22 January 2022 (20th night of Jamadil Thani 1443)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid,
Ottery, Cape Town
Moulana Syed Aftab Haider
First of all, I extend congratulations on this auspicious night of the birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), leader of the women of the world, from the beginning until the end. It is indeed a great occasion, a celebration of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Accordingly, we first extend our congratulations to her son, her heir, our awaited saviour, Imam Mahdi (atfs), followed by his rightful representatives, our grand spiritual authorities (Maraji’), religious scholars and all the lovers and followers of this great lady of light, purity and chastity, God-consciousness (Taqwa) and spirituality.
WHEN WAS LADY FATIMA ZAHRA (S.A) REALLY BORN?
20th Jamadil Thani is the official birthday of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), in the 5th year after the revolution of her father, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
This narration is accepted and reported directly by the family of Lady Fatima (s.a), specifically her grandson, our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), where he says: “Our mother was born on 20th Jamadil Thani, 5 years after the Mab’ath (advent of Islam and the start of revelation of Rasulullah (SAWA)), and 3 years after the Mi’raj. She lived a short life of approximately 21 years.”
Comparatively, other recordings from outside this purified household suggest that she was born 3 years before the appointment of Rasulullah (SAWA) as a divine Prophet of Almighty Allah (SWT). Then there are also those who report that she was born 8 years before Rasulullah’s (SAWA) appointment as a Prophet. There are also those who report her sacred birth to be 6 or 7 years before her beloved father’s appointment as a Prophet.
Accordingly, her age increases with these alternate narrations.
Now, this is in itself a mystery. The question that arises is why religious scholars, particularly those from Ahlus Sunnah, are so divided on the birth date of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), and why they emphasize that she was born before the Bi’that/Mab’ath ((advent of Islam and the start of Rasulullah’s (SAWA) Prophethood), or at least before Mi’raj (the heavenly ascension from Masjidul Aqsa).
When it comes to the date of birth of any person, we regard the family as the credible authority to authenticate this. On this, the majority of the reports from the Ahlul Bait (a.s) insist that Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) was born 5 years after the Bi’that, consistent with the recording of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) noted earlier. In fact, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) points to her birth as being when Rasulullah (SAWA) was 45 years old, which translates to being 5 years after the Bi’that.
This remains a mystery – why Sunni resources do not accept the recording of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) pertaining to the birth of Lady Fatima (s.a), insisting that she was born long before, thereby making her older than what we believe as Shia Muslims, based on the reports of her family.
We need to delve deeper into this question in this discussion.
SUNNI RESOURCES: FRUIT FROM HEAVEN DURING MI’RAJ LED TO LADY FATIMA ZAHRA (S.A) BEING CONCEIVED
Shia Muslim reporters have narrated various issues before the birth of Lady Fatima (s.a) and at the time of her birth, as well as after her birth. All of these are very unique and have hidden secrets. In all honesty, some of these special mysteries are narrated within Sunni resources as well.
One such report in Sunni resources which corresponds with overwhelming recordings of the same event in Shia resources, is that when Rasulullah (SAWA) went on the heavenly ascension of the Mi’raj, he was offered a fruit from the tree of Tuba (tree which grows in the garden of Paradise), which he ate there.
When he returned to the earth, the consumption of this fruit in the Heaven resulted in the transfer of this Heavenly Noor of Fatima (s.a) to Rasulullah (SAWA), which he then transferred to his wife Lady Khadijatul Kubra (s.a). This means that Lady Khadija (s.a) only became pregnant with Lady Fatima (s.a) after the Mi’raj.
Hakim al-Nishapuri was a great Sunni scholar who lived approximately 1000 years ago. His most notable works is five volume hadith collection entitled Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn.
In here, he records that Rasulullah (SAWA) narrates receiving a pear which he ate on the night of Mi’raj, which ultimately resulted in the creation of Lady Fatima (s.a). Rasulullah (SAWA) then said that he would smell on the neck of his daughter, Lady Fatima (s.a) whenever he used to miss the fragrance of Jannah.
There is another narration recorded in Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn from Ayesha, the last wife of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). She says that she asked Rasulullah (SAWA) why he always kisses his most beloved daughter Fatima (s.a) out of the greatest respect for her.
Rasulullah (SAWA) responded by explaining what happened on the night of Mi’raj, that Jibra’il took him to a very special place in Paradise, where he ate an apple from there, which resulted in the creation of the Noor of Fatima (s.a) in his body, which then resulted in the pregnancy of Lady Khadija (s.a) with their daughter Fatima Zahra (s.a).
Rasulullah (SAWA) then explained how special Lady Fatima (s.a) is, saying that she is a divine woman of Paradise in the form of a human being. He then said that Lady Fatima (s.a) carries the fragrance of Paradise, and hence kissed her to draw on the Heavenliness she carries.
So, that is the position of Lady Fatima (s.a) recorded in Sunni narrations.
SHIA RESOURCES: FRUIT FROM HEAVEN DURING MI’RAJ LED TO LADY FATIMA ZAHRA (S.A) BEING CONCEIVED
Let us now look at the narrations recorded in the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s). The narration is from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), narrated by Mufaddal ibn Umar, who was his loyal companion. Mufaddal ibn Umar is well-known for his narration of the Hadith of Tauheed, regarding how Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) replied to the atheist regarding the existence of the Creator of the Universe.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explained to Mufaddal ibn Umar that Rasulullah (SAWA) embarked on the Heavenly ascension (Mi’raj) and ate a special fruit there. When he returned to the earth, he was commanded to refrain from being with Lady Khadija (s.a) for 40 days.
Now the question is, where did he stay during this time, because he lived in the home of Lady Khadija (s.a)? This is also documented in Hadith, where it is recorded that Rasulullah (SAWA) stayed in the house of Fatima bint Asad (mother of Imam Ali (a.s)) during this time.
Furthermore, Hadith has recorded that Rasulullah (SAWA) conveyed to Lady Khadija (s.a) that he is staying away from her, not out of anger or avoidance, but rather because it is the command of Almighty Allah (SWT).
Interestingly, it is also narrated in Hadith that Rasulullah (SAWA) was fasting every day of these 40 days and broke his fast every night with his companions (Sahaba) in his company, while he consumed the nights in Ibadah (acts of worship)!
Then, Jibra’il came on the 40th day, with the command that nobody will share in the Iftar (breaking of fast) with him that day ie. Rasulullah (SAWA) will break his fast alone on the 40th day. Special food descended from Paradise that evening for Rasulullah (SAWA) to break his fast. The command followed thereafter that he should now go back to Lady Khadija (s.a), which resulted in her pregnancy with Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a).
LADY KHADIJA (S.A) ABANDONED DURING HER PREGNANCY
There are also mysteries during the period of pregnancy of Lady Khadija (s.a) with her beloved daughter, Fatima Zahra (s.a). One of the mysteries is that Lady Khadija (s.a) was boycotted by the women of Makkah during this period of pregnancy.
This is indeed strange, as pregnancy is a difficult time for any woman, physically and psychologically, yet the women of Makkah did not come to support or counsel her. She had to persevere through this period on her own.
Lady Khadija (s.a) explains that during this period of being alone, the baby Fatima Zahra (s.a) started communicating with her from the womb! This was witnessed by Rasulullah (SAWA), which caused him to smile with joy as Lady Khadija (s.a) explained to him that she is speaking with her companion in her womb!
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) replied to Lady Khadija (s.a) saying that their daughter Fatima (s.a) in the womb is a divine gift from Almighty Allah (SWT).
LADY KHADIJA (S.A) RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM THE HEAVENS TO DELIVER FATIMA (S.A)
Interestingly, Lady Khadija (s.a) was again without support when she gave birth to her daughter, Fatima Zahra (s.a). She was naturally very concerned, wondering who is going to help her give birth. Narrations from the Ahlul Bait (a.s) state that at this moment of worry, her doors suddenly opened, and four ladies descended from the Heavens with big jugs of water.
Lady Khadija (s.a) asked them who they are, as they do not resemble the women of Makkah. The first to come forward and introduce herself was Lady Aasiya, the pious wife of Fir’oun. She then introduced the second and third ladies, who were the blessed mother and sister of Nabi Moosa (a.s). And the fourth noble lady that Aasiya introduced was Lady Mariam (s.a), mother of Nabi Eesa (Jesus (a.s)).
They then explained to Lady Khadija (s.a) that the four of them have arrived to assist with the sacred birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), and these big jugs of water which they brought along with them is the water directly from Paradise!
Hadith narrations further report that on the blessed night of the sacred birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), the people of Makkah saw a shining light descending across the city. This light of Lady Fatima (s.a) was shining across Makkah, from West to East!
وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ
And the earth shall beam with the light of its Lord, and the Book shall be laid down.
Verse 69 of Surah Zumar (chapter 39 of the Holy Quran)
Someone asked why the title of Zahra was given to Fatima (s.a). Zahra means lady of flourishing light, and this title was conveyed upon her because of how Makkah lit up all across the city with her sacred birth! And she carried this divine light with her throughout her life.
Another important point is that she testified the Shahadah immediately after her birth, including the Wilayat of Amir al-Mu’mineen Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s)!
Allama Majlisi narrates that all the women of Paradise were smiling from happiness, sharing the glad tidings of the birth of Lady Fatima (s.a).
SINISTER ATTEMPTS THROUGHOUT HISTORY TO REDUCE THE SANCTITY OF LADY FATIMA ZAHRA (S.A)
The narrations recording the beautiful incidents around her birth are voluminous and are well chronicled in history. I now wish to tie the above narrations cited, back to the introduction of this discussion.
Our dear friend, respected Catholic Priest, Father Christopher Clohessy, wrote his doctoral thesis titled “Fatima: Daughter of Muhammad”.
In the first chapter, he very beautifully analyses in an academic manner, why the difference of opinion surrounding the date of birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), and why Sunni historians insist she was born before the Prophethood of her father, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), when they also overwhelmingly record that he enjoyed a special fruit in Heaven on the night of the Mi’raj, which led to Lady Fatima (s.a) being created, and that he would smell her when he missed the fragrance of Jannah!
Father Christopher Clohessy concludes that the reason is because they wish to deny this supernatural, spiritual status of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), by claiming that she was born before the Prophethood of her father (SAWA).
A second reason is to also reduce the sublime status of her sacred marriage with Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s).
DIVINE LIGHT WHICH LADY FATIMA (S.A) CARRIES IS BEYOND OUR CAPACITY ON DAY OF JUDGEMENT
Now we understand that these are all efforts exhausted to reduce the divinely status of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), while they have no option but to report that Rasulullah (SAWA) said that “Fatima (s.a) is part of me, and my happiness is with the happiness of Fatima (s.a)”.
Similarly, they have no option to report the famous narration which states that on the Day of Judgement, Almighty Allah (SWT) will appoint a caller who will announce that everyone should lower their gaze as Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) makes her grand entry into the field of Qiyamah.
Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli, one of the foremost philosophers and academic giants of our time, very beautifully explains why everyone will need to lower their gaze. Halaal and Haraam and mandatory or recommended acts are all commandments for this material world. Hence, Hijab does not apply on the Day of Qiyamat. Why do we then need to lower our gaze when Lady Fatima (s.a) makes her grand entry?
Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli explains the reason is because the Noor of Lady Fatima (s.a) is so grand and powerful such that nobody will have the capacity to be able to look at this divine light of Fatima (s.a)!
LADY FATIMA (S.A) IS THE CENTRAL LINK BETWEEN NUBUWWAT AND IMAMAT
There is so much to explore regarding the mysteries of the birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a). An example is when she is referred to as Lailatul Qadr! Now, Lailatul Qadr does not only refer to the one particular Night of Power in the sacred month of Ramadaan when the Holy Quran was revealed on the heart of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). In fact, Lailatul Qadr is every year!
When we celebrate the birthday of a loved one, it is a celebration of that person’s birth when it occurred years ago. Similarly, we commemorate the anniversary of the demise of a loved one, remembering the day he/she departed from this world.
However, when we celebrate the arrival of this divinely Noor of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) to this world, we are not simply celebrating this sacred historical event. Rather, we are capturing a reality which is a continuous descent of mercy and blessings from Almighty Allah (SWT), and therefore, goes way beyond history only.
Hence, duas (supplications) are accepted in these sacred hours of celebrating the birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), because the doors of mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) are wide open, because that continuous descent of mercy and blessings from Almighty Allah (SWT) is there!
Let me conclude by highlighting that Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) is the central bridge linking Nubuwwat (Prophethood) and Imamat (Leadership). Hence, our 11th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s) says that they (Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s)) are the proof of Almighty Allah (SWT) on the people, but Lady Fatima (s.a) is the proof of Allah (SWT) on them (the Ahlul Bait (a.s)).
REPEATED HOSTILE AGGRESSION TOWARDS THE LOVERS OF LADY FATIMA (S.A) IN YEMEN
There is so much animosity towards Fatima (s.a), the children of Fatima (s.a), the lovers and followers of Fatima (s.a). This auspicious birthday of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) is a happy, celebratory occasion, but I have no choice to say on such an occasion that the lovers of Fatima (s.a) are under bombardment of rockets and bombs from Saudis.
What this Saudi led alliance has done in Yemen against the lovers of Fatima (s.a) in the last two days is beyond imagination. Together with their masters, they have even cut communication, including internet, between Yemen and the outside world.
Their one attack on a detention centre killed more than 100 people, and this has been condemned by the United Nations as well. But that is only one attack. They have carried out various attacks which have killed hundreds of people across Yemen. However, the love of these people for the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and Lady Fatima (s.a) is indeed there, for which they remain steadfast in their commitment despite years of suffering.
We pray to Almighty Allah (SWT), that for sake of this auspicious occasion of the birth of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), to grant the people of Yemen victory over these merciless enemies. May Almighty Allah (SWT) shower His victory on the oppressed people of Yemen, Insha Allah!
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