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Who are the Ahlul-Bayt

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Who are the Ahlul-Bayt (Blessed Household of Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) - Part 1
Love for the Ahlul-Bayt (household of Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) has and shall always be an integral part of one's faith. It is through this love that one shall acquire the pleasure of Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and through its medium, the pleasure of Almighty Allah. Thus, from amongst the edicts issued during the caliphate of Hadrat Abu Bakr, one was:
'Protect (the rights of) Muhammad with regards to his household'
Some deviant sectors however wish to mislead the masses into believing that it is only them that love the Ahlul-Bayt, and that the Sahaba Radhiyallahu Anhum, Tabieen, Mufassireen, Muhaditeen, Fuqaha, Sufiya and the general Muslim Ummah from the death of Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam failed in their obligation towards the Ahlul-Bayt i.e. they did not show them the love they were deserving off and did not afford them their due rights.
The answer to this misconception depends upon first understanding what the phrase 'Ahlul-Bayt' (household members) means. Generally, if one were to inform that he is coming with his family, the host would naturally enquire as to the number and the nature of his family members, in order to make appropriate arrangements. Mere guessing could at times be detrimental, especially if the guest were to arrive with his extended family, viz. his parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters, etc. Even worse than this would be if the host now bars certain members of the guest's household from entering, merely on the basis that he does not recognize them to be from his guest's family. Will the guest not feel humiliated, and will he not demand that either his family be allowed in or else he too shall depart? So too, is the delicate matter of the Ahlul-Bayt.
It is not for one and all to decide who should be included in this blessed household and who should be excluded. Rather it is the exclusive right of Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam to pinpoint his blessed household. Thus, one needs to turn to the Noble Quraan and the Blessed Sunnah for an explanation in this regard. If we were left to ourselves define who the Ahlul-Bayt are, there would be a mix-up, and that is exactly what we are unfortunately experiencing today in some quarters. Since the Ahlul-Bayt have been afforded great importance in Islam, it was of utmost necessity that clear indication be made regarding who they are? Without clear indication from the Noble Quraan and the authentic Sunnah, each party could easily chalk out his own Ahlul-Bayt, including and excluding members without any solid basis.
Allah Ta’ala says, “Many follow mere assumption, whereas in the face of truth, mere assumption is of no avail.” (Surah An Najm; V:28)

Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)

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Who are the Ahlul Bayt – Part 2
The first addressee of the word 'Ahle-Bayt' are the honourable and illustrious wives of Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam, the reason being:
The phrase 'Ahlul-Bayt' in reference to Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam appears only once in the Noble Quraan. It appears in the verses wherein the honourable wives were given the choice of living a life of luxury at the cost of being divorced from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam or remaining married to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam and enduring an ascetic and abstemious life. Everyone one of his wives chose to forego the luxuries of this world and retain the unparalleled honour of being the wife of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam in this world and the next.
In acknowledgement of the choice that they made Almighty Allah addressed them with two noble titles, viz. 'O wives of Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam), and O Ahlul-Bayt. (Members of the Noble Household of Nubuwwah). (Surah Ahzaab, Verse 32-34)
b) Clear mention is made in the hadith quoted by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih that Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam would address Hadrat Ayesha Radiyallah Anha with the title 'Ahlul-Bayt. Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam would say when entering the house of Hadrat Ayesha Radiyallahu Anha, 'Peace be upon you, O Ahlul Bayt, and the mercy of Almighty Allah and His blessings!' (Sahih Bukhari)
c) One version of the salawaat (durood) that was taught by Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam (as narrated in Saheeh Bukhari), carries the following wordings:
Allahumma Salli Ala Muhammad Wa Azwaajihi Wa Zurriyyatihi Kama Sallayta Ala Aali Ibraheem
the meaning is 'O Allah, send salutations upon Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) and on his wives and progeny as you have sent salutations upon the family of Ibrahim.’
This Durood clearly shows that the word 'family' includes the wives of Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
To exclude the honourable wives of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam from being part of the Ahlul-Bayt is not only illogical but absurd as well.
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Who are the Ahlul Bayt - Part 3
To emphasize that the command of respect and honour is not only for the wives of Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, rather for all those Sahabah Radiyallah Anhum who enjoyed a close relationship with Rasulullah Alaihis Salaam, Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam on various occasions gave indication to who else the word Ahlul-Bayt refers to:
a) Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam declared that Hadrat Fatimah Radiyallah Anha, Hadrat Ali Radiyallah Anhu, Hadrat Hasan Radiyallah Anhu and Hadrat Husein Radiyallah Anhu are from his Ahl (family), as well as Hadrat Wathila ibn al-Asqa' Radiyallah Anhu, who, when he heard Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam saying, 'O Allah, these are my Ahlul-Bayt (family)', He asked from far, 'O Rasulullah, what about me?’ to which Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam replied, 'and you too are from my family.' (Sahih Ibn Hibaan)
b) During the digging of the trench, as the Muhajireen Radiyallah Anhum and Ansar Radiyallah Anhum discussed with regards to which camp should Hadrat Salmaan al-Farsi Radiyallah Anhu join, since each desired having him in their group, Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, 'Salmaan is from us, from the Ahle-Bayt!' (Al-Mu’jamul Kabir Lit-Tabraani)
c) Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam enshrouded Hadrat Abbaas Radiyallah Anhu and his children with his shawl and said, ‘These are my family members (Ahle-Bayt).’ (Amalul Yaum Wal Laylah)
d) When Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam announced the prohibition of his blood relatives (i.e. the children of Haashim and Muttalib) taking Zakaah, he addressed all with the title of 'Ahlul-Bayt'.(Sahih Ibn Khuzaaimah)
Hadrat Zaid Bin Arqam Radiyallah Anhu narrated, ‘One day Rasullallah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam stood up amongst us to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and exhorted (us) and said: “O people, I am leaving amongst you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you of your duties (he repeated this thrice) to the members of my family.” Husain ibn Sabrah (one of those present) asked Hadrat ZaidRadiyallah Anhu: “Who are the members of his household? Aren't his wives the members of his family?” Hadrat ZaidRadiyallah Anhu replied: “His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.” Husain ibn Sabrah further asked: “Who are they? Thereupon Hadrat ZaidRadiyallah Anhu said: “Ali and the offspring of 'Ali, 'Aqil and the offspring of 'Aqil and the offspring of Ja'far and the offspring of 'Abbas Radiyallahu Anhum).” (Sahih Muslim)

Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians

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  • 4 weeks later...

As-Salaam alaikum,

 Thank you for the rather elaborate explanatory notes/post above on the Ahlul-Bayt... Members of the Household of the Noble Messenger of Allah, Sallallahu alaihi Wasallam, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Sidi Muhiyidden Ibn Arabi, may Allah be Merciful to him, in his Futuhat Makkiyyah, observed tha  "the Prophet's house has 2 doorways: the lower house (baytihi al-adna)- his biological family and his higher house (baytihi al-a'la)- Muhammad's spiritual family".

In this regards, Ibn Arabi differentiates between the terms al and ahl: while ahl- points to the biological family of the Prophet (as in the expression ahl al-bayt), al designates his closest and most unique companions (Khassa)- the righteous ones, those who possess knowledge of Allah, the believers (al-Salihuna al-ulama bi-llah al-mu'minuna)- the mystics, who enjoy general prophecy (nubuwa amma)... to be distinguished from legislative Prophecy (nubuwa al-tashri).

It may also happen, nevertheless, as in the case of Hassan, Hussein, Jafar al-Sadiq and others, that certain members of ahl al-bayt are also the al of Muhammad, that is, righteous believers who possess Divine Knowledge.

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