The Necessity of Getting To Know the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)
Allama Husayn Ansariyan
The necessity to get to know the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) and follow them has been recommended by the Holy Prophet (S) according to the verse 23 of Chapter al-Shura: (Love for my relatives) brings about happiness in this world and the hereafter, while to neglect them causes perdition (42:23)
Addressing Mu’alla ibn Khunays, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: O Mu’alla, if a servant of Allah worships Him between the Rukn (corner) and Maqam (standing-place) of Kabah for a hundred years, keeping fast on all days and performing prayers on all nights so much so that his life comes to an end, but is negligent about our rights, there will be no reward for him.1
Getting to know the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) on the basis of the Quranic verses and authentic narrations will remove all veils of ignorance from our eyes.
When we come to understand that titles such as – ‘People for the Reminder’, ‘The Truthful’, ‘The Benefactors’, ‘The Pious’, ‘The Strivers’, ‘The Believers’, ‘The Patient’, ‘People of Understanding’, ‘The Straight Path (sirat)’, ‘The Way (sabil) to Allah’, ‘The Revenge of Allah’, ‘The Face of Allah’, ‘The Eye of Allah’, ‘The Side of Allah’, ‘The Ear of Allah’, ‘The Spokesmen of Allah’, ‘The Friends of Allah’ - all refer to the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.), we will learn how to benefit from them with guidance and using them as the Noah's Ark. It is they – who are firmly rooted in knowledge…(4:162)
We can also quench the thirst of intellect, heart and spirit with the pure drink of their knowledge.
Should we wish to win Allah's favor, we must follow Ahl al-Bayt wholeheartedly, on the basis of the following holy verse: Say, if you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you. (3:31)
Getting to know the Ahl al-Bayt leads to getting to know Allah, and the Holy Quran as well as it develops intuition. This will serve as a factor for self-purification and morality too. This will certainly save us from hellfire. Love for Ahl al-Bayt will make it possible for us to cross the sirat (the bridge over the Hell leading to Paradise).
The Holy Prophet has been quoted by Sheikh Qunduzi (a Hanafite scholar) to say: Getting to know the family of Muhammad (S) is means for being saved from the fire. Love for the family of Muhammad (S) will ease crossing the sirat as well as, give immunity from chastisement.2
When we come to know about Ahl al-Bayt in the Holy Quran and the traditions, we open the gate to prosperity in this world and the hereafter and shut the gate of perdition.
Sheikh Sulayman Qunduzi and Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Juwayni, two outstanding fair-minded Sunni scholars have quoted that the Holy Prophet (S) has said about Imam Ali (a.s.) and the Imams following him, O Ali, I am the city of knowledge and you are the gate thereof. The city cannot be entered except through its gate. The one who is thinking he loves me but has enmity towards you is false in loving me, for you are of me and I am of you. Your flesh is my flesh, your blood is my blood, your spirit is my spirit, your inward is my inward, and your outward is my outward. (You are the leader of my ummah (community), you are the caliph after me.) Whoever loves you, will gain; whoever is your enemy, will suffer losses; whoever accompanies you, will find salvation; whoever is separated from you, will go to ruin. The parable of you and the Imams following you is the parable of Noah’s Ark. Whoever enters it, will find salvation and whoever disobeys will drown. The parable of Ahl al-Bayt is the parable of stars. Whenever a star disappears, another star will appear until the Judgment Day.3
Allah recommends His servants to resort to His covenant, which necessitates getting to know Hablullah: And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited. (3:13)
Imam al-Baqir (a.s) has said about the meaning of this covenant with Allah: The Household of Muhammad is the covenant of Allah as recommended by Allah.4
Ahl al-Bayt, who are the oceans of knowledge and endowed with virtues, had been chosen by Allah to give the good news of Paradise to the believers and warn the unbelievers of the chastisement in Hell.
Getting to know Allah and the Judgment Day, understanding spiritual concepts and true meaning of the Holy Quran, having an understanding of the traditions set by the Holy Prophet, attaining virtues, happiness in this world and the hereafter, being immune from vices, having the power to resist satanic temptations, and experiencing piety can be made possible only through knowing the Ahl al-Bayt and following their teachings.
The Ahl al-Bayt - as inferred from the Holy Quran and authentic narrations - are the source of all material and spiritual blessings. Without knowing and following them, a man is deprived of all the blessings.
Quoting the Holy Prophet, the Hanafite Sheikh Sulayman Qunduzi and Ibrahim ibn Juwayni say: Holy Prophet said, “O Ali, write what I am dictating to you.” Ali said: “O Allah’s Messenger, are you afraid that I will forget it?” The Holy Prophet said: “I have asked Allah to make you the one who has memorized all the facts, yet write it down for the sake of your partners.” Ali said: “O Allah’s Messenger! Who are my partners?” The Holy Prophet said: “The Imams in your progeny for whose sake, rain will fall from heaven and prayers will be answered and Allah will fend off tribulation from ummah. Mercy will also be sent down from heaven due to their presence. This is their first one (referring to Imam Hasan). This is their second one (referring to Imam Husayn).” Then, the Holy Prophet said: “And the Imams who will follow Imam Husayn.”5
1. Thawab al-Amal wa-Iqab al-Amal, 445
2. Yanabi al-Mawaddah, 78/1 H. 16
3. Yanabi al-Mawaddah, 95/1
4. Tafsir al-Ayyashi, 194/1 Hadith 123
5. Yanabi al-Mawaddah, 73/1, Chapter 3, Hadith 8.