Prophets and their infallibility regarding major and minor sins
Fatwa No: 6901

  • Fatwa Date:8-2-2012 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 16, 1433
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Question

Were the Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, granted infallibility in the sense that they never committed minor sins? What is the opinion of the righteous predecessors in this regard?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

 

There is consensus among scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them all, that the Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, were infallible regarding the delivery of their messages. They never forgot anything that was revealed to them unless that thing was then abrogated by Allaah The Almighty who pledged that He would enable the Prophet, sallaallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to memorize the Quran by heart without forgetting anything, except what He wanted him to forget. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{We will make you recite, [O Muhammad], and you will not forget,} [Quran 87:6]

{Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation.} [Quran 75:17,18]

{O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allaah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allaah does not guide the disbelieving people.} [Quran 5:67]

Thus, the Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, were infallible regarding the delivery of the message, and they never committed major sins. They also never concealed anything that Allaah The Almighty revealed to them.

Most scholars say that they were not infallible from committing minor sins. However, if they committed any minor sin, they did not do it constantly. Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that this was the opinion of most of the scholars and Muslim sects. He said that this was also the opinion of the Ash‘ari school. In addition, this was mentioned by Abu Al-Hasan Al-Aamidi and most scholars of exegesis, Hadeeth and jurisprudence  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them all. Nothing different from this was narrated by the predecessors, Imaams, Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them or their successors  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them.

The evidence that the prophets  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them might have committed minor sins but did not justify them or be constant in doing them, is what Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{And Aadam (Adam) disobeyed his Lord and erred. Then his Lord chose him and turned to him in forgiveness and guided [him].} [Quran 20:121,122]

This proves that Aadam  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention committed a minor sin that is identified as a sin but did not justify it. Then,  he repented.

Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{Moses] said, "This is from the work of Satan. Indeed, he is a manifest, misleading enemy." He said, "My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me," and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.} [Quran 28:15,16]

Thus, Moosa  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention acknowledged his fault and asked for the forgiveness of Allaah The Almighty after killing the Copt and Allaah The Almighty forgave him.

Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{And he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allaah]. So We forgave him that; and indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return.} [Quran 38:23,24]

The sin that Daawood (David)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention was  guilty of was that he hastened to judge before listening to the second party.

Allaah The Almighty admonished the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, on a number of occasions that were mentioned in the Quran. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allaah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 66:1]

Allaah The Almighty admonished His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, regarding the captives of the Battle of Badr and his attitude with Ibn Umm Maktoom  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him.

Some interpret these verses according to implicit meaning, as they think that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) could not have been wrong about anything. They founded their opinion on the idea that Allaah The Almighty orders us to follow the Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, and take them as examples;  that they should be followed in whatever they do, so a  prophet is not supposed to commit even a minor sin so that his followers would not do like he did. This is because people would be indirectly ordered to copy this sin as they are ordered to follow the prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, and at the same time, they would be forbidden to do it as it is a sin. This allegation would be correct if the sin was so hidden that it may be mistaken for good deeds. However, Allaah The Almighty alerted His prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, and immediately guided them to repentance.

They also maintain that sinning is contrary to perfection, so they think the prophets could not sin. This would be true if these sins were not followed by repentance. Actually, repentance grants forgiveness and is not contrary to perfection. A sinner would not be reproached; on the contrary, usually a person is even better after repenting. It was narrated by some of the righteous predecessors that Daawood  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention became even better after his repentance. Some maintain that if repentance was not an act that Allaah The Almighty loved, He would not have afflicted His most beloved person with sins.

It is known that any prophet who committed sins immediately repented afterwards because the prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, did not insist on sins or delay repentance. They were infallible and were better after they had repented. 

Allaah Knows best.

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