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Fatimah

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The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Fatimah

    ca. 605– 633 Daughter of Muhammad

    Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and wife of Muhammad's cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, is revered among Muslims for her religious devotion and exemplary life. Born in Mecca around 605 , Fatimah was one of the six children of the Prophet and his first wife Khadija, and she was the only child who produced a line of descendants.

    Fatimah accompanied her father on his flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 . Soon afterward she married Ali. Fatimah bore two sons, al-Hasan and Husayn ibn Ali , and two daughters, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum.

    After the Prophet's death, the Muslim community faced disagreement about who should succeed him as caliph. The majority followed Abu Bakr, but Fatimah supported Ali's claim to this position. In 656 , more than 20 years after Fatimah's death, Ali was elected fourth caliph of the Muslim community. He is considered to be the first imam of Shi'i Islam. Muslims who follow the Shi'i tradition believe that the succession of imams must come from the Prophet's own descendants, and they refer to Fatimah as the “Mother of the Imams.”

    Unlike the Prophet's third wife A'ishah, who took an active role in political affairs, Fatimah lived a relatively quiet life, spending her time fulfilling her domestic duties. Muslims honor Fatimah for her virtue and consider her a model daughter, wife, and mother. Indeed, many believe that she lived a life without sin. Fatimah died just a few months after her father. She is the only woman included among the Fourteen Perfect or Pure Ones in Shi'i tradition. Her descendants went on to found the Fatimid dynasty ( 909 – 1171 ). See also Ali ibn Abi Talib ; Caliph; Fatimid Dynasty; Husayn ibn Ali ; Muhammad .

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