Al-Mu’mūn questions Imām al-Ridā

Al-Ma’mūn asked Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him,  some questions. More likely, he wanted to test him. The Imām answered these questions which are as follows:
 Q1: “Son of Allah’s Apostle, do you not say that the prophets are infallible?”
“Yes,” replied the Imām.
 “What is the meaning of these words of Him, the Exalted: And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him)?” asked al-Ma’mūn.
Ans. 1: “Surely Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, said to Adam: O
Adam, dwell you and your wife in the Garden and eat from it a
plenteous (food) wherever you wish and do not approach this tree
.
And He pointed to the tree of wheat for then you will be of the unjust.
He did not say to them: ‘Do not eat from this tree or from its kind.’
They did not approach the tree; nor did they eat from it; they ate from
other than it. When Satan whispered (evil) to them and said: ‘Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree; rather He has forbidden you
from approaching other than it. He has not forbidden you from eating
from it except that you may not both become two angels or that you
may (not) become of the immortal.’ And he swore to them both: ‘Most
surely I am a sincere adviser to you.’ Adam and Hawuā’ (Eve) did not
see before that anyone who swore by Allah in a false manner. Then he
caused them to fall by his deceit and they ate from the tree because
they trusted his swearing by Allah, and that was before Adam was
considered as a Prophet, and that was not a big sin through which he
deserved entering the Fire; rather it was one of the sins which could be
forgiven and could be committed by Prophets before the revelation
(wahy) came down to them. When Allah chose him and made him a
prophet, he became infallible, and was not permitted to commit a sin, minor or major. Allah,the Great and Almighty, said: Thus did Adam disobey his Lord and allow himself to be seduced.But his Lord chose (for His grace); He turned to him, and gave him guidance.[1] And He, the Great and Almighty, said: Allah did indeed choose Adam and Nūh, the family of Ibrāhim, and the family of ‘Umrān above the people.[2]
Q2: “What is the meaning of these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: But when He gives them a good one, they set up with Him associates in what He has given them? [3]
Ans. 2: “Hawuā’ born Adam five hundred males and females, so Adam and Hawuā’ promised Allah, the Great and Almighty, prayed to Him, and said: If You give us a good one, we shall certainly be of the grateful ones.
“When He gave them a good one of progeny, sound creature free from illness and defect ¾He gave them two types: a type of males and of females ¾the two types attributed partners to Allah, may His name be Exalted, in what He had given to them, and they did not thank Him as their parents thanked Him, the Great and Almighty. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, said: But high is Allah above what they associate (with Him).[4]
Q3: “I witness that you are the son of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, tell me about the words of Him, the Great and Almighty, concerning Ibrāhim: When the night covered him, he saw a star. He said: This is my Lord.[5]
Ans. 3: “Surely Ibrāhim lived in a society where three types of worship dominated: the worship of Venus, the worship of the moon, and the worship of the sun. That was when he came out of the cave where he was concealed. When the night covered him, he saw Venus and said: This is my Lord. He wanted to deny (such a type of worship) and to ask (his fellows about it). When it (the star) set, he said: I do not love those that set. That this because setting is an attribute of the created not of the Eternal (Being). When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: This is my Lord. He wanted to deny (such a type of worship) and to ask (his fellows about it). But when it (the moon) set, he said: Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray. He said: ‘Unless my Lord had guided me, I would have been among those who went astray.’ When he entered upon morning and saw the sun rising in splendor, he said: This is my Lord; this is the greatest  of  Venus and the moon. He wanted to deny (such a type of worship) and to ask (his fellows about it), not to tell them about it and not to admit it (as a lord). When it (the sun) set, he said to the three types of men who worshipped Venus, the moon, and the sun: O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of ascribing partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face firmly and truly towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I attribute partners (to Allah). By the virtue of what he said, Ibrāhim simply wanted to indicate to them the invalidity of their religion and to establish to them that worship did not belong to those things like Vinus, the moon, and the sun; rather it belonged to their Creator and the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The argument which he used against his people was among what Allah had inspired him and gave to him, just as Allah, the Great and Almighty, said: And this was Our argument which We gave to Ibrāhim against his people.”
Q4: “How good you are, son of Allah’s Apostle! Tell me about these words of Ibrāhim: And when Ibrāhim said: My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead, He said: What! and do you not believe. He said: Yes, but that my heart may be at ease.[1]
Ans. 4: “Surely Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, had revealed to Ibrāhim that He would take one of His creatures for a bosom friend. If he asked Him to give life to the dead, He would respond to him. Ibrāhim thought that he would be the bosom friend, and hence he said: My Lord,show me how You give life to the dead,He said:What! and do you not believe.He said: Yes,but that my heart may be at ease.He (Allah) said: Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying; and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise. As a result Ibrāhim took an eagle, a peacock,  a duck and a rooster. He cut the birds into pieces and mixed them. They were ten pieces. Then he placed each piece of them on the mountains around him, and put the beaks between his fingers. He put seeds and water beside him. Then he called them by their names, so those pieces flew to each other until they became sound bodies. Then each body came and joined its neck and head. Then Ibrāhim, peace be on him,  released their beaks. The birds flew and then they alighted. They drank from that water, ate from those seeds, and said: ‘Allah’s Prophet, you have given life to us, may Allah give life to you!’ Ibrāhim said: ‘Rather it is Allah who gives life to (creatures) and make (them) die, and He is powerful over all things!’”
Q5: “Allah bless you, Abū al-Hasan! Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: So Mūsā struck him with his fist and killed him. He said: This is on account of Satan’s doing.[1]
Ans. 4: “Mūsā entered one of Fir‘awn’s (Pharaoh’s) cities when its inhabitants were heedless of him. That was between the sunset and the evening. So he found therein two men fighting, one being of his party and the other of his foes, and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies. Therefore Mūsā killed the enemy. Allah, the Exalted, mentioned: So Mūsā struck him with his fistand he died. He said: This is on account of Satan’s doing. This means that the fighting which took place between the two men (was on account of Satan’s doing), not the killing which Mūsā had committed. (The world) ‘he’ means Satan (who) is an enemy, openly leading astray.”
Q6: “What is the meaning of these words of Mūsā: My Lord, surely I have done harm to myself, so do You protect me.”
Ans. 6: “This means that he put himself in other than its place when he entered this city. So do You protect me, meaning conceal me from Your enemies lest they should find me and kill me, so He protected him; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. Mūsā said: My Lord, because You have bestowed a favor on me, through the strength so that I killed a man with striking him with my fist; I shall never be a backer of the guilty; rather I shall fight on Your path with this strength until You are content (with me). As a result Mūsā was in the city fearing, awaiting, when lo! he who had asked his assistance the day before was crying out to him for aid against another person, so Mūsā said to him: You are most surely one erring manifestly. You killed a man the day before and this day you want to kill (another man), hence I shall hurt you. He wanted to strike him. So when he desired to seize him who was an enemy to them both, he said: O Mūsā, do you want to kill me as you killed a person yesterday? You desire nothing but that you should be a tyrant in the land, and you do not desire to be of those who act aright.”
Q7: “Abū al-Hasan, May Allah reward you well on behalf of His prophets! What this the meaning of these words of Mūsā to Fir‘awn (Pharaoh): I did it then while I was of those unable to see the right course?[1]
Ans. 7: “Fir’awn said to Mūsā when he came to him: And you did (that) deed of yours which you did, and you are one of the ungrateful for me. Mūsā said: I did it then while I was of those unable to see the right course through my entering one of your cities. So I fled from you when I feared you, then my Lord granted me wisdom and made me one of the apostles.
“Allah, the Great and Almighty, said to His Prophet Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family:Did He not find you an orphan and gave you shelter? [2] He (Allah) says: ‘Did He not find you lonely and He made the people seek shelter in you?’ And find you unable to see and show the way to your people? So He guided, namely He guided them to knowing you. And find you in want and make you be free from want? He (Allah) says: ‘He has made you free from want when He has made your supplication accepted.”
Q8: “Allah bless you, son of Allah’s Apostle! What is the meaning of these words of Allah, the Great and Almighty: And when Mūsā came to our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said: My Lord, show me (Yourself), so that I may look upon You. He said: You cannot (bear to) see me. How is it permissible that Mūsā b. ‘Umrān, the Interlocutor of Allah, peace be on him,  did not know that Allah, may His name be Blessed and Exalted, could not be perceived? Why did he make such a request?”
Ans. 8: “Mūsā b. ‘Umrān, the Interlocutor of Allah, knew that Allah, the Exalted, far above to be perceived by eyes, but when Allah, the Great and Almighty, spoke to him and made him draw nigh holding communion (with Him), he returned to his people and told them that Allah, the Great and Almighty, spoke to him, made him draw nigh, and whispered to him, but they said: ‘We will not believe in you until we hear His words as you heard them.’ They were seven hundred thousand men, so he chose seventy men from them to the appointed time of their Lord. He took them and went to Mount Sinā’. He made them stay at the foot of the mountain. As for Mūsā, he climbed the mountain, asked Him to speak to him and make them hear His words. As a result Allah, may His name be Exalted, spoke to him, and they heard His words from top, bottom, left, right, behind, and before (them). That is because Allah, the Great and Almighty, created His words in the Tree and made them come out of it to the extent that they heard them from all directions; yet they said: ‘We do not believe that what we have heard is (His) words until we see Allah manifestly.’ When they said this dangerous statement, became arrogant and tyrant, Allah sent down upon them thunderbolt, and it overtook them because of their transgression. They died, so Mūsā said: ‘My Lord, what shall I say to the children of Israel when I return to them and they say: ‘You took them and killed them, for you were not truthful when you claimed that Allah, the Great and Almighty, would speak to you?’ According, Allah gave life to them and sent them with him. They said: ‘If you ask Allah to make you look upon him, He will respond to you; you will tell us how He is, then we will be fully aware of Him.’ Mūsā said: ‘People, the eyes cannot perceive Him, and He has no rather He is recognized through His signs and is known through arguments.’ Yet they said to him: ‘We will not believe in you until you ask Him.’ Mūsā said: ‘My Lord, You have indeed heard the statement of the children of Israel and You know better how to put them right.’ So Allah, the Great and Almighty, revealed to Mūsā: ‘Request from Me what they requested from you, for I will not punish you because of their ignorance.’ Then Mūsā said: My Lord, show me (Yourself) so that I may look upon You. He said: You cannot (bear to) see Me, but look at the mountain, if it remains firm in its place -while falling down- then will you see me; but when his Lord manifested (His glory) to the mountain, He made it crumble and Mūsā fell down in a swoon; then when he recovered, he said: Glory be to You, I turn to You. He said: ‘I have returned to my knowledge of You and (left) the ignorance of my people of You. I am the first of the believers in that none can see You.’”
Al-Ma’mūn admired the Imām’s talents and abundant knowledge, saying: “How good you are, Abū al-Hasan!”
Q9: “Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: And certainly she made for him, and he would have made for her, were it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord.[1]
Ans. 9: “She made for him, were it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord, he would have made for her just as she made for him, but he was infallible, and the infallible did not think of sin; nor did he commit it. Indeed my father related to me on the authority of his father al-Sādiq, who said: ‘She intended to do, and he intended not to do.’”
Q10: “How good you are, Abū al-Hasan! Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty:And Dhā al-Nūn when he departed in wrath; he imagined that We had no power over him.[2]
Ans. 10: “That was Yūnus b. Matti. He departed in wrath to his people. He imagined, meaning that he was sure that We would not straiten him, namely We will not going to sustain him, and of it is these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: But when He tries him (differently), then straitens to him his means of subsistence.[1] Or straitened and ordained. So he called out among the shadows, namely the shadows of the sea and of the stomach of the whale. There is no god but You! Glory belongs to You; I was indeed wrong through my leaving this worship to which You have given me free time in the stomach of the whale, so Allah answered him, and He, the Great and Almighty, said: But  had it not that he was of those who glorify (Us), he would certainly have tarried in its stomach to the day when they are raised.[2]
Q11: “How good you are, Abū al-Hasan! Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty:Till the apostles gave up hope  and  thought that they were surely accused of lying, Our help then came to them.[3]
Ans. 11: “Allah, the Great and Almighty, said: Till the apostles gave up hope (of their people) and (their people came to) think that they proved them to be liars, Our help then came to them.”
Q12: “How good you are, Abū al-Hasan! Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty:That Allah may forgive your community their past faults and those to follow.[4]
Ans. 12: “The Meccan polytheists thought that there was none greater in sin than Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. That is because they worshipped three hundred and sixty  idols other than Allah. When he (the Prophet), may Allah bless him and his family, came to them and summoned them to the Oneness of Allah, they regarded that as big and great, and then they said: What! makes he the gods a single God? A strange thing is this, to be sure! And the chief persons of them break forth, saying: Go and steadily adhere to your gods; this is most surely a thing sought after. We never heard of this in the former faith; this is nothing but a forgery.[5]
“When Allah, the Great and Almighty, enabled His Prophet to conquer Mecca, He said to him: Mohammed, surely We have given to you a clear victory, that Allah may forgive your community their past faults and those to follow, (the faults) of the Meccan polytheists­ through your summoning (them) to the Oneness of Allah, their past faults and those to follow. That is because some Meccan polytheists became Muslims; some of them went out of Mecca; as for those of them who remained were not able to deny the Oneness of Allah against him (the Prophet) when he summoned the people to it, so their faults were forgiven because of his mastery over them.”
Q13: “How good you are, Abū al-Hasan! Tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty:Allah pardon you! Why did you give them leave ? [1]
Ans. 13: “This is part of that which was revealed by the virtue of: I mean you and listen, O neighbor! Allah, the Great and Almighty, addressed His Prophet with that, but He meant by that his community. Similar to this (verse) is these words of Him, the Exalted: Surely if you associate (with Allah), your work would certainly come to naught and you would certainly be of the losers [2], and these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little.[3]
Q14: “Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, went to the house of Zayd b. Hāritha b. Sharāhil al-Kalbi for a thing he wanted. He saw his wife washing and said to her: Glory belongs to Him who has created you!”
Ans. 14: “By that he meant to free the Creator, the Great and Almighty, from the statement of those who said: ‘The angels are the daughters of Allah.’ So Allah, the Great and Almighty, said: What! has then your Lord preferred to give you sons, and (for Himself) taken daughters from among the angels? Most surely you utter a grievous saying.[1] When Zayd returned to his house, his wife told him about the coming of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family,  and his saying to her: ‘Glory belongs to Allah!’ Zayd did not understand what the Prophet meant by that. He thought that the Prophet said that because he admired her beauty. So he came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and said to him: ‘My wife is in her creation, and I want to divorce her.’ ‘Keep your wife to yourself,’ said the Prophet to him, ‘fear Allah.’ Allah had made the Prophet know the number of his wives. As for this woman, she was one of them, but he concealed that in his own soul and did not show it to Zayd. He feared that the people would say that Mohammed said to his retainer: ‘Your wife will be my wife,’ and that they would criticized him for that. As a result Allah, the Great and Almighty, revealed: And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in yourself (what) Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him.
“Then Zayd b. Hāritha divorced her, and she had completed her waiting period, so Allah, the Great and Almighty, married her to His Prophet Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, and with this regard He revealed (a verse in) the Qur’ān, and He, the Great and Almighty, said: But when Zayd had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.
“Then Allah, the Great and Almighty, knew that the hypocrites would criticize the Prophet for being married to her, so He, the Exalted revealed: There is no harm in the Prophet doing that which Allah has ordained for him.[2]
With this (answer) the Imām concluded this debate, which is evidence for his great scientific abilities and his comprehensive knowledge of the Great Book of Allah. The Imām freed the magnified prophets of Allah from committing transgression and established their infallibility through this explanation backed by undeniable proof and evidence.


Reference :The life of Imām'Ali Bin Mūsā al-Ridā