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Is 'perfection' or 'infallibility' inherent of humans?


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Author Topic: Is 'perfection' or 'infallibility' inherent of humans?  (Read 517 times)
N. Truth Seeker
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« on: April 28, 2012, 12:58:40 am »

As a regular reader of the Noble Quran, I wouldn't say nor presume that the Quran carries any concepts of human beings being born perfect or the quality of perfection being linked to one's family lineage nor circle of friends.

"Allah would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak." (4:28)

There are any number of people who are righteous themselves despite coming from unrighteous families and vice-versa.  Similarly, there are folks who might have the best of company, yet they are deprived of Allah's guidance because they are unworthy as individuals. 

The Sunnis claim the "sahabas" were "perfect" and could make no mistakes.  The Shiias say the descendants of the Prophet's family were "infallible."   Of course the Sunni claim of the "sahabas" being perfect is pretty hilarious because we've seen many of the younger "sahabas" who narrated the Ahadith during the reign of the early Ommayad rulers to be quite crooked and corrupt.    But the Shiia claim presuming the descendants of the Prophet's family as "infallible" can also not be taken as a correct presumption. 

Let me start with a question.  Is it necessary to stress on the expression "infallible" or the concept of 'perfection?'   According to the general Quranic ideology, no humans can be perfect, but not being perfect does not mean one cannot be righteous. So why this stress upon "infallibility" and perfection? 

After all, the Noble Quran mentions of Prophets too who made mistakes. E.g. The first Prophet, Adam, though a prophet, did not impress Allah and thus Allah mentions about him that He found "no constancy in him."  Another example: Prophet Moses made a mistake when he murdered a man out of anger yet Allah forgave him because Moses was a righteous person at heart. Third example: Prophet David made a mistake when he demanded someone else's wife yet Allah forgave him because David repented of his mistake and was at heart righteous. And finally, as you would know, in the Noble Quran Allah corrects the final Messenger (pbuh) on small matters regarding the mundane issues of life. All these examples elucidate that humans aren't perfect, and at the same time, not being perfect should not be taken as something derogatory. As a human being, there's nothing wrong with being imperfect provided one realizes their mistakes, repents, asks forgiveness of Allah and does not repeat the same wrongs. Allah never said that all Prophets were perfect or infallible. That automatically means their family, descendants, companions and friends also cannot be infallible.

Indeed, the Prophet's Household that embraced Islam was special in the Sight of Allah as elucidated in Verse 33:33/34 (Surah Al-Ahzab) which I quote as under:

"And stay in your houses. Bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment of the Time of Ignorance. Be regular in prayer, and pay the poor-due, and obey Allah and His messenger. Allah's wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing.   And bear in mind that which is recited in your houses of the revelations of Allah and wisdom. Lo! Allah is Subtile, Aware."

The Shiias take this as a confirmation of their presumption that every descendant of the Prophet (s) is 'infallible.'  But in my opinion, I wouldn't take it as a declaration of anyone's infallibility. The verses simply assert that members of the Prophet's Household who had believed during the Prophet's time were role models for all believers and therefore Allah wanted them to be special in His Sight.  But their being special depended on their superior conduct, and that's the reason why Allah emphasizes in the above verses to the members of the Household to be careful of their conduct and follow the rules of Allah.   This doesn't mean that these members of the Prophet's Household nor their descendants were incapable of making mistakes. 

As for the Sunnis, it goes without saying that tons of their so-called "sahabas" made numerous mistakes, indulged in gossips and political intrigues .. being anything but "perfect."

Thus, I really don't understand this Sunni/Shiia presumption of "perfection" and "infallibility."  It sounds totally unwarranted as per Quranic information.  The Noble Quran makes it clear that naturally humans are of weak character, which refers to their tendency of falling prey to temptations.  Those who can restrain themselves to the maximum for the love of Allah are the righteous ones .. and such righteousness does not depend on family or social ties, examples of which are available among the Prophet's contemporaries themselves.
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 04:39:22 am »

Very nice piece, MashAlalh.  Makes a lot of sense.  May Allah accept your efforts to spread the truth and awaken sleeping minds.

I having the same discussion with a brother at facebook yesterday and took some points from here. 

He mentioned to the affect that "infallible" or "perfection" doesn't have a literal meaning and it doesn't mean to be free of mistakes, and then went on with the usual yap yap .. little of which made sense.  And of course he picked Verse 33:33 claiming that it meant "infallibility."

When we say "perfect" or "infallible" it goes according to the dictionary meaning and I'm sure everyone knows what the dictionary definition of these 2 terms are. Infallible or perfect imply to complete lack of mistakes which is not inherent of humans as referred in Verse 4:28 that man was created weak. Some humans are able to strengthen their characters on the basis of their individual efforts, some aren't. But no Verse of the Quran confirms that humans can reach the point of absolute infallibility or perfection through family or friend connections as my sunni and shiia brethren claim today. The attribute of perfection or infallibility according to its true definition belongs to Allah only. If the sunni / shiia view of "perfection" and "infallibility" are not literal, then why do they use these terms at all and spread confusion ??

Also as clearly asserted in the Quran, humans and jinn are given the ability to follow their rule of conduct, whether they choose to be believing or disebelieving, arrogant or humble, kind or harsh etc. etc. That shows  infallibility is not inherent of humans and jinn.

That explains why various Prophets made different little mistakes in their lives simply because they were humans and when Allah corrected them, they realized their mistakes and never repeated them.

The reason Allah chose them as Prophets was not because they were "infallible" or "perfect" as assumed by Muslims. They were chosen by Allah because Allah knew that their quality as humans were higher than the rest and thus Allah found them trustworthy of carrying His Message without mixing it up with any falsehoods. At the same time, as humans and considering the difficult mission they had to undertake at the behest of Allah, there were times when they did overlook certain matters and made slight mistakes. This has been confirmed in the Quran about Adam, Noah, Moses, Jonah (or Yunus) and Prophet Muhammed (may Allah bless all of them) and maybe a few more. And there's nothing upsetting or insulting about these mistakes. Allah has greatly praised all Prophets in the Quran, but HE has never said they were all "perfect." That's because perfectiion or infallibility are NO prerequisites for being righteous. Allah's rules are simple and practical, NOT impractical. So I don't know why the Muslims today are introducing their own ideas which do not conform with the Quran nor with the characteristics of human nature as confirmed in the Quran .. unless the Muslims want to believe that all prophets, their families and friends were super-human which again is wrong and totally clashes with Quranic values.

I absolutely agree with you about Verses 33:33-34.  I would also not take these verses as declaration nor a guarantee of anyone's infallibility. These verses need to be read carefully without any twists and turns. The verses simply assert Allah's desire to ethically & morally cleanse the Prophet's Household because of their piety. For this reason Allah considered them to be special in His Sight. The special nature of these people was not based on their "perfection" or "infallibility" but their sincere dedication to His cause. AND SINCERE DEDICATION FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH MAKES A PERSON RIGHTEOUS, BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT HAVE ANY CONNOTATIONS WITH TOTAL INFALLIBILITY. Thus in V.33:33 Allah instructs the Prophet's Household how to achieve righteousness so others will be encouraged too. Allah did not consider the Prophet's family as special simply because they were the Prophet's family. Allah considered them special because of their individual efforts and sincerity. Righteousness in the Sight of Allah comes from a person's heart, NOT family lineage nor from the company of "good" companions. That's the reason why Allah cautions in the above verses to the members of the Household to be careful of their conduct and follow the rules of Allah and not to falter.

Pharaoh's wife came from a family of disbelievers but she was herself a believer. The son of Noah, though his father was a Prophet, was a disbeliever and so Allah drowned in during the deluge. Though Lot was a righteous Prophet, yet his wife was disobedient so she was punished along with other disobedient ones.  Prophet Abraham was a devout believer but his father was not.  The Muslims today should try to reflect on all these facts.

As for the Sunnis, they are following a completely lost cause! It goes without saying that dozens of those so-called "sahabas" were as far from perfection as the north pole is from the south. People like Abu Huraira and Anas bin Malik were no different from street loafers. Read some of their ahadith. They sound so vulgar & dirty, we cannot read them to our children, we cannot read them before women nor before congregations.

Of course, the ones whom the Shiias follow as their mentors were very different. They were very great people of high repute. No doubt about that. May Allah shower His blessings on them. But Allah has given us no warrant to declare them "infallible." The correct way to define them would be that they were very righteous people, more righteous than the common folks, they had strong characters and they adhered to the principles of the Quran to the best of their efforts. And this does not have any connotations to 'infallibility' because it's not supposed to. No matter how righteous a person is, as a human being he or she is capable of erring especially in difficult situations. That is natural. Thus, in those verses of the Noble Quran where Allah corrects the beloved final Messenger, it only fills my heart with greater love for Allah and for the final Messenger. It makes me feel that the Muhammed (saaw) was after all, a human being like us .. he was one of us .. and that makes it more practical for us to copy his wonderful personality.

The Noble Quran is so practical and simple. I've always observed when I focus on it directly without all these earthly & human distractions, I find it so easy to understand it and I can perceive its Beauty so clearly. But when humans jump in with their own faulty ideas, that's when all confusions arise. To put it briefly, I would say that attributing perfection or infallibility to any human being is itself an imperfect and a fallible approach. I'm sure if we ask Prophet Moses, or Prophet Muhammed or Imam Ali or Abu Bakr or Imam Hossein etc., "Are you perfect ?" They would say "No (Nauzbillah), who said that ?"

"Those who avoid enormities of sin and abominations, save the unwilled offences - (for them) lo! thy Lord is of vast mercy. He is Best Aware of you (from the time) when He created you from the earth, and when ye were hidden in the bellies of your mothers. THEREFOR ASCRIBE NOT PURITY UNTO YOURSELVES. HE IS BEST AWARE OF him who wards off (evil)." (53:32) Surah An-Najm.

Thank you again, br. TS
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 02:53:15 am »

Nicey topic folks! Smiley  Both inputs have helped to educate me on this matter.   I've spoken to a few sunnis and shiias on this issue, fortunately not the very bigoted ones.  They claimed that by "infallibility" or "perfection" they didn't mean being literally perfect.  But then you're right.  Why use such terms to give rise of needless confusion?  They also said that there's a difference between "small mistakes" and "big sins" and Prophets might have made small mistakes but no big sins.  This is of course true.  But in this case the title of "infallible" or being "perfect" becomes inapplicable.  Those folks cannot understand this point.  What they also don't understand is when Prophets sometimes made small mistakes and acknowledged their mistakes by asking forgiveness of Allah and never intentionally repeated those mistakes are also lessons of humility for us which give us another important reason to follow them.   Therefore, I too see the aspect of Prophets making small mistakes as humans and then correcting themselves as something positive for us.

Just a few examples from the Noble Quran to clarify what I mean by "small mistakes" : Quoting verses from Surah Al-Mujadilah, Surah Abasa and Surah Al-Ahzab.


"Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputeth with thee (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complaineth unto Allah. And Allah heareth your colloquy. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower." 58:1 Surah Al-Mujadilah

This Verse 58:1 was revealed when a woman complained to the Prophet about her husband who had abandoned her by saying that she was like his mother to him. The incident is supposed to have been in which the Prophet unknowingly did not think the issue to be important and therefore didn't pay any attention to the woman's complaints. But Allah did realize that this was a serious issue and therefore revealed this verse and the following verses of the same Surah to inform the Prophet of something that didn't occur to him. 


"He frowned and turned away
Because the blind man came unto him.
Or take heed and so the reminder might avail him ?
As for him who thinketh himself independent,
Unto him thou payest regard.
Yet it is not thy concern if he grow not (in grace).
But as for him who cometh unto thee with earnest purpose
And hath fear,
From him thou art distracted." (80:1-10) Surah Abasa.


The above Verses 1 to 10 of Surah Abasa are very significant in the topic of our discussion. I'm sure if you read them carefully you'll find the Verses very simple to understand. Allah Almighty points to the Prophet (pbuh) a little mistake he made which is commonly made by many of us by paying greater attention of the rich & powerful compared to a poor man or a commoner .. in this case the common man was also blind.  In these verses Allah Almighty tells the Prophet (pbuh) of his mistake which the Prophet immediately realized.


"The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers. And the owners of kinship are closer one to another in the ordinance of Allah than (other) believers and the fugitives (who fled from Mecca), except that ye should do kindness to your friends. This is written in the Book (of nature)." (33:6) Surah Al-Ahzab.

This above Verse 33:6 has great significance. In Medinah the Prophet (pbuh) established the relationship of brotherhood between the Ansars (residents of Medinah) and the Mohajirs (fugitives from Makkah who came to Medinah), a relationship that was considered closer than blood relationship. But after the revelation of Verse 33:6, that concept of Ansars & Mohajirs being closer than real or biological brothers was abolished (particularly as far as inheritance was concerned). In other words, Verse 33:6 is the order from Allah to the Prophet to change that law which he previously made. That's because in the ordinance of Allah, blood relationship or family comes before friends. 
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 02:58:55 am »

Thanks a billion for your precious inputs dear sisters.  Very brilliant indeed.

Well, it's an universal fact that infallibility belongs only to Allah while qualities of virtue & righteousness can belong to the nobility of human character who follow Allah Almighty - and Allah can make NO small nor big mistakes.

This idea of assigning infallibility to humans comes from altered Christianity, a lot of which has seeped into Islam from the Hadith literature that is full of altered Christian & Jewish laws. You will hear conservative Christians calling Essa (son of Virgin Maryam)  "perfect" because they consider him super-human and son of God (AstaghfarAllah and Nauzbillah). They have also given him the title of "Christ" meaning "the anointed" or 'cleaned of all sins.'  When Allah has not given this title to Essa (son of Virgin Maryam), who are the christians to give such a title to him?  Similarly you will also find these Christians having the same mentality regarding their bishops and priests. They refer to the Pope at vatican as "incapable of making mistakes" or "infallible." They look upon the bishop of their church and their parish priests as "perfect" people who must never be disobeyed even if they say something you think is incorrect. I'm sure this brings the similarity of mentality between altered Christianity and the distorted Islam many Muslims follow today. The idea of "infallibility" has not just been attached to members of the Prophet's family and the "sahabas," but also to the modern-day sheikhs, the so-called ulemas and the commonplace imams of every masjid. It's a very Christian & Jewish tradition. The beloved Prophet (s) NEVER taught such things because the Quran does NOT convey such notions at all. Of course we must love and be very respectful to our righteous role models and we must love the Prophet more than we love ourselves. But we need to be careful not to elevate them above the limits ordained by Allah. If you read the history of the Inquisition in Europe during the Catholic rule from the 1200s to 1800s, you will find that this notion of labeling humans as "perfect" was one of the major violations that led the Christians astray.
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 03:04:05 am »

Exactly brother .. how correct.  Every matter must be seen in the right perspective by constantly keep the Quran as the Guide so that we don't err and go outside its limits. 

This "infallibility" issue assigned to humans is a typical Christian and Jewish idea who have always considered their bishops, priests and rabbis as "perfect."  Same idea has been transferred to Islam through Sunni & Shiia Ahadith borrowed from the altered Old & New Testaments.  As simple as that .. and very unfortunate too.
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 03:04:44 am »

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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 11:35:05 am »

Mash'Allah .. I'm learning a lot on this subject. 
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