Speculation 3: The Purport of Verse of Tathir

Speculation 2: The Verse of Mawaddah
August 27, 2015
Speculation 4: The Verse of Hijab
August 27, 2015

BACK Return to Table of contents

 

Speculation 3: The Purport of Verse of Tathir

Allah Ta’ala has revealed a special ruku’ in Surah al Ahzab regarding the pure wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam i.e. his Ahlul Bayt. Therein, Allah Ta’ala has clearly explained the etiquette, honour, virtue, merit and status of these noble women.

When the Muslims became affluent due to the innumerable conquests made by them, the pure wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam requested for an increase in their spending in order to terminate their lives of wont and poverty. The Most Beneficent Allah was not pleased with their slight inclination to this transitory world thus revealed an entire ruku’ in their favour. The verse of tathir being one of these verses. These verses were revealed in 5 A.H considering incidents surrounding them. We will firstly present a brief synopsis of these verses so that the purport and meaning of the said verse can be understood in context.

 

Synopsis

  1. The pure blessed wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were not desirous of the glitter and glimmer of this world, but were desirous of the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul and aspired for the high stages in the hereafter. If this were not the case then Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would have separated from them as per the command of Allah Ta’ala. However, he did not divorce them; hence confirming that these women had pure intentions and performed good deeds and Allah Ta’ala has prepared a grand reward for them.
  2. For every good deed they do, the pure wives receive a double reward and will obtain generous sustenance in the hereafter. If per chance, they have to commit any act of immorality or disobedience, their punishment will be doubled. This illustrates their lofty status and great rank.
  3. No woman of this ummah can compare to them in status if they adopt taqwa. And when they speak to men in case of necessity, they should not adopt a soft tone, so that no evil thought may creep into the hearts of man.
  4. They have been commanded to remain in their houses and have been prohibited from exhibiting their beauty outdoors as was the custom of the era of ignorance.
  5. They have been ordered to establish five times daily salah, pay zakat and be obedient to Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
  6. Allah Ta’ala wishes to remove the filth of evil character, love for this world, etc. from them and intensely purify them and keep them pure.
  7. The honour of being the spouse of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is perpetual, and taqwa and purity are their intrinsic qualities. Owing to this, they have always been referred to as the azwaj mutahharat (pure wives).
  8. They have been commanded to continue revising the verses and wisdom of Allah Ta’ala recited in their homes, for the house of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the treasury of wisdom and the fountain of guidance.
  9. The enormous bounty of divine revelation would only take place in their blessed homes, not in the homes of others. No one else besides them enjoys this privilege. Moreover, Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha has the unique speciality of divine revelation descending on her bed. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
  10. Together with their etiquette and virtues, a special aspect of their honour and respect has been revealed in the beginning of this surah which the entire Muslim ummah has to religiously adhere to. Allah Ta’ala has stated:

اَلنَّبِیُّ اَوْلٰی بِالْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ مِنْ اَنْفُسِهِمْ وَ اَزْوَاجُهٓاُمَّهٰتُهُمْؕ

The Nabi is more worthy of the believers than themselves, and his wives are [in the position of] their mothers.[1]

Coupled with their other virtues is the command to revere the renowned lofty status of them being the mothers of all the Muslims.

 

After having a look at this entire ruku’ it becomes vividly clear that here the address is to the beloved wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. With explaining their etiquette and conduct, their virtues and merits have been extolled portraying their lofty status.

 

The Proof of the Opponent

The Shia have used only half of the verse of tathir as proof for the deductions which will be expounded upon shortly.

اِنَّمَا یُرِیْْدُ اللّٰهُ لِیُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ اَهْلَ الْبَیْتِ وَ یُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِیْرًا ﴿33ۚ﴾

Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Rasul’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.[2]

 

Manner of Substantiating

Narrations state that when this verse was revealed, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called Sayyidah Fatimah, Sayyiduna Hassan, Sayyiduna Hussain and Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum, placed his shawl over them and declared:

O Allah, this is my Ahlul Bayt (household). Remove dirt from them and purify them.

 

The Shia claim that the following is established from the above:

  1. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam only covered these four persons with his shawl, so the Ahlul Bayt mentioned in this verse of the Qur’an refer to only these four personalities (i.e. the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are not included in the Ahlul Bayt and are not the purport thereof).
  2. We also learn that if Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had any other daughter; he would have covered them with his shawl as well, thus including them in the Ahlul Bayt. This is proof that Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha is his only daughter.
  3. It is clear as daylight that these personalities are free from sin and their purification has been established from nass (categorical evidence).
 

Removing this Speculation

We present a few points which will disclose the shallowness and weakness of the proof of the opponent.

To outline our claim, it is essential to clarify that the purport of Ahlul Bayt in this verse of the Qur’an is primarily the pure wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The children, etc. of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have been included in Ahlul Bayt secondarily by a khabar wahid[3]. We will present evidences to prove that the primary purport of Ahlul Bayt is the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

a. At another juncture in the Noble Qur’an, the word Ahlul Bayt has been used to refer to a wife. An angel appointed by Allah Ta’ala addressed Sarah, the wife of Sayyiduna Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam :

اَتَعْجَبِیْنَ مِنْ اَمْرِ اللّٰهِ رَحْمَتُ اللّٰهِ وَبَرَکٰتُهعَلَیْكُمْ اَهْلَ الْبَیْتِؕ

Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, Ahlul Bayt (people of the house).

Here the term Ahlul Bayt has been used for the wife of Sayyiduna Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam . Similarly, the term Ahlul Bayt has been used to refer to a wife in other verses as well. However, we suffice on one verse due to brevity.

 

b. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used the term Ahlul Bayt to refer to his wives in the authentic hadith. The incident is that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam married Sayyidah Zainab bint Jahsh radiya Llahu ‘anha. There was a walimah feast on this occasion. After the completion of the walimah, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went to Sayyidah Zainab radiya Llahu ‘anha. He then exited her house and went to the room of Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and said:

السلام عليكم اهل البيت فقالت و عليك و رحمة الله كيف وجدت اهلك بارك الله لك

“Peace be upon you, Ahlul Bayt.” She replied: “And upon you and the mercy of Allah. How did you find your spouse to be? May Allah bless you!”[4]

 

Here, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used the term Ahlul Bayt to refer to his wife.[5]

From these references we learn that it is correct to use the term Ahlul Bayt to refer to one’s wife.

 

The words فِیْ بُیُوْتِكُنَّ (in your houses) before the verse of tathir and وَ اذْكُرْنَ مَا یُتْلٰی فِیْ بُیُوْتِكُنَّ (And remember what is recited in your houses) after this verse refer to the houses of the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Their houses have been referred to as Bayt and they have been referred to as Ahlul Bayt. Here, no one else besides them is being referred to as Ahlul Bayt. The relation of بُیُوْْتِ (houses) to كُنَّ (your) (in plural feminine form) is verifying this restriction whether this is in relation to ownership or residence. The ‘ulama’ fully appreciate this subtlety.

Now, the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cannot be excluded from Ahlul Bayt by a khabar wahid. Nevertheless, the children can be secondarily included in the purport of Ahlul Bayt by this narration on condition that this narration meets the standards of authenticity of the Muhaddithin.

Furthermore, the “al” prefix in the word al bayt is termed alif lam ‘ahd khariji[6] according to rules of syntax which according to usage refers to the houses of the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These are the same houses mentioned before this verse (in your houses) and thereafter mentioned again (in your houses).

 

Removing a Doubt

It is appropriate to mention here that in the words عَنْكُمْ (from you) and یُطَهِّرَكُمْ (purify you) of the verse of tathir, the plural masculine pronoun كُمْ (you) has been used. Using this, the Shia create this doubt that had the addressees been the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a plural feminine pronoun should have been used instead of a plural masculine pronoun, which has not been done and this is contrary to the rules of grammar.

To answer this we say that:

a. In another verse of the Noble Qur’an, the plural masculine pronoun has been used with reference to Sarah.

رَحْمَتُ اللّٰهِ وَبَرَکٰتُهعَلَیْكُمْ اَهْلَ الْبَیْتِ

May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house.

 

b. Similarly, in the Noble Qur’an, Musa ‘alayh al Salam addresses his wife:

اِذْ قَالَ مُوْسٰی لِاَهْلِهٖٓ اِنِّیْٓ اٰنَسْتُ نَارًاؕ سَاٰتِیْكُمْ مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ اَوْ اٰتِیْكُمْ بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُوْنَ ﴿7﴾

[Mention] when Musa said to his family: “Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information or will bring you a burning torch that you may warm yourselves.”[7]

Here also a woman is addressed with a plural masculine pronoun instead of a feminine one.

 

c. Previously, under this discussion, a narration of Bukhari was quoted with the words:

السلام عليكم اهل البيت

Peace be upon you, O Ahlul Bayt.[8]

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used the plural masculine pronoun to refer to his wife.

 

d. Similarly, there is a narration in Muslim where Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam uses a plural masculine pronoun to refer to his wives:

فقال هو عليها صدقة و لكم هدية فكلوه

He said: “It is charity for her (Barirah) and a gift for you, thus you may eat it.”[9]

 

e. Once, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came to Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and asked:

هل عندكم شىء؟ قالت لا الا ان نسيبة بعثت الينا

“Do you have anything to eat?” She replied: “No, except that which Nusaybah sent.”

Here, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used the plural masculine pronoun for his wife.

 

In the above verse and ahadith, the plural masculine pronoun has been used to refer to their wives whereas it ought to be feminine. The answer given by the Shia here will be the answer to their objection.

 
 

Corroboration from the Shiah

The Shia scholars have written regarding using a plural masculine pronoun to address a woman. In Amali of Sheikh al Tusi, on the occasion of the marriage of Sayyidah Fatimah and Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam addressed his wives:

هيئوا لا بنتى و ابن عمى

Make preparations for my daughter and cousin.[10]

A plural masculine pronoun has been used here as well for women.

 

The Term Ahlul Bayt

  • According to language, the term Ahlul Bayt is masculine. Although, it refers to females i.e. the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Nonetheless, considering the term, plural masculine pronouns may be used to refer to it.
  • Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ’s honoured person is also included in the term Ahlul Bayt since he lived therein. Hence, a plural masculine pronoun may be used taghliban.[11]
  • Moreover, it is found in Arab practice that although the context demands a feminine pronoun, a masculine pronoun is used to show love and honour.
 

Thus, due to the above usages, it is evident that the usage of a plural masculine pronoun in the verse of tathir is absolutely grammatically correct and non-objectionable. Thus, the objection or doubt has been removed successfully.

 

Our Stance Regarding the Verse of Tathir and Hadith of the Shawl

Our ‘ulama’ of the Ahlus Sunnah emphatically declare that the verse of tathir (with regards to its context) is regarding the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who are the primary addressees. After this verse was revealed and the wives gained this honour, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam included the four personalities viz. Sayyidah Fatimah, Sayyiduna Hassan, Sayyiduna Hussain and Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum in this honour by supplicating for them. Accordingly, ‘Allamah al Qurtubi rahimahu Llah has mentioned this in the following text of his tafsir:

فهذه دعوة من النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم لهم بعد نزول الاية احب ان يدخلهم فى الاية التى خوطب بها الازواج

This is a supplication of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for them after the revelation of the verse. He desired to include them in the verse which addresses the wives.[12]

 

‘Allamah al Dhahabi rahimahu Llah has mentioned the very same thing in al Muntaqa.[13] In a similar way, Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz rahimahu Llah writes in Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah:

ام سلمہ گفت کہ مرا نیز شریک بکن فرمود کہ انت علی خیر او انت علی مکانک دلیل صریح است بر آنکہ نزول ایت در حق ازواج بود و آنحضوت ایں چہار کس را نیز بدعاۓ خود دریں وعدہ داخل ساحت و اگر نزول ایت در حق اینھا می بود حاجت بدعا چہ بود؟ و آنحضرت چرا تحصیل حاصل می فرمود؟ و لہذا ام سلمہ را دریں دعا شریک نہ کرد کہ در حق او ایں دعا را تحصیل حاصل دانست

Sayyidah Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anha requested: “Include me also.” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “You are on goodness and you are on your place.” This is a clear-cut proof that the verse is regarding the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam included the four in this promise through the medium of his supplication. If the verse was revealed regarding the four personalities, then what was the need for the supplication and why would Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam attempt to obtain that already obtained (termed Tahsil al Hasil)? This is the reason why Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not include Sayyidah Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anha in the supplication, since it would be attempting to obtain that which was already obtained.[14]

 

Elimination of Doubt 2

The second point which the Shia deduce from here is that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had only one daughter, namely Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. If he had another daughter, then he would have covered them with the shawl and included them in the Ahlul Bayt.

 

Ponder over the following points:

  1. The verse of tathir has no mention of the number of daughters of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whatsoever. This verse has no connection with mentioning their number. Mention here is only about the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as explained before.
  2. Similarly, the hadith of the shawl mentions only one daughter. However, this does not necessitate the denial of the other daughters of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam nor is this narration’s purport to mention the number of daughters of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This narration is reported to depict superiority only.
  3. In the same vein, this narration by mentioning only one son-in-law of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam does not negate his other son-in-laws. This relation is a widely accepted historical fact. If by this narration, someone enjoys virtue over another, this still does not negate other family links.
  4. This narration does not exclude the other children of Sayyiduna ‘Ali from Sayyidah Fatimah viz. Zainab bint ‘Ali, Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum etc. by mentioning only Sayyiduna Hassan and Sayyiduna Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. If someone claims that Sayyidah Zainab bint ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anha is not from the Ahlul Bayt since she was not under the shawl and is not the biological sister of Sayyiduna Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu; what a flimsy argument this will be.
 

In short, non-participation does not necessitate rejection of the other daughters, nor has it been said to do this. Besides Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, no other children were included. Likewise, no other relatives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, such as Sayyidah Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib and Sayyiduna ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, etc. were invited or covered with the shawl whereas they are all the relatives and close kindred of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

In short, to include those four personalities in the virtue does not change the honour and merit of the other relatives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and has no effect on the honour and virtue enjoyed by the three sisters in Islam who are the biological children of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Each one of them has her own status and rank.

 

Elimination of Doubt 3

The third point the Shia wishe to establish from here is that since the verse of tathir refers to these four personalities, their infallibility is established by this verse i.e. they are flawless and cannot err.

Study the following which will answer this doubt:

First of all, this verse has nothing to do with these four persons and they feature nowhere in the context. Instead, all the verses of this ruku’ were revealed regarding the pure wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as mentioned above.

To understand flawlessness from the words of the verse: to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household and to purify you with [extensive] purification is not correct since these words have been used for others as well e.g. the Sahabah of Badr:

وَیُنَزِّلُ عَلَیْكُمْ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً لِّیُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهٖ وَیُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّیْطٰنِ

He sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestion] of Shaitan.

 

وَلٰکِنْ یُّرِیْدُ لِیُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِیُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَه عَلَیْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُوْنَ

But He intends to purify you and complete His favour upon you that you may be grateful.

 

If these words show flawlessness, then those Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum who are addressed in these verses ought to be infallible whereas notwithstanding their lofty rank, no Sunni or Shia believes them to be infallible. This has been documented by Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz rahimahu Llah in Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah at the end of the discussion of the verse of tathir in the following words:

اگر ایں کلمہ مفید عصمت مے شد بایستے کہ ہمہ صحابہ علی الخصوص حاظران جنگ بدر قاطبۃ معصوم مے شد زیر انکہ در حق ایشاں بتفریق فرمودہ اند

 

If these words show flawlessness, then all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum especially the participants of the Battle of Badr ought to be infallible then due to the following:

وَلٰکِنْ یُّرِیْدُ لِیُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِیُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَه عَلَیْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُوْنَ

But He intends to purify you and complete His favour upon you that you may be grateful.

 

وَیُنَزِّلُ عَلَیْكُمْ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً لِّیُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهٖ وَیُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّیْطٰنِ

He sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestion] of Shaitan.[15]

 

In brief, in the verse of tathir, it is mentioned regarding the family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam : Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity of sin and to purify you with [extensive] purification. Thus and Allah knows best, the meaning implied here is that the intention or implication of this verse is that which conforms to Shari’ah just as in other rulings this is implied. For example:

یُرِیْدُ اللّٰهُ بِكُمُ الْیُسْرَ وَلَا یُرِیْدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.[16]

 

The linguistic or literal meaning is not implied here, as is the case with all verses of ahkam. Thus, in the following verse, difficulty does not mean that which we find difficult, we may abandon; but what is deemed difficult by Shari’ah, Allah has created ease in it.

Anyways, to deduce infallibility from this verse is incorrect. This belief is neither correct in the right of the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and nor his children.

Finally, it is another matter that Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha never claimed to be the only daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and did not use the verse of tathir to substantiate her claim. Make a mental note of this.

 

NEXT⇒ Speculation 4: The Verse of Hijab


[1]  Surah al Ahzab: 6

[2]  Surah al Ahzab: 33

[3]  A lone narration – which does not reach the level of mashur or mutawatir.

[4]Bukhari vol. 2 pg. 707 – The chapter concerning the statement of Allah Ta’ala, O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal.

[5]Bukhari vol. 2 pg. 707 – The chapter concerning the statement of Allah Ta’ala, O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal.

[6]  Common noun referring to an external entity

[7]  Surah al Naml: 7

[8]Bukhari vol. 2 pg. 707 – The chapter concerning the statement of Allah Ta’ala, O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal.

[9]Muslim vol. 1 pg. 345 – Kitab al Zakat; the chapter concerning the permissibility of gifts

[10]Amali by Sheikh al Tusi pg. 40 – The incident of Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha going to her marital home

[11]  Giving priority to masculine over feminine.

[12] Tafsir al Qurtubi (Al Jami’ al Ahkam al Qurʾan) vol. 14 pg. 183, 184 – Under the verse, And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah.

[13]Al Muntaqa pg. 428 – The discussion of the verse of tathir.

[14]Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah Farsi pg. 203 – Under the commentary of the verse of tathir.

[15]Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah pg. 204 – Under the commentary of the verse of tathir.

[16]  Surah al Baqarah: 185

Back to top