Fatima was one of the first children to be born into Islam and the fourth daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. She is considered to be one of the four holiest women in Islam after the Virgin Mary, Khadija, and Asiya, the Queen who rescued Moses from the river. It is said that when Fatima prayed, her light was reflected by the mihrab, the direction of the Ka’aba in Mecca that a Muslim must face when praying. Her inner light was seen by everyone and the name “Zehra”, meaning “resplendent or shining one” was given to her among other such titles
This portrait began when I was introduced to a wonderful Sufi mosque in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. I was invited with open arms to their Saturday night potluck dinner and there met three sisters, all college students. Their names were Amina on the left, then Nuranisa, and Sema.
When asked what myth or sacred life story they would like to embody, they spoke about of the importance family, community, and faith in their lives. The significance of these elements led them to Fatima. “We chose Fatima because she is the ideal model for all Muslim women (even men) in spirituality, worship, prayer, service and inward and outward demeanor. Her loving and kind countenance made the people love her, her shrewdness made people respect her and her words and actions made the people imitate her.” Nuranisa, Amina and Sema later wrote, “Our parents surrounded us with a very spiritual Islamic lifestyle based on prayer and worship but most significantly with love and service to our community, which is ultimately service to Allah.”
I was struck with admiration for the dedication and devotion these three sisters embrace life with. Amina, Nuranisa and Sema are my neighbors, living their lives fully within the uniqueness of their culture and values; emanating beauty and strength daily.