The Sermon of Zaynab and Its Historical Background – Part 4

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

(Toronto, Canada)

2) Exposing Yazid’s Family Background

O the son of the freed slave! Is it just that you cover your women and slave-girls with veils while you parade the daughters of Allah’s Messenger as prisoners?! You have torn their apparel coverings, exposed their faces, and the enemies ushered them on from one city to another. The dwellers of the caravansaries as well as the cities were looking towards them, and the people from near and far as well as the noble and the servants were scrutinizing their faces while they had neither a helper from their men folk nor a protector from their protectors.

First comment: “O son of the freed slave!” In the imperial court of Yazid, right in presence of the elite and the government officials of Sham, Zaynab exposes his family background. At the conquest of Meccain 8 AH, after seeing the strength of the Muslim army, Yazid’s grandfather, Abu Sufyan, and his family converted to Islam.

If Zaynab’s grandfather, the Prophet of Islam, had wished he could have made the people of Mecca (including Abu Sufyan and his family) as his personal slaves. But the Prophet manifested his benevolence and emancipated the people of Mecca by saying, “…Go, you are free…;” In other words, ‘I could have made your my slaves but I let you go as freed slaves.’

With such an exposure, the people of Sham heard for the first time that Yazid’s grandparents and father embraced Islam in the later years of the Prophet’s life and that they were the Prophet’s freed slaves.Such a revelation must have shattered the aura of “khalu ’l-mu’minin – the uncle of the believers” from the minds of the people of Sham!

3) Exposing Yazid’s Behavioral Background

There is neither anything unusual about you nor any surprise in your actions. How can there be any hope of consideration from child of a person whose mouth spat the liver of the righteous ones and whose flesh grew upon the blood of the martyrs. A person who looks towards us with disdain, rancor, vendetta and secret grudge does not wait long before displaying his hatred towards us, the Ahlul Bayt.

First Comment: Zaynab now describes the behavioral profile of Yazid: a profile in which she cannot expect any justice because his character is influenced by his grandmother, Hind, a ruthless and immoral person. As a proof to the people of Sham, Zaynab refers to the Battle of Uhud in which Yazid’s grandmother ordered her slave to cut open the abdomen of Hamza (the Prophet’s uncle), from which she took out his liver and tried to chew on it. That is why Yazid’s grandmother came to be known as“akilatu ’l-akbad – the liver-eater.”

Second Comment: Lady Zaynab also exposes Yazid’s inner hatred towards the family of the Prophet (the Ahlul Bayt). She informs the people of Sham that the family of Abu Sufyan is not part of the family of the Prophet; on the contrary, their hearts are filled with hatred towards the family of the Prophet, and they don’t hesitate in expressing their rancor. This is so, while all Muslim sects believe that based on the verse of muwaddah (42:23), to love the Prophet’s family is an essential part of Islamic faith.

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Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

About the author

He was born in 1957 in a family of ‘ulamã’ in Bihar, India. He comes from a region in Bihar (Siwan District, previously known as Saran) that has produced well-known Shi‘a scholars in the Indian sub-continent. Migrated to Africa with his parents where he received elementary education in English medium school. After that for two years, he studied Arabic and Farsi with his respected father and two other ‘alims in Dar-Es-salaam, Tanzania.

In 1972, at the age of fifteen, he went to the Hawza-e ‘Ilmiya-e Qum, Iran. During his ten years stay in Qum, he studied with various teachers; and moved from the levels of muqaddimãt to sutûh (equal to graduate level in secular universities) and, finally, attended the dars-e kharij (ijtihad lectures equal to post-graduate studies) of Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaikh Wahid Khurãsãni.

In 1982, he returned to India where he stayed at Gopalpur for about a year.

In June 1983, at the invitation of the Shia Muslim Community of British Columbia, he and his wife moved to Vancouver where he stayed till June 1991 and served Shi‘a Islam through his lectures, writings, and teachings. Based on his publications and educational background, in September 1987, the Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) admitted him in the post-graduate program at Masters’ level. This was even though he had no formal degree nor was he asked to sit for any exams. In 1990 he completed his thesis; and after successfully defending the thesis, was awarded the Master of Arts degree in History in 1991.

In July 1991, he moved to Toronto and till 1996 worked as the Director of Islamic Education & Information Center providing a variety of religious services to Shi‘as in North America. During this time, he was also involved in the founding of the As-Sadiq Islamic School, a full time Islamic school from KG to Grade 8 levels. Since July 1996, he has accepted the responsibilities of the Imam-e Jum‘a and Resident ‘Ãlim of the Jaffari Islamic Center / Jaffari Community Center.

He has traveled to most cities in Canada and U.S.A.; as well as to Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, United Kingdom, Dubai, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya for lectures.
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