Is the Prophet always infallible in...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Is the Prophet always infallible in all his deeds and sayings?

Is the Prophet always infallible in all his deeds and sayings?

Is the Prophet always infallible in all his deeds and sayings? If this is true then why God blamed him for turning away from a blind man in the chapter of “’Abasa”?

Al Razi (d. 606 H.) in his Quranic exegesis (Mafatih al Ghayb) discussed the chapter of “’Abasa” and said that this incident has two main issues: the first main issue is that a blind man named ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum who converted to Islam came over to the Prophet asking him about some religious matters.

The prophet at that time was in a meeting with the prominent leaders of Quraysh such as ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah, Shaybah ibn Rabi’ah, Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, al- ‘Abass ibn ‘Abd al Mutalib, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and al- Walead ibn al- Mugheerah with the hope of softening their hearts towards Islam. The conversion of these elite leaders would have had a positive impact on the conversion of the Arab tribes.

‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum interrupted the Prophet’s talk and repeatedly asked the Prophet saying “teach me from that which God has taught you” so the Prophet disliked Ibn Umm Maktoum’s approach of constant interruption and glowered with his face. After God kindly blamed the Prophet for turning away from Ibn Umm Maktoum, whenever the Prophet saw him, he would greet him with a smile and say “Welcome to the one about whom my Lord has blamed me” and would say “Do you have any need that I can help you with?”

Al Razi analyzed the incident saying that Ibn Umm Maktoum deserved to be reproached and disciplined because although his sight was impaired, his hearing was well enough to hear the Prophet’s conversation with others and he could easily sense the Prophet’s eagerness and care for this important dialogue. Therefore when Ibn Umm Maktoum disregarded the importance of this conversation to the Prophet and preferred his own personal question, this is seen as an act of disobedience which mounts to a sin.

Also what is most important takes precedence over what is important. In other words, Ibn Umm Maktoum had already converted to Islam and learned about the essentials with which he can practice his faith whereas these idolaters of Quraysh did not even learn about Islam nor heard about its teachings and their conversion would be a great success for the message as their tribes will follow them. Therefore interrupting the prophet’s conversation mounts to cutting off a great goodness from reaching people; an act which deserves censure.

Moreover, the Quran reproached those who call out the Prophet to come out of his chamber and talk to them as proper manners oblige them to wait until the appropriate time for the Prophet to see them. Therefore we can conclude that the Prophet’s reaction to Ibn Umm Maktoum’s attitude was correct and justified yet God blamed him for it; an issue which might seem contradicting on the surface level.

The Prophet’s sayings, deeds, approvals and censures on all matters are divinely revealed as God reiterated in the Quran that the Prophet did not speak out of his own personal desire. The question which might rise is that if the Prophet’s attitudes are always heavenly revealed and are divinely correct, why did God blame the Prophet for his correct reaction towards Ibn Umm Maktoum?

Scholars opined that there are two levels of correctness when it comes to the Prophet’s attitude; the level of “correct” and the level of “more correct”. This means that the Prophet’s infallibility does not allow him to fall into error or commit erroneous acts as all his actions are deemed correct in the sight of God. But sometimes God steers the course of the Prophet’s actions and deeds from the level of correct and elevate them to the level of “more correct”.

This can be applied on the case at hand as the Prophet was eligible to discipline his companions and refine their manners in the ways he sees fit yet this time he was being blamed for his manner of disciplining his companion “Ibn Umm Maktoum” because although the Prophet was correct in disciplining his companion for his disfavored approach, it would have been more correct for the Prophet not to be so eager to soften the hearts of the elite leaders of Quraysh towards Islam while turning away from a man who eagerly wants to learn about Islam to strengthen his faith. Scholars added that the Arabic word “’Itab” or blame is a very sensitive word as it means reproach among lovers so it is not done out of wrath or anger and this suits the relationship between God and his beloved Prophet.

The Sulammi also indicated in his Quranic exegesis “Haqaiq al Tafsir” that God rebuked Prophet Muhammad in the kindest types of blame and the most refined approach as God wanted to show the Prophet the high status of the sincere poor people as they should be treated with kindness and reverence.

Al Qushairi added in his Tafsir “Lataif al- Isharat” and Ibn ‘Ajiba in “al Bahr al Madid” that one of the signs of kindness in God’s reproach to the Prophet is that he did not address the Prophet in the second person to avoid any harshness but rather addressed him in the third person.

In conclusion, God’s reproach to the Prophet is more like blaming among lovers which is done with softness, kindness and enveloped with love and care for the best interest of the beloved.

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