Lady Zainab (as) was (accurately) the third child born to Lady Fatima az-Zahra (sa). In other words, she was born directly after Imam Husayn (as); despite the false claim of some historians who hold the opinion that Zainab (as) was born after the miscarriage, which Lady Fatima az-Zahra (sa) had and resulted in the martyrdom of Mohsin. These historians are motivated by their desire to divert the attention from the merciless attack on Lady Fatima’s (sa) house which not only resulted in Mohsin's martyrdom, but also in the eventual death of Lady Fatima az-Zahra (sa) herself.
Among these writers is the Egyptian Bint Ash-Shati who wrote in her book Batlat Karbala:
"Zahra, the Prophet's daughter was about to give birth to a new baby after bringing happiness unto Messenger's life by giving birth to his beloved sons: Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn, and a third child, who was not destined to live and whose name was to be Mohsin Ibn ‘Ali..." 1
Regardless of these unfounded claims, it has been established that Lady Zainab (as) was born in 5 A.H., and that she was the third child of the honorable Alawi household.
It is said that her grandfather, the Prophet (S) named her Zainab (as) that is derived from two words: "Zain" and "Ab" that together means "The embellishment of her father." Yet, Muhammad Jawad Mughniah quoted the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Jomhuria dated October 31, 1972, in his book Al-Husayn Batala Karbala as saying:
"Zainab was born in Shaban 5 A.H. When her mother brought her to Imam ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and said: "Name her" he replied: "I would not name her before Allah's Messenger." At this time the Prophet was on a trip and when he returned, he again refused to name her before her Lord. So, Gabriel descended to inform the Prophet about Allah's blessings, and said: "The name of this baby is Zainab; Allah chose this name for her."
Zainab's (as) history itself speaks of her honorable life, and noble traits, as well as the miseries she encountered during her childhood, such as the death of her great grandfather, the martyrdom of her mother (sa), and the various inflictions which she lived through during the quarter of a century that her father, Imam ‘Ali (as), was confined to his house as a result of his rights having been usurped by others.
Moreover, when Zainab emigrated from Medina to Kufa, her Father's city, several misfortunes were destined for her; starting with the martyrdom of Imam ‘Ali (as). This was followed by fierce battles between her brother, Al-Hasan (as), and Mu'awiya, which resulted in the poisoning of the Imam Hasan (as). After several years, Zainab faced the greatest disaster of history when Imam Husayn (as) along with the prominent Hashimite men were massacred at Karbala by the Umayyads. After massacring the men, Zainab (as), and the women were taken to Syria; but, she did not panic, nor, did she give into the enemy. From Syria she was sent to Medina, and then exiled to Egypt to live the rest of her life.
Zainab's (as) tomb is well-known in Egypt today, and is visited by believers from all over the world. (There is disagreement about the location of Zainab's tomb; it is believed by most to be located in Syria.) (compiler's note)
- 1. Bihar: v.10.