Guest of the Holy Ka'ba, Fatima Bint Asad
This great lady who has been of the brightest stars of Islamic history had lived a most powerful and eventful life. Her name was Fatima, the daughter of Asad, son of Hashem. Fatima had been gifted with some most unique qualities that no other woman before her and no other woman after her had been granted by Allah. Every aspect of her outstanding life has invaluable lessons to teach to all mankind past, present and future.
Fatima's Service to the Prophet (SAW):
Fatima bint Asad could be said to have played a very crucial role in the growing years of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). She was like a foster mother to him and contributed deeply in his physical as well as moral upbringing.
Allah's Supreme Wisdom willed that His beloved Muhammad (SAW) be brought up under the care of this great lady and her husband Abu Talib (AS), the protective uncle of the Prophet (SAW), after the death of his parents Abdullah and Amina and his grandfather Abdul Mutallib. Fatima supported her husband most selflessly in providing for the best care and comfort in the upbringing of Muhammad (SAW), delivering on this divine responsibility most diligently.
The Prophet (SAW) never hesitated to praise the loving motherly attention and kindness that this great lady paid to him in his childhood, and he spoke very highly about her. The very fact that the Prophet (SAW) considered her like a mother, speaks volumes about the greatness of Fatima. He said:
"After Abu Talib, Fatima bint Asad was the best of Allah's creatures, who looked after me. She was my mother, after the passing away of my own mother (Bibi Amina)."
If Halima, the noble wet-nurse of the Prophet (SAW) who had nursed him while he was a baby, is credited as having played a very important role in his life, Fatima bint Asad who had nurtured him for more than 20 years obviously played a much more crucial role. She never let him experience the lack of a mother's warmth and attention.
The Miraculous Birth
The life-story of Hazrat Maryam (SA), the noble mother of Isa (AS), leaves one amazed considering the relationship and the proximity she shared with Allah; but when we study the amazing life of Fatima bint Asad, it becomes very clear that this grand lady of Islamic history held a higher position in the eyes of Allah. The most fantastic event of the unusual birth of her son, Imam Ali (AS) cannot be considered to be any less than a miracle of miracles. One of the close companions of the Prophet (SAW), Yazid ibn Qana'b, narrates the incident of the amazing birth of Imam Ali (AS) in the following words:
"Abbas ibn Abdul Mutallib and I were sitting among a group of members from the Bani Abdul Azi tribe, facing the Ka'ba. We could observe Fatima bint Asad who was still carrying Imam Ali (AS) in her womb, walking towards the Ka'ba. It was evident that she was undergoing labor pains and we could hear her conversing in these words with her Lord: O my Nurturer, I have full faith in You and Your Prophet (SAW) as well as the books that You have sent. I testify the words of my forefather Abraham (AS), the one who had built the Ka'ba. For the sake of the one who built this House and for the sake of the child that I am bearing, make this delivery easy for me.'"
At that moment, I witnessed that the rear wall of the Ka'ba suddenly cracked open and Fatima entered into it and disappeared. Abbas ibn Mutallib and I approached the crack at once, thinking that we too would be able to pass through it, but found the wall closed. We immediately understood that this was a divine act. Fatima bint Asad walked out of the Ka'ba on the forth day with her baby, Imam Ali (AS), in her arms."
This incident has been confirmed by numerous reliable sources, making this event the first and the last of its kind.
Fatima bint Asad, in evaluating her own self, in comparison with the other great women personalities of Islamic history, has thus described her unique position by the Will of Allah. She says:
"Allah raised my status over that of all the other ladies before me. Asiyah (wife of Pharaoh) was forced to worship her Lord from a rather undesirable place that is acceptable only on condition that one is left with no other choice. Maryam, the daughter of Imran (SA) had to shake the date-palm in order to feed herself - but I entered into the House of Allah and was fed on heavenly fruits. As I wanted to come out from the Ka'ba I heard the Command saying: `O Fatima, name this child Imam Ali, because he is exalted and his Lord is the most exalted. I have named him after Me and have conferred on him the secrets of My Knowledge. He is the one who will clear My House from the filth of idols. He will call one and all to prayer, from atop of My House and will worship only Me. Blessed are the ones who will love him and will follow him; cursed are the ones who oppose him or are his enemies.'"
Although Maryam (SA) lived in Masjid al-Aqsa (the first Muslim Qiblah), Allah did not will that she delivered her son Isa (AS) within of the Sacred House. However, Allah wished that Imam Ali (AS) be given birth within His House.
Fatima's Allegiance to Islam
All Muslim historians unanimously claim that after Hazrat Khadija (SA), Fatima bint Asad was the first lady to accept Islam at the hands of the Prophet (SAW). Ibn Abi al-Hadeed has recorded that Fatima was the eleventh person to accept the religion of Islam.
It will not be out of place here to write a few lines regarding Abu Talib, the husband of Fatima bint Asad and the most loyal patron of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Many ill-meaning people have accused Abu Talib of dying an unbeliever, out of spite and ignorance. One wonders how someone who people declare to have been an unbeliever could have composed the following verse:
"Verily I have known that the Religion of Muhammad (SAW) is the best Religion that has ever come for mankind."
Besides, he had also composed the following verses in praise of the Prophet (SAW):
"The fair-faced one in whose name, one and all plead for rain;
O, indeed he is the refuge of the orphans
And the patron of the widows."
Moreover, it is most absurd and illogical to even think that Allah would leave His beloved Prophet (SAW) in the custody of an unbeliever and that Muhammad (SAW) would take the support of someone who worshipped other than the One Real God.
After the demise of Abu Talib, Fatima bint Asad participated even more actively in the various arenas of life, to support the Prophet (SAW) and the Cause of Islam. Three days after the migration of the Prophet (SAW) to Medina, Fatima bint Asad, accompanied by Fatima (SA), the daughter of the Prophet (SAW) and Fatima bint Zubair, left for Medina under the protection of Imam Ali (AS). In Medina, Fatima bint Asad was the first lady to confirm her allegiance to the Prophet (SAW) and the cause of Islam.
Fatima in the Eyes of the Prophet (SAW)
As mentioned earlier, Fatima bint Asad held a very special and respectable position in the eyes of the Prophet (SAW). It is narrated that she once heard the Prophet (SAW) mentioning that everyone rises up, exposed, on the Day of Resurrection. Fatima immediately reacted saying, "O how embarrassing!" Hearing the Prophet (SAW) reassured her, saying, "I will request Allah to raise you, covered!"
At another time, she heard the Prophet (SAW) describing the torments of the grave. Fatima bint Asad responded saying, "O' what helplessness." The Prophet (SAW) once again promised her that he would pray to Allah to grant her ease in the grave.
The Prophet (SAW) had described to Ammar Yasser, the kindness that Fatima bint Asad had showered upon him, in the following words:
"Fatima had borne many sons for Abu Talib. Those sons could benefit her much more than I could. Yet, she would feed me well, even if it meant leaving her sons hungry. She would clothe me, even if her other children had to go bare. She would also pay greater attention to my grooming."
The Prophet (SAW) used to visit her home often and would even rest in her home, showing her great respect.
Fatima bint Asad is also considered to be one of the most reliable sources of Prophetic Traditions (Ahadith) and she is known to have narrated 46 Traditions in all.
The Demise of Fatima bint Asad:
Imam Ali (AS) has narrated that when his mother Fatima bint Asad departed from this world, the Prophet (SAW) had buried her, shrouded in his own shirt. He also prayed for her and repeated: "Allah is the Greatest" (Allah-u-Akbar), seventy times. He then entered into her grave and rubbed his hands all over the walls of the grave, as though expanding its size. He emerged from the grave, crying bitterly and instructed the grave not to be harsh on his mother. On the completion of the burial, Omar asked the Prophet (SAW): "O Prophet of Allah, your behavior with this noble lady is unprecedented!" The Prophet (SAW) replied: "O Omar, this lady was a mother to me, after my mother. Besides, Gabriel has brought me the news that Fatima bint Asad is a dweller of Paradise. Allah has commissioned 70,000 angels to prayer over her corpse."