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Funeral and burial of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a)

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Funeral and burial of Lady Fāṭima al-Zahrā (a) refers to the night and her secret burial in the year 11/632. Lady Fatima (a), the daughter of the Prophet (s) and the wife of Imam Ali (a), had willed that she be buried secretly at night so that Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa and 'Umar b. al-Khattab would not be present at her funeral. This will is considered a sign of Lady Fatima's (a) protest against the caliph and her dissatisfaction with the events after the demise of the Prophet (s).

Lady Fatimah's body was buried in the presence of a small number of people such as Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), 'Aqil b. Abi Talib, 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, 'Ammar b. Yasir, Miqdad b. Aswad, Zubayr b. 'Awam, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari and Salman al-Farsi and without the presence of Abu Bakr and 'Umar. The burial place of Lady Fatima (a) is unknown.

After the people knew about the burial of Lady Fatima (a) at night, 'Umar b. al-Khattab demanded the exhumation and performing prayer upon her body again, but after Imam Ali's (a) warning, he ignored his demand.

Martyrdom of Lady Fatima (a)

Lady Fatimah (a), the daughter of the Prophet (s), died in 11 AH/632 CE after a period of illness and as a result of physical injuries caused to her after the demise of the Prophet (s). There is a disagreement about the date of her martyrdom between forty days and eight months after the demise of the Prophet (s). Ninety five days after the demise of the Prophet (a), i.e. the third of Jumada II, is considered to be the most famous account among the Shiites; and seventy five days after the demise of the Prophet (s), i.e. the Jumada I 13/August 6, is another account.

Gathering of People for Funeral

Lady Fatima (a) passed away after the sunset. According to the narration of al-Fattal al-Nayshaburi in the book Rawdat al-wa'izin, the people of Medina cried and went to the house of Imam Ali (a) and waited to pray upon the body; but, Abu Dhar went to them and said that the funeral of the Prophet's daughter (a) was delayed and the people dispersed.

Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s), asked Imam Ali (a) to gather the Emigrants and Ansar for funerals and prayer upon the body, which is a beauty for religion. Imam Ali (a) replied that he (a) could not follow his advice, because Lady Fatima (a) had willed that the prayer upon her and her funeral should be secret. According to the narration of Sulaym b. Qays, on the night of Lady Fatima's (a) demise, Abu Bakr and 'Umar asked Imam Ali (a) not to surpass them in praying upon the body of Lady Fatima (a).

Performing Ghusl, Shrouding and Praying Upon

Lady Fatima (a) made a will that her husband, Imam Ali (a) should wash her body. She (a) also asked Asma' bt. 'Umays to help Imam Ali (a) in washing her body. According to the will of Lady Fatima (a), Imam Ali (a) and Asma' washed and shrouded her. Husayn b. 'Abd al-Wahhab in Uyun al-mu'jizat and Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, the Shiite scholars in the 5th/11th century, in the book Dala'il al-imama reported that only Imam Ali (a) along with Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) prayed upon the body of Lady Fatima (a). In some sources, the number of participants is mentioned more, as Fattal al-Nayshaburi, the 5th/11th and 6th/12th century Shiite scholar in Rawdat al-wa'izin, and Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi, the 6th/12th century scholar in the book I'lam al-wara, reported that in addition to Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), 'Aqil, brother of Imam Ali (a), 'Ammar, Miqdad, Zubayr, Abu Dhar, Salman, Burayda b. al-Husayb and a number of Banu Hashim also prayed upon the body of Lady Fatima (a) and buried her. Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-anwar narrated a hadith that the people present at the burial of Lady Fatima (a) were Salman al-Farsi, Miqdad, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib and Zubayr b. 'Awam.

The Reason for not Informing People

The reason for the secrecy of the burial ceremony and prayer was the will of Lady Fatima (a). According to the narration of Fattal al-Nayshaburi, Lady Fatima (a) made a will to Imam Ali (a) that none of the people who had oppressed her and usurped her right should pray upon her body or attend her funeral.

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq also narrated that when Imam Ali (a) was asked about the reason of the secret burial of Lady Fatima (a) at night, replied, “Fatima (a) was angry with a group and did not want them to attend her funeral. Ibn Qutayba al-Dinawari, a Sunni scholar and narrator in the 3rd/9th century, also narrated that Lady Fatima (a) made a will to be buried at night so that Abu Bakr would not attend her burial.

Burial

In Tarikh al-Ya'qubi, among the historical sources in the 3rd/9th century, it is stated that the body of Lady Fatima (a) was buried at night and only Salman, Abu Dhar and Miqdad were present at the funeral. Fattal al-Nayshaburi considered the number of attendees to be a little more than this.

After the burial of Lady Fatima (a), Imam Ali (a) destroyed the remains of the grave so that it would not be known.

The grave of Lady Fatima (a) and even the place where the grave is located are unknown. There are various quotes about the burial site, including:

Rawdat al-Nabi (a)

  • The house of Lady Fatima (a) and Imam Ali (a). This place became a part of Masjid al-Nabi (s) with the expansion of the mosque during the time of Umayyads.
  • Some sources have mentioned al-Baqi' cemetery as the general burial place of Lady Fatima (a).

Events after the Burial

Imam Ali (a) in order to hide the grave of Lady Fatima (a) and prevent it from being found, in addition to destroying the signs of the grave, built seven graves, or based on another report, forty graves.

According to the book of Sulaym b. Qays, in the morning after the burial of Lady Fatima (a), Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab went with the people to pray upon the body, and Miqdad told them that they had buried the body last night.

Upon learning about the burial of Lady Fatima (a), the people were upset and blamed each other for not being able to attend the funeral and the prayer upon the only child of the Prophet (s).

According to Sulaym b. Qays, after learning about the prayer and secret burial, 'Umar b. al-Khattab said to Abu Bakr: “I told you that they would do so.” 'Umar also had an argument with 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib and accused Banu Hashim of jealousy. 'Abbas considered it a will of Lady Fatima (a) and said that “she (a) made a will that you two should not pray upon her.”

According to Bihar al-anwar, 'Umar b. al-Khattab said, “Bring some Muslim women to dig these graves and find the body of Fatima (a), so that we can pray upon it and bury it again and visit her grave.” When Imam Ali (a) heard about that, he (a) became very angry and went to al-Baqi', and after an argument that broke out between him and 'Umar, 'Umar and his companions, who faced the anger and threats of Ali (a), gave up their decision.

Notes

References

  • Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kabīr. Edited by ʿAbd al-Qādir Aḥmad ʿAṭā. 1st edition. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1410 AH/1990.
  • Ibn Shahrāshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib. 1st edition. Qom: Intishārāt-i ʿAllāma, 1379 AH.