Fatimah Bint Muhammad

Fatimah was the fifth child of Muhammad ((S)) 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. The little Fatimah saw her older sisters leave home one after the other to live with their husbands. Her brother al-Qasim had died in his infancy and her other brother Abdullah, who was born after her, also died in his infancy.

When she was five, she heard that her father had become the Messenger of Allah. His first task was to convey the good news of Islam to his family and close relations. They were to worship Allah Almighty 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 him and felt a deep and abiding love for him.

One day, when she was not yet ten, she accompanied her father to the Masjid al-Haram. He stood in the place known as al-Hijr facing the Kabah and began to pray. Fatimah stood at his side. A group of Quraysh, by no means well-disposed to the Prophet ((S)), gathered about him. They included Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, the Prophet ((S))'s uncle, Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and Shaybah and Utbah, sons of Rabi'ah. Menacingly, the group went up to the Prophet ((S)) and Abu Jahl, the ringleader, asked: "Which of you can bring the bowels of a slaughtered animal and throw it on Muhammad?" Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt, 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 ((S)) while he was still prostrating. Fatimah went up to her father and removed the bowels and then stood firmly and angrily before the group of Quraysh and spoke out against them. Not a single word did they say to her. The noble Prophet ((S)) raised his head on completion of the prostration and went on to complete the Salat. The Prophet ((S)) invoked the wrath of Allâh upon them, especially upon Abu Jahl, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, Shaibah bin Rabi‘a, Al-Waleed bin ‘Utbah, Omaiyah bin Khalaf and ‘Uqbah bin Mu‘ait. It is recorded that all of them were killed in the battle of Badr. On another occasion, Fatimah was with the Prophet ((S)) as he made tawaf around the Kabah. A Quraysh mob gathered around him. They seized him and tried to strangle him with his own clothes. Fatimah screamed and shouted for help. Abu Bakr rushed to the scene and managed to free the Prophet ((S)). While he was doing so, he pleaded: "Would you kill a man who says, 'My Lord is Allah?'" Far from giving up, the mob turned on Abu Bakr and began beating him until blood flowed from his head and face.

The persecution of the Prophet ((S)), his family and his followers continued and even became worse after the migration of the first Muslims to Abyssinia. In about the seventh year of his mission, the Prophet ((S)) and his family were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in a rugged little valley enclosed by hills on all sides and defile, which could only be entered from Makkah by a narrow path. Muhammad ((S)) and the clans of Banu Hashim and al-Muttalib were forced to retire with limited supplies of food. Fatimah was one of the youngest members of the clans -just about twelve years old - and had to undergo months of hardship and suffering. The wailing of hungry children and women in the valley could be heard from Makkah. The Quraysh allowed no food and contact with the Muslims whose hardship was only relieved somewhat during the season of pilgrimage. The boycott lasted for three years. When it was lifted, the Prophet ((S)) had to face even more trials and difficulties. Khadijah, the faithful and loving, died shortly afterwards. With her death, the Prophet ((S)) and his family lost one of the greatest sources of comfort and strength which h ad sustained them through the difficult period. The year in which the noble Khadijah, and later Abu Talib, died is known as the Year of Sadness. Fatimah realized that she now had a greater responsibility with the passing away of her mother. She felt that she had to give even greater support to her father. With loving tenderness, she devoted herself to looking after his needs. So concerned was she for his welfare that she came to be called "Umm Abi-ha the mother of her father". She also provided him with solace and comfort during times of trial, difficulty and crisis.

The Prophet ((S)) had a special love for Fatimah. He ((S)) said: "The best women in all the world are four: the Virgin Mary, Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad ((S))." Fatimah thus acquired a place of love and esteem in the Prophet ((S))'s heart that was only occupied by his wife Khadijah.

Fatimah migrated to Madinah a few weeks after the Prophet ((S)) did. She went with Zayd ibn Harithah who was sent by the Prophet ((S)) back to Makkah to bring the rest of his family. The party included Fatimah and Umm Kulthum (Fatima’s sister), Sawdah, the Prophet ((S))'s wife, Zayd's wife Barakah and her son Usamah. Travelling with the group also were Abdullah the son of Abu Bakr who accompanied his mother and his sisters, Aishah and Asma. In Madinah, Fatimah lived with her father in the simple dwelling he had built adjoining the mosque.

In the second year after the Hijrah, she received proposals of marriage through her father, two of which were turned down. Then Ali, the son of Abu Talib, plucked up courage and went to the Prophet ((S)) to ask for her hand in marriage. In the presence of the Prophet ((S)), however, Ali became over-awed and tongue-tied. He stared at the ground and could not say anything. The Prophet ((S)) then asked: "Why have you come? Do you need something?" Ali still could not speak and then the Prophet ((S)) suggested: "Perhaps you have come to propose marriage to Fatimah." "Yes," replied Ali. At this, according to one report, the Prophet ((S)) said simply: "Marhaban wa ahlan - Welcome into the family," and this was taken by Ali and a group of Ansar who were waiting outside for him as indicating the Prophet ((S))'s approval. On her marriage, the Prophet ((S)) is said to have presented Fatimah and Ali with a wooden bed intertwined with palm leaves, a velvet coverlet, a leather cushion filled with palm fiber, a sheepskin, a pot, a waterskin and a quern for grinding grain.

Fatimah and Ali first lived at a home way from the Prophet ((S)). They eventually returned to live in a house close to that of the Prophet ((S)). The place was donated by an Ansari who knew that the Prophet ((S)) would rejoice in having his daughter as his neighbor. Together they shared in the joys and the triumphs, the sorrow s and the hardships of the crowded and momentous Madinah days and years.

In the middle of the second year after the Hijrah, her sister Ruqayyah fell ill with fever and measles. This was shortly before the great campaign of Badr. Uthman, her husband, stayed by her bedside and missed the campaign. Ruqayyah died just before her father returned. Uthman later married the other daughter of the Prophet ((S)), Umm Kulthum, and on this account came to be known as Dhu-Nurayn - Possessor of the Two Lights. The loss which the family suffered by the death of Ruqayyah was followed by happiness when to the great joy of all the believers Fatimah gave birth to a boy, al-Hassan, in Ramadan of the third year after the Hijrah. One year later, she gave birth to another son who was called al-Husayn. Fatimah would often bring her two sons to see their grandfather who was exceedingly fond of them. They would climb onto his back when he prostrated in prayer. He did the same with his little granddaughter Umamah, the daughter of his daughter Zaynab. In the eighth year after the Hijrah, Fatimah gave birth to a third child, a girl whom she named after her eldest sister Zaynab who had died shortly before her birth. Fatimah's fourth child was born in the year after the Hijrah. The child was also a girl and Fatimah named her Umm Kulthum after her sister who had died the year before after an illness. Umm Kulthum was later married to Umar al-Khattab.

On his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet ((S)) become seriously ill. His final days were spent in the apartment of his wife Aishah. One day he ((S)) summoned Fatimah. When she came, he kissed her and whispered some words in her ear. She wept. Then again he whispered in her ear and she smiled. Aishah saw and asked: "You cry and you laugh at the same time, Fatimah? What did the Messenger of Allah say to you?" Fatimah replied: "He first told me that he would meet his Lord after a short while and so I cried. Then he said to me: 'Don't cry for you will be the first of my household to join me.' So I laughed."

One morning, early in the month of Ramadan, just less than five month after her father ((S)) had passed away, Fatimah passed away at the age of twenty nine years, a role model for all Muslims.

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