Of all examples in Islamic history that exemplify justice and the need to stand up for one’s rights, Lady Fatima (AS) stands out as a pinnacle.
In a historic speech known as the sermon of Fadak, Lady Fatima (AS) spoke out publicly when she was denied the right to her inheritance following the death of her father, the Holy Prophet (SAW). The inheritance was a piece of land in a village known as Fadak, and was gifted to Lady Fatima (AS) by her father during his lifetime.
Fadak was an oasis that was known for its water wells and abundance of dates, from which the revenues were used to support the Banu Hashim, or the tribe of the family of the Prophet, allowing them to be self-sufficient in order to avoid using government funds.
After the death of the Prophet (SAW), this land was confiscated from Lady Fatima (AS). When she spoke out against this injustice, she illustrated how she was a role model for women and men alike in many ways:
- As a woman, she was in charge of managing her own affairs
Lady Fatima (AS) was a custodian of Fadak during the lifetime of her father. She was in charge of managing the property. While many discount the role of women in Islam, here is a woman who owned property and oversaw its affairs. When it was taken away from her, she prepared her own defence and spoke out herself in public.
- She was vocal about her grievances and made her voice heard
Oftentimes, whether it is due to culture or simply due to fear of social repercussions, we shy away from speaking out, even if we know we have been wronged. Lady Fatima (AS) showed that when an injustice has been done against you, it is important to stand up for what is right.
- She demonstrated knowledge of the law and of the Quran, and presented evidence to support her case
Women’s right to an inheritance in Islam was debated at the time. Lady Fatima (AS), having directly learned from the Holy Prophet (SAW) since birth, had acquired excellence in knowledge. She applied this knowledge when she presented her case and argued against the opposition with clear evidence from the Quran. This demonstrates the practical importance of acquiring knowledge to support both worldly and spiritual affairs.
- Her decision to speak out reflected a bigger purpose
This legal battle was not about the land. Lady Fatima (AS) did not fight for the wealth or material gains. It was about the principle. Her powerful words in the sermon of Fadak set the stage for the public to see what would be the tip of the iceberg of the injustices that would be perpetrated against her and her family. Her decision to contest her right was a battle for the truth and justice for all times.
Fatima al Zahra (SA) is an excellent role model for both men and women alike. At The Zahra Foundation, we work in the name of Fatima and aspire to uphold the teachings and values she stood for.