options he had offered?” asked al-Hurr.

“I would do if it was my right to choose. But the matter is not mine. It is your governor’s,” answered Umar.

Only then did al-Hurr realize that Umar was fully ready to fight Imam al-Husayn (a); therefore, he directed himself towards the Imam (a) and proceeded towards him because he felt sorry for his past deeds against him.

When the Imam (a) conferred upon him with pardon7, al-Hurr turned the face towards the troops of Umar and went on addressing words of reproach and blame for disappointing the Imam (a). Anyhow, his words did not find any place in their hearts.

The War

Because Umar ibn Saad anticipated that other commanders would copy al-Hurr, he hurried towards the Imam’s camp and threw an arrow shouting, “Be the witnesses. I am the first to throw at al-Husayn!”

This was the opening to hundreds of arrows thrown towards the Imam’s camp. Seeing the situation, the Imam (a) turned to his companions and said, “Stand up, generous people. These arrows are your enemies’ messengers to you.”8

Hence, thirty-two horsemen and forty warriors had to encounter ten thousands. However, this little party could stop against those huge well-equipped numbers and show unprecedented scenes of courage and bravery. Then Umar gave the orders of waging a wide campaign during which all the detachments of the Umayyad army fought. Although half of the Imam’s companions were killed during that campaign, they combated extremely courageously and caused great losses to the Umayyad army.

After this general campaign, the other companions began to wage individual campaigns. In fact, their unparalleled heroism frightened the whole camp of the Umayyad army and caused it great losses; therefore, Amr ibn al-Hajjaj cried at them, “Do you know against whom you are fighting? You are fighting against the most courageous horsemen of this country. They will keep killing anyone of you who intends to face them. By Allah I swear, if you only throw at them stones, you will kill them.”9

Umar agreed on Amr’s opinion and ordered his forces to leave facing those heroes. He then gave the orders of waging a general attack against them. Nevertheless, the companions caused great losses to the attacking forces to the degree that Urwah ibn Qays had to ask the commander in chief to supply him with more men and weapons.

Umar then had to call al-Husayn ibn Numayr and supply him with five hundred bowmen who could wound the animals that the Imam’s companions rode on. Thus, all the companions, including al-Hurr ibn Yazid, had to fight against their enemies on feet. This fighting, which has been described by historians as the fiercest in all of history, continued until midday.

In the midst of that horrible scene, Abu Thumamah al-Saidi; one of the Imam’s companions, raised his head to the sky and told the Imam about the time of the Zuhr prayer. The Imam (a) asked his companions to demand with cease fighting so that they would offer the prayer. They responded to this demand, but as soon as the Imam (a) and his companions stood erect for the prayer, the Umayyad army began throwing darts at them. Said al-Hanafi made his body as the armor that protected the Imam (a) while he was praying. When the Imam (a) finished his prayer, Said was heavily wounded that he fell dead.

The other companions continued fighting for sake of their Imam (a) courageously until they all were killed.

After the companions, it was the turn of the youths of the Prophet’s household. Like attacking lions, they rushed themselves to the battlefield and began to bid farewell to each other with tearful eyes for the loneliness of their Imam (a) who would very soon be helpless.

The first to advance was the eighteen-year-old young man10 and the most similar to the Holy Prophet (S) in form, morals, and personality. This was Ali al-Akbar son of Imam al-Husayn (a). The Imam felt immensely sad when he knew for certain that his son would proceed for fighting. He therefore raised his face towards the heavens and complained to the Lord about this gang, which fought against him and was ready to kill his dearest one. He, as well as the harem of the Prophet’s household, sent Ali al-Akbar off with tears, cries and moaning. He then put his hand under his beard, raised it towards the heavens, and prayed:

اللَّهُمَّ اشْهَدْ عَلَىٰ هٰؤُلاءِ القَوْمِ، فَقَدْ بَرَزَ إِلَيْهِمْ غُلامٌ أَشْبَهُ النَّاسِ خَلْقاً وَخُلُقاً وَمَنْطِقاً بِرَسُولِكَ، وَكُنَّا إِذَا اشْتَقْنَا إِلىٰ نَبِيِّكَ نَظَرْنَا إِلىٰ وَجْهِهِ. اللّهُمَّ امْنَعْهُمْ بَرَكَاتِ الأَرْضِ، وَفَرِّقْهُمْ تَفْرِيقاً، وَمَزِّقْهُمْ تَمْزِيقاً، وَاجْعَلْهُمْ طَرَائِقَ قِدَداً، وَلا تُرْضِ الوُلاةَ عَنْهُمْ أَبَداً. فَإِنَّهُمْ دَعَوْنَا لِيَنْصُرُونَا ثُمَّ عَدَوْا عَلَيْنَا يُقَاتِلُونَنَا.

O Allah: be the witness on those people! A youth who is the most similar to Your Prophet in form, morals, and personality is now facing them in the battlefield. We used to look at his face whenever we missed the Prophet. O Allah: deprive those people of the blessings of the earth, scatter them thoroughly, strew about them scatteringly, break them up in sundry paths, and never make their rulers pleased with them, for they are fighting us aggressively after they promised they would support us.

The Imam (a) then turned to Umar and shouted, “What is the matter with you? I (invoke Allah against you and) implore to Him to terminate your kinship, unbless your deeds, and give a free hand to someone who will slay you in your bed, because you have terminated my kinship and violated my relation with the Messenger of Allah (S).”

Imam al-Husayn (a) then recited Allah’s saying:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ.  ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِنْ بَعْضٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Surely, Allah chose Adam and Nuh (Noah) and the descendants of Ibrahim (Abraham) and the descendants of Imran above the nations. Offspring one of the other; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

The young man proceeded by declaring the principles for which he was fighting and his tremendous determination to protect the religion of Allah even if this would cost him his life. He then encountered the enemies and showed indescribable courage and heroism to the degree that historians have described his fighting by saying, “Ali al-Akbar’s fighting reminded the enemies of the attacks of his grandfather Amir al-Muminin.”

In the midst of the fighting, Ali was seriously thirsty because the enemies had deprived them of water. He therefore had to return to his father and ask for some water, but the father (a) had nothing to offer. He did not have a single drop of water to give to his son. Painfully, he apologized and promised that the Prophet (S) would very soon give a drink of water that would save from thirst forever.

The young then returned to the battlefield and fought courageously despite the many wounds he had in the body. The whole camp of the Umayyad army complained about the great losses that the young son of Imam al-Husayn (a) caused to them; therefore, Murrah ibn Munqidh decided to kill him. So, he stabbed him with a spear from the back and struck him with his sword so heavily on the head.

Ali Akbar held fast on his horse’s neck thinking the horse would take him towards his father’s camp. Unfortunately, the horse took him towards the enemies. They encircled him and cut his body into pieces. The air carried the son’s cries to his father who hurried to him and found him in the last moments of his life. He put his cheek on his son’s severed body and shed tears for him, saying:

قَتَلَ اللهُ قَوْماً قَتَلُوكَ. يَا بُنَيَّ، مَا أَجْرَأَهُمْ عَلَىٰ اللهِ وَعَلَىٰ انْتِهَاكِ حُرْمَةِ الرَّسُولِ. عَلَىٰ الدُّنْيَا بَعْدَكَ العَفَا.

May Allah kill those who killed you, son! They are so reckless that they have regarded neither Allah nor the Messenger of Allah to whom you belong. After you, let dust cover this (meaningless) world.11

As soon as the news of Ali al-Akbar’s martyrdom reached her, Lady Zaynab could not control her feelings. She hurried towards the injured body crying, “Oh, for my dear one! Oh, for my nephew!12 Oh, for the light of my eyes! Oh, for the fruit of my heart!”13 She threw herself on the dead body, stained it with ceaseless pouring of her tears, and moaned for the martyred Ali al-Akbar. Imam al-Husayn (a) could do nothing but try to console. He then held on her sister’s hand and took her back to the tent.14

After that, the young descendants of Aqil ibn Abu Talib rushed for jihad intending to sacrifice their souls for their leader. They fought courageously and caused great losses to the Umayyad army. However, they were all martyred.

Then the turn of Imam al-Hasan’s descendants came. They also pushed themselves for protecting their uncle and defending their religion. Among them was al-Qasim whom historians have described as bright as moon. Before he fought against the enemies, he had declared, “As long as I am alive, my uncle al-Husayn shall not be killed.”

The Imam (a) however did not permit al-Qasim to fight, but he insisted importunately, kissed his uncle’s hands and feet, and begged him to let him fight. The Imam (a) then had to permit him with weeping eyes and a burning heart. Like the other heroes of the Hashemites, al-Qasim fought bravely and killed numbers of the Umayyad army.

In the midst of the fighting, the heel of his slipper was cut. As he bent down to repair it, one of the Umayyad soldiers, out of disdain seized that opportunity and struck him on the head. He fell down and cried for his uncle who hurried towards him and killed his killer. He then carried the dead body of his nephew and lined it beside the other martyrs. He looked at the dead bodies for a while and then cursed their killers.

Awn ibn Abdullah ibn Jafar, son of Lady Zaynab, proceeded to fight, even though he was too young. Like the other courageous youths, Awn fought so bravely until he was martyred. His mother received his dead body with steadfastness and offered him for Allah, anticipating His limitless reward.

At any rate, that scene was not strange for her; she had already received the bodies of series of moonlike, martyred youths before her son’s body arrived. It was nothing but her unshakable faith, which provided her with endurance and an ability to remain steadfast in face of such scenes.

Thus, all the Hashemite warriors were martyred, and none remained except the guardian of the Prophet’s harem and the right hand of Imam al-Husayn (a), namely the hero Abul-Fadl al-Abbas.

Al-Abbas watched all these crises and misfortunes patiently, and waited for the proper opportunity to begin fighting against the enemies and take revenge upon them. After the martyrdom of the youths of the Prophet’s household, he directed towards his full brothers and said to them, “Brothers, proceed for fighting so that I will be sure that you have done sincerely for sake of Allah and His Messenger and I will surely avenge your blood as you have no children.” All his full brethren welcomed his call and went on fighting courageously. One by one, they were martyred before their elder brother al-Abbas who stood near their dead bodies and shed tears for the loss of these bright faces.

Martyrdom of al-Abbas

Al-Abbas was the dearest one to Imam al-Husayn (a) who had brought him up with nobility of character and high moral standards. The Imam also taught him the rulings of the Islamic Shariah that he has been regarded as one of the most virtuous scholars of Islam. Al-Abbas continually sought the company of his brother and gave comfort to him in all misfortunes.

Brightness was very clear in the lines on al-Abbas’ face, that he was called ‘moon of the Hashemites.’ Because he was an unmatched hero, al-Abbas was given the leadership of Imam al-Husayn’s army and was the holder of the standard. In addition, he was the guardian of the harem and children. Finally, he had a special relationship with his sister, Lady Zaynab, who took care of him from early life and loved him tenderly. He, too, loved his sister very much and undertook the task of guarding her and settling all her needs.

When al-Abbas noticed the loneliness of his brother and the martyrdom of his companions and household, he advanced towards him and asked permission to fight. The Imam (a) did not permit him as he said with a sad tone, “You are the holder of my standard…” He, in fact, felt of power and protection so long as al-Abbas was with him. But Al-Abbas insisted on the permission and said, “I can no longer stand it. I want to take avenge upon those hypocrites.”

As the Imam (a) had nothing to do other than permitting his brother to fight, he asked him first to try to get water for the harem and children who were gravely thirsty. Al-Abbas first directed towards the Umayyad army with words of admonition and warning against Allah’s torture; he directed his speech to their commander, “Umar, this is al-Husayn son of the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. You have killed his companions and household. These are now his children and harem. They are thirsty and I ask you to give them water. Nevertheless, he is still calling you to let him go to Rome or India and leave al-Hijaz and Iraq for you…”

None from the Umayyad army could answer al-Abbas except Shimr who said to him, “If the whole surface of this earth is being water controlled by us, we will not give you a single drop of it before you submit to the leadership of Yazid.”

Hence, al-Abbas had to report this situation to his brother. Meanwhile, he heard the cries of the children because of thirst and saw the changes of their faces and the dryness of their lips. Therefore, he decided to get some water for them. He rode his horse, took a waterskin with him, and pushed himself towards the River Euphrates.

The Umayyad troops who were, according to some narratives, about four thousand warriors, fled away and he occupied the bank of that river alone. His heart was hot as if on fire because of thirst, but when he extended his hand to the water and tried to drink, he remembered the thirst of his brother, as well as his children and harem; hence, he threw the water from his hand and declared that he would not drink a single drop of it so long as his brother and leader, Imam al-Husayn (a), was thirsty.

After this tremendous situation of altruism that exceeded all dimensions of time and space, al-Abbas filled the skin with water and took the way back to his brother’s camp. For the meantime, the enemies surrounded him from every side and tried to prevent him from taking that water with him. He, fearlessly, fought against them and causing them big losses.

Chased by terror and fear, the enemies were fleeing away from Al-Abbas who copied his father in courage. However, one of the filthy hypocrites of Kufa waylaid him behind a date-palm tree, struck him from the back on his right hand, and cut it. Nevertheless, al-Abbas, the hero, did not care, and held the standard in his left hand and went on saying, “Even if you cut my hand, I will keep defending my religion and leader.” A few moments later, another man hid behind a tree, struck at al-Abbas with a sword on his left hand, and cut it.

Although he was bleeding and suffering from these wounds besides thirst, al-Abbas held on to the waterskin with his teeth and sped trying to take it to his brother’s children and harem. Meanwhile, a spear hit that skin of water and caused it to leak on the ground. Seeing this scene, al-Abbas stood gripped with sadness and perplexity. He did not know what to do. A few moments later, another man attacked him with an iron post and struck on the head. Al-Abbas fell to the ground and shouted, “Peace be upon you, Abu Abdullah!”

The wind carried the words of farewell to the Imam (a). So, he hurried toward River al-Alqami where al-Abbas fell. He pushed himself among the troops of the enemies and threw himself on the body of his brother. Expressing grief over the grave misfortune he had suffered with the martyrdom of al-Abbas, Imam al-Husayn (a) cried:

الآنَ انْكَسَرَ ظَهْرِي، وَقَلَّتْ حِيلَتِي، وَشَمُتَ بي عَدُوِّي.

From now my back has broken and I am without hope while my enemies are rejoicing at my misfortune.

No one can describe the real feelings of the Imam after the martyrdom of al-Abbas. However, historians have mentioned that he, as he was leaving the dead body of his brother, could barely move his feet. He came towards the camp while he was wiping away his tears. His daughter, Sukaynah, received him with the question, “Where is my uncle al-Abbas?”

The Imam (a) then wept openly and told her about her uncle’s martyrdom. His daughter could do nothing other than moaning aloud. The situation was more difficult for Lady Zaynab to face; as soon as she heard the news, she put her hand on her heart and shouted aloud, “Oh, for my brother! Oh, for al-Abbas! We have certainly lost everything as we lost you.”

It was surely grave misfortune for Imam al-Husayn (a) and the Prophet’s harem whose cries filled that place as they moaned for their guardian and protector. The Imam also participated with them weeping loudly, “We have surely lost everything as we have lost you, O Abul-Fadl al-Abbas.”

Even the newborn!

Abdullah, the six-month old baby of Imam al-Husayn (a), had fainted because of thirst. So, his mother carried him to Lady Zaynab so that she might do something. Lady Zaynab took the baby to her brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), and pleaded with him to get him some water. The Imam (a) took the baby, kissed him profusely, and carried him to the Umayyad army hoping that their hearts would feel pity for the baby and they would give him some water.

This situation did not have any effect on those heartless, inhumane creatures. Instead of sympathizing with the baby, they shot him an arrow at him that pierced his neck. Feeling the thrust of that arrow, the baby took his two hands away from his swaddle and fluttered like a slain bird against his father’s chest. Finally, he raised his head to the heavens and breathed his last breath before his father’s eyes.

The Imam (a) returned steadfastly and handed the slain baby to Lady Zaynab and then raised his two hands, which were full of the baby’s blood, towards the heavens, and complained to the Creator.

The grand adversity

Imam al-Husayn (a) stood completely alone with self-possession and unprecedented resoluteness, in the midst of the battlefield where he was surrounded, from every side, by his brutal foes. Some were surprised at his courage while the others could not hide their amazement. Despite everything, Imam al-Husayn (a) attacked his enemies and caused them great losses.

He then returned to the tents to bid farewell and gave his last instructions to the harem. He ordered them to depend upon Almighty Allah by means of patience and steadfastness. He then turned his eyes towards his sister, Lady Zaynab, and instructed her to adhere to patience and try her best to hide her tears and irritation. He finally ordered her to be the guardian of the children and harem.

When he was about to leave, his harem surrounded him with eyes filled with tears and grievous hearts. The extremely ailing and weak, Ali Zayn al-Abidin, asked his aunt Lady Zaynab, to hand him a cane and a sword; a cane to support him stand erect and a sword to defend his father. Seeing this, Imam al-Husayn (a) asked his sister to keep Ali ibn ul Husayn (a) from proceeding towards the battlefield, and she did so forcibly.

Finally, he gave his last instructions to the harem - to dress in coarse loincloth, ready themselves for misfortunes, and submit completely to Almighty Allah. The Imam’s last words to them were:

اِسْتَعِدُّوا لِلْبَلاءِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللهَ حَامِيكُمْ وَحَافِظُكُمْ وَسَيُنْجِيكُمْ مِنْ شَرِّ الأعْدَاءِ وَيَجْعَلُ عَاقِبَةَ أَمْرِكُمْ إلىٰ خَيْرٍ وَيُعَذِّبُ عَدُوَّكُمْ بِأَنْواعِ العَذَابِ وَيُعَوِّضُكُمْ عَنْ هٰذِهِ البَلِيَّةِ بِأَنْواعِ النِّعَمِ وَالكَرَامَةِ. فَلا تَشْكُوا وَلا تَقُولُوا بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ مَا يُنْقِصُ قَدْرَكُمْ.

Prepare yourselves for the imminent misfortunes. You should know that Allah will guard, protect, and save you from the evils of those enemies. He shall confer upon you with a good end result, shall punish your enemies with the most grievous chastisement, and shall award you for this adversity with the best graces and blessings. You therefore must not complain and must not say things that discredit you.

He then supplicated to his Lord and complained to Him against the misfortunes he had to suffer. He said:

صَبْراً عَلىٰ قَضَائِكَ يَا رَبُّ، لا إِلٰهَ سِوَاكَ، يَا غِيَاثَ المُسْتَغِيثِينَ، مَا لِي رَبٌّ سِوَاكَ وَلا مَعْبُودٌ غَيْرُكَ. صَبْراً عَلَىٰ حَكْمِكَ يَا غِيَاثَ مَنْ لا غِيَاثَ لَهُ، يَا دَائِماً لا نَفَادَ لَهُ، يَا مُحْيِيَ المَوْتَىٰ، يَا قَائِماً عَلَىٰ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ، أحْكُُمْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الحَاكِمِينَ.

O Lord, I take patience from Your providence. There is no god save You. You are the helper of the succor-seekers. Except You, I have no other lord or deity. I take patience over Your rule. You are the helper of those without shelter. You are the everlasting Subsistent. You are the Watcher over each and every soul as to what it earns. (I implore to You to) judge between us and You are the best to judge.

From every side, the criminal, loathsome gang of the Umayyad army attacked Imam al-Husayn (a); they struck him with swords and stabbed him with lances.15

When he rested on the ground, none of them had the courage to put him to death. He therefore rested there for a long time.

Seeing this situation, Lady Zaynab stood at her tent’s open and mourned for the Imam (a) so sadly. She shouted, “Oh, for my brother! Oh, for my master! Oh, for the rest of my household! Would Allah the heavens had fallen upon the earth! Would Allah mountains had been made to crumble on plains!”

She then shouted at Umar ibn Saad, “How do you accept to watch Abu Abdullah while he is being slain?”

In answer, the cursed Umar turned his face away from her while his tears were shedding on his beard.

Because she could no longer see her brother in such a state, Lady Zaynab had to return to the tents to watch over the children and harem who soon would be without protection.

Umar ibn Saad then ordered the commanders of his army to put the Imam (a) to death, but none of them agreed except Shimr. He walked towards the Imam (a) and cut off his head.

The Imam’s horse began to neigh aloud and try to kick the enemies with its legs. It then smeared its face with the blood of the Imam and directed towards the tents of the harem.

Lady Zaynab ran towards the pure body of Imam al-Husayn (a) and saw how it was torn and ripped apart by swords and lances of those ruthless fiends. She then stood with perfect dignity and modesty before that body, although the surrounded by the enemies and glanced towards the heavens. She then uttered the statement, which was lit up with the purest spirit of faith and sincerity. She said to Almighty Allah:

اَللّهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا هَذا الْقُرْبَانَ.

O Allah, accept from us this offering.

Lady Zaynab received that misfortune with steadfastness because it was for sake of Almighty Allah and for keeping His religion as pure and genuine as it was revealed from the Heavens. With these words, she showed the real meaning of the Prophetic heritage and perseverance with the carrying out her father’s will.

After they had slain and marauded the Imam (a), the Umayyad army, on orders of their commandment carried firebrands and headed towards the tents of the Imam’s camp to put them on fire.

When these tents were put on fire, the children and harem had to leave them fleeing in any direction. The ladies of the Prophet’s family had to run from one tent to another, while the children, descendants of the Prophet (S), were crying and trying to cling to their guardian, Lady Zaynab. Some of them ran aimlessly.

These hours were the harshest misfortunes that the Prophet’s family had ever suffered. Throughout his life, Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin (a) could not forget these hours. He used to remember them with grief, saying, “Whenever I look at my aunts and sisters, tears run from my eyes. I remember when they were running from one tent to another while the enemies were shouting: put the houses of the wrongful ones on fire.”

Moreover, the criminals usurped everything these tents included. They usurped their jewellery too. They also struck the ladies of the Prophet’s household with the lower parts of their lances while the ladies were turning to each other for protection.

The criminals attacked the ailing Ali Zayn al-Abidin. Shimr being determined to kill him, but another man rebuked and tried to prevent him. However, Shimr did not heed; he ran towards the ill Imam (a) to kill him. Lady Zaynab hurried towards her nephew, held on to him, and said, “No, you should first kill me before you kill him.”16 The cursed Shimr stopped because of this.

Out of his brutality, Umar, under a promise of awards, asked for volunteers to drive their horses to run over the chest and back of the body of Imam al-Husayn (a). Ten wicked horsemen stood up, rode their horses, and trampled upon the body of the Imam (a).

Night came, and it was the cruelest night in the life of the Prophet’s household. Despite everything, Lady Zaynab went into her mission as guardian of her martyred brother’s children and harem; she hurried to locate the children in that desolate desert and gathered them all in one place. She then comforted and consoled them with words of patience while the dead bodies of their fathers and brothers were scattered in that area and the criminals who were assigned to keep watch over the children and harem surrounded and them.

On that cruel night too, Lady Zaynab summoned all her strength, stood up, and offered a thanksgiving prayer to the Almighty Lord for the adversities and misfortunes she suffered. She also implored to the Lord to have these sacrifices in acceptance. She also offered the Night Prayer, but in a state of sitting because she had no further strength to stand up.17

The next day, the criminals decided to take the children and harem as captives to Kufa. The ladies however begged to the criminals to make them pass by the dead bodies of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the other martyrs. When her eyes fell on the severed, headless body of Imam al-Husayn (a), Lady Zaynab shouted with a grief-stricken voice:

يَا مُحُمَّدَاهُ! صَلَّىٰ عَلَيْكَ مَلِيكُ السَّمَاءِ! هٰذَا حُسَيْنٌ مُرَمَّلٌ بِالدِّمَاءِ مُقَطَّعُ الأَعْضَاءِ، وَبَنَاتُكَ سَبَايَا! إلىٰ اللهِ المُشْتَكَىٰ وَإلىٰ عَلِيٍّ المُرْتَضَىٰ وَإلىٰ فَاطِمَةَ الزَّهْرَاءِ وَإلىٰ حَمْزَةَ سَيِّدِ الشُّهَدَاءِ. هٰذَا حُسَيْنٌ بِالعَرَاءِ، تَسْفِي عَلَيْهِ الصَّبَا، قَتِيلَ أَوْلادِ الأدْعِيَاءِ. وَاحُزْنَاهُ! وَاكَرْبَاهُ! الْيَوْمَ مَاتَ جَدِّي رَسُولُ اللهِ! يَا أصْحَابَ مُحَمَّدَاه! هٰؤلاءِ ذُرِّيَّةُ المُصْطَفَىٰ يُسَاقُونَ سَوْقَ السَّبَايَا.

Oh, Muhammad! May the King of the Heavens bless you! This is Husayn! He is stained with his blood and his limbs are severed! And these are your daughters! They are being taken captives! Complaining (about this) is only to Allah, to Ali al-Murtada (the Pleased One), to Fatimah al-Zahra and to Hamzah the chief of martyrs. This is Husayn in the desert! Winds are blowing away his body! The illegitimate ones have killed him! Oh, for my grief! Oh, for my bereavement! Only on this day has my grandfather – the Messenger of Allah, dead. Oh, companions of Muhammad! These are the descendants of al-Mustafa -the Divinely Selected Prophet. They are being pushed like captives.

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) was the only man alive; he could not control himself when he saw the dead bodies of his father and the other martyrs left abandoned in the desert. His grief was about to kill him, but Lady Zaynab, noticing his nephew’s behavior, hurried to him and said:

مَا لِي أَرَاكَ تَجُودُ بِنَفْسِكَ يَا بَقِيَّةَ جَدِّي وَأَبِي وَإِخْوَتِي؟ لا يَجْزَعَنَّكَ مَا تَرَىٰ؛ فَوَاللهِ إنَّ ذٰلِكَ لَعَهْدٌ مِنْ اللهِ إلَىٰ جَدِّكَ وَأَبِيكَ. وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللهُ مِيثَاقَ أُنَاسٍ مِنْ هٰذِهِ الأُمَّةِ لا تَعْرِفُهُمْ فَرَاعِنَةُ هٰذِهِ الأُمَّةِ، وَهُمْ مَعْرُوفُونَ فِي أَهْلِ السَّمَاوَاتِ، أَنَّهُمْ يَجْمَعُونَ هٰذِهِ الأَعْضَاءَ المُتَفَرِّقَةَ وَهٰذِهِ الجُسُومَ المُضَرَّجَةَ فَيُوارُونَهَا، وَيَنْصِبُونَ بِهٰذَا الطَّفِّ عَلَماً لِقَبْرِ أَبِيكَ، سَيِّدِ الشُّهَدَاءِ، لا يَدْرُسُ أَثَرُهُ وَلا يَعْفُو رَسْمُهُ عَلَىٰ كُرُورِ اللَّيَالِي وَالأَيَّامِ. وَلَيَجْتَهِدَنَّ أَئِمَّةُ الكُفْرِ وَأَشْيَاعُ الضَّلالَةِ فِي مَحْوِهِ وَتَطْمِيسِهِ، فَلا يَزْدَادُ أَثَرُهُ إلا ظُهُوراً وَأَمْرُهُ إلا عُلُوّاً.

O the legacy of my grandfather, father, and brothers: what for is it that I see you plead for death?18 Do not be sad for what you see. It is, by Allah I swear, it is only the announcement that Almighty Allah has already made to your grandfather and father.

Allah has certainly made a covenant with some people, who are not known by the tyrants on this earth but they are well known by the inhabitants of the Heavens, that they shall gather these severed organs and these bloodstained bodies to bury them. They shall also hoist in this land, al-Taff, a flag on the tomb of your father the Master of the Martyrs. Throughout days and ages, the mark of this tomb shall never be obliterated and its figure shall not be blotted out. Nevertheless, the heads of atheism and the spreaders of deviation shall exert all efforts for obliterating it, yet this shall make it more and more elevated instead.19

By these words, Lady Zaynab could calm her distressed nephew. She confirmed that these dead bodies would be buried and their tombs would be signs of perseverance with principles and sacrifice for the religion. The tomb of Imam al-Husayn (a), in particular, would be a never-ending cry in the face of every tyrant and would persist forever despite the very often attempts to obliterate it.

History has proved this fact; the Umayyad and Abbasid kings did their best to wipe out the tomb of Imam al-Husayn, but all their attempts failed, because it has not been only a place of burying a dead, yet severed, body, but it has been a loud statement in the face of everyone who tyrannizes or tries to persecute. It has been evidence about the fate of the wrongdoers, and the bright outcome that is awarded to those on the right path.

The earth too, has accepted not to hide its pride in having buried within - the severed bodies which carried unmatched, elevated souls that in turn upheld the most honorable principles of humanity. In reality, this earth has never contained an area more honorable and excellent than that which had the body of Imam al-Husayn (a) - the father of freedom, buried in it.

In modern history too, bombs and tanks could not stand against the elevated, lofty dome of the tomb of Imam al-Husayn. It was very natural that those who gave orders to bomb that dome met the same fate of those who gave orders and mobilized their powers to fight against the Imam (a).

Humanity too, must take pride in the anniversary of Imam al-Husayn's martyrdom so as to regain its true face and play the very role that the Creator has chosen for it.

  • 1. See al-Nuri al-Tabrasi, Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol. 11, p. 112, as quoted from Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad.
  • 2. See Ibn Shubah al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul; the Masterpieces of the Intellects, p. 282, translated by Badr Shahin, First Edition, Ansariyan Publications, 2001.
  • 3. See Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-Amili, Lawaij al-Ashjan, p. 131.
  • 4. See Sayyid Murtaza al-Askari, Maalim al-Madrasatayn, vol. 3, p. 101.
  • 5. The man of the tribe of Thaqif is either al-Mukhtar ibn Abu-Ubaydah al-Thaqafi who led a revolution after the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and retaliated upon those who had fought against the Imam (a), or al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi who was given a free hand on the people of al-Kufah and, accordingly, ruled them extremely oppressively. However, Shaykh al-Shurayfi, in his book titled Mawsuat Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 423, and Abdullah al-Bahrani, in his book titled al-Awalim – al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 253, recording this supplication of Imam al-Husayn (a), adds to it the following statement, “and set up upon them the man of the (tribe of) Thaqif as absolute ruler to kill all of them, each according to the sort of his participation (in the battle against the Imam).” Accordingly, the “man of the (tribe of) Thaqif” is al-Mukhtar ibn Abu-Ubaydah al-Thaqafi.
  • 6. Shaykh al-Mufid, in his al-Irshad, vol. 2, p. 98, this statement is recorded as follows:
    “No, by Allah! I will never extend my hands to you like the abject do, and I will never flee like slaves do.”
  • 7. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 289.
  • 8. See Ibn Shahrashub’s Manaqib Al(i) Abu-Talib; 3:250.
  • 9. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol. 4, p. 331.
  • 10. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 42.
  • 11. See Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Mashhadi, al-Mazar al-Kabir, p. 487.
  • 12. See Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 76.
  • 13. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 44.
  • 14. See Sayyid Ibn Tawus al-Hasani, al-Lahuf fi Qatla al-Tufuf, p. 68.
  • 15. See Shahid Hamid ibn Muhammad al-Mahalli, al-Hadaiq al-Wardiyyah, vol. 1, p. 126.
  • 16. See Ibn San al-Qirmani, Akhbar al-Duwal, p. 108.
  • 17. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi, Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 309.
  • 18. According to Kamil al-Ziyarat, Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin answered his aunt:
    How should I not give myself up and be impatient while I see my master, my brothers, my uncles, my cousins, and my family members stained with blood, lying bare and looted without coffins and without burial, nobody can visit their bodies, and nobody can approach them, as if they are non-Arabs.
  • 19. See Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Qummi, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 447. This is however a long narration the rest of which is as follows: Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin, then asked his aunt, “What is that covenant and what is that promise?” Then Lady Zaynab reported:
    Ummu-Ayman had narrated to me that the Messenger of Allah (S), once, visited the house of Lady Fatimah (a). She cooked for him a harirah – a soup of oil and flour, and Ali (a) offered to him a dish of dates. I, Ummu-Ayman, then served them with a big cup of milk and butter. The Messenger of Allah (S), Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn ate from that dish and drank from that milk. Then, the Messenger of Allah (S) washed his hand and Ali poured water on them. After that, the Prophet (S) passed his hands over his face and glanced at Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn with a pleasant gaze.

    He then raised his sight to the Heavens for a while, directed himself towards the Qiblah, and extended his hands for supplication. He then prostrated himself and began sobbing in a loud voice and tear falling from his eyes. He then nodded his head down while his tears were shedding like rain. For this scene, Fatimah, Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn (a), as well as I, felt sorry but no one dared to ask him for the reason. But when that weeping took a long time, Ali and Fatimah asked him, "O Messenger of Allah: what are you weeping for? May Allah never make you weep. Seeing your like this has wounded our hearts."

    The Prophet (S) answered: Brother, when I was looking at you, I felt the pleasure that I have never felt before. I thus thanked Allah for this grace. For the meantime, Archangel Gabriel descended and foretold:

    Muhammad, Allah the Blessed and Exalted has known your feelings and has known your pleasure with your brother, your daughter, and your two grandsons. He therefore has perfected for you this grace and congratulated you for this gift. He has decided to join their descendants, partisans, adherents, and them to you in Paradise. He has also decided not to separate them from you. He shall honor them in the same way as He shall honor you and shall give them the same graces He shall give to you until you will be pleased or even beyond your pleasure.

    This is for many misfortunes that they will suffer and many adversities they will encounter at the hands of some people who falsely claim of having embraced your religion and belong to your ummah, while you and Allah disavow them. They will inflict massacres and killing upon your household and their adherents until their places of killing will be in various areas and their graves will be very far from one another. This is what Allah has chosen for them and for you. You should then thank Him for this choice and satisfy yourself with His providence.

    The Prophet (S) then commented:

    I therefore thanked Allah, and satisfied myself with that which He has decided for me regarding you. Then Archangel Gabriel added: Muhammad, after your demise, your ummah will persecute and discriminate against your brother (Ali). Your enemies will annoy him. After all, he will be killed at the hands of the most evil and most vicious creature who will be regarded as same as the killer of the she-camel of Prophet Salih. That will happen in a country to where Ali will emigrate, and that country, later on, will be the center of his and his descendants' adherents. On this land, too, they will suffer the harshest ordeals and the most catastrophic misfortunes.

    Regarding your grandson, al-Husayn, he, along with a noble group of his family members and the most virtuous men of your ummah, will be slain on the bank of the River Euphrates in a land named Karbala. For that reason, your enemies will unavoidably suffer too much agony and torment on the day whose agony is ceaseless and ordeals are never-ending (namely, Day of Resurrection).

    That land, namely Karbala, is the best place on this earth and the most sacred. It is a part of Paradise, as well. On that day when your grandson and his household will be slain and surrounded by groups of atheists and cursed ones, the earth shall be shaken, mountains shall swing and sway, waves of oceans shall move disorderly, and heavens shall quiver with their inhabitants, as signs of wrath for you and for your household, as well as the tremendous sin of violating your progeny and your sanctity and the ingratitude to you concerning your progeny.

    All these creatures—the earth, mountain, oceans, and heavens will beseech to Almighty Allah to give them permission to stand for your wronged, persecuted descendants who are Allah's claim over humankind after you. As a result, Almighty Allah shall reveal to the heavens, earth, mountains, and oceans, saying:

    "I am Allah the Omnipotent, the All-powerful. No fleer can escape Me and nothing can stop against My power. I am the worthiest of defending and avenging upon those criminals. I swear by My Supremacy and Majesty that I shall punish him whoever intruded upon My messenger and his chosen one by wronging his progeny, whoever violated his sanctity, whoever killed his descendants, whoever breached his pledge, and whoever persecuted his household. I shall punish all those with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of My creatures."

    By then, everything in the heavens and the worlds will invoke Allah's curse against those who will wrong your progeny and violate your sanctity. When the noble group (who will fight with al-Husayn) depart from life, Allah the All-mighty and Majestic will receive their souls Himself. Angels from the Seventh Heaven, having with them bowls of corundum and emerald filled with the Water of Life and garments and odors from Paradise, will descend to the earth to wash their dead bodies with that water, dress them with those garments, and treat them with camphor to give that odor.

    Then, all angels will line up in rows to offer prayer on those bodies. After that, Allah will bring forward some peoples from your ummah, who are not known by the atheists and have not participated in that bloodshed in deed, word, or even intention, to bury those dead bodies and mark the tomb of the Master of Martyrs (namely, al-Husayn) with a sign on that land. This sign will be the stamp of the right party and will be the cause of success for the faithful believers.

    On every day and night, one hundred thousand angels from each heaven will encircle that tomb, bless it, praise Allah there, seek Allah's forgiveness for anyone who visits it, and record the names of their fathers, tribes, and countries. They finally mark their foreheads with a sign of the Light of Allah's Throne and will record there: This is the visitor of the tomb of the Master of Martyrs and son of the best Prophet.

    On the Day of Resurrection, that sign will glow in their faces so flashily that it will catch others' sights. From these signs, the visitors of al-Husayn's tomb will be recognized. On that day you too, Muhammad, will stand between Angel Michael and me, Ali will be with us, and innumerable angels will be with us as well. We will know them from that luminous signs in their faces as separate from other creatures until Almighty Allah will save them from the ordeals and difficulties of that day.

    This is the certain award of Allah for those who visit your tomb or the tombs of your brother, Ali, and two grandsons purely for sake of Allah. Some people who deserved Allah's curse and wrath will exert all efforts for obliterating and wiping out the place of that tomb. But, Allah will not give them an opportunity to do.
    The Messenger of Allah (S) commented: This prediction has grieved me and made me weep.

    Then, Lady Zaynab added: When Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljim, the cursed, struck my father to death, I went to him and asked whether the report that Ummu-Ayman had narrated to me true or not. My father said: Ummu-Ayman has told the truth. I see coming that you, as well as your family’s harem, will be captives in this country. You will be submissive and terrified, fearing lest people might carry you away by force. At that time, be patient and adhere to patience, for, on that day, there will be no disciple (of Allah) on the earth except you, your followers and you partisans. I swear it by Him Who split the grains and created the souls.

    When he informed us of these news, the Messenger of Allah (S) added: On the same day as al-Husayn will be slain, Iblis the cursed will be overjoyed and will wander about the earth with his devils and afreets to declare: “O devils, only today have we revenged ourselves on the descendants of Adam, attained our objective of wiping them out, and led them to the fire of Hell. Now, you must turn all your efforts towards filling people’s minds with doubt towards al-Husayn and his companions, inciting them to bear hostility against them, and provoking them against anybody who shows loyalty to them (i.e. al-Husayn and his companions) in order that people’s straying and atheism would be so guaranteed that none of them would be saved (on the Day of Resurrection).”

    Even though he is the biggest liar, Iblis said the truth in that question. It is quite true that the good deeds of anyone who bears hostility against the Ahl al-Bayt are of no avail (no matter how great they are), and the sins, not the grand ones, of anyone who loves them and is loyal to them are of no harm.

Lady Zaynab in Captivity

Bound with ropes and forced to ride on unsaddled, lean camels, the ladies and orphans of the Prophet's family were taken as captives to Kufa. Their caravan was a horrifying experience; clarions were blown and flags were fluttering. Let us listen to the story from an eyewitness - Muslim, the plasterer, who reports:

While I was plastering doors of the Governorate Mansion of Kufa, sounds of clarions attacked my hearing from every side. “Why is Kufa clamoring?” I asked one of the servants in that mansion. “The head of a mutiny who rebelled against Yazid is now entering the city,” answered the servant. “Who is that mutinous?” asked I. “It is al-Husayn ibn Ali,” answered the servant.

This answer acted upon me like a thunderbolt. I slapped my face so strongly that I feared on my eyes. As hurriedly as possible, I washed my hands from the plaster and left the mansion. While I stood among people who were waiting for the caravan of the captives and the cut off heads, forty camels carrying women and children appeared.

I saw Ali ibn al-Husayn on a camel without a saddle. Both sides of his neck were bleeding because of chains around it and he was handcuffed. He was weeping and saying, “O evil nation! Curse on you! You have not regarded us in favor of our grandfather. What will you say on the Day of Resurrection when Allah will gather us with the Prophet? As if we have not guided you to the religion, you are now taking us by force on bare-backed camels.”1

In view of this horrible situation, women of Kufa began to mourn and cry. One of them approached one of the captured ladies and asked, “To whom do you belong?”

The lady answered, “We belong to the Ahl al-Bayt.”

As she heard this astounding answer, the Kuffan lady, with the others who were next to her, screamed aloud and hurried to her house to bring any covers that she had and threw out at the captive ladies so that people would not look at them. Another lady brought some food and dates and threw at the captive children who were very hungry. Then Lady Ummu-Kulthum shouted at them, “It is Haram – forbidden - for us, the Ahl al-Bayt, to have from alms.” Hearing this statement, the hungry children threw the food from their hands and even mouths.

Lady Zaynab’s First Address

As she saw the crowds blocking all streets of Kufa and surrounding the caravan, Lady Zaynab decided to deliver a speech aiming to unite the public opinion, referring to the grand misfortune that the Umayyad gang brought to the Islamic ummah by killing the actual leader, Imam al-Husayn (a), and charging people of Kufa with that crime, because it was they who breached their promises of supporting the Imam (a) and protecting him. Nevertheless, they - as if it was not they who caused that massacre, mourned for the Imam (a) and wept for the captivity of his harem and children.

Lady Zaynab asked everybody to keep silent. Then she stood calm, composed, and courageous and said:

الحَمْدُ للهِ، وَالصَّلاةُ عَلَىٰ أَبِي؛ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَآلِهِ الطَّيِّبِينَ الأَخْيَارِ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ يَا أَهْلَ الكُوفَةِ، يَا أَهْلَ الخَتْلِ وَالغَدْرِ، أَتَبْكُونَ؟ فَلا رَقَأَتِ الدَّمْعَةُ وَلا هَدَأَتِ الرَّنَّةُ. إِنَّمَا مَثَلُكُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّتِي نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنْ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنْكَاثاً، تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَانَكُمْ دَخَلاً بَيْنَكُمْ. أَلا وَهَلْ فِيكُمْ إلاّ الصَّلَفُ وَالنَّطَفُ، وَالصَّدْرُ الشَّنِفُ، وَمَلَقُ الإمَاءِ وَغَمْزُ الأَعْدَاءِ؟ أَوْ كَمَرْعىً عَلَىٰ دِمْنَةٍ، أَوْ كَقِصَّةٍ عَلَىٰ مَلْحُودَةٍ. أَلا سَاءَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ لَكُمْ أَنْفُسُكُمْ أَنْ سَخِطَ اللهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَفِي العَذَابِ أَنْتُمْ خَالِدُونَ.

All praise is due to Allah. Blessings be upon my father Muhammad (S) and upon his good and righteous progeny (a). Well now do you weep, O people of Kufa - people of deception and perfidy? May your tears never cease, and may the resounding of this calamity never stop. Your similitude is she who unravels her yarn, disintegrating it into pieces after she has spun it strongly. You make your oaths to be means of deceit amongst you. Is there anyone among you who is not one to boast of what he does not have - a charge of debauchery, a conceited liar, a man of grudge without any justification, submissive like bondmaids or feeble before the enemies, just like a pasture in relics or like a dirty piece of cloth on a grave? Truly bad is that which your souls have committed. You have reaped the Wrath of Allah, remaining in the chastisement for eternity.

أَتَبْكُونَ وَتَنْتَحِبُونَ؟ إِي وَاللهِ! فَابْكُوا كَثِيراً وَاضْحَكُوا قَلِيلاً، فَلَقَدْ ذَهَبْتُمْ بِعَارِهَا وَشَنَآنِهَا (وَشَنَارِهَا). وَلَنْ تَرْحَضُوهَا بِغَسْلٍ بَعْدَهَا أَبَداً. وَأَنَّىٰ تَرْحَضُونَ قَتْلَ سَلِيلِ خَاتَمِ الأَنْبِيَاءِ، وَمَعْدِنِ الرِّسَالَةِ، وَسَيِّدِ شَبَابِ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ، وَمَلاذِ خِيَرَتِكُمْ، وَمَفْزَعِ نَازِلَتِكُمْ، وَمَنَارِ حُجَّتِكُمْ، وَمِدْرَةِ سُنَّتِكُمْ؟ أَلا سَاءَ مَا تَزِرُونَ، وَبُعْداً لَكُمْ وَسُحْقاً، فَلَقَدْ خَابَ السَّعْيُ وَتَبَّتِ الأَيْدِي، وَخَسِرَتِ الصَّفْقَةُ، وَبُؤْتُمْ بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالمَسْكَنَةُ.

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. How could you do so? The descendant of the bearer of the Last Message, the very essence of the Message, master of the youths of Paradise, the refuge of the righteous from among you, the one who saves you from calamity, the beacon of your guidance, and the keeper of your traditions has been killed. O how horrible is the sin that you bear! May you be distanced and crushed. The effort is rendered futile, perdition overtakes the hands, the deal is lost, and you earned nothing but wrath from Allah and His Messenger. You are doomed with servitude and humiliation.

وَيْلَكُمْ يَا أَهْلَ الكُوفَةِ! أَتَدْرُونَ أَيَّ كَبِدٍ لِرَسُولِ اللهِ فَرَيْتُمْ؟ وَأَيَّ كَرِيمَةٍ لَهُ أَبْرَزْتُمْ؟ وَأَيَّ دَمٍ لَهُ سَفَكْتُمْ؟ وَأَيَّ حُرْمَةٍ لَهُ انْتَهَكْتُمْ؟ لَقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئاً إِدّاً تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنْشَقُّ الأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الجِبَالُ هَدّاً. بِهَا صَلْعَاءَ عَنْقَاءَ سَوْدَاءَ فَقْمَاءَ (خَرْقَاءَ شَوْهَاءَ كَطِلاعِ الأَرْضِ وَمِلاءِ السَّمَاءِ). أَفَعَجِبْتُمْ أَنْ مَطَرَتِ السَّمَاءُ دَماً؟ وَلَعَذَابُ الآخِرَةِ أَخْزَىٰ وَأَنْتُمْ لا تُنْصَرُونَ. فَلا يَسْتَخِفَّنَّكُمُ المَهْلُ، فَإنَّهُ لا يَحْفُزُهُ البِدَارُ وَلا يَخَافُ فَوْتَ الثَّأْرِ، وَإِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ لَبِالْمِرْصَادِ.

Woe unto you, O people of Kufa! Do you know whose heart you have burned, what a feat you have labored for, 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, duskiest, most horrible, 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 you 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. You Lord is waiting in ambush to do so.

Because he recognized that the situation there could no longer stand the impact of the words of his aunt, Imam Zayn al-Abidin interrupted her speech, saying, “That is enough, Aunt. Thanks to Allah, you are a learned lady whom none has taught, and you can comprehend without being made to do so.”

Echo of the speech

Lady Zaynab’s eloquent speech, which is compared to Imam Ali’s speeches, rebuked people of Kufa so effectively, exposed their false faith in Islam, falsified their deceitful tears and introduced them as the most ignoble criminals as they contributed strongly in the murder of killing Imam al-Husayn (a), his household, and his companions.

With the utterance of justice and honesty and the voice of courage and right, Lady Zaynab hit people of Kufa and pointed to their lowliness and rotten-heartedness. Their forgery and falsehood could not deceive her as she reproached them for their crimes and ascribed to them the meanest characters. Moreover, she commented on their weeping by saying that they should have wept for the big crime of disappointing the Imam and letting him down.

Furthermore, this speech made them amazed and perplexed. They put their hands on their mouths without knowing what to do. An old man, for instance, approached her with tears in his eyes, to say, “My father and mother be sacrificed for you. Your men are the best men, your youths are the best youths, your women are the best women, and your progeny will never die away or become low.”2

Then, Lady Fatimah, daughter of Imam al-Husayn (a), delivered an eloquent speech similar to her aunt’s. Because her words were so strong and had bearings on them, people of Kufa begged her to stop. She responded, but people could not stop their wailing and weeping.

Then, Lady Ummu-Kulthum spoke similar words that touched people so deeply that women began to slap their faces and men to weep incessantly.

Then, Imam Zayn al-Abidin spoke. He proved they were not true Muslims and that they had a share in the crime of killing the Imam (a). They therefore said to each other, “We have certainly perished.” They then asked him to stop, and he did as their cries and wailings rose.

Before the governor

Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, son of the ill-famed Marjanah, was sitting on his throne in the Governorate Mansion when the captive ladies and children of the Prophet’s family were presented before him. They were living their horrible hours in humility of captivity and under the swords of those miscreants who were there to congratulate him for his triumph and narrate to him their crimes in Karbala, while he listened arrogantly and joyfully. With a baton he had in the hand, Ubaydullah was whacking the holy head of Imam al-Husayn (a) and expressing his gloating over him by saying, “I have never seen such a face.”

Before he had finished his malicious statement, Anas ibn Malik, the companion of the Holy Prophet (S), said to him, “Yes, he looks like the Prophet.” This statement silenced Ubaydullah who could not find a word to answer.

After he had quenched his wicked, thirsty soul from insulting the Prophet’s family, Ubaydullah turned his face towards the captives. There was a lady trying to hide herself in a corner. Dignity and sublimity were very clearly drawn on her features despite the simple clothes she wore. As soon as his eyes fell on her, he asked, “Who is that lady taking the remotest corner of this session.”

The lady did not answer because she despised him. He repeated his question more than once until one of the ladies answered, “This is Zaynab, daughter of Fatimah, daughter of the Messenger of Allah (a).” He therefore tried to show his gloating over her misfortunes by saying, “Thanks Allah Who unmasked, killed, and belied your revolution.”

In the likeness of her courageous father and brothers, Lady Zaynab replied to him:

اَلحَمْدُ للهِ ﭐلَّذِي أَكْرَمَنَا بِنَبِيِّهِ، وَطَهَّرَنَا مِنَ ﭐلرِّجْسِ تَطْهيراً. إِنَّمَا يُفْتَضَحُ ﭐلْفَاسِقُ وَيُكَذَّبُ ﭐلْفَاجِرُ، وَهُوَ غَيْرُنَا، وَهُوَ غَيْرُنَا يَا بْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ...

“Thanks to Allah Who honored us with His Prophet and purified us from uncleanness thoroughly. It is only the lewd who is unmasked, and it is only the dissolute who has been belied. We are not any of these two. Indeed, we are not any of these two, son of Marjanah!”

As he received these shocking words, Ubaydullah had nothing to say. He therefore spoke a word to inflict pain as an attempt to cover up his failure and inability to answer her. He asked her, “How do you see that which Allah has done to your brother?”

Bravely and steadfastly, Lady Zaynab answered with words of triumph:

مَا رَأَيْتُ إِلاّ جَمِيلاً. هٰؤُلاَءِ قَوْمٌ كَتَبَ ﭐللهُ عَلَيْهِمُ ﭐلْقَتْلَ فَبَرَزُوا إلىٰ مَضَاجِعِهِمْ، وَسَيَجْمَعُ ﭐللهُ بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُمْ فَتُحَٰاجَّ وَتُخَاصَمَ. فَانْظُرْ لِمَنِ ﭐلْفَلَجُ يَوْمَئِذٍ. ثَكَلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا بْنَ مَرْجَانَةَ.

“It was nothing but good. Those were peoples whom Allah knew they would be killed. They therefore came to the places where they would be slain. Allah will gather you with them for judgment and sentence. See, who will be the triumphant on that day. Woe shall be you, son of Marjanah, then.”

These words of reproach and despise made the illegitimate governor lose his temper to a degree that he stood up to strike Lady Zaynab, but Amr ibn Hurayth warned him against doing so, saying, “She is only a woman, and women’s words should not be considered.”

Nevertheless, Ubaydullah returned to gloat at the misfortunes of the Ahl al-Bayt by addressing Lady Zaynab, “At least, Allah has cured my heart and inflicted me upon your tyrant master and the disobedient rebels of your family members.”

These words filled Lady Zaynab’s heart with sorrow and grief as she recollected the images of her protectors. Hence, she said to him:

لَعَمْرِي لَقَدْ قَتَلْتَ كَهْلِي وَقَطَعْتَ فَرْعِي وَاجْتَثَثْتَ أَصْلِي. فَإِنْ كَانَ هٰذَا شِفَاؤُكَ فَقَدِ اشْتَفَيْتَ.

“I swear by my life, you have killed my protectors, pulled out my branches, and uprooted my roots. So, if this heals your heart, then you are indeed healed.”

Out of his uncontrollable rage, Ubaydullah said, “This one is a rhymist. Her father was rhymist and poet. I swear it.”

Lady Zaynab answered, “I am too engaged to use rhyme. Women have nothing to do with rhyme.”

As he found nothing to say, Ubaydullah turned his face towards Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) and asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Ali son of al-Husayn,” answered the Imam (a).

“But Allah has killed Ali ibn al-Husayn,” shouted the filthy criminal.

“I had a brother called ‘Ali, too. You have killed him, and on the Day of Resurrection, you will be interrogated about this,” replied the Imam (a) with composure.

“No, it was Allah who killed him,” barked ‘Ubaydullah furiously.

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) answered with words of Almighty Allah:

“Allah takes the souls at the time of their death. (39:42)”

“And a soul will not die but with the permission of Allah the term is fixed. (3:145)”

This answer bewildered the tyrant who did not expect to hear such strong evidence extracted from the Holy Quran, because he forgot that the holy Quran was revealed in the houses of those individuals and the one to whom the holy Quran was revealed is their grandfather and origin. Hence, he showed his arrogance saying, “How dare you answer my words? How dare you refute my saying?” He then ordered one of his headmen to cut off Imam Zayn al-’ªbidin’s head. But Lady Zaynab hurried to embrace her nephew and address ‘Ubaydullah, “Son of Ziyad, suffices you what you have shed of our blood. Have you really spared anyone other than this? If you want to kill him, kill me with him as well.”

Ubaydullah was amazed by such situation of heroism and altruism. He therefore ordered, “Leave him for her. How strong the tie of kinship is! She wanted to be killed with him.”

Thanks to Lady Zaynab, Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) was saved from that tyrant.

In a chamber lying next to the Kufa Masjid, the captive harem and children of the Prophet’s family were detained and mistreated. Each one of them received a single loaf of bread for a whole day, and Lady Zaynab, however, used to distribute her share among the children and abstain from food for the whole day until feebleness attacked her notably to the degree that she could no longer stand up for prayer. Noticing this, Imam Zayn al-’ªbidin expressed his panic to his aunt who had to tell him the reason.

In view of Lady Zaynab’s remarkable reputation throughout the Islamic state, the ladies of Kufa competed with each other in having the honor of visiting her, but she refused completely to receive anyone, declaring, “None should ever visit us except bondmaidens, for they have been captured, and so have we been.”

The ruling authorities were waiting for the orders of the tyrant Yazid regarding the captives, and a few days later, they received his orders of sending them to Damascus.

With the caravan of the captives, the holy heads of the martyrs were carried on spearheads so that, like people of Kufa, people of Syria would see them, and this would gladden the tyrant.

The Captives in Damascus

Tied up with ropes, forced to ride saddleless, lean camels, and being in the utmost state of humiliation, the harem and children of the Prophet’s family were taken to Syria. Throughout their journey, they did not say a single word and did not ask anything from the drivers of their caravan. Being close to Syria, the caravan stopped so that enough time would be given to adorn the city with manifestations of festivity and to gather people to witness this false victory of their ruler.

The caravan was about four parasangs3 away from Syria when its people received them with joy, carrying drums and trumpets, and wearing their best dresses—all this was for showing their delight for the massacre of the Prophet’s family.

Let us listen to the scene as described by an eyewitness:

Sahl ibn Saad al-Saidi narrated:

Intending to visit Jerusalem, I passed by Damascus, but it was different—the city was exaggeratedly adorned with colorful gilding, its people were highly joyful, and their women were playing tambourines and drums. I thought that people of Damascus had a festivity that we did not have. Noticing some people talking secretly, I approached them and asked, “Do you, people of Syria, celebrate a festivity that we do not know?”

“It seems that you are a stranger, are you not?” asked they.

“Yes, it is. I, Sahl ibn Saad, am one of those who met the Messenger of Allah,” answered I.

They said, “Sahl, do you not think that it is very strange that the heavens are not raining blood and the earth is not sinking with its inhabitants?”

“What for is that?” asked I.

“All these are expecting the arrival of al-Husayn’s (cut off) head from Kufa,” they revealed.

“How strange this is! The head of al-Husayn is being marched here while people are cheering in crowds! From which gate will the head enter the city?” asked I.

As they pointed at the Gate of al-Saat, I hurried there. A queue of banners began to enter, but my eyes fell on a horseman who had in the hand a banner without a spearhead on which lied a head most similar to that of the Holy Prophet. That was the head of al-Husayn! The captives appeared next on unsaddled, lean camels. As I reached one of the captive ladies, I asked about her identity.

“I am Sukaynah daughter of al-Husayn,” she replied.

“And I am Sahl, the companion of your grandfather the Messenger of Allah, ask for anything and I will do it for you,” I offered.

With grief, she asked, “Ask the bearer of al-Husayn’s head to precede us for a considerable distance so that people will look at the head instead of looking at us — the family of the Messenger of Allah.”

So, I ran towards that horseman, bribed him with four hundred dirhams, and asked him to hurry forward away from the captive ladies, and he did.

In that situation too, an old Syrian man leaning on a cane who was gloating at the humility of those captives, approached Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin (a) and said in inflicting manner, “Praise be to Allah who eradicated you and empowered the emir to triumph over you.”

Out of his keenness and perspicacity, the Imam (a) noticed that the old man was deceived by the wrong rumors that the ruling authorities spread against the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He therefore asked, “Old man, have you recited the Holy Quran?”

This statement shocked the old man who wondered and, thus, answered affirmatively.

The Imam (a) then asked him whether he had seen the following Quranic Verses:

قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ

“Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. (42:23)”

وَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَىٰ حَقَّهُ

And give to the near relatives his due. (17:26)”

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ…

“And know that whatever thing you gain, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near relatives. (8:41)”

Amazed, the old man answered that he had recited these Verse.

The Imam (a) thus declared, “Only it is we who are the intended in Allah’s remark - ‘the near relatives’- in these Verses.”

Furthermore, the Imam (a) asked the old man whether he had recited Allah’s saying:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

“Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a with a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)”

With astonishment, the old man answered that he had recited this Verse, too.

The Imam (a) hence said, “Only it is we who are the ‘People of the House’ whom Almighty Allah has purified thoroughly.”

This fact changed the old man completely and made him feel sorry for the days on which he could not discern the reality of the Umayyad rulers and their authorities. Even his tongue was tied up by the new fact; he therefore said to the Imam falteringly, “Please, tell me by Allah! Is it truly you who are those ones?”

“Yes, it is. I swear it by our grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (S),” replied the Imam (a) confidently.

Feeling sorry for the words that he initially showered at the Imam (a), the old man threw himself on the hands of the Imam (a) to kiss them heavily as signs of remorse, declaring, “I disavow those who killed you.”

Yazid’s gloating

Yazid, the cursed, was sinking in waves of joy and desire to wreak as he came to know about the arrival of the captives’ caravan. Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawshan and Makhfar ibn Thalabah presented the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) to him, and he permitted all lowly people of Damascus to gather at his palace and congratulate him for this ‘false’ triumph and revenge over the Prophet and his family (a).

The holy head was placed before the tyrant who went on hitting it with a stick he had in the hand. He then began to say statements showing his unlimited malice towards the Imam, his people, and the Divine Message that the Holy Prophet (S) conveyed to humankind—the message that humiliated Yazid and his people since they had stopped against it, sparing no single effort.

Abi Barazah al-Aslami, seeing this despicable scene, could not control himself; so he addressed Yazid, “How dare you hit at the mouth of al-Husayn with your stick? I swear I have seen the Holy Prophet (S) kiss this mouth so frequently. However, on the Day of Resurrection, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad will be your interceder, while the interceder of al-Husayn (a) will be Muhammad (S).”4

The filthy policemen of Yazid had tied all the captives in one rope beginning with the neck of Imam Zayn al-Abidin, to Lady Zaynab’s, up to the last child. They forced them to walk in such a manner, and whenever any of them would stumble, the guards would whip them heavily. Moreover, they were surrounded with cries of triumph.

With this humiliation, the captives were placed before the court of tyrant Yazid. Imam Zayn al-Abidin looked at the tyrant and said, “What if the Messenger of Allah sees us in such a manner? What will be his impression?”

These words affected everybody, including the tyrant himself, and thus the attendants wept. As he turned his face towards the captive harem of the Prophet’s family, Yazid said, “Woe to son of Marjanah! If you related this to him at any time, he would not do this to you.”

This was completely untrue, because son of Marjanah would not have done anything unless he had the orders and instructions of Yazid - the tyrant.

He then turned his face towards Imam Zayn al-Abidin and said, “Well, Ali ibn al-Husayn! Because your father disregarded my kinship with him, ignored my right, and attempted to seize my authority, Allah did this to him.”

The Imam’s answer to this false claim was a statement from the Holy Quran — the words of Almighty Allah:

مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ نَبْرَأَهَا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ .

لِكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ .

“No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls, but it is in a book before We bring it into existence; surely, that is easy to Allah. So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you; and Allah does not love any arrogant boaster.” (57:22-3)

This answer enraged Yazid who tried to find a suitable reply and, hence, he recited another Quranic Verse:

. كَثِيرٍ عَنْ وَيَعْفُو أَيْدِيكُمْ كَسَبَتْ فَبِمَا مُصِيبَةٍ مِنْ أَصَابَكُمْ وَمَا

“And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults).” (42:30)

Imam Zayn al-Abidin, the most knowledgeable of the Holy Quran, said, “This Verse concerns only those who wrong others, and does not concern those whom are wronged.”5

Lady Zaynab’s Second Address

Yazid showed great rejoicing at the situation in which the family of the Prophet were held as his captive and heads of the Prophet’s grandsons were thrown between his hands and the. When he recollected these bitter days of his father and grandfather who led campaigns against al-Husayn’s grandfather and the failure that chased them even in their own homes, He then quoted poetic verses said during the Battle of Uhud, with suitable changes, saying:

I wish my forefathers at Badr6 had witnessed

How the Khazraj7 are annoyed by the thorns,

They would have been very much delighted,

Then they’d have said, “May your hands, O Yazid, never be paralyzed

We have killed the masters of their chiefs

And equated it with Badr, and it has been so, indeed

The Hashemites played with the dominion so indeed,

While no news from the Heaven had come

Nor was there anything revealed8

I will disavow the Khandaf if I will not seek revenge

From Ahmed’s9 children for what he did to us!

Reacting to these verses, Lady Zaynab uprose against the tyrant and said:

اَلحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ العَالمَيِنَ، وَصَلَّى اللهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. صَدَقَ اللهُ سُبْحَانَهُ، كَذَلِكَ يَقُولُ:

يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ بِهَا وَكَانُوا اللَّهِ بِآيَاتِ كَذَّبُوا أَنْ السُّوأَىٰ سَاءُواأَ الَّذِينَ عَاقِبَةَكَانَ ثُمَّ

أَظَنَنْتَ يَا يَزِيدُ، حَيْثُ أَخَذْتَ عَلَيْنَا أَقْطَارَ الأَرْضِ وَآفَاقَ السَّمَاءِ فَأَصْبَحْنَا نُسَاقُ كَمَا تُسَاقُ الإمَاءِ، أَنَّ بِنَا عَلَى اللهِ هَوَاناً وَبِكَ عَلَيْهِ كَرَامَةً! وَأَنَّ ذَلِكَ لِعِظَمِ خَطَرِكَ عِنْدَهُ؟ فَشَمَخْتَ بِأَنْفِكَ وَنَظَرْتَ فِي عَطْفِكَ جَذْلانَ مَسْرُوراً، حِينَ رَأَيْتَ الدُّنْيَا لَكَ مُسْتَوْسِقَةً وَالأُمُورَ مُتَّسِقَةً، وَحِينَ صَفَا لَكَ مُلْكُنَا وَسُلْطَانُنَا؟

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah's blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad and his entire progeny. True are the words of Allah Who says,

“Then the end of those who committed evil was that they disbelieved in Allah’s Signs and they were ridiculing them.(30:10)”

Do you, Yazid, think that —when you blocked all the avenues of the earth and the horizons of the heavens before us, so we were driven as captives— that we are worthless in the sight of Allah and that you are respectful in His eyes? Or is it because you enjoy with Him a great status? So, you look down at us and become arrogant, elated, when you see the world submissive to you and things are done as you want them, and when our authority and power became all yours?

فَمَهْلاً مَهْلاً، أَنَسِيتَ قَوْلَ اللهِ تَعَالَى:

مُهِينٌ عَذَابٌ وَلَهُمْ ۚإِثْمًا لِيَزْدَادُوا لَهُمْ نُمْلِي إِنَّمَا ۚلِأَنْفُسِهِمْ خَيْرٌ لَهُمْ نُمْلِي أَنَّمَا كَفَرُوا الَّذِينَ يَحْسَبَنَّ وَلَا

أَمِنَ العَدْلِ، يَا ابْنَ الطُّلَقَاءِ، تَخْدِيرُكَ حَرَائِرَكَ وَإمَائَكَ، وَسَوْقُكَ بَنَاتِ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، سَبَايَا؛ قَدْ هَتَكْتَ سُتُورَهُنَّ وَأَبْدَيْتَ وُجُوهَهُنَّ، تَحْدُو بِهِنَّ الأَعْدَاءُ مِنْ بَلَدٍ إلَى بَلَدٍ، وَيَسْتَشْرِفُهُنَّ أَهْلُ المَنَاهِلِ وَالمَعَاقِلِ، وَيَتَصَفَّحُ وُجُوهَهُنَّ القَرِيبُ وَالبَعِيدُ وَالدَّنِيُّ وَالشَّرِيفُ، لَيْسَ مَعَهُنَّ مِنْ رِجَالِهِنَّ وَلِيٌّ وَلا مِنْ حُمَاتِهِنَّ حَمِيٌّ؟

But wait! Have you forgotten that Allah has said,

“Do not regard those who disbelieved that we grant them good for themselves? We only give them a respite so that they may increase their sins, and for them there is a humiliating torment.(3:178)”

Is it fair, O son of the ‘Released ones’, that you keep your ladies and bondmaidens in their chambers (under protection), and at the same time you drive the daughters of the Messenger of Allah as captives with them exposed and faces unveiled, taken from one land to another by their enemies, being seen by those at the watering places as well as the men stationed at your forts, their being faces exposed to be eyed by everyone—near or distant, lowly or honorable, when none of their men are with them nor are any of their protectors?

وَكَيْفَ تُرْتَجَى مُرَاقَبَةُ مَنْ لَفَظَ فُوهُ أَكْبَادَ الأَزْكِيَاءِ، وَنَبَتَ لَحْمُهُ مِنْ دِمَاءِ الشُّهَدَاءِ؟ وَكَيْفَ لا يَسْتَبْطِئُ فِي بُغْضِنَا أَهْلَ البَيْتِ مَنْ نَظَرَ إلَيْنَا بِالشَّنَفِ وَالشَّنَآنِ وَالإحَنِ وَالأَضْغَانِ؟ ثُمَّ تَقُولُ غَيْرَ مُتَأَثِّمٍ وَلا مُسْتَعْظِمٍ:

لَأَهَلُّوا وَاسْتَهَلُّوا فَرَحاً ثُمَّ قَالُوا يَا يَزِيدُ لا تُشَلْ

مُنْتَحِياً عَلَى ثَنَايَا أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ، سَيِّدِ شَبَابِ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ تَنْكُتُهَا بِمِخْصَرَتِكَ؟ وَكَيْفَ لا تَقُولُ ذَلِكَ وَقَدْ نَكَأْتَ القَرْحَةَ وَاسْتَأْصَلْتَ الشَّأْفَةَ بَإرَاقَتِكَ دِمَاءَ ذُرِّيَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَنُجُومِ الأَرْضِ مِنْ آلِ عَبْدِالمُطَّلِبِ، وَتَهْتِفُ بِأَشْيَاخِكَ، وَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّكَ تُنَادِيهِمْ. فَلَتِرَدَنَّ وَشِيكاً مَوْرِدَهُمْ وَلَتَوَدَّنَّ أَنَّكَ شُلِلْتَ وَبُكِمْتَ وَلَمْ تَكُنْ قُلْتَ مَا قُلْتَ وَفَعَلْتَ مَا فَعَلْتَ.

But what can be expected from one who has descended from those whose mouths chewed the livers of the purified ones and whose flesh grows out of the blood of the martyrs? How can it be expected from the one who has looked at us — the Ahl al-Bayt with nothing other than grudge and animosity and with despise and malice, would not hate us? So without remorse or feeling its gravity, you say -

“They would have been very much delighted,
Then they’d have said, “May your hands, O Yazid, never be paralyzed!”

How dare you hit the lips of Abu Abdullah (a), the Master of the Youths of Paradise? But what else can you do, since you have stirred a wound that had almost healed and since all mercy has been removed from your heart, after having shed the blood of the offspring of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Progeny who are the stars on this earth from among the family of Abdul-Muttalib? Then you cite your mentors as if you speak to them. Soon shall you be lodged with them and soon shall you wish that you were paralyzed and muted and did not say what you said nor did what you did.

اَللَّهُمَّ خُذْ لَنَا بِحَقِّنَا وَانْتَقِمْ مِمَّنْ ظَلَمَنَا وَاحْلُلْ غَضَبَكَ بِمَنْ سَفَكَ دِمَائَنَا وَقَتَلَ حُمَاتَنَا. فَوَاللهِ مَا فَرَيْتَ إلاّ جِلْدَكَ وَلا حَزَزْتَ إلاّ لَحْمَكَ. وَلَتَرِدَنَّ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، بِمَا تَحَمَّلْتَ مِنْ سَفْكِ دِمَاءِ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ وَانْتَهَكْتَ مِنْ حُرْمَتِهِ فِي عِتْرَتِهِ وَلُحْمَتِهِ، وَحَيْثُ يَجْمَعُ اللهُ شَمْلَهُمْ وَيَلُمُّ شَعَثَهُمْ وَيَأْخُذُ بِحَقِّهِمْ:

.يُرْزَقُونَ رَبِّهِمْ عِنْدَ أَحْيَاءٌ بَلْ ۚأَمْوَاتًا اللَّهِ سَبِيلِ فِي قُتِلُوا الَّذِينَ تَحْسَبَنَّ وَلَا

 

وَحَسْبُكَ بِاللهِ حَاكِماً وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَصِيماً وَبِجْبَرائِيلَ ظَهِيراً. وَسَيَعْلَمُ مَنْ سَوَّلَ لَكَ وَمَكَّنَكَ مِنْ رِقَابِ المُسْلِمِينَ، بِئْسَ لِلظَّالِمِينَ بَدَلاً وَأَيُّكُمْ شَرٌّ مَكَاناً وَأَضْعَفُ جُنْداً.

O Allah, take what belongs to us out of his hands, seek revenge against all those who oppressed us, and let Your wrath descend upon whoever shed our blood and killed our protectors! By Allah, you have burnt only your own skin, you have cut only your own flesh, and you shall come face to face with the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny, bearing the burdens of the blood which you have shed, the blood of his offspring, and of his sanctities which you violated, when Allah gathers them together and seeks equity on their behalf.

“And do not reckon those who are slain in the way of Allah as dead. Nay! They are living with their Lord, receiving their sustenance.(3:169)”

It is quite sufficient that Allah is your Judge and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, is your opponent, and (Archangel) Gabriel as the supporter (of Muhammad). All those who instigated you to do what you did and all those who put you in charge due to which you are playing havoc with the lives of the Muslims will know for certain how evil the end of the oppressors is and which of you shall have the worst place and will be the least protected?

وَلَئِنْ جَرَتْ عَلَيَّ الدَّوَاهِي مُخَاطَبَتَكَ، إنِّي لَأَسْتَصْغِرُ قَدْرَكَ وَأَسْتَعْظِمُ تَقْرِيعَكَ وَأَسْتَكْثِرُ تَوْبِيخَكَ، لَكِنِ العُيُونُ عَبْرَى وَالصُّدُورُ حَرَّى. اَلا فَالعَجَبُ كُلُّ الْعَجَبِ لِقَتْلِ حِزْبِ اللهِ النُّجَبَاءِ بِحِزْبِ الشَّيْطَانِ الطُّلَقَاءِ! فَهَذِهِ الأَيْدِي تَنْطِفُ مِنْ دِمَائِنَا وَالأَفْوَاهُ تَتَحَلَّبُ مِنْ لُحُومِنَا وَتِلْكَ الجُثَثُ الطَّوَاهِرُ الزَّوَاكِي تَنْتَابُهَا العَوَاسِلُ وَتُعَفِّرُهَا أُمَّهَاتُ الفَرَاعِلِ. وَلَئِنِ اتَّخَذْتَنَا مَغْنَماً لَتَجِدُنَا وَشِيكاً مُغْرَماً حِينَ لا تَجِدُ اِلاّ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاكَ،

.لِلْعَبِيدِ بِظَلَّامٍ رَبُّكَ وَمَا ۗفَعَلَيْهَا سَاءَأَ وَمَنْۗ فَلِنَفْسِهِ صَالِحًا عَمِلَ مَن

فَإلَى اللهِ المُشْتَكَى وَعَلَيْهِ المُعَوَّلُ.

Although calamities have forced me to speak to you, Indeed your reach is trivial in my eyes and I find your talk big and I regard your berating excessive, and the eyes are tearful, and the chests are on fire. The surprise of all surprises is that those who are “Party to Shaitan” have murdered those who are the ‘Ones near to Allah’. Such hands are dripping with our blood; such mouths are feeding on our flesh, while those who are pure and sacred - their corpses have been offered as food to the wild beasts of the desert and have been desecrated by the brutes. If you regard us as your booty, you shall soon deem us as your opponents—that will be when you find nothing but what your hands had committed,

“And your Lord never treats His servants unjustly. (41:46)”

To Allah is my complaint, and upon Him do I rely.

فَكِدْ كَيْدَكَ وَاسْعَ سَعْيَكَ وَنَاصِبْ جَهْدَكَ! فَوَاللهِ لا تَمْحُوَنَّ ذِكْرَنَا وَلا تُمِيتُ وَحْيَنَا وَلا تُدْرِكُ أَمَدَنَا وَلا تَرْخَصُ عَنْكَ عَارَهَا. وَهَلْ رَأْيُكَ إلاّ فَنَدٌ وَأيَّامُكَ إلاّ عَدَدٌ وَجَمْعُكَ إلاّ بَدَدٌ يَوْمَ يُنَادِي المُنَادِي:

. الظَّالِمِينَ عَلَى اللَّهِ لَعْنَةُ أَلَا ۚ رَبِّهِمْ عَلَى

فَالحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ الَّذِي خَتَمَ لِأَوَّلِنَا بِالسَّعَادَةِ وَالمَغْفِرَةِ وَلِآخِرِنَا بِالشَّهَادَةِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ، وَنَسْأَلُ اللهَ أَنْ يُكْمِلَ لَهُمُ الثَّوَابَ وَيُوجِبَ لَهُمُ المَزِيدَ وَيُحْسِنُ عَلَيْنَا الخِلافَةَ؛ إنَّهُ رَحِيمٌ وَدُودٌ، وَحَسْبُنَا اللهُ وَنِعْمُ الوَكِيلُ .

So scheme whatever you wish to scheme, and carry out your plots, and intensify your efforts, for by Allah, you shall never be able to obliterate our mention, nor will you ever be able to kill the revelation (that was revealed to us), nor will you ever exalt to attain our position, nor will your shame ever be washed away. Your vision shall prove futile, your days are limited in number, and your wealth will be wasted on the Day when the caller calls out,

أَلَا لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ

“The curse of Allah is upon the oppressors.(11:18)”

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Who sealed the lives of our early ones with happiness and forgiveness, and that of our last ones with martyrdom and mercy. We plead to Allah to complete His rewards for them, grant them an increase, and recompense us pleasingly; He is the most Merciful, the most Compassionate. Allah suffices us, and He is the best Guardian.

Words about the address

This address has been a completion of Imam al-Husayn's uprising and one of the most marvelous revolutionary speeches in Islam. By such sweeping words, Lady Zaynab smashed the despotism of Yazid and inflicted disgrace and dishonor on him and on those who caused him to reach such a position. About this address, Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita says:

“Can the brush of the best painter or the pen of the most eloquent writer depict the reality of Yazid's arrogance, pride, and elation for having the world submissive to him and tasting the pleasure of conquest in a way better and more effective than that depicted by the words of Lady Zaynab in this speech? And can anybody refute all the claims of an opponent in such a way full of expressiveness, substantiation, and even reproach and censure? Moreover, Lady Zaynab, as if all her words of reprimand were not enough, proved before the tyrant and the attendants the inescapable abject end of the wrong and the pleasant final end result of the right. Using a courageous, brave language, she showed Yazid his lowly, mean, ugly, and shameful reality”10

Dr. Tawfiq al-Fukayki says:

“Join me to contemplate on this far-reaching speech that contained all arts of rhetoric, styles of oratory, manifestations of expressiveness, significances of enthusiasm, power of allegation, and authority of defense of freedom and belief, in such a forthright way that was sharper than swords. For Yazid, to step on adders' fangs or to be targeted by pointed spears was easier than hearing these words that slapped his unashamed face in his own house and in the middle of the capital of his illegal, despotic state. Throughout ages, this historical, sweeping speech has been spreading the unparalleled intrepidities, the unwonted courage, and the high ideals of Lady Zaynab. It is finally a never-ending literature that screams in the faces of the tyrants throughout generations.”11

Contents of the Address

The great speech of Lady Zaynab has been an extension of the uprising of Karbala and a good representation of its values and goals. Let us now refer to some goals that the speech achieved:

• Lady Zaynab referred to the false elation of Yazid who thought of himself as victorious in that encounter. She uncovered the truth that his military superiority was transient and that Almighty Allah let the unbelievers enjoy bliss in this world so that their sins will increase and, thus, they will have a painful chastisement on the Day of Resurrection.

• She reproached Yazid for taking the harem of the Prophet's Household as captives. While it was the Holy Prophet (S) who had freed Yazid and his unbelieving family on the Conquest of Mecca when they were in captivity of the Islamic armies. Instead of thanking the Prophet (S) who saved him from slavery, Yazid rewarded his family very badly.

• She referred to the hereditary, educational, and psychological motives behind Yazid's slaying the Prophet's family. She referred, as an instance, to his grandmother, Hind, who chewed the liver of Hamzah out of her limitless malice against the Prophet and the Hashemites. She also referred to Yazid's grandfather Abu Sufyan who was the leading enemy of Islam and who led campaigns against the Prophet and his Divine Mission. Not forgetting Yazid's father, Lady Zaynab referred to Muawiyah who had slain innocent Muslims and violated all what Allah has deemed respectable.

• She disapproved of Yazid's citing poetic verses in which he wished his forefathers who had been killed at the hands of Imam Ali during their conflicts against the Holy Prophet, as well as the other Muslim warriors, to be witnessing him take revenge upon the Holy Prophet. She also courageously asserted to Yazid that he would certainly face the same fate as those of his cursed forefathers.

• She shed lights on an important point that the tyrant, by slaying Imam al-Husayn and his pure family members and companions, had in fact slain himself, no one else. The souls of the martyrs are pure, alive, abiding, and covered by auras of glory. Disgrace and loss were only for Yazid.

• She mentioned those who had paved the way for Yazid to hold such a position with words of scolding as she added them to Yazid. This point is worthy of careful study.

• She referred to her own high standing and being beyond his reach in honor as another way of making little of the tyrant. Despite all the misfortunes that were inflicted on her and had weakened her, she showed her superior strength by rebuking the tyrant so harshly that he was unable to find any answer.

• She proved that all the endeavors of Yazid to eradicate the eternal mention of the Ahl al-Bayt with good would fail, because they represented the ‘right’, which would inevitably triumph.

Thus, the days since then have proved that Imam al-Husayn and his party were the victorious, while Yazid and his party have always been the losers. At any rate, the speech of Lady Zaynab includes tons of lessons, not all of which can be contained in this brief study. It is quite enough to say that this speech was a deathblow that destroyed the Umayyad State.

Having seen the collapse of his pride and arrogance, Yazid could not find any words to answer except citing a poetic verse, which was not related to the subject in any extent. Moreover, the political atmospheres were overclouded against him whose perplexity, owing to the scandalous situation that Lady Zaynab put him in, disabled him to do anything. He once tried to find himself excuses for his crime and, at other times, tried to make a comparison between the Imam and himself.

Lady Zaynab and a Syrian Man

A Syrian man who attended the session at Yazid’s Court, looked at Lady Fatimah daughter of Imam al-Husayn in captivity and said to Yazid, “Give this girl to me to serve me.” As she heard this shocking statement, the lady trembled and grabbed hold of her aunt's cloak.

Lady Zaynab shouted at the Syrian man, “You, the mean one, have deluded. Neither you nor your leader (i.e. Yazid) can do this.” This statement enraged Yazid who said, “I could if I wished.” Lady Zaynab answered, “No, you cannot do it unless you abandon our religion and take another for yourself.” Yazid realized the huge insult that Lady Zaynab hurled at him with these words, so he shouted at her, “How dare you say such words to my face? It was your father and your brother who abandoned the religion!”

Indifferent to the tyrant's authority and ability to punish, Lady Zaynab replied him so confidently saying, “If you really are a Muslim then it is only by the religion of Allah and through my father and grandfather that you and your fathers were guided,.”

With these words, Lady Zaynab fully unmasked the tyrant who claimed Imam al-Husayn and his family to be apostates. As a result, people of Syria realized that the captives were from the Holy Prophet's family about whom many Quranic Verses had been revealed from the Almighty Lord, and that Yazid was no more than a faithless liar. “You have lied enemy of Allah!” said Yazid as these were the only words that he could find to answer Lady Zaynab. She replied, “You are a dominant ruler! You can revile (at anybody) unjustly and you can prevail on anyone through your authority.”

The tyrant’s rage decreased and he had to put his head down. Meanwhile, the Syrian man repeated his request, however Yazid shouted at him, “May Allah inflict a swift death upon you!” Thus, Lady Zaynab was thus able to retrieve her power and self-will, which she had inherited from her forefathers, to face the tyrant and to triumph upon him.

An author says:

“Despite her weakness and state of captivity, Lady Zaynab could achieve the first decisive victory over an authoritative and strong tyrant. More than once, she confuted Yazid and declared before everybody his ignorance and lack of religion because according to Islamic laws, it is not acceptable to regard Muslim women as captives or to be treated as such in wars.”12

Anyhow, the Syrian man’s request seemly served as an opening to long articles of criticism and reproach against Yazid. This was the beginning of the Syrian people’s realization of the situation. It seems that the Syrian was not so dull, especially after he had heard the public reply of Lady Zaynab, which showed that Yazid was excluded from Islam if he could affirm in response to the Syrian man’s request. This shows that the man only intended to disgrace Yazid.

Moaning for Imam al-Husayn

Ladies of the Prophet’s family then asked the tyrant to give them a house in which they would hold consolation ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn since they were unable to show their grief before the guards of Yazid, and if they did, they would receive whips and words of insult. In this regard, Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin says, “The guards’ spears would come down on the head of anyone of us who would shed even a single tear.”

Yazid however, had to respond to the Ladies’ request. Hence, all of them dressed in black, mourned and moaned for their Imam and the martyrs ceaselessly for seven days.

Back to Medina

Having seen the results of the influential addresses of Imam Zayn al-Abidin and Lady Zaynab, Yazid anticipated a rebel or at least a disorder in the capital of his state. He therefore decided to send the Prophet’s family away from Damascus to their hometown, Medina. He gathered them in his palace and poured a lot of money on a silky carpet as blood money for the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn, his household, and his companions. This situation infuriated the Ladies so terribly that they all spoke out in pain.

Lady Zaynab said, “You are surely shameless and boastful! You kill my brother and family members, and then you want me to accept money as recompense!” Lady Sukaynah said, “I have never seen such hard-heartedness, and I have never seen an infidel and polytheist who is more vicious than you are… etc.”

Thus, the tyrant, who had thought that the Ahl al-Bayt could be subdued with offer of money or any other transient material as he did not believe in the revelation that Almighty Allah -“only desired to keep away the uncleanness from them and to purify them with a (thorough) purifying,” (33:33) failed to subjugate the Prophet’s household.

He then ordered al-Numan ibn Bashir to accompany the Prophet’s family to Medina and to take care of them along this journey13. He also decided to begin that journey at night so as to avoid any expected disorder or revolt.

Abd al-Malik al-Salami, carrying out the orders of Umar ibn Saad, conveyed the news of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom to Medina before the captives arrived there.14 As much as this news delighted the ruler of Medina, it depressed the citizens who could not control themselves and the sound of their cries and weeping overtook the whole city.

Then the ruler of Medina ascended the minbar of the Prophet’s Masjid and declared his happiness and satisfaction over the Imam’s martyrdom and sufferings of his party. Abdullah ibn al-Saib criticized the ruler, saying, “Had Fatimah been alive, she would have wept for her son.”15 The ruler however, shouted back at him and said meaningless words.16

The Hashemites cried and wailed over the martyrdom of their chief. They held ceremonies to mourn that occasion. Abdullah ibn Jafar, Lady Zaynab’s husband, held obsequies attended by groups of people to console him for the misfortune.

Yazid then sent the head of Imam al-Husayn to Medina so as to spread horror and fear among its people. The ruler of Medina denied this deed, while Marwan ibn al-Hakam welcomed and showed his malice against the Prophet and his religion. As he looked in the face of the Imam, he remembered his forefathers who were killed at the hands of the Imam’s father and grandfather. He then turned his eyes towards the Holy Prophet’s tomb and said, “Muhammad, this is for that day of (the battle of) Badr.”17

On their way to Medina, the captives of the Ahl al-Bayt asked the guards who accompanied them to take them through a way that led to Karbala, and they did. Once they arrived in there, the ladies fell upon the tomb of Imam al-Husayn with cries and wails. They spent three days there during which their tears flowed continually. Imam Zayn al-Abidin feared for the lives of his aunt and the other ladies, worrying that they might die out of their excessive grief. So he ordered to ready themselves for travelling to Medina. They left Karbala with tearful eyes and hoarse voices.

Medina was at that time dressed in black because of the death of Lady Ummu Salamah, the Prophet’s widow, who died a month after Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom overtaken by her grief for him.18 When the caravan was only a few miles away Medina, Imam Zayn al-Abidin halted there for a while. He asked Bishr ibn Hidhlim if he could precede the caravan in entering the city and recite poetry to express and declare the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn through some poetic verses. This man then entered the city and stopped near the Prophet’s Masjid to declare the martyrdom of the Imam, in a sad tone.

The public hurried towards him for more information about the fate of the others. Bishr told them about the captivity of Imam Zayn al-Abidin and the other Ladies of the Prophet’s household. They then, while crying and weeping, hurried to the suburbs to receive the caravan. As soon as the Prophet’s household arrived, people surrounded them with tear-filled eyes, and that day was similar to the day when the Holy Prophet died.

Amidst of that mournful gathering, Imam Zayn al-Abidin delivered a speech in which he touched on his father and the misfortunes that they had suffered. He, accompanied by his aunt and sisters and surrounded by people, then headed towards the Prophet’s Masjid. Lady Zaynab held to the frames of the Masjid’s gate and cried out, “O Grandfather! I am conveying to you the news of my brother al-Husayn’s martyrdom.”19

From that day onwards, Lady Zaynab’s one and only occupation was weeping for her martyred family and friends and to work relentlessly so that the message of sacrifices of Imam al-Husayn was spread endlessly. She wept whenever her gaze fell on her nephew, Imam Zayn al-Abidin. This way of life continued for her till she became lifeless like a dead body.20

  • 1. See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 114.
  • 2. See Wafiyyat al-Aimmah, 453.
  • 3. Parasang is a unit of length, usually reckoned as equal to between 3 and 3.5 miles or 5 to 5.5 km.
  • 4. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 398.
  • 5. See Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 276.
  • 6. This is an indication to the Battle of Badr during which the relatives of Yazid were killed at the hands of al-Husayn’s father and relatives.
  • 7. The Khazraj is the tribe who supported the Prophet and his partisans.
  • 8. This is clear-cut evidence on Yazid’s disbelief in Islam and the Divine Mission of Prophet Muhammad.
  • 9. Ahmad is the heavenly name of Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • 10. Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita', al-Siyasah al-Husayniyyah, 30
  • 11. Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi, Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, 3:381.
  • 12. See Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi’s Hayat al-Imam al-Hasan; 3:390.
  • 13. See Ibn al-Athir, al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 300
  • 14. This report is quoted from Baqir Sharif al-Qarasahi’s book entitled al-Sayyidah Zaynab. Nevertheless, this report may contradict others.
  • 15. Imam Ali (a) narrated that the Holy Prophet (S) once said, “On the Resurrection Day, my daughter Fatimah shall come with dresses painted with her son’s blood in her hand. She shall hang to one of the pillars of the (Divine) Throne and say, ‘O the All Just! Judge between my son’s killer and me.’ The Lord then will judge for my daughter. I swear it by the Lord of the Paradise.” See al-Sirat al-Sawi fi Manaqib(i) aale al-Nabi, 93
  • 16. See Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husayn, 417
  • 17. See Ibn Abil-Hadid’s Sharh(u) Nahj al-Balaghah; 4:72
  • 18. See Sayyid Ibn Tawus al-Hasani, al-Lahuf fi Qatla al-Tufuf, p. 116
  • 19. See Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husayn, 472
  • 20. See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 6:366, and Ibn al-Athir, al- Tarikh, vol. 3, p.428

To The Heaven

The horrific scenes that Lady Zaynab had witnessed in her life did not part from her for even a single moment; her eyes were always tearful and her words uttered in wailing for her brother and the martyrs. She used to call out the names of her brothers, sons and nephews, and then she would be loose consciousness. In this state she was like a feeble body without soul, awaiting death, which could be the only relief. She awaited death so as to express grief to her grandfather and parents about all that she had seen. Thus, she was affected by illnesses one after another and she had to stay in bed for a long time while suffering the agonies of her ailments.

Even in the last sparks of her life, the scenes of Karbala and Damascus were alive before her eyes. However, death came to her while her tongue was glorifying the Almighty Lord, Who will take revenge from those who had wronged her. She departed on Sunday, the fifteenth of Rajab, 62 AH at the age of fifty-seven.1

Her Burial Place

Historians have different opinions about the burial place of Lady Zaynab. Some have defined it to be al-Baqi in Medina. This opinion is not acceptable because if she were buried there, she would have a special tomb just like the others who were buried there. It is probable that she, like her mother, asked to be buried at night so that no one would know about the location of her grave.

A good group of historians concur that she died in a small village in Damascus and was buried there. They recorded that she immigrated to Syria when Medina was affected by a disastrous famine, due to which Abdullah ibn Jafar left for Syria.

It seems however that the story of this famine is baseless, since most of the historians and narrators have never referred to any such incident during that period. Besides, Abdullah ibn Jafar was so rich that he was unlikely to be adversely influenced by such a famine, and that he was too generous to leave his people in such a famine and immigrate to the center of his enemies. At any rate, it is widespread that Lady Zaynab was buried in Damascus and there is now a handsome shrine pilgrimaged by thousands of people every day, seeking the blessings and mercy of Almighty Allah, just like the holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn.

Another good number of historians have recorded that Lady Zaynab was buried in Egypt.2 For all Egyptians, this is an unquestionable fact, and her handsome shrine there is one of the most significant signs Egypt. The historians have recorded the following about Lady Zaynab’s immigration to Egypt:

In Medina, Lady Zaynab began to rally the public against the ruling authorities and the unjust Umayyad State. As a result, people of Medina rebelled and formed armed forces to face the ruling authorities. In response, Yazid sent a heavy army commanded by the criminal Muslim ibn Aqabah to kill the rebels and civilians harshly and mercilessly. He even turned them into slaves for Yazid.

Fearing the activities of Lady Zaynab, the ruler of Medina wrote to Yazid about danger perceived from her presence in Medina. The tyrant wrote back that he should banish her to any country she would choose. First of all, Lady Zaynab refused, but Zaynab daughter of Aqil, her cousin, convinced her to leave for the good of religion. She then opted for Egypt. Her nieces Fatimah and Sukaynah, daughters of Imam al-Husayn (a), accompanied her in her (final) journey.

They arrived in Egypt on the last days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, and were received hospitably by the ruler of Egypt, Maslamah ibn Mukhallad al-Ansari, who offered Lady Zaynab to reside in his own house in al-Tamra, and she lived there for eleven months and fifteen days. On Sunday, 15th of Rajab, 62 A.H., Lady Zaynab departed from life and was buried in that house. There is now a handsome shrine carrying her name and teaching all generations the meanings of real humanity and defense of freedom and belief.3

In his book entitled al-Tarikh, Ibn Asakir records:

“Lady Zaynab resided in Egypt where she died and was buried. The lady buried in Damascus is her sister, Zaynab al-Wusta.”

The Egyptians as well as the other Muslims throughout the globe pilgrimage to the holy shrine everyday especially on the occasion of her death. They, including scholars and religious people, crowd around the shrine seeking the Lord’s blessings and mercy through the intercession of Lady Zaynab. Rulers of Egypt, such as Kafur al-Akhshidi, Ahmad ibn Tawlawn, and al-Dafir-bin-Nasrillah also had the honor to visit the holy shrine.

When the month of Rajab begins, people from everywhere gather around the holy shrine reciting the Holy Book of Allah and other Duas. Furthermore, some of them reside there for half of the month.

Reconstructions and restorations to the holy shrine have been carried out several times all through the course of history, at the hands of virtuous kings and leaders of Egypt, such as, Fakhruddin Thalab al-Jafari, Ali Pasha al-Wazir (in 956 AH), and Abdul-Rahman Katkhada (in 1174 AH). In 1212 AH, Uthman al-Muradi reconstructed the shrine, but he had to stop when the French occupied the country. In 1326 AH, Yusuf Pasha carried on with the reconstruction and his works were dated through some poetic verses written on a tablet of marble. Anyhow, the final touches took place at the hands of Muhammad Ali Pasha. In 1276 AH, Said Pasha reconstructed some parts of the shrine, and in 1294 AH, Khedive Muhammad Tawfiq Pasha reconstructed other parts. The operation was completed in 1304 AH.

In any case, every country or place where Lady Zaynab resided has a right to take pride in this Lady who has been the honor of Islam and all Muslims. At any rate, Lady Zaynab’s place is in the heart of each and every seeker of truth. She has been too great a personality to be contained by any tomb, and fruit of one’s deed depends upon their intent.

Ziyarah of Lady Zaynab
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the leader of the Prophets.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ سَيِّدِ الأَنْبِياءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the owner of the (Heavenly) Pond and the Standard.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ صَاحِبِ الحَوْضِ وَاللِّوَاءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him who was taken to the skies and who reached the position of the length of two arrows or even closer.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ عُرِجَ بِهِ إلى السَّمَاءِ وَوَصَلَ إلى مَقَامِ قَابِ قَوْسَينِ أوْ أدْنى

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the Prophet of right guidance, the master of (all) human beings, and the savior of the servants (of Allah) from being destroyed.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ نَبِيِّ الهُدَى وَسَيِّدِ الوَرَى وَمُنْقِذِ العِبَادِ مِنَ الرَّدَى

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the one who has conformed (himself) to sublime morality, enjoyed the broad honor, and owned the (Heavenly) Signs and the Wise Remembrance of Allah (i.e. the Holy Quran).

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ صَاحِبِ الخُلُقِ العَظِيمِ وَالشَّرَفِ العَمِيمِ وَالآيَاتِ وَالذِّكْرِ الحَكِيمِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the owner of the Lofty Position, the Pond from which people shall drink (on the Resurrection Day), and the Standard, which shall be witnessed by everybody.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ صَاحِبِ المَقَامِ المحْمُودِ وَالحَوضِ المَورُودِ وَاللِّوَاءِ المَشْهودِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the Path of Islam and the one given the qiblah and the Quran, and the example of honesty, right, and benevolence.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْهَجِ دِينِ الإسْلامِ وَصَاحِبِ القِبْلَةِ وَالقُرْآنِ وَعَلَمِ الصِّدْقِ وَالحَقِّ وَالإحْسَانِ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O daughter of the choice of the Prophets, the example of the pious ones, and the well known in both the earth and the heavens.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ صَفْوَةِ الأَنْبِياءِ وَعَلَمِ الأتْقِياءِ وَمَشْهورِ الذِّكْرِ في الأرْضِ وَالسَّماءِ، وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O daughter of the best of Allah's creation, the master of His creatures, the foremost created individual before the existence of (Allah's) earth and heavens, the last of the existent ones (who shall endure) after the extinction of this world and its beings, and the one whose soul is a copy of the Divinity and whose heart is the treasury of the Eternal, Subsistent God.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ خَيْرِ خَلقِ اللهِ وَسَيِّدِ خَلْقِهِ وَأَوَّلِ العَدَدِ قَبْلَ إيجَادِ أَرْضِهِ وَسَماوَاتِهِ وَآخِرِ الأَبَدِ بَعْدَ فَناءِ الدُّنْيا وَأَهْلِهَا الَّذِي رُوحُهُ نُسْخَةُ اللاَّهُوتِ وَصُورَتُهُ نُسْخَةُ المُلْكِ وَالمَلَكُوتِ وَقَلْبُهُ خُزانَةُ الحَيِّ الَّذِي لا يمُوتُ، وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O daughter of the one who is shaded by clouds, is the master of the Two Worlds, is the chief of the two beings (i.e. man and jinn), and is the Intercessor of the ummah on the Resurrection Day.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ المُظَلَّلِ بِالغَمَامِ سَيِّدِ الكَوْنَيْنِ وَمَوْلى الثَّقَلَينِ وَشَفِيعِ الأُمَّةِ يَومَ المحْشَرِ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the master of the Prophets' successors.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ سَيِّدِ الأَوْصِياءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the leader of the God-fearing ones.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ إمَامِ الأتْقِياءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the shelter of the saints.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ رُكْنِ الأوْلِيَاءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the support of the Choice ones.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ عِمَادِ الأصْفِيَاءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the leader of the Religion.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ يَعْسوبِ الدِّينِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the commander of the faithful ones.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ أَمِيرِ المُؤمِنِينَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the Chief of the Prophets' successors.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ سَيِّدِ الوَصِيِّينَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the leader of the pious ones.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ قَائِدِ البرَرَةِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the preventer of the infidels and the wantons.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ قَامِعِ الكَفَرَةِ وَالفجَرَةِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the inheritor of the Prophets.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ وَارِثِ النَّبِيِّينَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the successor of the Chief of Apostles.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بنتَ خَلِيفَةِ سَيِّدِ المُرسَلِينَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of brightness of the Religion.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ ضِياءِ الدِّينِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the Great News (as it is certainly proved).

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ النَّبَأِ العَظِيمِ عَلى اليَقِينِ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O daughter of the one to whom the mission of settling accounts with people (on the Resurrection Day) is given, between whose hands the Heavenly Pond (of al-Kawthar) is put, and whom is intended by the (Prophet's) Statement of the Ghadir Day.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ حِسابُ النَّاسِ عَلَيهِ وَالكَوْثَرُ بَينَ يَدَيْهِ وَالنَّصُّ يَومَ الغَدِيرِ عَلَيهِ، وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the lady whose she-camel was driven by (Archangel) Gabriel, and whose misfortune (of Imam al-Husayn's being slain in Karbala) was shared by (Archangel) Israfil, and due to whose anger the All-exalted Lord was angry, and for whose misfortune of Karbala, (the Prophets) Abraham the Friend of Allah, Noah, and Moses the Spoken by Allah wept.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ قَادَ زِمَامَ نَاقَتِهَا جِبرَائِيلُ وَشَارَكَها في مُصَابهَا إسْرافِيلُ، وَغَضِبَ بِسَبَبِها الرَّبُّ الجَلِيلُ، وَبَكى لمُصَابهَا إبْراهِيمُ الخَلِيلُ وَنُوحٌ وَمُوسَى الكَلِيمُ فِي كَرْبَلاءَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the shining full moons.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ البُدُورِ السَّواطِعِ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O daughter of the brilliant suns.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ الشُّمُوسِ الطَّوَالِعِ، وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Well Zamzam and Safa (of the landmarks of Mecca)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ زَمْزَمَ وَالصَّفَا

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Mecca and Mina – a height in Mecca.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَكَّةَ وَمِنىَ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him whom was carried by Buraq to the heavens.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ حُمِلَ عَلى البُرَاقِ في الهَوَاء

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him who carried the zakat (almsgiving) by the margins of his dress to give it to the paupers.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ حمَلَ الزَّكَاةَ بِأطْرافِ الرِّدَاءِ وَبَذَلَهُ عَلى الفُقَراءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him whom was taken by night from the Inviolable Masjid to the Farthest Masjid.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَنْ أُسْرِيَ بهِ مِن المَسْجِدِ الحَرامِ إلى المسجِدِ الأقْصَى

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him who fought with two swords.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَن ضَرَبَ بِالسَّيْفَين

Peace be upon you, O daughter of him who offered prayers to the two qiblas.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مَن صَلَّى القِبْلَتَينِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Muhammad al-Mustafa (the Selected by God)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ مُحَمَّدٍ المُصطَفَى

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Ali al-Murtada (the Pleased one)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ عَلِيٍّ المُرْتَضى

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Fatimah al-Zahraa (the Resplendent).

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ فَاطِمَةَ الزَّهْراءِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of Khadijah al-Kubra (the Grand)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ خَديجَةَ الكُبرَى

Peace be upon you and upon your grandfather, Muhammad al-Mukhtar (the Chosen.)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ وَعَلى جَدِّكِ مُحَمَّدٍ المُخْتَارِ

Peace be upon you and upon your father, Haydar al-Karrar (the Attacking Lion.)

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ وعَلى أَبِيكِ حَيْدَر الكَرّار

Peace be upon you and upon the pure, choice masters who are the Arguments of Allah on lands, the chiefs of the earth and the heavens, and love for whom is a prescription that is incumbent upon all creatures.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ وَعَلى السَّادَاتِ الأطْهارِ الأخْيَارِ، وَهُمْ حُجَجُ اللهِ عَلى الأقْطارِ وَسَاداتُ الأرضِ والسَّمَاءِ الَّذِينَ حُبُّهُم فَرضٌ عَلى أَعْنَاقِ كُلِّ الخَلائِقِ

Peace be upon you, O daughter of the glorified, holy servant of Allah.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا بِنْتَ وَليِّ اللهِ المُعَظَّمِ

Peace be upon you, O aunt of dignified, holy servant of Allah.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يا عَمَّةَ وَليِّ اللهِ المُكَرَّمِ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O mother of misfortunes; Zaynab.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا أُمَّ المَصائبِ يَا زَيْنَبُ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace be upon you—the virtuous, rightly guided one!

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا الفَاضِلَةُ الرَّشِيدَةُ

Peace be upon you—the Woman of perfection, knowledge, doer of good.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا الكَامِلَةُ العَالمَةُ العَامِلةُ

Peace be upon you—the noble gentlewoman.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا الكَريمَةُ النَّبيلَةُ

Peace be upon you—the pious, infallible one.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا التَّقِيَّةُ النَّقِيَّةُ

Peace be upon you—who showed her love for al-Husayn; the wronged, in many situations and had to suffer awful heartbreaking misfortunes.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا مَن ظَهَرَتْ محَبَّتُها لِلحُسَينِ المَظْلومِ في مَوارِدَ عَديدَةٍ وَتحَمِلُ المَصَائبَ المحُرِقَةَ لِلقُلوبِ مَعَ تحَمُّلاتٍ شَديدَةٍ

Peace be upon you—who guarded the Imam on the Day of Ashura when he was killed, and sacrificed her soul for the salvation of Zayn al-Abidin at the gathering of the most wretched one (i.e. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad), and addressed with a speech, just like that of (Imam) Ali, in the streets of Kufa despite the presence of her enemies.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا مَن حَفِظَتِ الإمَامَ في يَومِ عَاشُوراءَ في القَتْلى وَبَذلَتْ نَفسَها في نجَاةِ زَينِ العَابِدينَ في مجَلِسِ أشْقَى الأشْقِياءِ وَنَطَقَتْ كَنُطْقِ عَليٍّ عَليهِ السَّلاَمُ في سِكَكِ الكُوفَةِ وَحَولهَا كَثيرٌ مِن الأعْدَاءِ

Peace be upon you—who thrust her forehead with the front part of the howdah, when she saw the severed head of the Chief of Martyrs (i.e. Imam al-Husayn), and caused blood to flow from beneath her veil and from the howdah in the view of the enemies.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يا مَنْ نَطَحَتْ جَبينَها بِمُقَدَّمِ المحْمَلِ إذْ رَأتْ رَأسَ سَيّدِ الشُّهدَاءِ وَيخْرُجُ الدَّمُ مِن تحْتِ قِناعِها وَمِن محْمَلِها بحَيثُ يرى مَن حَولهَا مِن الأعْداءُ

Peace be upon you, O the representative of the Infallible Imam.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يا تالِيَةَ المَعْصومِ

Peace and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be upon you, O you who were tested through patience amidst misfortunes like al-Husayn the oppressed.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يا ممُْتَحَنَةُ في تحَمُّلِ المَصائبِ كالحُسَينِ المَظلُومِ، وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Peace be upon you who are far away from you home.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا البَعيدَةُ عَن الأوْطانِ

Peace be upon you who were taken as captive through cities.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا الأَسِيرَةُ في البُلدانِ

Peace be upon you when you were bewildered in that ruined place in Syria.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا المُتَحَيّرَةُ في خَرابَةِ الشَّامِ

Peace be upon you when you were bewildered as you stood by the (severed) body of the Chief of Martyrs and called out for your grandfather - the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, saying: "Oh, Muhammad! May the angels in the Heavens bless you! This is Husayn under the open sky! His turban and his clothes have been stripped! His limbs are severed! And your daughters are being taken captives! Complaining (about this) is only to Allah."

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ أَيَّتُهَا المُتَحَيّرَةُ في وُقُوفِكِ عَلى جَسَدِ سَيِّد الشُّهَداءِ وخَاطَبْتِ جَدَّكِ رَسولَ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيه وَآله بهَذا النِّدَاءِ: "صَلَّىٰ عَلَيْكَ مَلائِكَةُ السَّمَاءِ! هٰذَا حُسَيْنٌ بِالعَراءِ مَسْلُوبُ العِمَامَةِ وَالرِّدَاءِ، مُقَطَّعُ الأَعْضَاءِ، وَبَنَاتُكَ سَبَايَا! وَإلىٰ اللهِِ المُشْتَكَىٰ."

You also said, "O Muhammad! This is Husayn! Winds are blowing at his body! His head is cut off from his back! Bastards have killed him! Oh, for my grief for you, Abu Abdullah!

وقَالَت: "يَا مُحَمَّدُ! هٰذَا حُسَيْنٌ تَسْفِي عَلَيْهِ رِيحُ الصَّبَا، مجْذُوذَ الرَّأسِ مِن القَفا، قَتِيلَ أَوْلادِ البِغا. وَاحُزْنَاهُ عَليْكَ يا أبَا عَبْدِ الله."

Peace be upon you whose heart cried out for al-Husayn; the oppressed, the stripped, and the one who fell on dust, and you said in a sad tone, "May my father be sacrificed for the one for whom I may sacrifice my soul! Oh, for him who was depressed until he passed away! Oh, for him who had been thirsty until he departed from life! Oh, for him whose beard was dropping blood!"

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يَا مَن تهَيَّجَ قَلبُها لِلحُسَينِ المَظلومِ العُريَانِ المَطْروحِ عَلى الثَّرَى وقَالَت بِصَوتٍ حَزينٍ: "بِأبي مَن نَفْسي لَهُ الفِداءُ، بِأبي المَهمُومُ حتَّى قَضى، بِأبي مَن شَيبَتُه تَقطِرُ بِالدِّمَاء."

Peace be upon her who wept for the (severed) body of her brother among the killed ones so painfully that every one—whether friend or even enemy, wept for her and it was reported through authenticated narrations that people saw even horses shed tears, as they galloped past on their legs.

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن بَكَتْ عَلى جَسَدِ أخِيها بَينَ القَتلَى حَتّى بَكى لبُكائِها كُلُّ صَدِيقٍ وَعَدُوٍّ، وَرَأى النَّاسُ دُموعَ الخَيلِ تَنحَدِرُ عَلى حَوافِرِهَا عَلى التَّحْقِيقِ

Peace be upon her who took the responsibility of gathering and guarding the daughters of the Messenger of Allah and the children of al-Husayn on the afternoon of the day of Ashura, and she stirred up the situation when the two oppressed, strange children were martyred.

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن تَكَفَّلَتْ وَجمَعَتْ في عَصْرِ عَاشُوراءَ بَناتِ رَسولِ اللهِ وَأطفَالِ الحُسينِ وَقامَت لهَا القِيامَةُ في شَهادَةِ الطِّفلَينِ الغَريبَين المَظلومَينِ

Peace be upon her whose eyes did not sleep so as to guard the family of the Messenger of Allah at Taff of Nineveh, and was taken as captive and was humiliated at the hands of her enemies.

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن لم تَنَمْ عَينُها لأجْلِ حِراسَةِ آل رَسولِ اللهِ في طَف نِينَوَى وَصَارَت أَسيرَةً ذَليلَةً بِيَدِ الأعْداءِ

Peace be upon her who had to ride a saddleless camel and then called on her brother Abul-Fadhl (al-Abbas), saying, "O brother! O Abul-Fadhl! It was you who helped me mount a camel when I left Medina."

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن رَكِبَتْ بَعيراً بِغَيرِ وِطاءٍ وَنَادَت أخَاها أبَا الفَضْلِ بهَذا النِّدَاء: "أخِي أبَا الفَضْلِ، أنْتَ الَّذي أرْكَبْتَني إذْ أرَدتُ الخُروجَ مِن المَدينَةِ"

Peace be upon her who addressed a remarkably eloquent speech in the center of Kufa so that all voices were silenced (to listen to her with astonishment)

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن خَطَبَتْ في مَيدانِ الكُوفَةِ بخِطْبَةٍ نافِعَةٍ حَتّى سَكَنَتِ الأصْواتُ مِن كُلِّ ناحِيةٍ

Peace be upon her who said clear-cut arguments in the gathering of (Ubaydullah) Ibn Ziyad who said to her, "How did you see that which Allah had done to your brother?" Answering him, she said as honest witness, "I saw nothing but good!"

السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَن احْتَجَّتْ في مَجلِسِ ابْنِ زِيادٍ بِاحتْجَاجَاتٍ وَاضِحَةٍ وَقالَت في جَوابِه بِبَيِّناتٍ صَادِقةٍ، إذْ قَالَ ابنُ زِيادٍ لِزَينَبَ سَلامُ اللهِ عَلَيهَا: "كَيفَ رَأَيْتِ صُنْعَ اللهِ بأخيكِ الحُسَينِ؟" قَالَت: "مَا رَأَيْتُ إِلاّ جَمِيلاً."

Peace be upon you who was imprisoned by the enemies under an open sky, and had to see people of Syria celebrate (the martyrdom of her brother) with pleasure, joy, and raised flags.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكِ يا أَسيرَةً بِأيْدي الأعْداءِ في الفَلواتِ وَرَأيْتِ أهْلِ الشّامِ في حَالَةِ العَيشِ والسُّرورِ وَنشْرِ الرّاياتِ

Peace be upon her who was tied with a rope to the arm and the neck of Imam Zayn al-Abidin, and she, along with sixteen persons from the family of the Messenger of Allah, was forced to enter (the session of Yazid) while they were enchained with iron fetters. Meanwhile, Ali ibn al-Husayn (Imam Zayn al-Abidin) said to Yazid, “What if the Messenger of Allah sees us in such a manner? What will be his impression?”

السَّلاَمُ على مَن شُدَّ الحَبلُ عَلى عَضُدِها وَعُنُقِ الإمامِ زَينِ العَابِدينَ وَأَدخَلُوها مَعَ سِتَّةَ عَشرَ نَفَراً مِن آلِ رَسولِ اللهِ وَهُم كَالأُسَرَاءِ مُقَرَّنينَ بِالحَديدِ مَظلومِينَ، وَقَالَ عَلِيُّ بنُ الحُسَينِ عَلَيهِ السَّلاَمُ لِيَزيدَ: "يَا يَزيدُ ما ظَنُّكَ بِرَسُولِ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِهِ لَو رَآنا عَلى هَذِه الحَالَةِ؟"

Then, Lady Zaynab - mother of misfortunes - said to Yazid after he had poetized, "(Had my forefathers who were killed at the Battle of Badr witnessed this, they would have been very much delighted. Then they’d have said, “May your hands, O Yazid, never be paralyzed)

How dare you hit the lips of Abu Abdullah (a), the Master of the Youths of Paradise?"

She then said, "Although circumstances have made me to speak to you, I see your power trivial in my eyes, find your talk big and your rebuke excessive, but my eyes are tearful, and the chests filled with fire. What can be stranger than all strange things that the Party of the Shaitan is killing the honored Party of Allah.

If you regard us as your booty, you shall soon find us as your opponents—that will be when you find nothing but what your hands had committed,

وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ

“And your Lord never treats His servants unjustly (41:46)”

To Allah is my complaint, and upon Him do I rely. So scheme however you wish to scheme, and carry out your plots, and intensify your efforts, for, by Allah, you shall never be able to obliterate our mention, nor will you ever be able to kill the revelation (that was revealed to us), nor will you ever exalt to our position, nor will your shame ever be washed away. Your view shall be proven futile, your days limited in number, and your wealth wasted on the Day when the caller calls out,

أَلَا لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ

“The curse of Allah be upon the oppressors.(11:18)”

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Who sealed the life of our ancestors with honour and forgiveness, and that of our last ones with martyrdom and mercy. We plead to Allah to complete His rewards for them, grant them an increase, and recompense us pleasingly; He is the most Merciful, the most Compassionate. Allah suffices us, and He is the best Guardian.

May Allah bless Muhammad and his Pure, Immaculate Household.

ثُمَّ قَالَت أُمُّ المَصائِبِ زَينَبُ لَهُ: "قَائلاً لَأَهَلُّوا وَاسْتَهَلُّوا فَرَحاً ثُمَّ قَالُوا يَا يَزِيدُ لا تُشَلْ، مُنْتَحِياً عَلَى ثَنَايَا أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، سَيِّدِ شَبَابِ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ تَنْكُتُهَا بِمِخْصَرَتِكَ؟"

ثُمَّ قالَت: "وَلَئِنْ جَرَتْ عَلَيَّ الدَّوَاهِي مُخَاطَبَتَكَ، إنِّي لَأَسْتَصْغِرُ قَدْرَكَ وَأَسْتَعْظِمُ تَقْرِيعَكَ وَأَسْتَكْثِرُ تَوْبِيخَكَ، لَكِنِ العُيُونُ عَبْرَى وَالصُّدُورُ حَرَّى. اَلا فَالعَجَبُ كُلُّ الْعَجَبِ لِقَتْلِ حِزْبِ اللهِ النُّجَبَاءِ بِحِزْبِ الشَّيْطَانِ الطُّلَقَاءِ!

وَلَئِنِ اتَّخَذْتَنَا مَغْنَماً لَتَجِدُنَا وَشِيكاً مُغْرَماً حِينَ لا تَجِدُ اِلاّ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاكَ، ﴿وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ﴾ فَإلَى اللهِ المُشْتَكَى وَعَلَيْهِ المُعَوَّلُ في الشِّدَّةِ والرَّخاءِ.

فَكِدْ كَيْدَكَ وَاسْعَ سَعْيَكَ وَنَاصِبْ جَهْدَكَ! فَوَاللهِ لا تَمْحُوَنَّ ذِكْرَنَا وَلا تُمِيتُ وَحْيَنَا وَلا تُدْرِكُ أَمَدَنَا وَلا تَرْخَصُ عَنْكَ عَارَهَا.

وَهَلْ رَأْيُكَ إلاّ فَنَدٌ وَأيَّامُكَ إلاّ عَدَدٌ وَجَمْعُكَ إلاّ بَدَدٌ. يا يزيد أما سمعت قول الله تعالى: ﴿وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ.﴾

فَالحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ الَّذِي خَتَمَ لِأَوَّلِنَا بِالسَّعَادَةِ وَالمَغْفِرَةِ وَلِآخِرِنَا بِالشَّهَادَةِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ، وَنَسْأَلُ اللهَ أَنْ يُكْمِلَ لَهُمُ الثَّوَابَ وَيُوجِبَ لَهُمُ المَزِيدَ وَيُحْسِنُ عَلَيْنَا الخِلافَةَ؛ إنَّهُ رَحِيمٌ وَدُودٌ، وَحَسْبُنَا اللهُ وَنِعْمُ الوَكِيلُ .

وَصَلَّى اللهُ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ الطَّيِّبِينَ الطَّاهِرِينَ.

  • 1. See al-Ubaydali, al-Sayyidah Zaynab wa Akhbar al-Zaynabiyyat, 9.
  • 2. This saying is agreed by the following scholars: Ibn Asakir in al-Tarikh al-Kabir, Ibn Tawlawn in al-Risalah al-Zaynabiyyah, al-Sharani in Lawaqih al-Anwar, Muhammad Sabban in Isaf al-Raghibin, al-Shabalnaji in Nur al-Absar, al-Shabrawi in al-Ithaf, Hasan al-Adawi in Mashariq al-Anwar, al-Mannawi in al-Tabaqat, Jalaluddin al-Sayuti in al-Risalah al-Zaynabiyyah, al-Ajhuri in Musalsal Ashura, and many others.
  • 3. See Isaf al-Raghibin 196, al-Shamrani, Lawaqih al-Anwar 23, al-Ithaf bi Hubb al-Ashraf 93, and Masahriq al-Anwar, 100.

References

The book’s material has been translated from the following reference books:

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بن طاووس، علي بن موسى: اللهوف في قتلى الطفوف، الطبعة الأولى 1417هـ ، مهر – ايران.

بنت الشاطئ، عائشة عبد الرحمن: بطلة كربلاء، الطبعة الأولى 1392 هـ، دار الكتاب العربي، بيروت – لبنان.

السيد، كمال: إمرأة اسمها زينب (رواية)، الطبعة الثانية 2000 ، أنصاريان، قم – إيران.

الطبري، ابن جرير: تاريخ الأمم والملوك، (8 مجلدات) مؤسسة الأعلمي، بيروت – لبنان.

القرشي، باقر شريف: السيدة زينب رائدة الجهاد في الإسلام ، دراسة وتحليل، الطبعة الأولى 2000 ، المطبعة: شريعت، قم – إيران.

القرشي، باقر شريف: حياة الإمام الحسين بن علي، الطبعة الأولى 1394هـ، المطبعة: الآداب، النجف الأشرف– العراق.

محمد علي، موسى: عقيلة الطهر والكرم السيدة زينب، الطبعة الثالثة 1985، عالم الكتب، بيروت – لبنان.

النقدي، جعفر الربعي (ت 1370 هـ): زينب الكبرى، الطبعة الأولى (1411 هـ)، سلمان الفارسي، قم – ايران.

الجزائري، نور الدين: الخصائص الزينبية، الطبعة الأولى 1341، المطبعة المرتضوية – ايران.

العبيدلي، العقيقي: السيدة زينب وأخبار الزينبيات (عن برنامج المعجم الفقهي).

The following books were also helpful in the material of the book:

1. Al-Jibouri, Yasin: Kerbala and Beyond, First Edition 1999, Ansariyan Publications, Sadr Press, Qum- I.R.Iran.

2. Jalali, Ali Hussain: Karblala and Ashura, First Edition 2002, Ansariyan Publications, Negheen Press, Qum- I.R.Iran.

3. Qarashi, Baqir Sharif: the Life of Imam Zayn al-Abidin, translted by Jasim al-Rasheed, First Edition 2000, Ansariyan Publications, Sadr Press, Qum- I.R.Iran.

4. Munfarid, Ali Nazari: Imam Husayn and Tragic Saga of Karbala, translated by Ali Ebrahimi, First Edition 2001, Ansariyan Publications, Sadr Press, Qum- I.R.Iran.

5. Shahin, Badr: al-Abbas (a), First Edition 2002, Ansariyan Publications, Ofuq Press, Qum- I.R.Iran.

6. Zakir: Tears and Tributes, First Edition 1999, Ansariyan