Sayyida (our mistress) Sukayna was a blessed daughter of our master Imām Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abī-Ṭālib and Lady Rabāb, may Allāh be pleased with them all, and a princess of the family of the Prophet ṣall-Allāhu ʿalaihi wa-sallam.
She was granddaughter of our master Imām ʿAlī and our mistress Lady Fāṭima Zuhrā, and a great-granddaughter of the Lord of the Prophets ṣall-Allāhu ʿalaihi wa-sallam.
Her birth name was Amīna, but her mother gave her the title Sukayna and that became her name afterwards. Later, the pronunciation of the name changed to Sakīna which is more popular today than the original Sukayna.
She was the best of the noble ladies of her time, the most beautiful among them, the most elegant, and the nicest in mannerism.
Her beauty was unparalleled in the women of Arabia, to the extent that people would often exemplify a beautiful woman by saying that she had “the forehead of Sukayna.”
She was the best poet of her age. The great poets of Quraysh used to learn from her.
In her childhood, she was engaged with her cousin ʿAbdu’llāh ibn Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī. However, he received martyrdom before marrying her.
She accompanied her father and family to Karbalā in 61 AH, where most of her male family members were martyred by the Yazīdian tyrants. She witnessed this calamity at a young age and lost her brothers, cousins, uncles and her blessed father Imām Ḥusayn. The following beautiful Urdu verses depict the scene when her father left her to fight the tyrants and how she pleaded him not to go (by Mawlānā Muḥammad Shafīʿ Okārvī):
بابا کو قسم دے کے بُلاتی تھی سکینہ
روتی ہوئی پیچھے چلی آتی تھی سکینہ
چلّاتی تھی: قربان ہو بیٹی، چلے آؤ!
مر جاؤں گی بابا مجھے تم چھوڑ نہ جاؤ
صَدقے گئی، ننھا سا مِرا دل نہ دُکھاؤ
بے تاب ہوں مُڑ کر مجھے صورت تو دِکھاؤ
شَہ کہتے تھے ماں پاس رہو نکلو نہ گھر سے
اب حشر میں ہووے گی مُلاقات پِدر سے
She was taken prisoner along with the women and children of the greatest of all households. The tyrants robbed them of their belongings and did not return anything even when ordered by their leader. When this oppressed and aggrieved convoy reached the court of Yazīd, he ordered for provision of twice the amount of their belongings that had been robbed. Sayyida Sukayna said the following for this occasion:
ما رأيت رجلا كافرا بالله خيرا من يزيد
Translation: “I have never seen a person who disbelieves in Allāh better than Yazīd.”
This means that Yazīd performed charitable acts but was a disbeliever in God because of his most heinous crimes of murdering the Ahl al-Bayt, many Ṣaḥābā and Tābiʿīn during his reign of terror.
When she grew up, she was married with Muṣʿab ibn Zubayr, son of the well known companion Zubayr ibn al-ʿAwwam raḍiyAllāhu ʻanhu. From him, she had a daughter named Fāṭima. In 72 AH, her husband Muṣʿab was killed by the tyrant Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf, who sent his head to his brother ʿAbdu’llāh ibn Zubayr who had assumed the position of caliph.
When her husband was martyred, she said the following verses:
فَإِنْ تَقْتُلُوهُ تَقْتُلُوا الْمَاجِدَ الَّذِي … يَرَى الْمَوْتَ إِلا بِالسِّيُوفِ حَرَامَا
وَقَبْلَكَ مَا خَاضَ الْحُسَيْنُ مَنِيَّةً … إِلَى السَّيْفِ حَتَّى أَوْرَدُوهُ حِمَامَا
An imperfect translation:
“If they killed him, they have (previously) killed the glorified who considered death unlawful except by swords.
Before you, Ḥusayn embarked to the sword for (his) death, and they took him to death.”
By some historical accounts, she married a number of men after the martyrdom of her first husband. These include Ibrāhīm son of the great companion ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf.
She had inherited all the virtues and qualities of her ancestors. She faced extreme hardships throughout her life but faced them with patience and forbearance. Her generosity was a manifestation of her noble grandparents. One day, many poets had gathered at the door of her house, including the well known Jarīr and Farazdaq. She ordered her maid to give away one million dirhams to them.
She lived most of her life in Madīnah. The journey of her life ended in the month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal 117 AH in Madīnah according to the strongest opinion of historians. Her body was scented with thirty dīnārs worth of perfume. Her funeral prayer was led by Shaybah ibn Naṣṣāḥ, and she was buried in the Baqīʿ cemetery.
مجھے جانے دو پانی بھر کے یہ عباس کہتے تھے
کئی دن کی پیاسی ہے سکینہ رو رہی ہوگی
ʿAbd ar-Razzāq Miqram wrote her biography titled “Sayyida Sukayna” and Amīn ʿAbd al-Ḥasīb Sālim collected her merits under the title “Manāqib as-Sayyidah as-Sukaynah.”
May Allah make us follow her footsteps and the path of her forefathers.
رضي الله تعالى عنها و عن جميع أهل بيت الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم
(In memory of my little daughter Sukaina who died at eleven days of age on 14 February 2015.)