"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
Image Not found for user
User since: 6/Mar/2010
No Of voices: 43
 Views: 4979   
 Replies: 0   
 Share with Friend  
 Post Comment  

Zainab Al Ghazali (RA)-Woman, Who Challenged 20th Century Pharaoh!

Ahmad Kashmiri

Allama IqbalRA, after observing the education system of his times had versed “Gala Tou Ghount Diya Hai Ahle Madrase Ne Tera, Kahaan Se Aaye Sadaye Lailahaillallah”, if Allama were alive today how would have he versed today’s co-education system! The students of higher secondary level, on so called Morning Prayer on Aug 5 2005, were asked about the great lady of Islamic world who had died at that time. All the students including girls remained silent! The news of the death of lady had been broadcasted from the local radio in its morning program ‘Aaj Ki Surkhiyaan’ based on the news of local newspapers. To these 17 to 18 year old girls, the name of the lady who in the same age as that of these girls had organized the woman’s organization was told - Zainab Al Ghazali. But the students including more than 100 girls gestured extreme strangeness as if they had never come across such a name!!!

Though she had passed away on August 3, 2005, but the news came to this part of planet only later and only few news papers carried the news on august 5, 2005.

Zainab Al Ghazali was not any usual Muslim leader who was famous for her motto, strategy or any other peculiar perspective. No! Actually, she belongs to the Islamic world in a greater dimension.

Zainab Al Ghazali was that Mujahidah of Ummah who was bestowed by Allah the vision of Prophet Muhammad (Salallah Allihi Wasalam) four times in dream and was offered the blessings by the prophet

It was Zainab Al Ghazali who challenged the Pharaoh of twentieth century and started Dawah of Islam and its Shariah by summing all her courage and dedication and inturn got the severe heart rending and tremendous tortures from suppressors but the point of mention will remain that such tortures did not hamper her from keeping the missionary thought, expression, stand and the work and she continued Haqooqulah (duties towards people) as well as the Haqooqul Ibad (duties of worship). For her exemplary devotion and tolerance she would be remembered till doomsday.

The service she has done to Islam cannot be described under any single title only. Herself, she was not a fellow but a great Islamic Movement. It is very unfortunate that our youngsters have forgotten their predecessors of Islam. To do justice with the contributions of this great Mujahidah a comprehensive book is needed.

The information about Zainab Al Ghazali, that has reached to us, is mainly through her book “Ayami Min Hayatee” based on her six year period in the torching center (jail), the book has been translated in Urdu by Khalil Ahmad Hamidi as “Zindaan Ke Shab O Roz”.

 Based on the excerpts of the book I (author of this article) have tried to pay some tribute to this great Mujahidah.

Born on Jan, 2, 1917, in Egyptian village Manyate Umer, her father was a farmer and a religious person, who died when Zainab was only 11. But the guidance and fatherhood of her father had left deep and nonperishable impacts on Zainab. The translator of the book Khalil Ahmad Hamidi, in the preface of the book, reveals that Zainab had herself narrated that how her father would tell her the tales and events of the great Islamic women (Sahaabiyat) in an impact making manner. In the agro society, in the lap of the families with values, religious traditions and with impact from  the spiritual guidance of her father, Zainab entered the field of maturity and understanding  at the age of 18. In 1938 she founded Jameyate Sayedate Muslimaat, an organization of the Muslim women. For the features, activities and the strategy of this organization she chose Hazrate Nusaibah (RA) as her ideal. For the publication of the motives and prospects of her organization she started a magazine-Sayedaate Muslimaat. Since this budding da-ayeah (preacher) with her inbuilt qualities and the affection of Islam proved her metal as compared to the ‘Voice Of Liberation Of Women’, launched by Qasim Ameen, the Movement  Vartafah Sayed’, for the progress of Egyptian women launched by Huda Shoaravi  and the write ups of Salamah Moosah and Tuha Hussain pleading for the  freedom of Egyptian woman, Zainab Al Ghazali’s voice was well according to  the Islamic values and it emerged with full vigor for the protection  of the natural womanliness. During those days in Egypt the Ikhwanul Muslimeen, the movement started by the youth, was emerging fast. The great personality of Hasn Al Banna (RA) and his way of preaching introduced attraction in this movement. Hassan Al Banna made Ikhwat Muslimaat organization for working in women. He, however, wished Zainab Al Ghazali to merge her organization and to handle the former, but she after discussing with Majlise Shora (counsel) did not agree for breaking her organization. However, decided that the two would work in cooperation. In 1948 in the regime of Shah Farooq, Ikhwanul Muslimeen was first time targeted, following the pressures from Jews. At this occasion realizing the situation Zainab Al Ghazali decided to dissolve Sayedaate Muslimaat and to work under Ikhwat Muslimaat but Hassan Al Banna farsightedly  advised Zainab to maintain the independent status of Sayedate Muslimaat telling her that its separate existence would benefit them in future. Since in 1948 Ikhwanul Muslimeen was declared outlawed. In 1954, in the regime of Jamal Ab Nasir Ikhwanul Muslimeen was targeted with greater intensity, under these circumstances, Sayedate Muslimaat was the only organization that was yet to be targeted and it survived till 1964 with 120 branches the countrywide with its primary motto to serve the miserable. But Jamal Ab Nasir could not tolerate its functioning any more and banned it and finally imprisoned Zainab Al Ghazali.

Ahead in the preface, Hamidi writes, “In the book in question, the reader finds the repetition of one subject viz torture, torment, contempt, disrespect and atrocities and to its response there is thankfulness, patience, invocation of almighty, reciting of Quranic verses, principle-ship, firmness of faith, fearlessness from falsehoodness, and unchanging character. Such a confrontation may fed up the readers but if the reader, in these days, wants to see the truth of the saying of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), then this book will work as a mirror for him, “Ina Min Umatee Rijalun Al-iiman Assbatu Fi Qulubihim Minaljibali A-Raosii”  (In my Ummah there are such brave people in who’s hearts the  faith is stronger than the mountains mounted in earth).

On 20th August 1965 Zainab Al Ghazali was arrested. For six years she continuously bore the unbelievable sufferings and finally she got released on 10th August 1971. The sufferings she met is not merely an account of torture of a woman, Infact, in that epoch the generation emerged out of the Movement of Ikhwanul Muslimeen was full of inspiration and fervor of Jihad and its each individual was a unique pearl.

While reading the book of Zainab Al Ghazali, “Zindaan Ke Shab O Roz” this author experienced an extraordinary situation that can not be expressed in words, however it developed curiosity in me that I must write something on Zainab Al Ghazali (RA).


I remember in year 2005 the news of the death of this great woman came in news briefs of a few local newspapers only. However, the organization of Dukhtarane Millat had paid its tributes to the legendary woman of the Ummah. The topics have been classified for the sake of understanding.


 Zainab al Ghazali had the strict belief that on Allah’s earth there should be Allah’s law in Muhammadan (SAW) System (Nizame Mustafah). Based on her this exclusive faith she started the exemplary Dawah (invitation to Islam). On the actual position of a Muslim woman she writes its constitution can be settled only and only in an Islamic government. She says that infidel claimers and the flag-holders of ignominy and disbelief, and those, who believe in Allah and have stood on His way for Dawah, can not go hand in glove and can never be the intimate friends. She undoubtedly declares Hassan AL Banna as the righteous and genuine leader of Islam and insists the Muslims of that era to give the oath of allegiance to Hasan AL Bana so that Muslims could fulfill the duties for which they were brought to this world, and the real essence of existence can come true, the picture of which has been presented by the Quran.

Her way of working:

For the social reformation, she believed in a way wherein such an initiative was necessary that would restore the glory and greatness of the past Ummah, She writes, “The point of beginning of our work must be based on the Seerate-Rasool (SAW) (Prophet’s character) and the life of the Saliheen (descendents) and our way of working must be fully based on Allah’s Book and according to the sunnah of the prophet” (Zindaan Ke Shab-O-Roz Page, 53). In her organization, with her brothers-in-Islam, she had resolved to carry on the Dawah work for thirteen years (same as the age of Dawah in Mecca). With the instructions of Imam Syed Qutub and with the permission of Hassan Al Huzaibi it had been decided that self reformation, character building, human upliftment and the nurturing of belief of Tawheed (belief of one God) in the hearts and minds would continue permanently. It was resolved that the care takers of Islamic Dawah who believe in Islam as the Din (religion) as well as the State and have the vision of an Islamic State would raise the demand for an Islamic State if their proportion was 75 percent in the nation(Qoum). But if the achievement was not above 25 percent the work of teaching, training and reformation would be extended by next thirteen years with full dedication, devotion and the reformative mission until the nation was able to rise to Islam consciously. “To us this thing hardly matters that how many generations would complete the span in this very work. The importance is to the matter that building and preparation is continuing and we are doing our duty continuously and unstinted. Till our lives get consumed and the respite of our age will end and we will hand our flag of Laila Illallah Muhammadun Rasoolallah (SAW)  to coming sons with our heads up.”(Pages: 60-62).

Torture and Pain:

As writes Khalil Ahmad Hamidi that some readers may get bored with the confrontation of one topic- the torture. Such is the treatment given to this great Mujahidah. Infact, all the kinds of torture and violence  known till then were employed upon this great woman, that one fails to decide that wherefrom to start, such is the nomenclature and the intensity of these tortures. On one hand there is the great spirit and character of this great woman and on the otherhand there are the meanest interrogative tactics of the tyrants. Abuses, taunts, threatening, fearful consequences and thousands bodily attacks and punishments given to her give a heart rending feeling to the reader. Her pious body was continuously beaten by specially made whips called leather-whips(Churmi Tazyane) till blood would gush out of the bruises and this practice was repeated again and again. The tyrants would not end doing this. Having not even generally a kind treatment towards a woman they would explore new versions of interrogation and beating. They would push her towards wall and would give hundred, five hundred and countless whips. They would not spare her upholding down and give whips till she would turn unconscious. Coming back to consciousness she would find herself in hospital, then shifted again to torture centre, then again to hospital. They would take her hospital only to keep her alive/conscious for next turn of torture. And then came the turn of water, fire and the current! Despite the series of tortures when tyrants failed to break her, the brutal people threw her into the water-torture-well. Her body being bruised with injuries, she was forced to sit into the water and the tormentors would remain around ready with whips so that she could not give a movement to her body, this torture would continue for weeks together. In the cell (room) they would drive her bruised body over fire, give her electric shocks, she would loose consciousness, come back to consciousness, and the tormentors would start torture again. Indeed, she was firm on her stand- the stand of Islam. Yes her faith was stronger than the mountains mounted in earth.

Trust and Patience:

This great ummati (follower) of prophet Muhammad (SAW) refreshes in our minds the trust and patience of Khalil Ul Rehman, Prophet Ibrahim (AS). When Zainab Al Ghazali was subjected to scourges and whips she would respond to it by resorting to recital-state, invoking Allah, Allah. In all the stages of torture this great Mujahidah showed the trust and patience like that of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). At every turn of torture she would recite the verses of Quran and prepare herself for the next turn. She might be the first Muslim of the world who when tortured in water ‘responded’ by performing dry-ablution (Tayamum) in water and started her prayer (Nimaz).  Even in the dirty jail room (cell) she would offer collective prayer with her fellow prisoners (ladies) on dry-ablution and this practice was there a continuous process except when unconscious.

Dream of Prophet (SAW):

During the torture torn period of her imprisonment she saw Prophet Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallum) four times in dream, she on page no. 78 writes “ ……….while I was offering  prayer (Dua), I don’t know how I fell asleep…….I saw a blissful dream.( I saw four times prophet Muhammad in dream). In one of the dreams, I saw an endless desert, where there was rain of saddles(of camels) as if made of light (Noor ) each saddle carrying four men whose faces too were enlightened with  Noor.  I stood at the end of the caravan of camels. In front of me is a dignified personality holding seals, these seals were extending to the end- necks of the continuing caravan of camels. I am saying under my lips, “Is this Hazrate Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallum). At once reply comes, ‘O’ Zainab Al Ghazali you are on the footsteps of Allah’s Rasool, Muhammad (SAW). I requested, “Ya Saiyedee, Ya Rasulallah (SAW), I am on the foot steps of Allah’s Rasool(SAW), His Excellency replied, “O’ Zainab Al Ghazali you are on the footsteps of Allah’s Rasool, Muhammad(SAW). I requested again, “O’ my holy prophet, ‘O’ Allah’s Rasool, am I on the footsteps of Muhammad(SAW)- who is Allah’s Banda and Rasool, prophet again replied, O’ Zainab, you are on right path, you are on right path, you are on the footsteps of Allah’s banda and Rasool, Muhammad(SAW)., “ In the trouble torn circumstances one more time I dreamed and found myself in a vast field, I was told that this is the court where our hearing was to take place. I was standing and the walls of the surroundings fell down, I found my self in big premises equal to the whole earth’s face on which sky was roofing and encamping the whole earth. Lines of the light (Noor) were reaching all around and scene between earth and sky was now brightening. In this scenario I am seeing prophet (SAW) stood in front of me facing Kaba. “I am standing behind you and am listening you saying, “‘O’ Zainab, listen to the voice of right. Then I heard a voice that passed piercing between sky and earth. That voice was, “Here people of falsehood will commence verdict, and here powers of mendacity will issue decisions. Extremely cruel and unjust resolutions will be passed against you. Your are the great guardian of the trust-ship of Allah, you are the leader of right path and you are advised that, “ Fasbiroo wasabirud Bitua Taqawa Allah La-alakum Tuflihoon (Al Imran: 301). These words stroke my ears and went piercing between sky and earth. The intensity and effect of these words was so high upon my heart that I could not get the meaning fully. When this voice stopped, prophet (SAW) gave me attention and pointed me to right side, I saw to the right and I saw a big mountain, Green, its peak reaching high to the sky. On all the four sides having flowers spread. Prophet (SAW) pronounced me, “Zainab rise on this mountain, atop you will find Hassan Ul Huzaibi, convey him these words. Then prophet saw towards me and I felt deeply his seeing getting into my body, though he did not tell any words orally but I felt that the words have reached within me and I have understood prophet’s (SAW) wish. After that prophet (SAW) raised his hand high towards sky and I felt myself rising to sky. While I was going up, in the way, I met Khalidah Al Huzaibi and Alaiyah Al Huzaibi, I enquired from both of them whether they too were with us on this way to which they replied in affirmative. Leaving them behind I went ahead, after few steps I met Aminah Qutub, Hamidah Qutub and Fatimah Eisa. To them also, I asked the same question and they replied in positive. I went ahead till I reached the peak of the mountain which was very vast and in its middle was a field on which flooring was spread with pillows thereof. In the middle of it was seated Hassan Al Huzaibi who stood up on seeing me and greeted (salaam) me. He was very happy for my arrival to this place. After greeting (him with salaam) I told him that prophet (saw) has sent me so that I can convey some words to you, ‘these words are of prophet and are entrusted with me’. Hassan A Huzaibi replied that ‘Alhamdulillah those words have reached upto me.’ We sat and it was felt as those words had not reached in the shape of words but transferred through souls. While I sat with Hassan al Huzaibi I looked towards earth where, in a valley, there was a van in which there were two naked women. I drew the attention of Hassan al Huzaibi towards them and he too looked on this van. Seeing this scene I turned very sad but Hassan Al Huzaibi asked me whether I was having any objection on these women. I told yes. He told me, “do you think that ‘where we have reached’ is the result of our own efforts, this is the blessing of Allah on us. Don’t become sad on these women?” I told, this is our duty that through resistance we set them right. Hassan al Huzaibi asked, ‘Can you do this by your own efforts?’ I replied yes, ‘By Allah’. He then told that on this courage we must thank Allah. After this he rose up both his hands and began recital of ‘Alhamdulillah.’ I too started recital of Alhamdulillah. We were continuing recital of Alhamdulillah and my eye opened (rouse from sleep)” (pages 253-255).


In another dream I saw prophet (SAW) going, wearing white dress. Prophet (SAW) was followed by Hassan Al Huzaibi wearing the similar dress. I stood on the way, with me was Syedah Aayesha (Razi Allah Anha) and few more women, perhaps (as it came in my heart) her Khadimas (maid-servants). Syedah Aayesha (Razi Allah Anha) began to give some advice. Prophet (SAW) passed in front of us and voiced to Hazrate Ayesha (Razi Allah Anha) and said, “ Aayesha keep patience, keep holding patience, see Aayesha (Razi Allah Anha) don’t loose hold of patience. In response, Hazrate Aayesha (Razi Allah Anha) every time pressed my hand and stressed for patience. I got awakened. I told this dream to Hamidah.”

20th Century Pharaoh and His Hell: Before writing something on Zainab al Ghazali this author read her book (Zindaan Ke Shab- O- Roz) thoroughly. In the beginning pages, reading the horrendous attitude of her oppressor, an idea came to my mind as to introduce“20th Century Pharaoh” in the title of this article. But as I went ahead reading this book, I came to know that Zainab Al Ghazali herself has attributed this word for Jamal Abdul Nasir and even the title of one chapter is “In Front Of Pharaoh of Egypt”. Seeing the intensity, severity and frequency of tortures and attitude, Jamal Abdul Nasir is fit to be called as 20th century pharaoh. Among his infamous loyalist subordinates Included Shamas Badraan, Hamza Al Basyooni,  Safoot Al Roobi who were insane and far away from human element. They had so much drowned into darkness of infidelity that in the torture houses they would threaten the suppressors that if they (suppressors) did not surrender before the wishes of Jamal Abdul Nasir then they would be killed and sent to the hell of Jamal Abdul Nasir. Their foolishness was upto the extent that they would tell that in compliance to the wishes of Jamal Abdul Nasir the reward is the paradise of Jamal Abdul Nasir. Zainab al Ghazali writes, “Shamas Badraan was an unkind and stone-hearted man, extremely beast natured and tyrant, he would hang me head down and Safoot would start the torture, Safoot would tuck up sleeves, raise the whip in air and would obey his boss-Shamas Badraan….beating me with five hundred whips! With wailing I would call, Ya Allah, Ya Allah. Shamas  Badraan would ask me, where is Allah whom you are calling, if he is existing let Him come to your rescue, but yes if you will acclaim Abdul Nasir he would certainly reach over here to help you!!!After these insolent words he resorted to impudent comments for Almighty Allah and any faithful person can neither bring such words on his tongue nor withstand to speak such words, even the imitation of such infidelity too can’t be tolerated, though the imitation of infidelity is not infidelity.” (Page: 166)

Divine Power: Those bad people did not left any stone unturned in tormenting Zainab al Ghazali. Besides whips and other physical torture they released dogs, rats and snakes on her. These rats have been called in her book as Nasiree Chuhay (rats of Nasir). Even the human-flesh-eating-men were released on her and when she backtracked that cannibal (Aadum Khore ), she writes, “ I saw he was abashing but he was moving nearer to me! What happened then, with divine power my both hands got stuck around her neck. I raised the slogan, Bismillah, Allah o Akbar. I interred my teeth into his neck. At first he fluttered then suddenly his neck got freed from my hands and he fell under my feet. Out of his mouth as if the soap was precipitating and he was like a dead body at my feet. This all happened with my hands. I was drowned in the sea of sorrow and pain, bruised with injuries, my body was bruised everywhere. It was me Zainab al Ghazali who backtracked the man-eater who was directed to eat and munch me. Allah the most powerful, allocated me with divine power by which this beast turned into a heap of earth, Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar” (pages: 152-153).

Domestic Life:  Zainab Al Ghazali writes (page: 55), “,My these activities (before jail), at ‘Saydatul Muslimaat’  were not a hesitation in my duties and neither there was any weakness in the duty towards my domestic activities. But once my Muhataram husband, late Muhammad Saalim’s forehead wrinkled when Abdul Fatah Ismail and some nice youth would come to my residence repeatedly. My husband asked me, “Are the activities of Ikhwanul Muslimeen continuing?” and when he started ‘over discussion’ with me, I told him, “My dear husband, do you remember the decision of our marriage and the consensus we had reached then. Does ‘Your Excellency’ remember what I had requested at that time.” he told, “Yes, you had kept some conditions for matrimonial life, but I now fear the apprehensions of torture upon you by the oppressors?” After that Zainab Al Ghazali reminded him the detailed promise that the eminence of Islam would remain a priority for her. Ahead in the book she writes,” Groups of youth began to come to my residence during night, my Momin husband in the middle of night on listening the knock of the night visitors would awake from deep sleep, open the door and make them sit in the office room and then he would awake the house maid and advice her to make meals and tea for these guests…….taking a rest on his bed then he would tell us, “If you won’t feel troubled then awake me for offering Nimaze Fajer with you if you continue till then” “ I would say Insha Allah and go, and if we really continued till Nimaze Fajr, I would awake him, he would offer Nimaz with us and would say salam with paternal affection to the children present there  and then go” (pages: 55-58).

Life and Death upto Allah: Seeing the intensity and frequency of the torture and torment, Zainab al Ghazali met in the jail, the reader prepares himself after every paragraph to read about the episode of her death. But he only  comes to know that she is yet alive as writes Khalil Hamidi in the preface or if the today’s reader knows that she died only in year 2005.  But during her torture this great lady would tell upon the jail inspectors (darogah) that life and death is only upto Allah and not a leaf can budge without the will of Allah.

If Iqbal (RA) were among Contemporaries : Allama Iqbal (RA) passed away in 1938 and at that time Zainab Al Ghazali was yet at the onset of her great mission. Since Allama Iqbal (RA) has a great contribution towards the Ummah through his philosophy and poetry. He has explored new vistas in discovering the Islamic legendary principles and personalities and in distinguishing west from the east. Iqbal (RA) has almost touched every aspect of Islamic history and philosophy and evidently if he were alive in the times of Zainab Al Ghazali or if the later were his predecessor then perhaps the ‘pronunciation’ of the verses of his poetry on Nisvanyat (womanhood) would have been ‘finer than the finest.’

Remaining life: After the freedom from the jail she lived thirty four years life. Much is not known to this author that how she lived her post jail life and how she used her great capacity and caliber. However, according to internet information she contributed also to the work of publication and wrote for many high repute journals of the world.

Zainab al Ghazali and we people: The international columnists would treat and project Zainab Al Ghazali as a high repute and prolific writer only. But one fails to understand the attitude and understanding of the intellectuals and the Ulemas of the Ummah for their utmost ignorance towards this great Mujahidah.  Anyway the personality and the contribution of Zainab Al Ghazali (Rahmatullahi Alaiha) who challenged 20th century pharaoh require that her mission be continued and an institution is established at Ummah-level to understand her message.


(Feedback at

 No replies/comments found for this voice 
Please send your suggestion/submission to
Long Live Islam and Pakistan
Site is best viewed at 1280*800 resolution