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Fatimah in companionship with ‘Ali PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mohammad-Kazim Tabataba’ee   
Monday, 25 September 2017 21:03

A review over the relationship of ‘Ali and Zahra ( a.s.) in their marital life

Sayyid Mohammad-Kazim Tabataba’ee

Ali and Zahra’s marital life had started two years after Hijrah[1]. In different traditions and history books, there are various reports about their deep relationship which show their mutual understanding.[2]

The presence of Zahra ( a.s.) and his life with ‘Ali before Prophet’s demise and after demise was different; therefore, we can divided  Zahra’s relationship with ‘Ali into two parts: from their marriage up to the demise of Prophet and from his demise to her martyrdom.

Fatimah from marriage to Prophet’s demise: marriage in Islam is not just to meet sexual needs or saving generations but it is a friendship contract which God in Quran introduces it as one of the reasons of marriage.

The life of Zahra ( a.s.) and ‘Ali was a perfect example of marital life, it means it was established on friendship, faith and honesty. Prophet, the night after the wedding of Zahra ( a.s.), went to visit them and asked their ideas about each other. ‘Ali said Zahra ( a.s.) is a good companion to obey God and Fatimah said ‘Ali is the best husband.[iii] This love and closeness continued till the last day of their marital life. They were satisfied with each other in all difficulties and happiness. The proof on this claim is the saying of ‘Ali after the martyrdom of  Zahra ( a.s.) who swore God during their marital life  Zahra ( a.s.) never bothered him nor got him to do something against his will and never made him sad.[iv]

Zahra ( a.s.) introduced ‘Ali as Executor of her Father’s will, brother of Prophet[v], a faithful hard-working person[vi] and the best husband[vii] and narrated from his father the perfect salvation is tied with the love of Ali.[viii]

Ali also praised his wife in different occasions and honored living with her and knew her the leader of women of Muslim Ummah and world.[ix] Ali was proud of her in all cases, especially in front of his enemies and kept mentioning her virtues. When Abu-Bakr did not accept Zahra’s words about Fadak, Ali reasoned based on the verse Tathir[x], as caliph overlooked the infallibility of  Zahra ( a.s.), deserved to be criticized severely.[xi] and also when ‘Umar rejected Zahra’s testimony about Fadak, Ali reminded Prophet of this word of him, “  Zahra ( a.s.) is part of my body, any one who bothers her, he bothers me in fact and anyone who rejects her, he rejects me indeed.”[xii] Ali was not only proud of her when she was alive. It is said that Ali at the time of his rulership, in a letter to Muʻawiyah, counted honors of his family and wrong doings of Bani Umayyad and their incapability to be rulers, and then mentioned  Zahra ( a.s.) and said  the leader of women of this world and hereafter is of us and that woman – Umme Jamil- sister of Abu-Sufyān, whom Quran named her the wood-carrier is of you.[xiii] Based on Tabarsi,[xiv] Ali once wrote to Muʻawiyah, the daughter of Muhammad is the cause of my equilibrium and her flesh is mingled with my flesh.[xv]

Besides family: Zahra ( a.s.) played her significant role in the best way besides Ali. She was a perfect wife for her husband, a great daughter for her children. According to history, she played a significant role in intellectual training of her family members and creating friendship atmosphere at home; she was also an efficient manager. In family, she paid attention to consultation with husband, and with her father considering issues related to family. Accordingly, when Ali and Fatimah married, they asked Prophet about managing home chores and work division; Zahra (a.s.) took responsibility of inside-home works and Ali out-side work, though he also helped her in chores of home inside like cleaning up, milling, baking bread.[xvi] In a tradition it is said that once Ali and  Zahra ( a.s.) were milling, Prophet entered and asked , which was of you are more tired? Ali said, “Fatimah” then Prophet sat and helped Ali.[xvii] When Ali went to war, Fatimah took water which was so heavy and the traces of water container left on her body.

Zahra (a.s.) alongside Ali made great attempt to train and educate their children. When Hasan was born, Zahra ( a.s.) asked Ali to choose a name for the baby. Ali said, “I do not outpace Prophet.” Then both agreed Prophet chose a name for the baby.[xviii] And this trend was repeated for naming other children of them.[xix] Zahra (a.s.) introduced her husband as the role model for her children in family and society and told them to be like him.[xx]

One of the most significant characteristics of Zahra (a.s.) in family was her attention to family and her husband. Therefore, when Prophet asked, “when is a woman closer to God?” she answered, “when she is an attendant of her home.”

Companionship at war time: she always tried to keep the atmosphere of a home in a way that Ali could be at the service of Islam with no anxiety for home; therefore, she never asked anything from Ali. And also besides Ali, tried to help Muslims. In Battle of Uhud, a group of Muslims got martyred or got hurt. Prophet also got hurt and the blood of his forehead dropped on his face. It is narrated that Ali poured water on it by shield and Fatimah washed it. When Zahra ( a.s.) saw they couldn’t stop bleeding, she burnt a piece of mat and put it on the injury. In this Battle, Fatimah and fourteen other women took water and food for warriors, nursed injured ones. After Battle of Uhud, Fatimah welcomed Prophet by holding water bowl.[xxi]

Zahra (a.s.) joined Ali in conquering Mecca and in the session of taking homage with Prophet, she was responsible to take homage from women.[xxii] In one of the battles, imam Ali asked  Zahra ( a.s.) to give him that cloth that he used to wrap around his head in difficult time. This report and likewise show that Zahra ( a.s.) was besides her husband in all hardship.

From Prophet demise to martyrdom of Zahra (a.s.): before Prophet’s demise, the relationship of Zahra ( a.s.) and her husband was generally personal and about family. And her social presence was limited only in wars. But after demise of Prophet and confiscation of rulership, Zahra ( a.s.) entered social and political arena seriously, she stood up besides Ali, did not relent to take Ali’s rights, her support from political rights of Ali.

Zahra ( a.s.) actively supported Ali’s right and revealing nonreligious aspects of   ruling system. According to a report, in Shia and Sunnit sources, Zahra ( a.s.), her husband and their children, came to homes of some companions of Prophet and invited them to support Ali and took his right.

After a group joined Abu-Bakr and swore allegiance with him, they came to Ali’s home to take pledge. It is said that Zahra (a.s.), to support Ali, while standing behind the door, addressed ‘Umar ibn Khattab and blamed him.  Zahra ( a.s.) did her best not to let them take Ali to mosque, to do this, she was injured and this injury caused her death.

According to some reports, when Ali was taken to mosque, Zahra ( a.s.) also rushed there and bravely defended Ali’s right. In a part of her speech called Fadakiye sermon, which was lectured by her at Medina Mosque, she explained the special place of Imam Ali and the point that following Ahlul Bayt could bring order into society.

According to some reports, Zahra ( a.s.) to prove Ali’s right for rulership, referred to Ghadir and will of Prophet. In some reports it is said that one of the companions of Prophet, next to the grave of Hamza, the uncle of Prophet, asked  Zahra ( a.s.) to give a reason why she said Ali should be Imam, she referred to Ghadir event.  Zahra ( a.s.) in front of those who claimed if Ali was present in Saqifah they surely would have taken pledge with him said after Ghadir God did not leave any excuse for anyone (to take allegiance to someone else)

Zahra (a.s.) expressed her anger and dissatisfaction with oppressors in another way: she went to the grave of her father and talked with him about what had happened. Therefore, the ruling system felt danger as ‘Umar ibn Khattab told her, “oh, the daughter of Prophet, for us, no one is dearer than your father and after that you. But we swear God all these do not prohibit me of firing your home if these people gathered around you.”[xxiii]

Zahra’s policy to announce illegality of the present ruling system of Abu-Bakr and her dissatisfaction about it was not limited to the open disagreement of her early after the demise of Prophet. She till the last day of her life drew people attention to this fact. Even in her death bed she was supporting her husband; in presence of a group of women who came to paid a visit, she complained of disloyalty of oppressors and how these oppressors violated Ali’s right.

Abu-Bakr asked her to visit her but she refused and when Ali asked Zahra ( a.s.) for them, she turned back her face from them, reminded them of the words of Prophet who said Zahra’s anger is my anger; when  Abu-Bakr confirmed hearing it, Zahra said, I swear God I am angry with you and your companion, and never be satisfied with you and I will complain about you  to Prophet.


[1] Tusi, 43

[2] ibn Sa‘d, 8/19; Majlisi, 236

[iii] ibn Shahr Ashub, 3/131; Majlisi, 43/117

[iv] Kharazmi, 353; Arbali, 1/373; Majlisi, 43/134

[v] Majlisi, 43/176

[vi] Saduq, Ma’ani al-Akhbar, 355

[vii] Arbali, 1/372; Majlisi, 43/133

[viii] Saduq, Al-Amali, 248-249; Tabari imami, 75

[ix] Kufi, 1/392; Tabarsi, I‘lam al-Wara‘, 1/298

[x] Ahzab, 33

[xi] Qumi, 2/156-157; Tabarsi, al-Ihtijaj, 1/123; Majlisi, 29/130

[xii] Majlisi, 29/197

[xiii] Nahjul Balaghah, letter 28   3/32

[xiv] Al-Ihtijaj, 1/261; Majlisi, 33/58

[xv] Karajaki, 122; Tabarsi, al-Ihtijaj, 1/266; ibn Shahr Ashub, 2/19

[xvi] Kulayni, 5/86; Saduq, man la-Yahzaruhul Faqih, 3/169; Majlisi, 43/50

[xvii] Shadhan Qumi, 56-57; Majlisi, 43/50-51

[xviii] Saduq, ‘Ilal al-Sharayah, 1/137; Majlisi, 43/238

[xix] Biladhuri, 3/361

[xx] ibn Shahr Ashub, 3/159; Majlisi, 43/286

[xxi] Mufid, al-Irshad

[xxii] Waqidi, 2/850; Mighrizi, 1/398; 13/389

[xxiii] ibn Abi Shaybah Kufi, 8/572