Lady Fatimah Al-Zahraa was born five years after God sent Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH). She opened her eyes in the house of purity and faith, and was reared in the home of prophecy and the descending-place of the Message. Her father, the Messenger of God (PBUHH), taught her divine wisdom and enriched her with knowledge which God granted him.
Little Fatimah witnessed all of the suffering inflicted on her father by the pagans when he was calling them to worship the One God.
When she was five years old, she was bereaved of her mother, Lady Khadija (a.s.). She would seek the shelter of her father who became her only solace. In him she found all of the love, compassion, respect, and tenderness which she needed. In turn, she was the delight of her father’s eye and his consolation. She was so tender toward him and cared for him like a mother cares for her child to the extent that Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) described her as: “Fatimah is the mother of her father.”1
The Hegira of Fatimah (a.s) and her Marriage
After Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) left Mecca and headed to Medina, Imam Ali (PBUH) followed him accompanying a number of females named Fatimah. Lady Fatimah (a.s) was among them, and she was seven years old then.
When Lady Fatimah (a.s) turned nine years old, all of the signs of maturity and reason were evident upon her. The nobles among the Muhajirin and Ansar asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) for her hand in wedlock in the wish of forming a tie to him by marriage. However, Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) gently declined their marriage offers saying that the matter of her marriage was up to God.
When Imam Ali (PBUH) asked for Lady Fatimah’s hand, Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) accepted and so did Lady Fatimah because he was the only man suitable for her, as Prophet Muhammad expressed. Imam Ali (PBUH) sold his shield for five hundred dirhams to pay her dowry and to furnish the home they were to live in.
Their home was humble in furniture and rich in values, morals, and high spiritual faith. They were a happy couple who lived a life of closeness, harmony, affection, and respect. Imam Ali (PBUH) said describing their marital life: “By God, I never made her angry or forced her to do something until Exalted and Glorious God took [her soul]. She never made me angry and never disobeyed me. When I looked at her, I would become free of distresses and sorrows.”2
They used to split work between them; she would work inside of the house and he would work outside. The noble offspring of this union in marriage were Hassan, Hussein, Zainab, and Um Kulthoum.
The Status of Lady Fatimah to Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) had a special attachment to his daughter because he sensed her piety, and faith. Thus, he loved her dearly.
If he were to depart on a journey, she would be the last one he would say farewell to, and if he returned from a journey, she would be the first person he went to see.
When she entered into his presence, he would stand in honor of her and kiss her. He might also kiss her hand. Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH) used to say: “Fatimah is a part of me; whoever harms her has harmed me, and whoever harms me has harmed God.”3
She once went to her father telling him about her frailty and exhaustion in performing household chores and rearing the children, and she asked him for a servant to help her. However, Prophet Muhammad gave her something else instead. He described this bestowal saying: “I shall grant you what is better than [a servant].” He taught her a special glorification of God which is a supererogatory act of worship after each prayer. This glorification consists of saying: “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) 34 times, “Al-hamdulilah” (Praise be to God) 33 times, and Subhana-Lah (Glory be to God) 33 times. This glorification later became known as the Glorification of Al-Zahraa.
Thus was the house of Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH); he gave no heed to materialistic matters and cared for spiritual matters pertaining to the Hereafter.
The Names of Lady Fatimah (a.s)
Lady Fatimah (a.s) was known with many names which were an expression of her perfection and high rank. We shall mention some of these names as follows.
1- Al-Zahraa (The Luminous)
2- Al-Hawra’ (Maiden of Paradise)
3- Al-Muhadditha (The Relater): She was named thus because she used to relate to the Muslims the narrations of her father and the knowledge which he enriched her with.
4- Al-Muhaddatha (The One Related to): The angels of God used to speak to her. A narration states that they told her that she was the Best of all women, comparing her to Mary (a.s) saying: “Mary was the best of the women of her time, and Exalted and Glorious God has made you the best of the women of your time, the best of the women of the time of Mary, and the best of the first and last of women.”4
5- Al-Zakiyah (The Pure): She was named thus because she was successful in purifying her soul. She used to stand for long during prayer until her feet swelled, and when she advanced to pray, her countenance would change in fear of God. Those who were close to her and those who were distant knew of this. Hassan Al-Basri said: “There was no one in the Islamic nation who worshipped [God] more than Fatimah (a.s).”
6- Al-Shahida (The Martyr): After the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUHH), Lady Fatimah (a.s) became oppressed and this oppression intensified with time. With utmost sufferance, she witnessed the attempt to undermine the sublime structure of Islam which her father had established. The Muslims rejected the divinely ordained succession of Imam Ali (PBUH). Some of them were even insolent enough to the degree that they harmed Lady Fatimah – whom Prophet Muhammad described as a part of him- while she was defending Imamate. This led to her martyrdom after a long sorrow.
Lady Fatimah (a.s) wanted to inscribe in history and throughout generations an immortal Message of Truth which bears witness to the events after the death of her father. Her will was to be buried secretly, and her unknown grave is a permanent sign of the deprived right of authority.
1 – Al-Mar’ashi, The Explanation of the Reinforcement of Truth, volume 25, 291.
2 – Al-Qomi, Abbas, the House of Sorrows, 53.
3 – As-Suduq, The Purposes of [Divine] Laws, volume 1, 187.
4 – The Purposes of [Divine] Laws, volume 1, 182.