Accusations of the Bible Against the Prophets
In the book of Genesis, 19, 30-38, it is written that the two daughters of the Prophet Lot got their father to drink wine and then lay with him so as to become pregnant by him. This is obviously the most disgusting of calumnies that could be uttered or written against a Prophet. Lot’s people of the cities of Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed by God because of their immoralities, and Lot and his daughters were, according to the Bible itself, the only ones to be spared from that destruction on account of their belief, good conduct and decency. The crime of which the Bible accuses the Prophet Lot is worse than what his people were destroyed for.
In the book of Genesis, chapter 38, a story is mentioned in which Jacob’s son, Judah, is supposed to have fornicated with the wife of his son. The woman gave birth, as a result of this fornication, to twin boys, and some of the Israelite Prophets were descended from them.
It is inconceivable that a Prophet should have committed fornication. Our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, explicitly declared that there is not a single case of fornication in his lineage back to Adam. He also stated that all the Prophets are brothers descended from the same father. Our Prophet is a descendant of Abraham, upon him be peace, as were Judah and the other Israelite Prophets, so it is impossible for any of them to be the child of an illicit intercourse, or — God forbid such a thought! — to have fornicated.
In the second book of Samuel, chapter 11, it is written that the Prophet David fell in love with the wife of one of his commanders and slept with her without marriage. According to the Bible, he also got the commander to be put in the front line where the fighting was fiercest and, after the death of the commander, he married his wife.
David, upon him be peace, is a Prophet who was given a Divine Scripture — the Psalms — and who is praised in the Quran for his sincere and profound devotion to God:
Be patient at what they say, and remember Our servant David, the man of strength and abilities. For he ever turned to God in sincere devotion and submission. It was We that made the mountains declare, in unison with him, Our praises, at eventide and at the break of day, and the birds gathered (in assemblies): all with him did turn to Him (in profound devotion). We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and sound judgement (in speech and decision.) (Sad, 38.17-20)
Though a king, he lived a simple life by his own labor. He cried much out of fear of God and used to fast every other day. This kind of fast was recommended by our Prophet to some of his Companions who sought the most rewarding type of supererogatory fasting. Is it at all conceivable that such a noble Prophet could fornicate and plot the death of his commander in order to take his wife?
In the first Book of Kings, chapter 11, Solomon is blamed for having married many foreign women from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods,’ and therefore of doing such evil as following the gods and goddesses (idols) of some other tribes.
The Quran absolves the Prophets from all the accusations against them in the Bible and exalts them. If the Quran had not been sent, we could not have known the truth about the previous Prophets. The Quran exalts them all as being sincere, devout and thankful servants of God. As it freed Jesus from the deification of Christians and the denial of the Jews and glorified God from Christians’ attributing to Him sons and daughters, so too, it acquitted all the Israelite and non-Israelite Prophets of having committed the disgusting sins attributed to them in the Bible. It mentions Jesus as a spirit from God breathed into the Virgin Mary, Abraham as an intimate friend of God, Moses as one who spoke to God and Solomon as a king and a Prophet who prayed to Him humbly: O my Lord! So order me that I may be grateful for your favors, which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please You; and admit me, by Your Grace, to the ranks of Your righteous servants (al-Naml, 27.19). So, Solomon, besides never having worshipped anything other than God, never committed a sin and, despite being the greatest and most powerful of kings that ever lived, remained a humble servant of God until his death.
In addition to such calumnies against the Prophets, the Bible is full of assertions unbecoming to a Scripture. For example, it writes that although the Prophet Isaac wanted to bless his older son Esau, he mistakenly blessed Jacob instead, as a result of his wife Rebecca’s trick (Genesis, 27). Also, the Bible claims that the Prophet Jacob wrestled with God, who appeared to him in the form of a man (Genesis, 32).
INDIVIDUAL EXAMPLES TO CLARIFY THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE PROPHETS
The lapses of the Prophets are not sins in the real sense of the word.
A small minority of Muslim scholars have asserted that the Prophets may have committed sins of an insignificant type called zalla, meaning ‘error’ or ‘lapse’, and give, in order to prove their assertion, some examples from the lives of, for instance, Adam, Noah, Abraham and Joseph, upon them all be peace. Before elaborating their cases, it should be noted that even if we attribute some lapses to the Prophets, they are not sins in the meaning of disobedience to God’s Commandments. The Prophets tended to wait for Revelation when they had a question to judge. On rare occasions, however, it happened that they would exercise their own power of reasoning in order to give a judgement as they were the greatest of mujtahids (jurists of the highest rank who can deduce laws from the principles established by the Quran and the Sunna). They might sometimes have erred in their judgements or decisions, but such errors, which were immediately corrected by God, can never be regarded as sins.
Secondly, the Prophets always sought God’s good pleasure in every instant of their lives and tried to obtain what was the best in a matter. If they had rarely missed the best but still caught what was better, this should not be regarded as a sin. For example, suppose a man has to make a choice: whether he will recite the whole of the Quran in ten days and give due attention to each verse, or he will finish the recitation in seven days in order to express his deep love of the Word of God. If that man takes the first option without knowing that God’s greater pleasure lies in the second, he will obviously not be regarded as having committed a sin. So, a Prophet’s preference of what is better instead of the best is not a sin, but because of his position before Him, God might sometimes reproach him mildly.
Now, we had better clarify some individual examples in the lives of certain Prophets.