Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
The Atmosphere of Yazid’s Court
The court of Yazid was filled with senior officials, dignitaries of Sham, some ambassadors of foreign governments and religious leaders of other faiths. It was in such a setting that the family of Imam Husayn (a.s.) was brought in as prisoners without any veils or scarfs.
A herald was constantly announcing in the bazar as well as the imperial court that the head of a dissident is being brought who had rebelled against the caliph. The blessed head of Imam Husayn (a.s.) was presented to Yazid on a silver plate and placed in front of his throne.
Overcome with his apparent victory, Yazid started poking the blessed head of Imam Husayn (a.s.) with his stick and expressing his joy by reciting the following lines of a blasphemous poetry of ‘Abdullah binaz-Ziba‘ri:
The Hashimites staged a drama for domination
For there was no Divine news nor any revelation
Wish my ancestors killed in Badr would see
The pain of Khazraj caused by pointed spears
Yazid’s display of arrogance and blasphemous words prompted Lady Zaynab to stand up and address him in the court filled with the elite of Sham. The aura of her personality even as a prisoner and the eloquence of her speech were such that Yazid could not do anything to prevent her from speaking!
1) The Preamble
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the universe; and blessings be upon my grandfather, the chief of God’s messengers.
Indeed, Almighty Allah has spoken the truth when He said “Then the final state of those who do evil (deeds) was that they denied the signs of Allah and they used to ridicule them.” (30:10)
First comment: Zaynab puts an emphasis that the Prophet is “my grandfather;” he is from our family, from ‘Ali’s family; and not from your family, O Yazid!
Second comment: Zaynab’s mastery over the Qur’an become obvious by her selection of verses in this sermon. After praising Allah and asking for blessing upon the Prophet, she recites the first verse that is very befitting for the occasion and is fully applied on Yazid.
In other words, she is saying that O Yazid, the lines of poetry that you recited demonstrates that those who do evil deeds will eventually deny the Qur’an as a revelation and ridicule it. (The “signs of Allah”could refer to the Qur’an as well as the blessed head of Imam Husayn.)
Do you think, O Yazid, now that you have ‘seized the vastness of the earth from us and constrained the horizons upon us, and that we are being herded like the prisoners—that Allah wishes humiliation for us and honor for you?
And that in this is a great importance for you with Allah? So you are being haughty and looking around exuberantly and happily since you see that the world is in your control and its affairs are lined up for you, and our country is exclusively for you and our government is purely for you. But hold on and slow down!
Have your forgotten Almighty Allah’s words: “Let the faithless not suppose that the respite that We grant them is good for their souls: We give them respite only that they may increase in sin, and [eventually] there is a humiliating punishment for them.” (3:178)
Third comment: Lady Zaynab did not address the ruthless ruler by his common titles; rather she addressed him by his name only. This was a slap on his face!
Fourth comment: Look at the courage of the daughter of “Allah’s lion:” right in the court of Yazid, she describes his rule and government as an usurped power and claims it to be her family’s right.
Fifth comment: By quoting the verse from Chapter Three, she tells Yazid that he should not considered his apparent victory as a sign of Allah’s pleasure. They may be delay in reprisal but it will eventually come.