Fadak and the Imams (A.S.) of the Holy Prophet’s Family

One of the matters very worthy of attention is that after the primary usurpation, not even one of the Imams ever interfered in the matter of Fadak. Nor did Ali (a.s.) in the inner workings of his government interfere, nor did the other Imams. This was while persons like “Omar Ibn Abdul-Aziz” and even “Ma’mun” suggested that it be returned to one of the Imams. This is really question provoking. What was the reason for this position with regard to the matter of Fadak?
Why didn’t Ali (a.s.), at a time when the whole Islamic realm was under his subservience, give back this right to its original owners? Or for an example, why didn’t Ma’mun give Fadak back to Imam Musa al-Reda (a.s.), despite all of his show of devotion regarding the Prophets family? On the contrary, turning it over to some of “Zaid ben Ali bin al-Husayn” grandchildren as representatives of Bani Hashem.
Amir al Mum’inin Ali (a.s.) has said all there is to say in a short discourse, where 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 Arbiter
In practice, that great man showed that he didn’t want Fadak as a means for income or an economic source, and at the time when the matter of Fadak was propounded by himself and his wife it was for the stabilization of the matter of the guardianship, and to prevent diversive ways in the groundwork of the Prophets caliphate. Now that the dye had been cast and Fadak had taken on a material countenance, what benefit was there in obtaining it.
Sayyid Mortada, the great Shia scholar and researcher has a meaningful word on this matter, saying: “When the post of the caliphate came to Ali (a.s.) they spoke to him about the return of Fadak, he said;
English Interpretation: “I’m ashamed before God, to return it to it’s original owners, that which Abu Baker prohibited and Omar agreed with.”[21]
In reality, he shows with this remark both his greatness, and his little regard for Fadak as a material investment and source of income, and also introduces the principle thwarters of this right!
As to why some of the caliphs, who apparently wished to show devotion to the Prophets family (a.s.), turned over Fadak to the grand children of Zaid ibn Ali, for example, or other unknown persons as representatives of Bani Hasheminstead of the Imams themselves, there are two probable reasons:
1. The guardian Imams (a.s.) were never willing to accept Fadak because at that time this had more of a material nature than a meaningful one, and maybe gave the impression of attachment to the world instead of spiritual distinctions. By another interpretation, accepting it under those conditions was unworthy of the guardian Imams (a.s.). In addition to that, it would also tie their hands in their struggle against the oppressing caliphs. This was because each time they wished to rise up against them, they had to give up Fadak. (Just like in the affair of the repossession of Fadak by “Abu jaa’far” Caliph Abbasi from “Bani al-Hasan”. It has been reported that after the uprising of some of them against the caliph’s government, he took Fadak from all of them.)
2. The oppressive Caliphs also preferred that the material resources of the Imams not be increased.
Just as it is well known in the celebrated story of Harun that when he came to Medina he showed unusual respect for Imam Moosa ben Ja’far (a.s.), in a way that was surprising to his son Ma’mun. However, when it came time for gift giving, the gift that he sent to the Imam (a.s.) was unusually meager. Ma’mun was mystified by this matter and upon questioning his father for the reason behind it, his father gave an answer which was in brief something like; “We must not do something to help them gain power and tomorrow rise up against us!”
[21]lbn Abi al-hadid vol. 16 pg. 252
One Historical Trial
Just as we have said, during the Prophet’s life time, Fadak was turned over to Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) after the revelation of the verse: «و آت ذا القربى حقه»
This is a matter not only reported by shi’ite commentators, but also reported by a group of sunni scholars from the words of the famous companion of the Prophet (S) Abu Said Alkhedri «أبوسعيدالخدري» of which its documents have been previously spoken of.
After the Prophet’s death the government of that time laid hands on it and threw out Fatimah’s representatives. This is a matter which has been reported by the famous sunni scholar “Ibn Hujr” in the book «الصواعق المحرقة» , and by “Samhoody” in «وفاء الوفاء» and also Ibn Abil Hadid in «شرح نهج البلاغة».
For the attainment of what was rightly hers, the lady of Islam (s.a.) brought up two points; First by declaring it as the prophet’s gift to her, and the other was as her inheritance (when the matter of it being the Prophet’s gift was seen an unacceptable).
First of all, the lady of Islam invited the commander of the faithful, Ali (a.s.) and Umm Ayman to go to the first caliph as witnesses. But the caliph did not accept these witnesses using the excuse that witnesses for the proof of a litigation must be two men.
Then by claiming a tradition of the Prophet (S) in which was supposed to have said: “We prophets leave no inheritance and everything that remains after us will be for alms”;
He also refrained from accepting the proposal of it being inheritance.
This even though in a brief study becomes evident that in this action of theirs, the ruling usurping government is guilty of ten big mistakes. These are brought up as a list below, even though their explanations need much more discussion.
1. Fatimah’s (s.a.) was (وريث); meaning that the laud of Fadak was in her possession, and according to the views of all Islamic laws and the existent laws among the intelligent people of the world; witnesses are never required of a (وريث).
This is of course unless reasons are adduced that the property, or his/her possession of it, is void.
For example, if someone lives in a particular house and claims ownership of it, so long as no reasons are adduced that deny his ownership, it cannot be taken from him. There is no necessity for him to produce witnesses for his ownership, because possession itself (either by himself or his representatives) is his best proof for ownership.
2. The witness of the lady of Islam (s.a.) was in this instance enough in itself, this being because as the honouredverse states, she was: “Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the house! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying. (Sura AlaHzab 33:33)
And the well-known tradition “Kasa”, which is reported in many of the creditable books of the sunni, and their books of integrity, speaks of the innocent ones. God kept all forms of uncleanliness and undesirable acts away from the Prophet (S), Ali (a.s.), Fatimah (s.a.), Hasan and Husayn (a.s.) and made them free of sin. How could it be possible for the testimony or claim of such a person to be put to doubt and questioned?!
3. The witness given by Ali (a.s.) was also by itself enough, because he was also possessed of the degree of purity. In addition to the purification verse and other verses and narrations attesting to this fact, there is this famous tradition: “Ali is just, and justice is with Ali, and wherever he is, justice is with him”[22]
Which is itself enough; how is it that justice revolves around the axis of Ali’s being but his testimony is not accepted?!
Who has the nerve to refute his witness in the face of this saying of the Prophet (S), which has been reported by both shia and sunni?
4. The testimony of Umm Ayman was also enough in itself, just as ibn Abi al-hadid reported:
Umm Emen said to them, don’t you swear to the fact that the prophet said: “I am of the dwellers of Heaven”, (If you accept this then how can you refute my testimony?[23]
5. Even not to mention the previous; the ruling knowledge, when obtained from different proofs (sense -, or similar to sense, proofs), is sufficient for judgment. The possession and “in hand”, on the one side, the testimony of these witnesses, each of whose testimonies should be enough proof, on the other side, don’t they form knowledge and certainty?
6. The tradition about the lack of inheritance being left by Prophets is actually in another form and having a different meaning, not the way that the usurpers of Fadak reported or interpreted. In other sources this tradition is reported as such:
English Interpretation: “The prophets have not left dirhams and dinars as a memorial, but rather the inheritance of the Prophets wasknowledge and learning, whoever obtains a greater portion of their knowledge and learning has received a greater inheritance from them.”[24]
This is an observance of the prophet’s spiritual intellectual inheritance and has nothing to do with the inheritance of their property. This is exactly what is meant in another narration that has come to us.
العلماء ورثه الانبياء
English Interpretation: “Scholars are the Prophet’s heirs.’
In particular, the sentence (العلماء ورثه الانبياء) was certainly not included at the bottom of this tradition. Is it possible for a tradition to be issued from the prophet, which goes against categorical Quranic verses? This because there are several verses in the Holy Quran which testify to the fact that the Prophets left inheritance, and in these verses there exist clear indications that this not only means spiritual inheritance but also consists of material inheritance.
Therefore, in her famous sermon, which she delivered in the Prophet’s mosque, before the “Muhajereen” and “Ansar” the lady of Islam (s.a.) resorted to these verses, and none of them could disagree with her. This is all proof of the falseness of this tradition.
7. If this tradition was valid, then why hadn’t any of the Prophet’s wives heard of it; since they came to the caliph requesting their portion of the Prophet’s inheritance.[25]
8. If this tradition was valid, then why eventually did the first caliph give orders in a letter to return Fadak to Fatimah (s.a.); a letter which the second caliph took and tore up[26].
9. Furthermore, if this tradition had any reality and Fadak should have been divided among the poor as alms; then why did the second caliph in his own time (after everything was over), send for Ali (a.s.) and Abbas and told of willingness to give Fadak to them. This being a very well - known event in Islamic History[27].
10. In creditable books of both shia and sunni it has been reported that after the incident of the prohibition of Fadak, the lady of Islam (s.a.) became angry at these two and said: “I will never speak as much as one word to you.”[28]
And this situation continued until with great sorrow she closed her eyes to this world.
This was even though this Prophetic tradition is well known in Islamic sources: “Whoever likes my daughter Fatimah, likes me; whoever makes her happy has made me happy: and whoever angersher, has angered me.”[29]
According to this, can the right which Fatimah (s.a.) requested be prohibited, and can excuses be found in a tradition, which shows no traces of truthfulness? And this, in contrast to Quranic text that says that the Prophets heirs receive inheritance from them.
At any rate, no justification can be found for the usurpation of Fadak, and no acceptable reason exists for this deed.
On one side we have the possession of the property by Fatimah Zahra (s.a.).
On another, reliable reputable witnesses, on the third side, the testimony of the “Book of God” (the Holy Quran).
And, on the fourth side, the various Islamic narrations which all attest to the validity of the lady of Islam’s argument for her indisputable right in Fadak.
Besides, the general verses in the Quran related to inheritance which gives all people the right to inherit from their parents, (which cannot be denied unless creditable reasons are found to its nullification), is counted as another proof.
[22]Ibn Abi al-hadid, vol. 16 pg. 219
[23]Ibn Abi al-hadid, translation by translator.
[24] Alkafi vol. 1 pg. 34
[25]Ibn Abi al-hadid; vol. 16 pg. 228. This tradition has also been narrated by معجم البلدان الحموى، ج4، مادة فدك، ص239
[26] السيرة الحلبية في سيرة الأمين و المأمون Assyra Alhalabiya Fi Alameen and AlMa’mun vol. 3 pg. 391
[27]chapter on the merit of Ibn Hajar pg. 9
[28] Imama and Siyasa by Ibn Qutaiba pg.14
الإمامة و السياسة، ابن قتيبة، ص14
[29] صحيح البخاري، باب فضل الخمس Sahih Bukhari, chapter on khums
Ref: Sibtayn

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