Saturday, 15 September 2018

Who are the Ahl al-Bayt? (Surah 33:33)


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على خاتم النبيين
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
والعاقبة للمتقين

Ahl al-Bayt is a term that refers, primarily, to the close relatives and children of the Prophet Muhammad . According to the Ayat at-Tathir:
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
Allah only intends to distance from you impurity, People of the House, and to purify you with (thorough) purification.
(Surah 33:33)
It is worth mentioning here that Allah Most High has said ankum and not minkum. The latter would mean that Allah wishes to remove from the Ahl al-Bayt any impurity. However, by saying ankum, Allah Most High expresses the fact that He intends to keep at a distance any impurity from coming even near the Prophet’s Household, and not that there is any impurity already present within them. Now if one reads the entire Ayah, it is clear that Allah Most High is initially addressing the wives of the Prophet, who are the “Mothers of the Believers”. Hence, the standard Sunni interpretation is that the Ahl al-Bayt mentioned in this Ayah is primarily a reference to the Prophet’s wives. The Rafidah Shiah, however, claim that this section of the Ayah was wrongly inserted by sayyidina Uthman ؓ, when he was compiling the Quran, into the Ayah addressing the Prophet’s wives, to give the false impression that the Ahl al-Bayt are the Prophet’s wives. The disgusting Rafidi, Hasan AllahyariLA, has openly expressed this baseless view. Based on my own research and insight, both views are erroneous. The fact of the matter is that in this section of the Ayah where Allah refers to the Ahl al-Bayt, He is primarily addressing the Ahl al-Kisaa, popularly known as the Panjtan Pak. This is evident from the Hadith al-Kisaa:
قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ : خَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ غَدَاةً ، وَعَلَيْهِ مِرْطٌ مُرَحَّلٌ مِنْ شَعْرٍ أَسْوَدَ ، فَجَاءَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ ، فَأَدْخَلَهُ ، ثُمَّ جَاءَ الْحُسَيْنُ فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ ، ثُمَّ جَاءَتْ فَاطِمَةُ فَأَدْخَلَهَا ، ثُمَّ جَاءَ عَلِيٌّ فَأَدْخَلَهُ ، ثُمَّ قَالَ : إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
A’ishah reported that Allah’s Apostle () went out one norning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Hasan b. Ali. He wrapped him under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatimah and he took her under it, then came Ali and he also took him under it and then said: Allah only desires to distance from you any uncleanliness, O people of the household, and purify you with a thorough purifying (Sahih Muslim)
And according to another version of this Hadith:
عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، رَبِيبِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لَمَّا نَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الآيَةُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلمَّ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ إنمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا ‏)‏ فِي بَيْتِ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ فَدَعَا فَاطِمَةَ وَحَسَنًا وَحُسَيْنًا فَجَلَّلَهُمْ بِكِسَاءٍ وَعَلِيٌّ خَلْفَ ظَهْرِهِ فَجَلَّلَهُمْ بِكِسَاءٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏اللَّهُمَّ هَؤُلاَءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَطَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيرًا ‏.‏ قَالَتْ أُمُّ سَلَمَةَ وَأَنَا مَعَهُمْ يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏‏ أَنْتِ عَلَى مَكَانِكِ وَأَنْتِ عَلَى خَيْرٍ
Umar bin Abi Salamah – the stepson of the Prophet said: “When these Ayat were revealed to the Prophet : ‘Allah only wishes to remove the rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification’ in the home of Umm Salamah, he called for Fatimah, Hasan, Husain and wrapped them in a cloak, and Ali was behind him, so he wrapped him in the cloak, then he said: ‘O Allah! These are the people of my house, so remove the Rijs from them, and purify them with a thorough purification.’ So Umm Salamah said: ‘And I, Prophet of Allah?’ He said: ‘You are in your place, and you are upon goodness.’” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #3205)
The apparent meaning of this Hadith is that while the Prophet affirmed the status and goodness of his wife sayyidatuna Umm SalamahRA, she was not included in the particular Ahl al-Bayt for whom the Prophet prayed on that occasion, incidentally clarifying to whom that term refers to as it occurs in the Ayat al-Tathir. In summary, there are different categorizations of the term Ahl al-Bayt, some which are broader than others. But the technical, particular and special Ahl al-Bayt, as the term occurs in Ayat al-Tathir, is primarily and possibly even exclusively a reference to the Ahl al-Kisaa or Panjtan Pak, the five purified individuals, namely, the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatimah, his cousin and son-in-law Ali, and his two grandchildren, Hasan and Husayn (peace be upon them all). Undoubtedly, the Prophet’s wives (Allah be pleased with them), have their own separate status and position as “Mothers of the Believers”, and may be termed as Ahl al-Bayt from a linguistic angle when the term has a broader and loose meaning. But as for the technical and particular definition of Ahl al-Bayt, I shall quote the explanation of the Prophet’s companion sayyidina Zayd bin Arqam ؓ:
فَقُلْنَا مَنْ أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ نِسَاؤُهُ قَالَ لاَ وَايْمُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ تَكُونُ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ الْعَصْرَ مِنَ الدَّهْرِ ثُمَّ يُطَلِّقُهَا فَتَرْجِعُ إِلَى أَبِيهَا وَقَوْمِهَا أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ أَصْلُهُ وَعَصَبَتُهُ الَّذِينَ حُرِمُوا الصَّدَقَةَ بَعْدَهُ
We said: “Who are amongst the members of the household? Aren’t the wives (of the Holy Prophet) included amongst the members of his household?” Thereupon he [Zayd bin Arqam] said: “No, by Allah, a woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a certain period; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and to her people; the members of his household include his ownself and his kith and kin (who are related to him by blood) and for whom the acceptance of Sadaqah is prohibited.” (Sahih Muslim)
It is also narrated from sayyidina Zayd bin Arqam ؓ that he said:
نِسَاؤُهُ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَلَكِنْ أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ مَنْ حُرِمَ الصَّدَقَةَ بَعْدَهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَمَنْ هُمْ قَالَ هُمْ آلُ عَلِيٍّ وَآلُ عَقِيلٍ وَآلُ جَعْفَرٍ وَآلُ عَبَّاسٍ
“His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Sadaqah is forbidden…Ali and the offspring of Ali, Aqil and the offspring of Aqil and the offspring of Jafar and the offspring of Abbas.” (Sahih Muslim)
It should be pointed out here that sayyidina Zayd bin Arqam ؓ is referring to the term Ahl al-Bayt as its occurs in the Hadith al-Thaqalayn, when the Prophet  warned his Ummah to be mindful of the members of his household. As sayyidina Zayd bin Arqam ؓ has explained, the Prophet  was primarily referring to those members of his family for whom Sadaqah is forbidden, namely, the houses of sayyidina Ali b. Abi Talib ؓ, sayyidina Aqil b. Abi Talib ؓ, sayyidina Jafar b. Abi Talib ؓ and sayyidina Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib ؓ (peace be upon them). Historically, the Talibids were the ones who were persecuted and martyred at the hands of the Ummah, and not the Prophet’s wives, hence it is logical to conclude that it is they who are primarily meant by the term Ahl al-Bayt as it occurs in the Hadith al-Thaqalayn. Nevertheless, the Prophet’s wives are included in a broader and linguistic meaning of the term Ahl al-Bayt as sayyidina Zayd bin Arqam ؓ has stated. In fact, the Prophet even included his Persian companion sayyidina Salman ؓ in his Ahl al-Bayt. This despite the fact that Salman, being a foreigner and a Persian, had no blood relations or even relations through marriage with the Prophet . Therefore, it is obvious that sayyidina Salman ؓ is included in the Ahl al-Bayt when that term has a broad and loose meaning, and not the technical and particular meaning of the term as it occurs in the Ayat al-Tathir and the Hadith al-Thaqalayn. And Allah knows best!

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