Heartfelt condolences to you all on a very tragic occasion that is marked every year with a public holiday, and public and private mourning ceremonies throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Today Monday is the 3rd of the month of Jamadi al-Akher, the doleful day on which the noblest lady of all times left the world. You surely know her identity, and for those who do not, she was none other than Fatema az-Zahra (peace upon her), the only surviving offspring of God’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Now we have a special feature on her life and times as follows:
Hazrat Fatema (SA) is indeed the vital link between Prophethood, which ceased with her father, and Imamate, which began with her husband, Imam Ali (AS), following the historical proclamation on God’s express commandment on the plain of Ghadeer-Khom near Juhfa on the 18th of Zilhijja, in the year 10 AH, while Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was returning to Medina after performing his Farewell Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Moreover, she was the mother of two immaculate sons, Hasan and Husain (peace upon them), whom Divine Providence decreed as Imams of mankind and Leaders of the Youth of Paradise. She subsequently became the (grand)mother of the rest of the 9 Infallible Imams, the descendants of her younger son Imam Husain (AS) – the 12th and last of whom would rise as Qa’em al-Mahdi (AS) in the end times to establish the global government of peace, prosperity and justice by cleansing Planet Earth of oppression and corruption. Such an Immaculate Lady, who is definitely the Pride of the Virgin Mary, is the embodiment of all feminine virtues, and remains to this day as the most perfect and highest example in purity, sanctity, worship, asceticism, knowledge and morals, of which we will try to present some glimpses.
Born in Mecca to the Mother of all True Believers, Omm al-Momineen Hazrat Khadija (peace upon her), following her father’s Me’raj or Ascension to the highest point in the heavens and back to earth in a fraction of a night, she grew in the lap of Prophethood into the model par-excellence for all daughters of Eve. She was the embodiment of God-given knowledge and wisdom, whose practicability she displayed in society for the guidance of both men and women. A glance at her brief but bright life reveals that Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) did not restrict herself to writing down the knowledge, and collecting it in a book or other written texts, but she also worked to propagate it in the Muslim society. She did not wait for people to come to her with queries and to provide the answers to them, but took the initiative to spread knowledge in society. The writers of her history have narrated that she used to teach lessons to the women of the Muhajereen and Ansaar, who used to gather for her teaching lessons, like pupils assemble for the lessons given in the religious schools we know today. Many an ayah of the holy Qur’an was revealed by God to highlight her lofty virtues, including Infallibility as is evident from the Verse of Purity, where she is the focal point of the Divine decree testifying to the cleanliness of the Ahl al-Bayt from any kind of uncleanness and pollution. As the Creator says in ayah 33 of Surah al-Ahzaab:
“Allah desires to keep away all uncleanness from you Ahl al-Bayt and preserve you thoroughly purified.”
Her concern for knowledge and the sayings or hadith of her father, the Messenger of Allah (SAWA) and Islamic teachings and rulings, was to such an extent that she would write down everything she heard directly from the Prophet, or indirectly through her husband, Imam Ali (AS), who was the closest person to the Rahmat al-lil-Alameen or Mercy unto the whole creation. It could be said that Hazrat Fatema (SA) was the first writer among women in Islam to write down the hadith. And she wrote in the presence of the Prophet, as testified by books of hadith and history. This habit of her and the Prophet’s approval of her writing is a firm refutation of the illogical prohibition on writing of hadith that the second caliph, Omar ibn Khattab was to impose on Muslims, on the pretext that the Qur’an would get mixed up with the Sunnah. This shows the self-styled caliph’s gross ignorance of the eloquent intricacies and literary aspects of the Arabic language, let alone his ability to understand either the meaning of the ayahs of holy Qur’an, or the timeless wisdom of the Prophet’s sayings and instructions. The narrations also mention what has been called the ‘Mus-haf Fatema’, i.e. the Book of Fatema (SA), which is an explanation and exegesis of God’s Revealed Word, the holy Qur’an, as well as the sayings of her father. It also contains prophecies of the future, since after the passing away of the Prophet God had sent angels to console her and to inform her about her father’s place in paradise, and to tell her about what would happen to her offspring. During her last days, Imam Ali (AS) used to write her expressions. The Mus-haf Fatema could also be called her will, as is evident by a famous statement of her great-great-grandson, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), the Prophet’s 6thInfallible Heir, in whose custody was her Mus-haf. Thus, the Prophet’s daughter could well be called the first female author in Islam, just as her husband, Imam Ali (AS), is regarded as the male author in Islam.
Alas, this noble lady was not allowed to live in peace after the departure of her father from the mortal world. Burdened by the calamities she passed away a mere 75 or according to another version 95 days after him, but not before sealing her argumentation with her tormentors that stands to this day as beacon of guidance for all seekers of truth. Her historical and eloquent sermon in the Prophet’s Mosque during her last days, when the new regime had usurped the right of political leadership of her husband and seized her patrimony of the Orchard of Fadak, is a living document and testimony of her intellectual and educational responsibility. She unmasked the illegitimacy of the caliphate and expounded to not only her contemporaries, but to all posterity, the Fundamental Principles of Islam – Monotheism, Divine Justice, Prophethood, Imamate, and Day of Resurrection. Her words fell on deaf ears and failed to jolt the frozen conscience of the neo-Muslims who had spent almost their entire life in idol-worship and all other abominable crimes and sins of the Days of Ignorance.
It is an irony of Islamic history that a roguish group of her father’s companions stormed her house with fire and crowbars, shouting that if she does not surrender her husband to them for forcible swearing of allegiance to the new regime, her house would be burned down with the children inside. The chief culprit flung the door in her face, pinning her to the wall, as a result of which she suffered miscarriage – the stillborn Mohsin being the first martyr of the Ahl al-Bayt. Fatema (SA), as the Siddiqat al-Kubra or the Most Truthful-Ever Lady, whose appearance by God’s command on the field of Mubahela – along with the Prophet, her husband and her two young sons – had convinced the Christians of Najran of the truth of Islam, thus drew a permanent line between truth and falsehood, so that posterity would be able to discern truth from falsehood. Despite the testimony of the holy Qur’an in her favour and in that of her husband and sons, as the barometers of true faith, the conspirators of the scandalous event of Saqifa Bani Sa’da, openly violated laws of God and the Sunnah of the Prophet by desecrating her sacred threshold. Moreover, as the injured Fatema (SA) clung to the raiment of her husband as he was being dragged by the ruffians, with a rope around his neck, the rascals whipped the hands of the Prophet’s daughter. They thus ignored the Prophet’s famous statement: “Fatema is a part of me, and whoever hurts her has hurt me, and whoever hurts me has indeed displeased God.”
Here, let us quote what the famous Sunni scholar Ibn Abi’l-Hadeed Mu’tazali has said about his discourse with a fellow Sunni scholar of the 6th century AH concerning the truthfulness of the Prophet’s daughter: He says “I asked Ali Ibn Fareqi, a distinguished teacher of Madrassat-al-Gharbiya of Baghdad: “Was Fatema truthful in making the claim (regarding her patrimony of the orchard of Fadak, which the Caliph [Abu Bakr] had seized on the pretext that Prophets do not leave inheritance – despite the explicit words of the Qur’an that Solomon inherited David)?”
He answered: “Yes!”
I said: “Did Abu Bakr know that she was a truthful lady?”
Again he answered: “Yes.”
I then asked: “Then why did the Caliph not give back to her that which she was entitled to?”
At that moment the teacher smiled and said with great dignity: “If he had accepted her word on that day and had returned Fadak to her on account of her being a truthful lady (which she definitely was) and without asking for any witnesses, she could very well use this position for the benefit of her husband on the following day by saying, “my husband, Ali is entitled to the caliphate.” And then the Caliph would have been obliged to surrender the caliphate to Ali on account of his having acknowledged her to be a truthful lady. However, in order to obviate any such claim or dispute he deprived her of her undisputed right!”
Glory to Fatema (SA) the Epitome of Truth, who gave her life to ensure the eternality of her father’s designation of her husband as vicegerent on God’s command at Ghadeer-Khom, and thereby unmasked till eternity the deviant current that was sowing the seeds of terrorism and beginning to mislead Muslims from the original goals and message of Islam!