fatimah bint muhammad is the fifth child of prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and khadijah. she was born at a time when her noble father had begun to spend long periods in the solitude of mountains around makkah, meditating and reflecting on the great mysteries of creation.
when she was five, she heard that her father had become allah's messenger. the prophet's first task was to convey the teachings of islam to his family and close relations. they were commanded to worship almighty allah alone. her mother, who was a tower of strength and support, explained to fatimah what her father had to do. from this time on, she became more closely attached to her father and felt a deep and abiding love for him.
she would often be at his side walking through the narrow streets and alleys of makkah, visiting the ka`bah or attending gatherings held in secret of the early muslims, who had accepted islam and pledged allegiance to the prophet.
|she would often be at his side walking through the narrow streets and alleys of makkah. |
one day, when she was not yet 10, she accompanied her father to al-haram (arabic for "the sacred place"). her father stood in the place known as al-hijr, faced the ka`bah, and then began to pray. fatimah stood at his side. a group of quraish, by no means well-disposed to the prophet, gathered around him. the group included `amr ibn hisham known as abu jahl, `uqbah ibn abi ma`eet, umayyah ibn khalaf, and shaybah and `utbah, sons of rabi`ah. menacingly, the group went up to the prophet and abu jahl, the ringleader, asked,
"which of you can bring the entrails of a slaughtered animal and throw them on muhammad?"
`uqbah ibn abi ma`eet, one of the vilest of the lot, volunteered and hurried off. he returned with the obnoxious filth and threw it on the shoulders of the prophet, who was prostrating himself to allah. `abdullah ibn mas`ud, a companion of the prophet, was present, but he hadn't enough power to do or say anything.
imagine the feelings of fatimah when she saw her father treated in that fashion. what could she, a girl of less than 10 years of age, do? she went up to her father's shoulders and removed the offensive matter, and then she stood firmly and angrily before the group of quraish thugs and lashed out against them. not a single word did they say to her. the noble prophet raised his head on completion of the prostration and went on to complete the prayer.
on another occasion, fatimah was with the prophet as he made tawaf (circumambulation) around the ka`bah. a quraish mob gathered around him. they seized him and tried to strangle him with his own clothes. fatimah screamed and shouted for help. the prophet's companion abu bakr rushed to the scene and managed to free the prophet. while he was doing so, he pleaded, "would you kill a man just because he says, 'my lord is allah?'" far from giving up, the mob turned to abu bakr and began beating him until blood flowed from his head and face.
such scenes of vicious opposition and harassment against the prophet and the early muslims were witnessed by young fatimah. she did not meekly stand aside; rather, she joined in the struggle in defense of her father and his noble mission. she was still a young girl, yet she had to witness and participate in such ordeals, instead of the cheerful romp, gaiety, and liveliness to which the children of her age are and should normally be accustomed.
|she did not meekly stand aside; rather, she joined in the struggle in defense of her father and his noble mission.|
of course, she was not alone in this. the whole of the prophet's family suffered from the violent and mindless disbelievers of quraish. her sisters ruqayyah and umm kulthum also suffered. they were living at this time in the very nest of hatred and intrigue against the prophet.
their husbands were `utbah and `utaybah, sons of abu lahab and umm jamil. the latter was known to be a hard and harsh woman who had a sharp and evil tongue. it must have been painful for ruqayyah and umm kulthum to live in the household of such inveterate enemies who were not only participants but also leaders of the campaign against their father.
as a way of disgracing the prophet and his family, `utbah and `utaybah were prevailed upon by their parents to divorce ruqayyah and umm kulthum. this was part of the process of totally ostracizing the prophet. the prophet in fact welcomed his daughters back to his home with joy, happiness, and relief.
both ruqayyah and umm kulthum were happy to come back to their loving parents and to get rid of the unbearable mental torture to which they had been subjected in the house of umm jamil. shortly afterward, ruqayyah remarried to the young and shy `uthman ibn `affan, who was among the first to have accepted islam. they both left forabyssinia among the first immigrants who sought refuge in that land and stayed there for several years.
the persecution against the prophet, his family, and his followers continued and even became worse after the immigration of the first muslims to abyssinia. in about the seventh year of the mission, the prophet and his family were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in a rugged, little valley enclosed by hills on all sides and a defile. the valley could be entered from makkah through that narrow path only.
the prophet and the clans of bani hashim. were forced to retire with limited supplies of food in this arid valley. fatimah was then one of the youngest members of the clans — just about 12 years old. she had to undergo months of hardship and suffering.
the wailing of hungry children and women in the valley could be heard in makkah. the people of quraish allowed no food to be delivered to the muslims and banned contact with them. the muslims' hardship was somewhat relieved only during the season of pilgrimage to the ka`bah.
the boycott lasted for three years. when it was lifted, the prophet had to face even more trials and difficulties. khadijah, the prophet's faithful and loving wife, died shortly afterward. with her death, the prophet and his family lost one of the greatest sources of comfort and strength that had sustained them through difficulties.
the year in which khadijah, abu talib (the prophet's uncle) died was named `aam al-huzn (the year of sadness). fatimah, now a young lady, was greatly distressed by her mother's death. she wept bitterly, and for some time, she was so grief-stricken that her health deteriorated. it was even feared that she might die of grief.
|fatimah, now a young lady, was greatly distressed by her mother's death. she wept bitterly.|
although her older sister umm kulthum stayed in the same household, fatimah realized that she now had a greater responsibility after the death of her mother, khadijah. she felt that she had to give even greater support to her father. with loving tenderness, she devoted herself to looking after his needs. she was so concerned about his welfare that she came to be called umm abeeha (the mother of her father). she also provided him with solace and comfort during times of trial, difficulty, and crisis.
often the trials were too much for her. once, about this time, an insolent mob heaped dust and earth upon the prophet's gracious head. as he entered his home, fatimah wept profusely as she wiped the dust from her father's head.
the prophet then told her,
"do not cry, my daughter," he said, "for allah shall protect your father."
the prophet had a special love for fatimah. he once said,
"fatimah is part of me. whatever pleases her pleases me, and whatever angers her angers me." (al-bukhari)
he also said,
"the best women on earth are four: mary, the virgin; aasiya, wife of pharaoh; khadijah, mother of the believers; and fatimah, daughter of muhammad." (authenticated by al-albani)
fatimah thus acquired a place of love and esteem in the prophet's heart, a place that was only occupied by the prophet's wife, khadijah.
|fatimah thus acquired a place of love and esteem in the prophet's heart, a place that was only occupied by the prophet's wife, khadijah. |
moreover, fatimah was given the title az-zahraa' (the resplendent one). that was because of her beaming face, which seemed to radiate light.
she was also called al-batul, because of her asceticism. instead of spending her time in the company of her counterparts, she prayed, recited the qur'an, and performed other acts of worship.
fatimah had a strong resemblance to her father. `a'ishah, the wife of the prophet and the stepmother of fatimah, said of her,
"i have not seen any one of allah's creation who resembles allah's messenger in speech, conversation, and manner of sitting more than fatimah (may allah be pleased with her). whenever the prophet saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up, kiss her, take her by the hand, and sit her down in the place where he was sitting." she used to do the same when the prophet came to her: she would stand up and welcome him with joy and kiss him. (at-tirmidhi)
fatimah's fine manners and gentle speech were part of her lovely and endearing personality. she was especially kind to poor and indigent folk and would often give all the food she had to those in need, even if she herself remained hungry. she had no craving for the ornaments of this world or for the luxury and comforts of life. she lived simply, although occasionally circumstances seemed to be too much and too difficult for her.
she inherited from her father a persuasive eloquence rooted in wisdom. when she spoke, people would often be moved to tears. she had the ability and sincerity to stir emotions, move people to tears, and fill their hearts with praise and gratitude to allah for his grace and his inestimable bounties.fatimah immigrated to madinah a few weeks after the prophet did. she went with zayd ibn harithah, who was sent by the prophet back to makkah to bring the rest of the prophet's family.