By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Peace upon you O Daughter of Musa son of Ja’far (and) Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you; Peace upon you and may God ensure cognition between us and you in Paradise; Raise us (on the Day of Resurrection) in your company; Bring us to your Prophet’s Fountain (of Kowthar); Quench (our thirst) through the goblet of your ancestor through the hand of (Imam) Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).”
The above passage is part of the “Ziyarah” or standard from of salutation to a lady known as “Kareem-at-al-Ahl al-Bayt” (Munificent Lady of the Prophet’s Household) for her munificence which millions have benefitted from over the past millennium and two centuries, including ulema, students, scholars, scientists, philosophers, officials, and common men.
The contents of this “Ziyarah” are not the weird imagination of an ordinary person but the Divinely-inspired words of an Infallible Imam, who happened to be her beloved brother.
She is none other than our Blessed Lady of Qom – Hazrat Fatema (SA), the noble daughter of Imam Musa Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Successor of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) – whose birthday today on the 1st of Zi’l-Qa’dah is celebrated in the Islamic Republic of Iran every years as “Daughter’s Day” in order to inspire virtue and all other excellent qualities among the daughters of Eve.
Thus, celebrations are in progress all over the country, especially at her holy shrine in Qom and that of her brother, Imam Reza (AS), in Mashhad, but with full observation of the social distancing and other hygienic measures advised by medics and health experts in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.
She was born in the Prophet’s city Medina in 173 AH (789 AD) to Lady Najma (SA), the mother of her consanguineous eldest brother, Imam Reza (AS). This means Divine Providence had chosen for her mother, the mother of an Infallible Imam, which is indeed a highest honour, since the mothers of the Infallibles are ladies of impeccable faith and piety, with no infidel or wayward person among their ancestors.
Named Fatema (SA), in honour of her illustrious ancestress, the Noblest Lady of all times, the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA), she was popularly as “Ma’soumah” or the Innocent.
She spent the first six years of her life with her father, who was often subjected to bouts of imprisonment by the Abbasid regime. He instilled in her knowledge and virtues to such an extent that at a tender age she was able to answer complicated jurisprudential questions.
An example of her knowledge and outstanding merits is the famous incident when her father remarked: Fidaha Abuha, which means “may her father be her sacrifice.”
It happened that a group of pilgrims from Iran had called at the threshold of the Ahl al-Bayt in Medina for answers to their queries, unaware that Imam Musa Kazem (AS) was away on a journey. They were, however, not sent away empty-handed, for an attendant asked for their papers, saying the 7th Imam’s little daughter could provide the answers. To their surprise the replies which they received from the little girl were not just satisfactory but beyond whatever they could comprehend. During their return journey to Iran they happened to meet the 7th Imam and when they showed him the answers given by his little daughter, he confirmed these facts with a smile on his face and expression of gratitude to God Almighty for having blessed him with such a virtuous daughter.
Fatema Ma’soumah (SA) is also the source of several narrations from the Imams and her ancestor the Prophet, and is often called Alemah (Most Learned Lady). For this reason, she was respected in her lifetime, and continues to be revered to this day, with pilgrims to her holy shrine, reciting:
“O Fatema! Intercede for me for (the reward of) paradise, for indeed you have with Allah a lofty status.”
She was only ten years old when her father was martyred in Baghdad in the prison of the tyrant Haroun Rashid through a dose of fatal poison. Thereafter, she grew under the care of her dear brother, Imam Reza (AS), and years later when he was forced to leave Medina and taken to distant Khorasan to the court of the crafty caliph, Mamoun, in the city of Marv (currently in the Republic of Turkmenistan), the faithful sister decided to visit him.
On the way, near Saveh – a distance of some 120 km from modern Tehran – her caravan was attacked by miscreants affiliated to the regime, as a result of which many of her entourage, including her brothers, attained martyrdom, while she suffered injuries. She turned towards Qom, where the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt warmly received her. Here, following a brief sojourn of 17 days, her soul flew to the ethereal heaven, making Qom the stairway to Paradise.
Ma’soumah (SA) who had remained unmarried throughout her 28-year life, since no man of her age was worthy of her immaculate hand – similar to the case of the Virgin Mary – has thus left a lasting legacy.
Since it is the Will of the Almighty Creator that the grave in Medina of the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter remain concealed till the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS) and the dawn of the global government of peace, prosperity and justice, it is Qom and the shrine of Fatema Ma’soumah (SA) that bestows the same rewards on the pilgrims who are desirous of paying homage to Hazrat Fatem az-Zahra (SA).
No wonder, her nephew, Imam Jawad (AS), has said: “Whoever visits her (tomb) aware of her status, paradise is the reward.”
Indeed throughout the past centuries people have flocked to her shrine including ulema, jurisprudents, and philosophers, such as the famous sage of the Safavid era, Sadroddin Shirazi, popularly known as Mullah Sadra, who has said that whenever he came across a complicated question, his visit to the shrine of Ma’soumah would unravel the mysteries and enlighten his mind.
No doubt, Qom is today the world centre for the genuine teachings of Islam, and students from all over the globe come to this Iranian city, to learn Islamic sciences in the shadows of the sprawling mausoleum of Hazrat Ma’soumah (SA).
Numerous miracles have taken place at the shrine of Hazrat Ma’souma and many persons have been cured of fatal diseases, as confirmed by medics who earlier had lost hope in the health of the patients. These miraculous powers, coupled with the spiritual aura of the shrine, have made many non-Muslim visitors, including those from Europe, the Americas, and Africa, embrace the truth of Islam.
It is worth noting that the late prominent scholar and researcher, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Shahaboddin Mar’ashi Najaf, used to be the first person to perform the pilgrimage at the shrine of this noble lady every morning for sixty years. In the early hours of the day, when it was still dark, he would wait outside her shrine for the doors to be opened.
Now we better understand the prophetic words of her grandfather, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir who had said decades before her birth:
“Indeed, God has a sanctuary and that is Mecca (the Holy Ka’ba); the Messenger of God (Prophet Muhammad) has a sanctuary and that is Medina; the Commander of the Faithful (Imam Ali) has a sanctuary and that is Kufa (in Iraq) and we (the Ahl al-Bayt) have a sanctuary and that is Qom (in Iran).”