[Subject] [Date] [Moderator] Home

['Aalim Network QR] Infallibility

|                          w           w     w                          |\
|                           ||          ||   | ||                       |\
|                    o_,_7 _||  . _o_7 _|| 4_|_||  o_w_,                |\
|                   ( :   /    (_)    /           (   .                 |\
|                                                                       |\
|           ||  ||         |  ||   |T              |     | ||    |      |\
|   . _, _8 |_D_|| . _,_,_,_D_|| 4_|| q ]_o_7_o   _|_c 4_|_||   _|,_p q |\
|  (_): /         (_): . :            /        (_S           (_S      / |\
|                                                                       |\
|       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 reply to the following question was kindly provided by Mulla
Bashir Rahim.


Mustafa Rawji
Moderator, 'Aalim Network



        On the doctrine of infallibility: Does it just refer to
infallibility as far as matters of jurisprudence and legislation are
concerned? The reason I ask is because I have read of several incidents
where Allah reprimanded the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the most perfect of all


Thank you for asking this very interesting question. 

Some time ago my good friend Dr. Liyakat answered a question on the 'ismah
of the Holy Imams giving some historical background. I am reproducing his
answer as I am sure you will find it as informative as I did: 


The question of the 'ismah of Prophets and Imams has been discussed for a
long time by the Shiah  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 'ismah includes not only grave sins but
also small sins and acts of inadvertence. He states categorically on page
69-70 in his Awa'il al-Maqalat that the 'ismah of the Prophet is complete
at all times. He never committed 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'ah laws and
protect the shari'ah and guide people. They do not commit small sins nor
do they commit acts due to inadvertence (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 defilement, major and minor

'Allama Hilli also shares this comprehensive 'ismah 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 inadvertence 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. 

(Ref: 'Aalim Network Archives -  March 13, 1996)

Dr. Liyakat begins by defining the term 'ismah which is the term used in
our theology for infallibility. Maulana Akhtar Rizvi, May Allah grant him
a long and healthy life, in his book on Prophethood defines it as
'protection' and adds, "In our theology it means a special grace (lutf) of
Allah to a person which enables that person to abstain from sins by his
own freewill. This lutf does not make the ma'sum incapable of committing
sins. It only makes him refrain from sins by his own power and will". Both
our learned alims come to the same conclusion. 

The next question which we must address our mind to is : What is a sin ? 
Again relying on Maulana Akhtar Rizvi's book, not every order or
prohibition of Allah is mandatory. These fall in the following categories:  
wajib, mustahab, haraam and makruh. Not to do a wajib act or to do an
act which is haraam are definitely sins. For instance both the daily
canonical salah and the post mid-night salah are mentioned in the Holy
Qur'an. The former are wajib while the latter mustahab.

You are right in assuming that the matter has to be determined in
accordance with jurisprudence but only to the extent of the imperative
commands for or against any deed. 
It is against reason and logic that any prophet sent to establish or
confirm the laws of Allah should himself have ever been guilty of
breaching that law. (see Holy Qur'an s.IV:64) 

With regard to the Holy Prophet (SAWA), any suggestion that he ever acted
otherwise than expected of him by Allah is totally illogical when Allah
himself describes him as a person of exalted character, sent as a mercy to
the entire humanity and as the best example to follow, and further, in
respect of whom and his ahlul bayt Allah revealed Ayah-e-Tatheer.

In our feeble attempts to comprehend the language of this Holy Book, we
must never lose sight of the fact that at times Allah emphasises a point
by addressing it to the mankind, some times to the believers and sometimes
He uses second person singular. Normally when Allah wishes to address any
matter to the Holy Prophet, He uses more intimate expressions. 

If there is any particular ayah which causes you concern kindly submit it
the Alim Network and you will in due course receive a response. 

With salaams and du'aas from a humble servant of Ahlul Bayt and their
followers, and with a request to be remembered by you in your prayers,

Bashir Rahim

Back: ['Aalim Network QR] Inappropriate Behaviour in the Mosque
Forward: ['Aalim Network QR] Information on Alims on ABDG-A