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Fadak () was a tract of land in Khaybar, an oasis in northern Arabia; it is now part of Saudi Arabia.

When the Muslims defeated the forces of Khaybar at the Battle of Khaybar; this land was one of the items seized as booty and given to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Upon his death, Fadak became the cause of a dispute between Muhammad's daughter, Fatima, and the first caliph of the time, Abu Bakr.


Fadak was a city, which was situated thirty miles from Medina . There were wells of water and trees of dates in it . Yaqut al-Hamawi states that this city was named Fadak, while Ham, the son of Noah, first came to this place and put the foundation of the city

The oasis was divided into three regions: al-Natat, al-Shikk, and al-Katiba, probably separated by natural diversions, such as the desert, Lava drifts, and swamps. Each of these regions contained several fortresses or redoubts containing homes, storehouses and stables. Each fortress was occupied by a separate family and surrounded by cultivated fields and palm-groves. In order to improve their defensive capabilities, the fortresses were raised up on hills or Basalt rocks.


It is important to understand the difference between Ghanimah and Fay to understand the history and disputes regarding this land:

Some Muslim sources state that the Qur'an in Sura Al-Hashr state that the property was the private property of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, received through fay. A minority of Sunni scholars reject these sources.

Multiple scholars state:


This view of Fadak being the exclusive property of Muhammad was also shared by

  • Ali
  • Ibn Hisham
  • Abu al-Fida


Some Muslim sources state that Muhammad gifted Fadak to his daughter Fatimah quoting the Qur'anic verse Al-Hashr. There is a dispute between Muslim scholars at this point.

A narration present in Dur al-Manthur by states:

It should be noted here that Dur al-Manthur is an objective narration index rather than an expression of Suyuti's own opinion.

Other sources writes in Tafsir on Al-Hashr:

agrees on this. He further wrote that it's a sin to deny Fatimah's rights in Fadak.  However, these sources are rejected by some Sunni scholars. , thus denying that this verse makes Fadak a gift.

In fact, some of these Tafsirs state the opposite:

states in his Tafsir:

In Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas we read:

Abu Bakr's era (632 – 634)

After Muhammad's demise, Abu Bakr was elected as a Caliph (see Saqifah). Fatima came to him, asking for her portion of Allah's Apostle's property remaining of what was bestowed on him by Allah from the Fai in Medina, and Fadak, and what remained of the Khumus of the Khaibar booty. Abu Bakr refused to let her have it, saying:

Allah's Apostle said, "Our property is not inherited. Whatever we leave, is Sadaqa, but the family of (the Prophet) Muhammad can eat of this property.' By Allah, I will not make any change in the state of the Sadaqa of Allah's Apostle and will leave it as it was during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle, and will dispose of it as Allah's Apostle used to do.

Fatimah became angry with Abu Bakr. Sources report that Ali together with Umm Ayman testified to the fact that Muhammad granted it to Fatimah Zahra, when Abu Bakr requested Fatima to summon witnesses for her claim.

Muslim scholars are divided regarding the exact course of events and Abu Bakr's legality to do what he did.

At one occasion during Abu Bakr's reign as Caliph, a fornicator was banished to Fadak as a part of his punishment.

Fatimah's anger

In a narration attributed to Ayesha recorded in Sahih Bukhari, Fatimah died six months after this incident, and during this period, she refused to talk to Abu Bakr. Fatimah was buried at night by her husband Ali in a still unknown place. Ali did not inform Abu Bakr of the funeral, and he said the funeral prayer himself. Sahih Bukhari is considered Authentic among Sunnis, meaning that Sunnis consider it to include authentic narrations only. According to another narration in Sahih Bukhari, Abu Bakr was saddened by Fatimah's anger, saying:

By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, to keep good relations with the relatives of Allah's Apostle is dearer to me than to keep good relations with my own relatives.

Other Sunni sources state that Abu Bakrsought to reconcile with Fatimah, and that she became pleased with him again:

The Sunni website seeks to explain the differences in the above mentioned narrations in the following way:

Shi'a Muslims believe that Fatimah died unhappy with Abu Bakr, and deny that she was pleased with him before she died. They present the following tradition as a proof:

Shias also say that Aisha lived near Fatimah and therefore must have known about the incident prior to Fatimah's death, and that if she was unaware of the alleged reconciliation at the time it would be unlikely for her to remain ignorant of it afterwards.

Umar's era (634 – 644)

When Umar became Caliph, the value of the land of Fadak along with its dates was 50,000 dirhams

Some sunni historical accounts mentions that both Ali and Abbas initially sought a portion of Fadak as inheritance . According to these, Ali claimed a part of the property as his inheritance, since Muhammad has bestowed it on Fatimah during her lifetime, and because Fatimah was married to Ali until she died, thus he claimed himself to be the right inheritor. Abbas denied Ali's claims, he denied that Muhammad gave Fadak to his daughter Fatimah, and claimed that Fadak remained in Muhammad's until his demise. Abbas was the paternal uncle of Muhammad, and thus he felt that he was the right inheritor. Then they sought Umar to reconcile between them. Umar refused to let anyone have a portion of Fadak as inheritance, instead, as mentioned earlier, he made them trustees of Fadak.

According to Sahih Muslim, the second most trusted Hadith collection among Sunnis, another dispute arose among Ali and Abbas after they were made trustees of Fadak. They again asked Umar to adjudge between them, which he refused, saying:

No, by Allah. I will not give any other judgment except this until the arrival of the Doomsday. If you are unable to hold the property on this condition, return it to me


The fact that Ali and Abbas was in charge of the management of Fadak, is sometimes used by the Shi'a as an evidence, proving that Abu Bakr was wrong, and that Umar overturned his decision. Sunnis disagree with the Shi'a at this point, saying that Umar made Ali and Abbas trustees of the Fadak - NOT inheritors. At this time, parts of Fadak was still mainly populated by Jews, but this ended during Umar's rule. He heard that Muhammad once stated that two Deens never shall co-exist in the Arabian peninsula. He searched for information about that until he was absolutely convinced that Muhammad actually said that, and then he expelled the Jews from the Khaybar oasis. The Jews were given half of the land of Fadak in their treaty with Muhammad, so Umar gave them gold, silver, camels, ropes and saddle bags worth half the value of the fruit and land before he expelled them.

Uthman's era (644 – 656)

During Uthman's caliphate, Marwan ibn al-Hakâm, who was his cousin, was made trustee of the Fadak . The Shi'a accuse Caliph Uthman of wrongfully upholding Abu Bakr's unjust decision and withholding Fadak from Fatima's sons, Hasan and Husayn. The Sunnis believe that Uthman was correct in upholding Abu Bakr's decision since it was the will of Muhammad that prophets should not leave an inheritance.

Ali's era (656 – 661)

Fatima's husband, Ali, is revered by Shi'as. He became caliph after Uthman, but he did not return Fadak to Fatima's progeny; instead, he upheld the decision of Abu Bakr. He also maintained Marwan ibn al-Hakâm's position as trustee of the Fadak. Sunnis argue that this is strong evidence to support that Abu Bakr's decision was correct, since Fatima's own husband upheld this decision.

Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, the revered Shi'a scholar, stated in his book "Fadak in History", that Imam 'Ali did not use Taqiyyah to deny ownership of Fadak. He states, that as Fadak was under the authority of the state, based on the decrees of the former Caliph Abu Bakr, Fadak during 'Ali's Caliphate came under the authority of 'Ali himself, and his two deputies, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn, his sons.

Therefore, 'Ali deemed it satisfactory that Fadak was now under the control of the Prophet's family, and did not make a formal declaration of personal possession, to avoid resurrecting the old feud, and causing strife and fitna at the dishonouring of the legacy of the first Caliph.

Umayyad era (661 – 750)

Mu'awiyah, the first Umayyad Caliph did not return Fadak to Fatima's descendants. This way was continued by later Umayyad Caliphs until Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz seized power. When Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, known as Umar II, became Caliph in 717, the income from the property of Fadak was 40,000 Dinars . Fadak was returned to Fatima's descendants by an edict given by Umar II , but this decision was renounced by later caliphs and Fadak was once again converted into a public trust.

The sunni scholar Dr A. Rahim writes:

The shia scholar Abu Hilal al-Askari writes:

Umar II's successor, Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (known as Yazid II) overturned his decision, and Fadak was again made public trust. Fadak was then managed this way until the Ummayad Caliphate expired.

Abbasid era (750 – 1258)

In year 747, a huge revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate occurred. The Umayyad's were eventually defeated by the Abbas army under the rule of Abu Abbas Abdullah al-Saffah (see Battle of the Zab) in year 750. The last Umayyad Caliph, Marwan ibn al-Hakâm, was killed in a lesser battle a few months after the Battle of the Zab, thus ending the Umayyad Caliphate.

Historical accounts differs on what happened to Fadak under the early Abbasid caliphs. There is however consensus among Muslim scholarss that Fadak was donated to the descendants of Fatimah during Al-Ma'mun's reign as Caliph (831-833). narrates following:

This is also confirmed by the Sunni scholar Al-Ya'qubi and the Shi'a book al-Awail., no sunni account confirms this. It is however agreed upon that his son and successor, Al-Muntasir (861-862), maintained the decision of Al-Ma'mun, thus letting Fatimah's progeny manage Fadak.

What happened hereafter is uncertain, but Fadak was probably seized by the Caliph again and managed exclusively by the ruler of the time as his private property.

Muslim View

Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims highly disagree about this event.

Shi'a view

The Shi'a believe that Fadak was wrongfully withheld from Fatimah, Muhammad's daughter, by Caliph Abu Bakr, Muhammad's father-in-law, whom the Shi'a consider to be a tyrant. According to the Shia, Fatima would die forever cursing the Caliph for wrongfully converting her personal land into a public trust. The Shi'a believe that Fatima possess Ismah, or infallibility, and that she is immune from sin and incapable of mistake; it is thus a logical extension that Abu Bakr must be in error. Furthermore, Muhammad stated that whoever makes Fatima angry makes him angry as well. This Hadith is included in the two main Sunni sources, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, in a report which ironically relates to al-Imam Ali, her husband. Hence, Muslims unanimously must agree that Abu Bakr and Umar made Muhammad and Allah angry, the Shi'a claim.

They also deny Sunni claims that prophets do not leave inheritances. They argue that the Qur'an clearly states that Dawud (David) made Sulayman (Solomon) his heir, even though David is, according to Muslim belief, a prophet. Another argument is Qur'an in which Zakariya asks God to give him a child that inherits him. However normally, in the Shia Fiqh, wives cannot inherit land , however they believe that daughters can inherit land, but in this case, the Shia also argue that inheritance is out of the question because Fadak was given to Fatima during the life of Muhammad — so there was no question of inheritance.

The popular Shi'a website argues:

Furthermore, regarding the Sunni claim that Fatimah sought Fadak as an inheritance rather than a gift, argues:

Sunni view

Sunnis believe that prophets do not leave inheritances, based on Muhammad's sayings:

"I heard the Prophet of Allah saying, 'We do not leave inheritance. What we leave behind is charity.'"
"We, the Prophets, do not leave heirs."

Sunnis also cite a Shi'a tradition supporting this position:

According to Abu 'Abdillah (Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq), the Prophet of Allah said: "The scholars are the heirs to the Prophets and the Prophets did not leave dinars and dirhams as inheritance, but they left knowledge."

This Shi'ite tradition is widely considered Sahih by shi'ite ulema. Thus, , said about the hadith:

Based on these sayings of Muhammad, Sunnis believe that Fatimah was mistaken in her claim to Fadak as inheritance. However the shia reject those sunni hadith and say that the shia one is specific to islamic scholars and does not apply to the children of prophets. Shias also point out that the contrasting of money and knowledge was mainly a stylistic aspect of the hadith to show the great value of knowledge compared to material possessions.

Sunnis also reject that Muhammad gifted Fadak to Fatimah. They point out the fact that Fatimah never sought Fadak as a gift - in every single narration about this incident, Fatimah spoke about her inheritance. They point out that it was immediately after the Muhammad's death that Fatimah came to claim Fadak, and argues that if it had been a gift during the lifetime of Muhammad, then it would have already been in her possession at the time of the Muhammad's death, and there would have been no reason to go to Abu Bakr for it. Sunnis further argue that it is impossible that Muhammad gifted Fatimah the property as inheritance that she would assume after his death, since this would be a violation of the Quranic rules about inheritance.

Furthermore, regarding Abu Bakr angering Fatimah, Sunnis point out a couple narrations from Shi'a sources that can be seen to indicate that Ali angered her too on several occasions, see Hadith.
The sunnis argues that getting in arguments is no more than normal, and thus you cannot condemn anyone for getting in arguments which each other.

See also

  • List of Muslim reports
  • Succession to Muhammad
  • Shi'a view of Abu Bakr


External links