MUBASHIR IQBAL KITABA
Once, while our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was in his mosque at Medina, surrounded by his companions, suddenly his beloved daughter, Fatima (RA), wedded to the famous warrior-scholar of Islam, Hazrat Ali (RA) arrived there. She implored her father to lend a servant who could assist her in household work and chores as she, with her frail constitution and poor health, could not perform the strenuous duties of grinding corn and bringing water from the distant well, besides looking after her children. The father, moved by her pleading, hesitated for a movement, but repressing his emotion, told Fatima (RA) solemnly: “My dearest daughter! I cannot spare anyone from among those who are engaged in the service of Ashab-e-Suffa. You should be able to bear the hardships of this world in order to get the reward of the world hereafter”. The daughter went back, well satisfied with the reply of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and never sought any servant again during her lifetime.
Fatima az-Zahra (RA) was born eight years before Hejira in Makkah. Her mother Hazrat Khadija (RA) was the first and most respected wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Fatima (RA) was the fourth and the youngest daughter of her mother. Others were Zainab (RA), Ruqqaya (RA), and Umme Kulsoom (RA). The last two were married to Hazrat Usman (RA), who became the third Caliph of Islam.
Fatima (RA) was brought up under the fostering care of her father, the greatest teacher and benefactor of mankind. Unlike other children, she possessed a sober temperament. Her great father’s teachings, guidance, and inspiration developed her into an extremely cultured, amiable, sympathetic and enlightened lady.
Fatima (RA), who greatly resembled her father in countenance and saintly habits, was his most beloved daughter and was immensely devoted to him after her mother’s death. Prophet Muhammad (SAW), on several occasions gave expression to his extreme fraternal love for Hazrat Fatima (RA). Once, He (SAW) said: “O Fatima! Allah will not like a person who displeases you and will be pleased with a person who wins your favor”. On another occasion, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: “Fatima is my child. One who distresses her, distresses me and one who comforts her comforts me”.
Hazrat Aisha (RA), the beloved wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once said: “I have never come across a greater personality than that of Fatima (RA) except that of her father, the Prophet of Islam”. On an enquiry once, she replied: “Fatima (RA) was the one whom the Prophet (SAW) loved most. She was dearest to him”.
Hazrat Fatima (RA) was hardly 18 years old at the time of her marriage with Hazrat Ali (RA). All that she got in her dowry from her great father was a leather water carrier, an earthen pitcher, a mat and a corn grinding stone. Addressing his daughter, the Prophet (SAW) said: “My daughter, I have married you to a person who had stronger faith and is more learned than others and one who is distinguished for his morality and virtues”.
Hazrat Fatima’s (RA) married life was smooth and simple. Indefatigable and persevering as he was, Hazrat Ali (RA) labored hard all day long to earn his livelihood, while his devoted wife labored at home, performing her household duties which included grinding of corn and carrying of water from the well. This ideal couple was known for its piety and generosity. They never turned away a beggar from their door without giving him whatever they had. At times, they gave away their entire food to a beggar but remained hungry themselves. The humanitarian and benevolent nature possessed by the House of Prophet (SAW) has few parallels in the annals of mankind. Fatima Zahra (RA), the youngest daughter of the Prophet (SAW) , epitomized this.
Once a person belonging to the Bani Salim tribe, who was reputed to be a magician, came to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and exchanged hot words with him. The Prophet (SAW) returned the strangers abuse with kind words. The magician was so much moved by this unusual behavior that he embraced Islam, the religion of peace. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked him if he had anything to eat. On the stranger replying in the negative, the Prophet (SAW) asked the Muslims present there if there was anyone who could present him a camel. Hazrat Saad Ibn Ibada (RA) offered him a camel. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was much pleased and asked if anyone could offer his brother in Islam a cloth to cover his bare head. Hazrat Ali (RA), instantly, took off his turban and placed it on the stranger’s head. Thereafter, the Prophet (SAW) directed Hazrat Salman (RA) to take him to some Muslim who could feed him as he was hungry.
Hazrat Salman (RA) led the new convent to several houses but none could feed him at this unusual hour. Suddenly, Salman came upon the house of Hazrat Fatima (RA) and knocking her door, informed her purpose of his visit. With tears in her eyes, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) informed him that she had nothing to eat in her house for the last three days. Still the Fatima (RA) was reluctant to refuse a guest saying: “I cannot send back a hungry guest without satisfying his hunger”. Taking off her sheet of cloth, she gave it to Salman (RA) imploring him to take it to Shamoon, a Jew, and in its return bring some corn. Hazrat Salman (RA), as well as the new convert, was much moved by the angelic behavior of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Jew, who was also highly impressed by the benevolence of the Prophet’s daughter, said that “Torat” had informed us about this virtuous family.
Hazrat Salman (RA) brought the corn to Prophet’s Daughter (RA), who herself grinded and baked loaves of it. On a suggestion by Salman, that she should keep some loaves for her hungry children, Fatima (RA) replied that she had no right over it as she had given her cloth for the sake of Allah, the Almighty.
The Prophets daughter was blessed with four children- two sons, Hassan, Husain and two daughters, Zainab and Umme Kulsoom (RA). Hassan (RA) was born in the 3rd and Husain (RA) in the 4th year of Hejira. Both Hassan and Husain were the favorites of the Prophet (SAW) who often carried them on his shoulders. They even sat on his back during prayers. These two sons of Fatima (RA) and daughter Zainab (RA) later played a significant and memorable role in the history of Islam.
Hazrat Fatima (RA) tended her father’s wounds in the battle of Ohad. She also accompanied him during his conquest of Makkah and also during his farewell pilgrimage towards the end of 11 AH.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fell ill soon after his return from the farewell pilgrimage. Hazrat Fatima (RA) stayed at his bedside. He (SAW) whispered something in her ears which made her weep and later whispered something which made her smile. After his death in 11 AH, Fatima (RA) related the incident to Hazrat Aisha (RA), saying that “when her father told her that he was going to die, it made me weep, but when He (SAW) told me that she would be the first person to join him in the next world, it made me happy”.
She passed away at the young age of 28 and was buried in Jannt-ul-Baqih, Madina amidst universal mourning.
Hazrat Fatima (RA) represents the embodiment of all divine in women-hood, the noblest ideal of human conception was proclaimed by the Prophet (SAW) to the “Queen of women in Paradise”.
Iqbal (RA) too was so much influenced with the ideal life and noble character of Fatima (RA) that he desired to bow down straight on her tomb, despite every restraint of the Shariah (Islamic Law). But, his consciousness of the Islamic law forbade him to do so. To quote his words, Iqbal says:
God’s law a fetter locks about my feet
To guard secure the Prophets high behest,
Else had I surely gone about her tomb
And fallen prostrate, worshipping her dust.
—The author, a PhD Research Scholar, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org