Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a prominent role model in history and shows the significance of a woman’s presence in one of the most important events in human history. Blood gained a victory over the sword on the day of Ashura, and Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was the cause of that victory. This was because the forces of righteousness were apparently defeated in a military fight in Karbala, but Zeinab al-Kubra’s (s.a.) behavior was the factor that turned this apparent defeat into a permanent and decisive victory. That victory was due to the role she played after the day of Ashura. That is a very important point. The event proved that women are not on the periphery of history. It proved that women can have a central role in important historical events. This has been pointed out in several places in the Holy Quran as well. But Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a recent example and does not belong to ancient times. The story of her life is a tangible event. She played a brilliant role, making the enemies – who had apparently won the battle and slain all their opponents – feel humiliated in their own base. She branded them with permanent disgrace and turned their victory into a defeat. That was what Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) did. She proved that it is possible to turn feminine morality and modesty into glory and a great jihad.
The greatness of Zeinab al-Kubra’s (s.a.) movement is reflected in what is left of her sermons. Her unforgettable sermon in Kufa’s marketplace was not just an ordinary speech. It was not just the personal opinion of an important figure. Her sermon was a great and beautifully-worded analysis of the Islamic community’s situation at that time. The sermon included the most profound Islamic concepts. See how strong her character was. Her brother – her Imam and leader – had been martyred in a desert just two days before. Her dear ones, her children, and many other people had been martyred. She and tens of other women and children were taken captive on the same day. They were paraded in different places. Some of the people who were watching them were cheerful and some were shedding tears. Zeinab (s.a.) suddenly started her great mission in that critical situation. She spoke like her father did when he was delivering a sermon to his people during his rule. She spoke with the same tone. She spoke using the same kind of words Imam Ali (a.s.) would use. She was equally eloquent and precise, and her words were equally profound. “O plotters and pretenders, maybe you yourselves were starting to believe that you were following Islam and the Holy Prophet’s household, but you failed miserably in the test. You proved to be blind in the fitna. Do you pledge allegiance while you are planning a conspiracy? You can do nothing but engage in shifting allegiance, hypocrisy, flattery, self-humiliation, and empty talk. Your actions were different from your words. You became arrogant and wrongly thought that you were pious. You thought you were still revolutionary. You thought you were still the followers of the Commander of the Faithful. But the truth was something else. You were not able to deal with the fitna. You were not able to save yourselves. You ruined everything you had done before. Because of your lack of insight, your lack of knowledge of the situation, and your inability to distinguish right from wrong, you ruined everything you had built. You look faithful and you keep making revolutionary claims, but deep down you are empty and weak.” Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) presented a deep analysis of her society’s pathologies.
She spoke firmly and eloquently in that difficult situation. It was not the case that she had an audience sitting in front of her and listening in silence. She was not speaking the way an orator would speak to his audience. She was surrounded by the enemies, holding spears in their hands. There were also some ordinary people there – the same people who gave up Moslem to Ibn Ziad, the same people who wrote letters to Imam Hussein and then broke their allegiance to him, the same people who hid in their homes exactly when they were supposed to stand up to Ibn Ziad. Among the people there were also some individuals who were not courageous enough to do what they should have done, and they were watching Imam Ali’s daughter in tears on that day. Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was faced with this motley and unreliable crowd, yet she spoke in a firm manner. She was an exemplary woman in history. Such women cannot be considered weak. This faithful feminine nature may reveal itself in difficult conditions. She is a role model for all great men and women in the world. She presented a deep analysis of the problems facing the revolution started by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and Imam Ali (a.s.). She said, “You could not distinguish between right and wrong in the fitna. You were unable to fulfill your duty. As a result, they severed the head of the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) grandson and put it on a spear.” We can understand the greatness of her character when we consider such things.
Apr 21, 2010
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