Prophet Zakariyya(a.s.) prayed for a son in his old age in the following words:


قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَهَنَ الْعَظْمُ مِنِّي وَاشْتَعَلَ الرَّأْسُ شَيْبًا وَلَمْ أَكُنْ بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا . وَإِنِّي خِفْتُ الْمَوَالِيَ مِنْ وَرَائِي وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَتِي عَاقِرًا فَهَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا. يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنْ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ ۖ وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا

He said: My Lord! surely my bones are weakened and my head flares with hoariness, and, my Lord! I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to Thee:And surely I fear my cousins after me, and my wife is barren, therefore grant me from Thyself an heir, Who should inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqoub, and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased. (Surah Maryam (19): Verse4-6)

When the Holy Prophet(s.a.w.a.) passed away and Abu Bakr was made caliph to rule over the Muslim community he dispossessed the Holy Prophet’s daughter Fatimah(s.a.) of the agricultural land or estate known as Fadak which had been gifted to her by the Holy Prophet(s.a.w.a.)  during his life time and given in her possession. When Janabe Fatimah(s.a.) asked Abu Bakr to restore her estate as it had been gifted to her by the Holy Prophet along with possession, he demanded evidence and refused to accept the evidence of witnesses produced by Janabe Fatimah(s.a.). Then she claimed the estate as the sole heir to her father, the Holy Prophet. This request was rejected by Abu Bakr saying that he had heard the Holy Prophet(s.a.w.a.)  say that “We the messengers of Allah neither inherit nor leave inheritance.”

The above verses prove that the statement of Abu Bakr should be treated as an instantaneous excuse, he thought of, to deprive Janabe Fatimah(s.a.) from the lawful inheritance, her father left for her, otherwise the words of Allah become vague and meaningless. In reply she(s.a.) quoted these verses to prove that he had reported a false tradition because when the Quran has used the word “warith” the Holy Prophet could not say that which the caliph reported. The mention of these verses by her means that the word “warith” refers to all that which a messenger of Allah leaves as inheritance.

Aqa Mahdi Puya says:

These verses prove that the prophets of Allah inherit and leave inheritance. To interpret “Warith” as reference to knowledge and wisdom only is a deviation from the real, direct and plain meaning of this word, without any external or internal evidence. If inheritance of personal belongings is excluded, the repetition of the verb becomes meaningless because Prophet Zakariyya(a.s.) himself was a descendant of ale Yaqub, who inherited the prophethood and wisdom of his ancestors, and his son would do the same if Allah so willed as He chooses whomsoever He wills as His messenger (Surah An-am: 124), therefore when Prophet Zakariyya(a.s.) said: “ inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqoub“, he is referring to his belongings and the belongings of the posterity of Yaqoub separately. The first verb refers to the inheritance of his property which Prophet Zakariyya(a.s.) thought would be appropriated by his relatives if he remained childless; and the second verb refers to the prophethood, he wanted for HazratYahya(a.s.)

No doubt the prophets of Allah did not give any importance to the material possessions and laid emphasis on the knowledge and wisdom, but it does not mean that they did not possess property or did not leave what they had as inheritance to their next to kin. The tradition quoted to deprive Janabe Fatimah(s.a.) of her lawful inheritance was tampered with by the narrator for political reasons. He omitted a clause indicating that they leave knowledge as inheritance, and added a clause, which is not correct from the grammatical point of view, unless it is an objective clause subordinate to the principal clause “We the group of prophets”, and the word be read as “sadaqtan”, the second object to the verb “taraknahu “, but he read the clause as co-ordinative and conjunctive, and read “sadaqtan” as the predicate to the word “ma”, which according to the recitation means “whatever”, whereas according to the correct recitation “ma ” means “that which”.

(adapted from The Holy Qur’an, Pooya/M.A. Ali Engl. Commentary)