In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. Today is the birth anniversary of the Lady who nursed Islam back to life after his history's greatest-ever tragedy. No doubt the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates this auspicious event as the Day of the Virtuous Nurse. She was none other than Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her), the grand daughter of God's Last and Greatest Messengers to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Her genealogy is impeccable. Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her) was a blue blood scion of the House of Hashem, the noble leader of the Quraysh tribe who was descended from Prophet Abraham’s firstborn son, Prophet Ishmael. Her father and mother need no introduction. If her maternal grandfather was Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), her paternal grandfather was that protector of infant Islam, the Prophet’s beloved uncle and guardian, Hazrat Abu Taleb (PBUH) – the consanguineous brother of the Prophet’s father Hazrat Abdullah (PBUH). If her maternal grandmother was Umm al-Momineen or the Mother of all true Believers, Hazrat Khadija (peace upon her) the lady also known as Maleekat al-Arab or Queen of Arabia for her fabulous wealth that she all spent for Islam, her paternal grandmother was Fatema bint Asad (peace upon), the lady who had brought up the orphaned Prophet as her own son following the death of his grandfather Abdul-Mutallib and before that of his mother Amena bint Wahb (peace upon them). The merits of Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her), who gave her two youthful sons, Aoun and Mohammad, as sacrifices for the cause of Islam at Karbala, do not end here, in view of the fact that her brothers were Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them), the "Leaders of the Youth of Paradise."
She was married to her first cousin Abdullah, the son of the first migrant in Islam Ja’far at-Tayyaar, whose famous expounding of monotheism and the merits of Prophet Jesus and the Virgin Mary (peace upon them) in the court of Najashi or King Negus of Abyssinia (that is, modern day Ethiopia) when the polytheists of Mecca pursued him there, is recorded in golden letters. Her husband, who on being orphaned in childhood was brought up by the Prophet, was a brave, forthright and virtuous person, in addition to being a successful trader later in life. It could be said that the worship, piety and abstinence of Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her) were on parity with her parents and her grandfather Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). She used to spend the nights in reciting the Holy Qur’an and offering prayers. Throughout her life never did she once leave tahajjud or the late midnight prayer, even during journeys and the period of captivity in the aftermath of Karbala when she and the other members of history’s most heart-rending tragedy were forced to ride on bareback camels and confined to dungeons. The famous words of Imam Husain (PBUH) before he rode out to court martyrdom bear testimony in this regard. While bidding farewell to everyone in the encampment, he turned to her and said: "O Sister! Don’t forget me during the late midnight prayer.”
Her nephew Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBUH) says that never did his aunt neglect tahajjud and the daily nawafel or the supererogatory prayers. She used to perform them while seated because of the hardships of captivity during which the noble captives were bound with ropes and given very little to eat. At times she used to go without food for days by feeding the children with her share of the meagre meals. This is proof of her lofty spiritual status. When Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her) and the noble captives were taken to the palace of Obaidullah ibn Ziyad, the tyrannical governor of Kufa who was the mastermind of the Karbala tragedy, she controlled herself to a great extent despite the insults he hurled on the Prophet's blessed household. He mocked at the severed heads of martyrs, telling her to see what God had done to her household. Her reply emphasized the justice of God with the famous phrase: “I have seen nothing but the grace – of God,” made the Godless Ibn Ziyad angrier. The daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH) addressing him in one of the most eloquent sermons ever in Arabic exposed the crimes of the Omayyuds and moved the audience to tears:
"O son of Ziyad, we are the sisters of Husain (AS), the grand daughters of Muhammad (SAWA) whom you acknowledge as your prophet. You and the other henchmen of Yazid have, for the sake of worldly gains, flouted all the principles of Islam, have desecrated the dead bodies of the martyrs, despite the fact that it is strictly forbidden by religion, and subjected to us to the worst kind of ill treatment, although the Prophet had enjoined on all believers to treat the captives and particularly the women and the children with sympathy and consideration. Today you are gloating over your success and rejoicing; today you are thinking that you can insult and humiliate us to your heart’s content because there is nobody to say a word to you on our behalf, because you see us in this helpless condition with no one to befriend us, none to protest against the treatment you are meting out to us. But O tyrant! Let me warn you that you will find your success ephemeral and very soon the wrath of God will descend on you and on those whose cause you are espousing. Very soon the nemesis will overtake you and all the others who have ruthlessly killed my brother and other members of my family without the least compunction simply because they stood steadfast in their belief; because they refused to surrender their principles or compromise their ideals; because they refused to accept Yazid, whose stooge you are, as the caliph of Muslims on account of his being a known profligate, who had flouted all principles of Islam, trampled under foot all ethical concepts and reduced all human beings to an abject state.”
How prophetic! Today the golden-domed mausoleum of the lady who nursed back Islam to life, towers magnificently over the capital of her tormentors, attracting the faithful from all over the world. Her birthday continues to be celebrated worldwide wherever the followers of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt are found while no trace remains of her tormentors, not even their graves, let alone the palaces from which they ruled by terrorizing the people.