Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

8. Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_Prophets

The Prophets, Muhammad and His Companions_

al-Fiqh al-Akbar, pp.127-145[1]

Section: wa ’l-anbiya’… illa bi-khayr.”


  • The Prophets are free from:
  1. minor sins (sagha’ir),
  2. enormities (kaba’ir),
  3. unbelief (kufr)
  4. Wicked acts (qaba’ih).

The above holds for post and pre-nabuwwah.[2]

  • Prophets did not absolutely escape slips (zallat)[3] and mistakes (khataya), e.g.

[1] Adam (as) ate from the tree.

a. out of forgetfulness.

b. he did not eat from the specific tree Allah forbade but from another tree.[4]

c. He was not a Prophet then.

[2] Musa (as) unintentionally killed a member of Pharaoh’s people.

  • The term ‘slips’ (zallat) is a broader and more general category that encompasses different modes such as:
  1. mistakes,
  2. forgetfulness,
  3. inattentiveness or
  4. Leaving the more worthy (afdal) of two actions.


  • Leaving even one definitive obligation (fard) or a necessary obligation (wajib) is an enormity (kabirah).
  • Committing an unlawful act (haram) is an enormity.
  • Leaving a sunnah act[5] without excuse, valid reason, pure laziness or even sheer indifference is considered one of the minor sins (saghirah).
  • Committing a disliked (makruh) action continuously as well as with desire is considered a minor sin.
  • Habitual abandonment of the sunnah as well as habitual performance of the makruh may become an enormity beneath other enormities.[6]

Point: Prophet (SAW) said: la-yuhganu `ala qalbi (‘verily cloudiness comes over my heart’) and (‘verily I seek forgiveness from Allah 100 times a day’). This is explained or interpreted in a number of ways:

  1. Allah would inform our Prophet of the disputations and discord to happen within his ummah and in thinking about that a cloudiness would come over his heart (SAW) and he would seek forgiveness from Allah for his ummah.
  2. The Prophet ascended from one ‘height’ or level to another each successive height being loftier than the previous. He would seek forgiveness to Allah for believing he had reached the loftiest height when he had not.[7]
  3. Cloudiness was the result of the Prophet’s ecstasy in being utterly absorbed into the Divine contemplation and love and being sustained within this state. When returning to normal consciousness, he would seek forgiveness from Allah from having that return.[8]
  4. The cloudiness was a result of when anything other than Allah would pass through his mind and heart and he would seek forgiveness for these moments.
  5. The cloudiness was interpreted by some as being the result of his worldly desires.[9]
  6. Others said it was a result of the Prophet thinking his acts of devotion were short of what was due of him and hence his inability to be entirely thankful and grateful in certain circumstances.[10]


[1] See the commentary by al-Maghnisawi entitled Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.121 and `Ali al-Qari’s larger commentary Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.154-168.

[2] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, pp.128-129.

[3] The Hanafi Maturidites of the Transoxania (Samarqand, Bukhara, etc) do not use the term zalla as it connotes a type of sin so they use less evaluative terms and prefer to rephrase as: ‘Prophet X performed the good act (fadil) but left the better act (afdal)’ where leaving the latter for them is equivalent to others leaving a single obligation. Cf. Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.171.

[4] i.e. he did the least superior action as a means of Allah illustrating the inherent weakness of human beings in their state and actions as a contrast to Allah’s intrinsic and expansive mercy. See Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.172.

[5] This includes the emphasised (mu’akkadah) and non-emphasised acts (ghayr mu’akkadah = mustahabb).

[6] See `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.170.

[7] Cf. Q. 93:4.

[8] This is a Sufi’s (= arbab al-haqiqah) interpretation using notions of fana’ (annihilated self) and baqa’ (subsisting in that annihilated state).

[9] This is considered the literalist reading (zahiri).

[10] See Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.172-175.


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