On the 5th of the 5th month of the 5th Hijri, after the completion of “Ahl-Al- Kisa’“ a daughter was born in the house of Imam Ali (A.S.) and Sayyeda Fatima (S.A.). Such a daughter that she was a source of pride for a man like Ali.
If you search through history you will find very little about Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) before the tragedy of Karbala, when she was at the age of 55. There are vague accounts of Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) teaching Tafseer-el-Quran but no detail about her actual teachings. Apart from this there are a small number of narrations attributed to her such as about the going of Sayyeda Fatima (S.A.) to Masjid-el-Nabawi to demand her rights to Fadak.
This character of Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) shows the upbringing and nurture of Sayyeda Fatima (S.A.) to her children.
Yahya Mazni says: “For 12 years I lived as a neighbor of Abdullah, yet not once did I see the shadow of any lady, nor did I ever hear an echo of the voice or footsteps of Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.).“ It is this same Zainab who came forward in a new light on the eve of “Ashura”. She protected the message of her grandfather, upheld the justice of her father, defended the rights of her mother, carried the banner of Islam after her brothers and rescued the Imam of the time from the burning camps. Her sermons in “Kufa” and “Shaam” were of utmost perfection leaving the sermons of her father behind.
To realize the true personality of this great lady it is essential to look at the calamities and tragedies that she faced. Her ability to withstand these great anguishes led her to being known as Ummul-Masaib (the mother of grief). If we look at ourselves, we would not be able to tolerate just a single one of those woes which she had to endure.
Which of her many heartaches can we narrate?
Leaving her homeland, separation from her husband, the dangers of facing the enemy, hunger and thirst, the loss of loved ones, sleepless nights and the most distressing the loss of her Chador. Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) saw the ark of Imam Hussain (A.S.) drowning in a sea of thirst and brought it to shore.
Allah says: “Those who convey the message of Allah and fear Him, do not fear anyone except Allah.” She on this to the full, shouldering the responsibility of conveying this message, tolerating difficulties whilst doing so. In her actions, she left behind a legacy of patience and the upholding of truth. She taught that with strong faith and remembrance of Allah any difficulty can be undertaken, any crisis can be tackled without losing heart.
Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) had two great missions to reveal the truth. One was to show the true face of Yazid and his followers, and the other was to uncover who the Ahlulbayt really were and what their importance was.
At every step of her long journey she fulfilled these two missions, ready to abandon everything to accomplish them. After her sacrifices, she became a verification of the following words of Allah; “Those who believed and migrated and strived hard in Allah’s way with their possessions and their lives are far higher in rank in Allah’s view. They are those who achieved salvation.”
When the nation of Muhammad lost their way, the world heard the echoes of the truth, the message of the prophets from the mouth of Imam Hussain (A.S.) who preserved the message of the Prophets, from the first to the last, and became Waarisul Anbiya’ (the inheritor of the prophets).
For Imam Hussain (A.S.), it was none other than that great lady, Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) who became the savior of his message. This daughter of the household upon whom Allah had bestowed the mantle of purity in Surat Al Ahzab, sacrificed her cloak to protect the withered tree of Islam from the fierce gales of disaster. In the face of calamities, she appeared a mountain of strength.
A valuable lesson which can be learnt from the actions of Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.), as she was paraded unveiled, through the streets of “Shaam” and “Kufa”, is that those who place their full trust in Allah will receive the help of Allah, in some form. As Allah says in the Quran, “And do not lose heart, and do not grieve, for you shall have the upper hand if you are true believers.” (3:139)
In the midst of troubles, Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) never lost trust in Allah. Her praise for him remained strong. Each sermon began with “All praise be to Allah.” Regardless of the difficulties she faced, her faith remained firm. When Ibn- Ziad asked her in the courts of Kufa how she regarded the shameful defeat Allah had made her brothers face, Zainab replied, “I have never seen anything but good for Allah.”
The spirit of Zainab (S.A.) will live forever. Her courage, forbearance, and submission will continue to inspire those who hear her story for all time to come. She will remain a beacon of light, a role-model, for men and women alike, till the day of judgment. We must try to gain as much inspiration as possible, and try to live our lives, in submission to Allah, and with full trust in Him, like this brave lady did.
She became a benefactor of Imam Hussain (A.S.), and she was not afraid to sacrifice everything she had for the sake of Islam, like Asiya in the time of Firawn. Allah took into account Asiya’s sacrifices, and said in the Quran, “Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his works; save me from the transgressing people.”
In the same way, those who follow the examples of great personalities, such as Sayyeda Zainab (S.A.) and Asiya, will be rewarded. As Allah says in the Quran, “Verily the angels descend on those who say ‘Allah is our Lord’ and then remain steadfast saying: Do not fear, nor grieve. Receive the glad tidings of the garden which was promised to you.” (41:30).