The Lady of Heaven is supposedly a dramatic history film based on the life of Hazrat Fatima al-Zahra (S), set to release worldwide on December 30, 2020.
“Two stories separated by 1400 years. After losing his mother in the midst of a war-torn country, an Iraqi child, learns the importance and power of patience by discovering the historical story of Lady Fatima,” says the IMDB summary. If anything, this seems to be a good outlet to further spread the history of Islam and one of its revered figures. So why is it problematic?
Let’s go back to the time of the Prophet (S), and imagine the early dawn of Islam in Yathrib. The Prophet (S) announces his prophethood, gets tortured for it, migrates, suffers hardships, builds the first-ever mosque in the new city, builds a government, conveys God’s laws… in short, suffers all kinds of hardships and difficulties to get the message of Allah across to His servants. And then… he orders for a mosque to be demolished. Yes, he, the one who built the first-ever mosque in Medina, asks for his companions to demolish Masjid al-Dhirar. A mosque! Keep this story in mind.
Before discussing the film itself, one must understand the mastermind behind it. “Shaykh” Yasser al-Habib, a member of the Shirazi clan, has been a controversial figure in both the Shia and Sunni spheres, to say the least. His constant dissonance and efforts to spread disunity through insulting historical personalities that our Sunni brethren hold dear and constant animalization of them has led to him being criticized by top authorities from both sects.
Having been exiled from Kuwait, he has now based himself in the U.K. where he became the founder and manager of Fadak TV. This channel is known for constantly denigrating the Prophet’s companions and wives by using abusive language and making inappropriate comments about them, and often questioning Sunni beliefs in an extremely disrespectful manner. If his harshness towards our Sunni brethren wasn’t enough, he has also criticized Shias that aren’t in accordance with his radical and unfounded views and is a staunch adversary of Wilayat al-Faqih and the Marjai’yyah.
Keeping these points in mind, Habib stated the following about the film when it was in the making:
“… By watching this movie, the people of the world will see for themselves, for the first time, how the first caliph and his agents attacked the house of Lady Fatima (a) and how they violated her respect as the Prophet’s daughter! This movie will break the mythical characters created for the first two caliphs [i.e. the Sheykhayn] … this movie will demonstrate clearly the difference between the genuine Islam and the distorted Islam [i.e. the Islam based on Saqifah] … we have sworn that we will avenge Lady Fatimah al Zahra (S).”
In regard to the aforementioned statement and the film itself, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi said, “Without any doubt those who help to produce and release this film, as well as those who watch it have committed a mortal sin. This is particularly true under the current circumstances where any sort of attempt at creating disunity among the Muslim people will be helping the enemies of Islam to succeed in their sinister plans against the religion. Such divisive acts do indeed entail severe divine penalty for those who perpetrate them. It is quite likely that the enemies of Islam [who will be the ones to actually produce this film] have a hand in all this and they have planned to incite a lot of bloodshed among the Muslims through this film. Therefore, all those who help in the production of this film will also be responsible for any Muslim blood that is spilled on its account. You must announce to all Shias that those who intend to produce such divisive films are not one of us.
“These are some liars who seek only to manipulate the religious feelings of some of the followers and adherents of the Ahl-al-Bayt (a), and in particular their affections for the great Lady of Islam, Lady Fatimah Al Zahra (a). Thus, all Muslims must know that the messages intended to be conveyed through this film are neither the messages of Islam nor those of the Shia school.”
The Grand Ayatollah has already explained in enough detail why this film will be detrimental to the state of the Muslim Ummah, but one may still argue that the tale of Lady Fatima’s (S) tragedies must be told and that we must not be “apologetic” of our history, or may question whether boycotting the movie would be disrespectful to the Holy Lady herself.
Now, let’s come back to the story of the Prophet (S) that was told in the beginning of this article. The Prophet (S) asked for a mosque to be demolished! How holy is a mosque? He still asked for it to be demolished. Why? Because he wasn’t one to be deceived by the holy cover that the deception came wrapped in, because he was insightful. His followers must be, too, in their own times, and their own ways. Yes, her story must be told but not in inappropriate, insulting ways such that in our oblivious affection, we overlook the great struggles of our Prophet (S), and if we forget the goal for which the Lady (S) herself laid down everything that she had – Islam – and the Lady (S) whose every descendant from the Holy Imams followed her holy suit. The strength of Islam stands on the unity among its adherents, who must try their best not to fall for ‘Divide & Conquer’ techniques, no matter what shape or form they come in.
The Leader, Imam Khamenei, has beautifully captured this in the following statement, “Do not incite emotions of the Sunni community. Some people feel, in order to prove themselves as Shia, they need to insult Sunni figures. This goes against the mannerisms of the infallible Imams. The fact that there are TV stations launched to insult (Sunni figures) well, makes it crystal clear that they are funded by the British Treasury; this is British Shiism. This game, of insults, will have a contrary function. When you insult others, the words of truth won’t be heard … Inciting emotions among other branches of Islam, in the name of Shiism, is actually the approach of ‘British Shi’ism’ – whose outcome would be the emergence of vicious groups and mercenaries from the U.S., and the U.K’s intelligence services, such as ISIS, Al-Nusra Front, and terrorist groups who have committed multiple crimes and destruction in the region.”
As Shias (followers) of the doctrine of Imamat, our actions should be in accordance to the Imams. Despite their grievances, they never once spoke out against any individuals which could result in strife between Muslims. Imam Ali (A) stayed silent over the matter of the caliphate for 25 years. He helped the third caliph in his time of need. His most trusted companion, Salman Farsi (R), was a governor during the time of the second caliph. If regardless of his pain and sorrow, Ameerul Momineen (A) understood that the unity within the Ummah was necessary due to constant attacks from the enemies of Islam, why must we be adamant about doing something he refrained from? Do we love Sayyeda Zahra (S) more than her own husband did? Do we feel more pain over her sufferings than he did?
If all this wasn’t enough, Habib, who has been called out on his racist remarks in the past, seems to continue his legacy by casting dark-skinned actors to play the Sheykhayn and the wife of the Prophet (S), who are supposedly the “evil characters” of the film. In this current climate of sectarianism and racism both, one must understand why even just watching such a hate-mongering film will further divide the Muslims as it will be supporting the Shirazi clan in their motives of strengthening the enemies.
Instead, if one is truly interested in the life of the Leader of All Women in the World (S), as they should be, there is a plethora of resources translated in English already, a few of which are:
- The Life of Fatimah az-Zahra’: Study and Analysis by Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi
- Fatima az-Zahra’, The World’s Most Outstanding Lady by Naser Makarem Shirazi
- Fadak in History by Shaheed Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr
- House of Sorrows, The life of Sayyidah Fatima al-Zahra and her grief by Shaykh ‘Abbas Qummi
Featured image via MovieFone.