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Faults and Errors of Prophets

Faults and Errors of Prophets

Was published in Arabic in August 31 , 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy

 

Firstly:

  Prophets are mortal human beings; they can be faulty like any other human beings:-

1- A prophet has a human soul like all humankind. God says in the Quran about every human soul the following verse: "And the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it with its wickedness and its righteousness. Successful is he who purifies it. Failing is he who corrupts it."(91:7-10).

2- A prophet is one among people. God says in the Quran about people: "If God were to punish the people for what they have earned, He would not leave a single living creature on its surface."(35:45) this verse means that if God decided to punish all people for their sins; they all would die along with all living creatures. This includes prophets.

3- A prophet is a human being as long as he is alive. These Quranic verses apply to all human beings and that includes prophets: "Indeed, the human being is ungrateful to his Lord. And the human being bears witness to that. And the human being is fierce in love of wealth." (100:6-8), "In fact, man oversteps all bounds. When he considers himself exempt." (96:6-7), and "Perish man! How thankless he is!"(80:17).

Secondly:

1- Having established the fact that prophets are mortal human beings, the Quran states that they are the best of humankind; God has chosen them for the divine revelation and the prophetic mission. God says in the Quran: "God chooses messengers from among the angels, and from among the people. God is Hearing and Seeing." (22:75). God has chosen the best of mankind to reveal His message through them to other people. We find in the Quran: "…God knows best where to place His message…"(6:124).

2- God sends His messengers from within the nationality and race of the people he is sent for. If those people were Arabs, then the prophet sent to them should be an Arab. We find in the Quran: "It is He who sent among the people a messenger from themselves" (62:2). If there were angels roaming the earth inhabiting it safely, an angel-prophet would have been sent to them: "Say: If there were angels on earth, walking around in peace, We would have sent down to them from heaven an angel messenger." (17:95).

3- God has taught and disciplined His messengers and prophets. The Quran says about Joseph, for instance, the following verse: "And thus your Lord will choose you, and will teach you the interpretation of events, and will complete His blessing upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He has completed it before upon your forefathers Abraham and Isaac…"(12:6). The Quran says about Prophet Muhammad: "Were it not for God's grace towards you, and His mercy, a faction of them would have managed to mislead you. But they only mislead themselves, and they cannot harm you in any way. God has revealed to you the Scripture and wisdom, and has taught you what you did not know. God's goodness towards you is great." (4:113). This verse is preceded by other verses that relate how Muhammad was deceived and made to defend an unjust wrongdoer as his folks conspired to hide the truth from Muhammad. In the verse cited here, we find a confirmation of the fact that God has taught Muhammad the Scripture and wisdom; he did not know any of them before the divine revelation, which used to show to him any faults he might have done.

Thirdly:  Prophet Muhammad is infallible only concerning the divine revelation that guides, disciplines, and directs him:

1- God says to Prophet Muhammad in the Quran: "Whatever good happens to you is from God, and whatever bad happens to you is from your own self. We sent you to humanity as a messenger, and God is Witness enough" (4:79). That is to say: anything bad happened to him due to his own fault. Yet, God has forgiven him and pardoned all his faults: "That God may forgive you your sin, past and to come, and complete His favors upon you, and guide you in a straight path."(48:2). This implies the fact that he had sins which have been pardoned, and he was guided by God.

2- The Quran states clearly that if any prophet makes faults, this is due to his self and thought; guidance is solely from God. The Quran says to Muhammad: "Say, "If I err, I err only to my own loss; but if I am guided, it is by what my Lord inspires me…""(34:50).

Fourthly: The Quran mentions the errors and faults of other prophets for us to learn and understand.

1- Within the frame of guidance and that glorification and worship are to be for God alone, the Quranic stories mention the faults and errors of some prophets along with their repentance. This is done for the teaching of Prophet Muhammad and all readers who believe in the Quran. We are to learn that prophets are human beings even though they receive the divine revelation. The Quran orders Muhammad to tell to all people that he is a human being like all of us, but the difference is that he receives divine revelation: "Say, "I am only a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One God. Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and never associate anyone with the service of his Lord.""(18:110).

2- It is really weird that after the revelation of the above-mentioned verse, the Muhammadans worship and deify Prophet Muhammad and consider him a god that never made any errors. God alone is the One who never errs; that is why we say "Glorified and Exalted Be He" i.e. God never errs; error is a human nature. God is not to be described by epithets confined to mortals. God is the Owner of the Absolute Perfection and Glory. Any description of mortals as 'divine', 'sanctified', or 'holy' is a sin against God; as this lessens the holiness, divinity, glorification, and sanctity that should be to God alone by human beings. God does not share this worship with any of His creatures.

Fifthly: we cite some Quranic verses that mention the faults and errors of prophets:

1- Noah:

  He tried to ask God's forgiveness for his unbeliever son, then Noah readily repented and God forgave him: "And Noah called to his Lord. He said, "O My Lord, my son is of my family, and Your promise is true, and You are the Wisest of the wise."He said, "O Noah, he is not of your family. It is an unrighteous deed. So do not ask Me about something you know nothing about. I admonish you, lest you be one of the ignorant."He said, "O My Lord, I seek refuge with You, from asking You about what I have no knowledge of. Unless You forgive me, and have mercy on me, I will be one of the losers.""(11:45-48). This is a lesson to us in order to repent.

2- Abraham:

  He was reproached tenderly because he tried to plead against the destruction of the people of Lot when the divine command came to destroy them. He was afraid and anxious about the safety of Lot and the believers with him: "When Abraham's fear subsided, and the good news had reached him, he started pleading with Us concerning the people of Lot. Abraham was gentle, kind, penitent. "O Abraham, refrain from this. The command of your Lord has come; they have incurred an irreversible punishment.""(11:74-76).

3- Jonah:

3/1: God says about him in the Quran "And Jonah, when he stormed out in fury, thinking We had no power over him. But then He cried out in the darkness, "There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers!" So We answered him, and saved him from the affliction. Thus We save the faithful."(21:87-88). Jonah's error was that he left his mission when his people rejected his message. He left them and embarked a ship to travel away. The whale swallowed him when the people of the ship threw him out of it. God gave him another chance; he lived inside the whale in fear, glorifying God and asking His forgiveness, until God saved and forgave him.

3/2: Other verses cite the severe reproach that Jonah received: "And Jonah was one of the messengers. When he fled to the laden ship. He gambled and lost. Then the whale swallowed him, and he was to blame. Had he not been one of those who praised. He would have stayed in its belly until the Day they are raised. Then We threw him into the wilderness, and he was sick. "(37:139-145) the terms describing these scenes are hard. The phrases ' threw him' and ' he was to blame' reminds us with Moses' Pharaoh when he drowned: "So We seized him, and his troops, and We threw them into the sea…."(28:40), "So We seized him and his troops, and threw them into the sea, and He was to blame."(51:40). God says about Jonah to make us learn a useful lesson to repent: "Were it not for his Lord's favor that reached him, he would have been thrown into the wilderness, fully despised. But his Lord chose him, and made him one of the righteous."(:49-50) Notice the contrasting words 'despised' then 'righteous'.

4- Moses:

4/1:   Fear of Moses: Moses was brought up in fear in the palace of his enemy: the pharaoh of Egypt. He knew he did not belong to the Egyptians; his real people are the Israelites: the enemies of the tyrant pharaoh. That is why he acquired the traits of fear, anticipation of evil, overreacting in emotions, and action without thinking due to the instinct of self-defense in dangerous environment. The name of Moses is associated with fear in the Quranic verses describing Moses and scenes of his life: "He said, "Throw it, O Moses."So he threw it-thereupon it became a moving serpent.He said, "Take hold of it, and do not fear. We will restore it to its original condition." (20:19-21), "They said, "Lord, we fear he may persecute us, or become violent."He said, "Do not fear, I am with you, I hear and I see."(20:45-46), and "So Moses felt apprehensive within himself. We said, "Do not be afraid, you are the uppermost."(20:67-68). "Your Lord called to Moses, "Go to the tyrannical people. The people of Pharaoh. Will they not fear? He said, "My Lord, I fear they will reject me. And I become stressed, and my tongue is not fluent, so send Aaron too.And they have a charge against me, so I fear they will kill me.""(26:10-14)Ò "" I fear they will reject me.."And I fled from you when I feared you…"(26:21). "The next morning, he went about in the city, fearful and vigilant…" (28:18), "So he left, fearful and vigilant…"(28:21), "And when he came to him, and told him the story, he said, "Do not fear, you have escaped from the wrongdoing people"(28:25), "Throw down your staff." And when he saw it wiggling, as if it were possessed, he turned his back to flee, and did not look back. "O Moses, come forward, and do not fear, you are perfectly safe."(28:31), " He said, "My Lord, I have killed one of them, and I fear they will kill me.And my brother Aaron, he is more eloquent than me, so send him with me, to help me, and to confirm my words, for I fear they will reject me."" (28:33-34), "Throw down your staff." But when he saw it quivering, as though it were a demon, he turned around not looking back. "O Moses, do not fear; the messengers do not fear in My presence."(27:10).

4/2: There are verses that show the hastiness of Moses and his acknowledgement of his faults: among them killing an Egyptian man. "And when he reached his maturity, and became established, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the virtuous.Once he entered the city, unnoticed by its people. He found in it two men fighting-one of his own sect, and one from his enemies. The one of his sect solicited his assistance against the one from his enemies; so Moses punched him, and put an end to him. He said, "This is of Satan's doing; he is an enemy that openly misleads."He said, "My Lord, I have wronged myself, so forgive me." So He forgave him. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.He said, "My Lord, in as much as you have favored me, I will never be a supporter of the criminals."The next morning, he went about in the city, fearful and vigilant, when the man who had sought his assistance the day before was shouting out to him. Moses said to him, "You are clearly a troublemaker."As he was about to strike the one who was their enemy, he said, "O Moses, do you intend to kill me, as you killed someone yesterday? You only want to be a bully in the land, and do not want to be a peacemaker."" (28:14-19).

4/3: There are verses that show his aptness to get angry: "And when Moses returned to his people, angry and disappointed, he said, "What an awful thing you did in my absence. Did you forsake the commandments of your Lord so hastily?" And he threw down the tablets; and he took hold of his brother's head, dragging him towards himself. He said, "Son of my mother, the people have overpowered me, and were about to kill me; so do not allow the enemies to gloat over me, and do not count me among the unjust people." He said, "My Lord, forgive me and my brother, and admit us into Your mercy; for you are the Most Merciful of the merciful."(7:150-151), "When the anger abated in Moses, he took up the tablets. In their transcript is guidance and mercy for those in awe of their Lord."(7:154).

4/4: That is why Moses were to meet a certain prophet to teach him patience, one can find the story in (18:65-82).

4/5: Despite all of the above, the stature of Moses is high in the eyes of God; these verses show that: "And mention in the Scripture Moses. He was dedicated. He was a messenger and a prophet.And We called him from the right side of the Mount, and brought him near in communion.And We granted him, out of Our mercy, his brother Aaron, a prophet."(19:51-53), "…And I have bestowed upon you love from Me, so that you may be reared before My eye."(20:39), "And I made you for Myself."(20:41), thus we learn the importance of repentance.

Fifthly:

As for Prophet Muhammad, the Quran mentions several of his faults:

About idol-worship:

1- He used to worship idols before receiving the divine revelation: these verses prove that: "And found you wandering, and guided you?"(93:7), "And do not let them divert you from God's revelations after they have been revealed to you. And pray to your Lord, and never be of the polytheists.And do not invoke with God any other god. There is no god but He. All things perish, except His presence. His is the judgment, and to Him you will be returned."(28:87-88), and "And dedicate yourself to the true religion-a monotheist-and never be of the polytheists. And do not call, apart from God, on what neither benefits you nor harms you. If you do, you are then one of the wrongdoers"(10:105-106).

2- The Quran told him to tell his people who rebuked him for forsaking the idol-worship that the divine revelation descended upon him and that he should turn his face toward God alone, and he should preach them several times to leave idol-worship so as not to return to misguidance and that he feared God's punishment in the Afterlife; they were free to choose either to worship God alone or along with other idols: they were to bear the responsibility of this: "Say, "I was prohibited from worshiping those you invoke besides God, now that clear revelations have come to me from my Lord; and I was commanded to submit to the Lord of the Worlds.""(40:66). "Say, "I am forbidden from worshiping those you pray to besides God." Say, "I will not follow your desires; else I would be lost and not be of those guided.""(6:56), "Say, "I was commanded to serve God, devoting my religion exclusively to Him. And I was commanded to be the first of those who submit."Say, "I fear, if I disobeyed my Lord, the punishment of a horrendous Day."Say, "It is God I worship, sincere in my faith in Him.""But you can worship whatever you wish besides Him." Say, "The losers are those who lose their souls and their people on the Day of Resurrection." That is indeed the obvious loss"(39:11-15) . Yet, his people threatened him with the wrath of their gods and idols: "Is God not enough for His servant? And they frighten you with those besides Him. Whomever God sends astray, for him there is no guide."(39:36), when they tried to coerce him to return to idol-worship: "Say, "Is it other than God you instruct me to worship, you ignorant ones?""(39:64), and then God showed to him the result of returning to polytheism: "It was revealed to you, and to those before you, that if you idolize, your works will be in vain, and you will be of the losers.Rather, worship God, and be of the appreciative."(39:65-66).

About obeying the unbelieving people:

1- As Prophet Muhammad took utmost care to spread the message of God , he used to get nearer to the unbelieving people who controlled Mecca, and he sometimes obeyed them in some matters, but God told him not to obey them: "And do not obey any vile swearer.Backbiter, spreader of slander. Preventer of good, transgressor, sinner. Rude and fake besides."(68:10-13). The order is repeated in the Quran when Muhammad obeyed them the more: "So be patient for the decision of your Lord, and do not obey the sinner or the blasphemer among them."(76:24). In Yathreb, he used to get nearer to unbelievers in hope of converting them to Islam, but the Quranic order was decisive: "O Prophet! Fear God, and do not obey the unbelievers and the hypocrites. God is Knowledgeable and Wise."(33:1) and "And do not obey the blasphemers and the hypocrites, and ignore their insults, and rely on God. God is a sufficient protector."(33:48)

2- The unbelievers at first tried to set traps to Prophet Muhammad with their ruse and cunning ways; they even tried to make him change some Quranic verses. Let us contemplate on the following verses: "They planned their plans, but their plans are known to God, even if their plans can eliminate mountains."(14:46), "So do not obey the deniers. They would like you to compromise, so they would compromise."(68:8-9), "And when Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who do not hope to meet Us say, "Bring a Quran other than this, or change it." Say, "It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. I fear, if I disobeyed my Lord, the torment of a terrible Day."Say, "Had God willed, I would not have recited it to you, and He would not have made it known to you. I have lived among you for a lifetime before it. Do you not understand?"Who does greater wrong than someone who fabricates lies about God, or denies His revelations? The guilty will never prosper."(10:15-17). The unbelievers urged him so many times to change the divine revelation: "They almost lured you away from what We have revealed to you, so that you would invent something else in Our name. In that case, they would have taken you for a friend.Had We not given you stability, you might have inclined towards them a little.Then We would have made you taste double in life, and double at death; then you would have found for yourself no helper against Us"(17:73-75).

About his welcoming the unbelieving people who have power and his ignoring the weak believers: " He frowned and turned away. When the blind man approached him. But how do you know? Perhaps he was seeking to purify himself. Or be reminded, and the message would benefit him. But as for him who was indifferent. You gave him your attention. Though you are not liable if he does not purify himself. But as for him who came to you seeking. In awe. To him you were inattentive. Do not. This is a Lesson."(80:1-11) "And content yourself with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Presence. And do not turn your eyes away from them, desiring the glitter of this world. And do not obey him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance-so he follows his own desires-and his priorities are confused."(18:28). When he drove away the weak believers to try to get the attention of unbelievers, God rebuked him in the Quran: "And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord, morning and evening, seeking His attention. You are not accountable for them in any way, nor are they accountable for you in any way. If you drive them away, you would be one of the unjust."(6:52).

About his presence while unbelievers seek to undermine and cast doubt on the Quranic verses:

 Prophet Muhammad tried to convince the unbelievers to convert to Islam by being present in their gatherings in which they mocked the Quranic verses, and the Quran told several times him not to do that: "So leave them to blunder and play, until they meet their Day which they are promised."(70:42), "So leave them to blunder and play, until they encounter their Day which they are promised."(43:83),"…Say, "God;" then leave them toying away in their speculation"(6:91). "When you encounter those who gossip about Our revelations, turn away from them, until they engage in another topic. But should Satan make you forget, do not sit after the recollection with the wicked people.The righteous are in no way accountable for them; it is only a reminder, that they may be careful."(6:68-69). When the same reoccurred in Yathreb, the Quran says: " He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear God's revelations being rejected, or ridiculed, do not sit with them until they engage in some other subject. Otherwise, you would be like them. God will gather the hypocrites and the disbelievers, into Hell, altogether."(4:140).

About some other faults:

In the issue of Zaid: "When you said to him whom God had blessed, and you had favored, "Keep your wife to yourself, and fear God." But you hid within yourself what God was to reveal. And you feared the people, but it was God you were supposed to fear"(33:37).

In the matter of his wives: "O prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has permitted for you, seeking to please your wives? God is Forgiving and Merciful."(66:1)

In the dealing with hypocrites: "May God pardon you! Why did you give them permission before it became clear to you who are the truthful ones, and who are the liars?"(9:43)

About his asking forgiveness for unbelievers: "It is not for the Prophet and those who believe to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they are near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are people of Hellfire.Abraham asked forgiveness for his father only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of God, he disowned him. Abraham was kind and clement.God would never lead a people astray, after He had guided them, until He makes clear to them what they should guard against. God has knowledge of all things."(9:113-115)

God's words about Muhammad and the believers:  "God has redeemed the Prophet, and the Emigrants, and the Supporters-those who followed him in the hour of difficulty-after the hearts of some of them almost swerved. Then He pardoned them. He is Kind towards them, Compassionate."(9:117)

Lastly:

The paramount importance of teaching Muhammad how to learn vital lessons from the stories of his ancestors.

1/1: Muhammad is commanded in the Quran to follow the example of his ancestor Abraham in many instances; the Quran describes Abraham by telling us that he fulfilled all responsibilities given to him by God: "And of Abraham, who fulfilled"(53:37) and that Abraham succeeded in all tests given to him by God, thus deserving to be an example to follow by all believers: "And when his Lord tested Abraham with certain words, and he fulfilled them. He said, "I am making you a leader of humanity"(2:124). That is why the Quran orders us along with Muhammad to follow the example of Abraham: "You have had an excellent example in Abraham and those with him; when they said to their people, "We are quit of you, and what you worship apart from God. We denounce you. Enmity and hatred has surfaced between us and you, forever, until you believe in God alone." Except for the words of Abraham to his father, "I will ask forgiveness for you, though I have no power from God to do anything for you." "Our Lord, in You we trust, and to You we repent, and to You is the ultimate resort.Our Lord, do not make us a target for those who disbelieve, and forgive us, our Lord. You are indeed the Mighty and Wise."You have had an excellent example in Abraham and those with him; when they said to their people, "We are quit of you, and what you worship apart from God. We denounce you. Enmity and hatred has surfaced between us and you, forever, until you believe in God alone." Except for the words of Abraham to his father, "I will ask forgiveness for you, though I have no power from God to do anything for you." "Our Lord, in You we trust, and to You we repent, and to You is the ultimate resort."(60:4-6). As for asking forgiveness for unbelievers: "Abraham asked forgiveness for his father only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of God, he disowned him. Abraham was kind and clement."(9:114)

1/2: At the same time, God warns Muhammad n the Quran not to follow the error of Jonah: Muhammad was to have patience and forbearance: "So wait patiently for the Decision of your Lord, and do not be like the Fellow of the Fish who cried out in despair"(68:48).

2: Let us remember that Quranic stories are for moral lessons and for the sake of confirmation of true faith. God never errs; humans err. "In their stories is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not a fabricated tale, but a confirmation of what came before it, and a detailed explanation of all things, and guidance, and mercy for people who believe."(12:111),"Everything We narrate to you of the history of the messengers is to strengthen your heart therewith. The truth has come to you in this, and a lesson, and a reminder for the believers."(11:120).

The most valuable lesson is that prophet Muhammad was a human being; his field of not doing errors or faults was in writing and spreading the divine revelation of the Quran only among people. Yet, the Muhammadans, who worship the prophet as an immortal god along with God Our creator, do not understand that.                     


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