The 10 Powerful Women Behind 10 of the Most Influential Men of History
The 10 Women Behind 10 of the Most Influential Men of History

The 10 Women Behind 10 of the Most Influential Men of History

Peter Baxter - April 27, 2018

The 10 Women Behind 10 of the Most Influential Men of History
Lady Fatima, the prophet’s comfort. Ummah Wide

Lady Fatima, Daughter of Muhammad

We are going to close out with a couple of powerful ladies in the two great religions of the modern age, the first of which is Fatima, known traditionally as Fatimah bint Muhammad, or the Daughter of Muhammad. We have touched on wives and mothers, but history is also replete with daughters who quietly promoted the agendas of powerful fathers, and some not that quietly.

One indication of quite how important, and revered Fatima is in the Islamic world is the fact that the name ‘Fatima’ is probably the most popular throughout the faith. In a situation of faith, however, mythology often merges with fact, and the lives and achievements of the various characters of that faith are molded and manipulated to fit the needs of doctrine. Obviously, this is true for Fatima, but a name, and a message, cannot survive for millennia if its basis is not sound.

As the story goes, Fatima was the daughter of Khuwaylid (Khadijah bint Khuwaylid), the first of Muhammed’s eleven wives. The young Muhammed worked for her, and it was she who proposed to him, so clearly, in matters of life and destiny, the apple did not fall far from the tree. Fatima was born around 605 CE, and grew up as her father was beginning to experience his early revelations, and the great Islamic faith was in incubation. Muhammed’s message, of course, was poorly received by the establishment, and in the beginning, times were hard, and dangerous.

She was perhaps the closest of his children to her father, and she was certainly more supportive of the development of the early doctrine of Islam than anyone else around him. When, in 632 CE, the Prophet died, his loving daughter was quick to follow. She was twenty-nine.

Fatima certainly played a pivotal role in her father’s life and was key to the development of Islam. As the wife of Ali, the third Caliph, she produced sons no less formative in the development of Islam. Although entirely supplicant to the needs of her father, and as such, uncontroversial, she has become a somewhat divisive figure in modern Islam. Both major branches of the faith hold her in high esteem, but for the Shia branch, she is much more highly placed. As the wife of Ali, considered to be the first Imam, and the mother of Hasan and Husayn, the second and third Imams, she obviously is a figure of great importance. By the Shia, however, somewhat like Mary, the mother of Christ, she is seen as immaculate, and sinless, and however she is viewed, she is certainly regarded as one of the great women of Islam.

The 10 Women Behind 10 of the Most Influential Men of History
Mary, the most famous mother in history. Redeeming God.

Mary, the Mother of Christ

Probably the most famous mother in history, the name Mary, Maria or Miriam all refer to the woman who gave birth to perhaps the most famous prophet that ever walked the earth; and she did so without the usual preliminary of copulation. The Immaculate Conception is central to Christian doctrine because it stands as proof that Christ was divine. Needless to say, this particular snippet of Christian mythology has been the subject of cruel jokes since it was first devised, and the ostensible father of Christ, Joseph, is portrayed quite frequently as the most shamelessly cuckolded man in history.

In a previous millennium, of course, this author would have been burned at the stake for such a heretical observation, but thankfully, not today. Mary, the mother of Christ, however, her gifted son was conceived, sits at the penultimate zenith of the Christian faith, and in particular the Catholic faith. And of all of the various splintered denominations of faith, be they Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Catholics outnumber any other.

But who was Mary, and why is she still so important to the Christian faith? Well, quite simply, it was she who guided Jesus through his formative years, and she who remained vital to him until the moment he was nailed to the cross, and indeed, beyond. As Jesus hung on the cross, he said to the disciple John ‘Behold thy mother’, implying that Mary was the mother of all, and through her, any devotee could become a disciple. This immediately places Mary at the center of the nascent Christian faith.

Sadly, there is no reliable record detailing any of her specific functions as the ministry of Christ begins, but one can assume that an unmarried wandering prophet, whose mother remained a factor in his life, will have relied frequently on her support. Developing a faith, in particular one with the inevitable end that Christ suffered, is one that would have been frequently characterized by doubt and self-questioning. Jesus, of course, enjoyed the support of twelve disciples, but perhaps more importantly than that, he relied on the support of his mother.

The emergence of Mary as a central figure of veneration serves a modern purpose also, insofar as it identifies a woman at the center of the Christian faith, which offers not only diversity but a role model for women infinitely adaptable to evolving circumstances. As faith, and matters of faith fade somewhat in the modern era, the notion of the Virgin Mary has become vague and ill-formed in the minds of modern generations, and it is often hard to recall quite how pivotal this woman was to the development of arguably the most influential faith in history.


Where did we get this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Women Behind Powerful Men’. Female First, September 2008

“John Lennon and Yoko Ono”. Mercy Street Cafe

“Paul McCartney: Yoko Ono did not break up The Beatles”. The Guardian, November 2012

“History avenges France’s famous outcast empress Josephine de Beauharnais”. The Irish Times. Lara Marlow, March 2014

“Julius Caesar and Cleopatra”. History Hit. Graham Land, 2018

“When a secret president ran the country.” PBS News Hour. Dr. Howard Markel, October 2015

“Why the great love story of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte wasn’t that great after all”. NZ Herald.16 Mar 2019

“Eva Perón Actress, Politician (1919-1952)”. Biography 2018

“Consider Eva Perón’s Influence”. New York Times. Marysa Navarro, November 2013