Hazrat Fatimah az- Zahra’s (S.A.) Characteristics
By: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi
Fatimah az-Zahra’ (s.a.) was different from all women in her high qualities and noble characteristics that took her to the highest rank of virtue and perfection. She was an example of her father’s morals and mentality. She resembled him in his deep faith in Allah the Almighty, asceticism, and refraining from pleasures of this life. Here, we talk about some of Fatimah’s characteristics:
Fatimah (s.a.) was infallible, and this is an indisputable fact. Allah had purified her from every sin and every defect, and endowed her with all virtues to make her an example for all the women of the world. She was an ideal example in faith, worship, chastity, purity, charity, and kindness to the poor and the deprived.
Proofs on her infallibility
1. The verse of purification; Allah has said, “Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House, and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.” 33:33
The People of the House (the Ahlul Bayt) were Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a.s.).1
The verse clearly proves the infallibility and purity of these persons from every sin and vices. Allah had chosen these people to be examples for His people and guides to His obedience and pleasure. It is impossible for Allah to give sinners or guilty people this gift.
Infallibility, in its concept, definitely would not be far from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) who were the centers of knowledge and wisdom in Islam. For forty years, I have researched and written books on them, but I could find a slip neither in their sayings nor in their doings. Even their enemies, who were full of grudge against them, did not mention any fault or any bit of deviation about them.
Imam Ali (a.s.) says, ‘By Allah, if I am given the seven districts with all that under their skies to disobey Allah in a bran of a grain of barley that I deprive it of a mouth of a locust, I will never do.’
This far extent of piety in the imams is the very infallibility that the Shia believe to be in their imams. Anyhow, Fatimah (s.a.) was one of the fourteen infallible members of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
2. The Prophet (S) made all his nation, through his repeated sayings, know that Fatimah (s.a.) was a part from him, and that whatever pleased her would please him and whatever displeased her would displease him. That she was a part from the Prophet (S) means that she was infallible since the Prophet (S) was infallible.
3. The true traditions that were transmitted from the Prophet (S) confirmed that Allah would be pleased with the pleasure of Fatimah (s.a.) and would be displeased with her displeasure. These traditions mean that Fatimah (s.a.) had reached a degree of faith and piety that would take her to the same rank of the infallible prophets who sincerely obeyed Allah and knew Him as He was.
4. The Prophet (S) compared his progeny to the Book of Allah as in the mutawatir (successive) tradition of “ath-Thaqalayn”, and since the Book of Allah is infallible from any falseness, so are the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.); otherwise, the Prophet (S) would not compare them to the Book of Allah. Fatimah (s.a.) was at the head of the pure progeny of the Prophet (S) and was the mother of all the infallible imams (except Imam Ali) whom Allah had purified from all uncleanness.
Charity to the Poor
Fatimah (s.a.) was charitable and too kind to the poor and the deprived. She, her husband,and her two sons were meant by these Qur’anic verses, “And they give food out of love for Him to the poor, the orphan, and the captive. We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.” 76:8-9
Fatimah (s.a.) milled wheat and barley for her poor neighbors who were unable to do that. She carried water to her weak neighbors who could not get water.
On the night of her wedding, Fatimah (s.a.) had a new dress on. When she knew that a young woman from the Ansar2 could not find a dress to put on, she took off her wedding dress and gave it to that young woman. Fatimah (s.a.) turned away from every material pleasure and preferred the satisfaction of Allah to everything. Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari said,‘Once, the messenger of Allah (S) led us in offering the Asr (afternoon) Prayer, and when he offered the nafila (a supererogatory prayer), he sat in the qibla and people sat around him. A very old man came complaining of hunger and saying, ‘O prophet of Allah, I am hungry. Feed me! And I am naked (have no clothes). Clothe me!’. The Prophet (S) asked the old man to go to the house of his (the Prophet) daughter Fatimah (s.a.). The old nomad man went to Fatimah’s house and from behind the door he greeted her and said, ‘O daughter of Muhammad, I am naked and hungry. Would you please comfort me, may Allah have mercy on you?’
Fatimah (s.a.) herself was in neediness, and she found nothing to give to the man except a sheepskin that her sons al-Hasan and al-Husayn slept on. The old man did not like it and he gave it back to her. Then, Fatimah (s.a.) took a necklace, which was a present from her cousin Fatimah bint Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib, off her neck and gave it to the man.
The old man took the necklace and went back to the Prophet (S) saying to him, ‘Fatimah gave me this necklace and said to me, ‘Sell it! May Allah recompense you with good for it.’
The Prophet (S) cried and said, ‘And how does Allah not recompense you with good for it while the daughter of Muhammad, the principal of the daughters of Adam, has given it to you?’
Ammar bin Yasir asked the Prophet (S), ‘O messenger of Allah, do you permit me to buy this necklace?’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘Buy it, Ammar! If the human beings and the jinn participate in it, Allah will not punish them with Fire.’
Ammar said, ‘O Sheikh (old man), how much is the necklace?’
The old man said, ‘I sell it for a meal of bread and meat, a Yemeni garment that I cover my private parts and offer prayer for my Lord with, and a dinar that takes me to my family.’
Ammar said to him, ‘I give you twenty dinars, two hundred dirhams, a Yemeni garment, my camel to take you to your family, and a meal of wheat bread and meat.’
The old man said, ‘O man, how generous you are!’ He left delightedly saying, ‘O Allah, there is no god but You. O Allah, give Fatimah what no eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard of.’
Ammar perfumed the necklace with musk, enveloped it in Yemeni garment, and gave it one of his slaves saying to him, ‘Take this necklace to the messenger of Allah (S) and you will be his.’
When the slave took the necklace to the Prophet (S), the Prophet (S) asked him to take it to Fatimah (s.a.) who took it and set the slave free. The slave smiled. Fatimah (s.a.) asked him what made him smile and he said, ‘What made me smile was the great blessing of this necklace. It satiated a hungry one, clothed a naked one, made a poor one rich, freed a slave, and then returned to its owner.’3
Fatimah (s.a.) led an ascetical life, and lived in satisfaction away from the worldly pleasures like her father the Prophet (S) and her husband Imam Ali (a.s.) who had divorced this world and been abstinent from its pleasures.
When these verses, “And surely Hell is the promised place of them all. It has seven gates; for every gate there shall be a separate party of them.” 15:43-44
Were revealed to the Prophet (S), he cried too much and his companions cried for his crying though they did not know why he cried. One of the companions went to Fatimah (s.a.) who was milling barley and reciting, “And whatever is with Allah is better and more lasting.” 28:60
He greeted and told her about the crying of her father. She wrapped herself with a ragged cloak that was sewed with palm-tree leaves and went to the meeting of her father. When Salman saw her, he said, ‘How sorrowful! The daughters of Caesar and Khosrau are in sarcenet while the daughter of the messenger of Allah wears a ragged wool cloak.’
Fatimah (s.a.) came to the Prophet (S) and told him what Salman said, and then she said, ‘By Him Who has sent you with the truth, I and Ali since five years have nothing but a sheepskin. We give food on it to our camel in the day and in the night we sleep on it, and our pillow is from leather filled with palm-tree fibers.’ Then she asked her father about the reason of his crying and he told her about the revelation of those verses. She said, Woe and woe unto whoever enters Fire.’4
Anas bin Malik said, ‘Once, Fatimah came to the Prophet (S) and said, ‘O messenger of Allah, I and Ibn Abi Talib (Imam Ali) have no bed except a sheepskin. We sleep on it, and give food to our camel on it in the day.’
The Prophet (S) said to her, ‘My daughter, be patient! Moses son of Imran lived with his wife for ten years and she had no bed except an aba.’5
Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari said, ‘Once, the Prophet (S) saw his daughter Fatimah in a ragged garment while milling with her hand and suckling her child. His eyes shed tears and he said, ‘O my daughter, bear the bitterness of this life for the sake of the sweetness of the afterlife…’
She declared her satisfaction by saying, ‘Praise be to Allah for His favors and thanks to Him for His blessings…’6
Fatimah (s.a.) lived a very simple life with no pleasures or any kind of luxury. In her conducts, she showed the real picture of Islam and gave Muslim woman lessons of satisfaction with what Allah had determined for man.
Fatimah (s.a.) abstained from all desires of life in food, clothes, and others and she turned sincerely to Allah and preferred pleasing Him to everything else.
Chastity and Veiling
Fatimah (s.a.) was the highest example in chastity, honor and veiling for all Muslim women.
Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘Once, a blind man asked permission to visit Fatimah (s.a.), but she asked him to stay behind a screen. The messenger of Allah (S) asked Fatimah (s.a.), ‘Why did you screen him though he is blind and could not see you?’
She said, ‘He could not see me, but I could see him.’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘I witness that you are a part from me.’7
Once, Imam Ali (a.s.) asked Fatimah (s.a.), ‘When is woman closer to her Lord?’
She said, ‘When she keeps to her house…’
Imam Ali (a.s.) offered her answer to the Prophet (S) who said, ‘She is true. Fatimah is a part from me.’8
Veil is beauty and honor for woman. Whenever woman adorns herself with chastity, she will be in a highest position and most honorable rank besides gaining admiration of them all. But if woman is unveiled and unchaste, she will be worthless in the society and no one will appreciate her. The veil and chastity of Fatimah (s.a.) is a high example that every woman who wants to live regardable and honorable in the society.
Definitely, no one can suspect the unequaled faith and worship of Fatimah (s.a.). She spent most of her days and nights in worshipping.
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) said, ‘Some night, I saw my mother Fatimah (s.a.) in her mihrab bow and prostrate (offer prayers) until the light of morning appeared. I heard her praying to Allah for the believing men and the believing women and mentioning them by name. She prayed to Allah for them too much, but without praying for herself. I said to her, ‘Why do you not pray to Allah for yourself mother?’
She said, ‘O my son, the neighbor (first) and then the house…’9
Al-Hasan al-Basri said about Fatimah (s.a.), ‘No one in the umma worshipped Allah more than Fatimah (s.a.). She offered prayers in the night until her feet swelled.’10
It was transmitted from Fatimah (s.a.) her saying, ‘Whoever raises his true worship to Allah, Allah will send down to him the best of his benefit.’11
Fatimah (s.a.) assigned the last hours of the day of Fridays for Allah the Almighty. In the last ten days of Ramadan, Fatimah (s.a.) spent all the night in worshipping and supplicating, and she encouraged all those in her house to spend the night in worshipping and supplicating. Her feet swelled because of her long standing before Allah the Almighty.12
Fatimah (s.a.) devoted herself to Allah and resorted to Him totally in all of her affairs. This was clear in her du’as.
1. Tafsir of ar-Razi, vol.6 p.783, Tafsir of ibn Jarir, Musnad of Ahmed bin Hanbal, vol.4 p.107, Sunan of al-Bayhaqi, vol.2 p.14, al-Khasa’iss of an-Nassa’iy, p.33, al-Khasa’iss al-Kubra, vol.2 p.264, ar-Riyadh an-Nadhirah, vol.2 p.188, Mushkil al-Aathar, vol.1 p.324.
2. Ansar means helpers; the people of Medina who believed and supported the Prophet (S) when he emigrated to Medina from Mecca.
3. Know that I am Fatimah, vol.9 p.266.
4. Know that I am Fatimah, vol.2 p.16.
5. Fatimah az-Zahra’ Bahjat Qalb al-Mustafa, p.274.
6. Safeenat al-Bihar, vol.1 p.571.
7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.43 p.91.
8. Al-Ja’fariyyat, p.95.
9. Fee Rihab Ahlul Bayt, p.205.
10. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.43 p.84.
11. Ibid., vol.68 p.184.
12. Fatimah Ummu Abeeha, p.64.