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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The precious beloved, the obedient daughter

Sayyidah Fatima az-Zahrah bint Muhammed al-Mustafa (SAW - may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

"Do you realize whose biography you are to write about?" I asked my pen before it touched the pages of my notebook. "No," it replied. Whispering in its ear, I said, "You are to write about the precious beloved, the obedient daughter. You are to write about the one who embodied perseverance in her struggles, the blessed truthful one, the one who was content with her Lord and whose Lord was content with her. You are to write about the possessor of the eloquent tongue, the one who's heart was
filled with the love for paradise, the daughter of the greatest man (SAW ), he upon whom Allah revealed the Qur'an. You are to write about the one nicknamed "mother of her father," the righteous ascetic.

Hearing this good news, my pen danced out of utter ecstasy and
elation, for Allah had granted it permission to write about this righteous woman. Moments afterwards, fear overtook the burdened pen as it began to realize the magnitude of the responsibility delegated to it. Turning to its Lord in humbleness and gratitude, my pen prostrated onto the pad requesting inspiration and truthfulness in every letter it would write. As
the ink began to flow through its tip, the following words were
recorded:

All praise belongs to Allah, and may salutations and benedictions be upon the Messenger of Allah (SAW).

This blessed girl, Fatimah al-Zahrah ("the blossoming flower") (RA - may Allah be pleased with her), was born in the sanctified city of Mecca, in the home of "the mother of all believers," Khadijah Al-Kubra ("the Prominent") (RA), five years before the revelation and in a time of immense Divine success and good fortune.

The time of her birth coincided with an event that would have led the Quraysh into a major civil war had it not been for the wise judgment of her father, the trustworthy one named Muhammad (SAW). After the rebuilding of the holy Ka'bah, the tribes of Mecca had differed amongst themselves as to which tribe would have the privilege of placing the sacred Black Stone in its rightful place.

After much debate and many threats of a possible war, the tribes had finally come to an agreement. They would leave it to the first man who entered upon them to decide who would be the one to lift the sacred Black Stone. Allah decreed that Muhammad (SAW) be the chosen one--he (SAW) was to judge between the tribes. Endowed by Allah with the gift of sagaciousness and wisdom, he said to the rivaling tribes, "bring me a piece of cloth." Placing the Black Stone in the middle of the cloth,
he told each tribe to take hold of a corner. Together, they all carried the stone over to the Ka'bah. Muhammad (SAW) then lifted the sacred Black Stone with his blessed hands and placed it in the corner of the Ka'bah, thus pleasing the differing tribes with his prudent judgment.

Upon returning home to his gracious wife Khadijah (RA), he (SAW) found waiting for him the illuminated face of the most magnificent child ever to walk the face of the earth. It was the face of the one who most resembled him. Her white complexion mixed with a tinge of redness glistened in contrast to her jet-black hair. Gazing upon "a fragment of his essence," Muhammad (SAW) took her up into his arms with love and affection and said to his companion in life (Khadijah (RA)), "O Khadijah, she is
like a gentle breeze full of blessing, and indeed Allah Ta'ala will
make my progeny through her."Sayyidah Fatimah (AS) was reared in the house of prophethood along with her three older sisters: Sayyidah Zaynab (RA), Sayyidah Ruqayyah (RA), and Sayyidah Umm Kulthum (RA). Among the other inhabitants of this ethereal household was Ali ibn abi Talib (RA - may Allah be pleased with him) [the cousin of the Messenger of Allah], Zaid ibn al Haritha (RA) (the then adopted son of the Messenger of Allah), and Umm Ayman (RA) (the slave girl of Aminah, the mother of Muhammad (SAW).

Sayyidah Fatimah (RA) was raised and educated upon prophetic morals and etiquette, for the one who raised her was the one who said about himself, "My Lord has trained and cultivated me, and indeed He has perfected my training."Indeed, she was instructed by the one who's character was the Qur'an, and the one who Allah (AJ) said about him, "And indeed you are upon great and noble character." Sayyidah Fatimah (RA) absorbed the prophetic
qualities of truthfulness, sanctity, integrity, compassion, abstinence, steadfastness, and scrupulousness; she came to live the meanings of contentedness, humility, and altruism, and was one who always preferred silence.

Growing up witnessing the incessant worship of her father day and night, secluding himself in the cave of Hira', and seeing her
mother's unwavering support of her husband left a lasting imprint on Sayyidah Fatimah's soul. And as her three older sisters were maturing, marrying and eventually all moving away from home, little Fatimah (RA) was left to help her mother in her every effort to prepare the Best of Creation to receive the revelations from Heaven.

The decree of Allah had arrived, and the custodian of the Heavens Jibril (AS - peace be upon him) began to descend upon the greatest of Allah's creation with revelations from above. He commanded the Prophet (SAW) to proclaim the Message of the Most Merciful, to give the good news, and to warn the creation—a heavy burden, no doubt. No sooner did the Messenger (SAW) begin spreading the word and inviting the people to Islam than did afflictions of all kinds beseige him from every direction. Yet he endured it with trust in Allah and a certainty that Allah would never leave him to his oppressors. He stayed up long into the nights praying for his people and inviting them to the best of ways, and indeed he fulfilled his duty (SAW)!

His life companion and soul mate, Khadijah (RA) was a constant support who consoled him during a time in which mental and physical harms of all sorts rained on him because of her deeply rooted love for the Messenger (SAW). With her gentle words of encouragement, full financial support, and her ever-flowing affection, she did all she could to alleviate his burden and selflessly aided him in trying to attain his lofty goal. Each passing day would bring with it a new wave of persecution and
adversity until they were economically sanctioned and cut off from their tribe.

The little girl Al-Zahra (RA) endured days of hunger during this
severe, trying period. She wept along with those who wept. She
underwent the painful experience of witnessing the various tribulations that poured down upon her father, her mother, and all those who proclaimed the statement of La Ilaha Illa Allah Wa Muhammed Ar-Ra soolullah (There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah). Saddened and pained at what she saw, she stood firm, showing patience, gratitude, and resolve in helping her mother fight off the oppression, all while aiding the Messenger of Allah
(SAW) and bringing comfort to his heart.

The afflictions would not let up, but would pound harder and harder on her gentle, little heart, each taking its toll, until the time arrived for her to bid farewell to one of her greatest supports. Signs of fatigue and illness were becoming apparent on the face of one of the pillars of this blessed family, her mother and best friend Khadijah (RA). As she neared her appointed time, Sayyidah Khadijah (RA) looked at Fatimah (RA) and said, "O Fatimah, you are a fragment of your father's essence. I will leave him to your care."

Thereafter, her pure soul traveled back to the Originator, leaving
behind a sadness that gripped the hearts of her beloved and left her husband and daughter tearful. This year of immense loss was called by the Messenger of Allah (SAW) himself, "The year of grief." In this year, the Messenger (SAW) lost his uncle Abu Talib, along with the mother of his daughters and sons, his soul mate, Khadijah Al-Kubra (RA). At this point, the responsibility of upholding the house of prophethood in its entirety fell on the shoulders of Sayyidah Fatimah (RA).

Devoting herself to serving her father and expending every ounce of energy she possessed, she became an obedient daughter, a sincere friend, and as compassionate to the Messenger of Allah (RA) as a mother, to the point that he nicknamed her "mother of her father." Her precious heart wept out of sorrow and pain as she saw her father (SAW) return home on several occasions with blood stained clothes and signs of weariness on his ennobled face.

Out of fear and love for her father (SAW), she would accompany him every place he went. She would accompany him to the Ka'bah, and she would be of those who attended the secret gatherings of the first believers, those willing to sacrifice their souls for him (SAW) and his message of La Ilaha Illa Allah, Muhammed Ar-Ra soolullah .

Her whole essence was shaken when she witnessed the disbelievers, out of mockery, pour upon the head and back of her father (SAW) filth and entrails of dead sheep as he prostrated to Allah (AJ) at the holy Ka'bah. In a state of shock, she quickly ran and lifted the entrails off his head and back with her two little hands, brushing away the signs of filth on the Prophet (SAW). All the while, she pleaded with Allah to protect her father (SAW) from the harm of their oppressors.

She once witnessed a band of Quraysh gather around her father (SAW), then beat and choking him with his own clothes until his breath was nearly cut off. She called out for help and assistance, and her cry was heard by Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (RA). He frantically came running and freed the Messenger of Allah (SAW) from their grasps while saying, "Do you kill a man only because he says `Allah is my Lord!'" Turning their attention to Abu Bakr (RA), the group beat him relentlessly until he lost consciousness and his facial features were no longer recognizable. And in the background of all this, here is this little child, witnessing these atrocities while maturing towards adolescence, bearing the burdens that even grown men cannot bear.

The time now came for the migration from Mecca. Allah (AJ) commanded the Messenger of Allah (SAW) to migrate with his companion al-Siddiq to the City of Light, the city of Madinah. Alone without her father, Fatimah (RA) counted the days of her stay in Mecca and longed for the day she would once again be re-united with her father. After a few weeks, she found herself entering her father's house in the city of Madinah and finally able to breathe again.

When Fatimah (RA) reached the age of eighteen, suitors began to approach the Messenger of Allah (SAW) requesting her hand, each desiring the honor and privilege of marrying into his family (SAW).

After mustering up the courage,Ali (RA) headed towards the house of the Messenger of Allah (SS) and knocked at his door. The Messenger of Mercy (SAW) said (to the servant) "Open the door for the one knocking, for indeed he loves Allah and the Messenger. He is my brother, and is the most beloved of creation to me. Indeed, he is Ali ibn abi Talib." Entering the room in silence and sitting between the hands of the Messenger of Allah (SAW), Sayyidina Ali (RA) lowered his head out of humility. The Messenger (SAW) addressed him saying, "O Ali, you have come for a specific reason, what is it?" He replied, "O Messenger of Allah, you know of my kinship with you, and that you are my intercessor in this life and the next. I have come to seek the hand of your daughter Fatimah in marriage. Will you grant me that, O Messenger of Allah?" The Messenger (SAW) replied, "O Ali, indeed Fatimah is yours, and you are hers, for Allah has commanded me to marry her to you."

Sayyidina Ali (KRA) sold his body armor to Sayyidna Uthman ibn Affan (RA) for 400 Dirhams and used the money as Fatimah's (RA) dowry. Later Sayyidina Uthman (RA) returned the body armor to Sayyidina Ali as a wedding gift.

They now proceeded to prepare their future home, the home of the family of light and worship. They began by laying the ground of their blessed home with sand. They then purchased a leather pillow filled with luffa; during the cold winter months they would flip the pillow inside out and face the warm wool outward, and during the hot summer months they would
flip it back, leather side out, making it more bearable in the
incessant Meccan heat.

It was upon this pillow which rested the head of "the door to the
city of knowledge" (Sayyidnah Ali (RA), as he was nicknamed by the Messenger of Allah (SAW), and the head of the greatest woman in all creation, Sayyidinah Fatimah (AS). They also purchased a pot of clay to cook their food in and bought a blanket for themselves. When they covered their heads with the blanket, their feet would be left uncovered, and when they
covered their feet, their heads would be exposed. And these were the humble beginnings of this noble family.

Upon entering their abode for the first time, Sayyida Fatimah wept, remembering that her mother was not with her on this joyous day. The newlyweds entered and sat next to each other awaiting the arrival of the Messenger of Allah (SAW), for he told Sayyidnah Ali (RA), "Do not approach your wife until I come to you." When he (SAW) arrived, he ordered for a jug of water to be brought to him. He (SAW) read into the water and sprinkled some of it on the face and chest of both Sayyidinah Fatimah and her husband. He then supplicated for them saying, "O Allah, make my progeny through Ali and Fatimah a guided progeny. O Allah, they are indeed the most beloved of creation to my heart, so love them too, and bless their progeny, and make for them a protection from You. I seek refuge in You for them and their offspring from the accursed devil." Turning to Ali (RA), the Messenger (SAW) said, "You may go to your wife, may Allah
bless you, and the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you, O
people of the family." Bidding farewell to the new couple, the Messenger (SAW) left the coolness of his eyes and the love of his heart, Sayyidah Fatimah, in the care and responsibility ofSayyidinah Ali (RA). Walking to the house of his wife Aisha (RA), the Messenger (SAW) continued making supplication for them saying, "O Allah, unite between their efforts and hearts, and make them and their progeny from the inheritors of the Garden."

No sooner was the couple alone except that Sayyida Fatimah began weeping and sobbing. "What makes you weep, O Fatimah? What makes you weep, O daughter of the Messenger of Allah? Are you not pleased with me as a husband?" Sayyidina Ali (RA) asked in a gentle tone. "How can I not be pleased with you, and you are Ali," replied Fatimah. "But I thought about my happiness and tranquility now, being in your company, and how there
will be a day when I will enter my grave without company like this".

These were the thoughts of Sayyidah Fatimah (RA) on her wedding night! She thought about her grave, the abode of loneliness and darkness! Softening up to her, Sayyidina Ali (RA) said, "If you like, we can stay up and spend the night in worship of Allah."

This is how the righteous couple spent the first night of their
marriage: in the worship of Allah. " Forsaking their beds of rest"
(Qur'an 32:16) is how they spent their wedding night! For now, let us leave this couple spending time in secluded company of the Most Merciful while we send salutations and benedictions upon the one to whom Allah revealed the Qur'an.

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