The concept of infallibility: A comparative approach

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Abstract

Islamic theological sources have long debated the concept of ismah (‘infallibility’) as it pertains to nubuwwah (‘prophethood’). According to scholars of Islam,all prophets possess the essential attribute of ismah.The quality represents the bestowal by God of a pure, unwavering character upon His prophets and their immunity to commit sin.
Is ismah a universal gift of God to all holy people or does it apply only to prophets? William A. Curtis, in his entry to Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, states that “to believe in inspiration, in revelation, in illumination, to accept a dogma, to proclaim a truth, implies in every case a faith in something infallible”. It would not be wrong to propose that all great world religions and their legal systems in one way or another derive from such authority. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, speaks of the infallibility of the Church and the Pope and has explicitly and consistently articulated this conviction at numerous Ecumenical Councils.
In this paper I examine the concept of ‘infallibility’ (ismah) from both a Muslim and a Catholic perspective, demonstrating similarities and differences and questioning possible areas of overlap. My goal is to shed further light on the concept of ismah from a comparative perspective.

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    Sertkaya, S. (2019). The concept of infallibility: A comparative approach. Abstract from 2019 International Conference on Comparative Theology, Melbourne, Australia.