Shia Muslims believe that the twin legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are the Quran and the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S). The Ahlal-Bayt are the source for the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Only by obtaining instruction from both these sources can a Muslim hope to attain true guidance.
“I am about to answer the call (of death). Verily, I leave behind two precious things (Thaqalayn) among you: the Book of Allah (SWT) and my Ahlal-Bayt. Verily, these two will never separate until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.”
This authentic hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is narrated by over 30 of his Companions and recorded by a large number of Sunni scholars. By twinning the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) with the Holy Quran, the Prophet (PBUH) was telling us to not only show respect towards them, but also to take explanations of Islamic doctrine, practices, Hadith and Tafsir from them.
Some facts are understood from the Ghadir tradition:
First, The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) introduced the Holy Quran and the Itrat (his Household) as two precious entities in presence of a great number of Muslims, saying, “I trust these two things among you to see what you will do with them.” And according to some narrations he said, “If you seek help from them, you will never go astray.”
Second, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also said, “The Holy Quran and the Itrat will be together until the Day of Judgment.” No one can say that there is no need to the Itrat when the Quran exists or vice versa.
Third, As the Holy Quran is the greatest and richest source of religious sciences, teachings, verdicts, and rules, the Muslims are obliged to benefit from it for solving their religious issues. The Prophet’s (PBUH) Itrat is also a source of religious sciences and teachings and the Muslim should use it for acquiring religious knowledge, following the infallible Imams’ (A.S) behavior and speech.
Resorting to the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Itrat, which is stressed in Ghadir (or Thaqalayn) tradition and other traditions, is realized this way, not by superficial respect or rituals.
What is the meaning of Itrat in the words of Messenger of Allah (SWT)?
Itrat means the progeny and includes the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Household or the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S), about whom the Tathir verse is revealed, as some texts of Thaqalayn tradition has quoted the phrase, “my Itrat, my Ahlal-Bayt”.
It is narrated from Imam Hussain (A.S), “Amiral-Mu’minin (A.S) was asked, ‘What is the meaning of Itrat in the words of Messenger of Allah (SWT)?’ Imam Ali (A.S) replied, ‘The Itrat are I, Hassan, Hussain, and the nine Imams from Hussain’s progeny, the ninth of which is Mahdi, Qa’im of the Ahlal-Bayt. They will not separate from Allah’s (SWT) Book and the Book will not separate from them until they are presented to the Messenger of Allah (SWT) in the Hawz (Kawthar, Fountain in the Paradise) on the Last Day.’ “
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had not merely meant expressing superficial verbal
The honorable Prophet of Islam (PBUH) always attempted to attract Muslims’ attention to his Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) by using the terms ‘kindness’, ‘love’, ‘friendship’, etc. during his mission. An instance of such speech is:
Ibn Abbas said: “When the verse, Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.” was revealed, some of the Prophet’s (PBUH) companions asked him: ‘O’ Messenger of Allah (SWT)! Who are the people that Allah (SWT) has ordered loving them?’ The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) replied: ‘Ali and Fatimah and their progeny.’”
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had not merely meant expressing superficial verbal –or even hearty– affection. This is not the remuneration of his hardships in the prophetic mission; rather, he had meant encouraging the Muslims to follow the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S) and learn religiousness from them.
Whatever tragedies and disasters befell the Muslim world during the last fourteen centuries have been mainly due to its estrangement from the Thaqalayn, the twofold legacy of the Prophet (PBUH) in the form of the Quran and the Ahlal-Bayt (A.S).
–Imamate and The Imams, Ibrahim Amini
-A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Dar Rah-e Haqq
-Prophethood and the Prophet of Islam (PBUH), Ibrahim Amini
-Fifty Lessons on Principles of Belief for Youths, Naser Makarem Shirazi
–A Shia Encyclopedia, Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project