Janabe Zainab (s.a.) prior to Karbala
Janabe Zainab (s.a.), an esteemed lady who granted eternity to the religion of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) from Karbala to Madinah, was a replica of the creator of Eloquence Hazrat Ali (a.s.) from the aspect of speech whereas a reflection of Janabe Fatima Zahra (s.a.) in her character.
The Lord of the universe had blessed Janabe Fatima (s.a.) on 1st of Shabaan, 6 A.H. with a precious gift. At that moment it felt as if a galaxy had descended upon the family of Light. Janabe Zainab (s.a.) opened her eyes in this world in the presence of personalities like Muhammed (s.a.w.a.), Ali (a.s.), Fatima (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.).
This date of birth is established as per the Shia historians, although historians have recorded other dates as well as different aspects about her birth.
For example a renowned Egyptian author famous as Ayesha Bint al-Shaati, in her book “Zainab Batalat al-Karbala (Zainab, the Conqueror of Karbala)” records at a place that “One child of Janabe Fatima (s.a.) got miscarried in the holy house of Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who was their third child after Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.).” As if Janabe Zainab (s.a.) came to this mortal world after Janabe Mohsin (a.s.), whereas the established fact is that Janabe Mohsin (a.s.) was the fifth child of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and not third and also that he was unjustly killed in his mother’s womb. This was carried out as part of the severe attack on Janabe Fatima (s.a.), in which she was crushed between the door and the wall of her house, which resulted in this miscarriage, while she had stepped ahead in the protection of the Imam of her time and her Husband Hazrat Ali (a.s.).
The author of the book “Batalat al-Karbala” has tried to cover up this evident fact, so that the reality of the executers and plotters of this heinous crime is also veiled and their bloody hands get cleansed off this gruesome murder.
It is recorded in history that the All-Powerful Lord filled the household of Fatima (s.a.) with His bounties She was the first grand-daughter of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), the first honorable daughter of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) and the first sister of Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.).
After the birth of Janabe Zainab (s.a.), the master of this universe Hazrat Ali (a.s.) came for her first visitation along with Imam Husain (a.s.), when the eyes of Imam Husain (a.s.) fell on her face he (a.s.) became extremely happy and said: “Dear Father! Allah has blessed me with a sister…”
After hearing this Imam Ali (a.s.) started crying profusely, which upset Imam Husain (a.s.). He (a.s.) enquired about it. Imam Ali (a.s.) replied thus: “Dear Son, soon you shall come to know the reason”.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was traveling during that time. As soon as he (s.a.w.a.) returned to Madinah as per his routine, he (s.a.w.a.) first visited his daughter’s house. Entering the house, he (s.a.w.a.) congratulated her for the new member of the house. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) stood up in his respect, took his daughter from the hands of Janabe Fatima (s.a.) and placed her in the hands of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) kissed his grand-daughter and placed his tongue in her mouth. At that very moment Jibraeel (a.s.) descended and informed “O Messenger of Allah! Allah has named this child Zainab.” After informing this he started weeping. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) enquired about the reason, Jibraeel (a.s.) replied:
“O Prophet of Allah, this child will have to face trials and tribulations right from her childhood. The very first calamity will be that she will have to grieve over your separation, after which she will weep on the loss of her mother and then she will cry for her father Ali (a.s.) and brother Hasan (a.s.). After this she will lose her brother in the wilderness of Karbala. Thereafter, from Karbala to Kufa and from the markets of Kufa till the bazaars of Syria, such calamities and afflictions shall befall her that will bend her back and grey her hair.”
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) became restless upon hearing this and he cried copiously. That is when Imam Husain (a.s.) realized the reason of weeping of his father Hazrat Ali (a.s.). When Salman al-Muhammadi (a.r.) heard of the news of the newly born, he rushed to congratulate Hazrat Ali (a.s.), but when he sensed the emotion, he enquired for the reason, upon which the master of the universe explained the details, listening to which even Salman became among the mourners.
The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) named her Zainab which has two meanings. As per Lisaan al-Arab, Zainab is a name of a beautiful plant which provides pleasing fragrance, while Firozabadi in his Qamoos al-Muheet captures the meaning of the word as a compound of ‘Zain’ and ‘Ab’ which is more reliable near the Shias i.e. she was an adornment for her father Ali (a.s.). Besides being his daughter and a part of his light, right since childhood she had adorned herself with noble and lofty traits and characters and had attained such peaks of reality due to worship and obedience, that she deserved to become the source of ornament for the successor of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) i.e. Hazrat Ali (a.s.). Thus, she became a reflection of that great personality whose light was illuminating great expanses of universe.
Her awareness, knowledge and intelligence were extraordinary and evident right from her childhood. Due to this the family members would call her ‘The Wisest Lady (Aqeelah) of Bani Hashim’. The daughter of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was overflowing with mercy and generosity and was always found empathizing and caring for others. Once, Hazrat Ali (a.s.) brought home a needy person along and enquired from the Princess of the Universe (s.a.) “Is there any provision to satiate the needy?” She replied “O Ali! At this moment there is nothing in the house except for little food that I have kept for Zainab.” Upon hearing this Zainab (s.a.) rushed towards her mother and suggested “O beloved mother! Please offer the food to my father’s guest, I will eat later.” Upon hearing this, the mother lovingly embraced her daughter, while the eyes of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) were filled with tears. He (a.s.) remarked: “You are truly an adornment for a father.”
Five infallibles trained Janabe Zainab (s.a.) and her learning took place through those personalities for whom the Verse of Purification (Ayat-e-Tatheer) was revealed. It is impossible to encompass her knowledge in words. Words cannot express it because her knowledge and training is such a secret which no one can comprehend what was the depth of her knowledge or the method of its acquisition. But it is a proven fact that there is no match to the kind of training she received. In other words, the one who has been trained by the master of Nahj al-Balaagha and Janabe Siddiqa (s.a.), no author or writer has the audacity to comment on the knowledge that is residing in the treasure chest of Zainabiyah.
When Janabe Zainab (s.a.) was just five years old she saw a strange dream… “The city was engulfed by a massive storm and severe winds. The sky and the earth were entrenched in absolute darkness. She herself was a victim to the thunderous storm and was running helter-skelter. Suddenly she finds herself clinging to a strong tree but the winds were so strong that they uprooted the tree and then she caught hold of a branch which too gave way. After which she caught hold of another branch but to no avail and then she caught hold of two branches both of which broke off. Finally Janabe Zainab (s.a.) was left without any support.”
This dream frightened her. She woke up and went to her grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), and narrated the entire dream to him. He (s.a.w.a.) wept excessively and said, “O Zainab! I am that strong tree, the two branches are your Father Ali (a.s.) and your respected mother (s.a.) and the next two branches are your brother Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.). All of these will depart from this world before you and you shall face severe hardships.” This is exactly what happened where Janabe Zainab (s.a.) had to face such difficulties all alone that would weaken the strongest of mountains.
It was still her childhood that her grandfather, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) passed away and within a few days she was distanced from maternal love. The afflictions had started befalling and they continued till her last breath.
The vicissitudes of life had strengthened a young Zainab (s.a.) and made her brave enough to fulfil the greatest of duties in the future. After the loss of her mother, Janabe Zainab (s.a.) took charge of the household chores and fulfilled them in the best possible manner. She never stepped back from her responsibilities and took care of each member with utmost sincerity and love. She had great love and compassion towards her brothers and sister, especially towards Imam Husain (a.s.). Confirming this, once Janabe Fatima Zahra (s.a.) told the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “O father! I am surprised at the love of Zainab and Husain. When Zainab does not see Husain even for a moment she becomes restless.” The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied, “O daughter! In future she will be a partner in the hardships of her brother Husain” and indeed the compassionate Zainab (s.a.) made every prophecy of her grandfather materialize.
Janabe Zainab (s.a.) along with her other siblings acquired knowledge directly from her father. What would the state of joy of the students be when the door of the city of knowledge himself would impart knowledge? As a result, all the children of Ali (a.s.) were intellectually brimming with knowledge and wisdom. Janabe Zainab (s.a.) was extremely intelligent. She had completely absorbed the knowledge and characteristics of her father Ali (a.s.). Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was the greatest orator of his time and as a result Janabe Zainab (s.a.) transformed herself into an exemplar of eloquence and oration. Her invaluable sermons have been recorded in history as priceless and incomparable.