Recently in Syria the shrine of Syedha Zainab, the grand daughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was attacked and decried. All Muslims, Sunnis or Shia have condemned this heinous crime. Let's refresh our knowledge about this great courageous lady, the symbol of resistance against oppression and tyranny:
SYEDNA ZAYNAB (May Allah be pleased with her) was the third child of Hadrat Ali bin Abi Talib and Syedah Fatimah (Razi Allah). She was born in Medina in the 5th year of the Hijra (i.e. 627-628 CE) on the 5th of Jumada al-awwal (although some traditions say she was born on the 1st of Sha'aban) (of the Islamic calendar). Zaynab was named by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) just as with her two elder brothers, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain. Zaynab means "the adornment of her father" as a reference to Imam Ali. Zaynab lost her mother when she was only seven years old. She grew extremely close to her full brothers, the Imams Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. She was married to her cousin Abdullah ibn Ja'far, a nephew of Ali (r.a).
At the death of the Muawiyah I, Hadrat Husayn was forced out of Mecca due to the assassins that were sent by Muawiyah's son Yazid I to kill Hadrat Husayn during pilgrimage; thus, Husayn went to Kufa by the invitation of the people of Kufa for him to claim the leadership of the Muslim community. Syedna Zaynab accompanied him, as did most of his household. After Husayn and all his 72 companions were brutally martyred at the Battle of Karbala, Syedna Zaynab was taken captive by the army of Yazid, Muawiyah's son and successor. Syedna Zaynab and the other survivors of Husayn's expedition, most of them women and children, were marched to Damascus, Yazid's capital, where they were held hostage. Tradition says that Zaynab, already in anguish due to the death of her brother Husayn and her sons Aun and Muhammad, was forced to march unveiled. This was an extreme indignity to inflict on a high-ranking Muslim woman, the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Sermon of Syedha Zaynab (r.a) in the Court of Yazid
"O Yazid! Allah and His Prophet have said that committing sins and considering the signs of Allah to be false is ridiculing them. You deny the sign of Allah today and hold them in derision and have become happy, and recite poetic verses on account of the martyrdom of the children of the Holy Prophet, just as the polytheists of Makkah became happy and sang songs because of the martyrdom of some Muslims in the Battle of Uhud, and talk about taking revenge upon the Holy Prophet. This is how you become like them and how you have reached this stage? You have reached this stage because you have committed too many sins. Whoever treads the path of sin and persists in committing sins will, according to the verdict of the Quran, deny the signs of Allah one day and eventually will ridicule them and then deserve Divine punishment. O Yazid! Do you think that we have become humble and despicable owing to the martyrdom of our people and our own captivity? As you have blocked all the paths for us, and we have been made captives and are being taken from one place to another, do you think that Allah has taken away his blessings from us? Do you think that by killing the godly persons you have become great and respectable, and the Almighty looks at you with special grace and kindness? For this reason and on account of this wrong thinking you have become elated and arrogant. You have become boastful because you have seen that the matters have taken a turn in your favour. You have, however, forgotten what Allah says: 'The disbelievers must not think that Our respite is for their good. We only give them time to let them increase their sins. For them there will be a humiliating torment.'(3:178) O son of the freed ones! Is it justice that you keep your women and slave-girls in seclusion but have made the helpless daughters of the Holy Prophet ride on swift camels and given them in the hands of their enemies so that they may take them from one city to another. Why shouldn't Yazid be spiteful against us, it is he, who looks at us with hostility. You say with perfect intrepidity and without imagining that you are committing a sin: 'I wish that my ancestors who were killed in Badr had been present here today'. Then you strike Imam Husayn in his teeth with a stick in your hand! Why shouldn't you be like this, although you have done what you wanted to do, and have pulled out the roots of piety and virtue! You have shed the blood of the sons of the Holy Prophet and have hidden the brilliant stars on the earth from amongst the descendants of Abdul Muttalib under the clouds of oppression and injustice. However, you shall go before Allah soon. You shall meet your ancestors and shall also be taken to their place. At that time you will wish that you had been blind and dumb and had not said that it was a day of rejoicing for your ancestors. 'O Lord! Procure our right and take revenge upon those who have oppressed us'. By Allah you have pulled off your skin and cut off your flesh. You will soon go before the Prophet of Allah and will see with your own eyes that his children are in Paradise. It will be the day when Allah will deliver the descendants of the Holy Prophet from the state of being scattered and will bring all of them together in Paradise. This is the promise which Allah has made in the Holy Quran. He says: 'Do not think of those who are slain for the cause of Allah as dead. They are alive with their Lord and receive sustenance from Him'.(3:169)
O Yazid! On the day when Allah will be the Judge and Muhammad will be the petitioner, and your limbs will give evidence against you, your father, who made you the ruler of the Muslims, will receive His punishment. On that day it will become known what reward the oppressors earn, whose position is worse and whose party is more humble. O enemy of Allah and O son of the enemy of Allah! I swear by Allah that I consider you to be humble and not fit even to be reprimanded and reproached. But what am I to do? Our eyes are shedding tears, our hearts are burning, and our martyrs cannot come to life by our reprimanding and reproaching you. My Husayn has been killed and the partisans of Satan are taking us to the fools so that they may get their reward for insulting Allah. Our blood is dripping from their hands and our flesh is falling down from their mouths. The sacred bodies of the martyrs have been placed at the disposal of the wolves and other carnivorous animals of the jungle. If you have gained something today by shedding blood, you will certainly be a loser on the Day of Judgment. On that day nothing but your deeds will count. On that day you will curse Ibn Marjana and he will curse you. On that day you and your followers will quarrel with one another by the side of the Divine scale of Justice. On that day you will see that the best provision which your father made for you was that he enabled you to kill the children of the Prophet of Allah. I swear by Allah that I do not fear anyone except Him and do not complain to anyone else. You may employ your deceit and cunning efforts, but I swear by Allah that the shame and disgrace which you have earned by the treatment meted out to us cannot be eradicated. I thank Allah Who has concluded the task of the chiefs of the youths of Paradise with prosperity and forgiveness and accommodated them in Paradise. I pray to Allah that He may elevate their ranks and favor them more with His kindness, for Allah is Omnipotent".
Eventually Yazid released his captives and allowed them to return to Medina. The exact date and place of her death is not clear but it is probable that she died in the year 62 A.H. some six months after her return to Medina. The anniversary of her death is said to be either the 11th or 21st of Jumada al-Thani, the 24th of Safar, or the 16th of Dhu al-Hijjah. Her grave can be found within Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque in Damascus, Syria.
There is a different view, with many Sunnis holding her grave can be found within a different mosque, also titled "Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque", in Cairo. The Fatimid/Dawoodi Bohra also believe in same. Their 52nd Dai Mohammad Burhanuddin made zarih for the shrine. They further believe that the Mausoleum of Zaynab-al-Kubra in Damascus is of lady Umm Kulthum bint Ali, younger daughter of Ali bin Abi Talib (perhaps caused by confusion between 'Sugra' & 'Kubra'), and the mausoleum of Zaynab bint Ali is in Cairo. There is history of Zaynab living in Cairo in her last days. [Allah knows best]