Mother of Shi’ism
Hijri 19-11 (BH-AH); Common Era 604-633 (CE)
Fatima was the fourth and youngest daughter of Khadija and the Prophet Muhammad, and known later in her life as the ‘Luminous and Radiant’. She is considered a saint* in the Shi’ia tradition and is revered by all Muslims for her moral purity and piety. Growing up, Fatimah had a uniquely close relationship with her father, the Prophet, which was said to have defied pre-Islamic standards. She was married to her second cousin, Ali ibn Abu Talib, whom the Shi’a believe to have been the rightful caliph after the Prophet Muhammad. It is from Fatima and Ali that the Shi’i line of divinely inspired Imams descends. Throughout her marriage to Ali, Fatima and her family lived in extreme poverty, like many of the converts to Islam at the time. She and Ali had two sons, Hasan and Husayn, and two daughters Zaynab and Umm Kulthum. It is Husayn’s tragic death at Karbala that all Muslims, and Shi’i Muslims in particular, commemorate and mourn at Ashura. When the Prophet died, it is said that he told Fatima that she would be the first to join him in paradise; five months later, Fatima died. Her significance lies in her piety, compassion and suffering. The Prophet was said to have affirmed that Fatima was one of the four highest women in Islam, along with Mary (the mother of Jesus), ‘Asiyah (Pharaoh’s wife), and Khadijah (the wife of the Prophet). *”Saint” in this context means one who is highly revered, but not divine.