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Definition of the Ahlul Bayt – Part 1

Oct 11, 2021

Virtues of the Ahlul Bayt
Each day we will first take a look at some of the virtues of the Ahlul Bayt.

When the scholars would pen down any book about beliefs, hadith, or history, they would make it a point to narrate the virtues of the Ahlul Bayt citing it as an integral part of faith. Those that truly love the Ahlul Bayt are sure to follow their way; the way of Rasulullah ﷺ.

Wathilah bin Asqa’ radiyallahu ‘anhu reports that he heard Rasulullah ﷺ saying:

إن الله اصطفى كنانة من ولد إسماعيل ، واصطفى قريشا من كنانة ، واصطفى من قريش بني هاشم ، واصطفاني من بني هاشم
I heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying: Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinanah from amongst the descendants of Isma’il (AS), and he granted eminence to the Quraysh amongst Kinanah, and he granted eminence to Banu Hashim amongst the Quraysh, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim. [Sahih Muslim]

By granting eminence to Rasulullah ﷺ Allah Ta`ala has, by extension, granted the eminence to the Ahlul Bayt. Conviction of this forms part of one’s faith in Allah.

Definition of the Ahlul Bayt
There has been much confusion over the definition and the inclusion of the word Ahlul Bayt. It is thus imperative that we first try to understand this term, Ahlul Bayt, as without doubt, understanding terminology contained in the Qur’an and Ahadeeth is the key to comprehending the very purpose and meaning of these texts. Likewise, establishing the meaning of ‘Islamic Terms’ by delving deep into their original implications remains the first and foremost step to setting up the base of any purposeful discussion.

Word (Ahl):
Linguists agree that the Ahl of a man includes his wife and people who are most special to him. Khalil ibn Ahmad (d.175A.H.) wrote in his book Kitab al-‘Ayn: “the Ahl of a man are his wife and the people who are most special to him.

The scholars have thus deduced that the Ahl of a man are those who are connected with him in lineage, or religion or those who are connected to him in terms of industry, home and country. Hence, originally the Ahl of the man were those who shared with him the same home, then they moved on to saying that it was those connected with him in lineage; and this term Ahl-al-Bait was generally known within the family of the Prophet ﷺ .

The generalization that the term exceeds that and includes those who are connected with the man in lineage, the evidence for that in the Noble Qur’an is the saying of the Prophet Mûsa عليه السلام:

وَٱجْعَل لِّى وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِى
“And appoint for me a helper from my family”. [At Taha 20: 29] He meant his brother Harûn.

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