The motive which prompts us to pursue the history of Fadak and to extract the series of events after it for a period of three centuries from the texts of historical books is to clarify three issues:
- The truth about the rule of annulment of inheritance from prophets allegedly made by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.); in other words, the claim that property of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is part of the public treasury, baytul-mal, and belongs to all This was claimed by Abu Bakr and it was rejected by his successors, i.e. by both next caliphs (Umar and Usmaan), by the Umayyads and the Abbassids, all of them. We must consider that the lawfulness and rightfulness of their caliphate depended on the “correctness”and “lawfulness” of the caliphate of the first caliph and his actions.
- Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) never had any hesitation regarding the rightfulness and justification of their They emphasized and confirmed that Fatemah (s.a.) had always been right and that Abu Bakr’s claim had always been rejected; they did not yield to false claims.
- Whenever a caliph made a decision to put Allah’s command into effect, with regard to Fadak, to observe justice and equity and to restore the right to the entitled one in conformity with Islamic rules, he used to return Fadak to thedescendants of Fatemah (s.a.). Umar ibn al- Khattab was the most harsh person in depriving Fatemah (s.a.) of her Fadak estate as he himself later confessed, probably with remorse, thus: “When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) died, I came along with Abu Bakr to Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and said, “What do you say about what has been left by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)?” He replied, “We have the most rights with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).” I (Umar) said, “Even those properties of Khaybar?” He said, “Yes, even those of Khaybar.” I said, “Even those of Fadak?” He replied, “Yes, even those of Fadak.”
Then I said, “By Allah! We say NO even if you cut our necks with saws” as recorded in Majma’ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, pp. 39-40. As it has already been mentioned, Umar then took the document (deed of ownership) of Fadak and tore it up. But when Umar became caliph (13-23 A.H. / 634-644 A.D.), he gave Fadak back to heirs of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Discussing the Fadak issue, Yaqut al-Hamawi (574-626 A.H. / 1178- 1229 A.D.), the famous historian and geographer, says the following: “When Umar ibn al-Khattab became caliph and gained victories and the Muslims secured abundant wealth (i.e. the public treasury satisfied the caliphate’s needs), he made a judgment contrary to that of his predecessor. He gave it (Fadak) back to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s heirs. At the time, Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib disputed about Fadak.”
Ali (a.s.) said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had bestowed it on Fatemah (s.a.) during his lifetime. Abbas denied this and used to say, “This was in the possession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and I have a share in this inheritance.” They were disputing this with each other and asked Umar to settle the case. He refused to judge between them and said, “Both of you are more conscious and aware of your problem; but I only give it [Fadak] to you.”1
The reason why Umar and Abu Bakr were trying to seize Fadak was economic and political, not merely a religious one, as the previous episode shows. When the economic and political conditions of the caliphate improved, and when there was no need for the income obtained from Fadak, Umar reversed his own decision. The last part of this historic event has been inserted afterwards to demonstrate the matter of inheritance by the brother or paternal uncle of the deceased when the latter had no sons. This problem is a matter of dispute among Islamic sects. The judicial and jurisprudential discussion is separate from our own goal in the writing of this book. We are only discussing
the matter historically.
Abbas had no claim in this case because he had not proven that he had a share in this property, nor did his descendants consider it to be among their own assets even when they [the Abbasides] became caliphs and were ruling the Islamic lands. They either considered themselves as owners of this estate in their capacity as caliphs, or they used to return it to the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) when they had decided to be just rulers.
When Usmaan ibn Affaan became caliph, following the death of Umar (23-35 A.H. / 644-656 A.D.), he granted Fadak to Marwan ibn al-Hakam, his cousin2 and this was one of the causes of hostile feelings among the Muslims against Usmaan.3
1 Mu’jam al-Buldan, vol. 4, pp. 238-239; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 3, p. 999; Tahzeeb al-Lughah, vol. 10, p. 124; Lisan al-Arab, vol. 10, p. 473; Taj al-Urus, vol. 7, p. 166.
2 See al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 6, p. 301; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol.
3, p. 1000; Ibn Abil Hadeed, vol. 1, p. 198
Refer to al-Ma’rif, Ibn Qutaybah, p. 195; al-Iqd al-Fareed,
These hostile sentiments ended in the rebellion against him and, subsequently, in his murder. “While previously Fatemah (s.a.) used to claim it, sometimes as her inheritance and sometimes as a gift (from her father), she was driven away from it (Fadak),” as Ibn Abil Hadeed has said in Sharh Nahjul-Balagha. In this way, Fadak fell into the possession of Marwan. He used to sell its crops, fruits and products for at least ten thousand dinars per year. If in some years its income decreased, this drop was not made public. This was its usual profit till the time of the caliphate of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (in 100 A.H. / 718 A.D.).4
When Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (41-60 A.H. / 661-680 A.D.) declared himself ruler of Syria, he became partner in Fadak with Marwan ibn al-Hakam and others, allotting one third of it to Marwan, one third to Amr son of Usmaan ibn Affaan, and one third to his own son Yazid, as if it were their personal property. This was after the death of Imam al-Hasan ibn Ali (a.s.). “In order to enrage the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), as al-Ya’qubi states on p. 199, vol. 2 of his Tarikh, it remained in the possession of the three above-mentioned individuals till Marwan became monarch for less than a couple of years (64-65
A.H. / 684-685 A.D.); he took full possession of it. Then he doled it out to his two sons, Abdul-Malik and Abdul Aziz. Then Abdul Aziz doled out his share to his son (Umar ibn Abdul Aziz).
When Umar ibn Abdul Aziz became caliph (99-101
A.H. / 717-720 A.D.) for this shorter period, he delivered a sermon once in which he said, “Verily, Fadak was among the things which Allah had bestowed on His Messenger and neither horse nor camel was stirred for its acquisition.” He mentioned the history of the Fadak case during the past monarchies till he said the following: “Then Marwan [ibn al-Hakam] gave it (Fadak) to my father and to Abdul Malik.
It became mine as well as al-Walid’s and Sulayman’s (Marwan’s two sons). When al-Walid became ruler (86-96 A.H. / 705-715 A.D.), I asked him for his share
and he gave it to me. I also asked for Sulayman’s share and he, too, gave it to me. Then I gathered the three parts and I possessed no property more dear to me than it. Do testify that I have returned it to its original status (as property of Fatemah’s descendants).” He wrote to his governor over Medina, Abu Bakr ibn Muhammed ibn Amr ibn Hazm, ordering him to carry out what he had declared in this sermon.
Then Fadak went back to the possession of the children of Fatemah (s.a.). “This was the first removal of oppression through the returning of Fadak to the children of Ali (a.s.),” Abu Hilal al-Askari writes on p. 209 of his work titled al-Awaael. They possessed it during the rule of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz.
When Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became caliph (101- 105 A.H. / 720-724 A.D.), he seized Fadak and they (Ali’s children) were again dispossessed, robbed of their property. It fell into the possession of the children of Marwan ibn al-Hakam, cousin of Usmaan ibn Affaan, as it had previously used to be. They passed it from one to another till their authority came to an end. It was then that it passed to the hands of Banu al-Abbas, the Abbasids or Abbasides or Abbasis.
When “Abul Abbas” Abdullah as-Saffah became the first caliph of the Abbasid dynasty (132-136 A.H. / 749-754 A.D.), he returned Fadak to the children of Fatemah (s.a.), handing it over to Abdullah ibn al- Hasan ibn al-Hasan [known as al-Hasan al-Muthanna or al-Hasan II] son of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). When “Abu Ja’far” Abdullah al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi (136- 158 A.H. / 754-775 A.D.) became caliph, he confiscated Fadak from the offspring of Imam al-Hasan C. When Muhammed al-Mahdi, son of al-Mansur, became caliph (158-169 A.H. / 775-785 A.D.), he returned Fadak to the children of Fatemah (s.a.). Then Musa al- Hadi ibn al-Mahdi (169-170 A.H. / 785-786 A.D.) and his brother Harun ar-Rashid (170-193 A.H. / 786-809 A.D.) confiscated it from the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.). It found itself in the possession of Banu al-Abbas till the time when al-Ma’mun became caliph (193-218 A.H / 813-833 A.D.). Al-Ma’mun al-Abbasi gave it back to the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) in 210 A.H. / 826
It is narrated through al-Mahdi ibn Sabiq that al- Ma’mun one day sat to hear the complaints of the people and to judge in their disputes. The first complaint which he received caused him to weep on considering it. When he asked where the defending representative of the children of Fatemah (s.a.) daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was, an old man stood up and came forth. He argued with him about Fadak, and al-Ma’mun, too, argued till the first won the argument over al-Ma’mun, as we read on p. 209 of Al-Awa’il. Al-Ma’mun summoned the faqihs and questioned them about the claim of the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.).
They narrated to al-Ma’mun saying that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) gave Fadak to Fatemah (s.a.) as a gift and that after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Fatemah (s.a.) demanded Abu Bakr to return it to her. He asked her to bring witnesses to her claim regarding this gift. She brought Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn (a.s.) and Umm Ayman (s.a.) as her witnesses.
They testified in the case in her favor. Abu Bakr rejected their testimony. Then al-Ma’mun asked the faqihs: “What is your view about Umm Ayman?” They replied, ‘she is a woman to whom the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) testified that she is a resident of Paradise.”Al- Ma’mun disputed at length with them and forced them to accept his argument. They finally confessed that Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn (a.s.) and Umm Ayman (s.a.) had testified only to the truth. When they unanimously adopted this stand, he restored Fadak to the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) as we read on pp. 195-96 of Vol. 3 of the famous history book, Tarikh, by the earliest historian, al-Ya’qubi.
Then al-Ma’mun ordered the Fadak estate to be registered as the property of the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.). Once it was registered, al-Ma’mun signed the deed in person. Then he wrote a letter to his governor in Madinah, Qusam ibn Ja’far, as follows: “Be informed that Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), exercising the authority vested on him by the divine religion as the caliph, successor and kinsman of the
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), considered himself more worthy of following the precedent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and of carrying out his commands. And (the chief is more entitled) to restore to the rightful persons any endowment gifted by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or anything which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had gifted to anyone.
The success and safeguarding of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is done by Allah, and he is particularly anxious to act in a way which will win the pleasure of the Almighty for him. Verily, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had gifted the estate of Fadak to his daughter, Fatemah (s.a.). He had transferred its ownership to her. It is a clear and an established fact. None of the kindred of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has any difference of view in this regard. Fatemah (s.a.) always claimed that which was more worthy (to be justified) than the person (Abu Bakr) whose word was accepted.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) considers it right and proper to restore Fadak to the heirs of Fatemah (s.a.). He will hereby win nearness to Allah Almighty by establishing His justice and right. It will win the appreciation of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) by carrying his commandments into effect. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) has commanded that this restoration of Fadak should duly be registered. This command should be transmitted to all officials.
“As it was a custom to proclaim on every annual hajj gathering after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), anyone to whom the Holy Prophet had promised by way of a gift or a present should come forward. His statement will be accepted and the
promise will thus be fulfilled. Certainly, Fatemah (s.a.) had a superior right to have her statements accepted in the matter of the gifting of Fadak by the Holy Prophet to her.
“Verily, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) has commanded his servant, Mubarak al-Tabari, to restore Fadak to the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), in all its borders, rights and servants attached thereto, cereal crops and other things.
“The same has been restored to Muhammed ibn Yahya ibn al-Hasan ibn Zaid ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and Muhammed ibn Abdullah ibn al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). “Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) appointed both of them as agents representing the owners of the lands: the heirs of Fatemah (s.a.). Be then informed that this is the view of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and that Allah has inspired him to obey the order of Allah and to win His pleasure and the pleasure of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Let also your subordinates know this. Behave towards Muhammed ibn Yahya and Muhammed ibn Abdullah in the same manner as you used to behave towards Mubarak al-Tabari. Help them both in everything which has anything to do with its flourishing and prosperity, its improvement in abundance of cereals by Allah’s will, and that is the end of the matter.” This document was dated Wednesday, two nights past Zilqad, of the year 210 A.H. which coincided with
February 14, 826 A.D.
During the period of al-Ma’mun’s government,
Fadak was in the possession of Fatemah’s descendants.
This continued during the caliphate of al-Mu’tasim (218-227 A.H. / 833-842 A.D.) and that of al-Wasiq (227-232 A.H. / 842-847 A.D.).
When Ja’far al-Mutawakkil became caliph (232-247
A.H. / 847-861 A.D.), the one among them who was marked as an arch-enemy of the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), both of those alive and of those dead, gave the order to again confiscate Fadak from the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.). He seized it and gave it to his poet Harmalah al-Hajjam (the cupper).
After the death of al-Hajjam, he gave it to al-Bazyar (the falconer, a native of Tabaristan), according to Kashf al-Ghumma, vol. 2, pp. 121-122; Behaarul Anwaar [1st old ed.], vol. 8, p. 108 and Safinat al-Bihar, vol. 2, p. 351. Abu Hilal al-Askari stated that his name was Abdullah ibn Umar al-Bazyar and added: “… And there were in it (Fadak) eleven date-palm trees which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had planted with his own hands.
The descendants of Abu Talib used to pick these dates. When pilgrims (hujjaj) entered Medina, these descendants donated the dates to them. Through this, they received a considerable return. This news reached al-Mutawakkil. He ordered Abdullah ibn Umar to pick the produce and to squeeze it into juice. Abdullah ibn Umar sent a man named Bishr ibn Umayyah ath- Thaqafi who squeezed the produce into juice. It was reported that he made it into wine…, Astaghfirullah”! It had not reached Basra, on its way to this Mutawakkil despot, before decaying. By then al-Mutawakkil was killed, as we read on p. 209 of Al-Awa’il.
When al-Mutawakkil was killed and al-Muntasir (his son) succeeded him (247-248 A.H. / 861-862 A.D.), the latter issued an order to restore Fadak to its rightful owners, the descendants of al-Hasan (a.s.) and al- Husayn (a.s.), awarding grants to them in order to mitigate them. This took place in 248 A.H. / 862 A.D.
according to the following references: Fath al-Buldan, vol. 1, pp. 33-38; Mu’jam al-Buldan, vol. 4, pp. 238-
240; Tarikh, al-Ya’qubi, vol. 2, p. 199; vol. 3, pp. 48, 195-196; Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Ibn al-Aseer, vol. 2, pp. 224-225; vol. 3, pp. 457, 497; vol. 5, p. 63; Vol. 7, p.
116; al-Iqd al-Fareed, vol. 4, pp. 216, 283, 435; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 3, pp. 999-1000; Ibn Sa’d, al-Tabaqat al- Kubra, vol. 5, pp. 286-287; Tarikh al-Khulafa’, pp. 231-
232, 356; Muruj al-Zahab, vol. 4, p. 82; Sirat Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 110; Subh al-A’sha, vol. 4, p. 291; Jamharat Rasa’il al-Arab, vol. 2, pp. 331-332; vol.
3, pp. 509-510; A’lam an-Nisa’, vol. 3, pp. 1211-1212; Ibn Abil Hadeed, Sharh Nahjul-Balagha, vol. 16, pp. 277-278; al-Awa’il, p. 209; Kashf al-Ghumma, vol. 2,
- 120-122; Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 8, pp. 107-108.
It seemed that Fadak was re-seized from the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.) after the death of Abdul- Nasir ‘al-Muntasir Billah’, which took place in 248 A.H.
/ 862 A.D., because ‘Abul-Hasan’ Ali ibn Isa al-Irbili (d. 692 A.H. / 1293 A.D.) stated that al-Mu’tadid (279-289
A.H. / 892-902 A.D.) returned Fadak to the descendants of Fatemah (s.a.). Then he mentioned that al-Muqtafi (289-295 A.H. / 902-908 A.D.) seized it from them. It is said also that al-Muqtadir (295-320 A.H. / 908-932 A.D.) returned it to them (to the descendants of Hazrat Fatemah [s.a.]), according to Kashf al-Ghumma, vol. 2,
- 122; Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 8, p. 108 and Safinat al- Bihar, vol. 2, p. 351.
After this long period of re-seizing and restoring, Fadak was returned to the possession of the usurpers and their heirs. It seems there is no further mention that such changing hands was ever made in history, and the curtain fell.