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February 11th, 2015

‘Aal’, the Family of the Prophet — It is Creed not Breed

Aal’, the Family of the Prophet – It is Creed not Breed!

Sometime after the death of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and ever since there have arisen institutions in Islam with sectarian leanings that primarily rely on holy lineages for their leadership along blood lines as if spirituality and blessings of the forefathers can be transmitted in subsequent generations of the descendants. There is no denying that descendants of holies can be independently saintly by their own faith and effort, but such claims or attributions must stand on individual merits and not on lineage. There is no cronyism in Islam to permit continuation of a spiritual office based upon pedigree in the manner of monarchy and heirs to a throne.

Man through history has been driven by a natural inclination to degrade himself and bow before God to satisfy his soul. Unable to comprehend God in some palpable manner, humans inevitably resort to bygone personalities that were apparently able to do so. To satisfy this inner urge to experience spirituality through proxy one finds rampant fellowships in most religions and also in different sects among Muslims. Some fellowships are based upon lineage of Prophet via his daughter; others find such figures for emotional attachment either in history or even in the present as tangible faces of an otherwise ever elusive mysticism.

Fellowships provide a sense of belonging and identity where the choir sings the same hymn under common emotions. Such congregational clustering also gives a sense of protection in a social network thus established that provides opportunities of growth in various sectors of daily living. Sooner or later, the fellowships turn into a cultish behavior when the leadership devolves into a self-serving power center surrounded by yes-men and the parish is dragged along in a blind allegiance.

We shall put rationale of fellowships that exist in Muslims to test through the lens of Qur’ân, under the following headings:

Fellowship: Merits and Principles

The highest office in Islam is that of prophethood which ended with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The sole purpose of a prophet is to bring Message and a way of life to the masses, commonly called religion. Belief in a religion has to stand on its own merits; Islam has no room for indoctrination or its enforcement as heritage:

2:256. There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error. [1]

The Message of a prophet is to guide mankind to God. Every Messenger since eternity has emphasized nearness to Allah through individual righteous deeds and not by blood relationships to the Prophets, and by implication, to his appointed ones after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Mujaddids as well:

 16:128. Allâh is, of course, with those who guard against evil, and those who are doers of good to others.[2]

For the follower of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), irrespective of his/her genealogy that may link such a person to the Prophet in any combination of lineage, his/her practicing Islam is a favor only to themselves and no one else:

49:17. They presume to lay thee under an obligation by becoming Muslims. Say: Lay me not under an obligation by your Islam; rather Allah lays you under an obligation by guiding you to the faith, if you are truthful.[3]

Islam is not a patrimonial religion that sustains itself on a region, race, language or relationships. There is little merit in inheriting Islam in a bloodline. The arguments that Qur’ân puts against followers of other religions also essentially applies to its own adherents:

5:104. …They say, `Sufficient for us is that (tradition) whereon we have found our forefathers.' What! (would they follow them blindly) even though their forefathers had no knowledge whatsoever and had no guidance?[4]

43:22. Nay, but they say, “Behold, We found our forefathers agreed on what to believe – and, verily, it is in their footsteps that we find our guidance!”

43:23. And thus it is: whenever We sent, before thy time, a warner to any community, those of its people who had lost themselves entirely in the pursuit of pleasures would always say, “Behold, we found our forefathers agreed on what to believe – and, verily, it is but in their footsteps that we follow!”[5]

In the matters of faith the only human model that is to be followed is the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

33:21. Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar…[6]

Even while following the Prophet, a Muslim has to keep in mind the human status of Muhammad, which the Prophet himself declares and Qur’ân emphasizes:

110. Say, I [Muhammad] am but a human being like you’…[7]

In other religions, their followers, out of love for their respective messengers, coupled with their ancestral and inherent idolatrous traditions, over a period of time started attributing godliness to their messengers. Similarly, in Muslims too, traditions have taken root of beliefs that association with certain personages in history or in the present brings them closer to Allah, a notion that Qur’ân strictly admonishes against:

39:3. Beware! Sincere and true obedience is due to Allâh alone. Those who choose others as a patron beside Him (say), `We serve them only that they may bring us near to Allâh in station.' (It is absolutely wrong.)…[8]

Not only does Qur’ân nip any doubts about humanness of any prophet in the bud, it also bars any prophet from self-exaltation. There is no intermediary in the man-God connection in Islam. This injunction must be followed posthumously because the message of Qur’ân is for all times to come:

2:79. It is not given to a human being that Allâh should give him the Book, the sovereignty and the prophethood and then he should say to the people, `Be servants to me beside Allâh’. He would rather say, `Be you the sole devotees of (Allâh) the Lord, for you teach the Book and because you study (it)’.

2:80. Nor would (it be possible for him that) he bid you take the angels and Prophets as your lords. Would he bid you disbelieve after you have submitted yourselves (to the will of God)?[9]

In the man-God relationship of Islam, there are no intermediaries. By excluding any intercessional capacity of any admired personage by its followers, Qur’ân removes such polytheistic tendencies in Islam:

39:44. Say, `All intercession belongs to Allâh entirely. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, then towards Him you shall (all) be brought back.'[10]

The followers of exalted personages are cautioned about the extent of their love for that person, which at times can be unlimited to the extent it might teeter on polytheism. The object of worship of a Muslim is Allah, not any human:

39:45. When (the name of) Allâh alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion but when (the names of) those who are below His high station are mentioned, behold they are at once filled with joy.[11]

Fellowship: Meritocracy vs. Aristocracy

Based upon the principle of individual righteousness and actions Abraham was conferred the status of Imam. His natural wish for across the board Imams in his progeny, both in bloodline and fellowship, is denied in Qur’ân with the exception of those of his posterity who are righteous. This example of Abraham makes bloodline immaterial in subsequent Imamate to the any appointed one:

2:124. (Recall) when his Lord put Abraham to test with certain commandments, so he carried them out. (God) said, `Verily, I will make you an Imâm (– a religious leader) for the good of the people.' (Abraham) said (inquiringly), `And from among my progeny (too, do You promise to raise leaders)?' (God) said, `(Yes, but) My (this) covenant does not embrace the wrongdoers.'[12]

This tenet of no virtue in inheritance without the merit of righteousness is also contained in the prayer of Solomon that excluded his inept successors – Jeroboam and his son Rehoboam:

38:35. He [Solomon] said (praying), `My Lord! grant me protection and bestow on me a kingdom that belongs to none (by inheritance) after me. You indeed are the Great Bestower.'[13]

The foundation stone of spirituality in Islam is individual righteousness, not association with the righteous alone that we see in exclusion of some of the wives even those of the prophets from any blessings, the wives of Noah and Lot as a case in point:

66:10. Allâh compares those who disbelieve to the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were both under (the wedlock of) two of Our righteous servants but acted treacherously towards them both. So they (– Noah and Lot) could do nothing to save them from (the punishment of) Allâh. And it was said to them, `Enter you both into the (Hell) Fire along with those (of your category) who enter therein.[14]

The opposite is equally true, when a righteous person is associated with a wrong-doer, for example the Pharaoh of Exodus:

66:11. And Allâh compares those who believe to the wife of Pharaoh. Behold! she said, `My Lord! make for me an abode in the Garden (of Paradise) close to You and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work and deliver me from the wrongdoing people.[15]

Of course, a person can be standalone righteous, for example Mary, mother of Jesus:

66:12. And Allâh (next compares the believers to) Mary, the daughter of Amrân, she who took care to guard her chastity, so we breathed into him (the believer who is exemplified here) Our inspiration, while she declared her faith in the revelations of her Lord and His Scriptures and she became of the devoted ones to prayers and obedient to Him.[16]

Even Prophet Muhammad’s own blood relations were not exempt from the application of this universal principle of merit of individual righteousness and his uncle and aunt were prophesized to be doomed in Prophet’s lifetime:

111:1. Let the two hands of Abû Lahab (the Prophet's uncle, one of his most inveterate opponents and other fiery tempered enemies of Islam) perish, and let he himself (also) perish!

111:2. His wealth and what he has accomplished shall avail him naught.

111:3. He shall soon enter a Fire full of leaping flames (to burn others of his kind as well),

111:4. And his wife too, the carrier of fire wood and bearer of slanders and calumnies (will also be enveloped in the flames);

111:5. Having round her neck a halter of twisted strands.[17]

Fellowship: Fraternity vs. Family

Note: The since advocates of a selective meaning of ‘family of prophet’ are important to discussion below, we will be referring to translation of Qur’ân published under the author name of MH Shakir who belonged to same school of thought. It is also important to bear in mind that Shakir has extensively plagiarized his work.[18]

Further, blood relationship has no bearing on attaining righteousness. Even a prophet’s own children can fall into disfavor because of their misdeeds and be removed from the spiritual succession, the ‘family’ of the prophet:

11:45. And Noah called to his Lord and said , `My Lord! my son belongs to my family [Arabic: ahlī] and surely Your promise is (also) true; yet You are the Most Just of the judges’.

11:46. (The Lord) said, `He decidedly does not belong to your family [Arabic: ahlika] as he is given to unrighteous conduct, so do not ask of Me that of which you have no knowledge. I advise you not to be of those wanting in knowledge.'[19] [Emphasis added]

Of note is that in the said verses Qur’ân expunges the general understanding of bloodline from ‘family’ of the prophet and replaces it with followers of a righteous conduct. This is so for a simple reason that in his personal space a prophet can have wife/wives and children to whom he can be a husband and father, however, as per the office of prophethood, instead, he is head of a larger spiritual flock that follow his Message, termed his family. There is no patronization in Islam. On a closer read of verse 11:26 one finds that Noah pleads for his son, whereas, in reply Noah is rebuked in his understanding of the term ‘family.’  Nowhere is he told that his son is not related by blood to him, as blood relationship cannot be changed because of biological realities. Instead, Noah is told that his son does not belong to his spiritual family. This fully comes to light in the same verse where Noah’s narrow perception of family is removed from my family of a father and replaced with a broader perspective of your family of a prophet that includes all his followers, irrespective of any blood relationship.

Despite belonging to his bloodline we see that Noah’s son is excluded from the spiritual family because he is a non-believer. At least in the case of Noah’s son, Qur’ân gives us a concrete example in which the judgment is by Allah. One has to wonder as to who will be the judge for merits of any blood relations after passing away of the last of prophets, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)? The answer to that is none but Qur’ân, Al-Furqân (25:1) – the Book which distinguishes between right and wrong [20], no matter how much falsehood is alleged from it:

21:18. Nay, We hurl the truth at falsehood so that it knocks out its brains (and defeats it); and behold, it (- the falsehood) vanishes…[21]

The next verses tell us of survival of Noah’s followers. It should be noted that some translations (not quoted here) use the word ‘family’ instead of ‘followers’, still, both the blood relations and the believers are lumped together in the ‘followers’:

37:76. And We delivered him [– Noah] and his followers [Arabic: wa-ahlahu] from the mighty distress.

37:77. And We made his offspring the survivors.[22][Shakir]

Similarly, in the case of Lot we read the following:

26:169. [Lot prayed] My Lord! deliver me and my followers [Arabic: wa-ahlī] from what they do.

26:170. So We delivered him and his followers [Arabic: wa-ahlahu] all,

26:171. Except an old woman [–wife of Lot, see v. 66:10 above], among those who remained behind.

26:172. Then We utterly destroyed the others.[23] [Emphasis added] [Shakir]

Again, some translations (not quoted here) use the word ‘family’ instead of ‘followers’ in the above stated verses. Still, wife of Lot is excluded from the followers for the mere fact that she acted treacherously towards (v. 66:10) the Prophet who happened to be her husband, Lot. Because of his office of prophethood Lot is bound to pray for all his followers (v. 26:169) that includes his immediate family. The same context is found in another verse:

15:65. [Lot–] Therefore go forth with your followers [Arabic: bi-ahlika] in a part of the night and yourself follow their rear, and let not any one of you turn round, and go forth whither you are commanded.[24][Shakir]

In another verse, Qur’ân merges the bloodline of a prophet, Job (–Ayub), and his followers into one family when it equates the followers with the blood relations, the like of them. The end result is that a prophet’s family is none but all his followers irrespective of their blood relationship with him or not. In summary, a one big close knit family of the followers all associated with the prophet as his ‘progeny’, in both metaphorical and practical sense, the torch bearers of legacy of the prophet:

38:43. And We gave him [–Job] his family [Arabic: ahlahu] and the like of them with them [–the followers], as a mercy from Us, and as a reminder to those possessed of understanding.[25] [Shakir]

Additionally, a righteous person may not be related to a prophet by blood, but if such person is a follower of that prophet, then he belongs to the ‘family’ of that prophet. Thus a Prophet is tethered to his followers only and only if the latter follows the former’s creed. This principle is brought to light in Abraham’s prayer. Abraham prayed and declared his followers as his spiritual family, at par with his own children as long as the followers or even his own progeny followed his creed. Essentially, there is no value of physical progeny for a prophet. A prophet and his prophethood survive by his spiritual household, which in Arabic is called Aāl of that prophet:

14:35. (Recall the time) when Abraham said, `My Lord, make this (would be) city (of Makkah) secure and a haven of peace, and keep me and my children away from worshipping idols.

14:36. `My Lord! a large number of people has gone astray because of these (idols) to be sure. Then whoso follows me he is certainly of me. As for the person who disobeys me, (I can say only,) You are indeed Great Protector (against faults), Ever Merciful.[26]

The declaration of Abraham, the prophet, ‘whoso follows me he is certainly of me’ sets in stone the definition of the family of a prophet that consists of all his followers, commonly called the Ummah of the Prophet.

Fellowship: Expectation of Reward – a Trait of Pharaoh

In contravention of above principles of Aal of a Prophet, which is only and only the spiritual fellowship that Qur’ân repeatedly emphasizes, the following verse at times is erroneously quoted in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is allegedly asking for a special treatment of his blood relatives and by implication a special status to be awarded by his followers to his bloodline:

42:23. That is of which Allah gives the good news to His servants, (to) those who believe and do good deeds. Say: I [Muhammad] do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives; and whoever earns good, We give him more of good therein; surely Allah is Forgiving, Grateful.[27] [Shakir] see footnote[28].

If the said verse is read with bloodline in mind, then for sure the Prophet is asking for a reward, and that too beggingly, in return for him delivering his Message, albeit a non-material reward of love for my near relatives which is a stark contradiction within the verse. Whereas, if relatives is read as spiritual progeny or tribal relations of the Prophet, then assuredly Prophet is not asking for a reward but cajoling all peoples to love each other for the mere fact the Prophet was in one way or another related to all the tribes in Makkah. What the readers might not be aware of that this verse was revealed in Makkah before the migration of Prophet to Medina. At that time Prophet’s daughter had not yet married Ali[29]. The said couple married in the second year of Hijrah calendar in Medina. Any imagined reference in the said verse for any later male progeny of the Prophet, no matter through his daughter, irrespective of how erroneously construed, does not even arise.

While quoting the verse 42:23, the advocates fail to read the next subsequent verse which in continuation of the subject matter addresses the opponents of Islam in Makkah:

42:24. Or do they say: He has forged a lie against Allah? But if Allah pleased, He would seal your heart; and Allah will blot out the falsehood and confirm the truth with His words; surely He is Cognizant of what is in the breasts."> [29a] [Shakir]

Similarly, the verses 42:21-22 [29b] preceding the verse under discussion (42:23) are also addressing the opponents of the Prophet. If the argument of the same advocates is accepted, then for sure the Prophet in verse 42:23 is asking a favor from the opponents of Islam for a special status of his grandchildren through his daughter, which is preposterous.


Readers of Qur’ân must be aware that reminding of favors bestowed on others and then expecting a reward in return is not the in the nature of prophets, but that of a person like Pharaoh, as stated in the following verses:


26:18. (So when Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh) he said (to Moses), `Did we not bring you up among us when you were a mere babe? And you stayed with us many years of your life.

26:19. `And you have surely committed an act (of homicide), and you are of the ungrateful.'

26:20. (Moses) said, `Indeed I did it (then inadvertently and) as I was lost (for the love of my people and was in a perplexed state of mind).

26:21. `So I fled from you when I apprehended (injustice from) you; then (it came to pass that) my Lord granted me knowledge and (right) judgment and made me (one) of the Messengers.

26:22. `And this insignificant favour (of your bringing me up) that you (so tauntingly) remind me of (can be no reasonable excuse) for you have enslaved (the whole community of) the Children of Israel (for no fault of theirs).'[30]

On the contrary, Messengers never ever ask for reward for their divinely ascribed duties:

26:109. `And I [–Noah] ask no reward from you for it (- the delivery of the Message of God). My reward lies with the Lord of the worlds alone.

26:127. `I [–Hud] ask no reward from you for this (service I render). My reward lies only with the Lord of the worlds.

26:145. `I [–Salih] ask no reward from you for this (service I render). My reward lies with the Lord of the worlds alone.

26:164. `And I [–Lot] ask no reward from you for this (service I render). My reward lies with the Lord of the worlds alone.

26:180. `And I [–Shu’aib] ask no reward from you for it (- the services I render). Surely, my reward lies with the Lord of the worlds alone.[31]

In verses above the prophets, one and all, ask no reward from their followers. The case of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is affirmed even more vehemently in that he is asked to declare loud and clear, without any ambiguity that I ask no reward from you:

38:86. Say (O Prophet! [–Muhammad]), `I ask no reward from you for it (for preaching the Message of truth, and for warning the people,) nor am I of those who are given to affectation (and are impostors).[32]

To further emphasize, Qur’ân distinguishes prophets and for that matter any holy amongst us for their fundamental quality that they never ask for a reward in return, material or non-material, in any form, hue, color or protocol for their divine duties performed, from their followers. On the reverse, the follower is instructed to follow only those who ask no reward from you:

36:21. `Follow those who ask no reward from you and who are following the right path.[33] [Emphasis added]

The above verse 36:21 sets in stone one of the implied characteristics of holy men, i.e. due to the very nature of their mission, they will have little time to spare to look after their own assets which will then only dwindle in due course of time from either their neglect of it due to demands of their divine assignment, or their spending of it in charity. If it is opposite, i.e. the wealth and perks of that person only grow while in office, then for sure such a person is not a ‘Man of God.

On the other hand even Qur’ân challenges Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) hypothetically if he can possibly ask for a reward for himself. Fact is that Qur’ân mocks those who even imagine the Prophet asking for any reward for himself from his followers:

52:40. Do you ask a reward from them (for your conveying the Message) so that they are weighed down with a load of undue debts (and so are finding it hard to pay).[34]

In light of verses 26:109, 126, 145, 164, 180, 38:86, 36:21 and 52:40 if there is even a hint of expectation of the Prophet for a reward, then for sure the verse 42:23 is either mistranslated or misinterpreted for the mere fact that in Qur’ân there is no contradiction across all its verses.

The following translation of the verse in question removes any contradiction around it:

42:23. That is (the same bounteous favour) of which Allâh gives the glad tidings to His servants who believe and (accordingly) do deeds of righteousness. Say, `I ask no reward from you for it (- my preaching). All that I [–Muhammad] ask you is to cherish the strongest love to be near (to Him).' He that does a good deed, We make this (good deed) look all the more beautiful to him. Verily, Allâh is All-Protecting, Most Appreciating (of our service to Him).[35]

Besides, Qur’ân is replete with rewards for the Prophet and his righteous followers. The Prophet was assured a never ending reward early on in Surah Kausar while he was still in Makkah and Muslims were under severest of persecution at the hands of the powerful opponents:

108:1. Verily, We have bestowed upon you (O Muhammad!) abundance of good (both of this life and of the Hereafter).[36]

Against the magnitude of blessings that Allah has assured to the Prophet as a reward in Surah Kausar, it is laughable even to imagine Prophet expected a reward from his followers. It totters on blasphemy to envisage such an alleged inclination of the Prophet.

Fellowship: One big family

Additionally, those who create exception for blood relatives at the exclusion of the followers of the Prophet as his family, also quote the next verse to validate their claim:

3:61. But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.[37] [Shakir] [Emphasis added] – see footnote[38]

If the verse is read in concrete terms, then since the word sons, in plural, is mentioned, then we know that Prophet did not have sons nor a surviving son. His only son, Ibrahim, was born in the last two years of his life and died during Prophet’s lifetime. Since sons are exclusively mentioned without mention of daughters, then it excludes Prophet’s daughters who too are not included in category of women mentioned, and instead women imply wives of the prophet in a concrete sense. The term our near people naturally excludes the blood relatives of the Prophet due to mention of sons and women (wives) who are by definition near to the Prophet because of blood relationships. Therefore, our near people are close associates of the Prophet, the Companions, some of whom were his relatives as well. In sum total, the Prophet after exhausting an endless debate is giving the terms of a prayer duel in which he is willing to invoke Divine wrath on himself, his whole family and by extension his followers, the spiritual progeny, if they are false in a doctrinal matter, else the wrath of God to descend on the opposing party.

It is obvious that in the above verse the Prophet never meant blood relationships of his. Else, a question could be raised against his integrity because he is asking to invoke curse on the sons of his opponents while he never had an adult son himself who would consent for such a prayer duel.

In the same verse the keyword is the repeated use of our, which clearly implies its inclusivity of Prophet’s followers. Elsewhere in Qur’ân, when immediate family of the Prophet is addressed it does so very clearly at the exclusion of non-family followers:

33:28-34. O Prophet! say to your wives: If you desire this world's life and its adornment, then come, I will give you a provision and allow you to depart a goodly departing. And if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the latter abode, then surely Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you a mighty reward. O wives of the prophet! whoever of you commits an open indecency, the punishment shall be increased to her doubly; and this is easy to Allah. And whoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Messenger and does good, We will give to her her reward doubly, and We have prepared for her an honorable sustenance. 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. And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House [Arabic: ahla l-bayti]! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying. 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.[39] [Emphasis added] [Shakir]

In the above verses, people of the House [Arabic: ahla l-bayti] is inclusive of all the wives of the Prophet living in their respective houses – your houses with their children if any. From its usage, the term people of the House cannot be applied exclusively to any particular wife or exclusively to her children or grandchildren.

The passages from Qur’ân discussed so far in general challenge every Muslim to “truthfully” belong to the faith. Islam is not hereditary and cannot be passed from generation to generation through bloodline. Being born in a Muslim household could be a head start but it is not a valid reason to be a Muslim, nor does it confer any special status, irrespective of lineage to a holy one. A non-educated fellowship is thus admonished in Qur’ân:

17:36. And do not follow and utter that of which you have no knowledge. Surely, the ear and eye and the heart, all of these, shall be called upon to account (for it).[40]

Significance of the word Aal in Qur’ân and Hadith

The extract below is a footnote in a book where in the main text Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad refers to a hadith in which it is prophesied that, in the latter days in a controversy between Christians and Muslims, the devil will sound the call that “truth is on the side of the Aal of Jesus” and a call will come from heaven saying, “truth is on the side of the Aal of Muhammad”[41]. In this footnote he writes as follows about the significance of the word Aal which means literally progeny or descendants.

In this hadith the terms Aal of Jesus and Aal of Muhammad have been used only allegorically, for it is obvious that Jesus (peace be upon him) had no Aal in respect of worldly relationships. Therefore, in this place by Aal of Jesus are, no doubt, meant those people who claim Jesus to be God, and that they are like his sons and rest in his lap after death. And by the same token, no worldly relationship is meant by Aal of Muhammad; rather, by Aal are meant those people who, like sons, are heirs to the spiritual wealth of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, in every place by the word Aal the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) means the same, and not worldly relationship which is a lower and temporary connection, and which after death is terminated by the words la ansaaba baina-hum (“there will be no ties of relationship among them” after death; the Qur’ân, 23:101). A prophet can never accept that the term Aal used by him would only mean that he wants to make people the followers of a lower and temporary relationship, as the ordinary worldly-minded ones do. It is obvious that a prophet looks towards heaven, and the magnitude of his dignity and the extent of his enterprise means that he is above presenting such relationships as important which do not require faith, truthfulness, and righteousness as necessary conditions. How can it be that, on the one hand God the Most High says that all worldly relationships end in this very world and would not exist on the day of reckoning, and on the other hand His prophet keeps stressing an inferior relationship which starts from the progeny of the daughter?

The truth is that whatever words the holy and glorious prophets of God bring forth from their mouths contain so much wisdom and truth in them that it is as if they are starting from the earth and reaching up to heaven. Or you could say that, like a ray of the sun, they fall on the earth from heaven, and they are like a tree whose roots are very strong, reaching into the bowels of the earth, and whose branches are reaching up to heaven. But when the same words enter the ordinary people’s language, the masses, because of their limited understanding and deficient powers of reason, take them in a very low sense, which would be regarded as embarrassing by spiritual persons. This is because their worldly intelligence has no connection with heaven and they know not what heavenly light is. So, according to their crude understanding, they hastily limit the high objectives and exalted allusions of the prophet to merely worldly, temporary relationships.

They cannot comprehend that beyond these temporary and fleeting relationships there are other kinds of relationships also. There is another kind of Aal which is not cut off after death, not falling under the interdiction contained in the words la ansaaba baina-hum (“there will be no ties of relationship among them” after death; the Qur’ân, 23:101). Aal is not only the kind that would fight for the garden called Fidk and its few trees, and get so infuriated as to speak ill of Abu Bakr and Umar. No, for the persons beloved and accepted by God the title of spiritual Aal is very appropriate; this spiritual Aal inherits that spiritual legacy from their spiritual maternal grandfather which no hand of any usurper can usurp, and they are heirs to such (spiritual) gardens which nobody can occupy illegally. These low ideas entered into some Muslim sects when they become devoid of spirituality. They received no share in the legacy in the capacity of spiritual Aal. Thus, having been deprived of their spiritual legacy, their understanding became superficial, their hearts became muddied and they lost insight.

No person of faith can deny the fact that Hazrat Imam Husain and Imam Hasan (God be pleased with them both) were the chosen ones of God, possessors of spiritual perfection, purity and incorruptibility, and were beacons of guidance. No doubt, they were the Aal of the Holy Prophet in both senses of the word. The objection is: why has the higher meaning of the word Aal been neglected while great pride is expressed in the lower meaning? It is strange that these people make no mention whatsoever of Imam Hasan or Husain or anyone else as being that higher type of Aal by virtue of which they become heirs to the spiritual estate of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and are called the “leaders of Paradise”; and instead, a temporary relationship is repeatedly projected which is not connected with spiritual legacy as a necessary condition. If this temporary relationship, which is the product of physical union, had been by itself worthy near God, then this right should have been given to Cain first of all, who was the first-born of Adam (peace be upon him) and was a prophet’s son. Then after that, it should have gone to that son of Noah, the second Adam, who has been called by God as inna-hu ‘amal-un ghairu salih (“embodiment of unrighteous deeds”, the Qur’ân, 11:46).

Therefore, it is the belief of the persons of spiritual knowledge and experience that even if Hazrat Imam Husain and Imam Hasan (God be pleased with them) not been the Holy Prophet’s Aal according to the physical relationship, nonetheless because they had been considered Aal in heaven due to spiritual relationship, they would undoubtedly have been heirs to the spiritual legacy of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Given that the temporary, physical body has connections (with others), does the soul not have any connections? In fact, according to reliable Hadith reports, and from the Holy Qur’ân itself, it stands proved that souls also have connections, and friendship or antipathy can exist between them from eternity.

Now a sensible person can judge for himself whether it is a matter of pride to be Aal of the Holy Prophet in the unalterable and eternal sense or in the physical sense which has nothing of righteousness, purity, and faith. Let no one think by all this that I am detracting from the dignity of the household of the Holy Prophet. My aim in writing this is that it is not only in the physical sense that Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (God be pleased with them) possess the dignity of being Aal of the Holy Prophet because it is nothing without spiritual relationship; the real meaningful relationship with the Holy Prophet is only of those dear ones who are among his Aal spiritually.

The spiritual knowledge and light of the prophets are like their offspring who are born from their holy beings. Those people who attain a new life and find a rebirth through this knowledge and light are the ones who are spiritually called the Aal of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In the prophecy discussed above (in the main text), the calling out of Satan that “truth is on the side of the Aal of Jesus” is a lie also because he is making those who ascribe partners to God as the spiritual Aal of Jesus, but those who call Jesus as God cannot share anything with him in heaven nor can they be his heirs, so how can they be his spiritual Aal?

 (Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, p. 99–101, footnote; Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 15, p. 363–366)

[1] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[2] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[3] Al-Hujurat – The Apartments: Muhammad Ali
– Zahid Aziz
[4] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[5] Zukhruf – Gold: Muhammad Asad
[6] Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[7] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[8] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[11] ibid
[12] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[13] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[14] Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Nooruddin
[15] ibid
[16] ibid
[17] Al-Masad – The Twisted Strands: Nooruddin
[18] Shakir’s Qur’ân translation — a blatant plagiarism of the first edition of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation – Deception perpetrated on readers of the Holy Qur’ân. Link:
[19] Hud – Hud: Nooruddin
[20] Adapted from “Names of the Holy Book,” p. 2-A, The Holy Qur’ân, Eighth Edition (2008) As Explained by Allamah Nooruddin, Rendered into English by Amatul Rahman Omar, Abdul Mannan Omar, Copyright © Noor Foundation International Inc.
[21] Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[22] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[23] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[24] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[25] Sad – Sad: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[26] Ibrahim – Abraham: Nooruddin
[27] Al-Shura – The Counsel: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[28] Footnote: The statement that the Prophet did not ask for any reward at all is made very often in the Qur’ân. The Arabs, closely related as they were to each other,were in a state of constant warfare. They are told to give up mutual warfare and tolove one another. A similar statement is made elsewhere: “I ask of you no reward for it except that whoever wishes may take a way to his Lord” (25:57). In bothcases what the Prophet wanted was not a reward for himself, but it was a good forthe people themselves, being, in the second case, that they walk in the ways ofGod or lead godly lives and, in the first, that they love one another.Al-Shura – The Counsel: Muhammad Ali
– Zahid Aziz
[29] Haqaiq ul-Furqan (Truths of The Criterion – Qur’ân), a collection of lectures on Qur’ân in Urdu by Hakeem Nooruddin, vol 3, p. 545-546. Link:’ân/tafseer/?page=545&region=H3
[29a] Al-Shura – The Counsel: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[29b] 42:21-22. Or have they associates who have prescribed for them any religion that Allah does not sanction? And were it not for the word of judgment, decision would have certainly been given between them; and surely the unjust shall have a painful punishment. You will see the unjust fearing on account of what they have earned, and it must befall them; and those who believe and do good shall be in the meadows of the gardens; they shall have what they please with their Lord: that is the great grace. Al-Shura – The Counsel: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[30] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[31] ibid
[32] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[33] Ya Sin – O Perfect Man!: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
[35] Al-Shura – The Counsel: Nooruddin
[36] Al-Kauthar – The Abundance of Good: Nooruddin
[37] Al Imran – The Family of Amran: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[38] Footnote: The persons addressed in particular in this verse are the members ofthe Christian deputation from Najran that came in 10 A.H. to see the ProphetMuhammad. The deputation was lodged by the Holy Prophet in his mosque. Thusdid he set an unparalleled example of freedom of religious belief and practice.After the Holy Prophet gave them arguments showing that Jesus was not God, andfinding them still insisting on their false belief, they were invited as a last resort topray earnestly that the curse of Allah might overtake the party that insisted onfalsehood. After some deliberation they decided against it and told the Prophetthat they had decided not to pray against him as suggested. Thereupon they weregiven a pledge by which they were free to practise their religion.Al Imran – The Family of Amran: Muhammad Ali, Zahid Aziz
[39] Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Plagiarized by Shakir from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation
[40] Isrâ' – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[41] Ali bin Abi Taleb said: " After the Khusf (land collapse), a caller from Heaven calls: 'The truth is in the family of Mohammad ' in the beginning of the morning. Then, another caller at the end of the morning calls: 'The truth is in the progeny of Jesus.' This (second call) is from Satan." (Nuaim bin Hammad's Kitab Al-Fitan)  A variation of this narration is attributed to Abi Ja'far mentions that the second caller says that the truth is in the family of Jesus or Al-Abass and this second call from Satan from the bottom of the Earth. Link:

9 Responses to “‘Aal’, the Family of the Prophet — It is Creed not Breed”

  1. AOA

    I hope you are fine. I need information about Islamic inheritance laws. 

    My questions are

    1. Should we implement them in our society when we fail to implement rest of the family laws of Quran?

    2. Do we have an economic system in which a person can acquire an asset without sacrificing his or her family's basic needs? if it is a joint investment then is it not grave injustice to apply islamic inheritance laws which only deprive wife and daughters on the assumption that men of the family too the financial responsibility alone?

    3. how can we contest ill implementation of islamic inheritance laws in our society/courts? 

    4. Why Pakistani laws have no regard for a woman's financial contribution to her household? 

    I'll be grateful if you could provide me some link to read about islamic inheritance laws – esp in cases in which a man has more than two household on separate budget. In Pakistan, if he dies than how come the other family can claim succession which he had acquired with the financial partnership of his wife? 


  2. I hope I could get an answer. What is considered "inheritance" in islamic laws. 

  3. Salaam Amna,

    This is a very difficult topic. Check this book out for more info. The summary starts on p.255. The basic explanation is that we are told to make a bequest. If the deceased doesn''t make a bequest then inheritance laws apply.

    The author of the above article is a Syrian Quranist, however Shahid Aziz said the same thing regarding the general law of inheritance at the 29 minute mark in his khutba on March 27.


  4. April 11th, 2015 at 6:48 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Thank you Regis for answering this. It's because it was difficult that I didn't get around to responding.

    Today people consider it inequitable that a daughter gets a half of what a son receives. During British rule of India, when a Muslim could elect whether his estate should be divided according to Islamic law or his will, Muslim land-owners used to specify that they didn't want Islamic law to be applied because they didn't want anything whatsover to go to their daughters, and they made wills leaving everything to their sons!

    One reform made in the Islamic law was to end "primogeniture", the right of the first-born among males to inherit everything. Queen Elizabeth is only Queen of England because she had no brother. Just the existence of a brother, whether older or younger, would have removed her right of succession to her father.

    Islamic law, even according to the shares mentioned in the Quran, gave all females something, and removed both age discrimination and favouritism for a particular offspring.

    In one case male and female are equal: if the deceased has parents and children, the father and the mother each receive one-sixth.

  5. April 11th, 2015 at 9:29 am
    From abdullah dawood:

    Can I ask a couple of questions?

  6. April 11th, 2015 at 10:24 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    You certainly can.

    You might like to know that one of my favourite films is the 1963 film "Charade" starring Cary Grant, in which his character keeps on changing his name from one false name to another (Peter Joshua, Alexander Doyle and Adam Canfield. See link.)

  7. Side Note: Inheritance Laws in Quran bring an interesting fact to light. Al'Khwarizmi, the mathematician, when he tried to understand and determine their methodology, he realized that due to their various combinations/permutations, they inevitably need a variable to implement them. Thus Algebra was invented first, then Algorithms.

    Next time when one holds an iPhone in hand, wear a smartwatch, surf the internet, switch on the smartTV, watch Cosmos (by Neil DeGrasse Tyson), track Vikings I & II in heliosphere, drive a Tesla, look at the images by Hubble, monitor Curosity roving the Martian crater, imagine the mini-black holes yet to be created in Large Hadron Collider, DNA researches, and on and on, one must thank Quran.

  8. April 11th, 2015 at 7:47 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Here is a link to some notes for mathematics students which explain how Al-Khwarizmi solved quadratic equations and teach students how to apply his method.

    Moving one order higher to cubic equations, here is a link to a paper at the website of the University of Leeds, UK, on the contribution of Omar Khayyam to their solution. It is stated in the paper that it was presented to the "Omar Khayyam Club", London, in 1999. This club is stated to have been founded in 1892.

  9. Thanks for the information. I am studying the link posted by regis 

    "The technical term ‘inheritance’ ( al-irth) refers to the process of dividing the money and property of the deceased .."

    What does constitute inheritance? I believe it should refer to those assets which one has accumulated after fulfilling basic rights of his family. 

    In present times, it is nearly impossible for a man to have his own independent savings after fulfilling his family's rights – how should an asset be divided, if whole family sacrifices on need to establish it?

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