The Ahmadi Religion of Peace & Light

The Meaning of Infallibility

According to the teachings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) and Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip), what does infallibility really mean?

We know that the prophets and messengers (pbut) were sent by God with a message for mankind. They are considered to be infallible. However, historically, through scripture and writing, we see that these great men did make mistakes. How can we reconcile that, while knowing they were messengers of God that we consider infallible? Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) and Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip) have explained what this means.

Are all prophets infallible? Or only the best of them? Or when we talk about infallibility, does it refer only to Muhammad and the Imams of his Holy Family? And what does ‘infallibility’ actually mean?

Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip) explains, in his Sermon of Infallibility, what it is and how it works. There are two different forms of infallibility:

  1. Inherent infallibility
  2. Earned infallibility

INHERENT INFALLIBILITY

This type applies to a person who did not commit any sin or mistake – and only 14 people are included in this category and they are Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Al-Hassan, Al-Hussain and the rest of the Twelve Imams after them. History cannot find against them any sins or mistakes. This is the belief of the Shia Muslims, as well as the Sunni Muslims concerning Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf).

Why is this so? According to the teachings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) and Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip), Allah did not create except for them, and they created the rest of creation. Imam Ali (pbuh) said:

“We are the creation of our Lord and the people after are our creation..”

– Bihar Al-Anwar, Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi, 3rd ed., v.33, p.58, hadith 398 

– Mustadrak Safinat Al-Bihar, Ali Al-Namazi Al-Shahroudy, 1419 ed., v.6, p.380

EARNED INFALLIBILITY

The second kind of infallibility comes not at birth, but with time and teachings from God. It is a lesser type of infallibility than the first one, and it implies making some mistakes in the beginning of life. This is clearly mentioned in the Holy Bible and Quran. Let’s take the example of some famous historical figures.

We find Adam (pbuh) becoming infallible but only after he committed great mistakes. Adam disobeys Allah and obeys Iblis, and is taken out of the Garden of Eden, for which he repents. Noah (pbuh) doubted the judgment of Allah concerning his son, who was actually not his. Moses (pbuh) committed great mistakes asking his Lord about things that he should not have asked about, or being impatient with the Righteous Servant, as mentioned in the Holy Quran. Joseph made a mistake, when he had thoughts about Zuleykha, his master’s wife, and when he asked for the help of a human being, instead of asking God. Jonah (pbuh) is a very famous one, when he doesn’t listen to his Lord and escapes his mission, and then gets swallowed by the whale. And clearly, the holy scriptures mention the stories of these prophets asking for repentance from their Lord. So all the prophets before Muhammad (pbuhahf) were not infallible from birth, and even Jesus was not inherently infallible (we know that he was asking his Father in heaven to “remove the cup from him”).

WHAT DOES INFALLIBILITY REALLY MEAN?

Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip) has given some knowledge about the actual definition of infallibility. He has explained that it does not necessarily mean not to do any mistake or to be perfect in the eyes of the people, but rather, it is the ability and the special protection which makes a man not misguide anyone. So basically, if someone is infallible, he will never misguide you.

Today, Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip) is teaching his companions to become like him and ridding them of their old traditions and beliefs.

The goal is surely to become pure and to become infallible as we are taught by our Father, Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip), and what a beautiful hope to become someone who cannot misguide the people, but rather guide them to the truth and to be able to always be the manifestation of God by doing His will, and only His.

It can now be understood that the prophets before Muhammad and his Holy Family (pbut) were not inherently infallible, since they did make mistakes. It explains how the prophets, whom are often seen as the best of all creation or even as a God, are actually those with earned infallibility. These men, whom were sent to the people, were human beings who ultimately achieved the rank of earned infallibility and pleased their Lord as true people of God.

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