Sayyidah Zaynab

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Sayyidah Zaynab
السيدة زينب
Sayyidah Zaynab Shrine
Nickname(s): Set Zaynab
Sayyidah Zaynab is located in Syria
Sayyidah Zaynab
Sayyidah Zaynab
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 33°26′50″N 36°20′10″E / 33.44722°N 36.33611°E / 33.44722; 36.33611Coordinates: 33°26′50″N 36°20′10″E / 33.44722°N 36.33611°E / 33.44722; 36.33611
Country  Syria
Governorate Rif Dimashq
District Markaz Rif Dimashq
Subdistrict Babbila
Population (2004 census[1])
 • Total 136,427
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Sayyidah Zaynab (Arabic: السيدة زينب‎, meaning Lady Zaynab) commonly known as Set Zaynab, is a Syrian town in the Rif Dimashq Governorate. With a population of 136,427 (2004 census), Sayyidah Zaynab is the 10th-largest city in Syria by terms of population and the largest satellite city of the capital Damascus. It lies only 10 km (6 mi) south of the Syrian capital. Administratively, the town is located in Markaz Rif Dimashq district and belongs to the nahiyah ("subdistrict") of Babbila.[2] The municipality of Sayyidah Zaynab is still considered as a rural community by the governorate of Rif Dimashq.[3]


The name of the town is derived from the shrine that contains the grave of Zaynab, daughter of ‘Alī and Fātimah and granddaughter of Muhammad. It is believed by Shī‘a Muslims that the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque is the authentic burial place of Lady Zaynab, whereas the mosque in Cairo by the same name belongs to Zaynab bint Yahya bint Zayd bint ‘Alī Zayn al-‘Ābidīn (i.e. the great granddaughter of the Imam).[4]

Religious significance[edit]

Sayyidah Zaynab is one of the most important destinations for Shī‘a Muslim pilgrims. It has also become an important center of learning in the Shī‘i world.[5] In the 1980s, during the Iran–Iraq War, as well as during the 1990s, the flow of the visitors increased significantly because the Shī‘a shrines in Iraq were inaccessible.[6] Until 2011, around 1 million tourists visited the town of Sayyidah Zaynab every year.

Shī‘a Muslim pilgrims especially came to the shrine town of Sayyidah Zaynab in order to ask for healing.[7]

Currently, 33 public schools and a number of religious institutions are operating in the town.

Recent history[edit]

On September 27, 2008, there was a car bomb attack on the intersection leading up to the mosque, killing 17 people with 17 others wounded.[8]

On June 14, 2012, the town became the target of a suicide car bomb attack where around 14 people were heavily wounded.[9]

Since mid summer 2012 the town has been under attack from armed militants in neighbouring Sunni towns. Many Shia and pro government families were driven out of their homes in southern Damascus and sought refuge in Sayyidah Zaynab. Constant shelling became more frequent in this predominantly Shia town, and rockets landing on random places in the town became common. In January 2013 a mortar shell landed on the Sayyidah Zaynab Shrine causing some damage to one of the minarets.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Babbila nahiyah populations
  2. ^ General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Rif Dimashq Governorate. (Arabic)
  3. ^ Sayyidah Zaynab: City in a village
  4. ^ Syria - Sayyidah Zaynab
  5. ^ Sabrina Mervin, “Sayyida Zaynab, Banlieue de Damas ou Nouvelle Ville Sainte Chiite?” Cahiers d’Etudes sur la Mediterranée Orientale et le Monde Turco-Iranien: Arabes et Iraniens 22 (1996): 149-162, Electronic document,
  6. ^ Edith Szanto, “Sayyida Zaynab in the State of Exception: Shi‘i Sainthood as ‘Qualified Life’ in Contemporary Syria,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 44 no. 2 (2012): 285-299.
  7. ^ Edith Szanto, “Contesting Fragile Saintly Traditions: Miraculous Healing among Twelver Shi‘is in Contemporary Syria,” in Politics of Worship in the Contemporary Middle East: Sainthood in Fragile States, edited by Andreas Bandak and Mikkel Bille (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 33-52.
  8. ^ "Syria condemns Damascus car bombing as "cowardly terrorist act"". Xinhua. 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  9. ^ Syria Today:Suicide car bomb blast in Sayyidah Zaynab