Lamentation for Syedah Zainab

Lamentation for Syedah Zainab

The following written by Br. Anis Kotia for use in English mourning gatherings:

She saw a dream, when she was young
Like a branch this girl was flung
The twigs she held broke off and fell
The tree destroyed, who could she tell (1)

She had to face the greatest test
They took the lives of the best
Far from home so very far
Take me there to Karbala (2)

The severed heads, the severed hands
The desert winds, the burning sands
The thirsty lips, the greedy hoard
The empty tents, the fallen sword (3)

Never a woman abandoned so
Never a woman forgotten so
Only the good in this world suffer
Their blood is shed by evil doers (4)

They named her Zainab, a beautiful tree
Pride of her father, of you and me (5)


(1) Refers to a dream she had in her childhood in which she saw she was caught in a tree that was uprooted and she held on to two branches, both of which broke, then she held on to two twigs, which broke off and she fell hard on to the ground with no one to support her. On mentioning it to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) he told her that the tree referred to him and the two branches referred to both of her parents, Imam Ali and Syedah Fatimah, whilst the two twigs referred to her brothers Imam Hasan and Husain, who would both be killed and she would suffer as a consequence.

(2) Refers to her journey to Karbala and how lovers of the Ahlulbayt long to make the journey

(3) Refers to the tragic events that befell the Ahlulbayt in Karbalaa, with reference to the severing of the blessed heads of Imam Husain and his companions, after which they were put onto spikes. The extreme thirst is a reference to extreme thirst experienced by the family and Companions of truth, since Shimr and Ibn Ziyaad did not offer them any water to drink throughout the tragic event. The empty tents refers to the final moments in which Imam Husain (as) went to each tent and found them empty of his companions and supporters. The sword refers to the Prophet’s sword which the Imam had inherited from him, along with other artefacts. The greedy hoard clearly refers to the enemies of the Ahlulbayt.

(4)  These couplets are a summary of the life of Syedah Zaynab (as)

(5) These two lines refer to different narrations which explain her name: some explain it as a beautiful and fragrant tree, whilst others explain it as Zain (beauty) + Ab (father) meaning beauty of her father. Which is a reference to her eloquence and speech patterns as observed when she spoke before the likes of Shimr, Ibn Ziyaad and Yazeed. Observers remarked how she spoke like her father, Imam Ali (as).

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