Meaning of the word Ahl al-Bait:
“Ahl” in Arabic is used for various meanings such as “Ahle”, “Family” and “belongs to.” Hence, ‘Ahl al-Makka’ means those who belongs to Mecca, ‘Ahl al-Medina’ those belongs to Medina, ‘Ahl al-Ilm’ the knowledgeable and so on. The word ‘Bait’ in Arabic stands for house or household. Therefore, meaning of Ahl al-Bait is, who belongs to the Household. Commonly, the word Ahl al-Bait denotes to the Household of Allah’s Messenger.
Ahl al-Bait and Sahaba (The Companions):
However, the Messenger of Allah honored and dignified his Companions by calling them “My Companions”. No one in Ummah can claim to be as honorable as the Companions. Similarly, the Messenger of Allah endorsed a very specific and exalted position to his family besides their companionship. Here a question arises, the people who were blessed to be in the company of the Messenger of Allah were
titled as “Companions” and Ahl al-Bait were also of course blessed with the company. Then what is the need of calling them with
a different title i.e Ahl al-Bait? It must be known that every member from the family of Allah’s Messenger holds the dignified status of Companionship, but not every Companion is from the Household of Allah’s Messenger. Moulana Mufti Khaleel Ahmed (Vice Chancellor Jamia Nizamia) and other esteem religious scholars hold that the Household of Allah’s Messenger is entitled with all the virtues of the Companionship and also have some other numerous exclusive virtues that cannot be enjoyed by anyone except them. Now we will discuss some of them.
The Best Household among all:
According to A’ysha The Messenger of Allah said that Gabriel said: ‘I have searched and scrutinized the eastern and western regions of the earth, and I have not discovered any man more excellent than Muhammad, nor I have seen any house more excellent than the Household of Banu Hashim.”
Reported by Tabarani in Mu’jm al-Awsat-6285.