Fadak (Arabic: فدك) was a garden oasis in Khaybar, a tract of land in northern Arabia; it is now part of Saudi Arabia. Situated approximately thirty miles from Medina, Fadak was known for its water-wells, dates, and handicrafts. When the Muslims defeated the people of Khaybar at the Battle of Khaybar; the oasis of Fadak was part of the booty given to the Prophet Muhammad. Much before his death, he bequeathed it to his daughter, Fatimah. Even so, it became the object of dispute between Fatimah and the caliph Abu Bakr.
In the 7th century, the Khaybar oasis was inhabited by Arab Jews, who pioneered the cultivation of the oasis and made their living growing date palm trees, as well as through commerce and craftsmanship, accumulating considerable wealth. Some objects found by the Muslims in a redoubt at Khaybar — a siege-engine, 20 bales of Yemenite cloth, and 500 cloaks — point out to an intense trade carried out by the Jews.
The oasis was divided into three regions: al-Natat, al-Shiqq الشِّق, and al-Katiba الكتيبة, 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 clan 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.
Muhammad’s era (629-632 CE)
Muhammad quietly led the march on Khaybar oasis on 7 May AH/ 629 CE with approximately 1500 men and 100-200 horses. Primary sources including the Sirah Rasul Allah (Biography of the Prophet) of Ibn Ishaq describe the conquest of Khaybar, detailing the agreement of Muhammad with the Jews to remain in Fadak and cultivate their land, retaining one-half of the produce of the oasis. This agreement was distinct from the agreement with the Jews of Khaybar, which essentially entailed the practice of share-cropping. Muhammad retained the revenues of the Fadak region for the poor as ṣadaqa, travelers in need, and for his family. It is not entirely clear how Muhammad managed his possession of Fadak. Ibn Taimiyya wrote in his Minhaj al-Sunnah that Muhammad appointed Amr ibn al-As as the governor of the Khaybar oasis Following the death of Muhammad, scholars disagreed as to whether Fadak was exclusively the property of Prophet. Some Muslim commentators agree that following the conquest of Fadak, the property belonged exclusively to Muhammad, while several others reject this view. Various primary sources describe the acquisition of Fadak in the following way:
Half the Land of Fadak, which was given by Jews after the peace treaty, was purely the property of Rasool Allah (s). Similarly, 1/3rd of the Valley of Qari and 2 castles of Khaybar were the exclusive property of the Prophet (s) and no one else had a share of it.
The Apostle of Allah received three things exclusively to himself: Banu an-Nadir, Khaybar and Fadak. The Banu an-Nadir property was kept for his emergent needs, Fadak for travellers, and Khaybar was divided by the Apostle of Allah into three sections: two for Muslims, and one as a contribution for his family. If anything remained after making the contribution of his family, he divided it among the poor Emigrants.
Another primary account describes eleven fruit trees in Fadak, planted by Muhammad himself. Other scholars who accept the view of Fadak as belonging exclusively to Muhammad after the conquest of Khaybar include:
Upon the death of Muhmmad, his daughter Fatimah declared her claim to inherit Fadak as the estate of her father. The claim was rejected by the ruling caliph, Abu Bakr, on the grounds that Fadak was public property and arguing that the Prophet had no heirs. 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. Various primary sources contend that Fadak was gifted by Muhammad to Fatima, drawing on the Qur'an as evidence. These include narrations of Ibn 'Abbas who argued that when the Qur'anic verse on giving rights to kindred was revealed, Muhammad called to his daughter and gifted the land of Fadak to her.
Various scholars commenting on the Qur'an, Chapter Al-Hashr, verse 7, write that the Angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and commanded him to give the appropriate rights to the “Dhul Qurba” (near kin). When asked by Muhammad, who the "Dhul Qurba" referred to, Gabriel replied "Fatima" and that by "rights" was meant "Fadak", upon which Muhammad called Fatima and presented Fadak to her.
Besides the above Quranic verses, there some authenticated references for this issue. For example, Ali Ibn Burhanu'd-din Halabi Shafi'i writes in his Siratu'l-Halabiyya, p.39 that at first fatimah complained to abu bakr about the fact that she was given the fadak as a gift by the holy prophet of islam, as the witnesses were unavailable she was forced to allege her right based on the inheritance law. Also it is mentioned in Mu'jam Al-Buldan of Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tafsir al-Kabir of Imam Fakhru'd-din Razi, Sawa'iq al-Muhriqa of Ibn Hajar p.21, Sharh al-Nahju'l-Balagha of Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali Vol 4, p.80 that Fatima firstly claimed she was given the fadak as a gift but they rejected her witnesses and she suffered and angrily said that she would not talk to Abu Bakr and Umar again.
After the death of Muhammad
Lesley Hazleton describes the dispute between Fatimah and Abu Bakr as follows: «[Fatimah] sent a message to Abu Bakr asking for her share of her father's estate -date palm orchards in the huge oases of Khaybar and Fadak to the north of Medina. His response left her dumbfounded. The Prophet's estate belonged to the community, not to any individual, Abu Bakr replied. It was part of the Muslim charitable trust to be administered by him as Caliph. [...] There was no denying the populist appeal of the message Abu Bakr sent by denying Fatima's claim: the House of Muhammad was the House of Islam, and all were equal within it. But as ever, some were more equal than others. Even as he turned down Fatima, Abu Bakr made a point of providing generously for Muhammad's widows - and particularly for his own daughter Aisha, who received valuable property in Medina as well as on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula, in Bahrain.»
When Umar became Caliph, the value of the land of Fadak along with its dates was 50,000 dirhams. Ali again claimed Fatima’s inheritance during Umar's era, but was denied with the same argument as in the time of Abu Bakr. Umar however, restored the estates in Medina to `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Ali, as representatives of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim. During Uthman's caliphate, Marwan ibn al-Hakâm, who was his cousin, was made trustee of the Fadak. After Uthman, ‘Ali became caliph, but did not overturn the decision of his predecessor. He maintained Marwan's position as trustee of the Fadak. This was interpreted not as an act of dissimulation (taqiyya), as regardless Fadak was now under the authority of the state and therefore during'Ali's Caliphate, came under the authority of 'Ali himself, Fatima and his two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. 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 disunity (fitna) regarding the decision of the first Caliph.
Fadak under the Umayyads (661 – 750)
Mu'awiyah, the first Umayyad Caliph did not return Fadak to Fatimah'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 CE, 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.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.
Fadak under the Abbasids (750 – 1258)
In year 747 CE, a huge revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate occurred. The Umayyad's were eventually defeated by the Abbasid army under the rule of Abu Abbas Abdullah al-Saffah (see Battle of the Zab) in year 750. The last Umayyad Caliph, Marwan II, 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 Islamic scholars that Fadak was granted to the descendants of Fatimah during Al-Ma'mun's reign as Caliph (831-833 CE). Al-Ma’mun even decreed this to be recorded in his (dīwāns). Al-Ma’mun’s successor, Al-Mutawakkil (847-861) recaptured Fadak from the progeny of Fatimah, decreeing it to be used for the purposes initially outlined by Abu Bakr. Al-Muntasir (861-862), however, apparently maintained the decision of Al-Ma'mun, thus allowing Fatimah's progeny to 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.
Fadak in Literature
The dispute over Fadak was narrated in various sources, some of which became almost legendary. Among these is the tale of the famed caliph of the Arabian Nights tales, Harun al Rashid, narrated in the 16th-century work Laṭā’if al-Tawā’if The Subtleties of People, in which Harun is described as feeling regret over the denial of Fadak to the Prophet’s family. Harun inquired about the boundaries of the oasis from a descendant of Fatima in order to return it to its rightful possessors. The descendent cautioned that after drawing the borders of the garden of Fadak, Harun would no longer want to relinquish it. Nevertheless Harun pressed on. The descendant replied that the first boundary of Fadak was Aden, the second Samarqand, the third the Maghrib, and the fourth the Armenian Sea. These borders outlined virtually the entire empire of Harun. That Harun himself initiated the process of returning Fadak and was not pressed by the Prophet’s descendants reveals that in the Shi’i conception, worldly possessions are of little to no importance to the Prophet’s family or to the authority of the Imams.
- Veccia Vaglieri, L. "Fadak." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman; , Th. Bianquis; , C. E. Bosworth; , E. van Donzel; and W. P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010. Brill Online. University of Toronto. 8 August 2010 <http://www.brillonline.nl.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_SIM-2218>
- Veccia Vaglieri, L. "Khaybar". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Ed. P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912
- Sirat Rasulullah, Chapter 'Khaybar'
- Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Taimiyya, volume 4 page 460
- A Shah Waliullah in Quratul Ain p228 and Ibn Taymiyyah in Minhaj al-Sunnah, Dhikr of Fadak
- Al Minhaj bi Sharh Sahih Muslim Volume 2, 92.
- Sunan Abi Dawood Book 19, Number 2961
- Sharh Ibn Abi Al-Hadeed, v4, p108
- Wafa al-Wafa, v4, p1280
- Sirah Rasul Allah by Ibn Hisham, v3, p353
- The Concise History of Humanity or Chronicles, p140, Dhikr Ghazwa Khaybar
- * Ordoni (1990) p. 211
- Q Al-Hashr, 7
- Dur al-Manthur Vol. 4, page 177
- *Ruzatul Safa as quoted in Tashdheed-ul-Mathaeen page 102.
- Peshawar Nights, Sultan al-Wa’adhim As-Sayyid Muhammad al-Musawi ash-Shirazi
- After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam By Lesley Hazleton, pp. 71-73
- Wafa al Wafa (vol 3 p 1000), Tarikh Abu al-Fida (vol 1 p 168)
- Sunan Abu Dawud, v3, p144, Dhikr Fa'y
- Wafa al-Wafa, page 99
- As stated in Tarikh Yaqubi (2:199, 3:48), Wafa al Wafa vol 3 p 999-1000, Tarikh ul Khulafa, p 231-32
- Virani, Shafique N. The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 165-167.
- Fadak belonged to Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) - Proof from Quran
- Why Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) demanded Fadak?
- A picture of Fadak
- Shia Viewpoint
- PDF (1.60 MB)
- After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam, By Lesley Hazleton