Infallible - Incapable of making mistakes or being wrong

My question is, How Is Muhammad PBUH infallible according to Shia Islam because

  • His best friends were Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA), many Shia believe they will go to Hell.
  • His favorite wife was Aisha. He even choose to die with her. Many Shia believe Aisha (RA) was not a perfect woman and created a lot of rift esp at the time of Muhammad PBUH death. Again the prophet trusted her to die with her and she deceived him?
  • When the prophet saw men pollinating date treats. He asked them what are you doing. They said pollinating date tees. The prophet forbade thee from doing so, so they stopped. The next season there were no dates. The prophet realized he was wrong so he allowed them pollinate trees again.
  • The prophet ate morsel of food that had poison in it from Jews women. His two companion died (this would be a clear embarrassment for a prophet). The jews woman was open to accept him as prophet if he did not die. But the prophet ate it and realized there was poison so he stopped.

So was he infallible? If not, what does infallible means?

  • 2
    AFAIK according to mainstream Shia belief all prophets are sinless (sinless in a stronger sense than Sunni who AFAIU only believe that the prophets are sinless after they become prophets). PS: I think by "infallible" you mean "معصوم", it is good to also state the original Arabic word in these situations since the translation might not be completely accurate.
    – Kaveh
    Aug 20, 2013 at 21:38
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    @Kaveh, you mentioned the word معصوم correctly. In truth, as you said "it is good to also state the original Arabic word in these situations since the translation might not be completely accurate". Sep 29, 2015 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


Infallible if it means incapable of committing sins NO! Neither him --peace be upon him and his household-- nor any other prophet or Imam, none were such. All the prophets and Imams and other infallibles (yes we do have other infallibles as well, but none reach the position of the 14 infallibles peace be upon them as they have not their knowledge معرفة and piety) could commit sins, even worse than we can (because they were smarter, braver and etc.), a thief that has light in his hand can rob more precious things (!), but they didn't do anything wrong. According to a Hadeeth the pious people when are encountered with a situation to choose between good and bad they see committing the sin like jumping inside a deep scary precipice, would any wise jump inside it? So won't a wise man ever commit a sin either! The holy prophet and his Ahlul Bayt --peace be upon them all-- have chosen to be completely submitted to Allah, they were never forced to be good servants of Him, otherwise being submitted such was never of any value or any excellency for them. They had and have free will as we have, they had and have desires as we have (according to a Hadeeth their desires were even many times stronger than ours as they were complete humans, a perfect human is perfect in every sense and desires are among those aspects). In a Hadeeth Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) swears in God that there is no kinship between them and Allah. In another Hadeeth, it is not like that Allah has chosen some people and kept them clean for them to carry his massages to the people, but as He knew who will completely obey Him in His eternal knowledge He has chosen them to carry their massages to people and be good patterns for them in themselves obeying Allah, bearing the difficulties, be patient and etc.

Now about your points:

  • So maybe we don't believe them as the best friends of the holy prophet ;)
  • I know what Hadeeth are you talking about, but what if all such Ahdeeth are fabricated? We agree with the first part of that Hadeeth that the holy prophet peace be upon him and his household told Aisha that if you die while I am alive I will repent for you, and interpret it with that the holy prophet peace be upon him knew what Aisha will do after his passing away, being an enemy of Imam Ali and his household, peace be upon them. Taking part in the war of Camel against Imam Ali peace be upon him while the dogs had barked for her as the prophet had warned his wives about it previously, shooting at the body of Imam Hassan peace be upon him at his burial and etc. So you see we do not think Aisha was the prophet's favorite wife at all.
  • That’s another fabricated Hadeeth, at least in the way it is narrated, but I don't know if it has a correct counterpart in authentic Shia Ahadeeth or not.
  • I have already answered this here.

Yes he was infallible in the sense discussed. Also take a look at this answer that discusses every prophet was infallible (free from any minor or major sin).

  • owari I am afraid, the answer is not straightforward. I can say, why he married Aisha in the first place. Why would you marry someone when you know she is going to create a rift. Why would you eat poison not knowing what is in it. What is infallible? Does it mean you cannot commit sin only but you can be deceived or you can have wrong judgement?
    – muslim1
    Feb 16, 2013 at 22:13
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    @TheTruthSeaker, have you even read the answer?
    – owari
    Feb 16, 2013 at 22:16

As owari mentioned, doubtlessly Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) was capable of making mistakes and being wrong, otherwise he was not a human and his purity was not valuable.

To our view, Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) was sinless. Again it doesn't mean he was incapable of committing sins. It just means that he himself chose not to commit any sin in his whole life.

This belief is based on the following verses:

مَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَىٰ فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ كَيْ لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةً بَيْنَ الْأَغْنِيَاءِ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

And what Allah restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns - it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and orphans and the [stranded] traveler - so that it will not be a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you. And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. [al-Hashr: 7]

مَّن يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللَّهَ ۖ وَمَن تَوَلَّىٰ فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظًا

He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah ; but those who turn away - We have not sent you over them as a guardian. [an-Nisa: 4]

وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

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 [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. [al-Ahzab: 33]

لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. [al-Ahzab: 21]

قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

[Iblees] said, "By your might, I will surely mislead them all

Except, among them, Your chosen servants." [Sad: 82-83]

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ

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

Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination.

It is not but a revelation revealed, [an-Najm: 2-4]

فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.[an-Nisa: 65]

Even if we assume all the cases you mentioned in your question are true, none of them is considered as a sin.

  • My emphasis is on wrong decision and being able to be deceived. If he could make wrong decision, does not know right friend from wrong, does not know who to marry and could be deceived, does that still mean he is infallible? Thanks
    – muslim1
    Feb 17, 2013 at 13:40
  • @TheTruthSeaker - We believe that Prophet Muhammad(saww) has been the best creature ever, but of course a human, not a superhuman. If you think a human can be infallible, he was the best one ever. But I'm not sure if being infallible is a human property.
    – Zahra E
    Feb 17, 2013 at 13:55
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    @TheTruthSeaker - Firstly, according to 3:54 I don't think there exists a person who cannot be deceived at all. Secondly, we don't see your mentioned cases as a situation in which Prophet Muhammad(SAWW) was deceived. Sometimes we cannot understand the wisdom behind some happenings, exactly in the way Hazrat Musa(AS) couldn't understand the wisdom behind what Hazrat Khizr(AS) had done in front of him (18:66-82). But it doesn't mean they were wrongdoings necessarily.
    – Zahra E
    Feb 17, 2013 at 20:11
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    @TheTruthSeaker - Imagine God had informed prophet Muhammad(saww) about the poison in the food and also had said his messenger that: "Now it's the time someone should die"..cause prophet(saww) was submitted to God, he should have accepted the situation..It doesn't mean a wrong decision at all...It just means submission.
    – Zahra E
    Feb 18, 2013 at 16:55
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    @TheTruthSeaker - And about the prophet's relation with Umar and Abubakr, I think I've already answered you..sometimes we are not able to understand the wisdom behind some actions which are considered as a wrongdoing at the first look. But it doesn't mean there's no wisdom behind. If you want to know about that hidden wisdom it's another question.
    – Zahra E
    Feb 18, 2013 at 16:56

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