Zaynab, is an arab female name that means the tree that looks good and smells good. The book "taj al-'aroos" says that Zaynab is a composed name that comes from "Zayn (beauty/adornment)" and "Ab (Father)."
Zaynab daughter of Imam Ali (peace be upon both of them) was the spokesperson and the eloquent sermonizer of the tragic bloody event of At-Taf and the journey of captivity after it. She (peace be upon her) played the role of media, speaking about the reckless and evil ruling of Bani Umayyah, their crimes and vices, and their killing of the pure household of the Holy Prophet (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him and his holy Household) wherever they found them. So she (peace be upon her) stood to expose their evil acts and reveal their intentions, and without any fear, she (peace be upon her) stood up to deliver her speech as captive to the crowds of Kufa people, she scolded and reprimanded them for repealing and non fulfilling their promises to Aba Abdillah Al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) saying: "O people of Kufah! O you deceivers! O you who break your pledges and retreat back! You traitors! May the cries never end and the tears never diminish. You are like the woman who painstakingly and with great labour twines a strong rope, and then herself unwinds it, thereby wasting her effort and energy. Your false pledges contain no element of truth and sincerity. Your tactic has become flattering the maids and nodding your heads in agreement to the enemies...Woe be upon you! Do you know which part of the Messenger of Allah you have cut? And which vow you have broken? And whose blood you have shed? And which respected family you have brought to the public (as captives)? And whose sanctity you have violated? You have done that, which could tear down the skies, open the earth, and make the mountains vanish. As far as the earth goes and as deep as the skies go, your obvious deed has no like, no similarity and no decency. Indeed you have done the ugliest, the most grievous and gruesome deed..."
She (peace be upon her) confronted the tyrants of her time Ubaydullah Ibnu Zyad in Kufa, and Yazeed Ibnu Mu'awiyah in Syria, she was a heroine by her words, patience, courage and wisdom. Like described her the famous Egyptian author "Bint Shati'" in her known book "The heroine of Karbala."
The bravery of Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her) was not the result of Karbala event, but it is a self-rooted quality in her personality, as she (peace be upon her) inherited it from her parents and ancestors, who all were the example of pride, steadfastness and bravery in the battlefields. She (peace be upon her) is a sprig of the Mohammadian tree, her father (peace be upon him) was the most brave and her mother (peace be upon her) stood up confident and eloquent while her heart was full of sorrows after the death of her father (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him and his holy Household).
What are the titles and epithets of Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her)?
Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her) is one of the eternal fruits of the prophetic tree which root is firmly fixed and which branch is in the sky. The purity of Lady Fatima, the infallibility of Imam Ali, the redemption of Imam Al-Hussayn and above all the fragrance of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon them all) were mixed to produce this unique personality of Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her), called "The mother of calamities."
It was five years after the Muslims had accompanied the Prophet (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him and his holy Household) and his family in the migration (hijrah) to Medina, when the Holy Prophet's daughter, Lady Fatima (peace be upon her), gave birth to a little girl. When her father, Imam Ali (peace be upon him), saw his daughter for the first time Imam Hussayn (peace be upon him), who was then almost three years old, was with him.
The boy exclaimed in delight, "O father, Allah has given me a sister." At those words Imam Ali (peace be upon him) began to weep, and when Hussayn (peace be upon him) asked why he was crying so, his father answered that he would soon come to know. Fatima and Ali (peace be upon them both) did not name their child until a few days after her birth, for they awaited the Prophet's return from a journey so that he could propose the name.
When finally the baby girl was brought before him he held her in his lap and kissed her. The Angel Jibra'il came to him and conveyed the name that was to be hers, and then he began to weep.
The Prophet (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him and his holy Household) asked why Jibra'il wept and he answered, "O Prophet of Allah, from early on in life this girl will remain entangled in tribulations and trials in this world.- First she will weep over your separation (from this world); thereafter she will bemoan the loss of her mother, then her father, and then her brother Hassan. After all this she will be confronted with the trials of the land of Karbala and the tribulations of that lonely desert, as a result of which her hair will turn grey and her back will be bent."
When the members of the family heard this prophecy they all broke down in tears. Imam Hussayn (peace be upon him) now understood why earlier his father had also wept. Then the Prophet (prayers and Allah's (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him and his holy Household) named her Zaynab (peace be upon her).
The holy Prophet (prayers and Allah's peace be upon him) has said: "He who cries on the calamities of this girl is like he who cries on her brothers Hassan and Hussayn."
One of her names is "Umm Kulthum" and also "Umm Al-Hussayn," She was also called Zaynab Al-Kubra (the elder) to differentiate her from her little sister.
During the days of persecutions the narrators used to call the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) "Abu Zaynab" (Father of Zaynab) like quoted by Ibnu Abi Al-Hadid in its explanation of the Peak of Eloquence, stating they used to call Imam Ali (peace be upon him) Abu Zaynab because this nickname was not known to his enemies.
Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her) has many epithets, which all can't give her the adequate praise, and all words are not able to describe her qualities...
Her most important epithets are:
"The ascetic captive, the virtuous devout worshipper, the full rational, the forbearing weeper, the informed, the only one documenting, the eloquent stranger, the courageous captive, the oppressed, Haydar's daughter, the Daughter of Talibiyyin, the deputy of Az-Zahra, Karbala heroine, the Kaaba of calamities, the Kaaba of sorrows, the orphans' foster, Waliyyatu Allahi Al-'udhma, Assiddeeqatu Al-Soghra, the one ordering the good, Aqeela Bani Hashem, the loved of Al-Mustafa, the apple of the eye of Al-Murtada, The most pure in the love, the teacher without being taught, the one who understands without explanation, the sister of Al-Hassan Al-Mujtaba, the one which knowledge and certainty "yaqeen" is complete, the owner of the special deputy-ship, the satisfied of the destiny, the partner of Al-Hussayn the master of martyrs..."