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The Political Factors for the Usurpation of Fadak

By: Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi
The story of Fadak is one of the most heart-rending and tumultuous stories in the life of Fatimah the Lady of Islam (s.a.) in particular, and the family of the Prophet (s.a.w) in general, and in the history of Islam in a widespread and disseminating way. It is mingled with political conspiracies and many ups and downs and is a hatchway for the unravelling of a part of the important mysteries surrounding the early scene of Islams history.
However, first, before beginning this discussion, it is necessary to know what Fadak was and where it was located?
Fadak, as many of the historians and writers have written, was a flourishing, fertile village in the land of Hejaz near Khaibar, being two or three days journey from Medina, Some have reported this distance as 140 Kilometers, and in which there was a bubbling spring and many date palms[11] and after Khaibar it was known as the stronghold of the Jews in Hejaz.
As to how Fadak, this pleasant, prosperous village, was transferred to the Holy Prophet (S), it is well known that after the messenger of God (S) returned from the conquest of Khaibar God placed fear and panic in the hearts of the inhabitants of Fadak who were of the headstrong Jews. They sent a representative to the Prophet (S) and made to him a proposition of peace. In return for their transferral of half of Fadak to the Holy Prophet (S), he accepted and signed the peace treaty.
As such, Fadak became the public domain of the Prophet (s.a.w) because according to an explicit Quranic verse, something that is obtained by the Muslims without war is the exclusive right of the Prophet (S) and unlike spoils of war is not divided.[12] In this way the Prophet (S) took Fadak and spent its earnings on the fatigued wayfarers and the like.
This has been mentioned by Tabri in his book of history and Ibn Alalthir ѻ in is book Alkamil and others in their own books.
Also, Tabari in his book and Ibn Alathir in the book Kamel made a reference to this.[13] It was also mentioned by many historians confirming that the Prophet (S) during his own lifetime granted Fadak to the Lady of Islam Fatimah Zahra (s.a.).[14]
Strong evidence of this transferral is that many commentators, including the famous Sunni commentator Jalal-Al-Din Suyyuti in the commentary book (Dar-Al-Mansour) under the Quranic Verse; (give the near of kin their due), has quoted from Abu Said Khadri that, because this verse was descended, the Apostle of God (S) asked for Fatimah and granted Fadak to her. The words of this tradition are as follows: : . ( ) : .
When the word of God was revealed saying that; O Prophet! Give your near of kin their due, the Apostle of God (S) granted Fadak to Fatimah (s.a.).
Under that same verse another tradition is narrated from Ibn Abbas which contains the same information.
Another eye - witness to this claim is the remark of Amir al Muminin (a.s.) in Nahjul Balaghah in relation to Fadak, in which he says: ...
Of course, all that we had in our possession under this sky was Fadak, but a group of people felt greedy for it and the other party withheld themselves from it. Allah, is after all the best arbitrator.[15]
This remark clearly shows that in the Prophets (S) time Fadak was under the control of Ali (a.s) and Fatimah Zahra (s.a.). However, later a group of the Hakims jealous men feasted their eyes upon it and Ali (a.s.) and his wife-the Lady of Islam-were forced to overlook it, and of course this over looking did not occur of their own free will. If other than this was true then the calling of God as arbitrator i.e. to say would have been meaningless.
Among the great Shia scholars, a large group have also mentioned traditions related to this section in their own creditable books. Among them the following scholars may be mentioned;
The late Kulany in Kafy , and the late Saduq ޻and the late Muhammad Ibin Masud Alayyashy in their commentary and Ali Ibn Issa AlArbali in Kashf Alghamma ɻ, and also another large group in books of commentary, history and traditions, of which mentioning all of them would be too lengthy.
Now let us see why and for what reason they took Fadak away from Fatimah (s.a.).
The seizing of Fadak from the lady of Islam Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) was not a simple matter only of an economic nature. On the contrary, its economic aspect was outshone by the political matters governing the Islamic community after the death of the Prophet (S). Indeed, Fadak cannot be separated from the other events of that era. On the contrary, it is a link from a lengthy chain and a phenomenon from a total, enveloping current!
The following factors may be cited for this serious historical Usurpation:
1. The possession of Fadak in the hands of the prophets family was calculated as a great meaningful distinction for them. This was in itself proof of their elevated position and superiority in the presence of God and the earmarking of their intense closeness to the Prophet (S). This is especially because, according to the shia and sunni narratives mentioned above, when the Quranic verse was descended the Prophet (S) sent for Fatimah (s.a.) and granted to her the land of Fadak.
It is clear that the possession of Fadak in the hands of the Prophets family in view of this historical background wouldcause the people to search for the Prophets (S) other vestiges in this family especially the matter of caliphate or the successor of that Hazrat (S). This was not a situation, which could be tolerated by those who supported the transferral of the caliphate to other persons.
2. This matter was also important from an economic stand-point, and it affected its political aspect. This was due to the fact that if Ali (a.s.) and his supporters were placed under severely straightened economic circumstances, their political power would be reduced proportionately According to another interpretation, the existence of Fadak. in their hands made resources available to them that could have been supportive of them in the matter of the guardianship (leadership). This was just as the wealth of Khadija (s.a.) was backing for the progress of Islam at the beginning of the Prophets (S) mission.
All the world over it is customary that whenever they wish to shut - out an important person or country they place him under economic embargo.
In the history of Islam this has come to us in the Story of Abu-Talibs camp, and the severe economic siege inflicted on the Muslims by the infidels of Quraish.
In the interpretation of the Quranic chapter The Hypocrites under the verse; If we return to Medina, surely the mighty will drive out the meaner there from. (Sura Munafiqin, 63:8)
Here is a reference to a plot similar to this plot, by the hypocrites, which, by the mercy of God was nipped in the bud. As such it is not surprising that the enemies should try to take this investment from the Prophets family, secluding them and emptying their hands of wealth.
3. If they had been willing to give Fadak to Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) as her inheritance, or a gift of the Prophet (S) to her; the way would have been made clear for her to also request the matter of the caliphate from them.
This point has been subtly reverberated by Ibn Abil-Hadid Motazaly in his account of the Nahjul Balagha He says: I asked my professor Ali-bin-Fareghie - teacher of theology in Baghdad school: Was Fatimah (s.a.) truthful in her claim of the ownership of Fadak?
He replied: Yes.
I then said: Then why didnt the first caliph give her Fadak when she was truthful to him?
He then smiled and spoke a beautiful, subtle and joke-like utterance, even though he was not in the habit of joking, saying: If at that time, Abi Bakr on hearing Fatimahs claim would have given Fadak to her, the next day she would have come to him and claimed the caliphate for her husband! She Would have set him aside from his position, and he would have set him aside from his position, and he would have had no defense or justification for himself, because by giving Fadak he would have accepted that whatever Fatimah (s.a.) claimed was the truth, needing no proof or evidence.[16]
Then Ibn Abil Hadid adds: This was a fact, even though my teacher related it as a joke.
This obvious confession by two Sunni scholars is a living witness for the Fadak storys, Political essence.
If we look at this villages fate in the first few decades of Islams history how it constantly changed hands and how each of the caliphs held a particular position in relation to it, this matter is better clarified. God willing in the following discussion we will refer to this.
[11]Mojam-Al-Boldan: The word Fadak.
[12]Quran; chapter 54, Vs 6 & 7.
[13]Refer to the book Fadak by Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Qazwini Haery
[14]Because it was a possession of the Prophet (S).
[15] Nahjul Balaghah, letter 45, translation into English by: Ali Naqi-un-Naqvi
[16] Explanation of Nahj Albalagha by Ibn Abi Al-hadid, vol. 4, pg. 78

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