Fatima's Revolutionary Image in Fadak fi al-Ta'rikh (1955): The Inception of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's Activism

Rachel Kantz Feder writes in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies of the inception of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's activism.

This article examines Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's first publication, Fadak fi al-Ta'rikh, contextualising the historiographical depiction of the dispute that ensued between Abu Bakr and Fatima over the Fadak land. Informed by traditional Shi‘i approaches to this episode of early Islamic history, the study locates the text's themes within various Iraqi contexts, including the struggle for the ideological orientation of the state, the quest for a unified Iraqi Civil Code and the place of Shi‘is in the new Iraqi state. The main contention of this study is that through his engagement with contours of Iraqi oppositional discourse, Sadr transforms the traditional image of Fatima from a weak and abused victim of injustice to a revolutionary heroine who fought for Shi‘i political and legal rights. His innovative portrayal of Fatima's claim to the Fadak marks one of the earliest efforts to reinterpret Shi‘i parables in an activist spirit. Sadr is among the first to promote the shift from passive eschatological expectations for redress to temporal confrontation with forces of injustice and to convey the message that protest is desirable irrespective of its chances of success.