Dispelling the Myth of Abu Bakr’s Politeness

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Among the myths that have gained currency in the books of the Ahle Tasannun is that Abu Bakr was extremely courteous and polite in his interaction with Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) over the matter of Fadak. He is portrayed as calm and dignified even as Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) was vehemently staking her claim to Fadak.


We do not wish to discuss the merits of the argument over Fadak at this stage since it’s undeniably established in the Holy Quran that all Muslims inherit and that goes for divine Prophets (a.s.) too. Even Abu Bakr had no reply to the Quranic verses advanced by Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) to back her claim for Fadak.

The rather lame attempt by the rulers of advancing the so-called report – ‘We Prophets do no leave any inheritance nor do we inherit’ flies in the face of proofs and witnesses advanced by Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.). Although supporters of the two Shaikhs have devoted much time and effort in explaining Abu Bakr’s stand, it does not count at this stage. The arguments should have been advanced by Abu Bakr in front of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) in the mosque in the presence of the so-called Muslims.

Advancing one peculiar, rarely heard of tradition to counter several Quranic verses and reliable witnesses is itself evidence of the failure of the administration to defend its bogus claim on Fadak.

At this stage, we are particularly interested in evaluating the so-called courteousness and politeness of the first ruler.

View of the Ahle Tasannun on Abu Bakr’s politeness

Rather than give the Shiite viewpoint on Abu Bakr, we quote a renowned Ahle Tasannun scholar on the subject.

Abu Usman al-Jaahiz the celebrated Ahle Tasannun scholar himself first poses the question of Abu Bakr’s politeness and then goes on to answer this query.

Question raised by Al-Jaahiz

Al-Jaahiz says:

‘How can anyone say that Abu Bakr hurt Fatima (s.a.) when we see that even though Fatima (s.a.) was indignant with him, he still replied to her with extreme politeness?

For example when Fatima (s.a.) told him that – By Allah! I shall curse you!

Abu Bakr replied – By Allah! I will pray for your well-being.

Fatima (s.a.) said – By Allah! I will not speak with you from now on, and he replied – By Allah! I will never be away from you.

In this way, Abu Bakr fended the resentment of Fatima (s.a.) with patience while in the court of the caliphate in front of the Quraysh and the awe and pomp of the caliphate did not deter him from gentleness!

The status of caliphate is dependent upon glory and awe and it is likely that it is incumbent upon the caliph to safeguard the great status of caliphate from the decisiveness of limits and prevent (anyone) from crossing these limits.

But Abu Bakr did not even consider these limits so as not to hurt Fatima (s.a.) but rather, spoke to her with extreme politeness to safeguard her status and respect.

When he said to Fatima (s.a.) – No one is dearer to me than you in the case of want and free of want. However, what should I do when I have heard from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – We the group of Prophets, do not leave anything as inheritance, whatever we leave behind is charity.’

Al-Jaahiz himself replies to the question

 In response to his own question, al-Jaahiz says:

‘This show of gentleness and kindness (of Abu Bakr) does not prove that he is free from the acts of oppression, injustice and violation (of the law).

Indeed, it is possible that a tyrant and treacherous person may use deceit and fraud particularly if he is clever and intelligent (in order to confuse the people). He can put forward his true intentions using kind words and gentle dictates and portray himself to be just and equitable, but yet show himself to be saddened by events (taking place around him).’

  • Al-Shaafi of Sayed al-Murtaza (r.a.) vol. 1, p. 233
  • Bait al-Ahzaan fi Masaaib Sayyedah al-Niswaan al-Batool al-Taherah Fatima al-Zahra (s.a.) by Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.) pp. 165-167

Umm Salmah (r.a.) condemns Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr’s feigned politeness and pretentious dignified behavior didn’t fool Umm Salmah (r.a.) either.

After Abu Bakr dismissed Hazrat Fatima’s (s.a.) claim for Fadak as a lie and misrepresentation (Allah forbid), Umm Salmah (r.a.) countered Abu Bakr:

‘Is it right that a person like Fatima (s.a.) should be addressed with such words?’

  • Al-Durr al-Nazeem by Jamaal al-Deen Yusuf Ibn Haatim p. 480
  • Bait al-Ahzaan fi Masaaib Sayyedah al-Niswaan al-Batool al-Taherah Fatima al-Zahra (s.a.) by Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.) p. 153

What is genuine politeness?

Politeness and courtesy when it comes to meting out justice is not apparent politeness and courtesy as evidenced in a person’s mannerisms or talks or body language. Politeness and courtesy in this specific instance is Abu Bakr ceding to Fatima’s (s.a.) demands and handing over Fadak since he had no argument to counter her and his own case was weak, rather groundless.

No son can claim to be polite and courteous to his parents by behaving well with them but disobeying their instructions and advancing the argument that – although I have disobeyed them but I have been extremely polite since I didn’t say ‘to them so much as – Ugh’!

This is exactly how ridiculous the argument of Abu Bakr’s good manners and calm demeanor by his supporters sounds in this context.

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