Remembering Fatimah (PBUH): Reflecting on Her Life’s Final Days

In Her Final Days

Fatimah, peace be upon her, in the last days of her life, called upon ‘Asma bint Umays’ and said: “I do not want a cloth to be thrown over a woman’s body such that her figure is visible beneath it.”

Asma replied: I will show you something I saw in Habasha. Then she asked for some branches, bent them, and spread a cloth over them to make a structure like a coffin. Fatimah (peace be upon her) said: “How good it is that the bodies of women and men are not distinguishable. O Asma! When I die, you give me the ritual bath and do not let anyone be present at my corpse.” This was the first coffin made in Islam, and when Fatimah (peace be upon her) saw it, she smiled, the only smile of hers after the death of her father, the Messenger of God (peace be upon him and his family). (1)

The illness of Fatimah (peace be upon her) became increasingly severe day by day. The children of Zahra, peace be upon her, were deeply concerned about their mother, and the pure heart of Ali (peace be upon him) was bleeding with sorrow for Fatimah, peace be upon her.

On the day of departure, Zahra (peace be upon her) expressed her will to Ali and he wept bitterly.

Fatimah (peace be upon her), while entrusting her children to Ali (peace be upon him), said: “O Ali! Bathe me at night, shroud me and bury me when the eyes are in slumber. I do not want those who usurped my right to attend my funeral or pray over me.” (2)

As the martyrdom of Fatimah, peace be upon her, approached, she asked ‘Salma’ (3) to bring some water. Zahra, peace be upon her, took a bath and cleaned her body well, asked for her new clothes and wore them; then she asked Salma to spread her bed in the middle of the room, then lay down facing the Qibla; placed her hands under her face and said: “I am now about to die. I have purified myself; let no one uncover me.” (4)

After the martyrdom of Fatimah (peace be upon her), Hassan and Hussain (peace be upon them) entered the house and asked about their mother, saying it is not the time for our mother to rest, Asma (5) told them, my dears, your mother has passed away.

Hassan and Hussain (peace be upon them) threw themselves on their mother’s body, kissing and crying over it. Hassan (peace be upon him) said, ‘Mother, speak to me.’ Hussain (peace be upon him) said, “Mother, I am your Husayn, speak to me before the sorrow of your departure separates my soul from my body.”

The orphans of Zahra (peace be upon her) rushed to the mosque to inform their father about the sorrowful death of their mother. When Ali (peace be upon him) received the news of Zahra’s (peace be upon her) demise, he became restless with intense grief and said: “O daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), you were my consolation; whom shall I seek comfort from after you?” (6)

The cries of Zahra’s (peace be upon her) orphans were the mournful sounds of grief that reached the ears of the people of Medina. ‘Some of the elite of the Banu Hashim entered the house,’ and the people of Medina gathered outside, waiting in intense grief to participate in the funeral procession of Zahra (peace be upon her). Suddenly, Abu Dharr came out of the house and told them to disperse as the funeral was delayed. (7)

At night, Ali (peace be upon him) bathed the pure body of Fatimah (peace be upon her). (8)

During the bath, Asma also assisted Ali (peace be upon him). (9)

A few pure men and confidants of the Ahl al-Bayt, such as Salman al-Almohamdi, Miqdad, Abu Dharr, Ammar, Hudhayfah, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (10), Abbas, and Aqeel, along with Hassan and Hussain and Ali (peace be upon them), performed the prayer. (11)

Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried at night, and Ali (peace be upon him) laid her to rest (12) and did not allow Abu Bakr to be present at her funeral (13). Ali (peace be upon him) leveled the grave of Zahra (peace be upon her) with the ground so that it would not be recognized. (14)

According to another narration, he built several graves to keep the real grave hidden. (15)

Imam Ali’s Words of Grief

Ali’s (peace be upon him) Words at Zahra’s Grave Al-Kulayni, a famous Shia scholar and hadith collector – died in 328 AH – writes:

After the martyrdom of Fatimah (peace be upon her), Ali (peace be upon him) secretly buried her and made the location of her grave disappear, then stood facing the grave of the Messenger of God (PBUH) and said:

“Peace be upon you, O Messenger of God (PBUH)! From me and from your daughter who has come to meet you and now lies in the earth next to you, the Lord willed that she joins you sooner than others.

O Messenger of God (PBUH)! My patience due to the separation of your beloved one has ended, and my self-restraint has been lost due to the separation of the leader of the women of the world. But what choice do I have other than to be patient in the face of calamities, as I was patient in the calamity of your separation. I laid your head in its resting place and you made a place on my chest. ‘To Allah, we belong and to Him we shall return.’ Indeed, the trust has been returned to its owner, and the pledge has been redeemed, and Zahra (peace be upon her) has been taken from my hands.

O Messenger of God (PBUH), after her, the sky and earth seem ugly in my sight.

My grief has become eternal, my nights pass in sleeplessness, and my sorrow is constant in my heart until God settles me in your vicinity. I have a sorrow so intense that my heart is soaked in blood, a stunning grief. How quickly our gathering was thrown into chaos, and separation was cast among us. I only complain to God. Soon your daughter will tell you how your nation conspired to rob her of her rights. Ask her all about it and seek a report from her. How many grievances, like fire, boiled in her chest, and she found no way to express them in this world. She speaks now, and God judges and He is the best of judges. Peace be upon you, a farewell that is neither angry nor longing. If I leave, it is not because of my longing, and if I stay, it is not because of my mistrust of God. For what is promised to the patient is beautiful.

Ah, patience is calming and beautiful. If it weren’t for the fear of the oppressors’ dominance, I would have stayed here forever like the recluses, wailing like the mourning of a dead child, and crying profusely. God is witness that your daughter is buried in secret while her right was usurped, and she was deprived of her inheritance, although only a few days had passed since your death and memories of you had not yet faded.

O Messenger of God (PBUH), I keep my heart calm by remembering you. God’s blessings, peace, and mercy be upon Fatimah (peace be upon her).” (16)

Ali (peace be upon him) was deeply grieved by the separation from Fatimah (peace be upon her). His pain and sorrow are evident in the heartfelt words he spoke beside Zahra’s (peace be upon her) grave. Sometimes he expressed his heart’s burning in elegies he composed or murmured. In a collection attributed to Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him), there is a poem of nineteen verses that Ali (peace be upon him) composed at the grave of Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her). (17)

However, Abu al-Abbas Mubarrad – who died in 285 AH – mentioned two verses of these poems with slight differences, saying that Ali (peace be upon him) sought consolation in these verses.

‘Every gathering of two friends will eventually end in separation, and everything but death is trivial. And the fact that I am losing one friend after another is a sign that no friend lasts forever.’ (18)

In Search of Fatimah’s (PBUH) Grave

‘Why was the body of the messenger of Allah’s daughter secretly buried, and her grave remained hidden?’

Without any doubt, after the secret and nocturnal burial of Zahra (peace be upon her), her grave was also kept hidden. But why should the grave of the Prophet’s (PBUH) only daughter, who rushed to meet God shortly after him, remain hidden in his city? Why shouldn’t people participate in mourning and funeral processions for her and pray and bury her as befits her status? Wasn’t all this to fulfill Zahra’s (peace be upon her) will? Thus, in those days, no one knew exactly where Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave was, and if anyone asked Ali (peace be upon him) about it, he probably responded with silence.

A silence that contained thousands of grievances, as Ali (peace be upon him) made great efforts to keep Zahra’s (peace be upon her) grave hidden. He leveled the site of Fatimah’s grave with the ground, then arranged the appearance of seven graves (19) or forty graves in Baqi’, and when people went to Baqi’, they saw the appearance of forty graves, making it difficult for them to recognize Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) actual grave. (20)

Tabari in ‘Dalail al-Imamah’ writes that the next morning they wanted to take the women to dig up the graves and take out Zahra’s (peace be upon her) body to pray over it, but they were dissuaded by Ali’s (peace be upon him) threats. (21)

Despite this, there are four opinions regarding the grave of Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her):

1- Some believe Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave is in Baqi, including Ardbeli in ‘Kashf al-Ghummah’ and Sayyid Murtada in ‘Uyun al-Mu’jizat’ (22). Sunnis generally also believe this, identifying a grave beside the graves of the four Imams (peace be upon them) as that of Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet (PBUH) (23).

2- Some, like Ibn Sa’d and Ibn Jawzi, say Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried in the house of Aqeel (24).

3- Some believe Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave is in the Prophet’s (PBUH) Rawdah (courtyard next to his grave).

4- Some say Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried in her house, supported by numerous evidences, narratives, and statements, including:

  1. There was no reason for Ali (peace be upon him) not to bury Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her) near the Prophet (PBUH) since her house was next to his, and therefore, her house had more virtue than Baqi. Even later, Abu Bakr and Umar were willed to be buried near the Prophet (PBUH). Imam Hassan al-Mujtaba (peace be upon him) also willed to be buried near his grandfather, but the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) faced opposition when carrying out the will (25). Therefore, he was buried beside her grandmother ‘Fatimah bint Asad’ (26).

It becomes clear that the Ahl al-Bayt emphasized being buried near the Prophet (PBUH), and Imam Hassan (peace be upon him) was buried next to the grave of Fatimah bint Asad. Therefore, the grave in Baqi near the graves of the four Imams (peace be upon them) is the grave of Fatimah bint Asad, not Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her)!

  • Even though Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) burial was done at night, considering the urban structure of Medina at that time, it did not seem easy to transfer her from her house to Baqi through narrow alleys and past small houses without courtyards, as just one awake eye could spoil the entire plan.
  • Ali’s (peace be upon him) words at Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave, where he stood after her burial facing the Prophet’s (PBUH) grave and said ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah, from me and from your daughter who has descended to be near you’ (27) and as Kulayni narrates ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah, from me and your daughter, your visitor, who now rests in the earth near your resting place’ (28), imply that Ali (peace be upon him) was facing the Prophet’s (PBUH) noble grave after Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) burial. This indicates that the noble grave of the Prophet (PBUH) was in front of him, and if Ali (peace be upon him) was in Baqi, he would have faced the Prophet’s grave, not the other way around. It is explicitly mentioned that Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried near the Prophet (PBUH) and beside him.
  • Sheikh Saduq Ibn Babawayh, a great Shia scholar who died in 389 AH, says: ‘It is established to me that Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried in her house, and after the mosque was expanded, her grave came to be within the mosque. When I went to Medina during my Hajj pilgrimage, I prayed to face Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) house, which extends from the column opposite Bab Jibril to the back of the Prophet’s (PBUH) resting place’ (29). Other scholars like Allama Hilli and Allama Majlisi also believe that Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried in her house (30).
  • Sheikh Tusi, who died in 460 AH, believes that Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried either in her house or the Prophet’s (PBUH) Rawdah, as the noble hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) confirms, saying: ‘Between my grave and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of Paradise’ (31). If we consider the area of the Rawdah to be larger, Sheikh Tusi’s opinion is acceptable; otherwise, Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) house was not between the Prophet’s (PBUH) grave and pulpit but rather below his grave.
  • In 886 AH, following a fire in the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque in Medina, Samhudi, a famous historian and expert on Medina who was an Alawi from Egypt residing in Medina, was tasked with overseeing the repairs. He entered the Maksurah to begin his work and found a grave under the floor of Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) chamber, which must have been the grave of Fatimah (peace be upon her), the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH) (32).
  • The presence of Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) noble grave in her chamber was well-known, as during the time of Samhudi, the caretakers of the Prophet’s (PBUH) holy sanctuary would guide visitors away from Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) chamber, a little distance from the Prophet’s (PBUH) shrine, so they would not step on her grave, knowing that one of the opinions was that her grave was there (33).
  1. A man asked Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) about the location of Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave, and he replied: ‘She was buried in her house’ (34).”Top of Form
  2. According to a narration reported in the most authoritative Shia books such as Usul al-Kafi, Uyun Akhbar al-Rida, Manaqib, and other texts: A man asked Imam Reza (peace be upon him) about the location of Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave. The Imam replied that Fatimah (peace be upon her) was buried in her house, and after the Umayyads expanded the mosque, her grave came to be within the mosque. (35)
  1. A man named Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Hamadani wrote a letter to Imam Ali al-Hadi asking about the burial place of Fatimah (peace be upon her). The Imam replied that she was buried beside her grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). (36)

Therefore, considering the evidence mentioned, there is no doubt that Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her) was buried in her house, especially since the Imams (peace be upon them) have explicitly stated this. Certainly, her children would know best where their mother’s grave is, and the people of the house are better informed of its interior. If Fatimah (peace be upon her) ordered Asma to make a coffin, it was not to move her body but so that those who prayed over her would not see her body. And if Ali (peace be upon him) built fake graves in Baqi, it was to keep the real graves hidden at that particular time. And if he seriously confronted those who intended to dig up those fake graves, it was because if they were dug up, there would be no doubt that Fatimah was buried in her house. Although Ali (peace be upon him) had leveled Fatimah’s grave with the ground, curiosity would reveal the hidden secret. After that particular period passed, there was no special reason to keep the grave hidden, and thus the children of Fatimah (peace be upon her), namely Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, Imam Reza, and Imam Ali al-Hadi (may God’s blessings be upon them), clearly stated that Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) grave is in her house and was buried beside the Prophet (PBUH). Now, the only remaining question is where is the location of Fatimah Zahra’s (peace be upon her) chamber in the Prophet’s Mosque?

In response to this question, the great Sunni historian Sheikh Mahmoud bin Muhammad al-Najjar writes in his book ‘Al-Durrah al-Thaminah fi Akhbar al-Madinah’: The grave of Fatimah (may God be pleased with her) is in her house, which Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz annexed to the mosque. Her house today is inside the enclosure and behind the chamber of the Prophet (PBUH) and contains a mihrab. Similarly, the grave of the Prophet (PBUH) and the chambers of his wives are located within the mosque. (37)

Martyrdom Date

There is a disagreement regarding the martyrdom date of Hazrat Zahra (peace be upon her). Some Shia and Sunni scholars believe the passing of Fatimah Zahra (peace be upon her) occurred 75 days (38) after the Prophet’s (PBUH) death, while others believe it was 95 days later (39).

One of the reasons for this discrepancy is that the Kufic script did not have diacritical marks. Therefore, ‘Khams wa Sab’un’ (75 days) and ‘Khams wa Tis’un’ (95 days) were written similarly, leading to confusion in reading and interpretation.

Considering that the Prophet’s (PBUH) demise occurred on Monday, the 28th of Safar in the 11th year of the Hijri calendar, corresponding to the 7th of Khordad in the 11th year of the Solar Hijri calendar, according to the first opinion (75 days), Fatimah’s (peace be upon her) martyrdom date would be the 13th of Jumada al-Awwal in the 11th Hijri year. According to the second opinion (95 days), it would be the 3rd of Jumada al-Thani in the 11th Hijri year. Although there are other opinions regarding the martyrdom date of Hazrat Zahra, the 75 or 95-day interval aligns with the view of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), so we are not concerned with the other opinions. Considering several indications, the 95-day interval appears to be more accurate. (40).

Reference:

  1. Al-Tabaqat, Vol. 8, p. 18; Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Vol. 4, p. 34; Dhakhair al-Uqba, p. 53; Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 189.
  2. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 192.
  3. Salma, the wife of Abu Rafi’ and a slave of the Prophet (PBUH), whom the Prophet had freed. Later, she had the honor of serving Fatimah. Due to the similarity in names, some historians have attributed this incident to Asma. Refer to the footnote on p. 181 of Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43.
  4. Musnad Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, p. 163; Hilyat al-Awliya, Vol. 2, p. 43; Dhakhair al-Uqba, p. 43; Asad al-Ghabah, Vol. 5, p. 590; Amali al-Mufid, p. 172.
  5. Perhaps Salma herself!
  6. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 186.
  7. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 192.
  8. Al-Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, Vol. 8, p. 18.
  9. Kashf al-Ghumma; Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 3, pp. 185, 189, 184.
  10. Tafsir Furat ibn Ibrahim, p. 215; Rijal al-Kashi, p. 4; Al-Ikhtisas, p. 5.
  11. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 183.
  12. Al-Tabaqat, Vol. 8, p. 18.
  13. Ansab al-Ashraf.
  14. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 193.
  15. Dalail al-Imamah, p. 46.
  16. Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 458; Kashf al-Ghumma; Dalail al-Imamah, p. 47; Amali al-Mufid, p. 165; mentioned briefly in Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 194, Fayd, p. 651; Sharh Nahj al-Balagha Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Vol. 10, p. 265.
  17. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 216.
  18. Al-Kamil Abu al-Abbas al-Mubarrad, Vol. 4, p. 30.
  19. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 182.
  20. Dalail al-Imamah, p. 46.
  21. Dalail al-Imamah, p. 46.
  22. Kashf al-Ghumma; Uyun al-Ma’ajizat, p. 47.
  23. Refer to images 7 and 8.
  24. Al-Tabaqat, Vol. 8, p. 20; Tadhkirat al-Khawas.
  25. Maqtal al-Talibeen, pp. 48-49; Kashf al-Ghumma, Vol. 1, p. 586; Tarikh Ya’qubi, Vol. 2, p. 255; Sharh Nahj al-Balagha Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Vol. 16, p. 14.
  26. Kashf al-Ghumma, Vol. 1, p. 586; Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashub, Vol. 4, p. 44; Irshad al-Mufid, p. 192; Futuh Ibn A’tham, Vol. 4, p. 208.
  27. Nahj al-Balagha, Fayd, p. 652; Sermon 195.
  28. Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 458.
  29. Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, Vol. 2, p. 341.
  30. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 188; Muntakhab Allama Hilli; Mir’at al-Uqul, Vol. 1, p. 39.
  31. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 185.
  32. Makka Mukarrama Medina Munawwara, p. 160.
  33. Wafaa al-Wafaa, Vol. 2, pp. 469, 906.
  34. Qurb al-Isnad, p. 161; Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 10, p. 192.
  35. ‘She was buried in her house, and when Bani Umayya expanded the mosque, her grave became part of the mosque.’ Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 461; Uyun Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 1, p. 311; Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashub, Vol. 3, p. 139; Mir’at al-Uqul, Vol. 5, p. 349; Ma’ani al-Akhbar, p. 268.
  36. Riyaheen al-Shariah, Vol. 2, p. 93.
  37. Al-Durrah al-Thaminah fi Akhbar al-Madinah, pp. 359-360; refer to image 9.
  38. Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 458; Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, Vol. 1, p. 20; Dalail al-Imamah, p. 45; Kashf al-Ghumma.
  39. A narration from Imam Baqir (peace be upon him).
  40. Refer to Misbah al-Mutahajjid, p. 732; Misbah Kaf’ami, p. 511; Iqbal by Sayyid Ibn Tawus, p. 623; Dalail al-Imamah, p. 45; Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, pp. 170, 180; Muntakhab al-Tawarikh, p. 102; Montaha al-Amal, p. 99.
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