The Secret of Purity
By: Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fazlullah
When we remember her, whether about her birth and arrival into this world, or, about her death and her rushing towards her visitation with Allah, a very short time after her father’s death. She hadn’t yet crossed the path of youth but was still in it’s midst.
When we remember her we see her as a person who was intelligent with ideas, knowledgeable, an ascetic, devoted worshipper, powerful, dignified and with a mission in the path of truth. Whenever we remember her we remember Saddique, the pure whose character encompasses completely the meaning of purity, infallibility, and truth. The very same person who saw the most difficult times in her childhood and whose pain continued even when she was with Imam Ali (AS), along with the difficulties of the home and society which weighed heavily upon her shoulders.
The loss of her father [the Prophet (SAW)] was another difficulty. A father who was the mirror of wisdom, spirit and epitome of a Prophet. Such that the lives of these two people were meshed together with the spirit of the mission. This is how it is that Fatima (SA) suffered in the defense of Imamate in the strongest defense possible.
Her pain can be described in a nutshell in a way such that she didn’t even for a moment live for herself and devoted all of her life to the service of her beloved father [the Prophet (SAW)], her husband Imam Ali (AS) and her two sons [Hassan and Hussain (AS)] the Imams of the Muslims. Her service wasn’t only because of her closeness to them and their being of her family, rather because of her dedication to the Prophetic mission. This mission was always with her such that her feeling of responsibility led her to first think of others rather than her own family. In the same way that she was the daughter of the Prophet of Allah (SAW) by blood she was also his daughter as relates to his mission. Therefore, remember her in the way that she was spoken of by the Prophet (SAW) that both major sects of the Muslims have related - a Prophet who named her the mother of her father (Umme-Abiha). The secret of our diligence in remembering Zahra (SA) is in this very point when we remember her, we remember the mission and its obligations and how Zahra (SA) was active in the path of the mission.
Here we recall the way that Zahra (SA) was a key element in changing affairs of the Islamic society. In all of these we keep her memory alive. There are many people, the memories of who upon their deaths fade away from history because of the fact that their lives were confined to themselves, and didn’t much relate to others. History also remembers others whose memories along with the continuance of their missions, remain forever in the halls of history. Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA) is amongst these people. One cannot bring to mind the Prophet (SAW) without remembering her; one cannot remember Imam Ali (AS) without remembering her. One cannot remember the childhood of Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) and Zainab (SA) without recalling Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA), the secret of the purity of their childhood.
Therefore I invite everyone to not only hold Zahra (SA) in our tears and forever a personification of the mission, but also, in our hearts and minds. Because we cannot know and follow her way only with our tears and personify her worth and value, rather, the bigger job is to open our eyes to the mission and the responsibilities, which she sensed, were hers. She shed her tears in the path of the mission and not once for herself. This is the reason for the immortality of the Household of the Prophet [Ahlul-Bait (AS)]. They lived for Islam only, because of this we in turn, must remember them for the purpose of reviving Islam.
Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA) in the Words of the Prophet (SAW):
If we want to find out about Zahra (SA) from the words of the Holy Prophet (SAW), first we discover a tradition from Sahih Bukhari related by the Prophet (SAW), thus: “Fatima is a part of me, whoever angers her, has angered me.” Again in Sahih Muslim we come upon a tradition that says: “The same Fatima (SA) is a part of me, whoever injures her, has also injured me.”
Another tradition in Sahih Muslim related by the Prophet (SAW) says: “My very daughter (Fatima) is a part of me. Whatever causes her mental agitation disturbs me and whatever injures her, injures me.” Whenever the Prophet (SAW) speaks, he doesn’t speak under the influence of his emotions or feelings, to give undue worth, rather he gives value that is related to his holy mission. The Prophet (SAW) is a man, like anyone else, he embraces his daughter, gives her love and affection. But when it is time to bestow a title on someone, he considers it from the part of view of his mission and prophethood, and revelation comes down to him. Therefore, when he declares that ‘Fatima (SA) is a part of me’, what does that mean? It means that she is like a part of his body, as though she is a living part of him. When someone becomes a part of the Prophet’s (SAW) existence, it is only natural that - that person’s mind becomes a part of his mind, his spirit part of the Prophet’s (SAW) spirit, his life from the Prophet’s (SAW) life and his purity, spirituality, sincerity and honesty be from that of the Prophet’s (SAW).
Now, if the Prophet (SAW) declares “Anyone who injures her, injures me”, it must be noted that those who have the responsibility of the holy mission, aren’t subject to the influence of emotions.
Therefore, the meaning of the Prophet’s (SAW) words is that it is not possible for Fatima (SA) to do bad or to be improper in her words or behavior such that people have the right to injure her or show anger towards her. Fatima (SA) is such a person that no one can use the excuse of deviation - from which Zahra’s holy being is free - to show anger towards her. The Prophet’s (SAW) words mean that Zahra (SA) is never guilty of bad actions, sins and deviations; therefore, anyone who shows anger towards her or is oppressive to her and in turn will incur the wrath of Allah.
The Mother of Her Father (Umm-e Abiha):
The Prophet (SAW) was truly alone. This wasn’t his first experience of loneliness. When he was only a baby, he lost his mother. Although the Prophet’s (SAW) heart is overflowing with love for Allah, he is also human and as human needs love, affection and tenderness. The Prophet’s need for affection shouldn’t be viewed as a deficiency in his character and doesn’t weaken his relationship with Allah. It must be noted that like us, the Prophet (SAW) gets hungry and thirsty. There are times when we need affection just like when we are hungry and we need nutrition to fill us. Also the Prophet (SAW) sought soothing hands and a warm comforting embrace. Zahra (SA) with all of the warmth, purity and sincerity that existed in her heart, spread the shade of her affection upon her father’s life, and was the ointment for his wounds to the point that the Prophet (SAW) felt that his mother was once again brought back to life. Because of this, she was forever given the name Umm-e Abiha, that is, ‘Mother of her father’. When we mention Fatima’s (SA) being the Prophet’s (SAW) mother and her father it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t rely on Allah or lacks self-confidence. Rather it means that he is a human being like others who needs love and affection. He needed Zahra’s (SA) love and sincerity. Many incorrectly try to conclude that we are referring to a deficiency of the Prophet’s (SAW) character. These people interpret every word into its worst meaning and consider our words contrary to the Prophet’s status of perfection and infallibility. In reply it must be said that - is there contradiction in infallibility and the hunger of the Prophet (SAW) or his feeling thirsty and drinking water to quench his thirst? Many people don’t understand this meaning that Allah has emphasized and they also don’t comprehend the Prophet’s deep grief for the people.
Allah has mentioned the Prophet’s (SAW) painful feelings that are completely human. The title of ‘Mother of Her Father’ describes the deep bond between the Prophet (SAW) and Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA) such that between these two, there was mutual spiritual love. We can probably also stress that between them was a hidden unity which was expressed in the form of their spiritual closeness. We discover these same ideas in other traditions. For example, in this tradition: “Fatima (SA) was such that her way of walking was just like that the Prophet’s (SAW).” Fatima even in her way of walking was influenced by the Prophet (SAW) because the Prophet (SAW) was her teacher and trainer. The Prophet (SAW) every day of his life taught her a new lesson in ethics, spirituality and wisdom. This daughter was with him in Mecca and spoke and listened to him every day and night. This is the reason why Fatima (SA) gained her knowledge from the Prophet (SAW) and Imam Ali’s (AS) knowledge also came from the vast sea of knowledge which was the Prophet’s.
History doesn’t acknowledge any teacher for Fatima (SA) other than that of the Prophet (SAW). In the same way that it acknowledges no other for Imam Ali (AS).
Harmony with Her Husband
Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA) like other women was never negligent in her responsibilities relating to her marital affairs. And even though she was the daughter of the Prophet (SAW), like other Muslim wives, she was never negligent to her husband. Yet she was at the highest and most sublime level that a Muslim woman could possibly attain. She would grind grains, bake bread and take care of and train her children.
At the beginning of her life she suffered a lot, which has been well documented in the history books. A very important point that can be seen in the life of Fatima (SA) and Imam Ali (AS) - is that Zahra (SA) with her spirit, perseverance, worship and devotion gave strength to Imam Ali (AS). Their home was filled with an Islamic atmosphere that whenever Imam Ali (AS) returned home, whenever he looked was a reminder of Islam. She would fill the home with the sweet fragrance of Islam and Imam Ali (AS) in the same way that in the mosque and in the presence of the Prophet (SAW) breathed in this fragrance would continue to enjoy it even in his own home, thanks to the daughter of the Prophet (SAW).
She lived in such a spiritual atmosphere in her house that even her children breathed in such air. Here son Imam Hassan (AS) in his childhood, would see his mother wake up every night and pray to Allah. He says: “My mother would make so much nightly worship that feet would swell.” This is only natural considering the length of time that she would remain standing. This is an indication of her many supplications and deep connection with Allah. Imam Hassan (AS) in his childhood innocence would hear her whispering and realize that she was supplicating for the believing men and women. He would stand in wait to hear his mother supplicate for herself, a weak mother who throughout her life had suffered much. But he never heard such. At the end of her prayer, he would ask his beloved mother: “O Mother, why do you not pray for yourself when you are in need?”
Spirituality and purity flows from your prayers and it creates hope for the granting of supplications from Allah, because the more a person turns to Allah with their heart and soul, He is more Merciful and grants the needs faster.
Fatima (SA) replies: “Oh my son! First the neighbors then the household.” Meaning that before thinking of one’s self, one must think of the situation of the Muslims. This is the way that we feel the pain of the Muslims and ask Allah to lessen it. We understand the hopes of the Muslims and we ask Allah to make their hopes come true.”
When Allah sees that we supplicate for the Muslims, He also spreads His mercy on us and whatever we ask of Him for others, He also gives to us.
Allah has given this spirit forever to the Ahlul-Bait (AS). This isn’t specific only to Hazrat Fatimat uz-Zahra (SA) rather to all the Ahlul-Bait (AS) who Allah has made pure and above all impurities have this very spirit.
We give you food but ourselves remain hungry. We give you nourishment but break our fasts with water, because you come before us (are more important). The neighbors come before the household. No reward do we desire from you nor thanks. We only fear a Day of distressful wrath from the side of our Lord. But Allah will deliver them from the evil of that day and will shed over them a light of beauty and a blissful joy. Insaan 9-11
Tasbeeh of Hazrat Fatimat uz-Zahra
Imam Ali (AS) upon witnessing Zahra’s (SA) refusal decides to himself go to the Prophet (SAW) and request a servant for his daughter. Imam Ali (AS) began in this way: Zahra (SA) has ground so much grain that her hands have become coarse, and her muscles weak, the training of the children has also become difficult for her. He then requested that the Prophet (SAW) give one of his slaves to them as a servant.
The Prophet (SAW) addresses them both so that they can draw near to Allah and also decrease Zahra’s (SA) physical suffering. Do you not want me to teach you something the performance of which is better for you than having a servant? At the time of sleep say 34 times ‘Allah-Akbar, 33 times ‘Alhamdulillah’ and 33 times ‘Subhana-Allah’. It is better than having a servant.
Islam has immortalized Zahra’s (SA) tasbeeh. The tasbeeh which reminds us of Zahra (SA), is a reminder of Allah’s Greatness. His praises and His sublimity, which in turn helped Zahra (SA) to forget her pain. From this we learn how to live for Allah and how in the midst of suffering one must always remember Him.
Kolaini (RA) in Usul-Kafi relates a tradition from Imam Sadiq (AS). One day Fatima (SA) complained to the Prophet (SAW) about some of her problems. The Prophet (SAW) gave her a branch of a date-palm on which he was writing. The Prophet (SAW) wanted to redirect her thoughts from worldly matters to knowledge and spirituality. He said ‘Learn what is written there’. It was written “Whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment, does not cause injury to his neighbor and anyone who believes in the Hereafter, honors his guest. Whoever believes in Allah and the Hereafter speaks of good things or remains silent.”
With this advice and his drawing her attention to his fears about the Islamic values, he drew her thoughts towards the messages, which he had to deliver to the people. By doing this, he reduced her pain and showed her how to rise above her suffering. The lesson to be learnt here is that a person’s attention should be more towards his message than personal pain and suffering so that he can prevail over them. Because when man strives in the way of more important matters, smaller, insignificant ones are forgotten.
Zahra’s Role in Teaching Muslim Women
According to narrated traditions all that Zahra (SA) learnt throughout her life from the Prophet (SAW) of Allah, she passed on to Muslim women. The authors of the Islamic Encyclopedia have written as follows:
“Zahra (SA) had lost some papers on which she had written things down. She had instructed Fizzah , who had become her maid-servant in the later days of her life, to find them. Because on them she had written important matters which she had learned from her father.”
Fatima (SA) is someone whom all of the Muslims love, respect and pay homage to. This is because she is the only remaining daughter of the Prophet (SAW). She is a part of his body and spirit, such that whoever injures her, injures him. It was asked of the people who attacked her house: “How dare you throw firewood into Fatima’s (SA) house and set it ablaze?”. They replied to the effect that even if she were in there ..... We believe that this is the most dangerous statement because it means that even if Fatima (SA) were in the house, they would still burn it down. We believe that such a statement is a sign of oppression against Fatima (SA). Yes, Zahra (SA) suffered all of these difficulties and pain but never once mentioned it. Only Imam Ali (AS) spoke to the Prophet (SAW) of her suffering and then only after her burial. He said: “Soon will your daughter tell you of all that she saw and suffered.” We see that Fatima (SA) was occupied with the affairs of the Muslims and Islam, even though she suffered a lot along the way.
Zahra’s Sadness at the loss of her father
Fatima (SA) had strength at all times. She was very sad and cried much with the loss of her father. She embraced her father when he was at the point of death and cried. She then kissed him and smiled. They asked her: “What is the secret of your crying and laughing?” She answered: “The Prophet (SAW) first told me of his death and I cried. Then the second time he told me that I would be the first person from his household to meet with him again and so I smiled.”
There are many traditions relating to Fatima’s (SA) sadness after the death of her father. Namely in ‘Usul-e-Kafi’ from Imam Sadiq (AS). “Fatima (SA) was not seen smiling or laughing for 75 days after the death of the Prophet (SAW). Every day twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, she would visit the cemetery of the martyrs and say: “The Prophet (SAW) was here. The Polytheists were here.” In another tradition from Imam Sadiq (AS) says: “While she was alive, Hazrat Zahra (SA) would pray and supplicate there.”
Yes, Zahra (SA) lived her entire life this way. We believe that she in her every word and deed was infallible for the following reasons:
1. She is the leader of all women, and anyone in such a position makes no mistakes.
2. She is from the Household of the Prophet (SAW) that Allah has cleansed from any type of uncleanness and made them pure (tahir). (36:36)
3. She is infallible, because if you study her life, from the beginning of her childhood to the day she left this world, she neither said nor did anything wrong. Zahra (SA) with her own will power and spirituality along with Allah’s abundant grace holds the position of infallibility. Zahra (SA) lost her life in the way of Islam facing the many difficulties that came to her along the way. To such an extent that she willed that she be buried at night so that those who had opposed her not be present at her burial. Her night burial was her final battle after her death and continuance of those that she fought when she was alive. She wanted her grave to remain a secret to be a proof of the difficulties and hardships that she faced in the way of Allah, for Allah, with the Holy Prophet (SAW).
Fatima’s (SA) message is this: “Strive in the way of Islam in the way that I strove. Strive so that Allah’s word prevails over Satan’s word. In the way of Islam many difficulties and obstacles await you. In the unity of the Muslims there are many struggles ahead. In the call to Islam, the struggle for it’s strengthening and glorification many hindrances await you. One must try and struggle with all of one’s might and spirit. Know this that the final goal is ISLAM.
May Allah shower His choicest blessings on her on the day of her birth, on the day of her death and on the day she will be raised back to physical life.