There seems to be a commonly held belief that the prophet Muhammad (and the prophets in general) are somehow protected from ever committing any sin. I have seen nothing in the Qur'an to suggest this, nor am I aware of any authentic hadith to support this claim.

It has always been my understanding that the prophets are men like any other, specially chosen by the Almighty to relay His message but not necessarily granted any rights and privileges other than what He has explicitly stated; the Christians for example make a big deal about Jesus being sinless, but they have evidence from their own Scriptures to support this. Even if the other prophets were among the best men of their generation, they would still be susceptible to the same trials and temptations of any other man, and thus to sinning.


Note that I am not asking whether the prophets were forgiven for their sins; God is Al-Raheem so I have no difficulty accepting that. The question is about whether the prophets in general, or Muhammad (PBUH) in particular, ever sinned in the first place.

Where does this Islamic belief of sinlessness come from? Does it have an authentic source?

  • See my answer here: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/93/citation-from-hadith/94#94 where we also discuss this. Allah says "follow the Prophet," it doesn't make sense to say that if the prophet (peace be upon him) made mistakes.
    – ashes999
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 14:13
  • @ashes999: Can we not follow people who make mistakes?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:56
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    @Flimzy see surah Abasa; the Prophet made a "mistake", but his mistake was minor (frowning at a blind man). He was held to a very, very, very high standard.
    – ashes999
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:57
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    @ashes999: Being held to a high standard, and being sinless, or not making mistakes, are quite different things. Please note I'm not making a claim one way or another as to whether the prophet was sinless. I'm simply pointing out that it's a logical fallacy to claim that one is sinless because he is held to a high standard, or simply because he is a good role model.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 19:18
  • @Flimzy Brother, Allah is ordering to follow HIM, a Prophet. If ALLAH orders you to follow someone, they must be sinless and wouldn't make mistakes.
    – user44632
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 15:01

7 Answers 7


(This answer is from a Sunni perspective)

Muslims unanimously agree that ALL the Prophets (may peace be upon them all) were free from any error with regard to conveying the message. In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), Allah says in Surat an-Najm:

Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred,

Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination.

The majority of scholars also agree that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) was Ma'sum (free from error) when it came to the major sins, whereas if he was committing a minor sin, he did not persist in doing so when it became clear they were sins and Allah corrected him.

When it came to matters of this life, sometimes he made mistakes (this is different from a sin) - for example when some people were practising cross-pollination to increase yield and he thought it wasn't useful, but then when he was informed the yield was low that year, he said (saws) that it was just his personal opinion and they didn't have to follow something that wasn't on behalf of Allah. Sahih Muslim

Essentially, when it comes to the message of Allah, we believe the Prophet (saws) is free from all errors in delivering it.

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    Sounds a little similar to the Catholic doctrine of ex cathedra.
    – TRiG
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 11:29
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    it is except prophets come along once in a while, wheras there has been an unbroken succession of popes. Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 6:52
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    but when prophet PBUH said (before he die): take me a paper and pen to sign and document one thing, those two men said: ... Delirium ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith_of_the_pen_and_paper Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 5:56
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    Free from sin/error in conveying the message, but that doesn't mean they were free from other sins (such as lust, lying, cheating, etc).
    – Klutch
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 2:28
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    @Klutch the Prophets of God are sent as examples to the rest of humankind. They had the highest standards of conduct, and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) in particular is described as the very best of Creation. It is unfathomable that they ever lied or cheated.
    – Ansari
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 4:25

There's an important concept in Shi'a called "Iṣmah" which is attributed to prophets, Imams and Fatima Zahra -the daughter of prophet Muhammad (PBUH)-. There are philosophical reasons behind this quality.

  • They're incapable of making errors and mistakes.
  • They're impervious to the temptation to sin.

Why? They're special selected humans by God who guide people to Allah. So what would happen if they committed any sin? People wouldn't trust them and their speech wouldn't have the desirable effect, then the goal of their risalah which is to guide people to God couldn't be fulfilled. Also, this risalah only deserve people whom are the best among humans and this level is called "Iṣmah". See also the related Wikipedia article.

Also note that it doesn't mean that they are not capable of committing a sin:

[...] They are, the most pure ones, the only immaculate ones preserved from, and immune to, all uncleanness. But it is due to the fact that they have absolute belief in God so that they find themselves in presence of God. They have also complete knowledge about God's will. They are in possession of all the knowledge brought by the angels to the prophets (nabi) and the messengers (Rasul). Their knowledge encompasses the totality of all times. Thus they act without fault in religious matters.

... But their faith in God is so strong that they cannot yield to temptation, and sin becomes impossible for them.

Ruhollah Khomeini interpreted this quality of them very nicely:

Infallibility is borne by faith. If one has faith in God, and if one sees God with the eyes of his heart, like sun, it would be impossible for him to commit a sin. .... In front of an armed powerful [master], infallibility is attained.

  • This answer seems self contradictory. The common English definition of infallible, esp in the context of this question and your phrase "infallible of sin", is directly opposed to your suggested that they would be capable of committing sin. That in turn is then contradicted by the following reference which suggest that it is impossible for them to sin. I suggest you need to define your terms and make it a little clear what point you're trying to actually make here.
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 12:35
  • @Caleb: I might have used the wrong English word to describe what I meant. I'll edit my answer later on. Thanks.
    – user8749
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 4:44
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    You say they are incapable of making sin and then they are capable of doing that. Plz correct your answer.
    – rowman
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 20:55
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    @DavidWallace, Yes your point is exactly true and the answer is +1 by me as well, but I have problem with this sentence: They're incapable of making errors and mistakes Maybe my English is not good enough then, as I don't read the correct infallibility that the author is trying to propose.
    – rowman
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 8:21
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    @Gigili well said! To clarify: They won't commit sins because of that Allah shows them the severe evilness of that deed...as he does to every other person. Yet the prophets are ones who grasp it in the best/fastes possible way. Meaning that for every sin that we commit, its always obvious for us what is right what is wrong yet we do commit with free will. The prophets know of the same evilness of the deed but opt to not do it. as in Chapter Yusuf:14: but that he saw the evidence of his lord: thus (did we order) that we might turn away from him (all) evil and shameful deeds.
    – Vazir
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 3:10

Prophets, according to the Qur'an, are infallible. This doesn't mean that they can't commit sin, rather it means that they won't because they are of the highest spiritual and intellectual consciousness.

As for mistakes, they don't make mistakes in religious matters either, however there have been debates regarding mistakes in non-religious matters.

In the Qur'an, it testifies that prophet and his household were purified a thorough purification:

And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity , O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with thorough purification.
[Sahih International 33:33]

Also in the Qur'an, Allah (swt) says that Shaytan promised to stay away from those who were infallible as he said that he would deceive everyone except Allah's chosen servants:

Except, among them, Your chosen servants.
[Sahih International 15:40]

This also makes logical sense: how can you have clean water (Qur'an) through an impurfied carrier? Prophets must be clean of error or sins so they don't get questioned.

If they are open to make mistakes (about religious matters), then one can question the entire religion because how does one know if the prophet is making a mistake about his Sunnah or even the Qur'an. Hence a comprehensive approach of the holy Qur'an and logic only justifies spiritual and intellectual perfection of prophet. In an authentic hadith, the prophet said that he was "the city of knowledge (and wisdom)". Such a claim can only come from one who is infallible.

Allah (swt) also said in many verses of the Qur'an that we need to follow the prophet as we follow Allah and submit to him (i.e. the Prophet).

Surely Allah and His Angels shower prayers on the Prophet. O you who have believed, pray for for him, and submit in full submission.
[Dr. Ghali 33:56]

In the Qur'an, in order to find answers one should, in my humble opinion, read it more comprehensively. Humans can have a million questions, and if they were looking for a million direct and easy answers the Qur'an would never finish. Therefore reading it with open eyes, heart, and intellect can lead to many answers.

And Allah (swt) knows the best.

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    You say according to the Quran, but dont make any references. Have you double checked this?
    – user13203
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 2:11

Let me answer you somewhat fundamentally. Allah is the Just so never choose what to create or what to let not created, He creates just whatever that is creatable and having cause for its creation (addressing the Causality). Now let do some Q/A:

  1. Is it possible for a creature to have intellect but not desire? Yes. the examples are angels. (Angels have the power to decide and choose, like us the humans, they are not mechanical machines, but no desire that they have there is no reason for them not to accept what is intellectually a must for them, e.g. when Allah commands them to do something they know they must do that and also have no desire-kind barrier to withstand their will obeying Allah!)
  2. Is it possible for a creature not to have intellect but only desire? Yes. the examples are animals. (Note that there is a big difference between intellect and intelligence. The animals have been given instincts by which they can decide what to do and what not to do, so again they have will and can decide, they are not mechanical machines either.)
  3. Is it possible for a creature to have both intellect and desire together? Yes. the examples are humans and Jinns.

The Humans and Jinns have intellect by which they should decide between what they know being intellectually a must and desire which should be fulfilled to the extent again allowed by intellectual power, but one can also neglect intellect and decide based on desire, an example is that we the humans have been given a material body, which needs to be fed with water and minerals and proteins and etc. but the scientists of even the present modern era are just trying to study this body, what it is consist of, what is good for what limb, and etc., that to say in short, we do not know our own bodies! So how are we expected to keep it safe? Note that this question is more critical for all the people living behind the present era, with a lower medical knowledge that they had. Allah has thus given us a kind of instinct, the power to understand the tastes and a desire to the taste which is required by our bodies, we sometimes feel like we need something salty, no matter how much that we eat sour things we would still need to eat enough salty things to be satisfied. This desire is for our benefit for us to feed our bodies to the extent that the bodies need but we was not to know it otherwise. Eating to the extent we need using this desire is itself an intellectual decision! However, what do we have done especially in the modern societies? We have changed the whole thing into an "eating industry" and even worst "taste industry". First of all, we do not eat because we need it but we eat because a food is delicious! Second, we do not eat to the extent that we need but to the extent that we can eat, extremely according to our desire and wish! Third, we do not eat healthy things but we only eat tastes! For example the natural Salt (full of minerals) which is among the main foods of old nations now has been purified and turned to be only an additive that if we eat more than is allowed by the physicians then we would be led to many deceases! They call it improvement while it is of course not an improvement!

Anyway, even prophets had the evil desires with themselves (see surah An-Naas, they are intrinsically humans like others), they could choose to do wrong, but they have always chosen to live the way Allah expect from them, that is, to choose intellect over desire whenever that there arise a contradiction between them. They are infallible means they never choose to to do wrong and Allah would help them and everyone else who wish so. The mechanism is just too simple. You choose to do right or wrong, the first decision would be hard but you choose your choice, then again you come to the same contradiction of intellect and desire, this time you have a preferred choice, so you may be more easily choose your last choice rather than to change it. If you treat yourself to always do right then it will become your manner and you will be infallible in the sense of all the prophets. However, one always has the possibility to choose its way to deviate, in one way it is called return (Tubah) and in the other way it is called being seduced.



Infallibility of the Prophets and Messengers: عصمة الأنبياء or عصمة الرسل is an agreed upon aqeedah of the Muslims, athough there is difference of opinion in the details, for example whether they are protected from minor sins and unintentional mistakes, whether they were infallible from birth or only after receiving prophethood etc.

وقال جمهور من الفقهاء من أصحاب مالك وأبي حنيفة والشافعي : إنهم معصومون من الصغائر كلها كعصمتهم من الكبائر أجمعها

The saying of the majority of the jurists from the companions of Malik, Abu Hanifa and Shafi is: They are protected from minor sins as they are protected from the major sins

Tafsir al-Qurtubi

والمختار عندنا أنه لم يصدر عنهم الذنب حال النبوة ألبتة لا الكبيرة ولا الصغيرة

The view adopted by us is that they can not commit sins during their Prophethood, neither major nor minor

Tafsir al-Razi

The following is some of the Quranic evidence that Imam Razi and others have cited for this:

  • We have been unconditionally commanded to follow them:

    واتبعوه لعلكم تهتدون

    Follow him that you may be guided

    Quran 7:158

    قل إن كنتم تحبون الله فاتبعوني يحببكم الله ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم والله غفور رحيم

    Say, [O Muhammad], "If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."

    Quran 3:31

    If they could commit a sin it would lead to a contradiction, as we would be commanded to follow them in their sin and also forbidden from that sin.

    قل إن الله لا يأمر بالفحشاء

    Say: Indeed, Allah does not order immorality.

    Quran 7:28

  • Allah has excluded wrongdoers from His covenant of prophethood, a wrongdoer will not be a Prophet, so a Prophet can not be a wrongdoer:

    قال إني جاعلك للناس إماما قال ومن ذريتي قال لا ينال عهدي الظالمين

    [Allah] said, "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [Allah] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers."

    Quran 2:124

  • Infallibility of the angels عصمة الملائكة is proven:

    لا يعصون الله ما أمرهم ويفعلون ما يؤمرون

    They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.

    Quran 66:6

    Prophets have a status and virtue above all creation, including the angels:

    إن الله اصطفى آدم ونوحا وآل إبراهيم وآل عمران على العالمين

    Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds

    Quran 3:33

    وكلا فضلنا على العالمين

    And all [of them] We preferred over the worlds.

    Quran 6:86

    When a virtue is proven for a class, it is also proven for all classes of a higher rank. It is not possible for Prophets to be sinners and then be equal to let alone superior to the angels:

    أم نجعل الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات كالمفسدين في الأرض أم نجعل المتقين كالفجار

    Or should we treat those who believe and do righteous deeds like corrupters in the land? Or should We treat those who fear Allah like the wicked?

    Quran 38:28

  • المخلصين (the chosen ones) are are safe from Satan:

    قال فبعزتك لأغوينهم أجمعين إلا عبادك منهم المخلصين

    [Iblees] said, "By your might, I will surely mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants."

    Quran 38:82

    The Prophets are among them:

    كذلك لنصرف عنه السوء والفحشاء إنه من عبادنا المخلصين

    And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.

    Quran 12:24

    واذكر في الكتاب موسى إنه كان مخلصا وكان رسولا نبيا

    And mention in the Book, Moses. Indeed, he was chosen, and he was a messenger and a prophet.

    Quran 19:51

  • There is a group that did not follow Satan:

    ولقد صدق عليهم إبليس ظنه فاتبعوه إلا فريقا من المؤمنين

    And Iblees had already confirmed through them his assumption, so they followed him, except for a party of believers.

    Quran 34:20

    If the Prophets are not in that group that implies that some non-Prophet is of a higher virtue than a Prophet, which contradicts them being of the highest status:

    إن الله اصطفى آدم ونوحا وآل إبراهيم وآل عمران على العالمين

    Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds

    Quran 3:33

  • If they committed major sins, it would be obligatory to rebuke them. However doing so is unconditionally forbidden:

    إن الذين يؤذون الله ورسوله لعنهم الله في الدنيا والآخرة وأعد لهم عذابا مهينا

    Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.

    Quran 33:57

Some of the ahadith used as evidence are as follows:

قالت: يا رسول الله أو معي شيطان؟ قال: نعم قلت: ومع كل إنسان؟ قال: نعم قلت: ومعك؟ يا رسول الله قال: نعم، ولكن ربي أعانني عليه حتى أسلم

(Aisha) said: Is a devil attached to everyone? (The Prophet) said: Yes. I (Aisha) again said: Allah's Messenger, is it with you also? He said: Yes, but my Lord has helped me against him and as such I am absolutely safe from his mischief (or he has accepted Islam).


قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ما منكم من أحد، إلا وقد وكل به قرينه من الجن قالوا: وإياك؟ يا رسول الله قال: وإياي، إلا أن الله أعانني عليه فأسلم، فلا يأمرني إلا بخير

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: There is none among you with whom is not an attache from among the jinn (devil). They (the Companions) said: Allah's Messenger, with you too? Thereupon he said: Yes, but Allah helps me against him and so I am safe from his hand (or he has accepted Islam) and he does not command me but to do good.


أتاه جبريل صلى الله عليه وسلم ... فشق عن قلبه فاستخرج القلب فاستخرج منه علقة فقال هذا حظ الشيطان منك . ثم غسله في طست من ذهب بماء زمزم ثم لأمه ثم أعاده في مكانه

Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ... he tore open his chest and took out the heart from it and then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: That was the part of Satan in you. Then he washed it (the heart) in a vessel of gold that was filled with Zamzam. Then he put it back together and returned it to its place.


These ahadith are evidence that the Prophet ﷺ is protected from the devil and hence from sins.

  • now through scripture it in clear the prophets sinned. But where the real problem comes (the former is also a problem) is if you say it is necessary for a messenger to be sinless or that God cannot inspire an ordinary man that is a sinner. firstly it is blasphemous 6:91 and secondly it is suggest god needs someone i.e. he is not independent 112:2. The good thing about surah 112 is if you reject one verse you reject all. now I need to sleep. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 5:43

Yes. The Prophet Muhammed (s.a.s.) was sinless.

Holy KORAN 33:33:

"Ve karne fî buyûtikunne ve lâ teberrecne teberrucel câhiliyyetil ûlâ ve ekımnes salâte ve âtînez zekâte ve atı’nallâhe ve resûlehu, innemâ yurîdullâhu li yuzhibe ankumur ricse ehlel beyti ve yutahhirakum tathîrâ(tathîran)." (Arabic verse in Latin letters)

Meaning: The Ahl-ul Bayt (household of the Prophet) is pure.

Word by word: "O people of the House! Allah only wishes to keep away the sin from you and to cleanse you with a thorough cleansing."

What Allah wishes, is already done. For he has created everything perfect.


Someone wrote, that Allah has said in 47:19 that the prophet should pray for his "sins". But in that Ayat it says "ZEN" (zan), this means, "faults", but not sins. In the Ayat I wrote it (above), where Allah says he will keep them free of sins, there stands: "RICS". "Rics" is everything that the religion and Allah has forbidden.


Allah instructed Muhammad to ask forgiveness for his sin.

So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place.. Surat Muhammad 47:19

Muhammad was a human like the rest of us, and was not sinless according to the Allah (The Qur'an itself).

  • In that Ayat it says "ZEN" (zan), this means, "faults", but not sins. In the Ayat I wrote it, where Allah says he will keep them free of "RICS", there stands: "RICS", this is everything that the religion and Allah has forbidden. It is not the same! Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 21:24
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    @SayyidShakurAVDAL i don't know what you mean by "ZEN" but literally the translation is correct, but the answer needs elaboration and is disputable.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 5:23

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