THE INCIDENT OF UMM HARIS
When the Ahlul-bayt (as) were brought on the outskirts of a town located between Kufa and Shaam, and the inhabitants of that town were informed about this; a hot discussion arose between the people and many people were of the opinion that they should not be allowed to enter.
In this town lived a very pious lady called Umm Haris. When she learnt about the situation, she left her house and went round the streets and bazaars exciting the Islamic feelings of people. She said to them: “O you shameless people! These tyrants are bringing the family of the Holy Prophet (saww) in the most undignified manner and we are silently watching as spectators? It is better to die! I swear by Allah! If you do not do anything to stop them then I will myself go out and stop them. I will face them and sacrifice my life for the Ahlul-Bayt (as)”.
People calmed her down and assured her that they will go out and confront the army. But Umm Haris was not contented. She and another woman, who latter joined her, led 3000 men with open swords to confront the army. When they came face to face with the army, Umm Haris shouted to her men, “What are you waiting for? Kill them all to free the Ahlul-bayt (as) and take the possession of the heads of the martyrs”. A fierce battle ensued. However, since the soldiers of Yazeed were many in number, this group of believers were defeated in the battle. During its course, an arrow was shot on Umm Haris, which killed her instantly. (Ahwaal al-Nisaa)
This was the incident of a Mumina, who sacrificed herself in love of the Ahlul-Bayt (as). Every year on 15th of Rajab, we commemorate the martyrdom of Sayyida Zaynab bint Ali (as). We remember this great lady because of the great sacrifices she has made for Islam. The question, which we, and in particular our womenfolk must ask to themselves is: What can we do to keep the legacies of this great lady alive?
THE LEGACIES OF SAYYIDA ZAYNAB (AS)
There are three legacies of Sayyida Zaynab (as), which we, as followers of Ahlul-Bayt (as) must give importance to and strive to keep them alive.
Her first legacy was of imparting Islamic Education & Knowledge.
Sayyida Zaynab (as) was blessed with knowledge such that our fourth Imam, Imam Zaynul-‘Aabideen (as) said to her, “You O Aunt! All praises are due to Allah; you have been blessed with knowledge without being taught by anyone”.
Sayyida Zaynab (as) used her knowledge to educate the womenfolk of her time. The two sciences she mostly concentrated upon were: Ahkaam (Fiqh / Masael) &
the Tafseer of the Holy Quran.
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)
Her second legacy is to keep the “Azadari” (mourning) of her brother Imam Husayn (as) alive.
After the martyrdom of her beloved brother in Karbala, Sayyida Zaynab (as) took over the charge of propagating her brother’s mission to others. Despite being in captivity, she took advantage of opportunities as and when they arose and addressed Muslims on the streets and the palaces of Kufa and Shaam.
History tells us that together with others, Zaynab (as) was also imprisoned for one whole year in a dungeon of Damascus. The day they were released and Yazeed asked Imam Zaynul-’Aabideen (as), “O Ali ibn al-Husayn (as)! What can I do for you?” Zaynab (as) said to our Imam (as), “O Son! Go and tell Yazeed that we will not live here in Damascus – we will depart for Madina. But he must arrange a vacant house for us so that we can mourn my brother and the other martyrs of Karbala in it. O Son! Since we have left Karbala, we haven’t had proper opportunity to mourn and grieve”.
Thus we find that Zaynab (as) was the first to ever establish the institution of Majalis, wherein the Shuhada of Karbala can be mourned. This legacy must carry on! If only we knew the merits and rewards of such Majalis – we would never have left it for petty reasons! The following is a beautiful incident that has been related about the rewards of attending the Majlis of Imam Husayn (as).
[Once upon a time there lived a woman in a small village – who was a Muslim – but she had concealed her faith from her non-Muslim husband. Whenever a Majlis of Imam Husayn (as) was held, she used to secretly attend it and cry for Imam Husayn (as).
Once it so happened that for four months, she was unable to participate in any Majlis and this made her feel extremely dejected. Then one day, a Mumina kept Majlis in her house. When this woman found out she decided to attend secretly. As she was leaving her house, her husband sent a message to her that he would be bringing 40 guests for dinner that evening. Driven by the strength of her faith, this woman just left the house and attended the Majlis. As soon as the mourning was over and people were leaving, this woman realized that guests were coming to her house and she needed to prepare dinner for them. But the time was too little and her efforts would be futile. She was now convinced that she would have to face the wrath of her husband.
With these feelings, she arrived home. The moment she stepped on her threshold, she smelt a rare appetizing fragrance. She began to wonder what was happening? As she entered her house, she saw: The house was fully decorated; the candles were lighted and there were 4 women busy cooking. This woman approached the elderly lady and asked as to who they were and what they were doing? With tears trickling down her face, the elderly woman asked this woman, “Where had you been?” She said, “To the Majlis to mourn the Imam (as) who was innocently killed”. The lady said, “I am the ever sad mother of that beloved, thirsty, hungry and mercilessly butchered son –Husayn! These two are my daughters Zaynab (as) & Umm Kulthoom; and that young child is Sakinah (as). You had attended the Majlis of my son and because of that you would have faced the wild rage of your husband. We came here to save you”.] (Ahwaal al-Nisaa)
And the third legacy of Sayyida Zaynab (as) is to preserve Hijab & ‘Iffah (Veil & Chastity)
Hijab is the command of Allah (SWT). Muslim women must give importance to it and Muslim men must encourage their women to observe the same – for this will earn them the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Hijab is the pride of believers! Let me share an incident with you.
[There once lived a very pious man. His routine was: To offer prayers; to observe fasts; Invoke God and acquire livelihood by fair means. He had adapted to a simple and quiet life. But the problem was that sometimes he could not get his livelihood by fair means so he had to go hungry.
Once it so happened that this man did not get food to eat for 2 days. As he went to the riverbank to do wudhoo for prayers, he saw an apple floating on the river. He was so hungry that he took the apple and ate it; then it occurred to him that it may have belonged to someone and what he had done was wrong. Fretting over this, he went up the river to look for its owner. After a considerable distance, he saw an orchard on the bank and he was certain that this apple must have fallen from one of its trees. He met the owner and sought forgiveness. The owner told him, “We are three brothers who jointly own this orchard. I forgo my right to the apple but he should also seek forgiveness from the other two brothers”. So the pious man left to see them.
After walking for about 15 miles, he met another brother who also forgave him his right on the apple but asked him to meet the third brother. Therefore, the pious man had to cover yet another long distance to meet the third brother. When he met the third brother and explained him everything, this man looked at the pious person and said to himself, “Indeed this person is extremely honest. He covered all this distance only to seek forgiveness for one apple”.
He told him, “I will forgive you with a condition that you marry my daughter who is blind, deaf, dumb and limbless”. The pious man said, “I am a poor man. I can hardly take care of myself, how shall I be able to take care of your daughter?” The man said, “NO! If you want me to forgive you will have to do as I say”.
The poor man got married to that crippled girl. As he entered into the bridal chamber, he saw that an extremely beautiful girl waiting for him. Confused, he rushed out to check if he had met the right girl. The father of the girl then disclosed to him and said, “Indeed, this girl is my daughter. When I said she is blind, I meant she has never seen any stranger in her life; when I said she is deaf, I meant she has never heard anything evil such as gossiping and loose talks; when I said she is dumb, I meant she has never used her tongue in filthy and shameless matters. And when I said she is limbless, I meant she has never gone out to commit anything Haram.” (Ahwaal al-Nisaa)
Whenever the name of Sayyida Zaynab (as) is mentioned, the picture of Karbala comes into minds; And whenever Karbala is remembered, the Hijab of Sayyida Zaynab (as) comes into full view – how the Hijab was snatched from her by the enemies and what the Ahlul-Bayt (as) felt about this!
Thus the followers of this great lady must give importance to Hijab and preserve it to earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff