Ahl-ul-Bayt: To honor and respect Rasoolullahﷺ and his family
Who are the Ahl-ul-Bayt of Rasoolullahﷺ? The family of Rasoolullahﷺ are all his wives, all his children, Banu Hashim, Banu ‘Abd al-Muttalib and their freed slaves. This is the view of all scholars of Islam from the earliest times, starting with the Sahaba. https://islamqa.info/en/10055
Allah addressed the wives of Rasoolullahﷺ and mentioned them as people who are special and unlike the rest of the Ummah. He didn’t address any one of them. He didn’t omit any of them. He addressed them all and honored them all. That is our Aqeeda. We honor all those who Allah honored and Rasoolullahﷺ loved.
يَا نِسَاء النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِّنَ النِّسَاء إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا
وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلَى فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ لَطِيفًا خَبِيرًا
Al-Ahzaab 33:32-34 O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire) should be moved with desire but speak in an honorable manner. And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and establish As-Salât (Iqamâtas Salât), and give Zakât and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of Rasoolullahﷺ), and to purify you with a thorough purification. And remember (O you the members of Rasoolullahﷺ’s family, the Graces of your Rabb), that which is recited in your houses of the Ayaat of Allah and Al-Hikmah (Sunnah). Verily, Allah is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things
Ibn Jarir narrated that Safiyyah bint Shaybah (RA) said, “Aishah (RA) said, “Rasoolullahﷺ went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of black camel hair. Al-Hasan (R) came, and Rasoolullahﷺ wrapped him in the cloak with him. Then Al-Husain (R) came, and he wrapped him in the cloak with him. Then Fatimah (RA) came, and Rasoolullahﷺ wrapped her in the cloak with him. Then Ali bin Abi-Talib (R) came, and he wrapped him in the cloak with him, then he recited Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family of the Prophet and to purify you with a thorough purification. [Muslim; Tafsir At-Tabari]
What must be remembered when reading this Hadith or when someone quotes this Hadith trying to establish a special status for some of the family of Rasoolullahﷺ over others, is that at the time of this incident, Fatima (RA) was the only daughter who lived with him. His other daughters and sons had either passed away or were not there. What Rasoolullahﷺ did was an act of love for those of his family who were with him. Not an act of selecting some from them and leaving out others.
In the Qur’an, the only people from the family of Rasoolullahﷺ directly addressed are the Mothers of the Believers; the Blessed wives of Rasoolullahﷺ. We honor all the Ahl-ul-Bayt but in the order that Allah honored them. We don’t honor some of them and revile others. We don’t honor some of them more than others. The wives of Rasoolullahﷺ are our mothers as Allah gave them that status. So, we honor them first. Then others, in the Ahl-ul-Bayt. Allah honored the wives of Rasoolullahﷺ equally and called them ‘Ummahatul Mu’mineen’ (Mothers of the Believers) and so we do the same and honor all the wives of Rasoolullahﷺ.
النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ
Ahzab 33: 6. The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage).
The Sahaba always tried to be as close to Rasoolullahﷺ as they could, in every way. Abu Bakr Siddique (R) was the father-in-law of Rasoolullahﷺ as was Omar ibn Al Khattab (R). Othman ibn Affan (R) and Ali bin Abi Talib (R) were both his sons in law. Othman ibn Affan (R) was his son in law twice. Rasoolullahﷺ had three sons and four daughters. His children in chronological order: Qasim ibn Muhammad, (598 – 600 or 601 CE), Zainab bint Muhammad, (599 – 630 CE), Ruqayyah bint Muhammad, (601 – 624 CE), Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, (603 – 630 CE), Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad, also known as Tahir and Tayyab, (d. 615 CE), Fatimah bint Muhammad, (ca. 604 – 632 CE), Ibrahim ibn Muhammad, (630 – 631 CE).
In respect of the Sahaba in general and the family of Rasoolullahﷺ in particular, we consider all of them the first and foremost in status among the Muslims, because we have our Deen thanks to them. We consider them all to be Thiqa (completely reliable) in all that they conveyed. We don’t doubt them, we don’t cast aspersions on them, or criticize them, and we definitely don’t abuse them. We consider anyone who abuses the Khulafa Rashida, the Sahaba or the family of Rasoolullahﷺ to have exited Islam.
With respect to Sayyidatuna Ummuna Ayesha Siddiqa (RA) our mother, the matter is even more serious. Let me tell you what we know from the Qur’an and Sunnah about a very important incident in the Seerah of Rasoolullahﷺ.
This incident is also called as the incident of IFK (false allegation) in Qur’an and Hadith. The Word IFK means the ‘worst type of lie, allegation or slander.’ The incident is as follows: Ayesha (RA) once accompanied Rasoolullahﷺ on a campaign and was travelling with his army. She was traveling in a covered howdah on a camel. At one place she dismounted to attend to her needs and went a good way away from the troops she was traveling with. While she was away, her necklace broke, and the beads scattered. She got busy searching for the beads. Then she sat under a tree and fell asleep. When she woke up and went to where the caravan had been camped, she discovered that they had left without her. As I mentioned, she was traveling in a covered howdah and the camel driver didn’t realize that she was not in the howdah. She didn’t know what to do and simply sat by the wayside in the shade of a tree. Safwan bin Mu`attal (R), who had been travelling separately happened to get to the same place where she was and seeing her stranded, brought his camel and made it kneel so that she could ride upon it. Ayesha (RA) says that he didn’t even look at her. He simply led the camel and walked all the way back to Madina, until they caught up with the army. Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, the leader of the hypocrites, used this incident to spread rumors of evil doing against Ayesha (RA) and Safwan bin Mu’attal (R) his real target being Rasoolullahﷺ and Abu Bakr (R) who he wanted to hurt. He fabricated the lie and whispered it to others, until some of the Muslims started to believe it, and began to talk about their suspicions. [Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3]
For a long time, Ayesha (RA) was not aware of the slander that had been started by Abdullah b. Ubay and was spread by Hassan b. Thabit, Mistah b. Uthatha, Hamna bint Jahsh and some gullible Muslims who were deceived by the munafiqs. Sayyida Ayesha (RA) narrates the incident as follows: “When we arrived in Madinah, I fell ill with a fever for a whole month. The inhabitants of Madinah were all talking about the slander, but I did not know anything about it. Rasoolullahﷺ and my parents had also heard about it, but they did not say anything to me about it. However, I was doubtful because I did not see the tenderness, that I used to see from Rasoolullahﷺ while I was sick. My mother Umm Ruman (RA) was taking care of me. He would enter and ask, “How is the patient?” Then, he would leave. I did not know anything about what the slanderers had uttered.” [Sahih Muslim, Vol. 8]
Ayesha (RA) continues: ‘More than twenty nights had passed after my illness. I had got over the illness and I was in the period of recuperation. We did not have toilets next to our houses like non-Arabs did due to the stink. We went outside the city of Madinah to answer the call of the nature. Women went there every night to relieve themselves. One night, I went out with the mother of Mistah b. Uthatha to Manasi to relieve ourselves. Umm Mistah fell by stepping on her covering, she said, ‘May Mistah fall,’ or ‘Damn Mistah!’ I said, ‘O Umm Mistah! How can you curse your son? He was at the Battle of Badr?’ Umm Mistah kept silent. She did not answer me. She tripped for the second time. She said, ‘‘May Mistah fall,’ or ‘Damn Mistah!’ I said, ‘O Umm Mistah! Why do you curse your son?’ She kept silent again. She tripped for the third time and cursed, ‘May Mistah fall.’ I said, ‘O Umm Mistah! Why do you curse your son? How can you curse a person who was present in the Battle of Badr? She replied, ‘I curse him due to what he said against you.’
I asked, ‘What did he say about me?’ Thereupon, Umm Mistah told me what the slanderers had said. I became extremely ill. I could not even relieve myself and returned home. I cried so much that I thought my lungs would break into pieces. My mother came to look after me. One day, Rasoolullahﷺ entered the house, said Salaam, and asked my mother, “How is your patient?” without mentioning my name. He did not say anything else.
Ayesha (RA) said, ‘(Thereupon) I could not help saying, ‘Ya Rasoolullahﷺ! I have been suffering so much. Will you let me go to my mother’s house? I can be looked after there.’ Rasoolullahﷺ said, ‘You may go!’
‘I wanted to go to my parents and find out about the news against me. Rasoolullahﷺ sent me to my father’s house with a servant. My mother asked, ‘O my daughter! Why did you come?’ I said, ‘Mother! People have been talking against me, but you did not mention anything to me.’ She said, ‘My daughter, take it easy. By Allah when one wife is very beloved to her husband, co-wives talk about her out of jealousy.’ I asked, ‘Does my father know about it?’ She said, ‘Yes, he does.’ I asked, ‘Does Rasoolullahﷺ know about it?’ She said, ‘Yes, he does.’ I started weeping.’ My father was reading the Quran upstairs. When he heard my voice, he came downstairs. He asked my mother, ‘What is wrong with her?’ My mother said, ‘She heard about the rumors.’ My father started to cry too. I cried and cried all night, until the morning came, and my tears did not stop, and I did not taste the sweetness of sleep. [Ibn Hisham, Vol. 3, Muslim, Vol. 8. Tirmidhi, Vol. 5]
The people who were foremost in the slander were, Abdullah bin Ubayy (who invented the lie), Zaid bin Rifa’ah (who was probably the son of Rifa’ah bin Zaid, the Jewish hypocrite), Mistah bin Uthathah, Hassan bin Thabit.
Rasoolullahﷺ even went on the Minbar and said, “O! gathering of Muslims! Who will help me against a person who has hurt me with slander about my wife? By Allah, I only know good about my wife. And they have mentioned a man with her concerning whom I only know good as well.” Although a month had passed, there was no revelation about this incident to Rasoolullahﷺ. A few days later Rasoolullahﷺ went to Abu Bakr Siddiq (R)’s house. He sat next to Ayesha (RA) and said,“O Ayesha! I have heard such and such about you. If you are free from those accusations, Allah will state that you are free from them. If you have committed such a sin, ask forgiveness from Allah and repent to Him. When a slave confesses his/her sin and repents, Allah treats him/her with mercy.”
Ayesha (RA) said, ‘When Rasoolullahﷺ stopped speaking my tears dried up. I turned to my father and said to him, ‘Answer Rasoolullahﷺ on my behalf.’ My father said, ‘O my daughter! By Allah, I do not know what to say to Rasoolullahﷺ.’ Then, I turned to my mother and said to her, ‘Answer Rasoolullahﷺ on my behalf.’ And she said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to Rasoolullahﷺ either.’ [Muslim, Vol. 8, Musnad Ahmad Vol. 6]
When even her parents didn’t speak for her, Ayesha (RA) recited the Shahada, praised Allah and said, “By Allah, I know that you have heard these rumors, and you look as if you have believed them. So, if I were to tell you that I am not guilty, – Allah knows that I am not – you would not believe me. And if I were to tell you I did something bad, – God knows that I did not – you would readily believe me! So, all I can say to you for my and your situation is the story of Yaqub (AS) with his sons. At that time, he said:
فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ وَٱللَّهُ ٱلْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
Yusuf 12: 18 So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert. [Muslim, Vol. 8]
Just then Allah sent His Wahi to Rasoolullahﷺ right there. Ayesha (RA) says, ‘Rasoolullahﷺ showed the signs of receiving Wahi (Revelation of the Qur’an). He used to sweat because of the difficulty and intensity of the Wahi. When he was receiving Revelation, he would have beads of perspiration like pearls even on a winter day. They covered Rasoolullahﷺ with a blanket and put a pillow under his head. I was neither afraid nor worried. I knew that I was innocent and that Allah would not treat me unjustly. My parents were very scared because they were worried that the rumors would be confirmed by Allah.’
When the Revelation ended, Rasoolullahﷺ was smiling happily. He said to Ayesha (RA), “Glad tidings O Ayesha! Allah acquitted you and stated that you are free and away from that slander.” (Muslim, Vol. 8).
Allah revealed the Ayaat of Sura Noor and said:
لَّوْلَآ إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ ظَنَّ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتُ بِأَنفُسِهِمْ خَيْرًا وَقَالُوا۟ هَـٰذَآ إِفْكٌ مُّبِينٌ
لَّوْلَا جَآءُو عَلَيْهِ بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَآءَ فَإِذْ لَمْ يَأْتُوا۟ بِٱلشُّهَدَآءِ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ هُمُ ٱلْكَـٰذِبُونَ
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُۥ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِى مَآ أَفَضْتُمْ فِيهِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
إِذْ تَلَقَّوْنَهُۥ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُم مَّا لَيْسَ لَكُم بِهِۦ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُۥ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ
وَلَوْلَآ إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ قُلْتُم مَّا يَكُونُ لَنَآ أَن نَّتَكَلَّمَ بِهَـٰذَا سُبْحَـٰنَكَ هَـٰذَا بُهْتَـٰنٌ عَظِيمٌ
يَعِظُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ أَن تَعُودُوا۟ لِمِثْلِهِۦٓ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
يَعِظُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ أَن تَعُودُوا۟ لِمِثْلِهِۦٓ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
وَيُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةُ فِى ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُۥ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
Noor 24: 12 – 20 Why then, did not the believers, men, and women, when you heard it (the slander) think good of their own people and say: This (charge) is an obvious lie? Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they (the slanderers) have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars. Had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter, a great torment would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken. When you were propagating it with your tongues and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it as a little thing, while with Allah it was very great. And why did you not, when you heard it, say, “It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allah) this is a great lie.” Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever if you are believers. And Allah makes the Ayat (signs, revelations) plain to you, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. Verily, those who like that (the crime of) adultery should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not. And had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy on you, (Allah would have hastened the punishment upon you). And that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful.
When these Ayaat had been revealed the parents of Ayesha (RA), Abu Bakr (R) and Umm Ruman (RA) told her to thank Rasoolullahﷺ. She refused and said, ‘I will thank Allah because it is Allah who declared my innocence.’ This shows the spirit of Sayyida Ayesha (RA) which makes her such a remarkable person, to whom we owe so much in our religion. She was a scholar, a jurist, and above all, a person totally connected to Allah. That is why when she called upon Allah, He heard her and answered her.
While this incident was very difficult and painful, it represents much good. Firstly, the Muslims learnt experientially the danger of rumors and how they can divide the community and sow discord and suspicion. Secondly, very strict laws were put in place to protect the innocent from slander and punish slanderers. The punishment for someone who accuses a chaste person of adultery and is unable to produce four independent eyewitnesses, is to receive eighty lashes and be declared to be liars for the rest of their lives, their testimony inadmissible in court. Thirdly, the innocence of Sayyida Ayesha (RA) was categorically established for all time by the Word of Allah being revealed in support of her innocence. Those who claim that women are discriminated against in Islam, should ponder on this incident.
Allah declared and warned slanderers:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ ٱلْمُحْصَنَـٰتِ ٱلْغَـٰفِلَـٰتِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ لُعِنُوا۟ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ
يَوْمَئِذٍ يُوَفِّيهِمُ ٱللَّهُ دِينَهُمُ ٱلْحَقَّ وَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلْحَقُّ ٱلْمُبِينُ
Noor 24: 23-25 Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment, on the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their legs or feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do. On that Day Allah will pay them the recompense of their deeds in full, and they will know that Allah, He is the Manifest Truth.
This is the reason why anyone who accuses Sayyida Ayesha (RA) of wrongdoing must reflect on what that accusation means. It means that this person is denying not one word of the Qur’an which alone is enough to render one out of Islam, but he is denying eleven Ayaat. That is why our belief as the Ahlus Sunnah is that anyone accusing or cursing Ayesha (RA) has committed Kufr and has left Islam.
Finally, there was another aspect of goodness in this also. The Muslims came to understand fully that Rasoolullahﷺ had no knowledge of Al-Ghayb (Unperceivable) except what Allah taught him. Beside that his knowledge was like that of anyone else. For one full month he remained in great anxiety regarding Ayesha (RA). He would sometimes make enquiries from the maidservant, sometimes from his other wives, and sometimes from Ali bin Abi Talib (R) and Usama bin Zaid (R). At last, when he spoke to Ayesha (RA) he only said to her, “If you have committed the sin, you should repent, and if you are innocent, I expect that Allah will declare your innocence.” Had he possessed any knowledge of Al-Ghayb (Unperceivable), he would not have felt so upset. Nor would he have made enquiries, nor counselled repentance. It was only when he received the Divine Message from Allah, did he know the truth that Ayesha (RA) was innocent. This is how Allah arranged to safeguard the Muslims, through direct experience and observation, against exaggerated notions in which people generally get involved regarding their religious leaders on account of blind faith. Perhaps this was the reason why Allah withheld Revelation for a month because if Revelation had been sent down on the very first day, it could not have had this beneficial effect.
I remind myself and you that the Sahaba of Rasoolullahﷺ were very special people and among them the Ahlul Bayt – the household of Rasoolullahﷺ – have the highest status. That is why it is important to study the Seerah of Rasoolullahﷺ and his Sahaba and understand the beauty of Islam from a very fundamental, practical perspective, which we can apply in our lives.