SHAFAQNA – Az-Zahraa and the Prophet / The 20th of the month of Jumada II marks the birth anniversary of Az-Zahraa who illuminated the life of the Messenger and his wife, the mother of believers, Khadija. She is the woman whom Ahmad Shawqi, the famous Arab poet, described her relation with her father by saying that he who has Fatima as his offspring does not need other children.
As a child, Fatima lived with her father, storing in her mind and psyche everything she saw him do. Praying to God at night, feeling the light that led her to know God, then getting to know, as a young girl, how he dealt with all people with great mercy and how he used to endure all the sufferings for the sake of the Message, and learning all this from him. She used to experience her father’s patience and she became incredibly patient before all the pains of life. She also learned from him how to be strong and resolved and how not to be afraid of anyone when it comes to telling the truth or standing with the right.
She learned how to confront all the challenges and how to be truthful and honest in everything one says, and she practiced it to the extent that Aisha, her father’s wife, said: “I have not seen anybody more truthful than her except her father”. She also became knowledgeable and conscious by hearing what was revealed to her father. She used her awareness to testify before God on what was happening in her time, and she became, like her father before her, a witness on people’s actions, whether good or bad. Thus, she became a saint, a bearer of witness and one of the righteous.
Openness to worship
This is the spirituality of Fatima that no other woman has drawn near to and that made her committed to Allah with all her soul, talking to Him, asking Him alone what she needs and feeling the tranquilly of those who love Allah and draw near to Him. Let us hear some of her prayers to learn how she used to live with Allah:
“Content me with the sustenance You have granted me. And till such time that You keep me alive, cover me and make me sound and prosperous, for You are the source of all sustenance and You alone, and You are the only one who conceals their secrets”.
“And forgive me – but this pleading for forgiveness, coming from an Infallible, is not for any sin she has committed, for Allah has made her infallible. It is a kind of humbleness before the Lord and the Almighty Creator – and have mercy on me when I die”.
“And forgive me. O Allah! Do not help me in something that You have not predestined for me. And facilitate the achievement of that thing which You have predestined for me”. “O Allah! Bestow upon my parents and all those persons who have rights of their blessings and beneficences upon me, the best of Your rewards”. “O my Allah, spare me the leisure and respite for the object for which You have created me… And do not let me be busy and involved (absolutely) in my commitments. And do not torment me when I ask forgiveness”.
“O God! Make me look humble when I look upon myself and see You as great as You are. Inspire me to obey You. Do what pleases You and avoid what angers You. O Most Merciful!”
This is how Fatima used to stand before God feeling what it means to worship and serve Him.
The role model
As a wife, she lived with Imam Ali (a.s.) as the most ideal wife, representing role models to tell all husbands and wives that the marriage life should be based on love, mercy, mutual responsibility, coherence and humbleness. Imam Ali (a.s.) says: “I have never made her angry or forced her to do anything… and she never angered or disobeyed me…” Being married is not a place where each party tries to force hegemony; rather, it is a chance for integration, where two souls unite.
It is reported in Bihar that Ali (a.s.) said to a man from Bani Sa’d: “Should I speak to you about Fatima and myself? She was my spouse who was the most beloved to the Prophet. She carried water using a water skin until it scarred her chest, she ground (grain) using a hand mill until blisters appeared on her hands, she swept the floor until her clothes became dusty and lit the fire under the cooking pot until her clothes became mud-colored from the smoke. Fatima was inflicted by great pain as a result of this, so I said to her: ‘Why do you not ask your father for a servant to relieve you from these jobs?’ When Fatima (a.s.) went to the Prophet she found that he had company; and was too shy to talk to him, so she left the house. But the Prophet knew that she had come for something. The next morning, the Prophet came to the house while we were still under our quilt and said: ‘Assalamu Alaikum!’ Yet, because we were ashamed (of being under the quilt), we preferred to remain silent. The Prophet once again said: ‘Assalamu Alaikum!’ Once again we remained silent. Then for the third time the Prophet said: ‘Assalamu Alaikum’. Now, we feared that he would depart, for it was the prophet’s habit to say Assalamu alaikum three times and then wait for permission to enter or leave. So I said: ‘Wa Alaik As-Salam, Messenger of Allah! Come in’. He sat near our heads and said: ‘Fatima what was your need when you came to Muhammad yesterday?’ I was afraid that she (Fatima) would not tell him, so I pulled my head from under the cover and said: ‘I will inform you, Messenger of Allah!’
Surely she carried water using a water skin until her chest was scarred, she ground (grain) using a hand mill until blisters appeared on her hands, she swept the floor until her clothes became dusty and lit the fire under the cooking pot until her clothes were mud-colored from the smoke. So I said to her: ‘Why do you not ask your father for a servant to relieve you from these jobs?’ The Prophet (p.), upon hearing this, said: ‘Shall I teach you something that is better for you than a servant and a world with everything in it? After every prayer, say: Allahu Akbar thirty four times, Alhamdulillah thirty three times and Subhanallah thirty three times, then conclude that with la ilaha illa Allah. Surely, this is better for you than that which you wanted and the world and its belongings’”.
Thus, Fatima adhered to this glorification after every prayer; and it came to be known as ‘Tasbihat Fatima’.
Defending Ali’s rights
This is how the Messenger (p.) used to treat Fatima’s pains and she used to respond to this spiritual treatment, for she used to live this spirituality. She was one of the greatest wives, mothers, daughters, believers and fighters for the Right. When her father died, she did not talk about her pains, but stood to address the Muslims in the Prophet’s mosque to talk about her husband’s rights. She also told the women who came to visit her when she was sick: “I have become not interested in this world where the people do not stand with the right”.
Fatima was the woman who lived with her father, husband and children, but she also lived with the nation its causes and the cause of Islam. All men and women should find in this woman who did not live long but had a blessed life, the model they should look up to.
A lecture by His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)