Did Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) defend Fatema Zahra (s.a.) when she was attacked?
Some Muslims claim that Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) did not defend the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) daughter, Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) when she was attacked. Being a brave and chivalrous person demanded that he should have defended her honour.
Truth is with Ali and turns with Ali
It is apparent from the tone and tenor that such a question can only be raised out of hostility to Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and his Shias. The question is explicitly framed in a bid to trap the Shias. If they say that Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) defended Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) – these Muslims reply – but he was advised patience by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If he did not defend her, then it means he was not brave enough and all the stories about his bravery are nothing but fables. Or, in order to prove the innocence of their leaders, they suggest that the attack did not take place at all (which is the real motive behind such a question).
Our primary response to such objections against our master Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is that he (a.s.) can do no wrong. He is right under both conditions – whether he defends Hazrat Fatimah (s.a.) or not. For, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared in no uncertain words that,
‘Ali is with the truth (haqq) and the truth is with Ali. O Allah! Turn the truth wherever Ali turns.’
The authenticity and reliability of this tradition is accepted by all Muslims. So, none can question any action of Ali Ibn AbiTalib (a.s.) even if apparently it seems strange and unacceptable to them. Just as no Muslim can question Allah the Almighty about his order to the angels to prostrate to Prophet Adam (a.s.), although it is apparently in violation of the basic tenets of monotheism. Can anyone teach divine monotheism to Allah? Likewise, can anyone teach the truth to Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)
Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib’s (a.s.) protest
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) did defend Fatima Zahra (s.a.) from the attackers to show them that he can retaliate and has the power to do so. He warded off The tyrant and overpowered him. Had he not retaliated, there was the strong likelihood that they might have gone further and killed Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.). The tyrant had already threatened that he did not care if the house is razed with all its inmates! Hence, premeditated murder could not be ruled out.
But since Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) was bound by the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) will to observe patience, come what may, if he did not get the required number of helpers and supporters – he (a.s.) never drew his sword out. He (a.s.) once said,
“If I just had men sincere to Allah– Mighty and Majestic be He – and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) equal to the number of these sheep (which were thirty), I would have deposed the son of the eater of flies (referring to Abu Bakr as the profession of both of his parents was to ward off the flies from the dining cloth of Abdullah Ibn Jud’aan al-Taimi. The remuneration for their efforts was not in cash but to either eat the remnants or the flies that they killed. Hence, he (a.s.) called him by this agnomen).” (Al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 31, H. 5 The Sermon of Taalootiyyah)
He (a.s.) did what was necessary to complete the argument; else, the later generations would have said – why didn’t Ali (a.s.) at least put up a token resistance so we would know that he (a.s.) was upset with the state of affairs. He (a.s.) stopped short of killing The tyrant when he knew that he would be violating the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) will. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) cannot be blamed for his intention like Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) as the Holy Quran says,
“And certainly she made for him, and he would have made for her; was it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord…”
- Kitab-o-Sulaim Ibn Qais al-Hilali (exp. 80 A.H.), p. 568
- Ruh al-Ma’ani fee Tafsir al-Quran al-Azeem vol. 3, p. 124 of Sayyid Mahmud Aalusi al-Baghdadi (exp. 1270 A.H.)
- Khasais al-Aimmah p.73, Abul Hasan Muhammad Ibn Husain Ibn Moosa al-Moosawi al- Baghdadi, Sharif Razi (exp. 406 A.H.), edited and compiled by Dr. Muhammad Hadi Amini
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) did not retaliate against the attackers like he did against the infidels of Badr and Ohod because he feared that such retaliation would lead to division among the Muslims and he would be held responsible. This is like the silence of Prophet Haroon (a.s.) when the Bani Israel worshipped the calf, thereby indulging in polytheism and idol-worship.
- Al-Isteeaab fee Marifah al-As’haab, 2, p. 497, Yusuf Ibn Abdillah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Birr (exp. 463)
- Sharh-o-Nahj al-Balaaghah, vol. 1, p. 184, Abu Hamid Izzuddin Ibn Hibatillah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abil Hadid al-Madaaeni al-Motazeli (exp. 655 A.H.)
Choice between two options
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) faced two options when his house was attacked crushing the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.)– either to retaliate, leading to divisions among Muslims or bear the oppression and save Islam from destruction. He (a.s.) chose the latter, which was in the best interests of Islam.
He narrates in the third sermon (al-Shiqshiqiyyah) of Nahj al-Balaaghah:
“Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience, although there was pricking in my eye and suffocation (of mortification) in my throat.”
Similarity with Past Divine Prophets (a.s.)
Patience under extreme tribulation was not new to Islam or the creeds of the previous divine Prophets (a.s.), who exhibited incredible patience and tolerance under great difficulties and oppressions, leading to questions like the ones raised by these Muslims – why didn’t those Prophets (a.s.) retaliate against the oppressors?
Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was asked – Why didn’t you fight the first three rulers while you fought Talha, Zubair and Muawiyah?
He (a.s.) replied:
Certainly there is for me an example in six Prophets and from among them is Nuh when he said: …Indeed, I am overpowered, so grant victory. (Surah Qamar (54): Verse 10)
- Tafseer Noor al-Saqalain under Surah Qamar: Verse 10 narrating from al-Ehtejaaj, vol. 1, p. 189 of Shaikh Abu Mansoor Ahmad Ibn Ali al-Tabarsi (r.a.)
- Prophet Lut’s (a.s.) house was also attacked and the assailants threatened to abduct the handsome youths (angels) if he did not hand them over. Hazrat Lut (a.s.) pleaded with them telling them to marry the daughters of his nation instead.
Why didn’t Prophet Lut (a.s.) defend his household members from the assailants with retaliation instead of showing patience? Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) dealt with the assailants likewise with patience rather than open retaliation.
Usman Ibn Affaan does not defend his wife
These Muslims, who raise many objections against Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), must read more about Islamic history to learn how others have reacted under similar circumstances.
They will undoubtedly come across the attack on the house of the third ruler Usman Ibn Affaan by the Muslims. They must object – why did Usman fail to defend his wife when the Muslims laid siege to his house and attacked him and his wife, cutting of her fingers and striking her teeth?
He was after all their chief with an army. Moreover, he had a cousin like Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, who had an army of his own and could have come in no time to defend Usman in Medina! So the more important question is – Why Muawiya did not defend Usman?