Biography of Fatima Az Zahra (R.A.)
Fatima bint Mohammad (R.A.), famously known as Fatima Az Zahra (R.A.), was the fourth and most favorite daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). Fatima Az Zahra (R.A.) was born in Makkah, five-years before the Prophet-hood of Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) (approx. 615 CE). Her mother was Khadija Bint Khuwailid (R.A.), first wife of Prophet (S.A.W.). With Maryam (mother of Isa A.S.), Khadija (R.A.) and Asiah (Pharoh's wife), Fatima (R.A.) was the purest and best of women-kind (Ref: Tirmidhi: 3878).
Her Sisters and Brothers:
Fatima Az Zahra (R.A.) had three sisters, Zainab (R.A.), Umm Kulthum (R.A.) and Ruqayyah (R.A.). She also had three brothers named Qasim (R.A.), Abdullah (R.A.) and Ibrahim (R.A.) but all of her brothers died in childhood.
Her Early Life:
Fatima Az Zahra (R.A.) was nursed by her mother and brought up by her father (S.A.W.) in the Prophet's (S.A.W.) home, contrary to the local customs at that time where the newborns were sent to "wet nurses" in the surrounding villages. She spent her early youth under the care of her parents in Makkah and acquired good manners of her parents. When she was five years old, there happened a great change in her father's (S.A.W.) life as he was sent as a Messenger to all of mankind. After Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) declared his prophet-hood, Fatima (R.A.) suffered a lot of hardships and troubles. Among the severe troubles that she faced was the siege in the valley of Abu Talib where she suffered the pain of hunger and thirst side by side with her father (S.A.W.) and early Muslims.
Death of her mother Khadija (R.A.):
When the siege of Abu Talib ended, Fatima (R.A.) was afflicted by the death of her mother Khadija (R.A.). Fatima (R.A.) found it very difficult to cope with the loss and sorrow of her mother’s death. To console her, Prophet (S.A.W.) informed her about having received word from angel Gabriel that Allah had built a palace in paradise for her mother.
Her Migration to Madinah and Marriage with Ali (R.A.):
Fatima (R.A.) and her sister Umm Kulthum (R.A.) stayed in Makkah when the Muslims migrated to Madinah. Then the Prophet (S.A.W.) sent a Sahabi (companion) to bring them to Madinah. She was eighteen years old by then.
After the Battle of Badr, many great companions of Prophet (S.A.W.) betrothed Fatima (R.A.) like Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) and Umar ibn Khattab (R.A.) but the Prophet (S.A.W.) kindly apologized to them saying that he (S.A.W.) waiting for a sign from Allah. Then Ali lbn Abu Talib (R.A.) came and asked Prophet (S.A.W.) to betroth her. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) gave her to Ali (R.A.) in marriage when she was eighteen years old. Ali (R.A.) had nothing to pay as dowry (Mehr) but a shield, which was the Prophet's gift to him.
Ali (R.A.) sold his shield to Uthman ibn Affan (R.A.) in return for four hundred and seventy dirhams, in order to give the price as a dowry to the Prophet (S.A.W.). Then the Prophet (S.A.W.) paid the dowry to Bilal (R.A.) in order to buy some perfume and give the rest to Umm Salama (R.A.) to buy the bride's luggage.
Afterwards, the Prophet (S.A.W.) invited his Sahabas (R.A.) (companions) and made the wedding banquet. After Isha prayer, the Prophet (S.A.W.) went to the bride and groom. He (S.A.W.) then asked for water for ablution and poured the water upon them and said:
"O Allah, may You bless them, make blessing be upon them and bless their offspring."
Birth of Hassan and Hussain (R.A.):
After one year of her marriage with Ali (R.A.), Fatima (R.A) gave birth to the first grandson to the Prophet (S.A.W.), Al-Hasan lbn Ali (R.A.), in the third year after Hijrah (migration). Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was pleased and recited ‘Athan’ (call to prayer) in his ear. He (S.A.W.) also chewed a date and rubbed the newborn mouth. He called him Hassan and on seventh day of his birth, he (S.A.W.) shaved his hair and gave away in alms silver equal to the weight of the hair and distributed among the poor.
In the month of Shaban fourth year of Hijrah [after one year of Hassan’s (R.A.)], Fatima (R.A.) gave birth to her second son Hussain ibn Ali (R.A.). The Prophet (S.A.W.) loved his two grandchildren dearly. He (S.A.W.) used to say that they were like blossoms and would be the leaders of the youths of Paradise. It is said a third son Mohsin was born but died in his infancy.
When Allah the Almighty revealed,
“Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.” (Suah Ahzab: 33:33)
Once, the Prophet (S.A.W.) was at Umm Salama’s (R.A.) house. He (S.A.W.) called Ali (R.A.), Fatima (R.A.), Hassan (R.A.) and Hussain (R.A.) and covered them with garment, saying:
"O Allah! These are the people of my house, so remove the ‘Rijs’ (abomination) from them and purify them with a thorough purification." (Tirmidhi: 3205)
Birth of Zainab bint Ali and Umm Kulthum bint Ali (R.A.):
In the fifth year of Hijrah, Fatima (R.A.) and Ali (R.A.) were blessed by Allah with a baby girl. Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was very happy named her Zainab (R.A.). Two years later, Fatima (R.A.) gave birth to a girl whom the Prophet also called Umm Kulthum (R.A.).
Her Humble Life:
Fatima (R.A.) led a humble life after her marriage with Ali (R.A.) which was in contrast to her sisters who were all married to wealthy individuals. Ali (R.A.) built a house near Prophet’s (S.A.W.) residence in Madinah where he lived with Fatima (R.A.). She did all of the household work by herself such as carried pitchers of water from the well, grind corn from handmill, make dough, bake bread and cleaning the house. Their circumstances were only improved following the Battle of Khaybar when the war-booty of was distributed among the Muslims. When Fatima’s (R.A.) economic situations became better, she gained some servants/maids but she treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.
Prophet’s (S.A.W.) love for Fatima (R.A.):
Allah blessed Fatima (R.A.) with extending the Messenger of Allah’s (S.A.W.) offspring. When the Prophet (S.A.W.) returned from a journey, he (S.A.W.) used to pray two rakats in the mosque and then visit Fatima (R.A.) before his wives. Mother of the believers Aisha (R.A.) said:
“I have not seen anyone who more resembled the Prophet (S.A.W.) in words or speech or manner of sitting than Fatima. He is used to kissing her when she comes and so does she.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad: 947)
Another hadith narrated by Al-Miswar bin Makhrama (R.A.), who said:
Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said, “Fatima is a part of me, and whoever makes her angry, makes me angry.” (Sahih Bukhari: 3767)
However, the Prophet (S.A.W.) drew the attention of his beloved daughter and others to the necessity of righteous deeds. One day he called,
"O Fatimah bint Mohammad! I have no power to help you at all before Allah! Ask of me whatever you want from my wealth." (Tirmidhi: 3184)
As narrated by Thawban (R.A.) related that the Prophet (S.A.W.), once, entered Fatima's (R.A.) home accompanied with me. She was wearing a necklace/chain of gold. When Prophet (S.A.W.) asked her about that, she said This was given to me by Abu Hasan as a gift. Then the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said: "O Fatimah, would you like the people to say that the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) has a chain/necklace of fire? Then he (S.A.W.) went out, without sitting down. Subsequently, Fatimah (R.A.) sent the chain to the market and sold it and she bought a slave with the money, and set the slave free. When the Prophet (S.A.W.) knew what she had done, he said, "Praise be to Allah Who saved Fatimah from Hell-fire." (Sunan An-Nasai: 5140)
A Hadith concerning the Makhzumi woman (One of Quraish’s Tribe) who had committed a theft. The Quraish requested Usama ibn Zaid (R.A.) to speak with Prophet (S.A.W.) on their part for her pardon. When Usama ibn Zaid (R.A.) spoke with the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), He (S.A.W.) said, " I swear by Allah that if Fatimah daughter of Muhammad should steal, I would have her hand cut off " (Abu Dawud: 4373)
Virtues of Glorifying Allah:
When Ali (R.A.) realized that his wife Fatima (R.A.) got tired from working and doing all other house stuff, he offered her to ask her father Prophet (S.A.W.) for a servant/maid. Fatima (R.A.) went to her father’s (S.A.W.) house. Prophet (S.A.W.) welcomed her and asked, "Why did you come, my daughter?” She replied, “I just come to greet you.” She was so shy that she could not ask him what she wanted. After some time, Fatima (R.A.) went again to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) accompanied by her husband Ali (R.A.). Ali (R.A.) explained Fatima's (R.A.) problem to Prophet (S.A.W.). Upon hearing that, Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) declined the request of his beloved daughter. After hearing verdict of Prophet (S.A.W.), Fatima (R.A) and Ali (R.A.) came back to home. One day, Prophet (S.A.W.) visited them and asked, " Shall I direct you to something better than what you have requested?" They replied with yes. He (S.A.W.) said:
“When you go to bed say 'Subhan Allah' thirty-three times, 'Al hamduli l-lah' thirty-three times, and ‘Allahu Akbar' thirty-four times, for that is better for you than a servant."
Ali (R.A.) said, "By Allah, I have never failed to recite it ever since I knew them from the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). Somebody asked, " Even on the night of the battle of Siffin?" Ali (R.A.) replied, " Even on the night of the battle of Siffin."
(Hadith References: Sahih Bukhari: 5361 and Sahih Bukhari: 5362)
Fatima (R.A.) passed many trials and hardships of life. She was afflicted by the death of her mother and her sisters, Ruqayyah, Zaynab and Uumm Kulthum successively. She also endured the life of poverty and want patiently. However, she did not surrender to sadness or disappointment.
Death of Prophet (S.A.W.):
After Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) had performed the Farewell pilgrimage, he (S.A.W.) got sick. Fatima (R.A.) went to visit her father (S.A.W.) at Aishah’s (R.A.) home.
Prophet (S.A.W.) welcomed her and made her sit on his right or on his left side and then he (S.A.W.) told her a secret. After hearing, Fatima (R.A.) started weeping. After seeing this, Prophet (S.A.W.) whispered again in her ears and she started laughing. Aisha (R.A.) said, "I never saw happiness so near to sadness as I saw today." She also asked Fatima (R.A.) what the Prophet (S.A.W.) had told her. Fatima (R.A.) replied, "I would never disclose the secret of Allah's Messenger (S.A.W.)."
When the Prophet (S.A.W.) died, Aishah (R.A.), once again, asked Farima (R.A.), "Would you please tell me what the Prophet (S.A.W.) whispered to you? Fatima (R.A.) replied, "Now I can." As for the first time, he (S.A.W.) said, "Every year, Jibreel (Gabriel) used to revise the Quran with me once only, but this year he has done so twice. So I think that I am about to die and you will be the first of my family to die after me family (to follow me).” So after hearing this, I started weeping. But when he (S.A.W.) noticed my sadness, he (S.A.W.) said to me, "Fatima, would you like to be the chief of all the women in paradise or the chief of the believing women?" then I smiled.
(Hadith Reference: Sahih Bukhari: 3623 & Sahih Bukhari: 3624)
As the ailment of Prophet (S.A.W.) grew more serious, he (S.A.W.) became unconscious. Out of sadness Fatima (R.A.) said, "What a distress is engulfing my father? The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, " Your father will have no more distress after today."
When Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) died, she said, " My father, Allah has called you back and you have responded to His Call. O father! Garden of Firdaus (Paradise) is your abode. O Father! We convey this news (of your death) to Jibreel (Gabriel)."
After the Prophet (S.A.W.) had been buried, she addressed Anas (R.A.), “O Anas, are you satisfied now that you put earth over (the grave of) Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)?"
(Hadith Reference: Sahih Bukhari: 4462)
Then Fatima (R.A.) wept and so did all Muslims but they remembered Allah’s saying:
“Muhammad (S.A.W.) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:144)
“And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad S.A.W.), then if you die, would they live forever?” (Surah Anbiya 21:34)
Death of Fatima (R.A.):
Fatima fell ill soon after the death of Messenger of Allah (S.A.W. She died in the eleventh year after Hijri. The month of her death is not known. She was twenty-seven years old at the time of her death. Her burial place is also unknown.
May Allah have mercy on Fatima bint Mohammad. AMEEN