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In Islamic law, nasab (lineage) is traced through the father's lineage, and the father is considered the head of the family. This means that children are considered to be part of their father's family and lineage and inherit from their father's side of the family. The mother's lineage is also considered important, but it is not used to determine legal inheritance or determine one's lineage. Then how Sayedah Fatima’s children are included in Prophet Muhammad’s progeny (peace be upon all of them)?
Allah Almighty said:
This was the argument We gave Abraham against his people. We elevate in rank whoever We please. Surely your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. And We blessed him with Isaac and Jacob. We guided them all as We previously guided Noah and those among his descendants: David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. This is how We reward the good-doers. Likewise, ˹We guided˺ Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elias, who were all righteous. ˹We also guided˺ Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot, favouring each over other people ˹of their time˺. And ˹We favoured˺ some of their forefathers, their descendants, and their brothers. We chose them and guided them to the Straight Path. [Surah Al-An’am, 6:83-87]
Sayyidah Fatima's (peace be upon her), children are considered the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) based on the aforementioned verses. While Jesus the son of Marry (peace be upon them) is indeed listed among the progeny of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) in the verses, it is important to note that this is in reference to lineage and not biological descent. This is a common way of referring to one's lineage in Arabic culture and does not necessarily imply biological descent.
So in the case of Sayyidah Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), she and her children are considered part of his genealogy or lineage. Those who argue that Sayyidah Fatima's children are part of the Prophet's progeny often cite the Quranic verses that list Jesus (peace be upon him) as part of the progeny of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). They argue that since Jesus is not biologically related to Prophet Abraham, but is still considered part of his progeny due to his spiritual connection to him, the same can be applied to Sayyidah Fatima's children. They argue that as the Prophet's daughter, Sayyidah Fatima has a spiritual connection to him that transcends biological relationships, and therefore her children can be considered part of the Prophet's progeny.
Biologically, each human being inherits half of their genetic material from each biological parent. This means that Sayyidah Fatimah (peace be upon her) would have inherited half of her genetic material from her father, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the other half from her mother, Sayyidah Khadijah (peace be upon her). Therefore, each of her children would have inherited half of their genetic material from their mother, including the half inherited from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is possible that all of Prophet Muhammad's genetic information was passed down to Sayyidah Fatimah's children, but this cannot be confirmed without genetic testing, which was not available during that time.
As we mentioned earlier, biologically, an individual inherits half of their genetic material from each of their biological parents. Therefore, Sayyidah Fatimah's children would have inherited half of their genetic material from her, who in turn inherited half of her genetic material from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This means that her children would have genetic material that is closely related to that of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and therefore their cells would be closely related to his cells as well.
We can conclude that Prophet Muhammad’s true progeny are those blessed people who inherited his blessed genetic information. (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on all of them). They were very lucky to inherit the Prophet’s spiritual blessings and physical blessings as well.
The Banu Hashim (peace be upon all of them) are considered the closest relatives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and are recognized as part of his Ahl al-Bayt or household. The Banu Hashim are descended from Hashim bin Abd Manaf, who was the great-grandfather of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The following authentic Hadith highlights the significance of the Banu Hashim, not only as close relatives of the Prophet but also as members of his household who are revered by Muslims and are included in the recitation of the salawat (blessings) in every prayer. Additionally, the Hadith notes the honor and distinction of the Banu Hashim, as Allah chose to send His final messenger from among them.
Wathilah ibn. al-Asqa' (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinana from amongst the descendants of Isma'il, and he granted eminence to the Quraish amongst Kinana, and he granted eminence to Banu Hashim amongst the Quraish, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim.
Definitely, Banu Hashim was the clan that shared the closest genetic information with the last Messenger (peace be upon him). This close relationship with Prophet (peace be upon him) granted them eminence among the Muslim community. Some critics criticize their eminence and label it with racism. This is because they fail to comprehend the importance of the blessed genetic information that Banu Hashim shared and its spiritual implications. The blessed genetic information has been dubbed as noor (light) in Islamic traditions.
mentioning eighteen prophets with their names, Allah Almighty said:
“And ˹We favoured˺ some of their forefathers, their descendants, and their brothers. We chose them and guided them to the Straight Path.”
[Surah al-An’am, 6:87]
This Quranic narrative proves that close relatives of these prophets including their forefathers, descendants, and brethren are not only favoured by the Almighty Allah but chosen for guidance. The same is true for Prophet Muhammad’s closest relatives Banu Hashim (peace be upon all of them). Exceptions might be there, but as a general principle, Prophet’s closest relatives are highly esteemed and revered by the true believers. It is not a racist approach, but they deserve it.
Though Banu Hashim is revered as a part of Ahl al-Bayt, it is a matter of fact that Prophet’s true progeny descended from Sayyidah Fatima (peace be upon her). This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared her descendants to be Ahl al-Bayt specifically.
Narrated 'Umar bin Abi Salamah (may Allah be pleased with them)- the step-son of the Prophet (ﷺ):
"When these Ayat were revealed to the Prophet (ﷺ): 'Allah only wishes to remove the Rijs from you, O members of the Prophet’s family, and to purify you with a thorough purification...' (33:33) in the home of Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her), he called for Fatimah, Hasan, Husain, and wrapped them in a cloak, and 'Ali was behind him, so he wrapped him in the cloak, then he said: 'O Allah! These are my Ahl al-Bayt, so remove the Rijs from them, and purify them with a thorough purification.' So Umm Salamah said: 'And am I with them O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'You are in your place, and you are more virtuous to me.'" [Jami al-Tirmidhi: H#37387]
It is noteworthy that Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace upon him) is not only listed among Ahl al-Bayt but he is regarded as the leader of Ahl al-Bayt after the Prophet (peace be upon him). Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace upon him) was the son of Abu Talib who shared the closest genetic information with the Prophet’s father Abdullah because they belonged to the same mother Barrah bint Abd al-Uzza.
It is of no wonder if Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace upon him) shared the closest genetic makeup with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as compared to Abu Talib’s other sons and their cousins as well. This might be one of the reasons to include Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace upon him) in Ahl al-Bayt. It is also the reason behind excluding the rest of the Prophet’s sons-in-law Usman ibn Affan and Abu al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with them) from Ahl al-Bayt.
Why Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace upon him) is believed to be the Leader of Ahl al-Bayt? This doctrine is derived from a number of authentic Hadiths. A few examples are here:
Sayyidna Abu al-Tofail Amir bin Wathlah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Sayyidna Ali bin Abu Talib (peace be upon him) gathered the people in a bunch of trees. And he said to them, "I entrust you to Allah, tell me what the Messenger of Allah, may God bless him and grant him peace, said in the sermon near Ghadir-e-Khum." Then the people stood up and said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said! Do I not have more authority over the believers than their lives? Then the Prophet ﷺ took hold of the hand of Sayyiduna Ali (peace be upon him) and said: Whose master I am, Ali is also his master. O God, befriend him who befriends him and be hostile to him who is hostile to him.
[Musnad Ahmad, As-Sunan al-Kubra by Imam an-Nasayie:H#8623]
It is narrated on the authority of Sayyidna Zayd bin Arqam, may Allah be pleased with him, that Sayyidna Ali may Allah be pleased with him asked for testimony from the people and said: I entrust this man to Allah, who heard the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, say this: “O’ Allah! To whom I am the master, Ali is also his master, O Allah! Whoever loves Ali, keep loving him, and whoever hates Ali, keep hating him.” Hearing this Sixteen men stood up and gave this testimony (that indeed they heard this hadith from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The Ghadir Khum Declaration is a historical event that is significant to both Shia and Sunni Muslims. It took place in the year 632 CE, during the farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet Muhammad to Makkah. At a place called Ghadir Khum, the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is said to have publicly declared that Imam Ali, his cousin, and son-in-law was his spiritual successor and he was to be the Spiritual Leader of the Muslim community after the Prophet's death.
Imam Zahabi, the well-known Hadith scholar and critic, collected more than 120 narrations from 12 Companions including Imam Ali (peace be upon him) regarding Ghadir Khum Declaration and testified more than 10 narrations to be authentic, while others support these 10 narrations. Imam Zahabi said in his famous compendium Siyar A'lam an-Nubala (vol.8, p.335) that Hadith
is mass transmitted (Mutawatir).
It is true that mothers of the believers and Prophet’s wives are also listed among Ahl al-Bayt metaphorically, however, the true progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon all of them) are descendants of Sayyidah Fatina (peace be upon her). Allah knows the best.