Note: Some people die leaving no traces. Others leave an impact during their lifetime and are put into oblivion after their death. Others are influential throughout the time. Some people have a physical presence in history and they continue to live through their descendants, grandchildren, mausoleums, and such art works as those of Michaelangelo, which are immortal in the west. Others are immortal by their behavior. In religious literature, we call this immortal behavior tradition.
Still further, there are people who leave behind a heritage of spirituality and knowledge. Jesus Christ (a.s) and Aristotle are two examples respectively. To sum it up, some personalities have such an aptitude as to survive in history in any one of the three dimensions we have just discussed. Nevertheless, Lady Fatimah, the daughter of the Holy Prophet, had all the three dimensions of life assimilated in her.
Physically, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) has fifty million descendants. The Imams and the righteous men are her offspring. There is no woman who has had such a tangible presence in history.
In terms of mausoleums, it is something strange with Fatimah (a.s.). While famous personalities such as Sa’di, Hafidh, Avicenna, Shah Jahan and Nur Jahan in Taj Mahal keep a physical presence in the world though the mausoleums associated with them, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) though lacking a shrine, continues to exist physically in the world even after her death. This is really a paradox.
Fatimah’s physical presence is highlighted knowing that the Fatimid Dynasty founded a ruling system in Africa in her name. The immortal epic of Nasir Khosrow Alawi, ‘I am a Fatimid’ reflects the same physical presence. The Fatimid rulers in commemoration of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra founded the al-Azhar University, the most famous scientific-religious center of Sunni Muslims in Egypt.
In terms of knowledge, Lady Fatimah (a.s.) has had a dynamic presence too. Sulayman Kittani, a Lebanese Christian writer, Louis Massigngon, a French Orientalist, and Professor Henry Corbin are some of the famous personalities who have written books on the heritage of knowledge which Lady Fatimah has left behind.
As for model of behavior in history, we can say that this young woman who did not live more than eighteen years left behind such tradition of behavior about which Imam al-Mahdi has said:
There is a model for me in the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. 62
Sociologists believe that the reason behind crisis of the young generation in the third world is absence of a model for behavior. In this relation, Lady Fatimah serves as a model for all the youths, for she has a genuine personality with a halo of sanctity around her. What follows is a perspective of moral virtues and behavior of Lady Fatimah followed by the viewpoints of famous people.
Imam al-Sadiq has reported: One day, the Holy Prophet entered Fatimah’s house and found her wearing a coarse dress, grinding flour with her own hands, and breastfeeding her son. Seeing this situation, his eyes were full of tears. Turning to her, he said, “O my honorable daughter! Endure the hardships of this world so as to attain the sweetness of the Hereafter.”Fatimah answered, “I praise Allah for His blessings and thank Him for His favor.”63 At this time, the following verse was revealed:
And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased. (93:5)
One day, Salman the Persian went to the door of Lady Fatimah’s house to carry out the Holy Prophet’s order of preparing food for a newly converted Muslim Arab. Hearing Salman’s request, Fatimah said, “I swear by Allah that Hasan and Husayn went to sleep with empty stomach. Nevertheless, I would not reject a good deed especially that it has turned to my house. Salman, take this dress of mine to Simon the Jew and buy for it three kilos of dates and three kilos of barley!”
Salman took the dress to Simon and told him the story. Simon’s eyes became tearful, saying, “This piety in this world is what (Prophet) Moses had foreseen in the Torah. Therefore, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
After converting to Islam, he gave three kilos of dates and barley to Salman who took it to Fatimah. She ground the barley with her own hands, baked it and gave it to Salman. He said, “O daughter of Allah’s Messenger! Take some of this for Hasan and Husayn.” Fatimah answered, “I will not take anything from what I have given away in the way of Allah.”64
Ask More Questions
A woman went to the presence of Lady Fatimah saying, “I am an old and weak mother who makes a lot of mistakes in my prayer. I have been sent to you to know how to perform my prayer.” Lady Fatimah said, “Ask any questions you wish.” The woman asked ten questions all of which were answered by Lady Fatimah with a good mien.
However, the woman was ashamed of her many questions. She said, “I will not bother you any more!” Lady Fatimah said, “Ask any more questions.” In order to boost her morale, she said, “If a person is asked to carry a heavy load to a high place and he is given a hundred thousand dinars as reward, will he feel tired in view of that reward?” The woman said, “No.” Lady Fatimah (a.s) said, “I am rewarded by Allah more than that for every question which I answer. Hence, I never get tired. I heard Allah’s Messenger saying: On the Judgment Day, scholars will be in the presence of Allah and they will be rewarded to the extent of their knowledge and the efforts they have made for propagating Islam and guiding people.”65
Lady Fatimah (a.s.) used to pray Almighty Allah at night and weep out of His fear so heavily that it would awaken his children. Imam Hasan says: One Friday night, I saw my mother standing in the altar while she was in bowing and prostration positions until the dawn, praying for everybody except herself! I said: “Mother! Why aren’t you praying for yourself?” She said: “My dear son! Neighbor first!”
Lady Fatimah (a.s.) constantly reminded her children of Allah’s Messenger who considered children as bouquets of flowers. She would also send her children to him.66
Intimacy with the Holy Quran
The honorable daughter of the Holy Prophet had a strong intimacy with the Holy Quran. Salman reports: The Holy Prophet sent me to Fatimah’s house for doing something. I waited a little at the door until she saluted me. I heard her reciting the Holy Quran and grinding something without having someone to serve her.67