The Life And Times Of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)

Syed-Mohsin Naquvi


In the month of Safar of the 11th year of Hijra the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) fell ill. He remained bed-ridden until the time of his death. Occasionally he would appear in the mosque to lead the prayers, sometimes he would not have the strength to stand in prayer and do it sitting down.

During the last days of the month of Safar (11th year of Hijra), while he had a high fever, he ordered an expedition towards the Byzantium and appointed

Usama bin Zayd its Commander-in- Chief, who at that time was nineteen years old. The Muslims organized themselves and marched but for some reason they stopped outside of Madinah and camped. When the

Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) heard of this he was very angry and cursed all those who had caused the change in his plans.

(Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Sharistani (d. 548 Hijra) in his al-Milal wan-nihal)

The Episode of Qartas and Qalam

A few days later while he was surrounded by his Companions he asked for pen and paper saying: ‘I want to leave for you a document so that you may not go wrong after me. ‘ Umar said that the Holy

Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was delirious. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s wives were standing behind a curtain, watching this they admonished the men that the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was asking for something and they had the courage to deny him that. Umar shouted back at the women to shut up and keep out of that affair. While this was going on, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) opened his eyes and repeated his statement. Umar said: ‘The Book of Allah is sufficient for us.’1

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was frustrated and visibly angry at this, particularly by the exchange between Umar and his wives; he told the men-folk around him to get out of his room and leave him alone.2

The Passing Away Of The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)

He then asked for Ali , Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) and their children. He kissed the children then talked to Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) very quietly. Lady

Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) wept with tears. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said something more to her and she smiled. Ayisha was watching this very closely.

Several days after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) she asked Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) about it. Lady Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) explained that the first thing the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to her was that it was the last day of his life which made her weep and then he said that the first person from his family who would join him in the world hereafter would be Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), that made her smile.

He then asked Ali to come close to him. Imam Ali (a.s.) took his head in his arm. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) whispered in his ears for a long time. Moments later the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) breathed his last in Imam Ali (a.s.)’s arms.

  • Implying that any more writing at this point was redundant and in effect over-ruling the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s wishes. Many historians of the early period have recorded this, see for example: Shahristani in his kitabul-milal wan nahal, Muslim in his saheeh and Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his musnad.
  • Reported by both Bukhari and Muslim in their Saheeh.

The Event Of Saqeefah And Its Aftermath

As soon as news of this spread in Madinah, political scrambling and an open power struggle, which had so far been underground, came out in the open.3 The people of Madinah gathered at a place called the saqifaha4 of Banu Saeda. Speeches were made.5 Various parties started pushing and pulling and clamoring for power. The ansaar (the people of (Madinah) claimed that they were in the majority and therefore the leader should be chosen from among them. At this Abu Bakr made a speech and cited a hadeeth: ‘I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) saying that the Imams after me will be from among the Quraysh.’ Violence broke out.6 In this confusion Umar pulled Abu Bakr out of the crowd and stretching his (Abu Bakr’s) hand said: ‘I do bayat on your hand and accept you as the khaleefa of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.).’7 Seeing this, many other among the muhajiroon (i.e. the people of Quraysh from Makkah) followed Umar in accepting Abu Bakr as Khaleefa. The ansaar who although were in the majority, saw that any more counter-claim was a lost cause and finally resigned themselves to accepting

  • This was very apparent when the Muslim army under the leadership of Usama was delayed and actually not allowed to depart as the Prophet had ordered. Many of the ‘leaders’ had foreseen the passing away of the Prophet and did not want to miss the political opportunities the Prophet’s death offered to them.
  • Literally ‘a portico’, it was a de facto meeting place where all kinds of un-Islamic gatherings used to be held, because the proper social and counselling sessions with the Prophet of Islam used to be held in the mosque.
  • For a detail description of this event see ‘Life of the famous historian Muhammad ibn Is-haaq who died in the year 151 hijra.
Prophet’, an English translation by A. GILLAUME
of siratun-Nabee (biography of the Prophet) by the


  • Many years later, when Umar himself had succeeded Abu Bakr as Khaleefa, he was reported to have said:’Abu Bakr’s bayca was a hasty affair, Allah averted its evil.’
  • Hitti, as recording this episode in his ‘History of The Arabs’, has made an interesting comment: ‘perhaps this was an arrangement between them.’

Abu Bakr as the ruler of the State. While all this was going on, Ali and the rest of Banu Hashim were busy in performing the funeral rites of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The leaders did not get round to come back to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s house until the third day after his death.

Although, some historians, Haykal1 among them, have reported that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s body was brought out for all Muslims to pay him their last respects. We are told that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) passed away on a Monday and he was buried on the following Wednesday. We have often wondered about this delay in the burial. The only explanation we can come up with is as follows. Because of the intense political activity, nobody, who had the slightest ambition for a government office, could leave the main stream gathering for a moment. People were coming in groups of 2,3 or 4, to pay their last homage to their Prophet. Imam Ali (a.s.) and all the other Banu Hashim must have been under tremendous pressure to delay the burial until the last Muslim in Madinah came and paid his respects to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). No large congregational funeral prayers were held and people came in small groups. That must be the reason that the burial did not take place for three days.

The Banu Hashim realized that a fast one had been pulled on them. An oligarchy of the Quraysh, who had always resented the honor and respect accorded to Banu Hashim in the Arab History, were able to subdue the large but silent majority and grabbed power for their own vested interests. They gathered around Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.).

Ali and Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) on the other hand, were above and beyond personal considerations and tribal group-feelings. They did take the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s mission seriously. They believed whatever was in the Qur’an and whatever else was uttered by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) were nothing

  • Life Of The Prophet, English translation by Faruqi of the Prophet’s biography by Muhammad Husain Haykal. less than divine commands. Ghadeer-e-Khum had happened only three months ago. So, the couple would go to every household in Madinah and knock at the door and remind every family of the event of Ghadeer-e-Khum and ask them how they could completely ignore the apostolic edict and accept a faulty decision imposed upon them with the threat of violence.2 This went on for three consecutive nights. Everyone would agree with Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) but would also say that it was now too late, what was done was done. In other words, fait accompli took precedence over the Prophet’s command. Of course, the ruling party was not unaware of these activities. Umar urged Abu Bakr to take quick and decisive action.3 Abu Bakr sent his slave named Qunfud to fetch Imam Ali (a.s.) to his presence. Imam Ali (a.s.) came and asked why was he called. Before Abu Bakr could say anything, Umar said: ‘You have been called in to acknowledge the government in power like everybody else.’ Imam Ali (a.s.) said: ‘You should accept me as the Khaleefa instead of asking me to accept somebody else. Have you forgotten Ghadeer-e-Khum?’ He then turned to Abu Bakr and said: You grabbed power over the people of Madinah by claiming that you are one of the Quraysh and therefore closer to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). I turn the same argument against you and say that I am the closest to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If that is the reasoning then no one deserves to become Khaleefa other than me.’

The Attack On Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s House

Both Umar and Abu Bakr were left speechless. However, they were not going to give the matter any rest. Umar collected an armed party, took some fire

  • Ali Shariati, Fatima is Fatima
  • Many historians have recorded that frequently cUmar would overwhelm Abu Bakr in policy-making decisions and would impose his will on Abu Bakr, for example, see Yaqoobi.and approached the house of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) where Imam Ali (a.s.) and some other people of Banu Hashim were sitting. Umar called at the door and said: ‘O daughter of the Prophet, I want everyone out of this house and if they don’t I will set it on fire.’ Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) came to the door and protested. But she also saw the fire and was frightened. Umar kicked the door in which hit her and she fell. She was carrying a baby which she lost. Imam Ali (a.s.) came out and was arrested. He was dragged in the streets of Madinah with a rope tied around his neck. When Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) came to, she ran outside and tried to hold on to the hem of Imam Ali (a.s.)’s dress at the same time protesting and begging the party to let Imam Ali (a.s.) go. Qunfud started hitting her hand with a stick until she had to let go of the dress.While all this was going on, Abu Bakr arrived at the scene. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) turned to him and said: ‘Unless you let Abul Hasan (Imam Ali (a.s.)’s name) go, I will let my chadar down and with my hair dishevelled I would beg Allah that His wrath may befall you all.’ Abu Bakr was shaken, as if there was a magic in those words. He looked to Umar and said: ‘Let’s go, let’s go from here!’ The armed party had to
  • Al-Hamdani, pp 522. Al-Hamdani has quoted other historians of the early periods discussing this episode. He says that reporters of the event have used Arabic word R-F-S to describe Umar’s action here. This word is used in the meaning of ‘kicking somebody in the chest with one’s foot’. Jafri, quoting this event, has explained that many versions of this episode can be found in Yaqoobi, Tabari and many other books. The author of the book Al-Imama Was-Siyasa gives a very detailed account of the episode of Umar and Abu Bakr’s attack on the house of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) and the force used to secure Ali’s homage. Al-Hamdani has recorded that the armed party led by Umar was 300 strong. Also, see the article ‘ FATIMA ‘ in the New Encyclopedia Of Islam by L.V. Vaglieri, in which she says: ‘Even if they (the details of the attack) have been expanded by invented details, they are based on facts.’ leave.
  • Years later, Abu Bakr would be full of remorse for his actions against Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.). Tabari has reported that on his death-bed Abu Bakr said: O how I wish I had not violated Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s home.


We must remember that on retrurning from the last Hajj, the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had stopped at a place called Ghadeer-e-Khum and had announced in the presensce of a reported 120,000 Companions the famous utterrance as follows:

“To whomever am I the Mawla, so is this Ali Mawla.”

Much as this hadeeth has been reported with a continuation (Tawaatur) most Sunni historians have rejected this hadeeth. We believe that this rejection of the hadeeth is more political than acadcemic or in any principle.

It is also well-known in history that after the passing away of the Prophet, a meeting was held in a place called Saqeefa of Banu Sa’eda where Abu Bakr was chosen to lead the Muslim Ummah and he was called the Khaleefa of the Prophet.

Very clearly the rejection of the hadeeth of Ghadeer-e-Khum is in the fear that it will undermine the election of Abu Bakr to the position of Khiafat.

Be that as it may, we would like to see the twin events of Ghadeer-e-Khum and Saqeefa in juxtaposition to each other. That will provide an opportunity to our readers to make their own decision.

  • In the event of Gahdeer-e-Khum, the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was alive and present and he made the momentous statement as we have quoted above. At the Event of Saqeefa, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not there.
  • The event of Ghadeer-e-Khum took place at a location of the choosing of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and it was organized according to the Prophet’s directions. The event of Saqeefa took place at a location which was set up in the pre-Islamic period for social gossiping and all the un-Islamic practices. It had, therefore, been rejected since as a meeting place for Muslims. All Muslim events organized by the Muslim community would be held inside the mosque. The question is: Why would the Muslim leaders of Madina reject the Prophet’s Mosque and go to a place already discredited for un-Islamic practices to make the most momentous decision in history?
  • All historians recording the event of Gahdeer-e-Khum unequivocally have said that there was no controversy at Ghadeer – the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) first called for Salat-ul-Jami’ a and then he stood up holding Imam Ali’s hand and declared what he did. Every companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) then approached Imam Ali and congratulated him. At the event of Saqeefa no call for Salat-ul-Jamia was made. A meeting which was being held by the Ansaar of Madina and was already in progress, was later joined by such great Companions as Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaydah Al-Jarraah. None of the family of Banu Hashim were present at the Saqeefa since they were all busy in performing the funeral rites of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.).
  • All reports say that the event of Gahdeer-e-Khum was a peaceful event. Those, on the other hand, who have recorded reports of the event of Saqeefa have described in detail the violent struggle that ensued at Saqeefa. The episode is reported by two great historians, first Ibn Is-haaq the first biographer of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his Seerat Rasool Allah, and second Imam Bukhari in his famous collection of Hadeeth known as the SAHEEH.
  • Much as Saqeefah has been presented by our historians as a fair and honest election, it actually was a very controversial affair. When one of the Ansaar leaders present at the meeting objected to the way the proceedings were railroaded by the few Muhaajiroon, Umar beat him up brutally and thus silenced him.

The Episode Of Fadak

But there was no softening in the attitude of the ruling party towards Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.). The state of FADAK which was in Fatima’s possession and was being managed by her, was confiscated by the government of Abu Bakr.

Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) came to Abu Bakr and protested.1 Abu Bakr replied that it belonged to the state. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) said that it was her by way of gift (hibah).2 Abu Bakr asked for witnesses to the act of gift-giving. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) presented Imam Ali (a.s.) and her maid, Umm Ayman. Abu Bakr said that the witness was incomplete according to the Islamic law. It should either consist of two men or one man and two women. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) presented her children Hasan and Husayn. That too was rejected by Abu Bakr because both of them were minors.

(Baladhuri, Ansabul Ashraf)

Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) then said that if the government does not accept the law of gift then the state of FADAK should come to her anyway because it was her father’s personal property. Abu Bakr, at this, cited a hadeeth. He said: I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) saying – We the prophets do not leave any inheritance, everything after us belongs to the community.’3 Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) presented one

  • Bukhari, Saheeh
  • This episode has been recorded by many historians with slight variations, among them is Yaqoobi, in his Tarikh-Ibn Wadhih
  • It is interesting to note that this hadeeth and the one Abu Bakr cited during the struggle at Saqifah both fall under the class known as ‘khabar-e-wahid’ or a single argument after another from the Qur’an, citing Zacharia’s prayer in which he asks Allah for an heir who would inherit from him (19:2-6),1 and Solomon’s inheritance from David (27:16) and all other places where the mention of a prophet’s inheritance has been made. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) is reported to have delivered a long and passionate speech which has been preserved by our historians in its entirety. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Arabic oratory. Here our historians differ as to exactly what happened. One report says that Abu Bakr still refused to accept Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s claim and she left dejected, angry and greatly aggrieved. This is the version favored by the authors of the article ‘FADAK’ in the New Encyclopedia of Islam. Another report tells us that Abu Bakr was put to shame by Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s reasoning and eloquence and he actually report. This is the weakest kind of hadeeth because it cannot be corroborated from another source. But such are the wonders of power play that no one challenged Abu Bakr on either occasion.
  • The full text of these verses is as follows:

A mention of the mercy of thy Lord unto His servant Zachariah: When he cried unto His Lord a cry in secret. Saying: My Lord! Lo! the bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor. Who shall inherit of me (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee).

It is interesting to note that Zachariah, a prophet of Allah, is afraid of his relatives that they will plunder his property after him. So, he asks for a successor who would take charge of that property after him and dispense of it according to Allah’s law – Such a stunning parallel with Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s case! Obviously, nobody could take away the prophethood from

Zachariah, he was definitely talking about worldly goods. That means that Qur’an clearly allows for prophets to have such property and let their heirs inherit it after them. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), by citing these verses from the Qur’an, was very eloquently proving Abu Bakr’s statement about the Prophet’s saying a complete fabrication.

did write a document releasing the state of FADAK to her.2 In the meantime, Umar arrived and tried to wake Abu Bakr up to the realities of politics and the need to feed the Muslim armies.3 He then snatched the document away from Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s hands and tore it up.

We feel we must elaborate the politics of the confiscation of FADAK for our readers. The Prophet of Islam had reserved the income of the state of FADAK for his family (qurba), the poor (masaakeen), the orphans (yataama) and the wayfarer (ibn-us-sabeel), exactly as the Qur’an had decreed. Foreseeing his death in the near future he made his daughter, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), in-charge of that management after him. Of course, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was not a person who would plunder that trust. She was the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s daughter, termed as the most truthful woman in the Muslim community. Neither was it that she had not seen money before. She was born to a mother who was well-known for her enormous wealth in Arabia and lived like a princess. Indeed, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) did manage the income from FADAK with equity and justice as the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself had been doing, for a period of six months. Had the state of FADAK stayed with her she would have continued with that redistribution of wealth in the community according to the spirit of the Islamic law. A natural consequence of that would have been that all the needy, or at least a great majority of them would look up to Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.). Thus there was a danger that a group strongly loyal to the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would emerge in the community. The people who had taken over the reins of power by means of political maneuvering at

  • Halabi, seerah
  • We must remind the reader here that there is no provision for a paid army in Islam. If and when the time comes, every able man, young and old alike becomes a soldier instantly to defend the faith and/or the land of the believers. Whatever booty is recovered from the enemy is distributed according to the Islamic law among the soldiers.

Saqifah knew the consequences very well. By denying any place in the ruling cabinet to Imam Ali (a.s.) the ruling party took away all and any political power from the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). By confiscating the state of FADAK they broke the economic power of the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The triumph of the ruling party over one group that could ever threaten them was complete.

Either way, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) who was in no position to exert any political pressure on any group or party anyway, her spiritual and moral authority had also been challenged by the ruling party by declaring her claim to the state of FADAK as being untruthful; and it was no one else but Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), the woman declared to be most truthful by the Qur’an at the event of Mubahila. But it was the strength of her character and personality that Banu Hashim still refused to accept Abu Bakr’s authority. Zuhri has recorded that not a single man from the family of Banu Hashim came to Abu Bakr’s side as long as Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was alive.1 We can however imagine the hurt and pain she had gone through. She kept a brave face but inside she was broken hearted.

The Baytul Ahzaan

She would now stay home and weep for her father. Historians have recorded some lines of a lament she used to recite:

‘O Father! Untold pain and hardship was inflicted on us after you,

If those hardships would befall the bright days, they would turn into dark nights,

And if mountains were subjected to that pain they would crumble into dust.’

The people of Madinah complained to Imam Ali (a.s.) that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s weeping and wailing was disturbing their everyday lives. Imam Ali (a.s.) then built a little room outside of Madinah in the graveyard of Baqee for her. Every morning she would

  • Also recorded by Masoodi in his Murooj-uz-Zahb and by Ibn Atheer Jazari in his Tarikh Kamil. take her children to that apartment and stay all day praying, weeping and wailing. This apartment was known as Baytul-Ahzan or, ‘the house of sorrows’.2 The place and sign of this structure were still to be seen until the early part of this century. Ibn Saud, the father of the present rulers of Saudi Arabia, in his fervor to ‘purify’ Islam had it razed to the ground.

The Apology From The Shaykahayn

A few days later both Umar and Abu Bakr visited Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) at her house. She refused to see them. Imam Ali (a.s.) persuaded her at least to listen to what they had to say. A curtain was draped in the middle of the courtyard inside the walls of her house. She sat on one side of the curtain with her back to it, the visitors being on the other side. She asked tersely as to the reason of their visit. They both said that they had come to apologize for their wrongdoings and excesses. She refused to acknowledge the apology. Instead, the following dialogue ensued between them.

Fatemah: If I remind you of some of the sayings of my father, would you confirm them?

Abu Bakr: Yes.

Fatemah: Do you remember that my father had said – Fatemah is a piece of me, whoever hurts her actually hurts me and whoever hates her actually he hates me?

Abu Bakr: Yes I remember.

Fatemah: So, now I say that you have shown enmity towards me, you have hurt me; get out of my house, I have nothing more to say to you.

Thus ended this meeting. Our historians have reported that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was never reconciled to Abu Bakr and Umar and she strictly asked Ali never ever to call those two to her funeral.

We stated earlier that both Ali and Lady Fatemah

Zahra (s.a.) had shown all along that they were above and beyond personal considerations and any partisanship or party-politics. One example of this

2       Qummi attitude in Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s family was their relationship with Asma bint Umays. Asma’s father, Umays, was very close to the Prophet of Islam so Asma and her sister used to spend a lot of time with the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Asma was married to Jaafar, Ali’s elder brother. Asma migrated to Abyssinia with her husband since he was the leader of this expedition. They returned to Madinah after fourteen years of stay there and the old relationship was revived.1 They had two sons, Abdullah and Muhammad. Later on, Imam Ali (a.s.) and Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s two daughters were married to these two sons of Ja’far and Asma. In the 9th year of Hijra, Ja’far was killed in action at Mauta. Asma became a widow and some time later Abu Bakr married her.

She had a son and a daughter by Abu Bakr. In spite of all the hardships that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) suffered during Abu Bakr’s rule, her relationship with Asma was unchanged. Asma would come to Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s house and help with the domestic chores while Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) would confide in her. After Abu Bakr died and after the passing away of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), Imam Ali (a.s.) married Asma and adopted the two children she had from Abu Bakr. Imam Ali (a.s.) loved these children dearly and raised them like his own, that was notwithstanding the grave differences he had had with Abu Bakr.

The Invention Of Taboot And Its Relationship To Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)

One day when Asma came to see Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), she noticed that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) had done the washing for her children and the clothes were hung for drying and she was now cooking. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) looked to Asma and confided in her that it was the last day of her life. She urged Asma to look after her children after her who were still very

  • J’afar, his wife Asma and their two sons returned from

Abyssinia after twelve years on the day Khayber was taken in the seventh year of Hijra. young. She then said to Asma that she did not like the way Arabs take the remains of a woman for burial. They would just cover the body with a sheet which showed the outline. Asma then prepared a coffin by putting together palm-twigs. It had an arched roof made of palm-leaves. Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) liked it and smiled at the sight.

This is the origin of the invention of TABOOT. Every Imambara in our religious custom has a TABOOT as a symbol to the memory of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) which is decorated with a green cover and taken out in the assembly during the commemoration of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)’s death anniversary. The word TABOOT has been used in the holy Qur’an with that spelling (TA-ALIF-BA-WOW-TA).

The Passing Away Of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)

After finishing the cooking she said to Asma that she was going to the inner apartment. She would be reciting prayers and the Qur’an. As long as Asma would keep hearing the sounds of her recital Asma should assume that she was alive. When the recital stops she would know that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was gone from this world. Saying this, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) entered the inner apartment. The recital continued for a while and then it stopped. Asma then knew that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was no more. She called Imam Ali (a.s.). Imam Ali (a.s.) prepared the shroud with Asma’s help and performed the burial rites. While this was going on, Ayisha and Abu Bakr came along. Asma prohibited them from coming near the coffin. Ayisha complained to Abu Bakr. Asma explained to Abu Bakr that it was according to the express wish of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.).

It is reported that when Imam Ali (a.s.) was washing the remains of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), at one point he screamed and wept.2 Later, his cousin, Abdullah ibn Abbas, asked him about it. Imam Ali (a.s.) explained that the door that was kicked in on her actually broke

2       Al-Hamdani quoting an earlier historian – Mas’oodi her ribs. Out of her pride, though, Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) never disclosed her full injuries to anyone. That was what he discovered when bathing her remains. Imam Ali (a.s.) buried the remains of Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) during the night. The next morning the news spread in Madinah that the daughter of the late Prophet of Islam had passed away. Now the ruling party realized that although they had gained the power, their legitimacy was in doubt because they had left their Prophet (on whose authority and in the name of whose mission they had taken over the power to rule) unburied while they were tangled in the power struggle. There was nothing they could do now to correct that mistake. But there was something else they could do. The leaders also knew that what they had done with Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was a grave wrong. We have already quoted Tabari’s report about Abu Bakr’s remorse on his death-bed about his own actions. Umar too, knew full well that he had caused a serious injury to Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.). He must have had a guilty conscious about it. It was this feeling that caused him to take the action described below.

A party under the leadership of Umar bin Khattab gathered at the place where Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) had been buried. They threatened to dig the grave up so that they could offer the funeral prayers. One historian has noted: As if Imam Ali (a.s.) had buried her without offering the funeral prayers! When Imam Ali (a.s.) heard of this he took his sword out and stood by the grave and challenged anyone who would so much as think of digging the grave. The party and the leader both were intimated and had to back off. For a long time after her passing away, when her maid would be asked how did Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) spend the last days of her life, the maid would remember two things: that she never smiled after her father passed away – she was always sad, and that she could not sit up straight, when she would try to sit she would bend over to one side. Tabari  and  Diyar  Bakri  have  noted  that  Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) died six months after the death of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) and that she was nineteen years old at that time. Yaqoobi tells us that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was buried during night. Muhaddith Dehlavi in his Jazb-al-Quloob has noted that Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) was interred at Baqee but there is another report from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) that she was buried in the apartment where she breathed her last. Both her apartment and the mark of her grave in the Baqee cemetery were to be found until the early part of this century in Madinah. Once again, in their misguided enthusiasm to ‘purify’ Islam, both those relics were obliterated by the Saudi rulers by ploughing over (the 8th day of Shawwaal in 1925).

Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) lived a hard life and suffered untold pain and misery at the hands of her opponents. Her pain and misery have continued fourteen hundred years after her departure from this world.

(Excerpts from the book: The Passing Away of Our Lady of Light Lady Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), by Syed-Mohsin Naquvi)

{Imam Husain b. Ali (a.s.) narrates from his mother Fatima (s.a.) who said:Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) came out on the evening of the Day of Arafah and addressed the Muslims: Allah has boasted about you to His Angels and He has forgiven you generally and has forgiven (Shias of) Ali specifically. Verily I am the Messenger of Allah and I am not impressed with you just because you are from my nation or my companions or my family. This is Jibrail and he informs me that those who are truly fortunate are the ones who love Ali in my life and after my death.}

(Bashaarah al-Mustafa Le Shiah al-Murtaza, vol. 2, p. 149; Kashf al-Yaqeen Fi Fazaael Ameeril Momineen (a.s.), p. 232; Al-Manaaqeb, vol. 3, p. 199; Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 39, pp. 257, 276)