In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
(Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines sin as “an offense against God;” “transgression of the law of God;” “a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” If the Prophet Mohammad committed any sin prior to his call to prophethood there does not seem to be any record of it. And unless the Prophet’s frowning at the blind man and him praying for his dead enemy are sins–Qur’an 80:1-2; 9:84, 113–there does not seem to be any evidence of the Prophet having committed “an offense against God;” or committed a “transgression of the law of God;” or being “estranged from God”).
Christians claim that Mohammad sinned. And they quote Qur’an 40:55 and 48:1-2 to substantiate their claim. (Though no examples of these sins are given; nor could any be given as there is no sin to recount).
That Mohammad sinned. In Qur’an 40:55 Allāh says to the Prophet “So be patient; surely the promise of Allah is true; and ask protection for thy sin and celebrate the praise of thy Lord in the evening and the morning.” The word istaghfara does not only mean forgiveness for sin(s) committed but also carries the deeper meaning of protecting one from committing sin(s). Muhammad Ali explains:
“The words istaghr-li-dhanbi-ka occurring here, and repeated in 47:19, do not negative the claim made repeatedly that the Prophet was sinless. Fully five times the Holy Prophet is described in the Holy Qur’an as being one who purified others from sin, in 2:129, 151; 3:164; 9:103, and 62:2. How could a sinful man purify others from sins? In fact, we do not find any prophet or reformer so plainly described as a purifier of others as
the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Again, the Holy Prophet is repeatedly spoken of in the Holy Qur’an as walking in the way of perfect righteousness and entire submission to Allāh. Obedience to the Messenger is obedience to Allāh (4:80); if you love Allāh, then follow me, Allāh will love you (3:31). In the presence of these and a hundred other statements of a similar nature, sin could not be attributed to him. A perusal of the Holy Book further proves that the Qur’an does not allow us to attribute sin to any prophet: “They speak not before He speaks, and according to His command they act” (21:27).
The significance of dhanb has already been fully explained in 3:11a. The other word occurring here is istighfar. It is of the measure of istif‘al, and signifies the asking of ghafr or maghrah. According to R, ghafr means the covering of a thing with that which will protect it from dirt. Hence the words ghufran and maghrah on the part of Allāh signify, according to the same authority, His granting protection to His servants against chastisement. And istaghfara is explained as meaning he sought of God covering or forgiveness or pardon (T, LL). It will thus be seen that the idea of protection is the dominant idea in the word ghafr and its derivatives, and the word not only signifies the forgiveness of sin, but also the covering of sin, which is really the granting of protection against sin. That ghafr means protection against the punishment of sin as well as protection against the commission of sin, is made clear by Qastalani in his commentary of Bukhari: Al-ghafru al-sitru wa huwa imma baina-l-‘abdi wa-l-dhanbi wa imma baina-l-dhanbi wa ‘uqubatihi, i.e., ghafr means protection, and it is either a protection of the servant from sins or a protection from the punishment of sin. It is therefore protection in the first sense that is meant here, protection from sins, a protection from the imperfections of human nature, which make a man liable to sin unless he is protected by Allah. In fact, wherever the word ghafr or istighfar is used in connection with the righteous, as in 3:17, 7:151, 17:25, 40:7, etc., it is the protection from sin that is meant. See also 2:286a and 48:2a.”
Qur’an 48:1-2 states: “Surely We have granted thee a clear victory, That Allāh may cover for thee thy (alleged) shortcomings in the past and those to come, and complete His favour to thee and guide thee on a right path.” (Notably, the Hadith to this verse refers to Allāh forgiving the Prophet his “faults” NOT sin. A “fault” is not necessarily a sin–Bokhari Vol. 6, #360-361).
The highlighted words in the verse, clearly, do not refer to sin but to a “shortcoming” suffered in dealing with the disbelievers. As Muhammad Ali explains the background of these verses:
“The victory referred to is that gained by the truce at Hudaibiyah in 6 A.H. (B.64:37). The fact that there was no actual fighting at Hudaibiyah has led many to think that the words contain a prophecy about the conquest of Makkah, which, however, is referred to later on in the third section of this chapter. The truce at Hudaibiyah was surely a real victory for the Muslims, because it opened the way for the propagation of Islam among the disbelievers, and by putting a stop to hostilities gave the opponents an occasion to ponder over the merits of the religion against which they had hitherto struggled in vain on the field of battle. As a result of this truce large numbers came over to Islam, and the words are thus prophetical, and their truth was demonstrated long after their revelation. It may be added here that ‘Umar had some misgivings as to the good of the truce concluded at Hudaibiyah; he thought that the truce was not honourable for the Muslims, for the conditions to which they yielded were disadvantageous to them. One of the conditions of the truce was that, if anyone from among the Makkans came over to the Holy Prophet, he would return him to the Quraish, though he were a Muslim, while the Quraish were not bound to return anyone who deserted the Prophet and joined the Quraish. The Muslims felt it very hard that one of their brethren should be returned to suffer persecution at the hands of the disbelievers; but, as the Quraish refused to make a truce unless this condition was included, the Holy Prophet accepted it. Immediately afterwards Divine revelation dispelled all those misgivings, and declared the truce to be a great victory leading to glorious results, as it actually proved to be.
For ghafr meaning covering or protecting, see 2:286a. The word dhanbi-ka occurring here has been misunderstood as meaning thy sin. In the first place dhanb means any shortcoming, not necessarily a sin; see 3:11a. Secondly, the Prophet never committed a sin and his istighfar meant the asking of Divine protection against the commission of sins; see 40:55a. Even before he was raised to the dignity of prophethood, he was known in Arabia as al-Amin or the faithful one. Dhanbi-ka therefore here means not the sin committed by thee but the sin committed against thee, or the shortcomings attributed to thee, as ithmi in 5:29 means not the sin committed by me but the sin committed against me, for which see 5:29a. Other examples of a similar use of idafah are met with in the Holy Qur’an. For instance, see 6:22, where shuraka’u-kum does not mean your partners but the partners set up by you, and in 16:27 shuraka’i does not mean My partners but the partners which you set up with Me. The idafah in dhanbi-ka carries a similar significance, and the word means thy alleged shortcomings. It is only in this sense that we can speak of sins in the past and those to come. These were the short-comings attributed to the Prophet by his enemies, by those who were contemporaneous with him and those who were yet to come after him. Notwithstanding the fact that the Prophet was respected throughout Arabia for his righteousness and truthfulness before he laid claim to prophethood, the twenty years of opposition to the Truth which he brought had poisoned the minds of the Arabs to such an extent that they now drew a very dark picture of him, heaping all kinds of abuses on him. Their poets now indulged in vituperating him, thus poisoning the minds of the masses. The battles that were now being fought had, further, made it impossible for the Muslims to present a true picture of Islam to the Arabs. After several years of conflict, the Hudaibiyah truce brought about a change in the relations of the two parties and the truth about the Prophet now began to dawn on their minds. They now saw that the Prophet was not the man of terror as their leaders had pictured to them. They saw the great transformation which he had wrought and the life which he had infused into a dead nation. It was in this sense that God covered the shortcomings and failures which his opponents attributed to him. Their effect on the public mind was removed by the Hudaibiyah truce, which gave his enemies an occasion to ponder over the beauties of Islam. In the words those to come, there is a reference to the latter-day carpings of the enemies of Islam. As already stated, this chapter deals not only with the immediate triumph of Islam, but prophesies also its ultimate triumph in the whole world (v. 28). Hence there is a promise here that not only would those misunderstandings which already existed be corrected, but even those that remained behind and would be spread at a later date by the ene-mies of Islam would also be dispelled, and Islam would thus shine in its full lustre not only in Arabia but in the whole world.” (Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Qur’an can be viewed online: www.muslim.org).
(About the misunderstandings “that remained behind and would be spread at a later date by the enemies of Islam.” A century ago magnificent and dedicated scholars such as Muhammad Ali and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din –two indomitable sentinels of faith who vigil at the frontiers– vanquished the assaults by the Christian missionaries and Hindu bigots against Islam.
In our time we have the likes of NONIE DARWISH; WAFA SULTAN; GEERT WILDERS; SON OF HAMAS; IBN WARRAQ; and AYAAN HIRSI ALI among others (and unschooled Muslims like IRSHAD MANJI), who are paraded and plumed as “in-tellectuals,” who are actually ignoramuses –they know nothing about Islam and they know even less about Christianity– and/or are perhaps opportunists –the fastest way for one to establish himself/herself into the eyes of the community is to fire-breathe on Islam– who try to bad mouth Islam).
Again, Allāh tells us that Mohammad is the best exemplar,1 that if we want Allāh to love us and forgive us our sins we must follow the Prophet;2 that the Prophet is the light-giving sun;3 that Prophets do only as Allāh instructs;4 that Mohammad will be given the right to intercession on the Day of Judgment;5 that He guides Mohammad in the Right Way;6 that Mohammad purifies;7 that Mohammad attained perfection;8 that Mohammad is to be honored/revered9 and is blessed by Allāh and His angels10 –Surely such a person could not be a sinner.
Allāh tells us in His Qur’an 21:26-27 that all prophets were sinless, because prophets only act according to Divine decrees: “And they say: The Beneficent has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him! Nay, they are honoured servants—They speak not before He speaks, and according to His command they act.”
That the Prophet is also free from “error” is made clear by Allāh: “Your companion ERRS NOT, nor does he deviate. Nor does he speak out of desire”–(Qur’an 53:2-3).11
Evidently, Mohammad “errs not” and is sinless.
1. Qur’an 33:21; 68:4; 69:40;
2. Qur’an 3:31; (7:157-158).
3. Qur’an 33:45-46;
4. Qur’an 11:12-14; 21:27, 45; 46:9; 53:3-4. As Prophets act only according to Divine instructions they are thus sinless.
5. Qur’an 43:86; 19:87 (Bokhari Vol. 1, # 98; Vol. 4, # 556; Vol. 9, #’s 600-601); (See M. Ali comm; 2264);
6. Qur’an 42:52-53; 43:61, 64.
7. Qur’an 62:2.
8. Qur’an 53:6.
9. Qur’an 48:9.
10. Qur’an 33:56.
11. Allāh reveals in Qur’an chapter 93:1-11:
1. By the brightness of the day!
2. And the night when it is still! —
3. Thy Lord has not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
4. And surely the latter state is better for thee than the former.
5. And soon will thy Lord give thee so that thou wilt be well pleased.
6. Did He not find thee an orphana and give (thee) shelter?
7. And find thee groping, so He showed the way?
8. And find thee in want, so He enriched thee?
9. Therefore the orphan, oppress not.
10. And him who asks, chide not.
11. And the favour of thy Lord, proclaim..
Muhammad Ali comments on verse 7 which states: “And find thee groping, so He showed the way?”
“That erring is not the significance of ˙dall (“groping”) here is shown conclusively by 53:2, which says: “Your companion errs not”. Vv. 6, 7, 8 stand in close relation respectively to vv. 9, 10 and 11; v. 6 tells the Prophet that he was himself an orphan, and the conclusion that he should therefore not oppress the orphan is drawn in v. 9; similarly, v. 8 speaks of the Divine favour to him in making him free from want, and the conclusion is drawn in v. 11 that he should therefore proclaim the Divine favour to him. Thus it is clear that v. 6 stands in close relation to v. 9; and v. 8 to v. 11, and the conclusion is evident that v. 7 stands in close relation to v. 10. Now, v. 10 plainly speaks of one who asks to be guided to the Truth, or a petitioner generally who needs the help of another, being unable himself to do a thing or undertake a task; see 10a. The Holy Prophet was no doubt a sa’il (one who asks) in this sense. He did not worship idols, but neither could he, without the help of Allåh, find out the way for the regeneration of his people, for which his soul yearned so eagerly. Hence he was unable to see the way by himself, and the word ˙dall signifies one who is perplexed and unable to see the way for himself, from ˙dalla, he was perplexed and unable to see his right course (LL). The true significance of the word is thus that Allåh found the Prophet in quest of the way, but unable to find the way himself. Therefore He guided him by Divine light. In this manner was the Prophet told not to chide any petitioner, but to render help to him as Allåh had helped him. Or ˙dall signifies one who becomes lost (T, LL) in the pursuit of some object, as Jacob’s sons speak of their father as being in ˙dalal (R), i.e., lost in the love of Joseph (12:95), and thus the meaning may be that the Holy Prophet had so devoted himself to the quest of the right way for the world that he had lost himself in that quest; see introductory note, chapter 94” For MA’s translation of the Qur’an see www.muslim.org)