Did Umar (ra) want to burn down the house of Fatima (ra)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It would be appropriate to answer the question in a few articles:

1. The narration regarding the issue is included in “al-Imama was-Siyasa” and “Kanzul-Ummal”. (see Ibn Qutayba ad-Dinawari, Abdullah b. Muslim, al-Imama was-Siyasa, I- II, Darul- Ma’rifa Beirut, no. I, 19-20)

2. Kanzul-Ummal probably took that narration from Ibn Abi Shayba’s Musannaf. The narration in Ibn Abi Shayba is as follows:

“…Zayd b. Aslam narrates from his father Aslam:

“When Abu Bakr received the pledges of allegiance after the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Ali and Zubayr used to enter the presence of Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, and consult with her regarding allegiance. When that news reached Umar ibn al-Khattab, he came out and walked until he entered Fatima’s house. He said to her,  

’O Daughter of the Messenger of Allah! No one is more dearly beloved to me than your father, and none is more beloved to me after him than you. However, by Allah, this shall not prevent me, if that group gathers in your house, from ordering the house to be burned while they are inside the house!”

The narrator adds the following information and says: ‘When Umar left the house, those people came to Fatima. She addressed them as follows:

“You know that Umar came to me and swore by Allah as follows: If you return to me (to my house), he will indeed burn this house on you, and by Allah, he will fulfill what he swore on it. Then, go back as informed and reasonable people, see the situation, and do not return to me (my home).”

Thus, they returned and eventually paid allegiance to Abu Bakr.” (see Ibni Abi Shayba, al-Musannaf, Darul-Fikr, 1989, VIII, 572; Alauddin Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanzul-Ummal, I- II, al-Baytul-Afkarud-Duwaliyya, Jordan, 2005, I, 681, no. 141138)

In the narration in Kanzul-Ummal, the phrase “burning the door” is used instead of burning the house”.

3. As it can be seen, Umar (ra) is sensitive and uncompromising related to the issues that may cause mischief and turmoil. We know about his offers of beheading those who caused mischief and turmoil in his previous life.

4. Interpreting the issue as hostility toward Ahl al-Bayt or Fatima (ra) means decontextualization. Besides, Umar (ra) himself said to Fatima that he loved her and warned her about a sensitive issue. As a matter of fact, the warning showed its effect and thereupon, the opponents pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. What Umar (ra) did was to warn, to prevent mischief, to preserve Islamic unity and to prevent turmoil. The issue should be approached from this perspective. His behavior appears to be appropriate behavior from the management point of view.

5. We should remember this: Ali (ra) even resorted to war when there was no remedy for the dissidents of his time. The battles of Jamal and Siffin and the wars with the Kharijites were such battles because the verses about uprising gave him that authority.

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