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Family of the Prophets in the Holy Quran – Part 4

The word Ahl when used with Bait

The Ahl is very often used with the word Bait, but what exactly does this mean?

The term Ahl-al-Bait (people of home) consists of two separate words: “Al-Ahl” and “Al-Bait”, while both of these terms are clear and unambiguous in their independent meanings; they assume a range of meanings when combined together, especially when the word “Ahl” is added either to “Bait” or to an individual owning a “Bait” (House).

What is then meant by this term (Ahl-al-Bait), and who are intended by this term?

Scholars have presented three different views about the intended meanings, especially when the term “Ahl”, is added to “Bait” or to a “Person”:

  1. It includes all those who have ‘kinship or a strong relationship’ with the person (owner) of the house (Bait) or the house itself.
  2. It exclusively connotes the wives (of the owner of the house).
  3. It exclusively connotes the children (of the owner of the house).

The latter two opinions are uncommon and contradicting to the texts of the Qur’an and the Ahaadith of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), because in the Qur’an this term (Ahl) has been used for both: the wives and the children, as Allah says about Musa (peace be upon him).

فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ مُوسَى ٱلْأَجَلَ وَسَارَ بِأَهْلِهِۦٓ ءَانَسَ مِن جَانِبِ ٱلطُّورِ نَارًا قَالَ لِأَهْلِهِ ٱمْكُثُوٓا۟ إِنِّىٓ ءَانَسْتُ نَارًا لَّعَلِّىٓ ءَاتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جَذْوَةٍ مِّنَ ٱلنَّارِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ

After completing the term of his agreement, when Musa was travelling with his family, he saw a fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He said to his family: “Stay here, I saw a fire, I hope to bring some information from there or a lighted torch with which you may warm yourselves.” [Al Qasas 28: 29]

In above verse it refers to the wife of Musa (peace be upon him).

The word “Ahl” has also been used in reference to the children in the Qur’an, as Allah says, informing about Nuh (peace be upon him):

وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُۥ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ٱبْنِى مِنْ أَهْلِى وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ ٱلْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ ٱلْحَـٰكِمِينَ

“Verily, my son is of my family (Ahl)! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges.” [Hud 11: 45]

As is understood by the use of this term (Ahl) in the cardinal sources (Qur’an and Sunnah), it can be said that the term ‘Ahl’ when used in combination with ‘Bait’, i.e. in Ahlal-Bait, begets a meaning that refers to three different households, which are:

  • The Household (Bait) of Lineage.
  • The Household (Bait) of Residence.
  • The Household (Bait) of Birth.

Tomorrow we will in sha Allah conclude this angle of discussions by taking a look at Qarabah and Ashirah. Thereafter we will discuss the Ambiyaa AS and their family relationships.

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