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The Forgotten Tabi'at (Series)

Inspiration from Life of Zainab Bint Ali

Zainab bint Ali’s Birth

Five years after Hijrah, Fatima (RA) gave birth to a baby girl.

It is narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) predicted the events and circumstances of Zainab’s entire life. He foresaw the role she would play in delivering Islam.

Fatima (RA) and Ali (RA) asked the Prophet (PBUH) to name the child. The Prophet answered,

“I will not go in advance of my Lord in this matter.” He then declared that the child should be named ‘Zainab’, meaning ‘the embellishment of the father’.

There is an array of opinions surrounding the date of birth of Zainab (RA). While some say it was the 5th day of Jamada Al-Awwal, others say it was the 1st day of Shabaan. But what we all know to be true is that Zainab bint Ali was blessed with the noblest lineage—a notably knowledgeable and pious family.

She was the daughter of Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) and Fatimah bint Muhammad (RA). She was the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the sister of Hassan (RA) and Hussain (RA).

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In her character, she depicted the greatest qualities of those who raised her.

In “serenity and thoughtfulness,” she was like Umm ul-Muminin Khadija, her grandmother (RA). In “innocence and bashfulness,” she was like her mother, Fatima Zahra (RA). In “fluency and expressiveness,” she was like her father Ali (RA). In “leniency and fortitude,” she was like her brother, Hassan (RA). And in “courage and repose of the heart,” she was like Hussain (RA).

Her face reflected her father’s admiration and her grandfather’s esteem.

Her Early Years

According to Nishwa Gardezi, Zainab developed a long-lasting bond of devotion to her brother Hussain (RA). In her mother’s arms, she would cry out her lungs and could not be pacified. But upon being held by her brother, she would keep quiet, gazing with pleasure at his face.

Inspiration from Life of Zainab Bint Ali - About Islam

Her mother, Fatima (RA), mentioned the intensity of Zainab’s love for her brother Hussain (RA) to the Prophet (PBUH). He heaved a deep breath and said with eyes watering with tears, “My dear child, this child of mine, Zainab, would be confronted with a thousand and one calamities and face serious hardships in Karbala.

Abdullah ibn Abbas reported that Ali (RA) was once teaching his daughter how to count. He asked her,

“Say, ‘one.’ Zainab (RA) replied, “One.” He then asked her “Say, two”. To this end, she was quiet. Upon inquiry by her father about her silence, Zainab (RA) said, “A tongue that pronounces ‘one’ cannot say ‘two”. Her father hugged and kissed her as a gesture of acknowledgement of her belief in the Tawhid of Allah (SWT).

It is also reported that when Zainab (RA) was about five years old, she had a strange and terrible dream. When she woke up, she immediately went to narrate the dream to her grandfather, the Prophet (PBUH).

He wept bitterly and said,

O, my daughter. The tree in your dream is me, who will soon depart this world. The tree’s branches are your father Ali and your mother Fatima. And the twigs you held on to are your brothers Hassan and Hussain. They will all leave you behind in this world, and you will suffer their loss and detachment.

Little was known of Zainab’s (RA’s) physical appearance while growing up. However, when the tragedy of Karbala befell her in her mid-fifties, she was forced to go out uncovered. Then people, obviously stunned by her beauty, exclaimed that she looked like a ‘shining sun’ and a ‘piece of the moon’.

Her Family

Upon attaining maturity, many sought Zainab for marriage, desiring to be joined with the family of the Messenger of Allah. However, Zainab (RA) married her first cousin, Abdullah ibn Ja’far.

He was the noblest man of the Hashimites and one of the most generous men of the Arabs. They had five children four sons and one daughter: Awn, Ali, Muhammad, Abbas, and Umm-Kulthum.

As she increased in age, she became vastly knowledgeable about Islam. She also became an advocate for women in a time when there really was no such thing.

Her intellect was seen to be extremely vivid. The capacity with which she absorbed information can only be described as outstanding. To her merit lies the memorization of the Holy Qur’an, the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) on adab and Islamic ethics, as well as the rules of education.

She would hold gatherings for women in which she would very concisely convey her knowledge. Among many subjects, she taught Islamic law and the Tafsir of the Qur’an. Women used to converge to take Islamic lessons from her and imbibe her manners and values.

She became known for her ability to teach. Although, by marriage, she was very wealthy, she lived modestly and gave generously to charity. Zainab delivered her classes to groups of women she identified as the ones to pass knowledge on to the next generation.

Her world was a place of travel where only that which was necessary for the journey to the hereafter should be taken. She was a woman of piety and had a deep love for worshipping Allah, spending her nights in prayer and her days fasting.

For these, she was bestowed with several titles, such as:

Al-Aqilah, the noblewoman; Al-Aalimah, the knowledgeable woman; Al Fasihah, the skillfully fluent; Al Kamilah, the perfect; and Aminatu al-Allah, the faithful of God.

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About Wardah Abbas
Wardah Abbas is a Lawyer who chose to pursue a career in writing. She’s passionate about Islam and has a particular interest in green and wholesome living. When she’s not writing, spending time with her family or bonding with a book, she can be found in the kitchen, whipping up edible ingredients into luscious skincare. Find her blogging at or visit her website at