The Contention Around the Funeral Prayer of Fatimah

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The Contention Around the Funeral Prayer of Fatimah


The next issue before us is the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. I have tried to present the Salat al Janazah itself and all aspects related to it all together, eliciting them from different sources. Hopefully the readers will appreciate the discussion and supplicate for me before Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.

It has been spread amongst people that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha was unhappy with Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and that she had bequeathed to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in her final moments that he should not participate in her Salat al Janazah. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had, in carrying out this bequest of hers, performed her Salat al Janazah and then buried her by night without informing Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[1]

This issue around the funeral of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha is raised on the bases of a few narrations. A terrible picture of enmity and dejectedness has been sketched and made popular amongst people. Hence, there was a need to clear this contention all together and unveil the truth and reality in light of sound and authentic evidence, because the participation of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the funeral of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha is undeniable proof of their mutual appreciation. In doing so, if the discussion is prolonged the readers are requested not to consider it a burden, for whatever is to be said is said due to certain reasons.

The format of the discussion is as follows: first the narrations that prove that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was present at her funeral will be quoted. Then, some Islamic principles that support his participation will be presented. Subsequently, few historical facts which highlight the norm of the Banu Hashim at the occasion of funerals will be cited. And lastly, the questions and misconceptions around the issue will be addressed (Allah willing).


Narrations Which Establish his Presence in the Funeral

1. The following narration has been cited by the author of Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d:


عن حماد عن إبراهيم النخعي قال صلي أبو بكر الصديق علي فاطمة بنت رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم فكبر أربعا

Ibrahim al Nakha’i has stated that Abu Bakr led the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah and recited the takbir four times.[2]


2. A second narration in Tabaqat suggests the very same. It read as follows:


عن مجالد عن الشعبي قال صلي عليها أبوبكر رضي الله عنه و عنها

Sha’bi has mentioned that Abu Bakr lead her Salat al Janazah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, be pleased with him and with her.[3]


3. The third narration in this regard appears in al Sunan al Kubra of Imam Bayhaqi. He writes:


ثنا محمد بن عثمان بن أبي شيبة ثنا عون بن سلام ثنا سوار بن مصعب عن مجالد عن الشعبي أن فاطمة ماتت دفنها علي ليلا و أخذ بضبعي أبي بكر الصديق رضي الله عنه فقدمه يعني في الصلوة عليها.

When Fatimah passed away ‘Ali buried her by night and caught hold of the arms of Abu Bakr and urged him to lead the Salat al Janazah.[4]


4. ‘Ali al Muttaqi al Hindi, the author of Kanz al ‘Ummal, has, with reference to al Khatib al Baghdadi cited the following narration, the narrator of which is Imam Muhammad al Baqir:


عن جعفر عن أبيه قال ماتت فاطمة بنت رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم فجاء أبوبكر وعمر ليصلوا فقال ابوبكر لعلي بن أبي طالب تقدم فقال ما كنت لأتقدم و أنت خليفة رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم فتقدم أبو بكر فصلي عليها

Imam Jafar narrates from his father, Imam Muhammad al Baqir: “When Fatimah the daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar came to perform her Salat al Janazah. Abu Bakr said to ‘Ali: “Go ahead and lead the Salah.” He said: “It is unbecoming of me to lead the Salah when you are the successor of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” Abu Bakr hence went forward and led the Salat al Janazah.[5]


5. Muhibb al Din al Tabari has cited the following narration, narrated by Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin, in his book Riyad al Nadarah fi Manaqib al ‘Asharah al Mubashsharah:


عن مالك عن جعفر بن محمد عن أبيه عن جده علي بن حسين قال ماتت فاطمة بين المغرب والعشاء فحضرها أبوبكر وعمر وعثمان والزبير و عبدالرحمن بن عوف فلما وضعت ليصلي عليها قال علي تقدم يا أبابكر قال وأنت شاهد يا أبا الحسن؟ قال نعم تقدم فوالله لايصلي عليها غيرك فصلي عليها أبو بكر رضي الله عنهم أجمعين و دفنت ليلا. (خرجه البصري وخرجه السمان في الموافقة).

Imam Jafar al Sadiq narrates from his father, Imam Muhammad al Baqir, who narrates from his father, Imam ‘Ali Zayn al ‘Abidin: “Fatimah passed away between the Maghrib and ‘Isha’ prayers. Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Zubair and ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf came for her Salat al Janazah. Hence ‘Ali said to Abu Bakr: “Go ahead and perform the Salah.” He asked: “Whilst you are present here O Abu al Hassan?” “Yes! Go ahead! For no one besides you, by the oath of Allah, is going to lead the Salah today.” Consequently Abu Bakr led them in her Salat al Janazah (May Allah be pleased with them all). She was buried by night.[6]


6. Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz has quoted a very similar narration to this in his book, Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyah, eliciting it from the book Fasl al Khitab. This narration is presented below in order to support the narration of Riyad al Nadarah:


در فصل خطاب آوردہ کہ ابو بکر و عثمان و عبد الرحمن بن عوف و زبیر بن عوام وقت نماز عشاء حاضر شدند ورحلت حضرت فاطمہ درمیان مغرب وعشاء سہ شنبہ سوم ماہ رمضان (11ہ) بعد از ششماہ از واقعہ سرور جہان بوقوع آمدہ بود وابو بکر بموجب گفتہ علی مرتضی پیش امام شد ونماز بروے گذاشت وچہار تکبیر آورد۔

The narration of Fasl al Khitab states that Abu bakr, ‘Uthman, ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Zubair ibn ‘Awwam came at the time of the ‘Isha’ salah. Fatimah had passed away between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ on Tuesday night the third of Ramadan, six months after the demise of the master of the world. She was thirty eight years of age at the time. Abu Bakr had led the Salat al Janazah with the order of ‘Ali with four takbirs.[7]


7. Hafiz Abu Nuaim al Isfahani has narrated the following with his consistent chain of transmission:


عن ميمون بن مهران عن عبد الله بن عباس أن النبي صلي الله عليه وسلم أتي بجنازة فصلي عليها و كبر عليها أربعا و قال كبرت الملائكة علي آدم أربع تكبيرات و كبر أبو بكر علي فاطمة أربعا و كبر عمر علي أبي بكر أربعا و كبر صهيب علي عمر أربعا.

Ibn ‘Abbas narrates that once Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed the Salat al Janazah of a deceased person with four Takbirs and said: “The angels read four takbirs upon Adam ‘alayh al Salam. Abu Bakr will read four Takbirs upon Fatimah. ‘Umar will read four takbirs upon Abu Bakr and Suhaib will read four Takbirs upon ‘Umar.”[8]


Deductions From These Narrations

Seven narrations were presented before you in the past pages. Three of these narrations are narrated from members of Ahlul Bayt (‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin and Imam Muhammad al Baqir) and the remaining four narrations are narrated from others beside them. These narration allude to the following aspects:


1. Many prominent Sahabah, including Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, had learnt of the demise of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. There is no way Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu would not have learnt of her demise, because his wife, Asma’ bint ‘Umays radiya Llahu ‘anha, was nursing Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and seeing to her in her final moments. It would be irrational to think that she done so without informing Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Everyone was aware of this grievous incident.

2. All the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had participated in the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. They attended the Salah and spoke to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well. They had discussed the issue of who should lead the Salah and eventually with the decision of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu had led the Salah.

It is as if there was consensus amongst the Sahabah (and the Banu Hashim) on the fact that no one is eligible of leading the Salat al Janazah and the five times daily Salah besides the khalifah of the Muslims.

3. Furthermore, these narrations establish that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu had performed the Salah with four takbirs only, not five. And that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would also perform the Salat al Janazah with four takbirs only. The Salat al Janazah of Adam ‘alayh al Salam, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were also with four takbirs.

Together with this it should be remembered that when ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu had performed his Salat al Janazah. He had likewise sufficed on four takbirs.[9] Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had performed the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah bint Asad, the mother of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with four takbirs.[10] The Salat al Janazah of them all were performed with four takbirs only. Hence, this is what should be practiced.

4. Another aspect highlighted in these reports is that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha was buried at night. This was not so that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma remain unaware of her demise (Saying that she was buried by night for this reason is a fallacy which will soon be dispelled in the pages to come). But it was because she passed away between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ and according to the teachings of shari’ah a deceased person should be buried without any delay. Similarly in burying her at night there was more concealment; it was her desire and bequest that her body be protected from the gaze of man.

5. The focal point of this entire section is to prove the love, veneration and good relations that existed between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu his family and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is also evident from these narrations. Nevertheless, the people who despise the Sahabah and oppose them consider it their religious obligation to misinterpret facts and alter historical records in order to prove the contrary. And in doing so they do not fear Allah in the least. Our complaint is to Allah alone!


NEXT⇒ The Ruling in Islam With Regard to Being the Leader in Salah

[1]  This is what appears in some narrations.

[2]Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d 8/19, mention of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha

[3]Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d 8/16, mention of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha

[4] Al Sunan al Kubra 4/29, chapter regarding funerals; Kanz al ‘Ummal 7/114, chapter of virtues (with reference to al Bayhaqi)

[5]Kanz al ‘Ummal 6/318 Hadith: 5299, chapter regarding the virtues of al Siddiq.

[6]Riyad al Nadarah fi Manaqib al ‘Asharah al Mubashsharah 1/156, chapter regarding the demise of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha

[7]Tuhfah pg. 445, accusations against Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Molana Shams al Haq al Afghani has stated the following:


صليت جنازة الزهراء بإمامة الصديق بإصرار علي هذا هو الصحيح رواية ودراية.

The Salat al Janazah of Fatimah was performed by Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu upon the insistence of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is what is in harmony with the narrations and the principles of din.


Note:- Al Sayed ‘Alam al Murtada, a famous Shia scholar and Mujtahid, has in trying to refute the narration of al Mughni, written the following in his book Kitab al Shafi:


فهو شيئ ما سمع إلا منك وإن كنت تلقيته من غيرك فمن يجري مجراك في العصبية وإلا فالروايات المشهورة وكتب الآثار والسير خالية من ذلك…

You are the only person who makes mention of this (Abu Bakr performing the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah with four takbirs). You have learnt this narration from some fanatic person. Otherwise, the famous narrations and books of hadith make no mention of this whatsoever. (this is quoted in Sharh Nahj al Balaghah of Ibn Abi al Hadid as well).


After presenting so many mursal and musnad narrations in the previous pages the readers can decide for themselves whether or not this statement of al Sayed is al Murtada is based on honesty and fairness and to what extent is it acceptable.

[8] Hilyat al Awliya’ 4/96

[9]Mustadrak al Hakim, 3: 143.

[10] Jam’ al Fawa’id, 2: 408. (with reference to Tabrani Kabir and Awsat)

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