Kufa was the capital of Iraq and the capital of Hazrat Ali’s (a.s.). It was also a place of residence of Hazrat Ali’s (a.s.) friends and partisans. The walls and doors of Kufa were familiar with the eloquence of Hazrat Ali (a. s.). Janabe Zainab (a.s.) lived here as the daughter of the ruler. The women used to greet her as ‘the daughter of Ameerul Momeneen’ and ‘the daughter of Rasool Allah’. She was an extremely respected figure of the city. Today she was brought as a captive in this city. Those who had respected her were looking at her as a tragic spectacle. Those who greeted her were taunting at her. She did not have chadar over her head, and she was seated on the bare back of a camel. Instead of feeling remorse on the killing of the son of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) they were celebrating with joy. On the one hand such inhuman behavior of the masses and on the other hand the pain of sitting on unsaddled camels while they were veil less, and led by the heads of the loved ones atop the point of spears, with a group of thirstily wailing children, chained and manacled Imam Sajjad (a.s.) on top of all hordes of onlookers, who were ridiculing at this pathetic sight. Whenever afflicted ones are ridiculed their afflictions are multiplied. In such conditions should someone have probed into the heart of Janabe Zainab (a.s.). It is difficult to raise the head in such hordes of calamities leave alone delivering sermons. While effective sermons have certain conditions, like the speaker should not be under any mental strain and should be in a relaxed mood. He should not be tormented by hunger and thirst, nor should he be under stress of sorrow and pain. None of these conditions were present here. Hunger and thirst were beyond any limit, the speaker was under all sorts of emotional and physical strains. The children were crying, the atmosphere was hostile; every glance was full of hatred. But here the speaker was inherited with the qualities of eloquence from her father. When she spoke, she shook the hearts of the ruthless killers. Her words penetrated the hearts of the listeners, their eyes were moistened. The mourning voices turned into sounds of groaning and weeping.
When she decided to speak, her one gesture froze everything in sight. Not only men but animals too were quietened. Her awe and fury, her dominance and authority upon the universe and despite of all these her restrain and control, made her a person beyond praises. She spoke thus:
“All praise to Allah and blessing be upon my father, Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his pure progeny”.
Here she referred the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as her “father” instead of grandfather only to make the people realize that how much was she close to him. She showed that these captives were none but the family of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
She continued: “O people of Kufa, O people of deceit and treachery, are you mourning for us. Let not these tears dry, let not these pleadings be silenced. Your example is like that of a woman who herself knits the yarn firmly but then she breaks it herself. (You believed in the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and then you yourselves violated the covenant.) You believed as you wished to (not fulfill the conditions of belief). You are but flatterers, mischief-mongers, self-conceited, mendacious and fiendish men. You disgraceful son of slave-maids, you are quipping like enemies. You are like the vegetation on marsh (which apparently looks green but inwardly is lousy and filthy, talks are good but acts are hateful). Or you are like that silver which is buried under sand. Your life has prepared perdition for you. Certainly the chastisement of Allah will be inflicted on you and you shall remain in it forever.
You are weeping while you yourselves cut our loved ones to pieces. Why are you wailing? By Allah you should cry more and laugh less. By this sin you have earned disgrace and disrepute. This blemish can never be removed. (Certainly this sentence is the living testimony for the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.), that they are still tainted with the sin.) This stain can never be removed. You have killed him who was the son of the last Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Chief of the Youth of Paradise, refuge of your virtuous men, hope of the oppressed ones, beacon of proofs and centre of sunnat. You have done a huge misdeed. May you perish. May Allah chastise you.
Now your efforts will remain fruitless. Your hands are severed. You have suffered an enormous loss. You are reverting towards the punishment of Allah. Insults and disgrace have been decreed for you.
O Kufans! curse be upon you. Do you know which beloved of the Prophet have you slain, and whose veils have you plundered? Whose blood have you spilled? Whose chastity have you disregarded? You have committed such a sin that it may split the skies, divide the earth and blow off the mountains.
You have done a shameless act. Such a crime which filled the earth and the sky. It will not be surprising if blood poured down from the skies. And the retribution in the hereafter will be disgraceful. None shall help them, nor will they be given reprieve. Allah does not hasten in giving punishment. He does not fearthe exhaustion of punishment and He is after you.”
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) said: “O aunt! Be quiet now. Praise be to Allah you are learned without being taught and God-gifted thinker.”
(Maqtal Al Husain, pg 310; Lohuf, pg 68; Ehtejaj Tabarsi, vol 2, pg 31, Najaf; Balaghatun Nisa, pg 23; Adabul Husain and Hemaseh Ahmad Sabir, pg 176-178)
Bashir bin Hazim Asadi has related “By Allah, I have not seen more bashful and pure women who can be a better speaker than Zainab. She delivered a sermon as if Hazrat Ali (a.s.) himself was speaking.”
(Lohuf, pg 88, Qum)
The effect of this sermon was this that those who were celebrating after the killing of Imam Husain (a.s.) realized their crime. Their existence became a source of shame for them. That day Kufans were constrained and confounded, weeping and slapping their faces, chewing their fingers. Bani Umayyah and their propaganda was reduced to a cipher. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) said at the end “Allah never hastens in giving punishment.”
The Court of Ibne Ziyad
Janabe Zainab (a.s.) delivered this sermon on the roads and streets. When Ibne Ziyad returned from the camp of Nakhila and entered the palace, he ordered for the decoration of the court and opened it for the public. Captives were brought in the court. They were brought in the court in such a manner that the sight was hair raising. Imam Husain (a. s.)’s head was kept in a platter and placed in front of Ibne Ziyad. He desecrated those lips with his stick which were kissed by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
He was doing this to announce his victory to them and threaten them with his tyranny. He was showing that now there was no strength left in the clan of Bani Hashim and Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), all of them are killed. Now there is no threat to his government and Yazid’s government as well.
When Janabe Zainab (a.s.) saw this, she in order to expel her anger and displeasure, separated from the women and sat alone. Her anger was writ large on her face. While her face was gleaning with the awe of Imamat. Ibne Ziyad inquired about the woman who sat separately and how dare can she show her indifference in his court? When he was told that she is none other than the daughter of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) he was filled with rage. In order to pacify himself he said: “Praise be to Allah, who disgraced you, killed you and belied you.” Janabe Zainab (a.s.) sprang to her in the style of her mother and gave such a fearless retort that the whole earth was subdued by her all-pervasive eloquence, in the words uttered by her: “Praise be to Allah who gave us respect through His Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and purified us from all impurities thoroughly. Certainly only sinners are disgraced and belied and it is not us but other than us.”
She showed her closeness to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and proved that this can never be taken away from us. The silence of Ibne Ziyad disclosed that Janabe Zainab (a.s.) was correct in her saying. When he could not think of anything else, he said: “How do you find Allah’s dealing with you Ahle Bait?”
This sentence reflected the theory of compulsion that we did not do it but Allah has done this. He meant that Allah is responsible for the event of Karbala and not they. But he was not dealing with an ordinary person. She could read between the hidden words and replied:
“I found Allah’s treatment to be the best. Since Allah destined martyrdom for them hence they were martyred. But soon Allah will gather you and them at one place and conduct a trial. There arguments will be made against you. Then see who shall succeed. O Son of Marjana! your mother will cry on you?”
She clearly exposed the defeat of Ibne Ziyad behind the facade of victory. In the court of Ibne Ziyad, in front of armed soldiers and ministers, she castigated him and shattered his egotistic fancies. Ibne Ziyad could not tolerate this castigation and started quivering with anger.
(Maqtalul Husain, pg 324, Qum)
Then, he in order to hurt her said: “The elimination of you Ahle Bait, who rebelled and revolted against me, Allah has given solace to my heart.”
Janabe Zainab (a.s.) had tears in her eyes at this, she said: “By Allah, you killed my elders. You dragged us Ahle Bait from place to place. My roots were chopped to pieces and breathing became difficult for us. If this gives you pleasure then be pleased.”
(Kamil Ibne Aseer, vol 4, pg 33; Maqtal Khwarizmi, vol 2, pg 42)
Here also she abrogated his accusation that he hadn’t killed Ahle Bait but Allah did.
The Court of Yazid
Yazid rejoiced when he heard about Imam Husain (a.s.)’s assassination. As his father became happy over the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), as his grandmother Hinda became joyous over the death of Hamza. Hence he wrote to Ibne Ziyad that captives should be immediately sent to Syria. These sorrowful desperate captives left for Syria. Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) hands were tied behind his neck. His womenfolk were with him. When after facing the calamities of the journey they reached Syria. Yazid recited verses of joy in the full court, which reflected his credo. These verses clearly clarify that he does not have any relation with Islam. The verse were as follows:
“Had my forefathers been alive today they would have become happy and blessed me that how I avenged them. The clan of Hashim played a game, neither any Prophet came nor did any Revelation.”
At this stage also the courageous daughter of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) overturned the designs of Yazid. She said:
All praise be to the Lord of the Worlds. Peace be upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) an his progeny. Allah has truly said,
“Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and mocked at them.”
(Surah Rum: 10)
O Yazid! Do you surmise that you have straitened the expanse of skies and the earth and dragged us from place to place. Do you think this degrades us and elevates you and you must be too happy with this thought and swelling with ego and haughtiness. Your world is gay and you usurped our rightful place. Don’t hurry but wait. Have you forgotten the verse of Quran:
‘Those who have disbelieved should not deem that we have given them respite for good rather we have given them reprieve so that they may increase their sins and for them is a formidable and disgraceful chastisement.’
(Surah Aale Imran: 172)
O son of Freed slaves (Those who were released by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) after the fall of Mecca) is it just that your women should sit in veil while the daughters of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) should be lugged from door to door? They be made captive, their veil be snatched, they should be dragged from town to town and all may look at them, and mean persons stare at them. They are neither helped nor aided by anybody.
How can he expect the Mercy of Allah who chew the flesh of holy men and martyrs of Islam. How can you lag behind in the enmity of Ahle Bait who bore such hatred towards us. Then without any guilt feeling shamelessly you boasted that ‘Had my forefathers been alive they would have congratulated me and would have said may your hands never be benumbed’. At this you desecrate the lips of Imam Husain (a. s.) with your stick. You have caused these wounds. You have spilled the blood of the Progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). You have silenced the earthly stars of the clan of Abdul Mutallib and you are addressing your forefathers and talking to them in your imagination. Soon you will join them. Then you will wish that your hands should have been benumbed and your tongue be bedumbed. Whatever I did I should not have done it and whatever I said I should not have said it. “By Allah O Yazid! By this tyranny and oppression you have minced your own skin and have blown your flesh to smithereens. How will you face Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) while you had spilled the blood of his Ahle Bait. While you have disregarded his chastity. Then indeed the day Allah shall assemble them he will seek retribution for them ‘ Do you not think them dead who were martyred in the way of Allah. But they are alive and receiving sustenance from their Lord.’
(Surah Aale Imran: 163)
O Yazid! Though circumstances and calamities have made me to stand here and I am forced to address you. While I think you are too lowly and debased. I condemn you and I rebuke you. Why not? My eyes are brimming with tears and my heart is wrenchful at the death of my loved ones and relatives. “Surprising and highly surprising is that chosen one of Allah should be slain at the hands of Satanic horde of freed slaves. Your hands are stained with our blood. Your mouth is full of flesh of Ahle Bait. Pure corpses are lying on the ground and animals are looking at them and desert sand is coming on them. If you think our murder and captivity is good for you then soon you shall witness your misdeed. No treasure of yours will help you. Allah never tyrannizes His servant. I complain against you to Allah and trust His self. “O Yazid! Utilize all your viles, employ all your efforts and use your full strength. But by Allah you can never obliterate our names. You can never finish our revelations. Neither can you drive away ignominy and disgrace from yourself. Your thoughts and imaginations are too weak. Your days are numbered. The day caller will call curse of Allah be upon oppressors.
And praise be to Allah, the Lord of the words Who decreed forgiveness and bliss as our beginning and mercy and martyrdom to be our end. I pray from Allah for the most perfect reward for the martyrs and multiply it manifold and make our succession the best. Surely He is Merciful and Beneficent. Allah alone is sufficient for us and He is the Best Protector.”
(Balaghatun Nisa, pg 21; Maqtalul Khwarazmi, vol 2, pg 64; Maqtalul Husain, pg 357; Adabul Husain and Hemasah, pg 179-181).
This sermon speaks volumes about the invincible courage of Janabe Zainab (a.s.) . No trace of tremble or hesitation can be found in her voice. She is not ashamed nor sorry, she claims martyrdom to be a source of pride and a cause of infamy for the tyrants. She said in the full court that “You can never obliterate our names nor can you finish our Revelation.” Then until today every namaz, azaan and all the precepts of religion affirm that a handful of Yazids can never undo their names, they made attempts though.
May Allah bless our women to emulate Janabe Zainab (a.s.) so that they may enliven the Islamic teachings in the present atmosphere of disbelief and polytheism