Sabr & Tabligh in the life of Sayyida Zaynab (a.s)


In the days of Firo’un, magic was prevalent. When Prophet Musa (as) came to Firo’un to inform him about his prophethood, Firo’un asked him to produce an evidence for the same.

“If you have brought a sign then produce it if you are truthful. So he threw down his staff and behold, it was a manifest python. Then he drew out his hand, and behold it was white for the onlookers”. (7:106-108)

The immediate reaction of people present there was that Musa (as) was a great magician. So to challenge him, Firo’un invited the great and renowned magicians of Egypt. The magicians threw their sticks and they turned into snakes. Seeing this Musa (as) was taken aback. But Allah (SWT) said to him, “Throw your staff”. (7:117)

Which he (as) did and it turned into a large python swallowing the fake snakes of the magicians. When the magicians saw this, they realised that what Musa (as) had done was not a magic but a great miracle so they all fell down in prostration and expressed their belief in Allah (SWT) saying:

“We have believed in the Lord of the worlds. The Lord of Musa and Haroun”. (7:121-122)

Firo’un was very disturbed by the turn of events and he promised to cut the hands and feet of the magicians; and then crucify them for believing in Allah (SWT). It was here that the magicians exhibited their firm belief in Allah (SWT) and prayed to Him:

“O our Lord! Pour patience upon us and grant us to die as Muslims –those who submit to Your will”. (7:126)


One of the titles of Sayyida Zaynab (

a.s.) is that of As-Sabirah meaning ‘the patient one’. The reason why she was given this title is because trials and tribulations in her life were predicted by the Holy Prophet (saww) on the day she was born and in her entire life she exhibited the highest level of Sabr when encountered by hardships and difficulties. There are two heart-rending incidents that have been related about her.

One incident is about the time of her birth. It is related that when her father, Imam Ali (as) saw her for the first time, Imam Husayn (as) who was 3 years of age at that time, was with him. The young child exclaimed in delight: “O father! Allah has given me a sister”. At those words, Imam Ali (as) began to weep. When Imam Husayn (as) asked him the reason for crying, he (as) said,

“My son! You will soon find out”. Ali (as) and Fatima (as) did not name the child until a few days after her birth. This is because they wanted to give this honour to the Holy Prophet (saww) who was on a journey. When the Holy Prophet (saww) returned and the child was brought to him, he (saww) took her into his laps and kissed her. Thereupon Jibrael came and said, “O Muhammad! The child shall be named Zaynab”. Jibrael then wept. When asked for the reason of crying, he said, “O Prophet of Allah! This child shall be entangled in trials and tribulations from a very young age. She will first weep over your separation; then she will moan her mother; then her father; and then her brother Hasan. Thereafter, she will encounter trials at the

land of Karbala and tribulations of that lonely desert, which will turn her hair grey and her back will be bent”. When the members of the family heard this prophecy, they all broke down in tears. Imam Husayn (as) now understood why his father had also wept. (Chauda Sitaare)

The second incident is when Sayyida Zaynab (as) was only 5 years of age. It is related that she saw a very frightening dream. A violent wind arose in the city and darkened the earth and the sky. The little girl was tossed in the air and suddenly she found herself stuck in the branches of a huge tree but the wind was so strong that it uprooted the tree. Zaynab (as) caught hold of its branches but too broke. She then grabbed two twigs but these two gave way and finally she fell down without support. When she woke up, she rushed to her grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, and narrated her dream. The Holy Prophet (saww) wept and said, “O Daughter! That tree is me who will shortly depart from this world. The branches are your parents Ali and Fatima and the twigs are your brothers Hasan and Husayn. They will all depart from this world before you and you will suffer their separation and loss”. (Zaynab bint Ali)

Her personal loss has been summed up in three sentences of her Ziyaarah that we recite:

Peace be on you O the one who was thoroughly tested under trying hardships just like Husayn – the oppressed.

Peace be on you who was kept away from her homes.

Peace be on you who was held as a prisoner in many cities.


One of the many lessons that we learn from the life of Sayyida Zaynab (as) is about Tabligh – her strong determination to propagate the message of Allah (SWT). Many people think that the work of Tabligh is easy. Little do they realise the problems, which come along in this mission. A Muballigh who had devoted his entire life in Tabligh was once asked, “What are the most difficult things in Tabligh?” And he replied, three things:

Firstly, steadfastness against rejection by people:

Look at what Quran is saying about Prophet Nuh (as). He (as) preached for 950 years but he (as) got only handful of people who believed in him. Eventually, he (as) turned towards Allah (SWT) and complained to him saying:

“Indeed whenever I have summoned them, so that You might forgive them, they would put their fingers into their ears and draw their cloaks over their heads; and they were persistent (in their disbelief) and disdainful in (their) arrogance”. (71:7)

Secondly, dealing with the real ignorant people.

Who are the real ignorant people? They are not the ones who simply do not have knowledge – rather they are those who do not have knowledge & they do not know that they do not have knowledge. Imam Ali (as) has said,

“People are of four kinds:

o Those who do not know and they know that they do not know.

o Those who do not know and they do not know that they do not know

o Those who know but they do not know that they know

o And those who know and they know that they know”.

The worst and most troublesome among them are those who do not know and they do not know that they do not know!! When the Muballigheen encounter such people, their patience is put to test and the best way of dealing with such is:

“When the ignorant address them, they say: ‘Peace’” (25:63)

And thirdly, despite frustrations, to show leniency.

A Muballigh in his mission may encounter numerous frustrations from the people. He or she must strive to be keeping the mind cool and show leniency to the people. Allah (SWT) is telling His prophet: “If you were strict and hardhearted, they would have left you”. (3:159)


Sayyida Zaynab (as) was blessed with profound knowledge and she worked hard to propagate the message of Allah (SWT) to others and in particular, to the womenfolk of her time. She was known as ‘Aqeelatu Bani Hashim meaning ‘the most intelligent of the children of Hashim’. It is related that as a child of only five years, Zaynab (a.s.) was once sitting on the lap of her father Ali (a.s.). He (a.s.) asked her to say “One” and she repeated, “One”. Thereafter, he (a.s.) asked her to say “Two” but Zaynab (a.s.) kept quiet. When her father asked, “Zaynab!

Why aren’t you saying ‘two’?” She replied, “Once the heart has accepted ‘the One’ (in reference to One God), how can the tongue say ‘two’?” (Chauda Sitaare)

Regarding her knowledge, Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn (a.s.) once addressing his aunt Zaynab (a.s.) said, “You O Aunt! Alhamdulillah are such a knowledgeable person whom no one has taught” implying that her knowledge was a Divine gift. History relates that when Zaynab (a.s.) was living in Madina, she used to conduct sessions for the womenfolk of Madina teaching them the Ahkaam ‘Shari’ah Laws’. When Imam Ali (a.s.) officially assumed the role of Caliph and chose the city of Kufa as his capital, Sayyida Zaynab (a.s.), migrated to Kufa with her father. There, the womenfolk of Kufa came to Imam Ali (a.s.) to request him to allow Zaynab (a.s.) to conduct sessions for them. Permission was granted and she taught Ahkaam and the Tafseer of the Holy Quran. (Chauda Sitaare)

After the martyrdom of her beloved brother in Karbala, she took over the charge of propagating his mission to others. Despite being in captivity, she took advantage of opportunities and addressed Muslims on the streets and the palaces of Kufa and Shaam.

Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff


One thought on “Sabr & Tabligh in the life of Sayyida Zaynab (a.s)”

  1. Bibi Zainab A.S.’s efforts will never be forgotten. We are here today because of her and Imam Zainul Abideen’s knowledge to use the media available, at that time, to filter the truth of what happend to Imam Hussain A.S. Justice will be served when the true, Imam Mehdi A.F. appears. Justice will be served. InshAllah.


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