The Role of Women in Karbala'
Sheikh Mansour Leghaei
Krabala , a Male-Female History
Adopting the same Islamic methodology, Imam Husain's family
accompanied him to Karbala . For, in such a great event of early
Islam, like many others, both men and women need to play their
If Imam Husain was the Master of the Martyrs of Karbala, Zaynab
also was the Master of the Messengers of Karbala.
If Imam Husain and his companions struggled against the
tyrannical regime of Yazid with their swords, Zaynab and other
ladies fulfilled that struggle with their tongues.
If Imam Husain and his companions revived Islam with their
blood, Zaynab and other ladies also carried out that message
with their speeches.
In fact, without them accompanying Imam Husain, who would have
narrated the true picture of Karbala ?!
Sakina, the Daughter of Imam Hussain
As unfortunately, there are so many controversies going around
regarding the life of Lady Sakina, I decided to put an end to my
speech with a few words about her life.
The term Sakina comes from dignity and hence Sakina means a
dignified girl. There is a common mistake among Arabic speaking
people who pronounce her name ‘Sokayna'. As Sokayna is a small
form of Sakina I suppose it is more appropriate to pronounce her
name Sakina not Sokayna.
Historically speaking, in Karbala she had been around 11 years
old. According to Tabari, Ibn Khallekan, Ibn Athir and many
other historians she died in the year 117 A.H.3 Therefore, she
has enjoyed the company of four Imams: Her father Imam Husain,
Her brother Imam Sajjad, and Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq (a.s.)
Imam Husain had two daughters. Fatima, and Sakina the younger
one. When Hassan Mothanna, her cousin asked for the hand of
Sakina in marriage, Imam Husain suggests Fatima, the older one,
the reason being ‘I suggest Fatima who resembles my mother more.
She is such a worshipping girl that most of the nights she prays
and most of the days she is fasting. And about Sakina, she is
engrossed with the Divine beauty of God and hence is not ready
to marry anyone at this stage.' 4
However, she married later, her other cousin Abdullah Akbar, son
of Imam Hassan, who was apparently martyred in Karbala.5
There is also another unproved narration that she had married
with Qasim, brother of Abdullah. I personally can not agree with
this narration. For, firstly it is not quoted in reliable
sources, and secondly, the narrators of Karbala agree that Qasim
had not yet reached the age of purperty in Karbala .
Who Died in Damascus ?
There is again a common mistake among people that Sakina died in
the prison in Damascus . They also mistakenly hold that she was
not more than 5 years old. Unfortunately, we cannot present any
historical proof for any of these.
The Captives in The Castle of Yazid
Imam Sajjad describes the scene. “We entered the castle of Yazid
whilst we were all wrapped with rope. One end of the rope was
around my neck and it had gone all through the little boys and
girls and ladies. The other end of the rope wrapped my aunt
Zaynab. Children and ladies would be whipped if they were slow
in walking. We entered the hall of the castle and ensitted in
the corner of the castle.”
Zaynab, daughter of Imam Ali and Fatima Zahra, had her old
clothes on and had been seated among her servants and other
ladies, just like an ordinary woman. Yet, the glory of her
personality was shining from under her old dress and hence,
attracted the attention of Yazid.
Yazid arrogantly shouted: ‘Who is that lady surrounded by her
Nobody replied. For the second time he repeated his question.
Again, there was no reply.
Finally, after the third time, one of her servants replied “She
is Zaynab, daughter of Fatima (A.S) daughter of the Prophet of