The mother of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was also the mother of the 8th Imam – Imam Ali al-Reza (A) and she had no children other than these two. She was known by several names, the most well known of them was Najmah Khātūn.(1) Lady Najmah was a slave from North Africa and was bought by Lady Hamīdah, the mother of Imam al-Kazim (A). After she came into the house of the Ahl al-Bayt (A), she reached a high level of intellectual and spiritual excellence, with lessons and teachings from Lady Hamīdah.
Lady Hamīdah narrates that one night she had a dream, where she saw the Prophet (S) and he said to her: ‘Make Najmah the wife of your son, Mūsā ibn Ja`far, so that soon the best of people in the world (Imam al-Reza (A)) will be born from her.(2) Lady Hamīdah acted upon this order, and so Najmah became the wife of Imam al-Kazim (A) and later, the mother of Imam al-Reza (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A). Some of the other names mentioned for Lady Najmah are:
Tuktam: This was a popular name amongst the Arabs, and it was the name of the mother of Imam al-Reza and Lady Fatima Masuma (A) at the time when she was bought as a slave. The name Tuktam was also used to refer to the well of Zamzam (the well near the Ka`bah) in the dream of Abdul Muttalib, when he was told to dig up and find the hidden well, and in this way it seems a very appropriate name for Najmah Khātūn whose excellence was also hidden at the time of her slavery.(3) Umm al-Banīn: This was the only title that was given to her; the meaning of this title is the “mother of boys” although Najmah Khātūn only had two children – Imam al-Reza (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A). Due to the nobleness of both of her children, she had this title “Umm al-Banīn” given to her.(4)
Tāhira: It has been narrated that after giving birth to Imam Ali al-Reza (A) on 11th Dhul Qa`dah in the year 148 A.H in Medina, she was known as Tāhira, which has the meaning of purity.(5)
Although Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was born 25 years after Imam al-Reza (A), the fact that they had the same mother and father, led to a special closeness between them.
The names and titles of Lady Fatima Masuma (A)
It has been emphasised in many traditions that the choosing of a suitable name for a child is the responsibility of the father.(6) The recommendation is that, if the child is a boy, then the name of the Prophet (S) and the Imams (A), especially the names Muhammad and Ali should be chosen for him.(7) And for a daughter there is no name more suitable than Fatima.(8)
The Imams (A), due to their high esteem of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) would accord great respect and reverence to the name ‘Fatima’. So much so, that when one of his companions informed Imam al-Sādiq (A) that he had chosen the name Fatima for his daughter, the Imam (A) exclaimed: “Ah, Ah.” Then he said: “Now that you have kept her name Fatima, be careful not to ever curse or beat her.”(9) And it was due to this respect that the Imams (A) would name their children by these holy names, and usually more than one child had the fortune to have such a noble name. Especially so in the case of Imam al-Kazim (A), who named four of his daughters Fatima, as mentioned previously. We know that the name of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) was Fatima (al-Kubrā).
Masuma: The title of Masuma was given to this noble lady by her brother, Imam al-Reza (A). It is worth noting that this title was awarded to her after her death and she was not referred to by this name during her life-time. This also nullifies the erroneous view that she died after her brother, Imam al-Reza (A), on hearing the news of his death. Mirzā Muhammad Taqī (d. 1297 A.H) reports that the title “Masuma” was given to her by her brother – Imam al-Reza (A). And according to this tradition Imam al-Reza (A) said: “Whoever visits Masuma in Qum is like the one who has visited me.”(10)
The question arises, was this title “Masuma” given to her to indicate her sinless status? In other words, was she infallible in the same sense as the 14 Ma`sūmīn (The Prophet, Lady Fatima Zahra and the 12 Imams – peace be upon them all), who are considered sinless and Divinely protected according to the verse of Purity: “Verily, Allah intends to keep all uncleanliness away from you, O Ahl al-Bayt, and to purify you thoroughly.”(11)
Several scholars believe that some of the noble personalities from the household of the Prophet (S), such as Lady Zaynab (A), Hadrat `Abbās (A) and Lady Fatima Masuma (A), due to their proximity to the Ma`sūmīn (A) have acquired a high state of purity. Infallibility (al-`ismah) has two meanings: Infallible from error and infallible from sin. When speaking of the infallibility of the Ma`sūmīn (A), both these meanings apply, but when speaking about special and noble people, such as Lady Zaynab (A), Hadrat `Abbās (A) or Lady Fatima Masuma (A), the latter meaning of infallible from sin is meant.
Here we do not have the space to discuss this issue, but we can mention that the Imams (A) never falsely praised anyone, and the fact that the Imam al-Reza (A) gave the title of Masuma to his sister is proof that she deserved such a title. Karīmat Ahl al-Bayt: This title, meaning “the Noble one of the family of the Prophet (S)” was given to her by either Imam al-Bāqir (A) or Imam al-Sādiq (A) in a dream seen by Ayatollah Sayyid Mahmūd Mar`ashī Najafī, the author of Mashjirat al-`Ālawīyīn. This noble man was very interested in finding the exact location of the burial place of Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and for this purpose he spent 40 days supplicating, so that he could be privileged with this information.
On the 40th night, after the completion of his prayers, he went to sleep and in his dream he saw himself present at the grave of either Imam al-Bāqir (A) or Imam al-Sādiq (A) (both of whom are buried in Jannat al-Baqī` in Medina). Imam (A) said to him: “I advise you to go to the Karīmat (Noble one) of the Ahl al-Bayt”. He thought that by Karīmat Ahl al-Bayt, Imam (A) was referring to Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and so he answered, “Yes, I have been supplicating for this very purpose, so that I may know the exact place of the holy grave of this noble personality, enabling me to perform her pilgrimage.”
The Imam (A) said, “I meant the holy grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) in Qum.” Then the Imam (A) added, “It is Allah’s desire that the location of the holy grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) be hidden from everyone.”
Therefore, the Imam (A) has placed the grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) in place of the grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A), and so all the honour and grandeur that would have been accorded to the grave of Lady Fatima Zahra (A) should be given to the grave of Lady Fatima Masuma (A).
On waking from his dream, the late Mar`ashī made an intention to travel to Qum with his family, in order to perform the pilgrimage of Lady Fatima Masuma (A) and he carried out this intention without any delay.(12) He died in Najaf, in the year 1338 A.H.
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Shahāb al-Dīn Mar`ashī Najafī, the illustrious son of the late Mar`ashī, migrated to Iran in the year 1342 A.H. He often cited that one of the reasons for his emigration to Iran was the dream of his father. After a short stay in Tehran, he entered the seminary in Qum, al-Hawzah al-‘Ilmīyah, in the year 1343 A.H, and here he lived, in the proximity of the Karīmat of Ahl al-Bayt – Lady Fatima Masuma (A) – until his death in the year 1411 A.H.
For over sixty years, every morning, the late Shahāb al-Dīn Mar`ashī, was the first person to perform the pilgrimage of this noble lady. He would wait outside her shrine for the doors to be opened. Even during his final illness before his death, he requested to be carried to her shrine in order to perform her pilgrimage. Other titles that have been given to Lady Fatima Masuma (A) are:
- Tāhirah 6. Naqīyah
- Hamīdah 7. Rādīyah
- Bārrah 8. Mardīyah
- Rashīdah 9. Sayyidah
- Taqīyah 10. Ukht al-Reza.
All of these ten titles can be found in her salutation (Ziyārat), which has been narrated by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Qummī in his book, Anwār al-Musha`sha`īn. This salutation for Lady Fatima Masuma (A) is other than the more famous one that has been narrated by `Allāmah Majlisī in Bihār al-Anwār, quoting from Imam al-Reza (A). Shaykh |adūq, `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā, vol. 1, p. 14; Shaykh Tabarsī, I`lām al-Warā, p. 302; Shaykh Hurr ‘Āmilī, Ithbāt al-Hudāt, vol. 3, p. 233.
- `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā, vol. 1, p. 17.
- `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā, vol. 1, p. 14; I`lām al-Warā, p. 302; Ithbāt al-Hudāt, vol. 3, p. 233.
- Usūl al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 486; `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā, vol. 1, p. 14; I`lām al-Warā, p. 302; Al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 247.
- Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 49, p. 4; `Uyūn al-Akhbār al-Ridā, vol.1, p. 14; Ithbāt al-Hudāt, vol.3, p. 233; Muhammad Ridā Hakīmī, A`yān al-Nisā’, p. 76.
- Shaykh Muhammad bin Ya`qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū` al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 18; Shaykh |adūq, Man Lā Yahduruh-u al-Faqīh, vol. 4 p. 269; Shaykh Tūsī, Tahdhīb al-Ahkām, vol. 7, p. 437.
- Shaykh Tūsī, Al-Amālī, vol. 2 p. 69; Shaykh |adūq, Ma`ānī al-Akhbār, p. 146; Usūl al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 19; `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā, vol. 2, p. 29; |ahīfat al-Ridā, attributed to Imam al-Ridā (A) p. 88.
- Furū` al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 19; Tahdhīb al-Ahkām, vol. 7, p. 438.
- Furū` al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 48; Tahdhīb al-Ahkām, vol. 8, p. 112.
- Nāsikh al-Tawārikh, vol. 3, p. 68; Rayāhīn al-Sharī`ah, vol. 5, p. 35.
- Holy Qur’an (33:33).
- Zindagāni-ye Karimah-ye Ahl al-Bayt, p. 44.