WHO ARE THE AHLE BAYET?
Allah Ta'ala states in The Holy Quran:
'And stay in your houses and be not unveiled like that of the unveiling of the days of ignorance. And establish prayer and pay Zakaat and obey the commands of Allah and His Messenger. Allah only desires to keep you away from all uncleanliness O people of the house (of Prophet) and keep you well purified after cleaning you thoroughly'
(Surah Ahzab. verse 33)
Allah Ta'ala wants to keep uncleanliness away from the people of the house of Prophet ﷺ and keep them purified after cleaning thoroughly.
If anyone believes or criticize that the ahle bayet were not clean and pure, they will be out of the fold of Islam. Hazrat Adam(alaihis salaam) went to the tree he was forbidden to go. He(alaihis salaam) was then sent to this world. Hazrat Adam(alaihis salaam) repented for three hundred and fifty thousand years. His tauba was accepted with the sadqa of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Whosoever criticizes Hazrat Adam(alaihis salaam) will be out of the fold of Islam. Similarly, whosoever criticizes the ahle bayet becomes an infidel and is out of the fold of Islam.
Who are the ahle bayet?
The Wahabis/Deobandis and their agent sects believe that only the immediate household family of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are the ahle bayet. Their belief is that Hazrat Ali(Radi Allaahu Anhu), Hazrat Fatimah(Radi Allaahu Anha), Hazrat Imaam Hassan(Radi Allaahu Anhu), and Hazrat Imaam Hussein(Radi Allaahu Anhu) are not the ahle bayet.
The Shia sect believes that the wives of Prophet ﷺ are not the ahle bayet. Their belief is that only Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Imaam Hassan, Hazrat Imaam Hussein(Radi Allaahu Anhum), and Hazrat Fatimah(Radi Allaahu Anha) are only the ahle bayet.
However, the Ahlus Sunnah Wa Jama'ah is the servant of all of them. We believe in The Holy Quran and in the commandments of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
We learn from the verse of The Holy Quran that the wives of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are members of his household (ahle bayet). This is a clear statement that the wives of Prophet ﷺ are included among the members of his family (ahle bayet) here, because they are the reason why this verse was revealed. (Tafseer Ibne Kathir).
In the tathir verses (verses of purity) of The Holy Quran, the wives of Prophet ﷺ has been mentioned as 'Ya Nisa An-Nabi'-O blessed wives of Prophet ﷺ.
Hazrat Jarir(Radi Allaahu Anhu) narrates that Hazrat Aa'isha(Radi Allaahu Anha) said, 'Prophet ﷺ went out one morning wearing a striped cloak made of black camel's hair. Hazrat Imaam Hassan(Radi Allaahu Anhu) came and Prophet ﷺ wrapped him in the cloak. Then Hazrat Imaam Hussein(Radi Allaahu Anhu) came and Prophet ﷺ wrapped him in the cloak. Then Hazrat Fatimah(Radi Allaahu Anha) came and Prophet ﷺ wrapped her in the coat. Then Hazrat Ali(Radi Allaahu Anhu) came, and Prophet ﷺ wrapped him in the cloak too. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ took all of them into the cloak, lifted his blessed hands in supplication and said, 'O Allah! This is my family, keep away from them uncleanliness and keep them pure as pure can be'.' (Muslim)
Um Ul-Mu'mimeen, Hazrat Ume Salmaah(Radi Allaahu Anha) said the Prophet ﷺ took Hazrat Imaam Hassan, Hazrat Imaam Hussein, Hazrat Ali(Radi Allaahu Anhum), and Hazrat Fatimah(Radi Allaahu Anha) in his cloak and made dua, 'O Allah! This is my family and the nearest of my kin, keep away from them uncleanliness and keep them pure as pure can be'. Hazrat Ume Salmaah(Radi Allaahu Anha) says she put her head under the cloak and asked Prophet ﷺ, 'am I with you?'. Prophet ﷺ replied, 'you are also among the righteous'.
For continuous six months, on his way for Fajr Namaaz, Prophet ﷺ used to stop at the house of his daughter Hazrat Fatimah(Radi Allaahu Anha), addressing them as ahle bayet.
He ﷺ recited 'Allah only desires to keep you away from uncleanliness O People of the house (of Prophet) and keep you all purified after cleaning you thoroughly'. Prophet ﷺ was expounding the meaning of the term ahle bayet, and practically explaining to the Muslims the verse of purity (tathir), and in particular persons meant by it. Prophet ﷺ was drawing the attention of the Muslim nation towards the significance of his ahle bayet and their leadership after him so that Muslims should love, obey and follow them.
Prophet ﷺ said, 'My companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) are like the stars, whoever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided'.
Prophet ﷺ said, 'be alert, my ahle bayet is like the boat of Hazrat Nuh(alaihis salaam), whoever enters will be safe and who stays outside will be destroyed'.
Whoever has grudge and hatred for the ahle bayet, will not have the smell of Paradise.
The companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) are the stars and the ahle bayet is the boat. Whoever boards the boat will go to Paradise and who has grudge and hatred against the ahe bayet will go to Hell.
In the olden days, people travelled in boats and navigated their way in the open seas by following the stars. Hence, to reach the righteous ultimate destination, the companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) and the ahle bayet need to be loved, respected, and followed.
Hazrat Fakhruddin Raazi(Rahmatullah Alaih) said that it is the generosity of Allah Ta'ala upon the Ahlus Sunnah Wa Jama'ah that they have the companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) on one hand, and the love and guidance of the ahle bayet on the other hand.
During the Farewell Hajj (HajjUl-Wida), Prophet ﷺ gave a sermon riding his camel. He ﷺ said, 'O People! I am leaving you with two things, The Holy Quran and my ahle bayet. If you embrace them, you will never be deviated.
This article is an abridged English translation of an Urdu sermon delivered by his eminence, Peer Syed Imroz Dean Saifi, Hanfi, Maturidi of Masjid Anwaar e Madina, Surrey BC Canada
If there is an inaccurate translation, please pardon it and not let it be a means to negatively reflect on the honoured presenter.