Sayyid Jawad Hussaini
Translated by Mahboobeh Morshedian
Originally Published in Muballiqan Journal.
One of the mandatory and sometimes recommended actions in Islam is writing a will – where a person puts forth a legal document expressing a number of purposes – how his or her property is to be distributed, for socio-political reasons, offering moral recommendations and advice for others to heed, especially for the testator’s beloved ones. Historically, religious leaders have left their wills; Prophet Muhammad wrote his for his Ahlul Bayt, and Imam ‘Ali left his for his son, Imam al- Hasan.
Lady Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet, renowned for her flawless character and well-educated on Qur’anic instructions, also left a will for generations to come. This article examines the personal requests and counsel in her will, and offers an analysis of the events that revolved around socio- political issues.
Among the obligatory and sometimes recommended and desirable actions is to write a will. Throughout history, religious leaders have left their wills. For example, Prophet Muhammad wrote his will for
Imam ‘Ali, Lady Zahra, his companions, and his Ummah. Imam ‘Ali left his will – found in Nahj ul-Balaghah – to his children, his Shi‘a, and to whomever seeks to benefit from it. The wills of Imam Hassan, Imam Husayn, and a few other Imams are also available.
Sometimes wills are personal for the purpose of giving beneficial advice and moral lessons to others, and the testator wants his inheritors to perform their obligations, good actions, and/or pay his debts on his behalf. The testator may also give extra advice to his offspring, relatives, and followers. A will may also have political and social aspects, for example, Imam Husayn’s will to his brother, Muhammad Hanafiyyah, in which he referred to objectives of his uprising as the reform of the Islamic Ummah, enjoining the good, forbidding evil, and the revival of his grandfather and father’s conduct; or Imam Khomeini’s politico-religious will written a few decades ago.
As Lady Zahra was trained in the house of revelation and was familiar with Qur’anic instructions profoundly, she also wrote a will, divided into three parts:
A) Her personal will and her request to do good deeds on her behalf.
B) Her will regarding her offspring and others.
C) Her socio-political will.
Indeed, the first night after one’s death when being transferred from this world to the realm of the grave and Barzakh is a very crucial night. A person is transferred from a world where good deeds can be performed to a world where he or she is unable to do so. Upon entering Barzakh, a person is alone with his or her deeds in the heaven or hell of Barzakh, and it is only the good deeds of relatives and inheritors that can add to the deceased’s good deeds, alleviate her fear, and increase her joy.
Lady Zahra, who was infallible and whose soul was not contaminated with any sins, beseechingly asked Imam ‘Ali to stay by her grave and recite the Qur’an and pray for her that first night. Indeed, where Lady Zahra with numerous acts of worship and good deeds considered herself needy and helpless, how are we— thoroughly sinful— not destitute of everything? During her moments of death, Lady Zahra made a will, telling Imam ‘Ali:
When I die, perform my funeral ghusl, enshroud me, perform funeral prayer on me, place me in the grave, put the lahad stone on me, throw soil on it, and flatten it. Then sit beside my grave facing me, recite the Qur’an a lot and pray [for me] because at this moment the dead one needs to company of the alive. I entrust you to God, the Almighty.1
A right of the dead is that their relatives do not forget them by performing good deeds and giving charities and alms on her behalf. For example, regarding doing good to parents after their death, the Prophet was asked: “Yes, [performing] prayer for them, seeking God’s forgiveness for them, fulfilling their commitments, visiting those who become your blood kin through your parents, and respecting your parents’ friends.”2 Also, Imam Baqir said,
A servant of Allah may do good to his parents when they are alive, but after their death he does not pay their debts and does not seek Allah’s forgiveness for them, so Allah considers him disowned by his parents. Likewise, somebody may be disowned by his parents during their lifetime, not doing good to them then, but after their death he pays their debts and seeks Allah’s forgiveness for them, so Allah considers him righteous.3
According to Shaikh Abbas Qummi, Imam Sadiq used to perform a two-Rak’at prayer for his children at nights and for his parents on days, reciting the chapter al-Qadr in the first Rak’at and the chapter al-Kawthar in the second Rak’at.4
Considering that the dead one is unable to do any good deed, though the living ones can do so on his behalf to benefit him, Lady Zahra enjoined Imam ‘Ali not to forget her:
O’ Abal-Hasan! My life is going to end in just a few seconds, and it is the time of leave-taking. Listen to me because you will never hear the voice of Fatimah anymore. O’ Abal-Hassan! I want you not to forget me [and to do good deeds on my behalf].5
Another recommended act regarding the dead, particularly the prophets, imams, and the Awliya’ (friends of God) is to visit their graves. There are many narrations on visiting the graves and its impacts in both Shi’a and Sunni sources. In what follows, a few examples are referred to:
1. Ibn Majah quoted Prophet Muhammad as saying, “I had forbidden you from visiting the graves before, but right now I say: Visit the graves because this leads to asceticism and remembrance of the hereafter.”6
The reason for the beginning sentence of the hadith referring to the Prophet’s forbidding visiting the graves may be that:
a) It was forged because it cannot be found in Shi’a sources.
b) During the early prophetic mission, people had just distanced themselves from idol-worship and were forbidden from visiting the graves temporarily so that idol-worship might not emerge again in another form. However, later when people had forgotten idol- worship completely, the Prophet emphasized visiting the graves.
2. Kulayni reported from Imam Sadiq who quoted Imam ‘Ali as saying, “Visit the departed; indeed, they become delighted by your visit. And you should pray to Allah, making your request to Him at your parents’ graves.”7
Taking her father and Imam ‘Ali’s words into account and having deep awareness of the doctrine of revelation, Lady Zahra emphatically enjoined all to visit her grave frequently so that both she would be elevated to a higher spiritual rank, and it would have profound impacts on the visitors to her grave. Hence her request, “O’ Abal-Hassan! I want you not to forget me and always visit me after my death.”8
Lady Zahra strongly emphasised that Imam ‘Ali perform her Ghusl and shrouding with the help of Asma: “O’ Asma’! When I pass away, you and ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib perform my ghusl and do not allow anybody to enter my house while my body is still in it.”9
An affectionate and exemplary mother is not inattentive to or ignorant of her children, and Lady Zahra was the kindest mother to her children. Whenever Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn gave their salam (greetings of peace) to her, in response she affectionately and whole-heartedly said, “Greetings to you, O’ the apple of my eyes!”10
It is not possible that such a mother does not advise about her children. Thus, one sentence of her will reads as follows: “I entrust you to Allah and recommend that you do good to my children.”11
Elsewhere, she addressed Imam ‘Ali, saying:
“O’ the company of Batul [a name of Lay Zahra]! I enjoin you to do good to my children; Who are accustomed to [my] eagerness and affection. Those separated will start a day while they are perplexed orphans, wandering; They choose Allah [over anybody else]; that day is the time of separation.”12
In addition to her general advice about her children, Lady Zahra gave advice about Imam Husayn because she knew about his martyrdom. In a poem, she gave this news as follows:
My children spent last night hungry; The youngest will be killed in a battlefield; In Karbala, he will be martyred through deceit and guile; Woe to his killers! And painful punishment, abasement and degradation be upon them! Those who will enter the lowest ranks of Hell by this crime; And their downfall and abasement will increase constantly.13
Thus, addressing Imam ‘Ali, she advised about Imam Husayn as follows:
O’ the best guide! If you want to weep, weep for me; And shed tears because today is the time of separation; Weep for me and my orphans; And do not forget the one who will be killed out of hostility in Iraq (i.e., Imam Husayn).14
Shedding tears on Imam Husayn is an issue which the Prophet and Imams recommended strongly, and it needs to be dealt with in another discussion. Regarding this recommendation, Imam Rida is said, “O’ Ibn Shabib! If you want to weep for something, shed tears for Husayn because he was beheaded as a sheep is.”15
The affection of Lady Fatima, the exemplary mother, does not limit to her immediate children or at most to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is the Prophet’s Kawthar, and Sayyids, an honorific title denoted to the Prophet’s descendants, are her progeny. Lady Zahra sent her regards to all her offspring who would be born from then on to the Day of Judgment. And in her will, she gave her special Salam to them:
“O’ ‘Ali! I am Fatimah…Give my regards to all my offspring who will be born from now on to the Day of Judgment.”16
A reasonable woman eliminates her jealousy and takes the family’s interests into account. She takes into consideration that a man needs to marry after the demise of his wife given that this is a necessity of life. It may occur that some men do not dare to remarry after their wife’s death due to their children’s sensitivity or their wife’s advice. Adopting the motto “We cannot tolerate anybody replacing our mother,” they deprive their father of this blessing, causing him to face an array of challenges. Similarly, a woman does not dare to remarry after her husband’s death.
But Lady Zahra, a pure and far-sighted infallible was exempt from inadvisable conventional limitations. She explicitly talked of Imam ‘Ali’s remarriage after her demise and its necessity:
O’ Prophet’s cousin! May Allah give you a good reward! I enjoin you to remarry because men need to marry. After my death, get married to my sister’s daughter, Amamah, because she is as kind to my children as I am.17
Lady Zahra considered an array of socio-political issues, the main issue being lack of regard for Imam ‘Ali and lack of recognition for his right as the successor of the Prophet.
She strongly advised that her ghusl, shrouding, and burial be hidden and nobody but a few particular people be informed of it. She tells Imam ‘Ali:
1. “I want nobody but you to perform my ghusl and shrouding. When I pass away, bury me at night and do not inform anybody of my death.”18
2. “Perform the funeral prayer on me, bury me at night, and do not inform anybody.”19
3. “When I die, do not inform anybody of my death, and do not show my grave to anybody [so that it remains hidden].”20
In order to have usurpers and oppressors disgraced and to show her disapproval of them, she wanted Imam ‘Ali not to permit her oppressive enemies to attend her burial:
I want none of those who oppressed me and usurped my rights to attend my burial because they are enemies of mine and the Prophet. Do not permit any of them or their followers to recite the funeral prayer on me. Bury me at night when everybody is asleep.21
In order to provide a clear historical account, Lady Zahra sometimes had to explicitly name these oppressors who were not supposed to be informed of her burial or to attend it, “When I die, bury me at night and do not inform Abu-Bakr and ‘Umar. By Prophet Muhammad, do not allow them to perform funeral prayer on me.”22
In another part of her will, she specifically referred to those who were entitled to attend her burial. She also commanded that her death was not announced publicly, and her grave had to be hidden. According to Imam Sadiq, Lady Zahra addressed Imam ‘Ali, saying in the last moments of her life:
When I die, inform nobody but Umm Salamah, Umm Ayman, Fiddah [from among people], and from among men my two sons [Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn], Abbas, Salman, Ammar, Miqdad, Aba Dharr, and Hudhayfah. Bury me at night and do not show my grave to anybody [so that it remains hidden].23
Indeed, through her will, Lady Zahra planted two questions in the minds of those who visited Medina: Why was she buried at night and why is her grave hidden?
In the name of Allah. This is the will of Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter. I make a will while I testify that there is no god but Allah, and Prophet Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. Heaven and Hell are certain to exist, and no doubt the Day of Judgment will occur. Allah will revive the dead [and will make them enter gathering the plane of Resurrection. O ‘Ali! I am Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, Messenger of Allah.
He gave my hand to you in marriage so that I am yours in both this world and the hereafter. You are more deserving of me than others. At night perform my Ghusl and shrouding, say funeral prayer on me, and bury me. Do not inform anybody of my demise. I entrust you to Allah. Give my Salam to my all offspring who will be born until the Day of Judgment.24
Two important points indicated in her will:
1. She acknowledged the main principles of core Islamic beliefs, namely Unity of God, prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, and the Day of Judgment.
2. She pointed out that she was the only match for Imam ‘Ali in both this world and the hereafter.
3. She assigned Imam ‘Ali the task of her ghusl, shrouding and embalmment.
4. She wanted her burial to be hidden so that usurpers and oppressors would not attend it.
5. She conveyed her salam to all her offspring from then to the Day of Judgment.
- 1. Bihar-al-Anwar, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Beirut, Dar-ul-Ihya a-Turath al-Arabi, vol. 79, p.27.
اِذا اَنَا مِتُّ فَتَوَلَّ اَنْتَ غُسْلى وَ جَهِّزْنِى وَ صَلِّ عَلَىَّ وَ اَنْزِلْنِى قَبْرِى وَ الْحِدْنِى وَ سَوِّ التُّرابَ عَلَىَّ وَ اجْلِسْ عِنْدَ رَاسِى قَبالَهَ وَجْهِى فَاَكْثِرْ مِنْ تِلاوَهِ وَالدُّعَاءِ فَاِنَّها ساعَهٌ يَحْتاجُ الْميِّتُ فِيها اِلى اُنْسِ الاَحْياء وَ اَنَا اَسْتَوْدِعُكَ اللهَ تَعَالى
- 2. Mustadrak-ul-Wasa’il, Mirza Hussain Noori, Al-al-Bait, Qum, 1408 A.H., vol. 2, p. 114, section 2.
نَعَمْ , الصَّلاةُ عَلَيْهِمَا , والاسْتِغْفَارُ لَهُمِا , وَإنْفَاذُ عَهْدِهِمَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمَا , وَإِكْرَامُ صَدِيْقِهِمَا , وَصِلَةُ الرَّحْمِ الَّتِي لا رَحِمَ لَكَ إِلا مِنْ قِبَلِهِمَا , فَهَذَا الَّذِي بَقِيَ عَلَيْكَ
- 3. Kulaini, researched by Ali Akbar Ghaffari, Dar-e Sa’b and Dar-a-Ta’aruf, Beirut, the fourth edition, 1401 A.H., vol. 2, p. 159, no. 9, p. 348, no. 1:
إِنّ العَبدَ لَيكونُ بارّا بِوَالِدَيهِ في حياتِهِما، ثُمّ يَموتانِ فلا يَقضي عَنهُما دُينَهُما ولا يَستَغفِرُ لَهُما، فيَكتُبُهُ الله عاقّاً. وإنّهُ لَيكونُ عاقّاً لَهُما في حياتِهِما غَيرَ بارٍّ بهِما، فإذا ماتا قَضى دَينَهُما واستَغفَرَ لَهُما فيَكتُبُهُ الله عزوجل بارّا
- 4. Manazil-al-Akhirah, Sahikh Abbas Qummi, Islamiyyah bookstore, no date, p.32; Kowkab a- Durri, vol. 1, p. 253; Zuhra-a-Riyadh, recounted from Fatimah Zahra encyclopedia; Nahj-al- Hayat, Muhammad Dashti, Mashhur Publications, Qum, the first edition, 1380 solar, p. 229.
- 5. Zuhra-a-Riyadh, Kowkab a-Durri, no publications, no date, vol. 1, p. 253.
يا اَبَاالْحَسَنِ لَمْ يَبْقَ لِى اِلّا رَمَقٌ مِنَ اَلْحَياهِ وَ حَانَ زَمَانُ الرَّحِيْلِ وَالْوِداعِ فَاسْتَمِعْ كَلامِى فَاِنَّكَ لا تَسْمَعُ بَعدَ ذلِكَ صَوْتَ فَاطِمَهَ ابَدا , يا اَبَاالْحَسَنِ اَنْ لا تَنْسَانِى
- 6. Sunan Ibn Majah, Dar-al-Fikr, Beirut, the first edition, p. 501, no.1571; Jami a-Saqir, Soyuti, Beirut, Dar-al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1401 A.H., vol. 2, p.279, no.6430; Kanz-ul-Ummal, Muttaqi Hindi, Beirut, a-Risalah Publications, vol. 15, no 42555.
كُنْتُ نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ زِيَارَةِ الْقُبُوْرِ , ألا فَزُورُوهَا , فَإنَّهَا تُذَكِّرُ الآخِرَةَ
- 7. Kafi, ibid, vol. 3, p.229, no. 1; Wasa’il-a-Shi’a, Hurr Amili, Ahlu Bayt, Qum, 1412 A.H., vol. 3, p.233, section 54, in the sections on burial, no. 5.
زُورُوا مَوْتَاكُمْ فَإنَّهُمْ يَفْرَحُونَ بِزِيَارَتِكُمْ , وَلْيَطْلُبْ أَحَدُكُمْ حَاجَتَهُ عِنْدَ قَبْرِ أَبِيهِ وَ عِنْدَ قَبْرِ أُمِّهِ بِمَا يَدْعُو لَهُمَا
- 8. Nahj-ul-Hayat, encyclopedia of Fatimah Zahra’s words, p.229.
اوُصيكَ يَا اَبَاالْحَسَنِ اَنْ لا تَنْسَانِى وَ تَزُورَنى بَعدَ مَمَاتِى
- 9. al-Isti’ab, ibn Abd-al-Birr, Dar al-Jibal, Beirut, 1412 A.H., vol.4, p. 1897; al-Sunan-al-Kubra, vol. 3, p.396; Awn-al-Ma’bud, Adim-Abadi, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1415 A.H., vol. 8, p. 337.
يا اَسْماءُ اِذا مِتُّ فَاغْسِلْينِى اَنْتِ وَ عَلِىُّ بْنُ اَبِى طَالِبٍ (ع) وَ لا تُدْخِلِى عَلَىَّ اَحَدًا
- 10. Addendum to Mafatih-al-Jinan, Hadith al-Kisa.
عَلَيْكَ السَّلامُ يا قُرَّةَ عَيْنى وَ ثَمَرَةَ فُؤادى
- 11. Bihar-al-Anwar, ibid, vol.43, p.217; Ilalu-Sharayi’, vol.1, p.188.
اَسْتَوْدِعُكَ اللهَ تَعَالى وَ اُوصِيكَ فِى وَلَدىِ خَيْراً
- 12. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 43, pp. 174, 178.
يا قرين البتول اوصيك با لنسل – فقد اصبحا حليف اشتياق – فارقوا فاصبحوا يتامى حيارى – يحلف الله فهو يوم الفراق
- 13. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.35, p.239, on the revelation of the Qur’anic chapter a-Dahr, section 6.
امسوا جياعا و هم اشبالى – اصغرهم يقتل فى القتل – بكربلاء يقتل باغتيال – لقاتليه الويل مع و بال – يهوى به النار الى سفال – كبوله زادت على الاكبال
- 14. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 43 , pp. 174, 178.
ابكنى ان بكيت يا خير هادٍ – واسبل الدمع فهو يوم الفراق – ابكني و ابك لليتامى و لاتنس قتيل العدا بطف العراق
- 15. Wasa’il a-Shi’a, vol.14, p.502.
يا ابن شبيب إن كنت باكيًا لشىءٍ فابكِ للحسين بن على , فانه ذبح كما يذبح الكبش
- 16. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, p.214; Wasa’il a-Shi’a, vol.13, p.311; Dala’il al-A’immah, p.42.
يا عَلِىُّ اَنَا فاطِمَهُ ...... اسْتَوْدِعُكَ اللهَ و اقْرَءُ عَلى وُلْدِى السَّلامَ اِلى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَهِ
- 17. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, pp. 191, 217; Ilalu-Sharayi’, vol.1, p. 188.
جَزاكَ اللهُ عِنِّى خَيّرِ الْجَزَاءِ يَابْنَ عَمِّ رَسولِ اللهِ اَوصِيكَ اَوَّلاً اَن تَتـَزَوَّجَ بَعدِى بِاِبْنَهِ اُجْتِى اَمَامَهَ فَاِنَّها تَكونُ لِوَلَدِى مِثْلِى فَاِنَّ الرَّجالَ لابُدَّ لَهُمْ مِنَ النِّساءِ
- 18. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, p. 159, vol.78, p.255; Kashf-ul-Qummah, vol. 2, p.68.
اِنِّى اُوصيكَ اَنْ لايَلِىَ غُسْلِى وَ كَفَنِى سِوَاكَ وَ اِذا اَنَا مِتُّ فَادْفِنِّى لَيْلاً وَ لا تُوذِّنَّنَ بِى اَحَداً
- 19. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, p. 214; Wasa’il-a-Shi’a, vol.13, p.311; Dala’il al-A’immah, p.42.
و صَلِّ عَلَىَّ وَ ادْفِنِّى بِاللَّيْلِ وَ لا تُعْلِمْ اَحَداً
- 20. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.78, p. 310; Dala’il al-A’immah, p.44; Sahih Bukhari, vol.5, p. 139.
اذا توفيت لا تعلم احدا ...... وَ لا تُعْلِمْ قَبْرِى اَحَداً
- 21. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, p.209; Ilalu-Sharayi’, vol.1, p.188; Ihtijaj Tabarsi, p.59.
اُوصِيكَ أنْ لايَشْهَدَ أَحَدٌ جِنازَتِي مِنْ هؤلاءِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمونِي وَ أَخَذوا حَقِّي فَاِنَّهُمْ عَدُوِّي وَ عَدُوُّ رَسولِ اللهِ وَ لا تَتْرُكْ أَنْ يُصَلِّيَ عَلَيَّ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ ، وَ لا مِنْ أتْباعِهِمْ ، وَ ادْفِنِّي فِي اللَّيلِ إِذا هَدَأت الْعُيُونُ وَ نَامَتِ الاَبْصَارُ
- 22. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.43, p. 159, vol.78, p.255; Kashf-ul-Qummah, vol. 2, p.68.
وَ اِذا اَنَا مِتُّ فَادْفِنِّى لَيْلاً وَ لا تُوذِّنَّنِ بِى اَحَداً , وَ لا تُوذِنَنَّ بِى اَبَابَكْرِ وَ عُمَرَ وَ بَحَقِّ مُحَمَّدٍ رَسولِ اللهِ (ص) اَنْ لا يُصَلِّيَ عَلَيَّ اَبُوبَكْرٍ وَ لا عُمَرُ
- 23. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol.78, p.310.
إذا تَوَفَّيْتُ لا تُعْلِمْ إلاّ أُمَّ سَلَمَةَ وَأُمَّ أيمن وفِضَّة، وَمِنَ الرِّجال ابْنَي والْعَبَّاسَ وَسَلْمَاَن وعَمَّار والْمِقدادُ وأبا ذَرَ وحُذَيفَةَ وَ لا تُدْفِنِّي إلّا لَيْلًا وَلا تُعْلِمْ قَبْرِي أَحَدًا
- 24. ibid., vol. 43, p.214; Wasa’il-a-Shi’a, ibid., vol. 13, p.311; Dala’il al-A’immah, p.42.
بِسمِ اللهِ الرَّحمَنِ الرَّحِيم . هذا ما اَوْصَتْ بِهِ فَاطِمَةُ بِنْتُ رَسُول اللهِ، أوْصَتْ وَهِيَ تَشْهُدَ أَنْ لا الهِ اِلاّ اللهُ وَ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَ اَنَّ الجْنَّةَ حَقُّ وَ النَّارَ حَقُّ واَنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتيةٌ لا رَيْبَ فيها و اَنَّ اللهَ يَبْعَثُ مَنْ في الْقبورِ. يا عَلِيُّ، أَنَا فَاطِمَةُ بِنْتُ مُحَمَّدٍ (ص) زَوَّجْنَي اللهُ مِنكَ لا كونَ لَكَ فِي الدُّنْيا وَ الآخرة أَنْتَ أَولى بِي مِنْ غَيْرِى، حَنِّطْني وَغَسِّلْنِي وَكَفِّنِي باِللَّيلِ وَصَلِّ عَلَيَّ وَادْفِنِّي باِللَّيْلِ وَ لا تُعْلِمْ اَحَداً وَاسْتَوْدِعُكَ اللهَ. وَاقْرءُ عَلى وُلْدِي السَّلَامَ اِلى يَومِ الْقِيَامَةِ