the youngest daughter of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) had come of marriageable age, and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) had to consider the question of her marriage. Abu Bakar (L.A) waited on the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), and asked for the hand of Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A). The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) made no answer. Thereafter Umar (L.A) asked for the hand of Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) maintained silence. In the Arabian society of the day, the disparity in the age of the bride and the bridegroom did not matter. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) married Khadija when he was twenty-five and she was forty, fifteen years older than him.
Later the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), when over fifty, married Ayesha yet within her teens. When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) did not respond to the requests of Abu Bakar (L.A) or Umar (L.A) he was not bothered about the age question; his silence was due to the fact that he had to wait for the guidance of Allah (S.W.T) which was wont to get in all matters of importance affecting his person. After the Battle of Badr, Imam Ali (A.S) made his suit. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) told Imam Ali (A.S) that he would give his reply after consulting Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A). The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) consulted Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A), and she maintained silence signifying her assent. In the meantime the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) received the revelation that Allah (S.W.T) approved of the marriage of Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) with Imam Ali (A.S). When Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) the mother of Imam Ali (A.S) called on the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) to press the suit on behalf of Imam Ali (A.S), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) was pleased to announce his acceptance.
Preparation for the Marriage
According to the accounts available in the source books, Imam Ali (A.S) had no money to meet the expenses of the marriage. He had to sell his armour to raise the necessary funds. Othman who enjoyed reputation for his wealth agreed to purchase the armour for five hundred dirham's. After the transaction had been completed, and the amount had been paid, Othman presented the armour to Imam Ali (A.S) as a marriage gift saying that the armour would be more useful for a warrior like Imam Ali (A.S) than for a trader like him. Imam Ali (A.S) was reluctant to accept the gift, but Othman prevailed to accept it in the name of Allah (S.W.T), for thereby it would serve the cause of Islam in fighting against its enemies. That made Imam Ali (A.S) accept the gift with many thanks. When Imam Ali (A.S) told of the transaction to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) praised the conduct of Othman and prayed for him.
The Marriage Khutba
On the day fixed for the marriage, the Muslims assembled in the mosque, and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) delivered the Khutba solemnizing the marriage. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said that all praise was due to Allah (S.W.T) who should be extolled for His various bounties; who should be worshipped for His power and majesty and who should be obeyed for His omnipotence. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) observed that it behoves the people to seek refuge Allah (S.W.T) for fear of His wrath. Dwelling on the might of Allah (S.W.T), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said that His are the ordinances which prevail in Heaven and earth. He is the One who by His might ordained the existence of all creation.
Through His commandments He gave us the power of discrimination. He honoured us giving His religion, and commissioning Muhammad as His Prophet. Referring to the importance of marriages in human society the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said that undoubtedly the Almighty Lord made matrimonial alliances as the means of a fresh relationship which is a fundamental necessity and a just affair which is made incumbent on all and sundry, and through which creation is linked. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) observed that verily Allah is He Who has created human beings from a drop of blood. For this end He has created the relations of the in-laws. Surely Allah (S.W.T) is Omnipotent. His decrees are enforced according to His decisions. His judgements decree the fate, and every fate is governed by an appointed time. Every appointed time is pre determined. Over and above this, Allah (S.W.T) can obliterate or keep intact whatever He likes. The original record of all this is with Him. After these introductory remarks the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) declared :
"Now in obedience to the Will of Allah (S.W.T) I perform the marriage ceremony of Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) with Imam Ali (A.S), and ask you to bear witness that I have given Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) in marriage to Imam Ali (A.S) against a dower of 400 pieces of silver coin. May Allah (S.W.T) create love between the pair, bless them, purify their offspring, make their progeny a mine of wisdom, and a source of Allah (S.W.T)'s blessing and solace to the believers in faith."
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) ended the Khutba by asking for the forgiveness of Allah (S.W.T) for himself and for the Muslims.
The Ideal Marriage
According to all accounts that have come down to us, the marriage of Imam Ali (A.S) and Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) was an ideal marriage. It was a union of two great souls. Hafsa, a daughter of Umar (L.A) and later a wife of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) wrote some verses highlighting the greatness of the pair. She said: Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) is superior to womankind in the world; she is the lady whose face shines as the full moon; she is the bride whose groom excels all in Scholarship.
According to some authors Imam Ali (A.S) was twenty-one years old at the time of marriage, while Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) was sixteen years old. According to my research the date of the birth of Imam Ali (A.S) is to be placed around 599 C.E. and on this basis he was 24/25 years old at the time of marriage. Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) was born around 604 C.E. and on this basis she was 19/20 years old at the time of marriage. There appears to be a tendency with the writers of old to under estimate the ages of persons particularly women. In most of the books, for example, it is said that at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), Ayesha was a child barely nine years old. Ayesha was more or less of the same age as Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) or very nearly so, and was well within her teens at the time of her marriage.
Undoubtedly the marriage of Imam Ali (A.S) and Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) was an ideal marriage as the marriage was performed by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) in accordance with the will of Allah (S.W.T), it could not be anything but an ideal marriage. As an ideal marriage it should have been a happy marriage. In this context two aspects of the case need special consideration. One is the economic factor and the other is the temperamental factor.
The economic aspect of the matter is that all writers of old are unanimous on the point that Imam Ali (A.S) was very poor. In his book Imam Ali (A.S), the Superman, Dr. Ata Mohyuddin observes that Imam Ali (A.S) was extremely poor, and the young couple were obliged from the first, to live from hand to mouth. It is observed that often days passed without any fire being lit in their hearth. It is further observed that his bed sheet was so small, that if he covered his head, his legs remained uncovered, and if he covered his legs his head was exposed the account provides that Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) had to work too hard. She did not have the wherewithal to wash her clothes which were blackened and soiled on account of dust and dirt. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen, and the hands with which she worked the handmill to grind corn were often covered with blisters.
There is a story that she requested the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) to give her a maid slave to assist her, but he turned down the request. According to another story Imam Ali (A.S) hired himself as an ordinary manual labourer. One day he hired himself as a labourer to draw water from the well for a date per bucket. He drew sixteen buckets when his hands were blistered. He was given sixteen dates which he took to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) and both of them had their meal of these dates. I have long pondered over the question of the poverty of Imam Ali (A.S) and even the Holy Prophet (S.A.W). It appears to me that such accounts are highly exaggerated, and remote from the truth. I have prayed to Allah (S.W.T) to show me light whereby I could ascertain the truth. Islam is not a religion for the next world alone; it is a religion for this world as well. Islam does not favour accumulation of riches and the hoarding of wealth, but it does not commend poverty either. It stands for the middle course marked neither by richness nor by poverty.
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) before an ideal Prophet had to set an example in this respect. As such while the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) could not be very rich, he could not be poor either. Islam stands for simplicity and austerity but simplicity and austerity are not another name for poverty. How could Allah permit his beloved to starve. When the Muslims migrated to Madina, Ansars shared all their resources with the Muslims. Under the circumstances how could the Ansar permit Imam Ali (A.S) and Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) to live from hand to mouth on the verge of starvation. Imam Ali (A.S) and Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A) were after all human beings, and how could they be happy when they had to starve for days.
When selecting husbands for their daughter even ordinary persons take steps to insure that their daughter is married in a family which is quite well off. This is a parental obligation, and it is unbelievable that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) would have married his beloved daughter to a person who had no source of income. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) married his two daughters to Othman, one after the other, and Othman was the richest person among the Quraysh. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) could not discriminate between his daughters by marrying two daughters to a very rich man, and marrying the daughter whom he loved most to a man who was extremely poor. Imam Ali (A.S) was the greatest warrior of the age. He was also the greatest jurist, grammarian and scholar of the age. When the Muslims set up a polity at Madina it was an obligation on the part of the State to provide means of sustenance for Muslims according to their quImam Ali (A.S) fixations and utilize their services in the interests of the State. Under the circumstances the accounts that Imam Ali (A.S) was very poor are not correct.
Imam Hassan (A.S), their first child was born in 625 C.E. and Imam Hussain (A.S), the second child was born in 626 C.E. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) had great love for Imam Hassan (A.S) and Imam Hussain (A.S) and treated them as his own sons.