It was very agonizing to have an email from a brother in which he asked me to assist him refuting some so-called Muslim ignorants who accused Prophets Alaihimus Salam being Sinful and Polytheists (Ma’azALLAH). As a matter of fact, the insults of the Prophets made by the deviant sects and insolent individuals have encouraged some people to openly slander and ridicule the Prophets. In addition to this, there has arisen a sect which says that the Prophets are sinners and even polytheists and Infidels (May Allah forbid!), believing that the Prophets were polytheists and Infidels and major sinners and only became Prophets after repenting (Tauba).
It is incumbent upon each and every Muslim to affirm faith (have Imân) in all the Prophets, in such a manner that one does not differ between the Prophets in their core Prophethood. Furthermore, one should respect all the Prophets and believe that they are free from any sin, (major or minor) or imperfections; before their declaration of Prophethood or after, is also an essential element in belief. This is the sound position and this is the opinion of the majority of scholars.
The Major and Minor Sins:
It must be known that leaving obligatory (farḍ) or necessary (wājib) acts even once without excuse is considered an enormity (kabīra). Likewise, committing the unlawful (Harām) is also considered an enormity. Leaving the sunna act once without excuse due to laziness or taking the matter lightly is considered a minor sin (ṣaghīra), as is committing a disliked action (makrūh). However, habitually leaving the sunnah or committing disliked actions also becomes an enormity, though they are considered enormities beneath other enormities. This is because major and minor are relative terms, and thus it is said, “The good deeds of the pious are the sins of the intimate (muqarrabīn).”
Sunnah here is taken in the juridical sense where it refers to an action regularly performed by the Messenger of Allāh SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam and left at times in order for it not be taken as an obligation. This is then sub-categorized into the emphasized sunnahs and the non-emphasized sunnahs, the latter being more like the mustaHabb (preferred) acts, i.e., those performed by the Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam sometimes or encouraged in general.
Infallibility of the Prophets:
The Prophets (upon them be Blessings and Peace) are all free from major and minor sins, enormities, unbelief, and wicked acts before and after receiving Prophethood (Nubuwwah). However, some slips and mistakes have escaped them.
An example of a slip (zalla) is when Ādam Alaihis Salam ate from the tree, and an example of a mistake (khaṭa’) is when Mūsā Alaihis Salam killed a member of Pharaoh’s people. He did not intend to kill him, but only to strike him with his hand in order to push him away from the Israelite. Thus, the strike was intentional, but the killing a mistake. The killing was also a slip, because every mistake is a slip, but not every slip is a mistake. Therefore, between the two is the universal-particular relationship. A slip sometimes occurs by mistake, sometimes out of forgetfulness, sometimes out of inattentiveness, and sometimes out of leaving the more worthy or preferred action.
Imām ‘Umar al-Nasafī states in his Tafsīr, “The Imāms of Samarqand do not use the word zalla for acts committed by the Prophets (upon them be blessings and peace) because a zalla is a type of sin. Instead, they say, “They performed the good act (fāḍil) and left the preferred one (afḍal), and they were lightly reproved for it, because for prophets to leave the more preferred act is equivalent to others leaving an obligation (wājib).”
Another view is that the slip of a Prophet or a Friend of Allāh Most High is a means of closeness to Him. Abū Sulaymān al-Dārānī (may Allāh have mercy on him) states:
“Dāwūd Alaihis Salam did not perform an act more beneficial for him than a misdeed. He continued to flee from it toward his Lord until he reached Him. Hence, the misdeed was the cause of his fleeing toward Allāh, away from himself and the world.”
Hadrat Shaykh al-MuHaqqiq Shaykh Abd al Haqq Muhaddith Dehlawi (may Allāh have mercy on him) states in his Ashi’ah al-Lam’at:
“What has been stated in the Holy Qur’an as regards to the ‘error’ of Prophet Adam and Allah’s reprimand shows the high status of Prophet Adam and his closeness to the Almighty Allah.” [Ashi’ah al-Lam’at Vol 1 Page 40]
Furthermore, it is Allah’s will, whoever He reprimands or punishes, even though the error committed by His slave, may not have reached the level in which we may say that it was a ‘sin’. No one has the authority to utter anything. There is a criteria and a standard for respect which is necessary to behold, and this standard of respect is that when Allah has reprimanded some of His Prophets, who are the closest to Him, or when one some occasions the Prophets or the Messengers expressed humility, by which someone may assume a defect in these prophets, then it is not permissible for us that we ponder into this and say the words of reprimand or humility to these noble prophets.
There are a number of explanations for why Syeduna Aadam Alaihis Salam ate from the forbidden tree. One is that he ate from it out of forgetfulness. Another is that he did not eat from the specific tree that Allāh forbade, but from another tree of the same type, assuming that the prohibition of Allāh was only regarding the specific tree, as Allāh said, “but approach not this tree.” He thus chose the less superior or suboptimal (rukhṣa) path, in accord with the wisdom of Allāh in order illustrate the weakness of the human ability and condition and to express the strength of divine forgiveness. This is why a Hadīth states, “If you did not sin, Allāh would bring forth a people who would sin and seek forgiveness and Allāh would forgive them” (Muslim, Tirmidhī).
Also Ādam’s Alaihis Salam offense was in Paradise, which was not considered an abode of accountability (dār al-taklīf ), in spite of the fact that Allāh forbade him from eating from the tree. In other words, he had no knowledge of the consequences for disobedience. Thus his disobedience was not open defiance as in the case of Satan.
Foot Mark of Hadrat Syeduna Aadam Alaihis Salam on
Mount Adam or Adam’s Peak in Srilanka… First Foot Mark on Earth!!
Prophets are even protected from Minor Sins:
Imam Qadi `Iyad in al-Shifa’ said that the Jumhur (Consensus) of the Jurists from the schools of Malik, al-Shafi`i, and Abu Hanifa, agree that the Prophets are protected from all minor sins because one is required to follow them in the minutest matters. It is even reported from Malik that this is obligatory to believe.
Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini’s (d. 418) position was that no sin great or small issues from Prophets whether deliberately or by mistake and this is also our position. [Taj al-Din al-Subki Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Wusta as cited in the Kubra (4:260)]
Imam al-Zarqani said in his monumental commentary on al-Qastallani’s al-Mawahib al-Laduniyya (5:361) [Al-Qastallani’s original text is in parentheses):
(And among his Mu'jizaat is that he is immune from sins) before Prophethood and after it (both great and small, both by deliberate commission and by mistake) according to the soundest view, outwardly and inwardly, in secret and in public, in earnest and in jest, in contentment and in anger. And how not, when the Companions were unanimous in following him and faithfully imitating him in all his acts? (As were the Prophets)
Imam Taj al-Din al-Subki said:
"The Ummah concurs on the true immunity ('isma) of Prophets, in what pertains to conveyance and other, from grave and small, contemptible sins as well as persistence in small sins but there is disagreement over small sins that do not detract from their rank. The Mu'tazila and many others allow them. The preferred view is that they are precluded because we have been ordered to follow them in what issues from them; how then could something inappropriate occur on their part? As for those that deemed it possible, they did not do so on the basis of any textual stipulation or proof."
That is, they only clang to externalities which, if they followed their logical conclusions, would lead them to violate consensus and take positions no Muslim takes, as expounded by `Iyad [in al-Shifa'].
A very Interesting Fact:
It is stated in Radd al MuHtar, “The Prophets are protected from yawning, as yawning is from the Satan. The best way to stop this is that when one starts to feel yawning then he/she should immediately think (in their hearts) that the Prophets never yawned and were protected from it. By going this, the yawning shall immediately terminate.” [Radd al-Mohtar – Vol. 1 Pg. 336]
Any person having a slight Common Sense would be able to conclude that when the Exalted Prophets Alaihimus Salam are protected from Yawing as it is from Satan then how come the Prophets be accused of committing the sins or being the culprits?
Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta’ala is the Lord and Creator of the Prophets and they are His beloved. He can mention their mistakes in whatever way He wishes and they can demonstrate their humility to Him in whatever way they wish. We have no right to speak about their mistakes or disrespect and slander them unless we want our record books blackened with sins. Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta’ala has ordered us to respect and revere His Prophets. If a Prophet became a sinner, both opposing him and obeying him would become necessary, and this is a concentration of two opposite things. So, the majority of the Scholars including the Imams of the Four Schools of Law followed what they considered to be the stronger position, namely that Prophets are protected even from minor sins. Beware… Beware.. Beware O My Muslim Brothers and Sisters!! To disrespect any Prophet, to find any faults or defect in them or to be rude or insolent to these Prophets is Kufr (Infidelity).
May ALLAH keep us and our Generations be respectful towards the exalted Prophets Alaihimus Salam and protect us and our Generations for the misguided sects and deviant indivisuals. May ALLAH keep us on the path of those whom HE have favoured and refrain us from the path and even the shadow of those who earned HIS anger and those who are astray… Aameen!!