Question: Is it true that prophets are free from sin even before prophethood, or do they become innocent after prophethood only?
Answer: The innocence of the prophets of Allah from sin is necessary and permanent. They remain in this state before and after receiving prophecy. At no time in their lives does this state of innocence leave them. As for those apparent mistakes that have been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, they were not preferred actions in the eyes of Allah but were certainly not sins in the light of the Shari’a. The prophets were rebuked because of them due to their proximity to Allah and their lofty status in His eyes.
See Mullah ‘Ali Qari’s commentary on al-Fiqh al-Akbar pg. 72, Ma’ariful Qur’an v. 1 p. 195, Imdad al-Fatawa v.5 p.407, and Fatawa ‘Uthmani v.1 p. 72.
And Allah knows best.
Bilal Ali Ansari
[rough translation of a fatwa of Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Fatawa ‘Uthmani v.1 p. 72]
Source: Darul Hikmah