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['Aalim Network QR] The Infallibles

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salamun `Alaykum

The following question was kindly answered by Dr. Takim.

Fee Amaanillah,

Akil Karim
Acting Moderator for ABDG-A

---------- Forwarded message ----------


I'm a Sunni moslem that has been interested in Shi'a in the past four
years. I had always thought that Shi'a has a believe that Fatima and the
twelve Imams are masoom (infallible). But I got confused when I saw in
one of the ABDG-A discussions that Sheikh Mufid and one other mujtahid
that I forgot his name say that the twelve Imams can do small mistakes.
So, I want to know whether the belief of the masoom of Fatima and the
twelve Imams is the belief of all Shi'a moslems or only the majority of
them. If there has been some minority in Shi'a that say that Fatima and
the twelve Imams are not fully masoom,I want to know the reason why they
say that. Because what I know the reasons why Fatima and the twelve Imams
are masoom are pretty solid (i.e. Al Ahzab:33,An-Nisa:59 and hadith
Thaqalain). Could you explain all of these to me, because I really got a
little bit confused in here. 


The question of the 'isma of Prophets and Imams has been discussed for a
long time by Shi'i theologians. 

Firstly, it should be noted that being a ma'sum does not mean that one
cannot do evil. Rather, a ma'sum can perform evil but chooses not to do
so. Thus he/she keeps away from all forms of sins and acts of

Shaykh al-Mufid's definition of 'isma includes not only grave sins but
also small sins and acts of inadvertance. He states categorically on page
69-70 in his Awa'il al-Maqalat that the 'isma of the Prophet is complete
at all times. He never commited any sin either intentionally or
inadvertently. On page 74, al-Mufid states that the Imams occupy the
position of the Prophets in so far as they implement the shari'a laws and
protect the shari'a and guide people. They do not commit small sins nor
do they commit acts due to inadvertance (sahw). 

In particular, al-Mufid disagreed with his teacher al-Saduq (also called
Ibn Babawayh) who had said that the Prophet (SAW) inadvertently (sahw)
forgotten a part in his prayer. Al-Mufid wrote a treatise correcting his
teacher on this and other issues. However, Ibn Babawayh also states that
the Prophets and Imams are preserved from defilment, major and minor

'Allama Hilli also shares this comprehensive 'isma of the Imams.(See his
Bab al-Hadi Ashar). However, as Shaykh al-Mufid acknowledges in the
Awa'il, some followers of the Imams (notably the Banu Nawbakht) did allow
for small acts of inadvertance to be performed by the Imams. This was a
minority view which has not prevailed. Since their books are no longer
extant, their precise reasoning is not known. 

And Allah knows best.


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