One way to better appreciate the elevated status of Al Aqeelatu Zainab bint Ali (as) is to draw a simple comparison on the striking resemblances between her life and the life of her purified mother, Sayyida Fatima Al Zahra (as). The purpose of this exercise is not at all to bring the status of Sayyida Zahra (as) down to anyone else no matter how great they are. After all, Lady Fatima (as) is the Infallible Lady of All Worlds, and she is the hujjah (proof) over the Imams while the Imams serve as a hujjah on us. Recognizing these similarities is only a humble attempt to better understand the prominent position of Sayyida Zainab (as) and her high rank that we are ignorant of.
Sure enough, Zainab (as) was the reflection of the light of Sayyida Fatima Al Zahra’s (as) chastity and modesty. She was the reflection of her grandmother Khadija’s (as) sobriety and serenity. She was the echo of her father Imam Ali’s (as) eloquence. She was the carbon copy of her brother Imam Hasan’s (as) forbearance and patience. And most certainly, she was the twin of Imam Hussain (as) in his bravery and tranquility!
We present to you a few examples of the beautiful similarities which both noble ladies share:
Both Sayyida Fatima Zahra (as) and Zainab (as) were orphaned on their mother’s side at a very young age.
Fatima (as) is the Kauther to her father, and Zainab (as) is the Zain (adornment) of her father.
Just like how Sayyida Fatima (as) was the ‘mother of her father’, Zainab (as) grew up playing a similar role with the responsibility of looking after her brothers and tending to her father.
Both Sayyida Fatima Zahra (as) and Zainab (as) had the same dowries.
Imam Ali (as) testified that Fatima was “a good helper and wife in the way of Allah”. And Abdullah ibn Jafar testified that his wife Zainab is “the best housewife”.
Both ladies inherited the eloquence of their fathers, delivered keynote speeches, and resembled their fathers in their demeanor.
When Sayyida Fatima and Zainab (as) started their well-known speeches, they signaled to their audience to be quiet, and immediately there was pin-drop silence! This detail points to the status of Wilayah Takweeniya which they both enjoy over the universe!
Sayyida Fatima (as) in her own words suffered the weight of calamities (Masa’eb) which befell her: “Calamities showered on me such that if they were placed on days, they would’ve turned into nights!” Similarly, Sayyida Zainab (as) was afflicted with 1001 misfortunes such that she is known today as Umm Al Masa’eb (Mother of Misfortunes).
Just like how Lady Fatima’s house was afflicted with fire by those who oppressed her, Zainab’s tents were also burnt with fire.
Just like Sayyida Fatima Al-Momtahana (the tested one) experienced most calamities immediately after the death of her most beloved one, Rasulullah (saws), Sayyida Zainab Al-Masbeya (the captive) experienced suffering of captivity and humiliation right after the martyrdom of her beloved brother, Husain (as).
Both Hadhrat Fatima (as) and Hadhrat Zainab (as) were physically abused and violated by the worst of creation at their time in defense of truth.
Both Sayyida Fatima and Zainab (as) gave away their beloved two sons in the way of Allah (swt) – [Hassan (as) and Hussain (as) & Aun and Muhammad].
Before his death, the Prophet (saws) entrusted his beloved daughter Lady Fatima (as) as Wadee’a (trust) to her husband Imam Ali (as). And before his death, Imam Ali (as) entrusted his beloved daughter Zainab (as) to her brother Abul Fadl Al Abbas (as). Unfortunately both valuable trusts were violated and departed this life in the worst of conditions, both physically and emotionally.
No more than a year passed when Fatima (as) departed this world to join her beloved Muhammad (saws). Similarly, no more than a year passed till Zainab (as) departed this world to join her beloved Imam Husayn (as).
Without Sayyida Fatima (as), we would’ve never known today about the injustice and conspiracy committed by some companions of the Prophet (saws). Similarly, without Sayyida Zainab (as) we would’ve never come to know about the tragedy of Karbala and tragedy of Husaym (as).