Ibn Manzur, author of Lisan al ‘Arab, states:
أهل البيت سكانه و أهل الرجل أخص الناس به و أهل بيت النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم أزواجه و بناته و صهره أعني عليا رضي الله عنه و قيل نساء النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم و الرجال الذين هم آله و قال الراغب الأصفهاني أهل الرجل من يجمعه و إياهم نسب أو دين أو ما يجري مراهما من صناعة و بيت و ولد و قيل إن أصل كلمة آل أهل ثم قلبت الهاء إلى همزة فصارت أأل ثم خففت بعد ذلك إلى آل اه فآل و أهل واحد و آل الرجل هم أزواجه و ذريته و أقرباؤه كما ذكر أهل اللغة قال تبارك و تعالى عن امرأة العزيز أنها قالت لزوجها مَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ أَرَادَ بِأَهْلِكَ سُوْءًا تريد نفسها و قال الله تبارك و تعالى عن موسى إِذْ قَالَ مُوسىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّيْ آنَسْتُ نَارًا سَآتِيْكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ و أهله زوجته التي كانت معه و قال عن إبراهيم صلوات الله و سلامه عليه و زوجته رَحْمَتُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ
The ahl of a house are its residents. The ahl of a man are the closest people to him. And the Ahlul Bayt of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are his wives, daughters, and son in law, i.e. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It is said: the wives of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the men who are his family.
Al Raghib al Asfahani says, “The ahl of a man are those who are united by one lineage or one religion or something of that sort like profession, house, or children. It is said that the origin of the word al is ahl. The ha’ was changed into a hamzah so it became a’l. Thereafter, it was turned into al to ease pronunciation.”
Hence, al and ahl are one and the same thing. The al of a man are his wives, progeny, and his close relatives as mentioned by the linguists.
Allah―the Blessed and Lofty―quotes the wife of al ‘Aziz saying to her husband:
مَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ أَرَادَ بِأَهْلِكَ سُوْءًا
What is the recompense of one who intended evil for your wife?
Referring to herself.
Allah―the Blessed and Lofty―quotes Sayyidina Musa ‘alayh al Salam:
إِذْ قَالَ مُوسىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّيْ آنَسْتُ نَارًا سَآتِيْكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ
[Mention] when Moses said to his family, “Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information.”
His family refers to his wife who was with him on his journey.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala speaks about Sayyidina Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam and his wife:
رَحْمَتُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ
Proof 1: Ayat al Tathir (the verse of purification)
They cite Ayat al Tathir as proof for this which addresses the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Allah―the Blessed and Lofty―states:
يَا نِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِيْ فِيْ قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوْفًا وَقَرْنَ فِيْ بُيُوْتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُوْلىٰ وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِيْنَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُوْلَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيْدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيْرًا وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلىٰ فِيْ بُيُوْتِكُنَّ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ لَطِيْفًا خَبِيْرًا
O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech. And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is ever Subtle and Acquainted [with all things].
The verses prior to it as well as those after it address the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. And in the middle of this verse, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala addresses them:
إِنَّمَا يُرِيْدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيْرًا
Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.
Hence, those who claim that ahl here are those besides the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are in manifest error since this is incoherent with the context as is apparent. The verse begins instructing the wives and ends with their mention.
Objection: Why was the plural mim brought instead of the feminine nun? The verse begins with ya nisa’ al nabi lastunn and then qarna fi buyutikunn followed by wadhkurna. Allah then states: innama yurid Allahu liyudhhiba ‘ankum and not ‘ankunn.
Answer: The instructions in the beginning of the verse are exclusively for the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Thereafter, the plural mim was brought since a man joins up with the women, i.e. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for he is the head of the house. Now that a man is together with the women, the feminine nun changes to a plural mim and this is recognised and apparent in grammar. Following this, immediately thereafter Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says: wadhkurna ma yutla fi buyutikunn …
Proof 2: Al Tashahhud
We recite in our tashahhud:
اللهم صل على محمد و على آل محمد
O Allah, send salutations upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.
The commentary of the word al appears in other forms of tashahhud documented by Imam Muslim in his Sahih:
اللهم صل على محمد و على أزواجه و ذريته
O Allah, send salutations upon Muhammad and his wives and progeny.
This form manifests the meaning of the family of Muhammad. Here the word al (family) is replaced with al azwaj wa al dhurriyyah (wives and progeny).
Similarly, it is reported on the authority of Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha that she said:
ما شبع آل رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم من خبز بر
The family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were not satiated with wheat bread.
This hadith is documented by both al Bukhari and Muslim.
Here Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha refers to herself and the other wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who are his subordinates in the Shari’ah.
There are two opinions regarding who those upon whom Zakat is forbidden refer to.
This is due to the fact that Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lineage leads up to Hashim. He is Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim. And al Muttalib is the brother of Hashim, the paternal uncle of ‘Abdul Muttalib―Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam grandfather.
In fact, they attributed ‘Abdul Muttalib to his uncle whereas his original name was Shaybat al Hamd. He grew up by his maternal uncles of the Banu al Najjar who were residents of Madinah. For this reason, they are called the maternal uncles of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Hashim passed away while his son Shaybah was living with his maternal uncles. So his uncle al Muttalib ibn ‘Abd Manaf came and took him quietly away from his mother and brought him to Makkah. When the people saw al Muttalib accompanied by Shaybat al Hamd, they enquired as to who the boy was. He told them that it was his slave. So they congratulated him upon this and began calling the lad ‘Abdul Muttalib (lit. slave of al Muttalib). The Banu Hashim and Banu al Muttalib remained close since then.
Those who opt for this view cite as proof the hadith Imam al Bukhari documents in his Sahih on the authority of Sayyidina Jubayr ibn Mut’im radiya Llahu ‘anhu who reports:
مشيت أنا و عثمان بن عفان إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فقلنا يا رسول الله أعطيت بني المطلب و تركتنا و نحن بمنزلة واحدة فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إنما بنو المطلب و بنو هاشم شيء واحد
‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and I walked to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and submitted, “O Messenger of Allah, you gave the Banu al Muttalib and discarded us whereas we are in the same position?”
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded, “Indeed the Banu al Muttalib and the Banu Hashim are one.”
Evidence that they are the Ahlul Bayt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the hadith of Zaid ibn Arqam radiya Llahu ‘anhu which he transmits from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي فقال له حصين و من أهل بيته يا زيد أليس نساؤه من أهل بيته قال نساؤه من أهل بيته و لكن أهل بيته من حرم الصدقة بعده قال و من هم قال هم آل على و آل عقيل و آل جعفر و آل عباس قال كل هؤلاء حرم الصدقة قال نعم
[Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded:] “I remind you (to fear) Allah with regards to my family. I remind you (to fear) Allah with regards to my family. I remind you (to fear) Allah with regards to my family.”
Hussain asked, “Who are his Ahlul Bayt, O Zaid? Are his wives not from his Ahlul Bayt?”
Zaid replied, “His wives are part of his Ahlul Bayt. Moreover, his Ahlul Bayt are those for whom sadaqah (zakat) is forbidden after his demise.”
Hussain asked, “Who are they?”
Zaid replied, “They are the family of ‘Ali, the family of ‘Aqil, the family of Jafar, and the family of ‘Abbas.”
Hussain asked, “Is sadaqah forbidden for all of these?”
Zaid replied in the affirmative.
They also substantiate their stance with the hadith of Sayyidina ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Rabi’ah and Sayyidina Fadl ibn al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma who approached Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and requested him to appoint them as collectors of zakat so that they may receive the remuneration of a zakat collector as this is one of the categories who are deserving of zakat:
For those employed to collect [zakat]
Sayyidina Fadl ibn al ‘Abbas and Sayyidina ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Rabi’ah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma desired to be zakat collectors. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told them:
إنها لا تحل لمحمد و لا لآل محمد
Certainly, it (zakat) is not permissible for Muhammad, nor the family of Muhammad.
He thus prevented them from this occupation.
This proves that zakat is forbidden for both Sayyidina Fadl ibn al ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib and Sayyidina ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Rabi’ah ibn al Harith ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib radiya Llahu ‘anhuma since they are part of the Ahlul Bayt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Every Muslim is considered part of the al of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The al of a man are his followers. So everyone who follows someone becomes part of his al. Allah―the Blessed and Lofty―says:
أَدْخِلُوْا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ
Make the people of Firoun enter the severest punishment. i.e. Firoun and his followers who emulated his religion and kufr, may Allah forbid.
They cite as proof for specifically this matter the report of al Bayhaqi from Wathilah ibn al Asqa’ al Laythi radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
جئت أريد عليا رضي الله عنه فلم أجده فقالت فاطمة رضي الله عنها انطلق إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله و سلم يدعوه فاجلس قال فجاء مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فدخلا و دخلت معهما قال فدعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله و سلم حسنا و حسينا فاجلس كل واحد منهما على فخذه و أدنى فاطمة من حجره و زوجها ثم لف عليهم ثوبه و أنا منتبذ فقال إِنَّمَا یُرِيْدُ اللهُ لِیُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ یُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيْرًا اللهم هؤلاء أهلي أحق قال واثلة قلت يا رسول الله و أنا من أهلك قال و أنت من أهلي قال واثلة رضي الله عنه إنها لأرجى ما أرجو
I came looking for ‘Ali but did not find him.
Fatimah said, “He went to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to call him, so sit.”
He then came with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and entered; and I entered with them.
He relates further, “Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called Hassan and Hussain and seated them on his lap, and brought Fatimah and ‘Ali close to his lap. He then placed a cloth over them—and I was on one side—and recited: ‘Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. O Allah, these household members of mine are more deserving.’”
Wathilah continues: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, and I am from your family.”
He said, “You are from my family.”
Wathilah commented, “That was my greatest hope.”
They cite hadith al kisa’ as proof:
Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reports:
دخل عليه علي بن أبي طالب فأدخله تحت كسائه ثم جاءت فاطمة فأدخلها ثم جاء الحسن فأدخله ثم جاء الحسين فأدخله ثم جللهم ثم قرأ إِنَّمَا یُرِيْدُ اللهُ لِیُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ یُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيْرًا
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib entered his (Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) presence so he took him under his shawl. Fatimah then came and he took her under. Hassan then came and he took him under followed by Hussain. He covered them all and recited: Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.
They also substantiate their claim with the verse of mubahalah i.e. Allah’s―the Blessed and Lofty―statement:
فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيْهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِيْنَ
Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you – say, “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us].”
فدعا النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم عليا و فاطمة و حسنا و حسينا فقال اللهم هؤلاء أهلي
Subsequently, the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam summoned ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain and said, “O Allah, these are my family.”
The accurate view is that the Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam al are those for whom zakat is forbidden. And the correct opinion is that it is only forbidden for the Banu Hashim. With regards to the Banu al Muttalib, the acceptable view is that zakat is not forbidden for them. And Allah knows best.
The wives of the nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are part of his Ahlul Bayt, secondarily not primarily. Prior to them coming into the wedlock of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they were not part of the Ahlul Bayt.
The family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have a lofty position and an exalted rank in the hearts and souls of the Muslims. Deep respect and admirable veneration for them is at an unconcealable level and an unoverlookable position. Examples of this:
The celebrated declaration of Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
ارقبوا محمد في أهل بيته
Honour Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam through his family.
و الذى نفسي بيده لقرابة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله و سلم أحب إلي أن أصل من قرابتي
By the being in Whose hands lies my life, maintaining the family ties of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is more beloved to me than maintaining my own family ties.
و ركب زيد بن ثابت يوما فأخذ ابن عباس بركابه فقال تنح يا ابن عم رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فقال هكذا أمرنا أن نفعل بعلمائنا و كبرائنا فقال زيد أرني يدك فأخرج يده فقبلها فقال هكذا أمرنا أن نفعل بأهل بيت نبينا صلى الله عليه و سلم
Zaid ibn Thabit mounted his conveyance one day and Ibn ‘Abbas held his stirrup. Zaid submitted, “Leave it, O cousin of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam!”
Ibn ‘Abbas remarked, “We were commanded to treat our scholars and seniors in this manner.”
Zaid then said, “Show me your hand.”
As he took out his hand, Zaid kissed it and observed, “We were instructed to treat the Ahlul Bayt of our nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in this manner.”
It is reported that when Imam Malik was lashed by orders from Mansur, then those present observed that he forgave the one lashing him. He explained to them the reason for this:
تخوفت أن أموت أمس فألقى النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم فأستحيي من أن يدخل بعض آله النار بسببي
I feared that I would die yesterday and meet the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and feel embarrassed over one of his family members entering Hell because of me.
It is mentioned that Harun al Rashid came to the grave of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam accompanied by Musa ibn Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Harun al Rashid approached Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam grave and boasted to the people with his greeting: “Peace be upon you, O cousin,” for he was from the progeny of Sayyidina ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Musa ibn Jafar then came and greeted, “Peace be upon you, O my beloved father.” Harun al Rashid turned to him and observed,
هذا والله الفخر يا أبا الحسن حقا
This is by Allah true glory, O Abu al Hassan.”
If we go on searching for these incidents and relating the stories that indicate to the deep veneration and adoration for the Ahlul Bayt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which their hearts cherished, plenty of time and space will be taken. The object is just to indicate that the assumed hallucinated rivalry between the Sahabah and Ahlul Bayt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is a claim debunked and disproven by Shar’i fundamentals and historical anecdotes. It is unfathomable that one who is pleased with Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala as his Rabb, Islam as his religion, and Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as his Messenger and Prophet will harbour hatred in his heart for the relatives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his chaste and pure family members. There is no place in Islam for such a person. A person with deep insight who studies the history of Islam will distinctively sense the amount of true love the Muslims of former and latter ages possessed for the family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Irrespective of which of the above listed views is preferred regarding whom the Ahlul Bayt refer to, all of them are harmonious on the fact that the Ahlul Bayt and family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are the majors of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and the foremost of them. Undoubtedly, Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the queen of the women of the worlds Fatimah al Zahra’, and the two Imams and martyrs, Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum, are the most superior of the Ahlul Bayt and the most entitled to be part of the Ahlul Bayt. In fact, they are included in all the views. Similarly, they are the common factor between the Islamic sects. So may Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be pleased with them specifically, and all the Companions and relatives in general.
 Surah Yusuf: 25.
 Surah al Naml: 7.
 Surah Hud: 73.
 Lisan al ‘Arab, vol. 11 pg. 28; al Zabidi: Taj al ‘Urus min Jawahir al Qamus, vol. 28 pg. 41.
 Surah al Ahzab: 32 – 34.
 See this explanation and others in Ruh al Ma’ani, vol. 22 pg. 13.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 407.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 5107; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2970.
 Ibn Kathir: al Sirah al Nabawiyyah, vol. 1 pg. 185.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 2971, Kitab al Khums, chapter regarding proof that the khums belongs to the imam and he may favour some of his relatives and deprive others.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2408.
 Surah al Tawbah: 60.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1072.
 Surah Ghafir: 46.
 Surah al Ahzab: 33.
 Al Sunan al Kubra, vol. 2 pg. 152. He classified it sahih. However, he considered it exclusively for Wathilah remarking, “This is a sahih isnad. Its exclusive application to Wathilah is more sensible than its general application to the entire ummah. As if he made Wathilah part of the hukm of ahl resembling him to those who are worthy of this noun, not in reality. And Allah knows best.”
Hafiz Ibn al Qayyim classified the isnad jayyid. (Jala’ al Afham, pg. 220)
 Surah al Ahzab: 33.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2424.
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 61.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2404.
 Ibn Qudamah: al Mughni, vol. 2 pg. 518.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3509.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3508.
 The first portion is documented by al Hakim: al Mustadrak, vol. 3 pg. 378. The entire narration is documented from other chains by al Dinawari: al Mujalasah vol. 4 pg. 146.
 Tartib al Madarik vol. 1 pg. 75.
 Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 13 pg. 31.Back to top