Fatima is Fatima
(Her Final Struggle)
Why Not Ali?
Everything becomes clear. Why had the Prophet upon his return from his last pilgrimage and prayer at Ghadir Khom introduced Ali in front of all of the groups of Mos¬lems who had accompanied him to the gathering and have them admit that the leadership of Ali was the same as his leadership?
Why was it that when the Prophet had not yet enter¬ed the city, a group of 12 people circled the mountainous road so that he and perhaps Ali would be killed? And this plot which came about after Ghadir relates to it be¬cause the elections were no accident.
And why is it that, although the Prophet is informed about the plot before hand and orders them to be taken away after the event, he does not reveal their names? It is not a small accident especially considering the particular interest of the Companions of the Prophet who have even the least important events of his life recorded with care.
Why did the Prophet in his last battle, the Battle of Tabuk, accept considering his age and the age of his great and elder Companions and those who were not military men, who were not men of the sword but more pol¬itical elements that they go to this battle to fight the powerful foreign Romans in the north of the country where the danger of death was very great? Why did he single out Ali, and, against the will of Ali, the reproach of the Jewish people and the hypocrites, keep Ali in Medina even though Ali is known as a man of the sword, the hero of many battles, the bearer of the flag and the conqueror of the famous and great battles of the Prophet? He says to him, `I leave you for that which I left behind in Medina. Are you not satisfied that your relationship to mine is the same as the relationship of Moses" with that of his brother Aaron?"
Why did he, at the time of his death, send an army to attack the Romans and not because of an emergency and/ or for defense? Why does he send Abu Bakr, Omar and the other great men and politicians who had influence along with the army? Why, with such an army, does he choose the 18 year old Osameh to lead the army while these great men are among the common soldiers? Why, when there is objection to his leadership because of his youth, does the Prophet get angry and in strong terms criticize those who think age is more important than worthiness?
And why when he is feverish and at the door of death, does he insist and persist, pray and insult so that the army would move quickly, the elders would move and he kept Ali in Medina? Why, at the last moment of his life does he ask for a tablet and pen and say, "I want to write down something so that you will never go astray." Why do those who had just been elected not allow him to write anything down? They even argue in front of him and create an uproar. They bother him. They even insult and protest to his wives who were crying behind the curtain saying, "The Prophet wants to leave his last will and testament. Bring him a tablet and a pen." They delay. They call themselves friends of Joseph until the Pro¬phet, in anger says, "All of those women are better than you." and then he asks to be left alone.
Why at the end of his life, when the Prophet says, "I have three pieces of advice for you," he mentions only two of them and the third one, which is about Ali, remains un¬said? Why when Balal says, "it is the time of ritual prayer," and he is not able to rise from his bed, he says, ?ell Ali to come." Suddenly both of them appear in answer to the message of his daughter and the Prophet sees all three of them at one time and then, without saying anything, asks ail three to leave.
Why was it that the Prophet, who at the most diffi¬cult time of battles, face to face with the power of the enemy, and he lacking power, filled with loneliness, always spook full of hope and strength, certain of the future? Why during the last days of his life when he is on the edge of his victory, is he so afraid and worried?
Why the last night of his sickness before his death, in the middle of the night, alone with his man helper, does he go to the graveyard and spend a long time whispering to the silent corpses, with the greatest of pain, saying, "May God bless you all. How lucky you are to be dead and therefore not facing this present situation."
Why is it that as he gets closer to death he repeats more and more often that plots and conspiracies like parts of the black night are now continuously appearing? Yes. Now all of these why"s are answered. A part of that black night has passed by. Ali has finished burying the Pro¬phet and the great Companions, at the same moment, bury his rights.
They come from Saqifeh to the mosque so that the Caliph can announce his leadership in a message to the people. Ali returns from the empty home of the Prophet to Fatima"s home to begin 25 years of silence, full of pain, loneliness and blackness.
And it is Fatima who must bear the weight and anger of this unmerciful blow along with her delicate soul. Her father, her refuge, her dearest beloved, has gone. Ali, her brother, husband, friend and only familiar family and sym¬pathizer, sad and broken, remains at home and, like herself, remains alone. It seems like in a space of a few short hours, they all became strangers. Medina no longer recognizes them.
And Islam? This faith endows a devotion in the soul of Fatima so that from her childhood onwards, inspite of her young years and delicateness, she can perform the jihad for the establishment of Islam during the lifetime of her father at the time of the first mojaheds [warriors, those who fight to defend the faith]. The endowment also includes that she suffer difficulties, poverty, the barriers of life and sorrow throughout her childhood and her youth so that her soul may move upon the way. With her delicate and fragile feet, she steps along the way with the first mojaheds and real pilgrims.
She paves this difficult and bumpy way for those who follow her. With all her faith, power and feelings, she helps so that the message of her father can find perma¬nence amid this group, so that correctness, the worship of Truth, freedom, justice, piety, equality, the roots of brotherhood among all creatures cab become strong and so that this young community, which is without power and without awareness, where the germs of old diseases are hidden in the depths of corpses, can take root in the powerful way of knowledge, awareness, justice and human chastity. She leads upon the way that the unlettered Pro¬phet took her. She did the things that he had ordered be done and had made part of the Traditions.
But now for Fatima we could say all things have be¬come silent. All the walls, foundations, watch towers and ramparts which are built with all that effort, suddenly fall into ruins.
The fate of Islam is decided in Saqifeh without the presence of Ali, Salman, Abuzar, Ammar, Meghdad and others. Now, these people have all gathered in Fatima"s home, sad and angry. Why have they remained faithful to Ali. They are not from among the aristocrats of the Ous¬sand Khazraj tribes. They have no family or hold no pres¬tige in Medina. They are not from among the original Qor¬aish family whose luxury of blood, family and class has given them station and position. They do not desire to have the slightest part of the Caliphate of the Prophet.
These are people who are either strangers like Saiman who was Iranian, or Abuzar who came from the.desert, or Ammar whose mother was a black African slave and his father had come from Yemen or other unknown people without any prestige or any claim to being high class. They are simple, deprived people like Meitham who sold dates.
These people, in the eyes of the Prophet, were dear and beloved but now that he has gone, they have been obliged to return to a permanent state of humility. Values have changed again.
Ali is the Only Refuge
Their only refuge is Ali. Ali himself has the same pos¬ition they do in Medina. He also suffers from the renewed regime of old values. His story goes like this: He is a young man, thirty some years old (in comparison to the elders of the community). He is a man empty handed, without class, without the shackles of politics or tribal bonds. He holds only the pious virtues of knowledge, bravery, persistance upon the way, high thinking and awareness. He has the power of speech and the sword. His entire fortune is amas¬sed from and consists of the dangers he met remaining loyal to the Prophet as well as his sword which was raised in jihad and the great amount of blood which was drawn from the hatred of yesterday"s enemies who have "surrendered" to the "decree" of the Prophet.
Those values, consciousness of self and the unaware¬ness of provoking the jealousy of friends, sacrifices and courage, created a hatred in his enemies which could never be made up for. Both friends and enemies alike joined hands and stories in attacking and condemning Ali. They slandered him, humiliated him and finally they ostrasized him and left him alone.
When a spirit rises above the level of his time and grows beyond the container of the patience of the people of its time, it is left alone. The profundity, beauty and richness of his "being" of and by itself, humbles the empty, trivial ugliness of others. Whenever one humbles oneself, friend and foe alike, consciously and unconsciously, join together to negate or destroy the spirit of the great person¬ality or else they try to destroy its distinct rights. They mutually benefit each other. Then, friends, companions and those who have the same thoughts, because of the greatness of "being", show contempt. They create a vacumn in their personalities. They suffer. They try by negating or denying his virtues to contaminate the personality, to feign closeness in order to reduce the space which is causing them to suffer. Since they can never reach the spirit directly, they try to pull it back so that they can reach it in this way. It is in this effort that they join with the enemies and find mutual interests. When this happens, friends also find a need to destroy that spirit. They un¬knowingly become the toys of the enemy. They become the representative of murder. They become amateur servants of oppressors. This is why Ali must be humiliated.
This is why the 0mayyid tribe, who are the enemies of the Emigrants, Helpers and Ali advertise that, "All is the son of the earth." All does not perform his ritual pray¬ers." The Omayyids are writers of revelation, who have
gathered the Qoran and the uncles and relatives of the Prophet. The daughter of Abu Sufiyan is the wife of the Prophet, so his house is a sacred place. It is an area where fighting is forbidden. It is in the immense palace of Abu Sufiyan which, in the eyes of the Prophet like the house of God in Mecca is a place of refuge for all. Whosoever seeks refuge there is safe.
How is it that Ali is killed in the mihrab [the place which gives the direction of prayer] of a mosque? What sort of news is this? What was Ali the "father of dust", "the man who" supposedly, "does not perform his prayers," doing at the mihrab? Ali, performing his prayers? How could that be?
Others Are Busy Destroying Him
Everyone knows that this hatred of Ali resulted from his heroic deeds at Badr , Khandaq and other such battles. But a friend? The sore becomes infected with they who participated in the battles of Badr and Khandaq against the Omayyids, now join them and sing the same tune. Why?
The well known of the great Companions were obliged to lower their heads at the Battle of Khandaq where Ali, a young man, twenty seven years old, struck such fear into the enemy through his sword and the cries of allaho akbar which issued forth from him that the Pro¬phet praised him, "The blows of Ali in the battle of Khan¬daq are worth more than the worship of all the men and jinn." The blows of his sword made them happy and they grew eager for confrontation, but, hidden, nevertheless, was a jealousy which planted itself in their unconscious conscience. It grows later on without they thelmselves being aware of it. The seed grows into branches bearing leaves which eventually cover their whole spirit and thou¬ghts. Its roots form in the depths of their bones.
At Khaybar where Abu Bakr carried the flag of the Prophet and went forwad to conquer the citadel, and after great effort, he returns broken, then Omar goes and returns defeated, the Prophet says, `Tomorrow, I will give the flag into the hands of someone who loves both God and His Prophet and both God and His Prophet love him."
The next day he gives the flag to Ali. Ali amazingly conquers one citadel after another. He opens a citadel up and people enter in to plunder and he moves on to attack another citadel.
At Badr, at Ohud the great ones, the Companions who consider themselves from the point of view of age and position in society, to be at the highest level, either run away or else go and sit in a corner, afraid and hopeless. It is Ali who like lightening and wind passes through the scenes and creates a new front amidst the fear and defeat. When he carries the flag towards victory at Honein, while the great influential and respected Companions run away from the narrow strait and Abu Sufiyan cries out, "The way they are running away, they will not stop until they reach the Red Sea!", Ali, like a rock, closes the mouth of the strait.
This sword creates hatred in the enemies as well as in the friends. Even though they are fighting for the same thing, jealousy and contempt arises. This is how friends and enemies join into one front whenever the character, virtues or strength of Ali is spoken about. This is when a friend needs an enemy and an enemy needs a friend and they both work together. This is why the reaction to the greatness of Ali is compensated for by showing contempt for Ali.
How? By not taking his Islamic virtues into account, by not emphasizing them. Even though it is unmanly, they describe him in terms which are contrary to what he really is. They express words or spread stories in a way which is slander. If they do not reach this low level, they just keep quiet as to his values. If they mention his weak points whenever they get the chance, they exaggerate them and make mountains out of molehills. They oppress his rights and destroy the Truth. They admit the rights of Ali to the extent of Abu Bakr or Omar, but they do so in order to destroy his rights. They act from a motive.
The Result: His Chances Are Destroyed
"Ali? Yes. But he is still young. Let some years pass for him."
"Ali? Yes. But he is a man of the sword, devoted, knowledgeable, but he knows nothing however about poli¬tics. He is brave but he does not know the science of war."
"Ali? Yes. But he jokes too much."
"Ali? Yes. But at the present time it is not advisable for Islam that he be elected. He has many enemies. At the time of the Prophet, during the wars, he killed many of the great and influential Arabs. The hatred is still warm. It is not advisable."
"Ali? Yes. But he is too sure of himself."(Their infer¬iority complex becomes obvious).
"Ali? Yes. If the Caliphate were to be given to him, he would run this camel firmly in the right direction. But is he really serious about that?"
The result? The result is that Ali is destroyed both at the hands of the Bani Omayyids as well as at those of Omar, who is the enemy of the Bani Omayyid and of the same rank as Ali. Othman is victorious with the help of Omar and also the Bani Omayyid who are the enemies of Omar and the family of Othman.
Fatima knows all these things very well. She under¬stands them. She is not someone who sits at home aware of nothing which is going on. Fatima has learned how to walk through struggles. She knows how to cut through propaganda. Her youth had been spent in the heart of the movement"s storm and her maturing years in the political fire of her times. She is a Moslem woman: a woman whose ethical purity does not prohibit her from social responsibi¬lity. Now, a few hours have passed since the Prophet has been buried. Ali is in his home surrounded by some of the Bani Hashimi and the beloved Companions of the Prophet who had remained loyal to him. They have joined together in their opposition to what had happened at Saqifeh and in their disobedience to the allegiance which had drawn people to it. The decree of the Caliph has been read at the mosque. People have also pledged allegiance to him. Omar, a political agent, tries unrelentlessly to gather the remain¬ing votes so as to pave the way.
Saied ibn Obadeh, the leader of the Khazraj, a man of influence who was the candidate of the Helpers at Saq¬ifeh, did not accept the Caliphate of Abu Bakr. Out of pro¬test, he left Medina. He headed towards Damascus. News reached them that half way there he had been attacked and killed by a jinn! Who has assassinated him? They even knew the jinn who killed him because a poem circulated in praise of that jinn. But soon murmurs were heard that he had been murdered by command of Omar Khalid ibn Valid.
The fate of the tribes is still unknown. There is a possibility that they will not accept Abu Bakr as Caliph. But the most dangerous focal point is at Fatima"s house. Yes. From this day on, the house of Fatima becomes a center, dangerous to governments.
Three Centers of Patience
Now in Medina, history shows us three important centers of great patience: the mosque, the home of Fa¬tima, and next to it, the Prophet"s home, which has now been silenced. It is strange that these three are all located in one place, wall to wall. Yes. Only the distance of a wall separates them.
Omar is very angry about this single point of strength in opposition to the new leaders. He who has struggled a great deal to establish Abu Bakr"s leadership and who has removed hundreds of obstacles, cannot now bear the fact that there is a group in this house which has been establish¬ed to resist, who gather together to put aside that allegi¬ance. And still more important is the fact that this house is next to the mosque.
The mosque is the Parliament of the Caliphate, the house of government. Fatima"s house is in the corner and the faces of those who were until yesterday the dearest and most beloved of the Prophet can be seen there.
Fatima, like a wounded bird, is pressed between two heavy tragedies: the death of the Prophet and the defeat of Ali. Her head is .bowed with the weight of the black sor¬row. She thinks about the past. She thinks of her father who had always been so worried about the future as to what would the fate be of the religion of justice and its leadership. Bitter sweet memories fill her mind and her spirit. Like a bird who flaps its wings within its cage, wing to wing of her father, flying through the past horizons, she is able to find peace for a few moments from the anger of the tragedy which has most recently fallen upon her and destroyed her home. Suddenly, a loud uproar comes from the mosque. Fatima, in the midst of the uproar, cries and confusion, hears the voice of Omar ibn Khatab saying, "I will burn this house to the ground with all its inhabitants."
She hears these words of attack loud and clear. They have come closer now. The door of Fatima"s house opens to the mosque. She hears the words of someone in amaze¬ment, asking, `Even if Fatima is in there?"
And Omar answers, "Even if she is in there."
It is true that Omar"s servant brought fire to the mos¬que. The fire is now at her door. In the midst of the confu¬sion, Omar shouts out, "Ali come out!"
Inside the house there is great commotion. The fla¬mes of fire are close. They are visible from between the cracks in the door. The cries of Omar grow louder and more violent by the moment. Suddenly the cry of Fatima is heard. She is standing behind the door. Her cry holds within it all of the sorrow of the world.
"Father, Prophet of God! After you; what have I not seen from Omar and Abu Bakr!."
The followers of Omar take several steps backwards. These are the cries and anger of the beloved daughter of the Prophet! A group can not contain themselves. They begin to cry and wail out loud. Another group remains looking fixedly upon the home of Fatima and the Pro¬phet.
They say they were all fixed with shame. Omar, who had remained alone, stands confused for a moment. He does not know what to do. Then he returns to Abu Bakr. Everyone gathers around Abu Bakr. They relate the story of Fatima to him. Some of them tell it as if they are speak¬ing of a tragedy.
Abu Bakr returns to Fatima"s house followed by Omar and others, but this time they go softly and quietly. One says, "Abu Bakr cuts with cotton [i.e. his policy is softness] whereas Omar cuts with the sword [his policy is rough]."
Fatima is used to difficulties. She has grown up in the cradle of resistance and struggle. She now finds herself fac¬ing the most difficult of her tragedies when she senses her¬self to have the least strength. She stands alone behind the door bf this home like its guard, gathering together all of her strength before she falls to her knees under the pres¬sure and weight weighing down upon her. She is trying to protect Ali who is now all alone.
They ask permission to enter. She does not giver per¬mission. Ali, whose patience is hard to conceive of, comes out. He asks Fatima to give them permission. to enter. She does not resist Ali. But she remains silent, a silence which is overflowing with anger. Ali asks them to enter. They do so. They greet Fatima. Fatima, in anger, turns away from them and does not answer. She creates a distance between herself and them. Because of her anger, she places herself beyond a wall. Abu Bakr sense that Fatima"s anger and dis¬gust is beyond limit. He does not know what to say or how to begin.
Shame and silence create a shadow upon the heads of the two leaders. It is difficult for them at this moment to be present between Fatima and Ali. Ali is sitting beside them. They say there is only one host, silence. And Fati¬ma, next to the wall, is pouting, full of anger. She has hid¬den herself from them so she will not see them. It is a wall, the distance between which is never removed from that time forward.
Abu Bakr tries to have a positive encounter. He tries to find the strength so .that he can speak at this difficult moment. Moments pass and the silence which is full of words remains fixed in this house. Abu Bakr, with a face full of deep and apparent sorrow and in a tone trembling with sympathy, begins in a friendly voice.
"Beloved daughter of the Prophet, I swear that the family of the Prophet is dearer to me than my own fam¬ily. You are dearer to me than my own daughter, Aiesha. The day your father died, I had wished that I had died so that I would not remain after him. You see that I know you and I admit your virtue and nobility and if I were to take the rights and heritage of the Prophet of God from you, it is only because I had heard him, peace be upon him, say, "We Prophets do not leave a legacy. That which remains from us is charity."
Abu Bakr grows quiet. Omar is also silent. They wait to see the effects of these soft and praiseworthy words upon Fatima"s spirit. Fatima, without hesitating for a mo¬ment, in answer, begins with a quiet introduction full of reason, without any anger or cries. "If I were to quote the words of the Prophet of God to both of you, would you admit them to be his word and follow them?"
They both answer in one voice..."Yes..."
She says, "I hold you both to your oath to God. Did either of you not hear the Prophet say, "Fatima"s content¬ment is my contentment and Fatima"s anger is my anger. That which my daughter, Fatima, likes, I like. That which contents Fatima contents me. That which brings about Fatima"s anger brings about my anger."
They both answer, "Yes. We heard these words from the Prophet of God."
She immediately continues, "Then I have authority from God and the angels to tell you that you both brought me to anger and you have not given me contentment. When 1 see the Prophet of God, 1 will tell him about you. I will complain to him about you."
Abu Bakr begins to cry. He senses that neither does he have the strength to speak nor does Fatima have the strength to listen. He arises and Omar behind him. He enters the mosque. Full of confusion and tears, he cries out with anger and pain to those gathered there that ....
Fadak is Confiscated
But the power structure and the policy making agents convince Abu Bakr that it is in in the best interests of the community for him to move aside. With deep sor¬row and after much disagreement, he is convinced. He accepts their advice and is tamed. He imagines that by accepting the Caliphate, he will be able to continue the victory of Islam and implement the Traditions of the Pro¬phet. The first decision he makes is to confiscate Fadak, the grazing area which belonged to Fatima.
Ali is personally and economically paralyzed by this act. His income now depends completely upon what he received from the public purse. They leave Ali alone. Those who had gathered around him are dispersed either through force or by their own decision. In this way, there is no danger of revolt from his non allegiance and disobe¬dience. They know that as long as Fatima is alive, they can not get Ali"s allegiance. Ali cannot give his allegiance be¬cause Fatima opposes a power or force which does not know the meaning of right. She has not the least bit of softness for them. She holds her strict position until her death. The feeling of anger does not leave her. She attacks what she has in relation to them. She does not let go for a moment.
The Prophet dies. Ali remains at home. Fatima"s le¬gacy, which is the only means of income for herself, her husband and her children, is confiscated. Power falls into the hands of Abu Bakr and Omar. The fate and future of Islam is given into the political hands of men such as Ab¬dul Rahman ibn Ouf, a worshipper of money, the aristo¬crat, Othman, the careless, Khalid ibn Valid and Saied ibn Vaqas, a man without piety. They become the principal agents of the Caliphate of the Prophet.
Ali remains at home. He spends his time gathering together the Qoran because he fears for the future. Balal has to leave Medina. He goes to Damascus and remains silent forever. Salman retreats to a corner. He tells those who are hurriedly and victoriously returning from Saqifeh, "You did what you shouldn"t have done and you didn"t do what you should have done." Then, full of sorrow, having lost hope, he returns to Iran. He dies at Madayen. Abuzar, the close Companion of the Prophet and Ammar remain idle.
Fatima Does Not Give Up
But Fatima does not sit down. Under a mountain, full of sorrow, bearing her bereaving spirit, she continues her resistance and her struggle against the oppressive Caliphate. She believes the Caliphate to be unworthy. In order to get back Fadak, she does not stand still. Her efforts are always to attack and criticize. She tries to prove to everyone that the Caliph was taking out political revenge upon her and striking an economic blow to Ali with this act of taking Fadak. Fadak is a small grazing area and even if it had been larger, it would have still been too small for Fatima to get involved with. But Fadak has taken on the importance of showing the usurpation and force of the new regime. By keeping the problem of Fadak alive, she tries to condemn the regime. She proves what rights they deny in order to serve their own purposes. They do not refrain from devia¬ting from a saying of the Prophet or its meaning. She wants the thoughts of people to know to what extent these people who call themselves `followers of the custom of the Prophet" and who actually establish their own Ca¬liphate on this basis, oppress the family of the Prophet. They cut off the right which each and every Moslem child has to receive and every father has the right to give.
They say the Prophet has children, but leaves no legacy. Fadak becomes a political issue for Fatima and a means of rebellion. Fatima"s insistence is because of this, not because of its economic value as her conscious enemies and unconscious friends announce.
Fatima does not give up. Even though the death of the Prophet has burned her spirit and strongly hurt her. Each blow follows upon the other. The. majority of the great Companions and Emigrants of the Prophet who have reached a number which can be counted on one hand, all have given their vote to the Caliph or they have accepted the election and coup d"etat of Saqifeh.
Fatima has no real hope to be able to get back any power. She knows that Ali has lost his rights. The chosen power, who have pre-designed and pre-planned the whole thing, have become fixed. She must fight and struggle with the little hope that she has. She must rebel against the ruler. Even if she cannot defeat him, she will at least have condemned him. If it does not fall, it can, at least, be dis¬graced. If the truth cannot be implemented, it can be proven and designed so that time will come to know it. It can be kept alive, so that people come to know that the ruling forces do not represent the truth. They are op¬pressive. It is truth, justice and freedom which have been defeated and imprisoned.
This is why Medina now witnesses one of the most wonderful views of history. Next to the mosque of the Prophet, in the heart of the dark night, a woman in mour¬ning, sitting upon a horse, being led by a man, passes thro¬ugh the dark empty streets of the town.
Ali walks. Fatima, the beloved and rebellious daug¬ter of the Prophet rides. Every night they leave their home with the same purpose. Ali goes with her to seek out the Helpers. They are more sincere and impartial than the Emi¬grants who are mainly from the Qoraish tribe. They sup¬port each other. An aged political structure brings them to¬gether., Now the Caliph, from among them, is their influen¬tial master. All of them share in his leadership. But the Helpers play no role in the present leadership. Their candi¬date has been Saied ibn Obadeh who left Medina and was assassinated on his way to Damascus.
They give in although they disagree with Abu Bakr"s reasoning. Abu Bakr had been an emigrant, a relative of God"s Prophet and the elder of the Qoraish. They surrendered when he said that the Prophet wished for the Caliph to be from his Qoraish family, from among the re¬latives and family of the Prophet. Out of respect for the saying of the Prophet and his family, they submitted and overlooked their differences. They gave leadership to Abu Bakr who was from the Prophet"s tribe and the father in¬ law of the Prophet. He had shown himself to be among the loyal followers and family of the Prophet. He received the majority vote. These are the present people of Medina.
Now Fatima goes to them personally. Every night she accompanies Ali to their sessions. She speaks with them. She speaks of each and every one of the desires of the Prophet. She accounts one by one for Ali"s worthiness, virtues and superiorities. Through her influential spirit, with her great human personality, her political awareness, with the 4ccurate knowledge she had of Islam, its spirit and goals and finally with the power of logic and reasoning, she proves the rightfulness of Ali and the wrongfulness of the election. She shows the deception. She counts the results and makes them apparent. She shows how they will suffer from this superficial and hurriedly determined decision of political negligence. She frightens them with the dark and unstable future which awaits Islam with their leadership of the community.
Not even one historian has mentioned this story. No one has retold the fact that no one opposes the logic of Fatima to argue with her interpretation and reception of the event. They stand by her. All give her the right. All admit their great error. All accept the virtues of Ali and the superiority of his leadership. Fatima is asking them to support Ali and help him get his rights.
But their answers? "You should see the Prophet"s dau¬ghter now that we have given our allegiance to Abu Bakr." "The affair is finished. If your husband, your cousin, Ali, had taken the lead and mentioned all of this sooner, we would certainly have elected him. We prefer him to any¬one else."
Ali, surprised and in a tone of protest, asks them, "Do you really believe that I should have left the dead body of the Prophet in his home, neglected his funeral ceremonies, come out of the house, and fought for a legacy?"
Fatima, seeing that once again Ali is sacrificed because of his loyalty to the Prophet, says, "Ali has done nothing other than what he should have done. He did the noble thing, but what did they do? God will punish them and will take care of them."
The Promised Gift is Sent
Now everything has ended. Fatima is content to await death. She feels more alone than she ever thought she could. She sees all the familiar faces who for so many years surrounded her father, who went everywhere with him and who have now turned into strangers.
The Companions are now breathing another air. Me¬dina is no longer the city of the Prophet. Policy and sover¬reignity are now governing the "City of Faith". The great and powerful spirit which had spirited the bedouins, that is , feelings, generosity, worship of the truth, standing for the truth, sensitivity towards human values and the beau¬ties of a life of spiritual struggle, faith and piety are gone.
Instead there is a burning and destroying of and a rebuilding based upon ancient customs, tribal traditions, blood relationships, selfishness, pride, self worship, tribal killing, inferior political games and conservatism. All of this opposes the lashes of his words which are lashes of certainty containing the fire of the revolution, committ¬ment and engagement in social action, responsibility, pro¬gress, manifestations of the spirit, meaning and the con¬stant chance of life and resistance to oppression.
Now he is silent. He is settled inside Fatima"s house, His dearest friends are left out as well, they who had lived a classless existence and who had found a high place in the eyes and the heart of the Prophet. They who had earned their nobility and respect through their faith, sincerity, awareness and resistance had fallen from the eyes of the new political leaders. Those who are clever and eye catch¬ing, move forward.
Ears are so busy with talk of power, leadership and self protection that one can no longer hear the softness of emotions, friendship and sincerity. The personality of Abu Bakr, harshness of Omar and the sword of Khaled and the genius of Amr al Aas suddenly build a high wall around Medina, and the people, frightened and/or attracted, and the Companions aware and/or unaware, are taken into the middle of the wall. But Fatima"s house is left out of it. Fa¬tima"s voice reaches no one!
The enemies of Fatima are much stronger than those whom they resisted and fought against in Mecca. Her father fought alone in Mecca with only his young daughter as his companion and support. In the Masjid al Haram, the place of the power of the enemy before Islam, the Prophet and his daughter faced the Qoraish senate together. The Prophet has been calling the 300 idols, the worshipped and intercessors of the Qoraish, and all Arabs, dumb, idiots. Without hesitation and weakness, he cries out that he will break all of them with God"s help. He compares their ancestors to fools and that which they hold sacred as being superstition.
But we see that the Prophet, at the height of his power, when he was more loved, more powerful and more influential than ever before, during the last days of his life, can not move Osameh"s army. Even though he gives strict commands, prays and curses, tired and sick with fever, on the verge of death, he cannot move the army standing in Jazaf, near Medina.
What can I say? Even in his own house, among his nearest companions, he could not write a letter, he could not announce his testimony. If he were to simply say it, it would not be safe from alteration and deviation.
Her husband, Ali, the hero of the day, the man who in the battle of Khandaq where all of the enemy tribes had joined together to attack Medina, where both profane and religious groups had gathered to attack, that is, Arabs and Jews, joined in a single unit to destroy the young Is¬lamic movement entirely, to crush Mohammad"s support and the revolution upon the heads of its warriors, and, as they said, "to take Medina"s soil with the feed bags of their horses", while Ali, a young man, twenty or so years old, with one blow, changed the whole fate of the battle.
The man, who at the Battle of Ohud when the Qoraish occupy the valley and the Moslems are dispersed and. fleeing, when the great Companions are hidden, having lost hope and the Prophet is wounded and defenseless in his position, circles around the Prophet like a whirlwind, returns to the battlefield and scatters the front of the enemy which is pressing forward, progressing towards the Prophet over the bodies of the martyrs. He returns to Mo¬hammad to circle around him once again. As he goes back to the battlefield, closing the way of escape, shouting to the scattered forces to form a new front, he regroups the defeated, hopeless, deserters and forms a resistance group which forces the Qoraish, full of joy at hearing the news of the death of the Prophet, seeing the mass of martyrs, the defeat of the warriors and drinking the blood of Hamzeh, the Prophet"s uncle, to retreat from the battlefield.
The men who guaranteed the victory of Khaybar, the man who upon the battlefield uses his sword like a sickle which moves through the wheat fields at harvest time, harvesting heads and blood and amasses the army of the enemy and lays them in front of his horse, now sits in the corner of a house.
Where is His Sword?
What has happened to the famous sword of her hus¬band, Ali? Whenever he returned from battle, it was full of blood and was given to her along with the sword of the Prophet. Ali would say to her in a voice full of honor, glory and pride, "Fatima, wash these!" Now, he is becoming lifeless and after ten years of constant struggle, he is laying down in bed.
She also sees that they are attacking Ali"s house, but he does not leave his silent corner. Thus, in the battlefield where the Prophet could not succeed, Ali, the warrior, the champion who gave glory to the field of battle, has been defeated and Fatima is alone. What can she do?
Always fighting in the battle front, he is more severe and causes more misery than the front in which the external enemy is standing opposite him. Now a battle has begun where Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl, Abu Sufiyan, Hind and Otbeh Omiyeh ibn Khalaf and Akarmeh are not op¬posite him. These visages are well known as lacking any respect or human desires. It is obvious that they fight only to protect their power, interests, force, strength, business caravans, slave markets and not because of poverty, spiri¬tual meaning, faith and human wishes. It is a battle be¬tween despotism and revolution, slavery and freedom, captivity and salvation, humiliation and lordship, purity and filth. Finally, it is a war against the guardians of ignorance and darkness in human disguise by the messen¬gers of awareness and enlightment.
What is it? On one side is Ali and Fatima as it was in Mecca, Badr, Ohud Khaybar, Fath and Honein. But, on the other side is Abu Bakr, the first person who, outside the Prophet"s home, joins him, his friend, his companion on the migration, and father of his wife. A person who gives him friendship when the Prophet has no one and is alone who spends all of his wealth in the way of the Pro¬phet, and, as a result, in Medina, he is so poor that it is said that he had to work for Jews and strange and despised people. He was a person whom people had seen for 23 years, that is, from the first year of the mission of the Pro¬phet until his death of the Prophet, beside the Prophet.
And Omar, the 40th person who, in the hidden Shel¬ter of the Prophet, accepted Islam. With his joining and that of Hamzeh, the first few weak friends gained power and appeared among the people to announce Islam. From that time on, he gave all of his power towards the progress of the movement. He is from among the closest friends and most distinguished of the Emigrants of the Prophet. He was the father of Hafaseh, one of the other wives of the Prophet and people accept him as one of the leaders and great Companions of the Prophet of God.
Othman, an Emigrant who had made two emigrations in the way of Islam was the son in law of the Prophet who had married two daughters of the Prophet. He had an eye¬catching, sacred personality and he belonged to two of the great families of the Qoraish. He had a great wealth which he distributed among the poor friends of the Prophet and had actively participated in social services and helped the people a great deal. The masses of the people call upon him as one of the Companions, great Emigrants, friend and family of the Prophet.
And Khalid ibn Walid, who is a hero in the religious struggles against the enemies of Islam. At the Battle of Mu¬teh, where he is a simple soldier, he breaks nine swords over the heads of Romans. He is known as "the sword of God". Amr al Aas is one of the four famous Arab geniuses who had become a Moslem many years before. He showed the power of Islam to the Emperor of Rome at the Nort¬hern borders. Saied ibn Vaqas , the first person who in Islam fires an arrow at an enemy, takes Moslems from the position of defense and shows them how to attack. He shows the enemies what attack is all about and at the Battle of Ohud he carefully released several arrows and saved the life of the Prophet who was in great danger. He had defended himself so bravely that the Prophet praised him.
There were many, many more including great Emi¬grants, Helpers, all the army, leaders and builders of the foundation of Islam and closest friends and pioneers of the Prophet among them.
Their Slogan is Islam
And their slogan? Not idol worship, disbelief, poly¬theism, myths, protection of the business of the Qoraish nor the nobility of the tribe, but establishment of unity and the spread of Islam, the gathering and propagation of the Qoran, piety, the negating of the gathering of wealth and gold, helping people,. seeking of the satisfaction of God, the implementation of religious law and finally, the putting of the Prophet"s Traditions into effect and most important of all, promoting Unity and the uniting of Mos¬lems.
In the middle of this, a right is easily and quietly ais¬carded. The rights of Ali. How? Very easily and with a very understandable logic because of sympathy towards the community and because of the fate of Islam and the danger of internal rebellion, pressure of the foreign ene¬mies and the fear of separation among the Moslems and... in short, it is. because it is advisible for the moment.
A young man, thirty some years old, often harsh, whose background does not stand well with the majority they are jealous of him. His behaviour is of a type that causes the influential, effective personalities and groups to not be optimistic towards him.
`It is still too soon for Ali. It is not advisable for Islam at the moment." Yes. Advisability! The inauspicious blow which is always used against the Truth. Advisability, a sword used by clever people to sacrifice the Truth. It is done in accordance with the Divine Law:face the giblah and say, `In the Name of God", a clean and pure sacri¬fice, a permissible meat.
How simple! Without any noise. Without anyone understanding. Without any who are asleep, awakening: Without the people rebelling. Without anyone to bring awareness to the people. Without anyone being able to distinguish the rights which are asleep under the blows of advisability, they silently die and are forgotten. Finally, without any effort, or protest, to be able to save the Truth and stand against the power which is armed with `advise¬ability", the struggles, cries, protests, moanings anti: even objections of Fatima go unheeded. When, a society is covered under advisability, nothing can be done. The greatest tradegy in human history takes place. It. is a silent and defenseless tragedy which sacrifices Ali and Fatima and later on we see their successors and one by one all of their posterity. Fatima sensed it had begun and she could do nothing about it.
Suddenly she felt the exhaustion of a whole lifetime of resistance, bearing of miseries patiently, tortures, pover¬ty, difficulties and the bitterness of her life. She becomes convinced that all has been lost. She senses that she can do nothing to keep what the Prophet could not keep and what Ali could not protect.
All of the nights become blurred in her eyes, nights which come successively. Her father, during the last days of his life, gave news of it to her. The time has come. What will happen tomorrow? What will become of the great efforts of her father in the cold winds of policy and ad¬visability which have now begun? What is the future of this young community? Into whose hands will the future of these people fall whose fate is to be sacrificed because of policy? The smell of aristocracy, nobility and tribal ties once again has arisen. Allegiance replaces the com¬mandment. How can the votes of the tribes who elect their leader or the Qoraish who elect their elders be more acceptable than the vote of the Prophet?
What kind of people are these who at Saqifeh first give their allegiance to Saied and then with one word from Abu Bakr, give their allegiance to him? Do they have sufficient growth and awareness so that the Prophet does not need to interfere in their politics? These people are the people of the Prophet"s city who have lived near him and next to him.
Fear for the Future of Islam
They have performed the jihad together. They have learned of Islam from the Prophet but they have chosen Abu Bakr. Tomorrow when Islam spreads beyond Medina and this generation passes, what fate will this allegiance bring to the leader of the people? Who will vote and who will be chosen?
"Now that the most sacrificed visages of the Emi¬grants and Helpers of the Propeht of the first generation of Islam and the pioneers of faith have put Ali aside because of policy and he is forced to sit in his home, what will tomorrow"s generation do to my children? What will tomorrow"s policies be when people have not grown up in the atmosphere of faith, piety and jihad?" Even now the future of Hasan, Hosein and Zainab can be seen and one can be certain what their future will be.
The beginning of Ali staying at home is the beginning of a frightening and bloody history. The allegiance of Saqi¬feh, which began quietly and cleverly will be followed by bloody allegiances and the problem of Fadak will be the beginning of extortions and the oppressions of tomorrow. Tomorrow is black, frightening and bloody. Successive tomorrows will bring plunder, murders and torture.
The Caliphate of tomorrow will be a great tragedy to Islam and a serious tragedy to humanity. But now what can be done? Fatima does everything her strength will allow to try and see that the first stone which is laid is not laid crooked. She can do nothing. She sense that the ears of the Medina of the Prophet are deaf to her cries. Her heart is made heavy by the silence of Ali, a silence which would cause any heart which has any feeling, who under¬stands Ali and knows the times, to heat up and burn .
How difficult and merciless is selfishness to be able to express itself with faith, particularly when it is armed with policy. It causes the faithful and devoted Companions to sacrifice the rights of the people and to kill Ali"s rights.
Fatima is exhausted after a lifetime of bearing patiently the weight of the mission of her father and the difficulty of resistance when faced with the ignorance of her tribe, with a life from beginning to end full of torture, danger, poverty and efforts because the wishes are far from the despots of the time. In the misery of mourning for the death of her father whose life had been mixed with hers and saddened by the unbearable fate of Ali, who after a lifetime of jihad with the enemy, is forced to sit at home by the hand of a friend, not that of an enemy. He is the sacrifice of a force which has come into existence with the power of his faith, sword, sacrifice and sincerity. She is defeated and without hope. She falls to her knees as her last efforts put forth to get back Ali"s rights proves fruit¬less.
It is not only further effort which is difficult, but she finds the bearing of it patiently to be impossible, not for that which was going on outside but rather, patiently bear¬ing what she sees within her home and finally, the bearing patiently of the frightening silence which is taking over the house neighboring hers the house of the Prophet.
Now the window is also closed, the window from which every day would open onto hers, where they would smile at each other, where kindness and faith would fall upon the simple house of Fatima. Now one of those win¬dows is closed. Death closed it forever upon Fatima. Poli¬tics closed the one in her own home. And she is now im¬prisoned in this house, next to Ali, who sits like a moun¬tain of sorrow and is silent. It is a silence which holds the fire of a volcano within itself. He reads in the innocent and sorrowful faces of the children of the Prophet, the frighte¬ning fate of the tomorrow of each one of them.
To remain alive is too painful and unbearable for her.
"To remain" is a heavy load. It is a load which is too heavy for the tired shoulders of Fatima to bear. Heavy time slow¬ly moves upon her wounded heart and passes by her. Every moment, every minute, and every step is heavy and slow.
She Seeks Out the Soil of Hes Graver Father"
Now the only meaning she finds in life is the kind soil of her father"s grave and the hopeful news he, gave her when he said, "Fatima, you will be the first person to join me from among my family."
But when? What an exciting anticipation!
Her suffering spirit, like a wounded bird whose wings have been broken, is imprisoned and impatient from three sides: the silent and sorrowful visage of her husband, the saddened faces of her children and the silent, cold earth upon her father in the corner of Aiesha"s house.
Whenever the pain in her heart increases and she loses her breath from crying, she senses that she is in need of the kindness and condolences of her father. She seeks him out. She falls upon the silent earth of her father. She stares at his grave and suddenly it is as if she just. heard of the death of her father for the first time. She cries out.
She pushes her fingers into the earth: She fills her empty hands with it. She tries to see him behind the cur¬tain of tears. She puts the earth upon her face and with all of the emotions through which she loved her father, she smells it and for a moment she is at peace, she has found condolence, but suddenly, in a tone which breaks with tears, she says, "Anyone who smells the earth of Ahmad (Mohammad) has lost nothing if they never again smell any other musk. Oh, father, what miseries have fallen upon me after you. If they had fallen upon a bright day, they would turn it into night." Gradually she would grow silent. The earth of her father"s grave pours through her senseless fingers. She looks at it with painful amazement. Then she becomes motionless and silent.
She puts all of her sorrows in the death of her father. Each day is like the first day of his death. Her impatience grows everyday and her cries become more painful. The wives of the Helpers gather round her and cry with her. The pressure and pain and the wave of sorrows are pressing upon her heart and causing her eyes to bleed. She com¬plains of their extortion and remembers what they did to her and the right they destroyed.
Her sorrow is more disturbing than anyone can con¬ceive of to be able to console her or ask her to be patient. Nights and days pass like this. The Companions have been warmed by their powers, richness and conquering and Ali in his sorrow, silent and Fatima in thoughts of death. The moment of impatience arrives, the gift her father had pro¬mised her.
The Death of Fatima
Each day that passes she becomes more impatient for death. The only way she can bear to remain alive is if she could seek refuge in her father and be drawn beside him when her faith and spirit overflow with complaints and pain.
What need does she have to such a refuge, such a peace? But time passes slowly. Ninety five days have pass¬ed since her father promised her death and death would not come.
It came. Today is Monday, the 3rd of Jamadi al thani, the 11th year of the migration, the year of the death of her father. She kisses each one of the children. Hasan is 7, Hosein is 6, Zainab, 5, and Umm Khulthum, 3.
And now is the moment to bid farewell to Ali. How difficult it is! And Ali must remain alone in the world for thirty more years. She sends for Umm Rafe"a to come. She had arranged the Prophet"s funeral.
She says, "Oh slave of God. Pour water on me so that I may wash myself. With patience and peace, she performs the abulution. Then she puts on the clothes which she had not worn since the death of her father and had put away. It is as if she had put aside the memory of her mourning and now is going to see a dear friend.
She says to Umm Rafe"a, "Put my bed in the middle of the room." Softly and quietly she steps into the bed. She faces the Ka"ba and she waits. A moment passes, mo¬ments...
Suddenly cries are heard within the house. She closes her lids and opens her eyes upon her beloved who was awaiting her.
A candle of fire and sorrow is extinguished in Ali"s house.
And Ali remains alone, with his children.
She had asked Ali to bury her at night so that no one would recognize her grave and so that those two elders would not follow her corpse to the grave.
Ali did as she had asked. But no one knows how. And they still do not know where. In her home? Or in Baghia"? It is not clear. And where in Baghia? It is not clear. That which is clear is the pain of Ali, tonight, next to the grave of Fatima.
Medina is silent in the night. All Moslems are asleep. The night is only broken by the quiet whisperings of Ali. Ali is very much alone both in the city and in his home without the Prophet and without Fatima. Like a moun¬tain of pain, he is sitting upon the earth of the grave of Fatima. Hours pass. Night, quiet and silent, listens to the pain of his whisperings. Baghia is peaceful, fortunate. Me¬dina is without loyalty and impoverished. All remains in silence. The awakened graves and sleeping city listens!
The wind of the night takes the words which flows with difficulty from the spirit of Ali at the side of Fatima"s grave towards the house of the Prophet. "To you from me and from your daughter, who fell down beside you and who in such haste joined you. Greetings, oh Pro¬phet of God."
"My patience and my ability have weakened from the fate of your dearest, oh Prophet of God. But how can I seek patience with such terrible misfortune and missing you?
"I placed you in the grave but you still exist in my heart. We are all from God and unto God we shall return. But my sorrow is eternal and my nights, sleepless until God takes me to the same home in which you are now.
"Right now, your daughter will tell you how your tribe joined each other against her and took away her rights. Insist that she tell you everything that happened. All these things happened even though not much time has passed since your death and people have not forgotten you.
`Greetings to both of you,
greetings from a man who has neither anger nor sorrow."
He remains silent for a moment. He suddenly senses the exhaustion of a whole lifetime. It is as if with every word which is pulled from the depths of his being, he gives up a part of his existence.
He is alone. He does not know what to do. Stay? Re¬turn home? How can he leave Fatima here alone? How can he return alone to his home? The city looks like a devil in the darkness of the night. Schemes, treacheries and shame¬lessness awaits him.
How can he stay? His children, the people, Truth, res¬ponsibilities and a heavy mission await him. His pain is so heavy that it destroys his strong spirit. He cannot decide. Hesitation grips his soul. Go? Stay? He senses that he is unable to do either. He does not know what he will do. He explains to Fatima.
"If I leave you it is not that I do not want to stay near you
and if I stay here have I not been unfair to the fate that God promises for those who bear patiently?"
Then he arose; stood, faced the Prophet"s house, with a state which would overflow if poured into the word, feel¬ings, he wants to tell him that he is returning that which had been entrusted to him. `Listen to what she says. Ask her to tell you everything precisely. Have her count all the things that she saw after you, one by one!
Fatima is Fatima
by Dr. Ali Shariati