Fatima’s story truly shows the empowerment that Islam gives women. Being a strong-minded independent Muslim woman is not a modern concept but one that was present from the very beginning. Fatima was one of the first twelve people to embrace Islam and it was through her, that one of the greatest men in Islamic history came to the religion. Her name will always be synonymous with her brother’s name and the reminder of the freedom and strength Islam gave her.
Before we talk about Fatima, we need to talk about Umar and why his conversion was so important to Islam. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was an extremely strong, powerful and intelligent man. He was one of the few literate people of his time. There are many stories that have been told over time about his strength; about how he can fight off many men at once, and about how he had a frightening anger. Before his conversion, this anger was directed at prophet Mohammed ﷺ. However, it was for these very reasons that the prophet ﷺ wanted Umar to convert to Islam.
At-Tirmidhi narrated that Ibn ‘Umar narrated that: The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘O Allah, strengthen Islam with whoever is more beloved to you of these two men: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab or Abu Jahl ibn Hisham.’
Which brings us now to his sister. Fatima bint Al-Khattab was married to Saeed ibn Zayd who was an extremely pious and noble man and together they were secretly one of the early followers of the prophet ﷺ. One day, Umar was sitting with some of the chiefs of Quraysh and they were angrily discussing the pace at which Mohammed ﷺ was gaining followers and his audacity at steering people away from the Qurayshi idols. This conversation caused Umar to build up so much rage that he decided that he wanted to go kill Mohammed ﷺ.
On his way, a man from Bani Makhzoom, who saw him riding on his horse and saw the anger on his face, asked him where he was going. Umar answered, “To kill Mohammed and free the Arabs from his trial!” The man then said to him, “Do you think the clan of ‘Abd Manaf would leave you alone if you killed him? Put your own house in order first! Your sister Fatima and her husband have become followers of Mohammed!”
Umar’s rage was now increased tenfold as he changed his direction to his sister’s house. When he arrived, he heard murmuring which he did not recognize, the reading of Quran. He started to knock violently on the door and when they opened it, he started to shout, “What was this murmuring that I heard?” They said it was nothing. He then started to question whether they had really converted to Islam and started to threaten them with consequences if it were true. It was then that Fatima stood up in front of her brother and strongly and proudly declared their acceptance of Islam. Umar immediately started attacking her husband and as she was trying to defend him, Umar slapped her so hard she started bleeding. But she did not waver and continued to loudly and bravely declare her allegiance to Islam.
When Umar saw his sister bleeding because of him, he felt immediately guilty and went to help her husband up and clean the blood off her face. He asked her to let him read what she was reading and she again stood up and said no, not until you go wash (make wudu). Umar wanted to see what these words were that could give such courage and fearlessness to a woman. Before Islam, the Arabs treated women as second class and a woman standing up against a man in the way Fatima did was unheard of.
When he finally did start reading what was soorat Taha, he immediately went to the prophet ﷺ and embraced Islam. Umar was transformed by the religion and his anger was diminished. His conversion was the electric volt that Islam needed and no one dared harm the Muslims with Umar on their side. He went on to become one of the greatest companions, the second Khalif after prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) death and played an important role in Islamic history, all because of the strength of a woman.
*Other than this story, we don’t know much about Fatima. We don’t know what her life was like, if she had kids, or even when and how she died. However, every person’s story has a message behind it and the meaning behind Fatima’s story is to show us that one of the first things Islam did was strengthen and liberate women. There is great significance in the fact that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab came to Islam at the hands of a woman. There is great significance in the fact that as soon as Fatima became a Muslim, she became strong and fearless.
Quṭb, Muḥammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.
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04 Jan 2016
28 Oct 2015