Verse 33:33 in the Quran is the Verse of Purification. The Ahlel Bayt–namely Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Hussain, and the Infallible Imams including the Mehdi–were made infallible by verse 33:33 in which Allah says: “And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you Ahl al-Bayt (People of the House), and to make you pure and spotless.” (33:33) The Prophet placed a cloak underneath all four of these people and then made them infallible by this verse in the Quran.
Response From: AhlelBayt.com Admin
Dear Brother Zain,
Thank you for your correspondence.
When we read verses of the Quran, we should read the entire passage and not just isolated parts of it. We must see what is the context of what is being said. Otherwise, we will be misled. We are afraid that many people, either knowingly or unknowingly, are taking the Quran and Hadith out of context simply to win debates. Insha-Allah we should read the Quranic verses in their entirity and with an open heart.
Brother Zain, you have mentioned Verse 33:33 of the Quran. Let us now read to whom this verse in the Quran is addressed to; let us read the entire sentence, starting from verse 33:32 all the way to verse 33:34.
“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 quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you Ahlel Bayt (People of the House), and to make you pure and spotless. And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes, of the Signs of Allah and His Wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with them).” (Quran, 33:32-34)
Allah Almighty clearly addresses the wives of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم). If we were to argue that this verse is the verse of purification and that it makes certain people infallible, then we would have to conclude that it is Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) and the rest of the Prophet’s wives which were made infallible. We base this on the simple fact that the verse was revealed with the heading “O wives of the Prophet.” Brother Zain, how can we say that this verse refers to Ali (رضّى الله عنه) and the Infallible Imams when none of them are mentioned here, but only the wives are addressed? We understand that it is a popular concept that this verse makes the Ahlel Bayt infallible. However, it is also the same people who spread such conceptions who believe that Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) hated Ali (رضّى الله عنه). It seems to us that, if anything, it is Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) who is made infallible, and if indeed that is the case shouldn’t the Shia side with her over Ali (رضّى الله عنه)?
There is actually not a single verse in the Quran which identifies Ali (رضّى الله عنه), Fatima (رضّى الله عنها), Hasan (رضّى الله عنه), or Hussain (رضّى الله عنه) to be Ahlel Bayt. Not a single verse in the Quran mentions the 12 Infallible Imams of the Shia, let alone mentioning them as the Ahlel Bayt. Nowhere in the Quran does it refer to the Hidden Imam as the Ahlel Bayt. How is it then that a very fundamental aspect of the Shia faith is not in the Quran, which is supposed to be the ultimate guide to truth? How can the ultimate guide be devoid of the essence of belief, as the Shia claim that following their Ahlel Bayt is? The term Ahlel Bayt has been used twice in the Quran, and both times to refer to the wives. The Quran does not say “O cousin of the Prophet” but rather it says “O wives of the Prophet.”
In conclusion, the verse you have mentioned, Verse 33:33, was addressed to the Prophet’s wives.
Thank you for writing to us, and feel free to ask any more questions.
Ibn al-Hashimi, www.ahlelbayt.com
RE: from Zain ********
You have said that the verse 33:33 is referring to Aisha. How can Aisha possibly be infallible when she hated Ali and she went out to fight against him?
Response From: AhlelBayt.com Admin
Dear Brother Zain,
Thank you again for writing and giving us the opportunity to further clarify our position.
Firstly, Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) did not hate Ali (رضّى الله عنه) nor did she leave her house to fight against Ali (رضّى الله عنه). This is a myth and it is slander, very much like the slander against Ali (رضّى الله عنه) when people accused him of killing Uthman (رضّى الله عنه). Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) went out to seek reconciliation with Ali (رضّى الله عنه) in order to prevent bloodshed. This was her intention, and she was not the one who started the Battle of the Camel, no moreso than Ali (رضّى الله عنه) was. We shall disclose more information on this topic in a future article.
Secondly, the verse 33:33 does not make anybody infallible. Nobody is infallible, not even the prophets. This idea of making people infallible is alien to Islam and it is akin to what the Christians have done with Prophet Isa (i.e. making him infallible). This is an exaggeration that leads to Shirk, since an attribute of the Creator is given to the creation. We will discuss infallibility in relation to verse 33:33 in a future article, Insha-Allah.
Ibn al-Hashimi, www.ahlelbayt.com
From: Nabeel ***********
I am curious as to what the Shia say about Tahreef of the Quran, especially in regards to Verse 33:33. Can you please shed some light on this matter?
Response From: AhlelBayt.com Admin
Dear Brother Nabeel,
The very ideological foundation of Shi’ism comes falling down when we read the Quran and find out that the Prophet’s wives are referred to as Ahlel Bayt. To deal with this inconsistency, certain Shia Ayatollahs claim that the Quran has been tampered with. Observe what the popular Shia website Al-Islam.org has to say on this issue; Allamah Sharaf al-Din says:
“…it is quite possible that the purification verse concerning the People of the House was revealed separately and then, when the verses of the Quran were being assembled, was placed in the middle of the verses relating to the wives of the Prophet, either in error or deliberately.” (Al-Islam.org, Lesson 19, http://www.al-islam.org/leadership/)
It is clear that the Shia first make up their beliefs and then read the Quran, as opposed to first reading the Quran and then deriving their beliefs from it. When verses of the Quran conflict with Shia doctrine, then possibilities are sought to explain away discrepancies. This is clearly an unnecessary complication. Therefore, it makes sense to read the Quran as is and then decide upon one’s beliefs, rather than deciding on a belief first and then manufacturing a “Quranic proof” in the realm of “possibilities”.
Such a belief that the verses in the Quran were manipulated by being arranged in a certain way is very much in line with the classical Shia opinion that the Quran has had Tahreef (tampering) and has been changed by the Sahabah. How can the Shia believe in Tahreef Bit Tarteeb (tampering in the order of verses) when Allah Almighty has promised in the Quran that He Himself will protect the Quran from any tampering or manipulation. Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
“Absolutely, we have revealed the Reminder [the Quran], and, We verily are its Guardian; we will preserve it.” (Quran, 15:9)
“This is an honorable Quran in a protected book, well-guarded. A revelation from the Lord of the universe.” (Quran, 56:77-80)
“Indeed, it is a glorious Quran, in a preserved master tablet.” (Quran, 85:21-22)
Allah has promised that He will protect and perserve the Quran from any and all tampering. In fact, this is a central belief of Islam, without which the entire faith of Islam topples. Indeed, many Western orientalists and evangelical Christians have labored hard to convince people that the Quran has been tampered with. If the Quran were tampered with, then Islam has been changed and altered, just like the Muslims claim that the Bible was changed and altered. To doubt the veracity and integrity of the Quran is to doubt all of faith, and this is Kufr Akbar (Major Disbelief). We ask our Shia brothers not to throw their religious book and their entire faith into the garbage can simply because they wish to hate Aisha (رضّى الله عنها) and want so desperately to exclude her from the Ahlel Bayt. This is a very poor reason to destroy one’s faith.
We cannot really have intelligent dialogue with our Shia brothers if we do not both agree on the Quran as the gold standard. We can never prove to the Shia anything when they claim that the subject in the sentence has actually changed. A Non-Muslim could easily claim that the verse talking about Abu Lahab was placed in the wrong place and it should in reality be placed before the verse about following the Messenger! Suddenly, Abu Lahab is the messenger of Allah! How can we seriously argue with people when they play word games with the Quran, using cut and paste to make it mean whatever they want it to mean? This would turn the Quran into a jigsaw puzzle and makes it meaningless as a book of guidance.
It is quizzical that certain Shia Ayatollahs of today say that they don’t believe in Tahreef of the Quran, but at the same time they claim that verse 33:33 was placed deliberately next to the verse about the Prophet’s wives; they say that the meaning of the Quran was thus manipulated and the integrity of the Quran lost. In fact, most Shia scholars believe in Tahreef bit Tarteeb, which is the idea that the order of verses in the Quran were tampered with.
Even if we look at verse 33:33 in isolation, we see clearly that the verse is talking about the wives:
“And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you Ahlel Bayt (People of the House), and to make you pure and spotless.” (Quran, 33:33)
Surely, the Quran is not referring to Ali (رضّى الله عنه) when it commands to stay quietly in the house and not make a dazzling display. Rather this can only be referring to the Prophet’s wives.
Ibn al-Hashimi, www.ahlelbayt.com
From: Zain *********
In verse 33:33, the Quran switches tenses and changes from feminine form to masculine form. This clearly means that the group being referred to has changed and that it is not being addressed to the Prophet’s wives any more. Allah switched tenses which is His way of making it obvious that the special position of Ahlel Bayt is not for the Prophet’s wives.
Response From AhlelBayt.com Admin
Dear Brother Zain,
Thank you for writing to us. May Allah guide you and guide us both to the Straight Path.
We would like to proclaim at the outset that if Allah wished to exclude the Prophet’s wives from Ahlel Bayt, nothing prevented Him from saying this in the Quran; nobody–not even the supposedly “evil Sahabah”–could force Allah to reveal the Verse of Purification in the middle of the commands to the Prophet’s wives.
The term “Ahl” is masculine, no matter if it is referring to men or women. When an Arab refers to a man’s Ahlel Bayt and by this he means his wives, he will still make use of the masculine form, because Ahlel Bayt is a masculine construction even though it refers to the wives. Ahlel Bayt cannot be used in the feminine, simply speaking from a grammatical standpoint. So we should not be surprised when Allah uses the masculine term for Ahlel Bayt. If, for example, this website were in Arabic, then we would use the masculine form for Ahlel Bayt even if we were only referring to the Prophet’s wives. If you were to tell an Arab man to bring his wives to your house, you would say “please bring your Ahlel Bayt” and this would be said in the masculine tense despite the fact that you are referring to his wives. It is considered rude in Arab-Islamic culture to ask a man “how is your wife” and instead the more culturally appropriate question is: “how is your Ahlel Bayt?” It is the polite way to refer to a man’s wives, and indeed, any time you refer to a man’s Ahlel Bayt, the masculine form is used. This is the Arabic language, and only an ignoramus and non-Arabic speaker would claim otherwise.
The verse was revealed to the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) and was referring to his wives, and thus the term Ahlel Bayt was used, in reference to the Prophet and his wives, thereby necessitating the usage of the collective masculine tense. If there is even one male in a group of females, then the collective masculine tense becomes necessary. It is impossible to exclude the Prophet’s wives from this verse because it is addressed to them.
To completely end any possible confusion on this matter, we shall provide proof from the Quran itself. Ahlel Bayt is used another time in the Quran and again this time to refer to the wives, using the collective masculine tense:
“She said: O wonder! shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman and this my husband an extremely old man? Most surely this is a wonderful thing. They said: Do you wonder at Allahs decree? The grace of Allah and His blessings on you, o you Ahlel Bayt(People of the House)! for He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory!” (Quran, 11:72-73)
The transliteration reads: “Qâlat Yâ WaylatâA’alidu Wa Anâ `Ajûzun Wa Hadhâ Ba`lî Shaykhâan Inna Hâdhâ Lashayun `Ajîbun. Qâlû Ata`jabîna Min Amri Allâhi Ramatu Allâhi Wa Barakâtuhu `Alaykum Ahlul-Bayt-i Innahu amîdun Majîdun.” (Quran, 11:72-73)
In this verse of the Quran, the masculine form is being used for Ahlel Bayt even though the Ahlel Bayt in question is only one single woman. Again, this is the norm of the Arabic language, and indeed this is why the classical Shia scholars never made this argument about tense switching since to an Arab, it makes no sense whatsoever.
If Allah was purposefully switching tenses and this so clearly showed Allah’s intention, why then do the Shia Ulema–-as shown by Al-Islam.org–-argue that there had been Tahreef bit Tarteeb (i.e. tampering in the order of verses) of the Quran? How was Allah purposefully switching tenses when it was supposedly the Sahabah who manipulated the Quran’s order and it was they who decided the order, not Allah? This, to us, does not make any logical sense. How can the Shia further two contradictory claims, on the one hand claiming that the Sahabah may have purposefully placed the purification verse in the middle of the verses to the Prophet’s wives, and on the other hand claiming that this was Allah who was purposefully switching tenses to prove some point?
Furthermore, we’d like to state that Allah has mentioned it many times in the Quran that it is a Book of clear guidance, and that it is written in an easily understandable form. Allah Almighty says in the Quran:“These are the signs of the clear book.” (12:1) How clear is the Quran if an unbiased reader will think that it is the Prophet’s wives who are being referred to but in reality it is supposed to be Ali’s family (رضّى الله عنه)? What prevented Allah from simply ending this confusion and instead clearly saying “O cousin of the Prophet and his family” instead of “O wives of the Prophet?” Why this confusion? Why did Allah place this verse of purification in the middle of commands directed towards the Prophet’s wives? Wouldn’t this mean that this is far from a clear book but rather it is a cryptic and confusing book?
Brother, you should read the Quran with an open mind and a receptive heart, without manipulating verses to mean what you want them to mean. Before and after Allah talks about being pure and spotless, the Quran is addressing the Prophet’s wives. Even after the pure and spotless part, Allah continues by saying“and recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes…” This is still referring to the wives of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) since it is telling them to recite the Quran in their homes, not in the mosque like men do. The entire verse 33:32-34 was revealed to caution the Prophet’s wives to stay inside their homes so that Allah could keep them pure and spotless. Why is it that before and after the pure and spotless part, the Shia say these refer to the Prophet’s wives? How come all of the Quran’s warnings refer to the Prophet’s wives, but any praise about being pure and spotless automatically belongs to Ali’s family (رضّى الله عنه)? Is this really a fair reading of the Quran?
Indeed, certain Shia Tafseer of the Quran say that virtually every praise in the Quran is given to Ali (رضّى الله عنه), and every condemnation to Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه). This is not a fair and balanced way to read the Quran, but rather it is a manipulation of the Word of Allah. If Allah wanted to condemn Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) in the Quran, then nothing prevented Him from mentioning their names like He mentioned Abu Lahab’s name. If Allah wanted to praise Ali (رضّى الله عنه) in the Quran, then nothing prevented Him from mentioning him as the “cousin of the Prophet” like Allah mentioned the Prophet’s wives. We cannot manipulate the speech of Allah to suit our own desires.
Perhaps the greatest manipulation of all is to say that this verse was revealed in reference to the Infallible Imams; where does Allah say any of this? Instead, He says “O wives of the Prophet.” What could prevent a Bahai from claiming that the verse is actually addressing Bahaiullah instead of the Prophet’s wives? We do not mean to be insulting or callous, but we need our Shia brothers to understand how the Ayatollahs’ interpretations are highly suspect.