Persia

The Land Of First Human Rights Charter

  • "I have no religion, but if I were to choose one, it would be that of Shariati's." Jean-Paul Sartre ---------------------------------- My Lord, grant me success in struggling during failure, in having patience in disappointment, in going alone, in Jihad without weapons, in working without pay, in making sacrifice in silence, in having religious belief in the world, in having ideology without popular traditions, in having faith (Iman) without pretensions, non-conformity without immaturity, beauty without physical appearance, loneliness in the crowd, and loving without the beloved knowing about it. ----------------------------------
  • HAJJ: Reflection on Its Rituals, by Ali Shariati
  • photos: Farshad Palideh & Ehsan Mohammadi
  • May 2008
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Fatima is Fatima, By Ali Shariati – Part 5/5

Posted by Parsin on May 20, 2008

I do not know what to say about her or how to say it? I wanted to imitate the French writer who was speaking one day in a conference about the Virgin Mary. He said, “For 1700 years all of the speakers have spoken of Mary. For 1700 years, all philosophers and thinkers of various nations of the East and West have spoken of the value of Mary. For 1700 years, the poets of the world have spent all of their creative efforts and power in their praise of Mary. For 1700 years, all of the painters and artists have created wonderful works of art showing the face and form of Mary. But the totality of all that has been said and the efforts of all the artists and thinkers throughout these many centuries have not been able to better describe the greatness of Mary than the simple words, ‘Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ.”‘

And I wanted to begin in this manner with Fatima. I got stuck. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the daughter of the great Khadija,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the daughter of Mohammad,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the wife of Ali,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the mother of Hassan and Hussein,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima is the mother of Zaynab,’ but I still sensed this would not fully describe Fatima.

No, these are all true, and none of them is Fatima.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Why Fatima?
Ali and Fatima were now in their home outside of the city. They lived away from the daily bustle of the city, near the village of Quba (eight kilometers to the south of Madinah) next to the Quba Mosque. During the migration, the Prophet rested for one week at Quba where Ali, following three days behind, eventually joined him. After that, the Prophet went for the first time to Madinah and established Islam freely in that city. He laid the foundation for his new mosque, and history began.

Fatima and Ali later moved back to Madinah where they lived next door to the house of the Prophet which functioned as a mosque. The similarities between the beginnings of the Quba mosque and the Madinah mosque are most exciting to whomever is acquainted with the story of the Prophet’s mosque and the house of the Prophet. If people do not understand it logically, they will emotionally sense it.

The Spirit Of Mohammad (pbuh)
While Fatima and Ali were far from the Prophet in Quba, it was most difficult for the Prophet. These two-the spirit of the Prophet’s house-lived far from him, outside the city, in a home fraught with difficulties and poverty but also filled with love and faith.

Ali, from the beginning of his childhood, had lived with poverty, loneliness, difficulties, hatred, religious struggle and asceticism. He had borne his hard and bitter life in Makkah patiently. His youth and early childhood had been nothing other than immersion in belief and religious struggle. He was a very serious spirit, who had no thought about a house, life, pleasure, wealth or comfort. He had a thirst which was only satisfied by bitterness. He was formed built from worship, asceticism, thought and work.

Fatima was also a product of sorrow, piety and poverty. She bore the tortures that her father, her mother, her sisters and Ali had borne for years in Makkah. They left a deep impression upon her body and upon her spirit. Her body was weak, but her feelings were deep. She had a most sensitive heart. Now in the house of Ali, she forced herself once again to live with difficulties, work, poverty and asceticism. Ali did not bring trivial entertainment to their house. Fatima also brought no routine desires and petty excitements to their new home. She did not pull Ali from heaven to earth nor drain his internal strength, depth and seriousness.

It was only the Prophet alone who would bring about the happiness of his beloveds through good feelings and words. Each kindness contained an ocean of meaning, sweetness and power for Ali and Fatima.

The Prophet was himself aware of this. He knew the needs of his beloveds who lived because they loved. He knew, “Whosoever loves Him has no life and for whosoever loves Him, this is life itself.” He brought his Fatima and his Ali close to him. He made their house next door to his. It was made just like his of branches and palm leaves. Its door opened to the mosquc wall to wall. The windows of the house of Fatima directly faced the window of the Prophet’s house.

These two windows which faced each other spoke of two hearts open to each other-the heart of a father and the heart of a daughter. Each morning their windows opened onto each other. Each morning there were greetings and laughter. Each evening, promises to meet the next day. It is this window about which it is said, “The Prophet, everyday, without exception, unless he was on a journey, sought out Fatima and greeted her.”

Why from among all of the Companions, from among all of his close family, from among all of his daughters, should only Fatima live next to the mosque and share a wall with his home? The house of the Prophet was the house of Fatima. The family in which Ali was the father, Fatima the mother, Hassan and Hussein, the sons, and finally, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum the daughters, was the family of the Prophet. The family of the Prophet was this unique family, this unique home so emphasized in the Koran and the Traditions. The family of the Prophet, cleansed of all impurities, was chaste and protected for all generations to come.

Whosoever knows this family does not need reasoning and lengthy explanations. Even if there were no words expressed, intelligence itself would admit its uniqueness.

Now in Madinah, sharing a wall with the house of Ayisha, this house built within the mosque, Fatima’s family grew. Hassan, Hussein, Zaynab, and Umm Kulthum were born. A new history had begun. With the dawn of these stars, new horizons had been found. The Prophet found the meaning of life Islam found the proof of belief. Humanity found the witness of all things!

The Continuation Of The Prophet
In the third year of the migration, one year and a few months after Fatima and Ali married, Hassan was born. Madinah celebrated the end of its waiting for its messenger. The Prophet, who for the first time during sixteen long and drawn out years (filled with torture, hatred, ugliness, treachery, with news of the torture of his friends and the death of his beloveds) now tasted the new and sweet message of the birth of Hassan. This news soothed his tired spirit .

Full of happiness, he entered Fatima’s house. He held the first fruit of the union of Ali and Fatima in his arms. He recited the call to prescribed prayer in the baby’s ear and finally distributed silver to the poor people of Makkah (silver in an amount equal to the weight of the hair on the baby’s head).

A year passed. Hussein was born. The Prophet now had two ‘sons’. Fate decreed that his two sons, Qasim and Abd Allah should not live. Thus the sons of the Prophet came through Fatima. As the Prophet said, “The generation of each Prophet was from his own body, but mine is from Fatima.”

It is the Prophet’s progeny who continued. These two spirits joined to produce the successive generations. In the mission of the Prophet, Ali was present and in the succession of Ali, the Prophet was present. In the pure faces of these two children (Hassan and Hussein), the Prophet saw three faces in these two: Ali, Fatima and his own.

Fate decreed that Hassan and Hussein should take the place of his sons. These two were the fruits of the union of Ali and Fatima-Fatima, the mother of her father. All the Companions knew ‘his smallest and most beloved daughter’. And Ali was his guardian, his brother and, through Fatima, the father of his beloved grandsons.

The roots which join Ali and the Prophet to each other cannot be counted. Both stemmed from Abd al-Muttalib. The mother of Ali looked after the Prophet from the time he was eight years old, and Ali’s father, Abu Talib, was like the Prophet’s father for seventeen years. The Prophet grew up in Ali’s house from the age of eight to twenty-five, and Ali grew up in the Prophet’s house from early childhood until the age of twenty-five. KhadiJa was like Ali’s mother, and the Prophet was like his father!

What more similar and close union could there have been! Their relationships were comparable in every way. These two human beings were symmetrical, were twins and reflections of each other.

Ali was the second person who accepted Islam from the Prophet. His wife Khadija had been the first. Ali extended his hand to the Prophet when the Prophet was preaching in secret and alone. They joined together and, from then on, stood together through all dangers and difficulties until the Prophet’s death.

Before the mission, Ali was a small boy of six or seven years old when the Prophet took him alone to Mt. Hira. Ali participated in the depth of asceticism and wonderful prayers. Ali accompanied the Prophet day and night.

The Prophet would stand in the moonlit silence in the cave on Mt. Hira or sit down or slowly pace back and forth. Sometimes underneath the rain of inspiration, his head fell forward. Sometimes he raised his head to the heavens and cried until he found his way. He was waiting. He saw something still unknown to him. During all of this, a small child, like his shadow, was with him-sometimes on his shoulder and sometimes beside him.

Once when Ali was a child of nine or ten years old he entered the room of Khadija and the Prophet! He saw them kneel on the ground, sit for awhile and then rise and say something under their lips. Both did this together. Neither one noticed him. He remained in wonder. Finally he asked, “What are you doing?”

The Prophet answered, “We are performing our prescribed prayers. I have been sent as the messenger to spread the word of submission (Islam) and to call people to the worship of the One God and my own mission. Ali, I call you as well to it.”

Ali was still a child of no more than a few years, living in the house of the Prophet, drowned in his kindness and his greatness. Ali did not say yes without thinking. Faith had to filter through his wisdom and then find its way to his heart. At the same time, his tongue had the tone of his years. He said, “Allow me to talk to my father, Abu Talib, and then make my decision.”

Immediately afterwards, he ran up the stairs to his room to sleep. But this invitation was not an ordinary invitation which Ali, even though only eight or ten years old, could take quietly. He stayed awake thinking until dawn.

No one knew what effect the words that night had on the thoughts of this boy, but in the morning, they heard his footsteps, light, but decisive and quiet. They stopped behind the door of the Prophet. Then the sweet beautiful voice of Ali was heard: “Last night, I thought to myself, ‘God, in creating me, had not consulted Abu Talib, first. So why should I now ask his opinion about worshipping Him?’ Tell me about Islam.”

The Prophet spoke to him saying, “I accept.” From then on Ali found himself upon this way and in the midst of this union. He directed every second of his life towards this end. He became a wonderful symbol of one who worshiped God, was loyal to the Prophet, a friend to humanity and devoted to the spirit. He joined the heart and mind of the Prophet in a thousand ways, both hidden and manifest. Everyone knew this. The Prophet knew it more than others. He sensed the thousands of rays of light falling from his spirit upon Ali. One day, much later when his spirit was filled with the light which shone upon him from the Prophet, he became excited. His heart deeply desired to hear the Prophet’s feelings towards him. He asked, “Among these two, which is the most beloved of the Prophet, his daughter, Fatima Zahra, or her husband, Ali?”

The Prophet was at the other end of a difficult question. At the same time that he was required to answer ‘an impossible question’, while smiling kindly and softly, he had to find an answer right for all concerned. With a tone full of the pleasure of victory, he answered, “Fatima is more beloved to me than you, and you are dearer to me than she.”

The Prophet never tried to show himself different from others. Rather, it was the opposite. He would say, aI am a human being like you. The only difference is the revelation which I receive.” He always declared that he did not know the hidden world and other than that which was told him, he knew nothing. He always tried not to stand out or seem peculiar and, as far as possible, not to call attention to himself.

One day an old woman approached him to ask him something. All the things that she had heard about him and the greatness she knew he had, so affected her that when she found herself in his presence, she trembled and stuttered. The Prophet, who sensed that she had been struck by his presence, moved simply and quietly forward. He placed his hand kindly upon her shoulder and in a gentle and intimate tone, said, “Mother. What is it? I am the son of that Quraysh woman who milked sheep.”

The depth of his sensitivity, sympathy and the softness of his heart was most amazing. Sometimes, inside the house, he would so humble himself that the hands of little Ayisha easily reached him. He kissed the hands of Fatima. His analogies which came from kindness were something special: “Ammar is as the space between my two eyes,” “Ali is from me, and I am, from Ali,” “Fatima is a part of my body.”

And now Hassan and Hussein were born. What things did the Prophet not do with these two beloved children! He loved them, the mirror and fruit of his ‘most beloved and dearest ones’ and ‘the dearest of his beloveds’. He had always showed special kindness to Fatima and given her spiritual strength the extent of which cannot even be found among men today. And now, from his only remaining daughter came two sons whom he must have loved very dearly. He was so fond of them that everyone expressed amazement.

One day, he entered Fatima’s house as he did everyday from the time the children were born. He saw that both Ali and Fatima were asleep, and Hassan was hungry and crying. He found nothing to eat. The Prophet could not bring himself to wake his dearest and his most beloved. Quietly, with bare feet, he found their sheep, milked it and gave the milk to the child until he became quiet.

One day, when he was hurriedly passing Fatima’s house, the cries of Hussein reached his ears. He returned and entered the house. With his whole body shaking, he shouted at Fatima, “Don’t you understand that his crying causes me pain!” Usama ibn Zayd (whom we have mentioned before) said, “I had business with the Prophet. I knocked at his door. He came out. As I was talking to him, I realized he had something hidden under his clothes. He was holding onto it with difficulty, but I did not know what it was. When I had finished saying what I had come to say, I asked, ‘What is that which you are holding, Prophet of God?’

“The Prophet, while his face filled with delight and pleasure, pulled apart his cloak and I saw Hassan and Hussein. At the same time that he wanted to explain his unusual behavior to me, he could not take his eyes off of them. In a tone full of joy and happiness, as if speaking to himself, he said, ‘These are my two sons, the sons of my daughter.”‘

Then as his voice, full of wonder, in a melody which cannot be expressed, continued, “Oh, God, I love these two. I love these two and love those who love them.”

In the words of a contemporary Arab, they were to have asked the Prophet which of his daughters should continue his line and which son-in-law, he would have chosen the same two which God chose.”

The children of Fatima and Ali felt that the Prophet was their grandfather, father, friend, relative of the family, guardian, companion and playmate. They were closer to him, more intimate and free than with their own mother and father. One day, during one of the congregational prayers, the Prophet went down in prostration. The prostration continued for such a long time that the people who were praying behind him began to wonder what had happened. [In the congregational prayer, the congregation performs the prayer behind an Imam or leader whose movements they follow in unison.] The Prophet had always been swift in his prescribed prayer. He always took the weakest people into consideration.

They thought something had happened or, else, that a revelation had reached him. After the ritual prayer, they asked him. He said, “Hussein had climbed on my back when I had gone down in prostration. As he had the habit of doing this in my home, I could not bring myself to hurry him, so I waited until he himself crawled down. This is why the prostration took so long.”

The Prophet insisted that all people, especially the Companions, know and see with their own eyes how he loved these two children, Hassan and Hussein and their mother and their father with more love than anyone’s heart can hold.

If not, why did he treat Fatima with so much respect? Why did he kiss her hand and her face in the mosque so much and with such insistence? When he spoke from the pulpit, he constantly tried to show everyone his feelings for this family. After his prayers, he added the words, “God love them as well,” referring to Hassan, Hussein, Fatima and Ali. “Their satisfaction is my satisfaction and my satisfaction is God’s satisfaction. God, whoever bothers them, has bothered me, and whoever bothers me, bothers You.”

Why these words? Why all these expressions of feelings of love? Why this show of affection especially for this family? The near future answered all of these ‘whys’. The fate of this family, the fate of each and every member of this family, gave the answer to these ‘whys’. They all began with the Prophet. The first sacrifice was Fatima. Then Ali. Then Hassan. Then Hussein, and, finally, Zaynab.

In the 5th year of Ali and Fatima’s marriage, one year after Hussein, a girl was born to this family. She had to be born, and had to closely follow Hussein. She was Zaynab. In the following year, another girl, Umm Kulthum was born. Zaynab and Umm Kulthum-they had the same names as the daughters of the Prophet.

Yes. Fatima was becoming ‘everyone’ to the Prophet. She was his ‘only one’. His Zaynab died. Ruqiya and Umm Kulthum also died. In the 5th year of the migration, God gave him a son, Ibrahim, but he also died. Now there was the Prophet and his only remaining child, Fatima-Fatima, and her children. This was the family of the Prophet. The love of the Prophet for Hassan and Hussein increased. These two children had become his whole life, and he spent all his free time with them.

The Compassion Of Mohammad (pbuh)
The Prophet was a man who showed great strength of will and speech, whose sword was feared by all the Caesars, kings and powerful rulers of that time. His enemies trembled before his anger. At the same time, he was a most sensitive person. His heart beat with kindness. His spirit was excited by the slightest touch of truth, sincerity and kindness.

At the terrible battle of Hunayn, where his enemies united to put him under their swords and destroy him and to drag him down to defeat and death, miraculously 6000 enemies were taken prisoner and 40,000 camels, sheep and other plunder were seized. A man came out from among the defeated enemies and said, “O, Mohammad, among these prisoners are your wetnurse and your aunts and uncles.” He then added, “If we were in the presence of your nurse, we would expect kindness from her, and you are greater than any of us.”

They brought a woman forward who said, “I am the nurse of your Prophet.” The Prophet asked, “What sign do you have?” She bared her shoulder and said, “These are the marks of your teeth which you made when I carried you on my back and you became very angry and bit me.”

The memories flooded his mind as he recalled the kindness of his nurse and her daughters and the time of his childhood in the desert amidst this tribe. He was so affected and put into such a state of wonder that tears gathered in his eyes, and he said, “I give away my share and the shares of all of the children of Abd al-Muttalib. Be present in the mosque tomorrow. After the ritual prayer, announce your request to the gathering. I will give my family’s answer to you, and perhaps other tribes will follow me.” The next day he did as he said he would and freed all of them. The few victorious warriors who objected to giving back everything were satisfied when promised something later.

In his home and among his family, he was like this. To the outside world, he was a warrior, a politician, a commander full of strength and power. But inside the home, he was a kind father, a humble husband-simple and intimate. Even though his wives were sometimes rude to him, he never once struck them [wife-beating was customary before the mandate of the Prophet]. They caused him to suffer by complaining about the poverty in his home.

He would leave them and go out and sleep in the storage area. He would put up a ladder and sleep on the second floor, or he would sweep the floor and sleep on the earth. He lived like this for one month.

Finally, his wives, who both loved him and had faith in him would surrender and became still, ashamed of their greedy behavior. He told them to choose divorce and this world or him and poverty. All, except one, preferred the second proposal and remained with him.

Whenever he left his home and wherever he went, whether walking in the streets or the bazaars of Madinah, he carried either Hassan or Hussein on his shoulders.

In the mosque, he went to the pulpit to speak to the people standing and listening to him. His grandchildren were in the house next to the mosque. They left the house, began walking and fell down. Suddenly the Prophet’s eyes fell upon them. He could not take his eyes off of them. He saw that they walked with difficulty. They fell and got up again. He could no longer bear it. He stopped in the middle of his words, anxiously came down from the pulpit, picked them up and (as he had done when they were babies) held them in his arms and again returned to the pulpit. He saw the people were amazed. They were surprised by the extent of the spiritual sensitivity of this powerful man. They sensed that he wished to ask their pardon. For the sake of his children, he had interrupted his sermon.

Kindly holding the children, he returned to the pulpit and said, “God spoke rightly when He said, ‘Your children and your wealth are your trials and tribulations.’ My eyes fell upon these two children. I saw that each step the children took, they fell down. I could not bear it so I stopped speaking and went and got them.”

They say his compassion towards Hussein was different. The power and depth of his sensitivities exceeded all limits He took hold of Hussein’s shoulders, played with him and sang for him. He put his feet upon Hussein’s chest and took his hand. Full of love and tenderness, he kissed him and from the bottom of his heart, he said, “God love him. Love him.”

One day he had an invitation to go some place. He left the house with a few of his Companions. In the bazaar his eyes suddenly fell upon Hussein who was playing with his playmates. The Prophet stood before the children. He extended his hands to take his grandchild, but the child ran from one corner to the other. The Prophet, trying to catch him and laughing, caught hold of him. He put one hand on the back of the child and with his other, he took hold of his chin, kissed him and said, “Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein. God love whoever loves Hussein.” His Companions wondrously looked on. One turned to another and said, “The Prophet treats his grandchild in such a manner. By God, I have a son, and I have never kissed him.”

The Prophet turned to him and said, “Whosoever shows no kindness, receives no kindness.”

Days and nights came and went. Fatima tasted the sweet moments of happiness and the bitter memories of the past. The poverty she had suffered faded.

The Battle of Khaybar came. The Jews gave the grazing area of Fadak to the Prophet. He gave it to Fatima. Fatima, who now had four children, found life less difficult.

The Conquest Of Makkah
Makkah was conquered. Fatima accompanied her victorious father and hero husband who held the flag in his hand. They enter Makkah. She witnessed the greatest victory of Islam. She revisited the city where she had been born. She remembered the good and bad times she had had in Makkah. The Mosque of the Kabah and what had happened, the house of her father, her life with her sisters who were no longer alive, the ‘birthplace of Fatima,’ the valley of Abu Talib and the grave of her mother, Khadija.

She returned full of the happiness of victory and satisfaction, drowned in honors and goodnesses. Her father was little by little freed from the hatred of his enemies. His shadow fell upon the whole of the peninsula. Her husband was a force to reckon with at the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Khaybar and the conquest of Makkah. One blow of his at these battles (or even at Hunayn and Yemen) was worth more than the prayers of men and jinn until the day of judgment.

She had her children-the only fruits of a life of sorrow and difficulties, the fruits of the union of love and faith and the only continuation of the seed of her father and of she herself. Her children were the heart of the family, center of the home and center of the pure family of the Prophet. Yes, it was as if Fatima had been compensated for all of her sorrow and bitterness, as if she had been rewarded for her virtues. That which fulfilled her the most was the fact that her children so filled the heart and soul of her father. She compensated for the sufferings of her beloved father, for whom no son remained and all of whose daughters, except herself, die in their youth.

Now, with her beloured children, Hassan and Hussein, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum, she felt blessed. As for the Prophet, the sweet taste of seeing them erased the rawness and bitterness of his life. He at last had a chance to become familiar with the happiness and pleasure which life can offer. Now aged over sixty, his feelings and needs for these children grew more than ever.

Life had been kind. A sweet smile appeared upon Fatima’s face. A halo of goodness, honor and generosity fell around her house. Fatima, enjoyed the unexplainable kindness of her father, the greatness of her honorable husband and the pleasure which her children brought her. She ascended a throne of good fortune with her desires and aspirations fulfilled.

But all of this peace was just the quiet before the storm .The storm came. It was black, frightening and like a whirlwind. It took all of her peace and destroyed her home.

The Prophet was bed-ridden. He could no longer rise.

The Death Of The Prophet
All images suddenly changed in her eyes. The pure and good Madinah now writhed with hatred and fear. Politics pushed faith and piety from the city of the Prophet. The promises of brothers were broken, and tribal oaths again renewed. The Prophet was no longer a leader. Ali was sent for Ayisha and Hafsa called their fathers.

The voice of Umar was heard saying the ritual prayer, then the voice of Abu Bakr. The army stood without words. Against the words and even insults to her father, they would not move. >From all corners came objections about the choice of Usama as the leader of the army, although the Prophet had himself chosen Usama and had given him the banner of leadership.

It was Thursday, and what a Thursday. “A rain of tears fell from the eyes of my father. He ordered, ‘Bring a tablet and a pen so that something can be written. Then that when I am gone, you will not be led astray.’ Those opposed caused uproar. They did not allow it. They said he was just mumbling. They said the book of God existed, and there was no need of anything more.

As Fatima recalled: “And now, father no longer spoke. The house of Ayisha, which shared a wall with my house, was silent. The Prophet’s head was in Ali’s lap. His eyes were beginning to close. He spoke to me only with his eyes.

“I could no longer bear all of these difficulties. He was my father, and I was his mother. I feared he might leave me in this city in this uproar!

“He did not take his eyes off me. He was very worried about me. He read in my face that I was suffering. His heart bled for me, Fatima, his daughter, his youngest daughter, his most beloved daughter.

“He indicated things to me with his eyes. I leaned my face forward and placed it on his. He whispered to me that his sickness was death. ‘I will die.’

“I picked up my head. Misery and terror so overcame me that I lost all my strength. The misery of remaining alive after my father almost tore my heart apart.

“Why did he give just me this message? I who am the weakest among all the rest?’ I wondered.

“But his look was fixed upon me. His heart burned for his youngest daughter who, like a baby, needed him. He again indicated that I should draw near. It was as if he wanted to continue what he had been saying, ‘But, you, my daughter, will be the first person from among my family who will come after me and who will join me.’ Then he added, ‘Are you not satisfied, Fatima, that you will be the leading woman of these people?’

“What a significant condolence. Only this news could lessen the pain of my misery over the death of my father! ‘May God bless you, father. How well you know how to give condolences to Fatima.’ I understood why among all these people, I alone must hear the news of his death. Now I had found the strength to cry and mourn. The man was dying. The protector of orphans and the refuge of widows was dying.

“Suddenly the Prophet opened his eyes and said, ‘Fatima, this poem is in praise of Abu Talib. Don’t recite a poem in my praise. Recite the Koran. Recite!’

“Then the Prophet continued: ‘Mohammad is no more than a Prophet. Other prophets have been sent before him. If he dies or is killed, you will go backwards and return to the reactionary, despotism of ancient time.’

“Then he said, ‘God curse those who set up the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.’ While whispering to himself, he said, ‘Is there a place in hell for oppressive dictators?’

“He continued, ‘We have given that home in the next world to those who do not oppress and create corruption. Whosoever opposes oppression and corruption should not seek them and should not do them.’

“The politicians did not allow him to write anything, but asked him to just say what he wanted to write. ‘What do you want to write?’ Annoyed, he looked at them and said, ‘What I intend to do is better than what you call me for.’ He also answered, ‘I counsel you to three things: first, push the polytheists out of the Arabian peninsula; second, accept the agents of the tribes in the way that I accepted them; third, …!

“Suddenly they all looked at Ali. He was silenced by his sorrow. The father was silent. His silence continued. Looking into a corner, tears welled up in his eyes, and he pondered long.

Fatima continued: screamed in pain. My grief was from your grief, father. In a tone of peace, in answer to me, he said, ‘There will never be any sorrow for your father again.’

“My father’s lips were sealed, the lips which recited the revelation, the lips which had kissed me and my children. He looked at us for awhile, and then his eyes closed. Blood flowed from his throat. His head rested upon Ali’s chest. Ali kept a frightening and heavy silence. It was as if Ali died before my father. Ayisha lamented upon my father’s head, as did his other wives.

“The moments passed in the silence of death. Suddenly his hands, which were in a position of prayer upon Usama’s head, fell to his sides and his lips moved, ‘To my highest Friend.’ Then all things ended.

“Father, oh father! You accepted God’s invitation. You have gone to Gabriel,’ I cried.

“Outside there was an uproar. The city was crying without hesitation or fear. I heard the cries of Umar, who said, ‘The Prophet has not died. He rose to heaven like Jesus Christ. He will return. Whosoever says the Prophet has died is a hypocrite. I will cut-off his head.’

“Several hours passed. It became quiet. I saw that Abu Bakr and Umar entered the room. Abu Bakr pulled back the covering over my father’s face. He cried and left. Umar also left.

Ali began the work of ablution and putting on the white cloth of the dead. My husband, Ali, Abu al-Hassan [father of Hassan, one of Ali’s titles], washed the pure body of my father while he continued crying. He poured water upon him and fire upon my soul. People had lost their Prophet. People remained without refuge, the Companions without a leader but Ali and I lost everybody and everything. Suddenly, I sensed that in this city, in the world, we were exposed.

“All at once everything turned around. Faces changed. Terror fell from the door and wall. Politics replaced truth. The handshakes which had bound brothers together in their oaths moved apart, and relatives moved closer [that is, old tribal blood ties began to replace the new national, religious ties]. The elders and aristocracy took on a new life beside the cold body of my father, the Prophet of God and Messenger to the people.

“For Ali and myself the event was so terrible that we could think of nothing but the death of the Prophet. The city was full of plans, plots and conflicts. For us existence, all at one time, emptied itself. The shadow of fear upon his face, Abbas, our oldest uncle, came and in a tone full of meaning and fear, addressed Ali. ‘Put your hands forward so that I can give my allegiance. Then they can say the uncle of the Prophet of God gave his allegiance to the son of the uncle of the prophet of God. The members of your family will also give their allegiance to you. When this is finished, no one will be able to oppose it.

“What? Is there someone who wants this position?’ asked Ali.

“Tomorrow you shall know,’ replied Abbas.

“Ali sensed the danger. But this sense of danger passed through him like lightening and left. He was inwardly overflowing with sorrow. The Prophet was his relative, his father, his guardian, his teacher, his brother, his friend. The Prophet embodied all his faith and feelings. The Prophet was the existence of Ali. Ali could not bring himself to think about the events taking place outside of this home. He sensed the Prophet’s spirit under his hands. He sensed a trembling. He did the ablution. He was busy with the Prophet and with his children, our children.”

Hassan was seven, Hussein six, Zaynab five and Umm Kulthum only three. Destiny had planned a life of enmity for the young children after the Prophet’s death. Outside the city at Saqifa, the Helpers of the Prophet gathered together to choose the Prophet’s representative from among themselves. They felt that the Quraysh of Makkah had their own plans. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaydah arrived and convinced them that the Prophet had said, ‘Leaders are from among the Quraysh.’ They reasoned that the replacement for the Prophet must be from among his family. As a result, Abu Bakr was chosen at Saqifa.

Recalling Fatima’s Life
Fatima ‘s childhood occurred after her mother had given all of her wealth for the cause of Islam. The peacefulness of the life of her father and the happiness of her youth with her sisters had passed. Her mother had become old and broken. Her mother’s age was beyond sixty-five. Happiness, wealth and the good fortune of life were replaced by weakness, poverty, difficulties, an environment of hatred, and the treachery of strangers.

Her mother, Khadija, before being the mother of Fatima and wife of the Prophet, had been the first associate and the greatest companion of a man on whom the heavy mission of heaven had fallen, the mission of removing the blackness of ignorance, the mission of returning the fire of God to mankind, the mission of freeing people from the chains of bondage by changing the economic system of slavery and the mission of freeing people from the mental prison of idol worship, Khadija was now the mother of Fatima, but completely occupied with the Prophet who had received inner inspiration about that which is above life and happiness. Around Khadija a fire full of hatred, the troubles of the worship of materialism and enmity spread. The mother of Fatima was busy with the difficulties and the revolution of the Prophet. The Prophet lived amidst his troubles and his revolution giving the message of God to his people.

There is no heart which could sense what Fatima was feeling. The love of Fatima for the Prophet was much more than the love of a daughter for her father. She was the daughter who was also the mother of her father, the sympathesizer with him in his exile and loneliness, the acceptor of his troubles and his sorrow, the companion in the religious struggle, the link in the chain of his line; his last daughter and, during the last years of his life, his only child. After his death, she was his only survivor, the light of his home, the only pillar of his family and, finally, the only mother of his children, his inheritors.

Just when Fatima needed the love of her mother and the kindness of her father, she sensed that her mother and father, (both of whom had lived only with pain, loneliness and misery) needed her child-like kindness and caresses.

There is a saying that a heart which finds a friend through trouble and sorrow develops a friendship which, when compared to a love based on happiness and pleasure, is much deeper and more certain. The feeling with which one views how one has lived one’s life and how one’s friend has answered one’s needs is not the same as the feeling of familiarity one senses from the friend in one’s own being. For when one sees that one has sacrificed one’s life and that the needs of the friend have been met, the spirit-in the heights of its subtleness and the depths of its feelings-forms another spirit within the self-the spirit of friendship.

And Fatima gave such friendship to the Prophet that there is no comparison to one who gives love to one’s father. The intimacy and purity of feelings which she had for him created a continuous link and a situation incapable of being described. With the spirit of her father within herself, she was able to bear the years of difficulties, hatred, fear and torture. She bore the fact that her hero father was sacrificed and remained a stranger in his own country, unknown in his own city, alone among his family, alone among those who spoke his language. He remained without anyone to whom he could talk. He had to stand face to face with ignorance and idol worship. He had to stand face to face in savage conflicts with untamed elders, petty aristocrats and hated slave dealers.

His shoulders were bent under the heavy weight of the divine mission of the One God. He was alone in this long walk from slavery to freedom, from the dark valleys of Makkah to the peaks of the mountain of light, alone and without a companion while his soul was suffering from the hatred, plots and blindness of the people. His body was wounded from the troubles and blows of the enemy. He tried harder than anyone else to bring happiness and salvation to his tribe, and yet he and his family suffered because of the trouble his tribe caused him. They treated him as a stranger.

On the one hand, he was alone, a suffering spirit, bearer of the revelation and on the other, he was a storm of love and fiery faith. Tribal enmity, the blindness of the people, the loneliness of not having anyone and the heavy weight of the load of the ‘trust’ he had brought caused him anguish. God had offered the burden of bearing this weight to the heavens and the earth, but they had rejected it. Only mankind was willing to accept the responsibility. In following this, the Prophet, everyday from morning until night, cried out a warning (to whomever passed by the Safa hill) of danger to people who were asleep and passive. He did this under the rain of problems that sought him out each day.

He announced the message in the sacred precinct of the Masjid al-Haram beside the dar al-madweh, the meeting place of the wealthy Quraysh aristocrats and before the eyes of 330 dumb, senseless, spiritless idols who were the gods of the people. He called the people to awaken. He cried for freedom. At the end of the day, tired and exhausted, wounded internally, his heart overflowing with pain, he returned to a silent home empty-handed, followed by mockery. Within his home there was a woman broken by the sufferings of life, her body and her whole existence full of love, her two eyes waiting in anticipation, watching the door.

Fatima, a young girl, weak, moved step by step with her father through the streets of hatred to the Masjid al-haram under the taunts of curses, mockery, and contempt. Whenever he fell he became like a bird that had fallen out of the nest. When a bird falls from its nest, the possibility arises that it will fall into the claws and beaks of wild animals or birds. Fatima threw herself upon her father. With all of her strength, she protected him. With her small, fine hands, she took her hero into her arms. With the edge of her small, fine fingers, alive with kindness, she cleaned the blood from her father’s head and hands. She healed his wounds with her soft words She encouraged the man who carried the Word of God. She returned him to their home.

She was a link of kindness, attraction and love between a suffering mother and a suffering father. When her bloodied father returned from Taif, she alone came forward to greet him and with her child-like, endearing efforts, attracted him to herself, despite of all of his worries and troubles. She attracted his heart towards her warm reception.

In the valley of the confine she lived three years beside her sad, bed-ridden, elderly mother and her suffering father covered with difficulties. She bore hunger, sorrow and loneliness. After the death of her mother and the death of the uncle of the great Prophet, she filled the sudden emptiness his life with her kindness and endless understanding. The Prophet was now alone both inside the home and outside of it.

She acted as a mother to her father who was now very much alone. She devoted love, faith and all the moments of her life to her father. Through her kindness, the feelings of her father were satisfied. Through her devotion and faith in the mission of her father, she gave him energy and honor.

By going to Ali’s house and by accepting his noble poverty, she gave him hope. Through Hassan, Hussein and Zaynab she offered her father the sweetest and dearest fruits of her life. Her children compensated the Prophet for his terrible losses: the deaths of his three infant sons and the deaths of his three grown daughters. The roots of Fatima’s lifelong love were deeper than the feelings of a child of eighteen or twenty-eight years. She was stronger than life, purer than will and faith. All the golden webs of the beyond were created in the soul, depth and conscience of Fatima. They joined her with the spirit of her father.

And now this delicate web was torn by the thorn of the death of her father. Fatima must ‘remain’ without him and ‘live’. How terrifying and heavy was this blow to the frail heart and weak body of Fatima, this girl who lived only through love of her father, faith in her father. She lived because of her father.

It is no accident that the Prophet, upon his deathbed, consoled her and gave her the strength, the strength to bear her father’s death. This strength was the only gift from the death of her dear one. The special news was that she would join him sooner than any of the others.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The Final Strauggle She Seeks

Out the Soil of Her Father’s Grave
Now the only meaning she found in life was the kind soil of her father’s grave and the hopeful news he gave her when he said, ‘Fatima, you will be the first person to join me from among my family.’ But when? What an exciting prospect!

Her suffering spirit, like a wounded bird whose wings have been broken,was further wounded by three inescapable sights: the silent and sorrowful face of her husband, the saddened faces of her children and the sight of the silent, cold earth upon her father’s grave in the corner of Ayisha’s house.

Whenever the pain in her heart increased and she lost her breath from crying, she sensed that she was in need of the kindness and condolences of her father. She sought him out. She fell upon the silent earth of his grave. She stared at his grave and suddenly it was as if she had just heard of the death of her father for the first time. She cried out.

She pushed her fingers into the earth. She filled her empty hands with it. She tried to see him behind the curtain of her tears. She put the earth upon her face and smelt it. For a moment she was at peace. She had found condolence, but, suddenly, in a voice which broke with tears she said, “Anyone who smells the earth of Ahmad (Mohammad) has lost nothing if he never again smells any other musk. O father, what miseries have fallen upon me after you. If they had fallen upon a bright day, they would turn it into night.” Gradually she would grow silent. The earth of her father’s grave poured through her senseless fingers. She looked at it with painful amazement. Then she became motionless and silent.

She put all of her sorrows in the death of her father. Each day was like the first day of his death. Her impatience grew everyday, and her cries became more painful. The wives of the Helpers gathered round her and cried with her. The waves of sorrows pressed upon her heart and caused her eyes to bleed.

Her sorrow was more disturbing than anyone could conceive. No one could console her or ask her to be patient. Nights and days passed like this. The Companions were warmed by their power, riches and conquests. Ali was lost in sorrow and Fatima in thoughts of death. She became impatient to receive the gift her father had promised her.

The Death Of Fatima
Each day that passed she became more impatient for death. The only way she could bear to remain alive was to seek refuge in her father, to draw near him when her faith and spirit overflowed with complaints and pain.

How great was her need for such a refuge, for such a peace? But time passed slowly. Ninety-five days had passed since her father promised her death, and death would not come.

It came. On Monday, the 3rd of Jamadi al-thani, in the 11th year of the migration, in the year of the death of her father, it came. She kissed each one of her children.

Now was the moment to bid farewell to Ali. How difficult it was! And Ali had to remain alone in the world for thirty more years. She sent for Umm Rafia to come. Umm Rafia had arranged the Prophet’s funeral.

She said, “O servant of God. Pour water on me so that I may wash myself.” With patience and peace, she performed the ablution. Then she put on the clothes which she had not worn since the death of her father, the clothes she had put away. It was as if she had put aside the memory of her mourning and now was going to see a dear friend.

She said to Umm Rafia, “Put my bed in the middle of the room.” Softly and quietly she stepped into the bed. She faced the Kabah and she waited. A moment passed, moments. Suddenly cries were heard within the house. She closed her eyes to the world and opened her eyes upon her beloved awaiting her. A candle of fire and sorrow was extinguished in Ali’s house. And Ali remained alone, with his children.

She had asked Ali to bury her at night so that no one would recognize her grave or follow her corpse. Ali did as she had asked. But no one knew how. And they still do not know where. In her home? Or in Baqia’? It is not clear. And where in Baqia? It is not clear. That which is clear is the pain of Ali, that night, next to the grave of Fatima.

Madinah was silent in the night. All Muslims were asleep. The night was only broken by the quiet whisperings of Ali. Ali was very much alone both in the city and in his home-without the Prophet and without Fatima. Like a mountain of pain, he sat upon the earth of the grave of Fatima. Hours passed. Night, quiet and silent, listened to the pain of his whispering. Baqia was peaceful, fortunate. Madinah was without loyalty. All remained in silence. The awakened graves and sleeping city listened!

The wind of the night took the words flowing with difficulty from the spirit of Ali (as he sat beside Fatima’s grave) towards the house of the Prophet: “To you from me and from your daughter, who followed you in such haste, greetings O Prophet of God.’

“My patience and my ability have weakened from the fate of your dearest, O Prophet of God. But how can I seek patience with such terrible misfortune and loss?

“I placed you in the grave, but you still exist in my heart. We are all from God and unto God we shall return. But my sorrow is eternal, and my nights sleepless until God takes me to the home in which you are now.

“Right now your daughter will tell you how your tribe joined each other against her and took away her rights. Insist that she tell you everything that happened. All these things happened even though not much time has passed since your death, and people have not forgotten you .

“Greetings to both of you, greetings from a man who has neither anger nor sorrow.” He remained silent for a moment. He suddenly sensed the exhaustion of a whole lifetime. It was as if with every word pulled from the depths of his being, he gave up a part of his existence.

He was alone. He did not know what to do. Stay? Return home? How could he leave Fatima here alone? How could he return alone to his home? The city looked like a devil in the darkness of the night. Schemes, treacheries and shamelessness awaited him.

How could he stay? His children, the people, truth, responsibilities and a heavy mission awaited him. His pain was so heavy that it destroyed his strong spirit. He could not decide Hesitation gripped his soul. Go? Stay? He sensed that he was unable to do either. He did not know what he would do. He explained to Fatima: “If I leave you it is not because I do not want to stay near you. If I stay here [die] have I not renounced the fate that God promises those who bear patiently?”

Then he arose, stood and faced the Prophet’s house, with a passion which overflowed into words. He wanted to say that he, Ali, was returning that which had been entrusted to him. ‘Listen to what she says. Ask her to tell you everything precisely. Have her recount all the things that she saw after you, one by one!’

Epilogue
Fatima lived like this and died like this. After her death, she began a new life in history. Fatima appeared as a halo around the faces of all of the oppressed who later became the multitudes of Islam. All of the sufferers, all of those whose rights had been destroyed, all who had been deceived, all took the name of Fatima as their emblem.

The memory of Fatima grew with the love and wonderful faith of the men and women, who throughout the history of Islam, fought for freedom and justice. Throughout the centuries they were punished under the merciless and bloody lash of the caliphates. Their cries and anger grew and overflowed from their wounded hearts.

This is why in the history of all Muslim nations and among the deprived masses of the Islamic community, Fatima has been the source of inspiration for those who desire their rights, for those who seek justice, for those who resist oppression, cruelty, crime and discrimination.

It is most difficult to speak about the personality of Fatima. Fatima was the ideal that Islam wanted a woman to be. The form of her face was fashioned by the Prophet himself. He melted her and made her pure in the fires of difficulties, poverty, revolution, deep understanding and the wonder of humanity.

She was a symbol for all the various dimensions of womanhood. She was the perfect model of a daughter when dealing with her father. She was the perfect model of a wife when dealing with her husband. She was the perfect model of a mother when raising her children. She was the perfect model of a responsible, fighting woman when confronting her time and the fate of her society.

She herself was a guide-that is, an outstanding example of someone to follow, an ideal type of woman, one whose life bore witness for any woman who wishes to ‘become herself’ through her own choice.

She answered the question of how to be a woman with her wonderful childhood and adulthood, her constant struggle and resistance on two fronts (inside and out) in the home of her father, in the home of her husband, in her society, in her thoughts and behavior and in her life as a whole.

I do not know what to say. I have said a great deal. Still much remains unsaid.

In the symphony of all the amazing aspects of the great spirit of Fatima, that which causes the most wonder in me, is this: that Fatima was the traveling companion, was the one who stepped in the same steps of her father was the one who flew together with the great spirit of Ali through the heights of humanity towards perfection and completion was the one who passed through all the stages of the ascent of the spirit and the psyche.

She was not just a wife to Ali. Ali looked upon her as a friend, a friend who was familiar with his pains and his great aspirations. She was his endless refuge, the one who listened to his secrets. She was the only companion of his loneliness. This is why Ali looked at her with a special look and also at her children.

After Fatima, Ali took other wives and he had children from them. But from the beginning, he separated the children who were from Fatima from his other children. The latter are called ‘Bani Ali’, (that is, sons of Ali) and the former, ‘Bani Fatima’ (the children of Fatima).

Isn’t it strange! The children of Ali derived their names from Fatima. And we saw that the Prophet also saw her with different eyes. Among all of his daughters, he would only discipline Fatima. He relied only upon her. From an early age, she accepted the great invitation.

I do not know what to say about her or how to say it? I wanted to imitate the French writer who was speaking one day in a conference about the Virgin Mary. He said, “For 1700 years all of the speakers have spoken of Mary. For 1700 years, all philosophers and thinkers of various nations of the East and West have spoken of the value of Mary. For 1700 years, the poets of the world have spent all of their creative efforts and power in their praise of Mary. For 1700 years, all of the painters and artists have created wonderful works of art showing the face and form of Mary. But the totality of all that has been said and the efforts of all the artists and thinkers throughout these many centuries have not been able to better describe the greatness of Mary than the simple words, ‘Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ.”‘

And I wanted to begin in this manner with Fatima. I got stuck. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the daughter of the great Khadija,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the daughter of Mohammad,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the wife of Ali,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima was the mother of Hassan and Hussein,’ but I sensed this would not fully describe Fatima. I wished to say, ‘Fatima is the mother of Zaynab,’ but I still sensed this would not fully describe Fatima.

No, these are all true, and none of them is Fatima.

http://www.shariati.com

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