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Infallibility, ‘Ismah (عِصْمَة) in Arabic, is the special cognitive state that keeps a person from committing sin and prevents any temptations. An Infallible person, for short infallible(ma’sum معصوم in Arabic), is someone immune from any error and wrongdoing. Infallibles make no mistakes and are bestowed with the gift of knowledge from Allah himself. Shia Muslims believe that it is imperative for someone chosen by Allah to lead people to be infallible, because their job is to guide humanity and convey the divine scripture to them. Therefore, every prophet from Adam to Mohammed is infallible. By extension of the prophets, members of Ahlulbayt (the family of the prophet) are also infallible.
The Concept of Infallibility
According to Muhammad Jawad Mughniyah (Al-Islam Wa Al-Aql), infallibity is the concept of having a pure soul by virtue of being chosen by Allah. 12:53: "Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." The verse shows that Allah has created the human soul and made the human soul susceptible to evil. The relationship between the soul and the body is that of administration and control. The soul can incite evil. If the body commits evil, then it is a sin and the person is fallible. However, Allah made an exception for those that he has chosen to bestow upon his mercy. In this case, the soul does not incite evil and they never act upon it. This is because these chosen individuals have a high virtue. They are sinless and infallible. They would never commit a sin.
Infallibility of the Prophets
Infallibles cannot be tempted by Satan. 15:42: Indeed, My servants - no authority will you have over them, except those who follow you of the deviators. 38:82-83: [Iblees] said, "By your might, I will surely mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants.” According to Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini, deviation or disobedience here is not taken literally. Instead, it means that the “chosen servants” Iblees is referring to are those incapable of being misled and committing deviances.
The Quran also instructs its followers to believe the word of the messengers and that obeying them is synonymous with obeying Allah (Quran 4:80). This is believed to be further proof of the infallibility of the prophets.
Infallibility of Ahlulbayt
The Quran has special verses to discuss the purity and infallibility of Ahlulbayt (The Prophet’s Household). This verse specifically refers to the Infallible 5: Mohammad, Ali, Fatema, Al-Hasan, and Al-Hussain.
In 33:33, the Qur'an mentions: Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.
The Fourteen Masooms
Shia believe that in addition to Ahlulbayt, the remaining 9 Imams from Imam Hussain’s lineage are all infallible. They are: Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (Known as Zain Al-Abideen) Mohammad Ibn Ali (Known as Al-Baqer) Ja’far Ibn Mohammad (Known as Al-Sadeq) Mousa Ibn Ja’far (Known as Al-Kadhem) Ali Ibn Mousa (Known as Al-Riza) Mohammad ibn Ali (Known as Al-Jawad) Ali Ibn Mohammad (Known as Al-Hadi) Al-Hasan Ibn Ali (Known as Al-Askari) Mohammad Ibn Al-Hasan (Known as Al-Mahdi Al-Montazar, or “The Awaited Messiah”)