Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a) was an esteemed and revered lady, known for her exceptional nobility, purity, and virtuous character. The Imams held her in high regard and praised her abundantly. In this article, we will delve into the life and remarkable qualities of Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a), a revered figure from the Ahlul Bait (the Household of the Prophet). Our exploration here on Islam4u aims to shed light on her exemplary character and the significance she holds within Islam.
Date of Birth and Parents
Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a) was born in Medina on the 1st of Dhi al-Qa‘dah, 173 AH. She was the daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a), the seventh Imam, and she was the sister of Imam al-Rida (a), the eighth Imam. It is worth noting that Lady Ma‘sumah (a) and Imam al-Rida (a) shared the same mother, Lady Najma (a). Their noble lineage and familial connection add further significance to Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah’s distinguished status within the Ahlul Bait.
Lady Ma‘sumah’s Virtues
Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a) held a significant position within the lineage of Imams, being regarded as the most virtuous child of Imam al-Kazim (a) after Imam al-Rida (a). Numerous narrations from several Imams attest to her exceptional virtues. Growing up, she was surrounded by a family blessed with three Imams: her father, Imam al-Kazim (a), her brother, Imam al-Rida (a), and her nephew, Imam al-Jawad (a).
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a) had foretold the birth of Lady Ma‘sumah (a) and prophesied that she would be laid to rest in a city known as Qom. He also declared that paradise would be incumbent on whoever visits her grave. That is, they would undoubtedly attain paradise, emphasizing the immense spiritual significance associated with visiting her shrine. This divine foretelling further amplifies the importance and spiritual rewards linked to pilgrimage to her blessed resting place in Qom.
Hadiths From the Imams Extolling the Virtues of Lady Ma‘sumah
As mentioned, several hadiths mention the virtues of Lady Ma‘sumah (a). Let us go over them.
Imam al-Sadiq (a) said:
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ حَرَماً وَ هُوَ مَکةُ وَ لِرَسُولِهِ حَرَماً وَ هوَ الْمدِینَةُ وَ لِأَمِیرِ الْمُؤْمِنِینَ حَرَماً وَ هُوَ الْکوفَةُ وَ لَنَا حَرَماً وَ هُوَ قُمُّ وَ سَتُدْفَنُ فِیهِ امْرَأَةٌ منْ وُلْدِی تسَمَّی فاطِمَةَ مَنْ زَارَهَا وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةُ. قَالَ الرَّاوِی وَ کانَ هَذَا الْکلَامُ مِنْهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ یولَدَ الْکاظِمُ
Allah has a shrine, which is Mecca; the Prophet (s) has a shrine, which is Medina; the Commander of the Faithful Ali (a) has a shrine, which is Kufa; we, the Ahlul Bait, have a shrine, which is Qom. Soon, my granddaughter, named Fatima, will be buried there. Paradise will be incumbent on whoever visits her grave.
According to the narrator of the hadith, Imam al-Sadiq (a) uttered these words even before the birth of Lady Ma‘sumah’s father, Imam al-Kazim (a). This remarkable statement by Imam al-Sadiq highlights the profound knowledge and foresight possessed by the Imams, transcending the bounds of time and offering insights into future events. The significance of Imam al-Sadiq’s words becomes even more extraordinary as they preceded the birth of Lady Ma‘sumah’s esteemed father, further emphasizing the divine wisdom and knowledge that encompassed the Ahlul Bait.
Two Narrations From Imam al-Rida (a)
In a short hadith, Imam al-Rida (a) gives the title Ma‘sumah to his sister and says:
مَنْ زَارَ الْمَعصُومَةَ بِقُمْ کَمَنْ زَارَنى
Whoever visits [the tomb of] Ma‘sumah in Qom, it is as though they have visited me.
His Holiness has also said:
مَنْ زَارَهَا وَجبَتْ لَه الْجنَّةُ
Whoever visits her, paradise becomes incumbent on them.
A Similar Narration From Imam al-Jawad (a)
Imam al-Jawad (a) said:
مَنْ زَارَ عَمَّتِی بِقُمَّ فَلَهُ الْجَنَّةُ
Whoever visits [the tomb of] my aunt, paradise will be incumbent on them.
The narrations collectively signify the exalted spiritual status of Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a) in the sight of Allah, to the extent that visiting her shrine guarantees paradise as a reward. Additionally, she holds the unique distinction of being the only woman, after Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a), for whom an infallible Imam has composed a designated text of ziyarah (visitation). It was Imam al-Rida (a) who bestowed this privilege upon Lady Ma‘sumah (a), highlighting her esteemed position and the exceptional veneration accorded to her. This act of Imam al-Rida (a) further accentuates the honor and reverence associated with Lady Ma‘sumah (a), distinguishing her among the noble women of Islam.
The Position of Intercession
In a thought-provoking incident, a person pondered about the intercession of Lady Fatima al-Ma‘sumah (a) on behalf of the people of Qom on the Day of Judgment, seeking their salvation from hell and admittance into paradise. In a dream, this individual encountered Mirza-yi Qommi, a renowned scholar of Qom. Mirza-yi Qommi assured him, saying, “My intercession alone is sufficient for the people of Qom, while Lady Ma‘sumah (a) intercedes on behalf of all Shia believers worldwide.”
This encounter reveals that Lady Ma‘sumah (a) holds a profound intercessory role on the Day of Judgment, as evident in the ziyarah text associated with her, which implores, “O Fatima, intercede with Allah on my behalf to enter paradise.” The fact that this ziyarah text was dictated by Imam al-Rida (a) serves as further evidence of Lady Ma‘sumah’s distinguished position as one of the intercessors on the Day of Judgment.
A Knowledgeable Woman
Once, a group of Shiites traveled to Medina with the intention of seeking religious guidance from Imam al-Kazim (a). However, upon their arrival, they discovered that the Imam was not present in the city. It seemed that Imam al-Rida (a) was also unavailable at the time. Undeterred, they decided to write down their questions and hand them over to the family of Imam al-Kazim (a) since he had not yet returned.
As they waited for Imam al-Kazim’s return, they were unable to stay in his residence and contemplated leaving Medina. However, at that moment, a remarkable incident occurred. Lady Fatima Ma‘sumah (a), who was still a child, took it upon herself to write down the answers to all of their questions. The group of Shiites was overjoyed by this unexpected gesture and prepared to depart.
During their journey, they coincidentally encountered Imam al-Kazim (a). They recounted to him the incident and shared how Lady Fatima Ma‘sumah (a) had provided answers to all of their questions. Intrigued, Imam al-Kazim (a) proceeded to examine both the questions and the answers she had provided. To his amazement, he confirmed that she had correctly addressed each inquiry. In response to this extraordinary display of knowledge, he exclaimed three times:
“May her father be sacrificed for her.”
This incident serves as a testament to the exceptional wisdom and knowledge possessed by Lady Fatima Ma‘sumah (a), even at a tender age.
Invitation to Khorasan and Martyrdom
During Imam al-Rida’s (a) stay in Merv, Khorasan, he sent a letter to Lady Fatima Ma‘sumah (a), urging her to join him in Khorasan. Responding to the Imam’s request, she embarked on the journey to Khorasan. However, when she arrived in the city of Saveh, her health deteriorated, and she fell ill. Concerned about her proximity to Qom, she inquired about the distance from the locals, who informed her that it was ten parasangs away. Determined to reach Qom, she insisted that the caravan proceed towards her intended destination.
Tragically, after seventeen days, Lady Ma‘sumah (a) passed away on the 10th of Rabi‘ al-Thani, 201 AH. Notably, a Shia scholar and historian named al-Sayyid Ja‘far Murtada al-‘Amili holds the belief that Lady Ma‘sumah (a) was poisoned while in Saveh, leading to her martyrdom. This perspective highlights the tragic circumstances surrounding her departure from this world.
When the time came to bury Lady Fatima Ma‘sumah (a), the people of Qom were unsure of who should perform the burial rites. After deliberation, they reached a consensus that an elderly man named Qādir should carry out the task. However, before they could summon him, two riders with veiled faces suddenly appeared. These mysterious individuals offered their prayers behind the body of Lady Ma‘sumah (a) and proceeded to bury her. Without delay, they mounted their horses and swiftly departed from the scene.
According to some accounts, these two riders were believed to be Imam al-Rida (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a). They had miraculously arrived in Qom to fulfill the sacred duty of burying Lady Ma‘sumah (a). This extraordinary occurrence signifies that only the infallible Imams were deemed worthy of performing the prayers behind her body and carrying out her burial. The divine intervention and presence of the Imams in this significant moment emphasize the exceptional stature and sanctity of Lady Ma‘sumah (a) within the Ahlul Bait.
 Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 1, p. 57, hadith 12196.
 Nasikh al-Tawarikh, vol. 3, p. 68.
 ‘Uyun al-Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 2, 267; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 48, p. 317.
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 48, p. 316.
 Kashf al-La’ali.
 Al-‘Amili, Hayat al-Siyasiyyah li Imam al-Rida (a), 1403 AH, vol. 1, p. 428.