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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 role.

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.

Her Name

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.

Her Age

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.)

Marital Status

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 servants?!”

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 Islam.”


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