Before Lady Fatima (peace be upon her) departed from this world, she asked Imam Ali (peace be upon him) to execute her will, in which lie many lessons and treasures of knowledge for us which we can all benefit from.
On the last day of her life, it is narrated that Al-Zahra said to Imam Ali: "You have not known me to be a liar or a traitor, and have I ever disobeyed you since we were together?" Imam Ali replied: "Allah forbid! You are more knowing of Allah, more devoted, more pious, and more honorable and more fearing of Allah than (to give me a reason) to reprimand you for disobeying me. Surely it is very painful for me to be separated from you and to lose you; but it is an inevitable destination. By Allah, you have renewed the sorrow I have just encountered with the death of Allah's Messenger; surely your death and departure will be a great calamity, but 'to Allah do we belong, and to Him shall we return.' What a painful, bitter and sad calamity. Surely this is a calamity for which there is not consolation, and a disaster for which there is no compensation. Instruct me to do anything you wish; you certainly will find me devoted and I will execute everything that you command me to do."
She then made two particular requests:
1. "I ask you to marry after my death, my niece Umamah; surely she will be to my children as I was. Besides, men cannot do without women."
2. "I ask you not to let anyone who did injustice to me to witness my funeral, for they certainly are enemies of mine, and the enemy of Allah's Messenger. Also don't give them the chance to pray over me, nor to any of their followers. Bury me at night when eyes are rested and sight is put to sleep."
The Pitfalls of a Marriage
Al-Zahra eloquently summarized in her will the major pitfalls (from a wife's perspective) that can destroy a marriage, by pointing out the three main faults: Lying, betrayal and disobedience. These three faults encompass all other faults and one can be confident that if there was anything missing, she would have mentioned it.
Lying induces a lack of trust and continuous negative speculations in the relationship. Betrayal, whether relating to money, secrets, talking behind each other's backs or in any other form, can lead to the destruction of the social image of the individual and the couple's relationship itself. Disobedience will induce a very tense life in the house and will take away from smooth interaction.
Apart from the immediate and long-term direct effects, these faults are actually against the laws of Allah and will cause the marriage to suffer the indirect negative consequences (both materialistic and non-materialistic). With just a few words, Al-Zahra gave social, behavioral, and theological dimensions to her words.
Marriage of Widowers
We often hear the words, "I will stay true to my deceased wife and never marry again." Al-Zahra declared there is nothing wrong with a man marrying again after his wife passes away; in fact, she encouraged it. Her request for Imam Ali to marry again promotes the notion of marriage, highlighting its importance for both the family and the society. Her words naturally extend to widows re-marrying.
Protecting the Children
Al-Zahra emphasized how important taking care of the children is. Often when someone passes away, people usurp the rights of the helpless children because of the lack of law protection, especially in our man-made law structure. Of course, taking care of the children involves making sure there is someone trustworthy when it comes to taking care of them. Also, if one can manage to secure their financial rights, one should do so.
The Oppressed Daughter of the Prophet
While Al-Zahra's words extend from her particular special case to any general case, there is one part that stands out – she had asked Imam Ali to do two things after he washes her purified body and finalizes the pre-burial actions: To bury her at night, and hide her grave.
Both requests have immediate implications related to the situation at that time and long-term implications that affect us to this very day. What is it that Lady Fatima wants us to learn and comprehend from these requests?
Studying history and the religion of Islam, one will immediately recognize the status of Lady Fatima as the Prophet's only daughter and the leader of women of all times. In addition to that, the books of history do not hide the fact that Lady Fatima's right to Fadak was usurped, that people burned her house, beat her with a whip and caused a rib of hers to break after being squeezed between the door and the wall, causing the miscarriage of her unborn son.
No matter how much historical facts are twisted to help glorify those who oppressed the daughter of the Prophet, the fact that she did not approve of them attending her funeral is enough for one to discern the truth. The mere knowledge that the daughter of the Prophet refused certain people to attend her funeral makes the academic researcher investigate those personalities. Her secret burial and hidden grave affirms how angry she was with those who oppressed her. It reflects the oppression brought upon her and as long as her grave is hidden, people will and must continue to question the events that took place after her father's death.
For all those who love Fatima, remember her grave is hidden, but she is not far. She attends gatherings held in the name of the Ahlul Bayt. Let us carry her grave in our hearts and fulfill our responsibility of spreading the truth that the daughter of the Prophet of Islam and the leader of the women of the worlds, was, and still remains today, oppressed.