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General Prophethood

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General prophethood or al-nubuwwat al-ʿāmma (Arabic: النُبُوَّة العامَّة) is a term in Kalam (Islamic theology) referring to a set of issues concerning the principle of prophethood. General prophethood is contrasted to issues of special prophethood in which the prophethood of individual persons is discussed. Some issues of the general prophethood include: the necessity of the rise of prophets, their infallibility, and ways of knowing the prophets. The Principle of Lutf (grace) is the main ground to argue for the necessity of the rise of prophets, and miracle is the main way of knowing prophets.

The Notion

"General prophethood" is an Islamic theological term referring to a set of issues about prophethood in general. Unlike issues of special prophethood, issues of general prophethood are not limited to a specific prophet. It concerns the common issues about prophethood, such as why there are prophets (the necessity of the rise of prophets), ways to prove someone's prophethood, and the infallibility of the prophets.

Issues of General Prophethood

The mains issues of general prophethood in books of Kalam consist in the necessity of the rise of the prophets, ways of knowing the prophets, their infallibility, and the positive consequences of prophethood.

Necessity of the Rise of Prophets

Appeals are made to grounds such as the necessity of there being social regulations, people's inability to legislate just regulations, as well as their ignorance of the ways of achieving perfection, to show that it is necessary for there to be prophets. The second ground is sometimes referred to as the Principle of Lutf, which is considered as the main argument for the proof of prophethood.

Ways of Knowing the Prophets

Main article: miracle

In this issue, the main means of knowing whether someone is really a prophet is said to be miracles. Miracles are extraordinary actions done by prophets to prove their prophethood. Such actions cannot be resisted or countered by anyone else.

Infallibility of Prophets

Main article: Infallibility

"'Ismat" or "infallibility" refers to the ability of a human person to refrain from sins. Muslim theologians unanimously agree that prophets are infallible. However, there are disagreements about the details of such infallibility. They have introduced rational and transmission-based arguments for the infallibility of prophets. One rational argument is that if prophets commit sins, then people could not trust them, and people's mistrust violates the goal of prophets to guide people to the right path.

Positive Consequences of Prophethood

Theological books have also discussed the positive consequences of prophethood. For example, in his Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi mentioned 9 positive consequences of prophets, including: confirmation of the intellect, presentation of religious doctrines, the flourishing of people's epistemic talents, teaching jurisprudential rulings, and the legislation of social regulations.

See Also


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from نبوت عامه in Farsi WikiShia.