“Do you know that offers are being made to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ for Fatimah?” asked Ali’s freed slave woman.
“No,” replied Ali رضي الله عنه.
“Offers have been made. What is preventing you from going to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ so he may give her to you in marriage?” she said.
“Do I have anything with which to get married?” Ali said.
“If you go to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he will accept your proposal,” she said.
In this beautiful hadeeth that Ali رضي الله عنه himself narrated, we come to know of his proposal for none other than the beloved daughter of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I found so many wonderful lessons while reading about their marriage that I thought I must share the story with you.
Ali رضي الله عنه then says, “By Allah, she kept encouraging me until I entered upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. When I sat before him, I could not speak, out of awe and respect.”
“What brings you here? Do you need something?,” asked the Prophet ﷺ. Ali remained silent and the Prophet ﷺ understood.
Ali رضي الله عنه continues: “He ﷺ then said: ‘Perhaps you have come to propose to Fatimah?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ’Do you have anything to give as a mahr?’ I said: ‘No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah.’
“He said: ‘What did you do with the shield I gave you? By the One in Whose hand is my soul, it is worth four hundred dirhams.’ I said: ‘I have it.’ He said: ‘I give her to you in marriage; send it to her and that will be her dowry.’ So it became the mahr of Fatimah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.”
The Mahr and the Wedding
The book I was reading from (Ali bin Abu Talib: His Life and Times) also quotes a report of Uthman’s gift to Ali for his marriage, رضي الله عنهما. Ali reportedly said:
“She took my shield and went to the market with it and sold it for four hundred dirhams to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. When she took the money from him and he took the shield from me, he said: ‘O Abu al-Hasan, am I not more entitled to the shield than you, and aren’t you more entitled to the money than me?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ‘This shield is a gift from me to you.’
“I took the shield and the money and went to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and placed the shield and the money before him, and told him what had happened with ‘Uthman. The Prophet ﷺ prayed for him.”
Asma’ bint ‘Umays رضي الله عنها narrated that on the next day of wedding, the Prophet ﷺ visited Ali and Fatimah رضي الله عنهما and prayed for them. He first called Ali and then called Fatimah رضي الله عنها. Asma says, “She came stumbling because of shyness, and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to her: ‘Calm down; I have given you in marriage to the dearest of my household to me.’”
For the Walimah (wedding feast), the Sahabah رضي الله عنهم came together and contributed – Sa’d gave a ram and others from the Ansar gathered barley.
Their Married Life
Post marriage, the lifestyle of the young couple was modest and trying. They had very little to live on, and it was a life of patience. What Ali رضي الله عنه could earn through hard labor was barely enough. The economic conditions were poor (until Allah gave victory in Khaibar in 7AH).
Ali رضي الله عنه says, “I married Fatimah, the daughter of Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and she and I had no furnishings apart from the skin of a ram on which we slept at night, and on which we carried food to our camel during the day, and I had no servant apart from her.”
Ali رضي الله عنه also says: ”We stayed for several days during which we had nothing and the Prophet ﷺ had nothing. I went out, and I found a dinar lying on the road. I paused for a while, thinking whether to take it or leave it, then I took it because of the hardship we were facing. I bought some flour with it, then I brought it to Fatimah and said: Make dough and bread. She started to make dough, and she was so tired that she leaned forward and could not keep her lock of hair from touching the dough. Then she baked bread, and I went to the Prophet ﷺ and told him. He said: ‘Eat, for it is provision that Allah has granted to you.’”
Once, when the Prophet ﷺ had received several captives (slaves), Ali and Fatimah رضي الله عنهما requested for a servant because of the hardships they were facing. The Prophet ﷺ refused and said he intended to sell them all and use the money for the people of Suffah (the poorest of Madinah who had no shelter, clothing or food).
Later that night the Prophet ﷺ came to teach them tasbeeh (as something better than having a servant), and Ali and Fatimah رضي الله عنهما were under a cover, which if it covered their heads, left their feet bare and if it covered their feet, left their heads bare. Subhan Allah!
Wonderful Lessons for Us
The Prophet ﷺ chose Ali رضي الله عنه though he could have easily chosen a wealthy Sahabi. It is as if, when considering the well-being of his daughter, the ‘rizq’ and ‘comfort’ part was not a factor.
I am not suggesting it is wrong to consider wealth, but they do not appear to be the Prophet’s priorities. Similarly, Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq رضي الله عنه who was wealthy in his own right chose Zubair ibn Al-Awwam for his daughter Asma.
The Prophet ﷺ displayed the best example of Islamic teachings.
“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Quran, 24:32)
In a hadeeth related by Al-Tirmidhi, the Prophet ﷺ said, “If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then give (your daughter or female relative under your care) to him in marriage.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, even if he falls short…” He replied repeating three times: “If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then give (your daughter or female relative under your care) to him in marriage.”
As leader of the state, the Prophet ﷺ spent money on the poorest of his people even though his own daughter was going through a lot of hardship. The Prophet ﷺ did not seem to think hardships were something bad for his daughter. He in fact taught her an act of worship that he said was better than having the comfort of a servant.
Ali رضي الله عنه did not mind hard, laborious work to earn whatever provision he could.
The community spirit of the Sahabah. They contributed to help them get married.
Hope. The best of people went through difficulties. It is alright if you do not succeed in this worldly rat race. You are not in bad company. Ali رضي الله عنه went on to become the fourth Righteous Khalifa who ruled over vast Muslim lands with integrity, honesty and wisdom.
The best of all is the value of adversity. You stand a better chance of getting a caring father-in-law and a devoted wife like Fatimah رضي الله عنها in times of adversity than in times of prosperity.
Those are some lessons I could think of. What are your thoughts? Please share them with me in the comments.
I picked up all narrations and information from the book Ali bin Abu Talib (2 volumes) by the Saudi researcher Dr. Ali M. Sallabi. The book not only clears up Shia controversies with authentic narrations, but also captures the inspiring life and personality of Ali bin Abu Talib رضي الله عنه. I fully recommend it if you wish to know about his knowledge, wisdom and life in general.