Lady Zeinab represents a multi-dimensional personality: she is wise and well-educated with great knowledge; a distinguished person; anyone who meets her, feels humble before the greatness of her wise soul and her insight.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects that a Muslim woman’s personality can reveal, for all to see, is her deep insight: which is indeed the effect of Islam on her. The Muslim woman’s personality becomes so magnificent and glorious, through the blessing of faith and reliance on Divine mercy, that the greatest incidents appear trivial and insignificant to her.
During the lifetime of Lady Zeinab, this is the most visible and prominent dimension of her personality. An incident like the day of Ashura could not shatter Lady Zeinab. The glory and artificial grandeur of an oppressive, cruel regime, like that of Yazid and Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, could not humiliate Lady Zeinab.
Lady Zeinab retains the same greatness and spiritual glory in Medina, where her excellency resides; in Karbala, the center of her afflictions; and in the palace of cruel individuals like Yazid and Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad; instead, other personalities are humiliated before her. Yazid and Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad–arrogant oppressors of their time–are humiliated before this captive and cuffed woman.
Lady Zeinab has interwoven a woman’s enthusiastic affection with a believer’s greatness, stability, and sedateness of heart; and the clear, articulate language of a fighter, (Mujahed) on the path of God, and limpid insight that pours out of her mouth and heart astonishes listeners and spectators.
Her feminine majesty causes the popular false figures to diminish before her. This is the magnificence of a woman who is a fusion of humane affection– in no man, we can detect such enthusiastic affection– and the sedateness of personality, endurance of the soul, that can overcome all the troubling hardships; and, on blistering flames, it can bravely step and move forward.
She teaches and educates the people; at the same time, she, like a kind mother, soothes the Imam of her time–Imam Sajjad (as); at the same time, like a strong barrier in the midst of that severe storm, she creates security and tranquility for the children of her brother–the children of Hussein (as) who was lost in that tragedy.
Hence, Lady Zeinab (sa) represents an all-embracing personality. Islam leads women towards this direction. The woman, with her feminine qualities–which the Almighty God has blessed her with–particular to women along with deep faith, along with steadiness due to reliance on the Lord, and with chastity, that illuminates the area around her, can play an exceptional role in society; no man is able to play such a role.
Like a sturdy mountain of faith and, at the same time, like a fountain overflowing with affection, kindness and other emotions of a woman, she quenches the thirst of those in need of caressing from her fountain of patience and affection.
Humans can be raised in such a supportive embrace. If a woman with such amazing qualities did not exist, humanity would have no meaning. This is the true sense of value and merit in a woman: something that a prejudiced Western mentality is unable to understand.
Those who have not known the slightest degree of religion or spirituality can never comprehend such greatness in a woman.
Those who identify women as ornaments with makeup, as ignorant, and as toys for men’s play, can by no means comprehend the basis of a woman’s identity within the logic and viewpoint of Islam.
Ayatollah Khamenei, June 15, 2005