February 14, 2009
Sermon of Lady Zaynab (a) in the Court of Yazid
O Yazid, if you consider our defeat as your achievement then you will have to pay its price. Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and place of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope. You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honoured us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonour that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the oppressors and the unjust.
Sermon of Lady Zaynab (a) in the Court of Yazid When they reached the outskirts of Damascus they were made to halt. Yazid was informed of their arrival and he fixed a date for their entry into the city.
On the morning of the appointed day, the members of the family of the Holy Prophet (s)* were led into Damascus. They were tied with ropes and herded together like goats. If anyone stumbled she was whipped. The city streets had been decorated and the sound of music filled the air. People came out in throngs wearing festive clothes and rejoiced when they saw the procession, preceded as always by the heads of the martyrs. Bearing themselves with dignity and self-respect, the prisoners were paraded through Damascus. Zaynab (a) even cast aside the offerings of food that some of them out of compassion offered them.
The son of an enemy of the Prophet (s) who had waged war with Imam Ali (a) was among the crowds. When he saw Imam Zayn ul-Abidin (a) he jeeringly asked him who was now victorious. In reply the Imam said: "If you wish to find out who has been victorious, do so when it is time for prayer and the Adhan and Iqamat are recited."
In this manner the captives were paraded until the afternoon when they reached the palace of Yazid. There he was seated on his throne and was much pleased when he saw the forty-four bound captives arrive. The head of Husayn was then brought to him on a golden tray. He struck the Imam’s teeth with his stick and said: "O Husayn! You have paid the price of your revolt."
When Zaynab (a) and her companions saw this show of arrogance they burst into tears and there were many present who were ashamed. But Yazid carried on gloating over his victory. He said to his subjects: "My ancestors who were killed at Badr have been avenged today. Now it is clear that the Bani Hashim had just staged a play to gain power and there was never any divine revelation."
Zaynab (a) however was not afraid. She drew herself up and boldly said for all to hear:
"Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and blessings on my grandfather, the Chief of divine prophets."
"O Yazid, Allah says, and his word is true, that: ‘Then evil was the end of those who did evil because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them’ [30:10]."
"O Yazid, do you believe that you have succeeded in closing the sky and the earth for us and that we have become your captives just because we have been brought before you in a row and that you have secured control over us? Do you believe that we have been afflicted with insult and dishonour by Allah and that you have been given honour and respect by Him? You have become boastful of this apparent victory that you have secured and you have started feeling jubilant and proud over this prestige and honour. You think that you have achieved worldly good that your affairs have become stabilised and our rule has fallen into your hands. Wait for a while. Do not be so joyful. Have you forgotten Allah’s saying:
‘The unbelievers should not carry the impression that the time allowed to them by us is good for them. Surely we give them time so that they may increase their evil deeds, and eventually they will be given insulting chastisement’ [3:178]"
"O son of freed slaves, is this your justice that you keep your own daughters and slave maids veiled while the daughters of the Prophet of Allah are being paraded from place to place exposed."
"You have dishonoured us by unveiling our faces. Your men take us from town to town where all sorts of people, whether they be residents of the hills or of riversides have been looking at us."
"The near as well as the remote ones, the poor as well as the rich, the low as well as the high – all casting their glances at us while our position is such that there is no male relative of ours to render us help or support."
"O Yazid, whatever you have done proves your revolt against Allah and your denial of His Prophet (s) and of the Book and Sunnah that the Holy Prophet (s) brought from Allah. Your deeds should not cause amazement because one whose ancestors chewed the livers of the martyrs, whose flesh grew up on virtuous people, who fought against the Chief of divine prophets, who mobilised parties for fighting against him and drew swords against him, should conspicuously excel all Arabs in unbelief, sinfulness, excesses, and enmity against Allah and His Prophet (s)."
"Remember that the evil deeds and sinful actions that you have committed are the result of unbelief and old rancour you bear because of your ancestors who were killed in Badr."
"One who cast his glance of enmity, malice and rancour upon us does not lag behind in practising enmity against us. He proves his unbelief, declares it with his tongue and jubilantly proclaims: ‘I have killed the sons of the Prophet (s) of Allah and made his progeny captive,’ and wishes that his ancestors had lived to see his achievement and to have exclaimed, ‘O Yazid, may your hands not lose their strength, you have wreaked good vengeance on our behalf.’"
"O Yazid, you are striking the lips of Imam Husayn with your stick in front of this crowd while these very lips used to be kissed by the Prophet (s) of Allah, and yet your face reflects pleasure and happiness."
"By my life, by killing the chief of youths of Paradise, the son of the chief of Arabs (Ali (a)) and the shining sun of the progeny of Abd ul-Muttalib, you have deepened our wound and uprooted us completely."
"By killing Husayn ibn Ali (a) you have gained nearness to the state of your unbelieving ancestors. You proclaim your deed with pride and if they were to see you they would approve of your action and pray that Allah may not paralyse your arms."
"O Yazid! If you had heart enough to take account of your nefarious deeds, you yourself would surely wish your arms to be paralysed and severed from your elbow and you would wish that your parents had not given birth to you because you would know that Allah has become displeased with you. Allah, Grant us our rights. Avenge those who have oppressed us."
"O Yazid! you did what you wished, but remember that you have cut your own skin and your own flesh to pieces. Soon you will be brought before the Holy Prophet.
You will be overburdened with the weight of your sins committed by shedding the blood of his progeny and by dishonouring his family. The place to which you will be taken will be before all the members of his family. The oppressed will be avenged and the enemies will be punished."
"O Yazid ! It is not seeming for you to swell with joy after slaying the Prophet’s progeny. ‘Reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive and are provided sustenance from their Lord; rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace’ [3:169-170]."
"Allah is sufficient to deal with you. The Messenger of Allah is your antagonist and Hadrat Jibra’il is our support and help against you."
"Those who have made you the head of state and burdened the Muslims with your leadership will soon find out what awaits them. The end of all tyrants is agony."
"O Yazid. I speak not to you thus to warn you of the severe chastisement in store for you so that you should be regretful for you are one of those whose hearts are hardened, souls are rebellious and whose bodies are busy in Allah’s disobedience while they are under the curse of the Prophet of Allah. You are from among those in whose heart Shaytan has made his abode and has been breeding young ones."
"How amazing it is that the virtuous people, sons of the divine prophets and vicegerents are killed at the hands of liberated slaves, evil-doers and sinners.
Our blood is shed by their hands and our flesh serves as food for them. We feel grieved for those whose bodies are lying unshrouded and unburied in the battlefield, wounded with arrows."
"O Yazid, if you consider our defeat as your achievement then you will have to pay its price."
"Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and place of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope."
"You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honoured us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonour that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the oppressors and the unjust."
"Praise be to Allah who gave good end to His friends and granted them success in their aims, and thereafter called them back to His Mercy, Pleasure and Bliss, while you hurled yourself into evil and mischief by committing injustice against them. We pray to Allah to favour us with full recompense through them and grant us the good of Khilafat and Imamat. Surely Allah is Kind and the Most Merciful over His creatures."
* (s) Lit., sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam. Trans., May the peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny
** (a) Lit., ‘alayhi-s/’alayha-s/’alayhim-u salaam . Trans., Peace be upon
Selected Chapter from The Victory of Truth: The Life of Zaynab bint Ali by M.H. Bilgrami