Fatima is Fatima, By Ali Shariati – Part 4/5
Posted by Parsin on May 16, 2008
The black and difficult years of hunger began in the valley of Abu Talib. The Hashimi and Abd al-Muttalib families were imprisoned-with the exception of Abu Lahab who has joined the enemies. Men, women and children were placed in this hot, dry valley. A notice was written by Abu Jahl, in the name of all the wealthy people of the Quraysh, and it was placed on the Kabah wall: aNo one should have any contact with the Hashimi tribe. All relationships with them are cut-off. Do not buy anything from them. Do not sell anything to them. Do not marry any of them.”
They were forced to live in this stony prison until loneliness, poverty, hunger and the difficulties of life made them surrender to either the idols or to death! They all had to bear torture both those who had accepted the new religion and those who have not yet turned to the new religion.
Those who had not yet embraced Islam, nevertheless admired Mohammad (PBUH) and presented a united front to the enemy. They defended him and even though they did not know Islam, they knew the Prophet. They had faith in his purity. They knew he was not interested in personal gain. They sensed his faith. They heard what he had to say about the worship of the Truth. They knew he sincerely wished to free the people.
They were worth far more than the intellectuals filled with fear-such as conservatives like Ali ibn Umayyid, who, having discovered progressive ideology, supposedly opposed reactionaries, the foulness of aristocratic society and the Arab regime with its class distinctions. Yet, these same people, knowing all of this, in order to protect the wealth of their fathers, their social position and physical health remained on the side of Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab. They watched the torture of Balal, Ammar, Yasser and Somayyeh. They did not move their lips to object.
Throughout these difficult years, these men left their compatriots and their friends in this small compound, alone. They busied themselves with their lives in the bazaar, their homes and families. They past their time with the pagan leaders. They even joined hands. Years later, the followers of this way and its religion were more than the followers of the religion of the Prophet himself.
On the opposite side was Ali, Abu Dharr, Fatima, Hussein, Zaynab and all of the Emigrants and Companions. But those like Ali ibn Umayyid were the first Muslims to continue the practice of dissimulation [pious fraud]-even though the Prophet had forbidden it. They remained loyal to this principle and did not relinquish it until their death.
It is when the fire of a new faith lights up their spirits and a movement full of danger begins in society (based upon experiment, choice and obligatory tests in which one speaks to the self clearly and without deceit) that the wonders of humanity appear. The glories were accompanied by feelings of inferiority, by feelings of strength as well as weakness. All these were hidden within the spirit, and all of them revealed themselves.
Now in this frightening compound were people who, although not Muslims, yet bore the difficulties with patience, silence and three years of hunger and loneliness. They shared the shadow of danger. They also took part in God’s great revolution for humanity. In this most sensitive moment of the beginning of the history of Islam, they shared the pain, and understood the position of the Prophet and his Companions.
But the black cloud of ignorance covered the comfortable and happy city filled with conservatism, contradiction, and shamelessness. Some Muslims could be seen whose skirts were contaminated and their hands frail. They were busy gaining security and comfort. Were they the viewers or the players in this tragedy? The question arises because in their imagination they believed they had religion. They loved religious people. They felt themselves to be enlightened.
The families of the Hashimi tribes cut themselves off for three years from their city, their people, their freedom and even their means of livelihood and lived in this confinement. Was it possible to leave the valley in the middle of the night and, hidden from the eyes of the spies of the Quraysh, get food for the hungry waiting in jail? Could it be that a liberal family member or friend might, out of kindness, bring some bread. Hunger sometimes reached the point that they looked like ‘black death’. But as they had prepared themselves for a ‘red death’, they were patient.
Saied ibn Ali Vaqas, confined with the others, wrote, ‘Hunger had brought on such dizziness that, if at night I kicked a soft, wet material, without even realizing it, I would put it in my mouth and suck it. Two years later, I still do not know what it was.’
All of the Prophet’s family bore the difficulties of hunger, loneliness and poverty for his sake. The Prophet personally assumed responsibility for them. When a child cried from the pain of hunger, when a sick person cried from lack of medicine and lack of food, when an aged person (man or woman) reached the limits of suffering after three years of hunger, physical torture and the rigors of the climate, they hid all the* suffering within themselves. The light and blood drained from the* faces, yet they denied any problems when speaking to the Prophet.
At the same time, despite all the difficulties, they remained loyal and generous in faith and love. All of this was an expressions of spirit and of faith and greatly affected the sensitive heart of the Prophet.
Know for sure that whenever food arrived in the darkness of the night and was given to the Prophet to be shared among the people, the portion of his wife and daughter was the least of all.
The family of the Prophet, in this compound, consisted of Khadija, the* small daughter, Fatima, and her sisters, Umm Kulthum and Ruqiya, the daughters-in-law of Abu Lahab. After the mission of the Prophet, Abu Lahab ordered his sons to divorce Ruqiya and Umm Kulthum in order to hurt and show contempt for the Prophet. But Uthman, a young, wealthy, handsome man, married Ruqiya, thus answering the act of Abu Lahab. Ruqiya then immigrated to Ethiopia with Uthman. Umm Kulthum, whose life had fallen apart and who had lost her happiness because of her faith in her father, now found herself in the compound. She preferred hunger and remaining with her generous and heroic father in the way of faith and freedom to living in comfort and ease with her malicious and conservative husband, Utayba.
The days passed with difficulty in this compound separated from life. At night, the black tent of darkness fell upon the residents of this mountainous area. Weeks, months and years of hardship passed slowly over their tired bodies and spirits, but all continued in sympathy with each other and with the Prophet. The family of the Prophet had a special position in the midst of this group. The head of the family bore the heavy weight of their bitter fate upon his shoulders.
Umm Kulthum, her happiness destroyed, had moved from the home of her husband to that of her father. His other daughter, Fatima was still a young girl of either two or three or twelve or thirteen-depending on whose reckoning we follow. She has a weak constitution, but a sensitive spirit full of feelings.
Khadija, his elderly wife, had lived through the ten years of the Prophet’s mission and three years in the compound. She had suffered hunger. She had witnessed the constant torture of her husband and daughters. She had borne the death of her two sons. She has not lost patience, but her body had been severely weakened. At every instant death appeared to her. In this state, hunger cried out so loud that the aged, sick Khadija (who had lived her life in wealth and had now given everything in the way of the Prophet) put a bit of leather in water and held it between her teeth.
Fatima, the young, sensitive girl was worried about her mother. Her mother was worried about her last, frail daughter whose great love for her mother and father was common knowledge among the people. In the last days of their imprisonment, Khadija, who sensed the approach of death, was bed-ridden. Fatima and Umm Kulthum sat beside her. Her father had gone outside to distribute the rations. Khadija, aged, weak, remembering the difficulties she had lived through, said with a sense of regret, “If only my approaching death could wait until these dark days pass and I could die with hope and happiness.”
Umm Kulthum, crying, said, “It is nothing, mother, do not worry.” Her mother replied, “Yes, for me, by God, it is nothing. I am not worried about myself, my daughter. No woman among the Quraysh has tasted the blessings that I have tasted. There is no woman in the world who has received the generosity which I have received. It is enough for me that my fate in this life, in this world, has been to be the beloved wife of God’s choice. As to my fate in the other world, it is enough that I have been among the first who believed in the Prophet and that I am called ‘the mother of his followers’.” Then whispering to herself, she continued, “O God, I cannot count the blessings and kindnesses that you have given me. My heart has not grown narrow because I am moving towards you, but I do wish to be worthy of the benefits you gave me.”
The shadow of death fell upon the house. Silence and deep sorrow filled Khadija, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. Suddenly, the Prophet appeared illuminated with hope, faith, strength and victory. It was as if three years of loneliness, hunger and heavy spiritual asceticism had produced no effect upon the body and spirit of the Prophet other than to increase his courage, will power and faith.
Freedom, Tragedy, Spiritual Strength, Khadija Dies
The dark years of confinement ended. Khadija lived to see the salvation of the Muslims and to care for her beloved husband and her noble and loyal daughters. The Prophet experienced his first great victory over the Quraysh. But the destiny which had been sent to change our history allowed no peace or pleasure, for two great tragedies fell upon him simultaneously.
Abu Talib and Khadija both died within a few days of each other and within a few days of their freedom. Abu Talib had raised the orphan Mohammad (PBUH) and had made up for his missing father, mother and his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. He had looked after the young man, Mohammad (pbuh), and cared for him. He had found work for him in the service of Khadija. Finally, it was he who acted as the father at the marriage of Khadija and Mohammad (PBUH). He had supported the prophecy of Mohammad (PBUH). With all of his influence, character, personality and social credit, he had protected him. He even bore the three years in confinement, bore the difficulties and hunger and yet remained with him. It was because of him that the Prophet was saved from death and the horrible torture which his companions suffered. Now, he had lost Abu Talib, his only protector against the anger, danger and hatred of the city.
And Khadija was the woman who had given up the privacy of their life to his destiny the woman who at forty or forty-five had married Mohammad, the twenty-five year old orphan and poor shepherd. He came to know her through love with the faith of a fellow sufferer and thinker. He sought refuge in her from the difficulties of poverty and life. He received the kindness of a friend and the love of a mother which he had never had. He benefited from her advice and the great protection which she gave him.
Later, when he was appointed as God’s Prophet, she was with him, step by step. She was beside him, beside his heart, beside his spirit. During the whole time of the thunderstorm of difficulties, fears, dangers, loneliness, during years of hatred and enmity, during battles, fights and treacheries, she was with him from the first moment of the revelation until the final moments of her death. She was with him during all of the moments of his life. She gave all of her life, love, faith, and wealth at the moment when he needed it most.
Now the Prophet had lost his protector and compassionate, fellow sufferer, the first person who believed him, the greatest giver of sympathy and, finally, the mother of his Fatima. Fatima had lost her mother.
Diffficulties and tortures increased. Abu Talib had died. The Prophet was left defenseless before hatred. Hatred and enmity became violent when they witnessed the patience, perseverance and faith of the Prophet and his Companions. The roots of hatred become firmer and more merciless. The Prophet was very much alone. Abu Talib was no longer in the city, and Khadija was no longer at home.
Fatima now more than ever sensed the heavy burden of the hatred and grudges. She was called ‘the mother of her father’. At the time that her sisters went to their husbands’ homes, she was still tied to her mother’s skirts. aMother, I never want to replace this home with another one. Mother, I will never leave you,” Fatima may have said. Khadija smiling, may have answered, “They all say that and we say, ‘My daughter, the time will come.”‘ Fatima, imploringly, might have continued, “No. I will never leave my father. No one will separate me from him.” Her mother would then remain silent.
Fatima sensed she had such a mandate. Her message was not a child’s desires. Her faith in her mandate gained strength when she heard her father speak.
How surprising that the Prophet called upon her in the presence of the leaders of the Quraysh and the leaders of the Hashimi tribe and the Abd Manafs. Her? A young girl? She alone and only she from among her family?
The child-like feelings and loving kindness of the young girl, who hundreds of times reiterated that she would never marry and that she would never leave her father, were growing into a serious covenant and took on the quality of a responsibility and a commandment.
The first years of her life coincided with the first years of the mission and the difficulties and tortures of the beginning of the mandate. Fatima, from among all of the children of the Prophet, was the worthiest to bear the suffering to bear the heavy weight of the responsibilities of the mandate which lay upon her father’s shoulders. She was aware of her fate and so were her mother and father.
On one of the last days of her life, Khadija, worried, turned to her and said, “After me what things will you see, my daughter. My life will end today or tomorrow. Zaynab and Ruqiya, your two sisters, are at peace beside their kind husbands. My mind is not worried about Umm Kulthum because her age and experience are enough to keep her. But, you, Fatima, are drowned in difficulties. You have to suffer many sorrows and tribulations which increase daily.”
Fatima, who shared in bearing the burdens which had been placed upon her father’s shoulders, answered, ‘Rest assured, mother. “Don’t worry about me. The idol-worshipping Quraysh will torture and punish Muslims and they will show no mercy. The souls and hearts of Muslims must rejoice in accepting this despotic torture.”
Fatima was the most worthy, having suffered great torture. She was special because the blessing of being the daughter of the Prophet was offered to her and because of the kindness and respect which continue to be shown her.
A New History Begins
A fter the death of Abu Talib, enmity and hatred reached its peak. One group of the Companions and followers of the Prophet went to Abyssinia, while another group suffered loneliness and poverty under the increasing torture of the Quraysh. The Prophet, then fifty years old, whose life had been spent in difficulties, was living alone with Fatima, his young daughter.
But…no. The hand of fate brought a son to this house and no one knew what role he would play.
Yes. Ali did not stay in his father’s house. He did not grow up there. From childhood he lived beside Fatima. He was raised in the home of Fatima’s father. The fate of this young boy was strangely connected to the fate of this father and this girl.
Destiny was taking its course. In the mysterious quiet, full of ambiguity, a stormy design was nourished to break the stone idols that had created barriers and discrimination. The first of the deceitful priests of the royal court died in the fire temples of the Persians. The great, frightening palaces of Madaen were pulled down. The lustful, bloodthirsty Emperor of Byzantine was pushed into the sea.
But the greatest of all to fall, to be erased in the hearts and minds, was the rusted tradition and the chains of habit, the puce of superstition and rotted myth, the prejudice and discriminatory beliefs that poison humanity.
They were dismantled. They were washed. The previous values and honors were turned upside down and changed. In an environment polluted with vile fairy tales of racism and pride with aristocracy and power, with epics of plunder, the worship of blood and idols always causes the earth to revolt against false gods. All these things, large or small, prevent freedom, equality, justice, spiritual struggle and self-awareness for the unknown masses who lack glory and tribe. Instead of seeking history in rotten bones, fallen gravestones and rich rulers of the sword, seek history in the blood, life and poverty of the people!
Seek the line which begins with the heirs of the last chosen Prophet! Each one had a finer cloak of martyrdom than his predecessor. Each one either spent his life on the battlefield or teaching people or in the prison of the oppressors. This important mandate in history began with Fatima.
It is the kind hand of poverty which caused the child of Abu Talib (even though he had a father) to go to the house of his uncle’s son so that his spirit might not become polluted by his own family’s ignorance. He was present from the time of the first revelation. He was there from the moment that the mission began. He lived through the purifying fire of difficulties and problems so that he could play the difficult role he had to play in the migration, so that he could participate in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khaybar, Fath and Hunayn, thereby guaranteeing the victory of the Islamic Revolution, so that he could grow up close to Fatima and, finally, so that with Fatima, he could establish the ‘exemplary family’ which (in the continuation of the work of Abrahsn) began a new history.
Thirteen years of difficulty, resistance, confinement and, torture in Makkah ended. Fatima, from early childhood, patiently stood alongside her father in the city, in their home and in their imprisonment. Even with her weak constitution, she withstood the angry blows of envy and the difficulties of resistance in the savage environment of ignorance. With her little hands, she caressed her hero father like a mother.
The migration began. Muslims went to Madinah. The Prophet and Abu Bakr secretly left Makkah. Fatima and her sister, Umm Kulthum also left Makkah. Suddenly one of the evil men of the Quraysh, who had a history of causing the Prophet difficulties, caught up with them and violently threw them down. Fatima, who had a weak constitution and who had suffered from the effects of three years in prison, was greatly affected by this event. She suffered pain the entire way to Madinah. This uncalled for act of Huyrath ibn Naqiz had such an effect upon the Muslims and the Prophet that, even eight years later when conquering Makkah, they had not forgotten what he had done. His name was mentioned among those who should not be spared. They said that even if he were hanging on the cloth of the Kabah, he should be killed. It was no accident that Ali carried out this order.
Now they were in Madinah. The Prophet had built his mosque and, next to it, his house which he constructed from mud and the leaves of palm trees. Then he announced the ceremony of ‘the covenant of brotherhood’. “Every two should become brothers in the way of God.” Jafar ibn Abu Talib became the brother of Maaz ibn Jabal, Abu Bakr became the brother of Khariji ibn Zahir, Umar ibn Khattab became the brother of Utayba ibn Malik and Uthman became the brother of Aas ibn Sabet. But what of Ali? Then the Prophet said, “I am his brother.” Mohammad (pbuh) became the brother of Ali.
Once again, from among all the figures, Ali was placed beside the Prophet. Ali took another step closer to the Prophet. Fatima bint Asad, the mother of Ali, had nursed the Prophet. Abu Talib, the father of Ali, had protected the Prophet. The Prophet grew up in the house of Ali. Ali grew up in the house of the Prophet, beside his daughter Fatima. Ali was nourished in the lap of Khadija, the mother of Fatima. The son of the uncle of the Prophet, the child of the Prophet, had now become the brother of the Prophet.
The Sealing of The Link
There remained one more step before Ali could reach the final stage foreseen for him in the fate of the Prophet and in the honor of Islam.
Fatima has kept her promise. In the home of her father, she lived quietly alone. She rejected Umar and Abu Bakr’s offers of marriage. All of the Companions knew that Fatima had a very special fate, and they knew that the Prophet would never give her hand in marriage without consulting her.
Fatima grew up with Ali. She saw him as a dear, older brother and as a beloved butterfly around her father. Fate threw these two together for very special reasons. Neither one of them was tied to the age of ignorance. They both grew up from the beginning with the mission. They developed under the light of the revelation.
What feelings did Fatima have towards Ali? What appeared from the great, brave, courageous heart of Ali towards Fatima? We may conceive of them but the words to express them are missing. How can we describe the complicated feelings which arise from faith, love, spiritual strength, and worship. How can we describe the kindness of a brother and a sister who share the same belief. How can we describe the familiarity of two spirits. They shared the difficulties and troubles of fate together. Fellow travelers, step by step, moment by moment for their whole lifetime, they encountered kindness and inspiration mixed with faith. Why was Ali silent? He was twenty-five years old. Fatima had reached puberty. She was either nine years old or nineteen.
In my opinion, the obstacles before Ali were clear. Fatima had promised herself to her father. She knew herself to be the mother of her father and to be a person who ran his house. How could Ali take her from this house where the daughter was so attached to her father that they could not be separated? How could Ali ask the Prophet for her hand in marriage? Ali shared the same feelings as Fatima.
Suddenly the picture changed. Ayisha came into the house of the Prophet. The Prophet, for the first and last time in his life, took a young, alive, virgin as his wife. Fatima, little by little sensed that her father’s young bride would replace Khadija and herself-not in his heart-but undoubtedly in his house. Ali also sensed that the moment which destiny has prepared for them had arrived. But he had nothing.
He was a boy who had grown up in the Prophet’s house, who had spent his youth struggling in the way of his beliefs. He did not have an opportunity to gather or save things. The only capital he had in the world was the faithful sacrifice he had made for the Prophet. Capital? Not even a house or a piece of furniture. Nothing.
At the same time we see that he approached the Prophet. He was seated next to him. He had put his head down and spoke with his beautiful shyness. “What do you want son of Abu Talib?” asked the Prophet. Ali answered full of modesty and inner peace, “I want to take the hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet.” The Prophet answered, “Wonderful! Congratulations!” The next day in the mosque the Prophet asked him, “Do you have anything?” Ali replied, “Nothing, oh Prophet.” The Prophet asked, “Where is the shield I gave you in the battle of Badr?” “It is with me,” Ali replied. The Prophet said, “Give that.” Ali quickly went, got the shield and returned and handed it to the Prophet. The Prophet ordered that it be sold in the bazaar and with its small price, he should begin his life. Uthman bought the shield for forty-seven dirhams. The Prophet called his Companions together, and he himself performed the wedding ceremony. He said, “Fatima, daughter of the Prophet, according to the ruling traditions, is given to Ali.”
They prayed for their progeny and then brought out a dish of dates. And this was the wedding ceremony. The list of Fatima’s property? A hand mill, a wooden bowl and a cotton rug. At the beginning of the second year of the migration, Ali found a house beside the mosque of Quba, and he took Fatima there. Hamza (one of the first martyrs, the great hero of the religious crusades, and uncle of the Prophet and Ali) sacrificed two camels and invited the people of Madinah to his home for the wedding celebration.
The Prophet instructed Umm Salama to accompany the bride to Ali’s house. Then Bilal called the people to the evening prayer. After the prayer, the Prophet went to Ali’s house. He asked for a bowlful of water and after reciting some verses from the Koran, he asked the bride and groom to drink from that water. He then made his ablution with it and sprinkled it upon both of their heads. When he began to leave, Fatima began crying. It was the first time that she would be separated from her father.
The Prophet comforted her with these words, “I am leaving you with a person of the strongest faith, a man who is the most knowledgeable among those with knowledge, the most ethical among those with ethics and the highest of spirits among the spiritual.”
Struggles Continue To Renew The Spirit
This departure from the Prophet began the second part of Fatima’s life. Destiny brought new difficulties and sorrows to this most beloved and precious being of humanity. Fatima, who had grown up in poverty and with hardships in the home of her father, now had come to the home of Ali, a home whose only decoration and furniture was love and poverty.
The difficulties of life in Ali’s house began. But the greatest difficulty of all was that Fatima had the same responsibilities she previously had had, but they were now in connection with Ali. A youth whom she had, until yesterday, looked upon as a brother became a husband. Fatima knew that the life of Ali would remain such. She knew that he only thought about spiritual struggle in God’s Way, about God and ab out the people. He would return home with only empty hands. Fatima found herself more responsible here than when she was in her father’s home. She had the responsibility of being the wife of a man who was more serious than lucky and who was greater than life.
Fatima ground the wheat herself. She baked the bread. She worked in the house and brought the water from outside her home. Ali, who knew the generosity and majesty of Fatima (whom he loved for many reasons) knew the difficulties of her childhood which had made her physically weak. He, therefore, was sorrowed by all the work and labor which she had to perform.
One day in a tone of sympathy, he said, “Fatima Zahra, you have placed yourself in so many difficulties that my heart breaks for you. God has given many workers to Muslims. Ask the Prophet to give one of them to you.” Fatima sought out her father. “What is it my daughter?” he asked. “I came to see how you are,” she said. She returned home and told Ali she was too ashamed to ask anything of her father. Ali, struck with wonder, called Fatima, and they returned together to the Prophet. Ali himself asked the question. The Prophet answered without hesitation, “No! By God I will not give you even a prisoner of war. The stomachs of the Companions are hungry. If I find nothing to give them, I have to exchange the prisoners for food to give to the hungry Companions.”
Ali and Fatima thanked him and, with empty hands, returned home. It is recorded. The husband and wife returned home to an empty house. Both remained silent thinking about what they had asked of the Prophet. The Prophet thought all day about the answer he had given his beloveds. Suddenly the door opened and the Prophet appeared. It was not only the darkness of the night but also its coldness which caused Ali and Fatima to shiver He saw that they had placed a thin cloth upon themselves. It was so short that when they pulled it up over their heads, their feet were exposed and when they covered their feet, their heads were exposed.
Softly he commanded them, “Do not move from your places.” Then he added, “Do you want to know about something which is better than what you had asked of me?” “Of course, O Prophet of God,” they replied. “It is something which Gabriel brought for me which I now share with you. After every ritual prayer, say Allahu akbar (God is Greater) ten times. Say al-hamd al-Lah (praise belongs to God) ten times and subhan al-Lah (Glory to God) ten times. When you have quietly crawled into bed, say Allahu akbar thirty-five times, al-hamd al-Lah thirty-three times and subhan al-Lah thirty-three times.’
Once again, Fatima took this as a lesson and a gentle reminder. She learned something which reached the depths of her being: She is Fatima.
This was a lesson which she knew. Although she had learned it from childhood, such lessons must follow continuously. They required successive teaching and learning. This was not a lesson in knowledge but rather a lesson in becoming. ‘Becoming Fatima’ was not easy. She was a holy trust. It required that she ascend many steps and fly many flights into higher worlds while remaining step by step and wing to wing with Ali. She must share with Ali in his sorrows and in his difficulties. She had the greatest responsibility in the history of freedom, jihad and humanity. She was the link in a chain which extended from Abraham to the Prophet, from Husayn to the Guided One (mahdi), from the beginning to the end of history.
Fatima had the responsibility of being the link between prophecy and the Guided One (mahdi). These were the values of Fatima herself. For her to ‘be Fatima’ obliged the Prophet to be strict with this special and exceptional companion. She must not have a single moment of peace in life for that might keep her from constant ‘becoming’. Sorrow and loneliness were the water and earth of this girl who must grow under the light of revelation and bear the burdens of freedom and justice. She was the pure roots of the tree, each branch of which was appointed to take the ‘fire of God’ from heaven and give it to the people on earth. She must carry the heavy globe of the earth upon their shoulders. This is why Fatima must always learn. Her learning must be as light and air and food are to a tree-never ending.
A word instead of a servant! Only this wonderful bride and groom could understand that one can live by a word. They were happy. They drank it and ate it and were filled by it.
These words, like the rain, must continue to fall and only these two thirsty creatures grown from among the highest form of humanity were obliged to drink it and grow with it. The sudden sound of the Prophet in that dark night and his meaningful silence heralded the blessed coming of this rain…
It was not without reason that Ali, a man engaged in religious struggle, full of effort and work, a man who prayed not out of habit (just busy moving his tongue and chin) twenty-five years after this night, said, “May God be my witness that from the night that I received this lesson from the Prophet, I have not forgotten it for a single night.”
In amazement, they asked, “Even the night of Siffin?” And Ali said again, emphasizing even more, “Even the night of Siffin.”
Fatima also lived with this lesson until she died. These prayers were registered in her name. It was these heavenly words which came to help her in her home instead of a servant. They were the wedding present the Prophet gave his daughter.
The Prophet was very strict with his beloved daughter, Fatima. He has learned this method from God. There was no Prophet in the whole of the Koran who was so punished and so criticized as the Prophet. Why? Because none of the other Prophets were so beloved in the eyes of God and none of them were so responsible to the people.
One day, like any other day, the Prophet entered Fatima’s home. His eye fell upon a patterned curtain. He frowned, said nothing and left. Fatima sensed it. She knew what her sin was. She also knows what her repentance was.
She immediately took the curtain from the wall and sent it to her father so that he could sell it and give the money to the needy of Madinah. Why so rough and strict? Zaynab, her sister, lived in luxury and splendor in Abu al-Aas’s house. From the Prophet’s way of expression and his type of discipline with her, it is clear that Fatima was something special, another kind of daughter. The Prophet addressed her, “Fatima, work now, because tomorrow I can do nothing for you.”
You can see the distance between this Islam and the Islam which says, “One tear for Hussein will put out the fires of hell,” or “Even if one’s sins are greater than the foam of the oceans, the grains of sand and the stars in the sky, they will be forgiven,” or “Friendship with Ali will turn all of one’s sins into benefits on the Day of Judgment.”
This means, essentially, that anyone who does not sin in this world or who sins little, is a fool because he can do nothing which can not be changed into benefits in the next world. More terrifying than this are the words which God is supposed to have said, “The friends of Ali are in heaven, even if they disobey me. The enemies of Ali are in hell, even if they obey me!”
There are not two religious systems-one of God and one of Ali. The system is very strict. The Prophet cannot even support Fatima when she stands in the presence of the Creator for God’s judgment in the other world. He cannot protect her from deviation. Fatima must become Fatima herself. Being the daughter of the Prophet does not mean anything there, but it might be useful here in order for her to become Fatima. If she does not become Fatima, she is lost.
Intercession means this: not cheating at an exam or ‘knowing the right people’ or being at the mercy of one’s family relationships in accounting for the truth and justice of God or changing the numbers in the record book of this world or bringing in relatives over the wall and through hidden doors to paradise. According to the Koran, the Prophet and Imams can only intercede with God’s permission, a permission given only to those who are capable.
Fatima knew this. The Prophet had taught her. He has also taught others. This Islamic intercession takes the books and responsibilities which religion brings into account. It is quite different from the intercession referred to in the Age of Ignorance, where people appealed to their idols to intercede for them. They committed murder and thousands of dirty deeds, then offered a cow or a camel to Lat, Uzza or their other large and small idols and, through cries of regret or pleas of sympathy, sought intercession from them.
I not only accept the intercession of the Prophet but also that of Fatima and even the intercession of the Companions and great martyrs. What are we saying I also believe that visiting the grave of Hussein removes sins. I believe that the spirit and thoughts of human beings who meditate on such great examples of humanity can be altered. The faith of such people can bring about a revolutionary change in them.
Faith in intercession transforms people. It kills weaknesses, fears, idol worshipping, and the worshipping of one’s own self. From this spring comes the inspiration for human wisdom, beliefs and virtues. It inspires institutions to struggle in God’s Way. It inspires permanence, sincerity and the blossoming of spiritual meanings. It brings about a new set of values. It strengthens human values. It does away with sicknesses of the will, habits, and sinful, attitudes deep in one’s mind. It builds a great person. It is natural and logical that the past errors belong to the past and no longer exist and will never again be.
Hurr, the great hero or Karbala, through the intercession of Hussein, came out of the hell of slavery and was saved from being a sinner and murderer. With just a few steps, he reached the highest peak of liberty, truth and humanity.
And Fatima, through the intercession of the Prophet became Fatima. In Islam, intercession is the means of reaching ‘the most worthy of salvations’-not a means of ‘saving the unworthy’. It is the individual who must receive the intercession of an intercessor and-through this means-change his or her fate. In other words, the individual must change his character and behavior in order to become worthy of changing his destiny. Yes, an individual takes that from an intercessor. But an intercessor does not give that to an individual. No polluted and valueless person can pass the exam on the day of judgment unless he has learned in this world how to pass through to the next world using the techniques of life, struggle, work and service.
An intercessor is one such teacher-not a supporter of the illegal. Hussein acts as an intercessor for people who love him, have faith in him, and who, remembering him and his story, recall his having been a martyred warrior and nourish him through their recollection. He guides those who are wandering in the ways of ignorance.
“Fatima, work today because tomorrow I can do nothing for you.” No exceptions are made for her in God’s system of justice and the laws of Islam. She is responsible for her position. She must answer for every step that she takes. One day a Quraysh woman who had become a Muslim stole something. The Prophet heard of this. Her fingers must be cut-off,” he said. Many people’s hearts bled for her. The large families of the Quraysh, who were the wealthiest of the Arab tribes, counted this as an insult, the stain of which would remain with their tribe. They went forward to seek intercession.
They asked Fatima to intercede with God for this woman. She did not accept. They went to Usama, the son of Zayd, who was the step-son of the Prophet. The Prophet loved Zayd and his son, Usama, very much. His special kindness towards the young Usama was famous in history. Usama, with all of his personal kindness and special closeness to the Prophet, with his reputation for loyalty and sacrifice and with the prestige of his father who had been Khadija’s servant and the dear one of the Prophet, came from the Quraysh to ask that the sin of this woman be overlooked. He asked the Prophet to forgive her.
The Prophet answered in no uncertain terms, “Do not speak to me, Usama. Whenever the law is in my hands, there is no way of escape. Even if she were the daughter of the Prophet, Fatima, her fingers would be cut-off.”
Why did he choose the closest among all of his beloved, the daughter of the Prophet? And why the name, Fatima? The answer to this question is clear. When he spoke of his calling, he chose his youngest daughter, Fatima from among all of his close family. It was only to her that he spoke of Islam.
With his clear announcement, Fatima was to become one of the four highest women in the history of humanity: the other three were Mary, Asiyah, and Khadija. Why was Fatima the last? Because she was the last complete link in the chain (among all of the creatures) for the whole duration of time, for all of the cycles of history, the last. Among the saints, she was the last. She was Fatima, an ideal image of the day of judgment.
The value of Mary lies with Jesus Christ whom she delivered and nourished. The value of Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, lies with Moses, whom she nourished and befriended. The value of Khadija lies with Mohammad (pbuh) whom she befriended and with Fatima to whom she gave birth and who she nourished.
And the value of Fatima? What can I say? To whom does her value belong? To Khadija? To Mohammad? To Ali? To Hussein? To Zaynab? To herself!!