Charles Sturt University
PACT - Public and Contextual Theology

PaCT Fellow presents on “infallibility” at conference

A Centre for Public and Contextual Theology fellow has presented a paper on the concept of infallibility from a Muslim and Catholic perspective at an international conference.

Dr Suleyman Sertkaya who is a Lecturer and Researcher in Islamic Studies at the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisations (CISAC), CSU presented the paper at the 2019 International Conference on Comparative Theology which was held 23-24 July at the Melbourne Campus of the Australian Catholic University.

Dr Sertkaya’s paper was on "The Concept of Infallibility: A Comparative Approach".

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.

Dr Sertkaya was supported by PaCT to attend this conference.