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Seerah

The divine personality of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (a.s.)

All dimensions that one can imagine exist for a woman and a human being were personified in Fatima Zahra, upon whom be peace. She was not an ordinary woman; she was a spiritual woman, a heavenly woman, a human being in the true sense of the word. She was the incarnation of human goodness; she personified the true nature of woman and the true nature of the human being. She was not an ordinary woman, she was a heavenly being who appeared in this world in the form of a human being, she was a divine, celestial being who appeared in the form of a woman. She personified all the very best human and female traits that one can imagine. Tomorrow14 then is Women’s Day, tomorrow is the day on which such a woman was born.

She was a woman who embodied all the virtues of the prophets, a woman who, had she been a man, would have been a prophet, a woman who, had she been a man, would have been the Messenger of God. Spiritual qualities, heavenly qualities, divine qualities, celestial qualities, human and angelic qualities all came together in this being. She was a human being in the full sense of the word, a woman in the full sense of the word. Tomorrow then is Women’s Day. Tomorrow is the day when woman’s dignity and woman’s character came into being.

Various dimensions exist for the woman just as they do for a man, for human beings in general. This external, physical side is the lowest stage of a human being’s development, be it man or woman, but it is from this inferior stage that the human being moves towards perfection. Man is a moving being, moving from the physical towards the metaphysical stage, towards annihilation in God. In Fatima Zahra’s case these stages have been attained. She began from the physical stage and moved on. She proceeded through the stages of a spiritual movement assisted by divine power, by the invisible hand, by the teachings of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him and his descendants) until she reached the stage that all others could not reach. Tomorrow then is the day on which all aspects of woman were materialised, and woman in all her dimensions was incarnated. Tomorrow is Women’s Day. (7)

16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

It is a great day; a woman came into the world who compared with all men. A woman came into the world who exemplified humanity. A woman came into the world in whom all traits of a (true) human being were manifest. So today is a great day. It is the day of you women. (8)

17 May 1980 (27 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)

Fatima Zahra, upon whom be peace, a woman who is the pride of the family of divine revelation and who like a sun shines brightly in the crown of beloved Islam; a woman whose virtues were on a par with the endless virtues of the Most Noble Messenger and the household of infallibility and purity; a woman for whom everyone, with whatever viewpoint he may hold, has praises, yet none has been able to offer her adequate praise. The hadiths15 that have come down to us from the family of divine revelation are such that the listener can easily understand, for one cannot contain a sea in a bottle. And whatever others have said in her praise was according to their own level of understanding not commensurate with her standing. So let us leave this vale of wonder . . . (9)

5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)

And I hope you will accept and perform those duties you are obliged to carry out, which are to strive both in the area of education, which is an important matter, and in the defence of Islam. These are among the important tasks the performance of which is incumbent on every man and woman, on the young and old alike. (10)

2 March 1986 (11 Isfand 1364 AHS)

I do not consider myself adequate to the task of speaking about Hazrat Fatima, upon whom be peace, so I will suffice with reciting a sound tradition16 which can be found in Usul al-Kafi.17 This tradition quotes Hazrat Sadiq,18 upon whom be peace, as saying: “After the death of her father, Fatima, upon whom be peace, lived for seventy-five days. She was in this world and she was overcome with grief. Gabriel, the Trusted Spirit, came to her regularly to console her and tell her of future events.”

So according to this tradition, in these seventy-five days she had contact with Gabriel, he came and went many times. I do not think that such a thing has happened for anyone else other than the great prophets of the highest rank, that in seventy-five days Gabriel, the Trusted Spirit, came and went and spoke of events that would take place in the future, spoke of things that would happen to her offspring in the future.

Hazrat Amir19 wrote down what Gabriel said, he was the writer of these revelations just as he had been the writer of the revelations the Noble Messenger had received - of course with the death of the Noble Messenger those revelations which brought divine laws ended. He was the writer of the revelations that were made to Hazrat Fatima during these seventy-five days.

Gabriel’s appearing to someone should not be taken as a trivial affair. One should not imagine that Gabriel would appear to just anyone. The necessary relationship has to exist between the spirit of that person to whom Gabriel would appear and Gabriel’s station as the paramount spirit. Whether we believe that it is the greatness of the spirit of the saint or prophet that brings Gabriel down to this lower station, or that it is God who sends him to make such revelations, whether we side with the speculatists in their views or those who interpret the literal meaning in theirs, it still remains that unless the necessary relationship exists between the spirit of that person to whom Gabriel would appear and Gabriel, the paramount spirit, then it would be impossible for such a thing to happen.

The relationship existed between Gabriel, the paramount spirit, and the prophets of the highest rank such as the Messenger of God, Moses, Jesus and Abraham. It did not exist with just anyone, and after these prophets it did not exist with anyone else. Indeed, I have not even heard of Gabriel descending to the Imams as he did to the prophets. As far as I know it was only to Hazrat Fatima Zahra, upon whom be peace, that Gabriel appeared repeatedly during the period of these seventy-five days, revealing future events which would take place for her offspring and which Hazrat Amir recorded. Perhaps he spoke to her about the time of her exalted offspring Hazrat Sahib,20 upon whom be peace, in which case he may have mentioned events in Iran too; who knows, it is possible.

Be that as it may, I consider the fact that Gabriel appeared to her when he had appeared to no one other than the prophets, upon whom be peace - and even then not all the prophets, only those of the highest rank - and some of the saints who are of the same rank as them, to demonstrate her nobility and moral excellence better than any other virtue with which she is attributed, even though those virtues too are important. The fact that she had communication with Gabriel in those seventy-five days, and that he has appeared to no one since then, demonstrates an excellence, which is, but one of the characteristics of Hazrat Fatima, upon whom be peace. (11)

2 March 1986 (11 Isfand 1364 AHS)

My pen and words are unable to describe adequately the great and extensive resistance of millions of Muslims enamoured of service, self-sacrifice and martyrdom in this country of the Lord of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for him). Nor can I do justice to the epic events which have taken place, the acts of bravery, the good deeds and the service performed by the spiritual children of Kauthar, Hazrat Fatima, upon whom be peace, all of which spring from the knowledge gained from Islam and the family of the Prophet and from the blessings gained by following the path of the Imam of ‘Ashura21. (12)

5 February 1987 (16 Isfand 1365 AHS)

We are honoured that the vivifying prayers, which are called the ‘ascending recitation’ come from our Infallible Imams. We are proud that the Sha’ban invocations22 of the Imams, the Prayer of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (upon whom be peace) on the Day of ‘Arafa,23 the prayers of the Sahifa-yi Sajjadiya24 known as the ‘Psalms of the Family of the Holy Prophet’, and the Sahifa-yi Fatimiya, which is a book of God’s revelations to Hazrat Fatima, are from us. (13)

5 June 1990 (15 Khurdad 1368 AHS)

Notes:

  • 14. - 27 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS corresponding with 17 May 1979 and 20 Jumada II 1399 AH.
  • 15. - Refer to footnote 16.
  • 16. - Hadiths and their isnads, or chain of authorities, have been subjected to a wide range of types of categorisation. A basic one is to classify the hadith under one of several major categories of trustworthiness. The term ‘sahih’ or sound indicates the highest level of trustworthiness in a tradition.
  • 17. - See footnote 17.
  • 18. - Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shi‘ite Imam. He was born, lived and taught in Medina and was buried there when he died. He was a notable scholar of hadith and in his own life gained a massive reputation for his knowledge and holiness.
  • 19. - ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and husband of Hazrat Fatima and first of the Twelve Imams of Shi‘ite belief. He exercised rule from 656 until his martyrdom in 661.
  • 20. - Referring to the twelfth and last Imam of Shi‘ite belief Imam Mahdi, also known as the Imam of the Age or Lord of the Age, who is now in occultation. According to Shi‘ite belief, he made an appearance as a young boy at the funeral of his father after which he entered the state of occultation. It is believed he will emerge from his occultation at a time when injustice fills the earth and his return will herald the approach of the end of time.
  • 21. - Referring to Imam Husayn, grandson of the Prophet, and also known as the Lord of the Martyrs. In 680, Imam Husayn refused to swear allegiance to Yazid, son of Mu‘awiya and second caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, since Yazid did not possess legitimate authority and had succeeded to the caliphate by hereditary succession. The ensuing death of the Imam in battle at Karbala has always been commemorated by Shi‘ite Muslims as the supreme example of martyrdom in the face of tyranny. It served as an important point of both ideological and emotive reference throughout the Islamic Revolution in Iran. ‘Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram, is the day on which he was martyred in Karbala.
  • 22. - A litany that was recited by all the Imams, something true of no other prayer or invocation, during the month of Sha’ban.
  • 23. - Day of ‘Arafa: the ninth day of the month of Dhu ‘l-Hijja, when all the pilgrims participating in the hajj must be present at the plain of ‘Arafa outside Mecca. For a translation of the text of the prayer that Imam Husayn recited on this day, see ‘Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i, A Shi‘ite Anthology, trans. William C. Chittick, pp. 93-113.

Adapted from: "The Position of Women from the Viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (r.a.)"