1

It seems to be commonly accepted in Islam that the prophet Jesus was "without sin," in contrast to the rest of humanity — even the other prophets — arguably(?) even Muhammad himself. (Although see Was the prophet sinless? and, again, note that most of my reading so far has been from Christian-evangelical sources who are motivated to elevate Jesus above Muhammad.)

I can find plenty of references to this doctrine of "sinlessness of Jesus" via Google, but all the top hits are blatantly from a Christian-evangelical point of view (e.g. Edward Sell's Faith of Islam; e.g. resources from "The Spirit of Islam" and "CIRA International"). (English Wikipedia does not go very deep on this subject.)

I'd like to find out — from relatively authoritative, English-language, yet non-Christian, sources — what historical Islam has to say on the sinlessness of Jesus; e.g. commentaries on the hadith excerpted below, whether different sects/denominations disagree on this question, etc. In particular I wonder whether any division of Islam has ever claimed that Jesus was not sinless.

Then the people will say, 'Don't you see to what state you have reached? Won't you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord?'

Some people will say to some others, 'Go to Adam.' So they will go to Adam and say to him. 'You are the father of mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hand, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are? Don't you see what condition we have reached?' Adam will say, 'Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (I am preoccupied with my own problems.) Go to someone else; go to Noah.'

So they will go to Noah and say (to him), 'O Noah! You are the first (of Allah's Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' He will say, 'Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.'

They will go to Abraham and say, 'O Abraham! You are Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and His Khalil from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' He will say to them, 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadith) Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.'

The people will then go to Moses and say, 'O Moses! You art Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and Allah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord Don't you see in what state we are?' Moses will say, 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter. I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.'

So they will go to Jesus and say, 'O Jesus! You are Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' Jesus will say. 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. Jesus will not mention any sin, but will say, 'Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.'

So they will come to me and say, 'O Muhammad ! You are Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?"

  • My understanding is that "without sin" means "committed no sins"; this is much stronger than "committed sins but was forgiven." My understanding is that the Christian concept of "free from Original Sin" does not apply in an Islamic context. – Quuxplusone May 28 at 15:43
  • Are you sure there isnt any other interpretation of said verse? I just read it and its probable that he simply isnt mentioning any sin. This is also somewhat interrelated: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/215/… – Yakoub Ali May 28 at 16:29
  • @YakoubAli: I have already linked to that question in my question. I suspect that there have been other interpretations of that [hadith], and am asking for links to some (authoritative, English-language, non-Christian) commentaries. In particular I wonder whether any division of Islam has ever claimed that Jesus was not sinless. – Quuxplusone May 28 at 17:24
  • The commonly accepted doctrine in Islam is that all prophets are without sin so you'd be hard pressed to find anything which is exclusively about Jesus. – UmH May 28 at 17:55
  • @UmH but isnt that commonly accepted view wrong since Adam disonbeyed Allah? – Yakoub Ali May 28 at 17:57
2

Please refer to my answer to the linked question. The Islamic belief is that all the prophets were without sin, so yes Jesus was also without sin as he was a prophet. Specific traditions about Jesus being without sin have also occurred e.g. in the exegesis of the verse:

وإني سميتها مريم وإني أعيذها بك وذريتها من الشيطان الرجيم

And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled

Quran 3:36

Where Qatada and Ar-Rabi' ibn Anas have narrated that they heard that Jesus and Mary were protected from sins - see Tafsir al-Tabary. Similar traditions have also been narrated about John in the exegesis of 3:39 - Tafsir al-Tabary etc.

As for the hadith you have quoted, note that here these 'sins' of the prophets are not actual sins rather they are excusable or lawful matters over which the prophets are worried as they will fear that they might be reprimanded over them because of the severity of Allah's wrath.

For example: The life that Moses took was not premeditated murder of an innocent, rather it was unintentional and occurred while trying to protect an Israelite from an Egyptian oppressor. Similarly the lies told by Abraham were not lies meant to deceive but were rather rhetoric meant to illustrate his arguments against idolatry.

Note that in the hadith Jesus too is shown to be worried about himself. If we accept that Jesus was sinless and Muhammad was sinful, then why would Jesus be concerned and why would he abdicate intercession to Muhammad? Logically the one who was sinless should have nothing to fear and should have a better chance of being received favorably by Allah.

Also while the hadith does not mention any reason for Jesus's worry, in a variant of the hadith reported by Tirmidhi and Ahmad, his response is as follows:

إني لست هناكم، إني اتخذت إلها من دون الله وإنه لا يهمني اليوم إلا نفسي

I am not in a position to do this. The people took to worshiping me besides Allah and today I am not worried except about myself.

Musnad Ahmad

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