The Sermon of Zaynab and Its Historical Background – Part 5

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

(Toronto, Canada)

4) Yazid’s Intentions

With happiness you call out your ancestors:

They would cheer and beam with joy

Saying: O Yazid, may you not be overcome [You are reciting this] while bending down targeting the teeth of Abu ‘Abdillah [al-Husayn], chief of the youths of Paradise, and poking at them with your cane—your face had lit up with joy.

I swear by my life that by spilling the blood of Muhammad’s children and the star of the family of ‘Abdul Muttalib (i.e., Husayn), you have scratched the [old] wound and revived the [past] animosity.

You are loudly calling out your ancestors, and think that you are actually calling them! [They are dead and they can’t hear you!] Very soon, you will reach their place [in the hell], and at that time you would wish that you had become paralyzed and dumb so that you would have not said what you had said and not done what you had done.

O Allah, take our right [from those who had usurped it], take revenge from those who have oppressed us, and unleash Your wrath on one who has spilled our blood and killed our supporters.

First Comment: In the midst of the elite of Sham, Lady Zaynab describes the difference between the family of the Prophet and the family of Abu Sufyan: If the blessed head that Yazid is desecrating is that of the chief of the youths of Paradise, then what will be the eventual destination of Yazid? If the one who was killed is the chief of the youths of Paradise, then the killer cannot be from those who will be in Paradise!

Second Comment: Why was Imam Husayn (a.s.) killed? By repeating the poems recited by Yazid, Zaynab wanted to show that he killed Imam Husayn to avenge the death of his idol- worshipping/infidel ancestors who were killed in the Battle of Badr, the first battle in the history of Muslims.In that battle, when the father, the brother and the uncle of Yazid’s grandmother challenged the Muslim fighters to a duel, the Prophet (S) sent some members of his family, the Banu Hashim: Hamzah,‘Ubaydah and ‘Ali—it was by their swords that the leaders of idol-worshippers were killed.By killing Imam Husayn and other members of the Prophet’s family, Yazid was avenging the death of his infidel ancestors.

Third Comment: O Yazid, you are calling out to your ancestors but soon you will also end up with them,and then you will regret and wish that your tongue had become dumb so that you would have recited the blasphemous poems, and had not got involved in killing Imam Husayn (a.s.)—but alas, regret at that time will be of no use.

5) The End of Yazid

(O Yazid,) you have done what you wanted to do. (By doing what you have done,) you have actually pierced your own skin and have torn your own flesh. You will surely be presented to the Messenger of Allah with your crime of spilling the blood of his descendants and your act of violating the sanctity of his family and relatives.

At that time, Allah will unite them, end their separation, avenge those who oppressed them, and take their right from their enemies.

So do not let [your act of] killing them fill your excitement. [Do not you remember what Allah has said: And do not consider those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead; rather they are alive with their Lord, being sustained; they are pleased with what Allah has given to them out of His grace.(3:169-170)

It suffices for you to know that (on the day of judgement), Allah will be the Judge, the Messenger of Allah will be plaintiff [against you], and Jibra’il will be the supporter [of the Prophet].

Those who facilitated [the government] for you and imposed you on the necks of the Muslims will soon know how evil shall be the recompense of the transgressors, and who among you will be in the worst place and the most misguided.

First Comment: Zaynab is reminding Yazid that don’t think by killing my brother and family, you have eliminated them. No, not at all; they are martyrs in the way of Allah – they live not only in the other world, sustained by Almighty’s grace, but they will always live in the hearts of the believers.

Second Comment: With Allah as the judge, the Prophet as the plaintiff and Jibra’il as the witness what chance has Yazid escaping retribution on the day of judgement?! This is a point on what those Muslims should also reflect who go around preaching that Yazid is among the “forgiven ones”!

6) Challenging Yazid

Plan your stratagem, strive to your maximum, and put your best efforts but, by Allah, neither will you be able to erase our memory [from the people’s minds] nor can you destroy our revelation, nor can you reach our heights, and your shame [for killing Husayn] cannot be washed out.

Your idea is nothing but wrong, your days are numbered, and your gathering will soon disperse – the day when the herald will announce: Verily the curse of Allah is on the oppressors!

First Comment: Zaynab challenges Yazid on his own turf to do whatever is within his power but he will not be able to erase the religion of her grandfather or the Qur’an which was revealed upon him or the love for his family that is found in hearts of the Muslims.

Second Comment: Since Zaynab always maintained the zikr and remembrance of Allah even in the most difficult of times (to the extent that in spite of hunger and thirst, and having witnessed the murder of eighteen members of her family in one day, she did not forget her night nafila on the eve of 11th Muharram)—and so Allah has also kept the memory of Zaynab always alive in hearts of the people.

Even centuries after her passing away, Zaynab’s name is remembered and mentioned all over the world whereas Yazid’s name has become like a swear word. No one knows of Yazid’s grave whereas there are two famous shrines associated to Zaynab: one in Damascus and another in Cairo, and both shrines are filled with visitors and pilgrims whose prayers are answered in those places!

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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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