Precursor to the Sermon:
Abdulla Ibn al Hasan, on the authority of the tradition that he had based upon the authority of his father, states:
When Abu Bakr decided to confiscate from the possession Syeda Fatimah Zahra (S.A) the property of Fadak, and this news reached Syeda Fatimah Zahra (S.A), she covered her head and also covered her body with a veil (chadar) and along with her lady companions and servants went to the mosque of the Holy Prophet. She had covered herself entirely from head to toe, but the manner of her walking resembled entirely the manner of the Holy Prophet, when she arrived at the mosque she found Abdullāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah (Abu Bakar) sitting there with Muslims [Mohajirs and Ansaars]. When she entered, a curtain was put up between her and her companions on the one hand and between the men assembled in the mosque on the other.
Once they were seated on either side of the curtain, Syeda Fatimah (S.A) let out a lamentation, which made the people assembled there; weep so loudly that the mosque reverberated with the sound of their weeping. When there was a pause and the sound of weeping subsided, Syeda Fatimah (S.A) began her address to the people gathered in the mosque. She commenced her speech by praising Allah and expressing her gratitude to Him, followed by calling Allah’s blessings upon the prophet, at which there was another round of weeping and wailing on part of the people gathered in the mosque. When again there was silence, Syeda Fatimah (S.A) continued her address.
Sermon and the subsequent dialogue with Abdullāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah (Abu Bakar)
Praise be to Allah for what He has bestowed with Grace, and all gratitude is to Allah for what He has inspired us with, and all thanks and eulogies be for what He has in advance granted [in the form of varied graces], and the abundant goods that He has bestowed upon human beings, and all the benefits that He has made, to follow one after the other [for human beings], the amount is beyond the possibility of enumeration, and the extent is limitless, and the eternal nature is beyond human comprehension, and He called upon them [people] to express their gratitude to Him for its continuity and increase, and Allah caused human beings to praise Him for increasing the abundance of these benefits, and then doubled these benefits for their asking, I bear witness that there is no deity [God] but Allah, the Only One without any companion; a statement which by its implication, purifies all hearts, beholders’ eyes fall short of seeing Him, and describers’ imaginations are not able to depict Him, He originated the creatures through His Mighty Power, without any model or pre-planning or any precedence, and caused them to come into being by His Might, and created them by His will to create, not due to any need on Allah’s part of bringing them into being, nor for any benefit to Him by giving them forms, but only in order to establish the Proof of His Wisdom, and as a proclamation that creatures obey Him, and in order to manifest His creative ability and enthral creation to perform their duty and devotion to Him, and to Exalt His invitation; and then Allah rewarded those obedient to Himself and punished those who rebelled, so as to guard His creation against His chastisement, and to lead them towards His acceptance and pleasure; I bear witness to the fact that my father [Mohammad (ASWS)] is His servant and Messenger, and Allah named him Mohammad (ASWS) even before he had created him, and chose him above all the rest before He commissioned him with the Mission, when all creation was still uncreated, and were still waiting to be created, held up in a cover of awful darkness, and nearer to the limits of non-existence; Allah’s knowledge of the consequences of all affairs, and His comprehension of all that was to happen, commissioned him [Mohammad (ASWS)], in order to fulfill His plan, with a resolution to achieve what He commanded, and to enforce what He ordained as inevitable; he saw various people divided into sects of various religions, secluded around their sacred fires, worshipping their idols, denying Allah, despite the wish to worship Allah being built within their soul when born; so Allah illuminated the darkness by virtue of “Muhammad’s” (ASWS) presence and removed from the hearts the darkness of uncertainty, and lifted from the visions the perplexity, and made him rise amongst the people as a source of guidance, and set them free from waywardness, and gave them vision releasing them from blindness (lack of insight), and guided them towards the secure religion, and summoned them toward the right and straight path; then Allah took him [(Mohammad (ASWS)] back with kindness and the option of goodness and inclination and preference (the option to stay or to die); thus Mohammad (ASWS) is now in comfort and free of the toils and tribulations of this world, and Allah’s angels are gathered around him, and he is covered by the pleasure of the All-Sustaining, forgiving Allah, and he is in the vicinity of the Almighty King of Kings, Allah, May the praise of Allah be upon my father, the Prophet of Allah, and upon His trusted for revelation, His chosen and selected one from amongst Allah’s creation, the one with whom Allah is most pleased. May peace be upon him and may Allah’s Mercy and Benefaction be on him.
Then Syeda Fatimah (S.A) addressed the people gathered in the mosque delivering her sermon “in the mosque” and said:
You are Allah’s servants, who are ordered to carry out His commands for what is obligatory and what is forbidden, and you are the carriers of the burden of Allah’s Religion and Revelations, and you are entrusted with the trusteeship of yourselves. You are charged with the propagation of Allah’s Message to all the people of the world. The leader of Truth is amongst you [meaning her husband Imam Ali (ASWS)], and the Pledge that he has pledged with you from before (at Ghadir-e-Khum on 18th Zil-Hajj 10 A.H.) and the remnant that has been left behind for you, the rational and articulate Book of Allah (Holy Qur’an), the true Qur’an, the radiant light, the effulgent radiation, His proofs are manifest, and it’s obscurities are clarified, that what is apparent of it, is clear, and those who follow it are the envy of all the rest; those who follow it’s path are led into Allah’s pleasure, those who heed it are led towards salvation, and by it are attained the enlightened arguments of Allah, and his elucidated intentions, and what is forbidden and has been warned against, and the self evident proofs that have been made clear, and sufficient proofs and the virtues that are desirable, and the indulgence of Allah that was divinely bestowed, and the divine laws that have been recorded, and Allah has made Faith as a means of purification from polytheism, and has made obligatory the prayer as a means of freeing yourself from arrogance, and He has made the poor Due (Zakat) “alms” obligatory as a means of cleaning your souls and as a cause of the growth of your sustenance, and He has made fasting obligatory as a means of steadfastness in sincerity, and He has made pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) obligatory as a means of might in your religion, and He has made justice obligatory as a means of harmony for your hearts, and He ha made your obedience to us [Ahlul-Bayt] obligatory as a means of organising the community properly, and has made “us religious leaders” [i.e. we Ahlul-Bayt ruling you] a source of security from disunion of the nation, and He has made struggle and endeavor (against one’s own self or against one’s arrogant and aggressive enemies) [the Holy War] as a means of exaltation for Islam, and endurance and patience as an aid in acquiring the right of worthy recompense, and commanding virtuous actions for the good of the commons, and doing good to one’s parents obligatory as a means of avoiding wrath [to avoid the discontent and anger of Almighty Allah], and caring for blood relatives obligatory as a means of increasing their number and their income, and the act of retaliation obligatory as a means of preventing bloodshed, and honesty in measuring and weighing obligatory as a means of avoiding dishonesty and exposing oneself to receive Allah’s forgiveness, and the prohibition of consuming alcohol obligatory as a means of purifying from filth and doubtfulness, and avoidance of defamation and abuse (perjury) as a screen against condemnation and abuse, and keeping away from theft obligatory as an assurance for chastity. Allah has forbidden polytheism in order to establish sincerity for His Grace of sustenance; therefore, (you people) fear Allah in a manner which behooves you to do so and do not die but in a state of being a real faithful Muslim, and be obedient to Allah in those things He has commanded you to do and those things He has forbidden you from doing. Only the knowledgeable ones from amongst Allah’s creatures shall care to fear Him.
She then continued:
O people, know that I am Fatimah, my father is Muhammad [ASWS]; what I say repeatedly is the same I began with, and I do not say what is wrong, and I do not transgress, nor do I say anything wrong; the Messenger of Allah came to you from amongst yourselves; your suffering has been a heavy burden upon him, and he was very loving and compassionate towards the believers; so, if you honour, you will realize that he was my father and not the father of anyone amongst your women, and he is the brother of my cousin (Ali) to the exclusion of all the rest of your men; how good and wonderful it is to be related to him [ ASWS]; the Holy Prophet, my father, fulfilled his Mission by conveying the divine Message; he took pains to warn the people, preaching towards wisdom; he drew his sword against polytheism and held them by their throats; he welcomed the people to the way of Allah through wisdom and beautiful sermons; he broke the idols and he lowered the heads of the arrogant, until they were defeated and forced to flee, until night was cut off from day, and Truth shone forth; the leader of the religion spoke, the strutting of Satan was rendered dumbfounded; he removed the thorns of hypocrisy from the path, the knots of disbelief and schisms were untied, your mouths uttered the words of pure faith and sincerity, saying There is no deity [God] but Allah; amongst you were people whose faces were bright but whose stomachs were empty (the poor but the truthful, who caused you to become Muslims), while you were on the edge of the ditch of fire and like draught of water that anyone could easily drink; and you were object of all the lustful ones, and you were like an ember whose fire went out quickly and did not warm and give light, and you were so weak that you could be trampled and kicked around by anyone; you used to drink from the dirty and stagnant water left on the wayside, and you sought nourishment from the skins of dead animals and leaves of trees; you were degraded and you were turned away failures; you were afraid that people around you would deprive you of what you had; but Allah, the Almighty, saved you by Muhammad ( ASWS) from this and that, all dangers, after so many risks, after saving you from the calamities of the people, and the wolves of the Arabs, and the rebellious people (Ahlul-Kitab) who outwardly professed faith in the Book; every time they lit the fires of war, Allah extinguished them; or whenever Satan showed his horns, or whenever the dragon of the polytheists opened its mouth, the Prophet hurled his brother (Imam Ali [ASWS].) against it, who had never relented until he had trampled under his feet their nose and ears, and he put out the fire with his sword; he strove for the sake of Allah (meaning Imam Ali [ASWS]) and he struggled for the sake of and cause of Allah; he was very near to the messenger of Allah, and he was a leader amongst those who loved Allah; he was always ready and prepared for the struggle, doing his best; he was advised well and he sought and strove to the utmost, while you were, during all this time, living a life of ease and comfort, in the state of security and pleasure, awaiting that the circle of time turns against us, and you were keenly listening to the news, while you held back from the conflict, and you were fleeing from the battles; so when Almighty Allah chose for the Holy Prophet the abode of all previous of Allah’s prophets, and the security of His pure ones, there appeared amongst you, the thorns of hypocrisy; consequently, the clothes of religion became worn out and threadbare, and the misguided ones spoke out and the unknown few became eloquent, and the pampered of the false began to rumble, and it began to strut in your plains and courtyards and Satan popped up his head from his hiding place, and, hailing you, he found that you were answering his invitation warmly, and you were responding to his deceptions quickly; he sought to make you rise and he found that you were light and easy to pick up, and he branded you and found you easy to anger (against us); and so you branded the camels that were not yours, and you came to drink from a place which was not meant to be yours; all this when the time of the Pledge was still very recent (the wounds caused by the death of the Prophet), the split in the wound was still wide and the wound had not healed, and the Holy Prophet had not yet been interred in his grave (still un-buried); you made an excuse that you were afraid of disturbances and sedition, but Lo! You have fallen into disturbance and sedition, and hell fire surrounds all the disbelievers; alas for you! And how is it that this has come from you, which way are you turning to? The book of Allah is in front of you, its affairs are self-evident, its orders are luminescent and bright, its salient features are shining, its prohibitions and forbidding are manifest, its commands are clear; and you turn away from it, leaving it behind your backs?! Do you intend to turn away from it or do you wish to make another (book) as a ruler in its place? What a bad alternative you transgressors have exchanged it for! Anyone who desires any other religion than Islam, nothing will be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter, he will be amongst those who are the losers; and you did not wait for a space of time so that the irritated camel is back to normal, so that the rope by which one leads the camel would become easy, but you have started the flames (against us), and you have responded to the calling and hailing of Satan, who misled you, in order to extinguish the light of clear religion, and to suppress the traditions of the true Prophet; you swallowed, secretly, a sip of froth, you stalked behind trees and hillocks against his family and children [of Prophet Muhammad (ASWS)]; we shall endure, patiently, the cuts of your daggers and swords, and now you assert that we have no inheritance; do you desire the rule of the days of ignorance? And who or what can be a better ruler than Allah for people who are steadfast? Do you not know? It is become clear as daylight (like a shining sun), that I am his daughter [daughter of your Prophet Muhammad (ASWS)]. O Muslims! Will I be overcome and denied my inheritance? O son of Abi-Qahafa! (This is the name of Abu Bakr, before Islam.) Is it in the Book of Allah that you inherit from your father and I do not inherit from my father? You have come out with a very strange and evil idea; Have you, intentionally, discarded the Book of Allah and left it behind your backs, when the Holy Book says “Sulaiman inherited from Dawood”, yet, in the story of Zakariya, when he said, “Therefore, grant to me, by your grace, O Lord, a successor who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Yaqoob”, and while the Book states, “And the people related by blood relations to one another are first and foremost for one another (have a priority), and again the Book states, “Allah commands you in respect of your children, that for the son it will be double that of what is for the daughter”, and once again in the Book of Allah it says, “When you are about to die, it is good that you make a testimony in regards to your parents and near ones in a manner that is good, because that is the right and true thing for the pious to do”; and you now assert that there is no benefit and inheritance for me from my father? Has Allah chosen for you in the verse of the Holy Qur’an and excluded my father from it? Or do you say that the people of the two communities do not inherit from one another? Am I and my father not from one and the same religious community?! Or are you more knowledgeable in regard to the particularities and generalities of the Holy Qur’an than my own father and my cousin [Imam Ali (ASWS).]? Then you can now hold this camel [Caliphate] that has been ready and take it away; it will meet you again on the Day of Resurrection, what a Just Judge Allah is! And what a good religious leader Muhammad [ASWS] is! And the appointed Day of Resurrection! And the hour (of Judgement), when the false ones will be losers and will not avail when you feel remorseful! And for every important prophecy there is an appointed place and time, and then you will know who will be inflicted with punishment which will humiliate, and upon whom an everlasting retribution will come down.
She then glanced towards the Ansaars [the native Muslims of Madinah] and said:
O group of eminent and the arms (strength) of the community who first welcomed Islam, Why all this neglect in the matter of my rights? And why this laxity in the matter of my seeking justice? Did not the Holy Prophet, my father say, “Every person should be guarded in the matters of his children’s rights and honours?” How swiftly have you fabricated in this matter? And how quickly have you committed this awful act? And while you do possess the strength and ability to assist me for what I am striving and you have the power to assist me in what rightfully I demand and intend to do! Are you saying that Muhammad has died? And this is indeed a very great calamity! A calamity that is very vast-and its breach is wide! And what was patched up has been torn apart, and his absence has darkened the earth, and the stars have been eclipsed because of this calamity, and hopes have been destroyed, and the mountains have been shattered, and the sanctity of sanctuaries has been violated, and all sanctity and honour have been lost because of his death, and that would be, by Allah, the greatest of all calamities and afflictions; no calamity like it has ever struck down, and never has there ever been such a soul-searching catastrophe!
The Book of Allah is proclaimed in your places, in your evenings and mornings, softly and loudly, by reading and recitation; in the past, also, have down amongst you, Prophets and Messengers, a definitive command and an inevitable judgment; “Muhammad is only a man and a messenger [so many] messengers have passed away before him; if he should be killed or should he pass away, will you revert to your old ways (to your days of ignorance)? Anyone who turns away on his heels will not injure Allah in any way and Allah will reward the grateful (thanks givers).” [ Ale Imran 144] This verse from the Holy Qur’an informs you of Muhammad’s death in advance.
Then Syeda Fatimah (S.A) addressed “Bani Qileh”
O’ Bani Qileh! [Qileh was the mother tribe of both tribes- "Ows and Khazraj"]. Should I be, in regard to my father’s inheritance, assimilated and ignored thus?! While you are watching and listening?!! And you people gathered here, you hear my case and are aware of my situation, and you are many in number, and you possess man and power, and you own arms and weapons; my case reaches you fully and faithfully, and yet you do not respond? You hear my cry for help and you do not come to my assistance? You are aware of the quality of your struggle, and you have a reputation for being well informed and for your goodness, and you were of the chosen and the selected (for us Ahlul-Bayt), and you have been opted, and you are Arabs and you have endured toil and trouble, and you have fought against many people, polytheist wretched nations and tribes and you have struggled against champions? Always we used to give orders and you used to follow our orders, until the wheels of Islam started to turn and the days matured, and the slogans of the polytheists became silent, and the bubbling and boiling vessel of libel settled down and subsided, and the fire of disbelief was extinguished, and the call of confusion was calmed down and quietened, and the organised system of religion was established; then why have you become perplexed after clarification, and why have you become secretive of the proclamation, and why have you retreated after you have been pioneers, and you have become polytheists after believing in Allah (in faith)? The Holy Qur’an says: “Will you not fight against people who have broken their pledge, and had planned to banish the Messenger of Allah, and they anticipated fighting against you in the first occasion? Are you afraid of them? But Allah is more worthy to be afraid of, if you are believers indeed. Lo! I see that you have finally gone into subordination and ease of living; you have distanced yourself from the one who is the most rightful, to order the affairs of the Muslims [refers to Imam Ali (ASWS)], while you have returned into the comfort of inaction, and you have sought an easy life instead of a hard one, and whatever you had heard and retained you have spit out, and what you had swallowed you have vomited (of Islamic teachings); so, if you are disbelievers, you and those on earth, most surely Allah is Self-Sufficient and praised.” (Surah Ibraheem, V8) I have said what I had to say on the basis of my knowledge on the dereliction of obligations that has come on you, and the betrayal that your hearts have accepted; but all this is the result of the welling up of the soul, and the explosion of my anger, and the emission of the heart, and the presentation of my true arguments; [in order to re-establish the law of Allah and the teaching of Islam] so get hold of this camel (Caliphate) and ride its tail; but remember it has a sore back, and its feet are injured, and shame will linger with it; it is marked with the wrath of Allah and an eternal disgrace; it is linked to Hellfire, whose flames have reached up to the very hearts; what you do is before the eyes of Allah, and those who transgress shall certainly come to know how they will be overthrown and overturned; and I am the daughter of the one who warned you of severe punishment; so you do what you want to and we are doing what we have to do, and you await the results and we shall also await the results.
The reply of Abu Bakr:
O daughter of the Messenger of Allah! Your father was, for the believers, affectionate and honourable, and was considered kind and great; and for the disbelievers, there is punishment and great retribution; if we go forth to investigate, we will find that he is only your father to the exclusion of the rest of the women, and he is the brother of your husband to the exclusion of all the rest of his friends; he preferred your husband to the rest of all his close companions, and your husband helped him (the Prophet) in every great affair; no-one loves you but he who is fortunate, and no one else hates you but he who is wretched; you are the holy family of the Prophet of Allah, and the best of all the chosen persons; you are our guide towards all that is good and prosperous and through you we will find our way to Paradise; you are the best of all women, and the daughter of the best of all the Prophets; you are truthful and rightful in all your statements, and you are foremost in the abundance of your wisdom and brain; you will never be turned away from what is yours by your right, and you will not be barred from the truth that you have spoken. By Allah, I have taken no step against the opinion of the Holy Prophet of Allah, and I have not acted except by his permission and the one who is being sent as pioneer shall not lie to his people, and I make Allah my witness, and He is the most sufficient of all the witnesses. I heard the Prophet state: “We group of Prophets have no-one who would inherit from us either gold or silver or house or pasture; only what is inherited is wisdom, knowledge and Prophethood, and whatever is left behind by us, in the forms of any source of nourishment, is for the one ruling the affairs of the Muslims; it is for him to decide and judge in its regard.” And what you have asked for, we have already spent it on the buying of animals for transport and weapons for the Muslims to use for fighting; and they struggle against the non- believers, and they use it to fight against the rebellious evil-doers; and this was done on the basis of the consensus of the Muslims; I have not decided singly myself, and I have not acted in a despotic manner in the opinion that I hold; and this is my situation, and my personal wealth; this is for you and is presented to you; no-one will grudge it to you, and it will not be amassed for anyone else but you; you are the leader of all your father’s followers, and you are the holy tree for your children (source of comfort and security); what is yours, by your excellence, shall not be denied, and no-one can humiliate your dear origin or your branches or your roots; your decision and your order will be enforced in whatever is in my hands; would you wish that I oppose, in this matter, your father, the Praise of Allah be upon him and his household?
Syeda Fatimah (S.A) replied, saying:
“Subhanallah! Praise be to Allah! The Messenger of Allah never turned away from the Book of Allah , and neither was he ever opposed to the Commandments mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, he always followed what was indicated in the Holy Qur’an, and always pursued what was indicated in its chapters; have you all combined to betray him by ascribing to him what is untrue and deceptive? And all this, after his death, is similar to what was plotted against him during his lifetime; this Book of Allah is the most just of all judges and let it be judging between me and you , and is the most rationally articulate in deciding between good and evil, truth and falsehood; the Holy Qur’an states: (the prophet of Allah) “Zakariyya said, ‘Grant me one who will inherit me and inherit from the descendants of Yaqoub’”. “And Sulaiman inherited from Dawood.” The Most Glorified and the Most Honoured Allah has clarified how the instalments will be divided, and has laid down laws and rules for obligation and inheritance, and He has made valid what is to be the share of the males and the females, and He has removed from the path the efforts of those who are false, and He has also swept away all possibility of surmise and conjecture, as well as doubts and scepticism; no, but it is your own selves which have tempted you in this matter; therefore, patience and endurance is well and good, and Allah is my best Helping what false you have said
Abdullāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah (Abu Bakr) replied:
Allah has spoken truthfully and so has His Messenger; also, the Prophet’s daughter has also spoken justly; you are the source of wisdom and you are the source of guidance and mercy, and you are the support of Religion and Allah’s witness of His arguments; I do not repudiate the truthfulness of your opinion, and neither do I deny your speech; these Muslims are the judge between you and me; [look Fatimah (S.A)] said:
‘The Holy Qur’an, the law of Allah is the judge between you and me’; while the so-called caliphate replied: ‘these Muslims are the judge between you and me?!; I have put on this garb that they have put on me (Caliphate), and through this consensus I have grasped what I have grasped, without being arrogant or despotic?! And neither have I placed myself above the rest, and they are all witnesses to that.’ (The judgment left to the wise and faithful Muslims.)
Syeda Fatimah (S.A) turned to the people and, addressing them, and said:
O people! You have hastened to listen to the false statements; you are ignoring an action that is ugly to do and will lead to losses; do you not study the Holy Qur’an in depth, or is that your hearts are sealed off? No! But what evil actions you have performed have darkened your hearts, by denying and refusing orders of Allah and His Messenger who appointed Imam Ali (ASWS) the successor and leader of the Muslims after Mohammed (ASWS), but they became polytheist and have deprived you of hearing and seeing well; how badly have you deduced (from the Holy Qur’an), and how bad it is that you have ascribed to it, and how evil is what you have gained from it (change and adopted to your liking); and by Allah, you will surely find that the burden of it will be very heavy, and the consequences of it will be disastrous for you; when the veil will be removed from before you, and what losses are beyond it will become evident, and from Allah it will be revealed what you had not taken into account, and there it is where those who follow falsehood will surely be losers.
Editor’s Note: The aforementioned text is an English translation of the Sermon of Syeda Fatimah (S.A) daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his family), that she delivered in in Al-Masjid al-Nabawī, almost 1400 years ago. Syeda Fatimah (SA) spoke in defense of her individual rights to inheritance and rejected the lame excuses of the then ruler Abdullāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah (Abu Bakar) who confiscated her property that she had inherited from her father — the holy Prophet. On another note her speech can be envisioned as an expression of women’s human rights in terms of political and financial freedom. The sermon provides inclusive guidelines for women’s right to freedom of expression and the economic rights of women in terms of their access to inheritance and resources. The purpose of sharing this sermon and the subsequent dialogue between Syeda Fatimah (S.A) and Abdullāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah (Abu Bakar) is purely academic in nature. It doesn’t intend to spread any message of hatred.