Who are the Ahlul-Bayt (Blessed Household of Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi wa Sallam)

Who are the Ahlul-Bayt 

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. Nay, 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 total 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.

The first addressee of the word ‘Ahle-Bayt’ are the honourable and illustrious wives of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, the reason being:

a) The phrase ‘Ahle-Bayt’ in reference to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam appears only once in the Noble Quraan, in the verse known as Ayah-al-Takhyeer wherein the honourable wives were given choice of raising their living standards at the expense of having to lose their noble husband Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, or remaining patient upon their ascetic lives in lieu of the privilege of remaining as the wives of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam in this world as well as in the next. Every one of them chose to forsake the world in favour of being the wife of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. In appreciation of the choice that they made, Almighty Allah addressed them with two noble titles, viz.

‘O wives of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi 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 (R.A) in his Sahih that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam would address Sayyidah Ayesha Radhiyallahu Anha with the title ‘Ahlul-Bayt.


Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam would say when entering the house of Sayyidah Ayesha Radhiyallahu Anha, ‘Peace be upon you, O Ahlul Bayt, and the mercy of Almighty Allah and His blessings!’ (Bukhari)


c) In the salawaat (durood) that was taught to the Ummah by Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam to be recited at the end of Salaah, (as narrated by Bukhari and Muslim), Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam at times taught the Dua as:


Allahumma Salli Ala Muhammad Wa Ala Aali Muhammad Kama Sallayta Ala Aali Ibraheem

Allahumma Salli Ala Muhammad Wa Ala Azwaajihi Wa Zurriyyatihi Kama Sallayta Ala Aali Ibraheem


In the first Dua the meaning is: ‘O Allah, send salutations upon Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and upon the family of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).


In the second Dua the meaning is: ‘O Allah, send salutations upon Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and upon the wives and progeny of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).


Either of these Duas are acceptable for recitation. One understands from this that the meaning of the second Dua is exactly the same as the first, thus the meaning of ‘family’ clearly includes the wives and children of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam.


Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam not only used the title of Ahlul-Bayt for his family, but he would also include those Sahabah Radhiyallahu Anhum who enjoyed a very close relationship with him amongst the Ahlul-Bayt. Examples of this are given in the following Ahadith:

1. a) Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam once declared that Hadrat Fatimah Radhiyallahu Anha, Hadrat Ali Radhiyallahu Anhu, Hadrat Hasan Radhiyallahu Anhu and Hadrat Husayn Radhiyallahu Anhu are from his Ahl (family). Hadrat Wathila ibn al-Asqa’ Radhiyallahu Anhu, upon hearing Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam say, ‘O Allah, these are my Ahlul-Bayt (family).’ asked, ‘O Rasulullah, what about me?’ to which Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam replied, ‘and you too are from my family.’ (Sahih Ibn Hibaan)

2. b) Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam enshrouded Hadrat Abbaas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) Radhiyallahu Anhu and his children with his shawl and said, ‘These are my family members (Ahle-Bayt).’ (Amalul Yaum Wal Laylah)

3. c) During the digging of the trench, as the Muhajireen Radhiyallahu Anhum and Ansar Radhiyallahu Anhum discussed with regards to which camp Hadrat Salmaan al-Farsi Radhiyallahu Anhu should join, since each desired having him in their group, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, ‘Salmaan is from us, from the Ahlul-Bayt!’ (Al-Mu’jamul Kabir Lit-Tabraani)

4. d) When Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam announced the prohibition of his blood relatives (i.e. the children of Haashim and Muttalib) taking Zakaah, he addressed all of them with the title of Ahlul-Bayt(Sahih Ibn Khuzaaimah)

Yazid Bin Hayyan reported, I went with Husain Bin Sabra and Umar Bin Muslim to Zaid Bin Arqam Radhiyallahu Anhum and, as we sat by his side, Husain Bin Sabra said to him,

“O Zaid, you have been able to acquire great virtue that you saw Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam, listened to his speech, fought by his side in battle and performed Salaah behind him. O Zaid, you have earned great virtue. O Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam.”

He said, “I have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam, so accept whatever I narrate to you, and which I do not narrate, do not compel me of the same.”

He then said, “One day Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam stood up amongst us to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered a sermon wherein he exhorted (us) and said: “O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, will respond to Allah’s call, (would bid farewell to you). 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 exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said, “The second are the members of my household. I remind you (of your duties – he repeated it thrice) to the members of my family.”

He (Husain) said to Zaid, “Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family?” Thereupon he said: “His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.” And he said, “Who are they? Thereupon he said, “Ali and the offspring of ‘Ali, ‘Aqil and the offspring of ‘Aqil and the offspring of Ja’far and the offspring of ‘Abbas Radhiyallahuu Anhum). Husain said, “These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.” Zaid said, “Yes.” (Muslim)