Infallibility is a must for Prophets as Models
The infallibility of the Prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is an established fact based on reason and tradition. Reason requires the infallibility of the Prophets because they were sent to convey to people the Message of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). If we liken this Message or the Divine Revelation to light or pure water, it is absolutely necessary and indispensable to the nature of the Revelation that both the Jibreel (Archangel Gabriel), who brought the Revelation, and the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) himself, who conveyed it to people, should be absolutely pure. Otherwise, that Divine light, the Revelation, would have been extinguished or dimmed, or that ‘pure water’ polluted.
Every falling off is an impurity, a dark spot, in the heart. Like Jibreel, the heart or soul of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is like a ‘polished mirror’ through which the Divine Revelation is reflected to people, or a ‘cup’ from which people quench their thirst for that pure ‘Divine water’. Any black spot on the mirror would absorb a ray of that light; a single drop of mud would be enough to make the water unclear. This would mean that the Prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), did not — Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) forbid such a thought! — convey the whole of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Divine Message. Whereas, in truth, they have performed their duty perfectly and left nothing of the Message unconveyed. This is clear from the following Quraanic Aayaat (Verses), which mean:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلرَّسُولُ بَلِّغۡ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكَ مِن رَّبِّكَۖ وَإِن لَّمۡ تَفۡعَلۡ فَمَا بَلَّغۡتَ رِسَالَتَهُۥۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡصِمُكَ مِنَ ٱلنَّاسِۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَهۡدِي ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ [المائدة: 67]
“O Messenger! Convey all that has been sent down to you from your Lord. If you do not, then you shall not have conveyed His message (at all). Allah shall protect you from the people. Surely, Allah does not lead the disbelieving people to the right path.” (Maaidah 5:67)
Another Aayat says, what means:
ٱلۡيَوۡمَ أَكۡمَلۡتُ لَكُمۡ دِينَكُمۡ وَأَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ نِعۡمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلۡإِسۡلَٰمَ دِينٗاۚ [المائدة: 3]
“Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam as Din (religion and a way of life) for you.” (Maaidah 5:3)
People learn from the Prophets all the commandments and principles concerning belief and conduct. In order that people should learn these commandments in their pristine purity and truth and as perfectly as possible to secure their happiness and prosperity in both worlds, the Prophets must, first, represent, and, then, present them without any faults or defects, for they are guides and good examples for people to follow, as explicitly stated in the Aayaat, which mean:
لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِي رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَة ٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأٓخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرٗا [الأحزاب: 21]
“There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah — for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah profusely.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:21)
And also in the following Aayat, which means:
قَدۡ كَانَتۡ لَكُمۡ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَة ٌ فِيٓ إِبۡرَٰهِيمَ وَٱلَّذِينَ مَعَهُۥٓ [الممتحنة: 4]
"There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him….” (Al-Mumtahinah 60:4)
لَقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِيهِمۡ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَة ٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأٓخِرَۚ [الممتحنة: 6]
“There has certainly been for you in them an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day.” (Al-Mumtahinah 60:6)
Despite his utmost care not to do anything contrary to Islam and not even to say a single word which is not sanctioned by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), if a Prophet were to utter an untrue word, he would repent for a lifetime, or even longer.
It is narrated that the Prophet, Hadhrat Ibraheem (Abraham) will direct to Hadhrat Moosaa (Moses) those who will appeal to him to intercede for them on the Day of Judgment, saying he cannot as he spoke allusively three times in his life. [Muslim]
Although it is not a sin to make an ‘indirect’ reference to the truth when it is more appropriate rather than being direct, Prophet Ibraheem’s repentance of his three allusions will continue in the Aakhirah (Hereafter).
The Quraan commands believers to obey all the orders or prohibitions of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) without exception, and emphasizes that it is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and His Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) to have any option about their decision.
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤۡمِنٖ وَلَا مُؤۡمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥٓ أَمۡرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ ٱلۡخِيَرَةُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِهِمۡۗ وَمَن يَعۡصِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلَٰلٗا مُّبِينٗا [الأحزاب: 36]
“It is not open for a believing man or a believing woman, once Allah and His messenger have decided a thing, that they should have a choice about their matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His messenger, he indeed gets off the track, falling into an open error.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:36)
It also warns believers that when Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and His Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) have given a judgment they should only say:
إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوۡلَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ أَن يَقُولُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَاۚ وَأُوْلَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ [النور: 51]
“The only reply of the (true) believers, when they are summoned to Allah and His messenger that he (the messenger) may judge between them, is that they say, .We listen and obey. Such people are the successful.” (An-Noor 24:51)
Absolute obedience to a Prophet means that the Prophet is right in all his commands and prohibitions.
Prophethood is so great a favor that all the Prophets bore unbearable pains in fulfilling the duty of thanksgiving and were always worried about not having worshipped Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) sufficiently. Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) often implored Almighty Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) using the following words: "Glory be to You, we have not been able to know You as Your knowledge requires, O Known One.
Glory be to You, we have not been able to worship You as Your worship requires, O Worshipped One.”
The Quraanic Aayaat which are sometimes mistakenly understood to reprimand certain Prophets for some mistakes of theirs, or to mean the Prophets sought Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s forgiveness for some mistakes of theirs, should be considered from this point of view. Besides, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s forgiveness does not always mean that a sin has been committed. The Quraanic words of ‘Afw — ‘pardon’, and Maghfirah — ‘forgiveness’ also mean ‘special favor and kindness and Divine dispensation in respect to the lightening or the overlooking of a religious duty’, as in the following Aayaat, which mean:
فَمَنِ ٱضۡطُرَّ فِي مَخۡمَصَةٍ غَيۡرَ مُتَجَانِفٖ لِّإِثۡمٖ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُور ٌ رَّحِيم ٌ [المائدة: 3]
“But whoever is compelled by extreme hunger, having no inclination towards sin, then Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (Al-Maaidah 5:3)
فَلَمۡ تَجِدُواْ مَآءٗ فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيدٗا طَيِّبٗا فَٱمۡسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمۡ وَأَيۡدِيكُمۡۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا [النساء: 43]
“and you find no water, go for some clean dust and wipe your faces and hands (with it). Surely, Allah is Most- Pardoning, Most-Forgiving.” (An-Nisaa 4:43)