“After twenty three years of struggle and effort in the cause of the faith of Islam, and in the endeavor to establish the Medinan community, the Holy Prophet (S) passed away at the beginning of the eleventh year after the Hijra. With the departure of this great soul the Quranic revelation and the cycle of prophecy came to an end; no further Prophet would arise nor would there be any subsequent religious dispensation. However, the responsibilities that had been incumbent on the Prophet (apart from those pertaining to the conveyance of the Revelation) naturally did not come to an end. It was thus essential, after his death, that enlightened and upright persons should, in each succeeding age, undertake these responsibilities, as successors and vicegerents, and as Imams and leaders of the Muslims. This much will be readily accepted by all Muslims; but there is a difference of perspective between Shias and Sunnis regarding certain qualities that are deemed necessary in the successor to the Prophet, and also in the means of appointing him.
As we shall see shortly, the question of Imamate pertains to the divine domain. The appointment of a successor to the Prophet must be based on a divine revelation to the Prophet. But before entering into the traditional reports and formally religious aspects of this matter, let us suppose that we have no direct religious proof-texts to consult, and ask ourselves what verdict the human intellect would deliver on this question, taking due account of the conditions of those times. It seems clear that an intellectual evaluation would proceed along the following lines: If a great reformer struggled earnestly for many long years, and arrived at a plan that would benefit human society, it is natural that, in order that his plan continue to be implemented after his death, so as to bear fruit in the long-term, he would seek some effective way of perpetuating the system he had established. Or, to put it differently: it is unimaginable that a person should take great pains to construct some great building, and then leave it completely unprotected, appointing no watchmen or supervisors to maintain and preserve it.
The Holy Prophet is one of the greatest persons in human history who, by bringing forth a new religious dispensation, effected a profound transformation in the world, laying the foundations of an entirely new global civilization. Evidently this exalted individual through whom an eternally valid religion was established, and who provided leadership to his own society, must have made it clear how this religion was to be preserved, how it was to be protected against the dangers and misfortunes that might confront it. He must also have said something about how the everlasting Muslim umma should be led and administered; and he must have indicated the qualities of leadership that should prevail after his passing away. In this light, it is inconceivable that he would first establish a religion that was to last till the end of time, and then fail to provide clear guidance as to how the leadership of that religion, after his death, was to be determined and organized.
Again, it is unthinkable that a Prophet who did not withhold his guidance for even the smallest question pertaining to human welfare should have neglected to provide guidance on so crucial a matter as the leadership of Islamic society, thus leaving the Muslims to their own devices, not knowing what their obligations were in regard to this fundamental issue. It is therefore impossible to accept the proposition that the Prophet departed from this world without having given any instructions regarding the leadership of his community after his death. ”1
We believe that just as God’s wisdom necessitates that He must send prophets for humanity’s guidance, it necessitates that after the prophets of every age there must be an imam and leader for people’s guidance in order to protect the commandments of the prophets and divine religion from alteration and change, and to clarify the needs of every era and invite people towards God and the religion of the prophets (3:81 & 33:7). Otherwise, the purpose of creation which is perfection and success will remain barren. Humanity will be left back from guidance, the commandments of the prophets will be ruined and people will be errant.
“The Executors are those whom the prophets and messengers convey their will to so that they carry on the responsibility of protecting the message after them and executing its laws, goals, and content. They will continue the propagation and widespread of the prophet’s message to the people. The purpose of this is to ensure that the message reaches all of the people it is intended to reach. It is to guarantee that the message does not get distorted by the foolish people or by the enemies after the departure of the prophet or messenger. The Executors also focus on resolving all of the conflicts that may develop during the absence of the prophet or messenger, whether during his lifetime or after his departure. The message of Allah (SWT) conveyed by a prophet or messenger is very important, valuable, and precious. Logically, it is the most important component in the life of a human being since it guides him to his Creator, the reason behind his creation, and what are His expectations from him. Based on this great importance, we can logically deduce that such a great matter will not end simply by the birth of the religion at the hands of the Prophet and its conveyance to the people. Rather, there must be continuous supervision and ongoing care to this newborn religion. That is necessary and essential until it becomes strong and stands firmly on its feet. This requirement leads us to further deduce that there must exist someone who will take on the role of caretaking during the absence of the prophet, whether during the lifetime or after his death. Therefore, it is logical to expect the presence of Executors for every messenger. The Divine Messages and Revelations provide the method and system for the way of life, behavior, and upbringing of a person. It transfers the person from one state into another psychologically, socially, politically, economically, and spiritually. These types of life-related, intellectual, behavioral, and educational programs are rich with many aspirations, ambitions, hopes, and guidelines that have a wide scope and range. So, in order for it to grow, stand on its feet, accomplish its goals, and produce the desired effect, it requires a significant amount of time. Rather, it is certain that it will need a much greater time than the typical life span of a human being who will deliver the message from Allah (SWT). Such a prolific and great divine message would most likely need at least one to two hundred years for it to grow, establish itself, achieve its goals, and reform the generations. This also depends on the nature of the society that the message is delivered to, and the means of communication that is available, as well as the extent of its acceptance and scope of its cultural and intellectual development. Due to all these factors, it may even take more time than these years. Keeping in mind that the average lifespan of a human being on earth used to be between fifty and hundred years, then the supposed age of a prophet or messenger would in most cases be much less than the anticipated time needed for the delivery of the message, its growth, strength, and influence. Therefore, we can logically deduce that there must exist other individuals who would cover the remaining time left in the life of the Message after the departure of a messenger. These individuals will oversee the propagation of the religion, its growth and protection until it accomplishes all its goals in the best way possible. So the presence of these Executors after the prophets is completely logical and we can expect that to happen.”2
Based on this reason, we believe that there is an imam in every age and time after the Prophet of Islam (S). The Quran says, “O you who believe fear God and have piety and be with the truthful ones“(9:119). This verse is not particular to a time period. And being together with the truthful ones, without any conditions or stipulations, is proof that there is an infallible leader in every age who must be followed. This fact has been referred to by many Shia and Sunni exegetes in their commentaries. This verse proves that whoever is prone to making errors must follow one who is infallible. The infallibles are those who God has named “the truthful ones.” Therefore, this sentence proves that everyone who is fallible must follow and be with the infallible, so that the one who is infallible from error prevents the one who is prone to error from going astray. This meaning is true in every era and is not particular to a specific time period. This proves that an infallible exists in every era.3
We believe that imamate (leadership) is not only an external position of government, but is also a very lofty spiritual and religious position. In addition to leading the Islamic government, the imam is responsible for guiding people in all aspects of their religious and worldly lives. He guides people’s minds and souls, and protects the Holy Prophet’s laws from any alteration or change. He brings to fruition the purpose for which the Holy Prophet (S) was sent.
We believe that all of the arch-prophets (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus & Muhammad) were imams. They brought about with actions that which they preached in their missions. They were the people’s spiritual, physical, external and internal leaders. In particular the Holy Prophet (S) possessed this lofty position of imamate and divine leadership from the start of his mission. His task was not summed up with proclaiming God’s commandments.
We believe the line of leadership after the Holy Prophet (S) continued with the infallible ones from his progeny. Considering the prior explanation given for the matter of leadership, it can clearly be seen that reaching this position has very significant conditions. For example, from the perspective of piety, he must have such piety that he is infallible and immune from sins and errors. And from the perspective of knowledge, he must have complete understanding of all religious instructions as well as of all human beings and their needs in every time and place. Ponder over this.
We believe that the imam must be immune from every sin and mistake because in addition to what was mentioned in explanation of the aforementioned verse, an impure person cannot be fully trusted. The principles and branches of religion cannot be taken from him. For this reason, we believe that his sayings, actions and confirmations are proofs and legal reasoning. What is intended by confirmations is that if an action is carried out in his presence, he confirms it by keeping silent.
We believe the imam never brings new and fresh laws from himself; rather his duty is to guard and protect the law and religion of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S). His job is to promote, teach, protect and introduce and guide towards the divine religion.
We also believe that the imam must have complete awareness of the principles, branches and laws of Islam and the meaning and interpretation of the Quran. His knowledge in relation to these matters is divine and has reached him through the Prophet of Islam (S).
Verily, it is such knowledge that can be completely trusted and people can rely upon it in order to understand the realities of Islam.
We believe the imam (and successor of the Prophet) must be specifically appointed. This means that the Holy Prophet (S) must appoint each imam and each previous imam must appoint the imam after him. In other words, the imam, like the Prophet (S) is appointed by God through the Holy Prophet (S), just as we read in the verse (2:124) pertaining to the leadership of Abraham, “Surely, I have appointed you as an imam (leader) for mankind.” In addition to this discernment, the existence of piety in a person to the level of infallibility and lofty knowledge to the level of grasping all of God’s laws and teachings without any mistakes or error is not a thing that anyone other than God and His prophet can be aware of. In this manner, we do not recognize the leadership of an infallible leader to be a matter of people’s choice.
We believe the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) has appointed the imams after him based on Allah’s (SWT) command. In one place, specifically the Hadeeth of Thaqalayn, he has stated it in general. We read in Saheeh Muslim that the Noble Prophet (S) stood up in a place in between Mecca and Medina called Khum and gave a sermon. Then he said, “Soon I will leave you and verily I leave among you two valuable things. The first of which is God’s book. In it is guidance and light… [And the second] is my household. I advise you before God that you do not forget my household (He repeated this sentence three times.)” Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Hadith 5920
He then said: One day Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Hadith 5920
This matter has also been related in Saheeh Al-Tirmidhi where it explicitly says, “If you hold fast to these two, you will never go astray.”7
Narrated Zaid bin Arqam, may Allah be pleased with both of them: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said :”Indeed, I am leaving among you, that which if you hold fast to them, you shall not be misguided after me. One of them is greater than the other: The Book of Allah is a rope extended from the sky to the earth, and my family – the people of my house – and they shall not split until they meet at the Hawd, so look at how you deal with them after me.” 49 Chapters on Virtues, English Reference: Vol 1, Book 46, Hadith 37887
This hadeeth has also been related in most of the famous and well-known Islamic books. There is no room for doubt in its authenticity. In actuality, it is counted among one of the successive narrations (mutawaatir) which no Muslim can deny. And it can be seen from traditions that the Prophet of Islam did not just mention it in one place but in various places.
It is clear that everyone from the Prophet’s household cannot have such a lofty position next to the Quran. Therefore, this only refers to the infallible imams from the Prophet’s progeny. Only in some very weak and doubtful narrations, my way of life (sunnah) is mentioned instead of my household.
We also rely on other famous Sunni traditions related in well-known Sunni sources such as Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Saheeh Al-Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad and other books in which the Holy Prophet has been quoted to say, “The Religion of Islam will remain until the rise of Judgment Day and until twelve caliphs who are all from Quraish governs over you.”
We believe that the acceptable explanation for these traditions can only be found in the Imam Shia beliefs. Think, can it have any other explanation?
We believe that the Holy Prophet, based on God’s command, has specifically appointed Ali (S) as his successor in numerous places. From among them, (the verse of proclamation 5:67) in a place near Juhfah called Ghadeer Khum during the farewell pilgrimage among a large group of companions, he delivered a sermon and stated the famous words, “O people, am I not more befitting to you than your own selves? Everyone said yes. Then he said whosoever I am the master, leader and more befitting to, then Ali is the master, leader and more befitting to.”4 This statement is part of the Hadeeth of Thaqalayn discussed above. Another words the prophet (pbuh) said, I am going to die, so I leave you the Quran and my Family; moments later he raised Ali’s arm and said, whosoever I am the master, leader and more befitting to, then Ali is the master, leader and more befitting to. This is the famous “Event of Ghadir Khumm” which occurred during the same speech of the Hadith of Thaqalayn. It is crystal clear what occurred.4
We believe each of the twelve imams was emphasized by the preceding imam, based on God’s command. There are a total of 12 imams and the final one is the Mahdi. We believe he is still alive. Certainly, believing in the Mahdi – the one who will fill the world with justice and equity as it is filled with injustice and inequity is not particular to the Shiah. Rather, all Muslims believe in him. Some Sunni scholars have written independent books about the successive chain of the narrations about the Mahdi (AS). An essay has even been written by the council of International Islamic Relations (Rabitah Al-Alam Al-Islami) in reply to a question about Imam Mahdi (AS). While emphasizing the certainty about his reappearance, it has related many sayings from the Holy Prophet (S) from well-known and authentic books. But, most of the members of this council believe that Imam Mahdi (A) will be born at the end of time. However, we believe that he is the twelfth imam and is alive now. When God commands him, he will rise to cleanse the earth from injustice and tyranny and establish the just divine government.
We believe that Ali (AS) was the best of the companions. After the Prophet of Islam (S), he has the highest rank in the Islamic nation. However, in spite of this, we deem any form of extremism and exaggeration concerning him to be forbidden. We believe that those who exaggeratingly believe in Ali (AS) as divinity or god are nonbelievers and not Muslims. We are displeased with their beliefs. Even though their name is unfortunately mixed with the name Shia and has led to mistakes in this area, Shia Imamia scholars have always stated that they are outside the folds of Islam in their books.
We believe among the companions of the Prophet (S) there were great individuals who were self-sacrificing and had lofty personalities. The Quran and Islamic traditions speak abundantly about them. However, this does not mean that we should recognize all of the companions to be inerrant and consider their actions to be right without any exception. Because the Quran has talked in many verses such as in Surah Al-Baqarah, Surah Al-Noor and Surah AI-Munafiqoon about the hypocrites who were among the Prophet’s companions. In appearance they were accepted as a part of the companions, whereas the Quran has rebuked them most severely. From another side, there were those who started the fire of fighting among the Muslims after the Prophet’s death, broke their allegiance with the leader and caliph of the time and then shed the blood of tens of thousands of Muslims. Can we consider all these individuals to be clean and pure from every aspect?
In other words, how can we regard both sides of a battle to be clean and pure? For example, like in the Battles of Jamal and Siffin. This is a contradiction which is unacceptable to us. And it is very difficult for us to accept the explanation of ijtihad (independent reasoning) as given by some, as a sufficient explanation for this. They say that one of the two sides was right and the other was in error. But because they acted according to their own ijtihad, they are excused before God; rather they are rewarded for it.
How can they break their allegiance to the Prophet’s successor based on the excuse of ijtihad, and then start the fire of war and shed the blood of innocent people? If all of this bloodshed is excusable by ijtihad, then what is inexcusable?
We will state it clearer; we believe that all people, even the Prophet’s companions are under the pledge of their deeds. And the Quranic principle, “Surely the most honored of you in God’s presence is the most pious of you (49:13),” is also true about them. Therefore, we must make their states clear based on their deeds and in this case make an intellectual judgment about each of them. We must say that those who were among the sincere companions during the time of the Prophet (S), strived to guard their states after him and remained loyal to the covenant they had with the Quran are good and we honor them.
And we must say that we do not like those who were among the hypocrites during the time of the Prophet and did things which bothered the blessed heart of the Prophet, or those who changed their ways after the Prophet’s death and did acts which harmed Islam and the Muslims. The Holy Quran says, “You will not find any people who have faith in God and the resurrection love those who disobeyed God and His messenger, even if they are their fathers or sons or brothers or relatives, they are those upon whose hearts God has written faith” (58:22).
Based on our beliefs, those who bothered the Prophet (S) during his lifetime or after his death are certainly not worthy of praise.
Nevertheless, one must never forget that a group of the Prophet’s companions carried out the greatest struggles for the progress of Islam and were praised by God. Similarly, those who worked after them or will be born in the future until the end of the world and follow the path of the righteous companions and continue their work are worthy of all kinds of praise. The Quran says, “The earliest and foremost from the immigrants (Muhajireen) and helpers (Ansar) and those who follow tightly, God is pleased with them and they are pleased with God” (9:100).
This is a brief statement about our beliefs concerning the companions of the Prophet of Islam.
We believe in the Prophet’s instruction to us which is based on a consecutively transmitted tradition about the Qur’an and his household (Ahlul Bayt) not to pull our hands away from these two so that we are guided. We also know that the imams of the Prophet’s Household are infallible and all of their words and actions are proof and evidence for us. So too are their confirmations, meaning those statements and actions that took place in their presence and they confirmed them by keeping silent. As a result, one of the sources of jurisprudence and Islamic law for us, after the Quran and Prophet’s Sunnah, is the sayings, actions and confirmations of the imams from the Holy Prophet’s Household.
Whenever we consider that based on numerous reliable traditions, the imams of the Prophet’s Ahlul Bayt have said that whatever they say is related from their forefathers from the Holy Prophet (S), it becomes clear that in reality their traditions are the traditions of the Prophet (S). And we know that traditions from reliable and trustworthy individuals related from the Prophet (S) are accepted by all scholars of Islam.
DETAILED ANALYSIS: IMAMATE
Imamate means “Universal authority in all religious and secular affairs, in succession to the Prophet, the man who in succession to the Prophet has the right to the absolute command of the Muslims in all religious and secular affairs.” The word Khilafeh means successor and has the same essential meaning as imamate. Abraham Lincoln said democracy is “The government of the People, by the people, and for the people.” But in Islam it is not the government “of the people;” it is the government of Allah. The Islamic form of government is the government of Allah, by the representative of Allah, to gain the pleasure of Allah (“And I have not created jinn and mankind except to serve me” 51:56.) Imamate is not an acquired job; it is a designation bestowed by Allah. It is for this reason that the Shiah believe that only Allah can appoint a successor to the prophet, that the Ummah has no choice in this matter – its only duty is to follow such a divinely appointed Imam.5 The Sunnis on the other hand believe that it is the duty of the Ummah to appoint a caliph. The following verse confirms that it is Allah who chooses.
28:68. Thy Lord does create and choose as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter): Glory to Allah. and far is He above the partners they ascribe (to Him)!
The history of prophets does not offer a single instance of a prophet’s successor being elected by a voting of his followers. The same reason which prove that the appointment of a prophet is a divine prerogative, prove with equal force that the successor of that prophet should also be appointed by Allah. An Imam or Caliph, like the prophet, is appointed to carry on the work of Allah; he must be responsible to Allah. If he is appointed by the people his first loyalty will be not for Allah but for the people who would be the basis of his authority. He will always try to please people because if they were to withdraw their confidence in him he would lose his position. So he will not discharge the duties of religion without fear or favor; his eyes will always be on political considerations. Thus, the work of Allah will suffer. Also, only Allah knows the inner feelings and thoughts of man; no one else can ever know the true nature of another person. Perhaps someone may pose as a pious and god-fearing man merely to impress his colleagues and gain some worldly benefit. Such examples are not rare in history.
The Messenger of God commanded the Muslims to follow his chosen relatives. Therefore, the relatives of Mohammad are considered to be the party of truth distinguished because of their merit and work as they rank among the most righteous servants of God.
WHY WERE THEY SO MERITORIOUS?
Why did the members of the House of Mohammad surpass other Arabs or non-Arabs in righteousness?
Precedents in History
To understand the reason we ought to remember that what took place in the House of Mohammad was not unprecedented in the history of Prophethood. There are many similar precedents. The Almighty God made Aaron a partner to his brother Moses in his heavenly mission. He did not bestow this honor on any other person from the Israelites. This was due to the high qualification of Aaron and in response to the prayer of Moses as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:
20:25-36. (Moses) said: “O my Lord! expand me my breast; “Ease my task for me; “And remove the impediment from my speech, “So they may understand what I say:. “29 And give me a Minister from my family, “30 Aaron, my brother;. “Add to my strength through him, “And make him share my task:. “That we may celebrate Thy praise without stint,. “And remember Thee without stint: “For Thou art He that (ever) regardeth us.” 36. ((Allah)) said: “Granted is thy prayer, O Moses!”
The Prophet Abraham prayed to the Lord to make some of his offspring imams of the people. God responded to his prayer and promised to make imams from his good offspring without allowing any of their wrong doers (2:124 & 21:72) reach that high rank. From the Holy Quran:
29:27 “And We gave (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob and We made recipients of Prophethood and revelation from among his progeny and We granted him his reward in this life and he was in the Hereafter of the company of the righteous.”
God also has chosen along with the relatives of Abraham the relatives of Imran and preferred them above others.
3:33-34 “God chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people. Offspring related to each other and God hears and knows all things.”
Zakaria prayed to the Almighty to grant him a righteous child. God answered his prayer and the angels gave him good tidings:
3:38-39 “There did Zakaria pray to his Lord saying: O my Lord grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure; for Thou Art He that hears prayer. While he was standing in prayer in chamber the angels called unto him: God doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya (John) witnessing the truth of a word from God and (besides) noble chaste and a Prophet of the (goodly) company of the righteous.”
According to these verses the Prophethood which preceded that of Mohammad took the same course. From among the offspring and kinsmen of these Messengers there were chosen persons who reached the highest degree of piety and therefore deserved to be commissioned by God.
Why Did God Give Those Prophets Such Distinguished Children and Relatives?
The Almighty God created persons among the kinsmen and offspring of these Messengers in response to their prayers or as a reward to them for their endeavors in spreading the Message of God. Like other prophets Mohammad was given unusual relatives and offspring as a reward for his endeavor in the service of God and in response to his prayers. He commanded us to say: “God honor Mohammad and the members of his House” and he prayed for the purity of these members on various occasions.6
Revelation of The Purification Verse
The Prophet covered Ali, Fatimah, Al-Hassan, and Al-Hussein with a garment and prayed saying:
“God these are my family. I ask Thee to honor Mohammad and the family of Mohammad.” In response to his prayer the following revelation came: 33:33 “God wants only to keep abomination away from you and make you members of the family of Mohammad spotless.”
After entering the cloak, Jibrael (AS) then delivers the most important message which represents the climax of the message and the ultimate purpose behind the event of the cloak. Lady Fatima (AS) narrates that Jibrael (AS) delivers to her father the revelation of the Quranic verse instantaneously 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 Quran 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.
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 exactly is this purification from? What is it that Allah (SWT) wants to purify them from such that He (SWT) is declaring this event in the Holy Quran 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. The concept of infallibility of the Prophets and Imams is made crystal clear in the Quran (Quran 4:80, Quran 4:13, Quran 7:61, Quran 3:161, Quran 10:15, Quran 21:27, Quran 46:9, Quran 53:1-5, Quran 33:21, Quran 59:7, Quran 33:56, Quran 20:115, Q 12:53, Q 47:33, Q 76:24, Q 59:7, Q 3:31, Q 4:65, Q 9:33, Q 65:11, Q 2:151, Q 3:164, Q 68:4, Q 61:2-3, Q 2:44, Q 2:124, Q 4:59, Q 76:24.) When it comes to divine leadership Allah tells us not to obey sinners (76:24.) The concept of divine guides being purified from error cannot be more obvious and it is pointless to try and argue against it.
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 highlight 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 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. This is consistent with the Quranic concept that all prophets and imams appointed by God are infallible. The Prophet (SA) himself has testified that, “The verse of purification Surah 33:33 was revealed concerning five people: myself, Ali, Hasan, Husain, and Fatima.” The following three Sunni Hadiths define the exact family members.
Sahih Muslim A’isha “Allah be pleased with her” reported: One morning, The messenger of Allah “Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him” went out wearing a striped mantle of a black camel’s hair. Then, Al-Hasan Ibn Ali came, whom he wrapped in it. Then Al-Husain came whom he wrapped in it. Then Fatima came whom he wrapped in it. Then Ali came whom he wrapped in it. Then he recited: “Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye Members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.” (Quran 33:33). The Book of The Merits of the Companions- Sahih Muslim – Book 31, Hadith 5955
Narrated ‘Umar bin Abi Salamah – the step-son of the Prophet (ﷺ):“When these Ayat were revealed to the Prophet (ﷺ): ‘Allah only wishes to remove the Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification (33:33)’ in the home of Umm Salamah, he called for Fatimah, Hasan, Husain, and wrapped him in the cloak, and ‘Ali was behind him, so he wrapped him in the cloak, then he said: ‘O Allah! These are the people of my house, so remove the Rijs from them, and purify them with a thorough purification.’ So Umm Salamah said: ‘And I, Prophet of Allah?’ He said: ‘You are in your place (meaning you are already a member of my household), and you are goodness.'” English reference: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3205 and also Hadith 3787
Sahih Muslim Moreover, when the (following) verse was revealed:” If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: come let us gather together, our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie” (Quran 3:61), The Messenger of Allah “Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him” called Ali, (his wife) Fatima, (their sons) Al-Hasan and Al-Husain and said “O Allah! They are my family.” The Book of The Merits of the Companions- Sahih Muslim- Book 31, Hadith 5915
Thus it was not unusual to have in the kinsmen and offspring of Mohammad distinguished men and women of the highest degree of righteousness. On the contrary if such persons did not exist among the relatives of the Prophet it would have been very unusual. God honored Abraham, Moses, Zakaria and other Prophets by creating in their progeny and relatives distinguished persons preferring them above other people. Why should He not honor His final and most important Prophet by creating in his offspring and relatives some people with highest distinction?
The Prophet’s Reward
The Holy Qur’an makes it explicitly clear that the love of relatives of Mohammad is an Islamic duty. God commanded Mohammad to ask the Muslims to reward him for his fulfillment of the heavenly mission by loving his close kins.
42:23 “That is (the bounty) whereof God gives glad tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of (my) near kins.
God is telling Mohammad to inform all Muslims that the only reward he wants for fulfilling his Heavenly mission is that the Muslims love his relatives. This is only because those members are the most obedient to God and his most beloved servants among the Muslims. By commanding His Messenger to do so He actually commanded the Muslims to glorify the chosen relatives of Mohammad and place their confidence in them and walk in their path. In compliance with this heavenly command the Holy Prophet asked all his followers to love them. He stated that he is at peace with whomever they are at peace and that he is at war with whoever they are at war. He considered them to be similar to the ark of Noah. Whoever embarked on it was safe and whoever failed to be on it was drowned.
The House of Mohammad can be a means of unity to the Muslims. This unity can be realized when Muslims take the attitude which God and His Messenger wanted them to take toward these people. It would be erroneous for the Muslims to separate Mohammad from the Members of his House while he himself wanted to be united with them. This is clearly evident by his instruction that his followers couple his name with his chosen relatives whenever they pray for him whether within or outside their daily prayers.6
1: Doctrines of Shi’I Islam by Ayatollah Ja’far Sobhani pg 96-100
2: The Final Conclusion Your Journey to Certainty by Dr. Hatem Abu Shahba. Pg 115-118
3: Fakhti Razi, after a detailed discussion about this verse, states, “This verse proves that whoever is prone to making errors must follow one who is infallible. The infallible are those who God has named “the truthful ones.” Therefore, this sentence proves that everyone who is fallible must follow and be with the infallible, so that the one who is infallible from error prevents the one who is prone to error from going astray. This meaning is true in every era and is not particular to a specific time period. This proves that an infallible exists in every era. TafserAt-Kabttr. voL 16, p. 221. 30
4: This saying has been related from the Holy Prophet (S) through various chains of narrators. The narrators for hadeeth number more than 110 companions, 84 taabi’een, meaning people who saw the companions and not the Holy Prophet and 360 famous Islamic books. All Sunni scholars confirm that this event happened (The Event of Ghadir Khumm); they dispute the meaning of the word Mawla or Wali. This is amazing for could one really believe that the prophet stopped thousands in the desert to announce that Ali was his friend, especially considering that the prophet knew he was going to die within a few months. This event is a continuation of the Hadith Thaqalayn, “I leave you the Quran and my family. The details of this cannot be stated in this concise work, for more details refer to: Payaami Quran, voL 9, p. 171 and onward.
5: “Imamate The Vicegerency of the Prophet” by Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi Pg 1-15
6: “The Brother of the Prophet” by Mohamad Jawad Chirri Volume 1 Page 27-30.
7: https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/ 49 Chapters on Virtues, English Reference: Vol 1, Book 46, Hadith 3788
www.AL-ISLAM.ORG Verse of Purification