On The Way to Marriage

The Marital Life

When Fatima Zahra reached nine years of age, she was a full-grown woman who enjoyed intellectual maturity and...

When Fatima Zahra reached nine years of age, she was a full-grown woman who enjoyed intellectual maturity and integrity of conduct. Allah gifted her with a brilliant mentality and cleverness, together with beauty, grace and elegance. Her talents were many and her inherited and acquired noble traits excel those of any female or male.

Fatima's religious feelings and literary knowledge were unlimited. You will come to know that she was the most knowledgeable and most honorable woman in the world. In fact, history has not witnessed any other woman who achieved such a high level of education, knowledge, and social graces that Fatima reached; regardless of the fact that she did not graduate from any educational establishment save the school of Revelation and Messengership.

In light of this, it is not strange that prominent companions of the Prophet asked to marry her, but he (S) rejected them by saying:

"Her affair is left to her Lord; whenever He wills, she will marry."

Shu'aib Ibn Saab al-Misri said the following in Ar-Rawd al-Faeq:

"When the sun of her beauty shined in the heavens of Messengership and became full on the horizon of exaltation of the moon of her perfection, the dawns of thoughts reached towards her and the sights of the chosen longed to observe her beauty; so the masters of the Muhajerin and Ansar asked to many her, but the one who was bestowed with Allah's satisfaction the Prophet (S) rejected them and said: `I am waiting for Allah's ordinance in her regard."'

Abu Bakr and Umar were among those who asked to marry Fatima, but the Prophet (S) rejected them too, and said that she was still too young for marriage. AbdurRahman Ibn Awf also asked for her hand, but the Prophet (S) ignored him.

Ali Ibn Muragi reported in his book Kanz al-Umal v.2 p.99, that Anas Ibn Malik said:

"Abu Bakr came to see the Prophet (S). After sitting down he said:

`O Messenger of Allah, you surely know of my devotion and long standing service to Islam...'

The Prophet then said: `What is it that you want?'

Abu Bakr then said: `I want you to give me Fatima in marriage.'

When the Prophet heard this, he did not say anything, so Abu Bakr returned to Umar and said:

`I have ruined myself and others!!'

Umar said: `What happened?'

Abu Bakr replied: `I asked for Fatima's hand from the Prophet, but he ignored me.'

Umar said: `You stay here, and I will go ask the Prophet for the same thing that you asked him for.'

Umar went to the Prophet and after sitting down started saying:

`O Messenger of Allah, you surely know of my devotion and long standing service to Islam...'

The Prophet (S) then said: `What is it that you want?'

Umar replied: `I want you to give me Fatima in marriage.'

But the Prophet (S) ignored him too.

Umar returned to Abu Bakr and said: `He is waiting for Allah's command in her regard."'

Al-Haithami also reported in his book Majma Az-Zawa'ed that Abu Bakr and Umar sent their daughters to the Prophet (S) in order to ask him to give Fatima in marriage to them; but when the daughters mentioned why they had come, the Prophet said:

"No! Not until Allah's command in her regard is revealed"

Perhaps the Messenger avoided telling Abu Bakr and Umar openly that he is keeping Fatima for the qualified man, because he did not want to declare to them that they were unqualified to marry her, and that his daughter was above their level. The Prophet also wanted everything to occur in its natural order.

Imam Ali (A) was staying in the house of Saad Ibn Ma'adh (according to one historical finding) since he immigrated to Medina.
One day, While Imam Ali was in one of the gardens of Medina, Saad came to him and said:

"What prevents you from asking to marry Fatima from your cousin?"

It has also been mentioned in Kanz al-Umal that Umar came to Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and said:

"What prevents you from (marrying) Fatima?"

Imam Ali replied: "I fear that he (the Prophet) will not give her to me in marriage!"

Umar said: "If he does not give her to you in marriage, then who will she marry? Besides, you are the nearest of Allah's creatures to him ...."

Actually, Ali had never mentioned his desire to marry Fatima for two reasons; first his shyness to do so in front of the Prophet, and secondly because of his very difficult economic condition. Imam Ali owned nothing of the imperial belongings of this world-not even a house or a peace of land!! So how could he get married? And where would he live with his wife? Besides, Fatima (A) is not the type of woman who can be neglected or looked down upon!!

Nevertheless, the purpose of marriage in Islam is to establish a family. The question of sex is not the main goal, rather it is a matter included and taken care of by marriage. In addition, Islam came to break the chains and the blind adoption of concepts which deprived many people from marriage by making it difficult for them to acquire partners; thus, preventing them from a basic and natural necessity needed for the survival of mankind. Therefore, thanks to Islam-marriage became an easy affair. Tribalism and race consciousness were eradicated by the new religion. The Prophet (S), who was still going through the stage of building Islam, wanted to set an example through his words and deeds in this field; for he is the exemplar and model for the people. So he fought ignorant and infidel customs through his works and actions.

Imam Ali (A) finally approached the Prophet (S) and asked for Fatima's hand in marriage. The Messenger, who has absolute guardianship over all Muslim men and women, including his daughter, would not announce his agreement to the marriage without Fatima's consent. By this action, he (S) made it clear that it is inevitable to obtain the daughter's permission for marriage, because she is the one who is to live with the man and share his life. Indeed, giving a girl in marriage to someone without her prior approval or permission is a clear violation of her honor, degradation of her personality, disruption of her soul and a practical declaration to her that she is like an animal who can be sold or given as a gift to anyone without the right to state her opinion.

The Prophet (S) in reply to Ali said:

"Ah, many men have asked before you and she has rejected them-her resentment to marry them was clear on her face. Yet, wait until I bring you the answer."

The Prophet (S) left Ali waiting for the answer. The Prophet informed his daughter that Ali wished to marry her. Fatima did not need to ask about Ali's occupation, manners, age and other traits; because she knew all about his talents, excellent traits and long standing service to Islam. It is for this reason that the Prophet only said to her:

"Fatima, you know Ali Ibn Abu Talib's relationship to us, his devotion and faithfulness to Islam. I asked Allah to give you in marriage to the best of His creatures, and the most beloved to Him; and he (Ali) has declared his wish to marry you; what do you say?"

Fatima did not reply, nor did she show a sign of rejection or resentment, so he (S) stood up and said:

"Allah is the Greatest! Her silence is her approval."

The Prophet considered Fatima's silence as her consent and approval of the marriage; because a shy, virgin girl is not expected to declare her agreement openly. Yes, disagreement and rejection of marriage can be openly expressed by her. But shyness prevents a girl from declaring her wish to marry a man, but it does not stop her from rejecting it.

The Prophet (S) went back to the waiting Ali and informed him of Fatima's approval of the marriage. He also inquired about the extent of his preparedness to fulfill the requirements needed for the wedding, because legally and traditionally there has to be a dowry. Especially in light of the fact that this marriage would be remembered and be of great influence to the future generations. Thus, it was important to observe every element and event, which would play a part of this marriage- within the limits of simplicity and modesty.

The Prophet said to Ali:

"Do you possess anything (which you can pay for the dowry) to marry Fatima?'

Imam Ali answered:

"May my parents be your sacrifice By Allah, there is not a thing of my affairs hidden from you; I own my sword, shield and the camel which 1 use for irrigation"

Indeed, this was everything that Ali possessed in this world when he was about to get married!!

The Messenger openheartedly listened to Ali and said:

"Ali you cannot do without your sword, for you have to struggle with it and defend yourself against the enemies of Allah. As for your camel you need it to irrigate palm trees and support your family, and you need it as a means of travel. But I accept the shield as a dowry from you; thus, sell it and bring me the money."

Ali had won this shield from the booty of the battle of Badr. It was given to him by the Messenger, who named it Al-Hademah; because it destroyed all the swords, which stuck it.

The Commander of the Faithful (A) sold the shield for 480 or 500 dirhams and brought the money to the Prophet (S). They both agreed that this money would be the dowry of the most honorable girl and most exalted female of the universe. Yes, Fatima was the Mistress of the women of the world, and the daughter of the Master of Prophets and Messengers, who was the best of Allah's creatures.

Yet, he gave his daughter in marriage in return for such a modest dowry in order to teach other Muslim girls not to refrain from marriage because of modest dowries. There are many other lessons, which we can learn from Fatima's marriage, but this is not the place to mention them.

Despite Fatima's modest marriage on Earth, Allah, the Exalted, bestowed her with an honorable gift. He (Glory be to Him) gave her in marriage to Ali Ibn Abu Talib, before the Messenger himself did so. This is not abnormal, for Allah had given women who are much lower than Fatima in marriage to the Prophet For example, He gave Zainab Bint Jahsh to the Prophet in marriage as it is stated in the Holy Quran.

(Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee.) (33: 50)

Therefore, was it not possible for Fatima's wedding to have been celebrated in the exalted heavens, and attended by the nearest angels to Allah, the Exalted, as Prophetic traditions state?! Indeed, this is what happened in tribute to Fatima, her Father, her husband, and her future children who are the authorities of Allah on His creatures.

The celebration took place in the fourth Heaven near Al-Bait al-Ma'mour (the constantly attended house of Allah). It was a unique event the like of which the universe had never encountered before. Angels from all the Heavens gathered in the fourth Heaven and erected the Minbar of Honor, which is made of light. Then Allah, The Almighty, revealed to one of His angels, Rahil, to ascend the Minber and praise and glorify His names as He deserves. Rahil, who was the most eloquent of all angels, did what his Lord revealed to him and said:

"Praise be to Allah, since creation of the first (creatures); He who is ever-lasting (even) after the cessation of all beings; We praise Him for making us spiritual angels, who are submitting to His Godship, and for making us grateful to Him for His benevolence on us.

He safeguarded us from craving for lusts; and made our only pleasure and enjoyment to glorify and exalt Him.

He Who extended His Mercy (upon everything); and bestowed His benevolence (upon everyone). Exalted is His Name from the polytheism of polytheists of the dwellers of Earth, And Elevated by His Creatures from the fabrications of the atheists.

Allah, The Omnipotent King, chose the one who was bestowed with special Divine Honor, and the worshipper of His Greatness, for His worshipper, the Mistress of women and the daughter of the best of prophets, the Master of all messengers and the Imam of the pious; so He brought into relations the Prophet with a man from his kin. One who is his believing companion, and was prompt in answering his call -Ali the devout, with Fatima the splendid and the daughter of the Messenger. "

Then Gabriel added the following words, which were from Allah, the Exalted:

"Praise is My garment Greatness is My Magnificence All the creatures are My slaves men and women. I give Fatima, My Worshipper in marriage to Ali My chosen worshipper. So bear witness O My angels."1

This narration was also reported by a group of Sunni scholars, among them are:

1. AbdurRahman As-Safawi in Nuzhat al-Majalis v.2, p.223, reported that Jabir Ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

"Umme Ayman came to the Prophet crying; the Prophet asked her why she was crying?

She replied:

"A man from the Ansar just informed me that his daughter has just been married, and that sprinkled sweets and almonds on her. Thus, this reminded me that when Fatima married Ali, you did not sprinkle anything on her."

There-upon the Prophet (S) said:

"By Allah Who sent me with honor, and gifted me with the Messengership; when Allah gave Fatima to Ali in marriage, He ordered the nearest angels to surround the Throne-including Gabriel, Michael and Israfil. He also commanded birds to sing and ordered the tree of Tuba to sprinkle them with fresh pearls, white gems, green chrysolites and red rubies."

According to another tradition, he said:

"The marriage took place near the Lotus tree in the seventh Heaven, on the night of Ascension. (On that occasion) Allah revealed to the tree: `Sprinkle all that you bear on them.' So it sprinkled them with gems, jewelry and corals."

2. Al-Hafiz Abu Nu'aym reported in Hilyat al-awliya v.5, p.59, that Abdullah Ibn Masoud said:

"...then Allah commanded the Tree of Paradise to bear gems and jewelry; He then ordered it to sprinkle them over the angels. So whoever received more than the others on that day, will be proud of it until the Day of Resurrection."

3. This narration was mentioned by: Kharazmi in Maqtal al-Hussain, Asqalani in Lisan al-Mizan and Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, and Qandouzi in Yanabi' al-Mawaddah.

4. It has been reported in Nuzhat al-Majalis that Anas Ibn Malik said:

"The Prophet (S) was in the mosque when he said to Ali:

`Here is Gabriel informing me that Allah gave Fatima to you in marriage, and made forty thousand angels testify to her marriage. He also revealed to the Tree of Tuba to sprinkle them with gems, rubies, jewelry and embellishments. When it had done this, the Huris rushed to collect these gems, rubies, jewelry, and embellishments to exchange them for gifts until the Day of Resurrection." (Suyuti reported this narration in Tahdheer Al-Khawas.)

The Messenger (S) performed the engagement proceedings in the mosque while he was on the Minbar, in the presence of the Muslims, so as to enact the practice of announcing and assigning witnesses to engagement proceedings; and specified the amount of dowry, so that the Muslims could follow his practice in requesting modest dowries for marriages. He said:

"Avoid exaggeration in the (amounts of) dowries, because this causes enmity (between you)."

The Prophet also assigned the desirable practice of limiting dowry to five hundred dirhams. He and the Holy Imams of Ahlul- Bayt never exceeded this amount of dowry in their marriages.

When Ali had sold his sword, he brought the money to the Prophet; who divided it into thirds: one-third was for household necessities, one-third was for perfumes and embellishments for the wedding, and the remaining one-third he gave to Umme Salamah, who was to give it back to Ali to assist him in paying for food for the guests attending the ceremony.

Naturally, Ali's marriage to Fatima Zahra (A) raised envy and enmity in the hearts of some men; especially those who were rejected by Fatima and her father when they had asked for her hand. So it was not strange to see some Quraishans come to the Prophet and say:

"Surely you have taken a lowly dowry for Fatima from Ali."

The Prophet replied:

"It was not I who gave (Fatima to) Ali in marriage, rather Allah did so on the night of ascension near the Lotus tree (in the seventh Heaven)..."2

He then added: "Verily I am a man just like you, I marry (from) your women and give you my (marriageable) women in marriage, save Fatima, for her marriage was revealed in Heaven."3

The Prophet gave Abu Bakr some money and asked him to accompany Bilal and Salman, (or Ammar Ibn Yasir) to buy some household necessities for Fatima's house. The Prophet said to Abu Bakr:

"Buy some appropriate household necessities for my daughter with this money."

Abu Bakr said: "He gave sixty-three (63) dirhams, so we went to the market and bought the following:

1. Two mattresses made of Egyptian canvas. (One stuffed with fiber and the other with sheep wool)

2. A leather mat

3. A pillow made of skin, filled with palm tree fiber

4. A Khaibarion cloak

5. An animal skin for water

6. Some jugs and jars also for water

7. A pitcher painted with tar

8. A thin curtain made of wool

9. A shirt costing seven (7) dirhams

10. A veil costing four (4) dirhams

11. A black plush cloak

12. A bed embellished with ribbon

13. Four cushions made of skin imported from Ta'ef, stuffed with a good smelling plant.

14. A mat from Hajar

15. A hand-mill

16. A special copper container used for dyestuff

17. A pestle for grinding coffee

18. A (water) skin

When Abu Bakr and the other companions had bought the above-mentioned articles, they carried them to Umme Salama's house. When the Prophet (S) saw them, he started kissing every article and supplicated to Allah, saying:

"O Allah, bless them for they are people who the majority of their belongings are made of natural materials."

These were all the furnishings they purchased for the daughter of the best of all prophets and messengers. But indeed, marital happiness is not achieved by wealth and overspending, nor can expensive wardrobes, gems, golden ware, luxurious furniture, splendid palaces or comfortable automobiles provide a person with marital happiness, contrary to the beliefs of most people.

How many wealthy women dressed in expensive wardrobes and embellished themselves with gems and jewelry, which cover their necks, arms, and ears consider life an unbearable misery. On the contrary, how many women are there who live in shacks, who cook, bake bread, wash clothes, sweep floors, nurse their children and struggle hard in light of their simple lives, yet consider themselves happy people and their houses to be gardens of Eden.

This fact is also true for men. Yet, unfortunately, many young unmarried women hold the wrong view that marital happiness can only be found through wealth and luxuries. They consider simplicity a sign of misery and deprivation; therefore, these miserable youths remain unmarried waiting for marital happiness to knock on their doors, accompanied by wealth and luxuries!!

* Fatima ['a] The Gracious. By Abu Muhammad Ordoni. Published by: Ansariyan Publications Qum, The Islamic Republic of Iran. Reproduced with permission by the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project team.

1- Bihar: v.5.
2- Bihar: v.6.
3- Musnad Ahmad.

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