Appendix: Other persons in the Quran who suffer from dh-n-b

James M. Arlandson

In order to provide the references and supporting evidence for the conclusions drawn in the article Were Jesus and Muhammad sinless?, this section tracks the use of dh-n-b throughout the Quran, but only in verses that shed some light on Muhammad’s case. As we shall see, the word clearly does not mean only a simple "mistake" or minor "fault" or "forgetfulness" or "weakness."

Usually, it is best to divide the suras (chapters) of the Quran into Meccan and Medinan because they reveal a change in tone. In Mecca, Muhammad was somewhat gentler because he had no real or physical power to fight his opponents. After his Hijrah (Emigration or Flight) from that city to Medina in AD 622, the suras become more belligerent. However, in the case of the word dh-n-b, the meaning does not fundamentally change from one sura to the next, but I have kept the Meccan-Medinan division anyway to show the lack of change and the unity of the Quran on dh-n-b.

Some other Quranic words fall within the semantic field of "fault, sin, crime, offense, evil" and so on. They are sometimes used in the context of dh-n-b, so their meanings overlap. They are as follows:

(1) DH-l-m (sometimes transliterated as Z-l-m) is broad in scope and unambiguous: To do wrong or evil, treat unjustly, oppress, harm, suppress, tyrannize, misuse, act wrongfully, deprive anyone of a right, misplace, injure, be oppressive, be guilty of injustice, act wickedly (Omar). To wrong, injure, to be unjust, oppressive, or tyrannical towards anyone; to be guilty of injustice, to act wickedly (Penrice).

(2) Khati’a means to err, make a mistake, do wrong, commit a fault, or evil (Omar). To do wrong; an error, fault or sin; one who sins, a sinner, sinful; to be in error, to sin (Penrice)

(3) J-r-m means a crime, sin, fault; a Mujrim is a criminal, culprit, sinner (the mu prefix denotes "one who" or "those who") (Omar). To commit a crime; sin; to be guilty of sin; a sinner (Penrice).

The translators used in this section, Hilali and Khan, often provide the transliteration of these words for us.

Meccan suras

Sura 6:6

People were destroyed because of their dh-n-b.

6:6 Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.

Sura 7:100

This verse also says that people generally are liable to be punished for their dh-n-b.

7:100 Is it not clear to those who inherit the earth in succession from its (previous) possessors, that had We willed, We would have punished them for their sins. And We seal up their hearts so that they hear not?

Sura 12:29

The Biblical Patriarch Joseph is called to avoid the dh-n-b of Potiphar’s wife. In this verse, dh-n-b is connected to khati’a

12:29 "O Yusuf (Joseph)! Turn away from this! (O woman!) Ask forgiveness for your sin. Verily, you were of the sinful [khati’a]." (My insertion in brackets)

Sura 12:97

The sons of the Patriarch Jacob doubted their father’s faith, saying that he was a dotard and in error, so they had to repent of their dh-n-b.

12:97 They said: "O our father! Ask forgiveness (from Allah) for our sins, indeed we have been sinners."

Sura 14:10

The peoples during the time of Noah, as well as the peoples of Thamud and Ad, were called to repent of their dh-n-b, and they were polytheists.

14:10 Their Messengers said: "What! Can there be a doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? He calls you (to Monotheism and to be obedient to Allah) that He may forgive you of your sins and give you respite for a term appointed." They said: "You are no more than human beings like us! You wish to turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring us a clear authority (i.e. a clear proof of what you say)."

Sura 17:17

Allah is well aware of the dh-n-b of all peoples, and he destroyed many generations after Noah. These people would have been polytheists.

17:17 And how many generations have We destroyed after Nuh (Noah)! And Sufficient is your Lord as an All-Knower and All-Beholder of the sins of His slaves.

Sura 25:58

This verse repeats the view that Allah knows the dh-n-b of his slaves, implying that he is aware of Muhammad’s sins.

25:58 And put your trust (O Muhammad . . .) in the Ever Living One Who dies not, and glorify His Praises, and Sufficient is He as the All-Knower of the sins of His slaves;

Sura 26:14

Dh-n-b can also mean "crime," in this case murder committed by Moses in Egypt.

26:14 "And they [Egyptians] have a charge of crime against me [Moses], and I fear they will kill me."

Sura 28:78

Dh-n-b can mean rebellion, which Korah committed against Moses (Numbers 16). Note how dh-n-b is connected with j-r-m.

28:78 He [Korah] said: "This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without account).

Sura 29:40

A variety of people who resisted an assortment of messengers sent from God were punished. Dh-n-b is also connected with DH-l-m.

29:40 So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hasiban (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as the people of Lout (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment awful cry, etc. (as Thamud or Shu'aib's people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qarun (Korah)], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nuh (Noah), or Fir'aun (Pharaoh) and his people]. It was not Allah Who wronged [DH-l-m] them, but they wronged [DH-l-m] themselves. (Insertion of DH-l-m is mine)

Sura 39:53

"Slaves" refers to the followers of Allah.

39:53 Say: "O 'Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Sura 40:11

In this verse polytheists (or anyone who joins partners with Allah) have dh-n-b, as verse 12 demonstrates:

40:11 They will say: "Our Lord! You have made us to die twice (i.e. we were dead in the loins of our fathers and dead after our deaths in this world), and You have given us life twice (i.e. life when we were born and life when we are Resurrected)! Now we confess our sins, then is there any way to get out (of the Fire)?"

40:12 (It will be said): "This is because, when Allah Alone was invoked (in worship, etc.) you disbelieved, but when partners were joined to Him, you believed! So the judgement is only with Allah, the Most High, the Most Great!"

Sura 40:21

People universally have dh-n-b and are punished for it.

40:21 Have they not travelled in the land and seen what was the end of those who were before them? They were superior to them in strength, and in the traces (which they left) in the land. But Allah seized them with punishment for their sins. And none had they to protect them from Allah.

Sura 46:31

In the verse the jinn speak to their "people" or fellow jinn, for they too have dh-n-b and must repent.

46:31 O our people! Respond (with obedience) to Allah's Caller (i.e. Allah's Messenger Muhammad . . .), and believe in him (i.e. believe in that which Muhammad . . . has brought from Allah and follow him). He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e. Hell-fire).

Sura 67:11

These unbelievers confess their dh-n-b while they burn in hell

67:11 Then they [unbelievers] will confess their sin. So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire.

Sura 71:4

Allah is willing to forgive the people of Noah until their time is up.

71:4 "He (Allah) will forgive you [people of Noah’s day] of your sins and respite you to an appointed term. Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you but knew."

Sura 91:14

This verse talks about a people who kill a she-camel sent by Allah, so he punished them for their dh-n-b, which in this context means disobedience.

91:14 Then they [people of Thamud] denied him and they killed it [she-camel]. So their Lord destroyed them because of their sin, and made them equal in destruction (i.e. all grades of people, rich and poor, strong and weak, etc.)!

Medinan suras

Sura 3:11

Allah destroyed the ancient Egyptians for their dh-n-b, during the time of Moses.

3:11 Like the behaviour of the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) and those before them; they belied Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), so Allah seized (destroyed) them for their sins. And Allah is Severe in punishment.

Sura 3:16

The dh-n-b of pious Muslims will be forgiven as they implore Allah to save them from the fires of hell.

3:16 Those who say: "Our Lord! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire."

Sura 3:135

Only Allah can forgive dh-n-b, which agrees with Mark 2:1-12 (see the section "Jesus," in the main article).

3:135 And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; - and none can forgive sins but Allah - And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.

Sura 3:147

The prophets of old had dh-n-b.

3:147 And they [the prophets] said nothing but: "Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions (in keeping our duties to You), establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk."

Sura 5:18

Allah tells Muhammad to "say" to the Jews and Christians that they are punished for their dh-n-b. Oddly, Muhammad seems to believe that if they say that they are children of God, then they lay claim to being more than human. This is wrongheaded.

5:18 And (both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are the children of Allah and His loved ones." Say: "Why then does He punish you for your sins?" Nay, you are but human beings, of those He has created, He forgives whom He wills and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the return (of all).

Sura 5:49

Muhammad is sent to warn Jews and Christians, as well as polytheists. If the Jews and Christians in this verse turn away from Muhammad, Allah will punish them for their dh-n-b.

5:49 And so judge (you O Muhammad . . .) between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you (O Muhammad . . .) far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah's Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most of men are Fasiqun (rebellious and disobedient to Allah).

Sura 8:52

Allah punished the people of Pharaoh’s time, so this implies that Allah will also punish the polytheists of Muhammad’s time.

8:52 Similar to the behaviour of the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh), and of those before them; they rejected the Ayat (proofs, verses, etc.) of Allah, so Allah punished them for their sins. Verily, Allah is All-Strong, Severe in punishment.

Sura 8:54

This verse says the same thing, combining DH-l-m with dh-n-b.

8:54 Similar to the behaviour of the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh), and those before them. They belied the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), of their Lord, so We destroyed them for their sins, and We drowned the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) for they were all Zalimun [DH-l-m] (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.). (Insertion in brackets is mine)

Sura 9:102

In context, this verse speaks about the Bedouin or desert Arabs and promises forgiveness from Allah if he wills. Incidentally, the next verse commands Muhammad to take money (Sadaqah or "voluntary" alms) from them, in order to purify and sanctify them with it.

9:102 And (there are) others who have acknowledged their sins, they have mixed a deed that was righteous with another that was evil. Perhaps Allah will turn unto them in forgiveness. Surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Sura 33:71

Ordinary Muslims have dh-n-b, which can be forgiven

33:71 He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (. . .) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).

Sura 55:39

Jinn and men will already be judged, so they will not be asked about their dh-n-b, evidently because their dh-n-b is clear to Allah.

55:39 So on that Day no question will be asked of man or jinn as to his sin, (because they have already been known from their faces either white or black).

Sura 61:12

In context, if jihadists fight in the cause of Allah, then their dh-n-b will be forgiven, so they will be admitted into Islamic paradise.

61:12 (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of 'Adn Eternity ['Adn (Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success.

Copyright by James Malcolm Arlandson.

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