Let us begin first by studying the first possibility to investigate whether it is reliable, reasonable, logical, and to see whether our minds will accept it or not.
The first possibility states that the purified individuals are the wives of Rasulullah (SA) alone. The supporters of this theory build their argument on the basis of the context and structure of the verses in the Qur’an in which the verse of purification was revealed.
They argue that because the verses preceding and following the purification verse were clearly directed to the wives of the Prophet (SA), and since they are the ones being addressed in speech by Allah (SWT), then the purification verse is considered to be part of the monologue that is directed to the wives of Rasulullah (SA).
Because the verses before and after the purification verse are not directed to anyone else, the assumption is made that the wives of the Prophet (SA) are the ones referred to by the purification verse.
The advocates of this hypothesis also support their conclusion by arguing that the meaning of the purification verse makes sense and fits to be the next idea within the context. The reason why is because after directing guidance, orders, and warnings to the wives of the Prophet (SA), Allah (SWT) says to them that His guidance and directions is for the purpose of cleansing and purifying them.
The advocates also support their opinion and attempt to strengthen their argument by indicating that the term “Ahlul-Bayt” which was used in the purification verse, is known in the Arab community at that time to be in reference to the wives of a man. They support this point due to Allah’s words in the Qur’an directed to Sarah, the wife of Prophet Abraham (AS), when she was given glad tidings with the pregnancy of Isaac (AS) and she laughed:
“Do you wonder of Allah’s biddings? The mercy of Allah and His blessings are on you, O People of the house.” [11:73]
So, if Allah (SWT) meant the wife of Abraham when He used the term “Ahlul-Bayt” in this verse, then why couldn’t we use this example and apply it in the case of the purification verse? From this example, the advocates conclude that Allah (SWT) meant the wives of the Prophet (SA) since He used the same term in another verse.
Let us now examine the validity of these arguments that are often raised by the supporters and advocates of the first possibility, who based on these arguments build their beliefs, thinking, and conviction.