AHL AL-BAYT - ÂL AL-BAYT - ÂL AL-‘ABÂ
آل العباء - آل البيت - أهل البيت
Literally: Ahl is a man's family. A household. A kindred. Friends. People. A nation. A man's family and descendants. A wife. The people of a place, condition, profession, religion or quality. A person or thing closely related to some particular thing mentioned.
Literally: Bayt is a house.
Literally: Âl are the followers of a man of importance, consisting of his family, relatives, friends and followers, and of his posterity.
Literally: Ahl al-bayt and âl al-bayt are People of the House or Family of the House.
As an Islamic term: The terms Ahl al-bayt, âl al-bayt, âl an-nabî and âl al-Muhammad are used among the ummah to describe the people, who grew up in the Prophet Muhammad’s (asm) house and family and are the source, protector and follower of his Sunnah as-Saniyyah minutely and are his posterity.
Literally: 'Abâ is a very stout kind of woollen homespun cloth. A cloak or jacket made of that material. Âl al-‘abâ literally is the people of the cloak and refers to the five people, Muhammad ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm, Imam ‘Ali al-Murtadhâ (ra), Hazrat Fatimah az-Zahra (ra) and their two sons, Imam Hasan (ra) and Imam Husayn (ra), for whom Muhammad ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm offered his du'â and covered them with his own ‘abâ.
“THE SECOND QUESTION is about âl al-‘abâ.
My brother! In regard to your question about âl al-‘abâ, only one of the many instances of hikmah concerning it will be explained, as follows:
Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm covering Hazrat ‘Ali (ra) and Hazrat Fatimah (ra) and Hazrat Hasan and Husayn (ra) with the blessed cloak (‘abâ ) he wore, and his offering du'â for them with the âyah, لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ اَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا 1 contains many mysteries and instances of hikmahs. I shall not discuss the mysteries; one instance of hikmah connected with the duty of Prophethood is this:
Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm saw with the eye of nubuwwah, which penetrated the ghayb and beheld the future, that thirty or forty years later serious fitnah would erupt among the Sahâbah and the Tâbi’în, and that blood would be spilt. He witnessed that the most distinguished among them would be the three under his cloak (‘abâ). So he covered them in the cloak (‘abâ), thus giving the four, plus himself, the title of âl al-‘abâ al-khamsah2 , in order to purify and exonerate Hazrat ‘Ali (ra) in the view of the ummah, and console and offer condolences to Hazrat Husayn (ra), and congratulate Hazrat Hasan (ra) and proclaim the honour he would acquire by removing through reconciliation serious fitnah and his supreme value for the ummah, and that Hazrat Fatimah's descendants would be pure and honoured, and they will be worthy of the exalted title of ahl al-bayt.
For sure Hazrat ‘Ali (ra) was the rightful khalîfah, but since the blood that would be spilt was of great importance and since in the view of the ummah his acquittal and exoneration were important on account of the duty of Prophethood, Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm exonerated him in that way. He invited the Kharijites, who criticized him and accused him of error and dhalâlah, and the aggressive supporters of the Umayyads, to be silent. Yes, the extreme supporters of the Kharijites and Umayyads’ tafrît concerning Hazrat ‘Ali (ra) and their accusations of dhalâlah, and opposing of the Shi'a to the Shaikhayn3 caused by Hazrat Husayn's (ra) grievously sorrowing event and the ifrât and bid’ahs of them, have been most damaging for the people of Islam.
Thus, with his cloak (‘abâ) and du'â, Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm saved Hazrat ‘Ali (ra) and Hazrat Husayn (ra) of responsibility and accusations, and saved the ummah of evil surmise about them. So too in the point of the duty of Prophethood, he congratulated Hazrat Hasan (ra) for the good he was to do for the ummah by bringing about the reconciliation. And he announced that, the blessed progeny of Hazrat Fatimah’s (ra) descendants will attain an exalted honour through receiving the title of ahl al-bayt in al-‘âlam of Islam, and Hazrat Fatimah (ra) will be honored in the aspect of her descendants like Hazrat Maryam's mother, who said: اِنِّى اُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ 4
اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ الطَّيِّبِينَ الطَّاهِرِينَ اْلاَبْرَارِ وَعَلَى اَصْحَابِهِ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ اْلاَخْيَارِ آمِينَ
The Flashes ( 131-132 )
“According to one interpretation, the meaning of the âyah: اِلاَّ الْمَوَدَّةَ فِى الْقُرْبَى 5 is that "Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm wants no reward for carrying out the duty of prophethood; he wants only love for his âl al-bayt."
If it is said: "According to this meaning, it seems there is an advantage to be gained from a family relationship. Whereas, according to the mystery of: اِنَّ اَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللّٰهِ اَتْقَيكُمْ 6 it is not in regard to family relationships that prophethood duties but in regard to closeness to Allah,"
The Answer: With his vision which penetrated the ghayb, Ar-Rasûl Al-Akram ‘Alayhissalâtu Wassalâm saw that his âl al-bayt would become like a tree with nûr within al-‘âlam of Islam. The overwhelming majority of those who would perform the duty of murshids and guides instructing every level of al-‘âlam of Islam in human attainment and perfection would emerge from âl al-bayt. He divined that ummah's du'â for Âl in tashahhud: اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ عَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى اِبْرَاهِيمَ وَ عَلَى آلِ اِبْرَاهِيمَ اِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ 7 would be accepted. That is, like the vast majority of the luminous guides among the people of Ibrâhîm were prophets of the family and progeny of Hazrat Ibrâhîm (as), he saw in the ummah of Muhammad (asm) also, the Aqtâb of âl al-bayt of Muhammad (asm) performing the great duties of Islam, and in most of the paths and tarîqah, like the prophets of Israel. Therefore, being commanded to say: لاَ اَسْئَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ اَجْرًا اِلاَّ الْمَوَدَّةَ فِى الْقُرْبَى 8 , he wanted the ummah’s love for âl al-bayt.
He decreed in other riwâyât which are corroborating this haqiqah: "I leave you two things. If you adhere to them, you will find salvation: one is Allah's Book, the other is my âl al-bayt." For those who are the source and guardians of the Sunnah as-Saniyyah, and are charged with having iltizâm with them in every respect, are âl al-bayt.
Thus, because of this mystery, this haqiqah of Hadith was made known under the title of following the Book and the Sunnah. That is to say, what he intended with âl al-bayt- in respect of the duty of prophethood- was his Sunnah as-Saniyyah. Just as someone who abandons the Sunnah as-Saniyyah cannot be a member of true âl al-bayt, so too such a person cannot be a true friend to âl al-bayt.
Also, the mystery of his desire to gather his ummah around âl al-bayt is that, with Allah's permission, he knew âl al-bayt will become very numerous with the passing of time, and understood that Muslims will become weak. Therefore an extremely strong and numerous mutually supportive jamâ’ah is necessary so that it can be the means to and centre for the ma’nawî progress of al-‘âlam of Islam. With Ilahî permission, he thought of this and desired that gathering of his ummah around his âl al-bayt.
Indeed, even if the members of âl al-bayt are not greatly in advance of others in matters of îmân and faith, they are still greatly ahead of them in regard to submission, iltizâm and partisan. For they are supporters of Islam by fitrah, birth and natural disposition. Even if innate partisanship is weak and unworthy, or unjustifiable even, it cannot be given up. So, for a person who feels clearly to be so fundamental and fitrî partisanship for a haqiqah to which all his forefathers-who were most strong, most constant and true, and most illustrious-had been bound, and through which they had won glory, and for which they had sacrificed their lives, would give up the partisanship? Thus, due to this intense iltizâm and fitrî Islam, ahl al-bayt accepted the least hint in favour of the religion of Islam as though it was a powerful proof. For they were partisan by fitrah. Others gain iltizâm after some powerful proof.” The Flashes ( 37-39 )
“What was the reality of the wars that started in the time of Hazrat 'Ali (ra)? In what way should we describe those who took part in them, and those who died and those who killed?
The Answer: The war is called the Event of the Camel between Hazrat 'Ali and Hazrat Talha, and Hazrat Zubayr and 'A'isha the Siddîqah (Radhiyallahu Taâ’lâ ‘anhum ajmaîn)9 was the struggle between pure justice and relative justice. It was as follows:
Hazrat 'Ali took pure justice as fundamental and done ijtihad for proceeding on that basis, as was the case in the time of Shaikhayn10 . Those who opposed him said that the purity of Islam at the time of Shaikhayn permitted pure justice, but since with the passage of time various tribes whose Islam was weak had entered Islamic social life, to apply pure justice was extremely difficult. For this reason, they did their ijtihad for proceeding on the basis of relative justice, named as “preferring the lesser of two sharrs”. To dispute over the ijtihad entered into politics, it produced the consequence of war. Since the ijtihad was made purely for Allah's sake and for the benefit of Islam, and the war was born from ijtihad, surely both those who killed and those who were killed were the people of Jannah.. We can say that both were the people who acquired merit in Allah's sight... However accurate was Hazrat 'Ali's ijtihad, and however much in error those who opposed him, they still did not deserve punishment. For if one who does ijtihad extracts the haqq, he gains two rewards, but if he does not extract it, he still earns one reward, the reward for doing ijtihad which is a form of ‘ibâdah; he is forgiven of his error. A muhaqqiq who is widely known amongst us, and who speaks the truth, said in Kurdish : ژِى شَرِّ صَحَابَانْ مَكَه قَالُ و قِيلْ لَوْ رَا جَنَّتِينَه قَاتِلُ و هَمْ قَتِيل that is "Don't gossip about the war between the Sahâbah, for both killer and killed are the people of Jannah."
Explanation of pure justice and relative justice is this: according to the ma’nâ al-isharî of the âyah, مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ اَوْ فَسَادٍ فِى اْلاَرْضِ فَكَاَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا 11 the rights of an innocent man cannot be cancelled for the sake of all the people. A single individual may not be sacrificed for the good of all. In the view of Janâb-i Haqq's compassion, right is right, there is no difference between great and small. The small may not be annulled for the great. Without his consent, the life and rights of an individual may not be sacrificed for the good of the community. If he consents to sacrifice them in the name of patriotism, that is a different matter.
As for relative justice, a particular is sacrificed for the good of the universal; the rights of an individual are not considered in the face of the community. A sort of relative justice is attempted to be applied as the lesser of two sharrs. But if it is possible to apply pure justice, to attempt to apply relative justice is dhulm. It must not be attempted.
Thus, saying it was possible to apply pure justice in the time of Shaikhayn12 , Imam 'Ali Radhiyallahu ‘anh constructed the Islamic Khilâfah on that basis. Those who opposed him and objected to him did ijtihad with relative justice by saying “it is not possible to apply it because of the great difficulties”. The other reasons related by history are not true reasons, they are pretexts.
If you ask: What was the reason for Imam 'Ali's lack of success relative to his predecessors in regard to the Islamic Khilâfah, despite his extraordinary capabilities, unusual intelligence, and great deservedness?
The Answer: That blessed person was worthier of important duties other than politics and sovereignty. If he had been completely successful in politics and sovereignty, he would have been unable to truly gain the meaningful title of 'Shâh13 of walâyah.' Whereas he gained a ma’nawî sovereignty far surpassing the external and political Khilâfah, and became like a Universal Ustadh; in fact, his ma’nawî sovereignty will continue even until the qiyâmah.
When it comes to Hazrat Imam 'Ali's war with Hazrat Mu'awiya at Siffin, that was a war between the Khilâfah and sovereignty. That is, taking the injunctions of religion, the haqiqahs of Islam, and the âkhirah as the basis, Hazrat Imam 'Ali sacrificed some of the laws of government and pitiless demands of politics to them. Whereas Hazrat Mu'awiya and his supporters left aside ‘azîmah and done iltizâm to rukhsah in order to strengthen Islamic social life with their politics of government; they supposed themselves to be compelled to do so due to the demands of politics, through choosing rukhsah they fell into error.
As for Hazrat Hasan and Husayn's struggle against the Umayyads, that was a war between religion and nationalism. That is, the Umayyads planted the Islamic state on Arab nationalism and put the bonds of nationalism before those of Islam, therefore causing harm in two respects:
First Respect: They offended the other nations and frightened them.
The Other: Since the principles of racialism and nationalism do not follow justice and haqq, they perpetrate dhulm and do not proceed on justice. For a ruler of racialist prefers those of the same race, and cannot act justly. According to the certain decree of, اْلاِسْلاَمِيَّةُ جَبَّتِ الْعَصَبِيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةَ لاَ فَرْقَ بَيْنَ عَبْدٍ حَبَشِىٍّ وَسَيِّدٍ قُرَيْشِىٍّ اِذَا اَسْلَمَا 14 the bonds of nationalism may not be set up in place of the bonds of religion; if they are, there will be no justice; right will disappear.
Thus, Hazrat Husayn took the bonds of religion as the basis and struggled against them as someone who executes justice, until he attained the rank of shahâdah.
If it is said: If he was so right and just, why was he not successful? Also, why did Ilahî Qadar and Ilahî rahmah permit them to meet with the tragic end they did?
The Answer: It was not Hazrat Husayn's close supporters, but those of other nations who had joined his jamâ’ah, and due to their wounded national pride, harboured feelings of revenge towards the Arab nation; they caused harm to the pure, shining ways of Hazrat Husayn and his supporters, and were the cause of their defeat.
The hikmah in their tragic end from the point of view of Qadar is this: Hasan and Husayn and their family and descendants were destined for a ma’nawî sovereignty. It is extremely difficult to bring together worldly sovereignty and ma’nawî sovereignty. Therefore, Qadar made them feel disgusted with the world; it showed them the ugly face of the world so that they should cease to feel any attachment to the world with the heart.15 Their hands are withdrawn from a temporary and superficial sovereignty but were appointed to a splendid and permanent ma’nawî sovereignty. They became the resources of the aqtâb of awliyâ instead of ordinary governors.
YOUR THIRD QUESTION
What was the hikmah in the tragic and cruel treatment that those blessed people received?
The Answer: As explained above, there were three basic reasons for the pitiless cruelty of Hazrat Husayn's opponents during Umayyad rule:
One was the pitiless principle of politics: "Individuals may be sacrificed for the welfare of the government and preservation of public order."
The Second was the cruel rule of nationalism, "Everything may be sacrificed for the well-being of the nation," since their rule was based on racialism and nationalism.
The Third: The traditional vein of rivalry of the Umayyads towards the Hashimites was found in some people like Yazid, and he displayed a merciless ability to be cruel.
A Fourth Reason: The Umayyads, taking Arab nationalism as the basis of their rule, looked on the members of other nations -who were found among Hazrat Husayn's supporters- as slaves, and had wounded their national pride. So, since the other nations had joined Hazrat Husayn's jamâ’ah with mixed intentions and to take revenge, they excessively affronted the Umayyad's fanatic nationalism and were the cause of the extremely cruel and pitiless well-known tragedy.
The four reasons mentioned above are outward and apparent. When it is considered from the point of view of Qadar, the results pertaining to the âkhirah and the sovereignty pertaining to the rûh and ma’nawî progress that the tragedy gained for Hazrat Husayn and his relatives were of such high worth that the distress they suffered due to it became extremely easy and cheap. Like if a soldier dies after an hour's torture and becomes a shahîd, he attains such a rank that another could reach it only if he strove for ten years. If the soldier was to be asked after he became a shahîd, he would reply that he had gained much for very little.” The Letters ( 74-77 )
1 (Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O ahl al-bayt, and to purify you with [extensive] purification)
2 (the five people of the cloak)
4 (I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from shaytan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ].)
5 (..save love of ahl al-bayt..)
6 (Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you)
7 (O Allah, grant blessings to our sayyîd Muhammad and to the Family of our sayyîd Muhammad, as You granted blessings to Ibrâhîm and to the Family of Ibrâhîm; indeed, You are Worthy of hamd, Most Exalted.)
8 (Say: I ask of you no recompense save love of ahl al-bayt)
9 ( May Allah Taâ’lâ be pleased with all of them)
10 (the two Khalîfhas, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and Hazrat 'Umar (ra))
11 (If anyone slew a person -unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people of the land.)
12 (the two Khalîfhas, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and Hazrat 'Umar (ra))
13 (Great or good of its kind)
14 (Islam has abrogated what preceded it. There is no difference between an Abyssinian slave and a leader of the Quraish, once they have accepted Islam. Islam has abrogated the tribalism of Ignorance)
15 “Whereas for those employed in service of the Qur'an, either the world must be vexed with them, or they must be vexed at the world, so that they can perform service of the Qur’an with ikhlas and earnestly.” The Flashes (71)