The name Zaynab means the adornment of her father in Arabic. Who is Zaynab? She is the sister of Imam Hussain (as) and the daughter of Imam Ali and the grand daughter of the Last Messenger of Islam, Prophet Muhammad. She lived up to her name in both courage and linguistic eloquence similar to her father, Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) the successor and beloved of Prophet Muhammad (s) Like a diamond that shines after much polish and labor, Lady Zaynab’s (sa) greatness emerged more so after the tragic event in Karbala wherein her brother Imam Hussain and other family members and companions were martyred. The patience and courage with which she demonstrated after having been taken captive is a testimony of this great lady. With meager food, water and rest, Lady Zaynab continued to defy the tyrants of the time that attempted to extinguish the light of Faith and truth by speaking valiantly to the masses about the crimes committed by the powerful Caliphate. This awoke the public from false news and information that was propagated by the regime. Thus, she was the means of what is today the modern forms of communication. She narrated from city to city, while in chains and ropes, the actual events of Karbala; thereby, continuing the mission of Imam Hussain, lest it would have been terminated in Karbala.
Her bravery did not end there but continued in the Governor’s palace in Kufa where they were taken. Lady Zaynab spoke so boldly that those who were present sparked within them the memories of Ali as her voice resembled the voice of her father. Similar was the situation in the Caliph’s courtyard in Damascus. She said to the Caliph in one part of her speech:
“If you imagine that you have conquered us as your booty, remember that very soon you will see the tables turned, for the Lord never does injustice. To Allah is my complaint and upon Him do I rely. However much you may try to obliterate our name through your vile and wicked schemes and plots, you shall find that our glory is perpetuated and your shame cannot be washed away. Your days are numbered and your efforts shall go waste when the caller calls out:‘The curse of Allah is upon the wrongdoers’.
All glory belongs to Allah the Lord of the worlds, Who bestowed His Blessings and Mercy upon our ancestors and martyrs and upon our companions. We pray that Allah may bestow upon them manifold rewards. Allah is the most Merciful and Compassionate. Allah suffices us, for He is the Great One.”The Caliph Yazid was dumbfounded and murmurs of disapproval against him flourished throughout the court.
Eventually, the continuous lamentation of Lady Zaynab and the other members who were imprisoned compelled the Caliph to free them due to the fear of an overthrow. One of the first things she requested was a house in Damascus to mourn and lament over the martyrs of Karbala thereby allowing her to continue to enlighten the people of the mission of Imam Husayn who stood against the political injustice and social corruption of the despot of the time. Consequently, Lady Zaynab(A.S.) institutionalized the commemoration of the event of Karbala which believers have continued to observe year after year the months of Muharram and Safar ever since. In this manner she propagated for humanitarian values and demonstrated the necessity to speak against falsehood when and where one observes it. As a female, she illustrated what a powerful force a woman can be as she remained active during and after the event of Karbala breaking misconceptions of women’s role. Her legacy will continue, just as Imam Hussain’s legacy has.