Jaarullah Zamakshari in his exegesis (tafseer), ‘Al-Kashshaaf‘, vol. 4, p. 197 narrates from Ibn Abbas that once Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) along with his companions went to visit Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) when they (a.s.) were ill. At that time, Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was present over there. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told him,
“O Abal Hasan! Why don’t you make a nazr (avowal) for the quick recovery of your children?” Thus, Ali (a.s.), Janab-e-Zahra (s.a.) and Janab-e- Fizzah took a nazr of fasting for three days if the children recovered from the illness. When they fasted for the first day after the recovery of Hasnain (a.s.), there was nothing in the house that they could have for breaking the fast (iftaar). Imam Ali (a.s.) took a loan of three kg barley from Shamoan – a Jew from Khyber. He (a.s.) gave that barley to Janab-e-Zahra (s.a.) who made a few bread loaves from it. However, when they sat down foriftaar, a beggar called out at their door, “O family of the Prophet! I convey my salaams upon you. I’m poor and needy. Please give me something to eat. Surely, Allah will confer you with the provisions of Paradise.’ On hearing this plea, all of them gave their share of iftaar and opened their fast only with water. The next day they fasted again. A similar thing happened. Once again, at the time of iftaar, an orphan came at that time and pleaded for some help. This time too, all three of them offered their share of iftaar to that orphan. When they fasted on the third day, again at iftaar, a destitute came at their door and implored for food. For the third time, all of them parted with their share of iftaar and gave it to that poor person. The next morning, Imam Ali (a.s.), along with Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (a.s.) went to meet the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who saw them quivering due to hunger and thirst. He (s.a.w.a.) said. “I’m pained to see you in this condition.” Then Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) got up and went to the house of Janab-e-Zahra (s.a.). He found her sitting in the ‘mehrab‘ and praying. She had become so frail due to hunger that her stomach was touching her back while her eyes had sunk inside the sockets. Seeing his beloved daughter in this condition, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was aggrieved. At that time Janabe Jibraeel-e-Amin (r.a.) descended from the heavens and said to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “O Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)! Allah has presented this Surah (a chapter from the Holy Quran) to you and your Ahle Bayt (a.s.) as a greeting and congratulation.” Thus Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) recited the Surah Dahr at that instance.
The beggars were Jibrael, Mikaael and Israafeel: Allamah Shaafei
After narrating this incident in his exegesis, Allamah Nishapuri writes, “According to traditions, the beggar who came to the door on all three nights was none other than Janab-e- Jibraeel (a.s.). He was testing their patience on the orders of Allah.”
Shahabuddin Aaloosi narrates the above mentioned incident of ‘al-Kashshaaf‘ in his exegesis ‘Ruh al-Ma’ani‘, vol. 29 p.158 and comments, “What can one say about Imam Ali (a.s.) and Janab-e-Zahra (s.a.) except that Imam Ali (a.s.) is the Leader of all Believers and the Successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) while Janab-e-Fatima is the beloved and joy of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) are like the fragrance of a flower and are the Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise. This belief is not only of the Shia (raafezi). In fact, to believe in anything besides this is absolute misguidance.”
Hence, the entire chapter of Dahr has been revealed to prove the excellence of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The point worth noting about this chapter is that although it mentions the bounties of Paradise, yet there is no mention of hoors (fairies) in the chapter. This is as a mark of respect to Janab-e-Fatima Zahra (s.a.).
For more details one can refer to:
(a) Al-Durr-ul-Manthoor of Hafez Jalaaluddeen al-Suyooti, vol. 6, p. 299,
(b) Al-Bahr al-Moheet of Abu Hayyan al-Aandloosi, vol. 8, p. 395
(c) Yanabee’ al-Mawaddah of Hafez Sulaiman Qundoozi, p. 93
Allamah Shaafei in his book Kifaayah al-Taalib on p. 345 writes, “The first beggar was Jibrael, the second was Mikaael and the third, Israafeel.”