I was inspired to write this article on Bibi Zainab because I was named after her and more so because, she was the grand daughter of the Prophet and the daughter of Hazrat Ali and Bibi Fatima, she was the heroine of Kerbala, and therefore a leader of all women. She helped bring down the rule of the tyrant Yazid son of Muavia.
Bibi Zainab also known as Zainab Kubra, was born in Medina in the fifth year of Hijrat, 625 AD. Zainab, means adornment of the father. Aqeela, which is also another one of Bibi Zainab's names, means the wise, the sagacous and the talented.
Hazrat Zainab was very patient in her childhood when she came across many sad and tragic events. She was only six when her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad passed away. Just six months later, she lost he mother, the Prophet's daughter, Fatima(s). When on her death bed, Bibi Fatima said: " My dear, do not leave your brothers alone, take good care of them, be a loving sister and be so kind to them as if you were a mother to them.. She followed her mother's advice as long as she lived. She was married to Abdullah ibn Jaffar. They had four children: three sons, Aun, Mohammad, and Abbas and one daughter, Umme Kulsoom.
When Imam Hussain left for Karbala, Bibi Zainab accompanied him with her two sons. She was with him during the tragedy of Karbala. She walked through the streets of Kufa as a prisoner but as a brave and courageous daughter of Ali, she is known for her great speeches and sermons to protest against the most terrible acts of Yazid. She admonished the residents of Kufa and Damascus for blindly following the Ummayad ruler instead of choosing the right path. Here is one of her great Speeches:
"Praise be to Allah, the Creator and Protector of the universe and peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad and his progeny. O Yezid, it is true what Allah (SWT) has said in His holy book;
"Evil was the end of those who did evil, because they denied the revelations of Allah and made a mockery of them." (Sura Rome 30:10)
Yezid, do you think that since you have taken us as prisoners, dragged us in chains from place to place and made it impossible for us to live peacefully in any place in the world, you have reduced, in anyway, our position and prestige, which Allah has given to us?
Do you think you have done service to Islam and gained honor and respect in the eyes of Allah ? And is it for that reason that you think so highly of yourself and look around in pride ? You are delighted because the reign of power is in your hand and the world and its affairs are running according to your wishes and desires!
O Yezid, wait for a while, wait for a while. You have forgotten the following words of Allah (SWT):
"And let not those who believe, imagine that our granting them respite is good for their souls. We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins. And they shall have a disgraceful punishment." (3:178)
O Yazid, is it justice that you have put your womenfolk and slave girls behind the curtains and brought the daughters of Allah's Prophet in public? You have insulted them and humiliated them. You have taken them from place to place so that the dwellers of the cities as well as the villages, the high and the low, might gaze upon their faces and make fun of them. They have no friend or guardian to look after them, support them, and protect them. How can we hope to receive better treatment from the son of the woman who chewed the liver of a pious person and who thrived by sucking the blood of the martyrs of Islam ? It is not strange if he is an enemy of the Prophet's family and looks at them with hate and envy. He has not forgotten the events of the past and his heart is full of enmity and revenge.
O Yezid, you have said just now that if your elders, who were killed in Bedr, were here and seen the revenge you had taken from Prophet Muhammad, they would have been pleased with you and praised you. You uttered these words carelessly and without thinking that you were committing a great sin. O Yazid, you are reciting verses and at the same time hitting with a stick the teeth of Aba Abdullah Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet the Chief of the youths of Paradise ! You are doing it because your heart is burning with hatred and revenge. It is cooled down by killing Ale Muhammad. (May blessings of Allah be on him and his Progeny) !
Did you call here your ancestors ? Do you think that they would respond to
your call? Do not worry, you too will join them soon. Then you will regret say to yourself, ˜I wish I had not said what I had said. I wish I had not done what I had done."
Allah (swt) will have our revenge from the tyrants and punish them for spilling our blood and killing our relations and friends.
O Yezid, by Allah (swt) you have pierced a dagger in your own heart and cut your own flesh. You may like it or not, you will soon, face the Prophet of
Allah with the burden of your sins of humiliating his family and shedding the blood of his children on your back. At the same time you will see that Ale Muhammad are surrounded with blessings and bounties of Allah.
"Think not of those who are slain in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive and receive their provision from there lord." (Sura Ale Imran, V. 169)
Hazrat Zainab kept her self-control and delivered her Khutba under very harsh and difficult conditions. She was standing as a prisoner in the packed courtroom and the heads of her brothers, sons and other relations were before her. She said everything she had to say in a clear and firm voice. She demolished , through her speeches, the false image of Yazid and his Ummayad clan.
Bibi Zainab"s speeches had a great impact on the people. They were moved by her eloquence. She made them reflect on the circumstances surrounding the tragedy of Karbala. Many of them regretted their actions when they learnt the facts.
After her return from Damascus, Bibi Zainab devoted her remaining life in remembrance of Allah swt. She and her sister Umme Kulsoom advised women about their duties and responsibilities. In 62 A.H., she was visiting the Grave of her niece, Sakina in Damascus, when she passed away. Her Shrine located in Zainbiya, near Damascus is a center of learning; it attracts thousands of visitors every year. A shining example of the very best in Islam, the grand daughter of the Prophet of Islam is a source of inspiration for all women of the world.