Freedom from Physical and Mental Defects (salamah) as a Prophetic Attribute in the Qur'an: Special Reference to the Case of Prophet Moses

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In classical Islamic sources, particularly in theological (kalamic) works, several characteristics such as sidq (truthfulness) and amanah (trustworthiness)have received acceptance as the essential necessary attributes (sifat al-wajibah/asliyyah) of prophets.). Alongside these, other characteristics are compiledunder headings such as the non-essential permissible attributes (jāiz) of prophets, and characteristics that are not appropriate for prophets. For example: being male; being past the age of puberty; having ancestry composed of noble individuals who have steered clear of adultery, immorality and the like. In theological sources, generally as part of this second category of attributes or as linked to the attribute of infallibility, there is also an emphasis on prophets being perfect in their outward appearance, alongside their inward character, attractive conduct and being free from physical deformities or disfigurements and infectious/disturbing diseases such as leprosy. Despite this general understanding, some scholars argue and consider this attribute among the essential and necessary ones. Those who tend to evaluate this as aseparate attribute inthe modern period, which I consider it to bemore accurate, entitle it as salamah (soundness, safety, security and freedom of defects). In this article, different approaches to this attribute will be discussed in reference to classical and modern Islamic theologians. Its relation and difference to the attribute of infallibility will be analytically examined with reference to controversial discussions practised over the case of Prophet Moses. Comparisons among the different traditions, i.e. Islamic and Judeo-Christian, on speech impediment attributed to Prophet Moses will be carried out to clarify the Qur'anic approach to the subject matter. As one clear outcome of this paper that breaks an original ground, the following can be underlined: Thesekinds of allegations towards prophets are unequivocally rejected, since they are not in line with the understanding of prophethood in Islam when salamah is taken into account as a separate essential attribute. The real nature of prophethood and prophets according to the Islamic tradition will be evidently explained to further elucidate the discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventOxford Symposium on Religious Studies - St Hilda's College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 02 Aug 201702 Aug 2017 (Past programs)


ConferenceOxford Symposium on Religious Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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