This text presents a brief commentary for the valuable and well-known Hadith Al Kisaa’ that is commonly narrated by all schools of thought. The author, Jerrmein Abu Shahba, attempts to analyze each event and statement in this authentic tradition in order to extract the obvious and latent meanings and better appreciate its significance which marked the revelation of the Purification Verse (Ayat At-Tatheer) in honor of the purified AhlulBayt of the Holy Prophet (SA).
The Tradition of the Cloak (Hadeeth Al Kisaa) is an authentic and frequently narrated (Mutawatir) tradition that has been cited by recognized Islamic sources in the major schools of thoughts in Islam in the books of exegesis, tradition, and history. The Tradition of the Cloak is further validated by its agreement and consistency with the Holy Qur’an and its teachings, direction, and essence.
No one can deny or doubt that this great tradition came to us from the Holy Prophet (SA) in honor of his purified Household (AhlulBayt). There are slight variations in the way that this tradition is relayed; however, the core of the tradition in its meaning and essence is the same. The significance behind this event points to the fact that the Prophet (SA) intended to apply the verse of Purification (Ayat Al Tat-heer) on these holy personalities under the cloak, as he aimed to confirm that they are the ones meant and intended in the holy verse and not anyone else.
Some of us hear this tradition being recited in gatherings at the mosque or at the commencement of Islamic programs. But do we all recognize and fully understand the obvious and latent meanings behind the details of this of this great event? We take this opportunity to begin in the name of Allah (SWT) in an attempt to shed the spotlight on this beautiful narration with the hope of extracting some jewels of lessons for our benefit and the benefit of our fellow believers.
Before we delve in the analysis of this narration, let us first survey the Islamic books to gain or increase our level of confidence regarding the authenticity of Hadeeth Al Kisaa. As mentioned, both schools of thought in Islam have related the Tradition of the Cloak in the major books of narration. There are countless sources and references to support that; however for the sake of brevity, we will only cite a handful of examples to demonstrate the recurrence of this tradition.
Minhaaj Al Sunnah – Volume 3, page 3; Sahih Tirmidhi – Volume 5, page 351, Hadeeth # 3105; Hakim Al Nisapouri (Mustadrak Al Sahihain) – Volume 3, page 146); Sahih Muslim – Volume 4, page 1883, Hadeeth # 2424; Masnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal – Volume 6, page 292
The Tradition of the Cloak has been narrated by various individuals and examples of the sources for each of these narrators are:
Narrator: Ibn Abbas
Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Al Masnad) – Volume 1, page 331; Ibn Abi ‘Asem (Al Sunnah) – Volume 2, page 602, Hadeeth 1351; Al Nisaai (Al Sunan Al Kubra) – Volume 5, page 112, Hadeeth 8409; Al Tabrani (Mu’jam Al Kabir) – Volume 12, page 77, Hadeeth # 12593; Al Hakim (Al Mustadrak) – Volume 3, page 133
Narrator: A’yesha bint Abi Bakr
Ibn Abi Shayba (Al Mussanaf) – Volume 6, page 373, Hadeeth # 32093; Muslim (Al Jame’a Al Sahih) – Volume 2, page 283, Hadeeth 2424; Al Hakim (Al Mustadrak) – Volume 3, page 147
Narrator: Abu Sa’eed Al Khidr
Ibn A’saker (Tarikh) – Volume 14, page 146, Hadeeth # 3459; Ibn Jareer Al Tabari (Jame’a Al Bayaan) – Volume 22, page 9, Hadeeth # 21727
Narrator: Umm Salama
Abu Al Shaykh (Tabaqaat Al Muhaditheen) – Volume 4, page 149, Hadeeth # 915; Al Khatib (Al Mutafaq Wal Muftaraq) – Volume 2, page 11588, Hadeeth # 723; Ibn A’saker (Tarikh) – Volume 42, page 136, Hadeeth # 8518
Abdullah ibn Ja'far Al Tayyar
Abu Bakr Al Bazaar (Al Masnad) – Volume 6, page 210, Hadeeth # 2251; Abu Abdullah Al Hakim (Al Mustadrak) – Volume 3, page 148, Hadeeth # 4709
Narrator: Anas ibn Malik
Ibn Hanbal (Al Masnad) – Volume 3, page 259, 285; Tirmidhi (Al Jame’a Al Sahih) – Volume 5, page 142, Hadeeth # 3217; Tabari (Jame’a Al Bayan) – Volume 22, page 5
• Allamah Al Azizi: “The term ‘AhlulBayt’ refers to Ali, Fatima Al Zahra, and their progeny”. Source: Al Seraj Al Muneer Volume 1, page 46
• Fakhr Al Razi: “There is no doubt that Fatima, Ali, Hasan, and Husain had a special relationship with the Prophet (SA) and was attached to him, and this is apparent according to the recurrent narration, hence they must be the ones referred to as “Ahl”.
• Ibn Hajar Al Makki: “The Verse of Purification (33:33) according to most exegesists was revealed in regards to Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain.” Source: Sawa’eq Al Muhreqa, pg. 220
عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري
The Tradition of the Cloak has been narrated by the tongue of one of the very close and pious companions of the Holy Prophet (SA), Jabir ibn Abdullah Al Ansari, as related by many sources of the School of AhlulBayt, e.g. Sheikh Al Bahrani in his book A’walem Al Uloom. Jabir narrates this important incident through the tongue of the Master Lady of the Universe, Fatima Al Zahra (AS). It is imperative to familiarize ourselves with the character of this noble companion as he is the main narrator of this well-known and important tradition. It is commonly agreed that the higher the level of trust and degree of confidence we gain in the narrator, the higher is the confidence we will have in the tradition relayed by that narrator.
Who exactly is Jabir ibn Abdullah Al Ansari and what is notable about him?
He was the son of 'Amru` b. Huzam al-Ansa`ri al-Khazraji. He devoted his life to the members of the House of the Prophet (SA). He was the last survival among the Companions of the Prophet (SA) and he was a prominent companion of Imam Al Baqir (AS). He is unique in that he had the honor of delivering the greetings of the Prophet (SA) to his grandson Imam Al Baqir (AS).
Jabir took part in eighteen campaigns headed by the Prophet and fought in the Battle of Siffeen headed by the Commander of the faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). Jabir loved Ali (AS) very much and he was very obedient to the members of the House (AhlulBayt). He would walk through the streets of Medina and say: "'Ali is the best of all mankind. Whoever denies that is an unbeliever. O People of Ansar, educate your children to love Ali."
In testimony to the piety of Jabir ibn Abdullah Al Ansari, Imam Al-Sadiq (AS) reported on the authority of his grandfathers, “Allah revealed this verse:
‘Say I demand not, of you any reward for it (the toils of preaching) except the love of my relations.’” (42:22)
Then the Prophet (SA) rose and said: 'A right for me has been imposed on you. Will you pay it to me?' No one answered him, so he went away. On the following day, he stood up and asked the same question. No one answered him, so he left them and went away. On the third day, he also asked the same question. Then he explained: 'The right is neither gold nor silver nor food nor a drink.'
'Therefore, say it,' they demanded. 'Allah has revealed these Words of His: 'Say I demand not, of you any reward for it (the toils of preaching) except the love of my relations.' 'This is the best right,' they said" Then Imam Al Sadiq (AS) remarked: "By Allah, no one was loyal to this right except seven persons. They are Salman, Abu Dharr, Ammar, al-Muqdad ibn Al-Aswad, Jabir ibn 'Abdullah al-Ansari, the retainer of Allah's Apostle (SA), and Zayd ibn Arqam.
The Prophet (SA) asked Allah (SWT) twenty-five times to forgive Ja`bir. He died at the age of ninety-four.
Recognizing the great status of the noble companion Jabir ibn Abdullah Al Ansari, we can now understand why he was honored to narrate the famous Hadeeth Al Kisaa which will resonate in the ears of all Muslims till the end of time.
عن فاطمة الزهراء ( عليها السَّلام ) بنت رسول الله ( صلَّى الله عليه و آله )
Jabir ibn Abdullah Al Ansari, the trustworthy companion of the Holy Prophet (SA) narrates Hadeeth Al Kisaa directly from the pure tongue of the Master Lady of the Universe, Lady Fatima Al Zahra, the beloved daughter of the Seal of Messengers. Her esteemed status and immaculate personality cannot be questioned and is not in need for introduction. Her infallibility and purity has been demonstrated in countless occasions in history such as the Event of Mubahala, and in many verses in the Qur’an such as the Verse of Qurba (42:22), Surat Al Insaan, and Surat Al Kawthar. Since she is the narrator of this tradition and knowing her status of infallibility, everything she relates to us is the complete truth without any doubt in any of the details presented.
There has been difference in opinion as to whether the event of the Tradition of the Cloak took place in the house of Lady Fatima (AS) or Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet (SA). The answer to that is that this event took place in the house of Fatima (AS) and she is the narrator as the event is told by her tongue. She narrates that the Prophet (SA) entered her presence, and then following him, her husband Imam Ali (SA) and her sons Hasan and Husain (AS).
It follows logically that it must have been her home that they entered and not the house of Umm Salamah. One may question what difference it makes whether the event took place in either house as it doesn’t change or affect the overall story. That is true; however, if the Tradition of the Cloak took place in the home of Umm Salamah, some Muslims may have brought forth the argument that the virtue of infallibility and purification also includes the wives of the Prophet (SA).
The fact that the Prophet (SA) declined the request of Umm Salamah to enter the cloak, as we will see later, although he acknowledged her positive status and that she is “good”, eliminates the idea that the wives are included among the People of the Cloak.
دَخَلَ عَلَيَّ أبي رَسُولُ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) فِي بَعضِ الأيَّامِ فَقَالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا فاطِمَةُ ، فَقُلتُ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ ،
One day, my father the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his Household, visited me, "Peace be upon you, O Fatimah!" he said. "Peace be upon you, too." I answered.
When one of us meet a friend or neighbor, we typically exchange hellos and convey our greetings to that person. And the other person usually replies back with a ‘good morning’ or ‘Walaykum asalam’ (Peace be upon you). But what really is the extent and degree of that ‘salam’ (peace) that is extended between two different people? And is there any guarantee that two Muslims who are exchanging greetings of peace will actually achieve the practical and spiritual peace with each other? Often times, we find two individuals exchanging expressions of greetings or peace in the morning, yet in the afternoon they are busy fighting with each other over petty issues or otherwise. Thus, we may agree that it is not necessarily the case that all the words and actions of the layperson or common Muslim is always true and/or achieved.
However, when we speak about an infallible personality, we must recognize that all their words and actions are exactly on the dot and at the highest level of accuracy without exaggeration or underestimation. So, if they make a judgment, it is a just verdict, and if they make a decision, it is a wise course of action. Along the same lines, if an infallible guide who has been purified and divinely appointed as a guide for mankind, performs a simple action such as greet or convey ‘salam’ to another person, then we should not interpret that greeting as ‘routine’ or trivial. Rather, the peace which an infallible personality conveys to another person is to be interpreted as glad tidings and a guarantee for exceptional peace at all levels. Surely, those who represent Allah (SWT) cannot exchange peace with a person whom Allah (SWT) is displeased with or has committed injustice to others.
Furthermore, one can logically deduce that if the two individuals exchanging peace and greetings are both infallible and divinely chosen for the guidance of mankind, then the product of such greetings must be at a grand level which one cannot comprehend. The degree of peace, the percent of guarantee, and the secrets behind that greeting is beyond our ability to fathom or reason.
In the Tradition of the Cloak, the narration begins with greeting of peace by the Holy Prophet (SA) after he has entered the presence of his daughter Fatima Al Zahra (AS) who replies back affirming the peace to her father.
As discussed, this exchange of peace by two holy and exceptional personalities, the Seal of Messengers and the best of Creation, Muhammad, along with the Master Lady of the universe, Fatima, yields nothing but unbreakable unity between two purified souls which carries with it all the meanings of peace, tranquility, attachment, love, and devotion, etc. Such feeling of peace is not bound by time or place nor is it conditional on mundane factors. This expression of peace by the Prophet (SA) to Fatima (AS) and vice versa is in fact an act of worship that is blessed by Allah (SWT) as He (SWT) instructed the believers in Surat Al Ahzaab, Verse 56:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تسليما.
Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation. (33:56)
In this verse, it is interesting to note that Allah the Almighty Creator first announces that He Himself along with the angels are praying on the Prophet. Then He (SWT) conveys His order to those who believe (hence excluding nonbelievers) to call for the blessings upon him and to salute him. This action of benediction and salutation to the Holy Messenger (SA) is an act of worship and obedience and is in fact obligatory upon all believers.
Furthermore, the verse highlights that only a true believer is given the permission to share in this blessed action of salutations and the servant is the one honored by having the ability and success in delivering these greetings to the beloved one.
If this is the grand station of Prophet Muhammad (SA) as depicted by verse 33:56, what about the station of Lady Fatima? Besides recognizing the fact that she is the Master Lady of the universe, we are to recall the authentic and well-known narration in all schools of thought where the Prophet (SA) emphasizes, “Fatima is a part of me, whoever harms her harms me, and whatever pleases her pleases me.”
So, if Lady Fatima (AS) is from the self of the Prophet (SA), then by the rules of logical correlation, we can deduce that when Allah (SWT) and the angels are sending their blessings on the Prophet (SA) as mentioned in verse 33:56, they are also sending their blessings and salutations to his daughter Fatima! That is not surprising as the angels are known to accompany Lady Fatima in numerous occasions and descend upon her home regularly.
قالَ : إنّي أَجِدُ في بَدَني ضَعفاً ، فَقُلتُ لَهُ : أُعِيذُكَ باللهِ يا أَبَتاهُ مِنَ الضَّعفِ.
"I can feel some fatigue in my body," he said to me, and I answered, "I pray Allah to protect you O father against fatigue."
The Messenger of Allah (SWT) then expresses to his daughter his feeling of weakness which he experiences physically. It is not uncommon for parents to express physical or any other discomfort and seek help from their children. What is expected is for the children and family members to rush to the aid of their loved ones, especially the elderly. Furthermore, it is narrated that
من شكى إلى مؤمن فقد شكى إلى الله ومن شكى لغير مؤمن فقد شكى الله.
Whoever complains to a believer has complained to Allah and whoever complains to a nonbeliever has complained about Allah.” (Bihaar Al Anwaar)
Hence, we learn that there is no problem in sharing our complaints to a believer who will give us an open ear and may support and assist us in a positive manner.
However, when we speak about providing assistant to a father who is not like any father, a guardian who is not like any guardian, a family member who is not like any family member, and a human being who is by far the best of creations, then the status of he or she who is given the opportunity to provide that aid must be noted and appreciated. Certainly it is the honor of Lady Fatima (AS) to rush to the aid of her father. Lady Fatima (AS) who by the testimony of the Prophet (SA) is “the mother of her father” spontaneously assumes the role of motherhood with all the love, care, and nurture that a mother gives to her darling.
Actually, this reminds us of the same position which her own mother Lady Khadija (AS) encountered after the Be’that (official inauguration as messenger of God) of the Prophet (SA) when he came down from Cave Hiraa' after receiving the first Revelation of Surat Al ‘Alaq. When he came to the house of Lady Khadija (AS), he requested his wife to cover him with a blanket. This scene is displayed in the Qur’an at the commencement of Surat Al Muddather where the Prophet (SA) was referred to as the “cloaked one” and also in Surat Al Muzzammel where he was referred to as the “enshrouded one”. Lady Khadija rushed to tend to her husband and cover him up and from there he earned his nickname which Allah (SWT) referred him to in the abovementioned chapters of Qur’an which were named by these titles of the Prophet (SA).
It became Prophet Muhammad's custom each year to spend the holy month of Ramadan in seclusion and reflection in a cave on the mountain of Hiraa’ which is located on the outskirts of Makkah. Lady Khadija (AS) would always make sure that he was provided with food and drink during his retreat. Towards the end of one Ramadan when he was forty years old, Muhammad (SA) suddenly appeared at their house in the middle of the night saying, "Cover me up, cover me up!"
Lady Khadijah (AS) quickly she wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and she asked him to describe exactly what had happened. He told her how a being whom he had never seen before - angel Jibrael - had appeared to him while he was worshipping in Cave Hiraa’ and had instructed him to, "Read!" This state of physical discomfort would be experienced by the Prophet (SA) whenever he was about to receive a grand revelation from God through angel Jibrael (AS). This was the case in Cave Hiraa' when he received the word of God for the first time. The fact that the Prophet (SA) has just experienced physical comfort of the same nature which urged him to make the same request for covering him, may be an indicator that he is also about to receive divine revelation, and that is exactly what happened (as we will see)!
It is known in the historical accounts of the prophet’s autobiography that Lady Fatima (AS) was the source of comfort and consolation for her father. Whenever he didn’t feel well or suffered pain, he would rush to the house of Fatima (AS) where he found relief, comfort, and peace. Whenever her father felt distressed, he looked at her face and his worries and grief would disappear just like Imam Ali (AS) said about his wife, “Whenever I looked at her all depression and sadness was lifted from my heart.” Otherwise, why didn’t the Prophet (SA) go to any of his wives to seek comfort since a man usually feels tranquility with his wife, as the Qur’an says:
“And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion.” (30:21)
And Allah (SWT) also defined the relationship between a husband and wife as:
“They are your garments (Libaas) and you are their garments.” (2:187)
But instead of going to any of his wives, the Prophet (SA) went to his daughter Fatima because she was “the mother of her father” (Umm Abeeha) and he would feel most peace and relief when he went to see Fatima. Hence, it is not surprising that Al Hakim narrates “Whenever The Prophet (SA) used to travel the last person he would see was Fatima (AS). When he returned from his travel the first person he would go to see would be Fatima.”
Lady Fatima (AS) seeks refuge from Allah (SWT) for his physical weakness, and there is no doubt that this feeling of weakness is only temporary and will disappear as the whole world is in need of this great energy of the Prophet (SA) that is crystalized in his mercy, goodness, and generosity, etc.
فَقَالَ : يا فاطِمَةُ إِيتيني بِالكِساءِ اليَمانِيِّ فَغَطّينِي بهِ .
What is the significance of the Kisaa (cloak)? It is a piece of cloth or sheet which the Prophet (SA) requested to cover him to ease his discomfort. Here, one may think that it is so insignificant that history records the Prophet (SA) experiencing exhaustion or discomfort and requesting a cloak. Furthermore, why is the Prophet (SA) specifically asking for a cloak to cover him when he could’ve asked for something to eat or drink?
As believers, we are to be reminded that the wisdom of the Almighty Creator (SWT) is greater than what our minds perceive and He (SWT) does not do anything in vain. If it were not for the Yeminite Cloak (Kisaa) which the Prophet (SA) requested, the Tradition of the Cloak would not have existed, and the purification verse (Ayat Al Tat-heer) which is the ultimate result of this event wouldn’t have been revealed in this incident. The Kisaa is the means by which the members of his household are gathered to set the stage for the revelation of the Purification verse (33:33).
As we will discuss later, it is narrated in the Tradition of the Cloak that the total individuals who were granted permission to enter under the cloak with the Prophet (SA) were four: Ali ibn Abi Talib, Lady Fatima, and their sons Hasan and Husain. In addition, archangel Jibrael (AS) was also given divine and prophetic permission to join the holy five in this exceptional setting. With the knowledge that all these divine personalities were under the cloak and didn’t enter its protection without the permission of the Prophet (SA), we can better appreciate the significance of the cloak. Though it may be a materialistic item, the Kisaa is a symbol of protection, a sign of unity and purity, and the representation of the infallibility of the Holy Five.
The cloak can be seen as analogous to the “Cave of Refuge” (كهف الورى) as they are described in the beautiful invocation of Salawat Sha’baneyah. It is similar to the Arc of Prophet Nuh (AS) which the Prophet (SA) resembles to his purified household, as narrated in the famous Hadith As-Safinah by Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (SWT) said:
"مثل أهل بيتى كمثل سفينة نوح من ركبها نجا ومن تخلف عنها غرق."
Surely the likeness of my AhlulBayt is similar to Noah's Ark, whoever boards it will attain salvation and whoever remains behind is drowned. (Al Durr Al Manthur) Whoever rides the Arc of Noah or more appropriately the Arc of the AhlulBayt (AS) of Prophet Muhammad (AS) will be saved and will attain salvation in both worlds.
In this context, we can view the Cloak of the Prophet to be similar to the Arc of the Prophet (SA) in that whoever recognizes the significance behind the immaculate personalities under the cloak who have been purified by divine command, will also attain the blessings of the cloak! An example of such blessings is demonstrated at the conclusion of this narration where Imam Ali (AS) asks the Prophet (SA) what is the significance of this blessed gathering under the cloak and he replies back with the rewards that the Shi’as and lovers of AhlulBayt (AS) will attain if they recite and appreciate this gathering. We shall discuss this aspect in detail later.
Even though only the infallible guides are admitted entrance under this purified cloak, we as the lovers and devotees of the Prophet (SA) and his holy household can also aim to seek permission from Allah (SWT) and the Messenger (SA) to join them under the cloak. We can follow the example of Archangel Jibrael (AS) who recognized that his station was no were close to that of the AhlulBayt (AS) despite his high rank in Allah’s eyes, yet he still expressed his devotion to them by seeking their unity and proximity.
فَأَتَيتُهُ بِالكِساءِ اليَمانِيِّ فَغَطّيتُهُ بِهِ وَ صِرتُ أَنظُرُ إِلَيهِ وَ إِذا وَجهُهُ يَتَلَأ لَأ كَأَنَّهُ البَدرُ فِي لَيلَةِ تمامِهِ وَ كَمالِهِ
I brought him the Yemeni cloak and covered him with it. I then kept on looking at his face, which was glittering like a moon at the night of its fullness and perfection.
Lady Fatima (AS) brings the cloak to her father and she covers him. A parent in general appreciates and prefers the service of their children more than a stranger or even a housemaid. There is no comparison to the feeling that the parent gets when they experience care and affection from their own children compared to others. Lady Fatima (AS) went on looking and gazing at him as she covered her father.
According to the Islamic code of conduct, it is highly recommended for a person to look at the faces of their parents and persist in doing so. (Fiqh Al Zahra) On the other hand, it is narrated that he who gives his parent an abhorrent look, Allah (SWT) will not accept anything from him. With that in mind, imagine if the father of a person is the prophet of God, never mind the Seal of Messengers and best of creations! It is also recommended to look at the face of a knowledgeable scholar or even at the door of a scholar.
From these traditions, we come to understand that there is indeed a positive effect that we acquire from “looking” at a scholar or parent, and that effect is not limited to the materialistic aspect but is rather spiritual and long-lasting. Same is the case regarding the Holy Ka’aba which we are encouraged to gaze upon.
That is because looking at someone who have reached the stage of perfection or has come close to it will in turn make that person approach the stage of perfection that is personified in that person or thing. That’s why it is recommended to look at the face of an infallible person such as Imam Ali (AS) as the Prophet (SA) said in his regards, “Looking at the face of Ali is worship”. (Wasa’el Al Shi’a)
If gazing at the face of a scholar is recommended, then it is not surprising that he who is the gate of knowledge be one whom the Prophet (SA) would specifically identify him as deserving of such merit.
Upon observing her father, Lady Fatima (AS) observed that his face was “glittering like a moon at the night of its fullness”. It is interesting that this is how the Prophet (SA) appeared even though he just expressed physical weakness.
It may seem like a contradiction but the reality is that Lady Fatima (AS) became preoccupied and captured by the beauty and splendor of her father. She knew very well that her father was not like any father or man; her father was the best of creation and the Seal of Messengers who is delivering the final revelation to all of mankind till the end of time! In her mind, Lady Fatima (AS) was not simply looking at her father, but rather, the divine representative of her time who has authority on her and all the believers.
Words could not describe what she observed upon looking at the Prophet (SA) under the cloak. However, the analogy Lady Fatima (AS) presents gives a hint and draws a good picture of what magnanimity of appearance emanated from her father’s face. She testifies that her father’s face “was glittering like a moon at the night of its fullness and perfection”. It is the course of nature that when the lunar month reaches the middle, the moon becomes full and thus, we observe it to be radiating from the sky like a piece of diamond in the midst of a black sea.
The scene is beautiful and sensational as it urges us to reflect on the Almighty Creator who has brought into existence every beautiful creation of His and bestowed us the ability to observe and recognize that. Due to the exceptionally beautiful scene of the full moon in the midst of the sky, it has become the tradition of the Arabs in particular to draw an analogy of the full moon to anything that is distinctly beautiful and radiant.
The blessed face of the Prophet (SA) which constantly appears to be radiant with the glow of light emanating from him is certainly analogous to the full moon at the middle of the month. Actually, the radiance of splendor from the Prophet’s appearance is much greater than that of a full moon glittering at the night of its fullness and perfection!
Furthermore, it should be noted that the physical or materialistic beauty can only be recognized by those who have eyes of the heart that can be able to identify that beauty. If we compare that physical beauty emanating from the Prophet (SA) to his inner and spiritual beauty, we will surely recognize that the latter is much greater and cannot be measured by a normal human being. It is certainly quite interesting that the person who is testifying on behalf of the Prophet (SA) about his splendor in appearance is herself the manifestation of the splendor of creation!
فَما كَانَت إِلاّساعَةً و إذا بوَلَدِيَ الحَسَنِ قَد أَقبَلَ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا أُمّاهُ ، فَقُلتُ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا قُرَّةَ عَيِني وَ ثَمَرَةَ فُؤادِي
No more than a while passed when my son al-Hasan came in, "Peace be upon you, mother!" he greeted. "Peace be upon you, too, O delight of my eye and fruit of my heart!" I replied.
The Tradition of the Cloak essentially begins with the sequence of events commencing with the entrance of Imam Hasan ibn Ali (AS) who is the first person to enter the presence of the Prophet (SA) after encountering his mother. Lady Zahra (AS) narrates that her son Hasan enters home and conveys his greetings of peace to her.
This scene is an example of the etiquette and manners which children should observe when they enter their homes and meet their family members, especially the parents.
Unfortunately nowadays, we find that many kids come back from school or work and fail to extend proper greetings to the members of their home as they run off straight into their rooms as if they are living in a hotel or dorm. This incorrect behavior does not reflect the manners of believers who follow the path of AhlulBayt (AS) and who are members of a unified family institution that represents the overall unity of the nation.
When entering or leaving your house, a person must acknowledge its inhabitants by greeting with the label of Islam, 'Asalam 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh (peace and mercy of Allah be with you). As a Muslim, one should not neglect this Islamic greeting by replacing it with another phrase, such as 'Good Morning,' or 'Hello.' Pronouncing the Salaam is the sign of Islam and the phrase that the Messenger of Allah (saw) recommended and practiced.
So important is the etiquette to be displayed upon entering a home that it is even narrated that if a person enters their home and there is no one present in it, it is still recommended to pronounce greetings (salam) upon entry in vacant places and that greeting is directed to other living things that may be inhabiting your surroundings.
Also among the etiquettes of entering a house is to make your presence known to those inside before you approach them. Also, one should avoid startling or frightening them and give a head notice before you enter their presence suddenly.
In response to her son Hasan, Lady Fatima (AS) conveys her greetings to her beloved son and her eldest darling. Furthermore, she refers to him with two different titles: ‘the delight of my eye and fruit of my heart’. One can very well imagine the grand stature of he who possesses the honor of being delight of the eyes of the Master Lady of the universe and the purified daughter of the Seal of Prophets!
Lady Fatima is she whom her father has testified on her behalf, “Fatima is part of me, and whoever pleases her, pleases me."(Al-Sawa'eq Al-Muhriqa)
She is also the one whom he said to her, “O Fatima, verily Allah is angry when you are angry.” (Mustadrak Al-Hakim) Therefore, as we understand from the combination of both traditions, the position of Lady Fatima (AS) towards anything and anyone is equivalent to the position of Allah (SWT). So, if we observe that Fatima is pleased with person ‘A’, then Allah (SWT) is also pleased with person ‘A’ and vice versa.
The title which Fatima labels her son Hasan as “delight of my eyes” certainly indicates the peak of pleasure and joy that she feels about him! Furthermore, if we contemplate about the most important organs in our body, we will find the eyes to be irreplaceable and very precious. So when Fatima (AS) says that Hasan is the “delight” of her eyes, she has associated her delight with a most valuable part of the body.
Moreover, she describes him to be “the fruit of her heart”. The heart is in fact the most important vital organ in the body of a human being without which a person cannot live. The expression “fruit of the heart” speaks volumes of the special position which Imam Hasan (AS) enjoys in regards to his mother. He is the “fruit” which refers to the purified progeny that is bestowed to Lady Zahra (AS), just as she is the “Kawthar” (the abundant good) bestowed as a divine gift to her father.
فَقالَ : يا أُمّاهُ إِنّي أَشَمُّ عِندَكِ رائِحَةً طَيِّبَةً كَأَنَّها رائِحَةُ جَدِي رَسُولِ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) ، فَقُلتُ : نَعَم إِنَّ جَدَّكَ تَحتَ الكِساء ،
I replied. "O mother," he said, "I can smell a pleasing scent as if it is the scent of my grandfather the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his Household."
"Yes, it is," I answered, "Your grandfather is now under the cloak."
After the exchange of pure greetings between the Master Lady of the Universe and the Master Youth of Paradise, Imam Hasan (AS) remarks that he smells a pleasant scent at home which resembles the fragrance of his grandfather - the Prophet (SA). This is the second time in the Tradition of the Cloak that the Holy Prophet (SA) is described physically with a positive attribute.
The first being his shining face that resembles a full moon, and the second being the good scent which emanates from his pure being.
It is not surprising as all the prophets and messengers have good fragrance and there was never anything shameful or humiliating ever displayed from them. Then one can imagine the Seal of Prophets and Messengers who is the best of creation! Surely, he must enjoy physical and materialistic purity that complements the spiritual purity.
This is proven by virtue of the purification verse in Verse 33 of Surat Al Ahzaab, “Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purification.”
Every person in this world has two aspects of his life, apparent and concealed which are physical and spiritual, respectively. The balance in the development of a good human being is obligatory for both activities. Islam is a clean religion and prefers a person to be clean physically and have pure thoughts. Physical purity provides a person respect and honor in the eyes of the world.
Allah (SWT) advises the believers to clean themselves for such a condition suits their spiritual state and nature. Cleanliness is considered a form of worship by believers, and is therefore a source of great relief and pleasure to them. In many verses of the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) draws attention to the believers’ spiritual and physical purity.
Prophet Muhammad (SA) often stressed the importance of being clean as he said, “Cleanliness is half of faith”. (Sahih Muslim) The Holy Qur’an also refers to the importance of wearing clean clothes,
“Purify your garments. And shun uncleanness.” (74:4-5)
Furthermore, physical cleanliness is important because it shows one's respect for other people. Indeed, respecting other people requires taking care of one's physical appearance.
Having a pleasant fragrance is certainly a sign of cleanliness and the Prophet (SA) is the best exemplar for both physical and spiritual cleanliness combined together and has apparently attained the reputation of having good scent as it is narrated that a beautiful scent of musk used to emanate from his drops of sweat. This is similar to the scent of musk from Lady Fatima (SA) which came from Paradise, and in that context the Prophet (SA) used to smell his daughter and remark that “Whenever I yearned for the smell of Paradise, I would smell the fragrance of my daughter Fatima”. (Muntakhab Kanz Al-‘Omaal)
So Imam Hasan (AS) recognized his grandfather’s presence at home just by his purified scent. Sure enough, Lady Fatima (AS) confirms that deduction and informs Hasan that his grandfather is indeed under the cloak.
فَأَقبَلَ الحَسَنُ نَحوَ الكِساء وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا جَدَّاهُ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَدخُلَ مَعَكَ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ فَقالَ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا وَلَدِي وَ يا صاحِبَ حَوضِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ تَحتَ الكِساءِ .
Al-Hasan moved towards the cloak and said, "Peace be upon you, O grandfather, Allah’s Messenger. Will you allow me to be with you under this cloak?"
My father replied, "Peace be upon you too, my son and director of my Pond. I allow you. "Al-Hasan then went under the cloak with his grandfather.
The natural reaction of a person who recognizes the presence of the Holy Prophet (SA) in the same location is to rush towards him and seek his proximity. Imam Al Hasan (AS) approaches the cloak which the Prophet (SA) is covered with and conveys his greetings by pronouncing the Salam. He does so by addressing him first as his grandfather, and then as the Messenger of Allah. This is for us to remind ourselves of the blood relation which Imam Hasan (AS) and his siblings share with the Prophet (SA).
Imam Al Hasan (AS) then makes a specific request from the Prophet (SA) where he seeks proximity to the Prophet (SA) by asking permission to enter under the cloak with him. In the mind of Imam Hasan (AS), there is no other reason to make that request other than enjoy the company of the Prophet (SA) and share from his blessings. He has yet to learn of the grand honor which Allah (SWT) will bestow him and his immediate family under the cloak!
The Prophet (SA) then replies back the Salam to his beloved grandson Hasan whom he considers as his own son by referring to him as "ولدي". It is not a mistake or exaggeration that the Prophet (SA) refers to him as his own son as there are people who try to distance Hasan and Husain from the Prophet (SA) by saying that they are the sons of Fatima the daughter of the Prophet (SA) and not the Prophet.
The Holy Prophet loved his two grandsons, Hasan and Husain, dearly, and since he had no surviving sons of his own, he used to call them his “sons” out of deep affection. In many occasions the Prophet (SA) declared, "Hasan and Husain are my children". (Islam: Faith, Practice, and History)
Because of this, Imam Ali (AS) would say to his other children, "You are my children and Hasan and Husain are the children of the Prophet." (Lantern of the Path) Hasan and Husain themselves used to call the Prophet (SA) as “father” and didn’t do so with their biological father Imam Ali (AS) until the Prophet (SA) departed this world. During the lifetime of the Prophet (SA), Hasan (AS) used to refer to his father Imam Ali (AS) as Abal Husain, while Husain used to call him Abal Hasan.
Furthermore, the Messenger of Allah (SWT) confirms that their station to him is equivalent to being his “sons” in the Event of Mubahala (Imprecation) where the following verse was revealed:
“And to him who disputes with you therein after knowledge has come to you, say: “Come, let us summon our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and your selves, then let us invoke and lay the curse of God upon the liars.” (3:61)
In the ninth year after Hijra (migration), Prophet Muhammad (SA) sent a message to the Christians of Najran asking them to believe in him as a prophet of God and accept Jesus (peace be upon him) as prophet of God according to the teachings of the Qur’an. A delegation of seventy Christian scholars visited the Prophet (SA) and he explained to the Christian scholars the concept of divinity and prophethood but the Christians did not accept the reasoning.
Then the above-mentioned verse was revealed inviting the Christians for invoking the curse of God to determine who is denier of the truth. In a large public gathering, his “daughter” represented Lady Fatima (S.A.), his “self” was represented by his cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), and his “sons” were none other than his two grandsons Hasan and Husain (AS).
Prophet Muhammad (SA) had orders from Almighty Allah (SWT) through the Verse of Mubahala to take Hasan and Hussain (AS) as his children with him and this was not a personal decision on his own. Their position as “sons” to the Prophet was stamped and approved by Allah (SWT) from above the heavens!
When the chief of the Christian delegation witnessed these five personalities, he was awestruck with their heavenly appearance and counseled his followers not to ask the Prophet to invoke God’s curse, saying that “If these Godly individuals curse us, I am afraid we will be destroyed.” (Madarejun Nubuwwa) He made a peace pact, offered the Prophet (SA) gifts and left in peace.
The next label which the Prophet (SA) describes Imam Al Hasan (AS) is "صاحب حوضي" (the director of my Pond).
One may question why the role of providing food to eat was not specified in traditions as it was with providing water to drink. That is because the need to quench the thirst on the Day of Resurrection will be greater than that of eating. Actually there are numerous narrations where the Prophet (SA) labels Imam Ali (AS) as "صاحب حوضي". In reference to Imam Ali (AS), the Prophet (SA) has said,
“Whomever among you would like to save himself from the troubles of the Day of Judgment, let him take my guardian as their guardian, and let him follow my successor and Caliph after me, Ali ibn Abi Talib, for he is the owner of my Pool (Hawd), he keeps his enemies away from it and quenches the thirst of his devout supporters. Whoever is not granted the permission to drink from it will continuously suffer from thirst.” (Kitab Al Mizan).
There is no contradiction that the Pond (Hawd) belongs to the Prophet (SA) on the Day of Resurrection, while Ali plays the role of “quencher”, while Imam Hasan (AS) is its director (صاحب). For one particular task, there may be various roles with different degrees and the laws may differ in different situations.
After all, Allah (SWT) bestowed the Pond to the Prophet (SA) while giving the authority of direction to Imam Hasan (AS) so that he shares the honor of his grandfather. In other traditions it is apparent that all of the Infallible Imams (AS) will participate in quenching the thirst of the people from that Hawd.
The Prophet (SA) grants Imam Hasan (AS) the permission to enter the Kisaa. This is the first of the series of divinely approved permissions which the Prophet (SA) gives for the entrance under the cloak. It must be noted that the permission of the Prophet (SA) is not from his own will or preference as the Qur’an emphasizes:
وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ. إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى.
“Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.” (53:3-4)
This Qur’anic verse is in agreement with the Bible where it is quoted regarding the station of the Prophet (SA), "He does not speak of his own will", and has also been mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:18.
"Then the Lord said to me (Musa): "I will raise up for them a prophet like you, one of their own race, and I will put my words into his mouth. He shall convey all my commands to them."
It is also mentioned in John 16: 18: (‘Isa said): "However, when he comes who is the spirit of truth, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but will tell only what he hears; and he will make known to you the things that are coming."
The Holy Prophet (SA) was always in communion with Allah (SWT). Whatever he said was the Word of Allah and his actions were the fulfillment of the divine will. So when the Prophet (SA) gives permission for Imam Hasan (AS) to enter the cloak, it is equivalent to divine permission from above the heavens. This significance of this divine permission to enter the Kisaa will be realized as we continue to analyze the Tradition of the Cloak.
فَدَنَا الحُسَينُ ( عليه السَّلام ) نحوَ الكِساءِ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا جَدَّاهُ يا مَنِ أختارَهُ اللهُ
Al-Husain then approached towards the cloak and said, "Peace be upon you, O grandfather! Peace be upon you, O he whom Allah has chosen!
The scene repeats itself three more times with Imam Husain (AS), then his father Imam Ali (AS) and then finally with the Master Lady of the Universe, Lady Fatima (AS). Both Imam Husain (AS) and Imam Ali (AS) enter home and convey their Islamic greetings to Lady Fatima (AS). Interestingly, they both remark that they smell a pleasant fragrance that is similar to the scent of the Holy Prophet (SA). Their observation is the same as Imam Hasan (AS) which confirms the veracity of the physical pureness of the Holy Prophet (SA) by which he is known for.
Each of the members of the holy household seeks permission from the Prophet (SA) to enter the Kisaa. It is as if they each know and feel that there is a great significance behind the cloak which the Prophet (SA) has covered himself with. Each one of them rushes to share the honor of attaining proximity to the Seal of Messengers, even if it is simply sharing the same cover.
Imam Husain (AS) specifically greets his grandfather by saying يا مَنِ أختارَهُ اللهُ Oh he whom Allah has chosen! It is not enough that Husain reminds us that the Prophet (SA) is his grandfather, he further tags along that his grandfather is divinely selected. That divine selection to become the Seal of Prophets and Messengers who would deliver the final revelation and message of Islam to mankind is certainly a unique honor that has no similarity.
The wise and knowledgeable recognize that the virtue of a person is derived not by what a person attains from this world by permission of the people, but rather, it is the divine bestowal which earns a person great honor and eternal reverence.
Certainly it was not a coincidence or random selection which Allah (SWT) exercised as He is the absolute Wisdom and the absolute Knowledgeable. The Almighty (SWT) has chosen him because Muhammad (SA) himself has chosen God with every atom of his soul. He came rushing towards his Lord sincerely seeking His proximity and so Allah (SWT) chose Muhammad after he has proved to be the purest person of his time.
The well-known historian Al-Mas'udi in his book Murooj Al Dhahab quotes a lengthy tradition from Imam Ali (AS) to the effect that when Allah (SWT) created, first of all, the Light of Muhammad, He (SWT) said to it: "You are My chosen one and the Trustee of My Light and Guidance. It is because of you that I am going to create the earth and the skies, lay down reward and punishment, and bring into being the Garden and the Fire."
Then the tradition goes on to speak about the family of the Prophet, about creation of the angels, of the souls, of the world, of the covenant taken from the souls which combined the belief in the One God with acceptance of Muhammad's prophethood.
This is why Ibn Abbas narrates that the Prophet Muhammad (SA) said: "I was a Prophet when Adam was between soul and body (i.e. when Adam's creation was in its preliminary stages)" (at-Tabarani, Al-Mu'jjam al-Kabir; Al Khasa'is al-Kubra). The Holy Prophet (SA) also said: "Verily Allah chose Isma'il from the progeny of Ibrahim, and chose Banu Kinanah from the progeny of Isma'il, and chose Quraish from the Banu Kinanah, and chose Banu Hashim from Quraish, and chose me from Banu Hashim." (Tirmidhi)
In fact, it is not only Islam and the Muslims who recognize and appreciate the great status of the Prophet (SA), the non-Muslims also testify to the superiority of Muhammad compared to other creatures. Writing at the time of Carlyle in the nineteenth century, European historian Johann Doellinger asserted: "No other mortal has ever, from the beginning of the world, exercised such an immeasurable influence upon the religious, moral, and political relations of mankind, as has the Arab Muhammad."
Also, historian Will Durant concludes his treatment of Muhammad with this tribute: “If we judge greatness by influence, he was one of the giants of history. He undertook to raise the spiritual and moral level of a people harassed into barbarism by heat and foodless wastes, and he succeeded more completely than any other reformer seldom has any man so fully realized his dream.... When he began, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes; when he died it was a nation.”
It was on the 27th of Rajab at the age of forty that Prophet Muhammad (SA) was officially appointed by Allah (SWT) as the Seal of Messengers to deliver the message of Islam till the end of time. The commencement of his prophethood began with the revelation of the verses of Surat Al A’laq where Angel Jibrael (AS) recited the first few verses of this chapter: "Read: In the Name of your Lord who created, He created man from a clot. Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous Who taught to write by the pen, Taught man what he knew not".
فَقالَ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا وَلَدِي وَ يا شافِع أُمَّتِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ
The Holy Prophet (SA) returns back the greetings of his grandson Imam Husain (AS) by stressing that he is his “son” as he did with his brother Hasan. Furthermore, he refers to Husain as يا شافِع أمتي”intercessor of my people”. As we know, the Prophet (SA) himself will have the right of intercession over his nation and this is authentically narrated in both Sunni and Shi’a narrations.
The Qur’an confirms the validity of the concept of Shafa’at (intercession) where the Prophet (SA) can seek forgiveness of others on their behalf, by virtue of his excellence and proximity to Allah (SWT):
“And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.” (4:64)
To seek a medium or an intermediate for your affairs is not only logically acceptable but is very practical in our mundane matters. Seeking proximity towards Allah (SWT) via an intermediate is no different and Allah (SWT) approves that in this holy verse,
"O you who believe! Fear Allah and seek an intermediate (Al-Wasilah) unto Him..." (5:35)
Both scholars Raghib Isfahani and 'Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i are of the opinion that Al-Wasilah means to reach a certain goal through desire, inclination or willingness, and in fact wasilah towards God means observance of His path with knowledge and worship through adherence to the Shari'ah. In other words, wasilah is a means of communication and spiritual link between mankind and God.
It is not only Prophet Muhammad (SA) who attains the privilege of intercession, it is also other prophets and messengers as well as divine guides whom Allah (SWT) has preferred over creation due to their piety and excellence. The purified household of the Prophet (SA) also share in the honor of having the liberty to exercise intercession in this life and in the Hereafter. Imam Husain (AS) is notably one of the members of the Prophet’s family who has earned a great status in the eyes of Allah (SWT) and one of the rewards which He (SWT) has bestowed him is the intercession of the Muslim nation.
The story of “Fitrus the angel” clearly demonstrates how Imam Husain (AS) was granted the honor of intercession since he was a baby in his cradle. When Imam Husain (AS) was born, Allah (SWT) sent down the angel Jibrael (AS) to congratulate the family of the Prophet (SA). On the way down from the heavens, Jibrael (AS) passed by an island on which the Fitrus was sent to by Allah (SWT) because he had delayed in executing a command. As a punishment, Fitrus also had his wings taken away by Allah (SWT).
When Fitrus saw Jibrael (AS) he asked him where he was going. Jibrael (AS) told him that he was going to congratulate the Holy Prophet (SA) and his family on the birth of Imam Husain (AS). Fitrus asked if he could join him and Jibrael (AS) agreed with the permission of Allah (SWT) and so carried him down to earth. When the angels reached Prophet Muhammad (SA) and congratulated him and his family, the Prophet (SA) told Fitrus to go to Imam Husain (AS). When Fitrus touched Imam Husain's (AS) cradle, his wings were miraculously given back to him by Allah (SWT) who had forgiven him.
The moral of this story is to demonstrate the permissibility of intercession in general, and specifically for Imam Husain (AS) whose blessings were manifested from the moment he was born. It is interesting to note that angel Fitrus was instructed to seek blessing by rubbing his wing on the cradle of Imam Husain and not Imam Husain himself.
Why was that the case?
It is as if Allah (SWT) intentionally tailored this detailed to demonstrate to us that the object (in this case the cradle) which was associated with a holy and divine personality has attained such honor and sanctity such that it became the manifestation of miracle and blessings. Hence, we should be cognizant of the fact that certain items or physical signs can attain the status of sanctity and we should treat such relics with veneration due to the fact that this relic is associated with the original source of sanctity – in this case, the infallible guide.
If such miracles and blessings are attained by seeking intercession from a holy item, then one can imagine the abundant blessings that one can attain by seeking intercession from a personality who is the original source of sanctity – like Imam Husain (AS).
The divine intermediate is certainly closer to Allah (SWT), so if we wish to secure for ourselves a higher percentage of acceptance or guarantee of our prayers, then logically speaking, we should seek those who are closer to Allah (SWT) who can speak on our behalf and raise our needs.
This is similar to our practice in mundane matters such as getting a recommendation for a job or reaching out to a connection in our network that may accelerate our application process or grant us acceptance of our need by virtue of our close association with the source whom we are targeting.
فَقُلتُ : وَعَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَبَا الحَسَن وَيا أَمِيرَ المُؤمِنينَ
"Peace be upon you too, O Abul-Hasan and Commander of the Faithful," I replied.
After Imam Husain (AS), Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) enters and conveys his greetings to the Holy Prophet (SA) who replies back to him by pronouncing the Salam and addressing him as “Abal Hasan” (the father of Hasan) and “Ya Ameer Al Momineen” (Commander of the Faithful). The label of “Ameerul Momineen” exclusively belongs to Imam Ali (AS) and has been divinely bestowed from above the heavens.
In his book Al Kafi, Al Kileeni narrates from Fudail ibn Yassaar that Imam Al Baqir (AS) said: “Oh Fudail, any person who names himself with this title other than Ali is a liar.” According to the Sunni School of thought, Umar ibn Al Khattab was the first to use that title, however that is false information.
In fact, it was the Holy Prophet (SA) who gave Imam Ali (AS) that title and this is cited in many traditions such as, “Oh Ali, you are Ameerul Momineen (Commander of the Faithful) and the Imam of the Muslims, and قائد الغر المحجلين(the Leader of the Resplendent), and يعسوب المتقين (the dragonfly of the pious).” (Amaali)
It is also narrated consecutively by Imam Al Sadiq (AS) that his father Imam Ali (AS) said: “The Prophet (SA) said to me, O Ali You are Ameerul Momineen and the leader of the pious, O Ali you are chief of the successors and heirs of the Prophets and the best of the truthful (sidiqeen).” (Kanz Al Fawaed)
According to the Sunni School of thought as narrated by Al Hafiz Abu Na’eem Al Asfahani in his book Helyat Al Awliyaa, that Qasem ibn Jundub ibn Anas said: The Prophet (SA) said: “Oh Anas, help me prepare for ablution.” Then he got up and prayed two-unit prayer, then he said, “Oh Anas, the first person who will enter from that door is Ameerul Momineen and the Master of the messengers, and قائد الغر المحجلين (the Leader of the Resplendent) and the Seal of Successors.” That person was none other than Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS)!
Hence, it is not appropriate to use that title even to the other Infallible Imams from the sons of Ali, including Imam Hasan who actually became Caliph after his father. That is because attaining the position of Caliphate is not the criteria for being named Ameerul Momineen even though the person may be infallible such as Imam Hasan (AS).
This title is unique only to Ali and no one can share that title with him. The great scholar Ibn Tawoos has actually written a book called Al Yaqeen Bi Ikhtisaas Mawlana Ali Bi Emrat Al Momineen (Faith in the uniqueness of Mawla Ali with the title of Ameerul Momineen) which aims to verify the specialization of Ali with this title.
In fact, there is an interesting story where the title of “Ameerul Momineen” was granted officially to Ali. It is narrated by one of the close companions of the Prophet (SA), Hudaifah ibn Al Yaman, as cited in Irshad Al Qulub, that in his conversation with a lad he said: “O lad, since you asked and wanted to investigate, then listen and understand what I am going to tell you. As for those caliphs who were before Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), who were called Ameerul Momineen; the people called them by that title.
But Ali ibn Abi Talib was called with this name by Archangel Gabriel (AS). It was an order from the Prophet (SA) who bore witness of Gabriel’s (AS) salutation to Ali by the title of Ameerul Momineen, and the companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet were calling Ali (AS) with the title of Ameer Al-Momineen during the life and presence of the Prophet (SA).”
The Lad said: “Tell us how this came to be, may Allah have mercy on you.”
Hudhayfah answered: “The people used to enter upon the Prophet (SA) whenever they wanted. The Prophet (SA) then prohibited them from entering upon him while he was in meeting with Dihyatul Kalbi. The Prophet (SA) used to exchange letters with Caesar and Bani Hanifah and the kings of Bani Ghassau through him (Dihya). Jibrael (AS) would sometimes descend to the Prophet (SA in the image of Dihya. Therefore, the Prophet (SA prohibited the Muslims from entering upon him, if he was in meeting with Dihya.”
Hudhayfah added, “One day I came to the Prophet (SA) for some matter hoping to meet him alone. When I arrived at the door, I looked and found a curtain covering the door. I raised it and was about to enter. That’s what we were accustomed to do. Then I saw Dihya sitting beside the Prophet (SA) who was sleeping and his head was on the lap of Dihya. When I saw that, I left. Then I met Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) on my way. He said, ‘Oh Ibn Al Yaman, where did you just come from?’ I answered him and said, ‘I wanted to enter but I found Dihya with him.’
I asked Ali’s help with the matter I had wanted to speak with the Prophet (SA). Then Imam Ali (AS) suggested me to come back with him. So I returned back with him and when we arrived at the door of the Prophet (SA), I sat beside the door and Imam Ali (AS) lifted the curtain. He entered and greeted. Then I heard Dihya reply and say, ‘And peace be upon you O Ameerul Momineen and Allah’s blessings and mercy be upon you.’ Then Dihya told him, ‘Sit down and take the head of your brother and cousin from my lap, for you are the most deserving of him than other people.’ So Imam Ali (AS) sat and took the head of the Prophet (SA), placed it on his lap, and Dihya then left the house.
Then Imam Ali (AS) asked me to enter so I entered and sat down. Soon after that, the Prophet (SA) woke up and he smiled when he saw the face of Imam Ali (AS). Then he told him, ‘Oh Abul Hasan, from whose lap did you take my head?’ Ali answered, ‘From the lap of Dihyatul Kalbi.’ Then the Prophet (SA) replied, ‘This was Gabriel (AS). So what did you tell him when you entered and what did he tell you?’
Imam Ali (AS) answered, ‘I entered and said Assalamu Alaikum and he answered Wa alaika assalam O Ameer Al-Momineen, and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.’ Then the Prophet (SA) said, ‘O Ali, the angels of Allah and the dwellers of His heaven have greeted you by the title of Ameer Al-Momineen even before the dwellers of the earth. O Ali, Gabriel (AS) did that by orders from Allah, Glory be to Him. And Gabriel (AS) has revealed to me from my Lord before you entered that I impose it upon the people. And I will do that God-willing.’”
“The next day, the Prophet (SA) sent me (Hudhayfah) to Fadak for some matter. I stayed there for some days. Then I came back and I found the people saying that the Prophet (SA) had ordered them to greet Ali by the title of Ameerul Momineen and that Jibrael had ordered him from Allah (SWT) to do so. When I heard that, I said to the people that the Prophet (SA) had spoken the truth and that I heard Jibrael (AS) greet Imam Ali (AS) using the title Ameerul Momineen and I narrated to them the whole story. (Irshad Al Qulub)
Unfortunately, the title of “Ameer Al Momineen” was used instead of the term “Caliph of the Prophet” after Umar ibn Al Khattab ordered that the latter be replaced with the former. It is sad to note that as with other rights of Imam Ali (AS) that was confiscated unjustly, some of his unique titles were also stolen such as “Ameerul Momineen” and used by others who are not worthy of that title.
قالَ لَهُ وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَخِي وَ يا وَصِيّيِ وَ خَلِيفَتِي وَ صاحِبَ لِوائِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ
My father replied, "Peace be upon you too, O brother, successor, vicegerent, and bearer of my Flag. I allow you." Ali thus went with them under the cloak.
In the Tradition of the Cloak, the Holy Prophet (SA) also defines the position of Imam Ali (AS) by mentioning four different roles which he assumes in relation to the Prophet. They are as follows: 1) Brother 2) Successor (Wasi) 3) Vicegerent (Caliph) 4) Bearer of the standard or flag
Each of these roles is great in its scope and is in itself enough to bring immense honor to the person who assumes that role. One can only imagine how great and virtuous such person who assumes all four roles is.
After migrating to Al-Madinah the Muhajiroon (the Migrants) and the Ansar (The Local Helpers) became so friendly with one another as if there was no difference of the tribe or the place of origin between them. It appeared that all of them belonged to one large family. They treated their properties as common, their honor and respect as common, and shared their happiness and sorrows together. This was a true example of unity and integrity. To make these bonds stronger, the Prophet (SA) repeated the establishment of brotherhood between individuals of the two groups as he had done with those in Makkah.
In the view of experts, brotherhood can be strong only between individuals of the same nature. If the natures are different, and the individuals come together for whatever reason, the togetherness will be temporary. The Prophet (AS) kept this factor in mind when he established brotherhood between individuals from the two groups. He closely studied the natures of the individuals before declaring them brothers. When he saw that any two persons had a lot in common, he named them brothers.
According to many narrations including Al Hakim in his Mustadrak, Ibn Abbas said: “The Holy Prophet (SA) assigned brotherhood among his companions, so he assigned Abi Bakr to Umar, Talha to Zubair, and ‘Uthman ibn A'ffan to Abdul Rahman ibn Uof. So Ali ibn Abi Talib said to the Prophet, “Oh Messenger of Allah, you have designated brotherhood among your companions, so who is my brother?” The Prophet (SA) answered, “Oh Ali, are you not pleased that I become your brother?” So Ali said, “Yes, Oh Prophet of God!” The Prophet (SA) replied, “You are my brother in the life of this world and in the hereafter.”
Certainly, it is not a coincidence that the Prophet (SA) left Imam Ali (AS) to be the last to assign brotherhood so that his case stands out in front of all the companions and the question is raised as to “Who is the brother of Ali?” One can imagine that no one expected for the Prophet (SA) to declare himself as the ‘brother’ of Ali. What a great honor for Imam Ali (AS) which speaks volumes of the great status which he enjoys in the eyes of Allah (SWT)! It is not possible for the Prophet (SA) to designate Imam Ali (AS) as his brother without prior divine approval in this regards, so his declaration in the event of brotherhood is certainly a sign and indication of Allah’s pleasure towards Ali and his superiority in His eyes.
Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the purpose of assigning brotherhood in this event was to pair up a companion from the Muhajireen with a companion from the Ansar. However, in the case of Imam Ali (AS) and the Prophet (SA), they do not fulfill the criteria of being from the two groups. This is yet an indication that the brotherhood between them is not random and is rather intentional and without mistake.
One must also understand that this brotherhood does not only signify the common Islamic brotherhood that is mentioned in the verse,
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ.
“The Believers are all brothers.” (49:10).
This brotherhood is of a superior level and a reflection of the nearness and attachment between two individuals.
If this was just a common bond of friendship, then Imam Ali (AS) already enjoyed it because of being a Muslim and of the same descent as the Prophet (AS). What was the need of public declaration of their brotherhood? Certainly, this event signifies the eternal spiritual brotherhood between the two which will translate itself into the position of successorship after the Prophet’s demise. It also highlighted the similarity between the superior character and nature of Imam Ali (AS) as that of the Prophet (AS).
When Imam Ali (AS) was been declared by the Prophet (AS) to be his brother, it proved that he was the only person amongst the Muslims deserving of that position! This choice is not because of the ancestral affinity but it is on the basis of identical qualities of the two individuals.
The proven track record of the Almighty Creator (SWT) confirms that most if not all of the past prophets and messengers appointed a successor(s) before they departed this world for the purpose of overlooking the affairs of the nation at their time and the message which they have delivered.
The idea of assigning a “backup” is logical and prevalent in our practical lives. For example, when a manager plans a vacation, he leaves behind a second person in command to assume his management responsibilities, and when the President of a country is absent, the Vice President steps forward to take over. If this is the natural course of action when it comes to mundane matters, then isn’t it all the more important that the idea of successorship be implemented in religious and eternally important affairs?
Isn’t it logical and rather necessary that a prophet or messenger appoint a successor and guardian after him to protect and look after the message which he has delivered? The Holy Prophet (SA) confirms this logic as he said: “For every prophet there is a Wasi and heir, and my Wasi and heir is Ali.” (Kifayat al Talib)
Throughout the course of the Prophet’s life, he took every opportunity to set the stage for Imam Ali (AS) to become his successor, guardian, and Caliph. Ali (AS) has been tested in many occasions and has proven to be worthy of that honorable status. The Messenger of Allah (SA) also told his daughter Fatima (AS) in this regards, “I am the last of the prophets, and the best of them, and the most beloved of creatures to Allah the Exalted and your father. My Wasi is the best of the Awsiyaa (guardians) and the most beloved of them to Allah, and he is your husband.”
Furthermore, Ibn Abbas narrates: “I was sitting with a young man from Banu Hashim with the Holy Prophet (SA) when a star dropped. The Prophet (SA) said, ‘Whoever this start descends on his house is my Wasi after me.’ The young Hashemite rose and followed the start and found it descending on Ali’s house. (Tarikh Dimashq)
It was on the day of Ghadeer which took place on the 18th of Dhul-Hijjah year 10 A.H. when the Prophet (SA) officially announced and inaugurated Ali ibn Abi Talib to become his successor after receiving divine revelation ordering him to appoint Ali for this position,
“O Messenger! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people.” (5:67)
Sure enough, the Prophet (SA) executed the command of Allah (SWT) and he stopped at the place of Ghadeer Khum on his way back from the Farewell pilgrimage. He gathered all the Muslims and announced the divine appointment of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) to be his successor, Wasi (guardian), and Caliph. He delivered an exceptional lengthy sermon where he enumerated the virtues of Ali.
Hafiz Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari writes in his book Kitabul Wilayah that the Prophet (SA) stated in the beginning of his renowned address at Ghadir Khum:
"The angel Gabriel has conveyed Allah's command to me that I stop at this place and inform the people that Ali Bin Abu Talib is my brother, my successor, my Caliph (Vicegerent) after me. O men! Allah has made Ali your Wali (guardian), and Imam (guide). Obedience to him is obligatory on each one of you; his command is supreme; his utterance is truth; curse be on him who opposes him; Allah's mercy be on him who befriends him."
It is also interesting to observe that the Prophet (SA) mentioned the titles Wali, Mawla, and Imam for Ali (AS) in his sermon over 27 times, whereas he used the word Khalifa for him only three times. Even under the Sunni implication of the word Khalifa (successor)—which limits it to political rule—it is clear that the Prophet (SA) stressed spiritual leadership in his speech, which would guarantee the salvation of those who follow the Imam and would lead them towards Paradise.
Worldly issues never took priority for the Prophet (SA) and his successors. Imam Ali (AS) himself has said: “By Allah, this world of yours is more despicable in my eyes than a pig bone in the hand of a leper.” (Nahjul Balagha, maxim 236)
Thus, Imam Ali’s exclusive qualification for political rule is only one of the natural outcomes of the guardianship (Walaya) that the Prophet (SA) established for him on behalf of Allah (SWT) on the day of Ghadeer. In this manner, authority of Imam Ali (AS) and his pure descendants is still effective over the remaining believers until the Day of Judgment, irrespective of the support of the majority of people for them or their political authority.
Throughout the course of the battles and battalions which took place in the early days of Islam as the minority group of believers tried to stand up against the supporters of falsehood and the idolaters, there was one consistent person who was always at the forefront and was the superstar and hero behind all the victories in the battlefield.
He was none other than the courageous Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) who become very well-known for his unmatched excellence and his heroic accomplishments such that all of Arabia feared to face him in war. Imam Ali (AS) was almost always the standard bearer of the Prophet (SA) who carried the symbol which represented Islam and the Muslims.
In general, the flags that were raised in war between two opposing groups held such importance in those days such that if the flag dropped to the ground, the whole morale and spirits of the army fell down and the sign of defeat was insinuated. Hence, the role of “standard-bearer” was very important in the battlefield and it was usually given to the individual who is honorable in the eyes of his people and who most closely represents the values and principles of that which the army is fighting for.
It was no coincidence that Imam Ali (AS) was usually the standard bearer in the battlefield as the Prophet (SA) would say to Ali, “You are the bearer of my standard in the hereafter, just as you are its bearer in the life of this world.” (Al Fada’el)
It is narrated in Tarikh Dimashq that Anas ibn Malid asked the Prophet (SA) who would the bearer of his flag on the Day of Resurrection. He (SA) answered, “The bearer of my flag in this life (and he pointed to Ali ibn Abi Talib).” In another tradition in regards to Ali, the Prophet (SA) said to him “I prayed to Allah (SWT) that He (SWT) designate you as my standard bearer and it is the greatest flag of Allah. It has written on it, ‘The victorious are the ones who win the Paradise.’”
Logically speaking, the person whom the Prophet (SA) appoints to become his standard-bearer must possess very noble traits that are aligned with what the Prophet (SA) would expect and be pleased with. The standard-bearer of Islam must be the most pious Muslim among the Prophet’s companions, just as we expect that the standard-bearer of the polytheists to be one of the most staunch disbelievers among the party of falsehood. The status of being the holder of the Prophet’s flag is certainly a grand position which speaks volumes of the rank which Imam Ali (AS) has attained, not only in this life but also in the hereafter.
قالَ : وَ عَليك السَّلامُ يا بِنتِي وَ يا بَضعَتِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكِ
My father replied, "Peace be upon you too, my daughter and part of my flesh. I allow you." I thus went with them under the cloak.
After Imam Ali (AS), the last member of the household who sought permission to enter the cloak is Lady Fatima and she greets her father by saying “Peace be upon you O father O Messenger of Allah”. Here, we are to be reminded of an interesting story which took place after the revelation of this verse:
لَا تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاءِ بَعْضِكُمْ بَعْضًا.
“Make not the calling of the messenger among you as your calling upon one another.” (24:63)
Imam Al Sadeq (AS) narrates that Lady Fatima (AS) said when this verse was revealed 'I feared to call the Messenger of Allah, `Father'; so I began calling him Messenger of Allah. He ignored me two or three times and finally said: 'Fatima, this verse was not revealed about you or your family, nor does it include your progeny; for you are from me and I am from you. Rather, this verse was revealed regarding the vain and crude Quraishans who are arrogant and spendthrifts. Call me Father; it surely is better for the heart and more satisfying to the Lord.'" (Bihaar Al Anwaar)
The love and respect that the Prophet (SA) had towards his daughter Fatima is apparent in this incident and thereafter she used to call him ‘Father’ and this is what she did in the Tradition of the Cloak where she presented the greeting “father” first and foremost before “Messenger of Allah”.
The Prophet (SA) greets Fatima (AS) by highlighting the fact that she is his “daughter” and “part of his flesh”. As for him mentioning that she is his daughter, it is not a new piece of information to her or to us who will recite and propagate this tradition till the end of time. Then, why does the Prophet (SA) stress what is already obvious?
The reason may be related to the fact many individuals including his own companions will intentionally “forget” this fact after his departure from this world. His one and only daughter who is the Master Lady of the Universe will one day have her right of Fadak (which she received as a gift from her father) confiscated. Lady Fatima (AS) will find herself in a position where she has to sadly remind those people around her that she is the daughter of the Prophet (SA) who had gifted the land of Fadak to her.
When that argument is denied, she attempts to use the argument of ‘inheritance’ that she at least had right over that land by virtue of her association to her father and inheritance from him. But again, the supporters of falsehood denied her that right and instead issued a false testimony that the Prophet (SA) had said that the prophets do not inherit and cannot be inherited.
This is despite the fact that the Holy Qur’an (27:16) clearly states that Prophet Sulaiman inherited from his father Prophet Dawood.
Her status of “daughter of the Prophet” was shamefully forgotten when some of the companions tried to deny her the right to weep and mourn over her deceased father and they tried to negotiate with her when she would engage in mourning and when she wouldn’t. The simple right of a human being – a normal human being – to mourn over their loved ones is usually granted with shared sympathy and condolences.
But in the case of Fatima Al Zahra (AS), they expressed their annoyance at her constant mourning and desired to stop her from shedding her purified tears over her father. Not any father, but the best father and the most superior human being in the whole universe from the beginning till the end of time!
Lady Fatima’s position as daughter of the Messenger of God was forgotten when a group of unjust individuals from the Prophet’s companions attacked her house and entered it without her permission. And when one of them warned that it is the house of Fatima, the 2nd Caliph answered, “So what!” Causing intentional and aggressive physical harm to the purified body of the Master Lady of the universe was yet another reminder that her status as the daughter of the Seal of Messengers was overlooked and ignored just a few months if not less, after the demise of her father.
That physical aggression caused the abortion of her unborn baby whom the Prophet called Mohsin and her bodily injuries included fracture of her ribs that ultimately caused Lady Fatima to become very sick in her last days and die as a martyr as a result of her injuries.
In fact, it is not only the father-daughter relationship between Lady Fatima (AS) and her father that was forgotten, but also, her status as the Master Lady of the Universe! After all, if all the injustices committed against her happened to the Master Lady of the universe and the daughter of the Prophet, then we wonder what aggression may happen to any other person with lower status?!
Fatima (AS) is the one whom the Prophet (SA) emphasized in numerous occasions that “Fatima is part of me; whoever annoys her annoys me and whoever harms her harms me." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad)
The fact that the Prophet (SA) reminds us in the Tradition of the Cloak as well as in this narration that “Fatima is a part of me” and is from his own flesh should make us recognize that the great status which Fatima has to her father exceeds the boundaries of that between any daughter and father.
The whole existence of Lady Fatima (AS) is from the purified existence of the Prophet (SA), and her flesh is derived from the purified flesh of the Prophet! Here, we are to be reminded of how her birth came about after she was conceived following the event when her mother Lady Khadija ate from the fruits of Paradise and united with her husband in a divinely planned manner so that her purified existence be created from the clay of Paradise.
Thus, her position is equivalent in importance to the Prophet (SA) such that any person who angers her, attacks her, opposes her, or challenges her is directly doing the same to the Prophet (AS). This correlation is clear and is the intent behind the Prophet’s words as displayed by this narration. With that in mind, one can imagine what great retribution and castigation the unjust oppressors deserve from the Almighty Allah (SWT) whose pleasure is aligned with the pleasure of the Prophet which is also aligned with the pleasure of Lady Fatima (AS).
فَلَمَّا إكتَمَلنا جَمِيعاً تَحتَ الكِساءِ أَخَذَ أَبي رَسُولُ اللهِ بِطَرَفَيِ الكِساءِ وَ أَومَأَ بِيَدِهِ اليُمنى إِلىَ السَّماءِ
When all of us sat under the cloak, my father the Messenger of Allah took hold of the two edges of the cloak with one hand, pointed to the sky with his right hand.
After the purified members of the Household who now have reached five in number have entered the Kisaa, the Tradition of the Cloak confirms that the state of completion has been reached and all the required and qualified attendees have already entered the cloak.
The state of إكمال (completion) that is pronounced in this moment indicates to us that the privilege of entrance under the cloak is not unlimited and it is not open to anyone and everyone. All those who enter the cloak must receive divine approval and prophetic approval which are equivalent to one another.
It is interesting to note that in other versions of the Tradition of the Cloak, as narrated by the Sunni School of thought by Al-Hakim that Umm Salama, a pious wife of the Prophet (SA) 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." (Al Mustadrak)
It is also cited by Al-Suyuti and Ibn al-Athir that Umm Salama said to the Holy Prophet (SA): "Am I also one of them?" He replied: "No. You have your own special position and your future is good." (Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor) One should ask what the wisdom behind Umm Salamah is asking whether she can be included under the cloak.
As we know, Umm Salama is one of the pious wives of the Prophet as agreed by all historians and one may argue that there is no ‘real reason’ why she wouldn’t deserve to be included among the family of the Prophet (SA). Yet, the Prophet (SA) declined her request and excused her respectfully with the assurance that she is in good standing.
This incident certainly proves that the honor of entering under the cloak and being considered to be from the “household” of the Prophet is not for anyone even if it one of his wives. The criteria for being from the “Ahl” (household) of the Prophet (SA) is not the bond of marriage or even blood relation, but rather the divine selection and approval that is based on purification of the individuals themselves.
With the members of the Cloak including none other than Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain, the state of إكمال (completion) has been reached and declared such that no one else in the present or future dare to attempt to add to the members under the cloak or attribute to others what does not belong to them.
This state of إكمال (completion) certainly reminds us of the completion and perfection which was reached on the 18th of Dhil-Hijjah in the year 10 A.H. in the occasion of Ghadeer Khum after the Prophet (SA) executed the divine order of officially appointing Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) as his successor, Wali, and Caliph over the Muslim nation after him. Upon the conclusion of his speech and after the mass of the Muslim attendees gave their pledge of allegiance to Ali, the following verse was revealed confirming the perfection and completion of the whole message of Islam,
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion. (5:3)
The completion that is mentioned in the Tradition of the Cloak is related to the completion that is mentioned in the above mentioned verse. In the former case, the completion is related to the members of the household who have received permission to enter the cloak with the Prophet, while in the latter case, the completion is in regards to the message of Islam which became perfected with the divine appointment of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) as successor and Wasi after the Prophet (SA).
Without the Wilayah of Imam Ali (AS) and his descendants after him ending with the 12th Imam Al Mahdi (AFS), the religion is empty and incomplete. And without the holy five personalities under the Cloak, the members of the purified household of the Prophet are incomplete and the purpose of this scene as we will discover will not be achieved.
Sure enough, after the members of the household have entered the cloak and the state of completion has been reached, the Prophet (SA) then took hold of the two edges of the cloak with one hand and raised his right hand to the sky to pray.
This gesture from the Prophet (SA) indicates to us that something grand and significant is about to happen. The purpose behind the gathering under the cloak is about to be achieved, and the blessings behind this scene is about to be manifested! What could that purpose and blessing be and what is the significance behind the cloak which has gathered very holy personalities under it?
و قالَ : أَللّهُمَّ إِنَّ هؤُلاءِ أَهلُ بَيتِي و خَاصَّتِي وَ حَامَّتي ، لَحمُهُم لَحمِي وَ دَمُهُم دَمِي
And he prayed, "O Allah! These are my true household, my unique people, and my kin. Their flesh is my flesh; their blood is my blood,
The Prophet (SA) raises his hand to pray and directs his words to Allah (SWT) as he announces that the individuals under the cloak are indeed his AhlulBayt (members of his household) and that they are his special ones and from his kin. As we have learned so far, the members who are under the cloak are Ali his cousin, Fatima his daughter, and Hasan and Husain who are his grandsons.
Surely, any person can understand that the relations of cousin, daughter, and grandsons are kin-related and considered to be family and members of a household. Then why does the Prophet (SA) need to emphasize the obvious in this case? Furthermore, isn’t Allah (SWT) All-Aware of the identity of the individuals under the cloak and their relation to the Prophet (SA)?
Surely the Prophet (SA) does not act out of his own will nor personal desire and every action of his is filled with divine wisdom and insight. Yes, the words he is uttering is addressing his Lord, but it is in reality directed to us – the Muslims and all those who will encounter and recite this narration in the future. History records that there has indeed been a controversy over whom exactly are the “Ahlul-Bayt” of the Holy Prophet (SA). The question begs itself why is it so important to known and identify who exactly are AhlulBayt referring to and whom does it exclude.
Knowing exactly who AhlulBayt are becomes a very vital matter when one considers the following tradition of the Prophet (SA) as well as many other traditions which unequivocally state that adherence to AhlulBayt is the only way of salvation:
"It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, which is my Ahlul-Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."
We all know what the Holy Qur’an is, however, we need to ascertain who exactly are the “AhlulBayt” mentioned in this this authentic narration whose importance are obvious by virtue of their association to the divine Book.
There are two major opinions regarding the identity of the Prophet’s “AhlulBayt”. The mainstream opinion is that the AhlulBayt includes the Prophets daughter (Fatima), grandsons (Hasan and Husain), his cousin Ali and his wives.
However, the Shi’a school of thought is of the opinion that the household of the Prophets refers only to Fatima, Ali, Hasan, and Husain, and the nine descendants of Imam Husain (not including the wives of the Prophet). Of course, at the time of the Holy Prophet only five of them (including the Prophet) were alive and the rest were not born yet.
The authentic Tradition of the Cloak is one of the key proofs which settles this argument via the words of the Holy Prophet (SA) as he clearly identifies the AhlulBayt by sayingأهل بيتي أَللّهُمَّ إِنَّ هؤُلاء (O Allah! These are my true household) after they have entered under the cloak.
The Prophet (SA) further mentions that “they are my خاصتي unique people, and my حامتي kin.” The Arabic word خاصتي is related to the derivative words خصوص (khusoos) and مخصوص (makhsoos) which means special. And the word حامتي is related to the Arabic word يحمي which means to protect. Hence, when the Prophet (SA) says the AhlulBayt are my حامتي , it means they are my “protectors” or those who care very much for him such that they would do anything to defend him.
This behavior is typical with family members and that is certainly the case with the Household of the Prophet (SA) but to a much higher degree. With the Prophet’s testimony that those under the cloak are his special and unique ones and they are his kin, this description gives assurance and elaboration to his first statement that they are his true household (AhlulBayt).
Thereafter, the Prophet (SA) continues to describe the status of the Members of the Cloak whom he has defined to be his AhlulBayt, his kin, and his special ones. “Their flesh (لحم) is my flesh and their blood (دمّ) is my blood.” This is a very profound statement which exceeds the literal meaning.
The obvious meaning indicates that the AhlulBayt belong to the same origin as the Prophet (SA) as they share the same flesh and blood – and this is an indication of family relations. One may wonder why the Prophet (SA) is emphasizing this fact when no one can deny that his daughter, cousin, and grandsons are related to him by blood and flesh.
But it is not any flesh and any blood that is being mentioned now. The individuals under the cloak are being associated with the flesh and blood of the Holy Prophet and the Seal of Messengers, Prophet Muhammad who is the best of creation in the eyes of the Creator! What great honor and blessing is that?
Shouldn’t we pause here to reflect on this reality and conclude what should be concluded? In fact, it is not distant blood relation where a person may be related to a person distantly. Rather, it is direct and immediate relation where the pure blood of the Prophet (SA) is directly transferred physically in the bodies of the holy AhlulBayt (AS) which also carries with it the spiritual purity as Allah (SWT) has willed.
Furthermore, we should be cognizant of the fact that the Prophet (SA) shares the same blood and flesh as his household because they are all created from the same light and from the same origin as cited in many narrations such as the Prophetic statement,
خلق الله الناس من أشجار شتى وخلقني وأنت (يا علي) من شجرة واحدة.
“Allah created the people from different trees and He created me and you (Oh Ali) from the same tree.”
In the books Musnad by Ibn Hanbal and Manaqib by Ibn Maghazili, the Prophet (SA) is recorded to have said, "I and Ali Bin Abi Talib both were a single light in the presence of Allah 14,000 years before the creation of Adam. When Allah created Adam, he deposited that light in Adam's loins. We remained together as one light until we separated in Abul-Muttalib's loins. Then I was endowed with Prophethood and Ali with the caliphate."
The words “flesh” and “blood” are selectively used by the Prophet (SA) as the example in the Tradition of the Cloak although we understand that all the body parts are also from the same origin and developed from the flesh and blood of the Prophet. After all, a fetus is developed from a drop of semen which is formed from the blood in the veins and mixed with flesh, which is also the origin. Hence, all of the Members of the Cloak come from the shared origin of the Prophet (SA).
يُؤلِمُني ما يُؤلِمُهُم وَ يُحزِنُني ما يُحزِنُهُم ، أَنَا حَربٌ لِمَن حارَبَهُم وَ سِلمٌ لِمَن سالَمَهُم وَ عَدوٌّ لِمَن عاداهُم وَ مُحِبٌّ لِمَن أَحَبَّهُم
Whatever causes them pain causes me pain too, and whatever saddens them saddens me too. I am at war against whoever wages war against them, at peace with whoever is at peace with them, the enemy of whoever shows enmity towards them, and I love whoever loves them.
After the initial statement where the Prophet (SA) directly associates his AhlulBayt to himself by pronouncing the equivalence in origin symbolized in “blood” and “flesh”, he then proceeds by delivering a series of six precious statements where he conveys his position and his policy towards those who deal with his AhlulBayt whether in a positive or negative way. It is a prophetic law and code of conduct where he not only issues these rules as his policy but moreover teaches us to follow that same policy, if we choose to follow his Sunnah (way).
These six statements which complement one another and are aligned with each other are divided into two sets. The first set consists of two statements which describe the Prophet’s feelings depending on how his AhlulBayt (AS) feels. And the second set consists of four statements which convey the Prophet’s immediate course of action to how his AhlulBayt (AS) are treated.
In the first set, the Prophet declares that he feels pain whenever his AhlulBayt feels pain and he feels sadness whenever they feel sadness. It is interesting to note that this narration conveys the feelings of the Prophet first, before informing us why the prophet feels the way he does. We typically hear of the cause first and then the effect, but in this case, the effect is provided first before the cause and this is the beauty of the Arabic language and the eloquence behind it.
Also, the strength and seriousness of the Prophet’s reaction or feeling is highlighted more so by the presentation of the “effect” before the “cause”. In this case, the cause is the pain and sorrow felt by the AhlulBayt (AS) while the effect is the Prophet’s reaction of feeling their pain and sorrow.
In the second set, four declarations are presented where the positions of peace, war, opposition, and love are presented. The Prophet (SA) directs his words to the audience – not only his Muslim nation but all of mankind. The questions the Prophet (SA) will answer are:
1- To whom will the Prophet (SA) be peaceful with, and to whom will he be at war with?
2- To whom will the Prophet (SA) be in opposition to and to whom will he grant his love?
In fact, these questions are of dire importance to us to address and learn its answer because we as Muslims are in the position where we need to know what exactly pleases the Prophet (SA) and what does not. After all, our compliance with the Prophet’s orders is equivalent to compliance of Allah’s orders, as highlighted in the Qur’an as an obligatory divine command,
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you.” (4:59)
The Prophet (SA) declares that he will be at war with those who are at war with the Prophet and he will be at peace with those who are at peace with them. He also states that he will be the enemy of those who take his AhlulBayt (AS) as enemies, and he will love those who love them. As we noted before in the first set of declarations, the Prophet (SA) uses the same way of expression in delivering his message to us. He states his position first before mentioning the cause.
For example, instead of saying “Whoever is at war with them, I will be at war with them”, he declares “I am at war with those who are at war with them. The latter statement is stronger in its meaning and spirit and this method of expression conveys a greater sense of importance to his position. This declaration resembles the authentic narration where the Prophet (SA) correlates his pleasure and anger to be aligned with Allah’s as well as that of Lady Fatima (AS):
"Whoever pleases Fatima has indeed pleased God and whoever has caused her to be angry has indeed angered God. Fatimah is a part of me. Whatever pleases her pleases me and whatever angers her angers me." (Fatima the Gracious)
Aside from the Tradition of the Cloak, there are other authentic narrations which quote the Prophet (SA) conveying the same meaning. For example, the well-known scholars of the School of Companions such as Ibn Atheer, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Ibn A’saker, Al Tirmidhi cites that Zaid ibn Arqam testifies that the Prophet (SA) said to Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain: “I am at war with whomever you are at war with and I am at peace with whomever you are at peace with.”
It is interesting to note the slight variation in the expression of this narration where the Prophet (SA) complies with whatever position his AhlulBayt (AS) takes. So the Prophet (SA) says that if the AhlulBayt have taken the decision to befriend someone, then his position is perfectly aligned with theirs and the same is the case if they are at war with someone.
Actually, this acknowledgment of the Prophet (SA) indicates his unwavering trust in their judgment and furthermore, their infallibility and purity such that he is 100% sure they will never make a mistake in judgment or action. He does not need to review their actions or question them about their decision for he is absolutely confident that their way of life is in conformity with what pleases Allah (SWT) and so he also will be pleased.
We can also conclude from the Prophet’s words that the concept of Tabbara (disavowal from the enemies of the one whom you love) is as equally important as Tawalla (loving and supporting those who befriend the one whom you love).
Disassociating yourself from those who oppose the AhlulBayt (AS) is an obligation which the Prophet (SA) himself has set the standard and is following that policy with his own household. He has given us the green light of approval to adjust our ways and dealings such that our love and devotion to them is complimented and completed by our disavowal from their opponents and enemies. This is in fact a logical behavior which we can relate to in our everyday lives to our own loved ones.
Now, let’s survey the Holy Qur’an to learn what the divine consequences are of those who fight the Prophet (SA). Allah (SWT) says in the following verse of Surat Al Ma’eda:
إِنَّمَا جَزَاء الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الاْرْضِ فَسَادًا أَن يُقَتَّلُواْ أَوْ يُصَلَّبُواْ أَوْ تُقَطَّعَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم مِّنْ خِلاف أَوْ يُنفَوْاْ مِنَ الاْرْضِ ذَلِكَ لَهُمْ خِزْيٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَلَهُمْ فِي الآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ.
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.” (5:33)
As the Tradition of the Cloak already established the direct correlation of the AhlulBayt’s pleasure and anger with that of the Prophet (SA), we can safely conclude that the punishment in this life and the grievous chastisement as described in the abovementioned verse also applies to all those who fight the AhlulBayt (AS) and oppose them. Let us also survey the history of Islam during the life of the Prophet and especially after his departure to investigate who exactly waged war against the AhlulBayt (AS) and who stood up against them, challenged them, seized their right, physically attacked them, and/or contributed to their deaths.
Whether such personalities happen to be from the close companions of the Prophet or from the family of the Prophet doesn’t make a difference to Allah (SWT) in the fate that they will receive because each person will be accounted for their deeds and not by their relations. Let us ask the historians who fought against Imam Ali (AS) and seized his rights?
Who challenged Lady Fatima and attacked her? Who poisoned Imam Hasan, betrayed him, and sought to prevent him from being buried near his grandfather in the cemetery of Baqee’ in Madina? And who waged war in Karbala against Imam Husain, slaughtered him and his companions and supported his opponents whether actively or passively? Surely those who committed transgression and oppression to the purified AhlulBayt (AS) will come to know what their fate will be.
إنًّهُم مِنّي وَ أَنا مِنهُم فَاجعَل صَلَواتِكَ وَ بَرَكاتِكَ وَ رَحمَتكَ و غُفرانَكَ وَ رِضوانَكَ عَلَيَّ وَ عَلَيهِم
They are part of me and I am part of them. Therefore (please) shower on me and them Your blessings, benedictions, mercy, forgiveness, and pleasure.
If a person wants to express proximity towards another person among the relatives, one way is to always remind them that they are from each other and belong to each other, especially if one of them already holds a noble and honorable position. And if the two parties happen to both enjoy a superior station and degree of excellence in terms of faith and religiosity, then logic dictates that they must seek each other’s proximity and association.
But if their spiritual association is coupled with their relation of kin, then the strength of the unity between the two parties intensifies and along with that their association becomes tighter.
The series of declarations which the Prophet (SA) just presented is followed by a summarizing statement which wraps up his main idea as he pronounces إنهم مني وأنا منهم (They are from me and I from them). There is no stronger statement that the Prophet (SA) can say which can convey how close his AhlulBayt are to him and the degree of their association such that they are no longer two separate entities.
Actually, the Prophet (SA) wants to convey that he and his purified household are ONE and the SAME and they are of the same origin, not just in terms of material or biological proximity, but also spiritually and intellectually as they are all from the same light.
When we are told that his AhlulBayt are from him, we can understand at the basic level why is that so due to the blood relation present. On one hand, it is a sign of humility of the Prophet that he shares with his AhlulBayt what he possesses of nobility, glory, and honor due to his status as the best of God’s creation.
On the other hand, the Prophet (SA) can never exaggerate or overestimate or blurt out a profound statement like this just for the sake of making a compliment. As we know, the Prophet (SA) does not speak out of his own will and every letter and word he utters is calculated and divinely approved. So when he clearly states that the AhlulBayt are from him, it indicates the grand level of piety and excellence which these members of the household have attained such that they have earned the reward of being “from the Prophet”.
No other person was given that honor among the companions of the Prophet (SA) except Salman Al Muhammadi who was an agent and trustee to the AhlulBayt (SA) to the end of his life-time and whose affinity to them was such that he was attached to them. His superior station was such that Prophet (SA) said in his regards, “Salman is from us, AhlulBayt.” (Sunan ibn Majah, Al Mustadrak, Musnad Ibn Hanbal)
This does not mean that he is one of them, but rather “from them” and associated to them. In fact, this honor of being “from the Prophet and his AhlulBayt” can also be attained by the pious believers as Imam Al Redha (AS) said, “Our Shia are from us, they were created from the remainder of our clay.”
Furthermore, if a person is told that they belong to and come from the same origin as a very esteemed and honorable personality or a saint whom they recognize their excellence in actions and behavior, it naturally encourages them to beautify themselves furthermore with the ornaments of good morals and virtues and certainly nothing from the ill traits and negative characteristics.
This may be a good reason why many of the children and progeny of the Prophets and Imams try to stay away from committing any wrong or inappropriate act since they recognize that their origin dictates that they act according to their noble ancestry and behave in their best possible conduct.
Although the purified AhlulBayt (AS) are themselves a beacon of light and are in no need of encouragement, one can imagine that this declared association between them and the Prophet further intensifies their existing love and desire to abide by the perfect code of values and behavior such that they practically achieve the status of being “from the Prophet”.
As explained in the book Min Fiqh Al Zahra by Imam Mohammad Al Husaini Al Shirazi, it is possible that one meaning intended by the words “They are from me and I am from them” is for Allah (SWT) to convey the point that He (SWT) created the AhlulBayt (AS) and brought them into existence for the sake of the Prophet. This is in agreement with the narration which states that “If it was not for the Prophet, Allah would not have created the planets and God’s analogues”, (Tafsir Ruh Al Ma’ani) and hence, no one would’ve been able to inhabit this life.
And the reverse may also be true, that if it was not for Ali and Fatima (peace be upon them), Allah (SWT) would not have created the Holy Messenger (SA). In essence, without the creation of the Prophet and his AhlulBayt (AS), the whole creation and universe is deficient and incomplete. And Allah (SWT) as we know is the Absolute Perfection and it is not possible for Him to create an incomplete creation.
Furthermore, if we can explain how the AhlulBayt (AS) is from the Prophet (SA), how can we explain that the Prophet (SA) himself is from them? This profound statement reminds us of the key statement the Prophet (SA) has said repeatedly about his grandson, “Husain is from me and I am from Husain.” (Al-Mustadrak) Surely, the blood of Husain is the same as the blood of the Prophet and the blood of the Prophet is also the blood of Husain.
So, whoever spills the blood of Husain (AS) has surely shed the very blood of the Messenger of Allah (SWT). And whoever slaughtered the flesh of Husain (AS) has surely slaughtered the flesh of the Prophet (SA). With that correlation made, one can imagine how great is the wrath and retribution that Allah (SWT) will incur on those who audaciously killed the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SA)!
In reference to the prophetic statement “Husain is from me and I am from Husain”, Shirazi explains in his book Min Fiqh Al Zahra that the outward meaning that the Prophet (SA) wants to convey is that: The Muhammadan Islam that is currently present can only continue and live on with Husain. And the same meaning may be interpreted from the expression “They are from me and I am from them.”
Also, one may consider the fact that the positive worldly reputation and high position which the AhlulBayt have in the hearts and thoughts of the people in this life is surely due to their close relation to the Holy Prophet (as we can naturally imagine).
Likewise, whatever veneration that Prophet (SA) has in the eyes of the people is due to the grand sacrifices which the AhlulBayt (AS) has offered and their committed and unrelenting efforts for the sake of the Prophet (SA) and for the religion of Islam.
Aside from the close-knit association which we can conclude from the words “They are from me and I am from them”, we may also deduce the presence of both Walayah Tashre’eya (legislative authority) and Walayah Takweeniya (universal or absolute authority) for the AhlulBayt (AS) and that is in addition to the many other proofs which indicate that, which is beyond the scope of this paper. As for the Walayah Al Tashre’eya, it means that the right of legislation is in their hands and this is in alignment with the prophetic narration where he says “Allah has disciplined His Prophet with His discipline and has given him authority over His religion”. (Bihaar Al Anwaar)
As for Walayah Al Takweeniya, it means that Allah (SWT) has given Prophet Muhammad (SA) and his household the mandate to run the universe or at least a part of it. It is the ability which is granted by Allah (SWT) to His beloved servants to achieve things which are out of the usual way. The AhlulBayt (AS) have the authority over the universe by the permission of Allah (SWT) and that is exactly what they are doing, just like Angel ‘Ezraeel executes the command of Allah (SWT) in taking away the lives.
We see examples of that divinely-bestowed authority as was the case with Prophet ‘Isa (AS) who cured those afflicted with leprosy and brought the dead back to life by the permission of Allah (SWT). The station of the AhlulBayt (AS) and the Imams from the progeny of Imam Husain (AS) is certainly greater than any of the prophets or messengers (with the exception of the Seal Messengers) and this is proven by the fact that Prophet ‘Isa (AS) will pray behind the 12th Awaited Imam (AFS) upon his reappearance.
A person may question why the Almighty Creator would grant such high level of authority to his creation and the answer to this valid question is answered by a sacred narration where Allah (SWT) says: “Oh My Servant, obey Me and you will be blessed; I say to something ‘Be and It is’ and you will say to a thing ‘Be and it will be’.”
The best of servants in Allah’s eyes are the Holy Prophet and his purified household (peace be upon them), so it is not surprising that they attain the status referred to in this narration and they are bestowed authority over that which Allah (SWT) has given them permission to execute His Will.
After the Prophet (SA) declared their status in relation to him, he transitions his speech into a supplication where he prays for them and for himself altogether and he says “Therefore (please) shower on me and them Your blessings, benedictions, mercy, forgiveness, and pleasure”. It is interesting to note that the Prophet says فاجعل with a prefix of “fa” (therefore) and then he presents five requests as mentioned in the above supplication.
It is as if the Prophet (SA) is saying that because he is from the AhlulBayt (AS) and they are from him and due to their elevated station that is raised even higher by virtue of their association and unity with each other, they now deserve to acquire the blessings of Allah (SWT) which includes benedictions, mercy, forgiveness, and pleasure.
Before we proceed to the next grand request which the Prophet (SA) makes, let us briefly screen the Holy Qur’an to find out whether Allah (SWT) has accepted the Prophet’s prayers and granted him what he asked for. When Prophet (SA) asked for blessings and benedictions, sure enough Allah (SWT) responded back with His acceptance as mentioned in the Qur’an:
.إنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
“Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! Call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.” (33:56)
Not only does Allah (SWT) Himself sends His divine blessings and benedictions on the Prophet, the angels also join the Almighty (SWT) in that great honor! In addition, Allah (SWT) orders all believers to do the same.
When the Prophet (SA) humbly prayed for forgiveness, Allah (SWT) confirmed His acceptance and forgiveness even though the Prophet and his AhlulBayt (peace be upon them) have not done anything wrong to request that forgiveness. So how does Allah (SWT) fulfill the prayer of the humble and infallible Prophet (SWT) if he does not have any sin? The answer to that is the acceptance of forgiveness on behalf of their devout followers and lovers.
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُبِينًا. لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا.
“Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory. That Allah may forgive your community their past faults and those to follow and complete His favor to you and keep you on the Straight way.” (48:1-2)
And when the Prophet (SA) requested for pleasure (رضوان), Allah (SWT) verified the reciprocal status of pleasure for him and his purified household:
رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ.
“Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Allah; this is the great triumph.” (5:119)
وَ اَذهِب عَنهُمُ الرَّجسَ وَ طَهِّرهُم تَطهِيراً
Remove from them any impurity and purify them a thorough purification.
Thereafter, the Prophet (SA) presents the grand request which encompasses all the bounties and blessings of the life and the hereafter. He prays that Allah (SWT) removes from them (he and his AhlulBayt) any impurity. This is the keynote request and prayer and which will prove to be the main reason for the gathering under the cloak.
The question to ask now is: What exactly is the Prophet (SA) asking for? What will the Prophet and Imams (AS) be purified from? In his brief article titled Taharah & ‘Ismah of The Prophets, Messengers, Awsiyaa, And Imams, Dr. Hatem Abu Shahba presents a thorough research analyzing the two concepts of purification (Taharah) and ‘Ismah (infallibility) and we present an excerpt of that discussion in this paper as follows:
Before we attempt answering this question, let us first present an example from our everyday lives to clarify the topic of purification (Taharah). If you want to clean a knife or a pair of scissors that will be used in a surgical operation on a human body, what will you clean that knife or scissors from? In this case, you will be sanitizing it from germs, microbes, and viruses. This will be your main concern so that the wound of the patient does not get contaminated and lead to death of the patient due to his contaminated wound.
Thus, after the process of sanitization and purification, the knife or scissors will become qualified to perform its duty, which requires a great amount of efficiency and care as possible. In other words, the process of Tat-heer (purification) is essentially for the purpose of making the Mutahar (the subject that will be purified) more fit and proficient in carrying out its task in the best form possible. This is logical, reasonable, and very clear as we use it many times in our daily lives.
Let us now apply this same logic to our proposed question, as we will find that the purification of our Prophets and Imams (peace be upon them) should be from the things that may prevent or hinder the performance of their God-given roles. This purification should result in them being more proficient and capable of successfully fulfilling their jobs and responsibilities.
So, in order for us to know what they will be purified from, we must first identify and specify their jobs and responsibilities. We must know what its consequences and implications are so that we can logically deduce the answer based on our expectations. If we reflect on what exactly are the major roles and responsibilities of the Prophets, Messengers, Awsiya', and Imams, we will conclude the following:
First: Relay and convey the orders and commands of Allah (SWT) to the people.
Second: Advise and urge the people to follow and obey the orders of Allah (SWT) and to carry out the instructions and teachings of the divine message.
Third: Obey and carry out the orders of Allah (SWT) with absolute care in the individual and specific roles that are assigned to each one of them, in addition to their general responsibilities, without any addition or subtraction.
Fourth: Set a good example and become roles models for the people in obeying the rules of Allah (SWT) and not disobeying Him under any circumstances (such that the people imitate and follow their example).
Fifth: Rule justly between the people according to what Allah (SWT) revealed and His orders, and thereby set the example to the people how to judge between others in that same manner.
Sixth: Specify the guidelines and foundations which the human society will be built on including its relation with its surroundings and its interior (exactly as Allah commanded), and to execute it out to the best of their abilities.
Seventh: Teach the people the wisdom, the lessons, and the laws of the religion as Allah (SWT) commanded, with what Allah (SWT) instructed, and with what they received from Him.
After quickly and briefly displaying the roles and responsibilities of the Prophets, Messengers, Awsiya', and Imams (AS) on Earth, what do you think are the things that they should be cleansed and purified from in order for them to perform their jobs in the best way possible?
If we take a closer look at the seven responsibilities mentioned earlier, we will find that the common ground or factor between all of them is: the command of Allah (SWT). Hence, the Tat-heer and ‘Ismah should be from the thing(s) that may interfere, hinder, or obstruct the meaning of this word. Naturally, what interferes with a word is always its opposite and what hinders it is always what's against it.
If we realize and understand this point, it will become easy for us to draw the conclusion that the most important thing that the Prophets, Messengers, Awsiya', and Imams MUST be purified and protected from is: disobedience of the orders and commands of Allah (SWT).
This is exactly what Allah (SWT) mentioned in the Qur’an Al-Kareem,
بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ لَا يَسْبِقُونَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ وَهُمْ بِأَمْرِهِ يَعْمَلُونَ.
“Nay! They are honored servants. They do not precede Him in speech and (only) according to His Commandment do they act.” (21:26-27)
Since their responsibilities is of highest degree of importance and vitality as it deals with the fate of a person in his Hereafter and the life of this world, it is incumbent and necessary that their success in their responsibilities and roles is guaranteed to a percentage that reaches an accuracy of 100%. And for that to happen, they must be cleansed and purified from anything that might cause their failure or hinder their success.
Note: You may refer to the rest of this article for further analysis related to this topic:
فَقالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ : يا مَلائِكَتي وَ يا سُكَّانَ سَماواتي إِنّي ما خَلَقتُ سَماءً مَبنَّيةً وَ لا أرضاً مَدحيَّةً وَ لا قَمَراً مُنيراً وَ لا شَمساً مُضيِئةً وَ لا فَلَكاً يَدُورُ وَ لا بَحراً يَجري وَ لا فُلكاً يَسري إِلاّ في مَحَبَّةِ هؤُلاءِ الخَمسَةِ الَّذينَ هُم تَحتَ الكِساء
Meanwhile, Allah the Almighty and All-majestic said, "O My angels and inhabitants of My heavens! Verily, I have not created any well-established sky, extended land, glowing moon, shining sun, revolving planet, flowing ocean, or moving on ark except for the love of these five (individuals) who are now under the cloak."
The Prophet (SA) has just supplicated to his Lord after his members of the Household – Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain – have gathered under the cloak with him at this momentous and historical occasion. The grand request for thorough purification was made and Allah (SWT) sees and hears the prayer of his most close servant on the face of earth. What happens next? And what do we expect for Allah (SWT) to do?
In regards to the other requests such as blessings, benedictions, and pleasure etc., they have been granted to the Prophet (SA) as we discussed. But what about this grand and unique request for purification?
The Tradition of the Cloak now changes scenes and the speaker now is none other than the Almighty Creator. He (SWT) addresses His speech to the angels and the inhabitants of the heavens. One may wonder how the narrator who is Lady Fatima (AS) received knowledge that this dialogue took place between Allah (SWT) and the angels such that she is narrating the incident as if she is witnessing it.
Could this be a sign or hint of divinely bestowed authority (Wilayah Takweeniya) which granted her the knowledge of the unseen? That is something to be pondered over and Allah (SWT) knows better.
One may also question why the angels are being addressed when the monologue which just took place was a supplication by the Prophet (SWT) who directed his prayer to his Lord. Hence, we should expect that if Allah (SWT) responds back then He would respond back directly to Prophet Muhammad (SA). But that didn’t happen in that exact fashion. Instead, Allah (SWT) chooses to direct His Words to the angels for two reasons.
The first reason is so that they and the other creatures in the heavens may act as witnesses and testify to what Allah (SWT) is about to say. And the second reason is that Allah (SWT) has directed His Speech to the angels, but in reality, His Words are directly to us and to all of mankind till the end of time. As the Arab proverb goes, “The speech is directed to you, O’ Neighbor”. Allah (SWT) is intentionally creating an opportunity to pronounce His divine declaration that will ring in the ears of all those who come across this unique tradition.
Allah (SWT) presents seven of His greatest creations which any person can relate to and recognize, and they are the:
7) A sailing Ark
If we take a look around us, we will notice that we are standing on land and above us are the heavens. During the day, the sun shines and brings light to us, and during the night, the crescent of the moon becomes apparent in the beginning of every lunar month. We recognize that the home address that we live in is the Earth which is one out of nine planets that the Almighty God created.
And one of the key resources of life without which the creatures and plants would not live is water, and the source of water is the rainfall which gathers into oceans and seas. It is interesting to note that the seventh creation which Allah (SWT) mentions – a sailing Ark – is different in nature compared to the other creations which He (SWT) mentioned such as the planet and the ocean.
An Ark is a vehicle of transportation which is man-made but it cannot proceed and sail in the ocean without the availability of wind to push the ship forward in the right direction that the sailor is intending to sail and in the presence of appropriate weather that does not impede the journey of the Ark. But how can the wind be controlled and who determines what the weather will be?
Surely, it is Allah (SWT) who is the Almighty Creator and the One who makes the impossible possible and the incapable capable. The reason why Allah (SWT) mentions a sailing Ark is to present an example of a man-made creation which is dependent on Allah’s Power and Will as is the case with all other creations.
In this manner, Allah (SWT) has included in His seven examples of creation the most important and the most comprehensive such that nothing is excluded, and He (SWT) describes each of those creations with its most obvious characteristic or function that we as humans can identify and recognize.
Allah (SWT) begins His speech by may making a negating statement “I have not created “, and this method of expression conveys a sense of urgency and importance to what He (SWT) is about to say and that is: “I have not created any well-established sky, extended land, glowing moon, shining sun, revolving planet, flowing ocean, or moving on ark except…”.
Allah (SWT) could have simply and straightforwardly stated the fact and then the reason behind it, as in “I have created such and such so that….”. But He doesn’t do that; rather Allah (SWT) utilizes a more eloquent way of speech to give a powerful introduction for the key point that He (SWT) is about to deliver.
What is that reason which the Almighty Creator has created the universe with all the creation in it? What is the exception which Allah (SWT) has made without which He wouldn’t have created any of His creation? Certainly it is a grand statement that Allah (SWT) is making and anyone hearing this powerful declaration should open their ears and eyes to what He (SWT) is about to convey. The answer Allah (SWT) provides is:
إلا في محبة هؤلاء الخمسة الذين هُم تحت الكِساء
“..except for the love of these five (individuals) who are now under the cloak.”
Who are those five individuals who are loved by Allah (SWT)? The Almighty Creator identifies them with one phrase “those who are now under the cloak”. At this point, we begin to understand the significance behind the gathering under the cloak, and the purpose behind the Tradition of the Cloak becomes obvious.
Allah (SWT) has intentionally planned the sequence of events which took place so far where Lady Fatima (AS) receives each one of her purified family and they each seek the permission from the Prophet (SA) to enter the cloak, after the Prophet himself had requested his daughter to bring a cloak to cover him due to physical discomfort he felt, and all these seemingly unimportant details were for the purpose of setting the stage for a grand event and an important declaration.
The five personalities under the cloak whom Allah (SWT) is referring to are none other than Prophet Muhammad, Lady Fatima, Imam Ali, Imam Hasan, and Imam Husain (may Allah be pleased with them)! They are the creations whom Allah (SWT) has created the rest of the universe for their sake.
They are the best of creations in Allah’s eyes. They are the love of Allah (SWT) and the most beloved to Him. They were five in number who were alive at that time but their total number are fourteen which includes nine members from the descendants of Imam Husain (AS) who were not present under that cloak since they were not yet alive. The five individuals under the cloak in fact represent all the fourteen divine personalities whom Allah (SWT) has chosen and preferred over the whole universe.
How great is their status and how high is their station is such that the Almighty Creator Himself has publicly expressed His eternal Love for them that has translated itself into action – the creation of the whole universe! How beautiful is that relationship between the Master and the Servant – the Creator and the Creature, such that the strong bond of love and admiration between them has exemplified itself in such a manner that the Lord of the earth and heavens have decided to make a grand announcement confessing the love relationship and the deep affection which no words can properly describe or draw a picture of.
It is a love that is unmatched, a relationship that has no similarity, and an example that is the model for all examples. So great and intense is that divine love that it is narrated by a number of companions including Ibn Abbas who testified that he saw the Prophet (SA) enter in the state of prostration (Sujood) five consecutive times without performing genuflection (Rukoo’).
So Ibn Abbas asked him about the reason and the Prophet (SA) answered, “Yes, Jibrael came to me and said ‘O Muhammad, the Almighty Allah loves Ali and so I prostrated and raised my head. Then he said ‘The Almighty Allah loves Fatima’ and so I prostrated and raised my head. Then he said ‘The Almighty Allah loves Hasan’ and so I prostrated and raised my head. Then he said ‘The Almighty Allah loves Husain’ and so I prostrated and raised my head. Then Jibrael said to me ‘The Almighty Allah loves those who love them and so I prostrated and raised my head.” (Mohadaraat Al Odabaa’)
The profound meaning which Allah (SWT) declares in the Tradition of the Cloak has also been conveyed in a sacred narration as we cited earlier where Allah (SWT) says, “If it was not for you Oh Prophet, I would not have created the planets and God’s analogues”.
It has also been cited in the book Shifaa Al Sodoor that Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) heard that the Prophet (SA) said that Allah (SWT) has said in a sacred narration: “O Ahmad, by My Honor and Majesty, if it were not for you, I would not have created my land nor my heavens, and I would not have raised this celestial green, nor have made this land flat, nor have created the heavens and earth nor created a length or width...”
There are a number of Sunni narrations which are in agreement with the idea that Allah (SWT) has not created the creation except for the Prophet (although these narrations do not include his holy household) such as the following three traditions:
Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, Baihaqi in Dalail an-Nubuwah, Tabarani in his Kabeer, Abu Na’eem in his Hilya and Ibn Asakir in Tarikh Damishq report that'Umar ibn al-Khattab relates that:
The Prophet (SA) said: “Allah said: When Adam ate from the forbidden tree, he asked: O Allah! I ask you for the sake of Muhammad to forgive me. Allah said: O Adam! How do you recognize Muhammad when I have not yet created him? Adam said: O Allah! When you created me and blew into me the spirit, I lifted my head and saw written on the ‘Arsh "La ilaaha illallah Muhammadur Rasoolullah". So, I got to know that you would only join your name with him who is most beloved to you. Allah (SWT) then said: O Adam! You have spoken the truth. Indeed Muhammad is more beloved to me than anything and when you asked me for his sake, I pardoned you. If Muhammad was not in existence, I would not have created you” (also narrated by Imam Subki in Shifaa as-Siqam and Shihab in Naseem)
Hakim in Mustadrak and Abu as-Shaykh in Tabaqaat al-Isfahani’ in a report from Abdullah ibn Abbas that:
“Allah revealed to Prophet ‘Isa ‘ (AS) that: O ‘Isa! Have faith (imaan) in Muhammad and order your Ummah to do the same. If Muhammad was not in existence, I would not have created Adam nor would I have made heaven or hell”. (also narrated by Shaykh Taqi ad-Din Subki in Shifaa as-Siqam and Shaykh al-Islam al-Bulqini in his Fatawa and Ibn Hajar in Afdal al-Qur’an).
Ibn Asakir reports from Salman Al Muhammadi (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said:
“Jibra’il came to the Holy Prophet (SA) and said that Allah says: I have not created anyone who is more honored to me than you. I have created the world and all that is therein so that they may know the rank that you possess. I would not have created the world if I had not created you”.
For those who belittle or mitigate the status of the Prophet’s household, this divine declaration about the purpose of creation is essentially a ‘wake-up call’ which elevates their status and remove any doubts regarding their position in front of Allah (SWT). And for those believers who are already blessed with their love and Wilayah in their hearts, this declaration further intensifies their love and status in our eyes and leaves us with a feeling of guilt that we have not given them their due rights of love, veneration, and service.
Furthermore, this divine declaration makes us realize that if Allah the Almighty Creator proved His Love to these selected personalities by offering nearly everything to them when He (SWT) didn’t have to, then shouldn’t we as God’s servants and the followers of the AhlulBayt (AS) exert all our efforts to serve their cause, defend them, prove our love to them, and propagate their ideologies to the best of our abilities, aside from the fact that it is an obligation on us?
فَقالَ الأَمِينُ جِبرائِيلُ : يا رَبِّ وَ مَنْ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ فَقالَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ : هُم أَهلُ بَيتِ النُّبُوَّةِ وَ مَعدِنُ الرِّسالَةِ هُم فاطِمَةُ وَ أَبُوها ، وَ بَعلُها وَ بَنوها
Gabriel the Honest Archangel asked, "O my Lord! Who are those under the cloak?"
The Almighty and All-majestic Lord answered, "They are the household of Prophethood and the core of the Message. They are namely Fatima, her father, her husband, and her sons."
As we mentioned before, the dialogue between Allah (SWT) and Angel Jibrael (AS) is for the purpose of conveying the information which Allah (SWT) wants us to hear. Jibrael (AS) asks Allah (SWT) about the identity of those who are under the cloak and He (SWT) responds back with one brief phrase informing us the identity of the individuals whom He is referring to. This way, no one after this event will ever have doubt of who was under the cloak and who was not. No one can dare to fabricate the facts or add / subtract to the individuals under the cloak.
When Jibrael (AS) asks Allah (SWT) who are under the cloak, Allah (SWT) answers with an interesting expression which further sheds some light on an interesting angle that we should pay attention to. Instead of providing the names of the members of the cloak (as in Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain), Allah (SWT) chooses a different concise and unique method to identify them. He (SWT) says: “They are the household of Prophethood and the core of the Message. They are namely Fatima, her father, her husband, and her sons."
First, Allah (SWT) identifies them as a whole – one identity – that is, they are أهل بيت النبوة (the Prophetic household) and معدن الرسالة (the core of the Message). Why is there the need to identify them as “AhlulBayt”? As history proves later, there has indeed been a controversy as to who are included among the “members of the Prophet’s household”. Who exactly are the AhlulBayt?
The mainstream Muslim population includes the wives of the Prophet among the AhlulBayt and some even include any blood relation of the Prophet to be from the “AhlulBayt”. However that is false and incorrect and here Allah (SWT) is taking the opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding or misinterpretation until the end of time. He (SWT) Himself is speaking to testify the truth regarding the identity of AhlulBayt who are exclusively Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain (May Allah be pleased with them).
The next question to ask is: What the significance of “AhlulBayt” in Allah’s eyes? The answer to that is conveyed in the second part of Allah’s answer and that is - معدن الرسالة (the core of the Message)
As we know, Allah (SWT) has revealed the message of Islam as the final revelation to mankind till the end of time. In the words of the Prophet (SA), he has left behind two weighty things - the Holy Qur’an and his ‘Itrah (AhlulBayt) – which will always accompany each other and will never separate until they reach the Pool of Hawd. We as Muslims are ordered to adhere to the Qur’an and AhlulBayt which together serve as our lanterns of guidance for salvation.
The Qur’an consisting of the word of God coupled with the infallible teachers and divinely appointed guides represented in the AhlulBayt (AS) and the Imams who will clarify the message of Islam and act as the “speaking Qur’an” and the “walking Qur’an” is the correct formula and prescription for us to abide by if we wish to achieve spiritual success and proximity to God.
The AhlulBayt (AS) is the model for human perfection and the template which we should follow and take our example from. In fact, all of the prophets and messengers before the Seal of Prophets understood their position of Wilayah and superiority over them and that they are the part and parcel of the unified message which Allah (SWT) intended for mankind to embrace. They are the heart of the religion and the core of the message as Allah (SWT) testifies, hence there cannot be any doubt or argument over this fact.
After all, if the whole universe was created for the sake of the Prophet and his AhlulBayt (AS), then we shouldn’t be surprised that they are the core and essence of the religion of Islam. If we have accepted the former after hearing the words of Allah (SWT) in their regards, then accepting the latter is natural and necessary. After all, Allah (SWT) reminds us in the Qur’an that
اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ
Allah knows best knows where He places His message. (6:124)
After properly introducing their title and significance to the religion, Allah (SWT) then identifies them personally by presenting only one of the five personalities who are under the cloak – and she is Lady Fatima. Allah (SWT) says: “They are namely Fatima, her father, her husband, and her sons."
Wouldn’t it have been easier and more transparent for Allah (SWT) to spell out the names of the members of the cloak especially since the angels and inhabitants of the heavens are well-aware of who the Prophet (SA) and his AhlulBayt (AS) are?
It is very interesting to note that Allah (SWT) chooses Fatima in particular as the core person to identify the rest of the members of the cloak who are her father, husband, and sons.
One must reflect and contemplate why Allah (SWT) mentions Lady Fatima (AS) as the reference point when He could’ve used the Prophet (SA) and that would have been more expected. Allah (SWT) could’ve said, “They are Muhammad, his daughter, his cousin, and his grandsons”.
This would’ve have been more acceptable to the mind since the status of the Prophet (SA) is above all ranks and the name of the Prophet (SA) has always been the core identifier as we recite in our obligatory prayers “Allahuma Sali ‘ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad” (Oh Lord send your blessings on Muhammad and his household).
In this example, we begin the recitation of this prayer by mentioning the name of the Prophet and then associating his family to him.
Or Allah (SWT) could’ve selected Imam Ali (AS) as the reference point by saying, “They are Ali, his wife, his sons, and his cousin.” But neither was the case! Surely, this divine selection to present the members of the cloak via Lady Fatima (AS) is an honor and virtue for her and for the purposes of demonstrating her high station and position.
We are to be reminded that the other members of the cloak are very close in blood relation to her; either her own beloved father who is the Seal of Messengers, or her dear husband and the successor and Wasi of the Prophet and the Commander of the Faithful, or her beloved sons who are the Master Youth of Paradise. What a great virtue she possesses to be blessed with such pure family whose origins and roots are one and the same and are the most noble and purest that it can be!
If we analyze each personality who has been granted permission to enter the cloak, we will easily recognize that the divine approval for them to become a member of the AhlulBayt was not random or a mistake as they all possess unique and extraordinary characteristics of honor, nobility, and excellence that cannot be matched. In fact, their physical presence under the cloak collectively in the same gathering must be a hint that something grand is about to happen and that their gathering is not just any family gathering.
Furthermore, one may also expect that with the unmatched qualities that each of the members of the cloak possess, it is not possible to expect another member to join who is not equally qualified in nobility, purity, and excellence, even if he or she is in overall good standing religion-wise, such as Umm Salamah.
It is not surprising that Allah (SWT) choses Lady Fatima (AS) to be the core of the People of the Cloak when she is the one whom Imam Hasan Al-Askari (AS) said: “We are Allah’s Hujjah (proof) over you and Fatima is Hujjah over us”.
Fatima is the one whom the following supplication is known to be recommended for the acceptance of prayers after sending benedictions to the purified household through her name, as narrated by Ibn Tawoos via the infallible Imam (AS):
اللهم صلي على فاطمة وأبيها وبعلها وبنيها والسر العظيم المستودع فيها أن تصلي على محمد وأل محمد وتفعل بي ما أنت أهله ولا تفعل بي ما أنا أهله.
"O Allah, I beseech you in the name of Fatima, her father, her husband, her sons, and the secret she is buried with: shower your blessings upon Muhammad and his Progeny, and do unto me that which is worthy of Your mercy, and not that which is worthy of my actions."
When asked what is the meaning of السر المستودع فيها (the secret she is buried with), our scholars have provided a number of possible interpretations. The “secret” may be referring to the Imams who are from her lineage, or it may refer to her aborted son Mohsin who has become a symbol for the oppression committed against the Imams (AS) and a proof of their right for Imamate.
It may also refer to the 12th Awaited Imam (who is from her sons) who will fill the earth with equity and justice after it will be filled with tyranny and injustice. In other interpretations, the “secret” refers to her position being the connecting point between the Prophethood and Imamate. As we know, Imamate is an extension of Prophethood so if it were not for the connecting point or “link” between them, the Prophethood and Message that was delivered would not have sustained without the institution of Imamate.
In light of this perspective, the commencement of Imamate began in her lap as she accompanied and stood alongside her husband Imam Ali (AS) defending his right for the successorship and raising her sons Imam Hasan and Husain (AS). Thus, she became considered the “mother of the Infallible Imams”.
With the grand status of Lady Fatima (AS) in mind, it becomes necessary and inevitable to seek intercession from her and desire her proximity by virtue of that “hidden secret” that is buried in her essence and has become the reason for her distinct position in the Tradition of the Cloak.
It is worth noting that Allah (SWT) identifies the sons of Fatima to be "بنيها" (Baneeha) instead of "إبنيها" (Ebnayha), and the difference between the two words is that the former term is the plural form while the latter refers to a pair (two in number). The divine use of the word Baneeha indicates that all the sons of Lady Fatima (AS), Hasan and Husain, as well as her grandsons from the lineage of Imam Husain (AS) are included with the members of the cloak, by virtue of their divinely bestowed infallibility.
فَقالَ جِبرائِيلُ : يا رَبِّ أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَهبِطَ إلىَ الأَرضِ لأِكُونَ مَعَهُم سادِساً ؟ فَقالَ اللهُ : نَعَم قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ
"O my Lord," Gabriel asked, "Will You allow me to descend to the earth to be the sixth of them?" Allah the Almighty and All-majestic said, "Yes, I allow you."
Upon hearing and absorbing this divine declaration from Allah (SWT), one can imagine how Jibrael (AS) felt elated as his existing love and veneration to the Prophet (SA) intensified further and thus he wisely made a request which displays his sense of yearning and appreciation to the position of the AhlulBayt (AS). He requested from Allah (SWT) that he descend to the earth and join them under the cloak!
It was a bold request as one can imagine even though Jibrael (AS) himself must have realized that the door is not opened for just anyone to enter the cloak. It is only the most closest and beloved creatures to the Lord whom the universe has been created for and only they attain the honor of entering the cloak. Jibrael (AS) recognized that the members of the cloak are already ‘completed’ and there is no any other person alive at that time who deserves to be in that position but has not yet entered. Then why did he make that request?
Although he knows that his rank among the angels is the highest and he has attained an exceptional proximity towards Allah (SWT), Jibrael (AS) is reminded of the incident of Me’raj which took place on the 27th of Rajab in the year 621 A.D. when he accompanied Prophet Muhammad (SA) in the journey towards the heavens and he was made to stop at a position that was very close to the divine throne of Allah (SWT). At that point, Jibrael (AS) was commanded by Allah (SWT) not to proceed and instead, the Prophet (SA) was given permission to continue forward at a position which no one else was ever given permission to enter. As the Holy Qur’an describes:
ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّى فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَىٰ. وَهُوَ بِالْأُفُقِ الأعلى
“When he was on the highest part of the horizon, Then he approached and came closer, Till he was at a distance two bows' length or even nearer.” (53:7-9)
Even Archangel Jibrael (AS) couldn’t cross past the seventh heaven at the place called Sidrat Al Muntaha (Lote-Tree)! When the Prophet (SA) asked him if he would abandon him at this stage, Jibrael (AS) excused himself and assured him that only the Prophet (SA) was given the permission to proceed due to his exceptionally great rank in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Hence, Jibrael (AS) was well aware that the Prophet (SA) has attained a very high station as well as his AhlulBayt (AS) whom he had witnessed their holy names inscribed near the Throne of Allah (SWT).
Yet, Jibrael proceeded to make that request to join the AhlulBayt (AS) under the cloak in this very blessed gathering.
The only thing he seeks is proximity and service of the chosen ones whom Allah (SWT) has raised their station above all stations. He recognized the fact that when a creature associates himself and draws himself closer to that which is honorable and esteemed, then he also will benefit by his association to that pure good. In essence, Jibrael (AS) acted upon the idea of seeking Qurba (proximity) to the AhlulBayt (AS) as Allah (SWT) has ordered:
قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ
“Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives.” (42:22)
It was an immediate and spontaneous reaction of any being that recognizes the truth, appreciates it, and desires to come closer to the symbol of righteousness. Jibrael (AS) requested to become the “sixth member” even though he knows very well that the members of the cloak are only five without an addition.
As a side note, it is worth reflecting on the fact that angel Jibrael (AS) sought the permission of Allah (SWT) and the permission of the Prophet (SA) to enter his house. Now compare this example with that of certain companions of the Prophet (SA) who with all audacity barged in the house of Lady Fatima (AS) without her permission and against her will, as they intentionally squeezed her behind the door causing her immense pain and abortion of her unborn child and setting her house on fire! May Allah (SWT) punish the transgressors and enemies of the AhlulBayt (AS)!
Allah’s answer to Jibrael’ s request was an approval and a granted permission for him to join the Prophet (SA) and his AhlulBayt (AS) under the cloak! The divinely-bestowed infallibility which Jibrael (AS) has (as an angel) from committing disobedience may be a reason why Allah (SWT) qualified him to join the blessed caravan of the Prophet (SA) as there is no harm in him being an addition to this gathering.
This is contrary to the position of Umm Salamah whom the Prophet (SA) testified to be in good standing; however she is not infallible and hence was not granted permission to join the AhlulBayt (AS).
What a great honor Jibrael (AS) has just attained!! Surely, he has achieved a status that no other creature, whether human or angel, will ever achieve, simply by being blessed with the opportunity to physically join them under the cloak, even if it is just as an unofficial member of the cloak. We will come to understand shortly what is the main wisdom behind the divine permission for Jibrael (AS) to descend to the earth and join this momentous occasion.
فَهَبَطَ الأَمِينُ جِبرائِيلُ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، العَلِيُّ الأَعلَى يُقرِئُكَ السَّلامَ ، وَ يَخُصُّكَ بِالتًّحِيَّةِ وَ الإِكرَامِ وَ يَقُولُ لَكَ : وَ عِزَّتي وَ جَلالي إِنّي ما خَلَقتُ سَماءً مَبنيَّةً و لا أَرضاً مَدحِيَّةً وَ لا قَمَراً مُنِيراً وَ لا شَمساً مُضِيئَةً و لا فَلَكاً يَدُورُ و لا بَحراً يَجري و َلا فُلكاً تَسري إِلاّ لِأجلِكُم وَ مَحَبَّتِكُم ، و َقَد أَذِنَ لي أَن أَدخُلَ مَعَكُم ، فَهَل تَأذَنُ لي يا رَسُول الله ؟ فَقالَ رَسُولُ الله : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَمِينَ وَحيِ اللهِ ، إِنَّهُ نَعَم قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ جِبرائِيلُ مَعَنا تَحتَ الكِساءِ.
Gabriel the Honest Archangel descended, "Peace be upon you, O Allah’s Messenger!" he greeted, "The Most High and All-high (Lord) conveys to you His greeting, expresses His special greeting and honoring to you, and says, ‘By My Almightiness and My Majesty I take this oath: I have not created any well-established sky, extended land, glowing moon, shining sun, revolving planet, flowing ocean, or moving on ark except for your sake and for your love.’ He has then allowed me to join you (under this cloak). Will you, O Allah’s Messenger, allow me?" Allah’s Messenger said, "Peace be upon you, O trustee of Allah’s Revelations. Yes, I allow you."
After Archangel Jibrael (AS) descends to the earth and conveys his greetings to the Prophet (SA), he delivers to him the divine message that is composed of two parts. The first part is the conveyance of Allah’s peace greetings to Muhammad and His special salutations and honoring to him.
This introduction by Allah (SWT) certainly brings endless joy to the heart of the Prophet (SA) as he takes a message from the beloved – He (SWT) whose thought and remembrance has filled his life every minute and second! What a great honor it is for a creature to be greeted with such veneration by his Creator!
It is a moment of extreme bliss for a lover to receive or hear news from his beloved, and the exceptional relationship between Prophet Muhammad (SA) and Allah (SWT) is the best exemplar of the longing which exist between two lovers.
With this most-welcoming introduction and greeting which Allah (SWT) conveys to his servant, one can expect that the message that will come afterwards will certainly carry good news or glad tidings that will please the servant. What is that message which Allah (SWT) has sent Jibrael (AS) to deliver to the Prophet (SA)? The words following the warm greetings amazingly begins with a divine swear where Allah (SWT) says "وعزتي وجلالي" (By My Almightiness and My Majesty).
The question begs itself why does the Almighty Creator have to use the method of swearing when He is the Most Truthful and any statement coming from Him is truth without any doubt. After all, He (SWT) does not need to convince anyone of anything and it is assumed that the audience should and would accept all that Allah (SWT) says without hesitation.
Yet we find the Holy Qur’an presenting many instances where Allah (SWT) begins His speech by swearing (قسم). Swearing in general is used to assure something or to draw the attention to another. In the Qur’an, there are many aims of swearing from which is to assure a certain matter to people.
The verses which contain oaths sworn such as: “those sent forth” (Al-Mursalaat), the winds that scatter (Al-Dhaariyaat), those who pull out (Al-Naazi’aat), the break of day (Al-Fajr), the Time (Al-‘Asr), the forenoon (Al-Duhaa) and the mansions of the stars (Mawaaqi’ al-Nujoom – see al-Waaqi’ah 56:75), etc., these are oaths sworn by Allah (SWT) and He has the right to swear oaths by whatever He wills, but the created being can swear only by his Lord.
When Allah (SWT) swears by something, He is either raising the status of that thing due to its excellence or He (SWT) may be using a grand creation of His which we as human can relate to very well so that we may pay close attention to the rest of His speech. It should be noted that the degree of importance of the subject of swearing increases with the significance of that thing which Allah (SWT) is swearing upon.
For example, if Allah (SWT) swears upon His grand creation such as the sun or the moon, it is different than if He (SWT) swears upon His own existence or an attribute of His divinity. Surely, the latter conveys a high degree of importance to what He (SWT) is about to say.
In the Tradition of the Cloak, Allah (SWT) commences His speech to the Prophet (SA) by swearing by His Mightiness and Majesty. This gives the audience a hint that the divine speech that will follow is of utmost graveness and importance and we should keep our ears wide open to receive what Allah (SWT) is about to deliver.
What does Allah (SWT) want to say that is of extreme importance such that He (SWT) is swearing by His own Mightiness and Majesty – two of His most exalted attributes? Jibrael (AS) is actually delivering that same message which Allah (SWT) communicated to him and the other heavenly creatures regarding the sole purpose and aim of His creation of the universe being out of love and for the sake of the holy personalities under the cloak. Jibrael (AS) narrates to the Prophet (SA) the exact words Allah (SWT) used and the Prophet (SA) and his AhlulBayt (AS) are made to recognize themselves the great status that they hold in Allah’s eyes.
The intention and purpose of Allah (SWT) regarding His aim of creation is not a secret and must not be hidden from any creation. Everyone including the humans, angels, and the infallible guides must be informed of the purpose of the divine creation, after which the actions of each individual will be accountable.
Allah (SWT) is neither telling a story for the sake of entertainment nor is He (SWT) expressing His feelings or actions just for the sake of sharing information. Rather, the Almighty (AS) is conveying this grand declaration after commencing with a warm welcome to the Prophet (SA) and swearing upon His most exalted attributes so that we pay very close attention and adjust our purpose in life according to the message that He (SWT) is delivering.
If Allah’s purpose of creation is out of love and for the sake of the Prophet’s AhlulBayt, then shouldn’t we as creation also align our purpose and actions with Allah’s purpose?
This is most logical and natural for us to do if we claim that we worship Allah (SWT) and desire His proximity. Even if Allah (SWT) does not command us to love the AhlulBayt (AS) and seek their guidance (as He did in countless occasions), we as intellectuals should be able to reach the conclusion that this is what the logic demands us to do.
For example, if you love your mother dearly and she in turn expresses to you that she loves her neighbor very much and exerts a lot of effort in service of that neighbor, wouldn’t you also aim to serve and please that neighbor, out of your love and devotion to your mother? Likewise, it follows that whatever pleases Allah (SWT) and whomever He (SWT) favors and whomever He (SWT) elevates in rank, we as creation should follow the same example and strive to imitate the way of Allah (SWT).
After delivering the divine message which contains glad tidings and a “love note” to the Prophet (SA) and his AhlulBayt (AS), Jibrael (AS) informs him that he has attained the divine permission to join their gathering under the cloak. At this point, one may expect for Jibrael (AS) to immediately rush to the cloak and join the holy five since he has already gotten the approval of the Almighty Creator – He whose permission is above all permissions!
However, Jibrael (SWT) does not do that and instead seeks the permission of the Prophet (SA) himself. We must pay very close attention to this interesting behavior of Archangel Jibrael (AS)! Doesn’t he know that the divine permission equals the prophetic permission and that whatever Allah (SWT) approves the Prophet (SA) will also approve?
Of course he does, but Jibrael (AS) still seeks the permission of the Prophet (SA) out of respect, veneration, and consideration to his superior position. Jibrael (AS) also recognizes that his action of seeking permission of the Prophet (SA) will certainly please Allah (SWT) and will stand as a sign of his commitment to the purpose of Allah (SWT) which He has declared. It is the natural reaction of extreme admiration and regards which Jibrael (AS) has for the Seal of Messengers which manifested itself in seeking the Prophet’s permission although he didn’t have to.
The Prophet (SA) responds to Jibrael (AS) by conveying his personal greetings to him and addressing him with the title "يا أمين وحي الله" (Oh Trustee of Allah’s Revelation)
Surely, this is a great role which the Prophet (SA) is highlighting to Jibrael (AS) and to the audience who will listen to and recite this tradition in the generations to come. We are to be reminded that the role of Angel Jibrael (AS) is to deliver the word of God as His Trustee. The trustworthiness of Jibrael (AS) as a messenger is verified by Allah’s selection to him for this grand role to all the prophets and messengers. Hence, we can never doubt the authenticity of what Jibrael (AS) conveys on behalf of Allah (SWT).
Upon receiving the message of Jibrael (AS) concerning the purpose of Allah’s creation being in service and love to AhlulBayt (AS), we should remember that the deliverer of this message is the trustworthy Jibrael, so there must be no doubt in our minds to his truthfulness and we should be even more convinced that what he is delivering is absolutely true and correct, even if we find it hard to believe or fathom.
The natural response of the Prophet (SA) to Jibrael’s request, especially after he was informed of the divine approval was to comply with Allah’s permission and also grant him his own permission. He knows very well that Jibrael’s position in Allah’s eyes is great and he himself holds deep respect to Jibrael (AS) whom he considers his good friend and confidant.
Upon the prophetic approval, Jibrael (AS) enters the cloak and is graced by the presence of the most holy ones who existence is the sole purpose of the divine creation. Perhaps it is due to Jibrael’s deep veneration and love to the Prophet (SA) and adherence to those whom Allah (SWT) chose, by virtue of him seeking the prophetic permission which granted him the reward of entering the cloak in this very momentous occasion.
فَقالَ لأِبي : إِنَّ اللهَ قَد أَوحى إِلَيكُم يَقولُ : ﴿ … إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا ﴾
He thus said to my father, “Allah has revealed to you saying, ‘Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House, and to purify you a thorough purifying.’”
After entering the cloak, Jibrael (AS) then delivers the most important message which represents the climax of the message and the ultimate purpose behind event of the cloak. Lady Fatima (AS) narrates that Jibrael (AS) delivers to her father the revelation of the Qur’anic verse instantaneously:
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا.
“Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House, and to purify you a thorough purifying.” (33:33)
The purpose of the Tradition of the Cloak is now obvious as the sun and the divine aim has been reached. The Purification verse (Ayat Al Tat-heer) has been revealed to be stamped in the Holy Qur’an till the end of time. Allah (SWT) has expressed the Irada (desire) and as we know, whenever Allah (SWT) desires something it immediately happens according to his will,
إنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ.
Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “Be”, and It is!
Allah (SWT) has intended to purify the Prophet (SA) and his AhlulBayt – those who are under the cloak – from any impurity whatsoever, whether physically, spiritually, or otherwise. It is not just an attempt for purification which may or may not be complete. Rather, Allah (SWT) states that He desires “to purify you a thorough purification”. This purification as Allah (SWT) describes it as thorough and complete reaching 100% success.
What is exactly this purification from? What is that thing which Allah (SWT) wants to purify them such that He (SWT) is declaring this event in the Holy Qur’an till the end of time? As we logically concluded earlier, it must be purification from disobeying Allah (SWT) and committing any sins, mistakes, or falters. It must be protection from having any shortcoming, deficiency, or weakness.
As we explained earlier, the grand role and duties of the divine guides demands that they be protected from sinning or failing in their responsibilities. Otherwise, their position as role models and examples will be scathed and there will be no point in trusting them as divine representatives if they themselves make mistakes or exercise poor judgment, even if it is a minor falter or a once in their lifetimes.
What is the natural effect of thorough purification which Allah (SWT) has intended? It is none other than infallibility (‘Ismah)! In fact, the Purification verse has descended to introduce the idea of “infallibility” (‘Ismah) of the Prophet and his household.
Only a few people witnessed the Prophet (SA) casting his cloak over the purified AhlulBayt (AS), so in order to disseminate that news as broadly as possible among the people and make them aware of the special position of his progeny, the Prophet (SA) would pass by the house of Imam Ali (SA) for a period of nine months and he would call out: “Peace be upon you, O People of the House!” and then he would recite the: “purification verse.”
Whenever the AhlulBayt (AS) found it necessary to draw attention to their unique spiritual rank, they would proudly refer to this verse. This particular verse is one of the scriptural proofs for the inerrancy of the Household of the Prophet which points to their utter purity and unique character.
The Prophet (SA) himself has testified that, “The verse of purification was revealed concerning five people: myself, Ali, Hasan, Husain, and Fatima." (Sahih Muslim) According to the well-known exegesist Agha Mahdi Pooya, the word Innama (verily or only) in this verse signifies exclusive distinction.
To emphasize this exclusiveness, the second object of the verb yudh-hiba (keep off)-the phrase ankum (from you)-has been put before the first object rijs (uncleanness); and for further emphasis, the phrase Ahl ul Bayt has been mentioned to explain the pronoun a’nkum (from you). The grammatical structure of the whole clause indicates that this is a unique privilege or distinction granted to the Ahlul Bayt only, excluding all others.
Pooya further explains that the verb yuridu implies that the continuous will or intention of Allah is His creative will or intention, not legislative. To interpret the will as the legislative will as in verse 6 of Surat Al Maedah, “Surely Allah orders what He desires” distorts the whole fabric of the verse and renders meaningless the exclusive particle and the constructional arrangement. Even then it means that only the Ahlul Bayt exclusively achieved the standard.
This verse is also a preface to verses 77 to 79 of Surat Al Waqi’ah: "Verily this is an honourable (Karim) Qur’an, in a hidden (preserved) book, which no one can touch save the purified." The AhlulBayt (AS) had only been thoroughly purified by Allah because of their total submission to Allah's will and their state of being always in communion with Allah.
For a more detailed research on the analysis of the purification verse titled, “To Whom Does the Purification Verse Refer To?” you may refer to this link: http://www.al-islam.org/ayat-at-tat-heer-dr-hatem-abu-shahba/ 
فَقالَ : عَلِيٌّ لِأَبِي : يا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَخبِرنِي ما لِجُلُوسِنا هَذا تَحتَ الكِساءِ مِنَ الفَضلِ عِندَ اللهِ؟
`Ali then said to my father, “O Allah’s Messenger! Please tell me; what is the value of this gathering of us under this cloak in the sight of Allah?”
The natural course of an intellectual person who recognizes the significance of an event is to seek knowledge of the virtues, rewards, and blessings of such event. That is exactly what Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) did as he posed the following question upon the revelation of the purification verse. “What is the value of this gathering under the cloak in the sight of Allah?” It is a wise and timely question for Imam Ali (AS) to ask and he does so as a service to his followers and devotees who will come in the later generations till the end of time and ponder over that question.
There is no doubt that the person whom the Prophet (SA) referred to as the Gate of Knowledge in the well-known tradition, “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its Gate” must already know the answer to the question he is posing.
How can that not be the case when Imam Ali (AS) is the one who frequently stated in his sermons:
“Ask me before you lose me. By Allah, if you ask me about anything that could happen up to the Day of Judgment, I will tell you about it. Ask me, for, by Allah, you will not be able to ask me a question about anything without my informing you. Ask me about the Book of Allah, for by Allah, there is no verse about which I do not know whether it was sent down at night or during the day, or whether it was revealed on a plain or in a mountain.” (Tarikh al-Khulafa)
The role of Imam Ali (AS) in this gathering is not passive and he is the means by which the Prophet (SA) informs the audience of the eternal significance and bounties of the Tradition of the Cloak which they have just experienced. In fact, we owe our due thanks and gratitude to Imam Ali (AS) who posed this very important question on our behalf so that we gain the knowledge and insight behind this historical event.
Up till now, the purpose and significance of the Tradition of the Cloak have manifested itself and become obvious to the listener after hearing the divine speech about the purpose of creation and deducing its indications, and capping it with the revelation of the purification verse in the Holy Qur’an.
However, Allah (SWT) presents yet another opportunity for the minds that don’t comprehend and the eyes that don’t see and those who may belittle or misunderstand the significance of this event under the cloak by the presentation of Imam Ali’s question.
The message we extract simply by the posing of this question by a person like Imam Ali (AS) is in itself an indication that this gathering is not random neither is it a coincidence. The Tradition of the Cloak is not merely a story that is pleasant to hear, and Allah (SWT) is not a teller of stories without presenting its lessons, morals, and significance that will be effective till the end of time and not just for the contemporaries of that event.
It is interesting to note that when Imam Ali (AS) poses his question to the Prophet (SA), he does not ask “if” there is a reward and value behind their gathering under the cloak. Instead, he asks “what” is the reward and value of this gathering.
Imam Ali (AS) already concluded and knows with certainty, as the successor of the Prophet and the 1st Imam, that there is indeed significant merit and value behind this gathering. It is only a matter of gaining that knowledge and understanding and making it available to the public. This is the response of Allah (SWT) through the tongue of Imam Ali (AS) to anyone who wishes to devalue the Tradition of the Cloak or dilute its significance.
As Allah (SWT) testifies on behalf of the truthfulness of Imam Ali (AS),
وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ عَلِيًّا
“And We granted them lofty honor on the tongue of truth.” (19:50)
According to Tafsir Bayan Al Sa’ada by Al Janabidhi, what is intended by "عليّ" as mentioned in this verse is in reference to Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), for he possessed a truthful tongue and there was no other tongue more honorable than his. As Imam Ali (AS) himself said in this regards, “Allah (SWT) makes the truthful tongue of a person in front of the people better than wealth and inheritance.”
It is cited in the book of Manaqib Aal Abi Talib by Ibn Shahr Ashoob that Abu Baseer narrates that Imam Al Sadeq (AS) said that the Prophet (SA) said that, “I prayed to Allah (SWT) to bestow me with a “truthful tongue” (Lisaan Sidq). so Allah (SWT) revealed these verses in Surat Maryam (19:49-50)”. Just as Allah (SWT) bestowed Prophet Is-haaq (Isaac) to Prophet Ya’qoob (Jacob), He (SWT) bestowed Imam Ali (AS) as the “truthful tongue” to Prophet Muhammad (SA).
فَقالَ النَّبيُّ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : وَالَّذي بَعَثَنِي بِالحَقِّ نَبِيّاً وَ اصطَفانِي بِالرِّسالَةِ نَجِيّاً ، ما ذُكِرَ خَبَرُنا هذا فِي مَحفِلٍ مِن مَحافِل أَهلِ الأَرَضِ وَ فِيهِ جَمعٌ مِن شِيعَتِنا وَ مُحِبِيِّنا إِلاّ وَ نَزَلَت عَلَيهِمُ الرَّحمَةُ ، وَ حَفَّت بِهِمُ المَلائِكَةُ وَ استَغفَرَت لَهُم إِلى أَن يَتَفَرَّقُوا
The Prophet, peace be upon him and his Household, said, "I swear this by Him Who has sent me with the truth as Prophet and chosen me, as holding communion, to convey the Message; whenever the tale of this gathering of us is mentioned in an assembly of the people of the earth in which a group of our adherents and lover are present, the (divine) mercy shall certainly be poured down on them and the angels shall certainly surround them, asking forgiveness for them until they depart."
What was the Prophet’s answer to Imam Ali’s question? Interestingly, he begins his response by swearing, just as Allah (SWT) did before him. Again, the purpose behind swearing is to convey importance to the statement that will follow that swear. As we know, it is highly disliked that a person swears in general, but if he has to swear, then he cannot swear about anything but Allah (SWT).
In this case, the Prophet (SA) swears by Allah (SWT) but does so in an eloquent way. He swears by the Lord who sent him as prophet and chose him as holding communion to convey the Message.
The reason why the Prophet (SA) choses to swear in that manner is to remind us (through Imam Ali) that he is the Seal of Messengers who is the representative of God. Hence, he does not speak out of his own free will and whatever he is about to say, is not from his personal wishes or an exaggeration from him. Everything the Prophet (SA) utters is directly the word of God without addition or subtraction.
After the swearing by Allah (SWT) who appointed him to his position, the Prophet (SA) answers the question by presenting a condition, and that is, “Whenever the tale of this gathering of us is mentioned in an assembly of the people of the earth in which a group of our adherents and lover are present…”
He lists a series of blessings in two separate statements which shall benefit those devotees. Before familiarizing ourselves with these blessings, it is important to first understand that the condition for reaping the benefits of reciting this tradition is contingent upon two major criteria and that is:
1) The servant must be a lover and Shi’a (devout follower) of the purified AhlulBayt (AS)
2) The servant would join a gathering of devotees to the Prophet’s purified household where the Tradition of the Cloak is being recited.
There is no other criteria or qualification to this gathering except the above conditions. The attendees don’t have to be residing in any particular location such as a mosque or holy sanctuary. They don’t have to be living in a Muslim country or belong to a certain racial group. The skin of their color doesn’t matter neither does their educational or intellectual backgrounds.
All that matters is their love and devotion to the Prophet’s AhlulBayt (AS) which unifies the Shi’as at every level. It is interesting to note that the narration makes a distinction between the “Shi’as” and the “lovers”. What exactly is the difference between the two groups? Isn’t every Shi’a of AhlulBayt also a lover? And isn’t every lover of AhlulBayt also a Shi’a?
Our Infallible Imams (AS) have described to us who exactly are the true Shi’as (supporters and followers) of the AhlulBayt. It is narrated that one time a man went to his wife and said to her, “Go to Fatima the daughter of the Prophet and ask her if I am from their Shi’a or not”. The wife went to ask Lady Fatima (AS) and she answered, “Tell your husband that if he acts according to our commands and keeps himself away from what we forbid, then you are from our Shi’a; otherwise, you are not.”
The wife returned back and conveyed the message to her husband who exclaimed, “Woe be to me! And who is not free of sins and mistakes?! I am surely in Hell-Fire for whoever is not from the Shi’a is truly in Hell-Fire!” The man’s wife returned back to Lady Fatima and conveyed her husband’s remarks.
Lady Fatima (AS) then said, “Tell him that is not the case. Our Shi’a are the best of the people of Paradise. All our lovers and those who support our supporters, and those take our enemies as their enemies, and those who surrender to us by their hearts and tongues, are not from our Shi’a IF they disobey our orders and prohibitions at any time. Despite that, they are still going to Paradise. However, some of them will purify themselves from their sins by experiencing calamities and tragedies, or they may undergo hardships on the Day of Resurrection, or they may be placed at the upper level of Hell-Fire until they are purified and their love to us would save them and transfer them to our domain.” (Bihaar Al Anwaar)
In another tradition, a man came up to Imam Hasan (AS) claimed, “I am from your Shi’a”. So Imam Hasan (AS) replied, “Oh Abdullah, if you obey our commands and abide by our prohibitions, then you are truthful. And if you are not, then do not increase in your sin by falsely claiming a great and honorable position that you don’t deserve. Do not say “I am from your Shi’a”. Rather say “I am from your supporters, lovers, and those who take your enemies as our enemy. You are in a good position and are heading to a good position”.
Another man said to Imam Al Sajjad (AS), “Oh son of Messenger of Allah, I am from your sincere Shi’a.” So the Imam (AS) replied back to him, “If you are like Prophet Ibraheem Khaleelullah whom Allah (SWT) has said
وإن من شيعته لابراهيم
(Verily among those who followed his Way was Abraham.) (37:83)
and if your heart is like his heart, then you are from our Shi’a. And if your heart is not like his heart but it is free from deceit and animosity, then you are from our lovers.”
From these narrations by our Imams (AS), it becomes clear to us that the station of “Shi’as” and the station of “lovers of AhlulBayt” are different although they are both blessed and are include among the party of the good. Every Shi’a is also a lover of AhlulBayt (AS), however not every lover is considered to be a Shi’a. The rank of the Shi’as is certainly above the lovers of AhlulBayt (AS) due to their strict obedience and abidance to the path of AhlulBayt (AS) and their high level of piety.
The stronger the love to the AhlulBayt (AS), the more obedient and righteous actions will be manifested by the lover and that will certainly bring him closer to the rank of the Shi’as. As lovers of AhlulBayt (AS), we hope and pray that we are given success to reach the station of the Shi’as and deserve to be called with that honorable title. It is the intercession of the infallible AhlulBayt (AS) which manifests the mercy of Allah (SWT) on the devotees which brings them salvation by virtue of their moral and spiritual support to the divinely appointed guides.
The reward behind joining the gathering where the Tradition of the Cloak is being recited includes both the Shi’as and lovers. What are the three benefits that the Prophet (SA) mentions in this regard? The first statement covers three rewards which focus on the spiritual bounties related to the hereafter as they are most important and they are:
1) They will be encompassed with divine mercy.
2) The angels shall surround them.
3) The angels will seek forgiveness on their behalf until they depart from their gathering.
The bestowal of divine blessings manifested in Allah’s infinite mercy is conveyed in the short phrase of Basmalah known as Bimillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem. These two words, Rahman and Raheem express slightly different variations of meaning. Imam As-Sadiq (AS) says that Rahman is a special name for a general attribute while Raheem is a general name for a specific attribute. And Prophet Isa (AS) states that Rahman is a type of mercy related to this world while Raheem is related to the hereafter.
The term Rahman describes that aspect of the source of all creation which is endlessly radiating and nourishing, regardless of whom or what is receiving the endless flow of blessings. On the other hand, the term Raheem describes that aspect of mercy which is issued forth only in response to the actions and behavior of the recipient. It is in this manner that God takes ten steps toward us when we take even a single step toward God.
Allah (SWT) is Raheem with our religion, our worldly affairs, our hereafter and He (SWT) has made it easy for us with least amount of burden (Tafseer Saafi). According to many narrations, the mercy associated with Raheem is specific to the believers only who are the devotees and followers of the Prophet’s AhlulBayt (AS) and divinely appointed Infallible Imams.
It is that mercy highlighted in the word “Raheem” that is referred to in the Tradition of the Cloak. Since the followers of AhlulBayt (AS) have embraced the path of the truthful and its representatives who were chosen by Allah (SWT), they deserve His infinite mercy and are its recipients whenever they gather to recite this tradition.
We may also deduce that any gathering in general which involves commemoration or remembrance of the AhlulBayt (AS) such as the Tradition of the Cloak does, whether it be their virtues, merits, tragedies, or autobiographies, will yield divine blessings and bounties for its participants.
In fact, this is deemed a highly recommended act as Imam Al Sadiq (AS) has said, "Our Shi’a are compassionate amongst each other. When they hold a private meeting they remember Allah. Verily, the remembrance of us is of the remembrance of Allah. When we are remembered, Allah has been remembered, and when our enemy is remembered, Satan has been remembered.”
In another tradition, it is recorded that Imam al-Sadiq (AS) asked one of his companions Fudhail Ibn Yasaar, "Do you assemble with your friends and narrate traditions?" He said, "Yes, may I be sacrificed for you." He (AS) said, "I hold dear such gatherings as it will revive our matter. May Allah have mercy on he who revives our matter. O Fudhail! He who remembers us or being reminded about us and this brings tears out of his eyes even to the extent of a wing of a fly, Allah will forgive his sins even if they are greater than the scum of the sea."
The second reward mentioned in this tradition is that the angels surround that believer who has participated in a gathering of devotees to the holy household where the Tradition of the Cloak is being recited. It is a known fact that “angels” generally represent good while its antonym, “devils” symbolize bad.
Hence, the presence of angels in a location such as a holy sanctuary indicates goodness, purity, and righteousness, while the presence of devils in a place like a haunted house indicates evil, deceit, and falsehood. So, we can imagine that if a person is accompanied by devils, they are likely to be possessed with evil, are misguided, and have deviated away from the path of the good.
On the other hand, if we are told that a person is accompanied by angels, we can safely assume that they are in good standing and have attained a high level of piety. We have examples in history such as Lady Maryam (AS) and the prophets and messengers who interacted with angels, something which normal human beings don’t. In the case of the Tradition of the Cloak, the reward of the believer who recites or attends such blessed gathering will be the proximity of the angels to him.
Not only that, the third reward will be that the angels seek forgiveness for him not just once or ten times, but rather continuously until the believers depart this gathering! It is narrated that Imam Al-Sadiq (AS) once said to Dawud Ibn Sarhan, "O Dawud, offer my greetings to my friends and deliver this message to them that Allah blesses a servant who gathers with another to make the remembrance of our matter, and in that case, the third among them is an angel who asks forgiveness for them.
When two servants gather for our remembrance Allah reminds His glory to His angels (for having such servants). Thus, when you gather, spend your time on remembering (us) since your gathering and your remembering sets our matter alive. And the best people after us are those who remind others of our affair and invite others to our remembrance." (Bihaar Al Anwaar)
What a great blessing and reward for the Shi’a and lover of AhlulBayt! We are given the opportunity to have intercession performed on our behalf by the angels of God who are closer to Him than we are and are more purified than us. Surely, their performance of “Istighfaar” (repentance) for us will reach its target quicker with a higher degree of acceptance than our own individual repentance.
The same is the case if we seek intercession from those who are even closer to Allah (SWT) and higher in rank than the angels, who are the Prophet (and his AhlulBayt) who was given permission to cross the heavens at a point where Archangel Jibrael (AS) couldn’t. In fact, we are encouraged by Allah (SWT) to seek repentance to Him and ask forgiveness of our sins by intercession via the Holy Prophet (SA), as indicated in the Qur’an,
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَحِيمًا.
“And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.” (4:64)
As indicated in this verse, a servant will find Allah (SWT) to be forgiving if he enhances his own repentance by seeking intercession of the Prophet (SA) whose prayers will be answered by virtue of his close proximity to the Almighty Creator.
فَقالَ عَلِيٌّ- عليه السَّلام: إذَاً وَاللهِ فُزنا وَ فازَ شِيعَتنُا وَ رَبِّ الكَعبَةِ .
`Ali, peace be upon him, commented, “Then, by Allah I swear it; we have won. So have our adherents. I swear it by the Lord of the Ka`bah.”
Upon hearing the Prophet’s response to his question regarding the reward and value of the gathering of the purified household under the cloak, Imam Ali (AS) is amazed but not surprised. He is elated and filled with joy not as much for himself but more so for his Shi’a, lovers, and supporters! He swears by Allah (SWT) and the Imam as an infallible being would not swear except for a very important matter. “We have won and so have our adherents!”
The Imam (AS) presents the conclusion of the event of the cloak regarding the gatherings where the devotees of AhlulBayt (AS) recite this tradition.
The key word here is “victory” and Imam Ali (AS) makes it a point to make a distinction between the two parties who have won. The first party are the Prophet and his AhlulBayt (AS) whom the Imam says "فزنا" (we won), and the second party are the Shi’a and devotees of the AhlulBayt (AS) whom the Imam testifies that "وفاز شيعتنا" (our Shi’as have won).
One can easily understand why the Prophet and his AhlulBayt (AS) achieve victory by virtue of their superior position and high rank such that Allah (SWT) created the whole universe out of love for them. Hence, it is not a surprise that they have won a great victory in this life and the hereafter.
But the amazing news of glad tidings that is presented to us is that the Shi’as and lovers of AhlulBayt (AS) will also be victorious! Surely, their victory is attributed to their devotion and association to the purified AhlulBayt (AS) whom Allah (SWT) have appointed as vicegerents on His earth.
Furthermore, the words which Imam Ali (AS) exclaimed in this event rings a bell and reminds us of a similar phrase which he uttered on the night he was struck by the most miserable person of his time, leading to his long awaited martyrdom. It was the call that resonated in the earth and heavens such that everyone in the city of Kufa heard his cry:
فزت ورب الكعبة
“By the Lord of the Ka’ba, I have succeeded! “
This memorable phrase burst out from his lips the day when Imam Ali (AS) was struck with the fatal blow by the assassin’s poison-soaked sword. An immortal phrase, it has continued to goad human conscience for almost the past fourteen centuries! It has made those with even a grain of intellect dumbstruck at the dynamism of the person who pronounced it in the early hours of the 19th of Ramadhan, 40 AH corresponding to the year 660 of the Christian calendar.
What was the success that Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) felt at that moment? And why was he elated when all passages to life abruptly closed for him and he was about to enter the apparently unknown and uncharted realm of death? Only the ignorant would pose such a question concerning the man who says in one of his sermons: “The Son of Abu Talib is more enthusiastic for death than an infant for the mother’s breast.”
If we were to say that Imam Ali (AS) merely longed for death rather than the seemingly beautiful world of life and its transient pleasures, then we have missed the finer points of the delicate phrase he chose to express, when on being struck the deathblow he said: By the Lord of the Ka’ba I have succeeded!
The Imam of Pious (AS) was indeed thrilled at meeting the Almighty Creator in such a noble state after having accomplished all tasks entrusted to him and so he said in jubilation that unique statement and out of longing to meet his beloved Creator. From his birth till his martyrdom every single breath of his 63-year life was for God and for the promulgation of the universal laws of Islam.
In view of these undeniable facts, he serves as the everlasting barometer for the faithful in every age and era to discern truth from falsehood. No wonder the Prophet (SA) had remarked to his companion Ammar ibn Yasser: “O Ammar! If all people take one path and Ali takes another path, you follow the path of Ali, for he will lead you to salvation.”
With that same spirit of jubilation, Imam Ali (AS) uttered the words of victory after recognizing the immense blessings and significance which the Event of the Cloak carries. He cries out the statement of victory so that we and all people across time have our attentions lifted to this unique Tradition of the Cloak.
We are to mention and remember this event every opportunity we get in every gathering where the believers are congregated. All praise be to Allah for it is by His grace we find today that many of the gatherings where the programs of key celebrations of Islamic events and the birthdays of the infallible Imams (AS) commence with the recitation of Hadeeth Al Kisaa.
It is important to note here that Imam Ali (AS) could’ve only said “We won” (فزنا) without swearing by the Lord of the Ka’ba. After all, he is truthful without needing to swear and there is no question about the validity of whatever he says. However, Imam Ali (SA) still sought to begin his exclamatory statement by swearing “Wallahi” (By Allah) and ending it also by swearing by the Lord of the Ka’ba (ورب الكعبة).
Rarely do we find a statement where it is sandwiched with an expression of swear in the beginning and end. This is exactly the case here which conveys the point that what Imam Ali (AS) is about to say is extremely important and he is very serious about delivering it. Thus, there should not be any shred of doubt whatsoever in our minds regarding the accuracy and precision of the Imam’s words in regards to the reward and value of the Event of the Cloak.
فَقالَ أَبي رَسُولُ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : يا عَلِيُ وَ الَّذي بَعَثَني بِالحَقِّ نَبِيّاً وَ اصطَفاني بِالرِّسالَةِ نَجِيّا ، ما ذُكِرَ خَبَرُنا هذا في مَحفِلٍ مِن مَحافِلِ أَهلِ الأَرضِ وَ فِيهِ جَمعٌ مِن شِيعَتِنا وَ مُحِبّيِنا وَ فِيهِم مَهمُومٌ إِلا ّوَ فَرَّجَ اللهُ هَمَّهُ وَ لا مَغمُومٌ إِلاّ وَ كَشَفَ اللهُ غَمَّهُ وَ لا طالِبُ حاجَةٍ إِلاّ وَ قَضى اللهُ حاجَتَهُ. ، فَقالَ عَلِيٌّ ( عليه السَّلام ) : إذَاً والله فُزنا وَ سُعِدنا ، وَ كَذلِكَ شِيعَتُنا فَازوا وَ سُعِدوا في الدُّنيا وَ الآخِرَةِ وَ رَبِّ الكَعبَةِ "
"O `Ali!" my father Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him and his Household, added, "I swear this by Him Who has sent me with the truth as Prophet and chosen me, as holding communion, to convey the Message; whenever the tale of this gathering of us is mentioned in an assembly of the people of the earth in which a group of our adherents and lover are present and among them there is a distressed one, Almighty Allah shall certainly release him from distress, or there is among them an aggrieved one, Almighty Allah shall certainly relieve him from grief, or there is among them one who needs a request to be granted, Almighty Allah shall certainly grant him his request." `Ali, peace be upon him, said, "Then, we have won and attained pleasure. I swear it by Allah. So have our adherents; they have won and attained pleasure in this world and in the Hereafter. I swear it by the Lord of the Ka`bah."
The exclamatory statement of Imam Ali (AS) in appreciation of the victory that has stemmed from the blessed gathering under the cloak further encourages the Prophet (SA) to convey more of the blessings and rewards of this occasion. The Prophet’s excitement about the significance of this event urges him to continue further by repeating the first introductory statement of swearing by Allah (SWT) who has sent him as Messenger and has chosen him to deliver that Message.
Again, he states the condition of the reward he is about to present by saying: “Whenever the tale of this gathering of us is mentioned in an assembly of the people of the earth in which a group of our adherents and lover are present…” The repetition here is not random or for the sake of redundancy, rather the intention here is for the purpose of emphasizing and reminding us of every word he is uttering so that we don’t forget it.
What are the other rewards that the Prophet (SA) presents in his second statement? Another three bounties which are related this time to the worldly affairs, while the first set of rewards as you may recall were related to the hereafter and spirituality. By this unique presentation of the rewards of the Hereafter before the rewards of this life, the Prophet (SA) is emphasizing the message that what is generally more important and should come first in our list of priorities is the affairs of the after-life where we will abode eternally.
Hence, all our actions must be aligned with the priorities we identify in our lives. We should also recognize that the higher degree of reward or value lies in what is associated with our spirituality, and not what is related to our transient life.
Allah (SWT) is Merciful to His servants and is All-Aware of the troubles and tribulations they face in their everyday lives. The life of this world is indeed a great test especially for the believers and no one can escape the test of Allah (SWT) either in their wealth, property, or children as He (SWT) said,
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ
“And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits.” (2:155)
As humans, we are all in need of divine assistance in the many issues and problems which we face every day. Allah (SWT) tests our patience and perseverance during our hard times, but He (AS) also opened the door for supplication and prayer so that we seek His help in all our affairs.
The three worldly rewards which the Prophet (SA) conveys are as follows:
1) The distressed person will be relieved from his distress.
2) The aggrieved person will be relieved from his grief.
3) A person who has a need or request will have their prayer accepted and fulfilled.
Each one of us certainly experience one of the above three situations often in our lives and the third case is even more common among all people. We are promised to be freed from distress, grief, and have our needs fulfilled simply by reciting this narration in a gathering of believers who are devoted to the Prophet’s AhlulBayt (AS). We are encouraged to pause at the conclusion of this narration and present our needs to the Almighty Creator. Certainly this is a great gift and an easy-pass access to the mercy of Allah (SWT)!
These worldly rewards accompanied by the spiritual rewards which we discussed earlier are certainly all that the believer desires. For that reason, Imam Ali (AS) expresses his joy by swearing by the Lord of the Ka’ba and declaring that this indeed is a great victory for them and for the Shi’as and lovers of the AhlulBayt (AS).
The Tradition of the Cloak is one means whereby the believers and devotees of the Prophet’s AhlulBayt (AS) can seek the assistance of Allah (SWT) by virtue of their gathering in congregation among themselves where they recite this blessed narration. In fact, the Hadeeth Al Kisaa can be seen as an “intercessor” which increases the guarantee of acceptance of prayer compared to our individual supplication.
The idea of intercession for the seeking of needs is proven and confirmed in the Tradition of the Cloak and it is comparable to seeking the “Gate of Needs” (باب الحوائج) personified by esteemed characters such as Imam Musa Al Kadhem (AS).
Reciting Hadeeth Al Kisaa will grant you the fulfillment of your needs by the blessings of the Members of the Cloak, just as knocking on the door of Imam Al Kadhem (AS) and presenting your need to him will serve as a faster means of reaching your aim.
Likewise, the reward of relieving the distress of those who are distressed (as mentioned in this narration) simply for appreciating this narration and recognizing those who are the superstars under the cloak, follows the same ideology where a believer seeks the door of Hazrat Abbas ibn Ali (AS) to relieve their stress by reciting the following recommended prayer of intercession:
"يا مفرج الكرب عن وجه أخيك الحسين فرج كربي بحق أخيك الحسين"
(Oh reliever of the anguish from your brother Husain, relieve my anguish for the sake of your brother Husain)
If the purpose of the creation’s existence is for the sake of the holy divine guides represented by Prophet Muhammad (SA) and his purified household, then surely anything can happen for their sake and out of their love. It doesn’t matter how grand the request or how serious the problem is, it is by the blessings of these divine guides that Allah (SWT) grants them the authority to act as they desire which is in absolute agreement to His divine Will.
Once again, Imam Ali (AS) replies back to the Prophet (SA) by pronouncing and confirming the glad tidings of victory for them and the devotees of the AhlulBayt (AS). We hope and pray that Allah (SWT) grants us the success of obeying and loving the Prophet (SA) and his purified AhlulBayt (AS), to increase our love and obedience to them such that we attain the great status of being among the Shi’as and devotees of His Chosen guides, and to dedicate our whole existence for their service.
After shedding the spotlight on the beautiful Hadeeth Al Kisaa which was narrated by Lady Fatima (AS), Master Lady of the universe and the daughter of the Prophet (SA), it is clear that The Almighty Creator has designed the story of the Tradition of the Cloak to set the stage for the revelation of the Qur’anic verse of Purification in Surat Al Ahzaab (V.33).
This verse is a divine declaration of the complete purification (Tat-heer) and infallibility (‘Ismah) of the Prophet (SA) and his household. Hadeeth al Kisaa is the manifestation of both Irada al Takweeniya (universal or absolute will) and Irada Tashree’eya (legislative will) with the process of Tat-heer (purification) which accompanies ‘Ismah (infallibility). The station of infallibility dictates that those covered by the blanket of infallibility act as “proofs” on earth, and therefore that indicates the position of Imamate.
As Imam Al Kadhem (AS) has explained, there are two types of Proofs (Hujjah); the manifested proof (Hujjah Dhahera) and the latent proof (Hujjah Batena). The manifested proof is represented by the prophets, messengers, and Imams. And the latent proof is represented by the intellect (‘Aql) which Allah (SWT) has bestowed to humans so that they can discern and differentiate between truth from falsehood.
The teachings of Islam direct us to take whatever agrees with the Holy Qur’an and to disregard whatever contradicts it. It is the God-given intellect which acts as a judge; however it cannot do so without the acquisition of pure knowledge. That bank of untainted knowledge must come from the purest source and that source is none other than the Members of the Cloak represented by the Prophet (SA) and his purified progeny.
There is no creation better in Allah’s eyes than the Members of the Cloak and they are Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain who collectively represent the Infallible Imams from the lineage of Husain ibn Ali (AS).
Each and every member of the purified household of the Prophet (SA) - those who were present under the cloak and those who came afterwards till the last 12th Awaited Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) – represent the whole purified progeny of the Prophet (SA) and they are a reflection of one and the same message which the Prophet (SA) sought to deliver and propagate to all of mankind.
Opposing or attacking any member is equivalent to doing so to all the members of the Prophet’s household. And the opposite in behavior is also true.
This important point can better be appreciated upon reflecting on this narration, that a companion of Imam Al Sadiq (AS) asked him, “Oh son of the Messenger of Allah, how was the day of A'shura a greater tragedy, calamity, and event of mourning, compared to the day when the Prophet (SA) departed this life, and the day when Lady Fatima (AS) passed away, and the day when Imam Ali (AS) was killed, and the day when Imam Al Hasan was poisoned to death.”
Then he said, “The day of Imam Husain is the greatest tragedy compared to the rest of the days. That is because the Members of the Cloak who were the best creation to Allah (SWT) are five in number. When the Prophet (SA) departed this world, Imam Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain (Peace be upon them) were left and they were a source of consolation to the people. When Lady Fatima (AS) passed away, Imam Ali, Hasan, and Husain were the consolation to others.
And when Imam Ali (AS) was martyred, the people were comforted by the presence of Hasan and Husain. Even when Imam Hasan (AS) departed this life, Imam Husain (AS) was the source of comfort and solace. But when Husain (AS) was also martyred, it was as if they all (members of the cloak) left and departed this world, just as his existence was tantamount to the continuity of their existence. For that reason, the fateful day of Imam Husain (AS) was the greatest tragedy.”
The Prophet (SA) and his purified household are the purpose of the divine creation and the means by which a creature may seek proximity to God and truly worship Him as an obedient servant. The greatest victory lies with the purified household of the Prophet (SA) and those who desire to be encompassed by that victory must submit to their immaculate shade.
The gift of intercession is indeed for the Shi’as and lovers of the AhlulBayt (AS) if they fulfill their obligations towards Allah (SWT) such that it is narrated that Lady Fatima (AS) will pick her loyal Shi'as like a bird picking fine seeds from amongst the present people. May Allah (SWT) grant us the intercession of Lady Fatima and her father, her husband, and her purified sons by the blessings of that secret which has been hidden within her!
Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Nurallah Al Bahrani In His Book “Awalem Al Uloom” Via Jabir Ibn Abdullah
نص حديث الكساء برواية السيدة فاطمة الزهراء ( عليها السَّلام )
عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري ، عن فاطمة الزهراء ( عليها السَّلام ) بنت رسول الله ( صلَّى الله عليه و آله ) ، قال : سَمِعتُ فَاطِمَةَ الزَّهراءِ عَلَيهَا السَّلامُ بِنتِ رَسُول اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) أَنِّها قالَت :
" دَخَلَ عَلَيَّ أبي رَسُولُ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) فِي بَعضِ الأيَّامِ فَقَالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا فاطِمَةُ ، فَقُلتُ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ ، قالَ : إنّي أَجِدُ في بَدَني ضَعفاً ، فَقُلتُ لَهُ : أُعِيذُكَ باللهِ يا أَبَتاهُ مِنَ الضَّعفِ فَقَالَ : يا فاطِمَةُ إِيتيني بِالكِساءِ اليَمانِيِّ فَغَطّينِي بهِ .
فَأَتَيتُهُ بِالكِساءِ اليَمانِيِّ فَغَطّيتُهُ بِهِ وَ صِرتُ أَنظُرُ إِلَيهِ وَ إِذا وَجهُهُ يَتَلَأ لَأ كَأَنَّهُ البَدرُ فِي لَيلَةِ تمامِهِ وَ كَمالِهِ ، فَما كَانَت إِلاّساعَةً و إذا بوَلَدِيَ الحَسَنِ قَد أَقبَلَ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا أُمّاهُ ، فَقُلتُ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا قُرَّةَ عَيِني وَ ثَمَرَةَ فُؤادِي ، فَقالَ : يا أُمّاهُ إِنّي أَشَمُّ عِندَكِ رائِحَةً طَيِّبَةً كَأَنَّها رائِحَةُ جَدِي رَسُولِ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) ، فَقُلتُ : نَعَم إِنَّ جَدَّكَ تَحتَ الكِساء ، فَأَقبَلَ الحَسَنُ نَحوَ الكِساء وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا جَدَّاهُ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَدخُلَ مَعَكَ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ فَقالَ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا وَلَدِي وَ يا صاحِبَ حَوضِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ تَحتَ الكِساءِ .
فَما كانَت إِلاّسَاعَةً وَ إِذا بِوَلَدِيَ الحُسَينِ ( عليه السَّلام ) أَقبَلَ وَ قال : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا أُمّاهُ ، فَقُلتُ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا قُرَّةَ عَيِني وَ ثَمَرَةَ فُؤادِي ، فَقالَ : يا أُمّاهُ إِنّي أَشَمُّ عِندَكِ رائِحَةً طَيِّبَةً كَأَنَّها رائِحَةُ جَدِي رَسُولِ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) ، فَقُلتُ : نَعَم إِنَّ جَدَّكَ وَ أَخاكَ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ، فَدَنَا الحُسَينُ ( عليه السَّلام ) نحوَ الكِساءِ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا جَدَّاهُ يا مَنِ أختارَهُ اللهُ ، أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَكونَ مَعَكُما تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ فَقالَ : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا وَلَدِي وَ يا شافِع أُمَّتِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُما تَحتَ الكِساء ، فَأَقبَلَ عِندَ ذلِكَ أَبو الحَسَنِ عَلِيُّ بنُ أَبي طالِبٍ وَ قال : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا بِنتَ رَسُولِ اللهِ ، فَقُلتُ : وَعَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَبَا الحَسَن وَيا أَمِيرَ المُؤمِنينَ . فَقالَ : يا فاطِمَةُ إِنّي أَشَمُّ عِندَكِ رائِحَةً طَيِّبَةً كَأَنَّها رائِحَةُ أَخي وَ ابِنِ عَمّي رَسُولِ اللهِ ، فَقُلتُ : نَعَم ها هُوَ مَعَ وَلَدَيكَ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ، فَأقبَلَ عَلِيٌّ نَحوَ الكِساءِ وَقالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَكُونَ مَعَكُم تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ قالَ لَهُ وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَخِي وَ يا وَصِيّيِ وَ خَلِيفَتِي وَ صاحِبَ لِوائِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ عَلِيٌّ تَحتَ الكِساءِ .
ثُمَّ أَتَيتُ نَحوَ الكِساءِ وَ قُلتُ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا أبَتاهُ يا رَسُولَ الله أَتأذَنُ لي أَن أَكونَ مَعَكُم تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ قالَ : وَ عَليكَ السَّلامُ يا بِنتِي وَ يا بَضعَتِي قَد أَذِنتُ لَكِ ، فَدَخَلتُ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ، فَلَمَّا إكتَمَلنا جَمِيعاً تَحتَ الكِساءِ أَخَذَ أَبي رَسُولُ اللهِ بِطَرَفَيِ الكِساءِ وَ أَومَأَ بِيَدِهِ اليُمنى إِلىَ السَّماءِ و قالَ : أَللّهُمَّ إِنَّ هؤُلاءِ أَهلُ بَيتِي و خَاصَّتِي وَ حَامَّتي ، لَحمُهُم لَحمِي وَ دَمُهُم دَمِي ، يُؤلِمُني ما يُؤلِمُهُم وَ يُحزِنُني ما يُحزِنُهُم ، أَنَا حَربٌ لِمَن حارَبَهُم وَ سِلمٌ لِمَن سالَمَهُم وَ عَدوٌّ لِمَن عاداهُم وَ مُحِبٌّ لِمَن أَحَبَّهُم ، إنًّهُم مِنّي وَ أَنا مِنهُم فَاجعَل صَلَواتِكَ وَ بَرَكاتِكَ وَ رَحمَتكَ و غُفرانَكَ وَ رِضوانَكَ عَلَيَّ وَ عَلَيهِم وَ اَذهِب عَنهُمُ الرَّجسَ وَ طَهِّرهُم تَطهِيراً .
فَقالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ : يا مَلائِكَتي وَ يا سُكَّانَ سَماواتي إِنّي ما خَلَقتُ سَماءً مَبنَّيةً وَ لا أرضاً مَدحيَّةً وَ لا قَمَراً مُنيراً وَ لا شَمساً مُضيِئةً وَ لا فَلَكاً يَدُورُ وَ لا بَحراً يَجري وَ لا فُلكاً يَسري إِلاّ في مَحَبَّةِ هؤُلاءِ الخَمسَةِ الَّذينَ هُم تَحتَ الكِساء ِ ، فَقالَ الأَمِينُ جِبرائِيلُ : يا رَبِّ وَ مَنْ تَحتَ الكِساءِ ؟ فَقالَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ : هُم أَهلُ بَيتِ النُّبُوَّةِ وَ مَعدِنُ الرِّسالَةِ هُم فاطِمَةُ وَ أَبُوها ، وَ بَعلُها وَ بَنوها ، فَقالَ جِبرائِيلُ : يا رَبِّ أَتَأذَنُ لي أَن أَهبِطَ إلىَ الأَرضِ لأِكُونَ مَعَهُم سادِساً ؟ فَقالَ اللهُ : نَعَم قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ .
فَهَبَطَ الأَمِينُ جِبرائِيلُ وَ قالَ : أَلسَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، العَلِيُّ الأَعلَى يُقرِئُكَ السَّلامَ ، وَ يَخُصُّكَ بِالتًّحِيَّةِ وَ الإِكرَامِ وَ يَقُولُ لَكَ : وَ عِزَّتي وَ جَلالي إِنّي ما خَلَقتُ سَماءً مَبنيَّةً و لا أَرضاً مَدحِيَّةً وَ لا قَمَراً مُنِيراً وَ لا شَمساً مُضِيئَةً و لا فَلَكاً يَدُورُ و لا بَحراً يَجري و َلا فُلكاً تَسري إِلاّ لِأجلِكُم وَ مَحَبَّتِكُم ، و َقَد أَذِنَ لي أَن أَدخُلَ مَعَكُم ، فَهَل تَأذَنُ لي يا رَسُول الله ِ ؟ فَقالَ رَسُولُ الله : وَ عَلَيكَ السَّلامُ يا أَمِينَ وَحيِ اللهِ ، إِنَّهُ نَعَم قَد أَذِنتُ لَكَ ، فَدَخَلَ جِبرائِيلُ مَعَنا تَحتَ الكِساءِ ، فَقالَ لأِبي : إِنَّ اللهَ قَد أَوحى إِلَيكُم يَقولُ : ﴿ ... إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا ﴾
فَقالَ : عَلِيٌّ لِأَبِي : يا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَخبِرنِي ما لِجُلُوسِنا هَذا تَحتَ الكِساءِ مِنَ الفَضلِ عِندَ اللهِ ؟ فَقالَ النَّبيُّ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : وَ الَّذي بَعَثَنِي بِالحَقِّ نَبِيّاً وَ اصطَفانِي بِالرِّسالَةِ نَجِيّاً ، ما ذُكِرَ خَبَرُنا هذا فِي مَحفِلٍ مِن مَحافِل أَهلِ الأَرَضِ وَ فِيهِ جَمعٌ مِن شِيعَتِنا وَ مُحِبِيِّنا إِلاّ وَ نَزَلَت عَلَيهِمُ الرَّحمَةُ ، وَ حَفَّت بِهِمُ المَلائِكَةُ وَ استَغفَرَت لَهُم إِلى أَن يَتَفَرَّقُوا ، فَقالَ عَلِيٌّ ( عليه السَّلام ) : إذَاً وَاللهِ فُزنا وَ فازَ شِيعَتنُا وَ رَبِّ الكَعبَةِ .
فَقالَ أَبي رَسُولُ اللهِ ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : يا عَلِيُ وَ الَّذي بَعَثَني بِالحَقِّ نَبِيّاً وَ اصطَفاني بِالرِّسالَةِ نَجِيّا ، ما ذُكِرَ خَبَرُنا هذا في مَحفِلٍ مِن مَحافِلِ أَهلِ الأَرضِ وَ فِيهِ جَمعٌ مِن شِيعَتِنا وَ مُحِبّيِنا وَ فِيهِم مَهمُومٌ إِلا ّوَ فَرَّجَ اللهُ هَمَّهُ وَ لا مَغمُومٌ إِلاّ وَ كَشَفَ اللهُ غَمَّهُ وَ لا طالِبُ حاجَةٍ إِلاّ وَ قَضى اللهُ حاجَتَهُ ، فَقالَ عَلِيٌّ ( عليه السَّلام ) : إذَاً والله فُزنا وَ سُعِدنا ، وَ كَذلِكَ شِيعَتُنا فَازوا وَ سُعِدوا في الدُّنيا وَ الآخِرَةِ وَ رَبِّ الكَعبَةِ "
1- The Holy Qur’an
2- The Holy Bible (Old and New Testament)
3- Afdaal Al Qur’an by Ibn Hajar
4- Al Fada’el by Ahmad ibn Hanbal
5- Al Khasa’es Al Kubra by Abdul Rahman Abi Bakr Al Suyuti
6- Al Masnad by Abu Bakr Al Bazaar
7- Al Mussanaf by Ibn Abi Shayba
8- Al-Mustadrak by Hakim Nishaburi
9- Al Mutafaq Wal Muftaraq by Ahmed Ali Thabit Al Khatib
10- Al Saafi fi Tafseer Kalam Allah Al Waafi by Al Fayd Al Kashani
11- Al Seraj by Allamah Al Azizi
12- Al Sunnah by Ibn Abi A’sem
13- Al Sunan Al Kubra by Al Nisaii
14- A’walem Al ‘Uloom by Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Nurullah Al Bahrani
15- Al Yaqeen Bi Ikhtisaas Mawlana Ali Bi Emrat Al Momineen by Ibn Tawoos
16- Amaali by Sheikh Al Sadooq
17- Bihaar Al Anwar by Allamah Al Majlisi
18- Dalail An-Nubuwwah by Baihaqi
19- Fatawa by Sheikh Al Islam Al Bulqini
20- Helyat Al Awliyaa by Al Hafiz Abu Na’eem Al Asfahani
21- Irshad Al Qulub by Al Daylami
22- Islam: Faith, Practice, and History by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
23- Jame’a Al Bayaan by Ibn Jareer Al Tabari
24- Kanz Al Fawa’ed by Abul Fath Muhammad Al Karajki
25- Kifayat Al Talib by Abi Muhammad Abdullah ibn Abdul Rahman Al Nafzi
26- Kitab Al Kaafi by Muhammad Ya’qoob Al Kulayni
27- Kitab Al Mizan by Abu Al Mawaheb Abdul Wahab Al Ansari
28- Kitabul Wilayah by Hafiz Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir
29- Lantern of the Path by Imam Ja’far Al Sadiq (AS)
30- M.A. Ali/Pooya English Qur’an Commentary
31- Madarijun Nubuwwah by Sheikh ‘Abdul-Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi
32- Manaqib by Ibn Maghazili
33- Manaqib Aal Abi Talib by Ibn Shahr Ashoob
34- Min Fiqh Al-Zahraa by Imam Muhammad Al Husaini Al Shirazi
35- Mohodaraat Al Odabaa’ by Allamah Al Isfahani
36- Mu’jam al-Kabir by Tabarani
37- Muntakhab Kanz Al-‘Omaal by Ahmed ibn Hanbal
38- Murooj Al Dhahab by Al Mas’udi
39- Musnad by Ahmed Ibn Hanbal
40- Nahjul Balagha by Al Shareef Al Radhi’
41- Sahih Bukhari by Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismael Al Bukhari
42- Sahih Muslim by Muslim ibn Al Hajjaj Al Qushayri Al Nisapouri
43- Sawa’eq al Muhriqah by Ibn Hajar Al Makki
44- Shifaa As-Saqam by Imam Sheikh Taqi Ad-Din Subkhi
45- Sunan Abi Dawood by Abu Da'ud Sulayman ibn al-Ash'ath al-Sijistani
46- Sunan Ibn Majah by Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Majah Qazwini
47- Sunan Nasai by Abu Abdul Rahman Ahmad ibn All Ibn Shuaib Nasai
48- Tabaqaat Al Muhaditheen by Abu Muhammad Al Ansari
49- Tafsir Al-Durr Al-Manthur by Al Suyuti
50- Tafsir Al-Kabeer by Fakhruddin Razi
51- Tafsir Bayan Al Sa’ada fi Maqamaat Al ‘Ibadah by Al Janabedhi
52- Tafsir Ruh Al Ma’ani by Sheikh Al Aloosi
53- Taharah and ‘Ismah of the Prophets, Messengers, Awsiyaa, and Imams by Dr. Hatem Abu Shahba
54- Tarikh Al Khulafaa by Al Suyuti
55- Tarikh Al Tabari by Abu Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
56- Tarikh Damishq by Ibn A’saker