Hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world mention an exemplary woman in their prayers every day. In their prayers, Muslims say: “May God bless the Prophet Mohammed and his family in the same manner as Abraham and his family were blessed.”
The most prominent female member of the Prophet’s family was his daughter Fatima, and she has been a model for the believers since the advent of Islam.
Fatima’s purity was a blessing bestowed by God. Why, one may ask, was this gift granted specially to her? The family of the great Prophet, peace be upon him, was raised by him to closely adhere to God’s revealed law in the Holy Quran. Fatima was therefore one of the first believers, reared to praise and obey God in the house of prophet hood. Mohammed’s daughter then proved herself worthy of that privilege by setting herself apart from the women of her time to devote herself to worship and service to those who were spreading the word of God.
For her devotions, Fatima was called pious even when she was young, and was likened to the Virgin Mary who had a special place of honour in the beliefs of Islam. The life of Fatima certainly offered little in terms of luxury, as she patiently led an austere life in the troubled times of the establishment of Islam. In the collection of sayings of the Prophet called the Hadith it is said, “… when Prophet Mohammed married Fatima to Imam Ali, he sent with her a mattress and a pillow made of leather and stuffed with palm fibbers, a water skin and a hand mill for grinding again.”
Now that surely is a matter, which deserves some consideration by us in the midst of our modern comforts! The daughter of our Prophet (peace be upon him, his family and his companions) entered her matrimonial home furnished with but a poor armful of possessions. What a difference with the resources we spend on even the simplest of our weddings these days!
When the Quraish tribe besieged Mecca during the early conflicts with the first believers, Fatima shared the hunger, deprivation and suffering with her family. When she fled to Madina with her father, the small girl arrived with bloodied feet. Her life at the homes she helped to make for her family in different places was anything but that of a princess. She used the hand mill until her hands were cracked, and she lugged water skins to and fro until her arms were black from the skins.
Fatima swept, cooked and carried water like a laborer, but still her life revolved around the proactive of the revealed law. She memorized the Quran, and knew its science, its meanings and its secrets. She also assisted her family during the military campaigns of the Prophet and his companions. In the Ohod campaign, she even had to nurse the wounds o her own father, peace be upon him.
According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet was quoted as saying, “Fatima is a part of me, and whoever makes her angry in the same measure makes me angry.”
The strength and virtue of Fatima bint Mohammed was such that God preserved the descendants of the Prophet through her alone. Mohammed’s sons died young, and Fatima was the only survivor of the daughters. She married Imam Ali, who though rich in spiritual terms, had little to offer in terms of money and luxuries. Certainly he could not hire a maid to help his wife her many works. Ali could not tolerate to see his young wife exhausted, so he assisted her in the house and camps whenever he had the opportunity to do so. God bestowed on these devout couple two sons, Hassan and Hussein, and from them came the descendants of the Prophet, who are to this day called the Hashemi.
Despite the love with which the Prophet treasured his daughter, that relation did not preclude him from maintaining the strict law of Islam. A statement, which he made when a woman from one of the Arab tribes had committed a robbery, evidences this and her kinfolk were concerned at the prescribed punishment. That prompted the Prophet to respond, “By God, if my daughter Fatima had stolen, I would have severed her hand.”
Such is the strength of Islam, a religion that does not discriminate among the followers, even if a wrongdoer is the closest kin to the head of state.
Fatima bint Mohammed died at the age of 28, only three months after the Prophet himself passed to his reward, peace is upon him and his family. May the women among the believers during our own contemporary time find their role model in Fatima, who was a towering symbol of virtue and strength?