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The Daughter of the Prophet of Islam

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Calligraphy of 'Ya Zahraa'The daughter of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny), was born on 20 Jamadi al-Thani. She was named Fatima, meaning "the weaned one". It is said she was given this name because she was weaned from the fires of hell, and the same would be true of her followers.

Everyone who adopts the title of Shia claims by this title to be a follower of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them), including Fatima (peace be upon her). To be someone's follower requires more than love and more than sharing grief. It requires knowledge of what that person said and did to be followed, and then application of that knowledge to the self. Followers of Fatima must learn whatever is possible about her true character and behaviors and sincerely endeavor to apply them in their own lives. It is a worthy endeavor because the supreme character and infallibility of Fatima makes her an ideal role model.

As I read about the Lady Fatima, one characteristic rings loud and clear above all others; it emanates so strongly from her every act and word that she embodies this trait perfectly as an example for her followers. That defining trait is that she preferred Allah Almighty to the world in every instance. Never once did Fatima do or say anything to prefer this world. She weaned herself from it totally, and this is how she weaned herself from the fires of hell. Her whole life was for the message of Islam, not ever for herself. She rebelled against her personal needs, however simple, for the sake of the principle of Truth, while most people choose the comfort of the self.

Her life was never one of ease. She spent her early years suffering from the blockade of the Muslims that would lead to the death of her mother Khadija and take the last of her wealth. After this, her father's protection through his uncle and wife were gone, and Fatima endured the suffering of her father. While they abused him, she never tried to protect herself from this hardship or became embarrassed about her father; instead, she was his comfort and helper, earning her the epithet she valued most: "the mother of her father".

Throughout her short life, she endured extreme poverty for the sake of Islam. She did not have nice clothes, home furnishings or jewelry. Her garment was worn and patchy. On the day of her wedding, she had a new garment but learned that a lady had no garment to wear and thus could not leave her house, so she gave it away to her. When Imam Ali (peace be upon him) gave her a necklace, after her father saw it she realized that being the daughter of the Prophet (saw) and the connection between him and the pure progeny that came from her, she could not keep it for herself. She gave it to charity immediately. Her home furnishings were simple and few; when the Prophet called upon her and Ali while they rested, their thin bed cover could not reach their feet, and they had nothing else.

When she and her family fasted, they had only bread and water to break their fast – yet when a needy person came to them, they gave away their bread and went hungry for three days. And she labored as hard as the poorest women of the Muslims, grinding grain for her family and for the helpless. Her fingers bled from the grinding, and her neck was permanently marked from a strap for carrying water. Her husband felt for her suffering so much that he encouraged her to ask the Prophet for a helper. But the Prophet knew that Fatima's destiny was that she was weaned from the world, and so he gave her instead the Tasbih that we now recite after our daily prayers.

She was satisfied with this Tasbih over any worldly help or comfort. She took her joy from her praying, and she prayed so much that her feet would swell, but she never asked for herself. Instead, she praised Allah and prayed for the benefit of Islam and the people.

After the Prophet died, she came out of her house and used her deep religious knowledge to remind people of the Truth and urge them to put their allegiance with Imam Ali and to fight for her right to Fadak. She angered not for her husband or her self, and she was not fighting for their personal rights. Rather, she expended herself to her last, because she knew the future of Islam was at stake. By denying her right to the administration of Fadak and her husband's right to the succession of the Prophet, the people were losing Islam, and they were giving away all the Prophet had done for them in favor of the world.

Fatima was called Siddiqah, because she was the most truthful. She always sided with the Truth, preferring it to anything else no matter the cost, as the above examples show. A lesson the believers today should take from her is the uncompromising dedication to the Right Path and purity of intention in all acts – we can make our acts for Allah. She never sinned, and we can learn from her to avoid sin by taking care to know the Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) and adhere to it carefully. She lived simply, and we can learn from her to strive for the Hereafter rather than accumulating too many useless things in this world, so that on the Day of Judgment, we won't be questioned about how many outfits were in our closet, how many pieces of jewelry we owned, or how nice a car we had while people who had left rights of our neighbors, family, believers, or brethren in humanity unfulfilled.

Without Fatima, Islam would be lost, and we would be lost. But Islam is not a body that stands alone in itself, preserved. Islam is action and not just thought. Therefore if we wish to love Fatima, grieve for Fatima, be followers of Fatima, and receive the gift of her intercession, we must learn how she lived and what she said as far as we are able, and then change ourselves to be more like Fatima.

Author of this article: Masooma Beatty
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