Infallibility of the Prophets and Messengers


Compiled by the great scholar Allama Sayyid Murtadha Al-Askari, this book deals with one of the important issues of faith: infallibility of the prophets and messengers of Allah.

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Infallibility of the Prophets & Messengers Author : Sayyid Murtadha al-Askari Translation : Al-Qalam Translators & Writers Bureau Publisher : World Islamic Network (WIN) 1st Edition 1998 Distributed free of charge seeking Allah’s pleasure For free copy of this book write to: World Islamic Network 67/69, H.Abbas (A.S.) Street, Mumbai- 400 009. (India) Tel.: 377 3648. Fax : (91-22) 374 5144. Email:


In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.

May Allah shower His blessings upon Muhammad (S) and his Purified Progeny (A)

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A) says:

‘Write (down the traditions) and propagate the knowledge among your brothers. When you die, bequeath these books as your legacy to your sons. Verily, there will come on the people a time of disturbance, when nothing will give them any satisfaction and to nothing will they pay any heed except to their books.’ (Al-Kafi)

In the light of the above tradition, World Islamic Network (WIN) has taken up the task of diffusing Islamic teachings according to the School of Ahlul Bayt (A). This booklet is the sixth of the series titled: In the Light of Quran and Hadith.

Compiled by the great scholar Allama Sayyid Murtadha Askari these booklets deal with some of the important issues of faith. We pray that Allah give us the tawfeeq to continue this noble endeavor.

World Islamic Network


In The Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds. Benedictions upon Muhammad (S) and his Purified Progeny (A).

Peace upon the righteous Companions.

Some of the controversial issues have divided the Muslims. These issues have been misused by the enemies of Islam to divide the Muslims and to weaken them. Therefore in order to unite the Muslims and to defend the boundaries of Islam it is necessary to clear the misunderstandings regarding these differences. In sorting out these issues we have been ordered to confine ourselves within some limits. As the Almighty Allah says:

‘Obey Allah and His Apostle,
And never with each other quarrel,
For then you shall lose heart,
And all your power shall depart; ...’ [Holy Quran, al-Anfaal; The Spoils, Nikayin 08:46]

It is a must for us today, and for all times to refer to Quran and Hadith in case of any difference of opinion. As the Almighty Allah says:

‘; ... should you quarrel
About a thing, refer it unto Allah,
And unto His Apostle, ...’ [Holy Quran, al-Nisaa; The Women, Nikayin 04:59]

In these series we shall refer to the Quran and Hadith to guide us on the correct path in various controversial topics. We seek the help of the Almighty in this.


Iblis does not have Power on the Vicegerents of Allah on the Earth

The Almighty Allah has informed us in Surah Hijr that Iblis (Satan) does not have any power upon His righteous servants (Prophets, Messengers and Imams). The conversation between Allah and Iblis is mentioned in the following verses:

“So the angels made obeisance, all of them together,

But Iblis (did it not), he refused to be with those who made obeisance.

He said: O Iblis! What excuse have you that you are not with those who make obeisance?

He said: I am not such that I should make obeisance to a mortal whom Thou hast created of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.

He said: Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away. And surely on you is curse until the Day of Judgment.

He said: My Lord! Then respite me till the time when they are raised.

He said: So surely you are one of the respited ones, till the period of the time made known.

He said: My Lord! Because Thou hast made life evil to me, I will certainly make (evil) fair seeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to deviate except Thy servants from among them, the devoted ones.

He said: This is a right way with Me: Surely, as regards My servants, you have no authority over them except those who follow you of the deviators.” [Holy Quran, al-Hijr; The Rocky Tract, Shakir 15:30-42]

Similarly, the Almighty Allah has explained how He has protected his righteous servants from satanic deviations. In Surah Yusuf is mentioned such an incident involving Hazrat Yusuf (A) and Zuleykha:

“And certainly she made for him, and he would have made for her, were it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord; thus (it was) that we might turn away from him evil and indecency, surely he was one of Our sincere servants.” [Holy Quran, al-Yusuf; Joseph, Shakir 12:24]

We must know that this is also a necessary quality of Imamat. In Surah Baqarah we have the following ayat in connection with the Imamat of Hazrat Ibrahim (A):

“And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust said He.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:124]

We also must know that those whom Allah has appointed as the Imams are those who guide the people by His command. As mentioned in Surah al-Anbiya:

“And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of the alms, and Us (alone) did they serve.” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiyaa; The Prophets, Shakir 21:73]

In the same Chapter we can read about the details of various Prophets also, like Nuh, Ibrahim, Lut, Ismail, Ayyub, Zulkifl, Yunus, Musa, Haroon, Dawood, Sulaiman, Zakaria, Yahya and Isa, Peace upon Them all.

We realize that in the above ayats the people associated with the exalted status of Imamat are the prophets, the messengers, the vicegerents and the legatees. Therefore, it becomes clear that the Almighty appoints as Imams only those who are just.

Allah has informed that these are the vicegerents of Allah upon the earth. In Surah Saad Allah says to Dawood (A):

“O Dawood! surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire, lest it should lead you astray from the path of Allah; (as for) those who go astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have a severe punishment because they forgot the day of reckoning.” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:26]

Similarly Quran says in connection with the appointment of Hazrat Adam (A):

“And when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a Khalif, they said: What! Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? He said: Surely I know what you do not know.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:30]

Let us study the meaning of the terms used in the above ayats:

Explanation of Terms

(A) Aghwaitani (Deviation): This word with its variations denotes the state of being astrayed from the straight path or to wander away into disbelief etc. The deviators also denote those who have been cursed by the Almighty. For example the words preceding this ayat are: “and surely on you is curse till the day of judgement.”

Satan was cursed for to his disobedience in prostrating before Adam (A). Due to this disobedience the Almighty had deprived him from His mercy.

It is mentioned in Surah Baqarah:

“He causes many to err by it and many He leads aright by it! But He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:26]

(b) Le-uzaiyyanannalahum (To make fair-seeing): This term describes how the Satan defrauds people by showing evil deeds in a favorable light. The Satan suggests to the wrong doers that their sinful acts are some kinds of good works. The phrase is also used in other verses of the Holy Quran. For example, Surah Anfal, Verse No. 48; Surah Nahl, Verse 24; Surah Ankaboot, Verse 37; and Surah Taubah, Verse 37.

(c) Al- Mukhlaseen (Sincere): The sincere servants of Allah are those whom Allah has selected for Himself after they had devoted themselves completely to Allah. They think of nothing except Allah.

(d) Ibtala (tried): To test or to examine; subject someone to an examination. This test could be through goodness and evil or bounty and scarcity etc.

(e) Bekalemaat (Certain words): The term “certain words” denote the different tests and trials that Ibrahim (A) had to undergo; like the stars, idols, burning in the fire and sacrificing his son etc.

(f) Fa-atammahunna (Fulfilled them): Performed the tests in a perfect way.

(g) Ja’eloka (I will make you): It stands for creating, to bring into existence, to make, to order, to appoint etc. Here it is used in the sense of making.

(h) Imam: An Imam is the one whom the people follow in words and deed.

(i) dhalemeen (the unjust): Injustice denotes the action of putting a thing at other than its proper place. It also indicates the usurpation of rights. Injustice is of three types.

Firstly: Between man and his Lord. The chief of them are polytheism and disbelief. As mentioned in the ayat:

“Most surely polytheism is a grievous iniquity (injustice).” [Holy Quran, al-Luqman, Shakir 31:13]

And also:

“Who then is more unjust than he who rejects Allah’s communications.....” [Holy Quran al-An’aam; The Livestock, Shakir 06:157]

The second type of injustice is between men. For example the Quran says:

“… Those who oppress men … unjustly;” [Holy Quran, as-Shura; The Counsel, Shakir 42:42]

Finally when a person inflicts injustice on himself. The Almighty Allah says:

“And whoever does this, he indeed is unjust to his own soul.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:231]

Also in another ayat we have:

“and whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul.” [Holy Quran, at-Talaq; The Divorce, Shakir 65:01]

Every type of injustice is ultimately an injustice upon one’s own self. One who does an injustice at any stage of his life is a dhalim (unjust).

(j) Hammatbehi wa Hamma beha (She made for him and he made for her): To make for something, it indicates an intention to perform an act before one actually performs it.

(k) Raa-a (he had seen): Seeing implies looking with one’s eyes or realization through ones heart; understanding etc.

(l) Burhaan (manifest evidence): An acceptable proof, an irrefutable argument. The “manifest evidence” seen by Yusuf (A) was more clear.

Explanation of the Ayat

Iblis said to the Lord of the Worlds: “My Lord, since You have cursed me and deprived me of Your mercy I will make fair-seeming to the people their evil acts.”

Similar examples are to be found in the following ayats:

(A) “Most certainly We sent (apostles) to nations before you, but the Shaitan made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” [Holy Quran, an-Nahl; The Bees, Shakir 16:63]

(b) “And when the Shaitan made their works fair seeming to them, and said: No one can overcome you this day.” [Holy Quran, al-An’aam; The Livestock, Shakir 08:48]

(c) “I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah, and the Shaitan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them and thus turned them from the way.” [Holy Quran, an-Naml; The Ant, Shakir 27:24]

The Satan also said:

“I will make fair seeming to the people their deeds and mislead them all, except those of Yours servants whom You have selected for Yourself.”

The Almighty Allah replied:

“You have no power except on those who follow you in a state of deviation and astrayal.”

The Almighty says regarding His sincere servant Yusuf (A):

“And certainly she made for him, and he would have made for her, were it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord.” [Holy Quran, al-Yusuf; Joseph, Shakir 12:24]

The incident involving Hazrat Yusuf (A) and Zuleykha occurred when both of them were in a room alone. Zuleykha was the wife of the ruler of Egypt and the most popular woman of her country. She was infatuated with Hazrat Yusuf (A) and tried to entice him. Her intention was to commit fornication, whereas Yusuf (A) intended to kill her if she forces him to commit the sin. However, Yusuf (A) saw the manifest evidence of his Lord and refrained from killing her.

Her murder would have been an evil as also the fornication. Since he was young and unmarried he would have fallen for the young woman who had been brought up in a royal family and there was no one to see them. But he saw the proof of his Lord and prayed for refuge from Allah. So Yusuf (A) was from those who had been purified by Allah.

Then what was that proof which Yusuf (A) saw and how he saw that? Yusuf (A) perceived two effects upon himself. As we shall see in the following pages.

The Effect of an Action, its Permanence; the Dispersal of Blessings and Evils of an Action upon a Particular Time and Place

In order to understand the meaning of the infallibility of the Prophets Peace upon Them, it is necessary, first of all, to know how the action of man affects his life in the Hereafter; and how these actions are instrumental in the dispersal of blessings and evils without any barrier of time and space. We pray to the Almighty to help us in this endeavor. Allah remarks:

(A) In Surah Baqarah:

“The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:185]

(b) In Surah Qadr:

“Surely We revealed it on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and Ruhul Qudus descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! it is till the break of the morning.” [Holy Quran, al-Qadr; The Glory, Shakir 97:1-5]

The Almighty Allah has revealed the Quran on His Last Prophet (S) on a night of the month of Ramadhan. So, that night became the night of power (a grand night). On this night every year the angels and Ruhul Qudus (The Holy Spirit) descend by the order of the Almighty. They shall continue to do so till the Day of Qiyamat. Moreover, the blessings of this night have spread to cover the whole month of Ramadhan and this shall also continue forever.

In another discussion Insha Allah, we shall study how the day of Friday has become blessed since the time of Hazrat Adam (A), when the Almighty showered His bounties upon him. The ninth night of Zilhaj is also one of the blessed nights. On this night too, the Almighty has bestowed His blessings upon Adam (A) at Mina. He also forgives the sins of His servants on this night. Since that time on the 9th and 10th of Zilhaj, blessings descend upon the people at Mashar, Arafat and Mina. This will also continue till the day of Qiyamat.

Similarly the place where Ibrahim (A) stood while raising the walls of Kaaba has also become blessed. The Almighty has ordered that prayers must be performed at this blessed spot for all the time to come.

He says,

“Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing place of Ibrahim.” [Holy Quran, al-Baqarah; The Cow, Shakir 02:125]

In the same way evil and ill luck is also caused by the descent of Divine Chastisement on those who perpetrate evil. For example the land where the People of Aad were punished by the hail of stones from the sky. The Messenger of Allah (S) pointed out this fact when he passed this place during his expedition to Tabuk. The remark of the Messenger of Allah (S) concerning this has been preserved in many books of traditions and biography.

Let us read about this interesting incident:

In the year 9 A.H. the Holy Prophet (S) passed by the area of Hijr during his expedition to Tabuk. Hijr is in the valley of Qura the home of the tribe of Thamud on the route from Madinah to Syria. As the army of the Holy Prophet (S) crossed this terrain some of the soldiers drew out water from a well. The Messenger of Allah (S) ordered a caller to announce that no one should drink water from any of the wells in this area and neither should they perform wudhu’ (ablution) with it. The people emptied their water bags and asked, O Messenger of Allah (S) shall we knead (the camel feed?). The Holy Prophet (S) said: “Feed your camels, it should not be that whatever ill luck they had should inflict you too.”

When he left that place and passed by the area of Hijr he covered his face with a cloth and spurred his camel.1 The soldiers followed suit.

The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Do not enter the houses of unjust people, except that you weep.” A person came to the Holy Prophet (S) with a ring. It was found in the houses of the people of Aad at the place called Hijr.

The Holy Prophet (S) turned his face away and hid his face behind his hands so that it may not be seen. He said: “Throw it away!”2 And this example has been related by Imam Ali (A) as Nasr Ibn Mujahid has narrated. The words of Nasr in Waqaatul Siffin are:

He says: Muknaf bin Sulaym was walking with Imam Ali (A) at Babel.3 Ali (A) said:

“There is a place in Babel where people had sunk into the earth.” Saying this he spurred his animal saying, “We shall recite the Asr prayers beyond this valley.” The people followed suit. When he crossed the Bridge of Siraat he halted and led the people in Asr prayers.4

After the Asr prayers he Peace upon Him said: “This is a place where Chastisement had descended. It is not proper for a prophet or a legatee of a prophet to pray at this place.”5

In the same way the spread of bounty (barakat) in the world is connected with a particular period and in the same way the retribution is also associated with a period when the Almighty Allah sent His Chastisement on evil people.

  • 1. Covering the face with one’s clothes in haste.
  • 2. Mojamul Buldan, Sirat Ibn Hisham, Vol.4, Pg.164-165, Maghazi of Al-Waqidi, Imtail Asmaa, Pg.454-456, Musnad Ahmad, Vol.2., Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.3, Sahih Muslim, Kitab uz-Zuhud.
  • 3. Babel is in Iraq between Kufa and Baghdad. The Bridge of Siraat is over the river of Siraat near Baghdad. Refer to Mojamul Buldan for Babel and Siraat.
  • 4. Siffeen: 135.
  • 5. Beharul Anwaar, Vol.41, Pg.168, Ilalush Sharaae, Page 124, Basaerud Darajaat, Pg.58.

The Immunity of the Prophets from Sins

Certainly the deeds of the people have affects the worldly life as well as the Hereafter, and they assume a shape of a body etc. So that he may be thrown into the Hell-fire forever; the fire whose fuel are men and stones. Or he may enter the Paradise of ‘Adn Naeem’. All these effects could be seen only by the righteous servants of Allah. These spur them to good deeds and protect themselves from sin and iniquity. This vision has been bestowed upon those servants of Allah who had seen this proof. They have preferred the wish of Allah upon their selfish desires.

This is the reason that the pious servants of Allah cannot commit a sin. Their example is that of a person with a normal vision in company of a blind man. Both are walking together on a path having numerous potholes any pits. The person having sight sees these perils; he saves himself and advises his companion to save himself too.

It can also be compared to some thirsty people who have before them water and they wish to drink it to quench their thirst. One of these people is a doctor who has an instrument, which can detect the various dangerous germs in the water, and he warns his friends to avoid this water and tells them to clean the water before drinking it. In the same way is the example of the righteous servants who have seen the Proof of Allah and the good and bad effects of a deed.

With this vision they are able to perceive the actual evil behind the sinful acts as if they see it with their own eyes; they can see the evil personified and being thrown in the fire of Hell. Therefore how is it possible for them to do such a thing intentionally or commit an act, which has been prohibited by Allah.

Whatever doubts are being presented regarding the infallibility of the Prophets are based on ambiguous ayats. They have erred in their interpretation, sometimes they have erred in tafsir by following the concocted traditions or reports. Since we do not wish to prolong the discussion we shall present only two such examples.

False Tradition Regarding the Holy Prophet (S) and Hazrat Dawood (A)

In this Chapter we shall study the reports covering the marriage of Hazrat Dawood (A) with the widow and also the marriage of the Holy Prophet (S) with the divorced wife of Zayd.

The Marriage of Hazrat Dawood (A) is mentioned in the Quran as follows:

Bear patiently what they say, and remember Our servant Dawood, the possessor of power; surely he was frequent in returning (to Allah).

Surely We made the mountains to sing the glory (of Allah) in unison with him at the evening and the sunrise,

And the birds gathered together; all joined in singing with him. And We strengthened his kingdom and We gave him wisdom and a clear judgement.

And has there come to you the story of the litigants, when they made an entry into the private chamber by ascending over the walls?

When they entered in upon Dawood and he was frightened by them, they said: Fear not; two litigants, of whom one has acted wrongfully towards the other, therefore decide between us with justice, and do not act unjustly, and guide us to the right way. Surely this is my brother; he has ninety-nine ewes and I have a single ewe; but he said: Make it over to me, and he has prevailed against me in discourse.

He said: Surely he has been unjust to you in demanding your ewe (to add) to his own ewes; and most surely most of the partners act wrongfully towards one another, save those who believe and do good, and very few are they; and Dawood was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord, and he fell down bowing and turned time after time (to Him).

Therefore We rectified for him this, and most surely he had a nearness to Us and an excellent resort.

O Dawood! surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire, lest it should lead you astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have a severe punishment because they forgot the day of reckoning. [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:17-26]

Interpretation of this Ayat According to the School of Caliphate

There are many traditions in the School of Caliphate regarding the marriage of Hazrat Dawood (A). We present three examples and hope they would suffice by the permission of Allah.

(A) Tradition of Wahab Ibn Munabbah

When the Bani Israel rallied around Dawood (A), the Almighty revealed Zaboor (Psalms) and taught Dawood (A) the manufacture of steel (through the process of melting). He ordered the birds and mountains to glorify Him when Dawood (A) glorified. Allah had not bestowed anyone with such a sweet voice. When he used to recite the psalms the wild animals used to come near him and Hazrat Dawood (A) could even hold them by their necks. It was such a sweet voice the satans copied it for making musical instruments like flute, harp and sitar etc. He was, however, ever busy in worship. He remained among the Bani Israel as a Prophet and guided the people to the Divine Path.

The most striving of the Prophets was Hazrat Dawood (A) and the one who wept the most. Then he became attracted to a woman. He had a small prayer room where he used to sit alone and recite the Psalms and pray. Below the room was a garden, which belonged to a man of Bani Israel. It was with the wife of this man that Hazrat Dawood (A) had an encounter. One day he entered his prayer room and ordered that no one should disturb him. So he sat in the prayer room, opened the Zaboor, and began to read it. There was a window in that room overlooking the garden. When he was reciting the Zaboor a golden bird came and sat at the window. He rose up his head and was surprised to see it, but he reminded himself that he must not be distracted. He shook his head and continued reciting the Zaboor.

This female pigeon was a test for him. It came and sat before him. He tried to catch it but it moved away. He followed her and she moved further away. When he continued to pursue she turned to the garden. His eyes followed the bird. Suddenly, he saw a woman taking a bath. She had a natural beauty and grace. When the woman saw him she bowed down her head in embarrassment and hid her body, but Dawood (A) had lost his heart. He returned to recite his Zaboor as was his practice; that his heart may not be distanced from it.

It became a severe test for him till he sent the husband of that woman to fight in a battle. He ordered the chief of the army (as per the claim of the Jews) to keep him at the war-front where it would be most risky. Eventually this man was killed. Dawood (A) was having 99 wives. When this man died Hazrat Dawood (A) sent the proposal to his widow and married her. The Almighty sent two angels who pretended to fight among themselves when he was sitting in his prayer room. They presented a hypothetical problem.

“When they entered in upon Dawood and he was frightened by them, they said: Fear not; two litigants, of whom one has acted wrongfully towards the other, therefore decide between us with justice, and do not act unjustly, and guide us to the right way. Surely this is my brother; he has ninety-nine ewes and I have a single ewe; but he said: Make it over to me, and he has prevailed against me in discourse. He said: Surely he has been unjust to you in demanding your ewe (to add) to his own ewes;” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:22-24]

Hazrat Dawood (A) looked at the other angel angrily and said, “I will pull out your eyes.” Then he realized that they had been alluding to his own affair with the woman whose husband he had caused to be killed. He was ashamed and fell down in prostration and began to beseech Allah for forgiveness. He remained in this state for forty days; fasted and prayed and did not partake any food till the Almighty accepted his repentance.

Some people claim that Hazrat Dawood (A) said: “My Lord has forgiven me the sin that I had committed. So what is the compensation of the slain man. (According to the people of the book) the Almighty said, “The Lord has not imposed a Diyah on you but soon He will ask you and keep the slain one in your place.

However, the Almighty removed this sign of the sin from his head but wherever he was presented food and drink he wept and when he stood among the people to preach they tried to see the sign of the sin.1

(b) Tradition of Hasan al-Basri

Tabari and Suyuti have narrated from Hasan al-Basri the tafsir of this tradition:

He said: Certainly Hazrat Dawood (A) divided his time into four parts. One part for his wives, one for worship, one for administering justice and one for Bani Israel. When he used to speak with them and discuss he used to make them weep and they used to make him weep. When it used to be the turn of Bani Israel. He used to say remind me. They used to says, “A time will come on man when he will commit a sin.” Hazrat Dawood (A) understood it for himself that it was with regard to his own sin. When it was the time for worship he used to lock his door and order that no one should come to him.

Then he used to be busy in reciting the Taurat. At the time he was reciting Taurat he saw a golden pigeon sitting in front of him which was extremely attractive. So he tried to catch it but it flew away and sat close by to lure him. He continued to follow till he reached the woman who was bathing. He became attracted and was fascinated by her beauty. When the woman saw the shadow of Hazrat Dawood (A) she tried to hide herself with her hair. This action of hers fascinated Hazrat Dawood (A) more. He sent her husband on the war front and sent a written order to employ him at particularly dangerous places from where it would be impossible to return. Finally the man was killed on the battlefield. Hazrat Dawood (A) proposed to his widow and married her in the due course.2

(c) Tradition of Anas bin Malik as reported by Yazid-Ar Raqqashi:

Tabari and Suyuti have related this tradition through two chains of narrators leading to Yazid Ar-Raqqashi. Yazid Ar-Raqqashi is reported to have quoted Anas bin Malik as saying: The Holy Prophet (S) said: Certainly when Hazrat Dawood (A) saw the woman he ordered the Chief of the army to deploy a particular person near taboot. (At that time help was sought from Taboot, and those accompanying it had no choice except to lay down their lives or vanquish the enemy.)

The worst happened and the man was thus killed. Dawood (A) married his widow. Two angels descended upon Hazrat Dawood (A). For forty nights he was in prostration till his tears caused plants to grow on his head and the earth mixed with his forehead. And he continued to say, “O Allah forgive this (sin) of Dawood.”

Hazrat Dawood (A) prayed with such sincerity that it was greater than the distance between the east and west. “O Allah if you do not have mercy upon Dawood and if you don’t forgive him, then after him the sin would be always mentioned among the people.” After forty nights Jibraeel (A) came and said: O Dawood, certainly Allah has forgiven you and you know that Allah forgives completely. There is no deficiency in it so the man comes on the Day of Qiyamat (absolutely free).”

He asked: “What will be the Blood-money (Diyat) for this.” Jibraeel said: “I have not asked anything about this from the Lord.” Dawood (A) told him to ask the Lord. So Jibraeel (A) departed and Hazrat Dawood (A) fell down in prostration of thanks. He remained in this position as long as Allah wished then Jibraeel (A) returned and said: “O Dawood I have asked Allah whatever you wanted to know. He said: Tell Dawood certainly Allah will bring together both of them. The man will say: ‘Give me that Diyat which Dawood owes.” Hazrat Dawood (A) will say, “O my Lord give it to this man.” Allah will say, “Whatever is in the Paradise is for you, take whatever you may like in lieu of it (the Diyat).”3

Other tafsirs have also mentioned similar narrations with regard to Prophet Dawood (A). Let us now examine the chain of narrators of this tradition.

A Study of Narrators

(A) Wahab Ibn Munabbah

His father belonged to the tribe of Banu Furs. Kisra (Caesar) had sent him towards Yemen. The following is mentioned in Tabaqaat Ibn Saad from Wahab:

“I have studied 92 revealed books. 72 of them are in the church and among the people. 20 of them are not known to any except a few people.”

Dr. Jawad Ali says: Wahab Ibn Munabbah was a confirmed Jew who claimed that he was proficient in the study of Egyptian, Syrian and Himyari languages and ancient books.

In his book Kashful Zanoon he has mentioned the stories of the prophets.4

(b) Al Hasan al-Basri

Abu Saeed’s father was the slave of Zaid bin Thabit al-Ansari who lived till the time of Umar’s Caliphate and died in Basra in 110 A.H. He was most eloquent person. He had great influence on the people and the rulers also had respect for him. He was considered to be the Imam of the School of Caliphate in Basra.5

His biography as mentioned in Tabaqaat Ibn Saad indicates that he used to contemplate deeply before saying anything. He never considered it permissible to revolt against an unjust ruler.

Importance of his narration

In the book Mujamul Etedaal6 it is written that:

Al Hasan used to be careless in narrating traditions. He used to omit some names of narrators. He used to say, “A certain person has said so”, and especially with regard to those from whom he had not heard directly; like Abu Hurayra and other companions. In his digressions he used to mention hadith of other people also from whom he had not directly heard it. Allah knows best!

When Al Hasan relates a hadith saying I have heard from so and so, this hadith used to be considered weak when he related traditions from those from whom he had not heard directly. For example from Abu Hurayra and similar other types of numerous traditions. He has narrated from those whom he had not even met.

Tabaqaat Ibn Saad also has the following explanation from Ali bin Zaid: He says:

I related one hadith of to Al Hasan and he began to recount this narration in the following manner. I asked, “O Abu Saeed who has mentioned this tradition to you?”

Saeed said, “I don’t know.”

Ali bin Zaid said, “I had myself narrated this tradition to you.”

Another report says that he was told, “What do you say about your giving fatwa (verdict) to people regarding those things which you have heard and also about those which you have not heard?”

He replied, “No by Allah No! Whatever verdicts I give, I have not heard them all. But these things I considered beneficial for the people and I consider my opinion to be better than that of the people themselves.”7

Wasil bin Ata was a student of Hasan al-Basri. He was the founder of the Mutazila School of thought. (He died in 131 A.H.). Ibn Abil Awjaa was also one of his students.

He was told: “O you who have left the religion of your mentors and entered into a faith which has no firm base.”

He was murdered by the ruler of Kufa , who was a zindiq, in 155 A.H.

He said at the time of his murder, “If you intend to kill me I will narrate 4000 traditions and these traditions will have reports decreeing halaal things as haraam and make haraam, those things, which are halaal. On days of fasting I will order you to eat and on the days of eating I will order you to fast.”8

(c) Yazid bin Abaan Ar Raqqashi

He was a traditionalist and a storyteller of Basra. He was pious and often wept in piety but he used to narrate these things without much thought.

With regard to his biography the following thing are mentioned in the books, Tahzibul Kamal of Muzzi and Tehzibut Tehzib of Ibn Hajar:9

(A) His piety: He starved himself and consequently his body became weak and the complexion paled. He used to weep and make others in his company weep too. He used to say: “Let us weep for the weeper on a day of thirst.” He also said, “The cool water in the day contains goodness.”

Ibn Hajar says: “He did what the Messenger of Allah (S) never ordered or did.”

Almighty Allah has clearly announced:

“Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions? Say: these are for the believers in the life of this world...” [Holy Quran, al-A’raaf; The Heights, Shakir 07:32]

(b) His credibility: He was weak and a guesser.10

(c) Value of his traditions: It is narrated from Shoaba that he said: “I prefer it to omit the links of chain of narrations rather than relate a hadith from him. I consider committing adultery better than narrating a hadith from him.”

It is also mentioned: He was a denier of traditions, one who abandoned traditions. He did not write down the hadith.

Abu Hatim says: He was an orator and wept much. Most of his traditions are from Anas bin Malik and they require careful investigation. His traditions have weaknesses.

It is mentioned in Tehzibut Tehzib: “Ibn Hibban says: He was of the beloved creatures of Allah who wept at night (due to the fear of Allah) but he was careless in memorizing the traditions because he remained ever busy in prayers. Till the time he completely changed the words of Hasan al-Basri and attributed these words to Anas bin Malik and the Holy Prophet (S). It is not permitted to relate traditions from him and it can be done only to express astonishment (That such a thing has been said by him).”

(d) His death Yazid bin Abaan died before 120 A.H.11

A Study of the Text of Tradition

Firstly: Tradition of Wahab (in Brief)

Dawood (A) was sitting alone to read the Taurat one day, when a golden pigeon sat down in front of him. He moved forward to catch it. It moved away from him and he continued to follow her till it went near the wife of his neighbor Ooriya. She was bathing without clothes. He was fascinated by her beauty. When the woman saw the shadow of Hazrat Dawood (A) she tried to hide herself with her hair. This action of hers fascinated Hazrat Dawood (A) more and he decided to have her husband killed on the battle- front. Ultimately Hazrat Dawood (A) married his widow. Two angels came to him... as mentioned in the Holy Quran.

One tradition says that Wahab has related it, while another narration says that Wahab has related from the people of the book. For this reason this narration is considered weak.

When we refer to the Taurat we find in the book Samuel: 2 an incident of Dawood (A) seeing the wife of Ooriya his neighbor from the roof of his house. He became attracted after seeing her and he brought her home and slept with her. She became pregnant from him in an adulterous manner....

By comparing this incident to the one related by Wahab it becomes evident that he has borrowed some parts of his narration from Taurat and some from the Jewish books which he had studied. As he himself used to claim proficiency in books of Jews. Such traditions are termed as Israeliyaat in the hadith terminology.

Secondly: Report of Hasan al-Basri

The import of the tradition of Hasan al-Basri is the same as that of Wahab Ibn Munabbah except for the beginning portion. Hasan al-Basri has also added the words: “Dawood (A) had divided his time into four parts...” We do not know whether he had added these of his own account or he has borrowed them from some other narrators of Israeliyaat traditions. It is however certain that Hasan al-Basri has not mentioned the chain of narrators. It is one of the mursal (without chain of narrators) traditions. If he had mentioned the source of his report, i.e. Wahab Ibn Munabbah etc., it would have been beneficial for those who are in pursuit of this study. However, since Hasan al-Basri has not mentioned the source it remains a mystery.

As he is the Imam of the beliefs of the School of Caliphate his traditions would have exercised a greater influence on those who wished to understand the beliefs.

All the well-known narrators of Israeliyaat also do what Hasan al-Basri has done (Relate without chain of narrators). They do not mention the chain of narrators; they report the traditions directly and also relate the hadith without any mention of the sources. For this reason, those who have no knowledge of traditions are unable to evaluate the authenticity of these narrations.

Thirdly: Tradition of Yazid bin Raqqashi

Yazid Ibn Abaansays: “Certainly we heard these traditions from our Companion Anas bin Malik who heard the Messenger of Allah (S).” In this way, he attributed lies to Anas bin Malik and the Messenger of Allah (S) though he was a pious and God-fearing person. How great is the influence of his traditions! Is it possible for the laymen to find the truth of the traditions related by Yazid Raqqashi from Hasan al-Basri attributed to Anas bin Malik and the Holy Prophet (S)?

After the death of these traditionalists came the exegetists like Tabari (died 310 A.H.) and Suyuti (died 311 A.H.). They have all quoted these fabricated traditions in their books.

The matter does not end here. It continues towards the Companions and their companions (tabaeen). Some of them are mentioned below.

(1) Abdullah bin Amr al-Aas: He used to quote traditions from two people whom he had met during a war. They both had knowledge of the books of Jews and Christians.

(2) Tameen al-Daari: He was a Rabbi prior to accepting Islam. He used to narrate stories before the Friday prayer sermon of Umar Ibn Khattab. During the reign of Usman he used to relate stories twice a week.

(3) Kaab al-Ahbaar: He accepted Islam during the time of Umar. In the period of Umar and Usman he was counted among the Muslim scholars.

Some of those who have interpreted the Holy Quran by the help of these fabricated traditions.

(4) Maqatil Ibn Suleman al-Maruzi al-Azdi (died 150A.H.): He was well-known interpreter of Quran. Shafei says, “All the people rely on three people. In the matter of Tafsir on Maqatil bin Suleman, in the matter of poetry on Zohair bin Abi Salmah and in the matter of scholasticism on Abu Hanifah.”

Though Maqatil had fabricated traditions and popularized the Israeliyaat, people have reposed faith his traditions which he narrated without a mention of the chain of narrators.12

Conclusion of this study

Wahab has fabricated a tradition and made allegations on the Prophet Dawood (A) based on traditions of Ahle Kitab and has explained the sources. It has been narrated by Hasan al-Basri without quoting the chain of narrators. Yazid bin Abaan the pious narrator has also related it without authority. He said, “Anas bin Malik had heard the Holy Prophet (S) say so.” Such kinds of narrations are not restricted to the Companions; and not restricted Anas bin Malik. Such kinds of chains of narrations have also been attributed to Abdullah Ibn Abbas. We must make a detailed study of these traditions to get to the root of the problem. We must also study the last page of Tafsir Durre Manthur of Suyuti so that we can arrive at the truth.

In this way, we shall come to know the false allegations that are heaped upon Dawood (A) in the Old Testament. The commentaries of the Holy Quran are replete with such traditions which are false and degrade the Prophets Peace upon Them, in the eyes of the Muslims. All these traditions are with regard to the marriage of Dawood (A) to the widow of Ooriya. Moreover, there are traditions concerning the marriage of the Holy Prophet (S) to Zainab binte Jahash the divorced wife of Zaid. Some of these are fabricated too.

Traditions Concerning the Marriage of Holy Prophet (S) with Zainab bint Jahash

Regarding the ayat “...and you concealed in your soul...” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:37) it is mentioned in Tafsir al-Khazin of Alauddin Baghdadi that:

The most authentic tradition in this Chapter is one narrated by Sufyan bin Uyayna from Ali bin Zaid bin Judan: “Zainul Abedin Ali bin Husain asked, ‘What does Hasan Ibn al-Basri think about the ayat, and you concealed in your soul that Allah would bring to light, and you feared...’?”

I replied, “He says, ‘When Zaid came to the Holy Prophet (S) and said O! Messenger of Allah I wish to divorce Zainab. The Prophet (S) was surprised and he said: Retain your wife and fear Allah.’” Ali Ibn Husain said, “It is not so, certainly Allah the High and the Mighty had revealed to the Prophet (S) that Zainab will be one of his wives and that Zaid is soon to divorce her. So when Zaid came and said, ‘I wish to divorce.’ The Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Retain your wife.’ Allah became angry with the Holy Prophet (S) and said: “why did you tell Zaid to retain her when I had informed you that she will be one of your wives?’”

Khazin says: It is the most appropriate explanation and compatible with the recitation of this Ayat.

The details of the Holy Prophet’s (S) marriage to Zainab are given in the following manner in the verses and traditions.

Verses on the Subject of the Prophet’s Marriage with Zainab bin Jahash

The Almighty Allah says in Surah Ahzaab:

“And it behooves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle, have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying.

And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown a favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in your soul that Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.

There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him; such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute:

Those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him, and do not fear any one but Allah; and Allah is sufficient to take account.

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the last of the prophets; and Allah is Cognizant of all things.” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:36-40]

The Explanation of these Ayats according to the School of Caliphate

Tabari has taken the interpretation from Wahab bin Munabbah: The Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him had married his adopted son (Zaid) to his cousin Zainab bin Jahash. One day, the Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him came out to meet Zaid. The curtain of his door blew away due to the wind and Zainab bin Jahash was inside without a (chest) covering. He saw her and became attracted towards her. So when Zainab began to dislike Zaid and he came to the Holy Prophet (S) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I wish to divorce my spouse.’ The Holy Prophet (S) asked, ‘Why, have you seen something about her that has made you doubt?’

He said, ‘No By Allah! I have not seen anything in her except goodness ...’13

Other traditions have also been mentioned from Hasan al-Basri on the same topic. We shall study them in connection with the tradition of Ahl al-Bayt (A) which explains the above ayats correctly, Insha-Allah.

Study of the Two Traditions

These two traditions have been narrated from Wahab bin Munabbah and Hasan al-Basri. In addition to the life history of these two, we also say the following: Both of them were born years after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (S). So how can they relate the circumstances of the Prophet (S)? They were not present at that time so how can they mention these reports without citing the sources?

Text of the Two Traditions

The central idea of this tradition is the infatuation of the Holy Prophet (S) to Zainab binte Jahash when he saw her without covering and wished Zaid would divorce her. He concealed these feelings in his heart.

The following arguments shall falsify the above report. Zainab was the cousin of the Holy Prophet (S) and the order for Hijab was promulgated after his marriage to Zainab. The Holy Prophet (S) had seen Zainab often, before he got her betrothed to Zaid. Whoever says that the Holy Prophet (S) was attracted to her later has made a false allegation against him. The correct incident is related from the books of Biography of the Holy Prophet (S) in the following pages.

The Report of Zainab’s Marriage to Zaid, and then to the Holy Prophet (S) after Zaid Divorced Her

Zaid bin Harith was taken as a slave in the days of ignorance and he was sold in the slave market. He was purchased by Khatija, and presented the Holy Prophet (S) before the declaration of Prophethood. At that time Zaid was eight years old. He grew up with the Holy Prophet (S). When his parents came to know that he was staying with the Holy Prophet, his father and uncle came to Mecca to take him home. They came to the Holy Prophet (S) and said: “O son of Abdul Muttalib, O son of Hashim, O the son of Chief of the people! We have come to you with regard to our son. Please oblige us by giving back our son.”

He Peace upon Him & His Family asked, “Who is it?”

They replied, “It is Zaid bin Harith.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said: “No one other than him?”

They said, “Who else?”

He said, “Call him, and free him. If he wishes, you can take him home.”

He said: “I like the one who likes me.” The Holy Prophet (S) asked Zaid if he knew the two men. Zaid said, “Yes, this one is my father and that my uncle.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said, “You know me and have lived with me. Choose me or choose them.”

Zaid said: “I don’t choose them. I will never prefer anyone over you. You are in the place of my father and my uncle.”

His father and uncle said: “Do you choose slavery over freedom? Prefer slavery over your family and relatives?”

He said: “Yes! I have seen something in this man and I can never prefer anyone over him.” When the Holy Prophet (S) saw this he took Zaid towards Hijr near the Kaaba and said: “O people! Witness! Zaid is my son; he inherits from me and I from him.” When the father and the uncle saw this, they became happy and returned home.14

After this Zaid was related to the Holy Prophet (S) and he began to be called Zaid bin Muhammad. He married him to his slave girl named Barrah as-Sawdah, the Negress. Before this she had been married to Ubaid al-habashi and had a child named Aiman from him. It is for this reason that she was called Umme Aiman. Usama bin Zaid was born in Mecca from Zaid.15

This was the report of Holy Prophet’s Peace upon Him adoption of Zaid bin Harith. Now we shall mention the report of the marriage of Zainab with Holy Prophet (S).

Marriage of Zaid with Zainab, the Prophet’s Cousin

After Hijrat to Madinah, Zainab the cousin of the Prophet (S) sent her marriage proposal to various Companions of the Holy Prophet (S). She sent her brother to the Holy Prophet (S) for his advice. The Holy Prophet (S) asked, “Where is the one who will teach her the book of Allah and the Sunnat of Holy Prophet (S).” They said, “Zaid.” Zainab became angry and said, “You wish to marry your cousin to your slave? I will not marry him. I am of a superior lineage than him and a virgin16 in my family.” So Allah revealed the ayat.

“And it behooves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle, have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying.” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:36]

Zainab finally agreed to it and the Holy Prophet (S) married her to Zaid after Umme Aiman Sauda the Negress who later gave birth to Usama bin Zaid. Zainab used to dominate over Zaid and used to argue and misbehave with him. Zaid often complained to the Holy Prophet (S) and wanted to divorce her. The Almighty intended that Zainab should marry the Holy Prophet (S) after being divorced from Zaid.

So that after this the system of adoption will be abolished among the Muslims. The adopted son will never be considered as a natural son. Allah revealed this to the Holy Prophet (S) but he feared to say this among the people. That people might say: “He has married the wife of his son.” He concealed the revelation and told Zaid, “Fear Allah and retain your wife.” When Zaid became extremely fed up with his wife, he divorced her. Then the iddah also came to an end. Subsequently the following ayats were revealed to the Holy Prophet (S) regarding this matter and the order of adopted son was also mentioned.

“But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.

There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him; such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute:

Those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him, and do not fear any one but Allah; and Allah is sufficient to take account.

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the last of the prophets; and Allah is Cognizant of all things.” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:37-40]

In the foregoing pages we have presented the ayats where the scholars have erred in interpretation due to the fabricated traditions which make false allegations against the Prophets (A)

We shall also present verses where people have erred without even referring to the traditions.

  • 1. Tafsir of Tabari, Vol.23, Pgs.95-96, Published from Daaral Marifah, Beirut.
  • 2. Tafsir of Tabari, Vol.23, Pg.16, Published from Daaral Marifah, Beirut, Suyuti, Vol.5, Pg.148.
  • 3. See the interpretation of this verse in Tafsir of Tabari, Vol.23, Pg.96; Suyuti, Vol.5, Pg.300-301.
  • 4. Tabaqaat Ibn Saad Vol.5, Pg.395, Kashful Zanoon, Tarikhul Arab Qablal Islam of Jawad Ali, Vol.1, Pg.44.
  • 5. Wafayatul Ayaan of Ibn Khallikan, Vol.1, Pg.354, Tabaqaat Ibn Saad, Vol.7, Pg.120.
  • 6. Volume 1, Pg.527, Biography no.1968.
  • 7. Tabaqaat Ibn Saad, Vol.8, Pg.120.
  • 8. Refer to the life sketch of Wasil bin Ata in Wafayaatul Ayaan of Ibn Khallikan. For details on Ibn Abil Awjaa refer to the discussion on heretics in the first part of the book, "One hundred and fifty Imaginary Companions."
  • 9. Tafsirul Kamal of Muzzi and Tehzib at-Tehzib of Ibn Hajar Vol.11, Pg.309-311.
  • 10. Tabaqaat Ibn Saad, Vol.7.
  • 11. Tehzib at-Tehzib, Vol.11, Pg.309-311.
  • 12. Tarikh al-Baghdad Vol.12, Pg.160-169, Biography no.7142, Wafayaatul Ayaan, Vol.4, Pg.240-242, Tehzib at-Tehzib Vol.10, Pg.279-285, Mizaanul Eatedaal Vol.4, Pg.172, Biography no.7841.
  • 13. Tafsir of Tabari Vol.22, Pg.10-11, Beirut.
  • 14. Usud al-Ghaba, Vol.2, Pg.224-227.
  • 15. Biography of Umme Aiman in Usud al-Ghaba Vol.7, Pg.303, Al Istiab Pg.765, Al Isabah Vol.4, Pg.415-417, Biogrpahy no.1145.
  • 16. Spinster or Bachelor

Erroneous Interpretations

(A) Did Adam (A) disobey Allah? As we see in the Quranic verse:

“... and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him).” [Holy Quran, Taa Haa, Shakir 20:121]

(b) It is mentioned in Surah Anbiya in connection with the breaking of idols that Ibrahim (A) said, “The chief of them has done it.” Whereas he himself had broken them.

“So he broke them into pieces, except the Chief of them that haply they may return to it.

They said: Who has done this to our gods? Most surely he is one of the unjust.

They said: We heard a youth called Ibrahim speak of them.

Said they: Then bring him before the eyes of the people, perhaps they may bear witness.

They said: Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim?

He said: Surely (some doer) has done it, the Chief of them is this, therefore ask them, if they can speak.

Then they turned to themselves and said: Surely you yourselves are the unjust.

Then they were made to hang down their heads: Certainly you know that they do not speak.” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets 21:58-65]

(c) The Almighty Allah says in Surah Yusuf, “The servants1 of Hazrat Yusuf (A) said to his brothers, ‘You are indeed thieves.’” whereas they had not stolen the king’s drinking cup.

The Quran says,

“So when he furnished them with their provisions (some-one) placed the drinking cup in his brother’s bag. Then a crier cried out: O caravan! You are most surely thieves.

They said while they were facing them: What is it that you miss?

They said: We miss the King’s drinking cup, and he who shall bring it shall have a camel- load and I am responsible for it.

They said: By Allah! You know for certain that we have not come to make mischief in the land, and we are not thieves.

They said: But what shall be the requital of this, if you are liars?

They said: The requital of this is that the person in whose bag it is found shall himself be (held for) the satisfaction thereof; thus do we punish the wrongdoers.

So he began with their sacks before the sack of his brother, then he brought it out from his brother’s sack. Thus did we plan for the sake of Yusuf; it was not (lawful) that he should take his brother under the King’s law unless Allah pleased; We raise the degrees of whomsoever We please, and above everyone possessed of knowledge is the All-knowing one.

They said: If he steal, a brother of his did indeed steal before; but Yusuf kept it secret in his heart and did not disclose it to them. He said: You are in an evil condition and Allah knows best what you state. They said: O Chief! He has a father, a very old man, therefore retain one of us in his stead; surely we see you to be one of the doers of good.” [Holy Quran, Yoosuf; Joseph, Shakir 12:70-78]

(d) The Almighty Allah remarks in Surah Anbiya that the Prophet Zannoon-Yunus- (A) thought that Allah does not have power over him.

As mentioned in the following ayats:

“And Yunus, when he went away in wrath, so he thought that We would not straiten him, so he called out among afflictions; There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee; surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss.

So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief, and thus do We deliver the believers.” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets, Shakir 21:87-88]

(e) Allah mentions in Surah Fath that He has forgiven all the past and future sins of the Holy Prophet (S) after the conquest of Makkah.

“Surely We have given to you a clear victory. That Allah may forgive your past faults and those to follow and complete His favor to you and keep you on a right way.

And that Allah might help you with a mighty help. [Holy Quran, al-Fath; The Victory, Shakir 48:1-3]

The notable fact is that certain commentators of the Holy Quran have failed in grasping the meaning of the ayats quoted above. We shall, first explain the meanings of some phrases and then study the errors in interpretations.

Explanation of some Words and Technical Terms

First: Introduction to the terms of discussion

(A) Divine Orders and Prohibitions

Some of the Divine orders and prohibitions pertain to this life alone. Their effect is not carried to the Hereafter. For example the ayat,

“Eat and drink but do not exceed the limits.” [Holy Quran, al-A’raaf; The Heights 07:31]

This ayat prohibits eating and drinking beyond limits. But it is accepted by all the scholars that the effects of prodigality in this matter are limited to this life only. Furthermore it is only an advice, the disobedience of which does not incur Divine wrath.

When something is commanded it must be fulfilled. It is obligatory (wajib) and failure to do so is haraam (prohibited). Similarly to do whatever is prohibited is haraam. Such types of orders and prohibitions have everlasting effects on man. If he fails, he becomes liable for divine punishment.

In the Islamic terminology it is known as Al Muluwwain. For example, ‘Tarke Awla’.

(b) Tarke Awla (Forgoing the Preferable Act)

Whatever a man does, there is always something better than what he has done. That is, it would have been better if he had not done a particular thing. For example, all the incidents mentioned with regard to the acts of the Prophets Peace upon Them, fall into this category.

(c) Al Masiya - Disobedience (Sin)

Disobedience of a Divine order is sin. It implies going out of obedience. It pertains to the failure to carry out an order whereby a person becomes a sinner. And the word Amr (order) occurs in a sentence after the mention of the word “Masiyat”. For example in Surah Kahf:

1. In Surah Kahf we find the words of Musa (A) to his companions.

“He said: If Allah pleases, you will find me patient and I shall not disobey you in any matter. (amr)” [Holy Quran, al-Kahf; The Cave, Shakir 18:69]

2. Another example is present in the description of the angels in charge of the Fire, as mentioned in Surah Tahrim.

“Over it are angels stern and strong, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded.” [Holy Quran, at-Tahrim; The Prohibition, Shakir 66:06]

However if merely the word ‘Command’ is mentioned in a sentence it does not denote failure to obey an obligatory command. For example in Surah Taha:

“...and Adam disobeyed his Lord...” [Holy Quran, Taa Haa, Shakir 20:121]

(d) Ad-Danb (Sin)

The effect of sin follows man to the end. However, the effects of some sins are manifested in this life too. It returns back to the ones who have harmed other people.

Similarly, when Prophet Musa (A) sought divine help, the Quran says:

“And when your Lord called out to Musa, saying: Go to the unjust people.

The people of Firon: Will they not guard (against evil)?

He said: O my Lord! Surely I fear that they will reject me;

And my breast straitens, and my tongue is not eloquent, therefore send Thou Haroon (to help me); And they have a crime (Danb) against me, therefore I fear that they may slay me.

He said: By no means, so go you both with Our signs; Surely We are with you, hearing.” [Holy Quran, as-Shuara; The Poets, Shakir 26:10-15]

The act of Musa (A) whereby he killed a Copt is mentioned in the following ayats of Surah Qasas:

“And he went into the city at a time of un-vigilance on the part of its people, so he found therein two men fighting, one being of his party and the other of his foes, and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies, So Musa struck him with his fist and killed him. He said: This is on account of the Shaitan’s doing; surely he is an enemy, openly leading astray.

He said: My Lord! Surely I have done harm to myself so do Thou protect me. So He protected him; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.

He said: My Lord! Because Thou hast bestowed a favor on me, I shall never be a backer of the guilty. And he was in the city, fearing, awaiting, when lo! he who had asked his assistance the day before was crying out to him for aid. Musa said to him: You are most surely one erring manifestly.

So when he desired to seize him who was an enemy to them both, he said: O Musa! Do you intend to kill me as you killed a person yesterday? You desire nothing but that you should be a tyrant in the land, and you do not desire to be of those who act aright.

And a man came running from the remotest part of the city. He said: O Musa! Surely the Chiefs are consulting together to slay you, therefore depart (at once); surely I am of those who wish well to you. So he went forth therefrom, fearing, awaiting, (and) he said: My Lord! Deliver me from the unjust people.” [Holy Quran, al-Qasas; The Narration, Shakir 28:15-21]

Now the effect of the action of killing the Copt was limited to the worldly life, i.e. the order of Firon to kill Musa (A) in punishment for killing the Copt.

However the effect of sins is evident in the Hereafter. But it can also be manifested in this life also. These sins are those that the creature commits in contravention of the commands of his
Lord (glorified is His Name).

Second: Explanation of Certain Words

(A) Zal Ayeed: It means to be powerful and severe. A powerful person.

(b) Awwaab: One that comes back or returns. Awwaab is like Tawwaab: One who returns to Allah by leaving the sins and by performing divine orders.

(c) Tushtit: Exceeding limits in executing a command or exceeding limits in every sphere of life.

(d) Akfilnihya: Kufla means nurturing or care-taking. Akfilnihya means, “entrust her to me so that I can nurture her.”

(e) Azzani fil Khitab: Azza = to dominate, Azzamfil Khitab = he got an upper hand in conversation with me.

(f) Alkhultao: Singular = Khaleet. It means a friend, a neighbor or a partner.

(g) Zanna: As Zann is suspicion which one gets due to some signs. And sometimes this suspicion reaches to a level of certainty. As Allah says,

“And Dawood was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord.” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:24]

That is he understood that we had examined him. Sometimes instead of reaching to the level of certainty it falls short and remains to a level of mild doubt. For example the Almighty says regarding Hazrat Yunus (A).

“So he thought that We would not straiten him,” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets, Shakir 21:87]

(h) Fattannahu: Al Fitna = Test. It would mean that Dawood (A) was sure that Allah has tested him.

(i) Kharra: To fall down from up. ‘Kharra Rakeyan’ means to bow down.

(j) Anaaba: To turn towards something. ‘Nawban wa Naubatan’ means to come back to something for a second time. ‘Wa anabal Abd Ila Allah’ = That is he turned to Allah after repenting of his sins, and reposed his faith in Allah and whatever has been revealed, and Ibrahim (A) was of those who turned to Allah in every affair.

(k) Fa Ghaffarma wal Yaghfir: ‘Ghafara’ means to cover or to hide. Superlative of ‘Ghafoor’ is ‘Ghaffaar’. Anything that you have covered is as if you have forgiven it. The helmet of an armour is known as Al Maghfir because it hides the head and the neck. ‘Gafarallaho Zunooban’: means that Allah has covered or hidden the sins. It would also entail erasing the effects of this sin in this world as well as the Hereafter.

(l) Lezulfa: Zulfan means to be near.

(m) Maab: Place of return or time of return.

(n) Khalifah: The meaning of Khalifah as expressed in Quran is not the one whom the people had appointed. It means the appointee of Allah whom Allah had sent to establish justice among the people. As the following ayat makes it evident,

“O Dawood! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice...” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:26]

(o) Al Khiyarah: To prefer something over other (things).

(p) Watara: Al Wataru: It means a need which is serious. One who achieves his aim or gets his need fulfilled.

(q) Adiyaohum: Singular = Addayee, one who is associated to a particular class of people though he may not be from them. The most prevalent use of this form is the word ‘Mutabanna’ (adopted son).

(r) Sunnatullah: The system fixed by Allah for his creatures.

“Such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before.” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:38]

Allah’s commands and His Shariat which He had revealed on the Prophets preceding the Last Prophet (S).

(S) Qaddaran Maqdooran: The Almighty Allah decided a particular thing. If it is used in connection with sustenance it means “limiting”.

(t) Juzaadan: To cut or make into pieces, to break.

(u) Fataa: Youth or zenith of something. The servant boy or a maid is called “Fataa” in a pampering way. A complete man. In the ayat it signifies a full bloom youth.

(v) Nukesoo: To bow down the head in perfect obeisance.

(w) As Saqaaya: A cup, a utensil for drinking water, or to be used as a measure.

(x) Al Eer: The people who have are in change of carrying provisions for the people. Sometimes it is also used for the camel caravan laden with provisions.

(y) Sua: Here it means the King’s cup which is used for drinking water.

(z) Zaeem: One who takes up the responsibility. A responsible person. A leader.

Third: Explanation of the verses

We begin this discussion with the interpretation of the ayats in the light of the dictionary meaning of some words. Secondly, we will examine the explanations of these ayats as provided by the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (A).

Explanation of Ayats: In the Light of Dictionary Meaning

(A) The Report of Ibrahim (A) Breaking the Idols

Ibrahim (A) says:

“The Chief of them is this; therefore ask them, if they can speak.” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets, Shakir 21:63]

Actually it means this way: The chief of them has done it if he can speak. The meaning is clarified if we see that the next verse says,

“Then they were made to hang down their heads: Certainly you know that they do not speak.” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets, Shakir 21:65]

(b) The Report of Yusuf and his Brothers

The words, “You are most surely thieves.” (Surah Yusuf 12:70) actually mean that they have stolen Hazrat Yusuf (A) from his father.

As regards the King’s cup they said, “The King’s cup is missing.” They did not says, “It has been stolen.” This also has Toriya (ambiguity) as we have already mentioned.2

(c) Report of the Messenger of Allah (S) after the Conquest of Makkah

The Almighty Allah says in Surah Fath:

“Surely We have given you a clear victory, That Allah may forgive your past faults, and those to follow, and complete His favor to you and keep you on a right way, And that Allah might help you with a mighty help. He it is Who sent down tranquility...” [Holy Quran, al-Fath; The Victory, Shakir 48:1-4]

Tafsir of the Words

(A) Fatahana: Here, “Fath” means the Treaty of Hudaibiya. The Almighty has called it a “victory”. It was a victory over the apparent power of the Quraysh. The Quraysh failed to subdue the Holy Prophet (S) even though they had raised an army for the very purpose. After this the Holy Prophet (S) conquered Makkah.

(b) Layaghfir: Gafara means to hide something.

(c) Zanbek: Ar Raghib says: Az Zanb actually means to catch the edge or end of something. Zanb is used for every act which has an evil end.

Taveel of the Ayats

According to the report of Waqidi as recorded in the book Maghazi, the Treaty of Hudaibiya is described in the following manner:

Umar confronted the Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him & His Family and said: “Are we not Muslims?” He replied, “Yes.”

“Then why have we been given a lowly thing in our religion?” So the Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him & His Family said: “I am the servant of Allah and his Messenger and I will never disobey His orders and He will never waste my efforts.”

Umar began to argue with the Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him & His Family, and also discussed the matter with Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaydah. Both of them pacified him. After this incident he used to say, “One day I had a doubt and I referred to the Prophet (S) in a way I have never referred …”.3

It became evident that the Treaty was in fact a victory for the Prophet (S) and the Muslims. Whereas, the polytheists thought that it was a sin that the prophet had committed by prohibiting the worship of idols as he had previously done. They were under the impression that it was a mistake on his part and a sort of foolishness. Similarly the killing of the polytheists in the battles of Badr and other battles was included in this “sin”. In the due course the Almighty covered all these “sins” at the time of this treaty. Thus this treaty became the cause of every conquest. Hence the Almighty says:

“The past faults and those to follow...” [Holy Quran, al-Fath; The Victory, Shakir 48:02]

In the same way as Musa says in the Surah Shuara:

“And they have a crime against me, therefore I fear that they will reject me;” [Holy Quran, as-Shuara; The Poets, Shakir 26:14]

On the basis of this we can say that the act of the Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him & His Family would rank on the same level as that of the act of Musa (A) in killing the Copt.

This was a discussion based on the dictionary meaning of the terms used in the verses of the Holy Quran. In the coming pages we shall present the interpretation of the ayats in the light of traditional reports.

Taveel of Ayats in the Traditions of the Imams (A) of Ahl al-Bayt (A)

Sadooq(R) has related a tradition wherein Mamun the Abbasid had invited Imam Ridha (A) to have discussions with scholars of various faiths, including Christians, Jews and Zorastrians and Sabieens. Among the Muslim scholars was Ali ibn al-Jaham. Imam Ridha (A) was asked. “O son of the Messenger of Allah will you say something about the infallibility of the Prophets?”

“Yes”, replied Imam Ridha (A).

“What do you say regarding the ayats:”

“...and Adam disobeyed his Lord.” [Holy Quran, Taa Haa, Shakir 20:121]

“And Yunus, when he went away in wrath, so he thought that We would not straiten him,” [Holy Quran, al-Anbiya; The Prophets, Shakir 21:88]

“And certainly she intended and he intended,” [Holy Quran, Yoosuf; Joseph, Shakir 12:24]

“And Dawood was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord.” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:24]

“And you concealed in your soul that Allah would bring to light, and you feared...” [Holy Quran, al-Ahzaab; The Confederates, Shakir 33:37]

Imam Ridha (A) replied, “Fie upon you O Ali! Do not attribute such things to Allah. And do not interpret the ayats of Quran according to your personal opinion. For the Almighty Allah says,

“But none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge...” [Holy Quran, Ale Imran; The House of Imran, Shakir 03:07]

As far as the saying of Allah “....and Adam disobeyed his Lord.” is concerned, Allah had created Adam (A) as His proof upon the earth and his vicegerent on His land. He had not created Adam (A) for Paradise. The disobedience of Adam (A) occurred in the garden and not on the earth. When he was sent to the earth and was made the proof and vicegerent, he became immune from sins, as the words of Allah imply,

“Surely Allah chose Adam and Nuh and the descendants of Ibrahim and the descendants of Imran above the nations.” [Holy Quran, Ale Imran; The House of Imran, Shakir 03:33]

As for the saying of Allah, “And Yunus, when he went away in wrath, so he thought that We would not straiten him,” Actually Yunus (A) thought that Allah will not restrict his sustenance. It does not mean that Yunus (A) was having the belief that Allah had no power to straighten his subsistence. The Quran clearly states:

“And whoever has his subsistence straitened to him...” [Holy Quran, at-Talaq; The Divorce, Shakir 65:07]

Therefore if Yunus (A) had such a belief he would have committed infidelity.

Regarding the words of Allah for Yusuf (A), “And certainly she intended and he intended,” She had intended to commit adultery but the intention of Yusuf (A) was to kill her if she forced him to it. This is the hidden reality behind this ayat. However, the Almighty averted Yusuf (A) from such an eventuality (her passion and her murder). As the ayat says,

“Thus that We might turn away from him evil and indecency...” [Holy Quran, Joosuf; Joseph, Shakir 12:24]

Here “evil” means murder and “indecency” means adultery. “Now as for Dawood (A), what do you say about him?” Ali bin al-Jaham said, “Surely Dawood (A) was in his prayer room engrossed in prayers when Iblis came in the form of a beautiful bird and disturbed his prayers. So he rose up to catch it but it flew away. He followed her out. She flew to a roof and he also climbed the roof to catch her. The bird alighted in the house of Ooriya Ibn Hannaan. Dawood (A) peeped into the house and saw that the wife of Ooriya was bathing. When she looked at him he was infatuated.

He sent Ooriya on a military expedition and ordered that he may be kept at the frontline in the battles. But Ooriya defeated the infidels. Dawood (A) was not satisfied, and ordered that Ooriya to be kept near the Taaboot. Ooriya was ultimately killed and Dawood (A) married his widow.”

Ali ar-Ridha (A) slapped his forehead and said, “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him is our return! You people have certainly attributed sluggishness in prayers towards a Prophet to a limit that he left his prayers and followed the bird. Then you attributed lewdness to him. Ultimately you have implicated him in a murder too!”

Ali Ibn al-Jaham said, “O son of the Prophet! Then tell us, what was his mistake?”

Imam Ridha (A) said, “Fie on you! Actually Dawood (A) was under the impression that he was the most intelligent creature of Allah. So Allah sent the two angels who came and hid near the prayer room. Then they said, “Fear not; two litigants, of whom one has acted wrongfully towards the other, therefore decide between us with justice, and do not act unjustly, and guide us to the right way. Surely this is my brother; he has ninety-nine ewes and I have a single ewe; but he said:

Make it over to me, and he has prevailed against me in discourse.” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:22-23]

Dawood (A) gave a judgement in haste and said:

Surely he has been unjust to you in demanding your ewe (to add) to his own ewes; [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:24]

He did not ask the plaintiff to submit the proof for his claim nor did he pay attention to the defendant. He said, “What do you say? Was not this an error of judgement? No you have not understood this! Have you not heard the words of Allah, O Dawood! surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between man with justice and do not follow desire, lest it should lead you astray from the path of Allah; (as for) those who go astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have a severe punishment because they forgot the day of reckoning.” [Holy Quran, Saad, Shakir 38:26]

Ali ibn Jaham said, “O son of the Messenger of Allah (S) then what is the incident of Dawood (A) with Ooriya?”

Imam Ridha (A) said, “In the time of Dawood (A) a widow was never allowed to remarry. For the first time, the Almighty made it lawful for Dawood (A) to marry a widow.4

As regards Dawood (A), Amirul Momineen Ali (A) specially said, “No one has come to me claiming that Dawood (A) married the widow of Ooriya, but that I have issued two punishments for him, one of Prophet-hood and the other of Islam.”5

It means that one who says that Dawood (A) married the widow of Ooriya before Ooriya was killed. In another hadith we have, “If any one relates the tradition of Dawood (A) like it is narrated, I will have him lashed 170 times.”

One more hadith on this subject states, “This is the penalty of false allegation against a Prophet.”6

Sadooq(R) has also mentioned a tradition from Imam Sadiq (A) that he said: “In the time of Dawood (A) when a woman was widowed she never remarried. For the first time the Almighty made it lawful for Dawood (A) to marry a woman whose husband had been killed. So Dawood (A) married the widow of Ooriya after he was killed and the iddah (a period which has to pass after the death of a husband before his widow can remarry) passed. This was disliked by the people more than the death of Ooriya.7

It is sometimes said that the things presented above are in contradiction of tradition presented by Qummi in his Tafsir.8

We say: Certainly numerous traditions have been recorded in the explanation of this ayat in the School of Caliphate. The reporters have also included their own opinions and then attributed them to Imam Sadiq (A).

It has been related from Imam Sadiq (A) that when he was asked regarding Ooriya, he said, “This is what the Ahle Sunnat say.”9

In this hadith Imam Sadiq (A) has made it clear that it is the opinion of the common people and the Ahle Sunnat. However, this opinion has reached the books of Shias and such reports have been classified as ‘Ahle Sunnat traditions’.10

When we search for their sources in the books of Tafsir and History of Ahle Sunnah11 we find that such types of traditions have not been recorded from the Holy Prophet (S). The reporters did not say that the Holy Prophet (S) has said it except for one report which is recorded by Suyuti in his tafsir from Yazid bin Raqqashi. We have already proved the weakness of this report.

Now about the Incident of Zaid and Zainab

The relationship of Zaid and Zainab was plagued by the feeling of competition between the sexes which was custom of Jahilya. It was repealed by the law of Islam. The custom of considering the adopted son as the real son was also invalidated by the order of Allah. This affair is similar to the marriage of Dawood (A) with the widow of Ooriya; which had also put an end to an ancient custom. The Prophets (S) had taken the initiative to destroy age-old customs under the Divine instructions. The Holy Prophet (S) also did this.

Interest and taking revenge of the enmity of the days of Jahilya were abrogated by him at the last Hajj. He forgave the interest of his Uncle Abbas and also the blood of his Uncle’s son who had been killed before.12

This is in fact the reality of Dawood’s (A) marriage with the widow of Ooriya and the marriage of the Holy Prophet (S) with the divorced wife of his adopted son. Another important point is that since the beginning, various stories from the Israiliyaat had entered the books of hadith and tafsir. These false stories got so much mixed up in the Islamic tradition that it was difficult to glean the truth.

Moreover, the political atmosphere was in favor of the circulation of these reports. It served the purpose of defending the misdeeds of the tyrant rulers like Yazid bin Muawiya by trying to implicate the Prophets (S) in sins. By this they tried to show that even the prophets were not immune to human weakness. Hence if the rulers committed infamies it deserved to be overlooked. The School of the Caliphate always had the tendency of defending the deeds of the ruling kings in this manner.

  • 1. The officers appointed by the Governors.
  • 2. Majmaul Bayan fi Tafsiril Quran Vol.3, Pg.252.
  • 3. Al Maghazi of Waqidi Vol.1, Pg.606-607.
  • 4. Beharul Anwar Vol.11, Pg.73-74, Amali of Sadooq Pg.55-57, Uyoonal Akhbaar Pg.108.
  • 5. Majmaul Bayan, Nurus Saqlain, Tanzeehul Anbiya of Sharif al Murtaza, Pg.92.
  • 6. Tafsir-e-Khazin Vol.4, Pg.35, Fakhruddin ar-Razi, Vol.25, Pg.192, Nurus Saqlain Vol.4, Pg.446.
  • 7. Beharul Anwar Vol.14, Pg.24, Tafsir Nurus Saqlain Vol.4, Pg.446, quoted from Uyoon al-Akhbaar.
  • 8. Beharul Anwar, Vol.20, Pg.23, Tafsir, al-Qummi, Pg.562-565.
  • 9. Beharul Anwar, Vol.14, Pg.200.
  • 10. Al Quranil Kareem wa rawayaatul Madrasatain Vol.2.
  • 11. Tafsir of Tabari, Tafsir of Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and Suyuti.
  • 12. Sirah Ibn Hisham Vol.4 Pg.275, Egypt (1356 A.H.)
    The Messenger of Allah Peace upon Him & His Family, said in the sermon at the time of the Farewell Hajj:

    “.... all the interest is invalidated, but you only have to return the principal amount. Do not be sluggish in this and the others also must not be severe upon you. Allah has invalidated interest. Whatever interest Abbas owes is also cancelled and whatever revenge pertains to the days of ignorance is also cancelled. And the first blood money that I abrogate is that of Ibn Rabiya bin Hars Ibn Abdul Muttalib, who was fostered by Banu Laith and killed by Hudail. It was among the first murders of Jahilya”.