Muslims in general claim that Fadak was never a matter for debate and discussion since in their view – Prophets neither inherit nor leave behind any inheritance, all their property and wealth is for the common Muslims.
Although this is the widely touted position of the supporters of companions and wives, we know that this was not the real reason for denying Fadak to Aal Muhammad (a.s.).
The real reason was rather simple when you research history.
Abu Bakr willing to hand over Fadak
For all the lengthy discussions and debates on Fadak, it comes as no surprise that the matter of Fadak was resolved in Hazrat Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) favour initially.
When Abu Bakr demanded that Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) advance witnesses in support of her claim over it, she (s.a.) produced Umme Ayman – the one guaranteed with Paradise by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – and Ameerul Momineen (a.s.).
Abu Bakr was satisfied with the witnesses and wrote a letter handing over Fadak to Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.).
Umar walked in at the time and on seeing the document made enquiries about it. Abu Bakr briefed him about the situation. Umar immediately yanked the letter and tore it to pieces dismissing the witness of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and Umme Ayman.
- Tafseer al-Qummi (r.a.) under Surah Rum (30): Verse 38
- Al-Ehtejaaj vol. 1 p. 90
- Bait al Ahzaan p. 144-145
Also refer regarding Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) right over Fadak from Quran:
- Shawaahed al-Tanzeel under under Surah Rum (30): Verse 38
- Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah vol. 16 p. 220
Even if the skeptics dismiss this incident, there can be no denying the strong arm tactics employed by Umar to control the government from the backseat. And it’s not like we see this side of Umar only during the reign of Abu Bakr. Umar was abrasive and obnoxious even in the presence of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself.
Whether one considers the Hudaybiyyah truce or when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) seemingly offered funeral prayers for the hypocrite or regarding the prisoners of Badr or on numerous other occasions, we regularly see Umar confronting the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as if he (Umar) was the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was a companion. We even see a ‘report’ in the books of Ahle Tasannun justifying Umar’s behavior by claiming the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said that had there been a prophet after him it would have been Umar (Allah forbid)!
So if Umar can use strong arm tactics and interfere in prophethood, why should it surprise anyone if he does the same in caliphate?
Also there are many incidents in the books of the Ahle Tasannun that show Umar reversed the decision of Abu Bakr quite brazenly and impulsively.
Consider this incident –
Once a group of the ones inclined towards Islam (al-Mu’allafah Qulubuhum under Surah Tauba (9): Verse 60) came to Umar and showed him a document in which Abu Bakr had ordered for them to receive their rightful shares from the alms.
Umar refused it, tore Abu Bakr’s document into pieces, spat on it, and threw it at their faces.
Having been infuriated, they returned to Abu Bakr and asked – Which one of you is the caliph (ruler)? Is it he or you?’
Abu Bakr answered – He is, if he wants!
- Fazail al-Sahabah vol 1 p. 292 by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
- Tafsir al-Manaar vol. 10 p. 496 by Rasheed Riza – ideological founder of the Muslim Brotherhood
- Kanz al-Ummal vol. 3 p. 914 trad. 9,151, vol. 12 p. 546 trad. 35,738
- Tarikh al-Dimishq vol. 9 p. 196 trad. 797
- Al-Iktifa bima Tadammanahu min Maghazi Rasool Allah wa al-Thalathah al-Khulafa vol. 3 p. 90
There are many such incidents and the Muslims justify it and document it among the virtues of Umar as Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has done in Fazail al-Sahabah! The book of Al-Farooq by Shibli Nomani is replete with such ‘virtues’ including torching the house of Fatima Zahra (s.a.).
Therefore then, why should it surprise the Muslims that Umar compelled Abu Bakr to reverse his decision on Fadak.
Why can’t the Muslims just admit that Fadak belonged to Fatima Zahra (s.a.) and dismiss Umar’s high handedness as just another proof of his ‘virtue’!