Ahlul Bayt - Hadith al-Kisa' (introduction)
In the following verse is embedded the verse of Tat-heer that was revealed for Ahlul Bayt:
Quran 33:30-34
O wives of the prophet! whoever of you commits an open indecency, the punishment shall be increased to her doubly; and this is easy to Allah.
And whoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Messenger and does good, We will give to her her reward doubly, and We have prepared for her an honorable sustenance.
O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word. And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.
And keep to mind what is recited in your houses of the communications of Allah and the wisdom; surely Allah is Knower of subtleties, Aware.


There appears to be a fierce desagreement between the Shia and a small group of Sunnis with regards to who the purified Ahlul Bayt are. The Sunni scholars, as a whole, have desagreed among themselves, with the majority of them agreeing with the Shia'a scholars.

As al-Tabari puts it in his Tafseer, some claimed that the verse was revealed specifically to Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussein while others claimed that it was revealed specifically to the wives of the prophet:

The people of Ta'weel have differed about this verse:
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There is a third view that combines the first two views: it was revealed to Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussein and the wives of the prophet. Al-Qurtubi reported this view in his Tafseer:

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This third view reminds me of the Sunni desagreement about the verse of Wudu': one group claimed the verse commands the washing of the feet, a second group claimed the verse commands the wiping of the feet, and a third group combined the first two views to make everybody happy!

Unlike the Sunnis who differed among themselves, the Shia'a scholars have unanimously agreed that the verse was revealed specifically in honor of Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussein, as many prominent Sunni scholars have asserted. All twelve Imams of Ahlul Bayt have concurred on this exegesis.

It is quite disturbing to see the Muslims differ on an issue that was so clear to all the companions at the time of the prophet and even after his demise. Where did that confusion come from?

Before I get into the narrations, I would like to make an important point. In many cases, the Sunni audience (scholars, Imams, the general public) resorts to the context of the verse to state that the wives of the prophet are the main members of Ahlul Bayt. They say, the verses before and the verses after the verse of purity (al-Tatt-heer) talk about the wives of the prophet, therefore the term Ahlul Bayt comes in the context of the wives of the prophet, therefore the term Ahlul Bayt refers primarily to the wives of the prophet. Simply put, they have used their own understanding of the verse deduce who Ahlul Bayt are.

The fact is that the term Ahlul Bayt has many meanings, all applied at the time of the prophet:

  1. The first one is the general meaning (lingustic) of Ahlul Bayt which consists of all the members of the household and since the prophet had several houses (one for his daughter, Ali and their children, one for each wife), it means Ahlul Bayt consists those people. And more generally, the members can include uncles, cousins, aunts, grand-parents, etc.

  2. A second meaning of Ahlul Bayt (the Fiqhi meaning) are those people Allah did not allow Sadaqa to be given to: Ali and his family, Aqil and his family, Ja'afar and his family.

  3. A third meaning of Ahlul Bayt are those who are the followers of the prophet as applied to Salman when the prophet told him 'Salman is from us Ahlul Bayt'.

  4. A forth meaning consists of those people who happen to be in the house of the prophet but are not necessarily related to the prophet. This meaning is found in the narration of ibn Abbas about the calamity of Thursday recorded in Sahih Muslim:
    Ibn Abbas reported: When Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was about to leave this world, there were persons (around him) in his house, 'Umar b. al-Kbattab being one of them. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Come, I may write for you a document; you would not go astray after that. Thereupon Umar said: Verily Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) is deeply afflicted with pain. You have the Qur'an with you. The Book of Allah is sufficient for us. The Ahlul Bayt (people of the house) differed. Some of them said: Bring him (the writing material) so that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) may write a document for you and you would never go astray after him And some among them said what 'Umar had (already) said. When they indulged in nonsense and began to dispute in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said: Get up (and go away) 'Ubaidullah said: Ibn Abbas used to say: There was a heavy loss, indeed a heavy loss, that, due to their dispute and noise. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) could not write (or dictate) the document for them.

    In this context, the people of the house are all the people who were present during the incident, that is the companions, the wives, the family of the prophet, etc.

  5. Lastly, the fifth meaning of Ahlul Bayt is a more confined meaning and consists of the prophet, Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan and al-Husain.

So which one of these meanings can be attributed the term used in the verse of the purification? Do we use our own interpretation while the prophet provided one to us? Do we use our own interpretation and ignore or override the prophet's? Is it not logical and rational to seek understanding of any verse from the Sunnah of the prophet first? Should not the prophet be the primary source of the interpretation of the Quran, and particularly when there is desagreement over the interpretation of its verses?? Is this not what Allah commanded us to do?

Quran 4:59
O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.

Quran 16:64
And We have not revealed to you the Book except that you may make clear to them that about which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe.

Is it not true that the interpretation of the prophet overrides any other source of interpretation??

Quran 59:7
...and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back,...
... ...

Was it not the duty of the prophet to make clear to us what Allah revealed??

Quran 16:44
With clear arguments and scriptures; and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect.

The Messenger of Allah made clear to us who Ahlul Bayt are. He defined them in many ways. How dare you come up with your own contextual interpretation after the prophet's own exegesis??

Quran 33:36
It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.

These verses clearly show that the Quran is not sufficient as guidance, as some claim and the first of whom is Umar who said: The Book of Allah is sufficient for us (read more...)

So, when the prophet says Ahlul Bayt are X, Y and Z, what authority do you have to say Ahlul Bayt are A, B and C?? Are you not clearly on the wrong path? Remember, your own interpretation can be easily refuted, but the interpretation of the prophet comes from Allah and this cannot be refuted.

Now to you the prophetic narrations that make clear the verse.