The beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (s), Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a), was martyred on Jumada al-Thani 3, 11 AH. In this article on Islam4u, we will look deeper into the martyrdom of this noble lady of the Ahlul Bait (a) from a historical perspective.
Lady Fatima (a) After the Martyrdom of Her Father
Lady Fatima was strongly attached to her father, the Noble Prophet (s). When he passed away, she felt deep sorrow, such that nothing could stop her from remembering her father. Just before the Prophet departed the world, Fatima was next to him and weeping copiously. The Noble Prophet said something that made her smile while she was weeping. He said, “You will be the first person to join me after I die.” Lady Fatima became delighted when she heard this. Soon, the world would witness the martyrdom of Lady Fatima
What Happened Before the Prophet (s) Passed Away?
While the Prophet (s) was on his deathbed, he told some of his close companions to come to him. Then he asked for pen and ink and said, “I am about to write you something that you will never be misled through it.” One of the companions of the Prophet (s), who later became the second caliph, said, “This man is hallucinating.” He also said, “The book of Allah (i.e., the Quran) suffices us.” He said this because the Prophet (s) never wrote anything in his life, and now he was asking for pen and ink. Of course, he also knew that what the Prophet (s) was about to write would be to his disadvantage. It is said that the Prophet (s) wanted to emphasize Imam Ali’s successorship. Little did he know that the Prophet of God is infallible and never speaks on a whim, as the Quran has said:
مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ ﴿٢﴾ وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ ﴿٣﴾ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْىٌ يُوحَىٰ ﴿٤﴾
Your companion has neither gone astray, nor amiss. (2) Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire: (3) it is just a revelation that is revealed [to him], (4)
There was an uproar, and a fight was about to begin. The Prophet (s) became angry and told them to go away. The Prophet (s) had said on numerous occasions shortly before his demise that I am leaving two weighty and precious things (Thaqalayn) for you: the Book of Allah, and my progeny, the Ahlul Bait (a). He said you would never be misguided if you hold on and cling to these two weighty things.
Lady Fatima’s Role After the Prophet’s Martyrdom
Lady Fatima (a) and Imam Ali (a) had two completely different roles. The Prophet (s) had foretold all the events after his martyrdom to Imam Ali (a). However, he had told Imam Ali (a) to be patient for the good of the Muslim ummah. On the other hand, Lady Fatima (a) was not told to be patient or sit idle and do nothing to establish the truth. She was perhaps the sole defender of the Imam of her time and the immediate successor to the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a). Therefore, she did everything she could to defend Imam Ali (a). This was her obligatory duty and was not something she could have forgone.
Who Became the Caliph After the Prophet (s), and What Did Lady Fatima (a) Do?
Contrary to the Prophet’s command and will at Ghadir Khumm, some of the so-called elite companions of the Prophet did not pledge allegiance to Imam Ali (a) as the Prophet’s successor. Instead, they formed a council to “elect” the caliph. In a place called Saqifah of Bani Sa‘idah, they agreed that Abu Bakr would become the caliph. Therefore, they announced his caliphate and ordered all other Muslims to pledge allegiance to him. Because Imam Ali (a) was a great figure, they wanted to forcefully get his allegiance so that their government would be legitimized. At that time, Imam Ali (a) was at his home with his family and some of the Prophet’s companions. He was busy compiling the Quran. They went to the door of the house. Lady Fatima was behind the door and did not allow them to enter. One of them said, “We will burn this home if you do not open the door!” They said, “But Fatima (a) is in the house!” That man said, “No matter.”
They burned the door of Ali (a) and Fatima’s (a) house. Then, the one who set the door on fire kicked the door to break in. The door broke, and Fatima, who was behind the door, was thrown aside while a nail of the door pierced her chest. Some have said that this was when Fatima miscarried Muhsin. Imam Ali (a) grabbed that man by the collar and pinned him to the ground. However, he remembered how the Prophet had told him to be patient. So he let him go.
Imam Ali (a) Is Forced to Pledge Allegiance to Abu Bakr
The people rushed into Ali’s house, tied his hands, and forcefully dragged him to the mosque. They tried to get Ali’s allegiance forcefully. However, Imam Ali (a) would not surrender. They said they would cut his neck if he did not. This was when Ibn Abbas grabbed Ali’s hand and rubbed it on Abu Bakr’s hand. Superficially, Ali (a) had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Some have said that Ali never truly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr and always spoke out for his right to caliphate throughout the years he had not been the caliph.
The Confiscation of Fadak
Fadak was a garden that the Noble Prophet (s) had gifted to his beloved daughter Fatima (a) after a verse of the Quran was revealed:
وَءَاتِ ذَا ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ حَقَّهُۥ
Give the relatives their [due] right. (17:26 Translation by Qara’i)
When Abu Bakr became the caliph, he wrongfully took hold of it. Therefore, Lady Fatima went to Abu Bakr to claim her right. At first, Abu Bakr did not accept Lady Fatima’s request and even fabricated a hadith saying prophets do not leave an inheritance. Lady Fatima recited the verse, “And Solomon inherited from David.” Solomon and David were two prophets. David’s son Solomon inherited from his father. So Fatima asked Abu Bakr to give Fadak back to her. Abu Bakr asked for witnesses. She said Ali and Umm Ayman are my witnesses. Abu Bakr agreed and wrote a document that no one should take hold of Fadak. While on her way back home, Umar ibn al-Khattab showed up and saw what Fatima was holding in her hands. He demanded Fatima give him the document, but she refused. He then kicked her, got the piece of paper, tore it, and slapped Fatima across the face. Some say that Fatima (a) miscarried Muhsin in this incident, which eventually led to the martyrdom of Lady Fatima (a). Then Umar went and told Abu Bakr not to give Fadak back to Fatima (a) and instead take hold of it himself.
The Fadakiah Sermon
After the incident of not giving back the garden of Fadak to Lady Fatima (a), her Holiness went to the mosque of the Prophet (s), where everyone was gathered and delivered an extremely eloquent sermon. She spoke about many things related to the affairs of Muslims. First, she praised Allah, glorified Him, and thanked Him for the blessings He has given us. Then she spoke about the circumstances of the prophecy of the Noble Prophet. She then talked about Imam Ali’s (a) closeness to the Prophet and his mastery over all other Godly saints. She also mentioned his unprecedented acts of bravery in defending the Prophet and Islam. She reminded people of Ghadir Khumm and how Imam Ali (a) was appointed as the Prophet’s successor.
Then she reproached the companions of the Prophet (s) after his departure for following in the footsteps of Satan and becoming hypocrites while abandoning the truth. Most importantly, in this sermon, she defended her right to Fadak and opposed Abu Bakr’s saying that prophets do not leave behind anything as inheritance by reciting verses from the Quran that disproved him. She then said that she would leave Allah to judge Abu Bakr on the Day of Judgment for usurping the garden of Fadak from her. “Why have you, the companions of the Prophet, sat silent about all these oppressions,” She said to them. “You have broken your covenant with the Prophet (s), and there shall be a mark of wretchedness on your faces forever, and you shall go to hell for your transgression.” As minutes went by, Lady Fatima’s martyrdom drew closer and closer.
After much suffering and pain that Lady Fatima went through because of defending her husband’s right, she became very ill. They say that when Qunfudh struck her arm with the sheath of his sword, she was bruised badly, which made her very weak. The narration from Imam al-Sadiq (a) says in this regard:
وَ کانَ سَبَبُ وَفاتِها اَن قُنْفُذَ مَوْلی عُمَرَ لَکَزَها بِنَعْلِ السیْفِ بِاَمْرِهِ فَاَسْقَطَتْ مُحْسِنا وَ مَرِضَتْ مَرَضا شَدیدا وَلَمْتَدَعْ اَحَدا مِمنْ آذاها یَدْخُلُ عَلَیْها
“The cause of her martyrdom (Fatima) was the strikes of Qunfudh, Umar’s slave, whom Umar ordered to strike her. As a result, she miscarried her son Muhsin and became extremely ill. She did not allow those who abused her to visit her.”
According to the most authentic narrations from the Ahlul Bait (a), Lady Fatima (a) passed away 95 days after the martyrdom of the Prophet owing to the injuries she had suffered on Jumada al-Thani 3, 11 AH. She made a will that she should be buried at night and that her grave should not be known to any of her enemies. Therefore, Imam Ali made the preparations for her burial late at night, and only a few of her close ones attended the funeral. Three graves were dug for her: one inside her house, one near the Prophet’s grave, and one in Baqi cemetery. To this day, no one knows in which of these three graves Lady Fatima (a) is buried.
 Ibn Taymiyah, Minhaj al-Sunnah, 1406 AH, vol. 6, p. 19.
 Sahih al-Bukhari, 1422 AH, vol. 6, p. 9; Ibid, vol. 7, p. 120.
 Quran 27:16 (Qara’i).
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 43, p. 170.