All about the Ahl Al-Bayt: The Prophetic family and Progeny
By Yūsuf Badāt
“Ahl-Al-Bayt” refers to the household (family) of the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him).
The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) has spoken extensively on the virtue and status of the Ahl Al-Bayt.
He indicated that he will intercede before Judgment Day for the Ahl Al-Bayt. – (See: Kanz Al-‘Ummāl)
The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The best of you are those who deal good with my family after my passing.” – (See: Kanz Al-‘Ummāl)
Imam ʿAlā Al-Dīn Al-Hindy has collected over 250 prophetic reports on the virtues and status of the Ahl Al-Bayt. – (See: Qāmūs Al-Fiqh)
Status by Affiliation
There is no doubt the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) holds a high rank, awarded by the Almighty. The fact of the matter is, anything associated or affiliated with him also becomes significant and important due to his position, as the beloved of God.
Who can doubt the importance and also the inherit status of the Prophet’s close family and household? A term used for them is, “Ahl Al-Bayt”.
يا أيها الناس إني تركت فيكم ما إن أخذتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله وعترتي أهل بيتي
“O people, I am leaving with you that which if you hold firmly upon, you will not be misguided, God’s Book and [respecting] my progeny, my household.” – (Trimidhī)
Who Specifically are the Ahl Al-Bayt?
Without getting into the academic views of jurists, in general, the Ahl Al-Bayt are the offspring of Hāshim and Muṭṭalib. This includes the children and or progeny of ʿAbbās, ʿAlī, Jaʾafar, ʿAqīl, Hārith Ibn ʿAbd Al Muṭṭālib, the Prophet’s wives and his children. – (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Tirmidhī, Rūḥ Al-Maʾānīy, Qāmūs Al-Fiqh)
وَاصْطَفَىٰ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ وَاصْطَفَانِي مِنْ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ
“[God] chose the offspring of Hāshim from the Quraysh, and selected me from the progeny of Hāshim.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
دَعَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلِيًّا وَفَاطِمَةَ وَحَسَنًا وَحُسَينًا فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ هَؤُلَاءِ أَهْلِي
“The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) called upon ʿAlī, Fāṭimah, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn, then stated, “This is my household.” – (Al-Ṭaḥāwī)
Virtues of the Ahl Al-Bayt
We love the Ahl Al-Bayt due to their blood link with the Messenger of God (peace and blessings upon him) and for their belief in God.
The Qurʾānic Reference
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
“God wishes to exclusively remove evil deeds [and sins] from you, O members of the family [of the Prophet], and to purify you with a thorough purification.” – (Qurʾān 33:33)
The Prophetic Declaration at Ghadīr Khum
On his return journey from the Ḥajj, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) and his Companions had halted at a location known as Khum between Makkah and Madīnah. There, he had addressed the Companions reminding them that he will not be around forever, therefore they should hold firmly on to God’s book and its injunctions. At that point, he also emphasized and spoke highly of the status of the Ahl Al-Bayt (close family of the Prophet). He specifically stated,
أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللَّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي
“I remind you of God, regarding [the treatment] of my household.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
The Mubāhalah Episode with Najran Christians
During the Mubāhalah confrontation event with the Christians of Najrān, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) brought forth his household as his close support, namely, ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib, Fāṭimah, Ḥasan and Ḥussayn (may God be pleased with them). – (See: Al-Ṭaḥāwī)
Ṣalawāt Salutations Include the Honorable Household
When the Prophet of Islam, Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about how we are to convey prayers of blessings upon him, he responded by instructing, the following must be articulated, “God, convey blessings on Muḥammad and his household, wives and children, as you did upon the household of Abraham.” – (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
Loving the Grandsons
Regarding his grandsons, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn, the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) declared, “These are my sons, whoever loves them loves me.” – (Ibn Asākir)
The Ahl Al-Bayt, Our Responsibilities
Know and Acknowledge Their Status
ارقُبُوا مُحَمَّدًا صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي أَهلِ بَيتِهِ والمعنى احفظوه فيهم فلا تؤذوهم ولا تسيئوا إليهم
Abū Bakr (may God be please with him) said, “Guard [the honour and legacy of] Muḥammad by honouring his household.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
وكان عمر يقدمهم في العطاء على جميع الناس ويفضلهم في العطاء على جميع الناس حتى إنه لما وضع الديوان للعطاء كتب أسماء الناس، قالوا نبدأ بك؟ قال لا ابدؤوا بأقارب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وضعوا عمر حيث وضعه الله فبدأ ببني هاشم وضم إليهم بني المطلب
ʿOmar Ibn Khaṭṭāb (may God be pleased with him) would give preference to the Ahl Al-Bayt in gifts and distribution, to the point that when the databases were formalized and the list of everyone’s names were being entered, the secretaries asked, “Shall we start with your name?” He instructed, “No, start with the relatives of the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and thereafter place ʿOmar where God has placed him.” – (See: Tārīkh Al-Ṭabarīy, Musnad Aḥmad)
Abū Muhazzim says, “Once we attended a woman’s funeral, and Abū Hurayrah (may God be pleased with him) was also with us. The funeral prayer was performed. As we were returning, Ḥusayn (may God be pleased with him) got tired and sat down on the side of the road. Abū Hurayrah (may God be pleased with him) saw him and began to wipe away the dust from Ḥusayn (may God be pleased with him) and so he (may God be pleased with him) remarked, ‘O Abū Hurayrah, a person of your status, and you are doing this?’ Abū Hurayrah (may God be pleased with him) replied, ‘Allow me to dust you, by God, if people knew what I know about you, they would carry you on their shoulders.’” – (Tārīkh Dimashq)
Love and Respect Them
وَالَّذِي نَفسِي بِيَدِهِ لَقَرَابَةُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ أَن أَصِلَ مِن قَرَابَتِي
Abū Bakr (may God be pleased with him) stated, “By God! The close family of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) are more beloved to me than my relatives [due to their status and affiliation with the Prophet]. – (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
عن أبي سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والذي نفسي بيده لا يُبغضنا – أهلَ البيت – رجل إلا أدخله الله النار رواه ابن حبان في صحيحه
“By God, the Almighty will enter in the hellfire any individual despising us, the Ahl Al-Bayt.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān)
اللهم والِ من والاه وعادِ من عاداه
“God, honour the one who honours ʿAlī, be an enemy to the one who despises ʿAlī!” – (Musnad Aḥmad)
Learn from Them and Follow Their Righteous Legacy
Once Ḥusayn (may God be pleased with him) passed by some impoverished people who were sharing a single loaf of bread among themselves, so they said to him, “Would you like some food O Ḥusayn, Abū ʿAbdullāh?” He then dismounted from his horse, sat with them and said, “He (God) does not love the arrogant ones.” After they finished eating, he stated, “Indeed I accepted your invitation, now it is time for you to accept mine!” So they accompanied him home, He gave them ample food and drink and provided them with their necessities, after which they all left. – (See: Tafsīr al-Qurtubī)
Include Them in Your Ṣalawāt Supplications
The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed that we should say, “God, bless Muḥammad, his wives and his descendants the same way as You blessed the family of Ibrāhim, and grant blessings to Muḥammad, his wives and his descendants as you gave blessings to the family of Ibrāhim. You are worthy of praise and Glorious.’” – (Muwaṭṭa)
Charity is Forbidden for Them Due to Their Honourable Status
أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّ آلَ مُحَمَّدٍ لَا يَأْكُلُونَ الصَّدَقَةَ؟ وفي رواية لاَ تَحِلُّ لَنَا الصَّدَقَةُ
“Muḥammad’s household does not consume charity.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
Do Not Engage in Excess When Honouring Them
فمن تلك الحقوق محبتهم وتقديرهم وموالاتهم تنفيذًا لوصية النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عندما قال أُذَكِّرُكُمُ اللَّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي ولا ينزلونهم فوق منزلتهم بل يتبرؤون ممن يغلون فيهم حتى يوصلوهم إلى حد الألوهية كما فعل عبد الله بن سبأ في علي بن أبي طالب حين قال له أنت الله
“The correct creed related to the Ahl Al-Bayt is that we love them, guard the Prophet’s advises about them regarding acknowledging and honouring them. However, we do not exaggerate them beyond their status to the point where we appoint godship to them as ʿAbd Allāh Ibn Saba did, regarding ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib, wherein he claimed, “You are God”” – (Fatāwa Al-Aqīdah)
إياكم والغلو في الدين فإنما أهلك من كان قبلكم الغلو في الدين رواه أحمد والنسائي وابن ماجه
“Refrain from excess in religion, excess [and exaggeration] in religious matters destroyed the people before you.” – (Ibn Mājah, Musnad Aḥmad, Nasaʾī)
May we all be blessed to acknowledge, love, honour and guard the Ahl Al-Bayt. May we be true slaves of God, as prescribed by Muḥammad (peace and blessings be with him).
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