Understanding the Meaning of the Term Infallible in Islam – The prophets and messengers are chosen human beings sent by Allah SWT to improve mankind. They are educators, preachers, mentors, as well as role models of goodness. One of them is the Prophet Muhammad. He is an example of insân kâmil (perfect human), whose every word and deed he always tries to follow and becomes uswah in life.
Muhammad is also the last prophet who brought treatises to all people, whose arrival was as basyîr (herald of good news) and nadzîr (warning). As the recipient of the revelation (of the Qur’an), he was also the first commentator to explain the meaning of the verses of the Qur’an through his sunnah or hadith.
Much literature discusses Muhammad’s noble morals which was born as a result of admiration for him, both in terms of physical and non-physical. Not only from Muslims, there are also non-Muslims who are amazed by his nobility.
For example, Michael Hart placed it first in his book entitled The Hundred Most Influential World Figures in History . This does not mean denying that some people hate him by saying negative things and slandering him. This treatment had occurred since Muhammad was still alive.
The advantages that Allah SWT gave to Muhammad turned out to have a very big reason and purpose. The Al-Qur’an which was revealed to him is a gift as well as a very big and heavy mandate for him to receive. Al-Qur’an is the greatest miracle given to him in addition to other miracles.
The book expressly contains laws of life that cover all aspects of life. The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, not everyone can understand it well, including the Arabs themselves. This is where Muhammad plays a role. Allah SWT gave him the legitimacy to interpret the verses of the Qur’an under the direct guidance and instructions of Him, which ─ are called hadith or sunnah.
Infallible as One of the Characteristics of the Prophet
Being a prophet means being a preacher. One of the success factors of a preacher is his attitude and behavior. Being a prophet and apostle like Muhammad is indeed required to have noble morals and be protected from mistakes and sins (infallible). This will affect the course of his prophetic mission.
It is impossible for a preacher to want to follow him if he does the opposite of what he calls for, and it is also not appropriate for someone who invites goodness to commit acts of sin and disobedience. Moral nobility is one of the factors that determine the success of one’s da’wah.
Allah SWT mentions many verses that praise Muhammad’s noble morals in the Qur’an. Apart from that, Allah SWT also enshrined several verses that seemed to be inconsistent with being revealed to rebuke some of Muhammad’s attitudes, which are called verses ‘ itâb (reproach).
When responding to this, there are many different opinions from various groups, especially among the Islamic theologians and commentators. This difference may be caused by differences in intellectuality and schools of thought, especially the schools of Islamic sciences, as well as attitudes in positioning the Qur’an and Muhammad.
In the study of Islamic theology, on the one hand, Allah SWT sent Muhammad by including infallible characteristics for him in addition to the characteristics of siddîq , amânah , tablîgh , and fathânah . The infallible nature determines the other four characteristics. Because of his infallibility, Muhammad was able to become a person who was able to act correctly and honestly, could be trusted, was able to convey the message of Allah SWT without revising, adding or subtracting it, and was an intelligent person.
Infallibility is a necessity for a prophet in addition to other characteristics. Muhammad ‘Âlî al-Sâbûnî mentions that the prophets have six characteristics, including infallible. These characteristics are siddîq (true or honest), amânah (trustworthy), tablîgh (delivering treatises), fathânah (intelligent), al-salâmah min al-‘uyub al-munaffirah (free from disgusting defects), and ‘ ismah (free from sin). The first four characteristics show that the prophets and messengers are infallible.
Meaning of Max
Infallible is one of the characteristics possessed by the prophets and messengers of Allah SWT. According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), infallible means divided, separated, divorced and released, while in terms it means free from all sins.
Imam Muhammad Shirazi (2002) defines infallible as meaning free from sin and error. In terms, infallible means holy from committing sins or preserved from committing sins, mistakes, and mistakes.
Sriwahyuni (2017) in her research entitled The Infallibility of the Prophet: A Study of the Verses of ‘Itâb against the Prophet Muhammad Saw describes if infallible in terms of the roots of the words that form it come from the word ashoma or ashama , which also has roots in the word Ish-mah which means “to care for”.
The word infallible in the Qur’an is mentioned 13 times in various forms, but all of them contain one meaning, namely restraint. In short, ma’sûm means a person who is cared for, while ismah is maintenance or protection.
According to the term, ma’sûm means holy from sinning or preserved from committing sins, mistakes, and mistakes. In the Encyclopedia of Islamic Aqidah (2003) it is stated that ‘ ismah in the theological context means God’s protection of His prophets, so that they are ma’sûm , ie spared and protected from sinful acts.
Syeikh Ja’far al-Shubhani (1991) in his book entitled ‘Ishmah: Preservation of the Prophet from Sin states that the word ‘ismah which is true has one root that shows the meaning of ٌ إِمْسَاك: refrain, ٌ مَنْع: prevent, and ٌ مُلاَزَ مَة:: stipulation/don’t leave. All of these contain one meaning, namely ٌ عِصْمَة, which means Allah SWT cares for His servant from the bad things that will happen to him and the servant holds fast to Allah SWT, thus he is prevented and protected.
If based on the above understanding, when it is said ً عَصَمْت ُ فُلاَنا , it means “I take care of so and so”, that is, I provide something for him, he clings to something that is obtained in his hand, he takes refuge and holds on to it.
The word وَٱعْتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبْلِ ٱللَّهِ in Surah Ali-Imran verse 103 means to hold fast and maintain it with all your might. As for the word فَٱسْتَعْصَمَ in Surah Yusuf verse 32 contains the meaning of preventing and holding back.
If the definitions above are compared to one another, the meaning of infallibility in general is not much different. It’s just that, in essence, there are differences between certain groups in determining who is considered infallible , for example between Sunni and Shi’a.
The concept of infallibility among Sunnis only applies to the prophets and messengers, so what is meant by ‘ismah according to this group is Allah SWT’s maintenance of His prophets and messengers from committing sins and immorality, as well as from evils and things that prohibited. Infallible is essential inherent in the prophets and apostles that distinguishes them from humans in general. ‘
Ismah is a great blessing that is reserved by Allah SWT for the prophets only, so that by doing so they are saved from all kinds of sins and immorality, both big and small, and are saved from violating the commands of Allah SWT, unlike other people.
In this case ‘ismah is not something that can be achieved by everyone, even through certain efforts. It’s just a gift from Allah SWT. This is certainly different from what is believed by the Shia community. They argue that infallibility is not only attributed to the prophets and messengers, but also to the Shi’a imams.
The concept of ‘Ismah or Ma’sûm
The concept of ‘ ismah or ma’sûm is a concept that is only discussed in Islam. Sriwahyuni (2017) argues that Jewish theologians do not need to discuss this theme because they think that their prophets committed many sins.
Likewise with the Christians, even though they purified the Messiah from all disgrace and disgrace, their purification was not based on the ability of scientific analogy that the Messiah was a human who was sent to teach humans and save them. According to them, he is a physical God. Therefore, they also don’t need to discuss it because ‘ ismah is a human problem, not God’s problem.
The prophets and apostles are chosen people sent by Allah SWT to improve mankind. They are educators, preachers, mentors, as well as role models of goodness. As educators, it is fitting that this infallible nature is inherent in them in order to carry out the da’wah mission carried out by them.
His position as a prophet or apostle is required to be an example in all things. Allah SWT is here to show the location of one of His generosity to His prophets and messengers. He ordered to convey His message, but He also provided them with ‘ ismah .
Based on the statement above, it can be specified that a prophet or apostle must be infallible. This is because in order to be an example for mankind and so that everything that is revealed does not escape one bit, either due to forgetfulness or dishonesty.
Some scholars argue that ‘ ismah occurs before and after being appointed as a prophet. This is because a person’s life journey (even though he has not yet become a prophet) has an influence on the development of his da’wah in the period after being appointed as a prophet.
Therefore, every prophet is obliged to live a good life and have a clean soul, so that there are no psychological stumbling blocks in carrying out his treatises and preaching. The argument used is Surah Shâd verse 47.
” And verily they are with Us indeed among the best chosen ones .”
According to al-Sâbûnî (1992) in Defending the Prophet, Allah SWT has guarded His prophet since childhood. He protected him from all kinds of ignorant behavior in his childhood and youth until he was appointed as a prophet. In this way, the infallibility is also perfect by being given the task of carrying out the treatise.
There are also those who argue that infallibility occurs after prophethood, both from big and small sins, because humans are not ordered to follow them before being appointed as prophets. Before that, they were like ordinary humans. However, they did not fall into sin.
The concept of ‘ ismah according to Taqiyyuddin al-Nabhani (2003) in al-Syakhsiyyah al-Islamiyyah Juz 1 is no different from other scholars, namely in the form of Allah SWT’s maintenance of His prophets from sins. It’s just that the infallibility of prophets and messengers only occurred after they were appointed as prophets and messengers along with the revelations conveyed to them.
As for before the prophetic and apostolic period—in a reasonable way—they may do things that are permissible for all human beings, because infallibility is only for prophethood and apostolate.
Regarding major or minor sins that are infallible, al-Nabhani said that regarding matters that are definitely ordered to be done and ordered to be abandoned—meaning that includes all things that are obligatory and unlawful—they are all infallible. Apart from these things, such as those that are makruh, mandûb , and khilâfatulula , they are not infallible because that does not conflict with prophethood and apostleship. It is not classified as immoral.
Mandûb is anything that if done will get a reward, but if left does not get punishment. Sunnah itself is something that Muhammad did regularly, while mustahab is something that Muhammad did once or twice, such as Duha prayers and doing treatment with cupping. The meaning of khilâfatul bala is doing something good, but there are other things that are better and more appropriate to do (offending more important ones).
Ibn Taimiyyah also contributed his thoughts on the concept of infallibility. According to him, the prophets were infallible only with regard to their duties of conveying revelations (tablîg) from Allah SWT alone, while outside of this duty the prophets as ordinary people could make mistakes.
An example is the violation of the Prophet David As, the negligence of the Prophet Yunus As, and also the negligence of Muhammad Saw, all of which are contained in the Qur’an. It’s just that, when they made a mistake or mistake, the prophets immediately realized it and did repentance nasuha (sincere repentance). It is precisely repentance that enhances the prophethood and humanity of these prophets. In addition, if they made a mistake or were mistaken, the prophets immediately received a warning or reprimand from Allah SWT.
Regarding a person who is considered infallible, most Sunni scholars believe that ‘ismah is only reserved for prophets and messengers. There is no one but them, because every ordinary human being is always the target of making mistakes and sins.
In contrast to the beliefs contained in the Shi’a group, ‘ ismah does not only apply to the prophets and apostles, but also to their imams and wâsî (recipients of wills). The argument used as proof is Surah Al-Ahzab verse 33.
“And you should stay in your house and do not decorate and behave like the ignorant people who used to be and establish prayers, pay zakat and obey Allah SWT and His Messenger. Indeed, Allah SWT intends to remove sins from you, O Ahlul bait and cleanse you as clean as possible .
Al-‘Allâmah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husein al-Thabathaba`i in Al-Mîzân fî Tafsîr al-Qur’ân Volume 16 interprets the verse by saying as follows.
“ Indeed, Allah SWT always gives you the gift of ‘ismah, by getting rid of false beliefs and the effects of bad deeds from you, O ahlul bait. And Allah SWT wills something that can eliminate bad influences, that is ‘ismah “.
This opinion is very different from the opinion of Muslims in general who believe that humans other than prophets must have made mistakes and sins.
Well, that’s a brief explanation of the term infallible in Islam: The meaning and concept explanation . The following are recommendations for books from sinaumedia that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about Islam so they can fully understand it. Happy reading.
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