Quranic Reflection No. 510. Āyat 6:87 – Values within the family
Wamin ābā’ihim wadhurriyātihim wa-ikhwānihim wajtabaynāhum wahadaynāhum ilā sirātin mustaqīm
And from among their fathers, their descendants and their brethren – We chose them and guided them to a straight path.
(Sūrat al-An‘ām, No 6, Āyat 87)
Verses 84-87 of this Sūra mentions the progeny of Prophet Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis-salām and the Prophets from that lineage. Allah ‘azza wajall says He chose people from that family, from among the fathers, descendants and brothers. Prophethood remained in that line. The various Prophets over different eras and places were together in the grace and guidance they received from Allah. This common thread unites all the Prophets. The word ijtabā refers to being chosen for special grace from the Almighty. The result is that many blessings come to them in various forms. This grace is mostly for the Prophets, and for those who are close to their status such as the truthful ones and the martyrs.
This verse emphasizes the sanctity of the family of Prophets. The Prophets of the Banū Isrā’īl were all descendants of a single family. Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā says:, Indeed Allah chose Ādam and Nūh, and the progeny of Ibrāhīm and the progeny of Imrān above all the nations; some of them are descendants of the others, and Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing (Q 3:33-34). In another place in the Quran, He says: These are they on whom Allah bestowed favors, from among the Prophets of the seed of Ādam, and of those whom We carried with Nūh, and of the seed of Ibrāhīm and Isrā’īl, and of those whom We guided and chose; when the communications of the Beneficent Allah were recited to them, they would fall down weeping in prostration (Q 19:58). Prophet Ibrāhīm (a) was the patriarch of this family. As part of his great status, Allah mentions the noble personalities in his progeny. From the total of 25 Prophets mentioned by name in the Quran, 16 Prophets are mentioned in verses 84 – 87 of al-An‘ām as part of Ibrāhīm’s family.
The eminent position of the families and descendants of the Prophets as seen in the Quran is paralleled in the family of Prophet Muhammad sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam. This holy family is also mentioned in many different verses of the Quran. The distinguished state of purity of the family of the Prophet (s) is in line with the rank of the families of previous Prophets as mentioned in the Quran. Al-Rayyān ibn al-Salt narrates a discussion of al-Ridhā ‘alayhis-salām with al-Ma’mūn (al-‘Abbāsī) and the scholars about the difference between the Prophet’s progeny and the rest of the ummah and the former’s superiority over the latter, in which he, Inter alia, says: ‘‘The scholars said: ‘Has Allah explained (this) selection in His Book?’ al-Ridhā (a) said: He has explained the selection manifestly in twelve places — apart from the hidden (references). Then he described those places”. (Al-Mīzān, Eng Tr., v 6, p 68 from ‘Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridhā)
A virtuous family is part of a believer’s legacy and is an important aspect of his nobility. Virtues and good principles are passed on in a family and develop into innate characteristics that are carried on through generations. It is thus that Islam emphasizes the importance of a good family, making it part of the criteria for choosing a spouse. The Prophet (s) says: Marry in the lap of a decent family, since sperm and genes have effect (Makārimul Akhlāq, p.153).
Let this verse remind you of the importance of good families. It was a sign of the greatness of the Prophets and is a virtue for believers.
Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.