Prophets do not commit sins
Question: Do prophets not commit sins? That is, are they sinless?
Being innocent, impeccable, and sinless is peculiar to prophets.(Maraj-ul-bahran)
Every prophet is immune from all kinds of sins, be they grave or venial. (Riyâd-un-nâsihîn)
Prophets are immune from, free of committing sins. They cannot commit sins. (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî, Vol. II, Letter 44)
Imâm-i Ghazâlî writes in his work Rawdâ-tut-tâlibîn:
It is established by consensus (ijmâ’) that the Messenger of Allah is free of committing grave sins, venial sins, and makrûhs. It is also established by consensus that he is free of forgetfulness, negligence, and making a mistake and erring in the messages he conveys.
That it is allowable and possible for him to err in the messages he communicates is conditional upon his realizing it immediately and thus not keeping the error going. This, in turn, is committed in order for wisdom behind what he does to come out into the open and in order to make known the benefit derived from forgetting. The reason for Allah’s Messenger’s committing an error in this regard is to teach knowledge and explain the religion. As a matter of fact, he relates in ahadîth-i sharîf, “I do not forget or err in any matter. If such a thing issues from me, it is simply because I can explain what I want to communicate.” This state is not a defect on the part of him. Rather, it is meant to broaden tablîgh (communication) and to complete the blessing. All Muslim Sufis and scholars with spiritual knowledge state that it is impossible for him to err, to forget, and to display negligence or laxity except with a view to communicating something, elaborating the rulings in his actions, declaring the religious commandments, and telling the messages of Revelation coming to his heart.
Hadrat Qâdi ‘Iyâd writes in his book entitled Shifâ-i sharîf:
“Those who considered small sins allowable for prophets based their argument on the outward meanings of many âyât and ahâdîth. This act of theirs gave way to regarding grave sins as permissible, disintegrating the consensus (ijmâ’), and uttering such things not befitting a Muslim to utter.
As it is understood from all these citations, prophets do not commit grave or venial sins. They can commit a dhalla. But a dhalla is not a sin. It is not to do what is the best and the most preferable but to opt for what is meritorious. (Riyâd-un-nâsihîn)
A verse of Fath Sûra, addressing the Prophet ‘alaihis-salâm, declares,“Allah forgave your past and future sins. He completed His blessing on you and guided you to the right path.” With this verse Allahu ta’âlâ holds His Honorable Messenger far from any imperfection and proclaims his being sinless. (Shifâ-i sharîf)
Some Islamic scholars explained this verse as follows:
(Allahu ta’âlâ protected you from committing sins in the past and in the future.)
Prophets were protected from committing sins
Question: The 128th verse of Baqara Sûra says that the Prophet Ibrâhîm and the Prophet Ismâil prayed as, “O Rabb! Accept our repentance.” The 121st verse of Tâhâ Sûra says, “Âdam disobeyed his Rabb.” Also, the 15th verse of Qasas Sûra says that Hadrat Mûsâ killed one of two people who were fighting, and the 16th verse of the same sûra states that Hadrat Mûsa said, “O my Rabb! I have wronged myself; forgive me.” Again, the 74th verse of Kahf Sûra says that Hadrat Mûsâ’s friend killed an innocent child. Do these cases not bear witness to prophets’ committing sins?
Islam cannot be learned from Qur’ân translations. On the contrary, one may develop such wrong thoughts. Islam can be learned only from correctly written ‘ilm-i hâl books.
Allahu ta’âlâ protected prophets from committing sins both before and after they were informed of their prophethood. (Nuhbat-ul-laâli)
Prophets had been protected from committing sins before they were informed of their prophethood as well. (Al-Millat-ul mashhûra by Qâdi ‘Iyâd)
The purport of the verse related to Ibrâhîm and Ismâil ‘alaihimus-salâm is as follows:
([Ibrâhîm and Ismâil said] O our Rabb! Make us fixed in being Muslims, and raise from our descendants a Muslim community. Teach us our manâsik [rites of hajj]. Accept our repentance, for the One who accepts repentance and who is merciful is only You.) [Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 128]
Prophets are protected from commission of sins. After Hadrat Ibrâhîm and Hadrat Ismâil had built the Ka’ba, they prayed as such in order to teach that the prayers and repentance made at these places would be accepted much more. It means, “Render our immunity [our not committing sins] continuous” (Qurtubî).
Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî declares:
We should not think that the sins of the beloved are like the sins of enemies. “What the good look on as doing good is sinning to the beloved” has been said. Their sins and faults, if they have, are unlike others’ sins. They are similar to erring or forgetting. They have not been committed on purpose, by intent. The 115th verse of Tâhâ Sûra, which purports, “Âdam forgot. He did not commit intentionally, deliberately,” indicates this fact.
This means to say that Hadrat Âdam did not mean to commit a sin. He perpetrated it not on purpose but by forgetting and in error. Therefore, he was pardoned. On the other hand, Iblîs did it deliberately and purposely, thus being cursed eternally. Both cases contained a contravention of the command. But one of them related to forgetting and erring while the other related to doing it purposely and intentionally.
The information in Tafsîr-i Qurtubî concerning Hadrat Mûsâ’s killing the Egyptian is as follows:
1. Hadrat Mûsâ was 12 years old then.
2. He intervened in two people so as to break up the fight. The Egyptian died when Hadrat Mûsâ pushed him away lightly.
3. Hadrat Mûsâ did not have intent to kill someone in this event. It took place inadvertently, that is, accidentally. Notwithstanding it, he begged Allahu ta’âlâ’s pardon for it. Allah, in turn, forgave him.
Hizir ‘alaihis-salâm, who was in Hadrat Mûsâ’s company, killed the innocent child by order of Allah. It was told that the child concerned would be a disbeliever when he grew up and would persecute his parents. Therefore, he was killed in order for Allah to grant a good child in place of him. It was not Hadrat Hizir who was at fault in this happening.
Prophets do not worship the moon or the sun
Question: Though it is a known fact that prophets do not commit sins even before they are informed of their prophethood, why is it written in the Qur’ân’s translations that Hadrat Ibrâhîm said, “This is my Rabb,” meaning the star, the moon, and the sun?
No prophet commits any sin, attributing a partner to Allahu ta’âlâ in particular, even before he starts to communicate his prophethood. He does not say, “The sun is my Rabb,” as polytheists do. It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(Ibrâhîm [Abraham] was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was an upright Muslim, who truly knew Allah. He was not one of the polytheists, either.) [Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân, 67]
(Verily, before this, We gave rushd [guidance before he reached puberty] to Ibrâhîm as well. We knew [that he was fit for and worthy of it].) [Sûrat-ul-Anbiyâ’, 51]
These Qur’anic verses testify that Ibrâhîm ‘alaihis-salâm had been on true guidance even before he reached puberty, too. (Baydâwî)
When this is the case, to say that Ibrâhîm ‘alaihis-salâm worshiped the star, the moon, and the sun means not understanding the statements in the Qur’ân al-karîm. Nearly all translations and explanations state that he said, “This is my Rabb,” meaning the star, the moon, and the sun. No gloss is given for it at all. Hence, it is not possible to learn such branches of knowledge as Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic creed from the translations of the Qur’ân al-karîm.
In Tafsîr-i Mazhari, the explanations provided for the verses from 76th to 79th of the An’âm Sûra are as follows:
By pointing to stars, the moon, and the sun and by saying, “Is it my Rabb?” Ibrâhîm ‘alaihis-salâm wanted to silence those who worshiped them. The same is written in Shaikhzâda’s annotation to the tafsîr of Baydâwî.
In Tibyân, it is rendered as, “I wonder if this is my Rabb?” This rendition, too, contains an element of doubt. But the four explanations it quotes from tafsîr books are as in the following:
1. Ibrâhîm ‘alaihis-salâm said so in order to express the polytheists’ ignorance.
2. He meant to say, “Can such a thing be a Rabb? Is my Rabb this?” in order to reproach polytheists for what they were doing and teach them the truth.
3. He meant to say, “This is my Rabb in your opinion?” in order to bring proof against the polytheists.
4. He meant to say, “My tribe says that this is my Rabb.”
All these four explanations clearly show that Hadrat Ibrâhîm did not say, “This is my Rabb,” meaning stars, the moon, or the sun; that is, he did not become one of the polytheists. To declare the moon or the sun to be one’s Rabb is an act of polytheism. Prophets never commit a sin, let alone an act of polytheism. (Farâid)
Furthermore, on the basis of the 260th verse of Baqara Sûra, which purports, “When Ibrâhîm said, ‘O my Rabb! Show me how You give life to the dead,’ He said, ‘Do you not believe?’ Ibrâhîm said, ‘I believe, but I wanted to see it to satisfy my heart,’” some deviant people claim that Hadrat Ibrâhîm was doubtful about Allah’s creating. But the matter has been clarified with the verses above that Ibrâhîm‘alaihis-salâm was an upright Muslim who was on true guidance before his puberty as well. Despite this, to utter such a claim means, if it is not out of ignorance, harboring an ulterior motive.
As Hadrat Ibrâhîm comes under such attacks, in a similar way, followers of Ibn Saba speak ill of Hadrat ‘Umar, one of the two pupils of the eye of Islam, saying, “’Umar doubted Rasûlullah’s prophethood at Hudaybiya.” At that place Hadrat ‘Umar, just like Hadrat Ibrâhîm, in order to make manifest his submission to Allah and His Messenger, uttered some sayings which purported, “O Messenger of Allah! Aren’t you Allah’s Prophet? Aren’t we on the right way and disbelievers on the wrong?” They attack him for these words of his. All Ahl as-Sunnah scholars state that by these statements Hadrat ‘Umar meant to say, “O Messenger of Allah! You are, without any doubt, Allah’s Messenger. Our way is certainly right while disbelievers’ is wrong. No concession has been made in this treaty, which is, prima facie, against our interests. (Kurrat-ul-‘aynayn)
It is understood from these how erroneous and harmful those books named Qur’ân’s translations are. It is not possible for us to learn such necessary knowledge as kalâm, fiqh, and tasawwuf from the books called Qur’ân’s translations. It is not even possible for us to understand them from authentic and dependable tafsîrs. We should learn the necessary Islamic knowledge from ‘ilm-i hâl books based onnaql (transmission).
Prophets are sinless
Question: It is stated that prophets are sinless. However, is it not a sin that Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm ate from the forbidden fruit?
Yes, prophets do not commit sins, but they may commit a dhalla.Dhalla means a failure in finding the truest one among many true things. Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm did not eat from the prohibited fruit deliberately. Because he ate it by forgetting, he was held excusable. The 115th âyah (verse) of Tâhâ Sûra, which purports, “Âdam forgot; he did not do it intentionally, deliberately,” shows that Âdam‘alaihis-salâm is excusable and sinless. The following hadîth-i sharîf, too, confirms that Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm is deemed excusable:
(Âdam alaihis-salâm discussed with Mûsâ ‘alaihis-salâm in the presence of their Rabb, and Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm won a victory over Mûsâ ‘alaihis-salâm. Mûsâ ‘alaihis-salâm said:
“You are such an Âdam that Allahu ta’âlâ created you with His two hands [that is, without any means], blew from His spirit to you, made angels prostrate before you, and put you in Paradise. And then you caused humans to be sent to the earth because of your one fault.”
Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm said to him:
“You are such a Mûsâ that Allahu ta’âlâ appointed you as a prophet and permitted you to talk to Himself. He gave you a Book which contained explanations for you about everything. By means of your talking to Him and by means of your praying Him, He made you closer to Himself. Then you surely saw how long before my creation He wrote the Tawrât, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I saw. It was 40 years before.”
“O Mûsâ! Did you also see there the statement, ‘Âdam made a mistake’”?
“Then how do you blame me for my commission of a deed which Allah had written 40 years before He created me that I would commit it?”
Thus, Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm achieved a victory against Mûsâ‘alaihis-salâm.) [Bukhârî, Muslim]