By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"Ya Fatema ishfa’i li fi’l-jannah fa inna laki ind-Allah shaanan min ash-shaan (O Fatema! Intercede for me for (the reward of) paradise, for indeed you have with Allah a lofty status).”
The above phrase is part of the ziyarah, or the standard form of salutation by pilgrims to a lady carrying the blessed name Fatema (SA). It is an intercession for the eternal bliss of paradise, since, as is clear from the wordings, the lady is a spotlessly pure person whose supplications in the Divine Court never go unanswered.
Is the Fatema (SA) mentioned here, the immaculate daughter of the Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?
The answer is in the negative. The Noblest Lady of all time, whom the Almighty refers in the holy Qur’an as Kowthar (Fountain of Perpetual Blessings), vouches her, her husband’s and her sons’ purity in ayah 33 of Surah al-Ahzaab, and commands her to accompany her father the Prophet along with her immediate family to the historically decisive mubahela with the Christians of Najran (3:61) in order to make Islam triumphant forever, does not have a shrine, let alone pilgrims.
It is an irony of Islamic history that the daughter at whose doorstep Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) used to salute, almost daily in the morning, rests in peace in Medina in an unmarked grave in an undisclosed spot.
Obviously it was God’s Will that the tomb of Fatema az-Zahra (SA), the sanctity of whose threshold was desecrated by fire and crowbars by a roguish group of her father’s companions immediately after his departure from the mortal world, should be safe from the sacrilege of ass other blasphemers in the future, such as the Wahhabi heretics, who in 1925 after seizing the Hejaz in a bloody massacre, sacrilegiously destroyed the mausoleum of four Imams of her household – Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS), Imam Zain al-Abedin, Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (AS) and Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS).
Is it Fatema (SA), the daughter of Imam Hasan (AS), the wife of Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), the mother of Imam Baqer (AS), and the grandmother of Imam Sadeq (AS)?
Is it Fatema (SA), the daughter of Imam Husain (AS), the wife of Hasan al-Muthanna (AS), and the ancestress of the Tabatabaie branch of Hasani Sadaat?
The answers are again a sad no. These two noble ladies, who witnessed the heartrending tragedy of Karbala and were laid to rest in Medina’s sacred Jannat al-Baqie Cemetery when they died years later, have no longer any canopy or tombstone. May God damn the Wahhabis for their crimes against Prophet’s family and followers!
Then who’s this Fatema (SA), whose intercession with God, pilgrims to her shrine seek?
Today, the 10th of Rabi al-Akher should provide us the answer. For on this day, the hearts of the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt all over the globe, especially in Iran, are turned towards the holy city of Qom, where reposes in eternal peace, Fatema al-Ma’asumah (SA), the daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS) and the sister of Imam Ali ar-Reza (AS).
Born in Medina in 173 AH (790 AD), she was ten years old when her father was martyred through a dose of poison in the prison of Baghdad on the orders of the tyrant Haroun Rashid, the self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime. Thereupon her consanguineous brother, Imam Reza (AS), assumed charge of her upbringing.
Following her brother’s forced departure from Medina to Khorasan, she decided to join him. Divine Providence, however, willed that this learned lady should have a shrine and a city exclusive for herself in view of her exalted status, for the benefit of the seekers of knowledge and truth.
Thus, today was the sad day, when after a brief 17-day sojourn in this city on the edge of the Iranian desert, following an attack near Savah by agents of the Abbasid caliph, on her caravan which was on its way to Khorasan, this namesake and noble descendant of the Immaculate Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA), left for the ethereal heavens.
Unlike the people of Medina who in pursuit of the perishing power of the transient world had deserted the Prophet’s daughter and the Ahl al-Bayt, the people of Qom clad themselves in black to mourn the daughter of the 7th Imam, and gave her a fitting burial in the garden outside the city that belonged to Musa al-Khazraj al-Ash’ari.
On learning of her death at the young age of 29 years, the aggrieved brother called his virtuous sister "Ma’souma” or the Immaculate, and gave tidings to the faithful: "Whoever visits her grave, cognizant of her status, paradise is the reward.”
Later, her nephew Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (AS) also expressed a similar statement, promising believers the rewards of pilgrimage to the shrine of his learned aunt, whose city, the haram or sanctuary of the Ahl al-Bayt – as prophesied decades earlier by her grandfather Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) is one of the 8 gateways to heaven.
It is also said that whoever of the true believers is buried in Qom, will go directly to paradise without witnessing or experiencing the calamities of the Day of Resurrection. This is indeed a Divine Favour for those of the faithful destined to repose eternally in the city from which it is said Satan has been banished forever, as per a lengthy narration of the wonders encountered by Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)during his Me’raj (Ascension) to the highest point in the heavens and back to Planet Earth in a part of a single night.
No wonder, Imam Jawad’s (AS) daughter, Hazrat Zainab (SA), who is also buried near her grandaunt Hazrat Fatema al-Ma’sumah (SA), built the first dome over her shrine, which today is indeed a sprawling sanctuary for the faithful from all over the world – whether pilgrims or scholars and theology students from all over the world, seeking her intercession with God for the eternal bliss of Paradise.