Fatima





Born in the holy city of Mecca in Arabia in about 605, Fatima was the daughter of the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Generations of Muslims have revered her as one of four "perfect women." (They also place Mary, the mother of Jesus, in this group.) Fatima is especially important to the Shiite sect of Islam.

Muhammad had other sons and daughters, but they all died young or failed to produce heirs. Fatima stayed close to her father and nursed him at his deathbed. When the prophet died, a split developed over Muslim leadership. Fatima's support for her husband Ali's claim as leader led to the establishment of the Shiite sect. Later Shiites viewed Hasan and Husayn, the sons of Fatima and Ali, as the rightful heirs to Muhammad and the Islamic tradition.

prophet one who claims to have received divine messages or insights

Although Fatima was a historical figure, many aspects of her life took on the dimensions of myth, and she has become the subject of various legends. In one, for example, Fatima was a virgin who had three sons, and she possessed miraculous powers. Some stories describe her as the incarnation, or human form, of the Arabian moon goddess. Fatima appears as the holy woman in a story about Aladdin, Thousand and One Nights.



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