Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) advanced Quranic verses in support of her claim to Fadak proving that prophets passed on inheritance to their descendants.
However, regarding the noble verse ‘And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir’ (Surah Naml (27):16), the skeptics claim this verse means that Sulaiman inherited knowledge from Dawood, not wealth. They question how Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) used this argument, as she was seeking financial rights, not knowledge.
We will present not only the following verse but also the preceding verses and the subsequent verse to complete the argument regarding Sulaiman inheriting from Dawood (peace be upon them).
Sulaiman inherited from Dawood (peace be upon them)
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ عِلْمًا وَقَالَا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي فَضَّلَنَا عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِّنْ عِبَادِهِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
وَوَرِثَ سُلَيْمَانُ دَاوُودَ وَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عُلِّمْنَا مَنطِقَ الطَّيْرِ وَأُوتِينَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْمُبِينُ
وَحُشِرَ لِسُلَيْمَانَ جُنُودُهُ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ وَالطَّيْرِ فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ
And certainly, We gave knowledge to Dawood and Sulaiman, and they both said: Praise be to Allah, Who has made us to excel many of His believing servants.
And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir, and he said: O men! we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is manifest grace.
And his hosts of the jinn and the men and the birds were gathered to him, and they were formed into groups.
- Surah Naml (27): 15-17
In Surah Naml verse 15, Allah declares:
And certainly, We gave knowledge to Dawood and Sulaiman…
This verse proves that the knowledge possessed by both Dawood and Sulaiman (peace be upon them), was a knowledge granted to them by Allah, not inherited through lineage.
Therefore, there is no evidence here to suggest that inheritance in the verse specifically pertains to knowledge and its manifestation. Inheritance in its common understanding means the transfer of a material belonging from the possession of one individual to another while it was not originally possessed by the latter.
Sulaiman was already knowledgeable during the lifetime of his father, Dawood (peace be upon them). His knowledge became apparent during his father’s lifetime. So, what is the need for Allah to mention that He granted both Dawood and Sulaiman (peace be upon them) knowledge and then repeat the same meaning in the subsequent verse?
Therefore, inheritance in the next verse (And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir…) is related to another matter, which is wealth. Hence, Allah has emphasized, And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir…
This is what will be clarified by the following verse, indicating that Sulaiman (a.s.) inherited his father’s kingdom as well.
After this verse, Allah says, through the words of Sulaiman (a.s.):
O men! We have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is manifest grace.
Allah, in explaining the greatness of Dawood’s (a.s.) kingdom, says:
And We strengthened his kingdom and We gave him wisdom and a clear judgment.
- Surah Saad, 38:20
Sulaiman (a.s.) speaks about himself in a plural form for emphasis, stating that Allah has taught him the language of birds, and he further states that Allah has given him from everything.
Can one imagine that Allah would deprive Sulaiman (a.s.) of the great inheritance from his father’s kingdom?
Can one interpret that Dawood’s (a.s.) mighty kingdom is not encompassed in Sulaiman’s (a.s.) statement, ‘And we have been given from everything’?
Is his father’s mighty kingdom not included in that?
The discussion in the verse is about every blessing that a person can be given ‘from everything’. Inherited wealth is one of those blessings. By what evidence can this blessing be excluded?
Then comes the verse that follows this noble verse, which speaks about the manifestations of Sulaiman’s (a.s.) kingdom, a clear indication that what Sulaiman (a.s.) inherited is indeed the same kingdom as his father’s.
And his hosts of the jinn and the men and the birds were gathered to him, and they were formed into groups. (Surah Naml, 27:17)
In the case of Dawood’s (a.s.) kingdom, the birds were subjugated and gathered for him.
Indeed, We subjected the mountains (to praise) with him, exalting (Allah) in the [late] afternoon and [after] sunrise. And the birds gathered; all joined in singing with him.
- Surah Saad (38): 18-19
When Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) cited this verse in her sermon it was specifically to claim her right to Fadak property. None from the Muslim community corrected her by advancing arguments of the latter day Muslims i.e. inheritance in the verses refer to knowledge and prophethood and not material possessions.
Ali (a.s.), her husband and successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), sole compiler of the Quran, the Gate of the City of Knowledge had no knowledge of this twisted interpretation of inheritance, else he (a.s.) would not have given a testimony to claim Fadak.
In fact, in demanding witnesses from Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.), Abu Bakr and Umar in principle accepted that prophets do leave behind material possessions and that Fadak could belong to Lady Fatima (s.a.).
Had this perverted interpretation of inheritance of knowledge and prophethood been prevalent at the time, then what was the need for even entertaining the plea of Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) when she had no grounds to claim the property based on this perverted interpretation.
This means that the entire Muslim community who witnessed revelation first hand and were aware of the laws of inheritance, did not see the inheritance of prophets in the context of knowledge and prophethood.
This perverted interpretation is the latter-day innovation (bidah) of incompetent exegetes of the Quran to defend the Sahabah in their lies.
Yahya inherited from Zakariya (peace be upon them)
After we have established that the context supports and confirms the fact that the inheritance mentioned in the noble verses is inheritance of wealth, we find further evidence from the Quran that inheritance refers to the inheritance of wealth.
The inheritance of Yahya by Zakariya (peace be upon them), is another example of inheritance of wealth.
Allah says, through the words of Zakariya (peace be upon him):
يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنْ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا
Who should inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqub, and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased.
– Surah Maryam (19) : 6
Fakhr al-Razi, renowned Muslim scholar and prominent interpreter acknowledged and confirmed that the mentioned inheritance in this verse is indeed the inheritance of wealth.
Other interpreters who have said that the intended meaning of inheritance in this verse is the inheritance of wealth are Al-Suddi, Mujahid, Al-Sha’bi, Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan, and Al-Dahhak.
Afterward, their evidence is presented, which is as follows:
- The report of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.): May Allah have mercy on Zakariya, for he has no heir to inherit him. Al-Razi said: The apparent meaning indicates that the intended meaning is the inheritance of wealth.
- Knowledge and prophethood are granted as divine favour and they are not inherited. For instance, the sons of Yusuf (a.s.) were not prophets like their father Yusuf (a.s.). Prophethood transferred from Yusuf to the children of Lavi (Levi), the brother of Yusuf (a.s.). Had prophethood been inherited, then Yusuf’s (a.s.) sons would have inherited it.Therefore, when the Noble Quran refers to inheritance it is attributed to wealth. Even if one were to take it as knowledge or something spiritual, one cannot dismiss the apparent material inheritance.
- Zakariya’s statement ‘…and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased’ indicates that if the inheritance meant in this case was the inheritance of prophethood, then it would be inappropriate to ask for him to be made pleasing, as prophets are inherently pleasing to Allah.
As for Qurtubi, he declares:
According to Ibn Atiyyah most interpreters believe that Zakariya intended inheritance of wealth. It is also possible that the statement of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) – ‘We, the assembly of prophets, do not leave inheritance’, does not imply a general prohibition, but rather indicates a predominant practice among them.
The third opinion is from Al-Tabari in his statement on the Quranic verse of Surah Maryam:
‘Who should inherit me (my wealth) and inherit from the children of Yaqub (prophethood).’ This is because Zakariya was from the offspring of Yaqub / Jacob.
Clearly, the verses of inheritance that Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) advanced in her famous sermon cannot be interpreted as inheritance of knowledge or prophethood. No one challenged her at the time with this interpretation to counter her argument.
As we have seen, prophets did leave behind material legacies for their descendants, like the kingdom in the case of Sulaiman (a.s.) and wealth in case of Yahya (a.s.). By the same yardstick, Fadak belonged to Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a.) if not as a gift (which was the primary purpose), then as inheritance.