SHAFAQNA – There are four women in the course of all History which Islam has risen above all: they are Miryam – mother of Issa, Assiyah – wife of Pharoah, Khadijah – the mother of all believers, and Fatimah bint Muhammad – daughter of the last prophet of God.
If much ink has been spent in her name, words still fail to describe the nobility and grace of her character. Her father’s daughter, the love and attention she devoted to his keep – the devotion she demonstrated towards her blessed father and Islam awarded her the name of her father’s mother.
A lady among all ladies, she was light and purity, together hope and strength, patience and compassion …. her faith and knowledge were such, that today her name is still whispered in utmost adoration.
Her love was such for her people … for all people, that millions still today cry her, as they do their mother. Just as her face comforted her father, the evocation of her name today remains a source of joy.
Once as her father returned home, his face darkened by the filth a vicious mob had thrown at him, Fatimah wept profusely, wiping the dust from her father’s head.
“Do not cry, my daughter,” he said, “for God shall protect your father.” The Prophet had a special love for Fatimah. He once said: “Whoever pleased Fatimah has indeed pleased God and whoever has caused her to be angry has indeed angered God. Fatimah is a part of me. Whatever pleases her pleases me and whatever angers her angers me.”
He also said: “The best women in all the world are four: the Virgin Mary, Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad.” Fatimah thus acquired a place of love and esteem in the Prophet’s heart that was only occupied by his wife Khadijah.
Fatimah, may God be pleased with her, was given the title of “al-Zahraa” which means “the Resplendent One”. That was because of her beaming face which seemed to radiate light. It is said that when she stood for Prayer, the mihrab would reflect the light of her countenance. She was also called “al-Batul” because of her asceticism. Instead of spending her time in the company of women, much of her time would be spent in Salat, in reading the Quran and in other acts of worship.
Fatimah had a strong resemblance to her father, the Messenger of God. Aishah. the wife of the Prophet, said of her: “I have not seen any one of God’s creation resemble the Messenger of God more in speech, conversation and manner of sitting than Fatimah, may God be pleased with her. When the Prophet saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up and kiss her, take her by the hand and sit her down in the place where he was sitting.” She would do the same when the Prophet came to her. She would stand up and welcome him with joy and kiss him.
Fatimah’s fine manners and gentle speech were part of her lovely and endearing personality. She was especially kind to poor and indigent folk and would often give all the food she had to those in need even if she herself remained hungry. She had no craving for the ornaments of this world nor the luxury and comforts of life. She lived simply, although on occasion as we shall see circumstances seemed to be too much and too difficult for her.
She inherited from her father a persuasive eloquence that was rooted in wisdom. When she spoke, people would often be moved to tears. She had the ability and the sincerity to stir the emotions, move people to tears and fill their hearts with praise and gratitude to God for His grace and His inestimable bounties.
Fatimah migrated to Madinah a few weeks after the Prophet did.
In Madinah, Fatimah lived with her father in the simple dwelling he had built adjoining the mosque. In the second year after the Hijrah, she received proposals of marriage through her father, two of which were turned down. Then Ali, the son of Abu Talib, plucked up courage and went to the Prophet to ask for her hand in marriage. In the presence of the Prophet, however, Ali became over-awed and tongue-tied. He stared at the ground and could not say anything. The Prophet then asked: “Why have you come? Do you need something?” Ali still could not speak and then the Prophet suggested: “Perhaps you have come to propose marriage to Fatimah.”
“Yes,” replied Ali. At this, according to one report, the Prophet said simply: “Marhaban wa ahlan – Welcome into the family,” and this was taken by Ali and a group of Ansar who were waiting outside for him as indicating the Prophet’s approval.
On her marriage. the Prophet is said to have presented Fatimah and Ali with a wooden bed intertwined with palm leaves, a velvet coverlet. a leather cushion filled with palm fibre, a sheepskin, a pot, a waterskin and a quern for grinding grain.
Fatimah left the home of her beloved father for the first time to begin life with her husband. The Prophet was clearly anxious on her account and sent Barakah with her should she be in need of any help. And no doubt Barakah was a source of comfort and solace to her. The Prophet prayed for them:
“O Lord, bless them both, bless their house and bless their offspring.” In Ali’s humble dwelling, there was only a sheepskin for a bed. In the morning after the wedding night, the Prophet went to Ali’s house and knocked on the door.
Barakah came out and the Prophet said to her: “O Umm Ayman, call my brother for me.”
“Your brother? That’s the one who married your daughter?” asked Barakah somewhat incredulously as if to say: Why should the Prophet call Ali his “brother”? (He referred to Ali as his brother because just as pairs of Muslims were joined in brotherhood after the Hijrah, so the Prophet and Ali were linked as “brothers”.)
The Prophet repeated what he had said in a louder voice. Ali came and the Prophet made a du’a, invoking the blessings of God on him. Then he asked for Fatimah. She came almost cringing with a mixture of awe and shyness and the Prophet said to her:
“I have married you to the dearest of my family to me.” In this way, he sought to reassure her. She was not starting life with a complete stranger but with one who had grown up in the same household, who was among the first to become a Muslim at a tender age, who was known for his courage, bravery and virtue, and whom the Prophet described as his “brother in this world and the hereafter”.
Fatimah’s life with Ali was as simple and frugal as it was in her father’s household. In fact, so far as material comforts were concerned, it was a life of hardship and deprivation. T
There are many reports of the hard and difficult times which Fatimah had to face. Often there was no food in her house. Once the Prophet was hungry. He went to one after another of his wives’ apartments but there was no food. He then went to Fatimah’s house and she had no food either. When he eventually got some food, he sent two loaves and a piece of meat to Fatimah. At another time, he went to the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and from the food he was given, he saved some for her. Fatimah also knew that the Prophet was without food for long periods and she in turn would take food to him when she could. Once she took a piece of barley bread and he, said to her: “This is the first food your father has eaten for three days.”
Through these acts of kindness she showed how much she loved her father; and he loved her, really loved her in return.
Once he returned from a journey outside Madinah. He went to the mosque first of all and prayed two rakats as was his custom. Then, as he often did, he went to Fatimah’s house before going to his wives. Fatimah welcomed him and kissed his face, his mouth and his eyes and cried. “Why do you cry?” the Prophet asked. “I see you, O Rasul Allah,” she said, “Your color is pale and sallow and your clothes have become worn and shabby.” “O Fatimah,” the Prophet replied tenderly, “don’t cry for Allah has sent your father with a mission which He would cause to affect every house on the face of the earth whether it be in towns, villages or tents (in the desert) bringing either glory or humiliation until this mission is fulfilled just as night (inevitably) comes.” With such comments Fatimah was often taken from the harsh realities of daily life to get a glimpse of the vast and far-reaching vistas opened up by the mission entrusted to her noble father.
Fatimah eventually returned to live in a house close to that of the Prophet. The place was donated by an Ansari who knew that the Prophet would rejoice in having his daughter as his neighbor. Together they shared in the joys and the triumphs, the sorrows and the hardships of the crowded and momentous Madinah days and years.
She, Fatimah the Resplendent One, was just twenty nine years old when she was martyred.
She, Fatimah bint Muhammad is alive forever!