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145) Determination in Despair – the Example of Maulatuna Zainab AS

19 November 2016

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِّأَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا ۚ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

Surat Aale Imran: 178

Let disbelievers not think that our giving them a respite is a good thing for them, indeed we give them a respite so that they may increase in trespass; and a crushing punishment awaits them

As we commemorate the Chehlum of Imam Husain’s SA shahadat, we recall that these are the days in which Husain Imam’s haram was marched from Karbala to Kufa and from Kufa to Shaam (Damascus). The ahle bayt were brought and made to stand shackled and without veil in the court of Yazid. As they stood there, the severed head of Imam Husain was brought and placed in a basin. With a cane, Yazid struck Imam Husain’s mouth mockingly saying that “you have such beautiful teeth.”

Having witnessed the massacre at Karbala and having been held captive and humiliated since, Maulatuna Zainab AS delivered a khutba in Yazid’s court. The remarkable aspect of this khutba is the clarity and determination of Maulatuna Zainab in face of the oppression and tyranny. Standing in a vulnerable position of weakness as a prisoner in Yazid’s court while he sits haughtily on his throne, rather than succumbing to grief and humiliation, Maulatuna Zainab reminds Yazid of the punishment that awaits him.  “On the face of things, Zaynab is totally in Yazid’s power; he has already killed Husayn and many of her kin, and subjected her and her sisters and nieces to abject suffering. He could potentially do even more harm. But she is not cowed. Her words express conviction that she is on the side of truth, that there will be a reckoning for the oppressor, and that God is with her always.” (An annotated translation of Maulatuna Zainab’s AS khutba was published in Sijill 43 and is available here.) Maulatuna Zainab asserts:

Do you think, Yazīd, that because we [she means here the women from the family of the Prophet, after Karbala] have been forced to traverse the wide spaces of the earth, under the open sky, driven as prisoners are driven—do you think that it shows our littleness in God’s eyes and your honor? Do you think this happened because you are so important to Him? You raise your nose and look around yourself gay and happy when you see this world gathered to you, all its affairs, like a herd of camels, flocking to you. Beware! This is but a respite, these are the few moments you can breathe easy, before the punishment descends. God has said [and this is another quote from the Qur’an] “Let disbelievers not think that our giving them a respite is a good thing for them, indeed we give them a respite so that they may increase in trespass; and a crushing punishment awaits them.”

By God, I do not fear anyone but God, and I address my grievances to none but Him. Plot your plot, do your worst, and expend all your efforts! By God, the shame of what you have done to us can never be washed away!

Maulatuna Zainab’s fortitude and courage, her clarity and conviction, her eloquence and devotion, highlight the strength of her determination in despair. In her powerful stance and speech is a lesson for all times.

As we see the images of millions of people flocking to the zarih of Imam Husain SA in Karbala during Chehlum remembering his sacrifice, while Yazid is forgotten and buried in an unknown corner, we realize that while tyranny may be overwhelming, truth always prevails. The strength to know this in the face of tyranny and oppression is the challenge.

May we draw inspiration from the example of our Hudaat. May we not fear anyone but God.

May Allah Ta’ala shower Imam Husain SA and his Ahle Bayt and Ashaab – especially the khatibat al-nisa’ Maulatuna Zainab AS – with his salawaat and rehmat.