Experts say that when children witness their parents going through humiliation and torture, something breaks inside them. They are damaged and lose focus, and the trauma haunts thesdfsdfm their whole lives.
Is that how you would describe a flower? Yet this is the nickname of Fatimah bint Muhammad (raha), the youngest daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Because she was the baby, she was still living at home when her father saw his worst days. She comforted him and helped him in situations that no child should ever have to see. Yet she rose up out of that darkness and became a role model for young women for 1400 years.
She blossomed despite that darkness to become Fatima az-Zahra, Fatimah the Flower.
Fatimah was brought into the world the same day her father settled a huge argument among the Quraish. They were rebuilding the Ka’abah and each tribe was taking part.
They hauled stones for some time and carefully, lovingly built up the walls whose foundations were set by Prophets Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS). When it came time to place the blessed black stone, each tribe wanted the honor.
They could not agree and almost began to fight with each other, but then they saw Muhammad enter, and were overjoyed. Here was the man that could solve the issue: he was well-known for his honesty, fairness and trustworthiness. If anyone in Makkah could solve this problem, he could.
This was the father of Fatimah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, who instructed the tribes to all carry the corners of a cloth to carry the black stone. He himself lifted the stone and put it in its place.
He returned home to the newest little member of his family, the last child of Lady Khadijah, her amazing mother. The little family enjoyed the best reputation in the city, and her parents were admired and respected by everyone.
When she was just five years old, Fatimah felt a new kind of energy in her home. A new role for her wonderful father was discovered: Prophet. Too young to fully understand, she mimicked her parents in their worship.
Her house had never been a place where idols were worshipped, and now they had a direction in which to pray, and words to say. But it was all in secret: she saw that very few others prayed the way they did. She saw that her father met them and taught them in secret.
But when the message became public, and the insults came, physical attacks soon followed. Even though he was from a noble tribe, the cowards who attacked her father soon stopped holding back.
She herself had to lift off filthy intestines of a camel from her poor father’s back while he made sujood at the Ka’abah. Imagine how stressful and depressing it was for Fatimah to have to rescue her father. Normally, it is the other way around.
He raised his blessed face from the ground and began to curse each of the men responsible, making du’aa to Allah that He punish each of them. It was one many times her father was attacked and other people had to come defend him, just because he spoke the truth of Islam.
Things reached a crisis point. The non-Muslims pushed the Muslims and the whole tribe of Hashim out into a valley outside Makkah. They boycotted them entirely hoping to starve them out and rid themselves of Islam altogether.
Fatimah and the other children cried of hunger. She saw her mother grow weaker by the day. By the time the boycott ended, Lady Khadijah barely had any strength left. They returned to Makkah, but soon after her blessed soul was taken.
And Fatimah’s dear great-uncle Abu Talib passed away, too. That meant whatever protection he still had was now gone. The heartbreak of her father seemed too much for one man to bear. Fatimah became the lady of the house; Fatimah prepared food, did the chores, and looked after her father as best she could.
Life got harder and harder for the Muslims, and especially the house of Fatimah. Without her mother, she was alone doing her best to figure out the best ways to support her father. His life was threatened, and he was rejected at every corner. The number of Muslims grew steadily, but it only made the attacks worse.
Then the worst days of her father’s life took place. He had a hope that going to another city would work out better. When he travelled to Ta’if, he was pelted with stones and chased out of the city. He would tell his wife Aisha later on that those were his hardest days ever.
And then relief. Allah allowed the Muslims to immigrate to Madinah. Fatimah went ahead with other companions as her father wanted to be one of the very last to leave his beloved city Makkah.
We can just imagine how hard it was for Fatimah to leave the only home she had ever known, but life in Madinah was a breath of fresh air. Finally, the Muslims were not under threat all the time. They could pray together, and even built a mosque!
Her first or second year in Madinah, more good news came to her. Many men wanted to marry her, including prominent companions like Abu Bakr and Umar, but Prophet Muhammad refused them. He suspected another better suitor would arrive.
Sure enough, Ali ibn Abi Talib came to visit. So shy to even say why he was there, he only nodded when the Prophet asked him if he had come to ask for Fatimah’s hand in marriage. He sold his prized possession in order to get the mahr, and they were married with a family feast.
Now with her own household to start, Fatimah worked hard alongside Ali to scratch out a living in the new city. She worked very hard, so hard that her hands became blistered and hard. Ali suggested one day that she should ask her father for a servant, and she did. She came home instead with beautiful prayers to say before sleeping which Muslims recite to this day.
Fatimah and Ali were blessed with two sons, Hasan and Husain, who were the delight of their grandfather Prophet Muhammad. A third son, Muhsin, died as a child. She also had three daughters: Ruqaiya, Zainab and Umm Kulthum. She had been raised by a great mother, and continued in that tradition to raise her own little family with love, care, and wisdom.
She lost her sisters, one by one and was soon the only child left of her father. This made their relationship even closer. Many people said that she even looked like the Prophet, sounded like him and walked like him. Whenever he went away from the city, her home was the one he would visit first. She took his every lesson to heart and grew to be a pious and strong woman.
In the battles that her father took part in, she travelled with her husband and helped the wounded. In one battle, she had to look after her own father’s injuries. When his face was injured, she cauterized his wounds to stop the bleeding.
When he came to visit, she would stand for him, take him by his hand and seat him in the place where she sat, and Prophet Muhammad did the same for her. They were so close that he prevented Ali from taking another wife, saying “Fatimah is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry.”
No one goes through a hard life with such grace without a reward waiting for them in the next life. But after it seemed that all the worst things had already happened, the greatest trial was yet to come: the death of her dear father, her best friend.
We just can’t imagine the sorrow she felt when she saw that he was dying. “Oh, how distressed my father is!” she cried as she saw he had passed out from his pain. Her heart breaking, she approached him and he told her secretly, “Your father will have no more distress after today.”
Fatimah began to cry, knowing that her father, the trustworthy and truthful, knew his time had come. But then he told her something else which made her tears dry up, and made her laugh.
At such a time, what could a dying man possibly say that would make his concerned daughter so happy? The news that although he was dying, she would be the first to join him.
What a connection this daughter had to her father. And through this connection, and her personal value with Allah, we learn that she is among the best women of the world!
The Prophet (SAW) told us, “Fatimah will be the leader of the women in Paradise.”
And he also said, “The best of the women in the world are four: Maryam (the mother of Isa), Asiya (the wife of Fir’aun), Khadijah, and Fatimah.”
And so it was that the flower, az-Zahra, joined her father after his death and will be entered into the garden of Paradise where there is no more hard work, suffering or sadness.
May Allah be pleased with her, and peace and blessings on her father Prophet Muhammad.