Verse of Tat-hir
According to most authentic traditions in collections of
both Sunni and Shia, Ahlul-Bayt (People of the House) of
the Prophet are one of the two most precious Symbols of
Islam after the departure of the Prophet (PBUH&HF).
There are numerous traditions in the collection of both
schools that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) has reminded us to
stick to these two weighty things (al-Thaqalain), namely
Quran and Ahlul-Bayt, in order not to go astray after
him. The Messenger of Allah also informed us that these
two weights are non-separable and are with each other
till the day of Judgment. This requires us that for
understanding the interpretation of Quran and the Sunnah
of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) we should refer to those who
are attached to it, namely Ahlul-Bayt.
Knowing exactly who Ahlul-Bayt are, thus becomes a very
vital matter when one considers the above tradition of
the Prophet (PBUH&HF) as well as many other traditions
which unequivocally state that adherence to Ahlul-Bayt
is the only way of salvation. This clearly implies that
the one who follows a wrong set of Ahlul-Bayt (!!), will
be led astray.
Book of Allah mentions Ahlul-Bayt and their exceptional
virtue in the following verse which is known as
"Purification Verse" (Ayah al-Tat'hir):
"Verily Allah intends to keep off from
you every kind of uncleanness O' People of the House (Ahlul-Bayt),
and purify you with a perfect purification". (Quran, the
last sentence of Verse 33:33)
It is worth mentioning the sentence of Quran in verse
33:33 which is related to purification of Ahlul-Bayt,
has been placed at the middle of verses related to the
wives of the Prophet (PBUH&HF), and this was the main
reason why some Sunnis include the wives of the Prophet
in Ahlul-Bayt. However, the sentence related to
Ahlul-Bayt (given above) distinguishes itself from the
sentences before and after it with a clear distinction.
The sentences before and after, use only feminine gender
which clearly shows they are addressing the wives of the
Prophet (PBUH&HF). However, in contrary, the above
sentence uses only masculine gender which is a clear
indication that that Quran is changing the individuals
who is referring to.
People who are familiar with Quran to some extent, know
that such a sharp change of addressee is not a
weird-thing, and it has been applied to several places
in Quran. For instance we read in Quran:
"O Joseph! pass this over and (O wife of Aziz!) ask
forgiveness for your sin, for truly you have been at
fault." (Quran 12:29)
In the above verse, "O wife of Aziz" has not been
mentioned and the address to Joseph (AS) looks to
continue. However the transition of the address from
masculine gender to feminine gender clearly shows that
the second sentence is addressing the Aziz's wife and
not Prophet Joseph (AS). Notice that both sentences are
WITHIN one verse. Also note the immediate change of
addressing from Aziz's wife to Joseph and again back to
the wife in verses before verse 29 and also WITHIN that
In Arabic language, when a group of women are being
addressed, feminine gender is employed. However, if only
one man exists among that group, masculine gender is
used instead. Thus the above sentence of Quran clearly
shows Allah is referring to a group other than the wives
of the Prophet, using masculine gender, and that group
includes some male members.
However,From the verse 33:33 alone, WE CAN NOT
CONCLUDE that the wives of the Prophet are not
included in Ahlul-Bayt.
What can be understood from the verse ALONE is that
Allah is changing His address (which was exclusively the
wives of the Prophet at the beginning of the verse) to
some people who include some male members, and may or
may not include the wives of the Prophet.
In Sahih Muslim, there is a chapter named "Chapter of
Virtues of the Companions". Inside this chapter, there
is a section called "Section of the Virtues of the
Ahlul-Bayt of the Prophet". There exists ONLY ONE
tradition in this section, and this tradition has no
reference to the wives of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). The
tradition is known as "The Tradition of Cloak/Mantle"
(Hadith al-Kisaa), and is as follows:
One day the Prophet (PBUH&HF) came out afternoon wearing
a black cloak (upper garment or gown; long coat), then
al-Hasan Ibn Ali came and the Prophet accommodated him
under the cloak, then al-Husain came and entered the
cloak, then Fatimah came and the Prophet entered her
under the cloak, then Ali came and the Prophet entered
him to the cloak as well. Then the Prophet recited:
"Verily Allah intends to keep off from you every kind of
uncleanness O' People of the House (Ahlul-Bayt), and
purify you a perfect purification (the last sentence of
Sahih Muslim, Chapter of virtues of companions, section
of the virtues of the Ahlul-Bayt of the Prophet (PBUH&HF),
1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, Arabic version, v4,
p1883, Tradition #61.
Sahih Muslim english version pages 1293/1294 hadith
number #5955 (these hadith can be checked out online too
with online english versions of sahih muslim - ) in
Kitab Fadail al-sahaba
One can see that the author of Sahih Muslim confirms
1- Imam Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husain are the
2- The purification sentence in Quran (the last sentence
of Verse 33:33) was revealed for the virtue of the
above-mentioned individuals, and NOT for the wives of
the Prophet (PBUH&HF).
Muslim (the Author) did not put any other tradition in
this section (section of the virtues of Ahlul-Bayt). If
the author of Sahih Muslim believed that the wives of
the Prophet were included in Ahlul-Bayt, he would have
quoted some traditions about them in this section.
It is interesting to see that Aisha, the wife of the
Prophet (PBUH&HF) is the narrator of the above
tradition, and she herself is testifying that Ahlul-
Bayt are the above-mentioned individuals (i.e., Imam
Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husain, may the blessing
of Allah be upon them all).
Another version of the "Tradition of Cloak" is written
in Sahih al-Tirmidhi, which is narrated in the authority
of Umar Ibn Abi Salama, the son of Umm Salama (another
wife of Prophet), which is as follows:
The verse "Verily Allah intends to ... (33:33)" was
revealed to the Prophet (PBUH&HF) in the house of Umm
Salama. Upon that, the Prophet gathered Fatimah, al-Hasan,
and al-Husain, and covered them with a cloak, and he
also covered Ali who was behind him. Then the Prophet
said: "O' Allah! These are the Members of my House (Ahlul-Bayt).
Keep them away from every impurity and purify them with
a perfect purification." Umm Salama (the wife of
Prophet) asked: "Am I also included among them O Apostle
of Allah?" the Prophet replied: "You remain in your
position and you are toward a good ending."
Sunni reference: Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, pp 351,663
As we see, al-Tirmidhi also confirms that Imam Ali,
Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husain are the Ahlul-Bayt, and
the purification sentence in Quran (the last sentence of
Verse 33:33) was revealed for the virtue of the
above-mentioned individuals, and NOT for the
wives of the Prophet (PBUH&HF).
Also it is apparent from above authentic tradition
that the Prophet himself excluded his wives from
Ahlul-Bayt. If Umm Salama (RA) was among Ahlul-Bayt, why
didn't the Prophet answer her positively? Why didn't he
enter her into the cloak? Why did the Prophet tell her
that she remains in her own position? If the Prophet (PBUH&HF)
would consider Umm Salama among Ahlul-Bayt, he would
surely have entered her to the cloak and would have
prayed for her perfect purity as well.
It is also worth mentioning that the Prophet (PBUH&HF)
did NOT say: "These are among the Members of my House".
He rather said: "These are THE Members of my House"
since there was no other member of Ahlul-Bayt who was
alive at the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). Also notice
that Umm Salama (RA) who is the virtuous wife of the
Prophet is the narrator of the tradition to his son and
gives the testimony that who Ahlul-Bayt are.
In the tradition of al-Hakim the wording the last
question and answer is as follows:
Umm Salama said: "O Prophet of Allah! Am I not one of
the members of your family?" The Holy Prophet replied:
"You have a good future but only these are the
members of my family. O Lord! The members of my
family are more deserving."
Sunni reference: al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v2, p416
Also the wording reported by al-Suyuti and Ibn al-Athir
is as follows:
Umm Salama said to the Holy Prophet: "Am I also one of
them?" He replied: " No. You have your own
special position and your future is good."
- Usdul Ghabah, by Ibn al-Athir, v2, p289
- Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti, v5, p198
Also al-Tabari quotes Umm Salama saying:
I said, "O Prophet of Allah! Am I not
also one of your Ahlul-Bayt?" I swear by the Almighty
that the Holy Prophet did NOT grant me any distinction
and said: "You have a good future."
Sunni reference: Tafsir al-Tabari, v22, p7 under the
commentary of verse 33:33
Beside Sahih Muslim and Sahih al-Tirmidhi from which we
quoted the Tradition of Cloak on the authority of Aisha
and Umm Salama respectively, below are more Sunni
references of the Tradition of Cloak who reported both
versions of the traditions:
(3) Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v6, pp 323,292,298; v1, pp
330-331; v3, p252;v4, p107 from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri
(4) Fadha'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p578,
(5) al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v2, p416 (two traditions)
from Ibn AbiSalama, v3, pp 146-148 (five traditions), pp
(6) al-Khasa'is, by an-Nisa'i, pp 4,8
(7) al-Sunan, by al-Bayhaqi, narrated from Aisha and Umm
(8) Tafsir al-Kabir, by al-Bukhari (the author of Sahih),
v1, part 2, p69
(9) Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v2, p700
(Istanbul), from Aisha
(10) Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti, v5, pp
198,605 from Aisha and Umm Salama
(11) Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, v22, pp 5-8 (from Aisha
and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri), pp 6,8 (from Ibn Abi Salama)
(12) Tafsir al-Qurtubi, under the commentary of verse
33:33 from Umm Salama
(13) Tafsir Ibn Kathir, v3, p485 (Complete version) from
Aisha and Umar Ibn Abi Salama
(14) Usdul Ghabah, by Ibn al-Athir, v2, p12; v4, p79
narrated from Ibn Abi Salama
(15) Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch.
11, sec. 1, p221 from Umm Salama
(16) Tarikh, by al-Khateeb Baghdadi, v10, narrated from
Ibn Abi Salama
(17) Tafsir al-Kashshaf, by al-Zamakhshari, v1, p193
narrated from Aisha
(18) Mushkil al-Athar, by al-Tahawi, v1, pp 332-336
(19) Dhakha'ir al-Uqba, by Muhibb al-Tabari, pp21-26,
from Abu Sa'id Khudri
(20) Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami, v9, p166 (by
... and more ...
Here is another authentic variation of "The Tradition of
Cloak" which is related to Safiyya who was another wife
of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). Ja'far Ibn Abi Talib narrated:
When the Messenger of Allah noticed that
a blessing from Allah was to descent, he told Safiyya
(one of his wives): "Call for me! Call for me!" Safiyya
said: "Call who, O the Messenger of Allah?" He said:
"Call for me my Ahlul-Bayt who are Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan,
and al-Husain." Thus we sent for them and they came to
him. Then the Prophet (PBUH&HF) spread his cloak over
them, and raised his hand (toward sky) saying: "O Allah!
These are my family (Aalee), so bless Muhammad and the
family (Aal) of Muhammad." And Allah, to whom belong
Might and Majesty, revealed: "Verily Allah intends to
keep off from you every kind of uncleanness O' People of
the House (Ahlul-Bayt), and purify you a thorough
purification (Quran, the last sentence of Verse 33:33)".
- al-Mustadrak by al-Hakim, Chapter of "Understanding
(the virtues) of Companions, v3, p148. The author then
wrote: "This tradition is authentic (Sahih) based on the
criteria of the two Shaikhs (al-Bukhari and Muslim)."
- Talkhis of al-Mustadrak, by al-Dhahabi, v3, p148
- Usdul Ghabah, by Ibn al-Athir, v3, p33
Although the majority of traditions on this issue show
that the last sentence of the verse 33:33 was revealed
in the house of Umm Salama (as quoted earlier), the
above tradition implies that it might have been revealed
in the house of Safiyya. Based on the opinion of the
Sunni scholars including Ibn Hajar, it is quite possible
that the verse was revealed more than once. In each
occasion, the Prophet repeated his action in front of
different wives so that they all realize who his
The testimony of three wives of the Prophet (Aisha, Umm
Salama, and Safiyya) leaves us no room but to believe
that the Ahlul-Bayt at the time of the Prophet were no
more than five individuals: Prophet Muhammad, Lady
Fatimah, Imam Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husain (Peace be
upon them all).
The fact that the gender in later part of Verse 33:33 is
switched from feminine to masculine, has led the
majority of Sunni commentators to believe that the last
part was revealed for Imam Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and
al-Husain, as Ibn Hajar al-Haythami indicated:
Based on the opinion of the majority of (Sunni)
commentators, the saying of Allah :"Verily Allah
intends to ... (the last sentence of the verse 33:33)"
was revealed for Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husain,
because of the usage of masculine gender in the word "Ankum"
and after that.
Sunni reference: al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar,
Ch. 11, section 1, p220
I could go on and on... but i hope this much is
sufficient for now.
Oh Allah, shower your Peace & Blessings on Muhammed &
the Purified Progeny of Muhammed.