Ahlulbayt in the Qur'an

The Qur'an, in many different verses, refers specifically to the virtues of the Ahlulbayt (as) and their outstanding position in Islam.

Whenever the Noble Qur’an refers to the Ahlulbayt, it refers to a specific group of people who were related not only by blood, but more importantly, by ideology and faith to the Prophet.

However, it does not refer to all of his blood relations, his friends or his wives.

"Allah only desires to keep away uncleanliness from you, O People of the House (Ahlul Bayt), and to make you as pure as possible." (33:33)

All scholars of Islam and the narrators of the Prophetic tradition unanimously agree that Ahlulbayt (the household of the Prophet ) which Almighty Allah uses in the above verse of the Noble Qur’an refers to the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, Lady Fatima al-Zahra, his cousin, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and their children Hassan and Hussain.

Tabarani (Sunni Scholar) narrates from one of the respected wives of the Prophet, Umm Salamah that the Messenger of Allah once told his daughter, Lady Fatima to call her husband ‘Ali and their two sons, Hassan and Hussain. [al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur]

When they came, the Messenger of Allah covered them with a cloak, put his hand on them and said, “O Allah, these are Ale Muhammad (the family of Muhammad), so shower Your blessings and favours upon Al-e-Muhammad just as You showered them on Al-e-Ibrahim. You are the Praiseworthy, the Glorious.”

Umm Salamah says that she raised the cloak to join them, but the Prophet took it from her hand saying, “You are also on the right.” [Tirmidhi, Manaqib Ahlul-Bayt, Vol. 2, 308]

Verse of Love

"Say, I do not ask from you any reward for it (preaching the message) but love for my relatives (qurba which here refers to the Ahlul Bayt)." (42:23)

When explaining this verse, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (Sunni Scholar) says, “Without doubt, no one was as near to the Prophet as Lady Fatima, ‘Ali, Hassan, and Husayn.

This is a well-known fact for all the chains of narration, that these were his ‘al’.” Thus, ‘al’ or ‘ahl’ refers only to the immediate family of the Prophet—namely: Lady Fatima, ‘Ali, Hassan, and Hussain.


The Verse of Malediction (Mubahilah)

"But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say, ‘Come, let us call our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, and let us beseech Allah and invoke His curse upon the liars." (3:61)

This milestone event in the Islamic history has been narrated by all the historians, narrators, and commentators of the Qur’an. It is an event which reveals the exalted status of the Family of the Prophet.

The narrations say that a delegation of Christians from Najran came to the city of Madinah in order to meet with the Prophet to discuss his prophethood and the religion he was preaching.


The Verse of Prayer (Salat)

"Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet. O you who believe, call for divine blessings upon him, and salute him with a becoming salutation." (33:56)

In the five obligatory prayers, during the tashhahud (testimony), those offering their prayers must salute the Prophet and his progeny—a term exclusively reserved for ‘Ali, Lady Fatima, Hassan, Hussain, and their righteous descendants.

The emphasis on the Prophet’s family in salutation is another indication of their pivotal position after the Prophet. By asking the believers to exalt these noble personalities, Allah, the Almighty reminds the Muslim nation that He has chosen the Ahlulbayt for the role of leading the Muslim nation.


The Verse of Feeding

"...And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. ‘We feed you for Allah’s sake and pleasure only. We desire from you neither reward nor thanks. Surely, we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful Day,’ so Allah will ward off from them the evil of that Day and cause them to meet with splendour and happiness and reward them for their steadfastness with a garden and with silk." (76:5-13)

Surah 76 in the Noble Qur’an descended to honour a sacred gesture performed by the Ahlul Bayt.

The big sacrifice of the Family of the Prophet, ’Ali, Lady Fatima, Hassan, Husayn, and their maidservant Fiddah. The incident provoking these verses began when Hassan and Husayn fell ill, and Lady Fatima al-Zahra asked her father what to do.

The Prophet advised her to make a vow with Allah that if He cured them then the entire family would fast for three days. Hassan and Hussain were cured, and the process of fasting began. At that time there was nothing in their house to eat, so Imam ‘Ali went to a Khaybarian Jew named Shimon and borrowed three measures of barley.

His wife, Lady Fatima milled one measure into flour and baked it into five loaves of bread, one for each of them. ‘Ali, Lady Fatima, and their two sons, Hassan and Hussain along with their maidservant Fiddah fasted for three consecutive days.

On the first day, at the time of breaking the fast, a destitute (miskin) person came to the door asking for some food. They took the food they intended to eat—a loaf of bread each—and gave it to him. They then broke their fast only with water.

On the second day, at the time of breaking their fast, an orphan came to their door, and they again gave him all their food.

On the third day, at the time of breaking the fast, a prisoner of war (a non-Muslim who had been captured in the defensive wars of Islam and was living in the city of Madina) came to their door and asked for some food, and again, they took all five loaves of bread and gave it to the man, breaking their fast for the third consecutive day with only water.

Afterwards, the Messenger of Allah made a visit and saw his daughter, Lady Fatima al-Zahra and her two children, Hassan and Hussain were pale and too weak to speak, and he saw that they were trembling from hunger. Lady Fatima herself was sitting hollow-eyed on her prayer mat, her stomach sunk into her back. As he was asking them the reason for their state, angel Jibril (Gabriel) immediately came to the Prophet with Surah 76, “O Muhammad, Allah congratulates you for the sacrifice of your household.” [Zamakhshari, Tafsir al-Kashhaf, Ch. 76; Fakhr al-Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir, Ch. 76; Tabarsi, Mu΄jam al-Bayan, Ch. 76]

These verses not only translate the generosity and steadfastness of the Ahlulbayt but also reveal the total submission of the Family of the Prophet and their immaculate and pure personalities. Commentators of the Qur’an have a consensus that these verses speak of the Ahlulbayt and place them at the highest level of piety and show them as models for the generosity of mankind. Humanity would be rightly guided if they followed their parable.


The Verse of Guardianship

"O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those vested with authority over you (’ul ul-’amr minkum). And if you quarrel about something, refer it to Allah and the Messenger." (55:55)

This verse, as explained in the previous section, refers to the guardianship of Imam ‘Ali, and subsequently, the rest of the Ahlulbayt. The Prophet has said about “those vested with authority over you,” that “They are my successors and the leaders of the Muslims after me.

The first of them is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, then al-Hassan and al-Husayn, then ‘Ali ibn al-Hussain, then Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, who is known as al-Baqir, then al-Sadiq Ja‘far ibn Muhammad, then Musa ibn Ja‘far, then ‘Ali ibn Musa, then Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, then ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, then al-Hassan ibn ‘Ali, then the one who bears my name—Muhammad. And he will be the proof (hujjah) of Allah on the earth.”

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