Today marks the birthday of Lady Zaynab (as), the daughter of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima (as). She is known as “The Heroine of Karbala” For her courage and heroism in being present in the battle of Karbala and protecting her brother, Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin (as). She is also known for her transmission of knowledge to women in Medina and Kufa. Her virtues of courage and knowledge were supremely manifest in her address in the Yazid’s court. A passage in the address reads:
“If you have gained something today by shedding blood, you will certainly be a loser on the Day of Judgment. On that day nothing but your deeds will count. On that day you will curse Ibn Marjana and he will curse you. On that day you and your followers will quarrel with one another by the side of the Divine scale of Justice.”
The passage conveys a deep understanding of the Qur’an, courage to face a tyrant, and incredible eloquence, which is not fully captured in the translation.
The Islamic sources (The Qur’an and Sunnah) do not privilege men in spiritual pursuits and perfection of the soul. They do, however, recognize a difference between the two, “The male is not like the female” (Qur’an, 3:36). As a result of this difference, while the attainment of spiritual perfection is not gendered, there are gendered modes of perfection, which complement each other.
While the general principles of goodness and spiritual perfection apply to men and women alike, they require an embodied model of emulation. For the male, these embodied ideals of perfection are The Prophet (pbuh) and the Twelve Imams (as). Lady Zaynab (as), like her mother, represents the female mode of spiritual and moral perfection. She brightly embodies the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt(as) and is an unparalleled model of emulation for women.
WILADAT SAYEDA ZAYNAB (as)
December 20, 2020