The life of the Prophet's family was highly flourishing with the existence of the two Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a.s.) who occupied their grandfather's heart completely. Their two sons before them and as they saw the Prophet's love for them. Once, he (peace be upon him and his household) expressed his love for these two sins by saying:
"These two are my only basils that I take from this world."1
In the midst of this delightful atmosphere, Lady fatimah al-Zahra' became pregnant for the third time. Everybody, including the Messanger of Allah (peace be upon him and his household), was waiting for the new baby.2
With more delight and pleasure, Lady Fatimah gave birth of a she-baby who would exceed all Muslim women in fields of faith, honor, chastity, and perseverance on the principles. The ahl al-Bayt and the Prophet's companions received the new of the birth of Lady zaynab with gladness.
Imam 'Ali (a.s.) hurried to take his newborn, kissed her frequently, and held the Shariite ceremonies of newborns. The Imam (a.s.) recited azan3 in his newborn's right ear and iqamah4 in the left. Hence, the first voice that penetrated the newborn's hearing was her father's, shouting:
Allah is the Greatest
there is no god but Allah.
These great words found a strong ground in the inner self of lady Zaynab. They, later on, became the most significant elements of her personality. In the future, she would adopt the calling to the true application of these words for which she would encounter horrible adversities.
As soon as he was informed about the news of the giving birth of this newborn, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) hurried to his daughter's house, embraced the newborn to his chest warmly, and began to weep. It was a surprising view for the mother, Fatimah al-Zahra, to see her father's tears drop on his face, "What for are you weeping, father?" asked she.
"Fatimah," said the father (peace be upon him and his household) with sad tone, "you should know that this daughter will have to suffer horrible misfortunes and tragedies after my and your demise."5
At these moments, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) perceived the horrifying hardships that would afflict his granddaughter. Naturally, Fatimah al-Zahra (a.s.) participated in her father's griefs at these moments. Then the close friend of the Ahl al-Bayt, Salman, came to congratulate on that occasion but he found the household sinking in griefs and unhappiness. Hence, he also participated in that ceremony of consolation.6
CHOOSING THE NAME
The blessed mother carried her newborn to the father and asked for choosing a name for her.
"I will not precede the Messenger of Allah in such a matter," answered the father modestly. He then took the newborn and asked him to choose a name for her.
"I will not precede my Lord in such a matter," answered the Messenger of Allah modestly.
From the Heavens then ascended Archangel Gabriel to say to the Prophet, "This newborn's name is 'Zaynab'.7 Almighty Allah has chosen this name for her."8
She was also given the nickname 'Ummu-Kulthum' or 'Ummu-al-Hasan'.9
Epithet is a word of phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person of thing mentioned.10 Epithets, then, show one's mental characteristics, whether good or bad. thus, Lady Zaynab had many epithets that expressed some aspects of her personality.
The Arabic 'Aqialah means the gentlewoman who is honorable among her people and venerated in her house.
Lady Zaynab was such an honorable and virtuous lady that all her descendants have been called Banu al-Aqilah- sons of the gentlewoman.
During the journey of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) from Medina to Karbala, Lady Zaynab was the chiefess of the harem and was obeyed and respected by everybody.
It is to add that she was also called 'Aqilatu Bani Hashim -the gentlewoman of the Hashemites,' and Aqilat ut-Talibiyyin - the gentlewoman of the sons (and descendants) of Abu Talib.'
For her supreme knowledge, Lady Zaynab was called 'al-'Alimah -the she-knowledgeable-. Historians have confirmed that she was an authority for Muslim ladies who used to refer to her in their religious affairs. Of course, she used to refer to her in their religious affairs. Of course, she received such knowledge from her grandfather, parents, and brothers who were the sources of knowledge for the Islamic ummah. Fruthermore, Lady Zaynab has had similar epithets, such as 'al-'Arifah -the well-versed- 'and 'al-Muwathaqah -the trustworthy-'.
3- ABIDATU ALI-ALI
Lady Zaynab was recognized also as being distinguisghed worshipper among Muslim ladies. She committed herself to all the recommendable rites of Islam to the degree that even at the most horrible night of her life -i.e. the night of the tenth of Muharram, 61 AH -she offered the supererogatory prayers. Thus, she was called 'Abidatu Ali-Ali -the she- worshipper of 'Ali's household'.
In all aspects of human perfection, lady Zaynab preceded everybody and occupied the leading position. She therefore is called 'al-Kamilah -the perfect-'
Because of her great jihad, service for Islam, and steadfastness for sake of Allah, Lady Zaynab's virtue has exceeded all limits and, therefore, she was proudly conferred with the epithet of 'al-Fadhilah -the virtuous.'
6- AL-SIDDIQAH AL-SUGHRA
Like her mother who is known as the Senior Veracious, Lady Zaynab was so veracious that she gained worthily the epithet of 'al-Siddiqah al-Sughra- the Junior Veracious Lady.
7- UMM AL-MASA'IB
Because she had to suffer various and innumerable misfortunes all over her lifetime. Lady Zaynab was called Umm al-Masa'ib -Mother of misfortunes-.
Let us refer to some of these misfortunes that she saw in a period of about one month:
1- She saw al-Hurr ibn Yazid force Imam al-Husayn to stop and reside in a desolate place.
2- She saw the Imam's few companions in comparison with the great numbers of the enemy's army.
3- She saw most of the Imam's so-called partisans abandon him and join his enemies.
4- She saw the women's fear and worry when they had to reside In Karbala'.
5- She saw the enemies deprive her people and her of water.
6- She had to take care of the children and women while they were crying out of thirst.
7- She had to witness her brother's feelings of disappointment and loneliness.
8- She had to witness the martyrdom of her two sons, as well as the other relatives and companions whom were martyred one by one. The martyrdom of al-'Abbas however was the most diastrous for her.
9- She saw how Imam al-Husayn was without any supporter or helper, while he was seeking help.
10- She saw the cut of head of al-Husayn lie on spearheads.
11- She saw the enemies attach her brother's caravan and women, trying to set fire on the tents.
12- She had to gather the scattered children and women who fled to everywhere in that desert.
13- She had to pass by the dead, severed body of her brother.
14- She had to ride on saddleless, lean camels and to help the children and women to ride on such animals.
15- she had to exert all efforts for takimg care of the ill nephew and consoling him.
16- She had to go through the scenes of being captives and driven from a town to another while people were looking at them as rebels.
It is narrated that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) once said, "To weep for the misfortunes of Zaynab is as same as to weep for her brothers; al-Hasan and al-Husayn."11
YEAR OF BIRTH
Historians and narrators have had different opinions about the year of Lady Zaynab's birth. Some have referred to the fifth year after Hijrah,12 others to the sixth, and a third party to the ninth. The last opinion however is inaccurate,13 and the most acceptable is the first.
Lady Zaynab was brought up at the hands of Prophet Muhammad, Imam 'Ali, and Lady Fatimah the Veracious (a.s.). In other words, she was brought up in the lap of the divine prophesy, spent her early life in the house of the divine mission, suckled the milk of the most perfect woman of all ages, and was nourished at the hands of the Commander of the Faithful believers. Hence, she enjoyed a divine upgrowth and spiritual education and received a garments of elevation, eminence, chastity and decency. After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) and his daughter Fatimah (a.s.), Imam 'Ali married Umamah14 who took care of Lady Zaynab perfectly since this lady was known of her piety and submission to the Lord.
Lady Zayanb, hence, was covered by the most exalted colors for education, honor, dignity, mercy, and compassion. She learn from the behaviors of her parents and brothers many things that composed her perfect personality.
For instance, whenever she visited her brother Imam al-Husayn, he would stand up as a sign of reverence and respect for her. Whenever she wanted to visit the holy tomb of her grandfather, her father and two brothers used to accompany her. They also used to extinguish any light so that nobody would see her.15
She was really the inheritor of Imam 'Ali's values, moralities, and ethics. To the scholars and narrators of Hadith,16 Lady Zaynab enjoyed a great position. They, therefore, used to refer to Imam 'Ali, during the Umayyad reign who eded any mention to the Imam's name, by saying 'Father of Zaynab reported ...'
* Lady Zaynab (Peace be Upon Her)
1- See kenz al'Ummal; 7/110, al-Bukhari's al-Sahih; Cahpter: Kitab al-Adab, Majma' al-Zawa'id; 9/181, Ibn 'Asakir's at-Tarikh; 13/39.
2- Through some historians say that the first she-baby of Lady Fatimah al-Zagra' was ruqayyah, nicknamed Ummu kulthum, most of historians have proved Lady Zaynab's having been Lady Fatima's first she-baby. As evidence, in the reign of the Umayyad State when the Ahl al-Bayt and their partisans were persecuted, anyone who wanted to relate something to Imam Ali, would say, "Father of Zaynad said do-and-so." See Ibn Abu al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah.
3- Azan is the call to prayer.
4- Iqamah is the prefatory statements of the ritual prayer.
5- See At-Tiraz al-Mudhahhab; 38.
6- See Batalatu Karbala; 21.
7- In Arabic, the word 'Zaynab' is a name called on a handsome, odorous tree. (see Ibn Manzhur's Lisan al-'Arab, vol. 6 p.88)
8- See Zaynab al-Kubra; 16-7.
9- See zaynab al-Kubra; 17.
10- Excerpted from the Oxford Talking Dictionary. Copyright 1998 The learning Company, Inc.
11- See Ja'far al-Naqdi, Zaynab al-kubra; 32.
12- Hijrah is the emigration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) and his family and companions from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.; the Muslim era reckoned from this history.
13- Shaykh Ja'far al nadir, in his Zaynab al-Kubra; p.18, refutes the narration that Lady Zaynab was born in the ninth year of the Hijrah. He says:
"Despite the variance of narration, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra' the veracious (a.s.) died in the tenth or eleventh year of the Hijrah. If Lady Zaynab was born in the ninth year of the Hijrah, then when was Ummu-Kulthum, her sister, born, and when was al-Muhsin, the third son of Imam Ali, was born?
On that accoun, it is undrestandable that lady Zaynab was born in fifth year of the Hijrah."
Besides, Shaykh al-Naqdi has referred to other facts providing this opinion.
14- Umamah is the daughter of Zaynab stepdaughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household). Implementing the will of Fatimah al-Zahra' , Imam Ali married Umamah after the demise of Lady Fatimah. It is also worth mentioning here that Umamh was greatly respected by Prophet Muhammahd (peace be upon him and his household).
15- See at-Tabarani's al-Mu'jam al-Kabir as related to Yahya al-Mazini.
16- Hadith is the body of traditions concerning the sayings and doing of the Prophet Muhammah (peace be upon him and his household).