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The journey of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) from Madina

After a difficult year of separation from her beloved brother, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) decided to go to him. She began this journey from Madina to Khur?s?n, in the year 201 A.H, accompanied by a caravan made up of some members of her household and friends of the Imam (A).

Some historians are of the opinion that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) undertook this long and hazardous journey just to be close to her brother, but this is unlikely to be the only reason.

A more plausible reason for this journey is that she had a role to play at the side of the Imam (A). Her immense learning and piety would help him in the propagation of Islam, especially amongst the ladies.

In this aspect her role would be similar to that of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) at the side of the Prophet (S) or that of Lady Zaynab (A) at the side of Imam Ali (A), Imam Hasan (A) and then at the side of Imam Husain (A) in Karbal? and in the aftermath of Karbal? at the side of Imam Ali Zayn al-`?bid?n (A).

There are many different narrations of the events leading to this journey of the family of the Imam (A) from Madina to S?weh and the events that unfolded during this journey.

According to one narration, the Imam (A) wrote a letter to his sister, Lady Fatima Masuma (A), which he sent to her with one of his servants, instructing him to hasten to Madina without stopping anywhere on the way.

After receiving the letter from her brother, Lady Fatima Masuma (A), immediately prepared herself for the journey to Khur?s?n via S?weh. [56]

According to another tradition, the Imam (A) wrote a letter to all his family members, inviting them to come to Khur?s?n.

It is narrated that after the arrival of this letter, a group consisting of the sons and other family member of the Imam (A), and other Shi`a, numbering over 12000 people made their way to Khur?s?n. [57]

Another tradition says that when the letter of the Imam (A) to his family members arrived, their sadness at their separation from the Imam (A) made them decide to join him. A caravan was prepared, under the leadership of Ibr?h?m, son of Imam al-K?zim (A), and they began their journey to Khur?s?n. [58]

It is narrated that two separate caravans headed towards Khur?s?n. One of these groups was the one that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was in. It was comprised of 23 people, under the leadership of H?r?n ibn M?s? ibn Ja`far. [59]

The other group travelling to Khur?s?n consisted of about 12,000 people under the leadership of Ahmad ibn M?s? al-K??im. [60]

These caravans reached a town called S?weh on their way to Khur?s?n. Here they were attacked by enemies of the family of the Prophet (S).

Many were martyred, including H?r?n, and many others were wounded or taken prisoner. A few managed to flee. A woman from the enemies put poison in the food of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) and she became ill.

She then asked to be taken to Qum and her request was granted. After a few days stay in Qum , she died of her illness and was buried there. [61]

Another narration states that H?r?n and the other members of Lady Fatima Masuma’s (A) family, totalling 23, were killed in an ambush by the people of the town of S?weh , who at that time had great enmity towards the family of the Prophet (S). In the book Q?y?m-e S?d?t-e `Alaw?, it is mentioned that the ambush was actually carried out by the soldiers of Ma’m?n.

It is narrated that the soldiers insisted that the caravan progress no further. In the discussion that ensued, the soldiers falsely alleged, “Your Imam is dead.”

This lie caused consternation in the camp and some people decided to return to Madina, while others wanted to press on. This might account for the mistaken notion that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) died as a result of being heartbroken at the news of the death of her beloved brother.

In any case, a confusion ensued and the soldiers took the opportunity to attack the camp. During the assault, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) had to witness the brutal death of 23 close family members.

She is therefore sometimes compared to Lady Zaynab (A), who also witnessed the slaughtering of her close family members. And due to this intensely sorrowful event, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) became ill and was taken to Qum . And here after 16-17 days she passed away in Qum , and was buried there. [62]

It is also narrated that the second group consisting of about 12000 Shi`a were also attacked on the orders of Ma’m?n, through the ruler of F?rs , in a place called Sh?r?z . All the members of this group were either killed or ran away. [63]

The narrations above may explain why there are so many graves of the sons of the Imams (A) and other family members found within Iran . For instance in S?weh itself, the graves of Sayyid Ish?q, Sayyid Ab? Rid?, Sayyid `Ali Asghar (all from the family of Imam (A)) are popular sites for pilgrims, as are the graves in villages around S?weh, also attributed to children of the Imams (A). [64]

Notes:

[55] Muhammad binHasan ?mil?, T?r?kh-e R?w?y?n , narrating from Nas? al-D?n al-T?s?, p. 213.

[56] Sayyid D?khil binH usain, Man L? Yahduruh-u al-Khat?b , vol. 4, p. 261.

[57] Sayyid Muhammad `Al? Rawd?t?, J?m`i al-Ans?b , p. 17.

[58] Bih?r al-Ans?b , pp. 91 - 94.

[59] `Al? Akbar Tashayyad, Q?y?m-e S?d?t-e `Alaw? , p. 160.

[60] Ibid., p. 169.

[61] Ibid., pp. 160 & 168; Ja`far Murtad? `?mil?, Al-Hay?t al-S?y?s?yah Li al-Im?m al-Rid?, p. 428.

[62] Shaykh Mahdi Mans?r?,Hay?t al-Sitt, p. 160.

[63] Q?y?m-e S?d?t-e `Alaw? , p. 169.

[64] Q?y?m-e S?d?t-e `Alaw?, p. 166.