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Daughters of the Prophet (ﷺ): The Remarkable Life of Fatimah (RA)

by in Soul on 4th July, 2024

Ah-ul-Bayt, the beloved family of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) holds a special place in our hearts as well as Islamic history. The remarkable daughters of the Prophet (ﷺ), Zainab (RA), Ruqayyah (RA), Umm Kulthum (RA) and Fatimah (RA) were one of the earliest Muslims, who demonstrated incredible righteousness, resilience and compassion through the many hardships they faced.

In our ‘Daughters of the Prophet (ﷺ)’ series, we will explore the lives and legacies of these four women, who were strong, knowledgeable and greatly loved and cherished by their beloved father (ﷺ). Their lives are filled with profound lessons that are relevant to this day, guiding and inspiring us as we navigate our lives as Muslim women, hoping to personify some of their characteristics of faith and steadfastness.

The remarkable life of Fatimah (RA)

“Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) drew four lines and said to the Companions, “Do you know what these are?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “The best women of the women of Paradise are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran and Aasiyah bint Muzahim (the wife of the Pharaoh).” (Ahmad)

RasulAllah (ﷺ) had four daughters, all of whom he loved dearly; yet the greatest amount of narrations regarding his (ﷺ) relationship with them is specifically in regards to his youngest daughter, Fatimah bint Muhammad (RA). She was his youngest child, born shortly before Prophethood.

Fatimah (RA)’s story is one of quiet strength that has the power to resonate deeply across time and culture. Her life is a true depiction of what it means to have a deep love for Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (ﷺ) above all else and to choose the hardship of this world in exchange for the promise of a Jannah that is more beautiful and wonderful than anything. Through her example, we are reminded each and every day that we don’t need to have the highest grades or fanciest careers or the most luxurious lifestyles to be “worthy” or valuable; all we need is taqwa of Allah (SWT) to become like some of the greatest women this world has ever seen. 

During these times when hustle culture and status symbols are glorified, our faith and the story of Fatimah (RA) is a much needed reminder that all material wealth and acclaim pales in comparison to the treasures of Jannah that will be granted to the believers who remain steadfast in the face of life’s trials with patience and gratitude. 

Her humility and piety serves as an inspiration to believers throughout generations. Through her exemplary character, Fatimah (RA) teaches us the importance of patience, steadfastness, and unwavering trust in Allah (SWT)’s decree, even in the face of adversity.

Early Life

Fatimah (RA) was raised fully within Islam and her earliest memories revolve around her parents and older sisters worshipping Allah (SWT) alone and sharing the pure message of Islam. However, from a very young age, she witnessed first-hand the terrible punishments meted out against the believing Muslims and faced many hardships alongside her family during the years of persecution in Makkah. Despite the challenges faced by her family during those early days, Fatimah (RA) stood firm and offered much needed support and solace to her father and the Muslim community.

Fatimah (RA) was approximately seven or eight years old when she used to accompany her father (ﷺ) to the Ka’bah, where he often went to worship. In some regions and communities, it is at this very age that many fathers stop taking their daughters with them to public places,especially the masjid. In pre-Islamic Arabia, it was almost unheard of for fathers to be deeply involved with their daughters; unfortunately, this remains the case even today in many parts of the world. RasulAllah (ﷺ), however, was a mercy to mankind who came to revolutionise the world, including the concept of fatherhood.

One day, the Prophet (ﷺ) was praying at the Ka’bah, and Abu Jahl and his companions were sitting there. They said to one another, ‘Who will bring the offal of this camel and put it on Muhammad’s back when he prostrates?’ So the most wretched of people went and brought it and waited until the Prophet (ﷺ) prostrated, then he put it on his back, between his shoulders. 

They started laughing and leaning against one another (because of their laughter), the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was prostrating and did not raise his head until Fatimah (RA) came and removed it from his back. Then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) raised his head, and said, ‘O Allah, deal with Quraysh,’ three times. They became worried when he prayed against them because they used to believe that du’a’s made in that land would be answered…” (Sahih Bukhari)

Fatimah (RA) was very young when she witnessed this public humiliation of her father, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), yet it simply strengthened her faith in Allah (SWT), her love for her father and her determination to support him in every way. This was not the only time she experienced pain and suffering alongside her father. Fatimah (RA) was still young when her family was exiled to Shi’b Abi Talib and she watched her mother grow sick from starvation and eventually die. Fatimah (RA) was no stranger to heartache and physical pain for the sake of Allah (SWT). 

Throughout all of this, RasulAllah’s (ﷺ) love for his daughter only increased. As Fatimah (RA) grew older, RasulAllah (ﷺ) never pushed her away or minimised his relationship with her. In fact their bond only grew stronger.

A’ishah (RA) commented, “I have not seen any one of God’s creations resemble the Messenger of God more in speech, conversation and manner of sitting than Fatimah, may God be pleased with her. When the Prophet (ﷺ) saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up and kiss her, take her by the hand and sit her down in the place where he was sitting.” (Siyar A’laam an-Nubala)

Even amongst Muslim fathers who do have good relationships with their daughters, some may feel shy or embarrassed to show it or discuss it publicly due to culture-based embarrassment. RasulAllah (ﷺ), however, was never shy to publicly profess his love and affection for those dearest to him.

Narrated Usamah bin Zaid:

“I was sitting [with the Prophet (ﷺ) when Ali and Al-Abbas came seeking permission to enter. They said: ‘O Usamah, seek permission for us from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).’ So I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, Ali and Al-Abbas seek permission to enter.’ He said: ‘Do you know what has brought them?’ I said: ‘No [I do not know].’ So the Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘But I know, grant them permission.’ So they entered and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, we have come to you, to ask you which of your family is most beloved to you.’ He said: ‘Fatimah bint Muhammad.’ (Tirmidhi)

Marriage to Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RA)

The love that RasulAllah (ﷺ) had for Fatimah (RA) meant that he would never allow her to marry just anyone, she could only marry the best of men. And that man was Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA).

Ali (RA) and Fatimah weren’t strangers either. In addition to Ali (RA) being RasulAllah (ﷺ)’s cousin, he was also raised within RasulAllah (ﷺ)’s home due to Abu Talib’s poverty. Ali (RA) was closer in age to Fatimah (RA), and they grew up in the same household. When Ali (RA) came to ask for Fatimah’s (RA) hand in marriage, he was so overcome with shyness that he couldn’t even speak! Seeing the blush on Ali’s cheeks, RasulAllah (ﷺ) quickly guessed what he wanted to ask. 

“Do you want to marry Fatimah?” Ali blushed again and nodded. Fatimah (RA) was not far away, and when she caught wind of the question at hand, she was more than overjoyed to accept the proposal. 

While Fatimah (RA) and Ali (RA) were both deeply beloved to RasulAllah (ﷺ), this didn’t mean that they had an easy life. Ali (RA) was a poor man, and when RasulAllah (ﷺ) commanded him to provide something to Fatimah as a mahr, Ali (RA) spread his hands helplessly. “I have nothing!” he confessed. “What about your armour?” Ali immediately sold his suit of armour to give Fatimah (RA) a mahr. Their wedding was a simple one, but a blessed one, and later, they were blessed with two sons, Al-Hassan (RA) and Al-Hussayn (RA), and two daughters, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum (named after Fatimah’s sisters). They had a third son, Muhsin, who died while very young. 

Fatimah (RA) and Ali (RA) had a marriage that mirrored that of RasulAllah (ﷺ) and Khadijah. They loved each other deeply, to the extent that they used to recite love poetry to one another. 

Bearing Life’s Hardships with Faith and Grace

Going back to the hadith about Fatimah being one of the greatest women of Jannah, we must ask ourselves – what made her so special? 

In comparison to others among the early Muslim women, her life was relatively unremarkable. She grew up during a difficult time for her parents when her father (ﷺ) was being publicly mocked and derided for preaching his message; she lost her mother at a relatively young age and she married her cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib when she was about fifteen years old. Some of the most well-known hadith related by her mention how physically demanding her lifestyle was, such that her hands would crack and bleed from the wheat-grinding that she used to do.

While Fatimah bint Muhammad (RA) is not known for an act of dramatic courage such as that displayed by Nusaybah bint Ka’b (RA) during the battle of Uhud, she too provides an example for a situation that many Muslim women around the world live and continue to face: the everyday drudgery of life as a wife and mother.

Fatimah (RA) may have been the most beloved daughter to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), who was also the head of the Islamic State and leader of the Muslim army, but that didn’t mean that her life was one of luxury or ease.

Quite to the contrary, Fatimah (RA) was the mother of several young children and ran her household single-handedly. Life was difficult back then, with none of the technologies that smooth our way through tedious tasks today. She used to grind the wheat for her bread with her own hands, to the point that her hands would crack and bleed. Her husband, Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), was an employee of one of the Ansaar, but the income was meagre and they struggled to survive on a daily basis.

One day, weary and despairing of the toll that their lifestyle was taking on her, Fatimah (RA) decided that she would approach her father, RasulAllah (ﷺ). At the time, the Muslims had won a battle and as a result, had captured several prisoners and other spoils of war. With the reasoning that as a member of the Ummah she was entitled to some relief, Fatimah (RA) went to visit one of RasulAllah (ﷺ)’s homes. She did not find her father (ﷺ) present, but seeing her stepmother Aisha (RA), Fatimah (RA) shared the story of her bleeding hands and her wish for a maidservant to take on a share of the burdens.

Fatimah (RA) went back to her home, and when RasulAllah (ﷺ) returned to his own house, Aisha (RA) told him about his daughter’s visit. That same night, RasulAllah (ﷺ) visited his daughter.

Ali (RA) narrates, “I wanted to get up, but the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Remain in your place.’ Then he sat down between us until I felt the coolness of his face on my chest. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Shall I teach you a thing which is better than what you have asked me? When you go to bed, say, ‘Allahu akbar’ thirty-four times, and ‘subhanAllah’ thirty-three times, and ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty-three times for that is better for you both than a servant.’” (Bukhari, Book #57, Hadith #55)

After this, Fatimah (RA) never repeated her request for a maid ever again.

It may seem to be a small, insignificant thing, but subhanAllah this was one of the reasons Fatimah earned her position as one of the queens of Jannah. Her life was spent quietly serving her Lord, through her sincere intentions behind caring for her husband and children. Around her, there were many sahabiyat whose lives seemed much more exciting, full of adventure and grandeur. Her stepmother, Aishah, was a great scholar; her great-aunt Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib was fierce in battle and the women of Madinah were renowned for their boldness in approaching any matter.

Nonetheless, for Fatimah bint RasulAllah (RA), the path to Paradise was simple – though never easy. For every stay-at-home-mother and housewife who feels that her life is too consumed by daily drudgery, who worries that her life is too dull to be of consequence, the quiet strength of Fatimah bint RasulAllah (RA) is an inspiration and a reminder that no deed, however small or seemingly insignificant, is overlooked by Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Just.

“Be steadfast: God does not let the rewards of those who do good go to waste.” (Surah Hud 11:115)

Jannah is not only for the Prophets, the martyrs, the ascetics, or the scholars; Jannah is attainable by every Muslimah, no matter her occupation or station in life. In the eyes of Allah (SWT) every sincere Muslim woman who pledges her life to pleasing her Lord is a heroine of Islam.

Devotion to her Father (ﷺ) and The Promise of Jannah

Fatimah’s (RA) life was a simple one, devoted to her Lord and her family. Her love for her father (ﷺ) never waned, and one day, an incident took place that Aishah (RA) recounts:

Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “Fatimah came walking in the manner of the Prophet (ﷺ). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Welcome, O my daughter.’ Then he seated her to his right or to his left, then he said something privately to her and she wept. I said to her, ‘Why are you weeping?’ Then he said something privately to her and she smiled. I said, ‘I have never seen anything like that which I have seen today, of joy so close to grief.’ 

I asked her what he had said, and she said, ‘I would not disclose the secret of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).’ When the Prophet (ﷺ) passed away, I asked her and she said, ‘He told me, “Jibreel used to review the Qur’an with me once every year, but this year he has reviewed it with me twice, so I know that my appointed time (of death) is approaching. And you will be the first of my family to join me.” So I wept. Then he said, “Would it not please you to be the leader of the women of Paradise or the women of the believers?” So I smiled.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

The death of RasulAllah (ﷺ) broke Fatimah’s heart in a way that none of the other losses in her life did. She could barely handle being at his funeral, and immediately after she fell deeply sick. For Fatimah (RA), without her father’s presence, life was not worth living anymore. Remembering his words, Fatimah (RA) knew that her own time was coming soon. She prepared her funeral wrap, gathered her children and her husband, and reassured them that she would meet them in Jannah. 

When Fatimah (RA) died, her husband Ali (RA) was the one to wash her body and bury her, and he wept throughout the entire process. The poem he recited at her grave was filled with pain and heartbreak.

“I am at the grave of my beloved, saying salaam, but there is no response… my beloved, why will you not reply? Have you forgotten our most tender moments?

The beloved one says, how can I respond when I am a prisoner of the dirt and the stones?…”

May Allah (SWT) make us amongst the believing women like Fatimah (RA) and help us showcase in our actions the type of love for Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) that Fatimah (RA) had. Ameen.


Women Around the Messenger by Muhammad Ali Qutb

The Firsts series by Yaqeen Institute

Builders of a Nation series by Dr. Sh. Haifaa Younis

Siyar A’laam an-Nubala by Imam Adh-Dhahabi

Zainab bint Younus

Zainab bint Younus

Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She has taken a social media sabbatical but can still be found on Instagram (@bintyounus) and at her blog: IG: @bintyounus