Prophet's Tribe, Ahlal Bayt (Family) & Righteous Successors
Hazrat Khadija (r.a) did have children before marriage to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The famous 20th century Islamic Scholar Maulana Maududi in his Commentary “Tafheem Ul Quran” quotes early Islamic Biographers on the life of Prophet Muhammad such as Tabari, Ibn Saad, Abu Jafar Muhammad bin Habib (author of Kitab al-Muhabbar) and Ibn Abd al-Barr, who mention that she had 2 husbands and gave birth to 2 children from each:
“(The Biographers) state on the strength of authentic sources that before her marriage with the Prophet (peace be upon him), Khadijah had two husbands, Abu Halah Tamimi by whom she had a son named Hind bin Abu Halah, and Atiq bin Aidh Makhzumi, by whom she had a daughter named Hind. Then she was married to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and all the genealogists agree that from his loins she had the four daughters as stated above.” (see Tabari, vol. ii, p. 411: tabaqat Ibn Saad, vol. viii, pp. 14-16; Kitab al- Muhabbar, pp. 78, 79, 452; .9l-Isti'ab, vol. ii, p. 718) 
There are also assertions made by some Muslims that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had only one daughter, Fatimah (r.a) through Khadijah (r.a), and the other daughters were not from his own blood but by the former husbands. Based on Quran and historical facts & sources of early Prophet’s biographers, these assertions are incorrect. The Quran specifically states that Prophet has daughters i.e. more than one: (Al Quran 33:59) “O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings around them. It is likelier that they will be recognised and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” - This verse clearly states that Prophet has daughters and “your daughters” is not a reference to the females of the Ummah (Prophet’s nation) because the words “the believing women” is a reference to all Muslim females. Hence all four daughters namely: Umm Kulthum (r.a), Ruaqayya (r.a), Zaynab (r.a), Fatimah (r.a), Qasim (r.a) & Tahir (r.a), all six were born to Khadija (r.a) through Prophet ﷺ.
Maulana states that the Prophet’s earliest biographer, Muhammad bin Ishaq, after mentioning his marriage with Khadijah, says; “She was the mother of all the Prophet’s children except Ibrahim (who was from Maria Qibtiyyah). Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) children with Khadijah were Qasim, Tahir (Abdullah) or Tayyib, Zainab, Ruqayyah, Fatimah and Umm Kulthum.” (Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 202). The famous genealogist, Hashim bin Muhammad bin as- Saib al-Kalbi states: “The first born child to the, Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah before his call to Prophethood was Qasim, then Zainab was born to him, then Ruqayyah, then Umm Kulthum." (Tabaqat Ibn Saad, vol. 1, p. 133). Ibn Hazam writes in Jawami asSirah that from Khadijah the Prophet (peace be upon him) had four daughters, the eldest being Zainab, then Ruqayyah, then Fatimah and then Umm Kulthum (pp. 38-39)
Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59-68 - Towards Understanding the Quran - Quran Translation Commentary - Tafheem ul Quran - Maulana Maududi
Who are the Banu Hashim (Prophet's family), how they descended from Quraysh and took control of Makkah?
After Ibrahim (alaihi salaam) left his new born son Ismail (alaihi salaam) in Makkah, he grew up and married among the tribe of Banu Jurhum, who had settled in Makkah with the permission of Ismail’s mother Hagar (alaihi salaam). Banu Jurhum are the descendants of Qahtani, the ancient Arabs, also called pure Arabs that resided in the land of Yemen. These descendants of Qahtan had moved out of Yemen and wandered the desert region till they settled in Makkah with Ismail and Hagar (alaihim us salaam).
According to the prophet’s biography Al Raheeq Al Maqtum (The Sealed Nectar), Prophet Ismail (alaihi salaam) ruled the sanctuary of Makkah till his death at the age of 137 and then his two sons Nabet and Qaydar succeeded him. After their rule, the control of Makkah was handed over to their maternal grandfather Mudad bin Amr Al-Jurhumi, one of the Banu Jurhum. From that time till second century CE, the Banu Jurhum roughly ruled Makkah for twenty centuries with the exception of the time when Adnanis (descendants of Ismail from Adnan or Ismaili Arabs) took control of Makkah for a while. This Adnani period coincided with the rule of Bakhtnasar (Nebuchadnezzar II) the Babylonian King who ruled around six hundred BCE.
Around second century CE, Banu Khuzaa, another regional Arab tribe invaded Makkah with the assistance of descendants of Adnani Arabs and wrested the control of Makkah from Banu Jurhum. The people of Khuzaa then ruled Makkah and controlled all affairs of Makkah including pilgrim management for three hundred years. After Khuzaa’s control many descendants of Adnan or Adnani Arabs settled around Makkah including the Quraysh. A descendant of Qurasyh named Qusai ibn Kilab married the daughter of Halil bin Habsha, a chief of Makkah from Banu Khuzaa. Qusai after his marriage gathered the tribe of Quraysh with other Arab tribes and after a bloody battle with Khuzaa took control of Makkah. After the battles were over, reconciliation took place between Khuzaa and Quraysh in which it was decided that Makkah be handed over to Qusai ibn Kilab.
After Qusai took charge of Makkah in 440 CE, the Qurasyh resumed the responsibilities of pilgrim duties and guardianship of Makkah. Qusai chose his son Abd Manaf to succeed him after his death and become chief of Makkah. After the death of Abd Manaf, his sons had dispute with sons of Abd ad-dar, the elder son of Qusai. Quraysh played the role of arbitrator and resolved this dispute by handing over the matters of pilgrim management to children of Abd Manaf specifically to his son named Hashim, while other responsibilities such as matters of governance of the city were handed to sons of Abd ad-Dar.
The son of Hashim named Abdul Mutallib (grandfather of Prophet Muhammad) succeeded him in undertaking responsibilities of serving pilgrims and was so well in his manner of administering their affairs that through people’s consensus he was eventually given entire control of Makkah and became a chief. Abdul Mutallib had many sons and one of them was Abdullah, the father of our beloved Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The children of Abdul Mutallib and sons of Hashim and their families were called the clan of Hashim or Banu Hashim. Over here it would also be important to mention that divine assistance from Allah ﷻ assisted Abdul Mutallib in gaining more importance among the people of Makkah and may have been one of the primary causes assisting him in being handed the chieftainship of Makkah. Abdul Mutallib had a dream in which he was informed about the well of Zamzam: “Abdul-Muṭṭalib said that while sleeping in the sacred enclosure, he had dreamed he was ordered to dig at the slaughter-place of the Quraysh between the two idols Isaaf and Naaila. There he would find the Zamzam Well, which the Jurhum tribe had filled in when they left Makkah. The Quraysh tried to stop him digging in that spot, but his son Al-Ḥarith stood guard until they gave up their protests. After three days of digging, Abdul-Mutallib found traces of an old well and exclaimed, "Allahuakbar!" Some of the Quraysh disputed his claim to sole rights over water, but in the end they allowed him to keep it. Thereafter he supplied pilgrims to the Kaaba with Zamzam water, which soon eclipsed all the other wells in Makkah because it was considered sacred.”According to Islamic traditions this well of Zamzam was covered up and hidden by Banu Jurhum before they were driven out of Makkah. No one knew location of this well for centuries from the time of Ismail (alaihi salaam) and in fact is that same Zamzam which gushed forth from the ground when he rubbed his tiny feet due to extreme thirst on the sands of Makkah, while his mother Hagar (alaihi salaam) ran around the hills seeking help. After being hidden for almost four hundred years this was discovered again due to a dream of Abdul Mutallib and since then it continues to quench the thirst of millions of pilgrims on a daily basis.
 One of the ancient Arab tribes that has lived in Arabian Peninsula for millenniums.
 Ancestor of Nabataeans
 A son of Ismail (alaihi salaam) (Ishmael)
 A descendant of Ismail (alaihi salaam) through his son Qaydar.
 The Babylonian king who ruled from 605 BCE – 562 BCE also famous for second temple.
 Descendants of Qahtani or pure Arabs through one of its branch called Kahlaan.
 Quraysh are a collection of tribes mainly descended from Adnanite Arabs.
 Sheikh Imran N. 2001. Dreams In Islam - A Window To Truth And To The Heart. Bayshore, NY: Masjid Darul Qur’an - (Hosein 2001)
Importance of the Prophet's Ahlal Bayt (Family)
The Quran that teaches us something important about the Prophet’s ahlal bayt (household): “Say (O Prophet Muhammad to this Ummah) 'I ask no other reward of you except love of my family.” There are other translations of this verse, however, classical commentators of Quran have understood as I have shared. The two things mentioned in the topic: ‘KitabAllah i.e. Book of Allah’ and ‘Ahlal Bayt i.e. the Prophet's household’ belong to a famous hadith called hadith ath-thaqalayn (hadith of the two weighty things) accepted by all Muslims regardless of their school of thought. Zayd ibn Arqam (r.a) is the famous narrator of this hadith and accepted as honorable companion of the Prophet ﷺ by all. He is one of the oldest living companion and also witnessed the incident of Karbala. To answer the question we first need to quote the prophetic hadith which would help us to assess who are the Prophet’s ahlal bayt and how the companions and majority Islamic scholars throughout history have understood this subject and maintained consensus on it. The hadith is found recorded in major authentic collections such as Musnad of Ahmad and Muslim in his Sahih narrated from Zayd ibn Arqam, also al-Hakim, Ibn Hibban, al-Darimi, al-Bazzar, and al-Tabarani:
“The Messenger of Allah stood to speak to us beside a pond which is known as Khum, located between Makkah and Madinah. He praised Allah and admonished us to remember Him, then said: “O people! I am a human being and the time is near when my Lord’s Messenger shall come to me (with death) and I shall answer him. Behold! I am leaving among you two weighty matters. The first of them is the Book of Allah, in which is the guidance and the light… And the People of my House. I remind you by Allah of the People of my House! I remind you by Allah of the People of my House! I remind you by Allah of the People of my House!” Huswayn ibn Sabra said to Zayd: “Who are the People of his House, O Zayd? Are not his wives among the People of his House?” Zayd replied: “His wives are the People of his House, however, the People of his House are those for whom sadaqa is unlawful after the Prophet.” Huswayn said: “And who are they?” He replied: “The family of Ali, the family of Aqil (a son of Abu Talib), the family of Jafar (another son of Abu Talib), and the family of Abbas (prophet's uncle). Sadaqa is unlawful for all of these.”
Who are the Prophet's ahlal bayt (family)?
One of the leading scholars, Sheikh Gibril Haddad comments on this hadith: “the people of the House of the Prophet are those for whom it is unlawful to receive zakat and whom the Prophet ﷺ ordered all Muslims to respect, honor, and follow. They are:
I. Ali, Prophet's first cousin, son in law and foremost companion married to his most beloved daughter Fatima, and their sons Hasan, and Husayn (all descendants of Hassan and Husayn), Zaynab, and Umm Kulthum [daughters of Ali and Fatima].
II. The wives of the Prophet: 1. Khadija bint Khuwaylid. She gave birth to: al-Qasim, Abd Allah, Zaynab, Fatima al-Zahra, Ruqiyya, & Umm Kulthum. 2. Sawda bint Zama, 3. Aisha bint al-Siddiq, 4. Hafsa bint Umar, 5. Zaynab bint Khuzayma, 6. Umm Salama, Hind bint Umayya, 7. Zaynab bint Jahsh, 8. Juwayriyya bint al-Harith, 9. Safiyya bint Huyayy, 10. Umm Habiba bint Abi Sufyan, 11. Maymuna bint al-Harith, 12. Marya al-Qibtiyya, she was a surriyya (concubine) and gave birth to Ibrahim. [except that zakat is lawful for them by consensus, as reported by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (3:277) from Ibn Battal]
III. The Banu Hashim and the Banu al-Muttalib. Banu Hashim includes the children of Prophet’s paternal uncle Abbas (r.a), Ali (r.a) and Ali’s brothers such as Aqil (r.a) and his children, and Jafar (r.a) and his children. They are all considered as Prophet’s household as per view of the majority Muslims from Ahle Sunnah Wa’al Jamaah (People of the way and consensus).”[Except that zakat may be given to the wives of the Banu Hashim and to the freedmen of Banu al-Muttalib, by consensus as stated by Ibn Battal: related by Shawkani in Nayl al-awtar (4:175) and by Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim (5:36)] 
All these personalities are included in Prophet’s ahlal bayt as per consensus of majority scholars from the time of Prophet ﷺ and his companions. The Quran also confirms the narration of Zayd ibn Arqam (r.a) and what he said about prophet’s wives especially about house of Ali and Fatima (alaihim ussalaam) being part of the Prophet’s family: “Prophet, say to your wives, ‘If your desire is for the present life and its finery, then come, I will make provision for you and release you with kindness…. stay at home, and do not flaunt your finery as they used to in the pagan past; keep up the prayer, give the prescribed alms, and obey God and His Messenger. God wishes to keep uncleanness away from you, people of the [Prophet’s] House, and to purify you thoroughly.” These group of verses (28–33) of Surah Ahzab (chapter 33) were revealed for Prophet’s wives but when revelation reached verse 33, the Prophet ﷺ surrounded with his garment Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, and said: “O Allah! These are the People of my House, therefore remove uncleanness far from them and cleanse them with a thorough cleansing.” This authentic hadith is also found recorded in other famous collections. This uncleanliness that Allah ﷻ purifies them is one of the reasons why receiving zakah (obligatory charity tax) is forbidden on them as term zakah means purification and basically one purifies their wealth from the impurity, in a symbolic way, so that the remaining wealth becomes pure and available for one’s own use. By giving away some portion in charity tax, the Muslims are purifying it from the effects of greed. Therefore this symbolical impurity of one’s wealth should not be received by those whom “God wishes to remove uncleanness.”
How to hold on to them?
In the same work Sheikh Gibril mentions that Allah ﷻ has given the People of the House the right to (fay‘) and (khumus) when He said: “That which Allah given as spoil unto His messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and orphans and the [stranded] traveler …” “And know that whatever you take as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the kinsman (who have need) and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer” The belief of Ahle Sunnah Wa’al Jamaah (People of the way and consensus), the majority Muslims, agree that the Prophet’s command to ‘hold on to them.’ is to make sure we follow the rules of zakah when dealing with them, provide them access to khums (wealth gained through various purposes) usually 1/5th, respecting them and loving and honoring them to the best of our ability. Some of the historical evidence from the time of the salaaf (early, first three Muslim generations) to later centuries, relates how the Muslim nation expressed their love and care for the Prophet’s household:
Example of Imam Malik (r.a) (711-795 CE)
The rule of the Abbasid’s was accepted by the majority of this Ummah due to the fact of their descent from the Prophet’s uncle Abbas (r.a) which made them extended relatives of Prophet and this gave legitimacy to their rule for centuries. The respect given to descendants of Abbas, by learned Imams of early Islam also bears witness it. For instance it is related that when Jafar ibn Sulayman (Abbasid governor of Madina Jafar al-Mansur; a descendant of Prophet’s uncle Abbas.) flogged Imam Malik ibn Anas (r.a) and he was carried out unconscious, the people came in to him. He regained consciousness and said, “I testify to you that I have made my flogging a lawful act!” Later he was asked about that and said, “I am afraid of dying and meeting the Prophet with the shame that one of his family entered the fire because of me.” It is said that the Caliph Mansur said that he could take retaliation on Jafar. Malik said to him, “I seek refuge in Allah! Every time the whip left my body I made it lawful because of his kinship to the Messenger of Allah.”
Imam An- Nasai (829 – 915 CE) love for the family of Prophet
Imam an-Nasai travelled to Damascus, Syria in 915 CE, where he noticed people displaying some hostility towards Ali ibn Abi Talib (alaihi salaam), who is Prophet’s ahlal bayt (family). He therefore wrote a book to honor the character of Ali (alaihi salaam) and started lecturing from it in a masjid. He had only read a few lines when he was accused of being a Shia and was beaten badly by a crowd, such he received severe injuries to his body. In this state he requested some admirers to take him to Makkah, and it was after reaching Makkah Imam Nasai passed away. He also the author of Khasais Amirul Mumineen (Special characteristics of leader of the faithful) in praise of Ali ibn Abi Talib (alaihi salaam).
During Ottoman and Mamluk Period
During the Ottoman period, the ashraf (also sharifs) or syeds were honored by the Caliphs and Sultans. They were exempted from taxes and their genealogical record that proved their descent from Ali and Fatima was also kept to make sure where they are concentrated. Their affairs were handled by nakibul ashraf (their chief) appointed by the Ottoman Caliphs to take care of their affairs, who was one of the ashraf. During Mamluk period the descendants of Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain, were supposed to wear green and red turbans respectively so that they may be known in the crowd to prevent any sort of disrespect by others towards them.
Ahlal Bayt Sufis
Muslims also attached themselves to ahlal bayt sufis. These were saints descended from Prophet’s lineage through his beloved daughter Fatimah and Ali (alaihim us salaam) sons Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain. These sufis displayed the Prophet’s character and teachings in their own lives and became examples for the masses. It was mainly the preaching of these Sufis that spread Islam in various parts of the world as opposed to the misconception that "Islam was only spread by sword." Their descendancy from the Prophet ﷺ and their role in spread of faith will help better understand the prophet’s command to ‘hold on to my household’ discussed in the subsequent answers.
 Al Quran 42:23
 Sahih Muslim 2408 a – Sunnah.com
 Haddad, Gibril. 2009. "Who are Ahl al-Bayt?" Living Islam Islamic Tradition. 01 07. Accessed 03 07, 2019. https://www.abc.se/~m9783/k/ab_e.html - G. Haddad 2009
 Al Quran 33:28-33
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3205 – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 59:07
 Al Quran 8:41
 Born in Madinah, city of the Prophet. Founder of Maliki School, one of the four orthodox legal schools of Islam. Also called Imam of Madinah due to his extensive learning and piety. He was also student of Imam Jafar Saadiq.
 Haddad, Gibril. 2009. "Who are Ahl al-Bayt?" Living Islam Islamic Tradition. 01 07. Accessed 03 07, 2019. https://www.abc.se/~m9783/k/ab_e.html - G. Haddad 2009
 Author of the well-known hadith collection called Sunan Nasai, one of the six authentic hadith collection called Kutub al-Sittah.
 Descendants of Imam Hassan and Hussain. Traditionally ashraf or sharifs are considered descendants of Imam Hassan and syeds are descendants of Imam Hussain.
Who are the descendants of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ?
Traditionally, sons continue their father's legacy and similar was the case with most previous Prophets, either their immediate son or a male descendant of their son would normally succeed them as prophets. But since Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the final prophet sent for humankind and he was declared by Allah ﷻ as the “Seal of the Prophethood” he could not have a son, for if he had, then his son or a male descendant through his son would have continued prophethood legacy which would be in conflict with what Allah ﷻ decreed. A prophetic hadith informs us that when Ibrahim, the son of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ died, he prayed: “he has a wet-nurse in Paradise, and if he had lived he would have been a Siddiq and a Prophet.’” Due to this prophetic statement the companions such as Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, a famous hadith narrator said “He died when he was small, and if it had been decreed that there should be any prophet after Muhammad (ﷺ), his son would have lived. But there is no prophet after him.” This implies if any of the Prophet’s son would have survived then either he or a male descendant of him would have become a prophet.
As all other Prophets were honored with sons, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was honored with finality of prophethood which others did not get. They were all sent to their individual nations and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent to entire humankind, in fact he was sent as a mercy for entire creation. When the Prophet’s son, born to his first wife Khadijah al Kubra, died, Amr bin As and Hakam bin As, two Qurayshi opponents of the Prophet, taunted by calling him abtar literally meaning ‘tail-less’; implying that there would be no-one to continue his lineage and his progeny has been cut off. At this moment Allah ﷻ revealed Sura al-Kauthar (Chapter 108) of the Quran. It was revealed to give good news to the Prophet that the abundance of Allah’s unbounded grace, wisdom and knowledge, mercy and goodness, spiritual power and insight, in highest degrees, and of progeny has been bestowed upon him. Kauthar comes from the root word ka-tha-ra, and other derivatives of the word are: katha-ratun: multitude; katheerun: much, many, numerous; aktharu: more numerous (emphasis); kath-thara: to multiply; takathur: act of multiplying; is-thak-thara. Kauthar also refers to the birth of his daughter Fatima al-Zahra (r.a) signifying that, through her, his descendants would be in abundance. Allah ﷻ says in the Quran: “Surely! We have given you; Kauthar (immeasurable abundance)”
This immeasurable abundance called kauthar also includes the continuation of Prophet Muhammad’s lineage through his daughter Fatimah (r.a) and son in law Ali ibn Abi Talib. A prophetic hadith tells us that: “The lineage of every mother’s children is attributed to their father except for Fatimah’s children. So I am their guardian and I am their lineage.” It is for this reason why Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to say: “Fatimah is part of me and he who makes her angry, makes me angry.” This does not only imply that Fatimah (r.a) is from the Prophet’s blood but also means that Prophet is attached in a spiritual way with her unlike with anyone else as we shall see. Ali (r.a) narrated a hadith from the Prophet ﷺ telling Fatimah (r.a): “Indeed Allah becomes angry when you are angry and He is pleased when you are pleased.” Allah’s pleasure is connected to the Prophet’s pleasure and the Prophet’s pleasure is connected to Fatimah’s pleasure and that shows her spiritual status in this world and hereafter among women. It is due to this reason why Prophet ﷺ told her that she was: “chief of all the ladies of Paradise or the chief of the believing women.”
Due to this spiritual connection Prophet ﷺ had with Fatimah (r.a), he used to call Hassan and Hussain, the two sons of Ali and Fatimah, his own sons. Ali (r.a) narrates that when Fatimah (r.a) gave birth to Hasaan (r.a) then the Prophet ﷺ came to us and said: "Show me my son! What have you named him?’" I informed him that I named him Harb. The Prophet ﷺ said, "No! He is Hasan." Then when Hussain (r.a) was born the Prophet ﷺ came to us and said: "Show me my son! What have you named him’? I informed him that I named him Harb." The Prophet ﷺ said, "No! He is Hussain." Ali (r.a) also narrates that Haasan (r.a) was an exact look-alike of the Prophet ﷺ from chest to head and Hussain (r.a) was an exact look alike of the Prophet ﷺ from chest to feet. A lady named Umm al-Fadl once came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: “O Allah’s Messenger! I saw an awful dream.” He replied “Blessed be it.” She continued “I saw a piece of your flesh put in my lap!” The Prophet ﷺ smiled and said “My daughter Fatima will beget a son, and you shall take him in your lap. Later on Fatima conceived a child from her husband Ali, and Um al-Fadl placed the new-born in her lap.” The child born was Hussain (r.a). This incident shows that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is spiritually part of Hassan (r.a) and Hussain (r.a) through his daughter Fatimah (r.a). Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had four daughters, however Allah ﷻ decided to continue his lineage only through Fatimah (r.a). To better understand this one has to realize the status of Fatimah bint Muhammad (alaihi Salaam).
The Mother of the Believers Ayesha (r.a) narrates: “I have not seen anyone who resembled the Prophet more in manners, habits, character and in the method of sitting and standing than Fatimah the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.” Prophet Muhammad’s example is best for all men and his example was imbibed in the personality of Fatimah (r.a) for women thus explaining for us her ‘chief of the women of paradise’ station in the hereafter. Since she is the leader among women through her practice of the Prophets way, her two sons also gained the leadership status among the youth of paradise for following in the footsteps of prophethood. The Prophet said: “Al-Hasan and al-Hussain are the leaders of the Youth of Paradise.” Allah ﷻ selected Hassan and Hussain for the Prophet’s lineage to continue and gave them a status ‘leaders of the youth of paradise’ not given to others. This was obviously due to their immense sacrifice, of Hassan giving up his leadership to preserve unity and prevent bloodshed among Muslims, and Hussain sacrificing his own blood to teach a lesson for all to never bow down to tyranny.
It is recorded that the Prophet ﷺ once took Hasaan and Huasain by the hand and said: “Whoever loves me and loves these two, and their father and mother, he shall be with me in my level on the Day of Judgement.” The Prophet ﷺ referred to the four; Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussain as part of his ahlal bayt i.e. his family. When the Verse 33 of Surah Al Ahzaab (Chapter 33) was revealed the he referred to all four as part of his household, and prayed for their purity: “Allah only wishes to remove uncleanness from you, O members of the (Prophet's) household, and to purify you completely.” It is famously recorded that the Prophet ﷺ surrounded with his garment Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan, and al-Hussain, and said: “O Allah! These are the People of my House, therefore remove uncleanness far from them and cleanse them with a thorough cleansing.” This was prophets prayer for purity for all four including upcoming descendants of Hassan and Hussain so that they are mindful and guard that purity and teach it to others. The Prophets lineage continued in the descendants of Imam Hassan and Hussain who are called syeds and sharifs in the Muslim world. They are numerous and spread throughout the Muslim world today. With honor comes higher responsibility therefore, many of these descendants were great bearers of knowledge among the Muslims for centuries and spread the light of Islam among them. Interestingly, majority sufi saints (awliyyah) that spread the light of knowledge in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, in South Asia like Pakistan and India, including the North African region, were Prophet's descendants through his daughter Fatimah (r.a) and son in law Ali (r.a). A few notable from hundreds of sufi saints credited for serving Islam: Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani – Iraq, Sayyid Mir Ali Hamdan – Kashmir, Ibrahim Bin Adham – Iraq, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya – India, Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari – Pakistan, Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhili - North Africa.
 Al Quran 33:40
 Sunan Ibn Majah - Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1511 – Sunnah.com
 Qasim or Abdullah
 Al Quran 108:01
 Tabarani’s Mujam ul kabeer 3:44 #2623 - Chishti, Irshad Soofi Siddiqui. 2010. Madinah to Karbala Holy Blood on Unholy Hands Volume One. Abd al-Qadir Soofi Publications - (Chishti 2010)
 Sahih al-Bukhari 3714 – Sunnah.com
 Haakim in al-Mustadrak 3:167 # 4730 - Chishti, Irshad Soofi Siddiqui. 2010. Madinah to Karbala Holy Blood on Unholy Hands Volume One. Abd al-Qadir Soofi Publications. - (Chishti 2010)
 Sahih al-Bukhari 3623, 3624
 Chishti, Irshad Soofi Siddiqui. 2010. Madinah to Karbala Holy Blood on Unholy Hands Volume One. Abd al-Qadir Soofi Publications - (Chishti 2010)
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3779 – Sunnah.com
 Sireen, Allamah Muhammad ibn. 2000. Ta'abeer ar-Ruya (Dreams & Interpretations) . Karachi: Darul Ishaat - (Sireen 2000)
 Adaab Al Mufraad - Book 40, Hadith 947 – Sunnah.com
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3768 – Sunnah.com
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3733 – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 33:33
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3205 – Sunnah.com
 Awliyyah means ‘friends of Allah (swt)’. These are spiritually close to Allah (swt) through their ibaadah (worship and obedience) of Him and following the Prophet’s example. They are guides for the Muslims and means for them to come closer to Allah (swt).
After Prophet Muhammad ﷺ there is no other companion of his except Ali ibn abi Talib (alaihi salaam) who was considered so great in his merits that many from among Muslims almost worshiped him. Many Muslims think that it was a grave error committed by some early Muslims who were misguided while others till this day continue to follow in their footsteps and nothing more. To realize why Ali ibn abi Talib (alaihi salaam) was the highest ranking companion and most important of prophet's family member one may refer to the example Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) (alaihi salaam). The following verse of the Quran mention miracles done by Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) (alaihi salaam): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah's permission and I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah's permission.” No wonder it was such great miracles such as causing dead people to rise, obviously with the help of Allah ﷻ that caused deviated ones to start worshiping him. The truthful ones saw the honor Allah ﷻ had given Isa (a.s), recognized it but did not worship him and considered him as a servant of Allah ﷻ. Therefore it is always the great and unbelievable acts of a holy person that causes people to assign almost worshipful reverence to them while ignorantly overlooking the boundaries and limits they overstepped in their rights due only for Allah ﷻ.
The Prophet ﷺ told Ali (a.s): “You have the example of Jesus, the Jews hated him so they wronged his mother and the Christians loved him so they raised him above his status (i.e. assigned attributes of God towards him)“, Ali (a.s) once said: “Two individuals will be tortured (in the hereafter) because of me, one who loves me extremely who attributes things to me which do not rightfully belong to me, and a hater who hates me.” It is no doubt that just how holiness and glory of a person earns him followers and lovers who love him to such an extent crossing boundaries set by Allah ﷻ, so these also become the cause of earning bitter enemies who would do whatever to destroy that person. Such destiny befell Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) who confronted both groups during his lifetime as predicted by the Prophet ﷺ. The sabayees i.e. followers of a deviant named Abdullah bin Sabah loved Ali to such an extent where they made him divine and the khawarij hated him to an extent where they martyred him. Unfortunately both types mindsets are still exist among the Muslims.
Distinctions of Ali (r.a) as compared to all other companions of the Prophet:
Born inside Kabah
As per grand mufti of Egypt Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi “May God have mercy upon Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a). He was born inside the Kabah.” It’s related from authentic sources that while his blessed mother was pregnant and circling the Kabah, she felt labor pain and fell on one of the sides of Kabah which split and she entered inside. It was right at that moment that she gave birth to Ali who was born inside the house of Allah. Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad ibn Abd-Allah al-Hakim al-Nishapuri says, in Mustadrak al-Hakim, in the section Kitaab Maarifatus Sahaaba that the only person that was born in the Kaaba prior to this was Haakim Ibn Hizaam. The Imam states “Narrations came to us by multiple transmissions that Fatimah Bint Asad (mother of Ali) gave birth to Amir al-Mu’mineen Ali ibn Abu Talib (r.a) inside the Kaaba.”
First child to accept Islam
Some of the people of knowledge said that the first to accept Islam amongst men was Abu Bakr As-Siddique; and Ali accepted Islam when he was a boy of eight years; and the first accept Islam amongst women was Khadijah. [Jaami at-Tirmidhi, Volume 6, Chapters on al-Manaaqib (Virtues); page 401, Hadith number 3734] The first child in Islam is Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a).
Ali's sacrifice for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
It is recorded in authentic sources of Islamic history including the Prophet's biography that when he was about to make his Hijrah (emigration) to Madinah, he chose to escape in the mid of night, in the darkness because the disbelievers were planning to assassinate him and were closely watching him. At that moment Ali (a.s) volunteered to sleep in the Prophet's bed so the enemies think that it is the Prophet while he makes his escape. Most importantly even though this exposed Ali (a.s) to threat of being killed while sleeping, yet he submitted happily to it.
Ali’s (r.a) reaction to enemy in battle
Once during the battle Ali’s brave skills brought an enemy down on the ground and was about to kill him when the enemy in his anger spat on Ali’s (r.a) face. Right at that moment Ali (r.a) threw his sword and walked away. To the enemy’s astonishment who inquired Ali (r.a) as to why he do that. Ali replied “When I was about to kill you I was fighting for the sake of Allah but when you spat on me, my anger overtook by love of Allah and I wanted to kill you for my own anger’s sake therefore I withdrew immediately.” Amazed at this behavior the enemy accepted Islam.
Miracle at the Battle of Khaybar
Ali (r.a) was known for his exceptional miracles. Among these is what was related from the Prophet who said will give the flag to a man whom Allah and His Messenger love. Allah ﷻ will conquer it by his hands and he will not flee. Each of the three great warriors of the Jews had a duel with Ali (a.s) and he killed all of them quickly to the amazement of everyone. The death of three successive Jew warriors unnerved the Jews and they ran back to shut themselves in the fort. Before the Jews could shut the gate of the fort, Ali struck at the gate and uprooted it. It is said that he tossed the door aside seventy men gathered to return the door back to its place and found it difficult. When inquired about this battle Ali (r.a) would say “I did not snatch the door of Khaybar from its place by bodily power but by divine power.”
Ali’s (r.a) submission to the will of Allah ﷻ
Abdul Rahman ibn Muljam was the man who martyred Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a). He was one of the Khawarij, a deviant group that rebelled against Ali when he was a caliph. Long time before killing Ali, this man used to walk around and Ali was heard saying “I see my killer”, to which someone inquired “why don’t you catch him and kill him.” to which Ali (r.a) replied “If I kill him then who will kill me?” Later it was this same man who had come in the masjid in Ramadaan on the blessed night of 21st and martyred the Imam.
Prophet compares Ali (r.a) to Prophet Harun (alaihi salaam)
Narrated Saad bin Abi Waqqas (r.a) that the Prophet ﷺ said to Ali, “You are to me, in the position that Harun was to Musa, [except that there is no Prophet after me].” Such distinction was not given by the Prophet ﷺ to anybody around him except Ali (r.a).
Caliph Umar (r.a) bears witness to Ali’s judgments
After Jerusalem came under Muslim, Caliph Umar (r.a) sought Ali’s advice if he should stay in Madinah or visit Jerusalem, to which Ali advised him that he should go. The decisive Muslim victory at Battle of Yarmuk was on the advice of Ali. Umar acted on the advice of Ali, and the Muslims won an astounding victory at the Battle of Yarmuk. Hijrah Muslim calendar was initiated by Caliph Umar (r.a) on the advice of Ali (r.a). In view of the soundness of his judicial opinions, Ali (r.a) was held by Umar (r.a) to be the best judge. At the end of his term Umar (r.a) paid the highest tribute to Ali (r.a) when he said, “But for Ali, Umar would have been lost.” Umar (r.a) was one of the strongest Caliphs that Islam has ever had and he owed a lot of his success to Ali's wisdom.
Prophet chose only Ali (r.a) for continuation of his progeny
The Prophet used to say that the sons of every mother are referred to by their relation to their father except the sons of Fatima (a.s). I am their guardian and they are related to me (as sons). Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Prophet had come of marriageable age, and the Prophet had to consider the question of her marriage. Abu Bakr (r.a) waited on the Prophet, and asked for the hand of Fatima. The Prophet made no answer. Thereafter Umar (r.a) asked for the hand of Fatima and the Prophet maintained silence. In the meantime the Prophet received the revelation that Allah ﷻ approved of the marriage of Fatima (r.a) with Ali (r.a). When the mother of Ali called on the Prophet to press the suit on behalf of Ali (r.a), the Prophet was pleased to announce his acceptance.
Prophet, Ali and the lake of Kauthar
The Kauthar is a river gifted to the Prophet by Allah from which he will quench the thirst of the believers on Judgment day. The only companion with whom he will be distributing water from this river is none but Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a).
There is no doubt that other companion’s share closeness to the Prophet in their own ways. However none of them can be compared with the status enjoyed by Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a).
 Al Quran 3:49
 Musnad of Imam Ahmad
MinFada-ilal-‘Ashrat al-Mubashireen bil Janna - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthplace_of_Ali_ibn_Abi_Talib
 Chishti, Irshad Soofi Siddiqui. 2010. Madinah to Karbala Holy Blood on Unholy Hands. Abd al-Qadir Soofi Publications
 &  Masud-ul-Hasan, Professor. 1982. " Khalifa Ali bin Abu Talib - The Caliphate of Umar." Alim - The world's most useful Islamic software. Accessed 03 14, 2019. http://www.alim.org/library/biography/khalifa/content/KAL/37/6
 al-Andalusi, Ustadh Luqman. 2012. The Greatness of Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. March 20. Accessed March 14, 2019. http://www.muwatta.com/the-greatness-of-caliph-ali-ibn-abi-talib/.
 Mutahhari, Ayatullah Murtada. 2013. Character of Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Islamicmobility.com.
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3730 – Sunnah.com
 Masud-ul-Hasan, Professor. 1982. " Khalifa Ali bin Abu Talib - The Caliphate of Umar." Alim - The world's most useful Islamic software. Accessed 03 14, 2019. http://www.alim.org/library/biography/khalifa/content/KAL/37/6
Why did Prophet Muhammad ﷺ say that and what did he mean?
The Prophet's relationship with Ali ibn Abi Talib (alaihi salaam) is unlike with anyone else from his family and companions. Ali (a.s) was not only the Prophet's first cousin and his son in law but in fact he is the only whom Allah ﷻ chose for Prophet's lineage to continue after his death even though the Prophet had 3 other daughters and son in laws. The Prophet ﷺ only chose Ali (a.s) to marry his most beloved daughter Fatimah (a.s) despite having proposals for her from his best companions Abu Bakr (r.a) and Umar (r.a). Hence Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) has a very special status in Islam which all of us need to recognize.
A famous hadith narrated from the Prophet ﷺ says: “For whomever I am his Mawla then 'Ali is his Mawla.” Just like there is a background of every verse of the Quran similarly there is background of every prophetic hadith that needs to be kept in view to better comprehend their meaning. According to all historical narratives, those recorded in early Islamic history and those recorded in our times, mention that these words were declared after the prophet’s hajjatul wida (farewell or last pilgrimage) before his retirement to Madinah. He said them at a place called Ghadir e Khumm (pond of the khumm), a place between Makkah and Madinah. He said them in reference to the status of Ali ibn Abi Talib (alaihi salaam) for all to hear, loud and clear so they continue to deal with him in the manner as instructed especially after Prophet’s passing away. A year before his last hajj (pilgrimage), the Prophet ﷺ deputed Ali (a.s) to Yemen, as his representative to instruct and teach the people there about Islam. When the Prophet ﷺ was to begin his journey for the final hajj, he invited Ali and his followers to join him on this sacred journey. Some of Ali’s followers had disagreements with his orders and being the leader of their deputation they were supposed to obey him. Amr ibn Shaas al-Aslami complained about Ali (a.s) upon returning from Yemen where he had accompanied him. News of it reached the Prophet ﷺ who said: “O Amr! By Allah, you have done me harm.” Amr said, “I seek refuge in Allah from harming you, O Messenger of Allah!” He said “But you did. Whoever harms Ali harms me.” When the Prophet ﷺ came to know of this, he summoned a large gathering of pilgrims and ordered them to assemble for an important declaration. At this point the prophet said the above words “Ali is the Mawla of whom I am the Mawla. 0 God! Have friendship towards those who have friendship for Ali, and have enmity towards those who have enmity for Ali”. The word mawla has a wide range of meaning. It denotes ‘master’, ‘slave’, ‘emancipated slave’, ‘helper’, ‘friend’ and ‘loved one’. Without going in to further discussion of whether this was prophet’s declaration of Ali’s successorship or no, we need to look at what else the Prophet ﷺ predicted about Ali (a.s) which would help better understand this declaration.
The Prophet ﷺ had predicted Ali would fight the khawarij with the words: “In truth there will be, among you, one who shall fight over the interpretation of the Qur’an just as I fought over its revelation.” Abu Bakr and Umar asked: “Am I he?” The Prophet said: “No, it is the one who is mending the shoes.” He had given his shoes to Ali to mend. The Prophet ﷺ also predicted Ali’s martyrdom with the words: “This shall be dyed red from this” and he pointed to Ali’s beard and head respectively. Additionally the Prophet ﷺ had predicted the first fitna (first civil war) that would hit the Muslim nation after Uthman’s martyrdom and the battles that will take place between Ali (a.s) and the opponents. The Prophet ﷺ also predicted that it would be Ali (a.s) who would be on the right and the opposition on the wrong as discussed in detail in my post on Prophecy of Future Events. Since the transpiration of all those future events were already in the Prophet’s knowledge therefore this was the best opportunity to express Ali’s status especially when his authority was being challenged and it was the Prophet’s last hajj where all Muslims had gathered. Despite the fact that this declaration was not made at the center of hajj, in Makkah, yet the Prophet ﷺ ordered those who were absent to attend it so that they may witness should they live long enough to experience the future internal battles.
An important point to note here is that many apparently observe the Ghadir event in the light of great merits of Ali (a.s), without taking in to consideration all the future historical events surrounding his personality, and conclude that this incident must have been Prophet's declaration of Ali's successorship and leadership. However, what they fail to observe is that while Ali’s great importance was being stressed at Ghadir after the Prophet's own yet he did not explicitly command the Muslims about making him the leader. This incident was a reminder given to the audience and us about the merits of Ali (r.a), which are no doubt supreme, but does not say that he should or will become a leader. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ while declaring Ali as “mawla” does not refer to him a khaleefa, ameer or imaam of Muslims after him and this is obvious from his wordings.
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3713 – Sunnah.com
 Abu Nuaym, Hilya al-Awliya 1:100-128 #4; al-Dhahabi, Siyar Alam al-Nubala 1/2:615-660 #5 - Nuaym, Abu. n.d. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (r). Accessed March 20, 2019. http://www.sunnah.org/publication/khulafa_rashideen/caliph4.htm - (Nuaym n.d.) &
The Event of Ghadir Khumm in the Qur'an, Hadith, History By Mohammad Manzoor Nomani - https://www.islamawareness.net/Deviant/Shia/ghadir.html
 First extremists in the history of Islam.
 &  Abu Nuaym, Hilya al-Awliya 1:100-128 #4; al-Dhahabi, Siyar Alam al-Nubala 1/2:615-660 #5 - Nuaym, Abu. n.d. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (r). Accessed March 20, 2019. http://www.sunnah.org/publication/khulafa_rashideen/caliph4.htm - (Nuaym n.d.)
Can Queen Elizabeth be a descendant of Prophet Mohammed ﷺ?
In April 2018 several news websites and magazines reported Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. These surfaced after Assahifa al-Ousbouia, a Moroccan newspaper published a family tree that traced her lineage back to the Prophet ﷺ through Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad the first independent ruler of Seville in the Al-Andalus region of Spain. The family tree suggests that Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad’s granddaughter, Princess Zaida converted to Christianity taking on the name Isabella and married King Alfonso VI of Castille in the 11th century. It was through their children that the Prophet’s bloodline entered the British royal family.
Before we conclude whether Queen Elizabeth, the current monarch of British royalty is a Prophet's descendant or no, we need to first understand who is considered an actual descendant of his. There is a difference between sharing blood with the Prophet versus being descended from him as per traditional Islamic scholars. The extended family members of the Prophet’s household from his tribe Banu Hashim, like his uncles and cousins including their descendants, are all related to him through their blood. But when it comes to his direct descendants, they are those who specifically have a lineage directly to the Prophet with a tree and it is only the sons who carry the lineage not daughters. For example we heard in the news a few years back that the former US secretary of state John Kerry shared blood with the Prophet. However this sharing is not the same as being a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ because sharing blood and direct descendancy are two different matters. His direct descendants are referred to as syeds or sharifs (or ashraf). Syeds are considered to be sons descended from Imam Hussain (alaihi salaam), the younger son of Fatima and Ali (alaihimus salaam). Sharifs are generally considered those sons descended from Imam Hassan the elder son of Fatima and Ali (alaihimus salaam). However Syed is an applicable title for both, the reason is in a hadith discussed further.
It is reported in Imam Tabarani’s al- Muijam-ul Kabir and numerous other books of hadith reported by Fatimah (a.s) who said The Prophet ﷺ told her: “the lineage of every mother’s children is attributed to their father except for Fatimah’s children. So I am their guardian and I am their lineage.” It is also recorded in authentic ahadith that when this verse was revealed: “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women”  the Messenger of Allah ﷺ called Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husain and said: "O Allah! This is my family.’” The fact that Allah ﷻ informed the Prophet ﷺ to say "our sons" and he brought Hassan and Hussain (a.s) is a confirmation from Allah ﷻ about the prophetic hadith about his lineage continuing through Fatima and Ali (a.s). There are also traditions where the Prophet ﷺ referred to Hassan and Hussain as his own sons.
Syeds usually share a patrilineal lineage with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, meaning that the honorific title of Syed can be attached to children’s name only if they are descended from a marriage between Syed father and a Syed mother or a non-Syed mother. If children are descended from a non-Syed father and a Syed mother then those children cannot claim the title of syed or syeda (for females). This understanding of Prophet Muhammad’s descendancy through his daughter Fatimah is to be made clear before understanding other relationships with the Prophet ﷺ. By this understanding only the sons from the line of Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain carry his blood line and not the daughters. Now the daughter (referred to as syedas) born to a Syed father is entitled to be honored by Muslims just as the male syeds or sharifs, however she will not carry the Prophet’s lineage further if she got married to a non-Syed man. The children of that Syeda will be identified through their non-Syed father. The daughter can be pious and can even be greater in righteousness than the male descendants of the Prophet ﷺ but still do not carry the lineage further. This is due to the traditional role of male and female in Islam.
The Prophet ﷺ gave the title of Syed to Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain (a.s): “Al-Hasan and al-Husain are the chiefs (syeds) of the youth of Paradise.” “Indeed, this son [Hasan bin `Ali] of mine is a chief (syed), Allah shall bring peace between two [tremendous] parties through his hands.” - He referred to Hassan as ‘my son’. Syed means ‘chief’, it also means ‘master’, it also means a ‘leader’. It is a fact whether according to the Shia or Sunni schools of thought, leadership whether religious (spiritual) or political has always been carried by males and not females. Whether it is a political caliphate in Sunni thought, the caliphs were always males whether it was the Umayyads, Abbasids, Ottomans or Shia Caliphates such as Fatimids or even the concept of spiritual Imamah, the Imams (spiritual leaders) from the household of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were all males and never females, such as Twelve Imams. Similar was the case of all famous Sufi saints personalities that carried religious leaderships and spread Islam, were either syeds or sharifs, all male descendants of the Prophet ﷺ. For more details please read my post: The descendants of Prophet Muhammad
Keeping this in view it is obvious that since the chiefs or leaders in Islam are always males hence the Prophetic lineage will also be carried to next generations by sons who directly descend from the Prophet ﷺ from their paternal side. The family tree shared by Moroccan newspaper that made headlines throughout the globe suggests Queen’s lineage with the Prophet through Zaida of Seville, a Muslim princess and a his female descendant (a syeda). Since the understanding in Islam about Prophet's descendancy is not just sharing blood, it is easy to determine that if Zaida of Seville was descended from the Prophet ﷺ in any way yet her children will not traditionally carry the Prophet's lineage neither the title of sharif or syed. Having said that, Queen Elizabeth may be sharing blood with the Prophet at some point through Zaida but cannot be considered his direct descendant.
 The Sunday Times published “The Queen may be a child of the Prophet Muhammad” by Kaya Burgess. April 12 2018, 12:01am.
 Abu-Saba, Leila. 2004. John Kerry, Sharif. October 03.
 Tabarani’s Mujam ul kabeer 3:44 # 2623 - (Chishti 2010)
 Al Quran 3:61
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 2999 – Sunnah.com
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3768
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3773
Imam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) is not another prophet or a messenger who is going to bring new teachings of Islam or modify the existing teachings in any way. He is a follower of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his descendant and will rule the Muslims as confirmed from various prophetic ahadith such as: “Mahdi will be from my descendants who will fight (to establish) my sunnah as I fought according to the divine revelation.” In the ahadith we are informed that Imam Mahdi (a.s) will establish Islam according to the Prophet's sunnah (way) which means he will follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ when ruling by the Quran. Imam Mahdi (a.s) is only mentioned in the hadith literature with no reference to him in the Quran. Yet his importance is clear for us in Islam and that is mainly due to three very important reasons.
Firstly, he will arrive at the time when Muslims are leaderless and cannot face and overcome their economic and political difficulties caused by their enemies. After his arrival, Allah ﷻ will strengthen him to overcome his rival leaders among Muslims who are siding with their enemies and eventually he will destroy their plans. He will end political and economic exploitation of the Muslims and help regain back their occupied territories so they can live in peace and in accordance to Allah’s guidance i.e. His book and prophet’s sunnah. He will end injustice and oppression that fills the Muslim region, as said in a prophetic hadith: “Mahdi will be from my family, his nose will be prominent and his forehead will be bright and shining. He will fill the earth with justice and equity, just as (before it) it had been filled with tyranny and transgression.”
He is the sign of the final hour for Muslims and his arrival is linked with other major signs that have yet to occur. Signs of the hour in Islam stand as proof for believers further strengthening their faith while warning the disbelievers of punishment in the hereafter. Please see some of the signs of the hour listed in my post End times prophecies - Minor signs. His arrival will be a sign that the Day of Judgment is close and Muslims will have stronger faith and be more concerned with the hereafter rather than making this temporary world their primary concern. His arrival will help Muslims learn that other major signs such as the arrival of Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) (a.s) as told in the Quran is also imminent. Therefore, those who will be the army and supporters of Imam will have the courage to face the disbelievers causing destruction in the Muslim region. The mission of Isa ibn Maryam (a.s) is to kill the Al Masih Al Dajjal (False Messiah) i.e. Anti-Christ who would be a major source for all the corruption and oppression throughout the world especially Muslim lands such as middle east and surrounding area. Dajjal is also one of the major signs of the hour as per prophetic hadith. Therefore, Imam Mahdi’s arrival will indicate the upcoming of these two major signs of the hour. The arrival of Imam Mahdi (a.s) will also prepare Muslims for a greater mission of defeating the Dajjal at the hands of Isa (a.s), and to bring peace to the entire region. Various ahadith mention Imam Mahdi and Isa ibn Maryam (a.s) will be together such as: “When Mahdi will appear Isa ibn Maryam will descend and it will seem as though water is dropping from his hair. At that time Mahdi, addressing him, will say ‘please come forward and lead the people in prayer.’ Prophet Isa will say ‘the iqamah (call to prayer) was said for you; therefore, you will lead the prayer.’ Accordingly, Isa will offer this prayer behind a man from my family (Mahdi).”
The term "mahdi" means the "the guided one" and this is the Imam's title but not his real name. His real name will be Muhammad ibn Abdullah as told by the Prophet ﷺ: "If only one day of this world remained. Allah would lengthen that day, till He raised up in it a man who belongs to me or to my family whose father's name is the same as my father's..." According to another version: "The world will not pass away before the Arabs are ruled by a man of my family whose name will be the same as mine."  The Prophet ﷺ also warned us that every upcoming age will be worse than the previous and humankind will continue to be in such state until the Day of Judgment. Due to spread of corruption, the religious thought of the Muslims will also be impacted especially when he said that in the last hour: “knowledge shall be raised up, ignorance shall be rampant.” Due to lack of knowledge Islamic teachings will be misinterpreted causing confusions and eventually misleading and cause Muslims to deviate. The ignorance and the confusions about the religious teachings is also what Imam Mahdi (a.s) will fight against. There are revivers of faith appearing in every age among the scholars of Islam for the past fifteen hundred years such as Shah Waliullah of sixteenth century, Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi of fourteenth century, Ibn Taymiyyah of the twelfth century and Imam Ghazzali of ninth century etc. A prophetic hadith teaches: “Allah will raise for this community (Muslims) at the end of every hundred years the one who will renovate its religion for it.” Imam Mahdi is one of the final revivers of faith before the Day of Judgment who will also remove prevalent confusions through preaching and writing. And Allah ﷻ knows best.
The place of his arrival - when & where?
His arrival as stated explicitly in the hadith literature will be in present day Saudi Arabia in the cities of Makkah and Madinah. The time of his arrival such as date and year is something we have not been told by the Prophet ﷺ and any speculation considering the exact time will be of no benefit unless someone has sure knowledge from authentic texts. However, we can only estimate if we are closer to his time or not by observing other major and minor signs and that is it. The hadith that mentions about his arrival also mentions incidents that will surround his appearance: “Disagreement will occur at the death of a caliph (a political ruler) and a man of the people of Madinah will come flying forth to Makkah. Some of the people of Makkah will come to him, bring him out against his will and swear allegiance to him between the corner and the Maqam. An expeditionary force will then be sent against him from Syria but will be swallowed up in the desert between Makkah and Madinah. When the people see that, the eminent saints of Syria and the best people of Iraq will come to him and swear allegiance to him between the Corner and the Maqam.”
This hadith tells us that he will be given allegiance in Makkah. The fact that he will be taken out and forcibly given allegiance proves that he does not will to take leadership of the Muslims. This is what distinguishes a false claimant from an actual Mahdi. In the history of Islam, there have been several Mahdi claimants and all of them were false because they did not fulfill description given in the hadith. One of the contrary reason is also that they first declared themselves as Mahdi and then forcibly secured allegiance of people around them. What makes an actual Imam Mahdi (a.s) distinct from a pretender is that he will be forced by people to become the leader while he would be doing his best to avoid it. In the case of actual Mahdi, the people will forcibly give their pledge to him. In addition to the major sign of Jesus (alaihi salaam) and Dajjal, another one related to appearance of Imam Mahdi is the landslide in Arabian Peninsula (Hejaz). Hudhaifa bin Usaid (r.a) reported that the Prophet ﷺ was in an apartment and we were beneath that and he said to us: “What are you discussing about?" We said: "We are discussing about the Last Hour." Thereupon he said: "The Last Hour would not come until the ten signs appear: dajjal, descent of Jesus (alaihi salaam), land-sliding in the east, and land-sliding in the west, and land-sliding in the peninsula of Arabia…” This major sign confirms news in the previously shared hadith about the “expeditionary force that will be swallowed up in the desert between Makkah and Madinah.” This swallowing might be due to the land sliding or an earthquake in Arabian Peninsula.
The land sliding in Arabian Peninsula is one of the ten major signs as related to us by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which will indicate the arrival of Imam Mahdi (a.s) as well as inform the believers that the hour is even nearer. This is so they may prepare themselves for the hereafter by becoming steadfast in their religious teachings rather than being engrossed in worldly pleasures like rest of humanity.
Ibn Hammad narrated it in Al-Fitan and Imam Suyuti in al-Hawi lil-fatawa - Tahir-ul-Qadri, Dr Muhammad. 2003. The Awaited Imaam Mahdi . Lahore: Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications - Tahir-ul-Qadri 2003
 Hakim in Al-mustadrak recorded it as Sahih - Tahir-ul-Qadri, Dr Muhammad. 2003. The Awaited Imaam Mahdi . Lahore: Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications - Tahir-ul-Qadri 2003
 Related by Suyuti in al-Hawi lil-fatawa (2:81) - Tahir-ul-Qadri, Dr Muhammad. 2003. The Awaited Imaam Mahdi . Lahore: Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications - Tahir-ul-Qadri 2003
 Sunan Abi Dawud - Book 37, Hadith 4269 - Sunnah.com
 Jami at-Tirmidhi 2205 – Sunnah.com
 Sunan Abi Dawud 4291 – Sunnah.com
 Also called Maqaam e Ibraahim ie. Place where Ibrahim (alaihi salaam) stood and prayed in Makkah.
 Sunan Abi Dawud 4286 – Sunnah.com
 Sahih Muslim 2901 b – Sunnah.com
The eminence of Banu Hashim and their descendants Banu Abbas
In order to understand why Banu Abbas, descendants of Prophet’s uncle Abbas (r.a) are considered Prophet Muhammad’s family and no other Arab tribes of the Quraish including Banu Ummayad, even though they all share common ancestry with the Prophet ﷺ, one has to realize the status of the Prophet ﷺ , his family, his tribe and his ancestors as opposed to the rest of the humankind. A prophetic hadith teaches us: “Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinana from amongst the descendants of Ismail, and He granted eminence to the Quraish amongst Kinana, and He granted eminence to Banu Hashim amonsgst the Quraish, and He granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim.” These prophetic words emphasize special honor granted to Kinanah, an Adnani descendant from line of Ismail (alaihi salaam), and then to Quraysh from the line of Kinanah. Among the descendants of Quraysh was a man named Abd Manaf. He had four sons: Abd Shams, Nawfal, Muttalib and Hashim. Allah ﷻ selected Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from the descendants of Hashim and therefore Banu Hashim has excelled all others descendants of Abd Manaf and excelled all other Arabs and the rest of humankind in gaining special honor. Hashim had a son named Abdul Mutallib (Prophet’s paternal grandfather) and one of his sons is Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (r.a), ancestor of Banu Abbas and Prophet’s uncle. Prophet’s father Abdullah (r.a) was also one of the sons of Abdul Mutallib which is why Prophet’s name is Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Abdul Mutallib.
As for Banu Ummaya, they are descended from one of Abd Manaf’s son Abd Shams. As per Prophet, divine decree did not choose select the descendants of Abd Shams for prophet’s ancestry, therefore they are not considered having special honor and part of the prophet’s Ahlal Bayt (family). Banu Hashim includes the children of Prophet’s paternal uncle Abbas (r.a), children of Ali (r.a) and Ali’s brothers such as Aqil (r.a) and his children, and Jafar (r.a) and his children. They are all considered as Prophet’s household, his Ahlal Bayt (family), as per view of the majority Muslims who belong to school of Ahle Sunnah Wa’al Jamaah (People of the way and consensus). Since Abbas (r.a) children are considered ahlal bayt therefore when they replaced Banu Ummaya as the rulers of the Muslims (Abbasid Dynasty) they were considered as bringing the rulership back to the Prophet’s family.
 Kinana, an ancestor of Quraysh tribes was an Adnanite Arab, descendants of Ismail (alaihi salaam) through his son Adnan.
 Sahih Muslim 2276 – Sunnah.com
Caliphs and people of knowledge (ulamah)
In the times when revelation descended on children of Israel, a prophet was succeeded by another prophet. With the arrival of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prophethood came to its completion because there would be no prophets after him. Since prophethood is completed then those who will succeed the final prophet in this regards are two types of people: Caliphs and People of Knowledge (Ulama). The Prophet ﷺ said: “The Banu Israil (children of Israel) were ruled by the Prophets. When one Prophet died, another succeeded him. There will be no Prophet after me. Caliphs will come after me, and they will be many.” He also said: “Indeed the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets do not leave behind dinar (gold coin) or dirham (silver coin). The only legacy of the scholars is knowledge, so whoever takes from it, then he has indeed taken the most able share.” These two ahadith tell us there are two offices that would replace a prophet’s authority among Muslims: the spiritual/religious and the political.
Traditionally speaking, the spiritual guidance has always been conducted by the religious authorities in Islam and the governmental matters have been conducted by the political authorities namely the Caliphs or Khaleefahs. Two prophetic hadith bear witness to the difference between these two designations and the majority of Muslims accepted these two for centuries. Since the prophetic heritage consists of spiritual knowledge many among the companions and their students were inspired to inherit that legacy and become heirs of the Prophet ﷺ especially members that have traditionally belonged to the four schools of Maliki, Sha’afi, Hanafi and Hanbali. They adopted the path of guidance and advisory to the political authorities if and when necessary. In fact the Imams who descended from the Prophet ﷺ such as Imam Mohammad Baqir, Imam Jafar as Sadiq, Imam Musa Kazim and Imam Ali Rida, all did not struggle for the political office. Their followers encouraged them to gain political office but they focused on spreading spiritual guidance. Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (r.a) did the same except for a minor period during the time of Abu Bakr (r.a) and Umar (r.a), the prophet's first two successors and caliphs. The importance of these two different authorities can be understood from another prophetic hadith that says: “Allah never sends a prophet or gives the Caliphate to a Caliph but that he (the prophet or the Caliph) has two groups of advisors: A group advising him to do good and exhorts him to do it, and the other group advising him to do evil and exhorts him to do it. But the protected person (against such evil advisors) is the one protected by Allah.” This hadith entails advisory role in Islam which is best suited for the people of knowledge and they advise those who are in political authority or Caliphs. The Quran also teaches that rulers should keep company with advisers who are trustworthy and honest in their advisory role as in the case of the King of Egypt who took Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (alaihi salaam) in his company as an advisor: “And the King said: "Bring him to me, so that I may attach him to myself." And when he had spoken with him, [the King] said: "Behold, [from] this day you shall be of high standing with us, invested with all trust! (Ameen)" [Joseph] replied: "Place in my charge the storehouses of the land; behold, I shall be a good and knowing keeper (Hafeez un Aleem).” This teaches us that an adviser should be ameen i.e. worthy of trust, aleem i.e. one who has knowledge and well informed about what is happening around, hafeez i.e. guards well and does not allow encroachment what is handed as a trust. All three characteristics were carried by the personality of Yusuf (Joseph) (a.s) and his advisory was very effective to the point that he was able to ward off the great famine by helping them stock food which sustained them in that difficult time.
The Prophet ﷺ also warned us about severity in the absence of such advisory role by referring to the example of children of Israel whenever their scholars became lax in their advisory towards masses and rulers then Allah ﷻ punished all of them: “When the Children of Israel became sinful, their learned men prohibited them but they would not turn back. Yet, the learned men associated with them and ate and drank with them. Nay, by Allah, you either enjoin good and forbid evil and catch hold of the hand of the oppressor and persuade him to act justly and stick to the truth, or, Allah will involve the hearts of some of you with the hearts of others and will curse you as He had cursed them (Israelis).” The hearts of their learned became corrupt like the sinners. Due to this the Prophet ﷻ also once said the best jihad (struggle in Allah’s path) is to always speak a word of truth against tyrant rulers so that they may be guided. However this does not mean that the religious authorities can never take control of the political matters, they can if and when required to. But the main purpose of the scholars or people of knowledge (ulama) is to handle the religious/spiritual office and guide the Muslim nation and its leadership but not covet political power for themselves. Political power has much potential to corrupt its owner.
 Riyad us-saliheen Book 1, Hadith 656 – Sunnah.com
 Jami at-Tirmidhi 2682 – Sunnah.com
 Sahih al-Bukhari 7198 – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 12:54-55
 Riyad us-saliheen Book 1, Hadith 196 – Sunnah.com