By Fawad Hasan
September 22, 2018
We have all heard about the valour of men
in Islamic history but its seldom that women are praised for their bravery.
The 11th of Muharram is commemorated as
Youm-e-Zainab (Bibi Zainab’s Day) to pay homage to one of the strongest women
in Islam, who led the movement after the tragedy of Karbala and spread the message
of her brother, Imam Hussain (AS). On this day, Muslims celebrate and remember
the women of Shia Islam.
Remembered as the “mother of believers”,
Bibi Khadija (SA) was the first woman to accept Islam and believe in Hazrat
Muhammad’s (PBUH) Prophethood. It is believed that day Hazrat Jibrail came to
the Prophet (PBUH) and gave him the revelation that he was chosen as God’s
messenger, he shivered in fright. However, Bibi Khadija (SA) is said to have
When the message of Islam was being spread
and strict economic sanctions were imposed on the Prophet (PBUH) and his
supporters, Bibi Khadija (SA) spent her wealth for the cause.
The Prophet (PBUH) once said that Khadija
was one of the four most remarkable women in the world. As reported in Musnad
of Imaam Ahmad Hadees 2663, he said,
“The four greatest women of mankind were: Bibi
Khadija, Fatima bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Emran and Asiya bint Muzahim
Bibi Fatima (SA) was the Prophet’s (PBUH)
daughter, whom he termed the leader of women in paradise. It is said that
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would always stand up when Fatima was present and would
visit her every time he left Madina.
The Prophet (PBUH) said,
“Fatima is a part of me, whoever upsets her
upsets me, and whoever harms her harms me.” (Sahih Muslim, v. 5, p. 54)
It is said that when Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) died, she went to the court of the then ruler by herself and asked for
her property rights. (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 53, Number 325)
Zainab’s (SA) life and struggle serves as
an inspiration for women all over the Islamic world. Shias consider her the
flag-bearer of Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement after he was killed along with his
72 close aides in the tragedy of Karbala.
Yazid’s forces had held the family of Imam
Hussain (AS) captive and made them travel on foot from Iraq to Syria. Bibi
Zainab (SA) ensured that she narrated the story of Karbala everywhere she went
while adopting her father’s style. The then leader of Shia Islam, Hazrat
Zain-ul-Abideen (AS), was ailing and could not lead. It is believed that Zainab
(SA) stepped in to fulfil his duties and was often consulted by him in deciding
their political moves.
Few know that there was also a Christian
family among the rank and file of Imam Hussain’s (AS) army. Hazrat Wahb-e-Kalbi
was still in his teens and newly married when he decided to join Imam Hussain
(AS) in Karbala.
According to a Shia history portal Al
Mujtaba, Wahb was returning to his homeland
when he heard Imam Hussain’s (AS) speech and joined his movement.
When finally on the day of Ashura, Wahb
asked for Imam Hussain’s (AS) permission to let him go to the battlefield, the
Imam was not sure. Wahb’s mother pleaded him and said: “O’ grandson of the
prophet of Islam! It will be an honour for me if my son fights for you and
gives his life protecting you.”
Wahb, and his mother, are believed to have
also been killed on the battlefield.
Very little is said about Bibi Fizza, a
slave who was freed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and tasked to take care of Bibi
It is said that Fizza was never treated
like a servant by Bibi Fatima, who equally divide the chores between
themselves. Bibi Fatima is believed to have protected orphaned children
following the tragedy of Karbala.
According to a historian Maqbool Ahmed who
wrote a book about Fizza (SA), the brave lady acted as a shield for Bibi Zainab
when she was brought to Yazid’s court in chains.