Lady Zainab is famous for her patience during the tragedy of Ashura. She watched her two sons, Aun and Muhammad, get butchered before her eyes on the day of Ashura. She also witnessed the brutal mutilation and slaughter of her brother Imam Hussain.Female leaders in Islam have been overlooked by the mainstream Muslim world for hundreds of years. The truth to be told is that if it were not for women like Lady Khadijah, Lady Fatima Zahra, and Lady Zainab (peace be upon all of them), Islam would not have survived.
On 5 Jamadi al-Awwal (April 20 of this year), Muslims around the world celebrate the birthday of a Muslim leader named Lady Zainab.
Lady Zainab was born in the year 6 AH (627 CE) in Medina, present-day Saudi Arabia. She was the daughter of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima, sister of Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain and granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). Born into a family known for its knowledge, Lady Zainab grew up to become one of the most knowledgeable women in Muslim history.
Throughout Lady Zainab’s life, she held gatherings for women, where she disseminated the teachings of Islam. As she became known for her ability to teach, she gained the titles of Aalima Ghair Mu’allima (scholar without a teacher), FaseehaBaleegha (intensely eloquent). Lady Zainab married Abdullah, son of Ja’far Tayyar. Although Lady Zainab’s husband was well-off, the couple lived a modest life, as much of their wealth was donated to charity.
Lady Zainab is famous for her patience during the tragedy of Ashura. She watched her two sons, Aun and Muhammad, get butchered before her eyes on the day of Ashura. She also witnessed the brutal mutilation and slaughter of her brother Imam Hussain.
Before his martyrdom, Imam Hussain is said to have asked Lady Zainab to be patient in spite of all the calamities. Lady Zainab was afflicted with unspeakable tragedies, but as she was always steadfast, she came to known as Sabira (the Patient One).
In the aftermath of the massacre of Karbala, Lady Zainab led the women and children who were taken as prisoners by the tyrant Yazeed’s army.
While Imam Hussain’s mission ended on the plains of Karbala, Lady Zainab continued his struggle to be the voice of Imam Hussain. In one of Lady Zainab’s famous speeches in the palace of the tyrant Yazeed, she condemned oppression and scorned Yazeed in his own court. With a heart filled with the fire of truth, she spoke her eternal words: “So scheme whatever you may scheme, and strive for whatever you may strive, and put forth your best efforts – but, by Allah, you will never erase our mention (the family of the Prophet). ‘And are your days not numbered? And is your gang not dispersed – on that day when the caller shall call: Is not the damnation of God upon the oppressors?!'”
Sermon of Lady Zainab [sa] in the Court of Yazeed [la]
Even after her return to Medina, Lady Zainab did not sit still. Instead, despite having endured such hardships, she traveled all over the Islamic world and continued to preach the message of Imam Hussain, causing a reawakening in the Muslim nation that continues to this day in the form of Ashura commemorations.
Lady Zainab died around 63 AH (682 CE). There are different reports on where she was buried, but the most popular notion holds that her final resting place is in Damascus, Syria. She is an inspiration even today, and millions visit her shrine every year.