Fatimah al Zahra’

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Fatimah al Zahra’

 

There is a narration of a man who was extremely bashful, whose brother would reprimand him on his haya (modesty) alluding to the losses he suffers due to his disposition. He would encourage him to be more open. On one such occasion when he was berating his shy brother Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam happened to pass by and upon hearing the exchange commented:

 

دعه فان الحياء من الايمان

Leave him be, for bashfulness forms part of iman.[1]

 

Haya, a trait that gives to pleasant character and saves one from evil. It is from the praiseworthy qualities that necessitates one to leave all that which is inappropriate and is a common trait amongst the people of great virtue.

Dear reader, today we converse of Fatimah al Zahra’ radiya Llahu ‘anha, the daughter of the Beloved salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. A woman yes, but a woman of what value and honour? A woman who history has failed to replicate or bring forth someone close to her elevated status. She was blessed with the goodness of the world, as though the fountain of virtue was continuously being showered upon her. Alas, these short chapters cannot do justice to her life just as enumerating her virtues remains a tedious task. I find myself at a crossroads of sorts, yearning to pen down some of her graciousness and unpacking some of her greatness, together with the feeling of immense awe at this task. I intend to gingerly take a few steps into that direction with you as my companion on this path dear reader. Perhaps it may serve as a gift to the young girls of this ummah who search for a pious guide and a sound role model.

ممن تقفت خطى حمالة الحطب

ممن تقفت خطى حمالة الحطب

 Where are those that selected al Zahra’ as their role model from those who followed the footsteps of the carrier of firewood [wife of Abu Lahab].

 

She is Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, radiant and pure who spent her days in worship and her nights in prostration. She is al batul; one who removed herself from the soot of this world to spend her life in devotion. This is a conversation of her purity and haya.

Umm Jafar bint Muhammad ibn Jafar relates from Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha:

 

يا أسماء! إني قد استقبحت ما يصنع بالنساء أن يطرح على المرأة الثوب فيصفها

I truly abhor the practice of covering females after they pass away O Asma’. A cloth is merely thrown over them which hardly conceals their features.

 

When Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha took ill which was to be her final illness Asma’ bint ‘Umays radiya Llahu ‘anha, the wife of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, came to visit her. Turning her attention to Asma’ she addressed her thus, “Is it not abhorrent how the women are treated after their death? They are simply covered with a cloth which leaves the shape of her body discernible by onlookers.” The biers of those times would be a plank upon which the dead would be placed with a cloth thrown over them, this would allow the shape of the body to be apparent.

Subhan Allah! Her modesty was a concern for her not only in life but after death as well. In her final days her worry is of the preservation of her modesty. She knew from her father that she would be the first to meet him the next life from his family which caused her great worry. She could not allow her bier to be carried in this manner in front of all and sundry. Pause for a moment and think. Was she concerned of showing her face, hands, or legs? Was she perhaps worried of being taken out without a something covering her? No, no, her concern was that while being totally covered the shape of her body must not be discernible. The daughter of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, anxious about keeping her modesty intact in the throes of death! A mind so sound that death too could not snatch her haya.

في مهد فاطمة فما اعلاها

المجد يشرق في ثلاث مطالع
من ذا يداني في الفخار اباها

هي بنت من هي زوج من هي ام من

هادي الشعوب اذا تروم هداها

هي ومضة من نور عين المصطفى

 Honour rises from three horizons, for Fatimah O how honoured.

The daughter of who, the wife of who and the mother of who, is there anyone to vie with her father in honour?

She was the spark in the eyes of the Prophet, guiding in the darkness of the valleys.

 

Dear sister, do you think that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha would be taken to task for what happened after her passing? Undoubtedly, she would be free from any blame regarding the actions of those around her after her, she still however persisted in making provisions to keep intact her modesty after her death. Modesty is the adornment of pious young women together with it being an integral part of faith. For this reason, she poured her heart out to Asma’ bint ‘Umays radiya Llahu ‘anha who pacified her by revealing to her an Abyssinian custom:

 

يا ابنة رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- ألا أريك شيئًا رأيته بالحبشة؟ فدعت بجرائد رطبة فحنتها ثم طرحت عليها ثوبًا فقالت فاطمة: ما أحسن هذا وأجمله تعرف به المرأة من الرجل.

O daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam shall I not show you what I had encountered in Abyssinia? She then called for fresh palm leaf stalks which she intertwined creating a canopy like covering over the bier upon which a sheet was placed. This was then used for her bier which allowed her body to be shielded. Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha became jubilant upon seeing this and exclaimed, “How wonderful of an innovation this is, this will differentiate between the biers of men and women.”[2]

 

Subhan Allah, strange is the sentiment of this pure modest women. She is elated upon finding a way to cover her body, not in life but after death.

Where are the women of today who boast of the latest styles and fashion trends? Where are the women who are enamoured with fashion magazines and blogs? Where are the women who are in love with the trends which seek to violate the very fabric of modesty?

Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha then gives her final instructions:

 

إذا مت أنا فاغسليني أنت وعلي ولا يدخل علي أحد

When my soul leaves O Asma’, wash and shroud me together with ‘Ali and do not let anyone enter.

 

This was the parting advices of this great woman of Islam.

When she passed away a canopy of fresh palm leaf stalks was used to cover her completely. She was the first women in Islam to have a bier constructed for her in this manner. Hearing the sad news of her demise Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha came to her home to help with the washing and shrouding. She was however barred from entering by Asma’ radiya Llahu ‘anha as per the instruction of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha to not to allow anyone in. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha perplexed goes to her father Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and relates to him what had occurred adding too that a canopy like bier has been constructed unlike anything we have seen before except, in the instance of a bride being carried! Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anha not sure what to make of this goes himself to the house to ask his wife Asma’ radiya Llahu ‘anha:

 

يا أسماء ما حملك على أن منعت ازواج النبي صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم أن يدخلن على بنت رسول الله وجعلت لها مثل هودج العروس؟ فقالت: أمرتني ألا يدخل عليها أحد، وأريتها هذا الذي صنعت، وهي حية، فأمرتني أن أصنع ذلك لها، قال أبو بكر: فاصنعي ما أمرتك، ثم انصرف وغسلها علي وأسماء

[Abu Bakr said,] “What has led you to stop the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from entering and what is this canopy like bier I hear off?”

Asma’ radiya Llahu ‘anha replies, “This was the final wish of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, as for the bier I had presented before her during her final days and she had opted for it to be used.”

Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu tells his wife, “Carry out her wishes as she wanted.”

He then left, and the ritual washing of the body was done by Asma’ and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.[3]

 

How excellent and complete is her modesty. It is nor farfetched either since we are talking about Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and this is her relation to modesty. This led me to think dear reader, if her modesty was such in death I wonder what it was like in life? A rhetorical question. Something to reflect on.

There comes a narration in the books Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

الحياء لا يأتي إلا بخير

Modesty does not come except with goodness.[4]

 

In another narration modesty is celebrated thus:

 

الحياء خير كله

Modesty is goodness through and through.[5]

 

One may ask then what goodness did Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha gather through her intense modesty? An angel comes down from the heaven to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam giving him glad tidings that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha is the Queen. Is it perhaps that she is the queen of her house? No. City? No. Is she the queen of the women of the world? Not that either. The queen of the universe? Alas no. She is the Queen of Jannat![6]

 

Can we dear reader, take the lesson of modesty from her life?

 

NEXT⇒Ibrahim ibn Muhammad


[1] Sahih al Bukhari, 24/5767; Sahih Muslim, 36.

[2] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 132. In a similar narration Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha then prayed for her thus, “May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala cover you just as you have covered me.”

[3] Sunan al Kubra, 6721. Commentating on this narration in Jilbab al Mar’ah al Muslimah, pg. 30 the author writes, “Look at Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, the daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, she abhors that the cloth covering her body be seen after her demise, she would obviously be much more opposed to exposing her beauty in life. Ponder over this Muslim sisters who opt to wear clothes that leave not much to the imagination. Pause for a moment and reflect, turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and seek his forgiveness and always keep in mind the following narration, modesty and iman are intertwined. If one goes so too does the other.”

[4] Sahih al Bukhari, 5766; Sahih Muslim, 37.

[5] Sahih Muslim, 37.

[6] Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 3781; Musnad Imam Ahmed, 22240; Al Mustadrak lil Hakim,4721/4722. ‘Allamah al Dhahabi has authenticated it.