Another contributor commented that if based on Sunni
references we quoted, Ahlul-Bayt are the Prophet,
Fatimah, Ali, al-Hasan and al-Husain, then how can you include the nine descendants of alHusain(as)?
As we have already pointed out, only five members
of Ahlul-Bayt were alive at the time of the
Prophet(pbuh&hf). They were Prophet Muhammad, Lady
Fatimah, Imam Ali, Imam al-Hasan, and Imam al-
Husain. They were mentioned as Ahlul-Bayt by the Prophet(pbuh&hf) and the most important Sunni
collections testify to this fact.
However the nine descendants of Imam al-Husain were no
t alive at that time so that the Prophet could not
cover them by his mantle! But the Prophet did, in fact, mention their names and their numbers. Let us
review some traditions from Sihah Sittah:
First of all there is no such thing as Sihah Sittah. The Sunnis only have 2 Sahih collection of ahadith books, and the remaining books are referred to as Sunan books. Secondly, the Sunnis do believe that the 9 descendants of Imam Hussain (as) who the 12er shia number 4-12 are part of Ahlul Bayt and purified, but not to the same degree as the Holy Five. Thirdly to state that since the other imams were not alive therefore only 4 were chosen for this verse of purification is a baseless statement. If the other Imams were to equally purified then the Prophet (pbuh) would have stated there will be 9 others who are included in this verse. Remember Zaineb (sa) was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) and she is also part of Ahlul Bayt (as). On the contrary, the 12er Shia do not consider her to be infallible.
Purification does not mean infallible. If a pious Muslim does not sin it doesn't make him infallible. In history, Imam Ali (as) had to rethink his decisions, and there are many 12ers who are misguided to believe that whatever Imam Ali (as) willed is what Allah (swt) wills. This is a very deviant way of thinking. Examples of this would be when Imam Ali (as) appointed Ziyad as a govern of Basra. Another would be when the Imam had to replace Malik al Asthar (ra) with Muhammad bin Abi Bakr (ra) in Egypt. If he was infallible then he wouldn't need to rethink these decisions. Therefore, the Sunnis believe is that only the Prophets (as) are infallible since they bring guidance through wahi. Next the 12er Shia quote the 12 Calipahs ahadith. The reality of this ahadith is its a Ummavi fabrication to make the ummah believe that for all centuries of Islam there are only 12 destined rulers. On top of that they made themselves the 12 Calipahs, so Muslims would believe there can't be any other rulers. Likewise, the 12er did the same with their beliefs on the 12 Imams. However, in history we don't have a single narration where the Imams numbered themselves one to twelve. Also, these 12 imams never used this 12 calipah ahadith to convince other that they are the 12 divinely appointed imams.
Next the 12er use the ahadith that a Jewish man came and asked who the 12 Imams are. There is no reference in the bible about 12 Imams. The 12 princes in the bible are not the 12 Imams. I already covered that in another blog. Next if the 12 Imams were mentioned in the bible then why couldn't they be mentioned in the Quran ? Again the 12er shia reasoning is mostly based on analogies and extrapolations, and these method of understanding are not binding on the ummah. In fact, as I know the Ahlul Bayt rejected the concept of analogies and extrapolations. They were strictly textual imams. So in the end, if Ahlul Bayt extends to the 9 descendants of Imam Hussain (as) then it also extends to the other children of Imam Hassan (as) and Imam Hussain (as). Eventually through generation the purification level starts dropping based on the level of deviance from the truth.