What’s the Difference Between Being ‘Ma`sum’ and ‘Mahfuz’?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I recently heard that the Companions of the Prophet [may Allah be pleased with them and may Allah bless him and grant him peace] were ‘mahfuz’.

My understanding is that the Prophets [may Allah bless them and grant them peace] were ‘ma’sum’, meaning they were protected from sin. However, I am unaware of any such protection granted to the Companions [may Allah be pleased with them].

I would be grateful if you explain these concepts [i.e. mafuz and ma’sum], and how they differ?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

Both terms — ‘ma`sum’ and ‘mahfuz’ — imply being protected from sin, while there is a key difference, namely:

(a) Being ‘ma`sum’ means Allah makes it impossible for the person to sin; this applies to all Prophets and angels (Allah bless them and grant them peace), and no one else. This is in fact a necessary trait of all Prophets.

(b) Being ‘mahfuz’ means Allah generally protects the person from committing sin despite it being possible for him/her to do so. Most Companions — particularly those who were closest to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) — were ‘mahfuz’. Some saints (awliya’) can also reach this level.

[Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani