Marital life of Fatimah
In AD 623, the Islamic Nabī (Arabic: نَـبِي, Prophet) Muhammad told Ali that he was ordered by Allâh (Arabic: الله, God) to give his daughter Fatimah to him in marriage. Muhammad said to Fatimah: "I have married you to the dearest of my family to me." This family is glorified by Muhammad frequently and he declared them as his Ahl al-Bayt in events such as Mubahala and hadith like the Hadith of the Event of the Cloak. They were also glorified in the Qur'an in several cases such as the Verse of Purification.
Their marriage lasted until Fatimah's death eight years later. Although polygamy was permitted, Ali did not marry another woman while Fatimah was alive, and his marriage to her possesses a special spiritual significance for all Muslims because it is seen as the marriage between two great figures surrounding Muhammad. After Fatimah's death, Ali married other wives and fathered many children.
Many of Muhammad's companions asked for Fatimah's hand in marriage including Abu Bakr and Umar. Muhammad turned them all down saying that he was awaiting a sign of her destiny. Ali, Muhammad's cousin, also had a desire to marry Fatimah but did not have the courage to approach Muhammad due to his (Ali's) poverty. Even when he mustered up the courage and went to see Muhammad, he could not vocalise his intention but remained silent. Muhammad understood the reason for his being there and prompted Ali to confirm that he had come to seek Fatimah in marriage. He suggested that Ali had a shield, which if sold, would provide sufficient money to pay the bridal gift (mahr). Muhammad put forward the proposal from Ali to Fatimah who remained silent and did not protest which Muhammad took to be a sign of affirmation and consent.
The marriage took place on Friday, 1 Dhu al-Hijjah AH 2 (24 February AD 624) when Fatimah was nine years old (she was born on Friday, 20 Jumada al-Thani, 10 September) although some sources say she was 18 years old. Ali was 21. Muhammad told Ali that he had been ordered by God to give his daughter Fatimah to Ali in marriage. Muhammad said to Fatimah: "I have married you to the dearest of my family to me." Ali sold his shield to raise the money needed for the wedding, as suggested by Muhammad. However, Uthman ibn Affan, to whom the shield was sold, returned it back to Ali saying it was his wedding gift to Ali and Fatimah. Muhammad himself performed the wedding ceremony and two of his wives, Aisha and Umm Salama, prepared the wedding feast with dates, figs, sheep and other food donated by various members of the Medinan community. According to Hossein Nasr, their marriage possesses a special spiritual significance for all Muslims because it is seen as the marriage between the greatest saintly figures surrounding Muhammad.
After her marriage to Ali, the wedded couple led a life of abject poverty in contrast to her sisters who were all married to wealthy individuals. Ali had built a house not too far from Muhammad's residence where he lived with Fatimah. However, due to Fatimah's desire to be closer to her father, a Medinan (Haritha bin al-Numan) donated his own house to them. At the beginning they were extremely poor. For several years after her marriage, she did all of the work by herself. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen and the hand with which she worked the handmill to grind corn were often covered with blisters. Fatimah vouched to take care of the household work, make dough, bake bread, and clean the house; in return, Ali vouched to take care of the outside work such as gathering firewood, and bringing food. Ali worked to irrigate other people's lands by drawing water from the wells which caused him to complain of chest pains.
Their life was a simple life of hardship and deprivation. Throughout their life together, Ali remained poor because he did not set great store by material wealth. To relieve their extreme poverty, Ali worked as a drawer and carrier of water and she as a grinder of corn. According to a famous Hadith, one day she said to Ali: "I have ground until my hands are blistered." and Ali answered "I have drawn water until I have pains in my chest." According to another hadith, one day as they were fasting a beggar came by asking for food, so they gave him their dry bread. The next day of fasting, an orphan came by and they gave him that day's meal. The third day a prisoner of war knocked their door asking for food, (Due to this incident a verse in Surat al-Insan was sent down about them) "For their love of Allah they fed a beggar an orphan and a prisoner of war".
Their circumstances were akin to many of the Muslims at the time and only improved following the Battle of Khaybar when the produce of Khaybar was distributed among the poor. When the economic situations of the Muslims became better, Fatimah gained some maids but treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.
Another reference to their simple life comes to us from the Tasbih of Fatimah, a divine formula that was first given to Fatimah when she asked her father for a kaneez (servant girl) in order to help her with household chores. Her father asked her if she would like a gift instead that was better than a servant and worth more than everything in the world. Upon her ready agreement, he told her to recite at the end of every prayer the Great Exaltation, Allahu Akbar 34 times, the Statement of Absolute Gratitude, Alhamdulillah 33 times and the Invocation of Divine Glory, Subhan'Allah 33 times, totalling 100. This collective prayer is called the Tasbih of Fatima.
Relationship with AliEdit
An indication of their special relationship is found in the fact that Ali never married another woman as long as Fatima was alive. A few Sunni sources explain this curiosity in a tradition in which Ali allegedly asks for Abu Jahl's daughter in marriage, but Muhammad does not allow him to marry her because it would upset Fatima. The three most popular versions of this tradition are related by al-Miswar b. Makhrama, a Companion who was about nine years old when Muhammad died. On one occasion, a member of the house of Hisham ibn al-Mughirah proposed that Ali marry a woman from their clan. Ali did not immediately reject the proposal and when word reached Muhammad he is reported to have said, "Fatima is a part of me and whoever offends her offends me."
However Ali did not marry another woman during his marriage to Fatima and there is strong doubt among both Sunni and Shia scholars as to if this event was authentic. It is also said upon saying this Muhammad obtained the truth from Ali who by then had no intention of marrying another woman. According to Denise L. Soufi, the purpose of the narration -in which Ali allegedly asks for Abu Jahl's daughter's hand- is to denigrate Ali or to establish the Sunni orthodoxy that the fourth Khalif, i.e. Ali, is lower in rank than the earlier ones.
Ali was given the name of Abu Turab (the man of dust) by Muhammad. Although some sources explain this by linking it to the disputes with Fatimah where, instead of arguing with Fatimah, Ali would go and put dust on his head, other sources such as Ibn Hisham and Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal say this name was given to Ali before marriage.
According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Fatimah had occasional disputes with her husband and often sought the intercession of her father who showed signs of great satisfaction upon reconciling the couple's differences. Denise L. Soufi on the other hand finds such tradition as "mere a narrative device to prais Ali". For example, she says:
((...her complaints about Ali elicit high praise from the Prophet for him. In fact, whenever Fatima has any troubles or worries in her life, it is usually praise for Ali which is used to comfort her.))
In her view, these traditions are kept for the purpose of the Sunni-Shia debate over the Caliphate, even though they are in contrast with what she describes the Shia picture of the marriage to be "harmonious and divinely ordained".
Shia acknowledge the saying of Muhammad, "Fatimah is a part of me and whoever offends her offends me", however the context of the reporting in reference to Ali is disputed. "Among the many fabricated stories told against Imam Ali was that he had asked for Abu Jahl's (the chief of infidels) daughter's hand in marriage. When this news reached Fatimah (A), she rushed to her father who found out the falsity of the story."
Shia say this statement was used by Fatimah herself when she spoke to Abu Bakr and Umar, stating that they had both displeased her.
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Books and journalsEdit
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- McAuliffe, Jane Dammen; et al., eds. (2001–2006). "Fāṭima". Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an 1st Edition, 5 vols. plus index. Leiden: Brill Publishers. ISBN 90-04-14743-8.
- "Fatemah". Encyclopædia Iranica. Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University. ISBN 1-56859-050-4.