By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“And of His signs is that He created for you spouses from amongst yourselves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect.” (Holy Qur’an 30:21)
In Islam marriage is a blessed union between a man and a woman. It is the most fundamental unit for building of a lawful family that prospers with the birth of legitimate children, whose proper upbringing results in laying the firm foundation of a sound and healthy society.
The better the pair is matched with each other, especially in terms of faith in God, virtue, ethics, morals, and intellectual ability, the most fruitful the results.
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA, as the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, set the practical precedent in this regard with his marriage at the age of 25 to the most virtuous lady of Arabia, Hazrat Khadija (SA) – Omm al-Momineen or Mother of all True Believers – with whom (without taking any other spouse) he spent 25 years of marital bliss, whose fruit was Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA).
This Immaculate Daughter – predeceased by two brothers who died in infancy –was conceived after her Father’s “Me’raj” (Ascension) to the highest point in the heavens and his eating of the apple of paradise before returning to Planet Earth in a few moments of the same night.
She was thus no ordinary girl, as is evident by God Almighty’s reference to her in the holy Qur’an as “Kowthar” (Perpetual Spring of Abundant Munificence) whose blessings will last forever, while the opponents will be issueless.
In other words, the Noblest-ever Lady of all times whom Divine Providence had decreed to be the Mother of Infallible Sons and Impeccable Daughters, was to have for her husband the Immaculate-ever Gentleman after the Best of creation, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Now we better understand the hadith “If there was no Ali; Fatema would have remained single (like Prophet Jesus’ (AS) mother, the Virgin Mary (SA) who had no worthy suitor).
No wonder, the Last and Greatest Prophet who was created as Celestial Light by God before any other form of creation, also said: “I and Ali are of the same (Celestial) Light.”
This was the reason, the Prophet used to say “no command has yet come from the Lord Most High”, while rejecting the proposals of the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys of Arabia who dared to ask for his Daughter’s hand.
The commandment from the celestial heavens finally came when Archangel Gabriel descended with the words:
“O Prophet of Allah, the Almighty has chosen you and made you the most respected and superior of His creatures, and has selected (your cousin) Ali as your brother. He the Almighty decreed the Nikah of your daughter Fatema, His most obedient servant, with His other most obedient servant Ali, on the 4th Heaven, where He ordered all His angels to gather, dressed in heavenly ornaments. He then filled the 4th Heaven with Celestial Light and ordered Adam, the Father of mankind, to recite the sermon to begin the Nikah ceremony. After the sermon, Allah ordered the Angel Raheel, who has been bestowed with the most eloquent voice, to recite Hamd (Praise). He then informed me that He has performed the Nikah of His servant Fatema with His other chosen servant Ali, and that I should spread this news among the angels. I acted accordingly and made all the angels testify the event. Allah then ordered me to write this event in the silken cloth of paradise and present it to you.”
The rest is history. On the 1st of the sacred month of Zi’l-Hijjah in the year 2 AH in Medina, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) formally solemnized the nuptials of this Pair of Paradise in a simple manner, so as to serve as the finest example for all Muslim couples, whatever their social and cultural standings.
Thus was planted the blessed tree of the Fabulous Family, the Ahl al-Bayt, whose fruits were four children – two peerless sons and two equally virtuous daughters – all of whom carved out immortal niches in the history of mankind through their faith, patience, prudence, piety, valour, wisdom, forbearance and sacrifices, the peak of which is the heartrending tragedy of Karbala.
If the elder son, Imam Hasan Mujtaba (AS), relinquished the rule of a vast realm for the sake of preservation of the values of Islam, the younger son, Imam Husain (AS), gave his lifeblood in defence of all humanitarian values.
The daughters too excelled in the social arena, as is evident by the epoch-making sermons of Hazrat Zainab (SA) in Kufa and Damascus and the role this dynamic lady played in the aftermath of the tragedy of Karbala to immortalize and universalize the message of her martyred brother. The younger daughter, Hazrat Omm Kolsoum (SA) also played a unique role during the journey of the caravan of captives from Karbala, to Kufa, to Damascus and to Medina.
The Ahl al-Bayt, whose pristine purity has been vouchsafed by God Almighty in the holy Qur’an (33:33), serve till this day as role model of the ideal family for all virtuous Muslims all over the world.
This blessed day (Zi’l-Hijja 1st) is marked in the Islamic Republic of Iran as the “Day of Marriage and Family”, in order to encourage couples to follow the example of the most virtuous-ever husband-and-wife pair, who on the Prophet’s advice divided household responsibilities between themselves. Imam Ali (AS) discharged outdoor duties, and Hazrat Fatema (SA) handled housework.
Imam Ali (AS) who used to say that one look at his beloved wife would remove all gloom from his heart, would also assist Hazrat Fatema (SA) in chores at home.
Since Islam regards men and women equal and does not prevent wives from playing social roles, Hazrat Fatema (SA), on the Prophet’s passing away, decided to confront the usurpers who had ignored his instructions and violated the laws of God by depriving Imam Ali (AS) of the political leadership of the Ummah, and seized her own patrimony of the orchard of Fadak.
Her eloquent sermons are preserved in books of history and hadith, and serve as lessons for preservation of faith and protection of the rights of men and women.
The second significant event of the Zi’l-Hijjah 1st was the Divine Commandment to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in 9 AH to either personally proceed to Mecca or depute the person who was nearest and dearest to him to clarify the rules of the Hajj pilgrimage and declare “bara’at min al-mushrikeen” (disavowal of disbelievers), when he had dispatched his companion Abu Bakr.
Promptly Imam Ali (AS) was sent to overtake Abu Bakr and take charge from him for recitation of the opening Ayahs of Surah Towba at the holy Ka’ba that bar the polytheists from entering the sacred precincts and end the pagan practice of circumambulating the House of God, naked and without clothes.
In this way, the All-Wise God clarified that if leadership controversy were to arise after the Prophet, Muslims should follow Imam Ali (AS), and not any other person.
Thus till this day, all Muslims are indebted to the Prophet and his Divinely-Designated Vicegerent, Imam Ali (AS), for reviving the pure Abrahamic rituals of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which we pray to God will soon be cleansed forever of the filth of the heretical Wahhabi usurpers of the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina.