SHAFAQNA – As we believe our Twelve Imams to be error-free – M’asumin – why do they themselves often ask God for forgiveness? Most of our prayers of supplication – du’a – are from the Imams and these clearly indicate that the Imams asked Allah to forgive them for their mistakes. Indeed, their asking Allah for forgiveness – tawbah – provides evidence that they committed bad things. Could it be that they are only free from error – ismah – when answering questions or while undertaking particular things. How do we explain the above? Did the Imams ever claim to be error free or is this something that we assumed?
They are error-free. If this were not so, Allah would not rely upon them to guide us to the right path. They beg Allah’s forgiveness because the deeper one knows Allah the greater ones fear and vigilance. It is their ultimate goal to indulge in the remembrances of Allah and nothing else all their life. Things seem minor to us are major to them. Complete obedience and submission to Allah Almighty necessitates that true believers do not indulge in any worldly affair; being human, however, requires such involvement. Thus, true understanding of the Oneness of Allah – tawhid, makes Allah’s servants realise that they are weak, in need of purification, in absolute poverty and on the verge of perishing without Allah’s continuous favours. This is what makes the Imams beg Allah’s forgiveness and cover them with His Mercy.
Office of Ayatollah Seyed Fadhel Hosseini Milani