A Brief History of  “FADAK Controversy”


Fadak was a fertile area with many fruit trees and farm land located in the valley of the Medina hills. It comprised of seven villages with considerable land revenue.  A peace treaty was made after the battle of Khayber according to which one-half of Fadak was to be retained by the landowners of Fadak and the other half was to be the property of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). After the Holy Prophet returned to Medina, Gabriel appeared and informed him that Allah had decreed, “Let Fadak be given to the Holy Prophet’s daughter Fatima” (s.a.).  Hence the Holy Prophet (pbuh) called Fatima (s.a.) and said, “Allah has commanded me to bestow Fadak as a gift to you” and he gave possession of Fadak to Fatima (s.a.).

As long as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) lived, Fadak remained in possession of Hazrat Fatima (s.a.). She leased the land and its revenue was collected in three installments.  She used this amount for food for her and her children and distributed the rest to the poor people of Bani Hashim.

Upon the death of the Prophet (P) on Rabi’ I 2 or 12, 11 A.H./May 31st or June 12th, 632 A.D., his daughter Fatima (s.a.) declared her claim to inherit Fadak as the estate of her father. The claim was rejected by Abu Bakr on instigation from Omar ibn al-Khattab on the grounds that Fadak was public property and arguing that the Prophet had “no heirs”.  Bibi Fatima (s.a.) had defended her claim for Fadak based on the Holy Quran and had stated that historically Prophet Sulaiman had inherited the wealth of Prophet Dawood and that the wealth was not considered property of the state and that similarly she had the right to inherit Fadak from her father, the Prophet (a.s.). Also, during Prophet Mohammed’s (a.s.) time, Fadak was his personal property, not a property of the State, hence she could inherit it, just as Prophet Sulaiman had inherited Prophet Dawood’s property.

Sources report that Ali (as) together with Umm Ayman testified to the fact that Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) granted it to Fatima (s.a.) when Abu Bakr required  Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) to summon witnesses for her claim. Abu Bakr refused to accept Imam Ali (a.s.) as a witness. Various primary sources contend that Fadak was gifted by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to Fatima (s.a.), 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, Prophet Muhammed (P) called to his daughter and gifted the land of Fadak to her.

Various scholars commenting on the Qur’an, Surat Al-Hashr (Chapter 59, verse 7), write that the Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet and commanded him to give the appropriate rights to “Thul Qurba” (near kin). When asked by the Prophet (P) about who those “Thul Qurba” were referred to in that verse, Gabriel replied: “Fatima (s.a.)” and that by “rights” was meant “Fadak”, upon which the Holy Prophet (P) called Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) and presented Fadak to her.

Historical accounts:
During the rule of Abu Bakr, Fadak was denied to Hazrat Fatima (s.a.), which led to her protest, as appears in her Khutba at the Prophet’s Mosque.

When Omar became Khalifa, the value of the land of Fadak along with its dates was, according to some account, 50,000 dirhams. Imam  Ali (a.s.) again claimed  Hazrat Fatima’s inheritance during Omar’s era but was denied with the same argument as in the time of Abu Bakr. Omar, however, restored the estates in Medina to `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Ali (as), as representatives of  Holy Prophet (P)’s  clan, the Banu Hashim.

During Uthman’s Khilaafah, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, (his cousin), was made trustee of Fadak. Marwan spent  the income in wicked activities.

After Uthman, Imam Ali (a.s.) became Khalifa but did not overturn the decision of his predecessor. During Ali’s Khilaafah, Fadak was regarded to be under the control of the Prophet’s family, so the Khalifa did not make a formal declaration of personal possession in order to avoid resurrecting old feuds and jealousies and thus the avoiding of any disunity among Muslims.

Under the Umayyads (661 – 750 A.D.), Mu’awiyah, their first self-imposed ruler, the latter did not return Fadak to Fatima’s descendants. This process was continued by later Umayyad Khalifas until the time of Khalifa Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz. When Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz, known as Omar II, became Khalifa in 717 A.D., the income from the property of Fadak was 40,000 dinars. Fadak was returned to Fatima’s descendants by an edict given by Omar II, but this decision was renounced by later Khalifas and may have been the cause of Omar II being killed as well.

Omar 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 Khilaafah expired.

Under the Abbasi period (750 – 1258 A.D.), in 747 A.D., The last Umayyad ruler, Marwan II, was killed in a battle a few months after the Battle of the Zab of 750 A.D., thus ending the Umayyad Khilaafah. Historical accounts differ about what happened to Fadak under early Abbasid rulers. Most likely they collected its revenues and spent it as they pleased. There is, however, consensus among Islamic scholars that Fadak was returned to the descendants of Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) during Al-Ma’Moon’s reign (831-833 A.D.). Al-Ma’Moon based his decision upon review of a Committee, and even decreed his decision to be recorded in his diwans.

Al-Ma’Moon’s successor, al-Mutawakkil (847-861 A.D.), repossessed Fadak, confiscating it from the descendants of Hazrat Fatima (s.a.).  Al-Muntasir (861-862 A.D.), however, apparently maintained the decision of al-Ma’mun, thus allowing Fatima’s offspring to manage Fadak.  What happened thereafter is uncertain, but Fadak was probably seized by again and managed exclusively by the ruler of the time as his own personal property.


    1. The book “Shia Islam At A Glance” By: Sheikh Abdul Jalil Nawee of Maryland.
    2. Shia Youth website www.Shia-youth.org (Category: ”Madhabs”).