Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen: Did the Prophet Make Human Errors? What About Personal Sins?

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Al–Merciful…

[Our shaykh, the great scholar of Islaam, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have Mercy on him), posed an important question that many Muslims debate about, and answered it with sound evidence, showing the weakness of the stance of those who would disagree, saying…]

Could human errors ( الخطأ ) have occurred from the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace)?

The answer: The Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) said:

(( اللهم اغسلني من خطاياي ))
(( O Allaah!  Cleanse me of my mistakes… ))
 [1]

So he directly ascribed “mistakes” ( خطايا ) to himself.  He also used to say:

(( اللهم اغفر لي ذنبي كله دقه وجله وأوله وآخره وعلانيته وسره ))
(( O Allaah!  Forgive me for all of my sins, the small and large of them, the first and last of them, the open and the secret of them. ))
 [2]

And Allaah, the Most High, has said:

( واستغفر لذنبك وللمؤمنين والمؤمنات )
( And ask (O Muhammad) for forgiveness for your sins, and for the believing men and women. )
 [3]

And Allaah has said:

( ليغفر لك الله ما تقدم من ذنبك وما تأخر )
( So that Allaah would forgive for you your past and future sins )
 [4]

But here is the real question: Could these “sins” ( ذنوب ) remain (within his actions) or not?

The answer: No, because the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) was protected (by Allaah) from continuing in any sin, and he was forgiven for it, unlike others who sin and persist in it and continue on in his act of disobedience, and thus perhaps may not be forgiven.

As for the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace), then he would always be alerted to it (the sin or mistake), no matter what it was.

( يا أيها النبي لم تحرم ما أحل الله لك تبتغي مرضات أزواجك والله غفور رحيم )
(O Prophet! Why do you abstain from something Allaah has made permissible for you, seeking to please your wives?  And Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. )
 [5]

This is the key to understanding this issue that the people dispute over!

However, there was a kind of sin that – no doubt – the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) was protected from: lying and betrayal.  If he could have done that, then his message could have been corrupted, may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace.  Therefore such behavior was not possible for him.

He was likewise protected from anything that would take away from the completeness of his basic worship or manners, like shirk (polytheism) or bad behavior like fornication and similar things.

However, it is possible that mistakes occurred between him and his Lord (alone), however they were small and forgiven, since Allaah has forgiven all his sins, those from the earlier part of his life, as well as those from the later part.

I say this because some of the scholars – may Allaah have Mercy on them – – said,“Whenever the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) ascribed a sin to himself, the intention was: the sins of his followers, not his own, since he did not sin.  So every sin he ascribed to himself was intended to be the sins of his followers.”

No doubt, this position has a level of academic weakness in it, since Allaah has said:

( واستغفر لذنبك وللمؤمنين )
( And ask (O Muhammad) for forgiveness for your sins, and for the believers. )
 [3]

Using the word “and” here indicates a difference between what is before and after it. [6]

There is nothing negative in this against the Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) in any way, in saying that had some small sins.  He never persisted in them, and further, he was forgive for them.

How often does one of us become better after a sin than he was before!  A person often commits an error and falls into sin, and thereafter finds his heart extremely saddened, and so he turns to Allaah, repenting to Him much, to the point that he keeps thinking about the sin, full of remorse, repenting continually.

On the other hand, a person could consider himself obedient, from the people of devout obedience (to Allaah), and yet he is overcome by self-amazement and self-admiration, not repenting to Allaah in a way that corrupts his (practice of the) Religion!

Allaah is All-Wise, He tests people with disobedience at times to improve their condition, like when a He puts a person through the trial of hunger (for a time) to improve his physical well-being.  Hadn’t Allaah chosen Adam only after disobedience and repentance?!  As He has said:

( ثم اجتباه ربه )
( …And then His Lord chose him… ) [7]

Meaning: After he sinned and repented, His Lord then chose him, accepted his repentance, and guided him.

As well, look to those who stayed behind from the Battle of Tabook [8], what happened to them?!  No doubt, they achieved a level of eemaan and a higher station they had not enjoyed previously!  Could (Quranic) Verses about them (specifically) have been revealed and then recited until the Day of Judgment had they not fallen into that and then repented to Allaah?!

In summary, the most important thing to understand here is that no people are protected from error (absolutely), however the Prophets (may Allaah raise their rank and grant them peace) were protected from the things mentioned, and they were protected from persisting in small sins as well, as they would always repent from them. [9]

Source: Ash-Sharh al-Mumti’ (3/50-52), the shaykh’s explanation to Zaad al-Mustaqni, translated by Moosaa Richardson.

FOOTNOTES (from the translator):

[1] From an authentic hadeeth collected by Al-Bukhaaree (744) and Muslim (598), on the authority of Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him).

[2] From an authentic hadeeth collected by Muslim (483), on the authority of Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him).

[3] Soorah Muhammad (47:19) and a translation of its meaning

[4] Soorah al-Fat-h (48:2) and a translation of its meaning

[5] Soorah at-Tahreem (66:1) and a translation of its meaning

[6] Meaning: The basic meaning of the “waaw” in Arabic is like the word “and”, which most commonly refers to another seperate thing, not the same thing itself.  There are exceptions, but this is the basic rule in both English and Arabic.

[7] Soorah Taa-Haa (20:122) and a translation of its meaning

[8] The story of Ka’b ibn Maalik, and his two companions (Muraarah ibn ar-Rabee’ and Hilaal ibn Umayyah) who remained behind during the Battle of Tabook is found in al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.  Review the hadeeth in the beautiful chapter about repentance in the book, Riyaadh as-Saaliheen by an-Nawawee (hadeeth #22).

[9] This argument could be further strengthened by other clear evidences as well.  For example, the generality of the hadeeth:

(( كل بني آدم خطاء وخير الخطائين التوابون ))
(( Every single son of Adam continually errs (sins), while the best of those who continually err are those who continually repent. ))

This hadeeth was collected by Ibn Maajah (4251) and declared hasan (authentic) by al-Albaanee.  We would need a clear evidence to exempt our Messenger from this broad generality (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace).

Furthermore, the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) used to stand for long hours of prayer in the night, until his feet would swell and crack.  When ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) noticed this, she remarked, “Why do you do this when Allaah has forgiven your past and future sins?!”

The hadeeth was collected by al-Bukhaaree (4837) and Muslim (2819).  The point is that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) would likely not have asked this question if she had thought “his sins” really meant the sins of his followers, not his own personal sins, and Allaah knows best.

What or Who is Salaf?

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The manhaj (methodology) of the Salaf is to adhere to the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah as understood by the Salaf as-Saalih. The word Salaf is a shortened version of the word ‘Salaf as-Saalih’, which means the ‘Righteous Predecessors’.

It refers specifically to the first three generations of Islaam in which the Prophet Muhammad (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) described as being the best generations of Muslims. The first, the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) and his Sahaabah (companions). The second, the Taabi’een (the followers of the companions). Thethird, the Tabaa’at-Taabi’een (the followers of the followers of the companions).

Generally, this term refers to all those pious predecessors who followed the way of the Salaf and who have preceded us in time. This is the true manhaj of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa’ah.

“If Allah wants to favor someone, He grants him comprehension (understanding) of this religion.” 
[Sahih Bukhari vol.1 # 71, Tirmidhi and Musnad Ahmad]

The example of guidance and knowledge with which, Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil, absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rainwater and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which, could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah’s religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge), which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah’s guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)” [Sahih Al-Bukhari v.1 no.79. Narrated by Abu Musa]

“It is only those who have knowledge amongst His slaves that fear Allah.” [Soorah Al-Fatir (35): 28]

“Seek knowledge, because seeking it for the sake of Allah is a worship. And knowing it makes you more God-fearing; and searching for it is jihad, teaching it to those who do not know is charity, reviewing and learning it more is like tasbeeh. Through knowledge Allah will be known and worshipped. With the knowledge Allah will elevate people and make them leaders and imams, who will in turn guide other people.”[Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya vol.10, p.39]

“Whoever treads on a path in search of Islamic knowledge, Allah will ease the way to Paradise for him. The angels will lower their wings, pleased with this seeker of knowledge, and everyone in the heavens and on earth will ask forgiveness for the knowledgeable person, even the fish in the deepest of waters will ask for his forgiveness” [Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi # 2835-sahih hadith]

“He whom death overtakes while he is engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophets in Paradise .” [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith no. 249. Narrated by Al-Hasan al-Basri]

The Ruling Concerning the Celebration of Prophet Salallahu Alyhiwasalam’s Brithday.

The Ruling Concerning Mawlid an-Nabawi (Download pdf file by clicking here)

Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday

Allaamah Taajud-Deen al-Maaliki [He is Umar bin Ali bin Saalim bin Sadaqah al-Lakhmee (654-734AH, famously known as al-Iskandaree. Ibn Kathir described him as being as-sheikh al-imam. Refer to al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah Volume 14, page 168.] Said: I do not know of any credible evidence established from either the Quraan or Sunnah in regards to the Prophet’s birthday. Neither has such an action been related back to anyone of the scholars of the Ummah, whom are the role model in terms of the Deen, strictly following the narrations of the earlier predecessors, rather it is an innovation in the Deen, invented and introduced by the Fatimid [Arab Ismaili dynasty (296-566AH) originating from modern day Tunisia and Algeria.], and it is a personal desire with which the greedy use to obtain wealth and money as a result of practicing these innovated actions in the Deen.
And Allah knows better.

Masail Jahaliyyah by Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab

مسائل الجاهلية Masail Jahaliyyah by Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab (pdf file urdu text)

Is the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam, present every place?

Q; Is the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam, present and to to found in every place? And did he know the affairs of the Unseen?

A; 

It is known in the Religion by necessity, and by the evidences of the legislation (sharee’ah), that the Messenger of Allaah, may the salutations and peace of Allaah be upon him, is not present (or to be found) in every location. Indeed his body is in his grave only in al-Madeenah al-Munawara. As for his soul, then it is in the highest company in Paradise. And that which is evidence for that is what is established from him, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam, that he said:

“O Allaah, (place me) in the highest company”

(Al-Bukhaaree, Chapter of Battles, 4437. Muslim, Chapter of the Excellence of the Companions, 87-2444)

He said this three times and then passed away. Indeed, the Scholars of Islaam, from the Companions and those who followed them, have agreed by concensus (‘ijmaa), that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam, was buried in the house of A’isha (radhi Allaahu anhaa), which was next to the Sacred Mosque (in Madeenah). And his body has not ceased to remain there thoughout history. As for his soul and the souls of the rest of the Prophets and Messengers and the Believers, then all of them are in Paradise, in lofty stations and levels in accordance to that which Allaah has specified for them due to their knowledge, faith (eemaan) and patience upon undertaking hardships in the path of calling to the truth.As for the unseen, then noone knows it except for Allaah alone.

That which was known by the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and other than him from the creation of the unseen matters, it was that which Allaah had informed him of, from that which is found in the Noble Qur’aan and the Pure Authentic Sunnah – from the explantions/clarifications of the affairs of Paradise, Hellfire and Judgement Day and other than that, from that which is indicated in the Qur’aan and authentic ahadeeth, such as news regarding the Great Liar/Anti-Christ (Ad-Dajjaal), the Sun rising from the West, the emergence of the Beast of the earth, the descent of ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam close to the Hour (Judgement Day), and that which resembles it, due to the statement of Allaah:

“Say: None in the Heavens and the Earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allaah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.” (An-Naml:65)

And His, The Most High, statement:

“Say,(O Muhammad): I do not say to you that with me are the treasures of Allaah, nor that I know the Unseen..” (Al-An’aam:50)

And the statement of Allaah in Sooratul-A’raaf:

“Say, (O Muhammad): I have no power of benefit nor (avert) harm for myeslf except as Allaah wills. If I had knowledge of the Unseen (Ghaib), I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe.” (Al-A’raaf: 188)

And the ayaat with this meaning are many. And it established authentically upon the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam), in narrations that show that he did not have knowledge of the Unseen. From that is what is established in his (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) response to (the Angel) Jibreel when he asked (the Messenger of Allaah):

“When is the Hour?” He (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said: “The one being questioned knows no better than the questioner.”

He (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) also said: “Regarding five (matters), none knows them except Allaah”, then he (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) recited:

“Verily, Allaah! With Him alone is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in which land he will die. Veril Allaah is All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Luqmaan:34)

[Al-Bukhaaree, Chapter of Eemaan (50). Muslim, Chapter of Eemaan (9), fromthe hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah).

And from that is also the incident of the accusations of lewdness from the slanderers of A’isha (radhi Allaahu ‘anhaa), when he (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) did not know her innocence (from the lies against A’isha) until the Aayah was revealed in Soorah an-Noor. And also when the necklace of A’isha (radhi Allaahu ‘anhaa) was lost in one of the battles and he (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) did not know its whereabouts, and he sent a group to go and search for it, but they were not able to find it – and when her camel stood up, they found it under it. And this is just a few from many Prophetic narrations that are to be found with this meaning.

As for that which some of the Soofees think from his (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) knowing the Unseen matters and him (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) being present in front of them on the occassion of the celebration of his (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) [so-called] birthday and other than that, then this is something false with no foundation or [textual] origin to it. And this is something by way of their ignorance of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah and that which the Righteous Predecessors (As-Salafus-Saaleh) were upon. So we ask Allaah for ourselves and for all Muslims goodness from that which they are tried/afflicted with, just as we ask Him, the Most Perfect, that He guides us and them altogether, to His Straight Path – indeed He is the Hearer and One who responds (to those who supplicate to Him).

 

Shaykh `Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz
“Al-Mujaahid” (66) / Second year – 2 issues 33 and 34 – Muharram/Safar 1412AH

What is the ruling on ascribing to the Righteous Salaf and naming oneself with that (i.e. as a ‘Salafi’)?

Q; What is the ruling on ascribing to the Righteous Salaf and naming oneself with that (i.e. as a ‘Salafi’)?

A; Those intended by [the term] ‘al-Salaf al-Saalih’ are the first of this Ummah, at the forefront of whom are the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Allaah, the Exalted said, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhaajireen (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansaar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhaajireen) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Tawbah 9:100) And He – the Sublime and Exalted – said, when He mentioned the Muhaajireen and Ansaar in Surah al-Hashr, “For the poor emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share]. Those are the truthful.” (al-Hashr 59:8). Then He said regarding the Ansaar, “And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.” (al-Hashr 59:9). Then he said concerning those who came after them, “And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, ‘Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful’.” (al-Hashr 59:10).

So these (ones mentioned in these verses), they are the Righteous Salaf: The first of this Ummah from the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and from the Taabi’een (Successors) and whoever came after them from the excellent generations, and everyone who held fast to this manhaj and traversed upon it from those who came after them and traversed upon their way, just as Imaam Maalik bin Anas (rahimahullaah) said, “The latter part of this ummah will not be rectified except with what rectified its earlier part.”

And ascription to the Righteous Salaf is an honour when the ascription is actualized [made real through true following] and is not a mere claim. As for a person saying, “I am Salafi“, or “This group is a Salafi group“, if there is something necessitating this, then there is no harm, like when there are opposing sects and sectsantagonistic to the Righteous Salaf, and so a person makes apparent his freedom from these opposers and ascribes to the Salaf, there is no harm in that. Rather, this is absolutely necessary (مُحَتَّمٌ). Allaah, the Lofty and Exalted, said, “And who is better in speech than the one who calls to Allaah, works righteous deeds and says, ‘I am from the Muslims’.” (Fussilat 41:33). This ascription is to the Muslims and a proclamation for this ascription.[*] As for when there is nothing necessitating (this ascription) and when all of the society or land is upon the aqidah of the Salaf and upon the manhaj of the Salaf, then it is not desirable for a person to say, “I am Salafi”, because this comprises a tazkiyah (self-commendation) for oneself without anything necessitating this matter. So the matter, as is apparent, requires clarification (tafseel), and Allaah knows best.