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Statement of the famous Sunni Scholar Ibn Abil Hadid about Fadak

By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
According to the Islamic law the prisoners of war become slaves of the Muslims and everyone of them is required to work according to his capacity. Educated persons are employed on educating others and industrialists impart instruction in the field of industry. These slaves cannot become free in any case unless they are first purchased by someone, and this had been the practice of the Prophet and of the Muslims during the battles fought and the conquests made by them.
As regards this battle (i.e. Badr), however, it was declared that educated persons could become free if they taught ten boys how to read and write. Others could also purchase their freedom by paying an amount ranging from one thousand dirhams to four thousand dirhams. As regards the poor persons they could be set free without payment of any ransom.
This news caused a thrill in Makkah amongst the relatives of the captives and they sent ransom money to Madina to get them released. When Suhayl 'Amr was set free on payment of ransom, one of the companions of the Prophet requested for permission to pull out his front teeth, so that he could not be able thereafter to speak against Islam. The Prophet did not grant permission to do that and said that it amounted to 'mutilation' which is not permissible in Islam.
Abil As, the son-in-law of the Prophet and husband of his daughter Zaynab, was a respectable tradesman of Makkah. He had married Zaynab during the Age of Ignorance and did not embrace Islam after the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission. He also participated in the Battle of Badr and was taken prisoner. At that time his wife, Zaynab, was in Makkah. To get her husband released she sent to Madina a necklace which was given to her by her mother Khadijah at the time of her marriage. The Prophet chanced to see the necklace sent by his daughter. He wept and was reminded of the great sacrifices made by Khadijah for the cause of Islam and the enormous wealth spent by her for the advancement of the Divine religion. To ensure respect for public property he turned to his companions and said: "This necklace is your property and you have full right over it. If you are agreeable it may be returned and Abil As may be set free without realizing any ransom". His companions accepted his suggestion.

He says: "I mentioned the incident of Zaynab's necklace before my teacher Abu Ja'far Basri 'Alavi and he confirmed it, but added: "Was it not appropriate that the caliphs should have consoled Fatimah by returning Fadak to her, even if it be supposed that it belonged to the Muslims?" I said: "According to a tradition the Prophets don't leave behind any inheritance and as such Fadak belonged to the Muslims. In the circumstances how could the property of the Muslims be given to the daughter of the Prophet?" The teacher said: "Did not the necklace, which Zaynab sent for the release of Abil As, belong to the Muslims?"
Abil Hadid says: "I said that the Prophet was the lawgiver and possessed authority in all matters, whereas the caliphs possessed no such authority". The teacher said: "I don't say that the caliphs should have taken Fadak forcibly from the Muslims and given it to Fatimah. What I say is that the ruler of the time didn't consult the Muslims regarding the return of Fadak. Why did he not stand up like the Prophet and say: 'O people! Fatimah is the daughter of your Prophet. She desires that the garden of Fadak should be under her control as it used to be during the lifetime of the Prophet. Do you agree that Fadak be returned to her?'
Ibn Abil Hadid writes in the end: "I could say nothing in reply to the eloquent remarks of the teacher and only said this much in his support: 'Abul Hasan Abdul Jabbar has also criticized the caliphs in this behalf and says that though their action was according to law, no regard was shown to the respect and position, to which Zahrah was entitled".[Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid, vol. XIV, page 191].

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