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Last Updated: 2010/11/22
Summary of question
Can any evidence be found in Sunni sources that speak of the martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (as)?
Is there any evidence in Sunni sources that speaks of the martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (as)? Please send me a precise list of these sources. Thank you
Concise answer

This historical truth has been preserved in historical and hadith sources. Great Sunni scholars, such as Ibn Abi Sheybah, Baladhari, Ibn Qutaybah, etc. have revealed this fact. For information on the violation of the respect of the home of Lady Fatimah (as), and the documents and records on her martyrdom, see the detailed answer.

Detailed Answer

The intrusion of Lady Fatimah’s (as) home and her martyrdom:

In this regard, we will cite some documents from Sunni sources, so that it becomes clear that the intrusion of Lady Fatimah’s (as) home and what took place after, is a clear historical fact, not a myth!! And although during the reign of the khalifahs, there was great censorship and prevention regarding writing about the virtues and merits of the Ahlul-Bayt, but this historical truth was ‘cast in stone’ and preserved in historical and hadith sources. In citing these sources, we will go in chronological order, from the first centuries after hijrah onward till contemporary writers.

1- Ibn Abi Sheybah and the book Al-Musannaf

Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Sheybah (159-235 ah), the author of the book Al-Musannaf narrates through an authentic chain of narraters:

“When the people pledged their allegiance (bey’ah) to Abu Bakr, Ali and Zubeyr were speaking and consulting with each other in Lady Fatimah’s home, and Umar was informed of this. He went to Lady Fatimah’s (as) home and said: “O daughter of the messenger of Allah, the most beloved of all to us was your father and after him, you, but by God this love will in no way get in the way of me having this home put to fire if these individuals gather in it. Having said this, he left. When Ali (as) and Zubeyr returned, the noble daughter of the prophet (pbuh) said to Ali (as) and Zubeyr: “Umar came to me and swore that if you continue to gather here, he will have it put to fire. By God! He will do what he has sworn to do![1]


2- Baladheri and the book Ansab al-Ashraf

Ahmad ibn Yahya Jaber Baghdadi Baladheri (270 ah), the renowned writer and author of a great historical book, has narrated this incident in his book of Ansab al-Ashraf:

Abu Bakr sent for Ali (as) to get bey’ah from him, but Ali (as) refused to do so. Then Umar mobilized with a torch, and was confronted by Fatimah at the door of her home. Fatimah (as) said: “O son of Khattab, I can see that you want to my home to fire?!” Umar replied: “Yes, this will help what your father was sent for (meaning that this is to Islam’s benefit)!!”[2]


3- Ibn Qutaybah and the book Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah:

The famous historian, Abdullah bin Muslim bin Qutaybh Deynwari (212-276) was one of the leaders in the field of literature and a very hardworking writer in the field of Islamic history. Ta’wil Mukhtalaf al-Hadith and Adab al-Kateb are only some of his works. In his book of Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah, he writes:

Abu Bakr asked about those who had refrained from pledging their allegiance to him and had gathered in Ali’s (as) home, sending Umar after them. He came to the door of Ali’s (as) home and called everyone so they would come out, but they refused. Here, Umar ordered for wood to be brought and said: “By the God who Umar’s life lays in the hands of, come out or I will burn the house down on you. One man said to Umar: “O Aba Khafs (his surname), in this home, there is Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet!” Umar replied: “Let it be!”[3]

Ibn Qutaybah continues the narrative in a more saddening and heartbreaking manner:

Umar, along with a group, came to the door of Fatimah’s home and knocked. When Fatimah heard their voices, she said in a loud voice: “O Rasulullah! How we suffered from the son of Khattab and Abu Quhafah after you!” Upon hearing this, the people with Umar returned, but Umar and a group remained there and brought Ali out of the home, took him to Abu Bakr and said: “Do bey’ah!” Ali said: “What if I don’t?” They replied: “By the God that there is no other God but Him, we will behead you…”[4]

Clearly, this incident in history is hard and bitter on the supporters of the two khalifahs, and that is why some have questioned Ibn Qutaybah’s book; this is while Ibn Abi al-Hadid, a great historical expert, sees this book to indeed belong to him and frequently quotes from it. Unfortunately though, this book has been subject to alteration and portions of it have been omitted in its print, while those same portions have been quoted in Ibn Abi al-Hadid’s commentary on the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Zerekli, in the book of A’lam considers this book to be of the works of Ibn Qutaybah and adds that some of the ulema have a different view in this regard, in other words, he attributes doubt to scholars other than himself. Ilyas Sirkis[5] also considers this book to belong to Ibn Qutaybah.

4- Tabari and his history book:

Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari (310 ah) narrates the story of the intrusion of Lady Fatimah’s (as) home in his history book as such:

Umar ibn Khattab came to Ali’s home, while some of the Muhajerin were gathered therein. He faced them saying: “By God I will set the house to fire unless you come out for bey’ah. Zubayr exited the home with a drawn sword, but he tripped and the sword fell from his hand and the others rushed to him and seized the sword.[6]

This part of history shows us that getting bey’ah for the khalifah was through threatening and fear; is such bey’ah really worth anything? The reader must judge for himself.

5- Ibn Abd Rabbih and the book Al-Aqd al-Farid:

Shahab al-Din Ahmad, known by the name ‘Ibn Abd Rabbihi Andulusi, author of Al-Aqd al-Farid (463 ah), has written in detail about the history of Saqifah, and writes about ‘those who refused to do bey’ah with Abu Bakr’ in such manner:

Ali and Abbas and Zubayr were sitting in the home of Fatimah (as), it was then that Abu Bakr sent Umar to get them out of Fatimah’s home and said to him: “If they refuse to come out, attack them! At this moment, Umar ibn Khattab left for Fatimah’s home with some fire so that he could set it on fire, but was confronted by Fatimah. The daughter of the prophet said: “O son of Khattab! Have you come to set my house on fire?! He answered: “Yes! Unless you also do as the rest of the nation has done (and do bey’ah)!”[7]

Till this part of our article, we tried mentioning passages from different books about how there was a decision on intruding and violating the home of Lady Fatimah (as). In the second part of the article, we will speak about what actually happened after that.

Did an attack on the home of Lady Fatimah actually take place?

Until now, we spoke of the dishonorable intentions of the khalifah and his followers. Some historians leave it at that and either didn’t or couldn’t speak of what happened afterwards, while others have engaged in the tragedy that took place after that, meaning the attack on the home of Lady Fatimah (as), and have to some extent unveiled the truth of what happened. Here we will cite these sources and as we did in the first section, we will list the sources in chronological order:

6- Abu Ubayd and the book Al-Amwal:

Abu Ubayd Qasem bin Salam (224 ah) in his book of Al-Amwal which is relied on by Islamic faqihs narrates:

Abul-Rahman ibn Awf says: “I went into Abu Bakr’s home when he was ill to visit him, after speaking for a long time, he said to me: “There are three things I have done in my lifetime that I wish I hadn’t, the same way there are three things that I never did that I wish I had. Also, there are three things I wish I had asked the prophet.

As for the three things I have done that I wish I hadn’t:

I wish I had never violated the respect of Fatimah’s home and left it as it was, even though they had closed it (to plot for) an assault.[8] When Abu Ubeyd is narrating this part of the narration, instead of mentioning the phrase: لم أکشف بیت فاطمه و ترکته... (I wish I hadn’t violated the respect of Fatimah’s home), he just says “and so on”, adding that he doesn’t like to narrate that part!

But whenever Abu Ubeyd, because of his religious bias or any other reason, refuses to narrate the truth, researchers and commentators of Al-Amwal write it in its footnote; the omitted sentences have been mentioned in the book Mizan al-I’tidal. In addition to that, Tabarani in his Mu’jam, and Ibn Abd Rabbih in Aqd al-Farid and others have mentioned the omitted sentences.

7- Tabarani and the Mu’jam Kabir:

Abul-Qasem Suleyman bin Ahmad Tabarani (260-360), whom Dhahabi in Mizan al-I’tidal describes as a reliable individual[9], says in his Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir (which has been printed many times) when speaking of Abu Bakr and his sermons and death: “Upon death, Abu Bakr wished several things. (He said) I wish I had not done three things (that I did) in my life, had done three things (that I never did) in my life, and had asked the prophet three things (that I never did). Regarding the three things he had done and wished he hadn’t, he said: “The three things I wish I had never done; I wish I had never violated the respect of Fatimah’s home and had left it as it was![10] This shows that Umar’s threats had actually taken place and had been carried out.

8- Ibn Abd Rabbih and Aqd al-Farid:

Ibn Abd Rabbihi Andulusi, writer of the book Aqd al-Farid (463 ah) in his book narrates from Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf that: “I visited Abu Bakr in his home during his sickness and he said: “There are three things I wish I had never done, one of those three things was that I wish I had never opened the home of Fatimah although they had closed its doors (to plot) for an assault.[11] We will list the names and the words of those figures who have narrated these words of the khalifah.

9- Nadham’s words in the book Al-Wafi bil-Wafayat:

Ibrahim ibn Sayar Nadham Mu’tazili (160-231 ah), who is renowned for his proficiency in literature and writing, thus earning him the title ‘Nadham’, has, in multiple books, narrated what happened in the home of Lady Fatimah (as). He says: “On the day when bey’ah was being done for Abu Bakr, he struck a blow at Fatimah’s stomach, causing her to miscarry the baby named Muhsin that she bore in her womb!!”[12] (Please pay attention here)

10- Mubarrad in the book of Kamel:

Muhammad ibn Yazid bin Abdul-Akbar Baghdadi (210-285 ah) a famous writer and compiler of great works, in his book of Al-Kamel, recounts the story of the wishes of the khalifah, narrating from Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf: “I wish I had never opened the home of Fatimah and I had left it even if they had closed it for battle.”[13]

11- Mas’udi in Muruj al-Dhahab:

Mas’udi (325 ah) writes in his Muruj al-Dhahab:

When Abu Bakr was on the verge of death, he said: “I have done three things I wish I had never done, one of those three things is that I wish I had never violated the respect of Fatimah’s home” and he said many things in this respect!”[14]

Although Mas’udi is positively inclined towards and likes the Ahlul-Bayt, but here he doesn’t finish narrating the khalifah’s words and only allusively finishes it. But Allah (swt) knows the truth and His servants also have a general idea!

12- Ibn Abi Darem in the book Mizan al-I’tidal:

Ahmad ibn Muhammad, known as Ibn Abi Darem, a Kufi narrator of hadith (357 ah), is one whom Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Hammad Kufi describes as: “کان مستقیم الأمر، عامة دهره” which translates as: He was on the right path all his life.

Keeping this status in mind, he recounts that in his presence, this news was given that Umar kicked Lady Fatimah and she miscarried the child she bore, whom they had named Muhsin![15] (Please pay attention)

13- Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud and the book Al-Imam Ali:

He has narrated the attack on the home of Fatimah (as) in two places of his book; we will only cite one here:

“By the God who Umar’s life lays in the hands of, either you come out or I burn the house down on those in it. A group who feared Allah (swt) and kept the respect of the household of the prophet (pbuh) after him said: “O Aba Hafs, Fatimah is in this home.” He brazenly yelled: “Let it be!” He went close and knocked, then kicked and hit at it with his fist so that it would open by force. Ali (as) came…Fatimah’s scream rose from close to the entrance of the home…this was her scream for help…!”[16] (we chose not to quote all the details for this is very tragic)

We will close with another hadith by Muqatil bin Atiyyah in the book Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah (although many things are still left unsaid!)

In this book he writes:

“When Abu Bakr got bey’ah from the people by threat and the sword and force, Umar sent Qunfudh along with a group to Ali and Fatimah’s home, and Umar gathered wood and set the home on fire…[17] In continuation of this, other incidents that took place have been mentioned by him that we are ashamed and devastated to mention.

Conclusion: Considering all the documents and records that have mentioned this incident, can one still say that Lady Fatimah’s martyrdom is only a myth?! Is this really being fair?! Any unbiased person should be moved by the facts listed above and what happened after the demise of the holy prophet (pbuh), and to what measures some were willing to go to, to consolidate their control of power. What was written here leaves no excuse for the unbiased reader, none of what was mentioned above was made up by us, all of it was from their sources.[18]

[1] Musannaf Ibn Abi Sheybah, vol. 8, pg. 572, kitab al-maghazi (the chapter on battles). “انّه حین بویع لأبی بکر بعد رسول اللّه(صلى الله علیه وآله) کان علی و الزبیر یدخلان على فاطمة بنت رسول اللّه، فیشاورونها و یرتجعون فی أمرهم. فلما بلغ ذلک عمر بن الخطاب خرج حتى دخل على فاطمة، فقال: یا بنت رسول اللّه(صلى الله علیه وآله) و اللّه ما أحد أحبَّ إلینا من أبیک و ما من أحد أحب إلینا بعد أبیک منک، و أیم اللّه ما ذاک بمانعی إن اجتمع هؤلاء النفر عندک أن امرتهم أن یحرق علیهم البیت

[2] Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 1, pg. 586, Dar Ma’aref Publications, Qahirah. “انّ أبابکر أرسل إلى علىّ یرید البیعة فلم یبایع، فجاء عمر و معه فتیلة! فتلقته فاطمة على الباب. فقالت فاطمة: یابن الخطاب، أتراک محرقاً علىّ بابى؟ قال: نعم، و ذلک أقوى فیما جاء به أبوک...

[3] Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah:12, Maktabah Tijariyyah Kubra, Egypt. “انّ أبابکر رضی اللّه عنه تفقد قوماً تخلّقوا عن بیعته عند علی کرم اللّه وجهه فبعث إلیهم عمر فجاء فناداهم و هم فی دار على، فأبوا أن یخرجوا فدعا بالحطب و قال: والّذی نفس عمر بیده لتخرجن أو لاحرقنها على من فیها، فقیل له: یا أبا حفص انّ فیها فاطمة فقال، و إن!!”.

[4] Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah, pg. 13. “ثمّ قام عمر فمشى معه جماعة حتى أتوا فاطمة فدقّوا الباب فلمّا سمعت أصواتهم نادت بأعلى صوتها یا أبتاه رسول اللّه ماذا لقینا بعدک من ابن الخطاب، و ابن أبی قحافة فلما سمع القوم صوتها و بکائها انصرفوا. و بقی عمر و معه قوم فأخرجوا علیاً فمضوا به إلى أبی بکر فقالوا له بایع، فقال: إن أنا لم أفعل فمه؟ فقالوا: إذاً و اللّه الّذى لا إله إلاّ هو نضرب عنقک...!

[5] Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-Arabiyyah, vol. 1, pg. 212.

[6] Tarikh Tabari, vol. 2, pg. 443, Beirut. “أتى عمر بن الخطاب منزل علی و فیه طلحة و الزبیر و رجال من المهاجرین، فقال و اللّه لاحرقن علیکم أو لتخرجنّ إلى البیعة، فخرج علیه الزّبیر مصلتاً بالسیف فعثر فسقط السیف من یده، فوثبوا علیه فأخذوه

[7] Aqd al-Farid, vol. 4, pg. 93, Maktabah Hilal Publications. “فأمّا علی و العباس و الزبیر فقعدوا فی بیت فاطمة حتى بعثت إلیهم أبوبکر، عمر بن الخطاب لیُخرجهم من بیت فاطمة و قال له: إن أبوا فقاتِلهم، فاقبل بقبس من نار أن یُضرم علیهم الدار، فلقیته فاطمة فقال: یا ابن الخطاب أجئت لتحرق دارنا؟! قال: نعم، أو تدخلوا فیما دخلت فیه الأُمّة!

[8] Al-Amwal, footnote 4, Nashr Kuliyyat Az’hariyyah, Al-Amwal, 144, Beirut, and also: Ibn Abd Rabbih, Aqd al-Farid, vol. 4, pg. 93 has narrated, as will be mentioned later on “وددت انّی لم أکشف بیت فاطمة و ترکته و ان اغلق على الحرب”.

[9] Mizan al-I’tidal, vol. 2, pg. 195.

[10] Mu’jam Kabir Tabarani, vol. 1, pg. 62, hadith 34, research of Hamdi Abdul-Majid Salafi. “أمّا الثلاث اللائی وددت أنی لم أفعلهنّ، فوددت انّی لم أکن أکشف بیت فاطمة و ترکته.

[11] Aqd al-Farid, vol. 4, pg. 93, Maktabah al-Hilal Publications. “وودت انّی لم أکشف بیت فاطمة عن شی و إن کانوا اغلقوه على الحرب.

[12] Al-Wafi bil-Wafayat, vol. 6, pg. 17, no. 2444; Milal wa Nihal (Shahrestani), vol. 1, pg. 57, Darul-Ma’rifah Publications, Beirut. Also, in Nadham’s report on the book Buhuthun fil-Milal wal-Nihal, see: vol. 3, pp. 248-255. “انّ عمر ضرب بطن فاطمة یوم البیعة حتى ألقت المحسن من بطنها.”.

[13] Sharh Nahjul-Balaghah, vol. 2, pp. 46 and 47, Egypt. “وددت انّی لم أکن کشفت عن بیت فاطمة و ترکته ولو أغلق على الحرب.

[14] Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, pg. 301, Dar Andulus Publications, Beirut. “فوددت انّی لم أکن فتشت بیت فاطمة و ذکر فی ذلک کلاماً کثیراً!

[15] Mizan al-I’tidal, vol. 3, pg. 459. “انّ عمر رفس فاطمة حتى أسقطت بمحسن.

[16] Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud, Ali ibn Abi Taleb, vol. 4, pp. 276-277. “و الّذی نفس عمر بیده، لیَخرجنَّ أو لأحرقنّها على من فیها...! قالت له طائفة خافت اللّه، و رعت الرسول فی عقبه: یا أبا حفص، إنّ فیها فاطمة...! فصاح لایبالى: و إن..! و اقترب و قرع الباب، ثمّ ضربه و اقتحمه... و بداله علىّ... و رنّ حینذاک صوت الزهراء عند مدخل الدار... فان هى الا طنین استغاثة...

[17] Kitab al-Imamah wal-Khilafah, pp. 160 and 161. This book of Muqatil ibn Atiyyah has been published with an introduction by Dr. Hamed Dawud, a professor at Eynul-Shams University in Qahirah. “ان ابابکر بعد ما اخذ البیعة لنفسه من الناس بالارهاب و السیف و القوّة ارسل عمر، و قنفذاً و جماعة الى دار علىّ و فاطمه(علیه السلام) و جمع عمر الحطب على دار فاطمه و احرق باب الدار!..

[18] This response has been abridged and adopted from an article by Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi. Also, you can refer to the following web address:

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