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Both Parties' Stand Regarding The Prophet's Infallibility

Both Parties' Stand Regarding The Prophet's Infallibility
While some people with vested interested in addition to some liars circulate erroneous rumors by saying that the Shi'ahs prefer their Imams over the Messenger of Allah (a.s), as many Sunnis think, I have found, from my research, that the Shi'ahs sanctify the Prophet (a.s) to a degree that is by far greater than that viewed by the Sunnis. Shi'ahs sanctify the Sunnah of the Prophet (a.s) and are of the view that anyone who denies a ruling mandated by the Prophet (a.s) is an apostate. They see the Prophet (a.s) as the very best of the first generations and of the last. They simply regard upholding the Twelve Imams from among the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) based on their being the most authentic to transmit the Sunnah of the Prophet (a.s). They reject any and all doubts and hearsay about the Prophet's infallibility. In their view, he is infallible with regard to the matters relevant to the creed and to life, prior to his Prophetic mission and thereafter.

As for the Sunnis, they, too, prefer the person of the Prophet (a.s) over all early generations and the last, but they see his infallibility limited to theological matters only. These, in their view, are matters related to conveying the Message and nothing more. As for anything less than that, he is like all other human beings: He may be wrong, or he may be right.

Before we rebut the latter view, we would like to show the reader


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portraits of what the Sunnis believe with regard to the Prophet's infallibility so that we may clearly and truly see their stand in this regard and from what they regard as the most accurate books next to the Book of Allah.

'A'ishah has said, "... until the truth took him by surprise at the Hira.' cave. In it, the angel came to him and said, 'Read!' (Or 'Recite!'). The Prophet (a.s) said to him, 'I am not a reader.' [The Prophet (a.s) went on to say] He took me and covered me until I was exhausted then released me. Then he released me and thrice said, 'Read!'" 'A'ishah goes on to say, "He returned shivering until he entered Khadijah's chamber and said, 'Cover me.' He was covered until fear abandoned him. He then said, '0 Khadijah! What is wrong with me?' Khadijah took him and set out to Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn 'Abd al-sUzza ibn Qusayy, cousin of Khadijah, [son of her uncle, her father's brother], a man who embraced Christianity during the jahiliyyah, and he used to write in Arabic. He used to write the Bible in Arabic whatever Allah wanted him to write, and he was an old man who had lost his eyesight. Khadijah said to him, '0 cousin! Listen to your nephew!' Waraqah said, '0 cousin! What do you see?' The Prophet (a.s) informed him of what he saw. Waraqah, therefore, said, 'This is the same Code which was revealed to Moses! How I wish I could be alive when your people get you out [of Mecca]!' The Messenger of Allah (a.s) said, 'Shall they really get me out?' ..." 1

Is it accepted by reason that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) did not know that what was revealed to him was the Prophetic mission and that Waraqah ibn Nawfal, the Christian, was more knowledgeable than him and that he was the one to tell him?!

'A'ishah goes on to finish her narrative and to state what is stranger than this and from which the bodies shiver: "... Waraqah then died and the revelation ceased to come, so much so that the Prophet (a.s) grieved very much. We came to know that his grief took control of
1 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 9, p. 92 in the book of interpretation in a chapter about the Messenger of Allah (a.s) being the first to start it.


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him to the extent that many times he used to go to high mountain summits in order to throw himself down from there. Whenever he reached the summit of a mountain in order to throw himself down from it, [Archangel] Gabriel came to him and said, '0 Muhammed! You truly are the Messenger of Allah!' He, therefore, would enjoy some calm, then he would return. If the revelation took too long to visit him, he would do the same. So, if he then went to the summit of a mountain, Gabriel would come to him and say the same to him." 1

And can a Muslim believe that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) did not know the Qur'an in its entirety? Look, then, to what al-Bukhari states, relying on the authority of 'A'ishah who said, "The Messenger of Allah (a.s) heard a man reciting the Qur'an at the mosque, so he said, 'May Allah have mercy on him! He reminded me of such-and-such a verse which I dropped from such-and-such a Surah!'" 2

As regarding their claim that it was acceptable to believe that the Prophet (a.s) used to forget, it is narrated on the authority of Jabir ibn 'Abdullah [al-Ansari] that during the Battle of Khandaq (moat), 'Umar ibn al-Khattab went to him and said, "0 Messenger of Allah!

I was about to perform my prayers when the sun had almost set after a fasting person would break his fast." The Prophet (a.s) said, "By Allah, you have not then performed it." 'Umar goes on to say, "The Prophet (a.s) went down to valleys in my company. He made his ablution then performed the 'Asr (afternoon) prayers after the sun had already set, then he prayed the Maghrib (sunset) thereafter." 3

Abu Hurayrah is quoted as having said, "Prayers were called for, rows were prepared standing, so the Messenger of Allah (a.s) came out to us. As soon as he stood up in his prayer area, he said that he had janabah (uncleanness due to seminal discharge), so he said to
1 Al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 932
2 Ibid.,Vol. 9, p. 93.
3 Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 349 in the book of adhan in a chapter about the Prophet (a.s) saying, "We have not prayed" to someone.


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us, 'Stay where you are.' He returned and made his ghusul. Then he came out and his head was dripping. He made the takbir and we prayed with him." 1

Abu Hurayrah is also quoted as having said, "... so the Prophet (a.s) led our 7,uhr (noon) prayers in two prostrations [apparently gasr, shortened], then he went to a wooden board in the forefront of the mosque and put his hand on it. Among the people were Abu Bakr and 'Umar. They felt too much respect for him to ask him about it. People went out quickly. They said, 'Were the prayers shortened?' Among the people was a man whom the Prophet (a.s) used to call 'the man with two hands' and who said to the Prophet (a.s), '0 Prophet of Allah! Why did you shorten the prayers?!' The Prophet (a.s) said, 'I did not forget, nor did I shorten them.' They said, 'You did, indeed, forget, 0 Messenger of Allah (a.s)!' He then said, 'The man of the two hands has said the truth.'" 2

Imagine! They go as far as claiming that a Jew was able to expose the Prophet (a.s) to his magic, so the Prophet (a.s) imagined doing something which he did not do! And that he had to ask 'A'ishah whether the wahy had descended upon him or not! Or he might forget whether he had an intercourse with his wife or not!

'A'ishah has said, "The Prophet (a.s) remained for a period of time imagining that he had cohabited with his wife but he in reality had not. One day he said to me, '0 'A'ishah! Allah passed His verdict to me with regard to something about which I sought His verdict. Two men came to me. One of them sat near my foot while the other sat near my head. The one near my foot said to the one near my head, 'What is wrong with the man?' He said, 'He is enchanted.' 'Who enchanted him?' asked the other. He said, 'Labid ibn A' sam.'" 3
1 A1-Bukhari, Sahib, Vol. 1, p. 168 in the book of ghusul in a chapter about when it is said at the mosque that one has janabah.
2 Ibid., Vol. 8, p. 48 in the book of manners in a chapter of what people may say.
3 Ibid., Vol. 8, p. 57 in the book of manners in a chapter about Allah enjoins justice and kindness.


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'A'ishah has also been quoted as having said, "The Messenger of Allah (a.s) was enchanted, so much so that he would imagine doing something which he never did until one day, while he was with me, he kept praying to Allah then said, 'Have you felt that Allah has issued a verdict about something for which I sought His verdict?'" 1

Sheikh Muhammed 'Abduh rejected these narratives which claim that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) had fallen under the effect of sorcery because they contradict this verse: "The wicked ones say, 'You follow no one other than a bewitched man'" (Qur'an, 28:8).

As regarding the Prophet's control of his carnal desires, al-Bukhari has stated in his Sahib a narrative through Abu Hisham saying, "When the Messenger of Allah (a.s) was sick, he kept going in a circle around his women and saying, 'Where am I supposed to be tomorrow? Where am I supposed to be tomorrow?' out of his concern for 'A'ishah. 'A'ishah said, 'When it was my own turn [to cohabit with the Prophet (a.s)], he calmed down.'" 2

'A'ishah has also said, "Whenever the Prophet (a.s) was about to make a trip, he would cast lots about his women. Anyone chosen by the lot he used to choose to go out with. And he used to divide for each woman her day and night, but Sawdah daughter of Zam'ah granted her day and night to me."

Anas ibn Malik said, "The Prophet (a.s) used to spend one hour making a round of his wives in the night and the day, and they were eleven." Anas was asked, "Was he able to manage all of that?!" Anas said, "We used to talk and say that he (a.s) was granted the stamina of thirty men!" 3

Sunnis claim that the following sacred verses were revealed to
1 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 7, p. 444 in the book of medicine in a chapter about magic.
2 Ibid., Vol. 5, p. 77 in the book about the virtues of the ..sahabah in a chapter about the virtues of 'A'ishah.
3 Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 165 in the book of ghusul in a chapter about one cohabiting then doing it again and about one who cohabits with his women in one ghusul.


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rebuke the Messenger of Allah (a.s) for having frowned at 'Abdullah ibn Maktum, who was blind, and that the reason behind his turning away from the man, as the Sunnis narrate, was his being busy talking to 'Utbah ibn Rabi'ah, Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd Ubayy and Umayyah ibn Khalaf inviting them to believe in Allah and hoping they would embrace Islam. Ibn Maktilm had asked the Prophet (a.s) then to recite something from the Holy Qur'an and to teach him from what Allah had taught him until hatred surfaced on the face of the Messenger of Allah (a.s) because his speech was interrupted and he said to himself, "These prominent persons would say that he [the Prophet (a.s)] is followed only by the slaves and the blind," so he turned away from him and paid his full attention to the folks to whom he was talking. These verses are:

"He frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him, (interrupting). But what could tell you that he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive admonishment, and the teaching would benefit him?" (Qur'an, 80:1-4).

The Shi' ahs reject this story entirely saying that these verses were revealed about a man from Banu Umayyah, not the Messenger of Allah, who had turned away from that same blind man. 'Allainah Muhammed Husain Tabataba'i, in his exegesis titled Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, has said the following: "These verses are not at all clearly indicative that they were addressed to the Prophet (a.s). Rather, it is a mere narrative not directly telling who it implicates. Rather, they contain an indication that someone else [other than the Prophet (a.s)] is meant because frowning in the face of others is never a habit of the Prophet (a.s) even with his own enemies who differed with him, let alone the believers who seek more guidance. Moreover, the individual implicated in them is described as paying attention to the rich and turning away from the poor, and this does not fit the Prophet's gracious manners. Instead, Allah has described his manners as being great, saying, even before the revelation of this chapter [Chapter 80 quoted above], 'You surely are endowed


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with great manners,' so, how can anyone believe that Allah grants him recognition for his great manners at the start of his Prophetic mission then He turns to rebuke him for what he did and speak ill of him such as describing him as courting the rich even when they are unbelievers and turning away from the poor even when they are believers and are seeking guidance." 1

Based on the above-quoted narratives and their likes, the Sunnis derived their belief that the infallibility of the Prophet (a.s) included only matters relevant to the religion and the message. But Allah ordered us to emulate His Messenger absolutely and without any term or condition:

"Nor does he say (anything) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him." (Qur'an, 53:3-4).

Add to this following verse:

"Take what the Prophet assigns to you, and abstain from what he withholds from you. And fear Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment" (Qur'an, 59:7).

These verses prove that his infallibility is not restricted but absolute. Had it been permissible for the Prophet (a.s) to err, Allah would then have ordered us to follow error. This is something from saying it we seek Allah's protection.

The infiltration of narratives casting doubts about the infallibility of the Prophet (a.s), besides their being the work of forgers, so that they may be used to cast doubt about the Islamic creed, may have other reasons as to why they were fabricated, so that they may support the stand of some sahabah, the same sahabah who claimed that the Prophet (a.s) was "hallucinating" during his last sickness when he asked them to bring him some writing material so he would dictate to them the writing of something after the writing of which they would never stray. So, it is not odd after that to find some narratives describing one of the sahabah as being right while in its
1 'Allamah Sayyid Muhammed Husain al-Tabataba'i, Tafsir al-Mizan, Vol. 20, p.203 (2nd edition), 1974 A.D.


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regard the Prophet (a.s) was wrong, as those who promote such narratives claim. One of them is what is attributed to him regarding the revelation of the verse about the veil after 'Umar ibn al-Khattab had pointed out to the Messenger of Allah (a.s) the importance of his women being veiled! Anas has said, "'Umar said, 'I said: 0 Messenger of Allah! The good and the bad persons come to see you. Perhaps you ought to order the mothers of the faithful to veil themselves.'" According to another narrative, 'Umar said to the Messenger of Allah (a.s), "Veil your women." She ['A'ishah] said, "He did not; therefore, Allah revealed the verse of veiling." 1

Also among what the Sunnis attribute to him (a.s) regarding performing the funeral prayers for the hypocrites, they say that it was revealed in support of a stand by 'Umar after the Messenger of Allah (a.s) had insisted on performing it on [' Abdullah] the son of Ubayy, the hypocrite. It is narrated that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, "When 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy died, his son went to the Messenger of Allah (a.s) and said, '0 Messenger of Allah (a.s)! Give me your shirt so I may shroud him in it, and do perform the funeral prayers for him and seek forgiveness for him.' He (a.s) gave him his shirt and said to him, 'Once you are through with him, call the adhan.'When he finished calling the adhan, he (a.s) came to perform the funeral prayers for him, whereupon 'Umar pulled him (aside) and said, 'Has not Allah prohibited you from performing funeral prayers for the hypocrites?' He said: Whether you ask for their forgiveness or not, (their sin is unforgivable.) If you ask seventy times for their forgiveness, Allah will not forgive them because they have rejected Allah and His Prophet, and Allah does not guide those who are perversely rebellious' (Qur'an, 9:80), so this verse was revealed: 'Nor should you ever pray for any of them who dies, nor stand at his grave, for they rejected Allah and His Prophet and died in a state of perverse rebellion' (Qur'an, 9:84), so he (a.s) abandoned
1 Al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 296 in the book of exegesis; Vol. 8, p. 170 in the book of seeking permission to enter.


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the idea of praying for them." 1

In another narrative from 'Umar himself, he said, "... so I was very surprised at my own daring with, the Messenger of Allah (a.s)." 2

The truth in that incident is that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) was given the option to pray for the hypocrites and to seek forgiveness for them by the token of the verse saying, "Seek forgiveness for them or do not seek it; even if you seek forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them" (Qur'an, 9:80). The Prophet (a.s) opted to pray for that particular hypocrite due to the great benefit, to the anticipated interest and to win the hearts of the man's own people, the Khazraj, from among whom one thousand men embraced Islam. His prayers (a.s) for that hypocrite took place before the prohibition had descended. The verse saying, "Seek forgiveness for them or do not seek it..., etc." does not convey the prohibition which 'Umar understood and because of which he objected to the Messenger of Allah (a.s) and whom he saw as "wrong".. The revelation of the verse prohibiting praying for the hypocrites does not at all prove that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) was wrong in praying for 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy, Allah forbid; so, it would have been wrong had he done so after its revelation and not before.

This incident does not serve a purpose except to demonstrate how wrong 'Umar was and how strongly he objected to the Messenger of Allah (a.s). 'Umar himself admits the same; he is quoted as having said, "I slipped in Islam a slip worse than which I never slipped when the Messenger of Allah (a.s) wanted to pray..., etc." 3 Similar to it is the incident of accepting blood money from the captives in the aftermath of the Battle of Badr. This verse: "It is not fitting for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he has thoroughly subdued the land. You look on the temporal goods of
1 Al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, p. 462 in the book of outfits in a chapter about wearing a garment.
2 Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 252, in the book of coffins.
3 Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-'Unimal, hadith No. 4404.


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this world, but Allah looks to the hereafter, and Allah is Exalted in might, Wise. Had it not been for a previous ordinance from Allah, a severe penalty would have reached you for the (ransom) that you took" (Qur'an, 8:67) was revealed, according to the view of the Sunnis, in order to rebuke the Messenger of Allah (a.s) for having accepted ransom from the prisoners of the Badr war instead of killing them at the time when 'Umar ibn al-Khattab wanted to kill them all, so this verse was revealed supporting 'Umar's opinion. They narrate what supports their opinion, statements which they themselves have said then attributed to the Messenger of Allah (a.s) regarding the meaning of the previous verse which contains a threat of a severe punishment. But what was that threat really for?!

The Sunnis narrated saying that the Messenger of Allah (a.s) used to weep with Abu Bakr who said, "We almost were subjected to a great penalty on account of the disagreement of the son of al­Khattab, and had a penalty descended, only the son of al-Khattab would have slipped from it." 1 The truth about this incident is as follows:

The past verse was revealed before the Battle of Badr rebuking the sahabah who preferred the trade caravan and what Abu Sufyan's trade caravan was carrying over fighting when they were consulted by the Messenger of Allah (a.s) who wanted to see how ready they were and how willing to fight the polytheists. The prohibition in the verse is not absolute regarding the Prophet (a.s) taking war prisoners. Rather, it prohibits taking war prisoners without [first] fighting the polytheists, as was the desire of some sahabah who were consulted by the Messenger of Allah (a.s) to either take the trade caravan from them or to fight them. How can it be reasonable to believe that this verse, which threatens those who do not wish to fight, was revealed to rebuke the Prophet (a.s) who had already killed the polytheists?! Seventy war heroes from Quraish were killed in that battle.
1 Al-Bukhari, Sahih.


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