As he neared the city in the burning heat of the midday sun, he shaded his eyes with his hands and cast a look at the green date palms of Medina behind which were a row of modest houses. He breathed a heavy sigh as a waft of air blew from the direction of Prophet Muhammad's (saw) city. The fresh air brought a familiar scent. It was the fragrance of the Almighty's Last Messenger to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (blessing of Allah be upon him and his progeny). Although Prophet Muhammad (saw) was no longer physically present, having passed away a couple of months ago, the fragrance was obviously from Masjid an-Nabi or Prophet's Mosque, where for years he had recited the Azan (Adhan, Athan) or 'the call to the faithful to assemble for the daily prayers'. On entering the city he stood silently for a while, dusting off his clothes and casting a look at the people around. The people of Medina were engaged in the hustle and bustle of daily life and it seemed none had noticed his entry. He slowly made his way to the quarters of the city where stood the houses of Prophet Muhammad's (saw) clan, the Bani Hashem. He entered the narrow lane where he used to stand every day to greet Prophet Muhammad (saw) before going to the mosque. He advanced toward the house, at whose door it was the habit of Prophet Muhammad (saw) to salute every morning. It was the house of Prophet's daughter Hazrat Fatema and her husband Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (peace be upon them). He was eager to meet Prophet Muhammad's (saw) family, although he had decided after the passing away of Prophet Muhammad (saw) not to return to the city that had turned its back on the blessed Household of Prophet Muhammad (saw). He approached the closed door and said in a gentle tone: "Greetings to the Ahlul Bayt, the blessed household of Prophet of Allah (SWT)."
His voice was familiar to the People of the House. The door suddenly opened as Prophet Muhammad's (saw) two young grandsons, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain (peace be upon them) rushed out. There was joy on their faces as they said in an enthusiastic tone: "It is Belaal! It is Belaal! He has come back."
Hazrat Belaal, the black Abyssinian, who had the honor of serving Prophet Muhammad (saw) as the official Muezzin or Caller to Prayer, embraced the boys and broke into tears at their affection for him. Their sight brought to him memories of the past as he could feel the fragrance of Prophet Muhammad (saw) from his grandsons. A moment passed and Hazrat Belaal enquired about the lady of the house, Prophet Muhammad's daughter who had been deprived of her inheritance. The two boys held the hands of Hazrat Belaal and ushered him into the courtyard of their small house. Everything appeared like in the past in the modest home of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as). Inside the house in a small room, Prophet Muhammad's (saw) grief stricken daughter, Hazrat Fatema (sa) lay bedridden. She heard the familiar voice of her father's Muezzin as he saluted her respectfully from the courtyard. From inside she answered: "Greetings to you O' the Muezzin of my father, Prophet of Allah (SWT)."
The voice was weak. Hazrat Belaal felt concerned and asked whether the noble lady was ill. There was no reply. After a few moments of silence, the voice from inside the room told Hazrat Belaal to go to Prophet Muhammad's Mosque and recites the Azan (Adhan, Athan) as he used to do in Prophet Muhammad's lifetime. Hazrat Fatemeh (sa) said: "O Belaal, before I depart from the mortal world, I want you to recite the Azan (Adhan, Athan) so that I can reminisce the good old days of Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny)."
Hazrat Belaal was struck with deep sorrow. He knew before he left Medina two months ago that Hazrat Fatema (sa) had been denied her inheritance by the new rulers who had also usurped the political rights of her husband Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as), Prophet Muhammad's divinely designated successor. But he was not aware that matters had reached such a state that she was about to leave the world. He obeyed and hastened toward Prophet Muhammad's Mosque. Hazrat Belaal climbed to the roof of Prophet Muhammad's Mosque and cast a look around the city of Medina, which now appeared to be different from what it was during the days of Prophet Muhammad (saw). His gentle voice pierced the atmosphere as he recited Allaho Akbar or "God is the Greatest." The people stopped work when they heard his familiar voice. Has Belaal returned, were the queries. He then recited: Ashhado An La Ilaha IllAllah, which means "I bear witness there is no deity except Allah (SWT)." People rushed enthusiastically toward Prophet Muhammad's Mosque. Hazrat Belaal continued the Azan (Adhan, Athan) and recited the next phrase: Ashhado Anna Muhammadan Rasoul Allah, which means "I bear witness that Muhammad is Prophet of Allah (SWT)."
Tears rolled from the eyes of the people. As Hazrat Belaal was about to recite the next phrase of the Azan (Adhan, Athan), he saw Prophet Muhammad's two young grandsons rushing towards him. Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain (peace be upon them), said with one voice: "O Belaal, do not recite the Azan (Adhan, Athan) anymore. Our mother recalling the days of Prophet Muhammad (saw) has fallen unconscious on the prayer mate."
Hazrat Belaal came down and with tears in his eyes embraced the two young boys.
Before her passing away, Hazrat Fatema (sa) asked for water. She took ablution, put on neat clothes, faced the Qibla or the direction of the prayer and supplicated: "O Allah make death appear like a dear one coming from journey whose return I have been longing for. O Allah, shower Your mercy and blessings upon me, place my soul among the ranks of the souls of pure, my life among the life of the virtuous, my body among the bodies of the ritually clean, and accept my deeds."
Hazrat Fatemeh (sa) was a mine of knowledge and wisdom. Her famous sermon on the seizure of her inheritance and the usurpation of her husband's rights by the new rulers of Medina is testimony to her eloquence and knowledge. This sermon that is preserved in its original Arabic to this day and has been translated into the major languages of the world, presents the gist of the Islamic tenets of monotheism, divine justice, prophet hood, Imamate and the Final Judgment. It is also an excellent explanation of the timeless concepts of the Noble Qur'an and how peaceful and virtuous people should behave in life for the progress of mankind and for salvation in the Hereafter. She says that her father, Prophet Muhammad (saw) who was sent by the Almighty as the final Prophet, enlightened the human race and delivered mankind from the worship of idols and set them on the path towards paradise.
Hazrat Fatemeh (sa) had been promised that she would be the first one from among the family to join her father in afterlife. When she heard these words from her father on his deathbed, her tears gave way to a smile. Now, ninety-five days later she was all prepared to depart for the heavenly abode to join her father, Prophet Muhammad (saw). Hazrat Fatema (sa) was happy for the final journey but sad at the circumstances leading to her departure. She was in the prime of her youth and suffered untold calamities in this short period after her father had passed away. Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to show the utmost respect to her, but after him she found that her inheritance was seized by the new rulers on the pretext that whatever Prophets leave is charity and not inheritance. Hazrat Fatima (pbuh) defended her rights, not for some paltry materialistic things, but to show to all humanity that Islam guarantees the rights of women. In support of her rights she cited verses from the Noble Qur'an, where Almighty Allah (SWT) says Prophet Solomon inherited David. The people had no answers to her logic but worldly greed prevented them from restoring her rights. However, the greatest blow she suffered was the usurpation of the rights of her husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as), the divinely designated successor of Prophet Muhammad (saw). In a memorable sermon, rich in Arabic metaphors, Hazrat Fatima (pbuh) tried to show the new rulers the folly of their action in deviating from the principle of Wilayah or Islamic Leadership, but to no avail.
Hearts had hardened and the sequence of sufferings was so fast that she was not even allowed to weep for her father, Prophet Muhammad (saw) in her home, because it seemed, her wailing was disturbing the sweet dreams of the new rulers. Hazrat Fatemeh (sa) had to go outside Medina to remember her father, Prophet Muhammad (saw) at a small room built by her beloved husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) to protect her from the torrid heat of the Arabian sun. It was called "Bayt al-Hozn / Bayt al-Huzn" or "House of Grief". The magnitudes of her sufferings were so much that she would recite at the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (saw): "O Father after you such great calamities have fallen upon me, that the sorrow is enough to turn bright days into dark nights."
This was the elegy of Hazrat Fatima (sa), in whose honor Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to stand to his feet whenever the beloved daughter entered his presence. He would salute at her doorstep in the mornings, but alas, this very threshold had been desecrated by a mob of miscreants who came with fire and iron bars, threatening to burn the house if her husband does not come out and swear allegiance to the new rulers. Hazrat Fatema (sa) refused to surrender Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) and told them her four little children were also in the house. The thugs refused to hear the words of the daughter of their Prophet Muhammad (saw) and beat down the door, which tragically fell upon her and pinned her to the wall. As a result she suffered a miscarriage. But despite this pain, she defended her husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) when the rogues tried to drag him out of the house.
Hazrat Fatema (sa) now lay on her deathbed, prepared to leave behind the world and its tribulations. She had spent 95 awful days after her father, Prophet Muhammad (saw) and was now looking forward to join him in heaven. Those who had oppressed her sought permission to see her in the last moments of her life. But she refused, since she was aware of their hypocritical nature. She told her dear husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) to tell them that she was displeased with this group. She reminded them of her father, Prophet Muhammad's (saw) famous Hadith, which says:
"Fatema is a part of me, whoever displeases her has displeased me and whoever displeases me has displeased Allah (SWT)."
People acknowledged her words. Finally the moment came, when her soul flew to the ethereal heavens leaving behind a grief-stricken husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) and four young children. What a sad moment was this day for her sons Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain and daughters Hazrat Zainab and Hazrat Omme Kolsoum (peace be upon them). As per her will, Hazrat Fatemeh (sa) was laid to eternal peace in an unmarked grave in the dead of night, with only her immediate family and few close confidantes attending the funeral. What a great tragedy it was!
Here we present to you part of the statement of her grief-stricken husband, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) while laying her to eternal rest. The words are preserved in the valuable book Nahjul Balagha or Peak of Eloquence, read:
"O Prophet of Allah, peace be upon you from me and from your daughter who has come to you and who has hastened to meet you. O Prophet of Allah, my patience has been exhausted, and my power of endurance has weakened, except that I have ground for consolation in having endured the great hardship and heart-rending event of your separation. I laid you down in your grave when your last breath had passed while your head was resting between my neck and chest. Surely, we are from Allah and unto Him shall we return.
Now the trust - i.e. your daughter - is being returned and what was given is being taken back. As to my grief, it knows no bounds, and as to my nights, they will remain sleepless till Allah chooses for me the house in which you are now residing.