She was the youngest daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his favorite. She married his cousin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and was the mother of the great martyrs of Islam, Hasan and Hussein. She was born in Makkah a few years before her father was granted Prophethood. Though both Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and Khadijah already had three daughters before her they expressed great happiness at her birth. Going against the accepted custom, her mother did not send her beloved youngest daughter away to be breast fed in any of the surrounding villages, but kept her with her and nursed her herself. She loved her too much to entrust her to anyone else’s care. Some years later her father was declared by Allah to be His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and last Messenger.
She and her mother and sisters Zaynab, Ruqayya, and Umm Kulthum accepted Islam. She spent her early years under the loving and tender care of her parents. Zeal for the defense of what is sacred and love of the righteous was ingrained in her.
Before Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) proclaimed himself the Last Prophet of Allah Almighty, he was the most popular, loved and respected man among the Quraysh. But once he announced himself to be the Allah’s Prophet and Messenger, his whole life seemed to turn around. The streets he previously frequented were strewn with thorns and filth and garbage was thrown on him from balconies and rooftops. Elaborate plans were made to murder him. Naturally, all these trials and tribulations could not but leave a mark on his home life. Fatimah was passing the impressionable years of her childhood in the shadow of these events. Yet, her maturity was such that she faced all this with remarkable patience and determination.
She fought like a courageous little tigress to defend her father and protect him. She would stand in front of him to shield him from the attacks of devilish men like Abu Jahl, ‘Utbah and Shaybah.
On one occasion, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went into the sanctuary of Makkah with some of his Companions and started to pray, the disbelievers had just then sacrificed a camel. The filth and bowels of the camel were lying there, when a horrible idea came to Abu Jahl. He asked who among his friends would like to lift all that filth and pile it on the back of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu’it, the lowest of the low among his friends, got up shrugged his shoulders with satanic glee, and said he would perform the task. And he lifted up the bloody filthy mess and piled it on the Prophet’s back while he was in the act of prostrating before Allah. All of them then broke into peals of uncontrollable devilish laughter. When news of this dastardly act reached Fatimah, she rushed to the sanctuary. Removing with her little hands the impurity, furious at the brutal treatment given to her beloved father, she scolded the disbelievers. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) finished his prayers, he lifted his hands in supplication and appealed to Allah to hold these men, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Shaybah bin Rabi’ah, ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu’it and Umayyah bin Khalaf, in His relentless grip. These devils became very nervous because they knew that any supplication made at the sanctuary in Makkah is never rejected by Allah Almighty. And the Prophet’s prayers were answered.
Once Abu Jahl was sitting with the disbelievers in front of the Ka’bah, they were planning how to eliminate this man for the ‘crime’ of rejecting the idols. They hated him for propagating the Oneness of Allah and for proclaiming himself as His Last Prophet and Messenger. Fatimah happened to pass by and heard him. She was so terrified of what these barbarians could do to her father that she went running to tell him of their dastardly plot. As she wept she told him they had sworn in the names of their most famous idols to kill him. All of them would attack him the moment he stepped out of his house. Innocently she asked him what would happen now. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told her to have faith in Allah, as He was her father’s Protector.
Once Fatimah passed by Abu Jahl bin Hisham on the street and he, for no reason, gave her a slap across the face. She went to Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraysh, and complained to him about Abu Jahl’s uncivilized behavior. Abu Sufyan took her with him to the place where the barbarian was still sitting, and told her to slap him in exactly the same way as he had done. When she went home and narrated this incident to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) he was very pleased at Abu Sufyan’s sense of justice and fair play. He then prayed that he should accept Islam as the true religion. His supplications for Abu Sufyan were accepted and he finally swore allegiance to Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
Seven years had passed since Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) declared himself to be Allah’s chosen Prophet. The whole might of the Quraysh had not been able to silence him and his Message; the people who answered the call of Allah were persecuted and tortured in every way possible. When Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and ‘Umar bin Khattab accepted Islam the whole of Makkah was shaken. The people started pushing the leaders to take some action. They decided to boycott the Muslims, socially and economically, even food and water was withheld. The Muslims went into a state of siege in Shi’b Abi Talib which lasted for three years.
The richest woman of Makkah, Khadijah, and her daughters the youngest stood like rocks by their father. They would give their lives for him. And in a sense little Fatimah did, because this mental and physical ordeal affected her health and physique for the rest of her life.
Soon after the siege of was lifted, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Fatimah and her sisters went through the trauma of losing their beloved Khadijah, and his greatest supporter and defender, his uncle Abi Talib. Fatimah was facing all these troubles and experiencing them first hand side by side with her father. It was also at this time that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went to Ta’if with the Message of Islam. they welcomed him with stones and he left injured and bleeding, he prayed to Allah to guide them to the right path.
Umm Kulthum and Fatimah started weeping when they saw his condition. He affectionately wiped away their tears and consoled them. He said it was inevitable that Allah would help to spread His religion and make it triumph against all odds. Easier times were bound to follow the hard and difficult days.
And sure enough Mus’ab bin ‘Umair who was the Prophet’s ambassador to Al-Madinah gave the good news that the people there were being drawn into the fold of Islam. They invited Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to settle in their city, and promised to help him in any way they could. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted their invitation and with the consent of Allah Almighty decided to migrate to Al-Madinah. He left his two daughters at home in Makkah, with his new wife Sawdah bint Zam’ah.
He sent for them later, and thus these three ladies also had the privilege of becoming migrants for the cause. But the disbelievers could not bear to see them all moving out either. Some mischievous elements caught hold of them on the outskirts of Makkah. One evil Qurayshi youth, Huwayrith bin Naqith started jabbing at the camel on which the Prophet’s daughters were riding, and the camel reared up in the air, and the two girls fell down. When he saw this he ran away.
When they reached their destination, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received them. He was very happy to see them alive and well. Those whom Allah Almighty protects, no one can harm them.
When Fatimah was eighteen years old and prominent personalities started proposing for her, but the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said he was waiting for a sign from Allah. One day ‘Ali came to see the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) but he was very shy and diffident and seemed to be holding something back. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) realized what was on his mind and asked him if he came to propose marriage to Fatimah. ‘Ali answered that he had. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked Fatimah what she thought of the proposal. She started to weep silently. He then told her that ‘Ali was a learned, kind-hearted and brave young man. Fatimah accepted her father’s decision. He then asked ‘Ali if he had some money for the dowry. ‘Ali replied that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had seen his life from the cradle and knew his financial position very well. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him where his shield was, and said that would be the dowry for Fatimah. ‘Ali sent it to the market with his slave to be sold and got four hundred Dirhams for it. This he gave to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who asked him to keep the money and buy some things for the house and perfume for the wedding. Then he asked his esteemed companions to attend the ceremony.
Ali read out a speech for the occasion: ‘All Praise is for Allah. We are grateful to Him for His Bounties and His Blessings. I bear witness that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, vouching for Him so it will reach Him and gain His Favor. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has married his daughter, Fatimah to me and the Mahr has been fixed at four hundred Dirhams. Now all those present please listen to what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has to say and bear witness.’
After that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) praised Allah Almighty and recited the marriage ceremony, after asking Fatimah for her consent. He announced the Mahr and told all those present that Allah had commanded him to have Fatimah married to ‘Ali. After that he prayed for a happy and blessed future for the bride and groom.
Some basic things were purchased for the house to which ‘Ali and Fatimah moved. A bed, a pillow filled with the leaves of dried date palm, a plate, a glass, a water bag and a grinding stone, these were the few things with which the daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) set up her new home. The house that was available was quite a distance from the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wished his daughter could live closer to him, so that he could see her daily. When one of the Companion Harithah bin Nu’man Ansari, came to know of this he approached the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) very respectfully, saying he had a number of houses close to the Prophet’s Mosque and he was welcome to choose any one of them. This would make that particular house dearer to him. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was very moved by this offer and chose one for Fatimah So, ‘Ali and Fatimah moved in and started the routine of daily life. It was usual for her to grind the wheat, fetch water from the well and cook their meals.
Since she was not very healthy, the siege having left its mark on her, Fatimah used to get very tired with all this hard work. On one occasion after a battle, a lot of money, precious jewelry and prisoners of war, both men and women, were taken by the Muslim army. ‘Ali suggested that she should go to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and ask him for a maid to help.
Fatimah went to see her father and request him for some help. He was not at home and she left a message with ‘A’ishah. At night, before going to sleep, her father came to visit her. He told her that he would give her something much better than a slave girl. And he taught her some phrases in praise of Almighty Allah. These, he said, were better than any maid. And he taught her to recite thirty-three times Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah), thirty-three times Alhumdulillah (All praise is for Allah), thirty-three times Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is the greatest).
Fatimah spent her entire life as a pious servant of Allah, always patient and grateful to her Maker, there was not a word of complaint from her, however difficult the circumstances. The world and its attractions held no charm for her. Her motto in life was always service for Islam. In the battles she was at the front nursing the wound the sick. When her father was injured in the battle of Uhud, it was she who burnt a part of a straw mat and used its ashes to stem the flow of blood. There is a narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari that when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked on one occasion whom he loved best in the world he named his youngest daughter, Fatimah.
‘A’ishah, talking of her, says she bore a remarkable resemblance to her father. She not only looked like him, but her way of speaking, sitting, standing and walking – in other words all her mannerisms and gestures were exactly like his. Whenever her father visited her she would receive him and kiss his forehead with respect. They were exceptionally close to each other and whenever she visited her father, he would stand up and receive her. If he saw her troubled or sad he would also be grieved, and if he saw her happy he would also be pleased.
One day the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) heard that there was some misunderstanding between ‘Ali and Fatimah, On the way to their house he looked very troubled and sad, and when he left their house he seemed very much at peace. Some of his Companions mentioned this; He replied that he just settled some differences between his two dear children and his happiness made his face glow.
On one occasion ‘Ali made up his mind to marry Abu Jahl’s daughter. Fatimah came to hear about it and told her father that ‘Ali was planning to marry into Abu Jahl’s family; the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was disturbed when he heard this. He went to the mosque and gave a sermon, saying that Fatimah was a part of his heart and anything that made her unhappy displeased him. He said that the daughter of Allah’s Messenger and the daughter of His enemy could not be married to the same man. ‘Ali changed his mind and apologized to Fatimah for any pain he might have caused her.
One day ‘Ali asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who was dearer to him, himself or Fatimah? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) answered that he loved Fatimah more, but ‘Ali was dearer to him It was a masterly piece of diplomacy but it was the truth, because he really did love both of them deeply.
Their first son was born in the 3rd year after Hijrah. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) heard the good news he was very happy and immediately went to see the child. He named him Hasan and recited the Adhan for him. Then on the seventh day his head was shaved, and an amount of silver equivalent to the weight of the hair was distributed among the poor.
In the 4th year after Hijrah, a second son was born. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) named him Hussein, and in his ears too he recited the Adhan. It is said a third son Muhsin was born but died in his infancy. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) loved these two grandchildren dearly. He used to say that they were like blossoms and would be the leaders of the youths of Paradise. Usamah bin Zayd says that one day he saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) carrying something wrapped in a sheet. He asked him what he was carrying. He opened the sheet and what did he see, but these two little boys all wrapped up in their grandfather’s arms.
In the 5th year after Hijrah a daughter was born to ‘Ali and Fatimah; the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) named her Zaynab; in the 7th year after Hijrah another daughter was born and he named her Umm Kulthum. When Zaynab bint ‘Ali grew up she married ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib. And Umm Kulthum married ‘Umar bin Khattab. They had two children Zayd and Ruqayya.
Imam Ahmad was once asked what he thought of ‘Ali and his family members. He said their position in history is unparalleled. According to what the Noble Quran tells us Allah Almighty had cleaned them of every kind of sin, impurity of faith, disobedience to the Divine Will and social evils.
Ibn ‘Abdullah writes that whenever the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came back from any journey or after taking part in a battle, he would first go to the his Mosque in Al-Madinah and pray two Rak’as (units), then he would visit Fatimah and then visit his wives.
There is a miraculous incident related in Al-Bidayah way An-Nihayah, once a lady sent Fatimah some bread and roasted meat. She put this in a plate and covered it with cloth. Then she sent a message to her father to come and eat. When he arrived she removed the cloth and to her astonishment she found the plate full of bread and plenty of meat. She understood that this abundance and plenty had come from Allah. She praised Almighty Allah and asked Allah to mention and bless His and started to serve the meal to him, beginning with Allah Almighty’s Name. When he saw such a huge amount he smiled and asked who had sent it all. She promptly said Allah gave it to her and He provides sustenance to whom He pleased without limits Then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) smiled and ate the meal with his daughter and her family Yet there was so much food still left over that it was sent to the Mothers of the Believers. They also ate their fill and then it was distributed among the neighbors.