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A Meeting with Bibi Fizza

Bibi Fizza had come from Abyssinia to `Arabia as a slave. She was freed by the Holy Prophet (S) and afterwards served Bibi Fátimah (A) as her maid-servant. Bibi Fátimah (A) divided her house work equally between herself and Bibi Fizza and they would take turns to do the chores. She remained faithful to the household of Ahlul Bayt (A) and even accompanied them to Karbala and the prison of Damascus.

Abdulláh Mubárak has related a very interesting dialogue between himself and Bibi Fizza. He states, "I saw a woman passing through the desert who had fallen behind the caravan and asked her, "Who are you and where are you from?" She replied:

And say, "Salaam" for they shall soon know! (az-Zukhruf, 43:89)

I learned that she expected me to greet her and say "Assalámu `Alaykum" first, before any question. I did as she reminded, and then enquired why she was in the desert. She answered:

And whomsoever Alláh guides, there is none to lead him astray! (az-Zumar, 39:37)

On hearing her reply, I asked her, Are you from mankind or from the jinn?" She replied:

O Children of Adam! be adorned at every time of prostration. (al-A`ráf,7: 31)

I asked her, "Where are you coming from?" She replied:

They are (like those) who are called to from a place far off. (Há Mím 41:44)

I asked her, "Where are you intending to go?" She said:

And (purely) for Alláh is incumbent upon mankind, the Pilgrimage of the House. (Áli Imrán, 3:97)

I asked her how many days she had been travelling. She told me:

And indeed We (Alláh) created the heavens and the earth and what is between them two, in six days. (Qáf, 50:38)

I asked her, "Do you feel hungry?" She replied:

We (Alláh) did not make them such bodies that ate no food. (Al-Anbiya, 21:8)

I gave her food and asked her to hurry up to catch the caravan but she replied:

Alláh does not task any soul beyond its ability. (al-Baqaráh, 2:286)

I suggested that she sit on the camel behind me, but she said:

Had there been gods therein besides Alláh, there would have been disorder in both (the heavens and the earth). (al-Anbiya, 21:22)

On hearing this I realised that, because we were not husband and wife, it was unlawful for both of us to ride the camel. So I got off and mounted her on it. When she sat on the camel, she said:

Glory to Him Who subjected this to us. (az-Zukhruf 43:13)

When we reached the caravan, I asked her, "Do you know anyone among them?" She called out in reply:

O Dáwúd, Verily, We have appointed you a Khalifa in the earth. (Sád, 38:26)

And Muhammad is not but a Messenger. (Áli Imrán, 3:144)

O Yahyá! Hold the book with firmness! (Maryam, 19:12)

O Músá! Verily I am Alláh, the All-Mighty. (an-Naml, 27:9)

I began to call out these four names at which four youths came out of the caravan and ran towards Bibi Fizza. I asked her who they were and she replied:

Wealth and children are the adornment of the world. (al-Kahf, 18:46)

I realised that they were her sons. The woman turned to the youth and said:

O my Father, employ him, verily the best of those who you can employ is the strong man and the trusted one. (al-Qasas, 28:26)

She thus made them understand that I had helped her. Then she told them:

And verily Alláh increases manifold to whosoever He wills. (al-Baqaráh, 2: 261)

The sons understood their mother's hint and paid me well.

I enquired from the them as to who this noble lady was, and they replied, "She is our mother, Fizza, the maid-servant of Lady Fátimah (A), daughter of the Holy Prophet (S). She has conversed in nothing but the Holy Qur'án for the last 20 years."