Remembering Fatimah Al Zahra (‘a)

روي عن رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) : وأما ابنتي فاطمة فإنها سيدة نساء العالمين ، من الأولين والآخرين وهي بضعة مني ، وهي نور عيني ، وهي ثمرة فؤداي ، وهي روحي التي بين جنبيّ ، وهي الحوراء الإنسية ، متى قامت في محرابها بين يدي ربها جل جلاله ، زهر نورها لملائكة السماء كما يزهر نور الكواكب لأهل الأرض ، ويقول الله عز وجل لملائكته : يا ملائكتي انظروا إلى أَمتي فاطمة سيدة إمائي ، قائمة بين يديّ ، ترتعد فرائصها من خيفتي ، وقد أقبلتْ بقلبها على عبادتي ، أُشهدكم أني قد أمنت شيعتها من النار

Introduction

There have been many women who have made an everlasting mark on the history of civilization and humankind. They have been great in various aspects. Yet one woman contributed more than perhaps any other woman, while she was not more then a young girl. She had all the great and virtuous attributes of the women of respect and honour and more. Her prayers and supplications were no less than the most inspiring words of poetry to the God she adored. Her eloquence of speech, her bravery and strength, her loving tenderness towards her noble father, husband and children are what philosophers still write and speak of in terms of a cure for the ills of today’s society. She was filled with spiritual devotion, as is becoming of any true saint. Her actions were her belief, without fault or mistake. She rose above the frail diversions of this life and was truly the best example for all women throughout all time.

This woman is Fatimah Al-Zahra the daughter of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), the wife of Imam Ali ibn Abu Taleb the mother of Imams Hassan and Hussein .

In the shade of her father the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), and in the lap of her chaste and noble mother, Khadija bint Khuwailid, Fatimah Al-Zahra was born in the holy city of Mecca on Friday 20th Jamadi Thani. She had the spirit of the Holy Prophet, his characteristics and morals. Indeed, she was the complete inheritor of her father. The distinguished relationship between the Holy Prophet (s) and his dear daughter attracted the attentions of those who lived nearby. They talked about the resemblance between the father and the daughter. The Holy Prophet, who spoke only that which had been revealed to him, addressed Fatimah in these words: ‘Oh Fatimah! Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted, is angered at the one who makes you angry and is satisfied with the one who pleases you.’ This is obviously not a normal situation where the Lord, Creator of all things, the One who encompasses all, puts his anger to Fatimah’s anger, and his pleasure to her pleasure. This is different from the situation when a believer’s contentment remains at the contentment of his Lord, which is the one of the highest forms of submission and surrender attainable.

Fatimah was the greatest woman with regard to her honour, faith and position in the sight of her Creator. Thus, so many people approached her father asking for her hand in marriage. The caliphs Umar and Abu Bakr were for instance, among those who asked for her hand. Other people among the leading men of the Quraysh tribe thought of asking for Fatimah’s hand in order to achieve the honour of being the son-in-law of the Messenger of Allah. Nevertheless, the Holy Prophet would say to these people, ‘This matter is yet not divinely settled’. Finally Imam Ali, the son of Abu Taleb approached the Holy Prophet on this matter the Prophet was extremely delighted.

Fatimah married Ali and the tree of Prophethood bore fruit. Fatimah gave birth to Imam Hassan and then to Imam Hussein, The Prophet welcomed them and named them. Fatimah the noblest of all women , married Ali for his faith, piety trustworthiness and high principles, not for wealth , money and the fading luxuries of this world. She accepted the holy bond with a simple modest mahr (dowry) that smashed the very values of materialism, abrogating its deceptive role in the subject of marriage, replacing it with Islamic values and ideals. Her marriage would no doubt teach the generations how elusive (false) is the nature of materialism and how it dwarfs before the sublime human values and ideals.

The glory of Al-Zahra towers over any other any other glory. Asceticism and worship of the Creator are two natural traits of the Holy Family of the Holy Prophet, for here were the finest examples of the highest ideals, the greatest Islamic personalities that had ever lived lived on this earth.

Fatimah did not live long after the death of her father (s). She was the first from among his family to join him in the afterlife. Fatimah Al-Zahra left this world with pain and grief, leaving both sons and daughters to be brought up by their father Ali.

Link Between Prophethood and Imamah

Fatimah (A.S.) was the only woman connecting Prophethood and Imamate and was the link between the two. She was the daughter of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the wife of the first Imam (A.S.) and the mother of the rest of the Imams (A.S.) who descended from her and her husband Ali (A.S.). Allah singled her out with this virtue and peculiarity because she was the most perfect and highest example in purity, sanctity, worship, asceticism and morals.

With her marriage to the Leader of the Faithfull (as), she became the source from which the continuation of the message of the final Prophethood is secured, and the she became the culmination of all the characteristics and effects of the Prophets and the future Imams. She became the gate through which Imamate needs to pass through in order to bear its fruit from the good tree of knowledge, spirituality and the highest stations of viceroyship of the Holy Prophet (saw).

Al-Kawthar (Abundance)

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيم

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَر 1  فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ 2  إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَر 3

‘To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance). Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice. For he who hateth thee, he will be cut off (from Future Hope).’ [Holy Qur’an, Al-Kawthar:1-3]

When the Holy Prophet’s son, Tahir, born to Khadijah al Kubra, died, Amr bin As and Hakam bin As taunted the Holy Prophet by calling him abtar-tail-less, whose progeny has been cut off. This surah was revealed to give glad tidings to the Holy Prophet that abundance of unbounded grace, wisdom and knowledge, mercy and goodness, spiritual power and insight, in highest degrees, and of progeny has been given to him.

It is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hambal and other books of renowned Sunni scholars that the Holy Prophet said:

“Kawthar is a stream of super excellence, exclusively belonging to me. Only the righteous believers (among my followers) will be allowed to drink from it. Ali shall distribute the water from it to them.

On the day of judgement I will see some of my companions driven, like cattle, away from Kawthar. It will be announced that they are those who, after my departure from the world, deviated from the true religion and introduced innovations (based upon conjecture) to corrupt the faith.”

From that day Ali was known and referred to by the companions as saqi al kawthar. Kawthar also means abundance of descendants. The countless descendants of the Imams of the Ah ul Bayt, in the progeny of Ali and Fatimah are known as sayyids. They are the descendants of the Holy Prophet.

In gratitude of the grant of “abundance”, the Holy Prophet and his Ahl ul Bayt demonstrated highest standard of devotion in prayers and in giving everything they had in the cause of Allah. In verse 3 it is said that the enemies of the Holy Prophet will be lost in oblivion. It is a divine prophesy.

Supporting our interpretation, al-Tabataba’i, in al-Mizan commentary, said: ‘Without that, the words ‘Verily, thy enemy shall be the one cut off’ would be useless.’

Her Childhood
In Fatimah’s childhood, there was no place for playing, leisure and purposelessness. Nor were her energies those of a child living a childhood of innocence and simplicity. Rather, hers was the energy of a child who stored within herself a feeling for the role which she should play in the Messenger’s life and the suffering and pain which he was facing. It was a childhood with the characteristics of a motherhood, living its spirit and fulfilling its role.
There she was, and having opened her eyes to life, she saw her father (S.A.W.) coming every now and then, weighed down by the pressures, burdens and harm inflicted by the atheists; so she would embrace her father and relieve his pain and take care of him with all kindness.
One day, she saw her father (S.A.W.) in the Holy Mosque of Makkah after the atheists had dumped dirt and rubbish over his back while he was praying to his Lord. She promptly went forward and removed the rubbish with her small hands, expressing her sadness and condolences to him (S.A.W.) with her tears.
This is what made her open up to her responsibilities in her early childhood to stand by her father, to take care of him and empathize with him; and he was the one who had lost his mother, and his sympathetic wife. She stood by him when he was challenged with the Message: some called him names, others accused him of being insane, others threw dirt and stones on him; his uncle Abu Lahab crying out: ‘No doubt, Muhammad (S.A.W.) has bewitched you!’
But when he returned home, he would be greeted by Fatimah (A.S.), with her sympathy and care, which was not that of a child weeping without awareness….. She was sensing that his pain was also hers and so amassed during her childhood the pain of the Message and pain of the Messenger… And whosoever amasses in their early childhood the awareness of the pain of the Messenger and the Message cannot find time for leisure or playing or purposelessness; playing and purposelessness occur in our lives because of an emptiness, which we are trying to fill.
This was how Fatimah (A.S.) grew up, not like other children, but as a person with mission in her feelings, emotions, opinions and her whole dynamic attitude.

Her Relationship with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)
Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, in al-Istee’ab, narrated – and we would like very much to use it, as it was a Sunni source which represents a neutral source, so that the Shi’ah could not be accused of talking out of emotion – that ‘Ayshah said: ‘I had not seen any one who was more resembling the Messenger of Allah in his speech, conduct and manners as Fatimah; when she used to enter (his house) he would stand up for her, take her hand and kiss it and make her sit in his sitting place; and when he used to enter (her house) she would stand up for him, take his hand and kiss it and make him sit in her sitting place’.
When we study this text, we can conclude two things: first, the unity and complete merging between Fatimah’s personality and her father’s, as the person most closely resembling him. This is reflected even in his walking, as seen in many narrations, such as ‘Fatimah came and her walk did not fail the walking of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)’; second, the depth of the spiritual relationship between the Prophet (S.A.W.) and Fatimah (A.S.), a relationship which the Prophet (S.A.W.) had with Fatimah (A.S.) alone.
There are many stories from her life which tell how she used to study her father’s thoughts to know what he liked and disliked, what opened up his heart and what closed it. An example of this was when he (S.A.W.) came back from a journey and entered her house, looked around a little, then left. Quickly she knew that something bothered the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). She thought about it and realized that on the door of her house was a curtain and that she had two bracelets in her hands; she took the curtain down and took off the bracelets and sent them with her sons and said: ‘Say greetings to my father and say to him: we have not introduced anything after you except this, it is for you to do with them what you like.’
When the Prophet (S.A.W.) heard this, his expression relaxed. He was moved by this generous, wonderful, spiritual gesture by his daughter, and this thoughtful response, and gave these things to the poor, saying: ‘She did this! May her father be sacrificed for her! May her father be sacrificed for her! May her father be sacrificed for her! What have the family of Muhammad (S.A.W.) to do with life: they have been created for the hereafter!’
This is what every girl with a mission should learn, when her father is a man of missionary affiliations and responsibilities; as too should every woman with someone who has a missionary dimension in his life: she should learn not to get too engrossed with her own affairs, but to open herself up to the responsibilities of her father, husband, brother or son so as to join with him in the dynamic movement of responsibility, and not to add to the burdens to his responsibility. For we see many great men, past and present, become burdened by the people who are around them: while when they think in a missionary manner, those around them think only of themselves.
We also learn from Fatimah (A.S.), in her advanced missionary awareness and position, that she was someone who rebelled against her personal needs, however simple, for the sake of her missionary ambitions; she was someone who prioritized in favour of principles over the self. This is what we need to learn, for many of us – men and women alike – fall down when it comes to a choice between the needs of the principle and the needs of the self; we too often choose the self, and may even make a principle of service to the self.
Fatimah al-Zahra (A.S.) was unique in all her behaviour and deeds, even in her sorrow for her beloved, especially during her separation from the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).
Historians tell us that, when she went to him as he was dying, she embraced him and he whispered something in her ear which made her weep. Then, when he whispered something that made her laugh, she was asked:
‘How quickly (your) laughing after weeping?!’ She said: ‘I shall not reveal the Messenger of Allah’s secret in his life.’ So, when she was asked about this after his death, she said: ‘He whispered in my ear first that he was going to meet his Lord and that his soul was announced to him (his death), so I wept; then he whispered in my ear again that I was going to be the first of his family to go after him, so I laughed!’
Where else would you find a young woman, whatever her love for her father, become happy when he tells her that she is going to be the first to die after him? What relationship deeper could be than this, and what unity of spirit could be stronger?

Further resources, sermons and articles in Arabic can be found here.

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