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- This article is about the land of Fadak. For other usages of fadak, see Fadak (disambiguation).
Fadak (Arabic: فدك) a village in Hijaz, Saudi Arabia, had lush gardens with date palm trees which was located near Khaybar. Abu Bakr and Lady Fatima (a) disagreed on the rightful ownership of Fadak. According to historical reports, after Muslims conquered Khaybar castles, based on the peace treaty, half of the gardens and farming fields were given to Prophet Muhammad (s) by the Jews. As Fadak was conquered in peace, according to the Holy Qur'an it was particularly owned by Prophet Muhammad (s). As ordered by the Prophet (s), the revenue from Fadak was given to the poor, particularly the needy of Banu Hashim. According to historical reports, after some time Prophet Muhammad (s) gave Fadak to Lady Fatima (a) as a gift. After the Prophet (s) passed away, Abu Bakr confiscated Fadak. The Sermon of Fadakiyya was delivered by Lady Fatima (a) in order to complain about this incident, and Abu Bakr refused to give it back to Lady Fatima (a). For many centuries, the garden of Fadak was frequently given back to and retaken from the descendants of Lady Fatima (a). Today Fadak is located in a city called al-Ha'it.
- 1 Location and Situation
- 2 In Prophet Muhammad's (s) Era
- 3 Confiscation of Fadak in the Time of Three Caliphs
- 4 References
Location and Situation
Fadak is located in Hijaz, 160 Km from Medina. Although it is situated in the dry lands of al-Harra, it is covered with date palms and provided land for gardens and farming. In the early Islamic period, Jews resided there. The Shamrukh castle was located near Fadak, which was strategically regarded as the main military base for the Jews. Reports state that the Jewish people were living there until the time of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, the second caliph, who ordered them to evacuate the region.
Today Fadak is located in the city of al-Ha'it, which consisted of 21 villages by 1975. According to reports, in 2010, about 14,000 people live there.
Economy and Climate
During the emergence of Islam, the fertile soil and rich water sources allowed Fadak to be rich in date palms and other gardens. As a result, Fadak was a productive and fruitful land with profitable income. It is said the date palms of Fadak are worth the same as date palms of Kufa; it is well-known for its extensive cultivation of date palms in the world. When 'Umar b. al-Khattab decided to expel the Jews, he paid them 50 thousand Dirhams (old currency of Hijaz) for the remaining half of Fadak, which was owned by the Jews.
Fadak was undeniably a fertile land, but its annual income is unknown. According to a number of sources, Fadak produced an annual income of 24 to 70 thousand Dinars at the time of Prophet Muhammad (s). As estimated by researchers, the income achieved from Fadak could easily cover the expenses of Banu Hashim, so they would not need financial support from the government or caliphate.
In Prophet Muhammad's (s) Era
After conspiracy by the Jews against Muslims in the Battle of Trench where Muslims defeated their opponents, Prophet Muhammad (s) ordered his forces to attack Khaybar and defeat the Jews.
After the conquest of Khaybar, Jews surrendered to Muslims. When the Jewish people of Fadak were informed about their defeat to the Muslim forces, they were afraid of a probable attack to Fadak; therefore, they sent their representative to Prophet Muhammad (s) in order to negotiate and make peace with Muslims.
According to their peace treaty Jews were supposed to give half of their gardens and fields of Fadak to Prophet (s) in exchange for permission to continue their life in Fadak. It also guaranteed safety and security for the rest of their properties and lands.
Possession of Fadak by the Holy Prophet (s)
As Muslims did not attend the conquest of Fadak, according to the order of the Holy Quran, Fadak was owned specifically by Prophet Muhammad (s). As dictated in the Quran, the properties achieved for Muslims, in which they did not fight for, are owned only by Prophet (s). Such properties are called Fay' which belong to Prophet Muhammad (s) and he can transfer the ownership or control of such properties to whomever he decides.
A Gift for Lady Fatima (a)
The Holy Prophet (s) would give away the income achieved from Fadak to Banu Hashim, the poor, and travelers in need of support. Subsequently, he (s) gave Fadak to Lady Fatima (a).
Some Shiite and Sunni exegetes believe that following the revelation of this verse, Prophet Muhammad (s) gave Fadak to Lady Fatima (a) as a gift.
Confiscation of Fadak in the Time of Three Caliphs
- Main article: Confiscation of Fadak
After the event of Saqifa, Abu Bakr took over the caliphate and seized Fadak as if it was state property. Then Lady Fatima (a) reacted to this event, and they had a discussion about Fadak which is narrated in historical sources in different fashion. As it is narrated, Lady Fatima (a) claimed Fadak was her rightful property, as it was a gift given by her father Prophet Muhammad (s). Abu Bakr said, "I have heard Prophet Muhammad (s) saying that, we, prophets, do not leave any inheritance behind and what is left is charity." Then Lady Fatima (a) responded, "Fadak was given to me as a gift by my father, Prophet (s)." So Abu Bakr asked her to prove it. According to several narrations, 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and Umm Ayman approved Lady Fatima (a) was right. As a result Abu Bakr accepted their claim and documented Fadak as property of Lady Fatima (a). However, it is said after 'Umar b. al-Khattab found out about the document, he tore it to pieces.
According to other narrations, after 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and Umm Ayman came to Abu Bakr to provide evidence for Fadak as property of Lady Fatima (a), the caliph did not accept them and refused to give it back to Lady Fatima (a). Then she went among companions of Prophet Muhammad (s) and delivered Al-Khutba al-Fadakiyya (Sermon of Fadakiyya) in which she claimed Fadak was a gift given to her by Prophet (s), although again, the caliph refused to return it.
The number of witnesses who came to testify against Abu Bakr's claim are mentioned differently in sources. According to one narration Lady Fatima (a) brought her sons, Al-Hasan (a) and Al-Husayn (a) to testify. Fakhr al-Razi believed one servant of Prophet Muhammad (s) also came to testify; al-Baladhuri mentioned the name of the servant as Ribah. Shi'a sources state Asma' bt. 'Umays was among the witnesses of Lady Fatima (a). It is said Prophet Muhammad (s) himself wrote a letter to reassure the fact that Fadak is property of Lady Fatima (a).
As sources mentioned, at the time of demise of Prophet Muhammad (s), Fadak was owned and managed by Lady Fatima (a), as she appointed agents and workers there. According to historians, this proves Fadak was property of Lady Fatima (a).
Fadak was still seized as state property in the time of the second caliph, 'Umar b. al-Khattab. Then 'Uthman, the third caliph, gave it to Marwan b. Hakam. It also remained under the control of Marwan, in the time of caliphate of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) until the end of Umayyad dynasty.
According to Sunni sources, income achieved from Fadak was used for the needy of Banu Hashim and travelers in need until the rule of 'Uthman, the third caliph, when Fadak was again seized from Lady Fatima (a). They mentioned the words of Prophet Muhammad (s) saying Fadak was the source for helping Banu Hashim, but Umayyad dynasty ordered to stop giving the income to Banu Hashim.
Analysis of Fadak
Al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in his book, Fadak fi l-tarikh, (Fadak in history) discusses the raising of the topic of Fadak by Fatima (a) as a political move which represents opposition of Islam and belief against disbelievers and hypocrites. He believes that Fadak is a symbol of a significant goal and a full-scale revolution against the government of that time which was founded in Saqifa by three people: Abu Bakr, 'Umar b. al-Khattab and Abu 'Ubayda al-Jarrah. If Lady Fatima (a) was willing to reclaim Fadak as her heritage, she could have certainly brought a number of Shi'a Muslims in order to testify for her. According to the analysis presented by Baqir al-Sadr, Lady Fatima (a) manifested her opposition to the government in six stages:
- Sending her representative to Abu Bakr asking her inheritance (including Fadak and other things) and implying that Fadak was a part of her inheritance before saying that the Prophet (s) gave it to her as a gift;
- Direct involvement and severe conversation with Abu Bakr;
- Delivering a sermon in Masjid al-Nabawi, 10 days after the Prophet's demise;
- Giving a speech to the women of Muhajirun and Ansar when she was in her sickbed;
- A brief conversation with Abu Bakr and 'Umar stating that she was angry at them when they had come to propitiate her;
- Making a will that she do not want those who had oppressed her to participate in her funeral and burial.
Al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr explained the reason why Lady Fatima (a) herself started this movement, not 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a): "Starting this movement by Lady Fatima (a) had two significant elements: An emotional aspect, as she was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (s) she could remind people of Prophet's saying along with evoking public feelings; and a political aspect, because if Imam 'Ali (a) would have started this argument, it could lead to a civil war among Muslims or an uprising against the caliphate. "It seems after 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) became caliph of Muslims he did not pursue Fadak, because it was a symbol of protesting and giving power to its rightful owner.
Analyzing the Sermon of Fadakiyya, Dr. Shahidi writes, "It is clear that they ignored the core of her words and dealt with it as a speech that was only delivered in achieving her inheritance. Obviously, she did deliver her sermon for taking some date palms and sheaves of wheat. A household that give away the only food they have to feed the hungry, would not cry for their stomach. She wanted to keep the tradition (sunna) and the justice alive. She feared that the thoughts of the Ignorance Era, which was hidden under the cover of Islam, comes to light again; and tribal prides comes to existence. Today it is Banu Tamim's turn and tomorrow Banu 'Uday's and then Banu Umayya's, who fought Islam with all they got and embraced Islam not by heart, but only by tongue as they did not have any other option."
The author of A'lam al-nisa' narrates from 'Ali b. Muhana' al-'Alawi that Abu Bakr and 'Umar kept Fadak away from Fatima (a) because they were afraid that Ali (a) would become powerful and challenge them over the caliphate.
Caliphate of Imam 'Ali (a)
When Imam 'Ali (a) accepted the caliphate due to insistence of the people, he did not attempt to get Fadak back to its owners. As mentioned in a narration, because both Lady Fatima (a) and Abu Bakr have passed away at that time, Imam refused to reclaim Fadak. Imam believed confiscation of Fadak was illegal, and he left it for God to judge the confiscators.
In a letter to 'Uthman b. Hanif, Imam 'Ali (a) explained about Fadak and his judgment. He wrote, "Fadak was only our property, while some people were jealous of it and some were not. God Almighty is the best Judge of all, having or not having Fadak does not change me as we all die leaving our properties behind." Ibn Abi l-Hadid in analyzing Imam's narration stated, "Imam (a) was displeased with the situation of Fadak and left it for God to judge."
Regarding historical reports, Fadak was owned by the government during the Umayyad era. When 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz became caliph, he ordered to spend the income of Fadak on descendants of Prophet Muhammad (s) although it was still the property of government.
Paying the income of Fadak to descendants of Prophet Muhammad (s) by 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz angered Umayyads, so he tried to justify his decision. He claimed Fadak was property of Prophet Muhammad (s) by saying, "Then his daughter, Lady Fatima (a) asked to own Fadak but Prophet refused. From the time of Prophet Muhammad (s) a part of income of Fadak was used for the needy of Banu Hashim, but after years this tradition was changed. Now I am trying to give its income back to its owners."
During the Abbasid era, (132/749–232/847) Fadak was owned by the government, but al-Ma'mun gave it back to the descendants of Lady Fatima (a) in an official order. In his letter to Qutham b. Ja'far, the governor of Medina, he stated, "I follow religion of Prophet Muhammad (s), my relative, and his Sunna; therefore, I shall follow traditions of Prophet and Give Fadak back to descendants of Lady Fatima (a)."
History researcher and author, Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi, believes al-Ma'mun's order on giving Fadak back to descendants of Ahl al-Bayt (a) was issued some days after the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad's demise, and it is regarded a political strategy of al-Ma'mun. Although al-Ma'mun did it in order to compensate the troubles of the descendants of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), more importantly it was to tempt the feelings of Shi'a Muslims. He writes that he should have done what 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz has done and only give the income of Fadak to them, not rejecting previous rulers' command. He believes the disagreement between Lady Fatima (a) and Abu Bakr on Fadak took place only to prevent later Ijtihad (diligence) against what the Prophet (s) had explicitly stipulated (nass) because it would prevent imminent changes in Sunna of Prophet Muhammad (s) in Islamic community.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from فدکin Farsi WikiShia.