Understanding the word Ahl
Linguists agree that the Ahl of the man includes: his wife and people who are most special to him.
Khalil ibn Ahmad wrote in his book Kitab al-‘Ayn: “the Ahl of the man are his wife and people who are most special to him.
Many other scholars have transmitted the same meaning and have even included it in their works and books.
Al-Raghib al-Asbahani said: “The Ahl of the 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.
As for the case presented that the original form of the “Ahl of the man” includes his wife, the evidences are numerous in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah.
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 Mûsa (peace be upon him):
وَٱجْعَل لِّى وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِى
“And appoint for me a helper from my family”. [Taha 20: 29]
He meant his brother Harûn (peace be upon him).
For the phrase to encompass those with the link of faith, its evidence is the saying of Allah about Nûh (peace be upon him) and his son:
وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُۥ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ٱبْنِى مِنْ أَهْلِى وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ ٱلْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ ٱلْحَـٰكِمِينَ
قَالَ يَـٰنُوحُ إِنَّهُۥ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَـٰلِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْـَٔلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِۦ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّىٓ أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلْجَـٰهِلِينَ
And Nûh called upon his Lord and said, “O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges.” He said: “O Nûh! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I admonish you, lest you be among the ignorant.” [Hud 11: 45, 46]
And that which was reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih from Wathilah ibn al-Asqa‘ he said: I asked for ‘Ali in his house and I was told: He went to bring the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and all of a sudden he came, thus the Messenger entered and I went inside. The Messenger sat on the bed and made Fatimah to sit on his right, ‘Ali on his left and Hasan and Hussain before him and recited:
نَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. [Al Ahzab 33: 33]
(The narration continues 🙂 O Allah! These are my Ahl. Wathilah said: O Messenger of Allah! Am I from your Ahl? He said: “You are from my Ahl”. Wathilah said: Indeed this is the most I could wish for.” [Sahih Ibn Hibban].
Tomorrow we will in sha Allah take a look at the word Ahl when linked to Bait as this is a very common usage of the word.