What is the origin of the confusion in determining the day of the martyrdom of Lady Fatima (peace be upon her)? What is the reason behind the fact that Shia Muslims hold condolence ceremonies to commemorate her martyrdom on more than one occasion, such as in the 1st Fatimiyah, 2nd Fatimiya and the 3rd Fatimiyah?
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
The origin of the confusion in determining the day of the martyrdom of our Lady al-Zahra (may peace be upon her and may our souls be sacrificed for her sake) is due to the plurality of the narrations on this issue. Such plurality is very common in determining historical events, like for example the day of the martyrdom of the Prophet (may blessings be upon him and his family), and the dates of the births of the pure Imams (may peace be upon them), and even the dates of the deaths of their enemies. This issue is normal, even if we would notice the diversity in the jurisprudential narrations that speak about one thing.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Imams (may peace be upon them) were the ones that placed this diversity by themselves because their word is one – except if we would look at what they were forced to say due to Taqiyya, for example – but rather the reality of this diversity would be the diversity of the narrators and the hardness of recording the narrations at that time. A role-playing factor is also the pressure of the regimes that would prevent direct contact with Ahlul-Bayt (may peace be upon them), in addition to simple forgetfulness.
Also, there is no way for solving this contradiction except by following the principles of preferring some narrations over others. By this, we mean deeper research on the different narrations that speak about a certain issue, and then one would prefer one of them – or a group of them – over others according to these principles, and so on. This is what we do when we want to derive a certain legislative judgment, and this is also what we do when doing historical researches, and among this field comes the issue of the martyrdom of Lady al-Zahra (may peace be upon her). On the issue of determining the date of her martyrdom (may peace and blessings be upon her), there have come various narrations, including:
- That it was on the 3rd day of the month Jumada al-Thani. This has been mentioned in Dala’el al-Imama, Masaar al-Shi’a, Misbaah al-Mutahajjid, Al-Iqbal, Bihar al-Anwar and other sources.
- That it was on the 20th day of the month Jumada al-Thani. This has been mentioned in Al-Iqbal.
- That it was on the 3rd day of the month of Ramadhan. This has been mentioned in Kashf al-Ghumma.
- That it was on the 21st day of the month Rajab. This has been mentioned in Misbaah al-Mutahajjid
This is what has been mentioned in determining the day. However, other narrations have determined the period that differentiates between the martyrdom of the Prophet (may blessings be upon him and his family) and the martyrdom of his daughter, Al-Zahra (may blessings be upon her). These are:
- That the period was 95 days. This has been mentioned in Kashf al-Ghumma.
- That the period was 75 days. This has been mentioned in Al-Kafi.
- That the period was 40 days. This has been mentioned in Al-Ihtijaj.
Through combining the two groups of narrations, you would reach the following result: The more distinguished narration from the first group is that the day of the martyrdom was on the 3rd of the month Jumada al-Thani. That is narrated of Imam al-Sadiq (may blessings be upon him) with a chain of narrators classified as ‘Hasan’ (good), and Al-Mufid has declared that in Masaar al-Shi’a.
The two first narrations (narration 1 + 2) from the second group that speak about the period, are originally one narration because the word ’tis’een’ (i.e. ninety) equals the word ‘sab’een’ (seventy) in the old Arabic scripture. However, the approach to the problem that emerged was because of the later scholars’ reading of the old principles of narrations. Some of them believed that the term was ’tis’een’, and recorded it that way, meanwhile the others thought that the term was ‘sabe’een’, and recorded it that way. Although the narration is originally one, its chain of narrators is classified as ‘Sahih’ (correct) and is narrated of Imam al-Sadiq (may peace be upon him). So it is with the narration of al-Baqir (may peace be upon him) and the narration of the Commander of the Believers, Imam Ali (may peace be upon him)
When applying the more distinguished narration from the first group with the more correct narration from the second, we reach a common result, and that is that the day of her martyrdom (may blessings be upon her) was the 3rd day of Jumada al-Thani, because the period that took place between the martyrdom of the Prophet (may blessings be upon him and his family) and between her martyrdom are 95 days, i.e. the 3rd of Jumada al-Thani. That corresponds to the more distinguished narration. Besides, this is the strongest and the most right.
Regarding the other narrations, they are weaker than the first one and they have nothing which strengthens them or prefers them, as well as they lack distinction and correctness in their chain of narrators.
However, the tradition of the loyal Shias is to arrange condolence ceremonials for the sake of al-Zahra al-Batul (may our souls be sacrificed for her sake) on more than one occasion during a year, and so in this manner, there would be a 1st Fatimiya, a 2nd Fatimiya, and a 3rd Fatimiya. Those people, due to their love for Lady al-Zahra (may blessings be upon her), they made themselves remember her martyrdom on every possible occasion, and therefore they arranged these great occasions for this sake.
Hence, the 1st Fatimiya would origin from the narration which says that the period between the martyrdom of the Prophet (may blessings be upon him and his family) and her martyrdom is 40 days, i.e. the 8th day of the month Rabi’ al-Thani; the second Fatmiya would origin from the narration which says that the period was 75 days, i.e. on the 3rd day of the month Jumada al-Awwal; and the third Fatimiya would origin from the narration which says that the period was 95 days, i.e. on the 3rd day of Jumada al-Thani. The latter is the most correct and the strongest in our view and the view of several great researchers and scholars, and Allah knows best.
However, in all cases, arranging these great occasions and remembering Lady al-Zahra (may blessings be upon her) on more than one occasion during a year is better than reducing the remembrance of her and the oppression against her to only one occasion. Rather, one should increase these occasions, because this is the least we can do of loyalty for the sake of our Lady, the Intercessor on the Day of Judgment (may our souls and the souls of the worlds be sacrificed for the sake of the sand under her sandals).
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib