Hadith al-Bad'a

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Ḥadīth al-Baḍʿa (Arabic: حديث البَضْعَة) is a prophetic hadith about Lady Fatima (a) in which the Prophet (s) describes her as “part of him,” her anger and delight being his. The hadith is cited in Shiite and Sunni sources. Hadith al-Badʿa is cited as evidence for the infallibility of Lady Fatima (a), her rightfulness in the story of Fadak, and the necessity of honoring and respecting Ahl al-Bayt (a).

According to some reports in Sunni sources, the hadith was issued by the Prophet (s) during Imam ʿAli’s proposal to Abu Jahl’s daughter. Shiite scholars believe, however, that those reports are fake, and their transmitters are accused of fabricating hadiths and showing hostility toward Ahl al-Bayt (a).

The Text and Place

In Hadith al-Badʿa, the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying about his daughter Lady Fatima (a): “Fatima is part of me; whoever hurts her has hurt me and whoever delights her has delighted me.” The same content appears in various Shiite and Sunni sources. The hadith was transmitted by Imam ʿAli (a), Ibn ʿAbbas, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, and Lady al-Zahra herself (a).

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, a Sunni exegete of the Quran, believes that there is an agreement between Shias and Sunnis about the authenticity of the hadith. Fakhr al-Razi, another Sunni exegete of the Quran, cites the hadith in his interpretations of certain Quranic verses.

“Badʿa” or “bidʿa” means part of the body. Thus, when it is said that “such and such a person is badʿa minni [part of my body]” it implies the intimacy or closeness of that person to the speaker as if he or she is part of his body. The phrase “badʿa minni” appears in the words of the Prophet (s) about Imam ʿAli (a) and Imam al-Rida (a) as well.

Theological and Jurisprudential Applications

Hadith al-Badʿa is cited as evidence for certain theological theories:

  • Infallibility of Lady Fatima (a): theologians have cited this hadith as evidence for the infallibility of Lady al-Zahra (a). According to Ayatollah Subhani, a Shiite scholar (b. 1308 Sh/1929), these hadiths say that Fatima’s delight and anger are criteria for the delight and anger of God and His Apostle. Since God is not delighted except by righteous deeds and is never satisfied by sins and disobedience, then if Lady al-Zahra (a) committed a sin, she would then be delighted by what angered God, while Hadith al-Badʿa ties God’s delight with her delight.
  • Lady Fatima’s superiority over all women of the world: Shahab al-Din al-Alusi, a Sunni exegete of the Quran (d. 1270 AH/1853-4), cites this hadith in his interpretation of the Quranic verse “And when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you, and He has chosen you above the world’s women” to show that Lady Fatima (a) was superior to all women, including Mary.
  • Rightfulness of Lady Fatima in the story of Fadak: after the Prophet’s demise, when she was in her deathbed, Lady al-Zahra (a) cited this hadith in a debate with Abu Bakr and Umar.

Moreover, the hadith has been cited to show the necessity of honoring Ahl al-Bayt (a), rejection of the testimony of a child for his or her father and vice versa, prohibition of marriage with one’s mother or daughter, necessity of honoring one’s parents, and permissibility of graves being visited by women.

Use of Hadith al-Badʿa against Imam ʿAli (a)

On some accounts, Hadith al-Badʿa was issued in the story of Imam ʿAli’s proposal to Abu Jahl’s daughter. According to Ibn al-Hanbal (d. 241 AH/855-6), ʿAbd Allah b. Zubayr said that ʿAli (a) expressed his interest in marriage with Abu Jahl’s daughter, but when the Prophet (s) heard about this, he said: “Verily, Fatima is part of me; whoever hurts her has hurt me.”

Al-Sayyid al-Murtada, a prominent Shiite theologian (d.436/1044), believes that such reports are fake. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), the story was fabricated. Abu Hurayra, a transmitter of this hadith, is accused of fabricating hadiths. Furthermore, Husayn al-Karabisi and Miswar b. Makhrama al-Zuhari, other transmitters of the hadith, are described as unreliable transmitters, whose hadiths have been rejected. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada believes that al-Karabisi was a Nasibi who showed hostility toward Ahl al-Bayt (a). In his view, if the story were authentic, Imam ʿAli’s enemies, including Banu Umayya and their supporters, would use it to damage his reputation.

Jaʿfar Murtada al-ʿAmili (d. 1441/2019), a researcher of Islamic history, believes that reports about Imam ʿAli’s proposal to Abu Jahl’s daughter are contradictory. In addition, he presents thirteen arguments against the authenticity of the story.

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