A lot has been said on Muharram and the herculean sacrifice made by Imam Hussain (a.s) and his family. Hussain’s name is an inspiration for every oppressed around the world. Even Non-Muslim world leaders like Nelson Mandela have been seen praising Hussain’s determination and will to stand for the right.
Hussain is a name known to everyone who is aware of the context of Karbala and everything it stands for, but very few know another great name from that battle which is the real reason we know Hussain today.
Bibi Zainab (s.a) was the sister of Imam Hussain and was with him during the battle of Karbala. It is a fact that had it not been for her, Husain wouldn’t have been known. Without her speeches and sermons, Hussain’s name would have been dismissed as a mere rebel fighting against the ruler of the time and people would never have known about the great tragedy; Karbala.
Imam Hussain had been martyred along with his companions and the male members of his family on 10th of Muharram. They sacrificed their life because they refused to bow down to Yazid bin Muawiya, who was everything Islam was not.
It wasn’t an easy war by any means. Even Hussain’s younger son, who was just 6 months old, was killed by an arrow while the whole family was thirsty for days. The brutal war was over but Zainab’s war had just begun.
On the 11th Muharram, the women, children and Hussain’s son Zain-ul Abidin (who survived the war because he was too ill to fight) were captured by Yazid’s army and taken to the court of Ibn Ziyad, Governor of Kufa.
They were brought to Kufa as captive rebels from the war, on unsaddled camels, unveiled, disheveled and in a state of extreme sorrow. The same city which was their home once, had now become stranger.
As the caravan entered the city and people came to witness at what they thought were the family of the slain rebels, Zainab gave her first sermon.
There was a tumult in the city and someone asked, “Who are they?” Zainab identified her caravan as the descendants of the Holy Prophet, and because her voice could not be heard over the noise, she urged them to be quiet. The spectators were left breathless as the daughter of Ali spoke in the same tone and tenor as her father. A hostile and jubilant crowd who had gathered to celebrate the victory of their governor over whom they thought to be rebels, turned into a mournful and questioning mass, after listening to the sermon.
After Kufa, the ‘prisoners’ were sent to Damascus on the orders of then Kaliph, Yazid.
It was a cruel winter when Zainab and the other captives began the difficult 750-mile journey to Damascus. They had to take the longer and less frequented route for fear of rebellion, as stories of Yazid’s actions against the Prophet’s grandson and family were beginning to percolate to Iraq. It fell to Zainab, Umme Kulsum and Zain-ul Abidin to bury the children who died on this arduous journey and comfort the grieving mothers.
Wherever a crowd gathered along the way, Zainab, Zain-ul Abidin, Umme Kulsum and Fatima Kubra (daughter of Hussain) gave fiery speeches, informing the people of their lineage, of Husain’s fight, and the trials they had to undergo.
Throughout the long journey, Zainab and the other captives had to bear the pain of seeing the severed heads of their slain relatives carried on spears by Yazid’s army. This was the norm of the victorious armies of the day. Even in the court of Yazid, Hussain’s head lay before them.
As the captives tied with a rope were led into the grand mosque towards the wooden balcony on which Yazid sat on a bejeweled throne, Zainab seemed to imbibe divine energy. The captives were herded together on a small platform in front of the throne. Yazid recited a couplet in praise of his victory and mocked Zainab and Zain-ul Abidin.
Once again he underestimated Zainab who drew herself up to her full height, and delivered an impassioned speech quoting the Quran, that shook the assembled crowd including Yazid.
The captives were quickly moved to a ruined house where they were kept imprisoned for around a year. Zainab was once again the pillar of strength for the women and children, and her nephew. Amidst murmurs of dissent and disapproval, Yazid offered release to Zain-ul Abidin. He consulted his aunt as usual. Zainab asked that the heads of their martyred relatives be returned to them and a house be given to them where they could mourn their dead.
From there, Zainab started telling people about the tragedy of Karbala and the atrocities inflicted upon them by Yazid. She had returned to Medina altered, her hair white and her back bent, but determined to let the world know of her brother’s sacrifice. The real victory of Zainab the ‘Lion Heart’ lies in the fact that she ensured that her brother’s sacrifice is remembered even today and that Islam, as brought to us by the Prophet, was not altered or tampered with by Yazid.
قتل حسین اصل میں مرگ یزید ہے
اسلام زندہ ہوتا ہے ہر کربلا کے بعد