Name: Ruqayah (also known as Sukaynah)
Father: Imam Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Abu Taleb (Alaihisalam)
Mother: Lady Umm Rubab (Alaihisalam)
Birth: 20th of Rajab
Death: 13th Safar al-Mudhaffar, at Damascus, Syria
Sayyedah Ruqayah (Alaihisalam) ( also known as Sayyedah Sukaynah (Alaihisalam)) was the
youngest daughter of Imam Husayn (Alaihisalam). Sukaynah is a derivative of “sukoun”
meaning “peace.” Imam Husayn (Alaihisalam) used to pray for a daughter in his night
prayers, a daughter who would give him peace and Allah (SWT) granted him his
wish and blessed him with Sayyedah Sukaynah (Alaihisalam).
Sayyedah Sukaynah was the most beloved daughter of Imam Husayn (A.S.) and used
to sleep on his chest every night. She was a lively child, full of love and
happiness. Being the daughter of the holy Imam, she was different from other
children of her age in many ways. She was very religious and enjoyed reading
the Holy Quran and never missed her prayers. From a very early age, she took
great care to make sure that her head and face were properly covered when in
Imam Husayn (A.S.) was often heard saying, “A house without Sukaynah (A.S.)
would not be worth living in” She always had a sweet and cheerful smile and
a very friendly nature. Everyone loved Sukaynah (A.S.). Other children sought
her company as much as the grown ups did. She was very generous and always
shared whatever she had with others.
Like any other four-five year old when Sukaynah went to bed at night she
wanted to spend some time with her father. Imam Husayn (A.S.) would tell her
stories of the Prophets (A.S.) and of the battles fought by her grandfather
Imam ‘Ali (A.S.). She would rest her head on her father’s chest and Imam
Husayn (A.S.) would not move from her until she fell asleep.
There was a special bond between Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) and her paternal
uncle, Hadhrat ‘Abbas ibn Imam ‘Ali (A.S.). He loved her more than he did his
own children. If Sukaynah (A.S.) requested for anything, ‘Abbas (A.S.) would not
rest until he fulfilled her request. There was nothing that ‘Abbas (A.S.)
would not do to make Sukaynah (A.S.) happy. During the journey from Madinah to
Makkah and then Makkah to Karbala, ‘Abbas (A.S.) was often seen riding up to
the mahmel (a special saddle made for women) in which Sukaynah (A.S.) sat to
make sure that she had everything she wanted. Sukaynah loved her uncle just
as much. While in Madinah she would, several times a day, visit the house in
which Hadhrat ‘Abbas lived with his family and his mother, Umm al-Banin
When from the 2nd of Muharram the armies of Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah (LA) began
to gather at Karbala, Imam Husayn (A.S.) said to his sister Lady Zaynab (A.S.),
“The time has come for you to get Sukaynah used to going to sleep without my
being there.” Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) would follow her father at night and
Imam Husayn (A.S.) had to gently take her to Lady Zaynab (A.S.) or Lady Rubab
(A.S.), (Sayyedah Sukaynah’s mother).
At Karbala when from the 7th of Muharram water became scarce, Sukaynah (A.S.)
shared whatever little water she had with other children. When soon there
was no water at all, the thirsty children would look at Sukaynah (A.S.) with
their eyes full of hope, and because she could not help them she would have
tears in her eyes. Sukaynah’s (A.S.) lips were parched with thirst.
Several times Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) asked Imam Husayn (A.S.) for permission to
go and fight the armies of Yazid (LA). Each time Imam Husayn (A.S.) would
reply “‘Abbas, you are the captain of my army; you are my standard-bearer.”
Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) would never argue with Imam Husayn (A.S.).
Just then Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) came out holding a dried up water-bag
(mashk). The little princess of the generous Imam leading 42 children, each
with a dry water-bag. The children were shouting as if in chorus
Thirst, consuming thirst, is killing us.
She walked up to Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) and told ‘Abbas (A.S.) that the children
had all come to her asking for water. He could see that thirst, aggravated
by the scorching heat of the desert, was squeezing their young lives out of
them. ‘Abbas (A.S.) went to Imam Husayn (A.S.) and requested his permission to
go and get water for Sukaynah (A.S.) and the other children. Imam Husayn then
gave his permission. ‘Abbas put Sukaynah’s (A.S.) water-bag on the standard
(‘alam), mounted his horse and rode up to Imam Husayn (A.S.).
‘Abbas (A.S.) said “I have come to say goodbye.” Imam Husayn (A.S.) said “My
brother, come and embrace me.” Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) dismounted his horse.
There were tears in Imam’s (A.S.) eyes. As Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) prepared to
mount his horse, Imam Husayn (A.S.) said, “My brother, I want a gift from you.
I want your sword.” Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.), without uttering a word, gave his
sword to Imam Husayn (A.S.) and rode into the battlefield, armed only with a
spear and holding the standard. Each action of Imam (A.S.) verified that he
was not out there to fight
When Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) went to get the water, the children gathered around
Sukaynah (A.S.) with their little cups, knowing that as soon as Hadhrat ‘Abbas
(A.S.) would bring water she would first make sure that they had some before
taking any herself.
Sukaynah (A.S.) was standing next to Imam Husayn (A.S.), also with her eyes
fixed on the standard of ‘Abbas (A.S.). ‘Abbas (A.S.) reached the river bank
fighting Yazid’s men trying to block his way, killing many with his spear.
‘Abbas’ (A.S.) bravery was well known among the Arabs and the Yazidi troops
started to flee in different directions. As he bent down to fill the
water-bag, the standard disappeared from sight. Sukaynah (A.S.) was frightened
and looked at her father. Imam (A.S.) said, Sukaynah (A.S.), your uncle ‘Abbas
is at the river bank. Sukaynah smiled and said, al-hamdulillah (all praise
is for Allah) and called out all the children to welcome ‘Abbas.
With the water-bag filled, ‘Abbas (A.S.) wanted to get the water to the
anxiously waiting children as quickly as possible. Seeing him gallop towards
the camp of Imam Husayn (A.S.), a Yazidi commander shouted from the enemy
ranks that if even a single drop of water reaches Husayn’s camp, it would be
impossible to fight them on the battlefield.
When arrows were coming form all sides, ‘Abbas had only one thought in his
mind, how to protect the water-bag than his life. Hadhrat ‘Abbas (A.S.) lost
both his arms during the attack, trying to save the water-bag. The standard
fell onto the ground. Sukaynah (A.S.) could not see it any longer. She looked
at Imam Husayn (A.S.), but he turned his face away. Sukaynah (A.S.) began to
tremble with fear and her eyes filled with tears. She raised her hands and
prayed, Ya Allah! Do not let them kill my uncle ‘Abbas (A.S.), I will not ask
for water again and ran inside to her mother (A.S.).
When Sukaynah (A.S.) saw Imam Husayn (A.S.) bringing the blood drenched standard
she knew that her uncle ‘Abbas (A.S.) had been martyred.
Then came the time when the earth shook and Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) became an
orphan. The tyrannical forces of Yazid (LA) came to the tents. They looted
all the belongings of the holy Ladies (A.S.). They even snatched away the
hejab of the holy ladies (A.S.). The Prophet’s grand-daughters were left
bare-headed. Shimr (LA), the most evil of Yazid’s men, came too. Sukaynah
was crying for her father. Instead of comforting words, Shimr (LA) slapped
Sukaynah’s face and pulled off earrings from her ears. Blood poured from
little Sukaynah’s ears. Surely they would stop now. But they did not.
One-by-one they set fire to the tents. The helpless ladies and children ran
from one tent to another. Little Sukaynah’s dress was on fire, her ears were
bleeding. All Sukaynah wanted was her dear father.
She ran to the battlefield screaming: “Father, where are you? Father,
father, speak to me father.”
As the night descended, since Imam ‘Ali ibn Husayn (A.S.) also known as Zayn
al-‘Abedin (A.S.), was unconscious due to his illness, Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.),
the daughter of Imam ‘Ali (A.S.), took it on herself to protect the ladies and
children. She gathered all the ladies and children, in to one small space in
between the gutted tents. Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) lay on the ground
surrounded by these widows and orphans. There was no fire, no light. Only
the moon cast its dull light.
On the night of ‘Ashoura (also known as Sham Ghariban), when Imam Husayn
(A.S.) and his companions were lying headless in the battlefield, back in the
tents, Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) was gathering all the children and the ladies
together. She noticed that little Sukaynah (A.S.) was missing. She asked
Sayyedah Rubab (A.S.), but even she did not know where her daughter was. The
two holy ladies panicked and ran out of the tents looking for her.
They searched everywhere for the young girl but in vain. Finally, in
desperation, Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) went to the place where the body of her
brother Imam Husayn (A.S.) lay and cried, “Oh my brother, Sukaynah, who you
left in my care, is nowhere to be found. Where shall I look for her in this
wilderness?” Just then, the moon came out from behind a cloud and Sayyedah
Zaynab (A.S.) saw that little Sukaynah (A.S.) lay on her father, sleeping on his
chest like she always used to.
She shook the child awake and said, Oh, Sukaynah! How did you recognize your
father? A person can be recognized by their face or the clothes they wear.
Your father has neither. Sukaynah (A.S.) replied innocently, I wanted to tell
my father about what the people had done to me. I wanted to tell him how
Shimr had robbed the earrings that my father had so lovingly given me. I
wanted to tell him how he had ripped them from my ears leaving my earlobes
torn and bleeding. I wanted to tell him how the beast had mercilessly
slapped me when I cried in pain. When I was running aimlessly in the desert
I thought I heard my father’s voice telling me he was here. I followed the
voice and I found him lying here. I told him everything and then I felt like
sleeping on his chest the way I always did, for the last time. So I kept my
head on his chest and slept till you came. Nour ‘Ali Merchant, in his poem
titled “Sorrows and Sufferings” describes the event as,
Zaynab counted the children; one was missing
To her dismay, it was Sukaynah, her darling
“Tell me Sukaynah, where are you my child?”
In wilderness, the echo was the only reply.
Frustrated, she ran towards the battlefield
“Sukaynah is lost, your darling child
Husayn, where shall I look for her?”
She imploringly sobbed, in utter despair.
The silvery moon, behind the clouds was hid
The clouds dispersed, the ground was lit
Lying with her head on Husayn’s chest
Little Sukaynah was sleeping in her usual nest.
“Sukaynah, my child, I have come here
After searching the desert, my dear
Your father’s beheaded body, how could you find
In this dark night, with your frightened mind?”
“An irresistible urge seized me, though dampened
To tell my father all that had happened
How they snatched my earrings, after his death
The slaps I received, the treatment we met.”
“Running aimlessly in the desert I cried
Tell me dearest father, where do you lie
Sukaynah, my darling Sukaynah, come here, come here!
I heard him calling and found my father dear.”
“I narrated to him, all I had endured
It lightened my heart: I was re-assured
An urge to sleep on his chest, for the last time
I placed my head in the nest of mine.”
With Sukaynah, Zaynab hurried to the camp
Again it was dark; there was no lamp
All were anxiously waiting in the ghostly night
Praying silently to God, the Eternal Light.
In the dark desolate dungeon, the caravan halted
The scorpions and snakes took fright and bolted
Zaynab and Zayn al-’Abedin, prostrated themselves in prayer
Without a word of complaint, without any demur.
Umar ibn Sa’d (LA) asked Hurr’s (RA) widow to take some food and water to
the ladies and the children. As she neared to where they were resting,
Sayyedah Zaynab recognized her. She stood up, went towards Hurr’s widow and
offered her condolences for the martyrdom of Hurr. This gesture on the part
of Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.), who had suffered so much, lost so many, and
carrying so much grief in her heart, is a lesson in real Islamic manners
which the world should never be allowed to forget.
Hurr ibn ar-Riyahi (RA) was a general in Yazid’s army but left the satanic
camp and joined Imam Husayn (A.S.). Hurr had realised and accepted the holy
status of the Prophet’s grandson.
Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) took the jug of water. She went to Sukaynah who had
fallen into a fretful sleep. Gently she stroked the Sukaynah’s (A.S.) uncombed
hair. Sukaynah (A.S.) opened her eyes. Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) said, “Here is
some water Sukaynah, please drink a little. You have been thirsty for so
long. On hearing the word ‘water’ Sukaynah cried out hopefully, has my uncle
‘Abbas come back?
When she was told that Hurr’s widow had brought the water, she got up, went
to Hurr’s widow, thanked her and then asked Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.), Have you
all drank water? Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) shook her head. Sukaynah (A.S.) asked,
why then do you ask me to drink water? Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) told Sukaynah
(A.S.) that its a custom that the youngest one should drink first. Hearing
this, Sukaynah (A.S.) took the jug of water and started walking towards the
battlefield. Sayyedah Zaynab asked her where he little princess was going.
Sukaynah replied, “Oh Aunty you said the youngest should drink first. My
brother Asghar is the youngest.” Sukaynah ran towards where Asghar (A.S.) lay
buried, crying Oh Asghar, Oh Asghar.
‘Ali Asghar was Sayyedah Sukaynah’s baby brother. The Yazidi’s killed the
six-month-old child with an arrow when Imam Husayn (A.S.) requested them to
give him some water as he was dying of thirst.
This was how the homeless spent their night at Karbala. This was Sham
Ghariban, the night of the homeless. They had lost everything. Their men had
died. Their children had been killed. In this desolate desert the fourth
Imam, Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.), the women and the remaining children are
huddled where only a few hours earlier stood their camps. ‘Abbas (A.S.), Qasem
(A.S.) and ‘Ali Akbar (A.S.) had taken turns to guard the camps. Now, the
daughters of Imam ‘Ali (A.S.) and Lady Fatemah (A.S.), Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) and
Sayyedah Kulthoum (A.S.) lay awake to make sure that Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.)
and the children were not attacked.
The next day, the caravan of the unfortunate was made to start traveling
towards Kufah. Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.), frail with illness, was bound in
heavy chains and forced to walk barefooted as the Ladies, including the
grand-daughters of the Holy Prophet, were forced to sit on bare backs of the
camels and with their necks and hands tied tightly in ropes.
The caravan suffered the tortures of the journey and when they reached Kufah
they were forced to march through public roads and through the streets of
Suddenly the camel on which the holy daughter of Imam Husayn (A.S.), Sukaynah
(A.S.) and the holy sister of Imam Husayn (A.S.), Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) were
seated, stopped near a house. Sayyedah Zaynab’s (A.S.) eyes fell on Sukaynah
(A.S.) and immediately knew that she had something to say. She asked her and
Sukaynah (A.S.) answered, I am about to say something, I know my dear aunt,
that at this moment it is impossible for you to fulfill it. When Sayyedah
Zaynab (A.S.) insisted, Lady Sukaynah replied, Oh my dear aunt my throat is so
dry I do not think I can endure my thirst anymore. Sukaynah’s words were
heard by the women who were on the top of the houses so that they could see
the holy caravan march clearly. Among these women, a good-hearted lady
immediately got up from the crowd and rushed home to bring water for
But when she came near the camel and near Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) she asked for
a favour in return and said to Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) that when this thirsty
child has tasted this water I want her to pray for me. On hearing this
Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) prevented Sukaynah (A.S.) from tasting the water and said
to her, Dear Sukaynah, first fulfill this lady’s request. Sayyedah Zaynab
(A.S.) asked the lady what Sukaynah (A.S.) should pray for and she answered
that, My first wish is that may my children never be orphans like you ,
please pray for me oh my dear child , I see that you are an orphan and I am
aware of that God always listens to the prayer of an orphan. Sukaynah (A.S.)
raised her little hands and prayed for the lady.
Then Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) asked her about her second wish. The woman
answered, My second desire is that I wish to visit Madinah, please pray for
me that God will give me the opportunity to visit the holy city. On hearing
the name of Madinah, Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) asked the lady why she wanted to
go to Madinah. She answered, “Because it is my wish to visit the Holy
Prophet’s grave and I would also like to meet my holy lady Sayyedah
Fatemah (A.S.).” Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) replied, “But don’t you know Sayyedah
Fatemah (AS) is no longer alive?” “So what,” the lady said, “I have also
served her holy daughters Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) and Sayyedah Umm Kulthoum
(A.S.). I will go to Madinah to have my last chance to have the honour to meet
them.” Now Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) asked her one final question.
“Dear Believer, if you would see your lady Zaynab (A.S.) would you recognize
her?” She immediately answered, “Of course I would.” Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.)
removed her hair from the face and cried, “Then your prayer has been
answered, behold Umm Habibah, it’s me Zaynab (A.S.), then why don’t you
recognize me, don’t you recognize us all?”
Umm Habibah began to cry and said, “Oh God, what crime have they committed
so that they are being tortured this brutally?” Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.)
continued, “We are the children of the Holy Prophet, your master Imam
Husayn (A.S.) has been martyred along with his devotees and left unburied on
the burning sand in Karbala, their heads have been taken and raised on the
lances. Look ahead Umm Habibah, your master’s head is in front of you, the
head which lips are reciting the holy Quran.”
From the time when Imam Husayn (A.S.) fell in the battlefield, Sukaynah forgot
to smile. Kufah saw her as a sober little girl lost in thought. Quite often
she would sit up at night. When asked if she wanted anything, she would say,
“I just heard a baby cry? Is it Asghar? He must be calling out for me.
From Kufah, the next phase of the journey started for the holy prisoners.
This journey was to take them to Damascus, in Syria, which was the capital
of Yazid (LA).
Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) was tied, with a rope, on a bare camel. At one point
in the journey, she fell from her camel. The caravan didn’t stop. No one,
apart from the holy prisoners (A.S.), noticed the fall of this little princess
(A.S.). Nour ‘Ali Merchant, in his poem titled “Sorrows and Sufferings”
describes the event as,
Through the desert of Mesopotamia they marched on
Falling every few feet, due to sheer exhaustion
‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abedin was mercilessly whipped
Even if he stumbled, even if he tripped.
Sukaynah fell down from the camel’s bare-back
Zaynab raised an alarm; she was taken aback
The soldiers were intoxicated, they paid no heed
Without any succour, she would perish indeed!
In desperation, Zaynab turned towards the spear
“Husayn, fallen down is your daughter dear;
I am helpless, my feet and hands are bound.”
The spear, with Husayn’s head, got planted down!
Khouli [ibn Yazid al-Asbahi] jumped down, to uproot the spear
The stooges rushed forth, from far and near
The spear remained stuck as if cemented
The impact would be great, if soldiers got scent.
Shimr approached ‘Ali; his anger was boiling
The Imam looked at the head; tears were trickling
He turned his gaze, Zaynab caught his weeping eye
“Sukaynah has toppled over, the child may die!”
Shimr picked up the unconscious exhausted child
Dumping her in Zaynab’s arms, rushed the hostile
Khouli could now lift the spear from the ground
The caravan proceeded quietly, onwards bound
After this incidence, the wretched army changed the formation of the holy
prisoners (A.S.). Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.), was already tied with chains in
his (A.S.) neck and feet, The wretched army tied his (A.S.) son, Imam Mohammed
Baqer (A.S.), the fifth Imam, on Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin’s (A.S.) back and then the
same rope was tied on his sister, Sayyedah Sukaynah’s (A.S.) neck, so that
Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) could not stand straight. If he did stand
straight, the rope used to get tight and strangle Sukaynah (A.S.).
Even at these times of hardship and misery, Imam Husayn’s little princess
always thought of the others first. She would console her mother on the
death of ‘Ali Asghar (A.S.) and when she saw any other lady or child weeping
Sukaynah would put her little arms around her.
In those days, it used to take thirty two days, on a camel, to reach
Damascus, but this holy family (A.S.) was taken in such a way that it only
took them sixteen days to reach Damascus.
After the tragedy of Karbala, sixteen days of suffering the miseries, the
tortures and calamities for the Ahlul-Bayt – the Prophet’s family (A.S.), they
reached Damascus. When Yazid (LA) heard the news of the caravan reaching the
outskirts of Damascus, he ordered them to stop, while he and the people of
Damascus prepared for celebrations and jubilations. This caravan of holy
prisoners was made to wait out side Damascus for four days.
Someone asked Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.), after the holy family (A.S.) was
released from the Dungeons of Syria, as to what was the hardest part in that
whole period, and Imam (A.S.) had replied that the hardest part was the time
when the holy family (A.S.) was made to stop outside Damascus for four days.
They were treated like animals, with their hands tied; and no food or water
Then they are asked to enter the city, the holy ladies (A.S.) were forced to
pass through the bazaar without their hejab (veils), while the locals were
cheering and singing, finally they reached the court of Yazid (LA).
The holy family of Imam Husayn (A.S.) was now facing Yazid (LA). They were
acting with patience on his actions as it was Imam Husayn’s (A.S.) will that
they should do so. Every lady, every child was standing in front of Yazid
(LA) tied in ropes and with no veils and Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) bound in
The shocking scene is that the evil Yazid (LA) is drinking wine and in front
of him in a tray is the severed head of Imam Husayn (A.S.) and Yazid (LA) is
hitting the mouth and teeth of the holy Imam with a stick.
Suddenly Yazid’s eyes fell on the four year old girl who was standing with
her one hand on her face and the other hand on her neck. Yazid (LA) asks his
men who this child is and gets the answer that this is the most beloved
daughter of Imam Husayn (A.S.), Sukaynah (A.S.), and it is known that Sukaynah
(A.S.) never fell to sleep until she laid her head on her father’s chest. Is
that true? Yazid (LA) said and ordered to talk to her and when Sayyedah
Sukaynah (A.S.) approached Yazid (LA), he wanted to test this love of her
father Imam Husayn (A.S.) in front of hundreds of courtiers.
Yazid (LA) said to Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.), if that is true what I have just
heard then try to call upon your father and we’ll see if your father’s head
will come to your lap. Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) raised her little hands and
prayed to God and then turned herself towards the head of her holy father
(A.S.) and said with tears flowing from her eyes, Oh my dear father please
come to your daughter. This evil Yazid is putting our love to the test.
At once the severed head of Imam Husayn (A.S.) rose from the tray and came
miraculously to Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) who started to kiss her father’s holy
head and rubbed her face to her father’s face.
While in the court, Yazid tried to humiliate the Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.), but every
time, would get humiliated him self. At this time, one wretched soul who was
one of Yazid’s (LA) servant, to please Yazid (LA), came up with an idea, and
asked Yazid (LA) to give the little princess (A.S.) to him, so he could have
her (A.S.) as his slave. This enraged the daughter of Imam ‘Ali (A.S.), Sayyedah
Zaynab (A.S.). Nour ‘Ali Merchant, in his poem titled “Sorrows and Sufferings”
describes the event as,
A subservient courtier, anxious to curry favour
Bowed before him, thinking himself too clever.
“Your Majesty, your indulgence I crave
Bestow that girl, Sukaynah, on me as a slave.”
Zaynab standing nearby, with her head bowed
Was furious, and infuriated as never before.
“You, wretched soul; no shame you have
Prophets grandchild, you wish to enslave
Is there none amongst you, even to protest?
Against the shocking and shameless request.”
Hearing this, the people present at court got shocked, and Yazid (LA)
sensing that people might get angry and a revolt might take place, said no
to the servant’s request. Meanwhile, Hind, Yazid’s (LA) wife, who had been a
maid of Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.), was passing from that area. She heard the
voice of Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.) and rushed towards the court. She entered the
court without her veil in a frenzied style. Yazid (LA), who knew that his
wife Hind was very devoted towards Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.), quickly ordered the
court be adjourned, and the Holy Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.) be taken to the prison.
Yazid (LA) calmed his wife by telling her that it was a group of rebels and
not Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.).
Yazid’s (LA) servants, by the order of their master, placed the holy
prisoners in a dark and unclean prison room. After being released, when Imam
Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) reached Madinah, people asked him about this jail room.
Imam (A.S.) said, It was a very old and unclean house; even the ceiling had
fallen down. And since it had no ceiling, the holy Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.) were
unwrapped to the heat and cold.
After so many trials and humiliations with the Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.), Yazid
continued with his terror and then put the Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.) in prison in a
dark underground cell and gave them so little food that was barely enough
for every one. In this prison the little princess Sukaynah had troubles to
go to sleep every night as she missed her father Imam Husayn (A.S.). Sayyedah
Zaynab (A.S.) used to try consoling Sukaynah (A.S.) that she should soon meet
her father and with these words tried to make her go to sleep.
It was dark inside, despite the sun’s bright rays
The stone walls were damp, crumbling with decay
Looks of sorrow and despondency, was on each face
Of joy and laughter, there was not even a trace.
The faces depicted sufferings, beyond human endurance
Prayer was the solace, they enjoyed, without hindrance
A few stale morsels of bread and a little water
Was their daily ration, in these horrible quarters.
“Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage,”
Was equally true in that merciless land and cruel age
Though in shackles, every night their spirits soared high
To heights sublime, beyond all plains, in the heavenly sky.
(Nour ‘Ali Merchant, Sorrows and Sufferings)
Knowing that her weeping upsets her mother, Sukaynah (A.S.) would cry silently
and quickly wipe away her tears. In the prison, at Syria, she (A.S.) would
stare at the flock of birds flying to their nests at sunset and innocently
ask Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.), will Sukaynah be going home like those birds
flying to their homes?
One night Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) was asleep and she suddenly woke up crying
and started to look for her father everywhere. All the Holy ladies tried to
console her so she would stop crying but she didn’t get any peace and
continued crying, Oh my dear aunt , where is my father , a few minutes ago I
was with my father and he kissed me and said to me that my dear Sukaynah you
will soon be with me. But where is my father now?
When Sayyedah Sukaynah told her dream, all the holy ladies (A.S.) started to
cry and now this noise of crying was heard by Yazid (LA) at his court. Yazid
(LA) sent a servant to ask why the little princess (A.S.) was crying. The
servant was informed that Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) missed her father and that
is why she was crying. They informed Yazid (LA) of the situation, and Yazid
(LA), for his sadistic pleasure, sent the severed head of Imam Husayn (A.S.)
to the prison and when Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) received the head of her
father she started to cry even more and held it very tight and asked her
father, who cut off my father’s head, who martyred my father, why are we
held as captives?
With these words of sorrow suddenly Sukaynah (A.S.) was quiet and there was a
silence in the cell. Everyone thought that Sukaynah (A.S.) had finally gone to
sleep again but this was not a temporary sleep, little Sukaynah (A.S.) had now
gone into a permanent sleep to meet her holy father. Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.)
summoned Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) to check the status of Sukaynah as they
thought she had fallen unconscious. When the Imam (A.S.) went over to check on
his sister (A.S.), he noticed she had stopped breathing. All the ladies (A.S.)
were crying standing around little Sukaynah (A.S.).
Sukaynah, woke with a shriek, in the dead of the night
She had seen her father’s heavenly soothing light
“Oh’ Sukaynah, you have suffered enough, come with me
the days of your sufferings are over; Oh’ where is he?”
It was just a dream, what a disappointment!
It was not a reality, to her bewilderment
Her uncontrollable lamentations, gathered a crowd
The ladies also lost control and wailed aloud.
Hearing the wails, Yazid sent slaves to inquire
Pacing up and down, he had not yet retired
On knowing the cause, his crooked mind strived
A devilish scheme, he soon mischievously contrived.
Yazid’s men entered with a covered tray,
“I do not want food, please take it away
I want my father; promises he did give
Without taking me, why did he leave?”
They removed the cloth; Sukaynah beheld the face
Even in death, it was full of heavenly grace
With a cry, she flung herself on the wooden tray
Hugging to her heart, she snatched the face away.
Inconsolably, she bent down over the head
Putting, her cheeks, against that of her dad
Within a few moments, her sobbing had stopped
Her mortal remains, she had quietly dropped.
“How long will you lie on your father’s head?”
Zaynab touched her hand; she was shockingly dead
Sukaynah had gone with her father, never to return
Husayn had kept his promise, as he had always done
(Nour ‘Ali Merchant, Sorrows and Sufferings)
Sayyedah Sukaynah (A.S.) was buried in the same dungeon. Sayyedah Zaynab (A.S.)
held the still child as Imam Zayn al-‘Abedin (A.S.) dug a grave for her sister
in the dungeon. Her (A.S.) clothes were burnt in Karbala, and due to injuries,
had intermingled with her flesh. Therefore, she was buried in the same
burnt, ripped clothes right there in the Dungeon of Syria.
As the grave was being filled up after the burial the mother let out a
scream. All the ladies huddled around her, and the prison walls began to
shake with the cry, Ya Sukaynah (A.S.), Ya Madhloumah. (Oh Sukaynah! Oh
When the time came and they were released from the prison, Sayyedah Rubab
(A.S.) came to the grave of her beloved daughter (A.S.), put her cheek on
Sukaynah’s (A.S.) grave and cried out,
Speak to me Sukaynah. Only a word, my child, speak to me.
Lady Sukaynah’s (A.S.) body was removed from its original burial place,
Dungeon of Syria, some centuries later, when a pious man of Damascus was
informed in his dream that water was pouring into the grave of this young
Hashemite princess (A.S.). Upon confirmation that ground water was actually
entering the grave, Sayyedah Sukaynah’s (A.S.) body was buried in a new shrine
near Yazid’s palace, where she rests today. Her body was in the condition
that if she had been buried the same day.
It was her father Imam Husayn (A.S.) who was brutally killed in Karbala. It
was her baby brother ‘Ali Asghar (A.S.) who had an arrow shot through his
neck. It was her beloved uncle ‘Abbas (A.S.) that had both his arms cut off.
It was she who spent her last days in a dungeon. The little princess of Imam
Husayn (A.S.). The only person to never make it out of that desolate dungeon.
She was Sukaynah (A.S.), the young Hashemite princess.
My Salutations to the little princess of Imam Husayn (A.S.)
My salam on you, Oh Grand-daughter of ‘Ali (A.S.), Amir al-Momenin.
My salam on you, Oh Grand-daughter of Lady Fatemah (A.S.), the Radiant.
My salam on you, Oh daughter of Husayn (A.S.), Madhloum of Karbala.
My salam on you, Oh niece of ‘Abbas, the standard-bearer (A.S.).
My salam on you, Oh niece of Lady Zaynab (A.S.).
My salam on you, Oh sister of ‘Ali (A.S.), Zayn al-‘Abedin
My salam on you, Oh noble one, from noble linage.
My salam on you, Oh pious, pure one.
My salam on you, Oh young oppressed lady.
My salam on you, Oh who suffered and was oppressed.
My salam on you, Oh who was held captive.
My salam on you, Oh who is buried far from home.
My salam on you, Oh who never made it out of that desolate dungeon.
My salam on you, Oh young Hashemite Princess (A.S.).
My salam on you, Oh Lady Sukaynah bint al-Husayn (A.S.).
My salams on you and May Allah (SWT) grant you abundant peace and blessings.
Allah’s (SWT) choicest blessings be upon Mohammed and his holy progeny.