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The Pure Five (a)

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The Five (a) (Arabic:اَلخَمسَة الطَيِّبَة) is a title for the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a), Lady Fatima (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), whose common virtues and positions distinguish them from other Infallibles (a). They are also known as Al 'Aba, Ashab al-Kisa', Al Kisa' and al-Khamsa al-Tayyiba (the pure five).

A mosaic tile with the name of "The Five (a)" in Imam Khomeini Musalla, Tehran


Virtues of the Five (a) in the Qur'an

The fame of the Five is due to the occasion of revelation of the verse of Tathir which was revealed when the Prophet (s) and other four infallible ones mentioned above gathered under a cloak. Shi'a commentators and many others exclude the Ahl al-Bayt (a) to Lady Fatima (a), her husband and Al-Hasanayn (a) whom are introduced in the mentioned verse as those from whom all impurities is repelled.

The excellence of the Five is also understood from other verses such as:

  • Al-It'am Verse: which revealed when Ali (a), Fatima (a), al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) fasted for three consecutive days, and in all the three days at the time of iftar (breaking-meal), they gave their food to a poor person, an orphan, and a prisoner, while they stayed hungry themselves.
  • Al-Mawadda Verse: in which "al-Qurba" refers to Ali (a), Fatima (a), al-Hasan (a), and al-Husayn (a) and their love is regarded as the reward for the Prophet's (s) mission.
  • Verses 19-22 of Qur'an 55 in which Ali (a) and Fatima (a) are characterized as two seas and the Prophet as an intermediary or barzakh between them, and al-Hasanayn (a) as pearl and coral emerging from the meeting of the two seas.
  • Based on the Qur'an 2:37, "Then Adam received certain words from his Lord", there are Sunni and Shiite hadiths concerning the exegesis of the verse according to which, Adam (a)'s resort to the five pure lights and his call of God by appeal to their names ("words") led to his forgiveness and the acceptance of his repentance by God. In some of these hadiths, the derivation of the names of the Five (Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn) from God's names (Mahmud and Wahid, Ali, 'Āli, and A'la, Fatir and Fatim, Muhsin and Dhu l-Ihsan and Dhu l-Asma' al-Husna) is made explicit with some differences between them.

Also, in the exegesis and interpretation of this verse, as well as the verse, "When his Lord tested Abraham with certain words and he fulfilled them", not only the "words" interpreted as the Five, but also "fulfilled them" is interpreted as the nine Imams from the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (a). These hadiths mention numerous virtues for Al 'Aba.

Also, in the verse, "Are you arrogant, or are you one of the exalted ones?", the "exalted" is interpreted as the Pure Five.

There are other Qur'anic verses that refer to the high position of the Five according to certain Sunni and Shiite hadiths, such as al-Nisa':69, Ibrahim:24, al-Nahl:43, Taha:132, al-Furqan:74, al-Dhariyat:27, al-Tur:21, al-Hashr:9.

Virtues of the Five in Hadith

A Poster depicting the names of The Five (a) in Arabic

In addition to Qur'anic verses, there are sections in Sunni and Shiite hadith collections, devoted to the characteristics and virtues of the Five.

In some hadiths, Gabriel is referred to as the sixth after the Five ("Gabriel is our sixth").

Also in words, debates, and sermons by Ahl al-Bayt (a), the Five are respected and honored. In many adjurations and honorific introductions by the Imams (a), there are mentions of the names of the Pure Five as a proof for authenticity and nobility of Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Among the Five, the order of virtue and superiority is known to some extent as implied by some hadiths. It is certain that the Prophet (s) is superior to others among the Five. Amir al-Mu'minin(a) is superior to Fatima (a) and al-Hasanayn (a). And there is a disagreement over whether Fatima (a) is superior to al-Hasanayn (a) or vice versa.

Precedence of the Five (a) over other Imams (a)

Precedence and eminence of the Five among the fourteen Infallibles (a) is proved due to their exclusive virtues. Also, the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) who was the last of the Five, and is called "Khamis ahl al-'aba" and "Khamis ahl al-kisa'" in du'as and supplications has been considered as the demise of all the Five and thus as the greatest catastrophe.

See also


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from پنج تن in Farsi Wikishia.