Shia community claims that the Prophet’s house hold i.e. Hz Ali (R), Hz Fatima (R), Hz Hassan (R), Hz Hussain(R) and their off spring are pure as our Prophet (pbuh) was. They usually refer the verses from our Holy Quran 33:33. But I think their claim is not correct. What do you think about their absolute purity?
May The Almighty Allah bless us all.
When one reads verse 33:33 within its context (i.e. from verse 30-34) one can easily realise what the meaning of the verse is. God advises the Prophet’s wives to observe some special measures and limits with regards to interaction with the opposite sex. God then explains why these limits have been set by saying that the only reason is that He wants the people of the household (i.e. wives) to be clean and purified. The problem begins when we try to take the verse out of the context and interpret it in isolation.
Many scholars have addressed the verse and the argument of Shia brothers. Here, to avoid the repeated arguments, I will try to look at this from another point of view.
By looking at the verse, there could be only two possibilities:
Verse 33:33 is informing a group of people (who ever they are) of a fact.
Verse 33:33 is ordering or expecting us to add a belief to our set of beliefs as Muslims and to act according to this belief.
If the case is number 1, then I think we are discussing something that is not of any significant benefit to us. May God bless the addressees of 33:33 (who ever they are) for whatever they have been given or whatever they might have been given.
If, however, the case is number 2, then in line with the style of all the directives of the Qur’an and in line with the clearness of the Qur’an (as the Qur’an itself says) and in line with the ultimate goal of the Qur’an (that is to guide people) and in line with rationality (that a guide always makes his orders or expectations in a clear cut and explicit way), in line with all the above, I as a rational minded human being expect to see a clear, explicit and strong expression in the verse without any further needs to a hadith or to an interpretation (just like other verses of the Qur’an that add a belief to our set of beliefs).
To be able to derive the same conclusions that our Shia brothers make from the verse, we need to overcome a number of barriers:
Proving that despite the default meaning of the word Ahl Albayt (which in the Arabic language is used as a “masculine” word) and despite the fact that the verse is placed in the verses about the wives and despite the fact that its meaning makes perfect sense with the verses before and after; despite all the above, here the verse actually excludes the wives and includes some specific personalities. By the arguments of our Shia brothers, all the above should be proved based on a specific understanding of a specific version of a hadith that is not Muttawitir (Hadith Al-Kisa).
Proving that despite the obvious meaning of the word Rijs (that can be translated as “abomination”) and despite its usage, here the word means any sort of uncleanness, spiritually or physically including making mistakes.
Proving that despite the fact that God says “he intends to” and despite the fact that in many other places in the Qur’an this phrase does not mean that God necessarily forces the realization of His intention (but that He only brings it into reality if certain conditions are fulfilled by people); despite all this, here God’s intention has become actualized.
I am not sure how I can (as a Muslim) claim that the Qur’an is a book of guidance when I need to struggle so hard to derive such an important matter of belief by such complicated and highly subjective methods of interpreting the Qur’an. This is while nowhere else in the Qur’an the idea is further backed up.
Accordingly, I reject the idea that 33:33 is adding any belief to our set of beliefs as Muslims simply because the verse is not at all clear and explicit about such belief, specifically if it is being seen in the context. God could simply say something like “Oh Ahl Albayt, you are different from wives of the Prophet and I made you clean from all sins and mistakes so that people follow you and your purified generation after the Prophet”. I cannot see why such an important issue has to be said in such a contrary context and in such vague and remotely relevant words.
Note that after all the above, one will only end up trying to prove complete purity for the first 3 Shia Imams with absolutely no clues about the other 9 Imams as there is no evidence in the Qur’an to exclude all the generations of Husayn (RA) from Ahl Albayt and only include nine of them in the definition.
I think the above should remain the main focal point of any debate regarding this verse.
What makes a human being follow a prophet with complete trust is not merely because of his high level of Taqwa, but more importantly because of the fact that God protects the Prophet in terms of making any errors in delivering His message. This is what some people refer to as “infallibility” of the Prophet.
Based on the above, it is obvious that other than the Prophet’s own Taqwa, infallibility is also heavily based on the capacity of Prophets receiving revelations (which can correct their errors in the course of their mission).
Our Shia brothers use the above verse to argue that Shia Imams were infallible. If this infallibility is only in terms of Taqwa, then as I explained above that this quality is not enough to expect people to follow these personalities with complete trust and surrender. It is in fact the element of being immune from error that is the main issue for the Shia theory of Imamat.
Now two things our Shia brothers might like to think about are:
Rijs does not even remotely relate to error.
When we see that the Prophet himself was corrected by the Qur’an and when we (i.e. Shia brothers) say that Imams CANNOT receive revelation BUT they are immune from error, then practically we are putting the Imams in a higher rank compared to the Prophet. A rank that the Prophet (PBUH) had no access to.
In need of your prayers.
February 17, 2004