The Islamic Teaching on the Sinlessness of Jesus

On 10 April 2004, Osama Abdallah published yet another silly little polemic against us on this page. He opens his attack on us with these words:

Lies posted by the Answering Islam team against Islam without providing references:

The following was sent to me by brother Mohammed; may Allah Almighty be pleased with him:

"Anecdotally, one of Mohammad's followers asked him if he could carry his sin for him. Mohammad admitted that he could not for the reason that he had his own sin to carry. At the same time, Mohammad confessed that Jesus alone of those born on earth was exclusively born without being touched by the devil. Who then, can bear your sin, if not the sinless sin-bearer who came to die for you, that you need never die?"


Questions to those liars: ...


Reading Osama's article, one could get the false impression that Mohammed is in some way responsible for it. However, only the green quotation and reference to our website came from Mohammed's inquiry. All the rest, particularly the personal attacks and insults are the sole responsibility of Osama Abdallah, the owner and editor of Osama does not seem to know the meaning of the words "lie" and "liar", even though he uses these words rather frequently to spice up his polemics. Apparently he is not aware that there is a difference between a lie and an error. The fact that the above page contained an error has been acknowledged, and the error has been corrected a while ago (see this article). Nothing more needs to be said about that. However, Osama goes on to raise a number of claims about Islam, which are not entirely true either. Whether he wants to consider himself, therefore, a liar or simply ignorant of Islam is left for him to decide.

Osama ‘challenges’ us with these questions and statements regarding Islam:

1- When did Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him say Jesus was perfect and sinless?


It surprises us that Osama could even ask such a question, especially when he has spent so much time perusing our site in the hope of trying (but not suceeding) to rebut our articles. For instance, Osama claims to have "rebutted" all of my material:

In one of my articles, which Osama specifically links to, I document from both the Quran and Islamic sources that Muhammad specifically taught, and that other Muslims believed, that Jesus was sinless (see The Jewish Messiah And The Prophet of Islam).

But since Osama either missed it or chose to ignore it, we will present some of the evidence here for him to consider.

First, Muslims have assumed that Jesus was sinless on the basis of the following verses:

Remember when a women of Imran said, ‘My Lord, I have vowed to Thee what is in my womb to be dedicated to Thy service. So do Thou accept it of me; Verily Thou alone art All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’ But when she was delivered of it, she said, ‘My Lord, I am delivered of a female,’ - and ALLAH knew best of what she was delivered and the male she desired to have was not like the female she was delivered of - ‘and I have named her Mary, and I commit her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the rejected.’ S. 3:35-36 Sher Ali

The ahadith record Muhammad as interpreting the preceding passage to mean that Mary and her Son were the only ones whom Satan was unable to touch:

Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:
Abu Huraira said, "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, EXCEPT MARY AND HER CHILD." Then Abu Huraira recited: "And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan" (3.36) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 641; see also Volume 4, Book 54, Number 506)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: No child is born but he is pricked by the satan and he begins to weep because of the pricking of the satan EXCEPT THE SON OF MARY AND HIS MOTHER. Abu Huraira then said: You may recite if you so like (the verse):" I seek Thy protection for her and her offspring against satan the accursed" (iii. 36). This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Zuhri with the same chain of transmitters (and the words are):" The newborn child is touched by the satan (when he comes in the world) and he starts crying because of the touch of satan." In the hadith transmitted on the authority of Shu'aib there is a slight variation of wording. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5837)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The satan touches every son of Adam on the day when his mother gives birth to him WITH THE EXCEPTION OF MARY AND HER SON. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5838; see also Book 033, Number 6429)

It is evident from the foregoing that Muhammad not only is said to have believed in Jesus' sinlessness, but in Mary's as well. The next hadith supports this view:

Narrated Abu Musa:
Allah's Apostle said, "Many amongst men reached (the level of) perfection but none amongst the women reached this level except Asia, Pharaoh's wife, AND MARY, THE DAUGHTER OF 'IMRAN. And no doubt, the superiority of 'Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. a meat and bread dish) to other meals." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 623; see also Volume 5, Book 57, Number 113)

Ibn Kathir writes:

<"... And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from Shaytan, the outcast."> means, that she sought refuge with Allah from the evil of Shaytan, for her and her offspring, i.e., `Isa, peace be upon him. Allah accepted her supplication, for `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said ...

<Every newly born baby is touched by Shaytan when it is born, and the baby starts crying because of this touch, except Maryam and her son.>

Abu Hurayrah then said, "Read if you will ...

<And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from Shaytan, the outcast>." The Two Sahihs recorded this Hadith. (Commentary on 3:36; online edition)

Here is the other passage that points to Jesus' sinlessness:

He said: I am only a messenger of your Lord: That I will give you a pure boy (ghulaman zakiyyan). S. 19:19 Shakir

We must also mention that Jesus, according to the Quran, isn't the only one said to be pure. In the same Surah John the Baptist is also identified as being pure:

And tenderness of heart from US and purity (wazakatan) , and he was pious, S. 19:13 Sher Ali

Ibn Kathir comments:

<and Zakatan,> This is related to His statement ...

<And Hananan> The word Zakah means purity from filth, wickedness and sins. Qatadah said, "The word Zakah means the righteous deed." Ad-Dahhak and Ibn Jurayj both said, "The righteous deed is the pure (Zakah) deed." Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said ...

<and Zakatan,> "This means that he was a blessing." ...

(and he was pious.) [19:13] meaning that he was pure and had no inclination to do sins. (Commentary on 19:13; online edition)

Be that as it may, one thing is for certain. The conclusion that Jesus was sinless stems from a careful examination of both the Quran and the Islamic traditions.

Furthermore, Jesus is the only person specifically said to be blessed:

And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive. S. 19:31

Christian author and evangelist Samuel Green rightly noted:

For every moment of his life Jesus was blessed. This Arabic word for blessed (mubaarak) is only used to describe Jesus and is never used for anyone else. But it is used elsewhere to describe things that the Qur'an considers perfect. Thus the Qur'an itself is called blessed (6:93, 156), the first house of prayer is called blessed (3:96), and the olive tree that provides oil for the likeness of the light of God is called blessed (24:35), but Jesus is the only person who is blessed in this perfect way. (The Perfect Man)

Thirdly, both the Quran and the ahadith deny that Muhammad was sinless:

Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin, and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours. S. 40:55 Pickthall

So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God 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. S. 47:19 Pickthall

Lo! We have given thee (O Muhammad) a signal victory, 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, S. 48:1-2 Pickthall

Fourthly, the following traditions clearly contrast the essential purity of the Lord Jesus from the sinfulness of Muhammad, as well as the other true prophets:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Some (cooked) meat was brought to Allah Apostle and the meat of a forearm was presented to him as he used to like it. He ate a morsel of it and said, "I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know the reason for it? Allah will gather all the human being of early generations as well as late generation on one plain so that the announcer will be able to make them all-hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see all of them. The sun will come so close to the people that they will suffer such distress and trouble as they will not be able to bear or stand. Then the people will say, 'Don't you see to what state you have reached? Won't you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord' Some people will say to some others, 'Go to Adam.' So they will go to Adam and say to him. 'You are the father of mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hand, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are? Don't you see what condition we have reached?' Adam will say, 'Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (has more need for intercession). Go to someone else; go to Noah.' So they will go to Noah and say (to him), 'O Noah! You are the first (of Allah's Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' He will say.' Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.' They will go to Abraham and say, 'O Abraham! You are Allah's Apostle and His Khalil from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' He will say to them, 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadith) Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.' The people will then go to Moses and say, 'O Moses! You art Allah's Apostle and Allah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord Don't you see in what state we are?' Moses will say, 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter, I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.' So they will go to Jesus and say, 'O Jesus! You are Allah's Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?' Jesus will say. 'My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. JESUS WILL NOT MENTION ANY SIN, but will say, 'Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.' So they will come to me and say, 'O Muhammad ! You are Allah's Apostle and the last of the prophets, AND ALLAH FORGAVE YOUR EARLY AND LATE SINS. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don't you see in what state we are?" The Prophet added, "Then I will go beneath Allah's Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, 'O Muhammad Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede It (your intercession) will be accepted.' So I will raise my head and Say, 'My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord'. It will be said, 'O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people." The Prophet further said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the distance between every two gate-posts of Paradise is like the distance between Mecca and Busra (in Sham)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 236)

... They would come to Jesus and would say: O Jesus, thou art the messenger of Allah and thou conversed with people in the cradle, (thou art) His Word which He sent down upon Mary, and (thou art) the Spirit from Him; so intercede for us with thy Lord. Don't you see (the trouble) in which we are? Don't you see (the misfortune) that has overtaken us? Jesus (peace be upon him) would say: Verily, my Lord is angry today as He had never been angry before or would ever be angry afterwards. HE MENTIONED NO SIN OF HIS. (He simply said:) I am concerned with myself, I am concerned with myself; you go to someone else: better go to Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

They would come to me and say: O Muhammad, thou art the messenger of Allah and the last of the apostles. Allah HAS PARDONED THEE ALL THY PREVIOUS AND LATER SINS ... (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0378)

Note that Muhammad allegedly acknowledged that the major prophets (himself included) were sinners, with the Lord Jesus being the sole exception! This is perhaps why a Muslim like Qatadah (as reported by Al Tabari) could say:

"Jesus and his mother did not commit any of the sins which the rest of the children of Adam commit." (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Quran and Its Interpreters: The House of Imran [State University of New York Press (SUNY), 1992], Volume II, p. 94)

What is ironic about the preceding hadiths is that instead of having the sinless Jesus intercede for others, the sinful Muhammad is granted the right of intercession, even though the other prophets are unable to intercede PRECISELY because they had sinned! More on this below.

To summarize the data we have gathered thus far, we find that both the Quran and the Islamic traditions mention specifically three people (possibly four, i.e., Asiyah, Pharaoh's wife) who were sinless and pure: Jesus, his mother Mary, and John the Baptist. But it is quite unlikely for Asiyah to have been sinless in light of, a) the Quran never says she was pure or faultless as it does for the above mentioned three, and b) the hadiths say that Mary and her Son were the only ones that Satan wasn't able to touch at birth.

The claim that only Mary and Jesus hadn't been touched by Satan further implies that John was effected by Satan's touch, and only highlights the uniqueness and supremacy of the Lord Jesus and his mother within Islam.

The Muslim author continues:

2- Ever since when Islam even remotely suggests that anyone could carry another's sins? Even if the Prophet was sinless, he still would not be able to carry that man's sins! We don't have this type of gibberish nonsense in Islam:

"Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it. (The Noble Quran, 99:7-8)"

One of the beauties of Islam is that Allah Almighty will show every person their good and bad deeds on the Day of Judgement. Every individual will be Judged uniquely by Allah Almighty. He, the Almighty, will determine which sins will be punished and which sins will be forgiven:

"God forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with God is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed. (The Noble Quran, 4:48) "


First, none of the passages cited by Osama deny that people can carry the sins of others. It is obvious from Osama's statements here that he hasn't carefully read the Quran, since if he had he would have found the following passage:

And those who disbelieve say to those who believe: Follow our path and we will bear your wrongs. And never shall they be the bearers of any of their wrongs; most surely they are liars. And most certainly they shall carry their own burdens, AND OTHER BURDENS WITH THEIR OWN BURDENS, and most certainly they shall be questioned on the resurrection day as to what they forged. S. 29:12-13 Shakir

The ahadith also support this view. Allegedly writing to Heraclius, Muhammad says:

"In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. This letter is) from Muhammad, Apostle of Allah, to Heraclius, the sovereign of Byzantine........ Peace be upon him who follows the Right Path. Now then, I call you to embrace Islam. Embrace Islam and you will be saved (from Allah's Punishment); embrace Islam, and Allah will give you a double reward, but if you reject this, YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF ALL THE PEOPLE OF YOUR KINGDOM (Allah's Statement):--"O the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship None but Allah....bear witness that we are Muslims." (3.64) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 75)

Furthermore, the Quran testifies that Allah allows the intercession of the one who bears witness to the truth:

And those on whom they call beside HIM possess no power of intercession but only he may intercede who BEARS WITNESS TO THE TRUTH, and they know this well. S. 43:86 Sher Ali

Ibn Kathir states:

The Idols have no Power of Intercession

<And those whom they invoke instead of Him have no power> means, the idols and false gods...

<of intercession> means, they are not able to intercede for them...

<except for those who bear witness to the truth knowingly, and they know.> This means, but the one who bears witness to the truth has knowledge and insight, so his intercession with Allah will avail, by His leave. (Commentary on 43:86; online edition)

This brings us back to a point we made earlier, namely that Muhammad was a sinner and was unqualified to intercede for anyone. Since he was a sinner, he was desperately in need of a savior and intercessor. The Quran agrees since it commands Muslims to pray for Muhammad:

Allah and His angels PRAY for the Prophet (Arabic- yasalluuna alan-Nabiyy): O ye that believe PRAY for him (salluu `alayhi), and salute him with all respect. S. 33:56

But even here we have problems. How can the prayers of sinful humans benefit Muhamamd when they too are in need of salvation and prayers?

The Quran goes on to say:

That no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another, And that man will have nothing but what he strives for; And that the result of his striving shall soon be known; Then will he be rewarded for it with the fullest reward; And that with thy Lord is the final judgment; S. 53:38-42 Sher Ali

Muhammad was burdened with his own sins which needed to be removed:

Have We not expanded for you your breast, And taken off from you your burden, Which pressed heavily upon your back, And exalted for you your esteem? S. 94:1-3

The problem with this surah is that it makes God unjust, or at least makes him less just than merciful, since he had no basis for removing Muhammad's sins. In other words, God's justice must be maintained and satisfied before forgiving anyone of his/her sins. Otherwise, to simply and arbitrarily forgive sinners for all their evil deeds, without demanding justice or punishment, severely compromises God's holy and just character.

Quite obviously then, Muhammad was a sinner whose intercession cannot be acceptable to an infinitely holy and just God. Muhammad had to pay for his own sins before he could help other people with their sins:

"Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit." Psalm 49:7-9

But unlike Muhammad, the Lord Jesus doesn't need anyone to pray for him. Christ alone is sinless amongst the sons of men according to the Holy Bible. He alone lived a perfect and sinless life. Besides being sinless, the Lord Jesus is also fully God in essence. Cf. John 1:1-3, 10. 14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:2-3, 10-12.

It follows, then, that he alone can intercede for others and ransom individuals from death:

"Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah" Psalm 49:14-15

"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:18-19

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:14-15

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself." Hebrews 7:25-27

"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself UNBLEMISHED to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance - now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:14-15

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19

"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:22-24

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit," 1 Peter 3:18

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2

"But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin." 1 John 3:5

Even the OT announced the absolute sinlessness of God’s Servant, the Messiah, proclaiming beforehand that he would bear the sins of others in order to make atonement for them:

"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall THE RIGHTEOUS ONE, MY SERVANT, MAKE MANY TO BE ACCOUNTED RIGHTEOUS; AND HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; YET HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-12

Moreover, Christ alone perfectly testifies on behalf of the truth:

"'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth LISTENS TO ME.'" John 18:37

Christ not only testifies to the truth, but he also is the very truth itself in human form:

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6

In light of the preceding, it makes more sense that the Lord Jesus, not Muhammad, is the one interceding for others. And because Christ perfectly satisfies God's infinite holiness through his death and obedience, whereby he took away God's wrath which was upon true believers prior to their salvation, he has merited for them the right to intercede before God on behalf of one another:

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6

For more on this topic, please read the following articles:

Sam Shamoun

Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page