A Heavenly Wedding

A fruitful family life starts with a good marriage. Kubra Rizvi looks at the marriage of Ali ibn abi Taleb(a) and Fatimah bint Muhammad(s)

Those who knew Ali, the son of Abu Talib(a), sensed the usually brave champion was feeling particularly shy and hesitant. All of Madinah had heard the Prophet Muhammad(s) announcing that the marriage of his daughter, Fatimah(a), was in the hands of God and he had nothing to do concerning the matter. Well aware of the fact that others before him had been refused, Ali(a) traipsed to the home of the Messenger of God and kept his gaze lowered. The Prophet(s) asked, “What do you want, my brother?” Imam Ali(a) remained silent for a while, so the Prophet asked, “Maybe you have come to propose marriage to Fatimah?” Imam Ali replied, “Yes, I have come for that very purpose.”
Although he was the Messenger of God, the Prophet was also a father and set the precedent to ask his daughter’s consent. “Ali, before you other men had come for the proposal of Fatimah. Whenever I informed Fatimah of this matter, she would not show her approval. Right now, let me inform her of this conversation.”
The Prophet(s) came to his beloved daughter and gently asked in a voice full of fatherly affection and contentment, “I wish to make you the wife of the best of God’s creation. What is your opinion?” Just like Ali, Fatimah glowed with shyness and modesty and lowered her head, making no denial. The Prophet(s) spoke, “God is the Greatest! Her silence is the proof of her agreement.”
It is also narrated that the Prophet(s) said to Ali, “Welcome! God has ordered me to marry my daughter to you. An angel came and said to me, ‘O Messenger of God, God sends you greetings and says to you: I have married Fatimah to ‘Ali in the high Heaven, so you marry her to him in the earth.’”
Forty days before the wedding ceremony in Madinah, exciting preparations were taking place in Heaven. The angels were used to spending their time in prayer and remembrance of God. However, today they were surprised for it seemed something special was taking place. They remembered when they were commanded to bow before Adam(a) and wondered if it was another incident regarding mankind. Indeed, it was a wedding which would illuminate the pages of time forever. The angel Jibra’il spoke to inform them that they were witnessing a heavenly wedding. God Himself was the guardian who married Lady Fatimah to Imam Ali. The splendour, beauty and magnificence of the wedding celebrations were indescribable but not surprising, for it was the blessed wedding of the Mistress of all the Worlds, the daughter of the Mercy to the Worlds, with the Commander of the Faithful and the Leader of the Pious.
Nevertheless, Lady Fatimah’s earthly dowry was very simple as it would be an example for all the women of the nation so that no one would remain unmarried due to high dowries. The Prophet(s) asked Imam Ali what he had to pay as dowry, “I have a sword, armour, and a horse.” The Prophet(s) said, “As for your horse you need it, and as for your sword you cannot do without it, but as for your armour you can sell it.” Imam Ali sold his armour for the modest amount of 480 dirhams and came back with it. The Prophet(s) took a handful of dirhams and asked Bilal to buy perfume for Lady Fatimah. He asked Salman and Lady Umm Salamah to buy some furniture, which later consisted of: a sheepskin to sleep on, a pillow stuffed with palm-tree fibres, a bed made of palm-tree branches, a water skin, a handmill, two jars and some pottery vessels. The Messenger of God(s) saw the pottery and said, “Blessed are the people of a house whose vessels are mostly of pottery.”
The Lady of Light was in her chamber, preparing for her wedding. It was the night every girl dreams about. Perhaps mixed in her happy thoughts were memories of her mother and longing for her to be with her. A knock on the door interrupted her angelic thoughts. A poor young woman stood before her, asking for a dress. The Qur’anic verse echoed in the mind of that noble lady, “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear (3:92).” There, in that moment, Fatimah became the exemplar for all the women of the worlds. History had not witnessed, nor would perhaps again see a woman give away her wedding dress on her wedding night. Perhaps Ali matched this generosity when he gave his ring in ruku’ and the words of the tradition rang true, “Indeed, if Ali was not created, there would be no equal for Fatimah.”
When the marriage was agreed, the Prophet(s) gave a sermon before a crowd of his companions. He praised the Merciful Lord and quoted the following verse which states that God has made two types of relationships:“It is He who created the human being from water, then invested him with ties of blood and marriage, and your Lord is all-powerful (25:54).”
Then he said, “I make you witness that I marry Fatimah to Ali for four hundred weights of silver (as dowry).” Then he prayed for them and their offspring, and made their progeny the keys to mercy, the source of wisdom and safety to the nation.” Imam Ali also praised God and prostrated himself before God in gratitude for this great blessing.
On the night of the wedding the Prophet(s) said, “O Ali, there must be a banquet for the bride.” He gave him some dirhams and told him to buy oil, dates and cheese. The Prophet(s) himself split the dates and mixed them with the oil and cheese and offered it to the guests. Hundreds of men and women ate from the dish with the Prophet’s blessing.
When everyone left, the Prophet placed Fatimah on his left and Ali on his right and prayed for them and bid them farewell. However, the next day the Messenger of God(s) came to inquire from both blessed spouses how they found the other. They both similarly replied that in each other they had found the best companion for worshipping and serving God. Truly, marriage in Islam is a means to nearness to God. Two other important lessons we learn from this couple who not only had a heavenly wedding, but a heavenly marriage is that they never angered each other nor asked for something the other could not fulfil. If we endeavour to follow their teachings and example perhaps our own marriages would be a piece of heaven.

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