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.