|Wednesday, 01 June 2011 13:15|
|This is an extract of the transcript of the speech delivered by Sister Nur Isaacs at the International Muslim Women’s Day program celebrating the birth of Sayyeda Fatima Zahra (a.s) during June 2010 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Center, Cape Town
My topic today is to briefly discuss the spirituality of women in general and Fatima (a.s) in particular.
I have always been amazed when I read the beautiful hadith kisa which narrates the event surrounding the revelation of a portion of Verse 33 of Surah Ahzab wherein the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are said to be thoroughly purified by Allah. In this hadith, Allah says to all the Angels and the inhabitants of the heavens that He has not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between it except for the love of the 5 members of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) who were covered by a cloak. Upon enquiry from the Angels as to who these 5 personalities were, due to whom the entire heavens and earth has been created, Allah replied “They are the Household of the Prophet and the Assets of Revelation”,…and then comes the part that still leaves me amazed – Allah continues “They are Fatima, and her father and her husband and her sons.”
How is it that Allah describes the reason for creation to be for Fatima and her father and her husband and her sons?? How is it that she is described as the centre of creation and the nexus or bond between the Prophet (sawa) and the Imams??
This amazing hadith paints a very different picture to what our stereotypical view of women is. Women are genuinely thought by many Muslims to be created from the rib of Adam. Or by some ideologies to be the source of sin, or to be intellectually weak, or emotionally unstable and not to be trusted….and for these reasons and many more they were not able to be Prophets!
All of these arguments are weak and illogical and based on a materialistic outlook to women and existence in general.
The issue of men being Prophets instead of women has nothing to do with weaknesses in women as a creation – rather – men have been created most suited to fulfill the responsibility that accompanies Prophethood. It would be unjust of Allah to have given the responsibility of Prophethood to women. So the institution of Prophethood having been given to men does not make men better than women. Neither does one see all men having been Prophets – only 124000 of them are said to have been given this responsibility and in that number they are further categorized into Prophets and Messengers and from the Messengers you have a further hierarchy where 5 Messengers are said to be the greatest.
One needs to examine the qualifications that made it possible for a select 124000 men to have been Prophets and that qualification is that their spiritual development was such that were considered to have reached a “closeness” to Allah. This closeness to Allah, or “Qurbat” is not reserved for men, but available to all human beings.
Achieving closeness to Allah is the very purpose of life itself. In a hadith recorded by Imam Ali (a.s) he says “You have been created to achieve eternity, not to perish.”
So women have also been created to achieve eternity – where one is permanently close to Allah.
Lets look at examples of women in the Quran.
The wife of Phiroan is described as asking Allah in Surah Tahrim in the following words: “My Lord, build for me a house with You in Jannah.” Aasiya (a.s) spent most of her life being married to the worst man that ever lived – he is the personification of evil. How many of our women live with husbands and men who are so evil that its difficult to call them human beings. Just like Phiroan, they think and live as if they are God. Yet, in this most unfavourable environment, she rises to such closeness to Allah that the hadith describes her as one of the 4 greatest women who every lived. How inspiring is this not to women? You have the potential to become the most spiritual, no matter how bad you material condition is!
Then you have Maryam (a.s), mother of Eesa (a.s). She was so purified, that when she used to pray in the mosque and Nabi Zakariah used to come and take care of her, he always found her already having food. And when he asked her “where does this food come from?” ….she would reply “Its from Allah, Surely Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure.” (Surah Ali Imran). That’s your second message – if women purify themselves for Allah, they will achieve and have access to everything their hearts desire! Maryam’s purity was such that the effects of her spirituality even left a Prophet like Zakariah amazed and was a source of inspiration for him to then ask Allah to grant him a son.
So the issue is not that men were Prophets instead of women, but rather that women, like men are able to gain closeness to Allah of the highest degree, no matter how bad your circumstances.
It is also said that Prophets received wahi (revelation / divine inspiration)…what about women?
Again the Quran gives an example in Surah Qasas verse 7 where it says “And We revealed to the mother of Moosa (a.s)”….ie wahi was given to a woman. In fact in the Quran examples are given of where wahi is even given to the bee! Or even to the heavens and the earth!…if these supposed non-living things can receive wahi – what about women who are human beings!
The difference between wahi given to Prophets and wahi given to other than Prophets – whether men or women, is that for Prophets they have to give that wahi to the people, whereas when wahi comes to other than Prophets – whether men or women – the inspiration is only meant for the individual.
My point is that after the demise of Rasulullah (sawa), women also have the ability to have contact with the world of spirituality.
With this rather lengthy background, lets look at Fatima (a.s).
She has everything that we already referred to:
She is so close to Allah that pleasing her is equal to pleasing Allah and angering her is equal to angering Allah.
In terms of wahi – she was able to listen to the revelation of the Quran as and when it was being revealed to Rasulullah (sawa).
She reached the peak of spirituality and purity that any female ever reached and that’s why she is described in the hadith as “Leader of the Women of the Worlds” – (minal owwalina wal aakhireen) from the first to the last.
Reading the tafsir’s of the Quran, we find that Fatima (as) is interpreted as the manifestation of Laylatul Qadr (that great night in the Holy Ramadaan wherein we pray to be saved from Jahannam). Elsewhere, in the tafsir of the verse of Allah’s Nur or Light, Fatima is described by the Imam’s to be the “Glass which is the glittering star” through whom “Nurun alaa Nur” or Light upon Light emanates. In philosophy, light is described as that which is essentially manifest and through which others become manifest and known. The Imams through whom Allah becomes known to us emanate through Fatima (a.s).
The great contemporary aarif and mufassir of the Quran, Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli says that if he were to give his limited and personal opinion, he would even regard Fatima (a.s) greater than Imam Ali (a.s) – but he then says that’s just his personal conclusion he comes to when he realizes the greatness of Lady Fatima (a.s)
And due to this position that she holds, she becomes the means for everyone to be saved from the fire of hell and achieve eternal life! Prophet Muhammad (sawa) says in a hadith “My daughter was named Fatima because Allah the Mighty and Exalted has protected her and those who love her from the Fire of hell.”
That is why in duah Tawassul we express our yearning to Fatima (a.s) directly when we say to her “O Fatima, We turn towards you, seeking your intercession and advocacy before Allah, we put before you our needs, O Intimate (close one) of Allah, intercede for us with Allah, intercede for us with Allah, intercede for us with Allah.”
And through her intercession we shall achieve eternal life – the very purpose of our creation.
This is the spirituality of women, and of Fatima (a.s) and after Fatima (a.s) many great women of spirituality appeared in history who were her lovers. One such example is the sister of the 8th Imam Riza (a.s), Fatima Ma’sooma (a.s) who is buried in Qum al Muqaddasa.
There is a famous story of the father of Ayatullah Mar’ashi Najafi who wanted to know where Lady Fatima (a.s) is buried. As you know, nobody knows this and we are told in the hadiths that she is buried either in Rawdatul Jannah, or in her house or in Jannatul Baqi. So the father of this Ayatullah made an a’maal for 40 Thurday nights with the intention that it must be revealed to him where Lady Fatima (a.s) is buried…and on the 40th night Imam Ali (a.s) came to him in a dream telling him that he must not rush a matter that’s only meant to be revealed when Imam Mahdi (a.s) returns. However, in place of knowing exactly where Lady Fatima (a.s) is buried, he should rather go for ziyarah of Fatima Ma’sooma (a.s) in Qum and that will be as if he visited the actual grave of Lady Fatima (a.s).
That’s only 1 example of a great woman who came in the shadow of Fatima Zahra (a.s) and today the greatest theological seminary (or hawza) in the world exists in Qum which is based around her shrine.
My dear sisters, in these few words, please realize your spiritual potential. Don’t let life waste away in doing non-meaningful things because always remember that you have been created to achieve eternity, and not to perish in materialism and dunya.