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Last Updated: 2012/04/21
Summary of question
Is the chain of narrators of hadith Kisa authentic and how important is this hadith? Please explain the events that are mentioned in this hadith and the events that were followed by the revelation of the verse of Tat’hir.
question
Is hadith Kisa an authentic hadith? Please explain the events mentioned in this hadith and in the verse of Tat’hir. Is it true that it was not mentioned in book of Mafatih al-Jinan and was added later?
Concise answer

Despite the fact that there is some dispute in regard to the details of the events mentioned in hadith Kisa and the verse of Tat’hir and a slight difference in the wording of the ahadith, but both Shi’as and Sunnis have accepted that they took place. However, the hadith that has been narrated from Lady Fatimah in some books is not reliable and does not have an authentic chain of narrators.

Hadith Kisa which is mentioned in hadith collections is important for two reasons. First: proving Imamate and authority for the Ahlul-Bayt Second: proving their infallibility.

The revelation of the verse of Tat’hir and the story of Kisa took place in the month of Dhi al-Hijjah. However, it is not clear what day it took place on. All we know is that it took place before the day of Mubahalah.

Detailed Answer

A: A Brief Look at the Narrators

Hadith Kisa is one of the famous ahadith amongst the Shia’ and Sunnis. This hadith is mentioned in both Shi’a[1] and Sunni[2] hadith collections to the extent that it is considered mutawatir (narrated so many times by so many different narrators that one becomes sure it was issued by an infallible). Also, there are many historical proofs that prove such a story is true as well. However, the many ahadith that are narrated in this regard are not identical, as there are differences in their wording. In some ahadith, the story is mentioned, but without any details. In others, the details are also explained.

It was from then on that the terms “The people of the Kisa (cloak)”[3] and “aale aba (the progeny of the cloak)”[4] were widely used for the Ahlul-Bayt.

What is common in all of these ahadith is that the Prophet met with Imam Ali, Lady Fatimah, Imam Hasan and Husein, brought a cloak, covered all of them with it and said: “O Allah! These are my household.[5] Remove impurity from them.” It was then that the verse: “إِنَّما يُريدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ يُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهيراً[6] was revealed.

This event has been mentioned in more than seventy ahadith.[7]

When we observe the narrators of these ahadith, we find that more than 30 individuals from the Prophet’s household and his companions have narrated them with different chains of narrators. The following are some of the most prominent narrators of these ahadith: 1- Imam Ali 2- Imam Hasan 3- Imam Sajjad 4- Imam Sadiq 5- Imam Reza 6- Jabir ibn Abdullah 7- Abdullah ibn Abbas 8- Abdullah ibn Jafar al-Tayyar 9- Buraida al-Aslami 10- Abdullah ibn Umar 11- Imran ibn Husayn 12- Salamah ibn al-Akwa.13- Abu Sa’id al-Khidri 14- Anas ibn Malik 15- Abudhar 16- Abu Layla 17- Abu al-Aswad Du’ali 18- Amr ibn Meimun Owdi 19- Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas 20- Umm Salamah 21- Aisha 22- Umar ibn Abi Salamah 23- Abu al-Hamraa’ 24- Zaynab bint abi Salamah 25- Aamir ibn Sa’d 26- Al Barra ibn Aazeb 27- Wathilah ibn al-Asqa’ 28- Thawban (the Prophet’s servant) 29- Ataa ibn Sayyar 30- Abu Hurayrah, etc.[8]

B: Importance of Hadith Kisa

Taking what was said into consideration, one can conclude that there is no doubt amongst Sunnis and the Shi’a in regard to the incidents mentioned in hadith Kisa and the verse of Tat’hir, except for the details of the time, place and the difference of wording in the ahadith.

Now, we will explain the importance of hadith Kisa, the verse of Tat’hir and the incidents that are mentioned in them. The two following points will shed light on their importance.

1- Proving Imamate and Authority: Hadith Kisa mentions the issue of imamate and authority of the Ahlul-Bayt and stipulates that this position is exclusively for them.

The Prophet spoke of Imam Ali being his successor on many occasions, and hadith Kisa is one of them. In this hadith, the Prophet speaks of Imam Ali as his brother, vicegerent, successor and the one who will hold his flag after him.[9] In order to prevent others from violating the rights of his household after his demise, he gathered them under the Kisa (cloak) and said: “O Allah! These are my household and close ones. Their flesh is my flesh and their blood is my blood. Whoever bothers them has bothered me, and whoever upsets them has upset me. I declare war against whoever is in war with them and I am in peace with whoever is in peace with them. I am the enemy of whoever holds enmity towards them and I am friends with whoever holds friendship with them. They are from me and I am from them. May your blessings, mercy, forgiveness and satisfaction be for them and me, and may you keep all impurities away from them and purify them”.[10]

The question that comes to mind is did the Prophet do this for a purpose or for no reason? It is not possible for a wise individual like the Prophet to do such an act for no purpose.[11] Therefore, it was purposeful, and knowing the context of the verse “إِنَّما يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ...” and what comes before and after it, it can be understood that it was to introduce the Ahlul-Bayt and show their significance. The Prophet intended to clearly stipulate that the verse “إِنَّما يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ..” is only referring to these individuals, so that no one would interpret the word Ahlul-Bayt as all of his family members and relatives.In this regard, Shaykh Abbas Qummi says: “Maybe the reason why the Prophet gathered the Ahlul-Bayt under the Kisa was to prevent anyone from the assuming that the verse of Tat’hir covered all of his family members and relatives.”[12]

Therefore, if the Prophet had not done this, all of his family members and relatives may have had taken advantage of the verse and claimed that it also referred to them. This is why it is mentioned in some of these ahadith that the Prophet emphasized on the phrase “O Allah! These are my Ahlul-Bayt (household), protect them from all impurities.”,[13] and repeated it three times.[14]

In some sources, it is mentioned that for a period of time, the Prophet would knock on the door of Lady Fatimah and Imam Ali’s house and say: “السَّلَامُ‏ عَلَيْكُمْ‏ أَهْلَ‏ الْبَيْتِ‏ وَ رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ‏ وَ بَرَكَاتُهُ‏، الصَّلَاةَ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللَّهُ‏،إِنَّما يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ يُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرا[15]

2- Proving Infallibility: Another important issue that has been addressed in this hadith is the infallibility of the Ahlul-Bayt. Knowing that this hadith is the Sha’n Nuzul (reason for and occasion of revelation) of the verse of Tat’hir, the same way the verse proves the infallibility of the Ahlul-Bayt, this hadith does too.

On the other hand, because God’s will cannot be opposed, and the phrase “إِنَّما يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ” is referring to his takwini (generative) will, and because the article “انما” is used for exclusivity, it is clear that God’s undoubtful takwini will is that the Ahlul-Bayt be purified from all impurities and sins. Therefore, the Ahlul-Bayt are infallible.

It is noteworthy that God’s will in this verse does not refer to his tashri’i (legislative) will, because in that case, it would cover every human being and not just the Ahlul-Bayt. This is because he wills and wants all humans to stay away from impurities, not only the Ahlul-Bayt.

Therefore, this continuous will, (which is understood from the verb “يُرِيدُ”) is a type of divine grace and mercy for the Ahlul-Bayt that enables them to be infallible, but does not contradict their free will at the same time.

The meaning of the verse is exactly what is mentioned in ziyarat Jami’ah Kabirah: “God has prevented you from making mistakes and has made you immune towards all tests. He has purified you from impurities, removed all uncleanliness from you and thoroughly purified you.”[16]

Therefore, there is no room for doubt that the verse of Tat’hir proves the infallibility of the Ahlul-Bayt.[17]

Given what was said above, it is clear how important hadith Kisa is in regard to the imamate, authority and infallibility of the Ahlul-Bayt.

Hadith Kisa Narrated from Lady Fatimah

There is a similar hadith narrated in some hadith books from Lady Fatimah that is not reliable and does not have an authentic chain of narrators, because:

1- Presumably, the first person that has narrated this hadith without a chain of narrators is Shaykh Tarihih (11 century A.H) in his book “Al-Muntakhab”. Shaykh Abbas Qummi says in this regard: “The hadith Kisa that is widely read and spoken of amongst people is different from what is mentioned in hadith collections. Apparently, this hadith is only narrated in Al-Muntakhab.”[18] This is why he has not mentioned hadith Kisa in Mafatih al-Jinan. However, this hadith has been added to this book after Shaykh Qummi passed away; this does not mean this hadith is authentic. Nonetheless, as we mentioned earlier, there is no doubt in regard to the event of Kisa itself amongst Sunnis and the Shi’a, even if the version added to the Mafatih isn't authentic.

2- Despite the fact that hadith Kisa is mentioned in Al-Muntakhab without a chain of narrators, this hadith is mentioned with a chain of narrators the version mentioned in the margin of “Awalem al-Ulum”.[19] However, there a number of issues in this regard:

A: If Shaykh Abdullah ibn Nurullah Bahrani has mentioned the narrators in the margin of the book, how was he able to tell that it was the handwriting of Sayyid Hashem Bahrani?

B: Some of the narrators, like Qasem ibn Yahya, are not reliable.[20]

C: Despite the fact that Sayyid Hashem Bahrani was after collecting all ahadith, and not only the authentic ones, in none of his two books of “Tafsir Al-Burhan” and “Ghayat al-Maram”, has he mentioned this hadith.

D: Many great scholars, like Shaykh Kulayni, Shaykh Tusi, Shaykh Mufid, etc., who are mentioned in the chain of narrators have not narrated this hadith in their own books!

Therefore, the hadith narrated from Lady Fatimah is not reliable, especially that the wording of the hadith is very different from that of the other ahadith narrated in regard to the event of the Kisa. Despite some issues about the chain of narrators and the text of this hadith, some of the meanings mentioned in it are in accord with the other ahadith and Quranic verses.

Revelation of the Verse of Tat’hir:

The revelation of the verse of Tat’hir and the event of Kisa took place in the month of Dhi al-Hijjah. However, we do not know exactly what day it happened on. It is clear that it happened before the day of Mubahalah, but there are different opinions in regard to the day of Mubahalah itself.[21] The most common opinion is the 25th of Dhi al-Hijjah.

 


[1] Such as: Allamah Hilli, Hasan ibn Yusuf, Nahj al-Haqq wa Kash al-Sidq, pp 228 and 229, Daar al-Kutub al-Lubnani, Beirut, first edition, 1982; Bahrani Isfahani, Abdullah ibn Nurullah, Awalim al-Ulum wa al-Ma’arif wa al-Ahwal min al-Ayat wa al-Akhbar wa al-Aqwal (Mustadrak Sayyidat al-Nisa’ ila al-Imam al-Jawad), researched and corrected by: Muvahhid Abtahi Isfahani, Muhammad Baqir, vol. 11, section 2, Fatimah (s), pp. 930-934, Imam Mahdi Institute (aj), Qum, first edition, 1413 AH; Mudaffar Najafi, Muhammad Hasan, Dala’il al-Sidq li Nahj al-Haqq, vol. 6, p. 251, Aal al-Bayt Institute, Qum, first edition, 1422 AH; Ibn Tawus, Ali ibn Musa, Al-Tara’if fi Ma’rifat Madhahib al-Tawa’if, researched and corrected by: Ashur, Ali, vol. 1, p. 113, Khayyam Press, first edition, 1400 AH; Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 25, pp. 237-240, Daar Ihya’ al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, second edition, 1403 AH.

[2] Such as: Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, chapter of bidayat Musnad Abdullah ibn Abbas and chapter of Wathilah ibn al-Asqa’; Sunan al-Tirmidhi, chapter of min surat al-Ahzab; Alusi, Sayyid Mahmud, Ruh al-Ma’ani fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Adhim, researched by: Abdul-Bari Atiyyah, Ali, vol. 11, p. 195, Daar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, first edition, 1415 AH; Haskani, Hakim, Shawahid al-Tanzil li Qawa’id al-Tafdil, vol. 2, p. 17, The Institute for Printing and Publication Press, Tehran, 1411 AH.

[3] Himyari, Abdullah ibn Ja’far, Qurb al-Isnad, p. 129, Aal al-Bayt Institute, Qum, first print, 1413 AH; Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Yaqub, Kāfī, researched and corrections by: Ghaffari, Ali Akbar; Akhundi, Muhammad, vol. 8, p. 93, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, fourth edition, 1407 AH.

[4] Shushtari, Nurullah ibn Sharif al-Din, Al-Sawarim al-Muhriqah fi Naqd al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, the section of al-Sawariq al-Muhriqah, p. 146, Al-Nahdah Press, Tehran, first edition, 1367 AH; Dala’il al-Sidq li Nahj al-Haqq, vol. 5, p. 372.

[6] Ahzab:33 (Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification).

[7] Tabatabai, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 16, p. 311, Islamic Publications Office, Qum, fifth edition, 1417 AH.

[8] Ibid; Amini, Ibrahim, Barresiye Masa’ile Kolliye Emamat, pp 192-193, Bustane Ketab, Qum, fourth edition, 1386 (solar).

[9]وَعَلَيْكَ السَّلامُ يا اَخى و يا وَصِيّى وَ خَليفَتى، وَ صاحِبَ لِوائى”; Awalim al-Ulum wa al-Ma’arif wa al-Ahwal min al-Ayat wa al-Akhbar wa al-Aqwal, vol. 11, second section, Fatimah (s), p. 932.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Najm:3 and 4 “Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire. It is just a revelation that is revealed [to him]”.

[12] Muntaha al-Aamaal, vol. 2, p. 1018.

[13]اللَّهُمَ‏ هَؤُلَاءِ أَهْلُ‏ بَيْتِی‏ وَ خَاصَّتِی‏ فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَ طَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيراً”.

[14] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 35, p. 224.

[15] Shaykh Tusi, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, Al-Amali, p. 251, Daar al-Thaqaafah, Qum, first edition, 1414 AH; Ruh al-Ma’ani fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Adhim, vol. 8, p. 592

[16]عَصَمَكُمُ‏ اللَّهُ‏ مِنَ‏ الزَّلَلِ وَ آمَنَكُمْ مِنَ الْفِتَنِ وَ طَهَّرَكُمْ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ وَ أَذْهَبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ طَهَّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيراً”; Shaykh Saduq, Muhammad ibn Ali, Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, researched and corrections by: Ghaffari, Ali Akbar, vol. 2, p. 611, Islamic Publications Office, Qum, second edition, 1413 AH

[17] Makarim Shirazi, Nasir, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 17, pp 297 and 298, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, first edition, 1374 (solar).

[18] Shaykh Abbas Qummi, Muntaha al-Aamaal, vol. 2, p. 1018, Dalile Ma Press, Qum, first edition, 1379 (solar).

[19] Awalim al-Ulum wa al-Ma’arif wa al-Ahwal min al-Ayat wa al-Akhbar wa al-Aqwal, vol. 11, section 2, Fatimah (s), pp 930 and 931 “رأيت بخطّ الشيخ الجليل السيد هاشم، عن شيخه السيّد ماجد البحرانى، عن...، عن علىّ بن ابراهيم، [عن ابيه ابراهيم] بن هاشم، عن أحمد بن محمّد بن أبى نصر البزنطى، عن قاسم بن يحيى الجلاء الكوفى، عن...، عن جابر بن عبداللَّه الأنصارى، عن فاطمة الزهرا (ع)، بنت رسول اللَّه (ص)، قال: سمعت فاطمة، انها قالت: دخل علىّ أبى رسول اللَّه (ص) فی بعض الایّام، فقال: السلام عليك يا فاطمة...”.

[20] Some consider Qasim ibn Yahya  to be weak and haven't authenticated him, although this same person is found in the chains of some of the hadiths of the book Kaamil al-Ziyaaraat, nonetheless him being in this book is a ‘general authentication’ that cannot remove doubt about him. See: Ha’iri Yazdi, Murtada ibn Abd al-Karim, Khilal al-Salat wa Ahkamuhu, p. 215, Association of Seminary Teachers, Qum, 1420 AH; Shahid Sadr, Sayyid Muhammad Baqir, Buhuth fi Sharh al-Urwat al-Wuthqa, researched and corrected by: Hashimi, Sayyid Mahmoud, vol. 4, p. 349, The International Shahid Muhammad Baqir Sadr Congress, Qum, second edition, 1408 AH; Imam Khumayni, Sayyid Ruhullah, Al-Makasib al-Muharramah, vol. 1, p. 267, The Institute for the Publication of Imam Khumayni’s Works, Qum, first edition, 1415 AH; Fazel Lankarani, Muhammad, Tafsil al-Shariah fi Sharh Tahrir al-Wasilah, al-qada’ wa al-shahaadaat, researched and corrected by: Wathiqi, Husayn, and Miqdadi, Muhammad Mahdi, p. 529, Fiqhi Center of A’immah At’haar, Qum, first edition, 1420 AH; Hilli, Husayn ibn Ali ibn Dawud, Rijal Ibn Dawud, p. 494, Tehran University Press, 1383 (solar); Allamah Hilli, Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn Mutahhar, Khulasat al-Aqwal fi Ma’rifat Ahwal al-Rijal, p. 248, al-Matba’ah al-Haydariyyah Press, Najaf, second edition, 1381 AH.

[21] Like how Shaykh Mufid knows the day of Mubahalah to be the 24th of Dhu al-Hijjah, (Shaykh Mufid, Masaar al-Shia, p. 41, Shaykh Mufid Congress Press, Qum, first edition, 1413 Ah); Shaykh Tusi also knows this day to be the 24th of Dhu al-Hijjah and has narrated a supplication in this regard, (Shaykh Tusi, Muhammad ibn Hasan, Misbah al-Mutahajjid, vol. 2, p. 759, Shia Fiqh Institute, Beirut, first edition, 1411 AH); also, for an analytical study on this issue, see: Sobhani, Ja’far, Furughe Abadiyyat, pp. 911-919, Bustane Ketab, Qum, 21st edition, 1385 (solar).

 

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