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Ahl al-Bayt (Arabic: أهل البيت‎) is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the family of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.[1]Muslims venerate Muhammad's household as it is given a special significance in the Qur'an, the Muslim holy scripture, and the hadith, reports recording the words and actions of Muhammad. There are differing interpretations over the scope and importance of Ahl al-Bayt. In Sunni Islam,(this matter is not just for shia or sunni Muslims, it is for all of the Muslims) Muhammad's household includes his wives, his daughter (Fatimah), her three children, as well as his cousin and son-in-law, Ali. Other interpretations include Muhammad's blood relatives, such as the Banu Hashim or the Banu Muttalib. In Sunni thought, every Muslim has the obligation to love the Ahl al-Bayt. In Twelver and IsmailiShi'a Islam, the Ahl al-Bayt are central to Islam and are believed to be the true successors of Muhammad. The Shi'a definition of the phrase includes prophet Mohammad,Fatimah, Ali, Hasan and Husayn (known collectively as the Ahl al-Kisa, "people of the mantle") and the Imams, descendants of Fatimah who they consider to be divinely chosen leaders of the Muslim community.[1][2]

Ahl al-Bayt family

The term "Ahl" signifies the members of a household of a man, including his fellow tribesmen, kin, relatives, wife (or wives), children, and all those who share a family background, religion, housing, city, and country with him. "Bayt" refers to habitation and dwelling, including tents and buildings both. It can also be roughly translated as a household. The "Ahl-Al-Bayt" of any person refers to his family members and all those who live in his house. Ahlul Bayt is the polite form of addressing the members and wife of the family.[3]


Mention of the Ahl al-Bayt, Prophet Muhammad's household, is present in a verse of the Qur'an as follows:

O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word. [Qur'an 33:32] And stay in your houses, and do not display your finery, with the display of the former [days of] ignorance. Maintain the Prayer, and pay regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification. [Qur'an 33:33] And keep to mind what is recited in your houses of the communications of Allah and the wisdom; surely Allah is Knower of subtleties, Aware. [Qur'an 33:34]

The precise definition of the term in this verse has been subject to varying interpretations. In one tradition, according to which Muhammad's companion Salman al-Farsi is included as a member, it is used to distinguish from the muhajirin (Muslim emigrants from Mecca) and ansar (Medinan converts to Islam). According to Sunni opinion, the term includes the wives and dependants of Muhammad, as it addresses them in the preceding verse - an interpretation which is attributed to Ibn Abbas and Ikrimah, both of whom were companions of Muhammad. This is supported by various traditions attributed to Muhammad wherein he addresses each of his wives as Ahl al-Bayt.[4] Further members of the household, according to the Sunni perspective, include Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn, who are mentioned in the tradition of the mantle. Some versions of this tradition recognise Umm Salamah, a wife of Muhammad, as a part of the household. Thus, according to the Encyclopedia of Islam, "[t]he current orthodox view is based on a harmonizing opinion, according to which the term ahl bayt includes the ahl al-ʿabāʾ , i.e. the Prophet, ʿAlī, Fāṭima, al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥussain, together with the wives of the Prophet."[1]

Other interpretations include the family of Ali, as well as the families of Muhammad's relatives such as Aqeel, Ja'far, and al-Abbas. Early jurists Malik bin Anas and Abu Hanifa included the clan of Banu Hashim within the definition, while al-Shafi'i included the whole of Banu Muttalib.[1]

In Shi'a thought, the household is limited to Muhammad, Fatimah, Ali, Hassan, Hussain, and their descendants (altogether known as the Ahl al-Kisa); as per their deduction from the tradition of the mantle. They interpret the change in pronoun in the Qur'anic verse as showing that only the aforementioned members constitute Ahl al-Bayt.[1] Madelung writes that "[t]his change of gender has inevitably contributed to the birth of various accounts of a legendary character, attaching the latter part of the verse to the five People of the Mantle."[5] Shias view these individuals as infallible and sinless Imams, and regard devotion to them as an essential part of the religion.[1]

(Sahih AL-Tirmidhi- VOL.2 sahih 902 ) According to Anas ibn Malik, the Messenger of Allah (S) for six months straight used to pass by the door of Fatimah (a) whenever he left for fajr prayers and said, “it is time for salat, of family of the house(Ahel al biat)! ‘ Surely Allah desires to remove all imperfection from you, of family of the house, and purify you completely’’. From surah Al Ahzab 33, verse 33

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The Important Point The wives of the prophet once they CHOOSE the prophet and the life after this was final by the Quran they can not be divorced and hence they are the prophets wives even after his death. No one can marry them after the prophet this is why they are called the mothers of the believers in the Quran to finalize any doubts in that regards (who ever has doubt about them being the prophet's wives and the mothers of the believers MUST check his faith if he has any)

The Quran includes and specifies the Wives of the prophets as Ahl alBayt in the case of Ibrahim and Lot, etc

the verses of the Ahl Bayt revealed in the Quran between the Ayats discussing the wives of the Prophet They are automatically included, the prophet wanted to remove any doubt that also the verses include Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussain in case anybody has a doubt in the future.


Muhammad's household is venerated by Muslims, who attach to them a special status. This is derived from verses in the Qur'an and hadith which stipulate love towards Muhammad's relatives, though in some cases interpretations differ. An example of such is: "Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin." [Qur'an 42:23] According to classical exegete al-Tabari, the verse most likely refers to Muslim believers related by blood ties. Another interpretation adopted by Shia applies the verse to ahl al-bayt; while another view interprets the verse as commanding love for relatives in general. The latter view is favored by academic scholar Madelung.[6]

Islamic law prohibits the administration of sadaqa (charity) or zakat (tax) to Muhammad's kin (including the Banu Hashim), as Muhammad forbade this income for himself and his family. The explanation given by jurists is that these alms are considered the defilements of the people, who offer them to purify themselves from sin, hence it would be unbecoming of the kin to handle or use them. Instead, they are accorded part of the spoils of war.[7][8] Muslims in their daily prayers invoke blessings upon them by saying: "O God, bless Muhammad and his family." In many Muslim communities, high social status is attributed to people claiming to be blood-descendants of Muhammad's household, and are labelled sayyids or sharifs.[9]

Most Sufi circles (tariqas) trace their spiritual chain back to Muhammad through Ali. In Shi'a thought Muhammad's household is central to the religion. In one version of Muhammad's farewell sermon, he is represented as saying that God has given believers two safeguards: the Qur'an and his family; in other versions the two safeguards are the Qur'an and his Sunnah (statements and actions of Muhammad). Popular Shia belief ascribes cosmological importance to the family in various texts, wherein it is said that God would not have created heaven and earth, paradise, Adam and Eve, or anything else were it not for them. In Shia thought, therefore, the family has the same salvational function as Noah's Ark. The majority of Shia regard the heads of the family as divinely chosen Imams who are infallible and sinless.[1]

Ahl al-Bayt in the Qur’an

Apart from Qur'anic quote 33:32-33, the Arabic phrase Ahl al-Bayt is also mentioned several other times in the Qur'an. These other verses clearly mention that the wife is also categorized under the phrase Ahl al-Bayt. Some of these Qur'anic quotes include:

  • Chapter 11, Verses 71-73 (Hud (sura)):

(71) And his (Abraham's) wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. (72) She said (in astonishment): "Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband, an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!" (73) They said: "Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O the family [of Abraham] [ahla albayti (أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ)]. Surely, He (Allah) is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious."

  • Chapter 7, Verse 83 (Al-A'raf):

(83) Then We saved him (Lot) and his family [ahlahu (أَهْلَهُ)], except his wife; she was of those who remained behind (in the torment).

  • Chapter 15, Verses 58-60 (Al-Hijr):

(58) They (the angels) said: "We have been sent to a people who are Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners). (59) "(All) except the family of Lot [ala lootin (ءَالَ لُوطٍ)]. Them all we are surely going to save (from destruction). (60) “Except his wife, of whom We have decreed that she shall be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed).”

  • Chapter 26, Verses 170-171 (Ash-Shu'ara):

(170) So We saved him (Lot) and his family [ahlahu (أَهْلَهُ)], all, (171) Except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind.

  • Chapter 27, Verse 57 (Al-Naml):

(57) So We saved him (Lot) and his family [ahlahu (أَهْلَهُ)], except his wife. We destined her to be of those who remained behind.

  • Chapter 29, Verses 32-33 (Al-Ankabut):

(32) Abraham said: "But there is Lot in it." They said:"We know better who is there, we will verily save him [Lot] and his family [ahlahu (أَهْلَهُ)], except his wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk)." (33) And when Our Messengers came to Lot, he was grieved because of them, and felt straitened on their account. They said: "Have no fear, and do not grieve! Truly, we shall save you and your family [ahlaka (أَهْلَكَ)], except your wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk).

  • Chapter 37, Verses 133-135 (As-Saaffat):

(133) And verily, Lot was one of the Messengers. (134) When We saved him and his family [ahlahu (أَهْلَهُ)], all, (135) Except an old woman (his wife) who was among those who remained behind.

  • Chapter 12, Verse 25 (Yusuf (sura)):

(25) So they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his (Joseph’s) shirt from the back. They both found her lord (i.e. her husband) at the door. She said: "What is the recompense (punishment) for him who intended an evil design against your wife [biahlika (بِأَهْلِكَ)], except that he be put in prison or a painful torment?"

  • Chapter 20, Verses 9-10 (Ta-Ha):

(9) And has there come to you the story of Moses? (10) When he saw a fire, he said to his family [liahlihi (لِأَهْلِهِ)]: "Wait! Verily, I have seen a fire, perhaps I can bring you some burning brand therefrom, or find some guidance at the fire."

  • Chapter 28, Verse 29 (Al-Qasas):

(29) Then, when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was travelling with his family [biahlihi (بِأَهْلِهِ)], he saw a fire in the direction of Tur (Mount). He said to his family: "Wait, I have seen a fire; perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a burning fire-brand that you may warm yourselves."

List of Ahl al-Bayt according to Shia Islam

According to the Twelver and Ismaili Shi'a, the Ahl al-Bayt are in a state of ismah, meaning infallibility, and they have limitless understanding of the Qu'ran and Hadith. The Ahl al-Kisa together with the Imams make up the Shi'a definition of Ahl al-Bayt. Ahl al-Bayt are seen as divinely appointed individuals and teachers of the Islamic faith after Muhammad. The Twelver and Ismaili branches of Shi'a Islam differ in regards to the line of Imamate. While the Twelver believe in a lineage known as the Twelve Imams, the Ismaili believe that the descendants of Isma'il ibn Jafar were the inheritors of the Imamate instead.

See also

External links

Shi'a Links:

Sunni links:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ahl al-Bayt, Encyclopedia of Islam
  2. Madelung, 1997, pp. 13-17
  3. Mufradat al-Qur'an by Raghib Isfahani; Qamus by Firoozabadi; Majm'a al-Bahrayn
  4. See:
    • "Ahl al-Bayt", Encyclopedia of Islam
    • Madelung (1997) p. 15
  5. Madelung (1997) pp. 14-15
  6. Madelung (1997) p. 13
  7. Madelung (1997) p. 14
  8. A verse in the Qur'an reads: "That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and His messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, that it become not a commodity between the rich among you." ([Qur'an 59:7])
  9. Ahl al-Bayt, Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world.


  • Madelung, Wilferd (1997). The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521646960. 
  • Ordoni, Abu Muhammad; Muhammad Kazim Qazwini (1992). Fatima the Gracious. Ansariyan Publications. ISBN B000BWQ7N6. 
  • Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad (2006). Virtues of Sayyedah Fatimah. Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications. ISBN 9693202252. 
  • Tritton, A.S; Goldziher, I.; Arendonk, C. van.. "Ahl al-Bayt". in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 

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