The Shaikhain refused to grant Fadak to Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) on one pretext or the other. They rejected her own witness as also the witnesses of her infallible husband Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and even Umm Ayman – whose honesty was beyond reproach having been assured Paradise by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
In the absence of witnesses or rather in the absence of ‘credible’ witnesses, Hazrat Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) claim on Fadak was rejected.

Over here we do not wish to delve on the infallible personalities (a.s.) and their status near Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and how the rulers made a blunder by ignoring this reality which was evident even to a Muslim child.

We only wish to draw the attention of the reader to the irregularities in the stand of the Shaikhain vis-à-vis Fadak, one of which we have exposed over here.

Granting the claimant her right based on swearing

Even if Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) witnesses were found wanting, Fadak should have been granted to her based on a simple swearing.

It is strange that when other claims came before Abu Bakr, he allowed them in favour of the claimant merely on the basis of the claim while the claimant was neither asked to furnish any proof of claim, nor to produce witnesses.

In this connection, Bukhari documents:

‘It is related from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari that he said – The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had told me that when the spoils of war from Bahrain would arrive, he would allow me such and such out of it, but the spoils of war did not reach us until after the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) demise (martyrdom). It arrived in the days of (the government) of Abu Bakr, so I went to him and told him that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had promised to give me such and such property out of the spoils of war from Bahrain, whereupon he gave me all of what (was promised to me).’

  • Sahih al-Bukhari vol 2, part 27, p 190

In the interpretation of this tradition, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani records:

‘This tradition leads us to the conclusion that the evidence of one just companion can also be admitted as full evidence, even though it may be in his own favour, because Abu Bakr did not ask Jabir to produce any witness or proof for his claim.’

Thus, if it was lawful to grant property to Jabir on the basis of a good impression (of him and his Islam) without calling for witnesses or any evidence, then what stopped the ruler from allowing Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) claim on the basis of a similar good impression?

Firstly, her known truthfulness and honesty was enough for holding her sincere in her claim, in addition to the witnessing of Ali (a.s.) and Umm Ayman in her favour.

Demand for two witnesses according to Quran

It is said that the claim could not be decided in Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) favour on the basis of these two witnesses because the Quran lays down the principle of evidence thus –

‘Then call to witness two witnesses from among you men and if there not be two men, then (take) a man and two women.’ Surah Baqarah (2): 282.

Reply

If this principle is universal and general, then it should be taken into account for every occasion. However, as we see – from Jabir’s case – it was not implemented consistently. One witness – that too of the claimant himself – was deemed sufficient for ruling the case in his favour. There was no need felt for another witness even though the Quran stipulates two male witnesses or its equivalent.

Then why was the evidence of Ali (a.s.) and Umm Ayman not deemed sufficient for Fatima Zahra (s.a.) in view of her moral greatness and truthfulness? Her case was even stronger than Jabir’s case because Jabir was both the claimant and the only witness in this case; while Fatima Zahra (s.a.) had multiple witnesses.

As evident from Jabir’s case, the rulers obviously believed that the Quranic verse (Surah Baqarah: 282) does not restrict them to two witnesses and allows for other means of resolution. Therefore advancing this verse in support of the Shaikhain’s decision on Fadak does not hold water.

Shaheed al-Thalith’s (r.a.) view

In this regard, Shaheed al-Thalith Sayyid Nurullah al-Shustari (r.a.) has documented in Ehqaaq al-Haqq in the Chapter of Matain:

‘The view of the objector (Abu Bakr/Umar) that despite the evidence of Umm Ayman the requirement of evidence remains incomplete is wrong on the grounds that from certain traditions it is seen that it is lawful to give a decision on the basis of one witness, and it does not necessarily mean that the injunction of the Quran has been violated, because this verse means that a decision can be given on the strength of the evidence of two men or one men and two women, and that their evidence is enough. It does not appear to say that if there is some other ground besides evidence of witnesses, that would be unacceptable and that verdict cannot be given on its basis, unless it is argued that this is the only sense of the verse. But since the very sense is not a final argument, this sense can be brushed aside, particularly because the tradition (of Jabir for instance) clearly points to a contrary sense and ignoring the sense does not necessarily mean violation of the verse.

Secondly, the verse allows a choice between the evidence of two men or of one man and two women. If by virtue of the tradition, a third choice is added, namely that the verdict can be passed by means of another evidence as well, then how does it necessitate that the Quranic verse stands violated.’

  • Bait al-Ahzan under Chapter of Establishing Witnesses for Fadak

Muttaqi al-Hindi’s view

In this connection, Muttaqi al-Hindi, the famous Ahle Tasannun scholar, records:
‘The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr and Umar used to decide cases on the strength of one witness and swearing by the Quran.

When decisions were passed historically on the strength of one witness and swearing, then even if in Abu Bakr’s view the evidence regarding Fadak was incomplete, he should have asked Fatima Zahra (s.a.) to swear (on the Quran) and he could have passed judgement in her favour.’

But here the very objective was to tarnish the truthfulness of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) so that in the future the question of her testimony should not arise.

  • Bait al-Ahzan under Chapter of Establishing Witnesses for Fadak