Lesson 18 The Purified Household

The Ayah of Purification

{إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا}

God only desires to put away from you, the People of the Household, abomination and to cleanse you. (Al Ahzab 33:33).

The term إِنَّمَا (translated as “only”) here indicates that this Ayah is most certainly restricted to in relation to only this particular Household, Divinely Purified.

The term يُرِيدُ (translated as “desires”) is an Existential Will1, because the will of Allahﷻ in the legislative sense is that all mankind be should be purified.

The term ٱلرِّجْسَ (translated as “abomination”) relates to any impurity, apparent or internal.

The term أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ (translate as “People of the House (pbuth)”) are not all the members of the Prophets family, but of certain members whose names havhe been mentioned in both Shia and Sunni references. They are Imam Ali, Syeda Fatima Zahra, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (Pbut)

Question: What is the basis of this restriction? And why is it that this part of the Ayah is not in relation to all of the Prophets (pbuh) wives and house members?

Answer One: Narrations from the Prophets wives themselves, even from Aisha and Um Salma who asked the Prophet if they were members of the Purified Household? To which the Prophet replied in the negative.

Two: We read in multiple narrations that the Prophet placed a cloak over those five members of the Household, of whom one was the Prophet himself, and stated that these are the members of My Household and no one else has permission to enter it.

Three: The Prophet, in order to establish the exclusivity of the five members of the Purified Household, would pass by the home of Syeda Fatima Zahra÷ for six months (or eight, or nine months in some narrations) for the dawn prayers and state the words:

الصلاة يا اهل البيت إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّه لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

Time for Prayers, oh People of the Household (pbuth) God only desires to put away from you, the People of the Household (pbuth), abomination and to cleanse you.

In the book Restoration Of The Truth by Al-Hilli2, more than seventy narrations were from well-respected Sunni sources were identified that identify this Ayah as one that is specific to those five members of the Purified Household, and in the well-respected book3, over 130 narrations based upon this foundations are narrated.4 5

In any case, this Ayah does not encapsulate the wives of the Prophet because:

They were sometimes caught up in sin. In Surah At-Tahrim, we read that the Prophet (pbuh) confided in with some of his wives with a secret but the trust was breached with the secret being told to another. This, in the Holy Qur’an was identified as a sin:

{إِن تَتُوبَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا}

If you two repent to God, yet your hearts certainly inclined. (At Tahrim 66:4).

Aisha, a wife of the Prophet (pbuh), initiated the War of the Camel against Imam Ali‎(pbuh) and later regretted her actions, for many Muslims were killed in battle.

Answering Doubts

1. Doesn’t “cleanse you “implicate that the Purified Household (pbuth) were impure to start and then Allahﷻ cleansed and purified them?

A precondition to purification is not to be impure, as the Holy Qur’an states, the Houris6 are described as purified, where as they have not committed an ounce of sin. Likewise, to “cleanse you” here is to keep them purified and guard them from all impurities, not to cleanse them of previous sins.

2. If this Ayah is with regards to only five people, why is it amongst an Ayah relating to the wives of the Prophet (pbuh)?

A) The part of the Ayah starting with “God only desires” was revealed separately from the Ayah in which it is found, however, it was placed within that particular ayah while the Holy Qur’an was being collated.

B) In the Exegesis of Majamaa’ Al Bayan, it is explained that the poets, writers and eloquent speakers would commonly state something new and important in between other sentences in order to maximize its effect. Just as in the new bulletin when the reporter breaks his sentence to say something such as “We have breaking news… or with news just in…”, this gives a sort of mental shock to the listener promoting the news item.

The view of this Ayah is that of Surah Maida, Ayah 3, that discusses issues relating to guardianship, leadership and perfection of religion and all of the blessings and seeking the satisfaction of Allahﷻ‌, and the despair for the unbelievers, while being in relation to a revelation describing amongst other items pork meat and blood. This is a secret of its compilation which safeguarded the Holy Qur’an from the hands of the non-believers. Just as when women may hide their jewelry inside their pillow filling when they leave their homes, not because gold has anything to do with cotton, but because they want to guard themselves from the hands of the thieves.

C) In the middle of the Ayah advising the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), all of a sudden, the Ayah changes tone towards the Purity of the Purified Household (pbuth), effectively saying: Oh wives of the Prophet (pbuh), you are living amongst a household whom are Divinely Guided and Purified, so you must have greater care and attention to your piety for sure.

D) When it comes to the Purified Household (pbuth)… the pronoun used is collectively for majority male persons, contrary to when discussing the wives Prophet (pbuh), the pronoun used was collective feminine.

Part of the Household (pbuth) Or Not?

In the Holy Qur’an, Allahﷻ states

{قَالَ يَٰنُوحُ إِنَّهُۥ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ إِنَّهُۥ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَٰلِحٍ}

He said: "O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. (Hud 11:46).

While many narrations from the Prophet (pbuh) and Ahlul Bayet (pbuth) that have reached us start with “Not of us are they who…” For example, the Prophet (pbuh) stated

من غشَّ مسلماً فليس منا

Whoever cheats another Muslim is not of us.

Elsewhere it is narrated he said whoever respects another out of fear is not of us. While it has also been narrated the Prophet (pbuh) stated

من أصبح ولم يهتم بأمور المسلمين، فليس بمسلم

Whoever wakes up in the morning without giving thought as to how they can serve the Islamic Nation, is not a Muslim.

Elsewhere, the traditions narrate a friend of the Prophet (pbuh) is one who submissive to Allahﷻ, even if he has no relation with the Prophet (pbuh), while his enemy is one how is non-submissive to Allahﷻ, regardless of how close he was to the Prophet.

  • 1. اراده تکوینی
  • 2. احقاق الحق: علامه حلی
  • 3. شواهد التنزیل
  • 4. (Tafseer-e-Namoona)
  • 5. (Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn - تـفـسـيـر نـور الـثـقـلـيـن )
  • 6. Beautiful, big, and lustrous eyed partners… rewarded to the believers in the heaven.