Originally Posted by startingarabic
Asalaam O Alaikum. Just sharing what I read about the above set of Verses of Surah Al Ahzaab.
A very balanced view has been shared by Maulana Maududi the author of a famous tafsir called Tafheem Ul Quran. He says:
The context in which this verse occurs makes it manifest that the word ahl al-bait (people of the house) here implies the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), because the address begins with: “O wives of the Prophet,” and they are the addressees in the whole discourse preceding it as well as following it (Verses 28 - 33). Moreover, the word ahl al-bait in Arabic is used precisely in the sense in which the word “household” is used in English, which includes both a man’s wife and children. No one would exclude the wife from the “household.” The Quran itself has used this word at two other places besides this, and at both the wife is included in its sense, rather as the most important member of the family. In Surah Hud, when the angels give the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) the good news of the birth of a son, his wife exclaims: “Shall I bear a child now when I have grown too old, and this husband of mine has also become old?” The angels say: “What! Are you surprised at Allah's decree, O people of Abraham’s household? Allah’s mercy and blessings are upon you.”
But if somebody says that the word ahl al-bait has been used only for the wives and none else can be included in it, it will also be wrong. Not only this that the word “household” includes all the members of a man’s family, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) has himself explained that this includes even himself. According to Ibn Abi Hatim, once when Aishah was asked about Ali, she said, “Do you ask me about the person who was among the most loved ones of the Prophet and whose wife was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) daughter and most beloved to him?” Then she related the event when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had called Ali and Fatimah and Hasan and Husain (may Allah be pleased with them all) and covered them all with a sheet of cloth and prayed: “O Allah, these are my household, remove uncleanness from them and make them pure.” Aishah says, “I said: I also am included among your household (i.e. I may also be covered under the sheet and prayed for).” Thereupon the Prophet replied: “You stay out: you, of course, are already included.” A great many Ahadith bearing on this subject have been related by traditionalists like Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Hakim, Baihaqi, etc. on the authority of Abu Said Khudri, Aishah, Anas, Umm Salamah, Wathilah bin Aqsa and some other companions, which show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared Ali and Fatimah and their two sons as his ahl al-bait. Therefore, the view of those who exclude them from the ahl al-bait is not correct.
Similarly the view of those people also is not correct, who, on the basis of the above cited Ahadith, regard the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as excluded from his ahl al-bait. In the first place, anything which has been clearly stated in the Quran cannot be contradicted on the basis of a Hadith. Secondly, these Ahadith also do not have the meaning that is put on them. As related in some traditions that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not cover Aishah and Umm Salamah under the sheet of cloth which he put on the four members of his family, does not mean that he had excluded those ladies from his “household.” But it means that the wives were already included in ahl al-bait, because the Quran, in fact, had addressed them as ahl albait. The Prophet (peace be upon him), however, thought that the apparent words of the Quran might cause somebody the misunderstanding about these members that they were excluded from the ahl al-bait. Therefore, he felt the need for clarification in their case and not in the case of his wives.