Question # 406: As salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu, I am a Shia Muslim. I was reading the tafseer of the surah….in the first two verses it is mentioned that He frowned because the blind man came to him. And from the 3rd verse onwards the term for addressing is “You”
Firstly the word Holy Prophet saws is not used to explain that it was the Holy Prophet saws who frowned…secondly in the first two verses it is addressed as He and then the pronoun changes to you does that not mean that two different people are being addressed. Is it not possible that some person from the quraish who was with the Holy Prophet saws at that time frowned at the blind man. And then from the 3rd verse onwards Allah swt is addressing the Holy Prophet saws and advising Him saws.
The reason being that this kind of a behaviour is contrary to the behaviour and nature of the Holy Prophet saws. The holy Prophet saws knew that the man was blind & even if it was him who had frowned the blind man would not have not been able to see the expressions of the Holy Prophet saws. There are 2 incidents that are often quoted from the life history of the Holy Prophet saws which indicate his nature. Firstly when the Holy Prophet saws was preaching Islam there was an old lady who use to throw garbage on Him saws everyday when He saws use to pass by her house and once when she did not throw garbage on Him saws went to inquire about her condition. That time the lady was ill & told the Holy Prophet saws that he had chosen a good time to take revenge as she was ill but the Holy Prophet saws said that he had not come to take revenge rather he came to enquire about her condition.
Secondly once when the Holy Prophet saws was at the masjid a rich man came & sat in the masjid. His cloak was touching a poor man who was sitting next to him so the rich man pulled his cloak. This act of his was noticed by the Holy Prophet saws and the Holy Prophet saws told the rich man that did he feel that by his cloak touching the poor man the poverty of that man will get transferred to him. At this the rich man was ashamed and as an act of repentance he agreed to give half of his property to the poor man. To this the poor man refused to take the property coz he feared that this money would get pride in him and he may behave the way the rich man behaved.
When we have such kind of incidents from the life history of the Holy Prophet saws is it possible that he who is Rahmatul lil Alameen will behave in such a manner & not practice what he is preaching. One way he himself is preaching the rich man to not behave in such a manner with the poor person then would he himself behave contrary and frown at the blind man.
In surah Qalam verse 4 Allah swt says: Surely you (O Prophet) possess a very great character. In surah Ahzab verse 21 Allah swt says “Indeed the Messenger of Allah is the best model for you”. Are these verses not contradicting. One way Allah swt is praising the character of the Holy Prophet saws & other way He swt revealed a verse condemning the act of the Holy Prophet saws of frowning at the blind man. Wa salam.
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: First of all, as far as Soorah Abasa is concerned, change of pronouns from the third person “he” to the second person “you” after the first two verses, is considered among the style of the Qur’an. This is known as iltifat (‘to turn/turn one’s face to’) in Arabic rhetoric. There are many such examples in the Qur’an, where Allah has used different types of changes in person, from first to second person, third to first, third to second, second to third, so on and so forth. There are nearly 60 instances in the Qur’an where there is a shift from third to second person as in the case of Soorah Abasa. The shift in most examples of this kind appears to be for the purpose of honoring, reproach, threat, and, sometimes, request.
Next, as for the infallibility of Prophets, they were in fact infallible in conveying the message from Allah. Neither did they conceal anything that Allah revealed to them nor committed any mistakes, whether major or minor, with respect to conveying the message, as they were under the constant protection of Allah. However, as for their identity as people, some of them committed unintentional mistakes with regard to some worldly matters but did not commit any major sin. There are examples in the Qur’an with respect to Prophet Adam (عليه السلام), Prophet Moosa (عليه السلام), Prophet Dawood (عليه السلام), Prophet Yoonus (عليه السلام) and Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). In summary, the Prophets were not infallible with regard to minor sins relating to worldly affairs, but they were not left to persist therein. Allah corrected His Messengers in their errors and enabled them to repent without delay.
The first group to narrate that the Prophets were infallible in all cases (protected even against forgetfulness and misunderstanding) were the Shias. In fact, Qur’an emphasizes that apart from the miracles granted by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was only a human like us. Comparing the above to the infallibility of Imams as portrayed by Shias, one comes across numerous quotations concerning their attributes from the original sources of Shia beliefs and practices, giving Imams a position equal to or higher than that of the angels and prophets, including Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). According to them, the imams are infallible and divinely protected from all sins and human weaknesses (Astagfirullah). The matter of the fact is neither ‘Ali nor his direct descendants considered themselves anything but Muslims and certainly not propagators of any sect, or separate religious creed. It is the Shias who consider them as their own religious leaders, attributing to them many inconceivable narrations to support their doctrines.
In fact, we ask all Shi’ahs of the rational mind, if the Shi’ahs claim that the Imams were divinely appointed to lead the Muslim ummah and belief in imamate was intended to be the most essential and preferred part of a believer’s faith, then why did not Allah reveal this such an important matter in His Book?
Lastly, the two incidences (mentioned in the question) are fabricated stories; these are quoted only on the Shia website – Al-Islam.org without any source to support it. In fact, there is no need to repeat this kind of unauthentic story because its moral lesson recurs time and time again throughout the life of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in many true and authentic accounts.
Long Answer: The answers to the question can be majorly divided into four parts:
- Change of Pronouns from the third person “He” to the second person “You” after the first two verses of Soorah Abasa
- Infallibility of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) with respect to Conveying the Message and Fallibility with respect to matters other than that
- Infallibility of Imams (in comparison to Prophets) as portrayed by Shias
- The authenticity of the two hadith quoted in your question
CHANGE OF PRONOUNS FROM THE THIRD PERSON “HE” TO SECOND PERSON “YOU” AFTER THE FIRST TWO VERSES OF SOORAH ABASA
The word ‘abasa means ‘he frowned’ and the word tawalla means ‘he turned aside’. Since the reference here is to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) who himself is addressed, the verbs should have been in the second person: ‘you frowned and you turned aside’. But the Qur’an on this occasion uses the third person in order to maintain the honor of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as if this attitude were shown by some other person, and in a subtle way, it alludes to the point that what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did was not befitting his high status. Then the next sentence (and what could tell you?) alludes to the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was excusable because it did not come to his attention that the Companion is asking something whose effect will be certain and the effect of conversation with others is dubious. The second sentence abandons the third person, and switches to the second person in order to maintain the honor of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Had he not been addressed in the second person at all, it might have created the impression that he is not addressed directly because of his unapproved conduct, which would have been an unbearable pain and grief for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) – Just as the third person in the first statement is meant to show respect to him, the second person in the following sentence is also meant to honor and console him.
[Linguistically, it is among the remarkable things and exquisite subtleties, we found in the Qur’an,] …where there is a sudden shift in the pronoun of the speaker or the person spoken about, this is known as iltifat in balaagha (Arabic rhetoric)… Iltifat has been called by rhetoricians shaja’at al-arabiyya, the daring nature of the Arabic Language… Lexically, iltifat means ‘to turn/turn one’s face to’… Examination of where exactly the shift occurs and why shows how effective the technique is and why Muslim literary critics and exegetes greatly admire iltifat and its related features. In fact, Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi provides about 50 such examples from the Qur’an. [There are six types of changes in person, from first to second person, third to first, third to second, second to third, so on and so forth. There are nearly 60 instances in the Qur’an where there is a shift from third to second person.]
The shift in most examples of this kind appears to be for the purpose of honoring, reproach, threat, and, sometimes, request. The first example of iltifat in the Qur’an, much quoted in balagha books, is of this kind: verse 4 of the Soorah al-Fatihah, coming after praise in the third person: “Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of judgment. It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.”… [Other examples of this kind of shift are in 52:18-19, 76:22, 16:55, 36:59, 19:88, 2:28, 10:3, 37:25 etc.]
In Soorah Abasa 80: 1-3, we have an example of how the Qur’an revitalizes grammatical forms by drawing attention to them afresh. The passage is clearly addressed to the Prophet in reproach but it begins:
“He frowned and turned away when the blind man came to him -for all you know, he might have grown in spirit or benefited from being taught. For the self-satisfied one, you go out of your way”
By merely using the third person at the beginning, Allah is already expressing displeasure at what the Prophet did and upbraiding him in front of all listeners; turning to the second person after that is in Itself a reprimand; the shift is sudden and powerful. The grammatical concept of the second person is here given an added effect which is maintained in a number of following verses.
Nevertheless, you will see in the following section that Allah reprimanded His Prophets (including Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)) in the second person as well.
INFALLIBILITY OF PROPHET (صلى الله عليه و سلم) WITH RESPECT TO CONVEYING THE MESSAGE AND FALLIBILITY WITH RESPECT TO MATTERS OTHER THAN THAT
The Prophets are the best of mankind and the noblest of creation before Allah. Allah chose them to convey the call of tawheed ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’ to mankind, and Allah has made them the intermediaries between Him and His creation in conveying His Laws. They were commanded to convey the message from Allah, as He says in the Qur’an: “They are those whom We gave the Book, Al‑Hukm (understanding of the religious laws), and Prophethood. But if these disbelieve therein (the Book, Al‑Hukm and Prophethood), then, indeed We have entrusted it to a people (such as the Companions of Prophet Muhammad) who are not disbelievers therein” (Soorah al-An’am, 6:89)
The Prophets’ task was to convey the message from Allah even though they were human, hence the issue of infallibility may be examined from two angles:
- Infallibility in conveying the message
- Infallibility from human error
Firstly: With regard to the first issue, the Prophets were infallible in conveying the message from Allah. They did not conceal anything that Allah had revealed to them, and they did not add anything from themselves. Allah said to His Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in the Qur’an:
- “O Messenger (Muhammad)! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. Allah will protect you from mankind” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:67)
- “And if he (Muhammad) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah), We surely would have seized him by his right hand (or with power and might), And then We certainly would have cut off his life artery (aorta), And none of you could have withheld Us from (punishing) him” (Soorah al-Haaqqah, 69:44-47)
- “And he (Muhammad) withholds not a knowledge of the Unseen” (Soorah al-Takweer 81:24)
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sa’di (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on this verse: “He is not stingy with that which Allah has revealed to him, concealing some of it. Rather he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) the most trustworthy of the inhabitants of heaven and the people of the earth, the one who conveys the message of his Lord, the faithful conveyor (of the message). He does not withhold any part of it, from rich or poor, from ruler or subject, from male or female, from city-dweller or Bedouin. Hence Allah sent him to an illiterate and ignorant nation, and he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not die until they had become knowledgeable scholars, steeped in knowledge…”
So, with regard to conveying the religion of his Lord, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not make any mistakes at all, whether major or minor, rather he was infallible and under the constant protection of Allah.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Fataawa Ibn Baaz: “All the Muslims are unanimously agreed that the Prophets (peace be upon them) – especially Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) – are infallible and protected from error in that which they conveyed from Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “By the star when it goes down (or vanishes). Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation revealed. He has been taught (this Qur’an) by one mighty in power [Jibreel (Gabriel)]” (Soorah al-Najm, 53:1-5) Our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is infallible in all that he conveyed from Allah, in word and deed and in what he approved of. There is no dispute on this point among the scholars.”
The ummah is agreed that the Messengers are infallible in their conveying the message. And Allah guaranteed His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that he would remember it and would not forget it, except for that which Allah wanted him to forget, and He guaranteed to remember the whole Qur’an in his heart. Allah said in the Qur’an:
- “We shall make you to recite (the Qur’an), so you (O Muhammad) shall not forget (it)” (Soorah al-A’la 87:7)
- “It is for Us to collect it and to give you (O Muhammad) the ability to recite it (the Qur’an). And when We have recited it to you [O Muhammad through Jibreel (Gabriel)], then follow its (the Qur’an’s) recitation” (Soorah al-Qiyaamah, 75:17-18)
Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa]: “The verses which point to the Prophethood of the Prophets indicate that they are infallible with regard to the message that they convey from Allah, so what they convey from their Lord can only be true. This is the meaning of Prophethood, and this implies that Allah tells [the Prophet] of the unseen and he tells the people of the unseen. So, the Messenger is commanded to call people and to convey the message to them.”
Secondly: With regard to the Prophets as people, they may make mistakes. This may be discussed as follows:
- They do not commit major sins
With regard to major sins, the Prophets do not commit major sins at all, and they are protected from such major sins both before their missions began or afterward.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa: “The view that the Prophets are infallible and protected against committing major sins, as opposed to minor sins, is the view of the majority of Muslim scholars and of all groups. It is also the view of the scholars of tafseer and hadith and fuqaha’. Indeed, nothing has been narrated from any of the salaf, imams, Sahaabah, Taabi’een, and those who followed them except that which is in accordance with this view.”
- Matters that have nothing to do with conveying the message and the revelation
With regard to minor sins, these may be committed by them, or by some of them. Hence, the majority of scholars are of the view that they are not infallible when it comes to minor sins. But if they committed such actions they were not left to persist therein, rather Allah pointed that out to them and they hastened to repent therefrom.
The evidence that they might commit minor sins and that they were not left to persist therein is the verses in which Allah says in the Qur’an:
- “Thus, did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance” (Soorah Ta-Ha, 20:121-122])
(This indicates that Adam committed sin, but he was not left to persist therein, and he repented to Allah from that)
- “He said: ‘This is of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.’ He said: ‘My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.’ Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft‑Forgiving, the Most Merciful” (Soorah al-Qasas, 28:15-16)
(So Moosa (عليه السلام) confessed his sin and sought forgiveness from Allah after he killed the Egyptian, and Allah forgave him his sin)
- “and he [Dawood] sought forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance. So, We forgave him that, and verily, for him is a near access to Us, and a good place of (final) return (Paradise)” (Soorah Saad, 38:23-24)
(Dawood’s sin was hastening to pass judgment before hearing the case of the second disputant)
[The story of Yoonus when the big fish swallowed him:
- “And remember Dhun-Noon [Yunus] when he went off in anger and imagined that We shall not punish him. But he cried through the darkness [saying], ‘There is none worthy of worship except You. Glory be to You, truly I have been among the wrongdoers.’ So, We answered his call and delivered him from distress, and thus do We deliver the believers.” (Soorah al-Anbiya, 21:87-88)]
And our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was rebuked by his Lord for several things (not just in Soorah Abasa) that are mentioned in the Qur’an, such as the following in the Qur’an:
- “O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Soorah al-Tahreem 66:1)
(This refers to the well-known story with some of his wives)
Allah also rebuked His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) concerning the prisoners of war at Badr:
- Muslim narrated in his Saheeh that Ibn ‘Abbas said: When the prisoners were taken captive, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (رضي الله عنهما): “What do you think about these prisoners?” Abu Bakr said: “O Prophet of Allah, they are our cousins and kinsmen. I think that we should accept a ransom from them which will give us some support against the kuffaar, and perhaps Allah will guide them to Islam.” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “What do you think, O Ibn al-Khattaab?” He said: “I say, no, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah. I do not agree with Abu Bakr. I think that you should hand them over to us so that we may strike their necks (execute them). Hand over ‘Aqeel to ‘Ali so that he may strike his neck, and hand over So and so – a relative of ‘Umar – to me, for these, are the leaders and veterans of kufr.” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) liked what Abu Bakr said and he did not like what I [‘Umar] said. The next day I came and found the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and Abu Bakr weeping. I said: “O Messenger of Allah, tell me, what has made you and your companion weep? If there is a reason to weep, I will weep with you, and there is no reason, I will pretend to weep in sympathy with you because you are weeping.” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I am weeping because I was shown the torture to which they were subjected. It was brought as close to me as this tree” – a tree which was near the Prophet of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) – then Allah revealed the words in the Qur’an:
- “It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took. So, enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good” (Soorah al-Anfaal, 8:67-69)
So, Allah permitted booty to them.
From this hadith, it is clear that when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) chose to ransom the prisoners, this was a decision that he made by ijtihaad after consulting his companions, and he had no revelation from Allah concerning that.
[And the story of the Messenger with Zayd ibn Haarithah, where Allah rebuked/reprimanded His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم):
- “And (remember) when you said to him on whom Allah has bestowed grace and you have done a favor: “Keep your wife to yourself and have Taqwa of Allah.” But you did hide in yourself that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So, when Zayd had completed his aim with her, We gave her to you in marriage, so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them. And Allah’s command must be fulfilled.” (Soorah al-Ahzab, 33:37)]
And now, Soorah Abasa, the words of Allah in the Qur’an:
- “(The Prophet) frowned and turned away. Because there came to him the blind man (i.e. ‘Abdullah bin Umm Maktoum, who came to the Prophet while he was preaching to one or some of the Quraysh chiefs)” (Soorah ‘Abasa, 80:1-2)
(This is the famous story of the great companion ‘Abd-Allah ibn Umm Maktoum and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) when Allah rebuked him)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa: “What has been narrated from the majority of scholars is that they (the Prophets) are not infallible with regard to minor sins, but they are not left to persist therein. They do not say that this does not happen under any circumstances. The first group from whom it was narrated that they are infallible in all cases, and who say that the most, are the Raafidis (Shi’ah), who say that they are infallible and protected even against forgetfulness and misunderstanding.”
Some people think this is too much to suggest that Prophets may commit sin and misinterpret some of the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah which indicate that. Two specious arguments lead them to do that:
- The fact that Allah has commanded us to follow the Messengers and take them as our example. The command to follow them is taken as meaning that everything they did is an example for us to follow and that every action and belief of theirs is an act of worship. If we suggest that that the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) committed a sin, there will be a dilemma, because that implies that we are commanded to imitate this sin which was committed by the Prophet because we are commanded to follow his example, but at the same time, we should not agree with it or do it, because it is a sin.
This argument is valid and is appropriate if the sin is hidden and not obvious in such a way that it could be confused with acts of obedience. But Allah has explained to His Messengers where they went wrong and enabled them to repent without delay.
- Sins contradict perfection and are a shortcoming. This is true if they are not accompanied by repentance, for repentance brings forgiveness of sin, and does not contradict perfection or bring blame upon a person. Rather in many cases, a person may be better after repenting than he was before he fell into sin. It is well known that no Prophet committed sin, but he hastened to repent and seek forgiveness. The Prophets did not persist in sin or delay repentance, for Allah protected them from that, and after repenting they became more perfect than they were before.
- Unintentional mistakes with regard to some worldly matters
With regard to mistakes in some worldly matters, it is permissible for them to make such mistakes although their reason is sound, and their insight is strong. This happened to several of the Prophets including our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). This happened with regard to various spheres of life such as medicine, agriculture, etc. For example,
- Muslim narrated in his Saheeh that Raafi’ ibn Khadeej said: The Prophet of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came to Madeenah and found them pollinating the palm trees. He said: “What are you doing?” They said: “We always do this.” He said: “Perhaps if you do not do it, that will be better.” So, they did not do it, and the harvest failed. They told him about that and he said: “I am only human. If I tell you to do something with regard to your religion, then do it, but if I tell you to do something based on my own opinion, then I am only human.” Hence it is known that the Prophets are infallible and protected from error with regard to the Revelation, so we should beware of those who cast aspersions upon the Messenger’s conveying of the Message and his laws and say that it is his own personal opinion. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) could never do such a thing. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation revealed” (Soorah al-Najm 53:3-4]
[So in summary, the Prophets made] mistakes but Allah does not let them persist in their mistakes, rather he points out their mistakes to them as a mercy to them and their nations, and He forgives them for their mistakes, and accepts their repentance by His Grace and Mercy, for Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, as will be clear to anyone who studies the verses of the Qur’an which speak of that. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah) Hence, we note that the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) made mistakes in the worldly matter because he was like all other human beings, but with regard to matters of religion he did not make mistakes. As Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say, O [Muhammad], “I am only a man like you to whom it has been revealed that your god is but one God; so take a straight course to Him and seek His forgiveness.”…” (Soorah Fussilat, 41:6) In respect of worldly affairs, he was sometimes faced with issues concerning which there was no shar’i text on which he could base his decision, so he sought to make ijtihaad based on his own opinion, just as any Muslim scholar may make ijtihaad, and if he makes the right decision, he will be given two rewards, and if he makes the wrong decision, he will still be given one reward. This is what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “If the judge makes ijtihaad and gets it right, he will have two rewards, and if he makes ijtihaad and gets it wrong, he will have one reward.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
INFALLIBILITY OF IMAMS (IN COMPARISON TO PROPHETS) AS PORTRAYED BY SHIAS
In addition to verses quoted above with respect to the minor errors committed by Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), ponder over the following verses of the Qur’an emphasizing that apart from the miracles granted by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as and when required, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was only a human like us:
- Say (O Muhammad): “I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (i.e. Allah). So, whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Soorah Al-Kahf, 18:110)
(One can almost hear the Prophet’s protestation as recorded above: Qul innama ana basharun mithlukum)
- “Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful. (Soorah Aali Imran 3:144)
(The Qur’an repeatedly stresses his mortality)
The Qur’an points out that not just Prophet Muhammad, but all of the messengers were human:
- “And We sent not before you (O Muhammad) but men to whom We inspired, so ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know. And We did not create them (the Messengers, with) bodies that ate not food, nor were they immortals, (Soorah Al-Anbiya, 21:7-8)
Last but not the least, the Qur’an makes it clear that he is not an angel, or an incarnation of God but a human being who would live and die like other humans:
- “Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?” (Soorah Al-Isra, 17:93)
- And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: “Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger?” Say: “If there were on the earth, angels walking about in peace and security, We should certainly have sent down for them from the heaven an angel as a Messenger.” (Soorah Al-Isra 17:94-95)
Compare the above to what the Shi’ahs consider about their imams. They say, the imams are infallible and divinely protected from all sins and human weaknesses. Since Shi’ah imams are said to be divinely designated, they must possess special attributes and powers. One who believes in the concept of imamate also believes in the unique attributes of the imams. Following are a few quotations concerning their attributes from what is regarded as original sources of Shi’ah beliefs and practices:
The Infallibility of the Imams
- All twelve imams are infallible and absolutely immune from sin. They never (in their lives) committed any wrongs. (Minhaj al-Kiramah by Abul Mansur al-Hasan bin Ali bin Mathhar Jamaluddeen, pp. 32-33)
- All the imams are infallible just like the prophets. The Shi’ahs derive their religion from their immaculate imams. (Minhaj al-Kiramah by Abul Mansur al-Hasan bin Ali bin Mathhar Jamaluddeen, pp. 32-33)
The Extraordinary Knowledge of the Imams
- By listening to the voice of a person, the imams knew if that person was destined to go to Hell or to Heaven. They would thus answer his questions accordingly. (Usul al-Kafi, p. 185)
- It is narrated by Abu Baseer that Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, the sixth Shi’ah Imam said: “If a man [i.e., the imam] does not know what will reach him [in a day] and what he will face [in the future], he cannot be regarded an authority for the believers.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 185)
- The imams have knowledge of the time of their death, and they choose the time of their death. (Usul al-Kafi, p. 185)
- The narrator says, “I asked Imam ar-Ridha (the eighth Shi’ah imam) to pray for my family and me. The imam answered, ‘I cannot do that since all your deeds are being presented to me every day in the morning and evening.'” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 253)
It appears from the above citations that Shi’ah imams in their boundless knowledge of the unseen have surpassed the knowledge of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), which, as stated by Allah in the Qur’an, is limited:
- Say (O Muhammad): “I don’t tell you that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor (that) I know the unseen; nor I tell you that I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me by inspiration.” Say: “Are the blind and the one who sees equal? will you not then take thought?” (Soorah Al-An’am 6:50)
Imamate Versus Prophethood
- It is narrated by Zayd Shaman that he heard Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq say: “Allah first made Abraham His servant, then His messenger, then His prophet, then His friend. After making him His friend, He made him an imam.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 203)
- The truth is that in matters of their relative merits and essential qualities and all those attributes that count for excellence, there is no difference, whatsoever, between a prophet and an imam. (Hayat ul-Qulub by Mulla Baqir Al-Majlisi, vol 3. p. 3)
- The narrator says that he heard from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, “The imams are like prophets, but they are not prophets. They are not allowed to have as many wives as the prophets; otherwise, they share all the attributes and virtues given to the prophets.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 310)
Infallibility is Part of Imamate but Not of Prophethood
- Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: “There are three foundations of kufr [disbelief]: greed, pride, and jealousy. [Prophet] Adam committed an act of greed. He was forbidden [to eat] from the tree, but greed motivated him to eat. Satan committed an act of pride. When he was asked to bow before Adam, he refused. Adam’s sons committed an act of jealousy when one of them killed the other.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 517)
- Allah asked Adam not to be jealous of the Prophet’s family members. Allah said to Adam, “Do not look with jealousy towards my beloved ones, lest you be deprived of My blessings and be disgraced,” but Adam did not stop envying them. Thus, Adam and Eve were expelled from Heaven as a punishment (Hayat ul-Qulub by Mulla Baqir Al-Majlisi, vol 1. p. 50)
- The following is a “hadith” from Imam ar-Ridha (Reza): “The characteristics of prophets are [merely] to keep their bodies clean, use perfume, have frequent sexual intercourse, and keep many women.” (Hayat ul-Qulub by Mulla Baqir Al-Majlisi, vol 1. p. 21)
Thus, in glorification of their imams, Shi’ahs even go to the extent of degrading the prophets.
The Boundless Power of the Imams
- Imam ar-Ridha (Reza) said: “Allah created us in the best of stature and gave us the best of faces. He made us trustees of the earth and the heavens. We talk [even] to the trees. Allah is worshipped because of our prayers. If we were not present, Allah will not be worshipped.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 203)
- The imam occupies such a distinguished position and elevated rank and commands such authority that each and every particle of the universe surrenders to his will and submits to his authority. (Al-Hukumah al-Islamiyyah by Ayatullah Khomeini, p. 52)
- One of the basic and essential beliefs of our religion is that the imams occupy such [distinguished] position that the most honored angels and prophets cannot reach it.” (Al-Hukumah al-Islamiyyah by Ayatullah Khomeini, p. 52)
The Unique Attributes of ‘Ali
The previous quotations present but a few general characteristics attributed to all Shi’ah imams. ‘Ali, being the first imam, is said to have possessed a number of additional attributes. Shi’ah commentaries give the impression that the Qur’an was revealed to glorify the name of ‘Ali and that the only mission of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was to establish the imamate of ‘Ali
The following are some of the Shi’ah citations asserting ‘Ali’s unique attributes:
- Imam al-Baqir said: ‘”Ali was muhaddath, that is, the angels used to talk to him.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 308)
- The narrator said that he heard ‘Ali say: “We are Allah’s eyes, His hands, His sides and His gateway.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 309)
- After the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), ‘Ali has the same rights of obedience and respect as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). This is also true of all successive imams. (Usul al-Kafi, p. 118-119)
- It is narrated that Abiu ‘Abdullah [i.e., Imam Ja’far] said: “I do whatever was brought by ‘Ali and refrain from whatever was forbidden by him. He has the same superiority of rank as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) himself.” (Usul al-Kafi, p. 165-166)
- ‘Ali said: “I am the one in whose command Allah has put the clouds, lightning, thunder, darkness, rivers, mountains, stars, moon, and the sun. I am the leader and the guide of this ummah.” (Hayat ul-Qulub by Mulla Baqir Al-Majlisi, vol 1. p. 436)
The matter of the fact is neither ‘Ali nor his direct descendants considered themselves anything but Muslims and certainly not propagators of any sect, or separate religious creed. It is the Shi’ahs who consider them as their own religious leaders, attributing to them many inconceivable narrations to support their doctrines.
(May Allah forgive me for quoting all these fabrications, Astagfirullah)
These so-called hadiths give Shi’ah imams a position equal to or higher than that of the angels and prophets, including Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). [This leads one to the most basic question:]
If, as they claim, the imam was divinely appointed to lead the Muslim ummah and belief in imamate was intended to be the most essential and preferred part of a believer’s faith, why did Allah not reveal that in His Book? Muslim scholars have not found a single mention in any verse about imamate in the Qur’an. (It has been confirmed historically that the Qur’an in widespread use among Muslims today is the same original words that were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم), unchanged and unaltered. Shi’ah accusations that it has been tampered, appear in their commentaries and writings, but no one has come out with a Shi’ah version. They claim that the true Qur’an disappeared along with al-Mahdi, the awaited imam,
and there is no consensus among their scholars as to what it contained. This is whole another topic to discuss which I am writing an answer on my website)
If Shi’ah imams possessed such special powers and unique attributes, why was each of them unsuccessful in his role and mission? All of them failed to have any authority over the Muslim ummah and lived isolated lives.
AUTHENTICITY OF THE TWO HADITH QUOTED IN THE QUESTION
There is no basis for both the incidences (mentioned in the question relating to (a) woman throwing garbage at Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and (b) rich man offering half his wealth to poor) in the books of hadith or reliable works of prophetic biography, and it seems as though these fabricated stories have become popular on the tongues of people without any source to support it, and Allah knows best. However, there is no need to repeat this kind of unauthentic stories because its moral lesson recurs time and time again throughout the life of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). There are so many true and authentic accounts of abuses that were followed by displays of the Prophet’s clemency and noble character and indeed, people’s hearts would change, and they would come to faith.
Furthermore, the above two incidences are quoted on the Al-Islam.org website without any reference or source:
All the same, we should all remember while narrating from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Telling lies about me is not like telling lies about anyone else. Whoever tells lies about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari) And he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever narrates a hadith from me that he thinks is false is one of the liars.” (Narrated by Muslim) And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) said in the Qur’an:
- “And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah or denies the truth, when it comes to him?” (Soorah al-‘Ankaboot, 29:68)
- “O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterward you become regretful to what you have done.” (Al-Hujurat, 49:6)
(The above reply is based on the following resources:
- ‘Ma’ariful Qur’an’ by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi’
- Answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on a similar topic
- ‘Sunni and Shiah – Perspective on Islam’ by Dr. Ahmad Abdullah Salamah
- ‘Understanding the Qur’an – Themes and Style’ by Muhammad Abdel Haleem)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.