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Who are the Ahl al-Dhikr?

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Who are the Ahl al-Dhikr in Quran 16:43?

And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired - Ask the followers of the Remembrance if ye know not! -

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وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذّ‌ِكْرِ إِن كُنتُم لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

43. “And We did not send before you except men unto whom We revealed; So ask the people of ‘Thikr’ (the Qur’an) if you do not know,”

At this time, addressing the Prophet (S), the Qur’an asserts that Allah did not send anyone before him except those individuals from mankind whose hearts were illuminated with the light of Divine revelation. That is, they were just like him in divine messengership benefiting from revelation and in the capacity of being His own envoys.

This matter was raised in answer to the pagans of Mecca who rejected the prophetic mission of man. Allah points out that the prophet must be of the people’s own equals so that they can see him and talk to him and, finally, understand his words. Therefore, in such a case, it is not appropriate that instead of a man, an angel be appointed as a messenger to carry out the prophetic mission.

The verse says:

“And We did not send before you except men unto whom We revealed; So ask the people of ‘Thikr’ (the Qur’an) if you do not know,”

In other words, He recounts in this verse: We did not send before you, O’ Mohammad (S), anyone to any nation but the cases confirmed and equipped with Our revelation, to which your people raise objections as to why it is that their prophet is not an angel who is from among the human kind.

Declare that they seek the truth out by referring to the Ahl-uth-Thikr, the knowledgeable people and the scientists of each nation, if they are unable to put questions concerning issues to all prophets who belong to the human kind.

According to Ibn Abbas, the object of ‘Ahl-uth-Thikr’ are the Christian and Jewish scholars in this context; that is: were they doubtful as to the truth of the matter, they would better refer to the people of Turat, and the nation of the Bible for the clarification of the issues.

These words are addressed to the pagans, for the news which the Jews and the Christians provided them with, out of their Books, were acceptable to them while rejecting the words of the Prophet (S), owing to their intensive hostility. Some, however, claim that ‘Ahl-uth-Thikr’ signifies the ‘followers of the Qur’an,’ because /thikr/ means ‘the Qur’an’.

Jabir-Ibn-i-Yazid and Muhammad Ibn-i-Muslim, quoting Imam-Mohammad-i-Baqir (as) state that he has proclaimed:

“We are ‘Ahl-uth-Thikr’.7

To sum up, this noble verse deals with a general universal principle which is acceptable by human reason, and it is referring of whatever one is not knowledgeable about to the experts in that field.

That is, for whatever you do not know, you may ask the knowledgeable ones. Certainly, the best example in religious issues is the Ahl-ul-Bayt of the Prophet (S) who can provide the point of reference.

There are numerous quotations as to the validity of this point in the Shi‘ite as well as the Sunni literature which have been dealt with extensively in the third volume of Mulhaqat-i-’Ihq aq-ul-Haqq p.p. 482, onwards.

Tabari, Ibn-i-Kathir, and ’ Allūsi have also pointed out that ‘Ahl-uth-Thikr’ is the same and identical with ‘Ahl-ul-Bayt’ in their commentaries beneath this verse. We also have it that H afiz Muhammad Ibn-i-Mu’min-i-ShiRazi has mentioned the same matter in ‘Mustakhraj’ when discussing the ‘position’ of the ‘Ahl-ul-Bayt’.

Again, in vol. 23 of Bihar, pages 172 onwards, there have been quoted about 60 quotations concerning this issue, through some of which the Immaculate Imams have confirmed that:

“Swearing by Allah, it is we who are the ‘Ahl-uth-Thikr’, the responsible, (to whom the people must put their questions).”

Therefore, one must turn to the specialists in the Qur’anic sciences, namely, the Ahl-ul-Bayt for ones inquiry regarding his religious and ideological questions, who are experts in the field of the Qur’anic knowledge and not at random turn to whoever has got a superficial knowledge of Islam.

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قد انزل الله الیکم ذکرا، رسولا یتلوا علیکم آیات الله


According to the above verses, Prophet Muhammad (s) is the Dhikr; thus, Ahl al-Dhikr are in fact Ahl Muhammad, I.e. the Ahl al-Bayt Úáíå ÇáÓáÇã


لقد انزلنا الیکم کتابا فیه ذکرکم افلا تعقلون


According to this verse, Dhikr is within Quran. 

According to the Hadith of Thiqlayn, Quran and Ahl al-Bayt Úáíå ÇáÓáÇã are together until the day of judgment. 

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محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن منصور بن يونس، عن أبي بكر الحضرمي، قال: كنت عند أبي جعفر عليه السلام ودخل عليه الورد أخو الكميت فقال: جعلني الله فداك اخترت لك سبعين مسألة ما تحضرني منها مسألة واحدة، قال: ولا واحدة يا ورد؟ قال: بلى قد حضرني منها واحدة، قال وما هي قال: قول الله تبارك وتعالى: " فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون " من هم؟ قال: نحن قال: قلت: علينا أن نسألكم؟ قال: نعم، قلت: عليكم أن تجيبونا؟ قال: ذاك إلينا.


Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Muhammad b. Isma`il from Mansoor b. Yunus from Abi Bakr al-Hadrami.

He said: I was with Abu Ja`far عليه السلام and al-Ward, the brother of al-Kumayt, entered and said: May Allah make me your ransom, I have chosen seventy questions for you, and not one of them do I recall. He said: Not even one, Ward? He said: Yea, I have recalled one of them. He said: And what is it? He said: The saying of Allah تبارك وتعالى, “So ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know.” (16:43, 21:7) – who are they? He said: Us. He said: I said: Is it upon us that we ask you? He said: Yes. I said: Is it upon you to answer us? He said: That is up to us. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 543)

(hasan kal-muwathaq) (حسن كالموثق)


محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن العلاء بن رزين عن محمد بن مسلم، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: إن من عندنا يزعمون أن قول الله عز وجل: " فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون " أنهم اليهود والنصارى، قال: إذا يدعونكم إلى دينهم! قال: - قال بيده إلى صدره - نحن أهل الذكر ونحن المسؤولون.


Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Safwan b. Yahya from al-`Alaa’ b. Ruzayn from Muhammad b. Muslim from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام.

He (i.e. Muhammad b. Muslim) said: From us there are some who claim that the saying of Allah عز وجل “So ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know.” (16:43, 21:7) refers to the Jews and the Christians. He said: They would call you to their religion! He said – saying with his hand on his chest – we are the People of the Reminder (Ahl adh-Dhikr) and we are the questioned ones. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 544)

(sahih) (صحيح)


عدة من أصحابنا، عن احمد بن محمد، عن الوشاء، عن أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: سمعته يقول: قال علي بن الحسين عليه السلام على الائمة من الفرض ما ليس على شيعتهم، وعلى شيعتنا ما ليس علينا، أمرهم الله عز وجل أن يسألونا، قال: " فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون " فأمرهم أن يسألونا وليس علينا الجواب، إن شئنا أجبنا وإن شئنا أمسكنا.


Several of our companions from Ahmad b. Muhammad from al-Washsha’ from Abu’l Hasan ar-Rida عليه السلام.

He (i.e. al-Washsha’) said: I heard him say: `Ali b. al-Husayn عليه السلام said: Upon the Imams are obligations that are not upon their Shi`a, and upon our Shi`a [there are obligations] that are not upon us. Allah عز وجل ordered them to ask us – He said, “So ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know.” (16:43, 21:7) – so He commanded them to ask us, and it is not upon us to answer. If we will, we answer, and if we will, we withhold. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 545)

(sahih) (صحيح)

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