Translated with additions by Saleem Bhimji
Amongst the fourteen infallibles, it was necessary for one of them to be a woman and if all of them were men, then all of the advice, recommendations and teachings which we see directed towards the women of the community – things such as how to take care of ones’ spouse, how to maintain the home, how to take care of the children, the style and function of the hijab, how to modestly maneuver within society, patience and submission to God in the face of challenges and the hundreds of other teachings would have been mere words which were spoken and simple theological discussion to be studied.
Therefore, the presence of Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), as one of the fourteen infallibles, and her being a role-model for women cemented the guidance and teachings which Islam brought and showed us that they are possible to implement in our daily lives.
It is not only Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), who showed this reality to the women, but also people like her beloved daughter, Zaynab who also becomes the ideal role model and is a grand historical figure for women to follow. Rather, even those who were not from their family – women like Fizzah (the freed-slave of Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), and the daughter of Fizzah, were able to reach such a stage that they become role models and are known as the “walking Qur’ān”!
When we say that Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), is a role model – we do not mean that this is only limited to a few areas of her life– however as this discussion is endless and we can never stop discussing the greatness of his personality, below, we present just some of the examples of how Sayyida Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), is the greatest role model.
In the Qur’ān, we read the commandment on being good to one’s parents. Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), was so loyal and devoted to her father, the Messenger of God, peace be upon him and his family, that he said the following about her: “[You are] the mother of your father.” . One meaning of this is that the love which she had for her father was much greater than just the average love which a daughter would have for a father.
In the Qur’ān, we read the commandment on being generous and munificent. On the night of her wedding, when Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa) was making her way to her husband’s home, was wearing a new wedding dress. Historical accounts narrate that a poor woman approached her (or came to the door of the house she was in and asked for clothing to cover herself with). Rather than giving her the old dress which she had, she actually gave away her brand new wedding dress and wore her old clothes on her wedding night!
In the Qur’ān, we read passages in regards to migration in the way of Allah , and as we know, Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), made the migration from Mecca to Medina along with the early group of Muslims.
In the Qur’ān we read numerous verses about patience, sincerity, complete submission to God, consciousness of God and modesty and indeed, Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa) has reached to the pinnacles of perfection in all of these areas.
In the Qur’ān, we are advised to gain knowledge and to acquire the tools necessary to be granted wisdom (Hikmah) and indeed in this regards Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), shone bright as she has a book known as the Mushaf of Fātimah which the infallible Imams would sometimes refer to when they wanted to acquire information on events which would take place in the future.
In the Qur’an we are spoken to in regards to working, striving and struggling and when we glance at the life of Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), we see that on many occasions her hands were calloused and bleeding from the amount of work which she used to perform.
In the Qur’an, there are verses in regards to showing justice in all aspects of life and when we study how Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa) dealt with her house maid, Fizzah, and how she divided the daily tasks of the house, we see how she enacted justice in her life.
In the Qur’ān, we see verses in regards to the authority and governance of God and those whom He has put into positions of power and leadership and that it is only they who have a right to govern society , and Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), whether it be in her famous Fadak sermon which she delivered in the Masjid of the Prophet, or in the other ways in which she fought for her own rights and that of her husband, we see that in all of these instances, she stood up to the government of the time and openly and flatly rejected their right to rule and supported her husband, the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Tālib which ultimately resulted in her own martyrdom for the cause.
In the Qur’ān, we are addressed in regards to having faith in the next world and that we should yearn for the next life , and indeed Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), heard from her father that she would be the first person from his nation to leave this world and join him in the next life.
By studying and understanding these few examples from the life of this illustrious woman, we can fully appreciate that Fātimah az-Zahrā (sa), is the practical and real-world example of the verses of the Noble Qura’n.