Rafed English

Whither the Unmarked Grave

"Father! I remain bewildered and lonely; confused and lonesome. My voice is subdued. My back is broken. My life is disturbed…

Surely, after you, (God's) revelations, the place of Gabriel's descent and Michael's station have vanished. Father! Motives have changed and gates have been shut in my face."

"Father! I will forever be sorrowful until we are reunited… Father! We became after you among the oppressed. Father! People shun us after you, after we were glorified by your presence…"

"Father! How gloomy are your meeting places (without your presence)! How pained I am for you, until I soon join you! How bereaved is Abu'l-Hasan (Imam Ali), the father of your two (grand)sons Hasan and Husain; your beloved one; he whom you brought up as a youth, and made your brother as a man; the most beloved of your companions to you; Abu'l-Hasan, who was the first to migrate and help you."

The above passages are part of an elegy of a bereaved offspring for a departed father. As is clear from the wordings and the phrases, the one being mourned is not an ordinary person, but the Almighty's Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind.

It is also obvious that the one weeping for Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and complaining to him about the calamities that befell his Ahl al-Bayt after his farewell to the mortal world is his only surviving child.

She is none other than Fatema az-Zahra (SA), who because of her profound care and concern for her widowed father following the death of her mother, Umm al-Momineen (Mother of all true believers), Khadija (SA) over a dozen years ago – after over 25 years of marital bliss with the Prophet – had earned the epithet of Umm Abiha (Mother of her own Father).

On God's command, the Prophet had shown his only surviving child the greatest respect, even standing to his feet on her arrival, and had often said in plain and simple Arabic without mincing words: "Fatema is a part of me; whoever hurts her has hurt me; and whoever hurts me has hurt God."

Islamic history is at times a painful reading. No sooner had the Prophet's eyes closed forever, the persecution of his nearest and dearest ones started, in violation of God's commandment to Muslims that their love and affection for the Prophet's progeny is a token of their faith in Islam and a form gratitude to the efforts of the Prophet (42:23).

The Lady, whom God calls Kowsar (Blessed Spring of Perpetual Abundance) in the holy Qur'an, was oppressed by a group of companions of her father, because of their greed for the political power of the Islamic state that neither God had given them nor the Prophet had entrusted them.

No wonder, we find Fatema (SA) complaining at the graveside of her father, after her patrimony of Fadak had been seized, after the political rights of her husband had been usurped, after the blazing door had been flung in her face (pinning her to the wall), after her ribs had been broken, after the miscarriage she suffered as a result (Mohsin the first martyr of the Ahl al-Bayt), and after the dragging of her husband under threat of death for forced swearing of allegiance to the self-styled caliph.

Fatema (SA) was not lamenting her sufferings, or that of her husband and her children, although she knew (by God-given knowledge)) that the deviationist trend which had started at Saqifa Bani Sa'da while the Prophet was being laid to rest by his divinely-decreed vicegerent, Imam Ali (AS), will one day see the rise of the charlatan Yazid to the caliphate and the tragedy of Karbala, where her household would be slaughtered mercilessly by those masquerading as Muslims.

She was actually grief-stricken for the catastrophe befalling Islam, as had been the case with the messages of the past Prophets, for example, Moses and Jesus, whose teachings had been distorted into Judaism and Christianity.

As the spotlessly pure Pride of the Virgin Mary whose veiled presence at the field of Mubahela (holy Qur'an 3:61) had convinced the Christians of Najran of the truth of Islam, Fatema (SA) took the decisive decision of unmasking hypocrisy forever, when in her last will, she instructed her aggrieved husband: "I ask you not to let anyone who did injustice to me to witness my funeral, for they certainly are enemies of mine, and the enemy of Allah's Messenger. Also don't give them the chance to pray over me, nor to any of their followers. Burry me at night when eyes are at rest and sight is put to sleep."

Imam Ali (AS) carried out the wishes of his beloved wife in the dead of night on the 3rd Jamadi al-Akher (95 days after the Prophet's passing away), at an unmarked and still unknown spot in Medina, so that the shadow of those that had displeased her, the Prophet and God, would never fall upon it, nor would any future blasphemers, such as the Wahhabis of our times, would be able to desecrate it.

It would not be out of context to refer here to an incident that has been widely quoted by even our Sunni brethren. When the morning after her burial the coup leaders tried to make a tumult by threatening to dig up the whole place in order to find the grave of Fatema (SA), the proverbial patience of Imam Ali (AS) almost snapped, as he grabbed the ringleader by his clothes, shook him and threw him to the ground, saying: "Son of the Sawada! I have abandoned my right to prevent people from forsaking their faith, but as regards Fatema's grave, by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you and your followers attempt to do anything to it, I will irrigate the ground with your blood!"

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