The Model of Womanhood

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Mary is hallowed for being the mother of Jesus, yet Lady Fatima is hallowed for being the daughter of the Messenger, the wife of the Lion of God, and the mother of the Leader of the Youth of Paradise. Allama Iqbal wrote this classical poem in Farsi about the virtues of Lady Zahra.

Editor’s Note: The following is a translation of the Farsi poem “Dar Ma’ani Einkeh Sayyidati Nisa Fatima Zahra Uswahe Kamile Ast Baraye Nisai Islam”, written by the South Asian poet-philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal. The original Farsi version is available online.

Mary is hallowed in one line alone,
That she bore Jesus; Fatima in three.
For that she was the sweet delight of him
Who came a mercy to all living things,
Leader of former as of latter saints,
Who breathed new spirit into this dead world
And brought to birth the age of a New Law.
His lady she, whose regal diadem
God’s words adorn Hath there come any time
The chosen one, resolver of all knots
And hard perplexities, the Lion of God,
An emperor whose palace was a hut,
Accoutred with one sword, one coat of mail.
And she his mother, upon whom revolves
Love’s compasses, the leader of Love’s train,
That single candle in the corridor
Of sanctity resplendent, guardian
Of the integrity of that best race
Of all God’s peoples; who that the fierce flame
Of war and hatred might extinguished be,
Trod underfoot the crown and royal ring.
His mother too, the lord of all earth’s saints
And strong right arm of every freeborn man,
Husain, the passion in the song of life,
Teacher of freedom to God’s chosen few.
The character, the essential purity
Of holy children from their mothers come.
She was the harvest of the well-sown field
Of self-surrender, to all mothers she
The perfect pattern, Fatima the chaste
Her heart so grieved, because one came in need,
She stripped her cloak and sold it to a Jew;
Though creatures all, of light alike and fire,
Obeyed her bidding, yet she sank her will
In her good consort’s pleasure. Fortitude
And meekness were her schooling; while her lips
Chanted the Book, she ground the homely mill.
No pillow needed she to catch her tears,
But wept contrition’s offering of pearls
Upon the skirt of prayer; which Gabriel stooped
To gather, as they glistened in the dust,
And rained like dew upon the Throne of God.
God’s Law a fetter locks about my feet
To guard secure the Prophet’s high behest,
Else had I surely gone about her tomb
And fallen prostrate, worshipping her dust.

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