The infallibility of the Prophets


I would like to ask a question about ‘aqeedah. Is it part of our ‘aqeedah to believe that the Prophets committed sins and were not infallible?.

Praise be to Allaah.


The Prophets
are the best of mankind, and the most noble of creation before Allaah.
Allaah chose them to convey the call of Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah to mankind,
and Allaah has made them the intermediaries between Him and His creation in
conveying His Laws. They were commanded to convey the message from Allaah,
as He says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“They are
those whom We gave the Book, Al Hukm (understanding of the religious laws),
and Prophethood. But if these disbelieve therein (the Book, Al Hukm and
Prophethood), then, indeed We have entrusted it to a people (such as the
Companions of Prophet Muhammad) who are not disbelievers therein”

[al-An’aam 6:89] 

The Prophets’ task was to
convey the message from Allaah even though they were human, hence the issue
of infallibility may be examined from two angles: 

1 –
Infallibility in conveying the message

2 –
Infallibility from human error 

With regard to the first issue, the Prophets were infallible in conveying
the message from Allaah. They did not conceal anything that Allaah had
revealed to them, and they did not add anything from themselves. Allaah said
to His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
(interpretation of the meaning): 

Messenger (Muhammad)! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you
from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message.
Allaah will protect you from mankind”

[al-Maa'idah 5:67] 

“And if
he (Muhammad) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allaah),

We surely
would have seized him by his right hand (or with power and might),

 And then
We certainly would have cut off his life artery (aorta),

And none
of you could have withheld Us from (punishing) him”

[al-Haaqqah 69:44-47] 

And Allaah
says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And he
(Muhammad) withholds not a knowledge of the Unseen”

[al-Takweer 81:24] 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan
ibn Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on this
verse: He is not stingy with that which Allaah has revealed to him,
concealing some of it. Rather he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) the most trustworthy of the inhabitants of heaven and the people of
earth, the one who conveys the message of his Lord, the faithful conveyor
(of the message). He does not withhold any part of it, from rich or poor,
from ruler or subject, from male or female, from city-dweller or Bedouin.
Hence Allaah sent him to an illiterate and ignorant nation, and he
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not die until they had
become knowledgeable scholars, steeped in knowledge…

End quote. 

So with
regard to conveying the religion of his Lord, the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not make any mistakes at all, whether
major or minor, rather he was infallible and under the constant protection
of Allaah. 

Shaykh ‘Abd
al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Fataawa Ibn
Baaz, 6/371: 

All the
Muslims are unanimously agreed that the Prophets (peace be upon them) –
especially Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) – are
infallible and protected from error in that which they conveyed from Allaah.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“By the
star when it goes down (or vanishes).

companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred.

Nor does
he speak of (his own) desire.

It is
only a Revelation revealed.

He has
been taught (this Qur’aan) by one mighty in power [Jibreel (Gabriel)]”


Our Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is infallible in
all that he conveyed from Allaah, in word and deed and in what he approved
of. There is no dispute on this point among the scholars.

End quote. 

The ummah is
agreed that the Messengers are infallible in their conveying the message.
They did not forget anything that Allaah revealed to them, except for things
that were abrogated. And Allaah guaranteed His Messenger (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) that he would remember it and would not
forget it, except for that which Allaah wanted him to forget, and He
guaranteed to remember the whole Qur’aan in his heart. Allaah said
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“We shall make you to
recite (the Qur’aan), so you (O Muhammad) shall not forget (it)”


“It is
for Us to collect it and to give you (O Muhammad) the ability to recite it
(the Qur’aan).

And when
We have recited it to you [O Muhammad through Jibreel (Gabriel)], then
follow its (the Qur’aan’s) recitation”

[al-Qiyaamah 75:17-18] 

al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 18/7]: 

The verses
which point to the Prophethood of the Prophets indicate that they are
infallible with regard to the message that they convey from Allaah, so what
they convey from their Lord can only be true. This is the meaning of
Prophethood and this implies [?] that Allaah tells [the Prophet] of the
unseen and he tells the people of the unseen. So the Messenger is commanded
to call people and to convey the message to them.

End quote. 

With regard to the Prophets as people, they may make mistakes. This may be
discussed as follows: 

1 –They
do not commit major sins 

With regard
to major sins, the Prophets do not commit major sins at all, and they are
protected from such major sins both before their missions began or

al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’
al-Fataawa, 4/319: 

The view
that the Prophets are infallible and protected against committing major
sins, as opposed to minor sins, is the view of the majority of Muslim
scholars and of all groups. It is also the view of the scholars of tafseer
and hadeeth and fuqaha’. Indeed, nothing has been narrated from any of the
salaf, imams, Sahaabah, Taabi’een and those who followed them except that
which is in accordance with this view.

End quote. 

2 – Matters that have nothing to do
with conveying the message and the revelation. 

With regard
to minor sins, these may be committed by them, or by some of them. Hence the
majority of scholars are of the view that they are not infallible when it
comes to minor sins. But if they committed such actions they were not left
to persist therein, rather Allaah pointed that out to them and they hastened
to repent therefrom. 

The evidence
that they might commit minor sins and that they were not left to persist
therein is the verses in which Allaah says of Adam (interpretation of the

“Thus did
Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray.

Then his Lord chose him,
and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance”

[Ta-Ha 20:121-122] 

indicates that Adam committed sin, but he was not left to persist therein,
and he repented to Allaah from that. 

And Allaah
says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“He said:
‘This is of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) doing, verily, he is a plain misleading

He said:
‘My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.’ Then He forgave
him. Verily, He is the Oft Forgiving, the Most Merciful”


So Moosa
(peace be upon him) confessed his sin and sought forgiveness from Allaah
after he killed the Egyptian, and Allaah forgave him his sin. 

And Allaah
says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“and he
[Dawood] sought forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and
turned (to Allaah) in repentance.

So We
forgave him that, and verily, for him is a near access to Us, and a good
place of (final) return (Paradise)”


Dawood’s sin
was hastening to pass judgement before hearing the case of the second

And our
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was
rebuked by his Lord for several things that are mentioned in the Qur’aan,
such as the following (interpretation of the meaning): 

Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allaah has allowed to
you, seeking to please your wives? And Allaah is Oft Forgiving, Most

[al-Tahreem 66:1] 

This refers
to the well-known story with some of his wives. 

Allaah also
rebuked His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
concerning the prisoners of war at Badr: 

narrated in his Saheeh (4588) that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: When the
prisoners were taken captive, the Messenger of Allaah (S) (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allaah be
pleased with them): “What do you think about these prisoners?” Abu Bakr
said: “O Prophet of Allaah, they are our cousins and kinsmen. I think that
we should accept a ransom from them which will give us some support against
the kuffaar, and perhaps Allaah will guide them to Islam.” The Messenger of
Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “What do you
think, O Ibn al-Khattaab?” He said: “I say, no, by Allaah, O Messenger of
Allaah. I do not agree with Abu Bakr. I think that you should hand them over
to us so that we may strike their necks (execute them). Hand over ‘Aqeel to
‘Ali so that he may strike his neck, and hand over So and so – a relative of
‘Umar – to me, for these are the leaders and veterans of kufr.” The
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) liked
what Abu Bakr said and he did not like what I [‘Umar] said. The next day I
came and found the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) and Abu Bakr weeping. I said: “O Messenger of Allaah, tell me,
what has made you and your companion weep? If there is a reason to weep, I
will weep with you, and there is no reason, I will pretend to weep in
sympathy with you because you are weeping.” The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I am weeping

because I was shown the torture to which they were subjected.
It was brought as close to me as this tree” – a tree which was near the
Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) – then
Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning): 

“It is not for a Prophet
that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he
had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the
good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but
Allaah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

Were it
not a previous ordainment from Allaah, a severe torment would have touched
you for what you took.

So enjoy
what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good”

[al-Anfaal 8:67-69] 

So Allaah
permitted booty to them. 

From this
hadeeth it is clear that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) chose to ransom the prisoners, this was a decision that
he made by ijtihaad after consulting his companions, and he had no
revelation from Allaah concerning that. 

The words of
Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): 

“(The Prophet) frowned
and turned away.

there came to him the blind man (i.e. ‘Abdullaah bin Umm Maktoom, who came
to the Prophet while he was preaching to one or some of the Quraysh chiefs)”


This is the famous story
of the great companion ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Umm Maktoom and the Messenger of
Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when Allaah rebuked

al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/320: 

What has
been narrated from the majority of scholars is that they (the Prophets) are
not infallible with regard to minor sins, but they are not left to persist
therein. They do not say that this does not happen under any circumstances.
The first group from whom it was narrated that they are infallible in all
cases, and who say that the most, are the Raafidis (Shi’ah), who say that
they are infallible and protected even against forgetfulness and

End quote. 

Some people
think this is too much to suggest that Prophets may commit sin, and
misinterpret some of the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah which indicate
that. Two specious arguments lead them to do that: 

(i) – The
fact that Allaah has commanded us to follow the Messengers and take them as
our example. The command to follow them is taken as meaning that everything
they did is an example for us to follow, and that every action and belief of
theirs is an act of worship. If we suggest that that the Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) committed a sin, there will be a
dilemma, because that implies that we are commanded to imitate this sin
which was committed by the Prophet because we are commanded to follow his
example, but at the same time we should no agree with it or do it, because
it is a sin.  

argument is valid and is appropriate if the sin is hidden and not obvious in
such a way that it could be confused with acts of obedience. But Allaah has
explained to His Messengers where they went wrong and enabled them to repent
without delay. 

(ii) – Sins
contradict perfection and are a shortcoming. This is true if they are not
accompanied by repentance, for repentance brings forgiveness of sin, and
does not contradict perfection or bring blame upon a person. Rather in many
cases a person may be better after repenting than he was before he fell into
sin. It is well known that no Prophet committed sin but he hastened to
repent and seek forgiveness. The Prophets did not persist in sin or delay
repentance, for Allaah protected them from that, and after repenting they
became more perfect than they were before.   

3 –
Unintentional mistakes with regard to some worldly matters 

With regard
to mistakes in some worldly matters, it is permissible for them to make such
mistakes although their reason is sound and their insight is strong. This
happened to several of the Prophets including our Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). This happened with regard to
various spheres of life such as medicine, agriculture, etc. 

narrated in his Saheeh (6127) that Raafi’ ibn Khadeej said: The
Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to
Madeenah and found them pollinating the palm trees. He said: “What are you
doing?” They said: “We always do this.” He said: “Perhaps if you do not do
it, that will be better.” So they did not do it, and the harvest failed.
They told him about that and he said: “I am only human. If I tell you to do
something with regard to your religion, then do it, but if I tell you to do
something based on my own opinion, then I am only human.” Hence it is known
that the Prophets are infallible and protected from error with regard to the
Revelation, so we should beware of those who cast aspersions upon the
Messenger’s conveying of the Message and his laws, and say that it is his
own personal opinion. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) could never do such a thing. Allaah says (interpretation of the

“Nor does he speak of
(his own) desire.

It is only a
Revelation revealed”


The Standing Committee
was asked: Do the Prophets and Messengers make mistakes? 


Yes, they
make mistakes but Allaah does not let them persist in their mistakes, rather
he points out their mistakes to them as a mercy to them and their nations,
and He forgives them for their mistakes, and accepts their repentance by His
Grace and Mercy, for Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, as will be
clear to anyone who studies the verses of the Qur’aan which speak of that.