What is the difference between mutlaq and ‘aam?
'Aam refers to a generally large number of things with a generalized description, eg: "every soul shall taste death" is ‘aam as it refers to "every" soul without exceptions.
Mutlaq refers to one unspecified thing, eg: "free a slave" is Mutlaq as it refers to one slave but that slave is not specified. The key characteristic of a Mutlaq noun is that it does not have a description to specify it.
The key difference between the two concepts is in the number of things being spoken about. Dr. Bilal Philips says about this topic:
A major difference is that the word which is Aam encompasses every member of the category it names, whereas the Mutlaq word is usually applied to any one of a multitude, but not to all.
 Dr Bilal Philips, Usool At-Tafsir, p. 276< Back to Questions