The Sunni and Shia have needlessly argued for centuries over matters that are not exactly known in the Quran. Sometimes through ignorance of the Quranic text, and at other times by going to their man made bias history.
Verse 33:33 is among the most contentious verses in the Quran between the Shia and Sunni; they each argue according to their own bias history without paying careful attention to what the Quran itself states in that verse, and does not state.
The Quranic phrase: أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ , Ahlul Bayt, is a proper noun and it is used in different places in the Quran.
Ahlul Bayt in verse 11:73 referred to Prophet Abraham and his wife.
Ahlul Bayt in verse 28:12 referred to the Household of Prophet Moses.
Ahlul Bayt in verse 33:33 referred to the Household of Prophet Muhammad.
LET US LOOK AT THE CONTEXT OF THE VERSES 33:30-34
33:30 O women of the prophet, if any of you commits evident immorality, then her retribution will be doubled. This is easy for Allah to do.
33:31 And any of you who is dutiful to Allah and His messenger, and does good works, We will grant her double the recompense, and We have prepared for her a generous provision.
33:32 O women of the prophet, you are not like any other women. If you are righteous, then do not speak too softly, lest those with disease in their hearts will move with desire; you shall speak in an honorable manner.
33:33 You shall be content in your homes, and do not show off like in the old days of ignorance. You shall establish the Salat, and contribute towards purification, and obey Allah and His messenger. Allah wishes to remove any Confusion from you (aankum), O people of the House, and to purify you completely.
33:34 And recall (Wa uthkurun) all that is being recited in your homes of the revelations of Allah and the wisdom. Allah is Sublime, Expert.
Now to the ordinary reader, there seems to be no problem in these Verses above. But unfortunately, the Shias consider this Verse 33:33 to be the greatest Noble Verse to them, because they misuse it and misinterpret it to support their blasphemies and idol-worship of Ali and the rest of Ahlul-Bayt.
It is claimed or believed that Prophet Muhammad declared that him, Ali, Fatima (his daughter), Hasan and Hussein were the ones who got purified by Allah and that the “People of the House” (Ahlul-Bayt) are only limited to those individuals, and therefore, after Prophet Muhammad died, Ali should’ve been the very next Islamic Caliph.
The Shias exclude all of Prophet Muhammad’s wives from Noble Verse 33:33.
This verses 33:30-34 clearly include Prophet Muhammad’s wives. They are speaking about Prophet Muhammad’s wives, the Prophet himself, his daughter Fatimah and her family (Ali, Hasan and Hussein).
If we look at the first word in Verse 33:34, which comes after 33:33, we would see “Wa uthkurun”, which is a feminine plural to “uthkur”. In Arabic male plurals can be for either males only or a mix of males and females. But the female plurals are only specific and limited to females and not to anything else. So what this means is that Verse 33:33 was talking about Prophet Muhammad, his wives, his daughter and her family, since the plural, “aankum” (“from you” in Arabic) in Verse 33:33, is not a feminine one. So we know for sure that there are at least one male and at least two females in this group. Of course, the plural could also be for males only, but since both Sunnis and Shias agree that there is at least one female, then the possibility of females is there.
Now whether or not Ahlul-Bayt in Noble Verse 33:33 included the Prophet’s wives, Ali (the Prophet’s cousin), Fatimah (the Prophet’s daughter), and/or Hasan and Hussein(Ali’s and Fatimah’s two sons) is really irrelevant, because in these we clearly see that all of the true Believers are also purified 9:124, 10:100, 22:30, 4:146, 9:103, 20:76, 24:21, in the same exact manner as Ahlul-Bayt were purified. So there is nothing GODly or super-special about Ahlul-Bayt, and it is absolutely wrong to seek them in prayers as intermediaries between the person and GOD Almighty.
So whether or not Ali was cheated out of the Caliphate or not, that is irrelevant to me as a Muslim today. But to claim that Ali is perfect, sinless and infallible, and that he is Allah’s Mercy and he and the rest of his family are intermediaries between you and Allah is both an innovation and a blasphemy! As a matter of a fact some of Shias believe that Hasan was a “coward” for not fighting back for his father’s death! Hasan or Al-Hasan was the older brother. It was Hussein or Al-Hussein who died in the battle against the hypocrites whom his father, Caliph Ali, fought.
To me, none of this history means anything. While millions upon millions of mislead Muslims use such history to justify animosity among each others, but I would never judge a person based on a history like this. The modern hypocrites from both Sunnis and Shias turned Islam into a Protestants-Catholics war zone.