Profundities of Ziyaarat in Shaam

Profundities of Ziyaarat in Shaam

By Sadaf Zahra

“And say not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah, “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.” (Holy Qur’an, Surah Al Baqarah, verse 154)

The Arba’een of Shuhada e Kerbala (AS) – on 20 th Safar – is equally significant in commemoration as is ‘Ashura (10 th Muharram) since this marks the achievement of Imam Hussain’s revolution. These forty days are a suitable opportunity for people to develop the love of Imam Hussain (AS) and hatred towards his murderers, in their hearts. Forty consecutive days, from ‘Ashura up to ‘Arbaeen, also is a national ceremony of Tabarrah (condemnation) towards oppressors of the history.

In the first ‘Arbaeen of the Shuhada e Kerbala (AS), Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al Ansaari – one of the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) – was the first to pay respects and visit the holy tombs of Imam Hussain (AS). According to some narrations, the captive family of Imam Hussain (AS), on their release and return to Medina from Sham ( Damascus ), came to Kerbala to visit the Holy tombs of the martyrs of ‘Aashura. After his lamentation in the form of poetry and saluting the Martyrs of Kerbala, Jabir moved away and made way for the bruised and battered sister of Imam Husayn (AS) to perform his ziyaarat. One by one, each woman in the caravan rushed to the graves of their beloved to weep and to relive the incidents of ‘Aashura.

Furthermore, With the advent of the second Islamic month: Safar ul Haraam, the lovers of the Ahlul-bayt (AS) remember the suffering of Lady Zaynab (SA), Imam Sajjad (AS) and the family of the Prophet (SAWW), after Kerbala.

The 10 days preceding Arba’een are named as the ‘Ashra e Zainabiyya (the 10 days to mourn Lady Zaynab SA), remembering her sacrifices and brave attempts to take over the mission of Imam Husayn (AS) in the most effective manner – such that the whole incident of Kerbala has reached us today because of her propagation and sacrifices.

This article, therefore, covers the importance of Visitation (Ziyaarat) to Syria at the time of Arba’een e Shuhada e Kerbala (AS), and the aspects in which this pilgrimage would be fruitful for Believers, in both – this World & the Hereafter – Inshallah.

Realizing the need of offering this Visitation (Ziyaarat) to Syria

Though the Arba’een of Shuhada e Kerbala (AS) is an occasion for Shiite Muslims from all around the world to visit the Shrines at Kerbala, many also pay homage by offering salutations and visitation to Lady Zaynab (SA) in Damascus (Damishq), Syria .

Since the ‘Ashra e Zainabiyya is in remembrance of Lady Zaynab (SA), to further remember and console the Aal e Mohammad (SAWW) for the trials they faced after the incident of Kerbala, large numbers are drawn to Syria for Ziyaarat of this Holy lady who played an immensely important role in reviving the message of Kerbala.

For Zaa-ereen (plural of the word Zawaar – meaning those who ‘visit’ or perform Ziyaarat), being present PHYSICALLY – in Syria- at this time of the year, stimulates the feeling of Grief and Lamentation further, because they can ‘visually’ imagine the same place 1400 years ago, along with recollecting the tortures that the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) suffered, at the cost of fighting to save the Religion of Allah (SWT) – Islam, in its truest form.

The main intention for this Ziyaarat, thus is, to gain the Pleasure of Allah (SWT) by lamenting and remembering the ones who contributed all they had – their wealth, their lives and their families – towards His Religion.

Often, we claim to remember these personalities, bonding with them verbally throughout the year – by learning of their sacrifices and sending salutations to them. However, the qurbat (closeness) of being there – physically – on the same grounds where the bodies of such Holy personalities lie in peace gives a kind of satisfaction that the heart cannot describe. To be able to offer our salutations from so much closeness, physically and spiritually, adds to the essence of a Zawwar’s condolences, especially at the time of Arba’een of Shuhada e Kerbala (AS) – when Lady Zaynab (SA) looks forward to the recognition, response and love for the cause of Kerbala, from the followers of Ahlul-bayt (AS) – for their unsurpassed sacrifices and contributions.

Hence, since these personalities have such special ranks in the eyes of Allah (SWT),for us to gain closeness (qurbat) to them by means of Ziyaarat – not in just verbal form, but physical and most importantly, spiritual form – would bring us closer to the purpose of our Creation, being: the Pleasure & Qurbat of Allah (SWT); along with adopting the characteristics of the beloveds of Allah (SWT) to be able to reach perfection.

Preparing for the Ziyaarat on a Spiritual level

When preparing for Ziyaarat, everyone has different motives – which obviously depend on how much ma’rifat (understanding) they have about the objectives of performing Ziyaarat of such Holy personalities.

Although we have discussed what should be the prime objective of our Ziyaarat – i.e. the Pleasure and Closeness of Allah (SWT) – many Zaa-ereen pay visitation for further intentions such as:

•  Condolences for the Shuhada e Kerbala (AS): Lady Zaynab (SA) was known as ‘Shareekatul Husayn (AS)’ for her equal contributions towards the mission of Imam Husayn (AS) after Kerbala. She was rightly entitled to this honor for her patience over trials – of seeing her brothers and their companions fight a brave battle in Kerbala – and then the tribulations on the Ladies & Children of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) setting out as prisoners of War through Kufa and Shaam. Hence, on Arba’een, amongst the main intentions that one performs her ziyaarat is, to console her for the sacrifices of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW), particularly her brother Imam Al Husayn (AS) and his companions in Kerbala. At the same time, zaa-ereen have an equal reason to lament the trials that Lady Zaynab (SA) had encountered during the same time period, 1400 years back. Hence, their visit is a mark of respect and support towards her, giving her confidence that we still remember and salute the sacrifices of the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) in saving Islam.

•  Fulfillment of Haajaat ; with the strong belief that these Holy personalities have special ranks in the eyes of Allah (SWT) for their piety and devotion towards His Religion. Thus, their intercession in requesting Allah (SWT) to accept our Supplications & pleas would definitely stand a better chance of acceptance, than would our sinful tongues.

•  Shafaa (cure) from Physical & Spiritual Ailments : It is amongst the Miracles that the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) are blessed with, that they can intercede – for those who request them – for making Allah (SWT) cure the severest of Physical & Spiritual illnesses. Many thus, perform visitation for such purposes too, especially since Ziyaarat in Shaam on the eve of ‘Arbaeen at the Shrine of Lady Zaynab (SA) has been a site of miraculous Shafaa (Cure) for many disabled and physically challenged people.

•  Affection & Thanksgiving: Some Zaa-ereen have a great fascination and attachment for the person whose Ziyaarat is being performed, out of ma’rifat (deeper understanding) of the Blessed personality. Others also develop this fondness and attachment when their requests and haajaat have been fulfilled from their particular Ziyaarat. In cases as such, they perform the visitation out of Thanksgiving and/or a Hadyah of Affection.

All of the above are valid reasons for Ziyaarat; however, the most fulfilling in both this World & the Hereafter is that which is performed with Ma’rifat of the personality you are visiting. This of course would happen with thorough realization of the pleasure of Allah (SWT) gained in showing our love & affection for the very beloveds of Allah (SWT), and learning from their lives to adopt and apply a proper code of conduct in our daily ventures.

In any case, it is a known fact that every Zawwar of Lady Zaynab (SA) is gifted with her intercession, regardless of their niyyat in performing the Ziyaarat. The question then remains: how deserving are we of that intercession? This is only known when we return back from the Ziyaarat trip, and the resolutions we make, or, on the contrary, take for granted, the intercession of such Holy Personalities..

Hence, for an acceptable and fruitful Ziyaarat, we need to prepare ourselves such that our voyage results as a ‘spiritual’ migration than a mere physical migration.

The actual experience – with Ma’rifat (Deeper Understanding)

Ziyaarat, being a Holy visit and spiritual migration of a Zawwar, needs him to be purified from all evils and intentions. To help achieve this state of purity, it is the beauty of this religion to suggest ways in which we would embark on our journey whole-heartedly, focused on clear intentions. Listed below are just some of the many mustahibaat (recommended acts) before leaving for Ziyaarat:

  • To fast 3 days before embarking on the journey, to bond closer to Allah (SWT) and to resist all evils

  • To give alms in the way of Allah (SWT) to ward off all evils

  • To perform Ghusl, to spiritually cleanse and purify ourselves, to be worthy of visiting a Holy personality who is dear to the Almighty (SWT)

After having reached our destination, our Ziyaarat begins from every step taken towards the Holy Shrine. On the entrance of the Shrine, we seek permission to enter, as a sign of respect, knowing that the Shrine of Holy person is continuously under the circumambulation of Angels, and being showered with the Mercy and Blessings of Allah (SWT).

“And say not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah, “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not. ” (Holy Qur’an, Surah Al Baqarah, verse 154)

As we seek permission to enter the Holy Shrine, we make our entrance accepted and welcomed by the host (the Holy Personality) – Lady Zaynab (SA) in this case. From this point onwards, knowing the hospitality of the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW), the Zawwar should ‘feel’ and be confident that Lady Zaynab (SA) is now paying attention to each of the attendees, on an individual level – well aware of their attendance at her premises to offer their condolences on the occasion of Arba’een e Shuhaha e Kerbala (AS). The salutations (salaams) and conversations, words of affection and remembrance, lamentations & condolences we utter by tongue, and even those that we feel in our heart – all are being catered to, heard and being accepted. This, indeed, is the miracle of the Saints of Allah (SWT); and Lady Zaynab (SA) herself was known to be ‘Aalim ghayre Mu’alimmah (the learned who learnt without being taught by anyone) – because her astounding ‘ilm (knowledge) and fehm (understanding) was granted as a natural gift by the Almighty (SWT) for being from the pure lineage of the Holy Prophet (SAWW).

Hence, for a Zawwar who has offered visitation knowing that Lady Zaynab (SA) – despite millions being present at her Shrine altogether at Arba’een – has given each visitor the right of attention and affection, would thus have gained half the aim of this Visitation.

Further, the worthy Zawwar reminds himself continuously of the sacrifices of Lady Zaynab (SA), and her contributions towards the mission of Kerbala. Indeed, if one had no prior knowledge of her value and status, this visitation would not give as much satisfaction to him; in fact, the purpose of Ziyaarat would not be fulfilled even to a minimum level.

After getting ourselves acquainted with Lady Zaynab (SA), and offering salutations to her, praying to her to intercede for us and lamenting the trials of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) on the occasion of Arba’een, one significant aspect of Ziyaarat at this time of the year is the Azaadaari on the eve of Arba’een.

The eve of Arba’een is a spectacle of Maatam, Majlis and prayers, and, in the past decade, also a significant site of mo’jiza’s (miracles). The following are very commonly experienced ones seen by Zaa-ereen, and serve as a reminder of the greatness of Lady Zaynab’s personality and contributions to Islam:

  • The minaret of the Shrine of Lady Zaynab (SA) bleeding with fresh blood, often assumed as the blood of Shuhada of Kerbala (AS). Many interpret this as the Holy presence of Imam Husayn (AS), spiritually visiting his sister on the occasion of Arba’een

  • Flashes of light inside the Dome above the Mausoleum of Lady Zaynab (SA): denoting the Noor (light) of Ahlul-bayt (AS), and their spiritual visits to her Shrine, to offer their condolences on Arba’een

  • Shafaa (Miraculous cure) of those tied to the Zareeh of Lady Zaynab’s Mausoleun: such that those who come on wheel-chairs and couldn’t walk, leave the Shrine walking on their own feet; those who were blind, leave the Shrine with their eye-sight gifted back; those who couldn’t hear and speak were granted the ability to hear and speak. (Subb-haanallah!)

For those who experience the sight of these miracles, definitely have strong faith in the Mercy & Blessings of Allah (SWT) being showered on the Zaa-ereen, due to the presence of a Holy Lady who has gained closeness to Allah (SWT) because of her sacrifices and contributions for Islam.

Thus, this great opportunity of being present on such Holy grounds should be enough a reason for Zaa-ereen to make the most, by means of praying and asking for Maghfirat (Forgiveness) of their sins, so as to be acceptable in the eyes of Allah (SWT).

As a conclusion, for many who say that they were never ‘invited’ for the Ziyaarat, we need to realize that often it is not the invitation we should wait for; it all depends on how clear our intentions are in performing the Ziyaarat, our bonding with that personality is, and how willing we are to change ourselves to gain something for this world as well as the Hereafter, as a result of performing this Holy Visitation.

More places to see and their significance in Islamic History

Syria has been amongst the prime locations for Islamic history. Thus, there are many places to visit, for the purpose of offering our Salutations to the revered Holy personalities & places, and to revive the spirit of devotion towards our Religion, realizing the long and difficult way through which it has reached us.

The most important Ziyaarat in Shaam (Damascaus – Syria ) is the Shrine of Lady Zaynab (SA) – Grand daughter of the Hoy Prophet (SAWW) ; daughter of Lady Fatemah (SA) & Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib (AS); and sister of Imam Hassan (AS) & Imam Husayn (AS).

Shrine of the Beloved daughter of Imam Husayn (AS): Bibi Sakina Bintal Husayn (SA)

The next most visited place for Ziyaarat in Syria is the Shrine of the Beloved daughter of Imam Husayn (AS): Bibi Sakina Bintal Husayn (SA) – more known as Bibi Ruqaiyah (SA) in Syria . She was the 4 year old, beloved daughter of Imam Husayn (AS), who was tortured so much after the death of her father, that she died in the desolate Dungeons of Damascus even before they were released from prison to head back home.

Other places with revival of Historical elements that exist there are:

(1) The Bazaar of Shaam (now known as Bazaare Hameediyah) – which must be almost a kilometer long; after Kerbala, when the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) were brought to Syria as prisoners, this Bazaar (market) was especially lit up and decorated; large crowds of spectators attended to watch the procession of Ladies & children of the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) being walked through till the gate of the Darbaar (Court) of Yazeed.

(2) The Court of Yazeed (which is now the Bani Omayyid mosque) – where the following elements still exist:

  • The seven Adhaans that Yazeed had ordered to be recited at the time of call to prayer – to stop the sermon of Imam Sajjad (AS)

  • The throne of Yazeed inside the Bani Omayyid Mosque

  • The Mimbar (pulpit) from which Imam Sajjad (AS) gave the sermon in the Court of Yazeed

  • The porch on which the Ladies & Children of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) were made to settle, tied in chains and ropes

  • The Court of Yazeed was also a Church at one time in history – also denoting the place where Prophet Yahya (AS) was martyred. His Shrine exists inside the Bani Omayyid mosque as well

  • The place where the Head of Imam Husayn (AS) was kept whilst the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) were brought as captives to Shaam

  • The Musallah (praying place) of Imam Sajjad (AS)

  • The ruins and remains of Yazeed’s palace (aaraam-gaah)

(3) Aleppo (Halabb)

  • The Mash-had of Imam Husayn’s head: this is a very famous historical spot, where 1400 years ago, when the Caravan of prisoners were being headed towards the main city, passing through Aleppo, a Christian monk called Raahib paid money and requested to keep the Holy head of Imam Husayn (AS) for one night. He had placed his holy head on a stone slab, on which the stains of Imam Husayn’s blood got absorbed. Till date, the blood on the stone maintains its freshness, and this stone has been preserved at the same place for Zaa-ereen to visit and pay salutations to Imam Husayn (AS). Various attempts have been made to remove the stone slab from Aleppo and take across to Damascus , but all those who tried failed to do so. Hence, it is a miracle on its own, that for the sake of preserving history, Allah (SWT) wishes that Zaa-ereen take the 6 hours’ journey by road, to realize how the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) have been through such long distances on foot, in such severe conditions – and how their journey invited so many people to turn towards Islam – the religion of Truth and Justice.

  • The Shrine of Hazrat Mohsin (AS) – son of Bibi Umme Rabab & Imam Al Husayn (AS). This was the prematurely born and martyred son of Imam Husayn (AS), who died in the womb of Bibi Umme Rabab on the journey from Kufa to Shaam.

  • The Grand Bani Omayyid Mosque in Aleppo : The shrine of Prophet Zakariyya (AS) – father of Prophet Yahya (AS), is buried inside this mosque.

(4) Baab-e-Sagheer Graveyard:

  • The grave of Bibi Umm Kulthoom, grand daughter of Holy Prophet (SAWW)

  • The grave of Abdullah Ibne Ali Abnal Husayn (AS) – son of 4 th Imam (AS)

  • The grave of Bibi Fizza (SA), the helper of Bibi Fatemah Zahra (SA)

  • The grave of Bibi Umm e Salama, wife of the Holy Prophet (SAWW)

  • The grave of Bibi Umm e Habiba, wife of the Holy Prophet (SAWW)

  • The grave of Bibi Fatemah Sughra, daughter of Imam Husayn (AS)

  • The grave of Abdullah Ibne Ja’afar e Sadiq (AS) – son of 6 th Imam (AS)

  • The grave of Abdullah Ibne Ja’afar e Tayyar (AS) – cousin of the Holy Prophet (SAWW)

  • The place where 16 heads of Shuhada (AS) were kept

  • The well from which 4 th Imam took water and washed the heads of the Shuhada (AS)

  • The tub in which the heads of Shuhada (AS) were washed

  • The place where the Ladies of Ahlulbayt (AS) received back their tabarukaat

  • The grave of Bilal (RA), the first Mu’azzin in Islam

(5) Miscellaneous Ziyaarat places:

  • The Shrine of Prophet Habeel

  • The cave where the As-haab e Kahaf are sleeping

  • The Shrine of Bibi Sakina binte Imam Ali (AS)

  • The Shrine of Hazrat Hujr Ibn ‘Oday Al Kindi, companion of Imam Ali (AS)

  • The grave of Companion of Prophet (SAWW): Owais Al Qarani at Raqqah

  • The River of Euphrates running through Syria on way from Aleppo to Raqqah

Coming back with a renewed vision and mission..

After having embarked on this journey, a Zawwar who visits Syria at Arba’een should come back with an experience to last him a lifetime – not just one to relate with Islamic history, but also resolutions that would change his present and future.

To perform Ziyaarat with a broader vision – thus, not restricted to touching every Zareeh & beseeching our wishes – means to ponder over the life of the person whose ziyaarat you performed. Ask yourself, what have I learnt from his or her life? What sacrifices can I offer in their name, to please Allah (SWT)? And then come back home with a renewed vision and mission.

After spending a whole week in Syria on Arba’een – where a Zawwar would offer salutations to Lady Zaynab (SA) so many times a day – the least he can do is remember her in his daily life after he returns back from his journey; offering her our salutations from out here and converse with her the same way he did out there.

Remembering her sacrifices at every point, will make us achieve more perfection, by learning from her life and character – as she is Holier in the eyes of Allah (SWT) and indeed, following her footsteps will be highly rewarding for us as true Believers.

Hence, may we all get the chance to experience the true essence of performing Ziyaarat in Shaam on Arba’een, with Ma’rifat – and thus achieve the pleasure of Allah (SWT), in honoring the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and his Holy Progeny – the Ahlulbayt (AS)

Aamaal-r-Isthghaasa of Lady Zaynab (SA) for Removal of Difficulties :

•  Recite Ziyaarat of Sayyeda Zainab (SA) – (audio available on ; text available on enter page 780)

•  Then a 2 raka’at Namaaz e Istighaasa (like Fajr Salaat)

After finishing Namaaz, recite 3 times: (Taaa seeen meeem, tilka Aayaatul Kitaabil Mubeen, Ya Zainab Bintal Ameer Al Mo’mineen Adrikniyy )

•  Then pray for your wish to Allah (SWT) – giving the Waasta of Lady Zaynab (SA). Inshallah you will be successful.

Glossary & Footnotes:

(SAWW): Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam (Peace be upon Him and His Holy Progeny)
(AS): ‘Alaihis salaam (Peace be upon him)
(SA): Salaamullaah ‘alaih (Peace be upon her)
(SWT): Subhaanahu wa ta’aala (All Glory be to Him, and He is the Highest)
Shaam: Old name for city of Damascus (also written as Chaam)
Haramm: The premises of a Holy Sanctuary, consisting of the Holy Mausoleum, a mosque and a courtyard, for accommodating visitors (zaa-ereen) indulged in prayers and lamentation
Azaadaari: rituals of mourning and remembering the sacrifices of the Aal e Muhammad (SAWW) in the way of saving Islam
Zawwar: person who performs Ziyaarat
Zaa-ereen: plural of Zawwar
Shuhada: plural of Shaheed (meaning Martyr)
Zareeh: steel structure placed around the Mausoleum (grave) to protect & preserve it
Mash-hadd: a sanctuary housing some historical element
Maatam: Beating of chest out of grief
Majlis: Narrations & Lectures, reviving the tragedies of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW)
Mo’jiza: Miracle (as an element of revival of the tragedies of Aal e Muhammad (SAWW))


The Victory of Truth, the life of Zaynab Binte Ali (AS):


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