Fatimah bint Muhammad s.a.w. was the youngest daughter of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and Khadijah r.a, hence it is not surprising to know that she was also one of our Prophet’s most treasured family member. In a hadith narrated by Usaamah bin Zayd r.a, when some of the companions asked the Prophet s.a.w. which of his family was the most beloved to him, he said, “Fatimah bint Muhammad”.
Fatimah r.a. was given the title of Az-Zahra’, meaning the glowing and radiant one, and was also known as Umm Abiha, meaning the mother of her father, in reference to the way she cared for Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. especially ever since her mother passed away.
Although Fatimah r.a. passed away in her late 20s, the way she lived her youthful life was indeed inspirational in so many ways, in terms of the way she conducted herself and how she treated the people around her.
Just like her father, Fatimah Az-Zahra’ r.a. led a very humble life and grew up having to face many types of hardships and difficulties. The challenges she had to face did not weaken her, but instead made her more resilient and courageous than anyone else in her age.
As a young girl who was not even a teenager yet at that point of time, she showed so much courage when she quickly ran to her father to comfort and protect him s.a.w. This happened when she heard that ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu’eet was attempting to insult and hurt the Prophet as he was praying in front of the Kaabah. While other kids her age would feel ashamed if their fathers were to be disgraced in public, she stood by him and defended him with all her might.
In one instance, when Fatimah r.a. heard that her husband Ali bin Abi Talib r.a. was going to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl, she went to her father and mustered the courage to express and voice out her concerns, as narrated in the hadith:
أَنَّ الْمِسْوَرَ بْنَ مَخْرَمَةَ، قَالَ إِنَّ عَلِيًّا خَطَبَ بِنْتَ أَبِي جَهْلٍ، فَسَمِعَتْ بِذَلِكَ، فَاطِمَةُ، فَأَتَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَتْ يَزْعُمُ قَوْمُكَ أَنَّكَ لاَ تَغْضَبُ لِبَنَاتِكَ، هَذَا عَلِيٌّ نَاكِحٌ بِنْتَ أَبِي جَهْلٍ
Narrated by Al-Miswar bin Makhrama: Ali engaged the daughter of Abu Jahl. Fatimah heard of this and went to Allah's Messenger s.a.w. saying, "Your people think that you do not become angry for the sake of your daughters. This is Ali going to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl.”
Many of us today tend to keep our problems to ourselves and refuse to seek help from our elders even when in times of dire need. We think that seeking help is only for the weak when in reality, asking for help is part of being emotionally strong and is actually a sign of being human, not weak.
Contrary to popular belief, denying the need for help when it is necessary may actually mean that we lack the courage to admit that we too have our own struggles and hardships that require advice or assistance from others, especially our elders.
In the end, Fatimah’s decision to seek help from her father turned out to be fruitful, as Ali r.a. decided to give up that engagement. Subsequently mentioned in the same hadith the Prophet s.a.w. said:
وَإِنَّ فَاطِمَةَ بَضْعَةٌ مِنِّي، وَإِنِّي أَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَسُوءَهَا
“No doubt, Fatimah is a part of me, I hate to see her being troubled.”
While there are many narrations on how she strived to overcome her daily struggles and challenges, just like her father, she was known for her piety as she spent a great amount of time doing good and performing acts of worship. Furthermore, it was natural for Fatimah r.a. to share a very strong bond and close relationship with her father, even after she got married and moved out of the Prophet’s household.
It was no surprise that she wept so hard when she was informed about the death that was approaching her father during his last illness, as mentioned in the following hadith reported by Aisyah r.a.
أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم دَعَا فَاطِمَةَ ابْنَتَهُ فَسَارَّهَا فَبَكَتْ ثُمَّ سَارَّهَا فَضَحِكَتْ فَقَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ فَقُلْتُ لِفَاطِمَةَ مَا هَذَا الَّذِي سَارَّكِ بِهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَبَكَيْتِ ثُمَّ سَارَّكِ فَضَحِكْتِ قَالَتْ سَارَّنِي فَأَخْبَرَنِي بِمَوْتِهِ فَبَكَيْتُ ثُمَّ سَارَّنِي فَأَخْبَرَنِي أَنِّي أَوَّلُ مَنْ يَتْبَعُهُ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ فَضَحِكْتُ
Rasulullah s.a.w. called his daughter Fatima (during his last illness). He said something to her secretly and she wept. He then said something to her again in secret and she laughed. Aisyah further reported that she said to Fatima: “What is it that Rasulullah s.a.w. said to you secretly and you wept, and then said to you something secretly again and you laughed?” Thereupon she said: “He informed me secretly of his death and so I wept. He then informed me secretly that I would be the first amongst the members of his family to follow him and so I laughed.”
Although she was overwhelmed by the thought of losing her beloved father, Fatimah r.a. was more than happy to know that she was going to follow him not long after. In another narration, of the hadith, it was reported that the reason why she laughed was that the Prophet s.a.w. told her that she was going to be the leader of all the women in paradise. Indeed, she knew that the hardships and challenges she was facing were all just temporary and her ultimate goal was to attain eternal happiness in the hereafter.
For many of us who are living in the age of social media today, we tend to get easily distracted by the unlimited access to various types of information that do not benefit us in any way, and sometimes may even be detrimental to our personal and communal well-being.
Instead of focusing on doing good and being productive, we find ourselves spending so much time aimlessly browsing our social media feed, adorning the façade of the perfect life people portray online, wishing for an equally beautiful lifestyle or experience, and at times losing sight of our actual purpose in life. It is hence important for us to spend some time to reflect on ourselves in order to set our priorities right and live a productive life that brings about benefit both in this world and the next.
As the only child of the Prophet s.a.w. who outlived her other siblings, Fatimah r.a. spent most of her lifetime with the best role model known to humanity, which then contributed to her being an exemplary young lady herself. Hence, striving to develop the wonderful traits of Fatimah r.a. is as good as following the footsteps of her father, as she is known to be the person who closely resembled the Prophet s.a.w. the most, as mentioned in a hadith narrated by Aisyah r.a:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أُمِّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ، قَالَتْ مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا أَشْبَهَ سَمْتًا وَدَلاًّ وَهَدْيًا بِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ فِي قِيَامِهَا وَقُعُودِهَا مِنْ فَاطِمَةَ بِنْتِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم
"I have not seen anyone closer in conduct, way, and manners to that of Rasulullah in regards to standing and sitting, than Fatimah the daughter of Rasulullah s.a.w."
It is understandably difficult to break our routine or lose our bad habits, and suddenly follow the footsteps of our beloved Prophet s.a.w. or even embody the traits of his daughter, Fatimah r.a. However, we should strive to begin somewhere, and take one step at a time.
Perhaps, we can start by reading more about our Prophet s.a.w, his family, and companions. While times have changed and our challenges differ greatly, there are certainly many life lessons and meaningful reminders we can gain from their stories.
Before saying or doing anything, try to take a moment and ask ourselves what would Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his daughter Fatimah r.a. do in the various situations we are facing, based on our understanding of their beautiful personalities and character traits.
Let us adopt the morals and character traits of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and also that of his young daughter Fatimah r.a, who was not only born and grew up in Islam, but also perfected her faith in every way possible and hence given the glad tiding of becoming the queen and leader of the women in paradise.
It is time for us to follow the way Fatimah r.a. proved her love for our Prophet s.a.w. by following His footsteps whenever and wherever possible. May Allah s.w.t. grant us His Mercy throughout our lives and allow us to prove our love for Him and His Messenger through our words and actions. Āmīn.
And Allah knows best.