Refuting the allegation about the burial of Faatimah bint Asad
Fatwa No: 298936

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. People are saying things regarding the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam.They quote the following hadith: “I (Muhammad) put on her my shirt that she may wear the clothes of heaven, and I slept with her in her coffin (grave) that I may lessen the pressure of the grave. She was the best of Allaah's creatures to me after Abu Talib” The prophet was referring to Fatima, the mother of Ali. They say that the prophet slept (and we seek refuge from such words in Allaah) with Faatimah while she was dead. How do we reply to this? Can you show if this hadith is weak, and if it is, please show why? Also, can you explain the hadith?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

We advise you to stay away from misconceptions and from preoccupying yourself with them; verily, hearts are vulnerable. The righteous predecessors, despite their vast and deep knowledge, keenly avoided exposure to misconceptions. Imaam Ath-Thahabi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Most of the righteous predecessors have warned of (undue) exposure to misconceptions; they held that the hearts are weak and that misconceptions tend to be of a luring nature...

Therefore, it is advisable that you avoid exposure to misconceptions so that they would not take root in your heart and mind until you may even find some of them agreeable. It is more prudent and safer for you to follow the example of the righteous predecessors in addressing the misconceptions by avoiding them and paying no attention to them based on the knowledge that they are generally incorrect and false.

What better advice than that offered by Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah to his student Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them cited by Ibn Al-Qayyim in his book Miftaah Daar As-Saʻaadah (Key to the Abode of Bliss):

Shaykhul-Islam  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him told me after I began to mention to him one doubt after another, ‘Do not let your heart be like a sponge for all the doubts that pass by it such that it absorbs them and overflows with them. Rather, let it be like solid glass; doubts pass over it but do not settle in it. Thus it will see them with its clearness and fend them off with its solidness. Otherwise, if you let your heart absorb every doubt that passes by you, it will become a settling place for all misconceptions and doubts...’

How could a Muslim doubt that such a misconception is false? How could he believe that he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, the purest of all mankind, slept in the grave with an old, dead woman who had looked after him like a loving mother, and in the presence of her own son and a number of the Companions? Can any sane person believe that?

The ultimate problematic matter that may be raised with regards to this story is inquiring about the meaning of "he slept with her in her grave". This was explained in the other version of the hadeeth indicating that he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, lay down in the grave before she was placed therein, as shall be underlined in the following lines.

In general, this story is not free of weakness. Therefore, Ath-Thahabi omitted it from his book At-Talkhees, as he labeled it weak. Al-Haythami  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Majma' Az-Zawaa'id:

Anas ibn Maalik  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, ‘When Faatimah bint Asad, the mother of ʻAli  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them both, passed away, the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, visited her house, sat beside her, and said, 'My dear mother, may Allaah have mercy upon you and keep you under His Protection. After my mother, you have loved me as a caring mother loves her child. Many times, you went hungry in order to feed me well; you clothed me and fed me on delicacies that you denied yourself, hoping to attain the pleasure and rewards of Allaah and success in the Hereafter.' The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, then, ordered that she be washed three times (ghusl), one of them with water mixed with camphor that he poured with his own hand. After this, he took off his qamees (long shirt) and put it on her and shrouded her in a burdah (outer garment). He then asked for Usaamah ibn Zayd, Abu Ayyoob Al-Ansaari, ʻUmar ibn Al-Khattaab and a black slave to dig up her grave. When they reached the lahd (niche inside the grave), he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, dug it and removed the dust himself. Then, he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, lay in the lahd and supplicated to Allaah, 'O Allaah! You are The One in whose power is death and life, and for Whom there is no end, forgive my mother Faatimah. O Allaah! Make her house of the Hereafter vast; I beseech You in the name of your Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, and all the past Prophets. O Allaah, the most Merciful of the Merciful ones!' After this, he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, called out, ‘Allaahu Akbar (Allaah is the Greatest).’ With the help of Al-ʻAbbaas and Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them he, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, laid her inside the lahd. [At-Tabraani in Al-Kabeer and Al-Awsat]

The chain of narration of this report includes Rawh ibn Salah, who was declared trustworthy by Ibn Hibbaan and Al-Haakim. He is declared weak by some; the rest of the narrators, though, are among the narrators of Al-Bukhari and/or Muslim.

Ibn ʻAbbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: 'When Faatimah, the mother of ʻAli  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them both, passed away, the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, took off his shirt and shrouded her in it and lay in her grave. After she was buried, some people inquired, ‘O Messenger of Allaah! You have done something that you have not done for anyone before.’ He, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, replied, ‘I clothed her in my shirt as a shroud so that she would be clothed in the clothes of Paradise. I lay in her grave so that the squeeze of the grave would be easier for her.’'  [At-Tabraani in Al-Awsat]. Its chain of narration included Saʻdaan ibn Al-Waleed, who is unknown to me; the rest of the narrators are trustworthy” [Majma’ Az-Zawaai’d]."

Allaah knows best.

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