Ismat (Infallibility) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)

Ismat (Infallibility) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)

In several previous articles {The Infallibility of the Prophets of Allah and The Imams (1-3)} we discussed the infallibility of the Prophets of Allah and proved that they have committed no sin but some of them like Adam left what was better to do. Therefore, based on Shia Islam beliefs it is proven that all Prophets and Imams are infallible throughout their life (whether before Divine mission or after).

Now we come to some verses which concern our Holy Prophet infallibility in particular:
1st Verse: Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification".(33:33).
This verse clearly shows that 'Family of the Prophet' and actually himself were made clean and spotless by Allah Himself.
2nd Verse: "Take whatever the Apostle gives you, and refrain from whatever he forbids you, and be wary of Allah." (59:7).
It means that the permission or forbiddance by the Holy Prophet was always liked by Almighty Allah. Can anybody be so sure about the commands of a man who is not infallible?

3rd Verse: "Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.’" (3:31).

Here the love of Almighty Allah is made dependent upon following the Prophet of Islam. Both sides of love are included. If you love Almighty Allah, follow the Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP); when you follow the Prophet, Almighty Allah loves you. Was this command imaginable if the Prophet was not free and pure from every type of blemish and sin?

4th Verse: “your companion has neither gone astray, nor amiss -- Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire -- it is just a revelation that is revealed [to him], taught him by one of great powers,”(53:2-5)

Not only his actions, but also even his words were the commands of Almighty Allah. So, doesn’t it mean infallibility?

5th Verse: There are several verses in which the following words have been used for the Holy Prophet: " It is He who sent to the unlettered [people] an apostle from among themselves, to recite to them His signs, to purify them, and to teach them the Book and wisdom, and earlier they had indeed been in manifest error"(62:2).

How could a prophet purify others from sins and blemishes if he himself was not pure and far away from sins? How could a man teach others wisdom if he had no wisdom to distinguish right from wrong, or, worse still, no will power to resist from wrong when he knew it.

The Prophet was to teach people the Book of Almighty Allah; It means that he knew the commandments of Almighty Allah. He was to purify them and teach them wisdom: it means that he had wisdom and purity himself. Can a man be called wise if he knew what was not liked by Allah and still committed it?

6th Verse: The witness to the perfection of his character is found in the Qur'an where it says: "and indeed you possess a great character." (68:4)
A man committing mistakes cannot deserve such compliments. These and many other verses of Qur'an clearly show that the Holy Prophet of Islam was absolutely sinless and infallible.

Some Misinterpreted Verses

There are some verses in Qur'an about our Prophet (PBUH&HP) which have been grossly misinterpreted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

1st Verse:

(Did He not find you an orphan, and shelter you? -- Did He not find you astray, and guide you? -- Did He not find you needy, and enrich you?)(93:6-8).

There are three verses in 93th Sura (Chapter), which say: Our Prophet was an orphan; his father died before he was born, his mother died when he was 6 years old; his grandfather died when he was 8 years of age. He finally came under the loving care of his uncle Abu-Talib.

In all the places mentioned above, he found more love and care showered upon him than could be expected from a father.

In Verse No.6 Allah reminds the Prophet about His Grace which was bestowed upon him in the house of Abdul-Muttalib and Abu-Talib, the Holy Prophet was a poor man; but after his marriage with Khadija (one of the four chosen women in the world, according to the traditions of the Prophet), the pure and sincere love of Khadija not only raised him above want, but made him independent of worldly needs in his later life.

In verse No.8 Almighty Allah reminds the Prophet about His Grace in the person of Khadija.
In between these two Graces, he reminds the Prophet that he was lost and Allah gave him the guidance. The word used is “Dhaall”(lost) and it has been mentioned earlier that 'Dhaall' means among other things, 'to be lost,' 'to wander in search of anything.' Thus it may be translated as, "And He found you wandering in search of truth and He gave you guidance” There is no implication whatever of sin or error on his part.
However, even if we insist upon the meaning of "being lost," it does not mean that the Holy Prophet had gone astray. Imam Reza (PBUH) has interpreted this verse as meaning that "you were lost among your people (the Meccans did not know your actual position, your spiritual excellence), so He guided" (them to know you).
This meaning is in conformity not only with the reason and other verses mentioned above, but also conforms with the second verse of 53rd Surah where it declares: “your companion has neither gone astray, nor amiss -- Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire -- it is just a revelation that is revealed [to him]”(53:2-4).

2nd Verse:

There are some verses ordering the Prophet to ask forgiveness:"… Plead [Allah] for forgiveness of your sin …"(40:55).
" that Allah may forgive you what is past of your sin and what is to come…"(48:2).

Its true significance will be understood when we remember that the Exalted Excellence of Allah, according to Islam, is beyond human imagination. Nobody, however perfect, can think, in Islamic world, that he had perfected his love and obedience to Almighty Allah. Thus, our Holy Prophet used to pray whole nights until his feet became swollen by remaining standing in the prayers, and Almighty Allah in His Love and Kindness told him: "We have not sent down the Qur'an to you to fall into hardship."(20:2).

Still, The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) used to say to Almighty Allah:

"I did not worship You as much as befitting Thy Excellence."


"I did not worship You which would have been befitting Thy Perfectness."

There is no question of sinning here but there is a feeling, which comes from true Love of Allah, that one is not doing enough for Almighty Allah, one is not doing what may be deemed befitting to the highest position of the Almighty Creator.

It was because of this feeling that the Holy Prophet (and Imams) used to "repent" before Almighty Allah for their "shortcomings." But, in fact, there was no short-coming at all.

3rd Verse:

Third type of the verses are those in which the Qur'an uses the style of "I am telling you, but I want the neighbour to hear."

It means that to emphasize a point, Almighty Allah addresses a rebuke directly to the Holy Prophet, while in fact the topic does not concern him at all. In such verses, though the pronoun used is the second person singular, but the topic is intended for the Muslims (or the whole mankind) in general.
One example is: " If you ascribe a partner to Allah, all your deeds will go to waste and you will surely be a loser"(39:66).
It is a warning to the mankind in general; not a rebuke to the Holy Prophet, who had never committed polytheism. Such verses cannot be used to say that the Holy Prophet had, Almighty Allah forbid, committed any sin. These verses were addressed to him; but were actually meant for his Ummah (nation).

So not only the Holy Prophet but also the infallible Imams are absolutely infallible and sinless. Moreover, those verses implicate that the prophets committed sins don’t mean that they really committed sin but sin in those verses mean that they did not deemed their worships befitting to the highest position of the Almighty Creator.