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Lexical Analysis of "Ahl al-Bayt"

In Arabic lexical references, the word "Ahl" implies a kind of relation and connection between a person with another". For example, in Arabic, wife is known as the "Ahl" of her husband, people of every prophet is known as his "Ahl" or the residents of a city are the "Ahl" of that city. Also, followers of a religion are the "Ahl" of that religion. Ahl al-Bayt (a) means the people of the house of the Prophet (s); however, this title has a special meaning among Muslims. The word "آل" ["Al"] has also been "اهل" ["Ahl"] the letter "h" in it has first turned to Hamza and then to Alif. The usage of the word "Al" is narrower than the usage of "Ahl" because "آل" has never been added to an adverb of place, time, etc. and collocates only with human being, and even to certain people such as Abraham (a) in Al Abraham (a), 'Imran in Al 'Imran and to Pharaoh in Al Pharaoh.To be exact We use "Ahl al-Bayt"

Ahl al-Bayt in the Holy Qur'an

"Ahl al-Bayt" (A.S.) has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an in three places: Verse 73 of Surah Hud, where it refers to prophet Abraham (a) and his wife, "They said, 'Are you amazed at Allah's dispensation? [That is] Allah's mercy and His blessings upon you, members of the household. Indeed He is all-laudable, all-glorious.'" (11:73) Verse 12 of Surah Qasas which refers to the people of prophet Moses (s), "We had forbidden him to be suckled by any nurse since before. So she1 said, 'Shall I show you a household that will take care of him for you and will be his well-wishers?'" (28:12) Verse 33 of Surah Ahzab which is known as the verse of Tathir, where God addresses the Prophet (s) and his family, "Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification." (33:33) About the question over who is meant in this verse by the "Ahl al-Bayt", there are different opinions. An opinion agreed by Shia and many Sunni scholars is that it refers to the Ahl al-Kasa', i.e. the Prophet (s), Ali (a), Fatimah (s), Hasan (a) and Husayn (a). Ahl al-Bayt (a) in Hadiths


In the Hadiths of the Holy Prophet (s)

Ahl al-Bayt (a) is mentioned in the hadiths of the Prophet (s) with four different usages which can be called overly general, general, special and very special. Its overly general usage which includes those who have no kinship with the Prophet (s). Those are the Muslims who have been resolute and sincere in following the Prophet (s) like cases where Salman, the Persian and Abu Dhar have been mentioned among the Ahl al-Bayt. Also, in some other hadiths, other people have also been referred to as Ahl al-Bayt, such as Usama b. Zayd and Wathila b. Aslaq. The general usage which include all relatives of the Prophet (s), giving Zakat to them is prohibited. In another hadith, Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s) and his children have been Ahl al-Bayt. the special usage of Ahl al-Bayt is about the wives of the Prophet (s). Undoubtedly, the Prophet's (s) wives are the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet (a) according to the lexical and common meaning of the Ahl al-Bayt and here "Bayt" refers to the house, not kinship or prophethood. The very special usage of Ahl al-Bayt refers to those in the family of the Prophet (s) who are infallible, whom have been referred to in the verses of Tathir, Mubahala and the people of Kasa' as Ali (a), Fatima (s), Hasan (a) and Husayn (a). Some hadiths such as hadith of Thaqalayn, Safina, etc. imply the existence of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) at all times who are the people of Kasa' as well as the infallible Imams (a) among the children of Imam Husayn (a).

In Hadiths of Holy Imams (A.S.)

In the hadiths of Imams (a), Ahl al-Bayt has been mentioned in three different usages: General usage which includes true believers as Imam al-Sadiq (a) says, "Anyone who is pious and righteous is one of us the Ahl al-Bayt (a)." Imam (a) mentions two verses of the Qur'an as the evidences of his statement, "Any of you who allies with them is indeed one of them." (5:51) and "So whoever follows me indeed belongs to me," (14:36). The special usage of that is about the family of the Prophet (s) as Imam Ali (a) said, "whenever the war with enemies of Islam became difficult and people avoided fighting, the Prophet (s) would send his Ahl al-Bayt (a) to battle, so that 'Ubayda b. Harith was martyred in the battle of Badr, Hamza was martyred in the battle of Uhud and Ja'fa Tayyar was martyred in the battle of Muteh. The very special usage of Ahl al-Bayt in Imams' (a) hadith refers to those relatives of the Prophet (s) who had special position and their speech and behavior makes the standard and guide to the truth; as Imam Ali (a) says, "Look at the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) and adhere to their direction and follow them, since they never distract you from the path of guidance or return you to ignorance. Do not walk ahead of them so that you may go astray and do not stay far behind them so that you would perish." Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a) addressed the people of Iraq and said, "We are the Ahl al-Bayt (a) about whom God revealed the verse of Tathir." There are many hadiths about this. From the two last meanings, the latter meaning is more common in Shia references and whenever "Ahl al-Bayt" is mentioned without any reference, its very special meaning which is that latter meaning is intended. Infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)

The most distinguished merit of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is their infallibility which can clearly be understood from the verse of Tathir, since in this verse, Ahl al-Bayt (a) are referred to as those whom God desired to repel all impurity from. The word "إنما" ["Innama"] in this verse [Tathir] and the hadiths about the cause of its revelation shows that this [being free from all impurities] is among the merits of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and it is special to them. Hadith of Thaqalayn is also among Mutawatir [frequently narrated] hadiths which has no doubt in its reference and it proves the infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) (in its very special usage), because in this hadith, Ahl al-Bayt (a) have come as Thiql Asghar [the smaller weight] together with the Qur'an which is Thiql Akbar [the greater weight] and they have been considered as the two legacies of the Prophet (s) which would never be separate from each other and if Muslims adhere to them, they will never be misguided. Indeed the noble Qur'an is the word of God and no error is in it, "falsehood cannot approach it, from before it nor from behind it," (41:42) Therefore, the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) who are with the Qur'an, and adhering to them prevents human being to go astray. According to some Sunni scholars, there is no doubt in the moral and practical infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) who include lady Fatima (s) and the twelve Imams (a) of Shia an no one would doubt in it unless an ignorant person who rejects Islam. What is disagreed is their practical infallibility; however because the hadith of Thaqalayn regards adherence to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in religion keeping one safe from ignorance and going astray, their practical infallibility can easily be understood. Superiority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)


Superiority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in the Hadith of Thaqalayn

From the hadith of Thaqalayn, superiority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) over others can easily be understood, because the Prophet (s) put them beside the Qur'an, called the Qur'an as "Thiql Akbar" and Ahl al-Bayt (a) as Thiql Asghar and never put another person beside the Qur'an. Therefore, the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are superior to others the same way as the noble Qur'an is superior over Muslims. Accordingly, Sa'd al-Din Taftazani has said, "the message of the verse of Tathir and Hadith of Thaqalayn is the superiority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) over others and the reason of their superiority is not only because of their relation with the Prophet (s), because according to the Qur'an, tradition and consensus, the criterion of superiority is knowledge and Taqwa which Ahl al-Bayt (a) have and this can be understood from their equal position with the Qur'an and the necessity of adhering to them, since adhering to the Qur'an is not possible except through acting upon one's knowledge and the guidance of the Qur'an. The same is true about adhering to the Ahl al-Bayt (a). In the Verse of Mubahala The verse of Mubahala implies the superiority of Ahl al-Kasa' over other companions of the Prophet (s) as well; since, according to this verse, God has given the Prophet (s) mission to choose some people from among children, Muslim men and women to accompany him in Mubahala with the Christians of Najran; and the Prophet (s) chose Imam Ali (a), Lady Fatima (s) and Hasan (a) and Husayn (a). There is no doubt that those are chosen for Mubahala who have great position in Faith and closeness to God; and in a Mubahala, one of the participants is the Prophet (s), those need to accompany him who are either similar in position with him or close to him than others regarding position. On the other hand, if there was some other Muslims who had such a high position in faith, the Prophet (s) would take him with himself as well, because there is not slightest possibility of injustice or unwise action about the actions of the Prophet (s). Abu Riyah, the servant of Umm Salama narrated from the Prophet (s) that if there were other people more honorable than Ali (a), Fatima (s), Hasan (a) and Husayn (a), God would order me to do Mubahala with their help; and they are the best of people." In Other Hadiths and Verses Superiority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) can also be understood from other hadiths and verses such as the verse of Mawaddah (42:23), hadith of Safina, hadith Bab al-Hitta, hadith Nujum, etc. The Knowledge Authority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)


Authority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)in the Hadith of Thaqalayn

Hadith of Thaqalayn implies the knowledge authority of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), because the Prophet (s) asked Muslims to adhere to the Qur'an and his Ahl al-Bayt (a) so that they do not go astray. The first and most essential knowledge reference and authority of Muslims is the glorious Qur'an and after that the tradition of the Prophet (s). Regarding this, the role of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is that they are interpreters of the Qur'an, guardians and transmitters of the tradition of the Prophet (s). Surly, the Prophet (s) explained a great part of the facts and teachings of the Qur'an for people, but he (s) left another part the conditions for explaining which were not provided or it was more appropriate for them to be explained later to his infallible Ahl al-Bayt (a) to explain. Thus, full guardianship of what the Prophet (s) had explained and what was not explained yet was given to the Ahl al-Bayt (a). The true way of knowing the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet (s) is adhering to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s), thus they are the knowledge authority of Muslims for knowing religious teachings and rulings. The Sunni scholar Mulla Ali Qari, "Ahl al-Bayt [people of the house] are usually more knowledgeable about the owner of the house and his state; therefore, the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are the most knowledgeable ones to the conduct of the Prophet (s), his manner, his rules and wisdom and that is why they deserve to stand beside the Book of God, the Almighty." Also, Ibn Hajar said, "The Prophet (s) called the Qur'an and 'Itra [Ahl al-Bayt (a)] as Thiql [weight]; since, a valuable and important thing is called Thiql and the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a), because both of them are mines of divine knowledge, great secrets and wisdom and religious rulings; therefore, adherence to them and learning knowledge from them has been encouraged and emphasized. This emphasis about the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is about those who know the Book of God and the conduct of the Prophet (s) and they are those who will never separate from the Qur'an until the Day of Judgment.

In the Verse of Tathir

In the verse of Tathir (33:33), the glorious Qur'an introduces the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as those whom God has desired to repel all impurity from and also has mentioned that sublime facts and teachings hidden in the Qur'an cannot be found expect by those purified from all impurity. Just the same way that the physical purity is required for touching the text of the Qur'an, purity of the soul from vices is required for understanding the teachings of the Qur'an and the more delicate and deeper the teachings of the Qur'an are, the higher purity of souls are needed to understand them and the greatest of them require infallibility. Therefore, teachings of the Qur'an are not fully and deeply known by anyone other than the Prophet (s) and the Infallible ones (a) and thus to learn them, one needs to refer to them. Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, "The facts about the past and future and rulings which distinguish the truth and falsehood about the life of human being are mentioned in the Qur'an and we know them." There are many hadiths narrated from Imams (a) in this regard. The Necessity of Following the Ahl al-Bayt (a)


Necessity of following the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in the Hadith of Thaqalayn

The necessity of following the Ahl al-Bayt (a) can be understood from the hadith of Thaqalayn, because there, salvation of the Ummah from ignorance is bound to adherence to the Book of God and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s). Adherence to the Qur'an is in fact knowing its instructions and following them. Adherence to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is the same; i.e. first their orders need to be learned and then they need to be obeyed. In the Verse of Uli al-Amr In the verse of Uli al-Amr, it is made obligatory for anyone to obey God, His messenger Uli al-Amr, "O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you." (4:59) Since, Uli al-Amr is added to al-Rasul without repetition of the verb Ati'u ["obey"], it can be understood that the criteria for obligation of obeying Uli al-Amr are the same as the criteria for obligation of obeying the Prophet (s) and obeying the Prophet (s) is because of his God-given leadership and his infallibility and if he (s) was not infallible, obeying him would not become obligatory without any conditions. The same justification is true about Uli al-Amr, and because of their infallibility, their obedience has been mentioned as absolutely obligatory. Therefore, the verse of Uli al-Amr implies the infallibility of those who take the leadership of the Islamic society after the Prophet (s) and also the obligation of their obedience.

Obligation of following the Ahl al-Bayt (a)in the Hadith of Safineh

The hadith of Safineh Nuh implies the obligation of following the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as well, since in this hadith, the Prophet (s) has resembled his Ahl al-Bayt (a) the Arc of Noah (s) which anyone who entered it rescued and anyone refused was perished. Ibn Hajar Makki has said that, "the point of resembling them [the Ahl al-Bayt (a)] to the Arc of Noah (s) is that anyone who, for the sake of praising the one who has given them such an honor, loves them, respects them and benefits from their guidance and applies it will be saved from darkness and anyone who opposes them will be perished in the sea of ingratitude and gorges of disobedience." About the origin of the hadith of Safinah, he said, "This hadith has been narrated from different ways, some of which support some others."

Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)

There is no doubt about the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s). In the verse of Mawaddah, ["Say, 'I do not ask you any reward for it except love of [my] relatives.'" (42:23)], the love of the Prophet's (s) relatives is mentioned as the reward for his mission. Qurba [relatives] in this verse refers to those about whom the verse of Tathir has been revealed. After quoting the hadiths about the necessity of the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), Ibn Hajar Makki says, "From previous hadiths, the necessity of the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and great prohibition of having grudge towards them can be learned. Beyhaqi, Baghawi and others have expressly mentioned the necessity of loving them and in some verses quoted from him, Shafi'i also has mentioned it as he has said, "O Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Messenger of Allah! Your love is an obligation from Allah revealed in the Qur'an" Fakhr al-Din Razi have explained the necessity of the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), "There is no doubt that the Prophet (s) loved Ali (a), Fatimah (s), Hasan (a) and Husayn (a). Therefore, it is obligatory for all the Ummah because God has said, 'and follow him so that you may be guided' (7:158). And also the Prophet (s) said, 'If you love God, follow me so that God loves you. And God says, 'In the Apostle of Allah there is certainly for you a good exemplar, …' (33:21)." From all the verses about the reward of the Prophet's (s) mission we understand that he (s) asked for no material or non-material rewards from Muslims for himself and that he (s) has asked people to love the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as the reward for his mission actually benefitted themselves, "Say, 'Whatever reward I may have asked you is for your own good. My [true] reward lies only with Allah, and He is witness to all things.'" (34:47)

Wilaya and Leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)

There are many intellectual and traditional reasons for the Wilayah and leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (a). From the viewpoint of intellect and according to the philosophy of Imamate, infallibility is one of the most important requirements of an Imam (a). Verses from the Qur'an also support this issue (Cf. the verse of Uli al-Amr and the verse of Sadiqin) On the other hand, Ahl al-Bayt (a) are infallible, thus imamate and leadership of the Islamic Ummah after the Prophet (s) is upon them. Moreover, obeying the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is obligatory. The reasons of the obligation of following the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are absolute and includes all obligations and prohibitions of the lives of Muslims and does not make any difference between worshipping, economic, political and cultural issues. For example in the verse of Uli al-Amr, obeying the Uli al-Amr has the very same position and wide usage which obeying the Prophet (s) has. As it was explained, Uli al-Amr are infallible as this quality only belongs to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s). From the discussions about the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), it can be understood that such a love has an introductory role and the ultimate goal is that people find the path of truth and by following it, they reach happiness. Finding and walking the path of truth includes all individual, social, worship and political aspects of life. The important point in this regard is that, in many reports of the hadith of Thaqalayn, both adherence to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the Wilayah of Imam Ali (A.S.) have been mentioned. In other words, in the occasion of Ghadir Khum, the Prophet (s) talked both about his Ahl a-Bayt (a) and advised Muslims to follow them and introduced Imam Ali (a) as the Wali and leader of the Islamic Ummah after himself. Doing so, the Prophet (s) showed that Wilayah and leadership of Imam Ali (a) is the first step for actualizing the message of hadith of Thaqalayn. Another point is that in some reports of the hadith of Thaqalayn, the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) have been referred to as Khalifatayn, "Indeed, I have left among you two caliphs: the Book of God and my Ahl al-Bayt (a). According to this hadith, Ahl al-Bayt (a) are successors of the Prophet (s) and their rule is overall and encompassing. In another hadith, after mentioning that the Prophet (s) introduced the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as the two important legacies he left for the Islamic Ummah, it is mentioned that, "the earth will never be empty of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), otherwise, it will become furious over its dwellers. Then he (s) said, 'O God! You will never leave the earth empty from Your Hujja [proof]. They are few in numbers and great in position before You.'" Therefore, Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) are the Hujja [proofs] of God on earth, and imamate and leadership belongs them
Another evidence for the fact that hadith of Thaqalayn implies the imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is that Imam Ali (a) has referred to it as proof and evidence in different occasions, one of which is was on the Day of Shura.

Another evidence is referring to this hadith when debating with Talha, Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf and Sa'd b. Waqqas. Another evidence is referring to this hadith at the time of the caliphate of 'Uthman in the mosque of the Prophet (s) in front of a gathering of companions of the Prophet (s). Ahmad b. Hanbal narrated from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (s) looked at Ali (a), Fatima (s), Hasan (a) and Husayn (a) and said, "I am at war with anyone who wars with you and at peace with anyone who is at peace with you." From this narration, it can be understood that obeying them is obligatory.