Hadrat Fatima Zahra's Birth
A selection of narrations mentioned in Volume 6 of Bihar Al?Anwar.
Gabriel descended to the Messenger of Allah (S) and told him: “O Muhammad! The Most Exalted sends His peace upon you and commands you to refrain from (coming close to) Khadija for forty days.”
It was difficult for the Prophet, who loved and adored Khadija to do so; nevertheless (in obedience to Allah's command) he spent forty days fasting and praying nights. When it was close to the end of the forty days, he summoned Amm?r Ibn Yasser and asked him to go to Khadija and tell her:
"O Khadija! do not assume that my separation from you means abandoning or forsaking you, rather my Lord commanded me to do so, so expect nothing save benevolence, for surely Allah (exalted is His Name) praises you to His most honorable angels several times a day. Therefore, with nightfall, close the door and lay down to sleep; for I will be staying at Fatima Bint Assad's house."
This brought sad tidings to Khadija who missed having the Prophet by her side.
At the end of the forty days, Gabriel once again descended to Allah's Messenger and said:
"O Muhammad! The Most Exalted sends His peace upon you and commands you to be prepared for His salutation and gift."
The Prophet said:
"Gabriel! What is the Lord of the world's gift and what is His salutation?"
Gabriel said: "I have no knowledge of it."
At that moment, Michael descended with a plate covered with a kerchief made of brocade or sarcenet and presented it to the Prophet! Gabriel said to him (S):
"O Muhammad, your Lord commands you to break your fasting with this food tonight."
Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib (A) said in this regard:
"The Prophet (S) used to order me to open the door to whoever wanted to join him when he came to break his fast, but that night he ordered me to guard the door of the house and said to me: `O son of Abu Talib! this food is forbidden to everyone save me. "
Then he (A) said:
"I sat at the door, and the Prophet (S) uncovered the plate, in privacy, to find a cluster of dates and a bunch of grapes; he ate until satisfied and drank his need of water. He then extended his hands to be washed, so Gabriel poured the water, Michael washed his hands, and Israfil dried them. Thereafter, the remaining food with the plate ascended to heaven. Then he (S) started to prepare himself for prayers when Gabriel said to him:
"Prayer is forbidden to you until you go to Khadija's house and perform coition with her; for Allah (Glory be to Him) ordained upon Himself to create noble progeny from you tonight.' So he rushed to Khadija's house."
"I had gotten used to seclusion by that time, so when night arrived I covered my head, put down the curtains, locked the doors, performed my prayers, put out the lantern, and retired to my bed. That night while I was between the states of sleeping and being awake, the Prophet knocked on the door; so I exclaimed: Who is knocking on the door that only Muhammad knocks on?"
The Prophet gently and politely replied:
“Open the door Khadija, I am Muhammad”
"I cheerfully got up and opened the door for the Prophet to come in. He (S) usually requested the water jug to perform ablution and two short prayer prostrations before he retired. On the contrary, that night he (S) did not request the jug nor did he perform prayers... instead, what occurs between a woman and her husband occurred between us; and by Allah, who created the heavens and caused water to come out of springs, before the Prophet left me, I felt Fatima's weight in my womb..."
It can be concluded from the above mentioned narration that:
1.Allah Almighty commanded His Messenger to abandon Khadija a period of time so that his longing and wanting her increased.
2. He (S) performed more worship so as to achieve a higher level of spirituality and sacredness, as a result of being in constant contact with the heavenly world.
3. He (S) broke his fast on the pure heavenly gift, which was quickly transformed into sperm because of its delicateness.
4. The sperm was produced from eating a delicate heavenly food that differs from material nutritions.
5. The Prophet (S) immediately proceeded to Khadija's house in order to transfer the sperm to her womb after the previously mentioned preparations.
This narration was mentioned by the following Sunni scholars with minor variations between some of their accounts of it:
1. Khawarazmi in his book Maqtal Al? Hussain p. 63, 68.
2. Dhahabi in Al?Etedal v.2, p. 26.
3. Talkhees Al?Mustadrak v. 3, p. 156.
4. Asqalani in Lisan Al?Mizan v. 4, p. 36.
In addition, there are various traditions with minor verbal differences and the same fundamental meaning that Fatima Zahra (A) was created from a sperm produced from heavenly food. We mention herein some of these narrations and restrict ourselves to the part which are related to our subject in observance of briefness and omit the rest:
Imam Reza (A) said: "The Prophet (S) said:
“On the night of my ascension to Heaven, Gabriel took my hand and led me into Paradise, then he handed me dates from which 1 ate; those dates were formed into sperm. When I descended to Earth, I came unto Khadija who became pregnant with Fatima; thus, Fatima is a human huri, whom whenever I long for Paradise I smell.” (Amali As?Sadouq).
Imam Baqir (A) on the account of Jabir Ibn Abdullah, said:
"It was said to the Messenger of Allah: Surely you kiss, embrace and bring Fatima close to you... and treat her better than your other daughters!"
He (A) commented:
"Indeed, for Gabriel brought me an apple from heaven, which I ate and it was transformed into sperm that I placed in Khadija who later bore Fatima. Hence, I smell paradise's fragrance in her." (Elal Ash?Sharaye').
Ibn Abbas said:
"Aisha entered the house while the Messenger of Allah was kissing Fatima, so she said: Do you love her, O Messenger of Allah?'
He replied: ‘Indeed, by Allah if you knew the extent of my love for her, your love would increase for her. When I was in the forth heaven... (until he said) that I found these dates softer than butter, more pleasant than musk and sweeter than honey. So when I descended to earth, I came unto Khadija and she bore Fatima. Thus, Fatima is a human huri, whenever I long for paradise I smell her. "' (Bihar: v.6).
This last narration was also mentioned with variations by:
1. Al?Khateeb Al?Baghdadi in Tarikh Baghd?d v. 5, p. 87.
2. Kharazmi in Maqtal Al?Hussain p. 63.
3. Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Al?Demashqi in Mizan Al?Etedal v.1, p. 38.
4. Az Zarandi in Nazm Durar As Simtain.
5. Asqalani in Lisan Al Mizan v.5, p. 160.
6. Qanduzi in Yanabi' Al?Mawaddah.
7. Muhib?Ad?Din At?Tabari in Dhakhaer Al?Uqbi p. 43.
These narrations are mentioned on the accounts of Aisha, Ibn Abbas, Saed Ibn M?lik, and Umar Ibn Al?Khattab.
8. Sheikh Shua'b Al?Misri in Ar?Rawd Al?Faeq p. 214 writes:
"Some noble narrators mentioned that one day Lady Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Master of creatures (the Prophet P.B.U.H) to show her a fruit from the Dwell of Peace (Paradise). Thus, Gabriel brought him who was chosen above all two apples from Paradise and said:
'O Muhammad, He who appointed a due proportion for all things says to you:
"Eat one apple and give the other to Lady Khadija, then come unto her, for I will create from you (both) Fatima Zahra. "The Chosen One did what The Guardian (Gabriel) told him to do, and.. (Until he said): ‘Thus, whenever the Chosen One longed for Paradise and its greatness, he would kiss Fatima and smell her beautiful fragrance and say: 'Fatima is a human huri.’"
There are successive narrations in this regard, but we satisfy ourselves with what has been mentioned.
There remains a point here on which elaboration is rather important; it is noticeable that the narrations clearly state that Khadija bore Fatima immediately after the Prophet's Ascension to heaven, which took place in the second or third year after revelation.
Nevertheless, there is a collection of narrations from the Holy Imams of Ahlul?Bayt (A), which state that Fatima was born five years after the first revelation to the Prophet This indicates that she stayed in her mother's womb for more than two years, which is definitely incorrect. How can the contradictions between the narrations be explained?!
There are several probabilities, which can be given as answers to this question; they are:
1. The Messenger of Allah ascended to heaven more than once, as was stated in the Book of K?fi. This, in my opinion, is the most accurate account of this affair.
2. Taking into account some narrations which state that Fatima (A) was born in the second or third year after the first revelation (as will be mentioned together with the historians' opinions who claim that Ascension took place in the third year of revelation); this contradiction can be explained especially in light of the various sayings regarding the month during which Ascension occurred.
Among the unique merits of Fatima Zahra was that she spoke to her mother while she was still in her mother's womb. Shiite scholars are not alone in reporting this merit of Fatima; several Sunni scholars and narrators also support this fact. For instance, Abdur Rahman Shafe'i narrated in his book Nuzhat Al?Majalis v. 2, p. 227, that Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) said:
"When I was pregnant with Fatima, which was an easy pregnancy, she would speak to me from inside my womb."
Also, Dahlawi in Tajhiz Al?Jaish quoted the author of Madh Al?Khulafa Ar?Rashidin as saying:
"When Khadija was pregnant with Fatima, she (Fatima) used to speak to her from her womb, but Khadija kept this from the Prophet.
One day, the Prophet entered the house and found Khadija speaking to someone while no one was in the room with her. He inquired as to whom she was speaking; she replied:
‘That which in my womb, surely it speaks to me.'
Then the Prophet said:
'Rejoice Khadija, for this is the girl whom Allah has made to be the mother of eleven of my successors who will come after me and after their father. "'
Shuab Ibn Saad Al?Misri mentioned the following in Ar Rawd Al?Faeq, p. 214:
"At the time when Khadija's pregnancy had become apparent, the infidels asked the Prophet to show them the splitting of the moon; upon hearing this Khadija declared:
"O what a disappointment it would be! Had Muhammad lied while he is the best Messenger of my Lord?"
It was then that Fatima called Khadija from her womb and said:
"O Mother, do not be grieved nor sorrowful, for surely Allah is with my father."
When Fatima was born, the skies became illuminated from the brightness of her face.
Likewise, the narration, which states that Khadija spoke of Fatima Zahra's talking while still in her womb, has already been mentioned at the beginning of this chapter.
The clear disagreement on Fatima's birth date is surprising. Some scholars state that she was born five years after revelation; while others say that she was born two or three years before that; and still others claim that she was born five years before revelation. It should be noted that the first statement was narrated from the Imams of Ahlul?Bayt (A) a group of Sunni scholars also favor the same viewpoint. On the other hand, Sunni scholars and narrators alone speak of the second date.
The following are narrations, which have been cited concerning the date of Fatima Zahra's birth:
1. K?fi (Kulayni):
"She was born five years after (the beginning of) Prophethood, and three years after Ascension to heaven. When the Prophet died, Fatima was eighteen years old....”
2. Al?Manaqib (Ibn Shahr Ashub):
"Fatima was born five years after (the beginning of) Prophethood and three years after Ascension, namely on the 20th of Jamadi Al?Thani. She lived eight years in Mecca with her father, and then she immigrated...”
3. Al?Bihar: Imam Baqir (A) said:
"Fatima Bint Muhammad was born five years after the (first) revelation to Allah's Messenger. She died when she was eighteen years and seventy?five days old."
4. Rawdhat Al?Waedin:
"Fatima was born five years after the (first) revelation to the Prophet....”
5. Iqbal Al?Aamal: Sheikh Mufeed in his book Hadaiq Ar?Ryadh, said:
"The 20th of Jamadi Al?Thani was the birthday of Fatima Zahra during the second year after (the first) revealation."
6. Misbah Al?Kaf'ami:
"Although it has been said that she was born five years after (the first) revelation, (Fatima) was born on Friday the 20th of Jamadi Al?Thani, two years after revelation."
"Friday the 20th of Jamadi Al?Thani, two years after revelation, was the birthday of Fatima, as was cited by some narrations. It has been mentioned in a narration that she was born five years after revelation. The Sunnis narrate that she was born five years before revelation."
8. Dala'el Al?Imamah, on the authority of Imam Sadiq (A):
"Fatima was born on the 20th of Jamadi Al?Thani, forty five years after the Prophet was born…etc.” (The above mentioned narrations were recorded in Bihar: v.10).
The above-mentioned statements are a selection of narrations from the Imams of Ahlul?Bayt (A) and the old Shiite scholars (may Allah bless their souls) declaring that Fatima Zahra's birth took place after revelation. Contrary to this, the Sunni scholars have stated:
1. Ma'refat As?Sahabah by Abu Nu'eym:
"Fatima was the youngest of Allah's Messenger's daughters. She was born while Quraish was building Kaaba."
2. Maqatil At?Talibin by Abu Al?Faraj Al?Isfahani:
“Fatima's birth took place before revelation, during the time that Quraish was building Kaaba."
3. Ibn Al?Athir in Al?Muhktar Fi Manaqib Al?Akhiar.
4. Tabari in Dhakhaer Al?Uqbi.
5. Suyuti in Ath?Thughour Al?Basimah.
Perhaps more research would reveal that the Sunnis adopted this viewpoint in most of their books.
After briefly examining the above-mentioned narrations and in view of the fact that neither Ascension nor Revelation took place before the beginning of Prophethood, it becomes clear that Lady Fatima Zahra's birth was after revelation. Therefore, the falsity of the traditions, which claim that she was born five years prior to the first revelation, becomes obvious.
There are two motives which can be cited for those who made such false claims: The first is to refute the prophetic traditions which reveal the story of heavenly food and that Fatima was born from sperm produced from an apple that came from paradise.
The second is to prove that Fatima Zahra was unattractive to the point that she became eighteen years old before anyone asked to marry her.
(More light will be shed on this subject when we elaborate on Fatima's marriage.)
Nevertheless, Tabari in Dhakhaer Al?Uqbi, Asfuri Shafe'i in Nuzhat Al?Majalis and Qanduzi in Yanabea Al?Mawaddah narrated that Khadija (A) said:
"... Then, when (Fatima's) delivery came near, I sent for the Quraishan midwives who refused to help me because of Muhammad (S). During childbirth, four ladies whose beauty and brilliance were indescribable entered the house’.
One of them said:
“I am your Mother Eve”
The second said:
“I am Umme Kulthum, Musa's sister”
The third said:
“I am Mariam, and we have come to help you.”
Here is the same narration but in a different manner:
'When Khadija was about to deliver, she sent for the Quraishan women to help her give birth to her child. They refused and said: 'We will not help you; for you became Muhammad's wife.'
In the meantime, four women entered the house; their beauty and brilliance cannot be described. One of them said:
‘I am your Mother Eve.'
The second said:
`I am ?syia Bint Muzahim.'
The third said:
‘I am Kulthum, Musa's sister.'
The fourth said:
“I am Mariam Bint Imran, (Isa's mother). We have come to deliver your child. "
Fatima was then born.
“When Fatima fell on the ground, she was in a prostrating position, raising her finger."
Furthermore, the detailed narration was mentioned by Al?Mufaddal Ibn Amr on the authority of Imam Sadiq (A) in v.1 of Al?Bihar by Al?Majlisi.
In addition to what we have already mentioned about Fatima's birth, Ibn Asaker in At?Tarikh Al?Kabir said:
"Khadija gave her children to other women for nursing; but when Fatima was born, Khadija herself nursed her."
This was also stated by Ibn Kathir in Al?Bidayah wan?Nihayah.