The Event of Fadak as a Historical Reality
Compiled by: Ahmad Ahmadi Birjandi
Fadak was a cultivated piece of land 140 km off Medina. It was a personal property since it was not obtained in a war or taken over as spoils of war. Rather, when the story about Khaybar reached the village of Fadak, all the people there consented to make peace with the Prophet (S), providing him with half of Fadak and keeping the other half for themselves, for which they demanded to hold their own religious rites quite freely and the security of their territory to be maintained by the Islamic state.
It is said that when the verse, ﴾And give the kinsman his right…﴿ (Al-Qur’an, 17: 26), was revealed, the Prophet (S) presented Fadak as a gift to her beloved daughter, Fatimah (as).
It was barely ten days after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S) when Fatimah al-Zahra (as) was informed that the caliph's agents have expelled her workers from Fadak and taken over the land. Thereupon, along with a group of Hashemite women, Fatimah (as) went to the caliph to take back her usurped land, and some talk was exchanged between them accordingly.
The Prophet (S)'s daughter asked Abu Bakr why he had deprived her of her right and dismissed her workers from the land. The caliph said, “I have heard your father say that the Prophets bequeath nothing.” “My father bestowed Fadak on me while he was still alive and it was since then that I have been the owner”, said Fatimah (as).
The caliph asked. “Do you have any witnesses for this?” Fatimah (as) said, “My witnesses are ‘Ali (as) and Umm Ayman, [and as some believe, al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as)] who have all borne witness. Then ‘Ali (as), who was present as a witness, said to Abu Bakr, “Whom do you ask for witness when I lay claim to a property which is in the hand of a Muslim? Do you ask me, who am a claimant, for a witness or the other person who is in possession of the property?” The caliph said, “In this case I would call you to witness.” ‘Ali (as) said: “It is a long time since Fadak has been in our possession and disposal; now that the Muslims claim it to be a public property, they should bring in their witnesses.”(According to the Islamic law, the claimant has to bring in a witness and the denier has to utter an oath).
In order to appropriate Fadak, the caliph appealed to a hadith which is in brief as follows: “Prophets do not bequeath anything, and whatever they leave behind after death is alms.”
Contrasted to the Qur’an, this hadith proves to be incorrect. It is also rationally incorrect to believe that the prophets bequeath nothing to their children, as it is pointed out in Surat al-Maryam, (verses 5 and 6) reflecting Zechariah's supplication: ﴾Indeed I fear my kinsmen, after me, and my wife is barren. So grant me from yourself an heir who may inherit from me and inherit from the House of Jacob, and make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].﴿
Also in Surat al-Naml, verse 16, God says: ﴾Solomon inherited from David﴿. Instigated by the people surrounding him, the then caliph intended to deprive the Prophet (S)'s daughter and ‘Ali (a.s.) of the revenue from Fadak, so that they become unable to give alms to the poor and the needy and as a result those who gathered around them intending to gain alms would disperse.
Furthermore, under Abu Bakr, some people shunned paying alms tax and thus the incomes to the public treasury began to subside. A fertile and cultivated piece of land with numerous palm groves, Fadak yielded about seventy thousand dinars. Consequently, Abu Bakr took over Fadak from the daughter of the Prophet (S) and many of other Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs followed him. For the first time, however, Fadak was returned to the offspring of Fatma (as) and Hashemites by ‘Umar b. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.
When the news about the usurpation of Fadak reached Fatimah (as), she called in her kindred and kinfolks. As they gathered in the Mosque of the Apostle of Allah (S), Fatimah (as) took a seat behind the curtain. Hearing her anguished cries and lamentation due to her father's absence and tyranny of the Muslims, both the Emigrants and the Helpers began to weep vehemently. Fatimah (as) paused a while for the silence to prevail and then delivered a fervent sermon.
She began by praising and glorifying Allah the Almighty, as follows: “Praise and glory belongs to the Lord whose generous Hand brought into the world of being the creatures abiding in the desert of non-existence. Praise is to God who taught us – His servants – the lesson of thankfulness and assigned gratefulness as our obligation.
He is the Lord who has existed before everything and will exist after everything.”' Then she went on to say: “Here I am, the daughter of the Prophet, professing the Oneness of Allah and acknowledging that Muhammad (S), my father, is His servant and messenger. O you, the group of Emigrants and Helpers! You pledged allegiance to your Prophet (S) to spread around his religion with your own hands and have the world of mankind turn round the pivot of his faith.”
She then proceeded to talk about Islam and the Book of Allah, the Household of the Prophet (S), performing prayers, fasting, Hajj, and jihad, and said: ''O Muslims! You are advised not to leave us and not to leave your Prophet's children alone and to be faithful to his Household.”
Introducing herself for the second time, she said: “...standing before this sacred tomb nobody can tell lies. I am not exaggerating... this is my father lying in his grave... My father, Muhammad (S), was sent to teach you morals, virtues, and the codes of humanity at the school of piety and ethics. You are the ones who slipped back to your old faith and the time of paganism as soon as he passed away... then you took to incompatibility and practiced hypocrisy and detachment... I assume Satan has overshadowed your minds and diverted your heedless steps from the straight path.”
Then she uttered some words that hit down like a sledge hammer on the heads of the usurpers of her right, saying: “Who has said that Fatimah is to be deprived of her father's inheritance? Who is the one who has broken apart the lawful limits of inheritance and has interpreted the verses of the Qur’an to his own whims? O Emigrants and Helpers! I am astonished by what this old man says.
Abu Bakr supposes he can take over the inheritance of Abu Qahafa, whereas the inheritance of Muhammad (S) is unlawful for Fatimah. Nobody is allowed to quote a hadith from my father as against the Qur’an.” Then Fatimah al-Zahra (as) recited some verses from the Surat al-Naml, in which the Qur’an talks about Solomon's inheriting from David, and David bequeathing to Solomon. Then she read Zechariah's words from Surat Al-i Imran, and inheritance rules from Surat al-Nisa, to the Emigrants and Helpers and then she continued: “O Emigrants and Helpers! What do you say on these manifest verses and how do you want to weaken a general law by a single hadith? How do you want to deprive Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (S) and his dear one who was reared and trained by him, of her father's inheritance?'' And then she faced Abu Bakr and said indignantly: “On the day of Resurrection, I will seize your collar to demand my right from you which is trampled on today.”
Then she turned toward the youth of Medina and after that turned toward the tribesmen and the Helpers and said: “O Zealous youth! O loyal comrades and helpers of Islam! What lassitude and negligence you are engaged in! O group of Helpers! Why are you as bleak and dormant as ice, while a bunch of hypocrites and inept have taken away my rightful lot and my father's memorial to me? O you who have power in your arms and gold in your palms! What has become of you that you would not move on? What has happened to those stern muscles and mountain-crasher fists which you used to fight with the infidels? How admirably you rose up and how contemptibly you sat back and kept quiet!”
Against such scathing logic given by the daughter of the Prophet (S), Abu Bakr had no choice but submission. The malevolent, however, did not let the right reach the rightful and the caliphate and Wilayat settle in their deserved position. The fervent words of Fatimah (as) were so impressive and influential that the powerful and authoritative people present there were feared lest a rebel and revolution would ensue.
Fatimah (as) swore not to talk to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar any longer. Then, turned her face away from the crowd to the sacred grave of her honorable father and fell grievously on it, saying: “My father! They tyrannized me and will soon get the punishment for their actions on the Day of Resurrection. My father! I will cry for you as long as I live, and my eyes will not fail shedding tears...”
The women from the Bani Hashim wept a lot and took the daughter of the Prophet (S) away from her father's grave and took her home, creeping along.
‘Ali (as), Fatimah (as)'s husband, also asked her to be patient and tolerant in this gloomy time when the sun of the truth is covered with clouds of conspiracy. He himself, in order to prevent the newly planted tree of Islam from drying up, got along with patience.
Fatimah al-Zahra (as) gradually became emaciated due to the tragic events and sorrows, which if poured upon bright days, they would turn into dark nights, and passed away on 3rd of Jamadi al-Thani, 95 days (or, according to some sources, 75 days) after her father's demise.
Fatimah al-Zahra (as) advised her dear husband to bury her body at night-time. And it was done as she had wished. The most heart-rending of all was the fact that the resting place of the Holy Prophet (S)'s daughter is still unknown; some consider it to be in Baqi‘cemetery, others say it is besides the resplendent Shrine of the Holy Apostle of Allah (S). With tears in his eyes, ‘Ali laid the body of his beloved wife secretly in grave and without leaving a trace or sign filled it up with earth, whispering the following lines distressfully with tearful eyes: “My soul is imprisoned in my bitterly painful sighs and laments. I wish the bird of my soul would fly out of this cage and take my laments along. Verily, there's no use in my life without your presence (my dear wife). My tears are flowing down because I fear lest my life after you would last long (and I would keep on burning in separation from you).”
Then, he took the hands of his dear children, the orphans of Zahra (as) – al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Zaynab, and Umm Kulthum – and returned to the sad house, from where Zahra (as) was absent for ever.
Some Sayings of Her Holiness Fatimah al-Zahra (as):
“God has ordained the faith a means for purifying from paganism; prayer (salat) a means for refraining from arrogance and rebelliousness; following the household of the Messenger a factor for the solidarity of the Islamic community; Imamate as preventive of disunity; and jihad (holy war) as a way of maintaining the glory of Islam.
Praise and glory belongs to the Lord whose generous Hand brought into the world of being the creatures abiding in the desert of non-existence.
Praise and glory belongs to the Lord who taught us to be grateful and decreed thankfulness as our duty. Allah is the Lord who had existed before everything and will exist after everything.
O Muslims! You have been advised not to abandon us and not to leave the children of your Prophet alone and to be faithful to his progeny.
My father, Muhammad (S), came to teach you virtuousness and morality in the school of piety and ethics and taught you the doctrine of humanity.” (Part of her Scathing Sermon in the Mosque of Medina)