Hadrat Fatima Al-Maasouma (AS) journey to Qom

The journey of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) from Madina

After a difficult year of separation from her beloved brother, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) decided to go to him. She began this journey from Madina to Khurāsān, in the year 201 A.H, accompanied by a caravan made up of some members of her household and friends of the Imam (A).

Some historians are of the opinion that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) undertook this long and hazardous journey just to be close to her brother, but this is unlikely to be the only reason.

A more plausible reason for this journey is that she had a role to play at the side of the Imam (A). Her immense learning and piety would help him in the propagation of Islam, especially amongst the ladies.

In this aspect her role would be similar to that of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) at the side of the Prophet (S) or that of Lady Zaynab (A) at the side of Imam Ali (A), Imam Hasan (A) and then at the side of Imam Husain (A) in Karbalā and in the aftermath of Karbalā at the side of Imam Ali Zayn al-`Ābidīn (A).

There are many different narrations of the events leading to this journey of the family of the Imam (A) from Madina to Sāweh and the events that unfolded during this journey.

According to one narration, the Imam (A) wrote a letter to his sister, Lady Fatima Masuma (A), which he sent to her with one of his servants, instructing him to hasten to Madina without stopping anywhere on the way.

After receiving the letter from her brother, Lady Fatima Masuma (A), immediately prepared herself for the journey to Khurāsān via Sāweh.[56]

According to another tradition, the Imam (A) wrote a letter to all his family members, inviting them to come to Khurāsān.

It is narrated that after the arrival of this letter, a group consisting of the sons and other family member of the Imam (A), and other Shi`a, numbering over 12000 people made their way to Khurāsān.[57]

Another tradition says that when the letter of the Imam (A) to his family members arrived, their sadness at their separation from the Imam (A) made them decide to join him. A caravan was prepared, under the leadership of Ibrāhīm, son of Imam al-Kāzim (A), and they began their journey to Khurāsān.[58]

It is narrated that two separate caravans headed towards Khurāsān. One of these groups was the one that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was in. It was comprised of 23 people, under the leadership of Hārūn ibn Mūsā ibn Ja`far.[59]

The other group travelling to Khurāsān consisted of about 12,000 people under the leadership of Ahmad ibn Mūsā al-Kāđim.[60]

These caravans reached a town called Sāweh on their way to Khurāsān. Here they were attacked by enemies of the family of the Prophet (S).

Many were martyred, including Hārūn, and many others were wounded or taken prisoner. A few managed to flee. A woman from the enemies put poison in the food of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) and she became ill.

She then asked to be taken to Qum and her request was granted. After a few days stay in Qum, she died of her illness and was buried there.[61]

Another narration states that Hārūn and the other members of Lady Fatima Masuma’s (A) family, totalling 23, were killed in an ambush by the people of the town of Sāweh, who at that time had great enmity towards the family of the Prophet (S). In the book Qīyām-e Sādāt-e `Alawī, it is mentioned that the ambush was actually carried out by the soldiers of Ma’mūn.

It is narrated that the soldiers insisted that the caravan progress no further. In the discussion that ensued, the soldiers falsely alleged, “Your Imam is dead.”

This lie caused consternation in the camp and some people decided to return to Madina, while others wanted to press on. This might account for the mistaken notion that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) died as a result of being heartbroken at the news of the death of her beloved brother.

In any case, a confusion ensued and the soldiers took the opportunity to attack the camp. During the assault, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) had to witness the brutal death of 23 close family members.

She is therefore sometimes compared to Lady Zaynab (A), who also witnessed the slaughtering of her close family members. And due to this intensely sorrowful event, Lady Fatima Masuma (A) became ill and was taken to Qum. And here after 16-17 days she passed away in Qum, and was buried there.[62]

It is also narrated that the second group consisting of about 12000 Shi`a were also attacked on the orders of Ma’mūn, through the ruler of Fārs, in a place called Shīrāz. All the members of this group were either killed or ran away.[63]

The narrations above may explain why there are so many graves of the sons of the Imams (A) and other family members found within Iran. For instance in Sāweh itself, the graves of Sayyid Ishāq, Sayyid Abū Ridā, Sayyid `Ali Asghar (all from the family of Imam (A)) are popular sites for pilgrims, as are the graves in villages around Sāweh, also attributed to children of the Imams (A).[64]

Lady Fatima Masuma’s (A) journey from Sāweh to Qum

When Lady Fatima Masuma (A) became ill at Sāweh, she enquired from her companions, how far Qum was. She was told 10 farsakh (approx 60 km).[65]

She asked to be taken to Qum, which at the time was a centre of the Shi`a.[66] Sāweh, on the other hand, was hostile towards the family of the Prophet (S).[67]

`Allāmah Majlisī narrates:

“The more accurate narration is that, when it became known to the family of Sa`d Ash`arī, the leading Shi’a family in Qum at the time, that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was in Sāweh and that she was ill, all of them went to Sāweh to invite her to come to Qum.

Prominent amongst this family was Mūsā ibn Khazraj ibn Sa`d Ash`arī who was a companion of Imam al-Ridā (A). When he reached Lady Fatima Masuma (A), he took the reins of her camel and brought her to Qum, to his own house. Here she spent the last few days (16 or 17 days) of her life.”[68]

It is believed that Lady Fatima Masuma (A) died on the 10th or the 12th of Rabī` al-Thānī and that she spent the last 16 or 17 days of her life in Qum, therefore we can estimate that she arrived in Qum around the 24th Rabī` al-Awwal, 201 A.H.

The house of Mūsā ibn Khazraj ibn Sa`d Ash`arī, where Lady Fatima Masuma (A) lived for the few days that she was in Qum, has now become a school named “Madres-ye Sittīyeh”. [Sittiy means Lady – hence the name of the school is “School of the Lady”]. Till today, opposite the gates of this school and within its grounds, there remains the alter of worship (mihrāb `ibādat) of this noble lady, where she spent hours of the last days of her life worshiping Allah. It has been named “Bayt al-Nūr’ – “the House of Radiance”. The site is popular with pilgrims, who go there to pay their respects.