It is possible that women of all ages would have said to themselves: “If there was at least one infallible woman from amongst all of these people that God sent for guidance, a woman who knew what we as women go through, how we feel and how our emotions are formulated, then all of these pieces of advice we have been given and responsibilities which have been put on our shoulders would not have been there – as these men just don’t understand us!”
Therefore, the presence of Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, as one of the fourteen infallibles, and her being a role-model for women cemented the guidance and teachings which Islam brought and showed us that they are possible to implement in our daily lives.
It is not only Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, who showed this reality to the women, but also people like her beloved daughter, Zaynab, peace be upon her, who also becomes the ideal role model and is a grand historical figure for women to follow.
Rather, even those who were not from their family – women like Fiddah (the freed-slave of Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her) and the daughter of Fiddah, were able to reach such a stage that they become role models and are known as the “walking Qur’an”!
When we say that Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, is a role model – we do not mean that this is only limited to a few areas of her life – however as this discussion is endless and we can never stop discussing the greatness of his personality, below, we present just some of the examples of how Sayyida Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, is the greatest role model.
1) In the Qur’an, we read the commandment on being good to one’s parents. Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, was so loyal and devoted to her father, the Messenger of God, peace be upon him and his family, that he said the following about her: “[You are] the mother of your father.” (ﺎﻬﻴﺑأ مأ). One meaning of this is that the love which she had for her father was much greater than just the average love which a daughter would have for a father.
“Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship anyone except Him, and [He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should they reach old age at your side —one of them or both— do not say to them,‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words.” 1
2) In the Qur’an, we read the commandment on being generous and munificent. On the night of her wedding, when Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, was making her way to her husband’s home, was wearing a new wedding dress. Historical accounts narrate that a poor woman approached her (or came to the door of the house she was in and asked for clothing to cover herself with). Rather than giving her the old dress which she had, she actually gave away her brand new wedding dress and wore her old clothes on her wedding night!
“You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, God indeed knows it.”2
3) In the Qur’an, we read passages in regards to migration in the way of Allah, and as we know, Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, made the migration from Mecca to Medina along with the early group of Muslims.
“Those who have believed, migrated, and struggled in the way of God, and those who gave them shelter and help, it is they who are truly the faithful. For them is forgiveness and a noble provision.”3
4) In the Qur’an we read numerous verses about patience, sincerity, complete submission to God, consciousness of God and modesty and indeed, Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, has reached to the pinnacles of perfection in all of these areas.
“Indeed the muslim men and the muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women, the obedient men and the obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, the men who remember God greatly and the women who remember [God greatly] —God holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward.”4
5) In the Qur’an, we are advised to gain knowledge and to acquire the tools necessary to be granted wisdom (hikmah) and indeed in this regards Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, shone bright as she has a book known as the muÒÎaf of Fatima which the infallible Imams would sometimes refer to when they wanted to acquire information on events which would take place in the future.
“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the most generous, who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.”5
6) In the Qur’an we are spoken to in regards to working, striving and struggling and when we glance at the life of Fatima Zahrah, we see that on many occasions her hands were calloused and bleeding from the amount of work which she used to perform.
“And that nothing belongs to a person except what he strives for, and that he will soon be shown his endeavour.”6
7) In the Qur’an, there are verses in regards to showing justice in all aspects of life and when we study how Fatima Zahrah dealt with her house maid, Fiddah, and how she divided the daily tasks of the house, we see how she enacted justice in her life.
“Indeed God enjoins justice and kindness and generosity towards relatives, and He forbids indecency, wrong, and aggression. He advises you, so that you may take admonition.”7
8) In the Qur’an, we see verses in regards to the authority and governance of God and those whom He has put into positions of power and leadership and that it is only they who have a right to govern society, and Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, whether it be in her famous Fadak sermon which she delivered in the Masjid of the Prophet, or in the other ways in which she fought for her own rights and that of her husband, we see that in all of these instances, she stood up to the government of the time and openly and flatly rejected their right to rule and supported her husband, the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibne Abi Talib, which ultimately resulted in her own martyrdom for the cause.
“Your guardian is only God, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down.”8
9) In the Qur’an, we are addressed in regards to having faith in the next world and that we should yearn for the next life, and indeed Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, heard from her father that she would be the first person from his nation to leave this world and join him in the next life.
“While the Hereafter is better and more lasting.”9
By studying and understanding these few examples from the life of this illustrious woman, we can fully appreciate that Fatima Zahrah, peace be upon her, is the practical and real-world example of the verses of the Noble Qur’an.
Despite the fact that amongst almost all civilizations of yesteryear and today and within the poems, stories and examples which are often recounted, women have almost always bore the brunt end of the stick and have constantly been humiliated and denigrated and have always been considered as a “thing” which must be associated to someone else (in order to gain some identity) and that women have always been lookd upon as being the “weaker gender”, the Qur’an has shown us that not only for all women, but rather for all men as well, that one of the best examples is that of a woman - the wife of the Pharaoh!
Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh, lived in the grandest of palaces - however she did not let the glitter and allure of the palace of her husband, the Pharaoh, delude her.
She saw the enormous amounts of wealth of the Pharaoh, however she detached herself from it.
She had all types of means and necessities at her disposal to make her life easier and in addition to this, she had gardens, streams, temporal power, authority, governance and everything else – the same things which made her husband intoxicated such that he went to the extent of claiming that he was the sovereign owner and supreme god such as his statement which is recorded in the Qur’an in which he said:
And Pharaoh proclaimed amongst his people. He said, ‘O my people! Does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me and these rivers that run at my feet? Do you not perceive?10
Despite the fact that all of this was at her reach, the wife of the Pharaoh still addressed God and said:
‘My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot.’11
In this verse of the Qur’an, that which is even more important to her than paradise is the house in paradise near her Lord, and that is why she uses the word “کﺪﻨﻋ” – ‘near You [God]’.
From this we see that a woman is such that she can reach to the level in which she is able to throw aside all of the material pleasures which are in front of her eyes and affix her heart to that which is with God and God alone and become the perfect role-model for men and women of all eternity.
Commemorating the Tragic Martyrdom of Hadrat Fatimah al-Zahra (A.S.)
Each year the Imamiyyah Shiites commemorate two historic-religious events: the tragedy of Ashura, martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and the tragic martyrdom of Hadrat Fatimah al-Zahra (A.S.). Indeed, it is our duty to put forth effort in keeping the memory of these events alive.
Perhaps those not familiar with Shiite beliefs may question the purpose of commemorating the tragic past events, thinking remembering these sad events will only cause further disunity within Muslim communities.
In reply to this uncertainty, we must say that if the events we commemorate are merely for historic purposes, then mourning over them are not only unnecessary, but also utterly useless. However, what if remembering these events closely relate to religious beliefs? What if these events actually had an impact in shaping people's beliefs:
beliefs that directly influenced their lives in both this world and the hereafter? And upon this we conclude that in fact it is obligatory on every truth-seeking and religious person to investigate the histories of the two schools of thought in Islam. Each school of thought introduced itself as religious references for the nation through either the concept of caliphate or Imamat. In this regards, the Holy Quran says:
" …Is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge? (12)"
Studying the sayings and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) shows that observing the rights of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) holds an especially high status, and as a result showing affection and love towards the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) is one of the most obvious ways of observing their rights. Insistent commandments of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) to observe the rights of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)on one hand, and the frequent Ahadith which indicate the value in loving the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)on the other hand have caused Muslims to pay special attention towards love and affection for the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.). In his last sayings, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) continued emphasizing this tradition regarding the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)(13). In another statement, he has identified the best person towards the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)as the best of the nation (14); and in the famous Hadith of Thaqalayn, he has referred to the Holy Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)as two valuable, equal, and inseparable things, and has insistently ordered the observation of both (15).
In a Hadith frequently narrated by Shia and Sunni sources, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) has said: "Fatimah is the master of all the women of the worlds" (16). And regarding her proximity towards Allah (SWT), he has said: "O Fatimah! Verily Allah becomes wrathful for your anger, and is pleased at your pleasure" (17). His love for Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) was so much that he would repeatedly say: "Fatimah is a piece of my flesh" (18).
Other sources have also introduced a fuller version of the previous Hadith, adding that: "She is the flesh of me which is in my chest, the light of my eyes, and the fruit of my heart" (19). Moreover, he had specifically ordered people to respect Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) and he presented this order through his behavior (20), sayings, and titles (21) he attributed to Lady Fatimah (A.S.).
Scholars and historians unanimously agree that love towards Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) is of the most obvious and practical ways in expressing love for the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.). In the commentary of verse 23 in chapter 42 of the Holy Quran (22), both Sunni and Shia interpreters have induced that the term family (Aal) in this verse refers to Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) as one of its members (23).
Considering the above statements, to some the thought of Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) being oppressed by the governors after the death of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) may seem as a total misconception. Yet, the facts can be easily found in authentic history books, authored by Shia and Sunni historians, which narrate the incidents after the death of the Prophet (S.A.W.).
These recordings clearly indicate how Hadrat Fatimah (A.S.) would express