Certain controversial issues continue to divide and weaken the Muslims, thus giving a platform to divisive forces to create doubts where none exist. Therefore, in order to unite the Muslims and to defend the boundaries of Islam, it is necessary to clear the misunderstandings regarding these differences. In sorting out these issues we have been ordered to confine ourselves within some limits. As the Almighty Allah says:
âAnd obey Allah and His Apostle and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart…â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (Sura Anfaal (8): 46)
It is a must for us today and at all times to refer to the Holy Quran and Hadith to resolve differences of opinion. As the Almighty Allah says:
â…then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle…â (Sura Nisa (4): 59)
Revelation of the verse
In his book Al-Mustadrak Alaa Al-Sahihain, Haakem Neshaapoori quotes from Abdullah b. Jafar b. Abi Talib as saying:
âWhen the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) observed that the divine blessing was forthcoming, he said, âCall them! Call them!â Safia asked âO Prophet of Allah! Whom should I call for? He said, âCall for me my Ahle Bait (the members of my family), namely, Ali, Faatemah, Hasan, and Husainâ. They were thus called to come close to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and when all of them gathered, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) placed his cloak on them and thereafter raised his hands in supplication and said, âO Allah! These are my Ahle Bait. Send your blessings on me and my Ahle Bait. In the meantime Almighty Allah revealed the verse: âO people of the Prophetâs House! Allah intends but to remove all sorts of uncleanness and blemish from you and to purify you with a thorough purification.â (Sura Ahzaab (33): 33)
After quoting this hadith, Haakem Neshaapoori declares, âThis hadith is authentic and correct as regards its sources.â
Quotations by the Wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
(a) By Ummul Momineen Aaeshah
Muslim (in Saheeh), Haakem (in Mustadrak), Baihaqi (in Sunan al-Kubra) and Tabari, Ibn Katheer and Suyuti (in their respective exegeses) quote from Aaeshah with regard to this verse as having said:
âOne day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came out of the house2 carrying a printed cloak on his shoulder. At that time Hasan (a.s.) came upto him and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) accommodated him under the cloak. Then came Husain (a.s.) and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) accommodated him, too, under the cloak. Thereafter, Faatemah (s.a.) approached him (s.a.w.a.) and was accommodated under the cloak. Ali (a.s.) was the last to come and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also accommodated him under the cloak. Thereafter, he (the Holy Prophet s.a.w.a.) recited this sacred verse: âO People of the Prophetâs House! Allah intends but to remove all sorts of uncleanness and blemish from you and to purify you with a thorough purification.â (Sura Ahzaab (33): 33)
(b) By Ummul Momineen â” Umm Salmah1
In his âTafseerâ, Tabari has quoted Umm Salmah as having said in connection with the sacred verse in question as under:
âWhen the verse, âO People of the Prophetâs House!â (i.e. Surah Ahzaab (33): 33) was revealed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) called Ali (a.s.), Faatemah (a.s.), Hasan (a.s.), and Husain (a.s.) to himself and covered them under his cloak.â
In another hadith, Umm Salmah is reported to have said: âHe placed his cloak on them.â This hadith has also been quoted by Suyuti in his Tafseer and has similarly been narrated by Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer.
Position of the Personalities under the Cloak
Quotations by the Companions
(a) By Umar son of Abu Salmah and Umm Salmah
Tabari and Ibn Katheer (in their exegeses), Tirmidhii (in his âSahihâ) and Tahaavi (in âMushkil al-Aathaarâ) have quoted Umar1 son of Abu Salma and Umm Salmah as having said:
âThe verse, âO People of the Prophetâs House! …â (Surah Ahzaab (33): 33) was revealed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the house of Umm Salmah. After the revelation of this verse the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) called Hasan, Husain, and Faatemah (s.a.) and made them sit in front of himself. Then he called Ali (a.s.) as well and made him sit behind his back. Then he (s.a.w.a.) covered himself and all of them with his cloak and said: These are the People of my House. O Allah! Keep uncleanness away from them and make them clean and pure!
(b) By Wasilat son of Asqa1 and Ummul Momineen Umme Salma:
Haakem (in Mustadrak) and Haithami (in Majmaâ al-Zawaaed) have quoted from Wasilat son of Asqa that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) made Ali (a.s.) and Faatemah (s.a.) sit in front of himself and placed Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) on his knees or took them in his arms. And this hadith had also been quoted by Ibn Katheer and Suyuti (in their respective Tafaaseer) and Baihaqi (in his Sunan) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (in his Musnad).
Place of assembly
(a) Abu Saeed Khudriâs1 narration
Suyuti has quoted Abu Saeed in Al-Durr al-Manthoor as having said, âThe Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was in the house of Umm Salmah when Jibraeel descended with the verse, âO People of the Prophetâs House…â
Abu Saeed says, âAt the time (of revelation) the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) called Hasan, Husain, Faatemah, and Ali and made them come near him and spread his cloak on them when Umm Salmah too, was sitting behind the curtain. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: âO Allah! These are my Ahle Bait. Keep uncleanness away from them and make them pure.â
(b) Ummul Momineen Umm Salmahâs narration
Ibn Katheer, Suyuti, Baihaqi, Tahaavi and Khateeb-e-Baghdadi (in Tarikh-o-Baghdad) have quoted Umm Salmah as having said â” The verse, âO People of the Prophetâs House….â, was revealed in my house and Faatemah, Ali, Hasan, and Husain were in the room. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) spread his cloak on them and said: âThese are my Ahle Bait. (O Allah!) Remove uncleanness from them and make them pureâ. And Haakem too has quoted Umm Salmah in al-Mustadrak Alaa Al-Sahihain as having said, âThis verse was revealed in my house.â
Umm Salmah has been quoted in the following books:
Tirmidhi narrated in his Saheeh in the chapter relating to the accomplishments of Faatemah (s.a.) and similarly in Al-Riyaz al-Nadharah and Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, âO Allah! These are my Ahle Bait. Ward off uncleanness from them and make them pure.â
Ahmad b. Hanbal also narrates in his Musnad that Umm Salmah said, âI looked into the room and asked, âAm I also among you?â The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, âYou are on goodness.â
Haakem, too, narrates that Umm Salmah said, âO Prophet of Allah! Am I not from your Ahle Bait?â The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied: âYou are on goodness but only these are my Ahle Bait. O Lord! The members of my family are more deserving.â
How many persons were present in the house when the verse was revealed?
In the Tafseer of Suyuti and Mushkil al-Aathaar, Umm Salmah has been quoted to have said: The verse, âO People of the (Prophetâs) House!…â was revealed in my house and at that time there were seven persons present in the room namely (besides the Holy Prophet) Jibraeel, Mikaeel, Ali, Faatemah, Hasan and Husain and I was standing at the door of the house and said:
âO Prophet of Allah! Am I not one of the members of your family?â He (s.a.w.a.) replied, âYou are on goodness and you are one of the wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).â
 The mother of Abdullah b. Jafar b. Abi Talib was Asma binte Umais al-Khathâamiyyah. He was born in Ethiopia and saw the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). He died at the age of 80 years. His biography is recorded in Osod al-Ghaabah fi Maarefah al-Sahaabah, vol. 2, p. 33.
2 Perhaps Aaeshah meant to say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came out of her house with the cloak and went to the house of Umme Salma.
1 Umm Salmah Hind, daughter of Abu Umayyah Qurayshi Makhzumi had the honour of marrying the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) after the death of her husband Abu Salmah son of Abdul Asad. Her husband Abu Salma died as a result of a wound sustained by him in the Battle of Ohod. She passed away after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). The life history of Umm Salmah is recorded in Osod al-Ghaabah and Tehzib al-Tehzib.
1 Umar was the son of Ummul Momineen Umm Salmah from her first husband (Abu Salmah). He (Umar) was born in Ethiopia. He was among the followers of Imam Ali (a.s.) in the Battle of Siffin and was also appointed by him as the Governor of Bahrain and Fars. Umar passed away in Madinah in 83 A.H. His biography is documented in Osod al-Ghaabah vol. 5 p. 79
1 For his biography refer to Osod al-Ghaabah, vol. 5 p. 77
1 Abu Saeed al-Khudri al-Khazraji. His name was Saeed son of Malik Ansari. He participated in the Battle of Khandaq and in other battles. He died in Madinah when he was above 60 or 70 years of age. His biography appears in Osod al-Ghaabahâ vol. 2 p. 289.