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Umar at Fatimah's house refers to the controversial event where Umar came to the house of Fatimah, the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, inorder to get the alligence of Ali and his followers or burn her house down. This event is ascribed to be the cause of Fatimah's miscarriage and eventual death.


According to the story, following the death of Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar attempted to gain the shura (consensus) of the community that Abu Bakr should become the caliph (leader) over the Islamic ummah (community). According to Shi'a sources, as Ali attended the funeral of Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar attained the consensus of the community. As Ali was burying Muhammad, he learned that Abu Bakr had attained communal consensus. Fatimah, Ali, and their supporters maintained that Ali should be the leader over the Islamic community because of Muhammad's statement at Ghadir Khumm.[1][2]


Veccia Vaglieri in her article Fatima, in the Encyclopedia of Islam chronicles the event as such: "Fatima, a timid woman who had never taken part in political matters, found herself indirectly involved in some of the events which followed the death of the Prophet. After his election, Abu Bakr made his way with some companions towards Fatima's house, where a number of Ansar and of Ali's supporters had assembled. The newly-elected Khalifa wanted to obtain the homage of these dissidents also, but Ali went forward to meet him with sword drawn, and Fatima, when her husband had been disarmed by Umar and the party was preparing to enter the house, raised such cries and threatened so boldly to uncover her hair that Abu Bakr preferred to withdraw.[3] There are other accounts of the same episode: Fatima saw in Umar's hand a brand, and asked him if he intended to set fire to her door because of his hostility to her.[4] In one book, al-Imama wa 'l-siyasa (which is certainly very early, even though the attribution to Ibn Qutayba is wrong), the episode is related with more serious details: Umar really had evil intentions; he had wood brought and threatened to burn the house with everything in it. When he was asked, "Even if Fatimah is there?", he replied in the affirmative. Then those who were in the house came out and rendered the homage demanded⎯except for Ali. Fatimah, appearing at the door, reproached them: "You have left the body of the Apostle of God with us and you have decided among yourselves without consulting us, without respecting our rights!" When Abu Bakr and Umar repeated their attempts to make Ali comply, she is said to have cried out,[5] "O father! O Apostle of God! What evils we have suffered at the hands of Umar and Abu Bakr after your death!" Veccia Vaglieri latter adds: "We have spent some time on these episodes because even if they have been expanded by invented details, they are based on fact."

Historical sources

History of al-Tabari

The historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, d. 923 CE, in his Tarikh[6] writes:

Umar Ibn al-Khattab came to the house of Ali. Talhah and Zubayr and some of the immigrants were also in the house. Umar cried out: "By God, either you come out to render the oath of allegiance, or I will set the house on fire." al-Zubair came out with his sword drawn. As he stumbled (upon something), the sword fell from his hand so they jumped over him and seized him."

al-Tabari, Tarikh

The translator's commentary on this event provides the following background:

“Although the timing of the events is not clear, it seems that ‘Ali and his group came to know about the Saqifah after what had happened there. At this point, his supporters gathered in Fatima’s house. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, fully aware of ‘Ali’s claims and fearing a serious threat from his supporters, summoned him to the mosque to swear the oath of allegiance. ‘Ali refused, and so the house was surrounded by an armed band led by Abu Bakr and Umar, who threatened to set it on fire if ‘Ali and his supporters refused to come out and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr. The scene grew violent and Fatima was furious." [7]

Sulaym b. Qays

The book Kitab Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali, which was written by a companion of 'Ali.[8] It describes 'Umar's attack, and describes how Fatimah, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was injured, and allegedly beaten, in the attack, resulting in her miscarriage.[9]


The book Ithbāt al-Waṣīyyah, composed in the third Islamic century, is attributed to the historian al-Mas'udi, but this is highly doubted.

The author writes:

They attacked [Ali], burned his door and took him out by force and pressed [Fatima] against the door until she miscarried Muhsin.

He also writes:

While addressing the people Abu Bakr said: “…of the three mistakes that I committed, one of them is that during my time Fatima's house was broken into..” [10]

Ibn Abd Rabboh

Ibn Abed Rabboh, in his book Al-Iqd ul-Fareed,[11] writes:

As for Ali, Abbas and Zubair, they stayed in the house of Fatima until Abu Bakr sent Umar to get them out of Fatima's house and told him: if they refuse, fight them. He took a torch to burn the house and Fatima met him and told him: are you here to burn our house? He said: yes, or you enter what the Ummah has entered (i.e swear allegiance).

Tarikh al-Ya’qoubi

“..When Abu Bakr and Umar heard the news that a party of the Ansar and the Muhajirin have gathered with ‘Ali at the house of the daughter of the Prophet, they went with a group of people and attacked the house…” [12]


Al-Shahrastani d. 1153 CE, documents in his book Al-Milal wa al-Nihal[13]

That a troublesome theologian called al-Naẓẓām (d. 231 AH) "increased his lying deception" and said: {cquote|Umar kicked Fatima's stomach on the day of allegiance until she miscarried and he yelled: "Burn her house and whoever is in it" and in it were Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

Sunni View

According to Sunni books of Hadith and books of history written at the time however, this entire story did not occur. It states that Ali willingly gave oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, though maintained a distance from him out of respect for Ali's wife Fatima, because of an argument Abu Bakr had with Fatima over her inheritance. When Fatima died 6 months later, Ali went to Abu Bakr to re-establish closer relations. It is further refuted considering that Umar married Ali and Fatima's daughter, Umm Kulthum, whom he married after Abu Bakr taking Khilafa, showing the good relations he had with Ali at the time.

Mosnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal mentions (section 025) that after Umar and Abu Bakr achieved the Byaa at Saquifa when the Ansar mooted their claim to nominate one of them for the Khilafa, Fatima asked Abu Bakr for her inheritance as the prophet's daughter, mainly Khaybar and Fadak, to which he responded that the prophet Mohammed said no inheritance is claimed from prophets and all their belongings should be charity, to which she was cross and would not speak with him afterwards.

Balathry book "Ansab El-Ashraf" (origins of the honourable), part 2, page 263, mentions that Ali Ibn Abi Taleb came close to the end of the Saquifa day, and said to Abu Bakr:

"I knew that the prophet -pbuh- gave you the right of leading the prayer, and that you were his companion in the cave during the migration, but I had the right of being consulted, however may you be forgiven."

and reports that Ali gave his allegiance. This is also confirmed in "History of the Califs" by Al-Soyouty, page 56, and "Al-Mustadrak" (continuation) for Al-Hakim, part 3, page 66. According to original books of Hadith (speeches and traditions of the prophet), Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Baihaqi relates on the authority of Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri: 'Abu Bakr ascended the pulpit and cast a glance on the people. He did not find 'Ali among them. So he sent for 'Ali and said,

"O brother and son-in-law of the Prophet, would you like that the unity among Muslims should be torn to pieces ?"

'Ali replied,

"I have no grudge or complaint, O Caliph, of the Prophet."

He immediately swore allegiance to him. Al-Baihaqi adds that Ali uttered these words or this was their purport.

The historian Ibn Kathir adds in his book:

"A significant aspect of this affair is that Ali took the oath of allegiance on the very first day or the day following the death of the Prophet. This is correct in point of fact since Ali never gave up Abu Bakr's companionship nor he absented himself in any congregational prayer."

It is commonly believed by Sunni based on the above that Ali made a distance with Abu Bakr in deference to the wishes and sentiments of Fatima. He took the oath publicly six months later when Fatima had died. Ibn Kathir and other historians are of the view that the subsequent oath of allegiance by 'Ali was in confirmation of the first one. A number of reports to this effect are on record in the six authentic compilations of the [Hadiths] and other books.


  3. al-Yaghubi, ii, 141
  4. al-Baladhuri, Ansab, i, 586
  5. [II 844b]
  7. The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, The Last Years of the Prophet, p186-187, SUNY Press
  9. Kitab Sulaym Ibn Qays al-Hilali, Hadith 4, p48-67 (English Translation)
  10. Tarikh al-Mas’udi, Volume 1-2, p 235-236, Nafees Academy, Karachi, Pakistan (Urdu Translation)
  12. Tarikh al-Ya’qoubi, Volume 2, p 199, Nafees Academy, Karachi, Pakistan (Urdu Translation)