AHLUL-BAIT IN THE PROPHET’S TRADITIONS.
Going through the traditions of the Prophet, his daily behaviour, and his relations with his Ahlul-Bait, whose purity the Holy Qur’an itself has testified, we realize that Ali, Fatima and their two sons, Hasan and Husain were chosen for a unique role and a missionary responsibility for shaping the history of the Muslim communities. So the Prophet’s frequent stress on these four luminaries was not without meaning, nor was it mere emotional behaviour towards his family. In fact he was only obeying Allah’s commands to prepare and guide the Muslims towards acceptance of their leadership, after his eventual departure.
The first step which the Prophet took towards the formal building of this blessed family was the marriage of his daughter Fatima (a.s..) to his beloved cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) at the Almighty’s command. Thus was implanted this blessed ‘tree’ which would eventually extend its shady branches over the Muslims and its historical progress.
Anas ibn Malik a companion of the Prophet narrates that on the occasion of this auspicious marriage, the Prophet told Ali (a.s.):
“Allah has ordered me to marry Fatima to you for four hundred (mithqal) (nearly 2000 grains) of silver, do you accept?”.
Ali (a.s.) replied in the affirmative. The Prophet said:
“‘May Allah join you together, make you happy, bless you, and bring many a good out of you”. Annas, commenting on this adds: ‘By Allah, He did bring many a good out of them'”.
It is narrated that at the time of solemnising the marriage the Prophet asked for water to be brought and after performing ablution, he sprinkled the remnant on Ali and Fatima, and said:
“Allah bless them with their offspring”.
History and traditions have recorded that the Prophet used to reject all offers for Fatima’s hand, even from some of his close companions and wealthy Quraishites, saying that:
“The command (from Allah) for her marriage has not yet come down”.
The Prophet’s refusal to marry his beloved daughter to any Tom, Dick and Harry of Arabia and the evential divine decision in Ali’s favour, is but a clear evidence of the lofty position of the Ahlul-Bait, and of the noble intentions cherished by the Prophet for the good of the Muslim communities through this blessed family. The glowing testimony regarding their purity later made by the Qur’an and explained by the Prophet, are further proofs of these facts.
We now quote some traditions concerning the Ahlul-Bait, which throw light on the depth and real objective of divine care towards building this blessed family, whose members were entrusted the task of guiding the Muslims and delivering it from pitfalls and becoming a focal point around which it revolves.
So deep was the love of the Prophet for his only daughter Fatima and her husband Ali who was also his beloved cousin – the Prophet used to refer to Ali as “my brother’ – and to the
off-springs of this blessed union as “my sons”, words which the Holy Qur’an also testifies:
“And whoever disputes with you (O’ Muhammad) in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then, say: Come (to the Najrani Christians) let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women, and our selves and your selves…”
Holy Qur’an (3:61)
As we have already discussed in the opening chapter of this book, all exegists unanimously state that the word “our sons” as used by the Qur’an here, is a clear pointer to the Prophet’s grandsons, Hasan and Husain; while ‘our women’ refers to his daughter Fatima and “our selves” indicates his cousin and son-in-law, Ali. Besides, history is a witness and all biographers have narrated that no one else accompanied the Prophet for this famous event known as Mubahala in the annals of history, except these four figures – his Ahlul-Bait.
There are many other instances when the Prophet referred to his grandsons as ‘my sons’ in order to highlight their importance to the Muslim communities, some of which we recount below:
“Allah had placed the offspring of every Prophet in his loins, but He placed my offspring (progeny) in the loins of this (man)”- pointing towards Ali.
He used to caress Hasan and Husain, saying:
‘”All sons are their fathers’ as their agnation returns to their fathers, except the sons of Fatima, as I am their father and agnation”. (This is narrated by Ahmad ibn Hnaba in ‘al-Manaqib’
From the traditions of the Prophet, we learn that the Ahlul-Bait are the refuge for the Muslims, and are never separate from the Qur’an. By stressing that they never part from the Our’an, the Prophet was disclosing their ideological mission in guiding the Muslim communities according to Allah’s legislations. In other words he was making it clear to the Muslims that the divine book can not be fully comprehended or correctly interpreted, without the guidance of this chosen Household, who were actual witnesses to the gradual unfolding of this greatest revelation for mankind, and were personally groomed by him for the task ahead.
The famous tradition called Thaqalain (two weighty things the Qur’an and Ahlul-Bait), acknowledged by Muslims of all political and doctrinal schools lends proof to these facts.
Hereunder we recount the tradition stating some authentic sources quoted by the narrators:
1. The Tradition of Two Weighty Things (Thaqalain).
“I have been summoned (by Allah) and the moment is near for me to answer (to die). Heave among you the two weighty things: the Book of Allah the Almighty and my progeny; Allah’s book is (like) a rope extending from heaven to earth, and my progeny are the (Ahlul-Bait). The Merciful informed me that the two will never part, until they come to me at the Pool (ofKawthar in Paradise), I warn you against deserting them”.
All authoritative compilers such as Muslim, Tirmidhi and Hakim have placed emphasis on this hadith with light variations. Muslim quotes Zaid ibn Arqam as saying that once the Prophet stood up and praising Allah addressed his companions as follows:
“O People, I am but a mortal and it is time that I answer the call of my Lord’s envoy (to die). lam leaving among you the two weighty things, first of which is the Book of Allah (Qur’an) which contains guidance and light; so take the Book of Allah and hold fast to it. And my (Ahlul-Bait), I remind you of Allah (His commands) concerning my’Ahlul-Bait’.
According to another narration, the Prophet said:
“lam leaving among you two commandments and you will never go astray if you followed them: the Book of Allah and my ‘Ahlul-Bait’, and he added: ‘They would never seperate until they meet me at the pool (ofKawthar in Paradise). Be careful of your behaviour towards them, after me.” 
Ibn Hajr in his book ‘al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa’ writes that the Prophet used to refer to the Qur’an and his family as Thiql, because in Arabic Thiql means a very precious thing bestowed (by Allah). These (Qur’an and Ahlul-Bait) are precious because they are a source of knowledge and the secrets of divine legislation. That is why he exhorted the people to follow their examples. The reason they were called Thaqa-lain (two precious things) was to emphasize the respect for their rights. The stress that they never part with the Holy Qur’an is a clear indication that they, (the Ahlul-Bait) were well versed with the Book of Allah, scripulously adhered to the Prophet’s traditions and were never to part from the book till they reach the pool (in Paradise).
Allama Shaikh Muhammad Jawad Balaghi, in his book ‘Aala’ al-Rahman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an’, says: That the hadith of Thaqalain is narrated through an authentic chain of succession and quoted by our Sunni brethren in their books, on the authority of the Prophet’s companions who had heard it directly from the Prophet himself. Balaghi records the wordings of the tradition as:
“I am leaving among you the ‘Thaqalain’ two weighty things or the ‘Khalifatain’ (two successors); the Book of Allah and my family, my ‘Ahlul-Bait’; if you hold fast to them, you will never go astray, for they will never separate until they come to me at the pool”.
Balaghi then goes on to state the names of the companions who heard this Hadith directly from the Prophet’s lips:
1. Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) 2. Abdulla ibn Abbas 3. Abu Dhar Ghaffari 4. Jabir ibn Abdulla Ansari 5. Abdulla ibn Umar 6. Hudhaifa ibn Usaid Yamani 7. Zaid ibn Arqam 8. Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf 9. Dhamra Aslami 10. Aamir ibn Layla 11. Abu Rafe 12. Abu Huraira 13. Abdulla Ibn Hantub 14. Zaid ibn Thabit 15. Umm Salama, the Prophet’s wife 16. Umm Hani the Prophet’s cousin and sister of Ali 17. Khuzaima ibn Thabit 18. Suhail ibn Sa’d 19. Udai ibn Hatam. 20. Aqaba ibn Aamir 21. Abu Ayub Ansari 22. Abu Sa’id Khidri 23. Abu Shuraih Khuza’i 24. Abu Qudama Ansari 25. Abu Layla 26. Abul Haitham ibn Taihan.
Those from Umm Hani downards have narrated the hadith individually, while the others, together with seven other persons of the Quraish delivered their testimony as a group in the main square of the city of Kufa saying that they heard it directly from the Prophet. The number thus increases to 33, with the addition of the seven Quraishites.
Balaghi continues that this hadith is also narrated by Abu Na’im Isfahani in his book ‘Manqabat al-Mutahharain’, on the authority of Jubair ibn Mat’am, Anas ibn Malik and Barra ibn Aazib. He also cites the narration of Muwaffaq ibn Ahmad the Khatib (Orator) of Khwarazm, who has quoted Amr ibn Aas, to have heard from the Prophet. He adds that one rarely finds a compilation of hadith (tradition) written by Sunni scholars, which does not contain this particular hadith, eversince the memorized and by-hearted traditions took the form of writing. Some of these books usually narrate the hadith of Thaqalain quoting one or more of the Prophet’s companions, while in some others, the narration is on the authority of nearly twenty of the Prophet’s companions either generally, as in books like ‘Al-Sawa’iq’, or in authorized details, as in the books of Sakhawi, Suyuti, Samhudi, and others. In short we find that none of the great Sunni scholars, have failed to mention this tradition.
Then, he adds:
(All Imamia (Shi’a) scholars have recorded this tradition in their books, on the reputed authorities of such notable descendants of the Prophet as the Imams Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja’fer al-Sadiq, Musa al-Kadhim and Ali al-Ridha (peace be upon them) who present an unbroken chain of succession to the Prophet himself. The sources found in the Imamia books regarding this tradition are: The Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Jabir ibn Abdulla, Abi Sa’id, Zaid ibn Arqam, Zaid ibn Thabit, Hudhaifa ibn Ussaid Yamani, and several others, who quote directly from the Prophet).
Another famous scholar Allama Firuzabadi writes that Ahmad ibn Hanbal has repeated the exact words in the next two volumes of the same book ‘Musnad’: vol.4, p.366 and Balaghi in his ‘Sunan’, vol.2, p. 148, and vol.7, p.30, Darimi in his ‘Sunan’, vol.2, p.431, Muttaqiin ‘KanzUmmal’, vol.1, p.45 and vol.7, p. 102, Tahawi in ‘Mushkil Aathar’, vol.4, p.368, Tirmidhiin his ‘Sahih’, vol.2, p.308, Ibn Athir Jazriin ‘Asad al-Ghaba’, vol.2, p. 12, Suyuti in ‘Dur al-Manthur’ in the interpretation of the ‘Mawadda Verse’ of Shura Chapter, ‘Mustadrak al-Sahihain’ vol.3, pp. 109&148, Nisa’i in his ‘Khasa’is’, p.21.
It is narrated that the famous jurist Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s Musnad vol.3, p.17, Abu Sa’id Khidri’s narration from the Prophet:
“/ am about to be summoned, and I have to answer (die). I am leaving among you the (Thaqalain) that is the Book of Allah the Exalted, and my progeny. The Book of Allah is a rope stretching between the heaven and the earth, and my progeny are the (Ahlul-Bait). the Merciful informed me that they would not part (with each other) until they come me at the pool (in Paradise). So, mind your behaviour towards them after me.”
Ahmad ibn Hanbal repeated the same words in his ‘Musnad’, vol.4, p.371 and vol.5, p.181. Moreover Abu Na’im in ‘Hulyat al-Awliya”, vol.1, p.355, ‘Kanz al-Ummal’, vol.1, p.96, Hathami in his ‘Majam”, vol. 9, pp.64 &163, ‘Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa’ of ibn Hijr, p.75., also mentions the same narration.
Thus the authoritative chain of succession in the narration of this hadith and its clear emphasis on the firm bond between the Book of Allah and the Prophet’s Ahlul-Bait is enough to make any Muslim with a discerning mind realize the facts that the Qur’an cannot be interpreted properly or its instructions cannot be applied in the correct sense of the word, unless and until the Muslim nation turns to the Prophet’s illustrious Progeny for guidance, who without the least doubt are its natural guardians.
2. The Tradition of Ark (Safina).
If Thaqalain places the Ahlul-Bait on a par with the Holy Our’an, makes them guardians over it and entrusts them the task of interpreting and explaining its secrets, concepts and meanings, as well as guardians over it, the hadith of Ark ‘Safina’, presents the Prophet’s Household as the ‘Ark of Salvation’, and the place of refuge for the Muslims after the Messenger of Allah. The tradition could well be considered a clear warning to the Muslim nation that anyone failing to get on board of the ‘Ark of Salvation’ would naturally be drowned by the waves of deviation and anyone staying behind would certainly fail to reach the shores of safety and guidance.
Shabrawi Shafi’i, quoting Rafe’, the slave of the Prophet’s illustrious companion Abu Dhar Ghaffari, says: “Once Abu Dhar, (may Allah be pleased with him), climbed the threshold of the Ka’ba, grasped the ring of its door and turning his back towards it, said: O people, those who know me, know me (needs no introduction) and those who do not know me (hear) I am Abu Dhar; I have heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) say:
“My ‘Ahlul-Bait’ are like Noah’s Ark, whoever boards it, is safe, and whoever remains behind is pushed into the Fire”.
I have also heard the Messenger of Allah say:
“Let my ‘Ahlul-Bait’ be to you as the head is to the body and the eyes are to the head, because the body would not be guided except by the head, and the head cannot be guided except by the eyes. “
Abu Na’im Isfahani in ‘Hulyat al-Awliya’ records the ‘tradition of the Ark’ from the authority of Sa’id ibn Jubair from Abdulla Ibn Abbas: “The Messenger of Allah said:
“The example of my ‘Ahlul-Bait’ among you is like Noah’s Ark; whoever got aboard it was sa ved and whoever remained behind, was drowned.”
Hakim in his ‘Mustadrak al-Sahihain’, vol.2, p. 343, has given an identical narration confirming the genuineness of this hadith on the authority of the great traditionist, Muslim. And also Mutta.qi in ‘kanz al-Ummar, vol.6, p.216, Haith-ami in his ‘Majma’, vol. 9, p. 168, Muhibuddin Tabari in ‘Dhakha’ir’, p.20, and Khatib Baghdadi in his monumental ‘History of Baghdad’ (vol. 12, p. 19) have cited this hadith.
Anas ibn Malik has quoted from the the Prophet the following wordings:
“Surely the likeness of me and my ‘Ahlul-Bait’ is similar to Noah’s Ark, whoever boards it, is safe, and whoever remains behind is drowned. “
Jalaluddin Suyuti in his ‘Dur al-Manthur’, interpreting the verse:
‘”And when We said: Enter this township and eat easefully of it wherever you wish, and enter in at the gate prostrating, andsay forgiveness, We will forgive you your wrongdoings” Holy Our’an (2:58), says ibn Shaiba has quoted Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) to have said: ‘Our likeness to this Muslim nation is that of Noah’s Ark and the gate of remissions'”
Muttaqi Hindi in ‘Kanz al-Ummal* (vol.6, p.216) records the hadith in the following words:
“The likeness of my Ahlul-Bait among you is like that of Noah’s Ark, whoever gets on board is safe, and whoever remains behind is doomed, and like that the Gate of remission for the children of Israel”. He adds that it was quoted by Tabarani on the authority of Abi Dhar.
3. The Tradition of Security against Discord.
This saying of the Prophet defines the ideological and political role of the Ahlul-Bait. Realizing that the greatest calamity threatening the survival of a nation is sedition and controversy of opinions which generate conflicting political and ideological trends, the Messenger of Allah used to constantly advice Muslims to steadfastly adhere to his Ahlul-Bait. Time and again, he had reminded his companions that his Ahlul-Bait were synonym with the Qur’an and its call, and never part with it till the Day of Resrrection. He had also described them on various other occasions as the Ark of Deliverance and the Door of Repentance. Here, he likens them to the stars and the role these heavenly bodies play in guiding the travellers and sea-farers.
Tabarani, quoting Ibn Abbas, cites the Prophet to have said:
“The stars are a security for the people of the earth against drowning (when at sea) and my ‘Ahlul-Bait’ are a security to the people of the earth against discord.”‘
Muhibuddin Tabari also cites the prominent jurist Imam Ahmad ibn HanbaFs narration of this hadith in ‘al-Man-aqib.
4. The Tradition of the Cloak (Kisa):
We have already briefly dealt with this tradition, while discussing the Ayat al-Tathir in the opening chapter of the book, Ahlul-Bait and the Qur’an’ . Here we relate other authentic narrations concerning this famous tradition and will explain the Prophet’s objective in stressing the significance of his Ahlul-Bait. This hadith of al-Kisa1 has come down to us through different authoritative chains of narration and hereunder we shall relate some of the most outstanding ones.
Several narrations with slight variations have conic uuwn from Umm Salama the Prophet’s wife concerning this hadith.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, in his ‘Musnad’, quotes Umm Salama as saying that once when the Prophet was in her house, a maid came and informed them that Ali and Fatima were at the door. The Prophet told her to get up and make room for his Ahlul-Bait. As she got up and moved to a nearby corner, Ali and Fatima entered with their two young boys Hasan and Husain. The Prophet seated his grandsons on his lap and kissed them. Then he embraced Ali with one hand and Fatima with the other, and covering them with a black cloak called Khamisa prayed:
‘”O Allah, towards You and not towards the Fire are I and my Household.’ Umm Salama said ‘and IO’ Messenger of Allah’. The Prophet replied, ‘you, too. ‘”
Wahidi, in his book ‘Asbab al-Nuzul’, through a chain of narrators also cites Umm Salama – that once, when the Prophet was in her house, Fatima brought a bowl of porridge for him, whereupon he told her daughter to call her husband and their two sons. Soon Ali, Hasan and Husain entered and sat beside him to eat. The Prophet was seated on an elevated place with a cloak from Khaiber underneath him. Taking the cloak and covering them with it he prayed:
“O Allah, (these are) my Household, keep them pure as pure can be.”
Umm Salama thrust her head under the cloak, asking whether she was also included, to which the Prophet twice replied that she was also on the right. Wahidi adds that it was then that the angel Gabriel descended by Allah’s command to reveal this verse:
“Allah only desires to keep away uncleanness from you, people of House (Ahlul-Bait), and keep you pure as pure can be. “
Holy Our’an (33:33)
5. The Tradition of Affection (Mawada):
We have already referred to this hadith while discussing the Mawadda verse in the opening chapter of the book and mentioned several narrators and authorities in its connections. Here we recount some more traditions stressing love towards the Ahlul-Bait.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Tabarani and Hakim, have all cited Abdulla Ibn Abbas to have said that when the ‘Verse of Purity’ was revealed the Prophet was asked as to who his near relatives were whose love was incumbent upon Muslims. He replied:
“Ali, Fatima and their two sons.”
Bazzaz and Tabarani have narrated a speech from Hasan ibn Ali (a.s.) as follows:
“Those who know me know me (needs no introduction) but those who do not know me (know then) I am Hasan the son of Muhammad (s.a. w.), I am the son of the Bearer of good tidings; I am the son of the Warner; I am the son of ‘Ahlul-Bait’ whose love Allah has been incumbent upon every Muslim, and for whom was revealed (the verse): ‘Say (O’ Muhammad unto mankind) I do not ask of you any reward for it (preaching the message), but love for my near relatives;… ‘ Therefore, striving towards good deeds is to love us, the ‘Ahlul-Bait’.”
Imam Abul Hasan Baghawi in his commentary on the Mawadda Verse quotes Ibn Abbas that when this verse was revealed, the PiOphet was asked as to who were his Ahlul-Bait, whom Allah has ordered the Muslims to love. To which the Prophet replied:
“AH, Fatima, and their two sons (Hasan and Husain)”.
Saddi, quoting Abi Malik, on the authority of Ibn Abbas concerning the verse says that without doubt this hadith makes emphasis on love towards the Prophet’s Household.
Traditons emphasizing the Ahlul-Bait’s uique position abound and illuminate the books of narrations, out of which we have selected some of the most glowing ones from the most authorata-tive of scholars to bedeck our book. Many a volumnious book has been exclusively devoted to their merits, which are however outside the scope of our present study. In order to enlighten our readers with these paragons of virtue and guide them towards their brightly lit path, we breifly recount some more Traditions concerning the Prophet’s noble Household.
Tabarani, in ‘al-Awsat’, quotes Ibn Hajar’s narration from Jabir ibn Abdulla Ansari; that once the Prophet delivered a speech to his companions saying:
“O’ people whoever hates us ‘Ahlul-Bait’, Allah will resurrect him as a Jew on the Judgement Day”.
The famous scholars such as Muslim. Tirmidhi and Nisa’i, have all quoted Zaid ibn Arqam that the Messenger of Allah cautioned the Muslims regarding their behaviour towards his Ahlul-Bait in the following words: “Remember Allah regarding my ‘Ahlul-Bait’. “
Khatib Baghdadi in his ‘Tarikh’ on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib writes that the Prophet said:
“My intercession (on Judgement Day) for my Muslim communities will be for (only) those who loved my ‘Ahlul-Bait’. “
Thus it is clear that all traditions even though the chain of narrations may be different, are unanimous concerning revernece to the Ahlul-Bait and exhort Muslims to adhere to their course.
6- Other Narrations:
Muhibuddin Tabari has narrated from the Prophet:
“We are the ‘Ahlul—Bait’, none can be compared to us.”
This tradition of the Prophet is a clear pointer to the lofty status of his Ahlul-Bait and their unique position among the Muslim communities. It not only highlights these peerless personalities, but exhorts the Muslims to follow their illuminated path, not in blind obedience but by a way of discerning comparison with others.
Another famous tradition cited by the same author and also found in various other books runs as follows:
“We are the ‘Ahlul-Bait’ for whom Allah has chosen the hereafter to this world. My ‘Ahlul-Bait’ will face after me difficulties, hardships and persecution in the lands, until a people will come from there (pointing towards the east) bearers of black banners. They will demand the rights but it will be denied. So, they will fight and will emerge victorious. They will be given what they demanded, but will not accept it till they give it (the right to rule) to a man from my Ahlul—Bait, who would fill (the earth) with justice as it was filled with oppression. Therefore whoever finds that (period) let him join them even if he had to crawl over the snows. “
On the same subject Dailami has quoted Abi Sa’id’s tradition as follows: The Prophet once said:
“Whoever hurts me by (way of hurting) my family will be afflicted with Allah’s severe wrath. “
Suyuti relates a tradition from the Prophet on the authority of Ali (a.s.):
“Teach your children three habits; to love your Prophet, to love his (Prophet’s) Household and to recite the Qur’an; because the carrier of the Qur’an will be in the shade of Allah along with His Prophet and the Chosen ones on the day when there will be no shade except that of Allah ‘s”
Tabarani quotes Ibn Abbas from the Prophet as follows:
“(on tlit Resurrection Day) no foot of a servant (of Allah) will move before being asked about four things: his years and how he spent them, his body and how he worn it out, his wealth and how he earned and spent it, and about his love towards us, the (Ahlul-Bait)”
Tabarani relates another tradition quoting Muttalib ibn Abdulla bin Hantab that once the Prophet delivered a speech at a place called Juhfa, saying:
“‘Am I not more superior to you than yourselves?’ The people replied: Yes, O Messenger of Allah!. The Prophet then said ‘I will question you (hold you responsible) about two things; the Qur’an and my ‘Ahlul-Bait””.
Thus the above cited narrations from different scholars of repute should leave no one in doubt about the unique role of the Ahlul-Bait in guiding the Muslim communities, after the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah had time and again made it clear that his Ahlul-Bait are to be taken as a final authority in all matters, because they are on a par with the Holy Qur’an and their deep knowledge will help expound the wisdom and significance of Allah’s revealed word to mankind.