In launching the venture of Islam, the events of the first generation after Muhammad were almost as formative as those of Muhammad’s own time. It is not accidental that later Muslims have identified themselves in terms of these events and of the factions that grew out of them. They have interpreted the whole of history in symbolism derived from them, and have made the interpretation of those events and of the leading personalities in them the very test of religious allegiance.
This chapter continues with the theme of the previous chapter, that is depictions of the F-R conflict in early Islamic thought. However, in this case the source material is largely limited to Shiite hadith texts1. In contrast to the accounts of akhbari historians, the picture given of the F-R conflict in this literature is unambivalent. The reporters and compilers of the disparate texts that comprise the hadith had no concern whatsoever for the ‘righteous’ character of the prophetic companions and certainly did not attempt to defend them. In fact, the hadith reports preserved in the Shiite texts make Fatimah, her husband Ali and their children manifestations of celestial light (nur), with Abu Bakr, Umar and their supporters symbolizing infernal darkness (zulm)2. The F-R conflict becomes part of a cosmic battle between good and evil.
The Shiites (especially Ismailis and Twelvers) believe that a manifest betrayal of the divine covenant occurred at the Saqifah, fuelling Shiite distrust of the Companions and, in their view, invalidating the Prophetic knowledge transmitted by them that became crucial to the Sunni tradition. The implications of this sweeping denunciation of prominent companions, including some wives of the Prophet such as ‘Aishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr, and Hafsa, the daughter of ʿUmar ibn al-Khattab, are very large. It indicates rejection of Sunni scholarly consensus (ijma‘) regarding the piety and moral uprightness of the first two caliphs and their supporters, and therefore of Sunnite Islam altogether since the Sunnites rely on the precedent set by the companions and especially Abu Bakr and Umar3. It is this very rejection of the companions which is said by heresiographers and Sunnite scholars alike to constitute “rejection (rafd)”, with those who take part in it called “rejectors (rawafid)”4. This pejorative name was given to numerous prominent associates of the fifth and sixth Shi‘i Imams, Muhammad al-Baqir
and Ja‘far al-Sadiq5. Reporters (ruwat) and then compilers of the later Shiite hadith works were influenced by a growing Shi‘i “sectarian particularism”6 of the second hijri century (8th century C.E.), which resulted in the circulation of hadith reports detailing fantastic, quasi-divine attributes of the Imams and the grave faults of (the Prophet’s) companions. The outright vilification of companions became commonplace amongst Shiite groups known as ghulat (extremists) originating during the Imamates of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq.
I will analyze the F-R conflict as presented in hadith literature within the context of the various strands of sectarianism developing in the second and third hijri centuries (8th and 9th centuries C.E.). I will also analyze the various chains of transmission attached to the hadith reports from the perspective of the internal Shi‘i hadith discourse, that is with a view to understanding how the tradition in which the F- R conflict is addressed may have been received or contested by Imami scholars. Through this approach, I hope to gain understanding of the multiple ways in which the Imamiyah viewed the F-R conflict as a part of their religious tradition7. I will also as in the previous chapter examine the gendering of Fatimah in her conflict with the companions, where she appears as a powerful yet downtrodden woman.
This chapter addresses three “flashpoints” in the F-R conflict recounted in Shiite hadith tradition: the aftermath of Saqifah, Fatimah’s speech regarding Fadak, and the circumstances surrounding her last moments and burial. I would like to note again at this juncture that my purpose is not to discover a “kernel of truth” in the midst of these conflicting reports, but rather to articulate a nuanced understanding of a web of often contradictory narratives, and through this throw light on the evolution of Shiite religious identity.
To this date, there have been few substantial works devoted to Shiite hadith and its reception8. Etan Kohlberg contends in his study on early Shiite hadith that by the time of al-Baqir (d.114/733) and al-Sadiq (d.148/765), the Shiites began recording traditions on pieces of parchment or notebooks termed “basics” or usul9. By the late ninth century C.E. and continuing until the time of al-Shaykh al-Tusi (d.460/1067), they felt compelled to codify their hadith traditions, often in the form of multi-volume works, due to the occultation of their Twelfth Imam, since in his absence, they were faced with the need to cement a developing orthodoxy and orthopraxy while no longer having a living reference and source of absolute authority.
I wish to argue that the hadith literature as found in most Shiite compendiums is concerned with the private eye, in contrast to the writings of the historians, which reflect the public eye. The private eye of Shiite hadith constitutes individual and communally-influenced notions of piety circulating exclusively within the community and meant to build and reinforce its own worldview. The hadiths are reflective of a rich and eclectic cultural memory of “original myths” aimed at constructing and defining an elite religious identity vis-à-vis ‘the other’.10 This tradition, along with its militantly pious religious electionism, gave Shiites hope and confidence and constituted a potent weapon in the face of Sunnite state sponsored repression.11
The Shiite hadith sources contain numerous details of the F-R drama, but do not offer a consistent or cohesive presentation. Nevertheless, a general picture of the events and the characters of the chief personalities come out clearly. The caricature of Fatimah and the saga of Fadak in Shiite tradition has little in common with that of the largely Sunnite-inspired histories treated in chapter one. As discussed there, the early Muslim histories and other contemporary Sunnite sources such as the Sahih hadith collection of al-Bukhari (d.256/870) depict Fatimah as weak, emotionally unstable and simple-minded. These traits were skillfully linked to her femaleness, as demonstrated in chapter one. In the story of Fadak as presented in the Shiite hadith, Fatimah is depicted, in stark contrast, as a brilliant, eloquent Muslim woman who does not hesitate to confront powerful males and demand her rights in the most forceful and compelling manner. It would appear that the Sunnite and Shiite imaginations are, in the words of Scott C. Lucas, “irreconcilable historiographies.”12
The Shiite version of Fadak follows lines similar to those of the Sunnite version, insofar as Abu Bakr denies Fatimah her inheritance based on his belief that he had heard Muhammad state that prophets do not leave behind inheritance, but rather their wealth is to be transferred to the public treasury. However, the hadith contains an emphatic protest by Fatimah, known as Khutbat al-Zahra’ (the speech of al-Zahra’) or Kalam Fatimah (the words of Fatimah) not found in the histories.13
There are at least four different versions of this speech, of varying lengths. The earliest known rendition is in Ibn Abi Tayfur’s (d.279/893) Balaghat al-nisa’ (Eloquent Sayings of Women)14. The text provided by Ibn Abi Tayfur is made up, he says, of two narratives, the first reported by Zayd ibn ‘Ali, a companion of the tenth Shiite Imam al-Hadi (d. 254/868), and the second, more elaborate version received through an Alid chain of transmission from Fatimah’s daughter, Zaynab bint ‘Ali. The second source is the Shafi fi al-imamah, a work of dialectic theology by the famous 5th /10th century Imami scholar al-Sayyid al-Murtada. This version is very short and has a complete Sunnite chain of transmission affixed to it; although it should be noted that al-Murtada makes mention of a much longer and “trustworthy” version transmitted by “Ibn Abi Tahir”, also known as Ibn Abi Tayfur15. The third source for the speech of Fatimah is Abu Bakr al- Jawhari’s (d.323 A.H.) Kitab al-saqifah as found in the 7th/13th century commentary on the Nahj al-balaghah by Ibn Abi al-Hadid (d. 656/1258)16. Lastly, the lengthiest and most elaborate version can be found, with a Hasanid chain of transmission, in the 6th/11th century Shiite hadith text, al-Ihtijaj.17
Thus the speech was well known among Shiites by at least the late second or early third century of the Hijrah, that is eighth to ninth centuries C.E. Ibn Abi Tayfur includes a preamble to the oration in which he states that disagreement exists amongst Alids and others (presumably Sunnites) regarding the attribution of this “kalam” to the daughter of the Prophet; he also says that Sunnites allege that it was the invented composition (masnu‘) of the traditionist and belletrist Abu ‘Ayna’ (d.282/896)18. Despite this attribution, the Alid Abu al-Husayn Zayd ibn ‘Ali insists in his conversation with Ibn Abi Tayfur that this speech of Fatimah is well known amongst the descendants of Ali, to the extent that it is commonly known, in the view of Abu al-Husayn, to have been transmitted orally from generation to generation. Therefore, it can be concluded that the speech of Fatimah was an important part of Shiite memory that was commonly transmitted amongst the various Alids, including in one version with a chain of transmission originating from al-Baqir himself.19
Abu al-Husayn as well as ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan (with their transmitters) say that when news reached Fatimah that Abu Bakr had determined that he would not grant her Fadak, she (immediately) draped her khimar (a kind of scarf referred to in the Quran) over her head and went with a group of her female servants and family members to the mosque of Madina, striding in her typical way which was said to resemble that of the Prophet, and with her long robe dragging20. She came upon Abu Bakr whilst the mosque was filled with Meccan Emigrants and Madinan Helpers and proceeded behind a white curtain which served as a barrier of sorts between the ladies and men.21 Fatimah now begins to cry and moan, making the people in the mosque cry as well; she then waits for the crowd to settle down before beginning her speech.22
This dramatic, emotional prelude to Fatimah’s address is clearly aimed at conveying the seriousness of the matter at hand. The reporter attempts to endow Fatimah with a Prophetic aura by vividly describing her as walking in a manner reminiscent of Muhammad. Furthermore, the report does not describe her gait as resembling that of “her father” but uses the expression “the walking of the messenger of God”. The motif is of grace and authority akin to the manner of the Prophet. One imagines the crowd of men as being admiring and awe-struck before a powerful and authoritative woman who, according to this report, also manifests her exceptional piety as a female by protecting herself from the gaze of her male audience. The scene is further intensified when the ‘powerful’ Fatimah begins to cry and moan, moving grown men - most of whom were much senior to her - to tears. The tears of Fatimah in this case are not to be regarded as the ‘ordinary’ weeping or moaning of an average woman in Madina, but rather infused with ‘pious authenticity’. It is this pious authenticity which allows the men to recognize Fatimah’s tears as exceptional and requiring acknowledgement.
The speech then begins. Fatimah praises God and the Prophet, bringing the crowd to tears once again. The version from Abu al-Husayn goes on to describe Fatimah accusing the Muslims of reverting to the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (al-jahiliyah) and insisting that her right to inherit from her father is found in the Book (the Qur’an). Those who deny this right of hers, she says, should remember that their leader is Muhammad; obedience is due to him and the resurrection is a promise. Fatimah is in effect warning the people that they will regret the denial of her rights when they are faced with the punishment of God in the hereafter23.
I will now turn to the much lengthier versions attributed to Zaynab bint ʿAli and ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan. These versions begin much in the same manner, although with much more extensive praise of God and the Prophet in which Fatimah elucidates the nature of God’s attributes and function of prophethood. Put differently, the preamble consists of a brief but detailed exposition of certain elements of Islamic theology and ritual practice24. Fatimah is depicted as appealing to the common religiosity of the early Muslims; and she also establishes intellectual authority before claiming her inheritance. Once again, we see a confident, eloquent and powerful woman. We understand that these attributes are not those of an ordinary woman, but rather derive from her intimate relationship with her father and resemblance to him.
Towards the end of Fatimah’s exposition, just prior to her protest over the inheritance, she refers to the ontological status of her family, declaring: “Obedience to us constitutes order, and our Imamate is a protection from division, and love of us is a pride for Islam...”25 This statement of Imami theology is the most explicitly Shiite element of the speech. The pronoun “we” as expressed in ta‘atuna (our obedience) functions in such as a way as to include Fatimah as person to whom Muslims should also obey and follow. Therefore according to this statement, Fatimah is a part of the Imamate. For historians of Islamic thought, the statement is an obvious retrojection of second and third century A.H. (8/9th century C.E.) Shiite conceptions of the Imamate. It would have been an ideal theological arché, braiding as it does the essential elements of obedience (ta‘ah), religious-political leadership (imamah), and love (Hubb) in one formula. The formula and its attribution to Fatimah are of great significance. Firstly, by using the word “obedience”, it is alleged that Fatimah explicitly denied the caliphal authority of Abu Bakr, using a Qur’anic term that has great resonance.26
Accordingly, any hesitation or refusal to heed Fatimah’s demands would constitute an act of disobedience and disunity, as well as enmity towards the family of the Prophet, obedience and love of whom constitutes salvation. In the context of third-century Baghdad, a statement such as this is an outright denunciation of the Sunnite consensus. The speech of Fatimah included in this version of the saga of Fadak becomes a platform not only for polemics, but expression of the doctrine of the Imamate.
Fatimah then goes on to introduce herself as Fatimah and Muhammad as her father, and states: “Whatever I say, its first and last are the same (i.e. there is no contradiction); whatever I say, I do not say mistakenly, and I do not do what I do while exceeding the proper limits.”27 She then supports her claim to the inheritance with a number of verses from the Qur’an, such as 27:16, which states that Solomon inherited from David.28 Once again, Fatimah uses scripture as a structural support for her argument, rather than in an allusive or “paraphrastic fashion” which according to John Wansbrough has a subdued rhetorical effect.29 The selective use of scripture here, as suggested by Wansbrough, has the effect of “elevatio/anagoge” in which there is a transfer of action from “human agency” to “divine agency.”30
Fatimah then chastises Abu Bakr and his supporters for denying her right (Haqq) and inheritance in violation of the Qur’an and Prophetic precedent, unless it can be asserted (she says) that she and her father were of two different religions, in which case she would not inherit from him since a non-Muslim woman cannot inherit from a Muslim male. This rhetorical question is aimed at belittling Abu Bakr. In fact, Fatimah goes so far as to sarcastically accuse her opponents of claiming that God has bestowed upon them evidence (regarding the denial of her inheritance) withheld even from the Prophet and implying that they believe their knowledge of the specific and general verses of the Qur’an to be greater than his31. Fatimah concludes by stating the following: “Shall my inheritance be wrested from me in a tyrannical and oppressive manner? For soon, those who commit injustice will find out what they return to!”32 Thus she accuses Abu Bakr, Umar, and others among the Meccan Emigrants of committing one the greatest acts of disobedience towards God, namely injustice (zulm). It is also remarkable how the text applies hostile Qur’anic verses to Fatimah’s Muslim opponents that were originally directed at the polytheists of Mecca. It appears that in the view of those Alids who transmitted or constructed this speech, the tyranny of the Meccan polytheists had been simply replaced with the injustice and tyranny of Abu Bakr and his supporters. One senses the Shiite motif of a sacred history beset with betrayal and despotism at every turn.
Fatimah now turns her attention to the Madinan helpers (the Ansar). She begins by extolling their position in the nascent Muslim community by describing them as “the people of pride and support for the faith and the fortress of Islam...”33 She then goes on to chastise them, exclaiming: “What is this shortcoming concerning my right and slumber (lack of action) in the face of injustice done to me?!”34
By extending a certain amount of praise towards the Ansar, she is attempting to assure them of her gratitude and that there remains a window of hope regarding their salvation. However, by extending her criticisms beyond the Meccan Emmigrants (Muhajirun), she also implicates the entire Madinan community in a betrayal of cosmic proportions. She further emphasizes this trope by quoting the Prophet as saying that “an individual is safeguarded in his offspring (al-mar’ yuHfizu fi wuldihi)”, then on the heels of this Prophetic exhortation, she accuses them of quick failure (in fulfilment of their covenant with the Prophet).35 Once again, the recurring theme of disloyalty and authority is employed. By not rising up to assist her, the Ansar have failed to honour the memory of the Prophet by respecting his daughter’s wishes. As a result, they have profaned the sacred memory of the Prophet which lives on in through his daughter. She then quotes another ominous verse from the Qur’an:
Muhammad is but a messenger; messengers have passed before him. So if he dies or is slain, will you turn back (in qalabtum ala a‘qabikum)? Anyone who turns back on his heels will not harm God in the least and soon God will reward the grateful (Qur’an, 3:144)36
Quotation of this verse not only implies that the Ansar are cowards, but clearly says that by ignoring her demands for justice, (which seemingly include Fadak and the caliphate) they have committed an act of treason and apostasy as well as having ‘turned their backs’ on the Prophet. The theme of cowardice is continued as Fatimah taunts the Ansar by describing them as powerful men who have been divinely chosen by God to be the helpers of Muhammad and the Ahl Al-Bayt while possessing the weapons, numbers and means to physically come to her aide. The version of the speech transmitted by Abu al-Husayn (companion of the tenth Shi‘i Imam and contemporary of Ibn Abi Tayfur) as found in Balaghat al-Nisa’ does not provide further details pertinent to the objective of this study. However, I shall continue with the lengthier version in al al- IHtijaj (an early 6th/12th century source) attributed to the great grandson (‘Abdullah ibn Hasan) of the second Shiite Imam, al-Hasan, the son of Ali and Fatimah.
In this alternate version, Fatimah continues to taunt the Ansar by posing a series of rhetorical questions such as: “(Have) you committed polytheism after (having) faith?” or “Do you fear them, for God is most deserving for you to fear if you are believers?”37 As the speech progresses, it seems that Fatimah’s statements grow starker and more pointed. Rather than alluding to the sin of polytheism, she accuses them of apostasy and treason, in a way that does not require them to read between the lines. She then accuses them of cowardice in the hope they will resist the bullying of the Muhajirun - referring to the manner in which they were compelled by Umar to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr at Saqifah. The statement draws on the ill feelings held by the Ansar towards the Muhajirun. Consistent with the unmistakable Shiite polemical tenor of the speech (as found in al-Ihtijaj) , Fatimah does not ‘request’ the Ansar to come to her aid, but declares in no uncertain terms that fulfilling the right (Haqq) of God entails submitting to her demands. Therefore from a Shiite point of view, it is implied that since God has bestowed this right upon them via the Prophet, they (her household) are in every position to dictate the terms and conditions of surrender. Furthermore, immediately prior to the series of rhetorical inquiries, she tells the Ansar: “We order you, yet you conspire (na’marukum fa-ta’tamirun).”38 While the Shiites do not believe Fatimah held the office of the Imamate, in this text she clearly possesses enough authority to speak on behalf of her husband and her household. Her infallibility (‘ismah) may be a factor here.
Abu Bakr then responds to Fatimah by first praising her, as is commonly related in the historical sources, but ending emphatically, with the famous Prophetic statement, “Prophets do not bequeath...”39 However, there are peculiar details contained in Abu Bakr’s reply which are not found in the historical sources. Firstly he claims that the Muslims have a consensus on this matter (ijma‘ min al-muslimin) and that he is not alone in believing that prophets do not bequeath. He even goes on to say that he is not being high-handed in his viewpoint and pledges to put his personal wealth at her disposal because she is the leader of the women (sayyidat al-nisa’) in her father’s community (ummah)40. Therefore, to paraphrase Abu Bakr’s reply; ‘Our decision to not grant you Fadak is not to be misconstrued as a rejection of your status in the community.’41
Fatimah responds again by quoting the relevant Qur’anic verses, declaring that by Abu Bakr insisting on the veracity of the claim that prophets do not bequeath, he is implying that Muhammad abandoned and opposed (mukhalifan) the dictates of revelation. In Fatimah’s view, to even imply such a thing is an act of treason (ghadr)42. Once again, this dramatic exchange of words is reflective of a much later intellectual tension which arose between the functionality and application of consensus (ijma‘) both amongst the various proto-Sunnite groups and the Shiites themselves. The overt Shiite sectarianism expressed in al-Tabrisi’s al-Ihtijaj can be summed up in the following manner: the only interpretation worthy of consideration is that which originated from Fatimah, which in this case entailed usage of the Qur’an. The implication is that Abu Bakr and the companions could claim to have heard any number of traditions from the Prophet, but every single one would have been rendered null and void if it conflicted with the divinely inspired knowledge of Fatimah and her household.
Abu Bakr now apologetically responds, using traditional Shiite language, to Fatimah by describing her as a “repository of wisdom” (ma‘din al-Hikmah), “pillar of religion”, and “epitome of proof” (‘ayn al-Hujjah), i.e. for the existence of God. He finally concedes her Qur’anic arguments and insists that he has been compelled by the Muslims to take a position of leadership. The motive behind the construction of this report is to portray the caliph as weak and speechless when confronted with Fatimah’s overwhelming eloquence and knowledge of the Qur’an. As demonstrated in chapter one, the proto-Sunnite historical sources attempt to rehabilitate Abu Bakr by portraying him as regretting his confrontation with Fatimah and maintaining his innocence. In al-Tabrisi’s al-Ihtijaj, however, Abu Bakr’s expression of regret confirms his guilt as well as Fatimah’s superior knowledge. Fatimah concludes her speech by urging the audience to contemplate the Qur’an as God has asked them to do so. She then invokes the memory and presence of the Prophet by going to his grave and reciting poetry in which she bemoans events that have transpired following his death which would have rendered him speechless had he witnessed them (law kunta shahadtaha lam tukthir al-khatab).43
It is evident from this passage and others that Fatimah is cast as a sagacious woman with clear political ambitions. Fatimah places herself in the role of a military commander of sorts urging her potential conscripts to live up to their moral obligations and manhood. In doing so, these passages overtly subvert the proto- Sunnite-historical conception of Fatimah as being a weak and overly emotional woman. As mentioned in the introduction of this dissertation, overt female leadership and an attempted (albeit failed) overthrow of the caliphate would appear some years later in the figure of the Prophet Muhammad’s wife ‘Aishah who stood against Ali at the Battle of the Camel with the blood-stained shirt of Uthman as her inspiration44. The Shiites would go on to ascribe a very similar scripturally-infused eloquence and courageous masculine-like demeanour to Zaynab, the daughter of Fatimah, as portrayed in her legendary verbal confrontation with Ibn Ziyad in Kufa and Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in Damascus.45
These women campaigned for different causes; however there remain two common dominators between the three of them. Firstly, Fatimah, ‘Aishah, and Zaynab have all become the object of veneration and subjects of immense contention throughout Islamic intellectual history. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, all three female figures were imbued with political-religious charisma via their biological connection as being either the daughter, wife, or granddaughter of the Prophet, which provided the essential ingredients for them to become female heroines.46
In this section I shall shift from a focus upon Fatimah as a strong and intelligent woman to one who endured immense pain and tribulation in the days following the death of the Prophet. I shall also demonstrate that the depiction of Fatimah as a battered and downtrodden woman is very common in early Shiite hadith sources dating back to the late Umayyad period. It is also my contention that, while the ethic of suffering and divine trial has been expressed clearly in the Karbala’ saga, for Shiites it was al-Husayn’s mother Fatimah who was the first to experience psychological and physical abuse at the hands of the prophetic companions who are the pride of Sunnite-inspired memory.
For that reason, the Shiite depiction of a battered Fatimah (and a helpless and oppressed Ali) shatters a proto-Sunnite/Sunnite self-image as spiritual successors to a group of pious Muslim heroes. In what follows, I shall analyze the formative Shiite hadith tradition in which the post-Saqifah events have been treated. My objective is not to present a single coherent narrative (which in my view, does not exist), but to demonstrate the rhetorical and literary potency of Fatimah’s suffering in Shiite tradition.
The text known as Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays is one of the most contested works of early Shiite hadith. It is in this text that we find the earliest and most detailed Shiite account of an attack upon the house of Fatimah and Ali. Therefore, I shall briefly explore the history and dispute surrounding this text and its compiler. Before venturing into the profile of Sulaym in the books of Shiite biographical dictionaries (rijal), it should be noted that he has been listed as a hadith reporter in many formative hadith works.47 Despite controversy over the Sulaym ibn Qays text, he was apparently considered a well-known reporter and transmitter of hadith by as early as the late 3rd/9th century.
Sulaym is alleged to have transmitted directly from Ali, his son, al-Hasan, or via the prophetic companion and partisan of Ali, Salman al-Farsi. According to one of the earliest Shiite rijal texts (3rd/9th century), he is also described as a servant of Salman al- Farisi and listed amongst the distinguished (khawass) companions of Ali48. More details are provided by al-Kashshi, who describes Sulaym ibn Qays by means of a hadith in which Sulaym claims to have been informed by Salman, Abu Dharr, and Miqdad regarding Ali’s views on the Qur’an and its exegesis, in addition to enjoying the opportunity to confirm this information with Ali himself49. Sulaym’s confidant Aban ibn Abi ‘Ayyash goes on to state that following the death of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (the fourth Shiite Imam), he (Aban) managed to perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca where he met Muhammad al-Baqir. During this meeting, he mentioned word for word the entire conversation Sulaym is purported to have had with the first Imam (as communicated to him by Sulaym). Muhammad al-Baqir’s eyes then flooded with tears and he exclaimed to Aban: “Sulaym was truthful [correct in what he transmitted].”50
Rich dramatic and literary reports such as these no doubt had a tremendous legitimating effect for those tradionists who chose to rely upon Sulaym ibn Qays as a transmitter of hadith. It seems that the early Shiite hadith scholars and compilers believed that an individual by this name existed and he was a companion of the first Imam. However, al-Kashshi makes no mention of a book of traditions attributed to Sulaym. The earliest reference to this text can be found in al-Nu‘mani’s (4th/11th century) Kitab al-ghaybah (book on the occultation of the twelfth Imam) in which he describes the book of Sulaym as amongst the largest and oldest usul works containing the traditions of the Ahl Al-Bayt going back to the Prophet himself.51 In stark opposition to the position of al-Nu‘mani, al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d.413/1022) describes the book of Sulaym as unreliable (ghayr mawthuqun bihi) and impermissible to act upon most of its contents (la yajuz al-‘amal ‘ala aktharihi).52 However it should be noted, that al-Mufid did not describe Sulaym to be an unreliable hadith reporter. Keeping this in mind, it may be deduced that al-Mufid differentiated between Sulaym as a historical personality and the contents of the text that has been attributed to him.53 Nevertheless, there remains disagreement amongst the scholars of Imami hadith and theology regarding the usefulness of this text.54
Hossein Modarressi in his incisive analysis of the text and its alleged compiler describes the book as filled with anachronisms such as a prediction of black banners arriving from the East which would mark the downfall of the Umayyad dynasty.55
Furthermore, Modarressi asserts that the text contains theological conceptions of the Imamate which were only formulated much later.56 Despite these inconsistencies, after close analysis of the language and various manuscripts, Modarressi is of the view that the core of the text has been preserved and can be dated back to at least 138 A.H., coinciding with the late Umayyad caliphate.57
With this in mind, it may be reasonably concluded that the book of Sulaym is the earliest surviving work of Shiite hadith literature and thus of immense importance to the study at hand in light of great detail regarding the F-R conflict and the attack on the home of Ali and Fatimah.
The text begins with Sulaym ibn Qays narrating from Salman al-Farsi, who remains the sole narrator for the entire episode of Saqifah and the events following it. It is imperative to point out that the employment of Salman as the chief eyewitness to ‘the grand betrayal of the family of Muhammad’ is a part of the larger Shiite appropriation of Salman as one of the few ‘saved’ companions and supporters of the Hashimites. Therefore, aside from having Fatimah or one of the children of Ali as the principal narrators, there would have been few contemporaries of Ali who would have been as trusted and revered by the Shiites as Salman, thus endowing the account with a substantial degree of authority.58 The account begins with the traditional Shiite view few who is able to bear the truth (the true interpretation of Islam as taught by the Imams) as well as regarding the chaotic scene of Saqifah and the open opposition put forward towards Abu Bakr (that is following his election at Saqifah) by Ali. Upon Ali being unable to convince the Muslims to support him over Abu Bakr, he set out upon a donkey with Fatimah and his two children, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, in an effort to garner support for their cause.59
Not a single person from among the Muhajirun or Ansar who partook in the battle of Badr would respond to their call for help. The report goes so far as to relate that the four of them went to the homes of these men to remind them of his (Ali’s) right and called them to come to his aid. This passage encapsulates the Shiite vision of history as being replete with treacherous and cowardly Muslims who abandon God’s chosen saints.
The content and tenor of this report is echoed in numerous Shiite traditions depicting the days and months following the death of the Prophet. For instance, the prolific transmitter of hadith ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan is said to have transmitted from al- Baqir that following the denial of Fadak to Fatimah, Ali mounted her upon a she-donkey draped with a mantle (cloak) and took her for forty mornings to the homes of the Muhajirun and Ansar. Al-Hasan and al-Husayn accompanied her as well as she attempted to rally support for her cause. However, it was to no avail; al-Baqir describes the situation in the following manner: “No one came to her aid, nor responded to her [call], nor helped her.”60
At this juncture there are several points to be raised. First, these reports are set in two different contexts. The Salman report describes the campaigning of Ali and Fatimah following the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr, and not the denial of Fadak as it is portrayed in the report attributed to al-Baqir. However, the objective of this work, as I have said, is not to sift through supposed historical details, but identify crucial themes and literary tropes. Second, in the Salman report, Fatimah is not the principal campaigner; her presence is more symbolic than functional. Put differently, in the Salman report, it is Ali who is his own advocate, with his wife and children serve to present a united family front. Despite Ali’s apparent advocacy, according to the speech attributed to Fatimah she herself did not hesitate to emphasize her family’s right to the caliphate. Al-Baqir’s report, on the other hand, casts Ali in the rather passive role of transporting his wife from home to home while she speaks on her own behalf. Reports such as this represent Fatimah as a politically active woman. A third and vital theme of these reports is the abandonment and estrangement. The motif of abandonment and estrangement relates to the notion of suffering as a mark of belief in Shiite Islam. Reports such as these may very well also have been ‘constructed’ with the theme in mind of the abandoned prophet who continuously warns his community, only to have his exhortations fall upon deaf ears.61
Estrangement is particularly attributed to Muhammad Mahdi Khirsan (Najaf: al-Maktabah al-Haydariyah, 1971), 3-17. I thank Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi for alerting me to this earlier Najaf edition of the text in which the disputed authorship is discussed.
Fatimah’s son, al-Husayn, whose final cries for help at Karbala’ were of no avail.62 Also, hadith reports such as these should be understood within the common Shiite conception of what is known as, “the damnation of the many and the praise of the few” (dhamm al-kathrah wa madh al-qillah).63 Therefore within the context of the F-R conflict, the apparent failure by Fatimah to garner any significant support would not be viewed as a failure by most Shiite scholars, but rather as part of a self-fulfilling divine mandate springing from the fact that the majority of prominent companions and early Muslims were not committed believers. Lastly, an ominous outlook such as this functions to not only justify but extol (from an intra-Shi‘i perspective) the minority status of the Shiites.64
The Salman report goes on to describe the chaotic scene in which Ali and his family refused to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. Much of this account is similar to the details found in the historical sources covered in chapter one. However, the Salman report contains explicit details of the alleged attack upon the house of Fatimah, an elaboration that differentiates the Shiite hadith-based accounts from the historical sources and Sunnite hadith. Like the histories, this account relates that it was Umar who lost his patience with Ali’s refusal to pledge allegiance, and it was Abu Bakr who was the more pliant of the two. The Shiite hadith, however, adds that as Umar’s impatience and anger towards Ali and his handful of supporters intensified, Umar, as the primary instigator, began to taunt Abu Bakr as to why he had not yet demanded Ali’s pledge of allegiance. At this point, a very tough and “short-tempered” (fazz ghaliz) individual by the name of Qunfudh was apparently dispatched by Umar to bully Ali into accepting Abu Bakr’s leadership. Ali refuses Qunfudh entry into his home, at which point Qunfudh returns to Umar to inform him of what had transpired. Umar then tells Qunfudh that if Ali does not grant him and his band permission to enter the house, they shall enter without permission. During the final standoff, Fatimah herself enters the scene in order to refuse them entry.65
Once again they return to Umar, waiting for further orders. Umar then says: “What do we have to do with women (ma lana lil- nisa’)?”66 meaning that women have no role in such affairs and real men do not stoop to consider them.
Like other Shiite versions, the Salman account casts Umar in the role of chief plotter and aggressor.67 He is as an angry, outrighly misogynistic individual who feels threatened by the courageous and confident Fatimah. Umar is disturbed by what he views as a violation of accepted gender roles. It seems to be Fatimah’s insolence and violation of traditional gender roles that finally prompt him to set fire to her home. Fatimah engages in a verbal confrontation with Umar, demanding that fear God and not barge into her home. Umar, however, dismisses Fatimah’s pleadings, asks for the fire (a burning piece of wood or torch), and sets the door of the house on fire, pushing his way in only to be confronted by the screaming Fatimah calling upon her father.68 Umar then lifts his sword, still in its sheath, and strikes Fatimah on her side. The violence does not end, for as Fatimah continues to scream, Umar, according to this account, whips her arm (fa-daraba b-ihi dhira‘aha).
Fatimah’s husband, Ali, now rushes towards her, intent on killing Umar. However, he restrains himself upon recalling the Prophet urging him to preserve the religion of Islam, i.e. by not shedding blood. Thus the traditional Shiite justification for Ali not exacting revenge upon Umar for the assault upon Fatimah is that if Ali had killed Umar that day, the Muslim community would have been imperilled. Fatimah would also have been exposed to further violence as Abu Bakr sent Qunfudh to force Ali out. Ali is eventually arrested with a rope tied around his neck (fa-‘alaqu fi ‘unqihi hablan) and the courageous Fatimah positions herself (as a barrier of sorts) between her helpless husband and the aggressors. Qunfudh then proceeds to whip Fatimah; according to Salman, when she died the bruise from the assault remained on her shoulder.69
This violent intrusion into Fatimah’s sacred private space would have been deemed by Shiites to be an unforgivable transgression. The tragedy for Shiites is of cosmic proportions. Not only was the private space of Fatimah and Ali violated, but the ‘helpless’ female body of the daughter of the Prophet and “leader of women” (sayyidat al-nisa) assaulted. The bruises inflicted on Fatimah’s body would demonstrate for Shiites that the tragedy which befell the family of the Prophet was not only emotional, but physical. The body of the daughter of the Prophet, with vivid marks of oppression and helplessness inscribed upon it, became the site for elaborate, emotional Shiite discourse.
In the late Umayyad context in which the text of Sulaym was composed, the details related above can be situated within a growing exclusivist Shiite theology and perception of the past. Keeping this in mind, it would not be farfetched to draw a connection between those Shiite groups which were known for cursing the companions and promotion of the motif of a battered and beaten Fatimah at the hands of Umar. In other words, the groups who report and transmit material that speaks of the abuse of Fatimah would have knowingly provoked and supported the formal condemnation of Umar in the form of the ritual known as, “imprecation (la‘nah)” and “disassociation (bara’ah)”.70
The highly contentious nature of this report originating from the late Umayyad period would have served two important agendas. Firstly, the proliferation of this report (and those with similar content) would function to exclude from the larger community those “piestist” Shiites who believed the vast majority of Muslims to be treacherous adversaries of the family of the Prophet. Secondly, reports such as these would have contributed immensely to the proto-Sunnite accusation of rafd (rejection) towards the Shiites.
While they share many details, the early post-Sulaym ibn Qays Shiite hadiths texts are by no means consistent regarding the details of the encounter at the home of Fatimah and Ali. For instance, the only allusion to the assault endured by Fatimah in the most authoritative Imami hadith work, namely, al-Kafi, is a cryptic description attributed to the 7th Shiite Imam Musa al-Kazim, who describes Fatimah as a “shahidah” (female martyr). Nevertheless, the authority of this report has been ascribed to the brother of the seventh Imam, ‘Ali ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq, who is described as a prolific and ‘trustworthy’ companion of the seventh Imam.71 The import of this detail lies in the fact that, as per Shiite hadith analysis, the chain of transmission is complete and thus not deemed spurious by those Shiite scholars who invested significance in the biographies of hadith reporters and analysis of the chains of transmission.72
As a result, reports such as this become authoritative testaments to the theme of the martyrdom of Fatimah and would be perfectly acceptable in traditional Shiite scholarly circles. Also, according to the early Shiite biographers of hadith transmitters, ‘Ali ibn Ja‘far was a mainstream Shiite.73 As a result, this report, in addition to appearing in the canonical al-Kafi, supported by a non-extremist and complete chain of transmission, thus making it acceptable to most Imamis. While there is little mention of the ‘assault’ in al-Kafi, later Shiite sources are replete with references to the incident.
Ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi (d. 368/977), a prominent traditionist and near contemporary of al-Kulayni, includes a peculiar rendition of the F-R conflict in his Kamil al-ziyarat, connected with Muhammad’s night journey (isra’). In this well-crafted meta-historical tradition, God informs Muhammad of the future tests (ikhtibar) he will undergo, to which Muhammad responds in a positive and submissive manner.74 God then forewarns Muhammad of the betrayal and suffering his family will endure after his death.75 Having described Ali’s death at the hands of his own community, God goes on to inform Muhammad of what will befall his daughter:
“As for your daughter, she shall be oppressed, treated dishonourably, -that [right] which you had given to her shall be usurped, and she shall be struck (duribat) (while) she is pregnant. She, the female members of her family, and her home shall be entered upon without consent, she shall be handled with disgrace and humiliation. [At this point] she will then not find any obstruction [between her and her attackers], and what is in her stomach [womb] shall be torn [or punctured] as a result of the strike [upon her]. And she shall die from that.” Muhammad then responds to God by saying: “From him [God] we come and to Him [God] we return, Oh my Lord I accept and submit [to your decree], from you [comes] success and patience.76
The above report has been attributed to al-Sadiq through a well-known Kufan associate, Hammad ibn ‘Uthman (d.190 A.H./late 7th or early 8th century C.E.), who, similar to ‘Ali ibn Ja‘far, is been accused of unorthodox beliefs in any Shiite rijal work.77 Therefore, once again, this chain of transmission is complete and could be deemed ‘authentic’ according to Shiite hadith analysis, lending it much authority. As for the text of the tradition, its contents are more theologically oriented than the Sulaym report. The conversation between God and Muhammad is said to have taken place during Muhammad’s night journey, giving a meta-historical context in which time and space is irrelevant, elevating it from a historical event transmitted by Salman al-Farsi (as found in the book of Sulaym) to the word of God Fatimah’s fate becomes intertwined with a divinely ordained trial to be experienced by Muhammad and his household. In this same report, Muhammad is also told of the divine decree regarding al-Husayn’s violent and miserable death. Consequently for Shiites, the F-R conflict reflects the very beginning of the post-Muhammadan trope of suffering and communal betrayal. While the assault and death of Fatimah may not be on a par with the martyrdom of her son, al- Husayn and his followers, it certainly functions as an important theological support of the motif of darkness, suffering, and abuse.
This report, unlike the Salman report, describes Fatimah as being pregnant at the time of the assault and miscarrying a child as a result. Kamil al-ziyarat is the earliest known Shiite reference to the loss of an unborn child. In-fact, Ibn Qawlawayh has included a second tradition from al-Sadiq, in which he mentions the murder perpetrated by the ‘tyrants’ of the past such as Nimrod and the Pharaoh and then goes on to condemn the killers of Fatimah and the unborn child, known to Shiites as Muhsin.78 He then goes on to mention the deaths of Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, indicating a birth-order that makes Muhsin the first child of Fatimah and Ali to be killed. Naturally, the inclusion of this sensitive detail when combined with the contents of the Sulaym report further amplifies the motif of physical abuse and suffering. The existence or identity of this child is referred to in some non-Shiite pre-Ibn Qawlawayh sources, as well as in post-Ibn Qawlawayh Shiite and Sunnite sources. The historians al- Baladhuri, al-Ya‘qubi and al-Mas‘udi, for instance, list Muhsin among the children of Fatimah, though without mention of a miscarriage, with al-Baladhuri mentioning that he died young.79 Therefore, according to numerous early historical sources, there existed the belief that Fatimah had a son named Muhsin, and that this child was born but died at a young age. However, according to some Shiite hadith sources, this child was not born but was miscarried as a result of the assault endured by Fatimah. For example, al-Saduq relates a tradition in which the Prophet tells Ali that he shall be rewarded with a treasure in paradise; al-Saduq goes on to state that he heard from some scholars (mashayikh) that this treasure is Ali’s son, Muhsin, and this son of Ali was miscarried by Fatimah when she was squeezed between the two doors.80
Furthermore, this child (according to Saduq) will be full of anger at the door of heaven (jannah). This report requires an explanation. First, the name of the child has not been transmitted in the form of a hadith, but rather al-Saduq claims to have been given this information from his teachers (or those authorities from whom he transmitted hadith). This admission on the part al-Saduq would reduce the evidentiary value of the report within Shiite circles from a formal hadith report to popular belief allegedly originating as a hadith. Secondly, the child Muhsin is given an eschatological role as a gatekeeper of paradise.81 In addition to the eschatological motif surrounding the death of Muhsin, we come across a graphic eschatological tradition in the controversial hadith compendium of the Nusayri, al-Khasibi (d. 334 or 358/10th century), in which it is related that Ali while speaking to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said that he and another individual (most likely Abu Bakr or Qunfudh) shall be exhumed from their graves and be given life again. Upon their resurrection, they shall be “crucified on tall trees” (tasalaba ‘ala al-dawhat) and set on fire using the very same fire they used to burn the home of Ali, Fatimah and their children, after which they shall be consigned to hell.82
In an alternative report attributed to al-Sadiq via Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, the 12th Shiite Imam shall reappear and have the two bodies (a reference to Abu Bakr and Umar) exhumed and brought back to life. He shall then proceed to gather creation (khalq) together (a reference to all living things or all human beings) and inform them regarding the fire set to the door of Ali and Fatimah and the whipping of Fatimah which led to the loss of her unborn child, Muhsin.83 Reports such as these, infused as they are with eschatological and apocalyptic motifs, serve Khasibi to give Fatimah’s suffering a sense of purpose. Put differently, the apocalyptic revenge exacted upon Abu Bakr and Umar (as presented by al-Khasibi) is a reflection of a key messianic motif of Nusayri-Shiite triumph in which a history of betrayal shall come to a final violent and climactic end. I should, however, note that graphic reports of cosmic revenge exacted upon Abu Bakr and Umar as a response to the oppression of Fatimah originate from extremist Shiite tradition. Fatimah’s suffering and at times the extremely negative depiction of her assailants may be situated along a spectrum in which al-Khasibi as a known extremist and Nusayri lies at the far end, thus, not included within ranks of Twelver Shiite orthodoxy.
Lastly, al-Mufid (d.413/1022), the prominent Shiite theologian and student of Ibn Qawlawayh and al-Saduq, has included mention of Muhsin in the report attributed to Ja‘far al-Sadiq via ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan.84 According to al-Sadiq, Fatimah’s miscarriage was a direct result of her altercation with Umar in which he violently confiscated the deed to Fadak granted to her by his associate, Abu Bakr.85 Belief in the existence of the miscarried child is further attested in al-Mufid’s authoritative Shiite (hadith-based) historical work entitled Kitab al-irshad. Al-Mufid explains that there exists a belief amongst a group of “the Shi‘ah” that Fatimah miscarried a male child by the name of Muhsin.86
However, al-Mufid does not shed any further light on the matter; nor does he transmit any tradition describing a violent altercation between the companions and Fatimah. Al-Mufid’s reference in the Irshad is also ambivalent since he does attribute this view to himself or any specific group except “the Shi‘ah,” which could imply any number of sub-sects. In addition, al-Mufid does not transmit any hadith report as a means of supporting this claim, as he does with other information throughout the Irshad. The absence of any mention of violence or the cause of the miscarriage may not necessarily indicate that al-Mufid rejected its plausibility. We may speculate that the objective of the book was to communicate a general history of the Imams which would be accessible to most Twelver Shiites without provoking the ire of Sunnites or stirring further Hanbali-Shiite riots in Baghdad.87 Due to the social-political exigencies and the general audience for whom the Irshad was written, one should be cautious in describing al-Mufid as mild towards Fatimah’s opponents.
Lastly, al-Tusi’s contemporary Ibn Rustam al-Tabari (4/11th century) includes a report on the authority of Abu Basir from al-Sadiq which is very similar in content to the Salman report found in the book of Sulaym, except it adds that Fatimah lost Muhsin after Qunfudh (the client of Umar) rather than Umar himself struck Fatimah with the sheath of a sword.88 This report as found in a relatively early (by Imami standards) source has been fitted with a complete chain of transmission including some of the most prominent Shiite hadith reporters, ending with al-Sadiq’s famous blind student, Abu Basir.89 Within Shiite scholarly circles, a tradition with a chain of transmission of this kind could be deemed to be an authentic and acceptable vision of the past.
Thus from the late Umayyad period onwards, there existed a recognized Shiite belief that Fatimah was the victim of a violent encounter either perpetrated or instigated by Muhammad’s well known associate and companion, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. Post- Sulaym ibn Qays Shiite compilations originating from the 3rd/4th centuries A.H. (10th and 11th C.E.) may have used the Sulaym text as a source while furnishing additional details with traditions supplied with complete chains of transmission. These post-Sulaym sources describe Fatimah as a martyr who died from wounds inflicted as a result of that attack, with some including mention of the murder of her unborn son, Muhsin. This graphic vision of the past may have originated with either al-Baqir and or al-Sadiq, or at least with a group Shiites who claimed to be their students and followers. In light of the fact that the motif of physical trauma has been transmitted and dramatized in various forms in a number of formative Shiite hadith, it seems quite certain that in the view of numerous prominent Shiite authorities such as, Ibn Qawlawayh, al-Saduq, Ibn Rustam al-Tabari and perhaps al-Mufid, Umar not only aided the usurpation of Ali’s right to the caliphate but was also guilty of the murder of Muhammad’s only surviving daughter, Fatimah, and her unborn child, Muhsin.
The Shiite tradition includes a number of reports describing Fatimah’s emotional and physical state during the last days of her life. It is during these final ominous days that the motif and ethic of suffering is most pronounced in the sources. Mahmoud Ayoub describes suffering as synonymous with “non-being” in Islamic thought, that is to say, the causes of suffering and destruction cannot be attributed to God as God is conceived to be “true being” and the origin of all that is Good.90
Consequently, in Twelver Shi’ism tragedy and suffering in essence is not attributed to God; however, patience or forbearance (sabr) in the face of suffering and tragedy is uniquely meritorious. The ‘God-given’ potential to patiently bear the brunt of tragedy and oppression allows believers to transform their affliction into a vehicle of salvation. Therefore, Fatimah as the infallible daughter of Muhammad, wife of Ali, and mother of al-Hasan and al-Husayn appears in Shiite literature as a sober and pious woman who patiently bore the loss of her father and violation of her own sanctity.
This motif of suffering is particularly evident in a report attributed to Jafar al- Sadiq in which he says there are five weepers.91 These five weepers are Adam, Jacob, Joseph , Fatimah, and ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn.92 As for Fatimah, al-Sadiq describes her as weeping over the death of “the messenger of God” so incessantly that the residents of Madina became irritated. She then left her home to continue crying at the graveyard of the martyrs “until she was sated”.93 This report uses Fatimah’s female capacity or propensity for weeping to rank her with and give her prominence over three revered prophets and her grandson, the fourth Shiite Imam. In the company of these prominent males, copious tears and emotion become heroic strengths rather than female weaknesses; they become, indeed, marks of eminence. Fatimah becomes the fourth member of a group of pious weepers who wept over the death of Muhammad, pointing to the Shiite notion that Muhammad’s own daughter was among the few who truly apprehended the catastrophic nature of the loss.94 While the rest of Madina’s inhabitants moved on with their lives, it was Fatimah who continued to cry and remember. The report says “She cried over the messenger of God” rather than “her father” to signify that Fatimah’s tears were not an expression of a mere loss of a family member, but rather a manifestation of her sincere zeal for God’s messenger. Furthermore, it was these sincere tears which allowed her prayers to be answered, demonstrating the miraculous potential of incessant mourning over God’s martyrs.
The relation between shedding of tears and spiritual charisma is also emphasized in early Islamic mysticism, to the extent that legendary early mystics such as al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110/728), were given the name “the weepers”.95 What distinguishes the Sufi “weepers” from Fatimah is that her tears are a direct reaction to the loss of Muhammad. While it cannot be determined if Shiites appropriated the concept of weeping from the Sufis or vice versa, Fatimah’s suffering and tears at the loss of Muhammad also indicate the transformation of suffering into tears of supplication which receive reward.96
Shiite sources also provide vivid details describing Fatimah’s final days and hours as spent in solitude at peace with her impending death. The Ismaili jurist, Al-Qadi al- Nu‘man (d. 363/974), a contemporary of al-Saduq, transmits a report attributed to al- Baqir in which he states that “whatever had been done to her by the people” caused her to become bedridden, while her body wasted until it became like a spectre (ka-al- khayal).97 This report is one of the few which provides a description of the physical suffering of Fatimah following the physical trauma she purportedly experienced. The report is mysterious as it does not attribute the trauma to any specific incident; however, it may be understood in the general context of the Shiite tradition to refer to the violence following Abu Bakr’s ascension to the caliphate at Saqifah and Fatimah’s protest regarding Fadak.
Shiite tradition, similarly to proto-Sunnite-authored historiography, mentions that it was also during this period that Fatimah initially refused Abu Bakr and Umar entry into her presence. In the Shiite version, she eventually consenting she allows them to enter her room while shunning them. It should be noted that in this version of events attributed to al-Sadiq, Abu Bakr does not ask for forgiveness or mercy; rather the tradition ends with al-Sadiq recounting: “As the two left her, she was furious (sakhtah) with them.”98 Fatimah is depicted as a woman full of righteous anger, and unprepared to forgive her adversaries even in her last days. It should be noted that this anger is characterized in the Shiite hadith as springing from a militant zeal for the safeguarding of the Muhammadan legacy, as opposed to the obstinacy of an emotional female suggested in the proto-Sunnite histories.99
The Shiite hadith sources thus provide us with a bleak description of Fatimah spending her final days not only in solitude, but physical and emotional agony both at the loss of her father and usurpation of the caliphate by Muhammad’s trusted friends, Abu Bakr and Umar. The literary trope of Fatimah’s physical and emotional distress so clearly communicated in the sources is fundamental to a Shiite theology of suffering in which the Shiite Imams descended from her were subjected to profound acts of betrayal, brutal torture, poisoning, and imprisonment. Shiite tradition casts Fatimah as a charismatic female figure who underwent her own trial of physical and emotional suffering, in addition to being a mother profoundly aggrieved at hearing of the savage death her young son would meet in the future on the plains of Karbala’.100 Her swift burial then became an episode of shared suffering in which her husband Ali was forced to part with his eighteen-year old wife and the daughter of Muhammad in the most dramatic way.
Al-Shaykh al-Tusi includes a lengthy report describing the final moments in which the third Imam al-Husayn reports that when his mother Fatimah fell ill, she requested that Ali hide the matter and not inform anyone of her illness.101 It is significant that the chain of transmission ends with al-Husayn, as he then becomes not only an eyewitness, but infallible observer. Further yet, it emphasizes the private nature of these emotionally trying moments, as for the Shiites, al-Husayn would have been in an ideal position not only to observe but also share in these intimate yet trying final moments of his mother’s life. Returning to the text of the report, al-Husayn goes on to describes his father, Ali, as nursing Fatimah (yumarriduha) with some help from their client, Asma’ bint ‘Umays.102 Then as death approached, she entrusted him to fulfill her wish to keep any information regarding her illness from the Muslims, and in order to do so, she requested that he bury her at night and cover up her burial plot.103
This report is rather strange when read outside its context in the Shiite tradition, since it was believed to be common Muslim practice to have at least fellow male believers present during one’s funeral services; in fact, that was deemed to be honourable for the deceased.104 Evidently, the motivation behind the account is to indicate Fatimah’s disassociation with the Muslim community by not granting them the privilege of participating in her burial. Shiite scholars of both past and present believe that Fatimah’s secret burial was a sign of her displeasure with the majority of Muslims who failed to support her in her opposition towards Abu Bakr and Umar.105
Al-Husayn continues by describing his father as breaking into tears and being overcome with sadness as he shook the dust off his hands from his wife’s newly completed, unmarked grave106. Ali then turns to the grave of the Prophet and begins a prolonged, grief-filled monologue in which he sends his greetings to the Prophet while exclaiming: “Your chosen one’s [referring to himself] patience has waned due to the departure of your daughter, and my strength has faded.”107
The rhetoric of this piece is particularly important because it once again points to the grave of the Prophet as a site at which the wronged and downtrodden may lodge their complaints and shed tears of disappointment. A passage such as this must be read in the context of the developing Shiite shrine culture in which the ardent supporters of the Imams would flock to their graves to recite their salutations and often express their disappointment with the status quo, making the grave site into a venue for political protest.108
Ali (facing the grave of the Prophet) goes on to express his dismay at Muhammad’s death, informing him that he has now returned the trust (al-wadi‘ah) given to him, that his sadness is endless, and he shall henceforth spend sleepless nights.109 At this juncture in the report, it is crucial to point out the Shiite symbolism of the loss of the spiritual companions of Ali’s life, namely Muhammad and Fatimah. The report seems to be modeled on Muhammad’s Meccan biography, which was well established by the late 2rd/9th century. In the biography, the loss of two trusted confidants, Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib and his wife of twenty five years, Khadija, becomes a cause of tremendous grief.110
Furthermore, the vivid emotional details indicate that Fatimah’s suffering was something for her husband to partake in and experience; thus it may be described as contagious grief in which Fatimah’s personal trauma is shared (in spirit) by her husband and her father, on whose grave Ali’s tears fall. Phrased differently, the bravest of warriors according to Shiite tradition has his unshakably chivalrous composure and physical power crumble when confronted with laying his wife to rest.111 These passages may be described as among the most dramatic examples of Fatimah as a motif of suffering in Shiite tradition. Furthermore, the canonical hadith works of al-Saduq and al-Tusi urge believers to recollect and spiritually partake in Fatimah’s pain and sorrow upon their visit to Madina by reciting the following salutation: “...Peace be upon you O oppressed one (mazlumah) usurped one (al-maghsubah); peace be upon you, O subjugated one (al-mudtahadah) and tormented one (al-maqhurah) one...”112
Ali then goes on to appeal to the deceased Prophet, saying: “Your daughter shall soon inform you how your community conspired against me and usurped her [Fatimah’s] right, for soon you will seek to be informed by her...”113 The monologue ends with Ali swearing by God to the Prophet at his grave that he buried his [Muhammad’s] daughter in secret and that “her rights were usurped and her inheritance forcibly taken away.”114 As emotionally exhausting as the whole affair was for Ali, he is depicted as faithfully partaking in Fatimah’s suffering by shouldering the responsibility for carrying out her clandestine burial without support from the Madinan Muslim community.115
The problematic nature of this secret burial is further emphasized in al-Mufid’s Ikhtisas.116 According to this tradition (attributed to al-Sadiq), the next morning, news of Fatimah’s death reached the Muslims in Madina. Immediately, Abu Bakr and Umar berated Ali for not including them in the funeral rites; Ali informed them that this was done according to Fatimah’s wish. However, Umar hotheadedly (in the common Shiite view) refused to accept Ali’s justification and threatened to exhume her body and perform the prescribed prayer over it117, to which Ali forcefully responded by declaring: “By God, as long as my heart is between my sides [in my body] and dhu al-fiqar (Ali’s sword) in my hand, you will not reach close enough to exhume her, and you know best [not to do it].”118
This is the first instance, according to Shiite tradition, in which Ali threatens Umar with an act of violence; even during the attack on the home, he forced himself to be patient and not resort to violence. However, the loss of Fatimah was, it seems, so traumatizing that Ali’s patience had waned and he was no longer willing to tolerate Umar’s aggression.119 These reports as found in the formative sources of Shiite tradition testify that Fatimah was a polarizing figure who both suffered grief during her life and caused great sadness following her death.
The object of this chapter has been to analyze examples of Fatimah as a motif of contention and suffering in Shiite hadith sources. Numerous excerpts from compendiums of Shiite hadith in the formative period point to use of the Fatimah motifs to condemn the edifice of Sunnite Islam. From the late Umayyad period onward, we see a far-reaching program aimed at denouncing Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and a number of prophetic companions. Oral and later literary features of the F-R conflict in the Shiite sources (beginning with Sulaym) are part of the development of a highly exclusivist sectarian posture, possibly originating in the circle of the associates of the fifth and sixth Shiite Imams and perhaps the Imams themselves, that is the very heart of Shiism.
The repudiation by Shiism of a vast swath companions was first explored through what is known as the “Speech of Fatimah”, in which the daughter of the Prophet is cast by the Shiites as an empowered female political leader opposing Abu Bakr’s ‘illegitimate’ caliphate. The “Speech of Fatimah” in its various recensions reflects a Shiite desire to counter the Sunnite-influenced caricature of Fatimah as a weak and dim-witted woman overwhelmed by Abu Bakr’s superior male intellect and maturity. The Shiite ascription of ‘masculine characteristics’ to Fatimah should not be misconstrued to indicate a general Shiite outlook regarding all women; rather, it is a feature in the construction of Fatimah’s exceptional and divinely-inspired character as the daughter of Muhammad. Shiite tradition states that Fatimah would pay a great price, both literally and figuratively, at the hands of the leading prophetic companions for her role as an extraordinary female political activist120. The Shiite legend of Fatimah portrays a courageous and emboldened woman ready to suffer for her religious and political position, much as her sons would do after her death. At the same time, the pathos of her sorrow and outrageousness of the abuse she suffered is heightened by her being a defenseless woman; while Abu Bakr and Umar lose their ‘chivalry’ and ‘manhood’ by violating gender norms through their lack of respect for female private space and body.
Also importantly, the Shiite hadith tradition attributes a multivalent grief to Fatimah as she mourns for the impending slaughter of her son al-Husayn in addition to becoming the object of tyranny and physical abuse herself. The most provocative aspects of this rich Shiite imagination are the reports detailing Fatimah’s final moments and secret burial. In these final hours, we see a woman beset with anger at the betrayal of her father’s prophetic mission by those who claimed to be his most trusted confidants. Fatimah, according to Shiite tradition, had none at her bedside except for her loving husband, her client Asma’ bint ‘Umays and her two sons. The Muslim community was by the order of Fatimah herself, denied the privilege of attending to her during her last hours and funeral services. The tale of a clandestine funeral is designed to transform Fatimah’s death into an enduring political statement; it is indicative of her utter contempt for those who denied her right to her inheritance as well as her husband’s right to be the rightful successor to Muhammad.
The literary motif of suffering and estrangement surrounding Fatimah’s last hours and burial is also extended to her otherwise forbearing and battle-hardened husband, Ali. This is pictured as taking place at the grave of the Prophet, thus allowing Fatimah’s father to partake in this suffering. Finally, for Shiites, Fatimah’s downtrodden person is a part of a far-reaching history of suffering, betrayal, and murder perpetrated by those who neglected the religious and political authority of her children, the infallible Imams. As a result, Shiite recitation and engagement with hadith literature related to Fatimah - including the devotional ziyarat or pilgrimage texts - allows Fatimah’s devotees to partake in a ritual recollection of not only her suffering, but that of her household.
The Fatimah themes thus always lead to the imamate, the central concern of Shiism. They also serve to form or reinforce the self-image of the Shiite community as a band of righteous believers in a world plagued by treachery, in which the majority of Muslims - that is non-Shiites – continue to love and admire Fatimah’s enemies and persecutors.
- 1. Most sources used in this chapter are of Twelver-Imami provenance. I will, however, be making some use of Ismaili hadith attributed to al-Baqir and al-Sadiq that are commonly accepted by both sects. Throughout this chapter when I use the terms Shi‘i, Shiite or Imami, unless otherwise noted, I will be referring to the Twelver Shiites also known as the Imamiyah.
- 2. Amir Moezzi in his article on electionism in early Shi‘i hadith describes this stark dualistic attitude as reflective of a “mystical anthropology” in which God created human beings either from a celestial or infernal substance, so that good and evil are ontologically different. See Amir Moezzi, “Only the Man of God is Human” in Shi‘ism ed. Etan Kohlberg (Burlington: Asghate, 2003), 17-39.
- 3. The inspiration for this line of analysis was found in Denise Spellberg’s excellent analysis of the legacy of ‘Aishah in Sunni and Shiite literature. See: D.A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘Aishah bint Abi Bakr (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 11. Etan Kohlberg describes this virulent attitude towards the companions as “hallmark of radical Imami Shi‘ism” See: Etan Kohlberg, “Some Imami Shi‘i Views on the Sahaba” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 5, 1984. 143-175.
- 4. Watt translated the term “desertion”, that is, the desertion of the prophetic practice and precedent as ‘preserved’ by the companions. See: W Montgomery Watt, “The Rafidites: A Preliminary Study,”Oriens 16 (1963):116-119.
- 5. E. Kohlberg, "al- Rafida or al- Rawafid" EI. Note that, while the term rafidah tended to be understood in a pejorative fashion, the Shiites took ownership of it to signify their embattled minority status, as the few possessing faith in the midst of widespread disbelief (kufr). Some Shiite traditions trace the ‘original’ and praiseworthy meaning of this term to the Prophet Noah. See: Ibid, and Etan Kohlberg, “The Term Rafida in Imami Shi‘i Usage,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 4 (1979), pp. 677-679.
- 6. I have made use of the term “sectarian particularism” employed by Maria Dakake. Dakake argues that by the late Umayyad period, the Shiites had already developed the notion of walayah as constituting uncompromising allegiance to the infallible Imam, and it was this walayah which determined an individual’s membership in the Shiite religious community in addition to their eternal salvation. She describes this tendency as a strand of “sectarian particularism.” which differentiated the Shiites from their Kufan- Murji’ite and Sunnite counterparts. See: The Charismatic Community: Shi’ite Identity in Early Islam (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 137-139. Also see: Hossein Modarressi, Tradition and Survival v.1. (Oxford: Oneworld Press, 2003), 39-41.
- 7. My methodology is partly informed by Maria Dakake; see for example Dakake, 111, 173-174.
- 8. For instance, no monograph has been devoted to al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi or the books of tradition compiled by al-Shaykh al-Saduq (Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi).
- 9. The prominent 10th century theologian and jurist al-Shaykh al-Mufid declared that from the time of Ali to the 11th Imam, al-Hasan al-‘Askari, the Imamis produced four hundred usul works. This cannot be an exact number, but it does indicate that early Shiite compilers of hadith such as al-Kulayni (d.329/941) relied at least partially on such notebooks for their compilations. For an in-depth discussion, see: Etan Kohlberg, “Al-usul al-arba‘umi‘a.” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 10 (1987):128-166.
- 10. See: Rainer Brunner, “The Role of Hadith as Cultural Memory in Shi ‘i History” Jersusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 30 (2005), 326.
- 11. This was particularly the case for those formative traditionists (muhaddithun) based in Qum who experienced an immense amount of external polemical pressure. See: Dakake, 173.
- 12. Scott C. Lucas, Constructive Critics, 221.
- 13. The one historian to have included it is the little known Abu Bakr al-Jawhari in his lost Kitab al-saqifah as found in Ibn Abi al-Hadid, 16:344-346.
- 14. Ibn Abi Tayfur was a prolific belletrist and historian. He does not seem to have been linked with the caliphs in Baghdad where he largely worked, and it is difficult to determine his sectarian orientation. See: Shawkat Toowara, Ibn Abi Tayfur and Arabic Writerly Culture (Oxford: Routledge Curzon, 2005), 1-6.
- 15. Al-Murtada, al-Shafi fi al-imamah, 4:76.
- 16. For biographical details regarding al-Jawhari, see: chapter one, footnote 25, and 31.
- 17. This version is reported by a son of al-Hasan al-Muthanna, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn Abi Talib. Al-Kashshi lists him among the prominent companions of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq, and the Imamiyah describe him as a direct descendent and son of Fatimah in order to emphasize his Alid credentials. See: Abu al-Qasim al-Khu’i, Mu‘jam rijal al-Hadith (Beirut: Dar al-Zahra’, 1983) 10: 159.
- 18. A rather praiseworthy accusation leveled at Abu ‘Ayna’ where Ibn Abi Tayfur explains that the attribution was due to the speech’s impeccable eloquence and structure (which Abu ʿAyna’ was known for); see Ibn Abi Tayfur, Balaghat al-nisa’ (Qum: Sharif al-Radi Publications, n.d), 23. Abu ‘Ayna has been described as a prolific poet, writer, and traditionist by his contemporaries. For extensive biographical details on this individual, see: Toowara, 112-117.
- 19. Abu al-Husayn Zayd ibn‘Ali not only insists that the oration is well known amongst the learned (mashayikh) of the family of Abu Talib, but he also asserts (according to Ibn Abi Tayfur) that it would have been included in Sunnite collections “had it not been for their enmity towards us. In this case, Abu al-Husayn points to Sunnite scholars who report the words of ‘A’ishah at the death of her father, yet make no mention of Fatimah’s oration, despite her words being “most marvellous” (a ‘jab), see: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 24. For the chain of transmission ending with al-Baqir see: Ibn Abi al-Hadid, 16:347. One wonders why al-Jawhari and Ibn Abi al-Hadid, both Sunnite scholars, included this highly controversial speech. Perhaps they adhered to a liberal form of proto-Sunnism that would be able to accommodate known Shiite transmitters or at least those with questionable proto-Sunnite credentials such as Jabir al- Ju‘fi. See: Ibid.
- 20. I will be citing primarily from Ibn Abi Tayfur and al-Jawharhi’s versions, which are nearly identical. However, I will also make use of the edition found in al-IHtijaj. See: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 24; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, 16:347 and Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Tabrisi, al-IHtijaj ed. Muhammad Mahdi Khirsan (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-A‘lami lil-Matbu‘at, 2000), 1: 97.
- 21. See: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 24. Only Ibn Abi al-Hadid, 16:345 and al-Tabrisi, 1:98 mention the curtain.
- 22. See: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 24, and al-Jawhari, 16:345. Note: I am paraphrasing and summarizing the original Arabic text unless otherwise indicated by the use of quotation marks.
- 23. Ibn Abi Tayfur, 24, and al-Jawhari, 16:345.
- 24. For instance, she explains the testimony of faith (there is no god but God) to be a phrase the ta’wil (interpretation and understanding) of which is encapsulated in the act of sincerity before God (al-ikhlas), this formula being sure to reach (penetrate) hearts and minds. See: Ibn Abi al-Tayfur, 27.
- 25. The Arabic reads as follows: ta‘atuna nizaman wa imamatuna amnan min al-firqah wa Hubbuna ‘izzan lil- islam.”, Ibid., 28. This is one of the few statements not found in al-Jawhari’s text.
- 26. The Qur’an uses the term “obedience” or lack thereorf with reference to God and /or Prophet nearly thirty times as a marker of belief and or unbelief. For example see: Qur’an, 4:13, 24:25, 3:32, and 8:46.
- 27. The Arabic reads as follows: “aqulu ‘awdan wa badwan, wa la aqulu ma aqulu ghalatan wa-la afa‘alu ma af‘alu shatatan.” Ibn Abi Tayfur’s version ends at “badwan” (Ibn Abi al-Tayfur, 29); however, al-Jawhari’s and al- Tabrisi’s versions include the entire statement. See: Ibn Abi al-Hadid, 16:346, and al-Tabrisi, 1:100.
- 28. As discussed in chapter one, Ibn Sa‘d includes a report in which Ali uses the same Qur’anic references in his defence of Fatimah’s claim. See: chapter one, footnote 41. Fatimah also cites 19:6, 8:75, and 33:6.
- 29. I have made use of John Wansborough’s typology regarding the midrashic style of Islamic salvation history and tradition. John Wansborough, The Sectarian Milieu (New York: Prometheus Books, 2006), 3.
- 30. Ibid.
- 31. Ibn Abi Tayfur, 29. The Arabic is as follows: “la ‘lakum a‘lamu bi-khusus al-qur’an wa- ‘umumihi min al-nabi...” The version preserved by al- Tabrisi states: min al-nabi wa ibn ‘ammi (my cousin), that is her husband Ali and the first Imam of the Shiites. It is not surprising to see this crucial addition in a highly dogmatic Shiite text such as al-IHtijaj. In the report transmitted by Abu al-Husayn, Fatimah follows up her citiation of the Qur’anic verses by exclaiming: “O Ibn Abi Quhafa (Abu Bakr), you have brought forth a great falsehood (qad ji’ta bi-shay’in fariyan), have you intentionally left the book of God and thrown it behind your backs?” See: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 25 and al-Tabrisi, 2:102.
- 32. Ibn Abi Tayfur, 29. The last phrase beginning with “...and soon those who commit injustice...” is a direct reference to Qur’an, 26:227.
- 33. See: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 29.
- 34. Arabic is reads as follows: “ma hadhihi al-ghamiza fi Haqqi wa al-sinnat ‘an zalamati” See: Ibid.
- 35. Ibid. Note: al-Tabrisi’s version translation as the following: “So soon you have deviated and so fast you have ignored while you have the power [to help] in what I am trying and strength for what I am seeking...” See: al-Tabrisi, 1:103. The crucial difference in comparison to the Ibn Abi Tayfur version (transmitted from Zaynab bint ‘Ali) is that Fatimah according to this much later Shiite report pleads in a seemingly convincing manner for the assistance of the Ansar against Abu Bakr and those supporting his leadership.
- 36. Ibn Abi Tayfur, 30.
- 37. “wa ashraktum ba‘da al-iman?...atakshunahum fallahu aHaqqa an takhshuhu in kuntum mu’minin…” See: al- Tabrisi, 1:103.
- 38. al-Tabrisi, 1:103.
- 39. al-Tabrisi, 1:104.
- 40. Ibid.
- 41. Ibid.
- 42. Ibid.
- 43. Ibid, 106.
- 44. For details on the Battle of the Camel and ‘Aishah’s involvement see: Spellberg, 104-149, and Hodgson, 1:212-215.
- 45. For the speech of Zaynab see: Ibn Abi Tayfur, 34-36. The masculine or manly demeanour does not refer to the physical appeaence of Zaynab or the tone of her voice, but the eleqounce of her speech according to some reports contained in the Amali of al-Mufid her speech was compared to her father Ali or described as if her words were coming from the “tounge of Amir al-Mu‘minin- The Commander of the Faithful” For the various references and the speech see: Muhammad Ja‘far Tabsi, Ma‘al- rakab al-Husayni min al-madinah ila al-madinah: waqa‘i al-tariq min al-Karbala’ ila al-Sham. (Qum: Markaz al-Dirasat al- Islamiya, Qum), 98.
- 46. For some Sunnite or Shiite believers, ‘Aishah, Fatimah and Zaynab may not be described as undergoing a process of ‘masculinisation’ but it was their exceptional femaleness and identification with the religious charisma of the Prophet (either through marriage, biological descent, or extraordinary religious commitment-or any combination of these) which allowed them to transcend the traditional norms or expectation of Muslim women. Therefore it would be said due to their exceptional femalness they took on roles which were traditionally reserved for men such as giving public speeches or overt political activism and only in this sense did they adopt or manifest certain masculine qualities and the texts consulted in this study do not provide any indication otherwise.
- 47. Sulaym ibn Qays can be found in the following formative compendiums : al-Saffar al-Qummi’s (d. late 3rd/10th century), Basa’ir al-darajat (3 seperate isnads-chains of transmission), al-Furat al-Kufi’s, Tafsir al- furat (3 isnads), al-Kulayni’s, Usul al-kafi (14 isnad’s), in al-Saduq’s Man la yaHduruhu al-faqih (1 isnad), and in al-Tusi’s Tahdhib al-aHkam (1 isnad) These three texts constitute three of the four most authoritative works of Shiite hadith literature. For the various chains of transmission see: Muhammad ibn al-Hassan al-Saffar, Basa’ir al-darajat, (Qum: Ayatullah Mar‘ashi Library, 1984), 27,83, 198; Furat ibn Ibrahim al-Kufi, Tafsir al-furat (Tehran: Chap va Nashr Institute, 1989), 67, 169, 357; Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni, al- Kafi (Beirut: Dar al-Ta‘aruf, 1981), 1:297, 529, 2:323, 2:391, 2:414, 8:57,8:353; Ibn Babwayh al Qummi (al- Shaykh al- Saduq), Man la yahduruhu al-faqih (Beirut, Mua’sasa al-‘Alimi al-Matbu‘at,1986), 4:189; Abi Ja‘far Muhammad ibn al-Hassan al-Tusi, Tahdhib al-aHkam (Qum: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1988), 4:126, 6:328, and 9:176. Sulaym ibn Qays has also been listed in numerous chains of transmission in al-Saduq’s hadith text on the subject of the messiah in Twelver Shi‘ism. See: al-Saduq, Kamal al-din wa itmam al- ni‘mah (Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al- Islamiyah, 1975), 1:240, 262, 270, 274, 2:413.
- 48. al-Barqi , Rijal al-Barqi, 4.
- 49. Sulaym then purportedly goes on to inquire with the Imam as to why their understanding of the Qur’an is opposed to that which is understood by the general Muslims, at which point Sulaym goes on to finish the rest of the narration. See: Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al-Kashshi (d. 3rd/10th century), Rijal al-Kashshi (Mashhad: Publication of Mashhad University, 1969), 104-105.
- 50. Al-Baqir goes on to inform Aban that his father, ‘Ali ibn Husayn had also confirmed the veracity of this hadith, in addition to al-Hassan, al-Husayn having personally confirmed its veracity with their father, the first Imam, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. See: Ibid, 105.
- 51. See: Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Nu‘mani, Al-Ghaybah (Tehran: Maktabat al-Saduq, 1977), 101-102.
- 52. See: Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nu‘man (al-Shaykh al-Mufid), Tashih al-‘itiqad (Qum: Manshurat al-Rida, 1985), 149. Al-Mufid’s criticism of Kitab Sulaym b. Qays is within the context of his emandation to Saduq's epistle on Shiite creed. See: al-Saduq, Itiqad al-Imamiyah (Beirut: Dar al-Jawad, 2011), 379. Ibn al- Ghada’iri, while admitting that the book of Sulaym is popular (mashhur), mentions similar reservations and even goes so far to state that Sulaym as a historical personality is unknown amongst some of the Imamiyah. However, he himself has found certain traditions of Sulaym outside of the book which is attributed to him. Therefore, Ibn al-Ghada’iri does not repudiate the person of Sulaym, but rather the text itself which he claims contains several glaring historical errors. For example, there is a tradition in the text claiming that Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr gave moral exhortations to his father, Abu Bakr, at the moment of death.
- 53. For an extensive but apologetic discussion regarding the critiques (munaqashat) of Kitab Sulaym See: Sulaym ibn Qays al-Hilali, Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays, ed. and annotated by Muhammad Baqir al-Ansari (Qum: Dalil Ma, 2005), 156-200.
- 54. Al-‘Allamah al-Hilli (d.726/1326), after citing the various opinions of the scholars (including that of Ibn al-Ghada’iri) regarding Sulaym and the text itself, he comes to the conclusion that despite certain reservations, he refrains from rejecting the usefulness and the questionable origins of the text. See: Ibn MutaHHar al-Hilli, Rijal al-‘Allama al-Hilli (Qum: al-Radi Publications, 1982), 73.
- 55. Modarressi, 84. It should be noted that what is interpreted as anachronism by Modarressi as a historian of Islamic intellectual thought within the academy would have been interpreted as something divinely inspired foreshadowing a prophecy on the part of the Prophet and the infallibles (ma‘sumin) of his household. For this reason, Imami critics of Kitab sulaym such as al-Mufid, and Ibn al-Ghada’iri did not base their critiques on the presence of anachronistic details. Here is an illustration of the difference between a dispassionate reading of hadith literature which is not influenced and or limited by a set of preconceived theological tenets such as the doctrine of infallibility, as opposed to an insider or believer’s analysis (such as the medieval scholar, al-Mufid or the contemporary editor of Kitab sulaym, al-Ansari) of the same text which may often be influenced and constructed around doctrinal tenets. For a brief discussion regarding hadith analysis from an insider’s versus an outsider’s perspective see: Walbridge, 34-43.
- 56. Ibid.
- 57. The reasoning behind this lies in the clearly Kufan influenced sectarian language of the text and the numerous references to the Umayyad caliphate. See: Ibid.
- 58. Salman has been described as having a special brotherhood with the Prophet, and counted among the being counted amongst the few true scholars (‘ulama’), and lastly as being counted amongst the Ahl Al-Bayt. See: al-Kulayni, 1:401.
- 59. Sulaym ibn Qays, 2: 580.
- 60. ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan is considered by Shiite hadith scholars to be a prominent transmitters and scholar in his own right with multiple books dealing with Islamic law and theology attributed to him. See: al- Modarressi, 157-161. For the hadith report: al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas (Beirut: Dar al-Mufid, 1993), 184. It should be noted that there remain questions surrounding the attribution of this work of hadith to al-Mufid, the text itself can either be dated back to al-Mufid or slightly earlier. See the extensive discussion by the prominent editor of classical Shiite manuscripts, Muhammad Mahdi Khirsan in al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas, ed.
- 61. One example is the parable of Noah and the suffering and estrangement he endured by incessantly preaching to his community only to have very few or no one heed his call. See: Qur’an, 71: 1-11. For the ‘dispassionate’ religionist whose methodology is not faith based- the presence of prophetic parables and overarching Qur’anic or Biblical themes is not a coincidence and certain elements of the report have been strategically emphasized with a sacred past in mind. Furthermore, the term “construction” throughout this dissertation does not necessarily imply that reports were outrightly invented and attributed to al-Baqir (although this cannot be dismissed when dealing with dogmatic literature) but it is indicative that these events were not written by the actors involved or the Imams themselves but by those who recorded, compiled or composed these histories and traditions centuries after the event in question. For the Shiite who believes such traditions to have originated from the Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (or any other Imam), in this case the Imam’s infallible understanding and comprehension past events is not deemed to be a historical viewpoint or opinion among other possible viewpoints, but rather, it is the elucidation of a reality beyond doubt. Furthermore for the Shiite believer, the reflection of certain prophetic themes of abandonment is neither a coincidence nor an invention but apart of a divine plan for the family of the Prophet who would be disappointed by the lack of religious commitment among their coreligionists much in the same way certain Bibilical and Qur’anic Prophets were abandoned by fellow believers. One example is the parable of Noah and the suffering and estrangement he endured by incessantly preaching to his community only to have very few or no one heed his call. See: Qur’an, 71: 1-11.
- 62. Al-Husayn is depicted as consistently trying to deter the Umayyad army from fighting; this pleading grows in desperation as al-Husayn realizes he is now the only able bodied male left to defend his children and womenfolk. See: al-Shaykh ‘Izzat Allah al-Mawlati and al-Shaykh Muhammad Ja‘far al-Tabasi, Ma‘al- rakab al-Husayni min al-madinah ila al-madinah :al-imam al-Husayn fi al-Karbala’ (Qum: Markaz al-Dirasat al- Islamiyah, 2003), 4:405-434.
- 63. The Shiite hadith compendiums have included this statement as a part of a larger conversation which took place between the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kazim and Hisham ibn al-Hakam. The above expression can be found in numerous forms throughout the Shiite hadith literature. See: Etan Kohlberg, “In praise of the few” in Studies in Islamic and Middle Eastern Tradition in memory of Norman Calder ed.G.R. Hawting, J.A. Mojaddedi, and A Samely (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 155.
- 64. This damnation of the majority of the prominent members the early Muslim community is not limited to Shiite hadith literature. A-Mufid in his history of the Battle of The Camel outrightly places blame on Abu Bakr, Umar and their followers for the intra-Muslim strife which took place during Ali’s caliphate. In fact, he describes these individuals as accursed (mal‘un). Naturally, the implications of such a view are congruent with the Imami conception of dhamm al-kathrah (most are blameworthy). See: al-Mufid, Kitab al-jamal (Qum: Shaykh al-Mufid’s Millennium World Conference, 1993), 56-57.
- 65. The Arabic reads as: “qalat Fatima: “uharriju ‘alaykum an tadkhalu ‘ala bayti bighayri idhn” See: Sulaym ibn Qays, 2: 585.
- 66. Ibid, 2:586.
- 67. For instance see: Ibid and al-Mufid, 185.
- 68. Sulaym ibn Qays, 2, 585. An early Shiite source contains a similar version ascribed to Haraz al-‘Ajali, father of ‘Umar ibn Abi al-Miqdam, the prominent Kufan companion of the fourth, fifth and sixth Imams; see Muhammad ibn Mas‘ud al-‘Ayyashi (d.320/ 932), Tafsir al-‘Ayyashi (Tehran: ‘Ilmiyah Printing House Publication, 1960), 2: 67. According to Ibn ‘Asakir, Haraz al-‘Ajali was a client (mawla) of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, giving the family pro-Alid credentials dating back to Ali. In this report attributed to Haraz al-‘Ajali, there is no mention of any physical violence perpetrated against Fatimah. For details on the ‘Ajali family in Ibn ‘Asakir, see Muhammad ibn Sa’il al-Salami’s notes as found in the fifth edition of Muhammad ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat al-kubra (Beirut: Maktabat al-Sadiq, 1993), 1:502.
- 69. Sulaym ibn Qays, 2:586.
- 70. One such group was known as the sabahiyah, a group of Zaydis who practiced ritual imprecation and religious dissociation (al-bara’ah), involving complete repudiation of all those who partook in or knowingly supported the supposed usurpation of the caliphate. See: S’ad ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ash‘ari al- Qummi, Kitab al-maqalat wa-al-firaq (Tehran: Matba‘at Haydari, 1963), 71.
- 71. His full name is ‘Ali ibn Ja‘far al-‘Aridi. In addition to being the son of Ja‘far al-Sadiq, he is praised and described as ‘trustworthy’ by al-Kashshi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi. See: al-Kashshi, 430, and al-Tusi, Rijal al- Tusi (Qum: Islamic Publications Institute, 1994), 359.
- 72. For details see: Liyakat Takim, The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam (Albany: SUNY Press, 2006), 109-180.
- 73. He is described as Sahih al-madhhab al-zahir- an individual with clearly acceptable religious beliefs. Terms such as these when used in Shiite hadith parlance are used in juxtaposition to “fasid al-madhhab”, that is a companion with unacceptable beliefs, which are often due to a perceived ghuluw or extremism concerning the fantastical attributes of the Imam and/or alleged anthropomorphic descriptions of God. See: al-Tusi, Rijal, 359.
- 74. Ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi, Kamil al-ziyarat (Najaf: al-Murtadawiyah Publications, 1978), 332. Ibn Qawlawayh has been considered a distinguished compiler of hadith traditions regarding the supernatural attributes of the Imams and extraordinary reward for those who perform pilgrimage (ziyarah) to their grave. In addition to being a junior contemporary of al-Kulayni, he transmitted traditions from the father of al-Saduq, Muhammad ibn Saffar al-Qummi ,in addition to other prominent Imami tradionists of the formative post-occulation period. For a concise biography see: Agha Buzurg Tihrani, al-Dhari‘ah ila tasanif al-shi‘a (Tehran: al-Maktaba al-Islamiyah, 1987), 17:255. For an extensive biography see: Sayyid Abu al- Qasim al-Khu’i, Mu‘jam rijal al-Hadith (Qum: Markaz Athar al-Shi‘ah, 1990), 1:50, and 23: 16.
- 75. See: Ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi, 332.
- 76. Ibid. There is a similar hadith found in the lectures attributed to al-Saduq (d. 381/991) in which the Prophet instead of God (as found in the Ibn Qawlawayh report) informs the community of what will befall Fatimah after his death. This report is also slightly more specific in so far as it states that she will be denied her inheritance (muni‘at irthaha), her side will be broken (kusira janbaha), and she shall miscarry an unborn child (asqatat janinaha) and she shall die while distressed and weeping. See Ibn Babawayh al- Qummi’s al-Amali, as included in Tartib al-Amali compiled by Muhammad Jawad Mahmudi (Qum: Mu’asassat al-Ma‘arif al-Islamiyah, 2000), 5:54 and for the chain of transmission see: 5: 15. This multi- volume work has put together the Amali works of al-Saduq, al-Mufid, and al-Tusi and arranged their contents by subject matter. In an alternative report (contemporary to al-Saduq), al-Baqir is said to have transmitted a hadith from his forefathers (the previous Imams) in which the Prophet informs Fatimah directly of the suffering she shall endure from “the people (al-qawm)”, as a result of which she will be bedridden and have her flesh wither way until she becomes a skeleton, that is very thin. She shall then die in this state. See: al-Qadi al-Nu‘man (d.369/974), Da‘im al-islam (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 1965), 1:232-233.
- 77. For instance see: al-Kashshi, 372, and Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Najashi (d.450/1058), Rijal al-Najashi (Qum: Islamic Publications Institute, 1987), 144. For details on Hammad ibn ‘Uthman see: al-Khu’i, 6:212.
- 78. Ibn Qawlawayh, 367. This tradition is also found in al-Ikhtisas, see: al-Mufid, 343.
- 79. al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-ashraf, 2:213; al-Mas‘udi, Muruj al-dhahab, 3:63; al-Ya‘qubi, 2:213. For more historical and non-Shiite hadith sources listing Muhsin amongst the children of Fatimah, see: Ibn Qutaybah, al-Ma‘arif (Cairo: al-Hay’a al-Misriyah al-‘Amma lil-Kuttab, 1992), 210; ‘Izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-ghaba fi ma‘rifat al-sahabah (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1989), 299 and Ibn Hazm, Jamharat ansab al-‘arab (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah, 1983), 37.
- 80. al-Saduq, Ma‘ani al-akhbar (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-A‘lami lil-Matbu‘at, 1990), 205-206.
- 81. Ibid. There is a similar tradition ascribed to al-Sadiq which prophesizes that Muhsin shall act as a judge determining the fate (yahkum) of his killer (qatiluhu) Qunfudh on the Day of Judgment. See: Ibn Qawlawayh, 334.
- 82. Husayn ibn Hamadan al-Khasibi, al-Hidayat al-kubra (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Balagh, 1968), 138-139. Al- Khasibi has been described by both al-Najashi and al-Tusi as having unorthodox and heretical beliefs. Al- Kahsibi has been described as a leading figure among the Nusayri’s and the ghulat (extremists) See: Muhsin al-Amin, A‘yan al-shi‘ah (Beirut: Dar al-Ta‘aruf lil-Matbu‘at, 1986), 5:490-491.
- 83. Al-Khasibi, 408. In addition to al-Khasibi being classified as extremist, the ‘reliability’ of Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar as a hadith reporter has been the subject of dispute amongst Shiite scholars. For instance, both al- Kashshi and al-Najashi have reported many traditions describing Mufaddal as having extremist and unorthodox theological views. However, later scholars such as al-Khu’i have “rehabilitated” Mufaddal and dismissed these accusations of extremism which state that Mufaddal divinised the Imams. For a discussion regarding the above see: Takim, 160-161.
- 84. This lengthy report has already been mentioned in regards to Fatimah’s political activism. See: footnote 62.
- 85. In this alternate version of events, Abu Bakr consented to Fatimah’s protests and granted Fadak in the form of a written decree. However, as Fatimah left Abu Bakr’s presence she was confronted by Umar who demanded that she hand over the document, Fatimah then refused to do so, at which point Umar responded by kicking her (fa-rafasaha birijlihi) and slapped her (latamaha). The impact of this kick caused her to miscarry her son, Muhsin, from her womb. Al-Sadiq then adds the following: “It is as if I see the earring in her ear when it broke (as a result of the strike).” The editor of the manuscript, adds that nuqifat is the passive tense which is synonymous with the passive verb kusira (it was broken) from Umar’s slap (min latmi ‘umar). See: Al-Mufid, 185. Also according to this report, Abu Bakr is described by Ali as having a softer heard in comparison to “the other (Umar) fa-innahu arriqu min al-akhir.” In most Shiite reports Abu Bakr and Umar are both cast as villains, in this case, Abu Bakr consented to the return of Fadak, demonstrating a certain degree of sincerity and kindness towards Fatimah and Ali whereas Umar is cast as a stone hearted and ruthless individual. See: al-Mufid, 185.
- 86. Al-Mufid, Al-Irshad (Qum: Shaykh Mufid’s Millenium World Congress, 1993), 1:354.
- 87. See: Ja‘far Murtada al-‘Amili, Ma’sat al-zahra’ (Beirut: Dar al-Sirah, 1997), 169-173. My inclination is to concur with the analysis of Ja‘far Murtada insofar as the language which al-Mufid uses in the Irshad is very mild and lacks many esoteric details regarding the status of the Imams. For example, his treatment of the wife of the Prophet, ‘Aishah and the companions in the Irshad is very different from the harsh language he uses towards the companions and ‘Aishah in his work on The Battle of the Camel. As mentioned previously, he describes those who rejected Ali’s leadership both after the death of the Prophet and during his caliphate as “accursed.” A complete comparative analysis of the treatment of the companions in Irshad and Kitab al-jamal would yield important results in this regard.
- 88. Ibn Rustam al-Tabari, Dala’il al-imamah (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-A‘lami lil-Matbu‘at, 1988), 46.
- 89. For instance, in this case- Ibn Rustam’s source is Ibn Harun al-Tal‘akbari (d.375 /10th century) who is considered to be a well-known Imami jurist and source of hadith material for numerous Shiite traditionists. See: al-Amin, 2:314. Al-Tusi describes him as having a great status,vast in his reporting of traditions (was‘i al-riwayah), and he is said to have transmitted or reported all of the Shiite usul works and works of tradition from the period of the Imams (jami al-usul wa al-musannafat). See: al-Tusi, al-Rijal, 449. The chain of transmission continues citing the likes of Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Barqi, the compiler of al-MaHasin, ending with Ibn Muskan and Abu Basir al-Muradi. Both of these transmitters are said to have been a prolific reporters of hadith in addition to being amongst the most loyal of al-Sadiq’s students and supporters. In the case of Abu Basir, he is listed as an authority in three thousand hadith traditions. See: Modarressi, 150-155 and 395.
- 90. Mahmoud Ayoub, 24.
- 91. See: the Amali of al-Saduq as found in Mahmudi, 5:55-56. Also see: al-Saduq, al-Khisal (Qum: Islamic Publications Institute, 1983), 1:272-273.
- 92. This list of “the five criers” is also found in al-‘Ayyashi, 2:188.
- 93. The contents of Fatimah’s prayer and request has not been included in the report. Perhaps mention of it is simply meant to imply that she was given peace to cope with the loss of her father. See: Ibid, and Mahmudi, 5:55-56.
- 94. Fatimah is also described as never smiling after the death of Muhammad. See the multiple references in al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi as cited in Clohessy, 152. These reports contribute to the Shiite construction of a Fatimah who is serious and sober, an aspect that might also be seen as a play on gender.
- 95. Alexander Kynsh, Islamic Mysticism a Short History (Boston: Brill Publications, 2000), 13-14.
- 96. The Arabic reads as: “fa-tabki hatta tuqdi Hajatuha...” See: al-Saduq, 1:273, and Mahmudi, 5:56.
- 97. al-Qadi al-Nu‘man, 1:222.
- 98. Ibn Rustam al-Tabari, 46.
- 99. This depiction of Fatimah has been attributed to ‘Umar in the Salman tradition as found in Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays. See discussion above in chapter 1, page 25.
- 100. For the details on Fatimah’s grief at the impending death of her son see: Clohessy, 135-162.
- 101. See the Amali of al-Tusi and al-Mufid in Mahmudi, 5:67.
- 102. The early sources list Asma’ bint ‘Umays amongst an elect group of Meccan converts who sought refuge in Abyssinia. According to the reports found in Ibn Sa‘ad’s Tabaqat, she was initially married to Ali’s brother, Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib. Following his death and her migration to Mecca with the Prophet, she married Abu Bakr and they had a son by the name of, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali (after his father’s death) and in-turn became a staunch ally and supporter of the Ali’s and an opponent of ‘Uthman, his half-sister ‘Aishah and later on, Mu‘awiyah. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma’ bint ‘Umays married Ali. All the while, she remained a servant to Fatimah and Ali since her early days as a resident in Madina all the while she was married to Abu Bakr. See: Ibn Sa‘d, 8:220-223, for a confirmation of these details according to the various Shiite sources see: al-Khu’i, 23:171-172.
Also see: G.R. Hawting, “Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr” in EIII. All of the above mentioned biographical details are of importance for the reason that it would be a monumental task for Shiites to reconcile Asma’ bint ‘Umays’s loyalty as Abu Bakr’s wife with being Fatimah and Ali’s confidant and supporter. As per the requirements of the Shiite imagination of the past, Fatimah had prayed for Abu Bakr’s eternal damnation; with this in mind, how was it possible for Asma’ bint ‘Umays to show love, affection and support for Fatimah while being the wife of her sworn enemy? Perhaps from the Shiite perspective, Asma bint ‘Umays was only a wife to Abu Bakr while her loyalty was to Fatimah.
- 103. I should note here that according to Leor Halevi’s extensive research on early Islamic burial rituals, it was not unusual for a Muslim to be buried at night since the custom and law emphasized an expedient burial. See: Leor Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 143, 158.
- 104. For details regarding the history of Muslim funerals and burial practices see: Leor Halevi, chapters, 5 and 6. For an example of a Shiite legal discussion on the importance of funeral prayers and last rites see: al-Shaykh al-Tusi, A Concise Description of Islamic Law and Legal Opinions trans. A. Ezzati (London: ICAS Press), 109-112. In this case, as with the entire work at hand, I am reading the text from the perspective that it provides us more information regarding the time in which it was compiled or written as opposed to the time period these reports claim to document.
- 105. The secret burial of Fatimah was a key rallying point for al-Sayyid al-Murtada in asserting that Fatimah died in a state of displeasure and hatred towards Abu Bakr and Umar. See: al-Sayyid al-Murtada, al-Shafi fi al-Imamah, 113-115. A very similar view is expressed by the late, Ayatullah Mirza Jawad al-Tabrizi (d.2006) where he states: “It is sufficient (yakfi) to confirm the oppression and soundness of what is transmitted regarding her [ Fatimah’s] tragedy and what occurred to her through the hiding of her grave and her will to be buried at night is an obvious indication of her being the object of oppression (izharan lilmazlumiyah)…” as quoted in al-Sayyid Hashim al-Hashimi, Hiwar ma‘ Fadlallah Hawl al-Zahra’ (Beirut: Dar Zaynab lil-Tiba‘a wa-al-Nashr wa-al-Tawzi‘, 1998), 310.
- 106. Mahmudi, 5:67.
- 107. Ibid. From this point onwards a nearly identical version of this report with the same chain of transmission can be found in al-Kulayni, 1:458-459.
- 108. The ziyarat or shrine visitation is a highly understudied component of Shiite religious culture and practice. Many of the more official salutations have been attributed to the Imams themselves of which their contents are highly polemical, emotional, and politically charged. For example refer to what is known as ziyarat ‘ashura in which the Shiites express their dedication to the Imams and express their profound sadness at al-Husayn’s death. See: al-Tusi, Misbah al-mutahajjad ed. al-Shaykh Husayn al-A‘lami (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-A‘lami al-Matbu‘at, 2004), 543-547.
- 109. See Mahmudi, 5:67 and al-Kulayni, 1:459.
- 110. The biographical literature refers to this year as “the year of sadness” for Muhammad since Abu Talib and Khadija were the most important supporters in his personal and prophetic life. See: W. Watt, Muhammad Prophet and Statesman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), 79. Also see: Fred Donner, Muhammad and The Believers at the Origins of Islam (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 43-44.
- 111. According to Sunnite and Shiite tradition, pain and death was something Ali was accustomed to dealing with whether it be as a result of the numerous battles he fought alongside Muhammad or the executions of enemy combatants that he was commanded to carry out. One example of Ali in the role of an executioner is when he was ordered to sever the heads of hundreds of Jews from the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. For details regarding Ali’s role in this mass execution, see: M.J. Kister, “The Massacre of the Banu Qurayza” Jersualem Studies in Arabic and Islam 8 (1986), 62.
- 112. Al-Saduq states that he himself recited this ziyarah when he visited Madina; however, he mentions no chain of transmission or attribution to any of the Imams. See: al-Saduq, Man la yaHduruhu al-faqih, 2: 572- 573. Whereas, al-Tusi states that he found this salutation mentioned by his co-religionist (ashab). This is indicative of the notion that the content of this salutation according to al-Tusi was commonly known amongst Twelver Shiites and a part of their devotional practice when visiting Madinah. See: al-Tusi, Tahdhib al-aHkam, 6:10-11. Al-Mufid has included a similar devotional text which includes an explicit damnation of Fatimah’s adversaries. The following is an excerpt: “...Oh the great purified martyr, may God curse (remove his mercy) from he who denied you your inheritance and pushed away your right, and rejected your statement, may God curse (remove his mercy) from those like them and their followers and May God put them in darkest and lowest part of hell...”See: al-Mufid, Kitab al-mazar (Qum: Sheikh Mufid’s Millennium World Congress, 1993), 179 and for a similar version also see the fiqh work al-Mufid, al-Muqni’ah (Qum: Sheikh Mufid’s Millennium World Congress, 1993), 459. The above examples indicate that Fatimah’s suffering was an important part of popular Shiite devotional practice and not limited to the books of history and theology.
- 113. See: Mahmudi, 5:68, and al-Kulayni, 1: 459.
- 114. Mahmudi, 5:69. Identical phrasing can be found in the version included in al-Kafi, see: al-Kulayni, 1:459.
- 115. There is disagreement within the Shiite hadith tradition as to whether Ali was accompanied by his children; al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Zaynab, Umm Kulthum and/or his uncle al-‘Abbas. Nevertheless, the traditions emphasize the solitude in which Ali buried his wife, which would not be much affected by the presence of two or three trusted companions or family members.. See: Ibn Rustam al-Tabari, 47.
- 116. al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas, 175. The excerpts referred to above is a part of longer report of which its chain of transmission and attribution to al-Sadiq has already been discussed in some detail. See discussion above, chapter 2, p. 23, footnote 62.
- 117. Umar’s statement to Ali is as follows: “By God I will exhume her body and pray over it...” See: al-Mufid, 175. According to an alternative version, Ali dug 40 decoy graves so to disguise Fatimah’s burial site. After the news of this spread, the leaders amongst the Madinans (wulat al-amr), possibly referring to Abu Bakr and Umar went to al-Baqi‘(the large graveyard in Madina) only to discover that Fatimah had been buried and none of them had the opportunity to be present during her funeral rites. This apparently caused a stir amongst the Muslims who felt that the Prophet had not left anything behind but a single daughter who has now died and been buried without the Muslims being able to pay their final respects. At this point the leaders (Abu Bakr and Umar) request Muslim women to come forth and begin exhuming the graves so to find Fatimah’s body so they may correct the ‘travesty’ of this secret burial. See: Ibn Rustam al- Tabari, 47.
- 118. Umar and Abu Bakr then leave the scene with Abu Bakr telling Umar that Ali has more right to her than us, see: Al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas 175.
- 119. According to another more explicit version of events attributed to al-Sadiq via Abu Basir, Ali responded to the threat of exhumation by vowing before God that “if a single stone was to be turned from these (40 graves) he will bury his sword in the necks of the leaders See: Ibn Rustam al-Tabari, 47. For a similar threat of violence on the part of Ali see: al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas, 175.
- 120. I must emphasize here that for Shiites, Fatimah transcends traditional conceptions of femaleness and maleness- hence her political activism or leadership qualities would not make her less of a woman in Shiite eyes but rather exceptional infallible religious leader.