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We believe that a true and comprehensive understanding of Islam would not be possible without careful recognition of the Prophetic Tradition and the Prophet's Household. And Allah is the Source of Strength.


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 Letter 14
: Mubahila, Verse of Purity and Infallibility of the Non-Imams

Infallibility is a quality where one is free from doing evil and commiting sinful acts, on purpose or by mistake. An infallible is free from satan's influences. He can not be misguided, and will always remain on the Sirat e  Mustaqeem. He can not be misguided by Iblees, nor will he do injustice and wrong. Shias give such a quality to the Prophets, specially Prophet Muhammad, the 12 Imams and the AhleBait. This allegation is not baseless. There is concrete proof of their infallibility in the Quran and Hadith.

On the contrary, a small group of people from the Sunnis consider Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to be a "Normal Human Being" who can commit mistakes (and not sin). The prophet can make erroneous choices in life, give wrong worldly advice and do something wrong but he is still considered an infallible with respect to his religious authority.

The question arises that where do we draw a line between the Prophet's religious authority and worldly authority. Quran is Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) words (apparently) and if he is liable to err and make mistakes, then infallibility of the Quran is in doubt itself. For the Promise for Quran's protection lies within the Quran only. Thus if the Quran is not free from mistakes, then that promise looses it's authority as well. Muhammad (SAW) of the Quran will give a better insight to the point i wanted to convey.

However coming to the infallibility part, we shall establish that those who are sent by Allah cannot make mistakes.

We read in Surah Fil,

Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant? Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? And He sent against them Flights of Birds, Striking them with stones of baked clay. Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up.
Quran [105:1-5]

We should note that Allah sent birds in order to throw stones of the elephants. Now, a bird in general has no sense, and its capability to err is far greater than humans. Err in a sense that no matter how trained an animal/bird is, it will take a lot of time to teach it something. For instance, you tell a bird to send a message to some one miles away, there is a small chance that the bird will fulfill the task successfully. On the other hand, we see that the birds sent by Allah did exactly what Allah ordered them to do. They did not throw baked clay else where but only on the elephants which was the order. Thus we see that birds sent by allah did not err, how can prophets/Imams sent by Allah err?

Let us have a look at the rebellion of Iblees. The Quran Says;

And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam; they made obeisance, but Iblis (did it not). He said: Shall I make obeisance to him whom Thou hast created of dust? He said: Tell me, is this he whom Thou hast honored above me? If Thou shouldst respite me to the day of resurrection, I will most certainly cause his progeny to perish except a few. He said: Be gone! for whoever of them will follow you, then surely hell is your recompense, a full recompense: And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children, and hold out promises to them; and the Shaitan makes not promises to them but to deceive: Surely (as for) My servants, you have no authority over them; and your Lord is sufficient as a Protector.
Quran [17:61-65]

Iblees disobeyed God and asks for a time limit till the judgment day. During this limit, Iblees says he will misguide almost all the descendents of Adam except few men. Allah confirms that Iblees will have no authority over the servants of Allah. This points to the infallibility of a certain group of people as all evil, misguidance, temptations, misfortunes etc are affiliated with Iblees. We see that almost all of mankind will follow Iblees in some way or the other except few, who are the servants of Allah. May I ask who these servants are who will not leave the Sirat e Mustaqeem at any cost?

There will be a group of people over whom Iblees with have no authority. What is the authority of Iblees?

And most certainly I will lead them astray and excite in them vain desires, and bid them so that they shall slit the ears of the cattle, and most certainly I will bid them so that they shall alter Allah's creation; and whoever takes the Shaitan for a guardian rather than Allah he indeed shall suffer a manifest loss. He gives them promises and excites vain desires in them; and the Shaitan does not promise them but to deceive.
Quran [4:119-120]

The episodes of Imamat given to Prophet Ibrahim (AS) is in itself a hint towards infallibility.

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.
Quran [2:124]

More can be read at Imamat; The perfection Of Deen. The fact is clear that when Prophet Ibrahim was made the Imam of mankind, he prayed for Imams to be produced from his offspring as well. Not arguing who the offspring will be as Prophet Muhammad and the 12 Imams of the Ahlulbayt are from Prophet Ibrahim's offspring, who ever will be given the office of Imamat, he will not be unjust, unjust to others or to their own nafs as God in many places in Quran has declared sinning to be unjust.

Surely I wish that you should bear the sin committed against me and your own sin, and so you would be of the inmates of the fire, and this is the recompense of the unjust.
Quran [5:29]

Then he caused them to fall by deceit; so when they tasted of the tree, their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden; and their Lord called out to them: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Shaitan is your open enemy? They said: Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers.
Quran [7:22-23]

The most important hint towards infallibility is the revelation of the Verse of Purity regarding the AhlulBayt.

Quran testifies the purification of AhlulBayt;

..…Verily, verily God intended but to keep off from you (every kind of) uncleanness O ye the People of the House, and purify you (with) a thorough purification.
Quran [33:33]

Allah  purified the Ahlulbayt, the People of the House. Not only did Allah send His Book to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), but He has also blessed his house with a pure progeny. Not arguing who the Ahlulbayt are as that is another issue.

Allah (SWT) says that He intends to keep off from you ar-rijs O ye People of the House. What is Ar-Rijs? Rijs means filth, uncleanliness, disease, abomination. What is ar-rijs from which the People of the house are purified, can be found in detail under the article
 At-Tahera; The Verse of Purity. But to briefly touch the point, Rijs is defined in many places in the Quran. For example, the rijs or uncleanness is;

They will swear to you by Allah when you return to them so that you may turn aside from them; so do turn aside from them; surely they are unclean and their abode is hell; a recompense for what they earned.
Quran [9:95]

And as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it adds uncleanness to their uncleanness and they die while they are unbelievers.
Quran [9:125]

Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aright, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should cause him to err, He makes his breast strait and narrow as though he were ascending upwards; thus does Allah lay uncleanness on those who do not believe.
Quran [6:125]

O you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful.
Quran [5:90]

So what this concludes is that rijs pertains to actions and faith. Allah (SWT) has intended to keep off ar-rijs from the Ahlul Bayt. The AhlulBayt are pure from rijs, thus they can not be misguided or do evil.

To conclude;

It is funny to note that we are not tolerant enough to listen to the mistakes, sins and disobedience to the Prophet (SAW) of some companions. We consider all companions of Prophet (SAW) to be good and as saints. We attribute virtual infallibility to them while we try to find fault in Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) character in order to depict him as a normal human being.

I swear by the star when it goes down. Your companion does not err, nor does he (Muhammad) go astray; Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.
Quran [53:1-4]

I need not comment on the above verse. Muhammad (SAW) of the Quran will make things more clear.

A wahabi friend mentioned that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) could not sin but could make mistakes in worldly aspects because if he didn't, it would make him an angel while the Quran says that he was a Human.

This reasoning is flawed in itself. Humans not only make mistakes but also sin. And being free from error, sins and mistakes doesn't make the Prophet (SAW) an angel because of them sharing this same quality. Just like we share certain attributes of Allah himself and it doesn't make us God. Allah sees, we humans can also see, Allah has knowledge and we humans also have knowledge. Obviously Allah sees All, is omnipotent and humans are not but the attribute is same in the name and different in authority. What makes the Prophet a human was his blessed  parents, his birth, his desire to eat and drink, his sleep, his marriage, his children and his death. Making mistakes doesn't make him a human, it makes him liable to err and it makes everything he brought/told to be prone to error and falsehood as well.

The question now arises that is this Infallibility pre-designed in certain men or one can achieve it through free-will. Was the Prophet (SAW) infallible because he was made that way or because he chose to do the right things.

The answer is simple. Nothing is possible without the Will of God. Infallibility is a gift presented to special men, men who are servants of Allah and over whom Shaitan will not have any authority. In other words it was pre-designed in a certain group of people, on whom we send the Durood, Muhammad wa Aal e Muhammad (SAW).

This however doesn't mean that these people will not be under the influence of natural emotions and desires and thus free from it's trials. For example hunger can lead man to do many things. If i am hungry for ten days, i will do anything to fulfill my hunger. I will steal or maybe even kill to just eat a piece of bread because of the suffering hunger made me to go through. An infallible will choose to suffer the hunger and die hungry but he will not choose to  exceed the limits of Allah. This choice will be based on his free will and his free will is purified from ar-rijs and unjustice by Allah himself.

Infallibility of the Quran is dependant on the infallibility of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). For if the Prophet was seen to make erroneous decisions, give wrong advice, commit mistakes himself, then Quran is apparently (from a critical third person's point of view) nothing but the words of the Prophet himself. Thus if the words of the Prophet can be flawed, you fail to prove the authenticity of the Quran itself. This is the importance of the concept of Infallibility in Islam.

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