What is the Incident of Fadak
Fadak was one of the villages around Medinah situated at a distance of 140 kilometres from Khaybar. In the year 7 AH when the forts of Khaybar fell one after another to the soldiers of Islam and the central power of the Jews was smashed, the inhabitants of Fadak approached the Noble Prophet in submission and handed over one half of their land and gardens to him retaining the other half for themselves. In addition, they also agreed to shoulder the responsibility of cultivating his share of the land and used to receive some benefits for this effort of theirs.
In view of the verse of booty , this land was specific to the Noble Prophet and he could utilize it for himself or use it in other instances, as stated in verse 7 of Surat-ul-Hashr and accordingly, he gifted it to his daughter Fatimah . This is a fact, which has been emphasized and stated by numerous Sunnite and Shi˜ite historians and commentators.
In the commentary al-Durrul Manthur, it has been narrated from Ibne Abbas that when the verse:
“Then give to the near of kin his due” was revealed, the Noble Prophet gifted Fadak to Fatimah
In the chapter of Sila rahem (establishing bonds of consanguinity) of the book Kanz al-˜Ummal , written as annotations for the book Musnad of Ahmad ibne Hanbal, it has been reported from Abu Sa ‘id Khudri that when the above verse was revealed, the Noble Prophet sought Fatimah and said to her:
“O’ Fatimah! Fadak is for you.”
Hakim Nishaburi has also reported this same meaning in his book, which deals with history.
Ibne Abil Hadid too, in his commentary of Nahjul Balghah, has mentioned the incident of Fadak in great detail and so too have numerous other books.
But after the Noble Prophet those, who perceived this economic power in the hands of Ali’s spouse as a danger to their political power and were determined to isolate his supporters in every respect, confiscated it on the basis of a fabricated tradition:
And despite the fact that Fatimah was in official possession of the land – and one in possession of something is not asked to present witnesses – she was asked to present her witnesses (that Fadak belonged to her). She presented them, who testified that the Noble Prophet had personally gifted it to her, but they disregarded these witnesses. In later periods, those Caliphs who desired to express their inclinations towards the Ahlul Bayt , would return Fadak to them but soon after another would come up and confiscate it once again! This was repeated on numerous occasions during the time of the Umayyad and the Abbassid caliphs.
The incident of Fadak and the events associated with it during the initial stages of Islam and in the later eras are of the most painful, sorrowful but at the same time, the most admonitory portions of the history of Islam which ought to be placed under meticulous study so that it illuminates various other incidents of Islam.
Significantly, the Sunni narrator – Muslim ibne Hajjaj Nishaburi – has reported the incident of Fatimah’s demand for Fadak in detail in his book Sahih Muslim and reports from Aishah that after the first Caliph’s refusal to return Fadak to Fatimah , she was enraged with him and did not speak a word to him for as long as she was alive. 1
1. Sahih Muslim, vol. 3, pg. 1380, no. 52 of ‘The Book of Jihad’
Umar was the main culprit in instigating the first Caliph Abu Bakr. He was the person who tore the document of Fadak due to which Hazrat Fatima willed that these two persons should not come in his funeral.