Abandoning the Better (Tark al-Awlā) and Its Relationship with the Prophet’s Infallibility: The First Verse of Surah al-Tahrim

Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 Assistant professor, Department of Philosophy and Theology, Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Assistant professor, Department of Islamic Teachings, Payame Noor University, Iran

3 Assistant professor, Iranian Research Institute of Philosophy, Tehran, Iran.

10.22034/jid.2023.275743.2166

Abstract

The concept of infallibility (ʿiṣma) in relation to the prophets is a significant topic in theology. In Imami belief, it is generally held that, despite minor disagreements, the prophets are considered to be free from errors or mistakes. However, there are instances where certain religious texts seem to present contradictions regarding the extent of this infallibility. As a result, Muslim scholars throughout history have made efforts to reconcile and address these apparent discrepancies. The first verse of Surah al-Tahrim, in which Prophet Muhammad is reproached, is one such text that seems to contradict the highest degrees of infallibility in the case of the Prophet. Various explanations of this verse have been offered, some of which try to deny and interpret away the reprimand. Drawing upon principles such as the Prophet’s human nature, adjudication based on appearances, ruling based on commonsensical principles, reliance on personal discretion in social interests, prevention of the worse by the bad, and the like, we provide a reformulation of the belief in the “abandonment of the better” (tark al-awlā) and support it by evidence. With a moderate view of the two-dimensional (human and divine) nature of the prophets, we argue that abandoning the better is a human dimension, which does not contradict the notion of infallibility.

Keywords

Main Subjects


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