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Fatima, (c. 605 or 615 –632) was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca. After migration to Medina, she married Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib), Muhammad's cousin, and was mother to four of his children. She died a few months after her father, and was buried in Jannat Al-Baqi' in the city of Medina, although the exact location of ####her grave is unknown. Most Shias believe that she was injured when defending Ali against the first Caliphate, and that this incident led to her early death. She seems to have performed only three acts of political significance, each recorded in almost all sources, both Sunni and Shia, though in different versions. First, after the conquest of Mecca she refused her protection to Abu Sufyan ibn Harb; second, after the death of Muhammad she defended Ali's cause, opposed the election of Abu Bakr, and had violent disputes with him and particularly with Umar; third, she laid claim to the property rights of her father and challenged Abu Bakr's categorical refusal to cede them, particularly Fadak (her land inherited from his father, situated 48 km from Medina) and a share in the produce of Khaybar.
Fatima is given many titles by Muslims to show their admiration of her moral and physical characteristics. She was also known as Umm-ul-Abeeha (Mother of her Father) and "al-Batul" (the chaste and pure one) as she spent much of her time in prayer, reciting the Qur'an and in other acts of worship. Muslims regard Fatima as a loving and devoted daughter, mother, wife, a sincere Muslim, and an exemplar for women. It is believed that she was very close to her father and her distinction from other women is mentioned in many Hadith. After Khadijah, Muslims regard Fatima as the most significant historical figure, considered to be the leader of all women in this world and in Paradise. It is because of her moral purity that she occupies an analogous position in Islam to that Mary occupies in Christianity. She was the first wife of Ali, whom Sunnis consider the fourth Rashidun caliph and Shias consider the first infallible Imamah, the mother of the second and third Imams, and the ancestor of all the succeeding Imams.
Following the death of her mother, Fatima was overcome by sorrow and found it very difficult to come to terms with her death. She was consoled by her father who informed her that he had received word from angel Gabriel that God had built for her a palace in paradise.
asked for Fatima’s hand in marriage including Abu Bakr and Umar. Muhammad turned them all down saying that he was awaiting a sign of her destiny. Ali, Muhammad's cousin, also had a desire to marry Fatima but did not have the courage to approach Muhammad due to Ali's poverty. Even when he mustered up the courage and went to see Muhammad, he could not vocalise his intention but remained silent. Muhammad understood the reason for his being there and prompted Ali to confirm that he had come to seek Fatima in marriage. He suggested that Ali had a shield, which if sold, would provide sufficient money to pay the bridal gift (mahr). Muhammad put forward the proposal from Ali to Fatima who remained silent and did not protest which Muhammad took to be a sign of affirmation and consent. Their marriage lasted about ten years and ended when Fatima died. Although polygyny is permitted by Islam, Ali did not marry another woman while Fatima was alive. Fatima was survived by two sons, Hasan and Husayn, and two daughters, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum. Controversy surrounds the fate of her third son, Muhsin. Shias say that she miscarried following an attack on her house by Abu Bakr and Umar, while Sunnis insist that Muhsin died in his infancy of natural causes. At the beginning they were extremely poor. For several years after her marriage, she did all of the work by herself. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen and the hand with which she worked the hand mill to grind corn where often covered with blisters. Fatima vouched to take care of the household work, make dough, bake bread, and clean the house; in return, Ali vouched to take care of the outside work such as gathering firewood, and bringing food. Ali worked to irrigate other peoples lands by drawing water from the wells which caused him to complain of chest pains. Their circumstances were akin to many of the Muslims at the time and only improved following the Battle of Khaybar when the produce of Khaybar was distributed among the poor. When the economic situations of the Muslims become better, Fatima gained some maids but treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.
In the Quran
Some verses in the Qur'an are associated to Fatima and her household by classical exegetes, although she is not mentioned by name. Muslim exegesis of the Qur'anic verse 3:42, links the praise of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with that of Fatima based on a quote attributed to Muhammad that lists the outstanding women of all time as Mary, Asiya (the wife of Pharaoh), Khadija and Fatima (the Shia commentaries insists upon the absolute superiority of Fatima). Fatima, regarded as "the Mother of the Imams", plays a special role in Shia piety. She has a unique status as Muhammad's only surviving child, the wife of Ali, their first Imam, and the mother of Hasan and Husayn. She is believed to have been immaculate, sinless and a pattern for Muslim women. Although leading a life of poverty, the Shia tradition emphasizes her compassion and sharing of whatever she had with others.
There are two distinct views on the manner of her death between the Shias and Sunnis. Shias maintain that Fatima died as a result of injuries sustained after her house was burnt and a door was opened on her whilst she was pregnant. Muhammad appeared in a dream and informed Fatima that she would be passing away the next day. Fatima informed her husband Ali and asked him not to allow those who had done injustice to her, to be involved in her janazah (prayer performed in congregation after the death of a Muslim) or take part in the burial. The Sunnis, however, state that on the morning of her death, she took a bath, put on new clothes and lay down in bed. She asked for Ali and informed him that her time to die was very close. Upon hearing this news, Ali began to cry but was consoled by Fatima who asked him to look after her two sons and for him to bury her without ceremony. After her death, Ali followed her wishes and buried her without informing the Medinan people.
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