The sermon that she delivered in Kufah is a brilliant example of how her bereaved heart impacted the people through her sermon.
The caravan of the captives, which consisted of women, children, soldiers holding spears that carried the heads of the martyrs, and the army men of Ibn Ziad entered the city of Kufah. As they entered, the people were cheering and expressing their joy of victory!
But the sermon of Syeda Zainab (sa) was so powerful that it converted the glorious show of victory into a mournful ceremony, where the evils of the governor were revealed. The sermon caused for the delighted happy faces to sadden, and many even began to cry. As a matter of fact, her eloquent speech even boosted people's anger toward the governor.
There are several significant points concerning her sermon. The first point is that the speaker is a captive woman who is among many victorious soldiers and higher rank army men. She has to consider that the enemy's anger may cause another attack upon the captives. Furthermore, since the people of Kufah knew Imam Ali (as) and his children, Syeda Zainab's (sa) sermon should have been in such a manner that people could fully understand the importance of such a tragedy.
She pointed people to be quiet. The breathing of people remained in their chest. After Praising Allah (SWT) and Prophet Muhammad (saw) she said:
"O people of Kufah! O you deceivers! O you who break your pledges and retreat back! You traitors! May the cries never end and the tears never diminish. You are like the woman who painstakingly and with great labor twines a strong rope, and then herself unwinds it, thereby wasting her effort and energy. Your false pledges contain no element of truth and sincerity. Your tactic has become flattering the maids and nodding your heads in agreement to the enemies.
Beware, for you have sponsored a very wrongful act for which Allah (SWT) is totally displeased with you. Without doubt, His wrath shall soon descend upon you.
Are you now crying? Yes, by Allah (SWT) you must weep because you deserve the tears. Cry immensely and laugh less, for you are contaminated with such shame and disgrace, that you will never be able to wash it off.
How could you exonerate yourself from crime of slaying the son of the Last Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the mine of prophethood? Was he not the master of the youth in Heaven? Was he not the one who you would go to him whenever you had tribal fights and disagreements? Was he not your best choice to solve your own problems and worries?
What bad have you brought upon yourselves, and what heavy burden are you carrying: annihilation, downfall! Efforts were lost, and hands ceased from work causing for business and capital to be lost. You placed yourself in the anger of Allah (SWT), and you manifested yourselves in greed and begging.
O the people of Kufah! Woe be upon you! Do you know which part of the Messenger of Allah you have cut? And which vow you have broken? And whose blood you have shed? And which respected family you have brought to the public (as captives)? And whose sanctity you have violated? You have done that, which could tear down the skies, open the earth, and make the mountains vanish. As far as the earth goes and as deep as the skies go, your obvious deed has no like, no similarity and no decency. Indeed you have done the ugliest, the most grievous and gruesome deed.
Will you be surprised if the sky rains blood? Remember! The punishment of the Day of Judgment which will be much more severe and much harsher! That is because no one has the power of Allah (SWT)."
When Syeda Zainab (sa) and the other captives were brought to the palace of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, Governor of Kufah. There, Syeda Zainab (sa) disguised herself among the other women. Once Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad noticed her, he asked:
"Who is that disguised woman?"
No one answered him; so he repeated his question. Then, one of his servants replied:
"She is Zainab, the daughter of Fatima Zahra, daughter of the Messenger of Allah".
Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad recognized this honored Lady, and decided to express his joy of victory in front of the honorable daughter of Imam Ali (as). Through addressing Syeda Zainab (sa) he planned to take advantage of the opportunity and advertise the cruel and disgraced tyranny of Yazid son of Muawiya. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad however, failed to realize that the honored Lady he was addressing happened to be the heroine who would disgrace Yazid son of Muawiya and all other oppressors through her firm logic. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad rudely said:
"Praise be to Allah who disgraced you, and revealed your sayings as false."
Perhaps Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad thought that one who is martyred in the way of fighting falsity is in fact disgraced, and his or her sayings are proven as false. Or maybe he knew the truth, but spoke as such in order to deviate the mind of people and invert the realities, knowing that he attributed his sayings to Allah (SWT). In spite of that, Syeda Zainab (sa) immediately frustrated his conspiracy by replying:
"Praise be to Allah who has honored us with His Messenger, and purified us from impurity. The one who is disgraced is certainly the libertine, and the one who lies is the lewd; and we are not such people. Praise be to Allah."
Ibn Zyad, who never expected to be talking to such a knowledgeable and courageous woman, changed the subject and said:
"How did you find the way Allah (SWT) treated your brother and your family?"
Syeda Zainab (sa), with a tone full of pride and power, indicating her faith and submission towards Allah (SWT), answered:
"I saw nothing but beauty.. They rushed towards their graves (with honor). But know that Allah (SWT) will judge between you and them, and He will call you to account; so be worried about the winner at that day (either it will be you or them). O son of Marjanah! May your mother be mournful for you."
These few statements were so powerful that as the historians mention, they made Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad so angry that he decided to kill Syeda Zainab (sa). He however ceased to do such as one of his army generals, who was present there, calmed him down and prevented him from doing so.
A part of the sermon Syeda Zainab (sa) gave with utmost bravery in the gathering of Yazid son of Muawiya in Syria is as follows:
"What you consider today as spoils of war will become ruins for you tomorrow and on that day you will find what you have sent from before. Allah (SWT) does not oppress his servants. I express my complaint only to Allah (SWT) and have trust in Him. You may therefore do any treachery that you have, make all your attempts, and try all you can. By Allah (SWT), you cannot remove us from the minds (of people), and you cannot fade our message. You will never reach our glory and can never wash the stain of this crime from your hands. Your decisions will not be stable, your period of ruling will be short, and your population will scatter. In that day, a voice will shout: "Indeed may the curse of Allah (SWT) be upon the oppressors..."