Who was Lady Fatima Masuma?

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SHAFAQNA - It is interesting to know that the Imams (A) foretold the birth of this noble lady and her presence in Qum many years before her birth.

Qādī Nūrullāh Shūshtarī (d. 1109 A.H) reports from the 6th Imam, Imam Ja`far al-Sādiq (A):

تُقبَض فيها امْراةٌ منْ وُلْدى، اِسْمُها فاطِمَةُ بِنْتُ مُوسى، وتَدْخُلُ بِشَفاعَتِها شيعَتى الجنّة بَاجْمَعِهِمْ

“A lady from my children whose name will be Fatima, daughter of Mūsā, will die in Qum. On the Day of Judgement this lady will intercede for all my Shi`a to enter Heaven.”

`Allāmah Majlisī narrates from Imam al-Sādiq (A):

وَسَتُدْفَنُ فيها امْرَأةٌ مِنْ اَوْلادى تُسَمّى فاطِمَةَ، فَمَنْ زارَها وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الجنّة

“A lady from my children, by the name of Fatima will be buried in Qum. Whoever visits her [shrine], will certainly be admitted to Heaven.”2

The writer of the above tradition says that Imam al-Sādiq (A) gave these glad tidings even before the birth of his son, the 7th Imam, Imam Mūsā al-Kāđim (A), the father of Lady Fatima Masuma (A).

Since Imam al-Kāđim (A) was born in 128 A.H and Lady Fatima Masuma (A) in 173 A.H; this speech was made at least 45 years before her birth. Therefore, the good news of her birth was foretold more than 45 years before she was born!

The date of her birth

According to certain traditions, some of which are mentioned below, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was born on the 1st of Dhul Qa`dah, 173 A.H in Madina.

1. The narrator Ayatollah Shaykh Ali Namāzī (d. 1405 A.H) writes:“Fatima Masuma was born at the beginning of the month of Dhul Qa`dah in the year 173 A.H”3

2. Mullā Muhsin Fayd narrates:
“Lady Fatima [Masuma], daughter of Imam al-Kāđim (A) was born in Madina at the beginning of the month Dhul Qa`dah in the year 173 A.H and she passed away in Qum on the 10th of the month Rabī` al-Thānī in the year 201 A.H.

Others who have also written that the birth of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) is in the beginning of the month of Dhul Qa`dah are mentioned below:
1. `Allāmah Bahrānī in his book `Awālim al-`Ulūm, vol. 21, p. 328.

2. Shaykh Mahdi Mansūrī in his book Hayāt Al-Sadāt, p. 10.

3. Dr. Muhammad Hādī Amīnī in his book Fātimah Bint al-Imam Mūsā al-Kāđim, p. 21.

4. Ahmad Zādeh in his book Zendegānī Hadrat Mūsā Ibn Ja`far, vol. 2, p. 375.

Some of the authors above have recorded the year of the birth of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) as 183 A.H instead of 173 A.H, but this is incorrect on account of two major points, which are:

i. If we study the details of Imam Mūsā al-Kāđim’s (A) life we see that on the 25th Rajab 183 A.H he died in prison in Baghdad. We also know the minimum amount of time that he spent in prison was four years and during this imprisonment, his family was in Madina. So it cannot be possible for Lady Fatima Masuma (A) to be born in this same year of 183 A.H.

ii. Also, it is well documented that Imam al-Kāđim (A) had more than one daughter named Fatima, and that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was the eldest Fatima (Fātimat al-Kubrā), therefore she could not have been born in the same year as the year of her father’s death.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that it is not possible that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was born in the year 183 A.H, and the authors who have quoted this date have made a mistake, (either in counting or writing) and should have recorded 173 A.H.

The date of her death

There is no difference of opinion about the fact that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) died in Qum in the year 201 A.H. The year of her death is further corroborated by the tiles in her shrine, dating back from centuries ago, which have the same date written on them.

However, there are various possibilities about the month and day of her death:
1. 10th Rabī` al-Thānī
2. 12th Rabī` al-Thāni
3. 8th Sha`bān

There is no evidence to say which of the three dates is correct, and so the scholars have decided that because the first and the second dates are so close together, the mourning for the death of this noble lady should be over a three day period (10th, 11th and 12th of Rabī` al-Thānī).

This three day period is called: “ايّام معصوميّة” – “the days of Masuma”.
Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was about 28 years old when she died, although some scholars have said that at the time of her death her age was 18 (from the mistake of the year of her birth – 183 A.H instead of 173 A.H) and others have said her age was 23, but this last narration is not very reliable, due to its weak chain of transmission.

Her father

The father of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was the 7th Imam – Imam Mūsā al-Kāđim (A). It has been recorded in history that Imam al-Kāđim (A) had numerous children.

Shaykh Mufīd (d. 413 A.H) writes that Imam al-Kāđim (A) had 37 children (whom he has named), 19 sons and 18 daughters; and that two of these daughters were named Fatima – Fatima al-Kubrā and Fatima al-Sughrā.

Sibt ibn Jawzī, the famous 8th century scholar of the Ahl al-Sunnah, narrates that four daughters of Imam al-Kāđim (A) were named Fatima: Fatima al-Kubrā, Fatima al-Wustā, Fatima al-Sughrā and Fatima al-Ukhrā.

Fatima al-Kubrā is the very same Lady Fatima Masuma (A) buried in Qum.
It is narrated that Fatima al-Wustā is buried in Isfahān and her Haram is called Sittī Fatima (near Chāhār Sūq Shīrāzī-hā).
Fatima al-Sughrā is well known as “Bībī Heybat”. She is buried in Azerbaijan, where the beautiful dome and gardens at her shrine were destroyed during the era of Communist Russia.
Fatima al-Ukhrā, who is also known as Fatima Tāhira, is buried in Rasht, Iran.

The contemporary researcher, `Allāmah Shaykh Muhammad Taqī Tustarī writes: Amongst all the children of Imam al-Kāđim (A), other than Imam Ali al-Ridā (A) there was no one equal in status to Lady Fatima Masuma (A).

In 173 A.H, Hārūn al-Rashīd became the Caliph. Six years later, on the 20th Shawwāl 179 A.H, he ordered Imam al-Kađim (A) to be arrested in Madina. At the time of his arrest, Imam (A) was in the state of prayers in the Prophet’s (S) mosque. After his arrest, he was brought to Iraq, where he was imprisoned in the dungeons of Baghdad. This is where the Imam (A) spent the rest of his life.

Hārūn had the Imam (A) poisoned, and he died in the prison of Baghdad on the 24th or the 25th of Rajab in the year 183 A.H. He is buried in the “Maqābir Quraysh” which is now known as Kāđimayn, because the 9th Imam – Imam Muhammad al-Taqī (A) is also buried there.

From the dates above, we can conclude that the Imam (A) was in prison for four years. However, some historians have quoted that his time in prison was seven years, and Ibn Jawzī has mentioned that it was eleven years.

Her mother

The mother of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was also the mother of the 8th Imam – Imam Ali al-Ridā (A) and she had no children other than these two.

She was known by several names, the most well known of them was Najmah Khātūn.
Lady Najmah was a slave from North Africa and was bought by Lady Hamīdah, the mother of Imam al-Kāđim (A). After she came into the house of the Ahl al-Bayt (A), she reached a high level of intellectual and spiritual excellence, with lessons and teachings from Lady Hamīdah.

Lady Hamīdah narrates that one night she had a dream, where she saw the Prophet (S) and he said to her: ‘Make Najmah the wife of your son, Mūsā ibn Ja`far, so that soon the best of people in the world (Imam al-Ridā (A)) will be born from her. Lady Hamīdah acted upon this order, and so Najmah became the wife of Imam al-Kāđim (A) and later, the mother of Imam al-Ridā (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A).

Some of the other names mentioned for Lady Najmah are:
Tuktam: This was a popular name amongst the Arabs, and it was the name of the mother of Imam al-Ridā and Lady Fatima Masuma (A) at the time when she was bought as a slave.
The name Tuktam was also used to refer to the well of Zamzam (the well near the Ka`bah) in the dream of Abdul Muttalib, when he was told to dig up and find the hidden well, and in this way it seems a very appropriate name for Najmah Khātūn whose excellence was also hidden at the time of her slavery.

Umm al-Banīn: This was the only title that was given to her; the meaning of this title is the “mother of boys” although Najmah Khātūn only had two children – Imam al-Ridā (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A). Due to the nobleness of both of her children, she had this title “Umm al-Banīn” given to her.

Tāhira: It has been narrated that after giving birth to Imam Ali al-Ridā (A) on 11th Dhul Qa`dah in the year 148 A.H in Madina, she was known as Tāhira, which has the meaning of purity.
Although Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was born 25 years after Imam al-Ridā (A), the fact that they had the same mother and father, led to a special closeness between them.

The names and titles of Lady Fatima Masuma (A)

It has been emphasised in many traditions that the choosing of a suitable name for a child is the responsibility of the father. The recommendation is that, if the child is a boy, then the name of the Prophet (S) and the Imams (A), especially the names Muhammad and Ali should be chosen for him. And for a daughter there is no name more suitable than Fatima.

The Imams (A), due to their high esteem of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) would accord great respect and reverence to the name ‘Fatima’. So much so, that when one of his companions informed Imam al-Sādiq (A) that he had chosen the name Fatima for his daughter, the Imam (A) exclaimed: “Ah, Ah.” Then he said: “Now that you have kept her name Fatima, be careful not to ever curse or beat her.”

And it was due to this respect that the Imams (A) would name their children by these holy names, and usually more than one child had the fortune to have such a noble name. Especially so in the case of Imam al-Kāđim (A), who named four of his daughters Fatima, as mentioned previously. We know that the name of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was Fatima (al-Kubrā).

Masuma: The title of Masuma was given to this noble lady by her brother, Imam al-Ridā (A). It is worth noting that this title was awarded to her after her death and she was not referred to by this name during her life-time. This also nullifies the erroneous view that she died after her brother, Imam al-Ridā (A), on hearing the news of his death.

Mirzā Muhammad Taqī (d. 1297 A.H) reports that the title “Masuma” was given to her by her brother – Imam al-Ridā (A). And according to this tradition Imam al-Ridā (A) said:

مَنْ زارَ الْمَعْصومَةَ بِقُمْ كَمَنْ زارَني

“Whoever visits Masuma in Qum is like the one who has visited me.”

The question arises, was this title “Masuma” given to her to indicate her sinless status? In other words, was she infallible in the same sense as the 14 Ma`sūmīn (The Prophet, Lady Fatima Zahra and the 12 Imams – peace be upon them all), who are considered sinless and Divinely protected according to the verse of Purity:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

“Verily, Allah intends to keep all uncleanliness away from you, O Ahl al-Bayt, and to purify you thoroughly.”

Several scholars believe that some of the noble personalities from the household of the Prophet (S), such as Lady Zaynab (A), Hadrat `Abbās (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A), due to their proximity to the Ma`sūmīn (A) have acquired a high state of purity.

Infallibility (al-`ismah) has two meanings: Infallible from error and infallible from sin. When speaking of the infallibility of the Ma`sūmīn (A), both these meanings apply, but when speaking about special and noble people, such as Lady Zaynab (A), Hadrat `Abbās (A) or Lady Fatima Masuma (A), the latter meaning of infallible from sin is meant.

Here we do not have the space to discuss this issue, but we can mention that the Imams (A) never falsely praised anyone, and the fact that the Imam al-Ridā (A) gave the title of Masuma to his sister is proof that she deserved such a title.

Karīmat Ahl al-Bayt: This title, meaning “the Noble one of the family of the Prophet (S)” was given to her by either Imam al-Bāqir (A) or Imam al-Sādiq (A) in a dream seen by Ayatollah Sayyid Mahmūd Mar`ashī Najafī, the author of Mashjirat al-`Ālawīyīn.

This noble man was very interested in finding the exact location of the burial place of Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and for this purpose he spent 40 days supplicating, so that he could be privileged with this information.

On the 40th night, after the completion of his prayers, he went to sleep and in his dream he saw himself present at the grave of either Imam al-Bāqir (A) or Imam al-Sādiq (A) (both of whom are buried in Jannat al-Baqī` in Madina). Imam (A) said to him:

عَلَيْكَ بِكَريمَـةِ اَهْـلِ الْبَيْتِ

“I advise you to go to the Karīmat (Noble one)of the Ahl al-Bayt”

He thought that by Karīmat Ahl al-Bayt, Imam (A) was referring to Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and so he answered, “Yes, I have been supplicating for this very purpose, so that I may know the exact place of the holy grave of this noble personality, enabling me to perform her pilgrimage.”

The Imam (A) said, “I meant the holy grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) in Qum.” Then the Imam (A) added, “It is Allah’s desire that the location of the holy grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) be hidden from everyone.”

Therefore, the Imam (A) has placed the grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) in place of the grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and so all the honour and grandeur that would have been accorded to the grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) should be given to the grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A).

On waking from his dream, the late Mar`ashī made an intention to travel to Qum with his family, in order to perform the pilgrimage of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) and he carried out this intention without any delay. He died in Najaf, in the year 1338 A.H.

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Shahāb al-Dīn Marashī Najafī, the illustrious son of the late Mar`ashī, migrated to Iran in the year 1342 A.H. He often cited that one of the reasons for his emigration to Iran was the dream of his father.

After a short stay in Tehran, he entered the seminary in Qum, al-Hawzah al-‘Ilmīyah, in the year 1343 A.H, and here he lived, in the proximity of the Karīmat of Ahl al-Bayt – Lady Fatima Masuma (A) – until his death in the year 1411 A.H.

For over sixty years, every morning, the late Shahāb al-Dīn Mar`ashī, was the first person to perform the pilgrimage of this noble lady. He would wait outside her shrine for the doors to be opened.

Even during his final illness before his death, he requested to be carried to her shrine in order to perform her pilgrimage.

Other titles that have been given to Lady Fatima Masuma (A) are:
1. Tāhirah 6. Naqīyah
2. Hamīdah 7. Rādīyah
3. Bārrah 8. Mardīyah
4. Rashīdah 9. Sayyidah
5. Taqīyah 10. Ukht al-Ridā.

All of these ten titles can be found in her salutation (Ziyārat), which has been narrated by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Qummī in his book, Anwār al-Musha`sha`īn. This salutation for Lady Fatima Masuma (A) is other than the more famous one that has been narrated by `Allāmah Majlisī in Bihār al-Anwār, quoting from Imam al-Ridā (A).

 

Sources – Al.Islam.org

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