Fatima of Cordoba
Nunah Fatima bint ibn al-Muthanna more commonly known as Fatima of Cordoba was a twelfth centry Andalusian Sufi saint and shaykha (spiritual guide) of the famous Hazrat Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi. Although she lived in extreme poverty and was very old when she met the young Hazrat Ibn Arabi, her beauty was that of a young woman, so replenished was she by the love of God.
Hazrat Fatima was born in Cordoba in Spain and chose to embark on the spiritual path while still a young girl living with her family. She later moved to Seville and married a righteous man who was afflicted with leprosy, whom she happily and dutifully served for twenty-four years until he passed away.
She earned her living through hand-spinning but was soon forced to give up this profession after she injured her spinning finger. She took this as a sign and from then on lived in very impoverished circumstances, subsisting on offerings and food that had been discarded by others.
When she became hungry and had no food to eat, she would nevertheless remain cheerful and thank God for His favour in that he was subjecting her to the same circumstances to which He had subjected his prophets and saints. She would say, “Lord, how can I deserve this great position in that You treat me as You treated Your loved ones?”
Shaykha of Hazrat Ibn Arabi
Hazrat Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi was a young man when he moved to Seville with his family to receive his formal education. He studied under various masters, one of them being Hazrat Fatima whom he served for several years and had great respect for, describing her as “a mercy to the world”. Despite being advanced in age when he met her, Hazrat Ibn Arabi describes her youthful appearance:
Elsewhere he states:
Relationship with Hazrat Ibn Arabi
She had a very caring attitude towards Hazrat Ibn Arabi and would refer to herself as his mother. He narrates:
Hazrat Fatima herself reserved great respect for her student and preferred his company over that of all the contemporaries of her day who would come to see her. Hazrat Ibn Arabi relates:
Elsewhere he states:
Hazrat Ibn Arabi, along with two of his companions, built a hut made of reeds for her, in which she lived until she passed away.
Devotion to God
Hazrat Fatima was deeply devoted to God. Hazrat Ibn Arabi states, ‘although God offered to her His Kingdom, she refused, saying, “You are all, all else is inauspicious for me.”‘
He goes on to state that he once heard her remark:
Due to her profound devotion, some of the believing Jinn would sit with her, seeking her companionship. However, she would refuse them and ask them to remain hidden, reminding them of what the Prophet of God ﷺ had said the night he caught the demon, “I remembered the words of my brother Solomon (alaihi as-salaam) and used them on it.”
She used to take great pleasure in playing the tambourine. When asked about this, she replied:
Spiritual Influence & Demise
Hazrat Ibn Arabi relates:
Various miracles were attributed to her, as witnessed by Hazrat Ibn Arabi.
Miracle of Surah Fatiha
He came to know her lofty station when he observed that Surah Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Quran, would assist her in any task she desired to carry out. As result of her reading the chapter, she was able to remarkably create a three-dimensional ethereal image of Surah Fatiha and ask it to carry out a certain task.
Miracle of the Oil
Hazrat Ibn Arabi narrates:
- Sufis of Andalusia: The Ruh Al-Quds and Al-Durrat al-Fakhirah – Hazrat Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi