Wednesday 3 April 2013


Fatima bint Qays was a Companion of the Prophet   from Quraish and was among the early emigrants to Madinah. She was a jurist and a teacher and has narrated hadith from the Prophet ﷺ. She is most famous for two hadith, one about the Anti-Christ and another one that created a lot of controversy because it goes against the Quran.
Her first husband was killed in the first jihad. As soon as her waiting period was over, she started going to the mosque whenever she heard the athan. She narrated this story. “I was in the row of women. When the Messenger of God   finished his prayer, he sat on the pulpit and he was smiling. Then he said, ‘Let everyone remain in his place’. Then he asked, ‘Do you know why I have gathered you?’ They said, ‘God and his Messenger   know best.’ He said, ‘By God, I have not gathered you for anything you desire or for anything that you fear. Rather, I have gathered you because Tamim Al Dari, who was a Christian, came, pledged allegiance and embraced Islam, and told me a story which confirms what I have been telling you about Anti-Christ.’” Fatima then narrated the whole story of Tamim and she is well known for this hadith about the Anti-Christ.
Fatima is also famous for another hadith that caused a lot of controversy. According to the hadith, she says that a divorced woman has no right of accommodation and living expenses from her husband during iddah, the waiting period before the end of which she cannot remarry. She says that when her husband divorced her, he sent his agent with some barley to provide for her expenses. She didn’t like that and went to the Prophet  and told him about her situation. The Prophet   replied, “You expenses are not an obligation on him.”
There are so many jurists among the Companions and scholars who have refused this hadith, even though it was technically sahih. Jurists like Omar ibn Al Khattab, Abdullah ibn Masud, Zaid ibn Thabit, Aishah (RA), and many others believe this hadith goes against the Quran. Even later scholars such as Ibrahim Al Nakhai, Sufyan Al Thawri, Abu Hanifah and his students, and other scholars in Kufa are siding with the scholarly opinion that it contradicts the Quran.
The verse in the Quran that they are referring to is:
{Oh Prophet! When you [men] divorce women, divorce them for their iddah, and count their iddah [accurately] and be wary of God, your Lord. Do not force them from their homes, nor should they leave [of their own accord], except in the case of blatant indecency (fahishah). And those are the bounds of God [..] You [the one divorcing his wife] do not know-it may be that God will later bring about some new affair [i.e. some reconciliation or eventual re-marriage]. […] Lodge them [divorced wives] where you dwell, according to your means, and do not be hurtful to them so you constrain them [forcing them to leave]. And if they are pregnant, then spend on them until they deliver their burdens. Then if they breast-fed the children for you, give them their due payment, and consult each the normal way (bil maruf). {Quran –Surat Al Talaq-65. 1,6}
The scholars maintain, according to the Quran, that a divorced woman has the right of accommodation and expenses, whether the divorce is final or provisional, and whether she is pregnant or not. Umar ibn Al Khattab said, “We are not to leave the Book of our Lord and Sunnah of the Prophet   for the word of a woman when we do not know for certain whether she preserved the matter fully or not.”
However, despite Umar’s strong objection to the hadith, he did not get in the way of her narrating it or other hadith in her teachings. There was a deep respect for the knowledgeable women of the time and their authority and no one was prevented from transmitting knowledge and understanding of the religion.
Aishah (RA) also critized Fatima for narrating this hadith and said that the ruling of the Prophet’s   answer to her was based on some danger to Fatima for staying at her in-laws house. Other scholars over the years have said that maybe her hadith referred to women divorced finally and not provisionally. Other scholars said that maybe the Quranic verse meant the right of accommodation and Fatima’s hadith meant the women had no right of maintenance. Allahu A’lam (Allah knows best).
Nevertheless, Fatima was still able to teach and continued to narrate this hadith. Because of the senior rank her knowledge gave her, she was able to override some court decisions. Fatima bint Qays was an extremely respected teacher and used to travel as far as Iraq to spread knowledge about Islam.
Nadwī, Muḥammad Akram Al-. Al-Muḥaddithāt: The Women Scholars in Islam. Oxford [etc.: Interface Publications, 2007. Print.

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