- This is a sub-article to the Succession to Muhammad
Muhammad’s inheritance is a well-documented and controversial topic, both then and at the present.
Muhammad’s inheritance did not occur as is prescribed in the Qur’an, since Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s most prominent companions said that he heard Muhammad said so. This happened during the Succession to Muhammad, the day after the meeting at Saqifah.
Controversially, several of Muhammad’s relatives were not convinced of his testimony, and this resulted in a dispute that continued all the way to the era of Umar II, around one hundred years later.
People involved in the event include:
- Ali – Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, future fourth Sunni Caliph and first Shi’a Imam
- Fatimah – Muhammd’s daughter, married to Ali
- `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, also known as Al-Abbas – a paternal uncle of Muhammad.
- `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, also known as Ibn Abbas – Muhammad’s cousin
- Abu Bakr – one of Muhammad’s companions and the first Sunni Caliph
- Umar – one of Muhammad’s companions and the second Sunni Caliph
- Uthman – one of Muhammad’s companions and the third Sunni Caliph
- A’isha – Abu Bakr’s daughter and Muhammad’s wife
- Muhammad’s wives, the rest of them
The present interpretation of the sources describing the event is also controversial. Shi’a and Sunni do not agree on whether a piece of property named Fadak that was included in conflict between Fatimah and Abu Bakr only constituted inheritance, or if it actually was confiscated by Abu Bakr, and Fatimah demanded it back together with her inheritance.
The events started the day after the death of Muhammad on AH 10 (631/632). Fatimah came with Ali to Abu Bakr.
Fatimah came to Abu Bakr and demanded her share in the inheritance. Al-Abbas came to him and demanded his share in the inheritance. Ali came with them. Thereupon Abu Bakr said, “The Apostle of God said, “We leave no inheritance, what we leave behind us is sadaqah.” I shall make provisions for those for whom the Prophet had made.”
On this Ali said, “Sulayman (Solomon) inherited Dawud (David),[Quran 27:16] and Zakariya said, ‘He may be my heir and the heir of the children of Jacob (Zachariah about John the Baptist)’”[Quran 19:6].
Abu Bakr said, “This is as this is. By God! You know it as I know.”
Thereupon Ali said, “This is the Book of God that speaks.” Then they became quiet and retired.
Fatimah asked Abu Bakr, “When you die who will inherit you?”
He replied, “My children and relatives.”
She said, “What is the justification of your becoming inheritor of the Prophet keeping us away?”
He replied, “O daughter of the Apostle of God! I did not inherit your father’s land, gold, silver, slave, or property.”
She said, “The share of God (Khums i.e. one-fifth) which He has allotted to us and which is only our share, is in your hands.”
Thereupon he replied, “I heard the Apostle of God saying, ‘It is the food that God makes me eat. When I die it will be distributed among the Muslims'”
• • •
Abu Bakr said, “Verily, the Apostle of God said, ‘We do not leave inheritance, what we leave goes into sadaqah.’ Verily, the members of Muhammad’s family will get provision from this money. By God! I shall not change the distribution of the sadaqah of the Apostle of God from what it was in the time of Apostle of God. I shall continue to spend them under the same heads as the Apostle of God was spending.”
So Abu Bakr refused to give any thing to Fatimah. Consequently Fatimah became angry with Abu Bakr and left him. She did not talk with him until she died. She lived six months after the Apostle of God.
Fatimah and al-Abbas came to Abu Bakr demanding their share of inheritance of the Messenger of God. They were demanding the Messenger of God’s land in Fadak and his share of Khaybar’s tribute. Abu Bakr replied, “I have heard the Messenger of God say, “Our, i.e. the prophets’ property cannot be inherited and whatever we leave behind is alms to be given in charity. The family of Muhammad will eat from it. (1)By God, I will not abandon a course which I saw the Messenger of God practicing, but will continue it accordingly. Fatimah shunned him and did not speak to him about it until she died. Ali buried her at night and did not permit Abu Bakr to attend her burial. While Fatimah was alive, Ali held respect among the people. After she died their attention turned away from him. A man asked al-Zuhri, “Did Ali not give his oath of allegiance for six months?” “No, nor anyone of the Banu Hashim until Ali rendered his,” he replied.
Abu Bakr died two years, on AH 13 (634/635), and at that point, the demands for the inheritance were renewed to Umar, who became the second Sunni Caliph.