Quranic Reflection No 668. Āyat 12:24 – Those Purified from Sin

Bismillāh, 16 February 2024/6 Sha‘bān 1445

كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ

Thus [it was], that We might turn away from him all evil and indecency. He was indeed one of Our purified servants. 

(Sūrat Yūsuf, No. 12, Āyat 24)

A key belief of the Shī’ī faith is that divinely appointed leaders, both Prophets and Imams, must be infallible. In proving this belief, intellectual and traditional arguments are put forward by Shī’ī theologians. An example of traditional arguments are verses of the Noble Quran such as the one quoted above, that refer to certain individuals as being ‘mukhlas’. The word mukhlas is a noun that denotes the object of an action, in this case meaning that the individual has been made to be sincere. Usage of this word in the Quran indicates that it is used for those whom God has purified from all sin, that is those who are infallible. For example, consider these two verses wherein Satan is quoted as telling God that he will misguide all mankind: إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ – except Your mukhlas servants from among them (Q 15:40; 38:83). Clearly Satan is not excluding this group out of the goodness of his heart! Rather he recognizes that God would not leave mankind without a spiritually elite group of individuals that he has no access to.

To cite another example, after the wife of Prophet Yūsuf’s master attempted to seduce him, the verse 12:24 (quoted above) says that Allah turned: away from him all evil and indecency. The reasoning why he was turned away comes in the end of this verse when Allah says, “He was indeed one of Our purified (mukhlas) servants.” Beyond these verses that use the word mukhlas, other verses of the Quran may be used to establish the belief of infallibly. For example, verse 4:64 calls for unconditional obedience to all God’s apostles, which would not make sense unless they were infallible. Or regarding the Ahl al-Bayt specifically, there is the famous verse of purification (Q 33:33).

The concept has also been mentioned in Shī’ī adīth. For a very interesting adīth in this regard, refer to the debate of Imam Ridhā (peace be upon him) with the famous Sunnī scholar, ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin al-Jahm. (Note: The details of the debate can be found in books on Imam Ridhā (a)). In this debate, Ibn al-Jahm goes through various stories of Prophets in the Quran that seem to attribute sin to them, and one by one the Imam explains each story and how it was not a sin.

In addition to traditional arguments, Shī’ī theologians put forward intellectual proofs for the necessity of having an inerrant leader, even after the Prophet’s demise. They say that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) brought a complete and perfect system of law that is preserved from future distortion. This is why there is no need for another Prophet to come after him. However, the Quran does not set out all the laws needed by humankind in the necessary detail. This task was left for the Prophet to perform. But the Prophet’s sunnah was corrupted after him and moreover, the reality of his life’s circumstances prevented him from being able to convey all the laws in the necessary detail. Given this situation, there must be someone who continues his mission, explaining the laws of Islam and correctly interpreting the Quran for the Muslims after the Prophet’s demise. The individual who does this must be immune from sin and error. Otherwise, the Divine goal of conveying the complete system of law to mankind would not be fulfilled!

We pray to Allah to strengthen our beliefs and bless us with a correct understanding of His religion. We ask Him to overlook our faults and allow us to live a life of piety and purity like our infallible leaders. We continue to pray for the relief of the oppressed and occupied people in the Middle East.

Sources: Āyatullāh Misbāh Yazdī, The Shīʿite Argument for the Necessity of an Inerrant Imām