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Half Hadith-ing (Zaid ibn Arqam)


From: Zain ********

The following verse in the Quran declares that the Ahlel Bayt have become infallible: “And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you Ahlel Bayt (People of the House), and to make you pure and spotless.”

The Prophet’s wives are not part of Ahlel Bayt. This is mentioned in your Sahih Muslim, narrated by Zaid ibn Arqam. Please see Book 31, Chapter 4, Hadith-5923.

Response From: Admin

Dear Zain,

Thank you for writing to us.

We are afraid that you are doing something we like to call “Half Hadith-ing.” What do we mean by this? We mean that you are only posting half of a Hadith, much like you only posted half of the Quranic verse. This is not the proper way to read the Quran or the Hadith and can lead to misinterpretations and misconceptions.

You posted verse 33:33 of the Quran, but only half of it. Let us look at the rest of it:

โ€œO 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).โ€ (Quran, 33:32-34)

When we post the entire verse, numerous things become clear among which is the fact that the verse, in fact, is addressed to the Prophetโ€™s wives (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ู…)!

Similar clarifications become apparent if we read the entire narration of Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡), namely what comes before and after it. If we do so we shall see that Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) categorically declares that the Prophetโ€™s wives are most definitely part of the Ahlel Bayt.

You have asked us to look at Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Chapter 4, Hadith-5923. We will now kindly ask you to read what comes right before it, namely Hadith-5920, 5921, and 5922. All of these are part of the same narration and event as Hadith-5923. Hadiths 5921, 5922, and 5923 are all abridged versions of Hadith 5920, which is the entire Hadith. For example, Hadith 5922 simply says:

“This hadith [5920] has been transmitted on the authority of Abu Hayyan but with this addition: ‘The Book of Allah contains right guidance, the light, and whoever adheres to it and holds it fast, he is upon right guidance and whosoever deviates from it goes astray.’”

This means that Hadith 5922 cannot stand alone without Hadith 5920, which is the entire Hadith, whereas Hadiths 5921, 5922, and 5923 are abridged versions with minor additions and the words of additional narrators.

In fact, it is stated in Hadith 5923 (the one often quoted by Shia) that it cannot stand alone without Hadith 5920. Notice the bolded part below:

Yazid b. Hayyan reported: We went to him (Zaid b. Arqam) and said to him: “You have found goodness (for you had the honour) to live in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and offered prayer behind him…”, and the rest of the Hadith is the same [as Hadith 5920] but with this variation of wording that he said…

(Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Chapter 4, Hadith 5923)

So we see that Hadith 5923 (as quoted by the Shia) cannot stand alone without the un-abridged version of Hadith 5920.

Let us now look at Hadith 5920 which is the un-abridged version:

“He (Husain) said to Zaid: ‘Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family?’ Thereupon he said: ‘His wives are the members of his family but here the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.’ And he said: ‘Who are they?’ Thereupon he said: ‘Ali and the offspring of Ali, Aqil and the offspring of Aqil and the offspring of Jafar and the offspring of Abbas.’ Husain said: ‘These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden?’ Zaid said: ‘Yes.’”

(Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Chapter 4, Hadith 5920)

In perhaps the clearest version of this Hadith, Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) says:

โ€œHis wives are among the people of his household, but the people of his household who are forbidden to receive sadaqah (charity) after his death are the family of โ€˜Ali, the family of โ€˜Aqeel, the family of Jaโ€™far and the family of โ€˜Abbaas. All of these are forbidden to receive sadaqah.โ€

So of course the Prophet’s wives are part of the Prophetic family, but Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) was simply talking about those members of the family who were forbidden Zakat. Here he was only talking about a specific sub-group within Ahlel Bayt. This is why he said “his wives are the members of his family but here the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.”

An example of this is if a dying woman tells her friend: “Please take care of my children after I am dead.” The friend replies: “You have five children–two of them are already married. Do you mean them too?” Then, the dying woman responds: “No, they will be taken care of by their husbands, so I am only (here) talking about the three children of mine who are not married.” This does not mean that the two married children are not still part of her family, but all it means is that she is right now specifically worried about those members of her family who will have no means of support. Likewise, in the Hadith narrated by Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡), a group of Muslim soldiers had criticized Ali (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) and the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) reprimanded these men and warned them to take care of his Ahlel Bayt (i.e. referring to Ali who was an honorary member of the Ahlel Bayt). To this, the people asked: But doesn’t Ahlel Bayt equal wives? And to this, Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) made the clarification that here the Ahlel Bayt was in regards to those parts of the Ahlel Bayt who could not recieve Zakat: the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) was about to die and he worried about those parts of his family who would not have the luxury of being supported by Zakat. This is similar to the analogy of the dying woman: there is more concern for those members of the family who have no other source of financial support.

This Hadith narrated by Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) is also narrated in Musnad Ahmad (Hadith no. 18464). Hence, there should be absolutely no confusion on this issue since we can find this same narration in more than one book. In Musnad Ahmad (Hadith no. 18464), Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) says:

โ€œHis wives are the members of his family but here the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden.โ€ (Ahmad, Hadith no. 18464)

Zaid (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) says โ€œHis wives are among the people of his household.โ€ He further emphasized: โ€œHis spouses are a fiber of his household.โ€

Furthermore, since when has Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) turned into the authorative source of the Islamic belief system? Since when has the word of Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) become superior to the speech of Allah, namely verse 33:32-34 in which Allah Almighty addresses the Prophet’s wives as Ahlel Bayt? Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) was not even narrating the word of the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) when he was conjecturing on who is and who is not part of the Ahlel Bayt; rather, he was speaking of his own accord.

Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) said in the same narration that along with Ali (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) and his family there are other families included in the Prophetic household, including the family of Aqil (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡), the offspring of Jafar (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡), and the offspring of Abbas (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡). It is our understanding that the Shia do not accept these individuals and their offspring as part of the Ahlel Bayt. So then how can this Hadith be used as proof for the Shia? With this logic, it may seem that the verse 33:33 was actually revealed to all of these families. Contrary to the expectations of many Shia, this Hadith actually helps elucidate the status of the wives of the Prophet (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ู…) as part of the Ahlel Bayt and helps discredit the idea that they are somehow distinct from the Ahlel Bayt.

The same Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) says in the preceeding part of Sahih Muslim:

โ€œI have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Allahโ€™s Messenger.โ€

How then can we take this Hadith, appear to change its meaning, and place it above the Word of Allah in the Quran in which He specifically addresses the Prophetโ€™s wives (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ู…) as Ahlel Bayt. Not a million Hadith or Tafseer or Fatawa could change this fact.

Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) was only talking about that portion of the Prophetic family which could not accept Zakat. The reason why the wives were exempted from this rule is also stated by Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) in the very same Hadith. He said that a wife can be divorced and โ€œshe goes back to her parents and to her people.โ€ At this point in time, she is no longer cared for by the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…). Let us remember that the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) was given special money in the form of the Khums, or the one-fifth tax of which a part was reserved for the family of the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…). It would thus not be necessary for the Prophetโ€™s family to need Zakat since they were always provided for by the state. (The Zakat is considered the filth of the Muslim masses [through the removal of which one’s wealth is purified] not befitting the Prophetic Family, whereas the Khums is considered an honor befitting the Prophetic Household.) However, if a wife divorces, then she is no longer given this Khums nor is she provided for by the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…), and therefore she may need the Zakat if she has no other support.

The Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) did divorce some of his wives. These wives ceased being part of Ahlel Bayt upon divorce, and thus the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) stopped providing for them financially. As such, the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) could not promise their financial well-being and they may even need Zakat to maintain themselves as single divorced women. Furthermore, after the Prophetโ€™s death, his widows were forbidden to re-marry (this injunction is in the Quran). Thus, it would be unfair to them to prohibit them from Zakat since they have no husband to care for them. Obviously, the option of Zakat in dire need could then not be taken away from them.

It should be noted that the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) never divorced Aisha (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ุง) or Hafsa (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ุง). This should be something for our Shia brothers to ponder upon since it is a testament to how much the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) loved these women and how loyal he was to them–the same women that the Shia Ayatollahs slander.

Let us read what Sunni Path has to say: says

Can you please explain this following hadith found in Muslim about ahlul bayt. Why does the narrator state that the our mothers are not part of ahlul bayt? Clearly this is the opinion of the narrator and not what the Prophet (s) but why did Imam Muslim add this hadith to his collection? However i wanted to know if you could please explain this hadith and why does the narrator state that our mothers are not part of Ahlul Bayt.

Sahih Muslim

Book 031, Number 5923:


Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullah

I pray this finds you in the best of health and Iman. May Allah grant you all good in this life and the next.

In order to answer your question, I will address the issue in two parts.

[1] Regarding why Imam Muslim mentioned this narration in his collection, it was to show the variant wordings and chains of the hadith. It was not uncommon for the scholars of hadith to mention these variations.

Amongst the reasons for this was to compare the different texts (mutun) of the same hadith in order to find possible discrepancies, hidden defects, and also due to the principle that separate chains count as separate ahadith regardless of whether the actual text of the narration is the same.

Since Imam Muslim was primarily interested in hadith and its chains (unlike his teacher Bukhari who was more interested in the fiqh aspect of hadith) one will see that Imam Muslim adduces, under a given chapter-title, all the hadith on that patricular issue/event - sometimes even stating preferences and strengths of individual chains.

[2] Secondly, regarding whether the wives of the Prophet (May Allah be pleased with them all) are part of the Ahly al Bayt then indeed they are. The primary evidence for this is the Qur’anic verse 33:33

However, the question arises: Why then did Sayyidina Zayd ibn Arqam (Allah be pleased with him) state that the wives were not included?

To understand this one must understand the context under which the term Ahly al Bayt was being employed. The context of this narration is in regards to those for whom zakat is forbidden. This relates to a very specific, textually-defined relationship.

Under this condition (i.e. those for whom zakat is forbidden) the wives will not be included since they are lawfully entitled to zakat according to the consensus of the scholars as Ibn Hajar states in his Fath al Bari. This is clearly evident from the narration of Sayyidina Zayd, which Imam Muslim cites prior to the one being discussed, wherein he states:

ู‚ุงู„ ู†ุณุงุคู‡ ู…ู† ุฃู‡ู„ ุจูŠุชู‡ ูˆู„ูƒู† ุฃู‡ู„ ุจูŠุชู‡ ู…ู† ุญุฑู… ุงู„ุตุฏู‚ุฉ

“He (Zayd) said, ‘His wives are from his house (ahl baytihi) but the members of his house [in this context] are those for whom charity is forbidden.”

Imam Nawawi, commenting on this narration states that in terms of standing, respect, rights and high regard preached by the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) towards his family, the wives do indeed enter . However, they do not enter into those for whom zakat is forbidden.

Further, as Sayyidi Gibril Haddad stated, one should know that it is one of the Prophetic characteristics that the wives that survived him are his wives forever as he himself said to Umm Salama when she asked to be under the mantle: “Are you not pleased to be my wife here and in the hereafter?” They cannot remarry nor inherit from him, so the analogy drawn by Sayyidina Zayd is inapplicable to them except for the ruling of zakat.

Thus, to conclude, the wives are part of the Ahly al Bayt. There are numerous narrations to attest to this such as the one narrated by Imam Bukhari from Anas ibn Malik wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered upon Sayyidah A’isha and greeted her “Peace be upon you People of my house” (assalamu ‘alaykum ahly bayti). Sayyidina Zayd (Allah be pleased with him) does not negate this but merely states that those for whom zakat is forbidden are a more specific group excluding the wives.

And Allah knows best
Salman Ahmad Younas

Approved by Faraz Rabbani


We shall take the opportunity to quote another Hadith in Sahih Bukhari in which the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) himself refers to Aisha (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ุง) as being Ahlel Bayt. Therefore, even if we accepted the Shia proposition that Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) denied that the Prophet’s wives were Ahlel Bayt, then his opinion would have to be rejected because nobody’s word can be taken above that of the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…). In Sahih Bukhari, we see a narration in which the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) himself addresses Aisha (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ุง) as part of Ahlel Bayt:

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 316

Narrated Anas:

A banquet of bread and meat was held on the occasion of the marriage of the Prophet to Zainab bint Jahsh. I was sent to invite the people (to the banquet), and so the people started coming (in groups). They would eat and then leave. Another batch would come, eat and leave. So I kept on inviting the people till I found nobody to invite.

Then I said, โ€œO Allahโ€™s Prophet! I do not find anybody to invite.โ€

He (the Prophet) said, โ€œCarry away the remaining food.โ€ Then a batch of three persons stayed in the house chatting. The Prophet left and went towards the dwelling place of Aisha and said, โ€œPeace and Allahโ€™s Mercy be on you, Ya Ahlel Bayt (O the people of the house)!โ€

She replied, โ€œPeace and the mercy of Allah be on you too. How did you find your wife? May Allah bless you.โ€

Then he went to the dwelling places of all his other wives and said to them the same as he said to Aisha and they said to him the same as Aisha had said to him.

Therefore, we hope it becomes apparent that the claim that Sunni Hadith exclude the Prophetโ€™s wives (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ู…) from Ahlel Bayt is incorrect.

In conclusion, the Shia who use this Hadith of Zaid ibn Arqam (ุฑุถู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡) to โ€œproveโ€ their claims are doing what we like to call โ€œHalf Hadith-ing.โ€ You will notice this same approach taken by the Shia with certain verses of the Quran as well. As a side-note, it should be asked: why are the Shia so adamant in denying the Prophetโ€™s wives the position of Ahlel Bayt? Do they really hate the beloved of the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) so much? These are the women that the Prophet (ุตู„ู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุขู„ู‡ ูˆุณู„ู‘ู…) was intimate with; not a single person alive today can claim this honor. So why this undying hatred for the women in the Prophetโ€™s life? Why the need to go to such great lengths to misinterpret seemingly straight-forward verses in the Quran?

Ibn al-Hashimi,

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