In The Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Speech by Sayyeda Zeinab (A.S.) in Damascus
Occasion: the Entry of the Captives into Damascus in the year 61 A.H.
In the early days of the month of Safar, the procession of captives entered into Damascus. One of the most important events that took place in Damascus on that date was Sayyeda Zeinab’s (A.S.) famous speech before Yazid bin Moawiya. According to the references of a group of scientists, the said speech- as if blessed by the brilliance of Imam Ali’s speeches and the secrets of Sayyeda Fatima’s speech (peace be upon both of them)- was descried as one of the most knowledgeable, educated, cultured, and well-informed literate speeches.
In theory, Sheikh Al-Sodok’s narrative indicates that: When Ali Bin Al-Hussein (peace be upon them) entered together with his spouse to Yazid, the head of Imam Hussein (A.S.) was brought to him and was irrespectively placed in front of him on a tray. Yazid then struck Imam’s Lips with his stick and said: "O! If my ancestors have lived to see my achievements at Badr i.e. Banu Khazraj’s fear of the sticks ***they might have cheerfully welcomed and greeted *** and might have thus exclaimed O Yazid! May your hands not lose their strength; you have wreaked good vengeance on our behalf by checkmating the Hashemite. There was never any divine anecdote and any revelation".
Subsequently, Sayyeda Zeinab, the daughter of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib (peace be upon them) and of Fatima the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his household), drew herself up and boldly said for all to hear:
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the world, and peace be upon his prophet- the Seal of Prophets- and Allah’s mercy and blessing. Allah Almighty says- and He says the truth: ﴾Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them﴿.
O Yazid! Do you believe that you have made our life miserable and our existence impossible by succeeding in closing the sky and the earth for us, and that we have become your captives, and that you have secured control over us? Do you believe that Allah has afflicted us with insult and dishonor and that you have been given honor and respect by him? You have been boastful of this apparent victory that you have secured and thus you have started feeling jubilant and proud over this prestige and honor. You think that you have conquered the whole world and that your affairs have become stabilized and that our rule has been now controlled by you. Let not your ignorance make you so joyful. Wait! Wait! Have you forgotten Allah Almighty saying: ﴾And let not those who disbelieve think that our granting them respite is better for their souls; we grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement﴿.
O son of freed slaves! Is this your justice that make you keep your own daughters and slave maids veiled and we the daughters of the Prophet of Allah be paraded from place to place captives? You have thus insulted us by unveiling our faces. Your men took us from town to town where all sorts of people, whether residents of the hills or of riversides have been looking at us. The near as well as the far, the rude as well as the dignified ones - all starring at us while we lack the presence of a man relative of ours to render, help or even support us. Your deeds come as no surprise from a person whose ancestors chewed the liver of the saintly virtuous people, whose flesh grew upon the blood of martyrs. One who cast his glance of enmity, malice and rancor upon us does not lag behind in practicing enmity against us. And still you prove your unbelief, and declare it with your tongue, while you are striking the lips of Imam Hussein (the chief of youths of Paradise) with your stick and jubilantly proclaim: they might have cheerfully welcomed and greeted *** and might have thus exclaimed "O Yazid, may your hands not lose their strength…".
How couldn’t you be proclaiming that, and you are the one who have deepened our wound and uprooted us completely, by killing the offspring of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his household) and the shining stars of Abdul-Muttalib’s household. You proclaim your deed with pride and if ancestors were to see you they would approve your action and thus plead "May your hands not lose their strength". O Yazid, If you had heart enough to take account of your nefarious deeds, you yourself would surely wish your arms to be paralyzed and severed from your elbow and you would wish that your parents had not given birth to you to avoid saying what you said or doing what you did. Allah, Grant us our rights. Avenge those who have oppressed us. Let those who have shed our blood and killed our men; be deprived of your mercy.
O Yazid! You did what you wished to do. Yet, promisingly remember that what you did is but cutting your own skin and your own flesh into pieces. In the near future you will be brought before the Holy Prophet. You will be overburdened with your sins of the misdeed committed by shedding the blood of his offspring and by dishonoring the sanctity of his household. The place to which you will be taken will be before all the members of his household, where the oppressed will be avenged and the oppressors will be punished: ﴾And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay; they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord﴿.
Allah Almighty is sufficient to deal with you. The Prophet of Allah is your antagonist and Gabriel is our support and help against you. Those who have made you the head of state and burdened the Muslims with your leadership will soon find out what awaits them. The end of all tyrants is agony.
O Yazid! I only speak to you thus to warn you of your severe chastisement so that you should be regretful for you are one of those whose hearts are hardened, souls are rebellious and whose bodies are busy in Allah's disobedience while they are under the curse of the Prophet of Allah. How amazing it is that the virtuous people, sons of the divine prophet are killed at the hands of liberated slaves, and evil-doers. Our blood is shed by their hands and our flesh serves as food for them. We feel grieved for those whose bodies are lying enshrouded and unburied. If you consider our defeat as your achievement then you will have to pay its price. Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and place of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope.
You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honored us with revelation, the Book and Prophet Hood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you affect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonor that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the oppressors and the unjust.
Last but not least, Praise be to Allah who gave good end to our preceding full of Pleasure and Bliss and granted good end to our subsequent full of martyrdom and Mercy. We pray to Allah to favor us with full recompense through them and grant us the ability to be their good successors. Indubitably Allah is Kind and is the Most Merciful over his creatures.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.