Lady Zainab (a) was the honorable and respected daughter of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a), the granddaughter of the Noble Prophet, Muhammad (s), and the sister of the two Imams al-Hassan (a) and al-Hussain (a). This article will discuss Lady Zainab’s character, one of the most influential personalities of the Ahlul Bait (a).
The Birth of Lady Zainab (a)
Lady Zainab (a) was born on Jumada al-Awwal 5, 5 AH in Medina. She was the first daughter of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a). She was a year younger than Imam al-Hussain (a), who was the youngest son of Lady Fatima (a). When she was born, Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) went to the Prophet (s) to name their daughter. The Noble Prophet (s) said that he must ask Allah. Therefore, the angel Jibreel descended and informed the Prophet (s) that Allah says that they must name her Zainab. Zainab means the father’s precious jewel.
Husband and Children
Zainab married Abdullah ibn Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib, her cousin, in 17 AH. She had four sons named Ali, ‘Awn, Abbas, and Muhammad. She also had one daughter named Umm Kulthum. Two of her sons, ‘Awn and Muhammad, were present in Karbala and were martyred on the tenth of Muharram. Lady Zainab had specified in her marriage contract that her husband must allow her to be with Imam al-Hussain (a) wherever he would go.
Lady Zainab’s Knowledge and Oratory
Lady Zainab was exceptionally knowledgeable and a highly proficient orator. Her sermons in the court of Ibn Ziyad in Kufa and the court of Yazid in Damascus are manifestations of her knowledge, oratory, and eloquence. When she was delivering the sermon in Kufa, everyone was reminded of her father, Imam Ali (a). She was also a teacher of tafsīr of the Quran for the women of Kufa before the events of Karbala.
Servitude and Devotion
Lady Zainab’s devotion and acts of worship were exceptional. It is reported that she would always keep nightly vigils and never missed the night prayer (salat al-layl). She came to be called “the female worshipper of Allah from the progeny of Ali.” When Imam Al-Hussain (a) was bidding farewell to his dear sister, Zainab, he said, “Do not forget to pray for me in your night prayer.”
Lady Zainab: The Leader of the Campaign Against Injustice
Lady Zainab suffered greatly in her life. She was witness to the martyrdom of Prophet (s) Muhammad, her grandfather, the martyrdom of her mother, Lady Fatima (a), the martyrdom of her father, Imam Ali (a), the martyrdom of her elder brother, Imam al-Hassan (a), and finally the martyrdom of her younger brother, Imam al-Hussain (a). When she was in Karbala, she exercised infinite patience. She became the model of patience for all mankind. Her brother, Imam al-Hussain (a), was murdered most brutally in front of her eyes. However, she did not complain to Allah. When asked how she saw all of this, she said, “I saw nothing but beauty.”
After the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain (a), Lady Zainab (a) played a crucial role. Her duty was to convey the message of Imam al-Hussain (a) as the savior of Islam to all people. She fulfilled this duty in the best way possible with the enlightening sermons she delivered in Kufa and Damascus. She also protected the Imam of her time, Imam al-Sajjad, from being killed on several occasions. If it were not for her, the legacy of the Prophet and the Imams would not endure.