Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
The historical narrations that have reached to us are somewhat ambiguous as far as the timeline of the sermon of Imam Zayn Al-Abidin is concerned. However, by looking at the circumstances and the impact of Lady Zaynab’s sermon on the audience, it would not be difficult to surmise that Yazid asked one of his orators to get on the pulpit in order to tarnish the image of Imam ‘Ali in general and that of Imam Husayn in particular. This was Yazid’s way of damage control for the impact of Zaynab’s sermon. As someone in the pay of the imperial court, the orator went on the pulpit and fulfilled his master’s wishes by talking ill about Imam ‘Ali and highly praising Mu‘awiyah and Yazid. When Imam Zayn Al-Abidin heard it, he shouted at him: “O the speaker! You have bought the pleasure of a created being by displeasing the Creator, and so have reserved a seat for yourself in the Hell-fire.”Then the Imam turned to Yazid and said, “O Yazid, allow me to get on this ‘piece of wood’ and say something that would please Allah and be a cause of His blessings for the audience.” Yazid refused.
(Comment: It is interesting to see the Imam describing the pulpit as “piece of wood” and not a “mimbar –pulpit” – a seat used for uttering words that would displease Allah is not worthy of being called“mimbar.”) The people started insisting, “O the leader, let him go on the pulpit so that we can hear what he has to say.” Yazid replied, “If he goes on the pulpit, he will not get down until he has humiliated me and the family of Abu Sufyan.”
The people said, “What can this person say?” They were looking at his young age and his status as a prisoner. Yazid responded, “He is member of a family who is steeped in knowledge.” The people’s insistence increased until he had to give in. Imam Zayn Al-Abidin got on the pulpit and gave a sermon in which he focused on the family of Imam ‘Ali and the Prophet.
1) The Preamble
All praise is due to Allah who has no beginning, and the Eternal who has no end, the one who is the First but not in the sense of numbers and the Last but in the sense of ending, and the one who will last after everything perishes. He created nights and days, and distributed sustenance among the people. So blessed is Allah, the King, the All-Knowing.
2) The Status of Prophet’s Family
O people! We [the family of the Prophet] have been blessed with six [qualities] and have been preferred[over others] by seven [individuals]:We have been blessed with  knowledge,  forbearance,  generosity,  eloquence,  courage and  love in hearts of the believers.We have been preferred [over others] through the Chosen Prophet, Muhammad who is from us, the truthful one [i.e., ‘Ali] who is from us, the one who flies [in heaven, Ja’far] is from us, the lion of God and the Prophet [Hamzah] is from us, the chief of the women of the worlds, the pure Fatimah, is from us, and[6-7] the Prophet’s two grandsons in this community [Hasan & Husayn] are from us.