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20:115 The Prophets are innocent of all sins

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We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot: and We found on his part no firm resolve.

According to Maariful Quran vol 1 pg. 180-181,

“The Prophets are innocent of all sins
As we have seen here, Adam had been forbidden to eat the fruit of a certain tree, and had also been warned against the machinations of his enemy, Satan, and yet he had eaten the forbidden fruit. It is seemingly a sin, while the Holy Qur’an, the Hadith and rational arguments too establish the innocence and sinlessness of all the prophets. There is an absolute consensus of the four great Imams of Islamic law and of all the authentic scholars on the doctrine that each and every prophet is innocent of and protected against all sins, major or minor. Some people have suggested that prophets are not protected against minor sins, but the majority of authentic scholars does not agree with this opinion. (Qurtubi) It is necessary for prophets to be thus protected, because they are sent down to be the guides of men – if a guide can go against the commandments of Allah and commit a sin, major or even minor, people would no longer be ready to trust his word or deed. If one cannot have trust and faith even in the prophets, how
can the work of spiritual guidance be possible? Hence the necessity of prophets being sinless. The Holy Qur’an does, however, relate certain incidents which tend to suggest that a certain prophet committed a sin, and drew upon himself the displeasure of Allah. The story about Adam eating the forbidden fruit is one such instance. According to the consensus of the authentic scholars, in all cases a prophet comes to commit an error through a misunderstanding or just forgetfulness, and it is never a deliberate and wilful transgression of divine commandment. As is well known, a Mujtahid is one who possesses the necessary qualifications for finding out through analogical deduction the rule for a case regarding which no specific commandment is present in the Holy Qur’an or the Hadith; if he makes a
mistake in determining the rule, he still receives a reward from Allah for having made the effort. The mistake made by a prophet is always of this nature, or is due to oversight and hence pardonable, and
cannot be called a ‘sin’ in the technical sense. Moreover, a prophet, being under the protection of Allah, can never show oversight or forgetfulness in
things which are directly concerned with his prophetic and legislative function, but only in personal matters. (see al-Bahr al-muhit) The station of the prophets, however, is so exalted, that even a little oversight on the part of a great man is considered to be a great error. That is why such slips on the parts of certain prophets have been described in the Holy Quran as ‘sins’, and Allah has shown his displeasure too, although they are not ‘sins’ in their nature.”

According to Muhammad Asad, pg. 618, note 102:

The relevant divine commandment – or, rather, warning – is spelled out in verse 117. The present passage connects with the statement in verse 99, “Thus do We relate unto thee some of the stories of what happened in the past”, and is meant to show that negligence of spiritual truths is one of the recurrent characteristics of the human race (Razi), which is symbolized here – as in many other places in the Qur’an by Adam.


Asad, Muhammad (1980). (pg. 618). The Message of the Quran.

Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .1 pg. 180-181)

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