The 22nd Juz covers the last 42 verses of Surah Al-Ahzab (The Confederation), Surah Saba (Sabeans), Surah Fatir (The Originator), and the first 27 verses of Surah Yaseen. Today’s episode explores a common question amongst Muslims, as to why the Ahl al-Bayt are not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an. The Ayat al-Tathir (verse of Purity) addresses the Prophet’s wives and their special status. The latter part of the verse has shifted in pronoun usage from feminine plural to plural masculine therefore the addressing audience has also altered. These details lead us to the Ahl al-Bayt through the Qur’an as a doorway. God’s strategy is that it is general but points us in the right direction.
Inna Hadha Al-Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wa yubashshir Al-mu'mineen al-lathi ya'malun al-salihat anna lahum Ajran Kabira (17:9) [Indeed, this Qur'an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward (17:9)].
Juz 22. 'A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim. Bismillah, Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. I begin in the name of Allah, compassionate to all, merciful to each. As-salamu alaykum, and welcome to the twenty second episode in this podcast series titled: "Journeying Our Eyes Through the Qur'an, Exploring 30 Juz in 30 days". Today, InshaAllah, we will continue our journey through the pages of the Qur'an, as we take a brief look into the 22nd juz of the Qur'an, which consists of the last 42 verses of chapter 33 which is Surat al-Ahzab or the Allies, and is Medinan. The entirety of Surah Saba, which is 54 verses and Meccan, and the entirety of Surah Fatir which is also Meccan and 45 verses long. And lastly it contains the verse 27 verses Surah Yasin which is also Meccan.
Over the past few days we have marked the death anniversary and Shahadah of Amir al-Mu'minin, alayhi as-salam, and one of the most common questions that is asked when it comes to the Qur'an, is with regards to the verses that mention him and the Ahl al-Bayt or what some would argue as a lack thereof.
In today's episode, we'll discuss some of the reasons as to why Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam's name is absent, and why the names of the other members of the Ahl al-Bayt, alayhum as-salam, are also absent. We'll be taking a look at verse 33 of Surat al-Ahzab which is more famously known as the verse of Tathir as a case study. The verse reads, 'Stay in your houses and do not flaunt your finery like the former days of ignorance. Maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and obey Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and His apostle. Indeed, Allah desires to repel all impurity from you. O people of the Household and purify you with a thorough purification (33:33).
And remember what is recited in your homes of the signs of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is all attentive, all aware (33:34). Indeed, the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women, the obedient men and the obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women. The men who fast and the women who fast. The men who are modest and the women who are modest. The men who remember Allah greatly and the women who remember Allah greatly. Allah holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward (33:35)'.
The interesting part about this verse, i.e., verse 33, the verse of Tathir, is that in many early books of a Hadith, the latter part of the verse has an entirely separate occasion and unique occasion of revelation from the verses that surround it, and both Sunni and Shi'i books of a Hadith note that it was revealed at the event of Kisa or the blanket. There's an interesting long form paper by a sister named Yasmin Amin, and it is available in English, where she goes through versions of the ahadith throughout history, and how they are recorded and some of the earliest books that we have at our disposal, from both the Sunni and the Shi'i tradition dating from as early as 220-240 AH.
Where the earliest renditions do not have all of the details that we read in hadith al-Kisa, the general narrative is the same. One day Rasul Allah, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, went under a blanket and he was joined by Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, Imam Hasan, alayhi as-salam, Imam Husayn, alayhi as-salam, and finally Sayyida Fatima, salamu Allahi alayha. In this same rendition of the Hadith Umm Salamah also asks to join under the blanket. But she is told, 'Anti ala khair'- that she is on a good path, but that she is not a part of this of this Ahl al-Bayt and is not included in the people of the Kisa.
A beautiful point worth mentioning here is that historically Umm Salamah, the wife of the prophet who is mentioned in this rendition of the story, had a close affinity with the Ahl al-Bayt. She mentions some of the ahadith that we have with regards to the prophecy of the martyrdom of Husayn, alayhi as-salam, in Karbala. And she also supported Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, in many difficult instances throughout his life. She is also one of the wives of Rasul Allah who lived the longest. But despite having this close affinity to the Ahl al-Bayt and to Rasul Allah, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, himself, she is still not permitted to enter the Kisa and is not noted as among the Ahl al-Bayt in this rendition, even though she has an incredible status. Another beautiful point to mention here, is that not being included doesn't stop her from supporting and loving the Ahl al-Bayt either.
A striking part of this verse, which has caught the attention of both Shi'i and Sunni commentators, is that the pronouns of this verse switch. And this is what helps us understand that there is a different audience being referred to. Initially in the verse, the verse is clearly speaking to the wives of the Prophet and speaking in the feminine plural, which is a particular case in Arabic. However, as the verse goes on, it switches to the masculine, plural tense, which means the inclusion of men in the discussion. This indicates that the referents are different from the beginning of the verse. It switches audience. It's almost as though it's a different sentence with a different context, somehow put there.
There is another verse like this, particularly verse 3 of Surat al-Ma'idah where one of the verses revealed on the event of a Ghadir is mentioned. And a similar reasoning for this is also cited here. In fact, in one hadith, it is mentioned that the reason this verse was placed here, was by Rasul Allah himself, and that Angel Jibra'il, alayhi as-salam, used to show him where to place some of these verses. This is not to say that all of the stories in the Qur'an are in a certain order, but rather it's argued that the verses within each Surah are arguably done in Tawqifi or a Divinely ordained manner.
For someone paying attention to the details, they will pay attention to these points, and they'll come to these stories and longstanding parts of our tradition. These details inquiries lead us to the Ahl al Bayt, alayhum as-salam, through the Qur'an as a doorway. The question as to why the Ahl al Bayt, alayhum as-salam, are not mentioned explicitly in the Qur'an is not a new question. And interestingly enough, it has been narrated that the same question was also asked to our Imams. It is narrated from Shaykh al-Kulayni by Abu al Basir, that one day he asked the Imam and said, 'How come Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam,, and his family are not specifically named in the Book of God?'
In response, Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, alayhi as-salam, is said to have said the following. This is a small excerpt from a longer tradition. But this part says: 'tell them that the prayer was revealed to the Prophet and in it there was no specific mention of three or four rakahs until the Prophet was the one who explained it to them.' Here we see that Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, alayhi as-salam, is trying to point to the general trend of the Qur'an, and God's strategy, and that is that the Qur'an is general, but it always points us in the right direction. It gives us principles of obeying Rasul Allah, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, and going to his words for guidance.
The verses also point to the family of the Prophet, and in several occasions we see that the Qur'an points us in that direction. There's another famous verse in Surat ash Shura, which says, ' laa as'alukum 'alaihi ajran illa al-mawaddata fi il-qurbaa' (42:23), that Rasul Allah is told to here say, 'I do not ask you for anything except for the love of my close family.' (42:23). And in this verse, the verse of Tathir, we also see this verse of purification where it is clearly indicating the family of Rasul Allah.
When we look at our traditions holistically, and these clues in the Qur'an, we can quite clearly see the status of Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, and the various instances in which he embodied the Qur'an and was one of its most intimate companions. Among all schools of thought, there is unity in that the family of the Prophet, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, has a special status, and this includes Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Husayn, alayhum as-salam, and it is also mentioned and indicated in verses like the one we just read in Surat al Ahzab, the famous verse of Tathir.
All schools of thought in the Muslim world believe in the reverence of this family, and our tradition is shared, and that it contains references to the event of the cloak in the earliest books of history. The difference is that we have among these schools of thought, is not in their virtue, or that this family was incredibly virtuous, but rather the difference of opinion, lies and the various opinions concerning the level of authority with which we vest in them. And that is a story for another podcast series.
Wa Al-Hamdulil-Lahi Rabbi Al-Alameen, wa salla Allahu alaa nabiyyina Muhammadin, wa alihi, al-tayibeen, al-tahireen. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa baraktu.
Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]