Pearl of Wisdom

'Who can give me their word that they never ask anything from people and I will guarantee them Paradise in return?' A man called Thawban said, 'I do', and indeed Thawban never used to ask people for anything.'

Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa [sawa]
Kanz al-'Ummal, no. 17142

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Library » Islamic Unity » Love of the Prophet and His Progeny
Love of the Prophet and His Progeny E-mail

"Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives; and whoever earns good, We give him more of good therein; surely Allah is Forgiving, Grateful."
Holy Quran 42:23

Who does this verse refer to?

The Prophet (s.a.w.) explicitly told the Muslims that this verse refers to his Ahlul-Bait that is Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husain and urged them to obey and follow these illustrious personalities after him.

All commentators, traditionists and biographers are unanimous that the Prophet while explaining this verse, said that the word near relatives' as used here refers exclusively to his Ahlul-Bait that is Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain.

The renowned Scholar, Zamakhshari, in his commentary Kashshaf, says

"... it is narrated that the idolators gathered at a meeting and said to each other: Will Muhammad ask us for a reward for what he is preaching?' It was then that Allah revealed this verse to the Prophet as an answer'. "Say (0 Muhammad, unto mankind): I do not ask of you any reward for it (for preaching the message), but love form v near relatives (Ahlul-Bait); and whoever earns good, we give him more of good therein..."
[Fakhruddin Razi, 'al-tafseer al-Kabeer', interpretation of Shura Chapter, verse no. 23.]

Zamakhshari adds: It is also narrated that on the revelation of the said verse, the Messenger of Allah was asked: Who are your near relatives whom we must love? He said: Ali Fatima and their two sons (Hasan and Husain)'.

Allama Bahrani, refers to Imam Ahmad ihn Hanhal's Musnad', who - through a chain of narrators - on the authority of Said ibn Jubair quotes ihn Ahhas: "When Allah's words were revealed:

"Say (0' Muhammad) I do not ask of you any' reward for it (preaching the message), but love for my near relatives Ahlul- Bait'...".

The Messenger of Allah was asked as to who his near relatives were whose love has been made obligatory for the Muslims? The Prophet replied:

"Ali, Fatima and their two sons (Hasan and Husain).
['Ghayat al-Muram', interpretation of the verse.]

Fakhruddin Razi in his al-Tafsir al-Kabir'. after citing Zamakhshari's above narration says:

"I state aal' Muhammad (s.a.w.) are those whose affairs are completely interwined with his the (Prophet's)... And without doubt no one was so near to the Prophet than Fatima, Ali, Hasan and Husain. This is a well-known fact of all chains of narrations, and these are they who are his 'aal [Anyone well-versed in the Arabic language will vouch that Aal cannot be misinterpreted for the umma or people naas as some later misinformed writers have suggested.]

Fatima, the Daughter of The Prophet

Thus it is an undisputed fact that the words Ahlul-Bait or aal Muhammad (s.a.w.) refer only to the immediate family of the Prophet; his daughter Fatima. son-in-law' Ali and grandsons Hasan and Husain and no one else besides.

We have already cited some instances of the Prophet's love for his family. No doubt being his only surviving child. Fatima was intensely loved by her father. The Prophet's famous words are a testimony to this fact. "Fatima is a part of me and whoever hurts Fatima, hurts me."

Fatima was so dear to him that the Prophet spurned offers for her hand from many wealthy Arabs and gave her in marriage to his own cousin, Ali ibn Ahi Talib, whom he himself had brought up. On several occasions the Prophet singled out Ali's preeminence as well as the position of his grand-children Hasan and Husain.

The traditions also confirm this and also confirm his natural inclination towards Ali who and his grand-children Hasan and Husain.

Therefore it becomes a duty for all those who claim to be part of the Prophet's nation to follow the Prophet's traditions in respect to his Ahlul-Bait. Moreover Allah Himself has commanded the Muslims to do so, as is evident by the following verses:

"Say (0' Muhammad say unto mankind) if you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you.." Holy Qur'an (3:3 1)

"….and follow him (the Prophet) so that you may be guided. " Holy Qur'an (7:158)

"…therefore let those beware who go against his (Prophet's) instructions..." Holy Qur'an (24:63)

"Certainly you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent examplar... (to copy and follow)" Holy Qur'an (31:21)

Besides the above mentioned verses another proof of the superiority of the AhluI-Bait over the rest of the Muslims are the blessings, a Muslim invokes on Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his aal (family) when he recites the Tashahud in each of the five daily prayers:

"0 Allah, shower Your blessings upon Muhammad and aal' Muhammad".

No less a personality than Imam Shafi'i regarded as a founding father of a school of jurisprudence in Islam, in a famous ode in praise of the AhluI-Bait has not only stressed their love to be a synonym for faith but has categorically rebuked those who deny their pre-eminence:

0 rider stand on the stony ground of Mina. And cry to those stopped at Khif and those bestirring. When the pilgrims come at dawn to Mina. Moving like the rolling of the waves of the surging Euphrates. If love for Muhammad's aal' is Rafdh (heresy). Then Jinn and Men bear witness lam a Rafidhi (heretic).
[Fakhruddin Razi, 'al-tafseer al-Kabeer', interpretation of Shura Chapter, verse no. 23.]

Muhibuddin Tabari in his book Dhakhai'r aI-Uqba fi Manaqib Dhawi aI-Ourba' quoting Ibn Abbas, the Prophet's cousin and companion says: "On the revelation of ayat al-Ma wadda people asked the Prophet as to who were his relatives whom they were required to love. The Prophet replied: Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain. (This is also stated by Ahmad in al-Manaqib').
[Muhubuddin Tabari, 'Dhakha'ir al-Uqba fi manaqib dhawi al-Qurba, p.25]

Ibn Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatam, Ibn Mardawaya and Taharam in Mu'jam al-Kabir', have also quoted the same words from Jbn Abbas, regarding this verse.

Jalaluddin Suyuti relates that the Prophet's elder grandson Imam Hasan ibn Ali (a.s.) said in one of his sermons: "I am of the Ahlul-Bait' whose love Allah has made obligatory for every Muslim."

And then he recited this same verse: "Say (0' Muhammad) I do not ask of you any reward for it (preaching the message), but love for my near relatives (Ahlul-Bait)…". Holy Qur'an (33:33)

It should however be noted that the Qur'an does not mean mere sentimental ties of the Muslim communities with the Prophet's Household but stresses a deep and heartfelt love, the true expression of love by the Muslims can best be displayed by following the high examples set by the Ahlul-Bait, applying their teachings and guidelines in our daily behaviour ant acknowledging them as leaders after the Holy Prophet.

Conclusion - To Follow the Prophet and his Progeny

By placing this verse on the Prophet's tongue, and enjoining him to inform the Muslims that he does not want any fee or reward for communicating the divine Message, except the love for his immediate relatives, Allah was making clear to the Muslims that loyalty towards the Ahlul-Bait and acceptance of their leadership is the only way for their progress and development in this world and their salvation in the hereafter.

The very emphasis on the word near relatives' by Almighty Allah in the Holy Qur'an and the subsequent command to the Muslims, is a concrete proof of the Ahlul-Bait's right to leadership; otherwise Allah would not have revealed the verse at all and neither would the Prophet had stressed its significance.

Thus how beautifully the Qur'an reminds us of our gratitude towards the Prophet's task of enlightening us with the message of Islam. In other words it means that we will be considered ungrateful wretches, not deserving to be called Muslims, if we do not adhere to the path of the Ahlul-Bait. The Qur'an also tells us that we must adhere to the path of the Ahlul-Bait and take them as models, so as to mould our own lives and characters in accordance with such attributes as purity and cleanliness.

Thus it is clear from the various interpretations, narrations and traditions cited from scholars of different doctrinal leanings that the Prophet minced no words when interpreting this blessed verse.

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