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Sayyida Fathima Al Zahra (Our leader, the lady Fathima the Resplendent)


Fathima the daughter of Muhammed (pbuh) is revered all across the Muslim world. She is the last child of Muhammed (pbuh) and Khadija al Kubra. She was a young girl when Muhammed (pbuh) was called to prophethood in his fortieth year, she would have been around 10 years old then. Hence she witnessed from a young age, the struggles, tribulations and gradual sinking into poverty the family would undergo as they gave all for the cause of establishing the worship of the One Divine back in Mecca, and indeed bringing the religion of peaceful surrender to the One Divine to humanity.


She married the couzin of Muhammed (pbuh), who was only a few years her senior, being a very young son of the uncle of Muhammed (pbuh). He is Ali, and Fathima and Ali are renowned as couple epitomizing harmony, ideal pairing, beauty and strength. Ali, was living with the prophet (pbuh) under his guardianship. Muhammed (pbuh) had taken over his upbringing as Ali's father, Abu Talib, was facing financial hardship during that time. Ali was around 12 years old when Muhammed (pbuh) was called to prophethood and he was the second to believe in his message, after Sayyida Khadija Al Kubra. Thus the first converts to the faith, were a woman and a child.


A well known narration speaks of how Muhammed (pbuh) in an effort to spread the message, invited his rich clansmen to a dinner in his home. After the dinner was finished, he addressed them, explaining his new role and calling them to give up idolatory and worship the One Divine. They in a body mocked him and laughed upon his question 'who will believe me?'. Sayyidi Ali, who was attending the dinner serving his elders, at once replied 'I will'. This elicited further laughter unfortunately, and the guests departed. But Ali, continued the bravery he displayed at so young an age, defending the faith and the mission of Muhammed (pbuh), until he died many decades later, outliving Muhammed (pbuh) by about 30 years and becoming the last rightly guided caliph (or successor of the prophet) of Islam.


Sayyida Fathima is often thought of along with Sayyidi Ali. A very handsome couple, Ali also did not take another wife as long as he was married to Fathima. Fathima died 23 years after the advent of Islam, she would thus have been around 33 years of age. She died young, and was the first of Muhammed's family to follow him to the grave. It is reported that when Muhammed (pbuh), her beloved father, lay dying she was desolate. A touching scene close to the time of his passing is known to almost every Muslim; she holds her father's head in her arms and he whispers into her ear, hearing which, she begins to weep excessively. Then he whispers a second time into her ear and she beams and laughs. Later someone was to ask her what the blessed prophet (pbuh) whispered in her ear. She said, he first told me that his time had come and I was sad. Then he told me I would soon follow him and I was happy. This was her state, she lived in paradise though she walked on earth. And in the 33 short years of her life left an indelible mark on all Muslim hearts.


She is revered also as the mother of Hassan and Hussain and of Zainab. All three to become great leaders of Islam. We hope to share about the life of each of them later inshaAllah. They all suffered greatly for the cause of Islam, and bore the great trial of witnessed political Islam take over spiritual Islam after the death of the last rightly guided caliph, their father and Sayyida Fathima's husband, Ali.


While not much is known about the life of Sayyida Fathima in terms of incident, in terms of presence her mark is immense. She is known as the healing hand that soothes the battle weary, the comforting friend, the resplendent light of modesty, dignity and piety and by many other titles and states. Muslims all the way from the traditional western frontier of Morocco to the traditional eastern frontier of China in the ancient Muslim world, revered and loved her deeply. Many are the prayers made in her honour, and odes sung extolling her virtue.


The oldest university in the world, 'The Qarawiyin', located in Fez in Morocco, was founded in the 9th century AC by a lady by name 'Fathima Fihriyya' indeed taking after the qualities of her great namesake. While the second oldest university in the world, the 'Al Az-har' university in Cairo, was named directly in honour of Sayyida Fathima, Al Az-har being a grammatical form of 'Al Zahra', she, the replendent one. Indeed it was founded by a dynasty who ruled Egypt in that time called 'The Fathimids' preferring the honour of her name to go by.


Many are the reports of dreams and visions of Sayyida Fathima Al Zahra. It is said she comes to heal and comfort and strengthen when we are most tired and weary. A friend to all women, especially to young mothers giving birth. The hand of fathima has been a symbol worn lovingly by Muslim women, and used to adorn Muslim homes for centuries. Just like the shape of the sandal of Muhammed (pbuh) it holds a special place in all Muslim hearts.


The relationship between father and daughter is a very special one. She inherited many of the prophetic qualities and indeed also takes from her mother, the great lady Khadija. Fathima always had a very special place in her father's heart and life. Even when he was very old and great leader of his people, while seated addressing his followers, if she happened to enter the room, he would immediately get up and go and greet her, hold her by the hand and lead her to his place of sitting and seat her there. He would then sit by her side and continue his discourse. A beautiful and remarkable honouring that speaks to the special light she carried, Fathima the resplendent one.


Her light is green, symbolizing birth and rejuvenation. She is a great star and will come to heal hearts and give new life to them. She is the leader of all young women in paradise and one of the foremost four great ladies.