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Does the Qur'an refer to Muhammad's sins?


A Muslim reader wrote, "Perhaps you should do some more reading that the prophet of Islam had sins. Allah was talking about the future sins of ...the future Muslims that the prophet would intervene for on the day of judgement" 1


Muhammad sinned and this is confirmed by the Qur'an, ahadith, and seerah. For non-scholarly Muslims, this may come as a surprise. Our Muslim reader claimed that the prophet of Islam was talking about the future sins of believers, whereas Sura al-Fath 48:2 explicitly refers to thy sins, meaning Muhammad's own sins.  Clearly, it is not limited to the future sins of believers.  Instead, it expressly refers to the past sins of Muhammad as well as the his own future sins. 

That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favour unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path, Sura al-Fath 48:2

Next, Sura Muhammad 47:19 distinguishes between the sins of Muhammad and the sins of believers.  Muhammad was instructed to request the forgiveness of his own sins as well as the sins of believers. Again this explicitly shows that Muhammad sinned and needed to ask forgiveness for his own evil deeds.

So know (O Muhammad) that there is no Allah save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. Sura Muhammad 47:19

In addition to the Qur'an, the sahih ahadith affirm that Muhammad was a sinner. The most respected ahadith, Sahih al-Bukhari, state that Muhammad beseeched Allah for the forgiveness of his sins in the past as well as those that he would commit in the future.  He even mentioned his sins that he did in secret when nobody was looking.

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet used to invoke Allah at night, saying, "O Allah: All the Praises are for You: You are the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. All the Praises are for You; You are the Maintainer of the Heaven and the Earth and whatever is in them. All the Praises are for You; You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. Your Word is the Truth, and Your Promise is the Truth, and the Meeting with You is the Truth, and Paradise is the Truth, and the (Hell) Fire is the Truth, and the Hour is the Truth. O Allah! I surrender myself to You, and I believe in You and I depend upon You, and I repent to You and with You (Your evidences) I stand against my opponents, and to you I leave the judgment (for those who refuse my message). O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public. You are my only God (Whom I worship) and there is no other God for me (i.e. I worship none but You)." Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 482 2

Much more could be written on the sinfulness of Muhammad, but the Qur'an and the ahadith should be an adequate testimony to a Muslim on this question.  It is true that many Muslims don't believe the testimony of the Qur'an, ahadith, and seerah of Muhammad. Rather, they prefer an idealized and fictional prophet of their own imagination.

1 "..." the dots are as they appear in the Muslim's correspondence.
2 Al-Bukhari, The Translation of the Meaning of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Translated by M.M. Khan, Dar AHYA Us-Sunnah, Al Nabawiya, (Arabic & English), Vol. 9 p. 358-359.

Last edited 04/16/2003

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