Fizzah al-Nubiyyah (of Nuba, at present in Sudan) has also gained immortality for her devotion to Islam and her love for the Ahlul Bayt. At first, she served Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet. It was arranged by the Prophet that one day Fatimah would attend to the domestic duties while Fizzah would rest, and the following day Fizzah should work while Fatimah would rest. After Fatimah's death, 'Ali married Fizzah to Abu Tha'labah al-Habashi. She bore him a son; and then Abu Tha'labah died. Later on Fizzah married Malik al-Ghatathani. One day Malik complained to 'Umar about Fizzah. 'Umar said, "A 'hair' from the family of Abu Talib is more learned than 'Adi."59 ('Adi was 'Umar's tribe.)
Fizzah raised a family of her own; but her devotion to the Ahlul Bayt continued. She, on her own accord, accompanied Husayn to Karbala and shared the agonies and sufferings which the family of Imam Husayn had to endure. Her knowledge of the holy book, the Qur'an, is renowned in the Muslim world. It is recorded that at least for the last twenty years of her life, she never uttered a single word except the Our' an, and always talked by reciting the verses of the Qur'an. One interesting piece of conversation is given here to illustrate her unique erudition:
Abu'l Qasim al-Qushayri quotes a reliable person that once he was left behind from his caravan and was travelling alone. In the desert, he saw a woman and asked who she was. The woman recited the verse of the Qur'an: "And say 'salam', and soon shall they know." (43:89) He realised his mistake and greeted her, and then asked, "What are you doing here?"
The woman: "And those whom God guides, there can be none to lead (them) astray."(39:37)
The man: "Are you a genie or a human-being?"
The woman: "O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer."(7:31)
The man: "Where are you coming from?"
The woman: "They are being called from a place far distant. "(41:44)
The man: "Where are you going to?"
The woman: "Pilgrimage to the House (of God) is a duty men owe to God, those who can afford the journey."(3:97)
The man: "Since how many days have you been separated from your caravan?"
The woman: "We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days. "(50:38)
The man: "Do you want something to eat?"
The woman: "Nor did He give them bodies that ate no food"(21:8)
So he gave her some food. After that he told her to run quickly. She said, "On no soul does God place a burden greater than it can bear."(2:286)
So he asked her to sit on the camel behind him. Came the answer: "If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides God, there would have been chaos in both" (2l:22). Hearing it, he came down from the camel and requested her to ride it. When she sat on it, she recited, "Glory be to Him who has subjected this to our use, for we could never have accomplished this by ourselves. "(43:13)
After sometime, they reached the caravan. He asked her if she had any relative of her in that caravan. She said, "O Dawud! We have indeed made you a vicegerent on earth; Muhammad is not but a prophet; O Yahya take hold of the book with might; O Musa, verily I am your Lord." (38:26, 3:144; 19:21; 20:11-12 respectively.)
He called these names, and saw four young men running towards him. Meanwhile he asked the woman what was their relationship with her. She recited, "Wealth and sons are adornments of the life of this world."(18:46). At that time her sons reached them; the mother told her sons, "O my father, engage him on wages, truly the best of men for your to employ is the man who is strong and trustworthy."(28:26) The sons gave him some remuneration for his trouble and service. But she thought it was not enough; so she said, " God gives manifold increase to whom He pleases."(2:261) So they increased some more. (These sons were most probably from Fizzah's second husband, Malik al-Ghatathani.)
That person asked the sons who she was. They informed him that she was Fizzah, the servant of Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet; and that since twenty years she has not spoken a signal word except the Qur'an.60
59. Shubbar, S. 'Abdullah, Masabihul Anwar, vol. 2 (Najaf: Matba'ah al-'Ilmiyyah, 1952/1371) p. 425-6 quoting Manaqib of Ibn Shahr Ashub.
60. Majlisi, Bihar, vol. 43 (Beirut, 1983/1403) p. 86-7; Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, vol. 4 (Bombay, 1313 AH) p. 15.
Adapted from the book: "Slavery; From Islamic and Christian Perspectives" by: "Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi"
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