Usually when we remember ayah 33:33 we think about the purification of Ahlulbayt (as) “Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the (Prophet’s) household, and to purify you with thorough purification”. But what about the other half of the ayah??


When we turn to the ahhadith of Ahlulbayt (as) regarding the first half of this ayah we understand the strong condemnation of A’isha when she left her home to wage war against the Rightful Caliph, Ameer Al-Mu’mineen, Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as).

“وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ”

“And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of before..”

Ali Bin Ibrahim said, ‘Hameed Bin Ziyad narrated to us, from Muhammad Bin Al-Husayn, from Muhammad Bin Yahya, from Talhat Bin Zayd:

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah (as), from his father (as) having said regarding this Verse [33:33] “and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of before”, he (as) said: ‘You will become (like the) ignorant once again’

Source: Tafsir Al-Qummi, Volume 2, Page 193 (See Image)

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What is meant by ignorance of ‘before’?

Ibn Babuwayh said, ‘Ali Bin Ahmad Bin Daqaaq narrated to us, from Hamza Bin Al-Qasim, from Abu Al-Hassan Ali Bin Al-Janeyd, from Abu Awanat, from Al-Hassan Bin Ali, from Abdul Razaaq, from his father, from Mayna, a slave of Abdul Rahman Bin Awf, from Abdullah bin Mas’ud who said:

‘I said to the Prophet (sawa), ‘O Rasool-Alah! Who will wash you (your body) when you pass away?’ He (sawa) said: ‘Every Prophet is washed by his successor’. I said, ‘So who is your successor, O Rasool-Allah?’ He (sawa) said: ‘Ali Bin Abu Talib (as)’.
I said, ‘How long will he live for after you O Rasool-Allah?’ He (sawa) replied: Thirty years, for Yoshua Bin Noon (as), successor of Musa (as) lived after Musa (as) for thirty years, and Safraa daughter of Shuayb (as), wife of Musa (as) came out against him (in a battle), so she said, ‘I am more deserving than you of the command’. So he fought her, and fought her fighters, and made her a captive. So her captivation was good. And a daughter of Abu Bakr would be coming out against Ali (as) among such and such a thousand from my community. So he (as) would be fighting her and her fighters, and captive her with a good captivation, and regarding it, Allah Mighty and Majestic Revealed [33:33] “And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of before”, Meaning Safraa, daughter of Shuayb (as).

Source: Kamaal Al-Deen wa Tamaam Al-Ni’ma, Sh. Al-Saduq (rh), Volume 1, Page 38 (See Image)

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Why did A’isha’s leaving of the house constitute Ignorance?

Both the Non-Shias and the Shias have reported through continuing narrations that the Holy Prophet (S) says: “The one who dies but does not know the Imam of his time will have died the death of ignorance.”

“Once I asked abu ‘Abd Allah, recipient of divine supreme covenant, about the statement of Sunni Muslims, al-‘Amma, that says the Messenger of Allah has said, ‘If a person dies without recognizing who his Imam is, his death is as if he has died the death of ignorance (pre-Islamic age of darkness).’ “The Imam said, ‘That is very true, by Allah.’…”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from Yunus ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman who has said that narrated to us Hammad from ‘Abd al-A‘la’ who has said the above hadith.

Source: Usool Al-Kafi, Volume 1, Hadith #977

Grading: Allaamah Majlisi says it is good chain on the apparant (حسن على الظاهر), Mira’at Al-Uqool, Volume 4, Page 229 (See Image)

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The Authentic hadith is found in the Sunni book: Musnad Ahmed, volume 4, page 96.

 حدثنا عبد الله حدثنى أبى ثنا أسود بن عامر انا أبو بكر عن عاصم عن أبى صالح عن معاوية قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من مات بغير امام مات ميتة جاهلية

The Prophet (sawa) said: “If a person dies without recognizing who his Imam is, his death is as if he has died the death of ignorance”

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If not recognizing the Imam of the time constitutes ignorance, then what about fighting him (as)?

So we see here there was ample warning for A’isha that her rising with the sword will lead her to a state like those who are in ignorance. Perhaps the clearest warning was when the Prophet (sawa) warned his wives about the barking dogs.

Another warning to A’isha

The Prophet (sawa) said to his wives: “I wonder which one of you will be the instigator of the Camel Affair, at whom the dogs of Haw’ab will bark, and she will be the one who has deviated from the straight path. As to you Humayra (i.e., Aisha), I have warned you in that regard.”

Source (Sunni): History of Ibn al-Athir, v3, p120; al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, by Ibn Qutaybah

When A’isha heard the barking dogs, she realised once again her mistake.. but did that stop her? This prophecy of the Messenger of Allah (sawa) took place 28 years later in the plain of al-Haw’ab.

The story that all historians tend to agree is that during her journey to Basra (to lead the war of Camel), Aisha passed by the waters of al-Haw’ab and heard the dogs barking. She remembered the warning of the Prophet, and she cried and said: “Take me back! Take me back!”

But Talha and Zubair brought fifty men and bribed them to testify in front of her that the place was not the plain of al-Haw’ab.

Source (Sunni): al-Tabari; Ibn al-Athir;

Al-Haakim narrates a variation where who graded it Sahih (See Image)

Qays said: ‘When Ayesha reached Bani Amer’s well at night, some dogs were barking at her, so she said: “Where is this place?”, so they said: “Al-Haw’ab”, she said: “I must go back!”, Al-Zubair said: “No, you shall go forward so that the Muslims shall see you and Allah makes peace between them”, she said: “Allah’s messenger (pbuh) once said: ‘Then what would you (the wives of the prophet) do when you hear the barking of Al-Hawab dogs?”

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This is also recorded in the Sunni book Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, Volume 6, Page 52. The margin writer of the book Shaykh Shu’aib al-Arnaout said: ‘The chain is Sahih and the narrators are reliable (Thuqat), the narrators of the two Sheikhs (Bukhari and Muslim)”

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May Allah (swt) protect us from disobeying Allah (swt), His Prophet (sawa) and his Divinely Guided Imams (as).