It is difficult to define the extent of the Prophet's (as) love for Fatima az-Zahra (sa) for she occupied a special place in his heart like no other person did. The Prophet's love for Fatima az-Zahra (sa) was mixed with respect and exaltation; and in addition to being motivated by the father/daughter relationship, this love was granted to her for the special talents, and noble traits Fatima az-Zahra (sa) enjoyed. Perhaps we can go to the extent of saying that the Prophet was commanded to love, and respect Fatima az-Zahra (sa), a matter that led him to speak openly about her greatness, and talents and her nearness to Allah (SwT), and His Messenger-on every possible occasion.
This reality is supported by the fact that the Prophet (S) did not pay this much attention to any of his other daughters. Thus, it can again be concluded that his love, and respect for Fatima az-Zahra (sa) was motivated by some reason other than fatherhood. In addition to Fatima’s (sa) noble traits and special talents, the Prophet (S) knew what was going to happen to her after his death and the great miseries and sorrows, which she would be inflicted with by some so-called Muslims, after his departure to the Heavens. So, the Prophet (S) intended to make clear to his Ummah the greatness and excellence of Fatima az-Zahra (sa) so as to clarify the falsity of those who would oppose Fatima az-Zahra (sa) in the future.
The following are various reports that illustrate the love, and respect the Prophet (S) held for Lady Fatima az-Zahra (sa).
1. Bihar v. 10-Imam Sadiq (as) reported that Fatima az-Zahra (sa) said:
"When the following verse was revealed:
'Deem not Summons of the Apostle among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another,' (24: 63)
'I feared to call the Messenger of Allah, `Father'; so I began calling him Messeenger of Allah. He ignored me two or three times and finally said:
'Fatima, this verse was not revealed about you or your family, nor does it include your progeny; for you are from me and I am from you. Rather, this verse was revealed regarding the vain and crude Quraishans who are arrogant and spendthrifts. Call me Father; it surely is better for the heart and more satisfying to the Lord.'"
2. Aisha Bint Talha quoted Aisha as saying:
"I have not seen anyone more similar to the Messenger in speech and dialogue than Fatima. Whenever she entered the house, he would greet her, kiss her hands and ask her to sit near him. Likewise, when he entered the house, she would greet him, kiss his hands and etc....."
3. Bazl al-Harawi said to al-Husayn Ibn Roah:
"How many daughters did the Messenger of Allah have?"
Ibn Roah said: "Four"
Bazl then asked: "Who was the best of them?"
He said: "Fatima"
Bazl said: "Why was she the best while she was the youngest and least company to the Prophet of Allah (S)?"
Ibn Roah then said: "(She was the best) because she possessed two special characteristics:
1. She inherited the Messenger of Allah.
2. The Prophet's progeny are her children. Besides, Allah gifted her with these traits because He knew her sincere adherence and pure intention (to worship Him)."
4. Khawarizmi wrote in his book Maqtal al-Husayn that Huthiefa said:
"The Messenger of Allah used to kiss Fatima all over her face before he went to sleep ...."
5. Ibn Umar said:
"Once the Prophet (S) kissed Fatima's head and said: `May your father be your sacrifice; stay as you are ...."
6. According to Dhakhear al-Uqbi, Aisha said:
"Once the Messenger of Allah kissed Fatima's throat so I said, Messenger of Allah! You have done something which you have not done before!"
The Prophet (S) answered: "Aisha, whenever I long for Paradise, I kiss Fatima's throat."
7. Qandouzi reported that Aisha said:
"Whenever the Prophet returned from a trip, he would kiss Fatima's throat and say:
"From her, I do smell the fragrance of Paradise."
Furthermore, the following narrations have been reported by both Shiite and Sunni scholars:
1. The Messenger of Allah (S) said:
"The best of women of Paradise are: Khadija Bint Khowailid, Fatima Bint Muhammad, Asia Bint Muzahim (Pharaoh's wife) and Maryam Bint Imran."
2. He (Prophet (S)) also said:
"The best of the women of the world are four: Maryam Bint Imran, Asia Bint Muzahim, Khadija Bint Khowailid, and Fatima Bint Muhammad."
(These two narrations have been reported in Musnad Ahmad v.2, p.293)
3. The Prophet (S) also said:
"Among the women of world, the following are among (the best): Maryam Bint Imran, Khadija Bint Khowailid, Fatima Bint Muhammad, and Asiya-Pharaoh's wife."
(Al-Esti'ab and al-Isabah)
These three narrations name the four best women but do not specify the best of them. However, there are many authentic narrations, which clearly state that Fatima az-Zahra (sa) was the best of all women, including these honorable ladies. In fact, this is an undisputable fact, which both Shiite and Sunni scholars unanimously agree. Among the sayings of Sunni scholars who reported narrations to this effect are:
1. Masrouq reports that Aisha told him:
"We, the Prophet's wives, were gathered around him when Fatima walked towards us; by Allah her walk is exactly the same as that of the Messenger of Allah when he saw her, he greeted her by saying: `Welcome my daughter.' He then asked her to sit to his right or left. He then whispered something to her that caused her to cry; when he saw her sadness, he whispered something else to her which caused her to laugh. (When I saw this) I said to her: `The Messenger of Allah bestowed you with a special secret, yet you cry?'
When the Prophet (S) left I exclaimed: "What did he whisper to you?"
Fatima az-Zahra (sa) answered: `I would not announce the secret of the Messenger of Allah!'
After the Prophet's (as) death, I said to her: `I insist on you-by my right over you-to tell me (what he told you)!'
She (Fatima az-Zahra (sa)) said: 'Yes, I will tell you now. The first time he whispered to me, he told me that Gabriel used to review the Qur’an with him once a year, but this year he reviewed it twice. So, he said, I think the time of my departure is near. Therefore, fear Allah and be patient, for I will be a good (person) to proceed you.' Fatima added: `so I cried, as you saw. When he noticed my sadness, he once again said to me: 'Fatima, is it not satisfying to you to be theMistress of believing women (or the Mistress of the women of my Ummah)?"
1. Baghawi in his book Masabeh As-Sunna writes that the Prophet (S) said to Fatima az-Zahra (sa):
"Is it not satisfying to you to be the Mistress of the women of the world?"
2. Hakim Nishabouri reported in his book Mustadrakthat he said to Fatima az-Zahra (sa):
"Is it not satisfying to you to be the Mistress of the women of the world, this Ummah and believing women?"
Although there are a large number of narrations, which state that Fatima az-Zahra (sa) was “the Mistress of all women”. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal mentions at the end of the first narration that he also informed Fatima az-Zahra (sa) that she was the first one to follow him after his death.
3. Bukhari reported in v.5, p.21 and 29 of his Sahih that Allah's Messenger (as) said:
"Fatima is part of me, he who harms her harms me."
This narration has been reported with a variety of words which all have the same meaning; it has been reported by more than fifty narrators. For instance, Abu al-Faraj wrote in his Al-Aghani v.8, p.307:
"When Abdullah Ibn Al-Hasan was still young, he visited Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz who sat him in an honorable place, paid much attention to him and fulfilled his wishes. Ibn Abdul Aziz then pinched the boy's stomach and said: "Remember this when it is time for intercession."
When Abdullah Ibn Al-Hasan left, Umar's family blamed him for doing so with a young boy. But Umar said:
'A trustworthy man informed me that the Messenger of Allah said: "Surely Fatima is part of me, pleases me that which pleases her. "
Umar then added: 'and I know that had Fatima been alive, what I did with her descendant (Abdullah), would have pleased her.'
His Family then said: "But why did you pinch his stomach and say what you said to him?"
Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz then said: "There is not a man from Bani Hashim who does not have the right of intercession; and I hope to be included among those through this boy."
Samhoudi comments on this narration by saying:
"This proves that anyone who hates or harms a descendant of Fatima, makes himself subject to harming the Prophet On the contrary, if someone pleases them, he also pleases the Prophet."
Moreover, Sahaili added: "This narration leads us to the conclusion that he who curses her (Fatima), becomes an infidel; and he who praises her, praises her father."
4. Bihar v.10: Imam Ja'far Ibn Muhammad (S) and Jabir Ibn Abdullah al-Ansari said:
"Once the Prophet saw Fatima wearing a cloak of camel skin while grinding (grain) with her hands; and holding her child. Tears came from the Prophet's eyes and he said:
'Daughter! bear with the hardships of this world and later you will enjoy the blessings of the Hereafter.'
Fatima az-Zahra (sa) replied: `Messenger of Allah, praise be to Allah for His benefactions and thanks be to Him for his gifts.' (It was then that) Allah (SwT) revealed:
"And soon will the Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well pleased."
In conclusion, it can be derived from the above narrations that Fatima az-Zahra (sa) was the nearest of all to Allah's Messenger (as). The love, affection and harmony that they shared was unique. Thus, we realize that it was not strange that he taught Fatima az-Zahra (sa) the best deeds and guided her to the noblest traits and best conduct.