Moral Virtues of Lady Fatimah (S.A.)
Compiled by: Allama Husayn Ansariyan
Note: Some people die leaving no traces. Others leave an impact during their lifetime and are put into oblivion after their death. Others are influential throughout the time. Some people have a physical presence in history and they continue to live through their descendants, grandchildren, mausoleums, and such art works as those of Michaelangelo, which are immortal in the west. Others are immortal by their behavior. In religious literature, we call this immortal behavior tradition.
Still further, there are people who leave behind a heritage of spirituality and knowledge. Jesus Christ (a.s) and Aristotle are two examples respectively. To sum it up, some personalities have such an aptitude as to survive in history in any one of the three dimensions we have just discussed. Nevertheless, Lady Fatimah, the daughter of the Holy Prophet, had all the three dimensions of life assimilated in her.
Physically, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) has fifty million descendants. The Imams and the righteous men are her offspring. There is no woman who has had such a tangible presence in history.
In terms of mausoleums, it is something strange with Fatimah (a.s.). While famous personalities such as Sa’di, Hafidh, Avicenna, Shah Jahan and Nur Jahan in Taj Mahal keep a physical presence in the world though the mausoleums associated with them, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) though lacking a shrine, continues to exist physically in the world even after her death. This is really a paradox.
Fatimah’s physical presence is highlighted knowing that the Fatimid Dynasty founded a ruling system in Africa in her name. The immortal epic of Nasir Khosrow Alawi, ‘I am a Fatimid’ reflects the same physical presence. The Fatimid rulers in commemoration of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra founded the al-Azhar University, the most famous scientific-religious center of Sunni Muslims in Egypt.
In terms of knowledge, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) has had a dynamic presence too. Sulayman Kittani, a Lebanese Christian writer, Louis Massigngon, a French Orientalist, and Professor Henry Corbin are some of the famous personalities who have written books on the heritage of knowledge which Lady Fatimah has left behind.
As for model of behavior in history, we can say that this young woman who did not live more than eighteen years left behind such tradition of behavior about which Imam al-Mahdi has said: There is a model for me in the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. 62
Sociologists believe that the reason behind crisis of the young generation in the third world is absence of a model for behavior. In this relation, Lady Fatimah serves as a model for all the youths, for she has a genuine personality with a halo of sanctity around her. What follows is a perspective of moral virtues and behavior of Lady Fatimah followed by the viewpoints of famous people.
Imam al-Sadiq has reported: One day, the Holy Prophet entered Fatimah’s house and found her wearing a coarse dress, grinding flour with her own hands, and breastfeeding her son. Seeing this situation, his eyes were full of tears. Turning to her, he said, “O my honorable daughter! Endure the hardships of this world so as to attain the sweetness of the Hereafter.” Fatimah answered, “I praise Allah for His blessings and thank Him for His favor.”63 At this time, the following verse was revealed: And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased. (93:5)
One day, Salman the Persian went to the door of Lady Fatimah’s house to carry out the Holy Prophet’s order of preparing food for a newly converted Muslim Arab. Hearing Salman’s request, Fatimah said, “I swear by Allah that Hasan and Husayn went to sleep with empty stomach. Nevertheless, I would not reject a good deed especially that it has turned to my house. Salman, take this dress of mine to Simon the Jew and buy for it three kilos of dates and three kilos of barley!”
Salman took the dress to Simon and told him the story. Simon’s eyes became tearful, saying, “This piety in this world is what (Prophet) Moses had foreseen in the Torah. Therefore, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
After converting to Islam, he gave three kilos of dates and barley to Salman who took it to Fatimah. She ground the barley with her own hands, baked it and gave it to Salman. He said, “O daughter of Allah’s Messenger! Take some of this for Hasan and Husayn.” Fatimah answered, “I will not take anything from what I have given away in the way of Allah.”64
Ask More Questions
A woman went to the presence of Lady Fatimah saying, “I am an old and weak mother who makes a lot of mistakes in my prayer. I have been sent to you to know how to perform my prayer.” Lady Fatimah said, “Ask any questions you wish.” The woman asked ten questions all of which were answered by Lady Fatimah with a good mien.
However, the woman was ashamed of her many questions. She said, “I will not bother you any more!” Lady Fatimah said, “Ask any more questions.” In order to boost her morale, she said, “If a person is asked to carry a heavy load to a high place and he is given a hundred thousand dinars as reward, will he feel tired in view of that reward?” The woman said, “No.” Lady Fatimah (a.s) said, “I am rewarded by Allah more than that for every question which I answer. Hence, I never get tired. I heard Allah’s Messenger saying: On the Judgment Day, scholars will be in the presence of Allah and they will be rewarded to the extent of their knowledge and the efforts they have made for propagating Islam and guiding people."65
Lady Fatimah (a.s.) used to pray Almighty Allah at night and weep out of His fear so heavily that it would awaken his children. Imam Hasan says: One Friday night, I saw my mother standing in the altar while she was in bowing and prostration positions until the dawn, praying for everybody except herself! I said: “Mother! Why aren't you praying for yourself?” She said: “My dear son! Neighbor first!”
Lady Fatimah (a.s.) constantly reminded her children of Allah’s Messenger who considered children as bouquets of flowers. She would also send her children to him.66
Intimacy with the Holy Quran
The honorable daughter of the Holy Prophet had a strong intimacy with the Holy Quran. Salman reports: The Holy Prophet sent me to Fatimah’s house for doing something. I waited a little at the door until she saluted me. I heard her reciting the Holy Quran and grinding something without having someone to serve her.67
The Blessed Necklace of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (AS)
Jabir Ansari has reported: After performing the afternoon Prayer, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) sat in the altar of the mosque, speaking to people. At this time, an old Arab wearing threadbare clothes and unable to stand on his feet entered the mosque. Seeing him, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) consoled him and asked after his health. The old man said, “O Allah’s Messenger! I am hungry; I need food. I am naked; clothe me; I am indigent; give me something.”
The Holy Prophet (SAWA) said, “I have nothing to give you. But the one who shows you to a benefactor is like one who has done the good. Go to the house of one who loves Allah and the Prophet (SAWA) and Allah and Prophet(SAWA) love her too; one who prefers Allah to herself. Go to Fatimah’s house, which is in the neighborhood. O Bilal! Guide this man to there.” The old man went with Bilal. The old man stood near the door and in a loud voice and said, Peace be upon you O Household of the Prophet (SAWA)! You are the seal of the Divine mission; unto you the angels turn from the presence of the Lord of the world.
Lady Fatimah (A.S.) answered from within the house, “Blessings and peace of Allah be upon you. May I know who you are and what you need?” The old man softly and gently said, “I am an old Arab. I am hungry and I do not have clothes and I am helpless. I went to your beloved father, Allah’s Messenger (SAWA), and he sent me here.”
It had been three days she and her family had anything to eat. It was three days since hunger had struck her home. It was three days since water was the only food for them but for Fatimah(AS) it was not a matter of hesitation or doubt.
She had nothing but a small sheepskin which she used as a carpet and bedding for her beloved sons. She gathered it up and with an apology presented it to the old man, saying, “I hope Allah will give you better than this.” But the old man did not take it saying, “O daughter of the Prophet(SAWA)! What can I do with this? I am hungry!” Fatimah(A.S.), looking astonished, glanced around the small house so that she could find something else. Suddenly she remembered the necklace that her cousin (Hamzah’s daughter) had given her. She quickly unfastened it and gave it to the old man; saying, “Sell it and I hope Allah will solve your Problem!” The old man took the necklace, blessed her and returned to the Prophet(SAWA). The Prophet(SAWA), upon hearing from the old man what had happened, said with tears in his eyes, “By all means your problems will be solved because the doyenne of the world women has blessed you with it.”
Ammar ibn Yasir, who had been watching, moved closer to the Prophet (SAWA), saying, “O Allah’s Messenger! Will you give me permission to buy this necklace?” The Prophet (SAWA) said, “Ammar, whoever buys this necklace will be saved from Hellfire.” Ammar turned to the old man and asked, “How much will you sell this necklace for?” The old man replied, “I need money to buy clothes and food, and money for my journey so that I can go to my city. I will sell it for that much money.”
Ammar who had sold his share of booty from the Battle of Khaybar and had a little money said, “I will give you 20 dinars and 200 dirhams for this necklace.” The old man’s eyes shone with happiness. He said, “You are a generous man.” Ammar gave to him what he had promised.
The old man came to the Holy Prophet (SAWA) who asked him, “Are you satisfied now?” The man said, “Yes, may my parents be your ransom!” The Holy Prophet (SAWA) said, “So give a reward to Fatimah (AS) for what she has done for you.” The old man raised his hand in prayer saying, “O Allah! Bless Fatimah(AS) with what no one has so far seen or heard about!” Allah’s Messenger said Amen to the old man’s prayer, turned to his companions and said, “Allah has granted this to Fatimah (AS) in this world: I am her father and no one in the world is like me. Ali(AS) is her husband and had he not been there, there would be no suitable spouse for her. Hasan (AS) and Husayn(AS) are her sons who are the leaders of the youths of Paradise.”
The Holy Prophet(SAWA), who was sitting with Miqdad, Ammar and Salman, said, “Should I say more about Fatimah(AS)?” They said, “Yes, Allah’s Messenger!” So he said, “Gabriel came to me saying: ‘When the soul of Fatimah (AS) is grasped and she is buried in her grave, two angels will ask her: Who is your Lord? She will say: Allah is my Lord. When she is asked who is your friend she will say: The one who is near my grave, Ali ibn Abu-Talib(AS).’ Be aware that Allah has assigned a group of angels to protect her from above as well as from the right and left sides. They are with her in her lifetime and her grave, constantly saluting her, her father, her husband, and her children. So whoever visits my grave after my death has indeed visited me in my lifetime; whoever visits Fatimah(AS) has indeed visited me; whoever visits Ali ibn Abu-Talib(AS) has indeed visited Fatimah(AS); whoever visits Hasan(AS) and Husayn(AS) has indeed visited Ali(AS); and whoever visits the offspring of Hasan(AS) and Husayn(AS) has indeed visited the two Imams.”
Hearing this, Ammar took the necklace, perfumed it with scent, put it in an expensive cloth, called his slave and said, “Take this to the Prophet (SAWA) and after this you will belong to him.” The slave took the necklace to the Prophet (SAWA) and told him what Ammar had said. The Holy Prophet (SAWA)said, “Give my regards to Fatimah (AS), give her the necklace and tell her that you are now in her custody.” Fatimah(AS) took the necklace in surprise and told the slave, “You are free in the way of Allah.” The slave started laughing and said, “I am surprised at the blessings of this necklace. It has satisfied a hungry person, clothed a naked person, fulfilled the needs of another, freed a slave and in the end returned to its owner.”68
Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin reports: Lady Fatimah had seven orchards, which she had been endowed from Banu-Hashim and Banul-Muttalib. She had appointed Ali (a.s.) and after him Hasan and Husayn as its custodians.
Said about Lady Fatimah
Quoting from Sharh al-Masabih, Zayn al-Arab says: Fatimah was called Batul, which means “broken off”. There was no one was like her in virtue.
Quoting from al-Manaqib, al-Harawi says: Fatimah was called Batul meaning “interrupted” because she was matchless.
Kamal al-Din Muhammad ibn Talhah al-Shafii has said: Fatimah was endowed with virtues, which were particular to her. She enjoyed characters for which other honorable souls competed.
Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Dhahabi has said: There are many reasons that Fatimah could be proud of. She was tolerant, benefactor, contented, and grateful.
The Lebanese Christian writer, Sulayman Kittani says: Fatimah was chaste. She was the paragon of the Holy Prophet’s virtues, which had borne the fruit of a genius for morality and creativity. Her weak body was the vessel of her crystal soul so as to be effaced in the Source from which her father dawned.
Aishah has said: I found no one superior to Fatimah except her father.
The Egyptian scholar, Bint al-Shati says: Fatimah was the most beloved among the Holy Prophet’s daughters and the most similar to him in terms of temperament and constitution. Allah willed that only she would be subject to purification and the mother of all the Imams from the progeny of the Holy Prophet.
In his book, Nafahat min Sirat al-Sayyidah Zaynab (Fragrances from Lady Zaynab's Conducts), professor Ahmad Shams Basi points out: Fatimah was the best among the world women and the doyenne of the women in the hereafter.
Dr. Ali Ibrahim Hasan has said: Fatimah’s life is a unique page among the pages of history. We see here all the grandeur and magnitude. We stand before a personality that came into existence with a halo of wisdom and splendor around her; a wisdom the source of which cannot be found in philosophers’ books but the outcome of spiritual experiences and a splendor not coming from kings or wealth but coming from the very depth of her soul. Perhaps it was Fatimah’s unique grandeur that compelled Aishah to say: I found no one superior to Fatimah except her father.69
62. Bihar al-Anwar: 178/53, Chapter: 314, T 9
63. Al-Manaqib: 342/3.
64. Rayahin al-Shariah: 130/1
65. Al-Mahajjah al-Bayda: 30/1
66. Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal: 236/1
67. Bihar al-Anwar: 46/43
68. Bisharat al-Mustafa: 137
69. Quoted from Alam al-Nisa by Ali Muhammad Ali Dakhil