out of hell and admit them to paradise; yet, in spite of all this, it is not possible that Muhammad should be the means of saving one single person or should even intercede for any one. This is the case in spite of the assertions which Muslims, unacquainted with both the Qur'an and the Traditions, now make that Muhammad was completely free from sin, and that on this account his intercession will be accepted by God. Those who state this seem to grant that, if it can be proved that Muhammad was not sinless, then he cannot be their intercessor, for it is clear that one malefactor cannot successfully intercede with his judge for another evildoer. Only an innocent person can do that. Now the question arises, was Muhammad sinless? To answer it our Muslim friends must turn to the Qur'an and to the Traditions.

In Suratu'dh-Dhuha (xciii) 7, it is written about him that God 'found thee wandering, then He guided' thee; and in Suratu'l-Mu'min (xl) 57, 'Ask thou pardon for thine offence and celebrate the praise of thy Lord in the evening and the early morning.' In Suratu'l-Qital (xlvii) 211, it is thus written: 'Ask thou pardon for thine offence, and for the believing men and for the believing women.' in Suratu'l-Fath (xlviii) 1-2, we read, 'Verily we have gained for thee an evident victory, that God may forgive thee what has gone before of thine offence and what has come later.' In Suratu'n-Nisa'

1 This Sura is also called Suratu Muhammad



(iv) 106, the command to ask pardon is repeated, and in Suratu'l-Inshirah (xciv) 1-3 it is thus written: 'Did we not open thy breast for thee and remove from thee thy burden, which weighed down thy back?'

The unlearned among the Muslims become very angry when these things are pointed out to them, and they endeavour to prove that these verses (1) either mean the sins of the Muslims and not his own when speaking of Muhammad's 'offence', or (2) that this word 'offence' (ذنب) denotes something trivial and not really a sin. But there is no room for just anger in the matter, since it is of serious importance to know 1 what the Qur'an really teaches on this subject. It is evident that in the passage above quoted from Suratu'l-Qital, otherwise called Suratu Muhammad, a clear distinction is made between Muhammad's own offence and the offences of his people. In their commentaries upon the first two verses of Suratu'l-Fath 'Abbasi, al-Baidawi and az-Zamakhshari agree that the sins spoken of are those of Muhammad himself. The term 'offence' (ذنب ) is used in the Qur'an itself of very serious deeds of wickedness, some of which are among 'heinous' or 'mortal' (كبائر) sins,2 so

1 See my revision of the Mizanu'l-Haqq, part iii, chapter iv, pp. 301-4 (English edition).
2 See the use of the word in Suras lv. 39; xxviii. 78; xii. 29; lxvii. 11; xci. 14.