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Hadith of Muhammad's inheritance

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Title: Hadith of Muhammad's inheritance  
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Hadith of Muhammad's inheritance

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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.


  • Overview 1
  • Event 2
  • Views 3
    • Sunni view 3.1
    • Shi'a views 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Muhammad's inheritance did not occur as is prescribed in the Qur'an, since Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad's most prominent companions (Arabic: Sahaba‎) 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:

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.[1]

Ibn Sa'd, a 9th century Sunni Islamic scholar writes:

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." [2] 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.[1]
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.[3][4]

Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, a 10th century Sunni Islamic scholar writes:

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)[5] 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 form 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.[6]
A narration attributed to A'isha reports: Sunnis tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Sahih Muslim[7]

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.

A narration attributed to Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri from Malik ibn Aus reports: Sunnis tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Sahih Muslim[8]

A narration attributed to Urwah ibn Zubayr from Aisha reports: Sunnis tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Sahih Muslim[3]


Sunni view

Sunni view this conflict between Abu Bakr and Fatimah as unfortunate and are prone to view it as a disagreement with limited consequences.

Shi'a views

Shi'a view this conflict as one of their primary evidence of the injustice done against Muhammad's household (Arabic: Ahl al-Bayt‎), and have written extensively on this issue.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Shi'a consider that Abu Bakr simply gave false testimony when he claimed that Muhammad said he would not give inheritance.

Shi'a also state that Abu Bakr's seizure of Ali and Fatimah's inheritance was complemented by the unjust seizure of the land of Fadak, a gift given to Fatimah during Muhammad's life.

This issue is a hot topic among Shi'a, and they dedicate long articles to this subject. [15]

See also


  1. ^ a b The Book of the Major Classes, Volume 2, page 393
  2. ^ The hadith has been reproduced through Abu Hurairah in Sahih Muslim, 19:4355, 19:4356, 19:4357
  3. ^ a b Sahih Muslim, 19:4354
  4. ^ The Book of the Major Classes, Volume 2, page 392
  5. ^ Note 1 states: “It was the first and most important step taken by both Abu Bakr and Umar in their attempts to displace the Banu Hashim and especially Ali from their prerogatives in the leadership of the Muslim polity. Acceptance of this claim of inheritance based on family ties would have opened the door widely to Ali’s right to the succession. Moreover, the income from both these sources was considerable, and it would have given some leverage to Ali.
  6. ^ History of the Prophets and Kings, Volume 9, pages 196, 197. State University of New York Press, 1993. Translated by Ismail K. Poonawala
  7. ^ Sahih Muslim, 19:4351
  8. ^ Sahih Muslim, 19:4349, 19:4350
  9. ^ The Shi'a encyclopedia at [1] [2] [3]
  10. ^ Al-Marji' Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlullah, Fatimah al-Ma`sumah (as): a role model for men and women, section "Angry for the truth" at
  11. ^ Peshawar Nights at and 8.10
  12. ^ Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani, The Message at
  13. ^ Fatima the Gracious by Abu Muhammad Ordoni at
  14. ^ A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims by Ali Asgher Razwy at
  15. ^ Fadak; The property of Fatima al-Zahra at
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