Lady Zeinab contained all elements of nobility and virtue that Almighty Allah bestowed upon he grandfather, her father, her mother, and her two brothers. She inherited their peculiarities and copied their high moral standards.
By virtue of her ethical inheritance and unmatched peculiarities, Lady Zeinab is indeed the greatest Lady in Islam as she signalized its true values and principles. Along with her mother, Lady Zeinab struggled in the best way and stood firmly against the factional currencies that tried, using all their possiblities and powers, to throw curtains on the real leaders and guide of the Islamic ummah.
In the same way as Lady fatimah al-Zahra stopped strongly with Imam 'Ali (AS) and opposed the Illegal government of Abu Bakr through her splendid speech as well as her honorable situations, Lady Zeinab stopped to the last spark of life with her brother, Imam al-Husayn (AS) and opposed the black government of the Umayyad rulers who aimed, openly and frankly, at uprooting Islam and erasing its existence by excluding the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) from the Muslims' social and political lives.
Let us now refer to some of such peculiarities that made Lady Zeinab at the head of Muslim women:
In the center of calling to Almighty Allah, and the house where the revelation of the Divine Message was descended, and the pivot from which the word of monotheism advanced to cover, with its bright rays, all the people on this earth; in this very house Lady Zeinab was brought up. She was fed with the core of true faith and the reality of Islam; hence, love for Almighty Allah was in her nature and, later on, became a distinctive feature in her personality that led her to stand all the misfortunes and adversities she had to encounter from her early life.
Firm faith and exclusive devotion to Almighty Allah were the fearures that Prophet Muhammad's family enjoyed in special way. Each member of this exalted family expressed his/her firm faith distinctively. Lady Zeinab, for Instance, stopped at the severed body of her brother, Imam al-Husayn (AS), and expressed her firm faith by saying:
"O Allah, accept this offering from us."
These words have been the best example on the sublemity of the prophetic inheritance. they also showed the reality of Islam through the lesson that each sacrifice must be purely offered for Almighty Allah's sake.
Humanity, in all ages, must bow before such unparalleled faith, which was the secret beyond the perpetuity of Lady Zeinab and her principles.
On the cruelest night in the life of Lady Zeinab, as well as the Islamic ummah, she offered a Thanksgiving Prayer while she was completely surrounded by horrific tragedies; the bodies of the Prophet's family and their pure companions were thrown before her eyes without covers, fire was playing in the canopies of the Alawid ladies who became shelterness after the savage, merciless soldiers had usurped their jewelries and properties, and children had nothing to do other than weeping and crying. In the midst of this shocking situation, Lady Zeinab directed her face towards her Lord to thank Him for that grace.
Indeed, such faith is more perpetual than civilizations, fortunes, and even perpetuity itself.
Since early life, Lady Zeinab armed herself with steadfastness against misfortunes. She first was deprived of her grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), who loved her very much and sympathized with her.
She then saw the horrible events that surprised her parents immediately after the Prophet's demise. Her father was taken away from the position that almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) chose for him. Her mother was severely mistreated by the people until she departed life while she was in the flush of her youth. She then saw people of Kufa cheat her brother, Imam al-Hasan (AS), and let him down to the degree that he had to make a peace treaty with Mu'awiyah, the mortal enemy of Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). A few years later, the Imam was assassinated by poison, She saw him vomit blood to death.
On the tenth of Muharram, 61 AH, she had to see the ever bitterest adversities; her brother, Imam al-Husayn (AS), yielded to after he had lost all supporters and helpers; the swords of the wicked Umayyad soldiers killed the Alawid youths, children, and even babies.
Before all these unbearable misfortunes, Lady Zeinab stood like an unshakable mountain. She faced all these with the weapon of steadfastness and resisted all the events with conviction. Thus, she is intended in Almighty Allah's saying:
﴾And give good news to the patient who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall surely return. Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord.(2:255-7)﴿
Many poets have depicted Lady Zeinab's steadfastness in the most beautiful and expressive way.
She, being the Prophet's granddughter, showed steadfastness and endurance before the enemies of Allah. By virtue of her determination and persistence, Lady Zeinab could withstand all adversities and misfortunes.
Dignity was a prominent feature in the personality of Lady Zeinab. After the killing of Imam al-Husayn (AS), she, as well as the Prophet's granddaughter, were taken as captives from Karbala to Kufa and all their personal properties were usurped. While the children were harshly harmed by hunger, she looked down upon asking some food from the soldiers of the Umayyad army. When the captives' caravan arrived in Kufa, and the women there knew that the captives had been the Prophet's family, they hurried to serve some food for the children.
Preventing this thing, Lady Zeinab spoke to the ladies of Kufa:
"It is forbidden for us, the Ahl al-Bayt, to have from alms."
As soon as they heard these words from their aunt, the child threw from their hands and even mouths everything they had taken from these ladies and preferred feeling hungry to accepting alm that are forbidden for them.
This is the fruit of the education of the choice ones; the prophets, the veracious, and their real followers.
Along the captives' journey from Kufa to Damascus, Lady Zeinab, because of her disdain and sense of honor, did not ask for any aids for the children and women though they were in urgent need for such.
Thus, Lady Zeinab did not succumb to anything other than Almighty Allah. She showed dignity, honor, and disdain inherited from her granfather and father in spite of hardships.
No one can ever doubt the courage of the Prophet's family. The members of this family gave the best examples of bravery and courage. For instance, Imam 'Ali (AS), the head of the Prophet's family, said:
"Even the Arabs helped each other to fight me, I will never flee."
He showed the best sorts of courage during the battles and campaigns of Islam. His son, Imam al-Husayn (AS), also gave the best examples of bravery and courage. On the day of Ashura, he amazed his enemies and could stop so bravely and steadfastly before their great numbers.
Despite the horrifying misfortunes that he had to encounter on that day, he did not show surrender or weakness. On the contrary, his steadfastness increased with the increase of his misfortunes. He alone attacked thirty thousand soldiers and could oblige he alone attacked thirty thousand soldiers and could oblige them to run the backs just like goats that run away from a lion. Even when he fell to the ground out of his heavy wounds, they were too scared to approach him.
Patterning after her family members, Lady Zeinab behaved so courageously before the criminals who killed her brother. As she had to stop before 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, while she was considered as captive, she despised and desrespected him. He therefore showed his gloating over her misfortunes by saying, "Thanks to Allah Who unmasked, killed, and belied your revolution."
As a reply, she said courageously:
Thanks to Allah Who honored us with His Prophet and purified us from uncleanness thoroughly. It is only the purified us from uncleanness thoroughly. It is only the lewd whom is unmasked, and it is only the dissolute whom is belied. We are not any of these two. Indeed, we are not any of these two, son of Marjanah.(1,2)
This statement was in fact more lethal than weapons. She said it while she, as well as the ladies of the Prophet's family, was under capativity and their protector's deads were on spearheads.
These words, too, took the tyrant from his throne to his grave. Before his servants and officials, these words made him realize the fact that he was the real defeated and the very unmasked, while the real triumphant was Imam al-Husayn (AS), the killed one, and his companions.
As he recieved these shocking words, 'Ubaydullah, son of Marjananh, had nothing to say; he therefore spoke a word of wreak as an attempt to cover his failure and incapability to answer. He addressed her, "How do you see that which Allah has done to your brother?"
Bravely and steafastly, Lady Zeinab answered with words of triumph:
It was nothing but good. Those were peoples whom Allah knew they would be killed. They therefore came to the places where they would slain. Allah will gather you with them for judgment and sentences. See, who will be the triumphant on that day. Woe shall be you, son of Marjanah, then.
These words are surely a source of pride, not only for Lady Zeinab, but also for Islam and Muslims. They are also regarded as endless glory for the Prophet's family.
Lady Zeinab's situations in the royal place of Yazid, her situation with the Syrian man, and her everlasting revolutionary speech shook the Umayyad throne and revealed the baseless reality of Yazid and those who enabled him to come to power.
In the coming chapters, these situations will be discussed in details.
Abstention From Worldly Pleasures
Imitating her father who divorced the worldly pleasures returnlessly3 and her mother who possessed nothing other than a rug made of leaves of date-palm trees and a skin of a ewe, Lady Zeinab abandoned all the worldly pleasures and stuck to Almighty Allah and deeds of charity. She had never saved anything for tomorrow.4
She left everything for accompanying her brother, Imam al-Husayn (AS), while she was the wife of the wealthiest man of Medina; all that was for supporting her religion and defending its principles and values.
Lady Zeinab stopped against the tyrants so firmly that she represented the right and the justice perfectly. In all situations, she replied the tyrants courageously and faced their falsity with words of light that have perpetuated and acted as models of stopping against any tyrant for sake of the right and justice.
While she was surrounded by the policemen and the attendants whom were invited by Yazid to witness his false victory, Lady Zeinab replied each and every single word that Yazid said fearlessly until she unmasked him and proved the genuineness of his brother's issue. Moreover, she threatened and showered at the tyrant with severe words of rebuke as if she was the governor and he was the captive. Referring to Verses from the Holy Qur'an and item of logic, she did not leave any argument to the tyrant. Her words were the swords with which Yazid and his likes have been killed.
The same thing she did before the other tyrant, 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who tried to gloat at her misfortunes, but all his attempts were faced by sharp words and a strong style that obliged him to keep silent. She ignored him completely, and that was enough shame for him.
Her interpidity was clear during the journey of her brother after she had taken various honorable role in his undying revolution. She managed the Imam's Affairs with a nonesuch activity despite the enemies' seige. A single look at the bright face of her brother would remove any tiredness she might have felt.
She also took care of the children and harem aftrer the Imam's martyrdom, and that was really a hard mission that ordinary women cannot manage, The source of such power and firmness was that she understood Imam al-Husayn's revolution perfectly and exerted all efforts for giving success to it.
These have been some features of the unmatched personality of Lady Zeinab. As a matter of fact, this lady's personality included all features of moral highness and perfection. To refer to all these features reqires great efforts and very much time, though Lady Zeinab's features are timeless. This is the reason why only a few features of her personality have been mentioned here.
1- Marjanah, 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziad's mother, was such a notorious prostitute that everybody all over the Islamic State had hear of her name.
2- See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 6:263.
1- This is an indication to Imam 'Ali's famous word:
"O world. O world! Get away from me. Why do you present yourself to me? Or are you eager for me? You may not get that opportunity to impress me. Deceive some other person. I have no concern with you. I have divorced you thrice whereafter there is no restitution. Your life is short, your importance is little, and your liking is humble. Alas! The provision is little, the way is long, the journey is far and the goal is hard to reach."
2- Imam 'Ali Zayn al-Abidin (AS) narrated this feature about his aunt, Lady Zeinab. See al-Timothy's al-Sahih; 2:319, al Hakim's al-Mustadrak; 3:149, Ibn al-Athir's Usd al-Ghabah; 5:523, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi's Tarikh Baghdad; 7:366, and others.