Does the Hadith on the Prophets’ Refusal to Intercede Negate our Belief on their Infaillibility?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Asalamu alaykum,
In the Hadith of intercession in Sahih Muslim we found that Ibrahim would justify his refusal to give intercession by his “lies” and that Jesus would justify his refusal by his concern for himself.
1. Does that mean that Ibrahim lied?
2. Does the expression “Jesus mentioned no sin of his” found in this hadith imply that Prophets sin and that Jesus concealed his sins?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
It is from our belief that the prophets do not sin, and are in fact preserved from sin before and after prophethood.
(1) The scholars note that he was referring to his saying, “I am sick” [37.89] and “No, it was done by the biggest of them – this one.” [21.63]. They mention that these sayings were from giving a misleading impression (ta`ridh), and not actual lying. However, because they outwardly resembled a lie, he was concerned about them, and deemed himself unworthy of such a station [= intercession] after having committed them.
(2) No, that is not what is implied. The discussion is actually regarding his reason for excusing himself from interceding; the scholars mention that other variants of this tradition (hadith) include, “I was worshipped” or “I was taken as a god besides Allah,” thus he was embarrassed before his Lord in the presence of such false claims and attributions.
[Usmani, Fath al-Mulhim bi Sharh Sahih al-Imam Muslim, quoting from Baydawi; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih, quoting from Ibn al-Malak]
Please see: Are the Prophets Protected from Sin? and: How Are the Prophets Protected from Error and Sin?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.