Panel: The here and the hereafter in Islamic traditions


Raum: F 1, 1. OG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Mi 11:00-11:30 Lange Paradise and hell in the Islamic religious imagination
Mi 11:30-12:00 O’Meara Orientations of the Kaaba
Mi 12:00-12:30 van Lit Transmission of Knowledge in Post-Avicennan Islamic Philosophy
Mi 12:30-13:00 Yaldiz Early Islamic asceticism, jihad and the afterlife


Christian Lange

Beschreibung des Panels:

In this panel, members of the ERC-Starting Grant project “The here and the hereafter in Islamic traditions” (HHIT), which is hosted at Utrecht University (2011-15), will present aspects of their individual research projects. The aim of HHIT is to trace the history of Muslim conceptualizations of the otherworld, a history that largely remains to be written. HHIT researchers examine a variety of discourses and practices from the inception of Islam to modern times, including theological, but also mystical, philosophical, artistic, material/spatial and ‘popular’ ones. Paradise and hell are given equal attention, and the many ways in which the boundary between this world (dunyā) and the otherworld (ākhira) has been construed in Muslim traditions runs as a common theme through each of the areas of research in HHIT.



Abstracts der Vorträge

Lange, Christian: Paradise and hell in the Islamic religious imagination

Contrary to the notion that the Muslim paradise and hell were defined in purely temporal terms, important strands within the medieval Islamic geographical and eschatological tradition devoted considerable attention to the spatial characteristics of both otherworldly realms. This paper charts a number of debates on this topic, from discussions about the actual location of paradise and hell to those about how they are connected to this world and how geomorphic their topography is to be conceived. Sources used in this paper include various genres of religious literature, particularly the eschatological ḥadīth manuals by Ibn Abī l-Dunyā (9th c.), the anonymous Daqāʾiq al-akhbār and later Mamluk and Ottoman eschatological handbooks. As this paper argues, eschatological space was often conceived to be contiguous with historical space, not only in the raw, geographical sense of a physical connection between the here and the hereafter but also in a variety of more conceptually defined ways. The organization of space in the eschatological imagination thus helped to structure the experience of thisworldly spaces.

O’Meara, Simon: Orientations of the Kaaba

With the notable exception of David A. King’s publications, the architectural merits of the Kaaba have been largely overlooked in scholarship, above all in Islamic art, where the distinction between architecture and building is rarely made or theorized. The proposed presentation attempts to ameliorate the situation through an analysis, in part exploratory, of the fundamental orientation the Kaaba effectuates or reinscribes in the Islamic world, including cardinal, meteorological, diurnal, spatial (left/right, as well as inside/outside), eschatological, and gendered bodily binarisms.

van Lit, Eric: Transmission of Knowledge in Post-Avicennan Islamic Philosophy

In this presentation we will cover some typical features of post-Avicennan (d. 1037) Islamic philosophy, such as the phenomena of commentary-writing and citing without reference. These phenomena show that texts were the main carriers and transmitters of knowledge in this period. Authors purposely used certain words and expressions to situate their text within the ongoing discourse and even the act of copying passages or adapting text structures from earlier authors should be seen as a way of entering into discussion with them. I shall argue that we need to adapt our very approach to these texts to take advantage of this, based on the premise that the discourse is worth more than the sum of the individual participants. With this adapted approach I wish to challenge the focus on author’s intention, which is still dominant in Islamic studies. I will provide examples for each phenomenon, with especial attention to a discussion I tentatively call ‘the argument from cannibalism’, situated in the intellectual discourse on the afterlife. By tracing instances of this argument, we see the tight interconnectedness of the discourse stretching from the middle ages until the modern era. and shows the merit of this new approach. I shall conclude with reflections on developing this methodology further, especially utilizing text processing techniques for automating this approach.

Yaldiz, Yunus: Early Islamic asceticism, jihad and the afterlife

This contribution examines the Kutub al-zuhd of the 2nd and 3rd Islamic centuries in order to reconstruct the ways in which traditions of renunciation (zuhd), warfare and eschatological thought interacted in the formative period of Islam. Following upon the work of, inter alia, Bonner, Melchert, and most recently, Sizgorich, it is proposed that zuhd literature developed a powerful logic of thinking about zuhd (which is marked by dhamm al-dunyā, or contemptus mundi), jihad (which can be interpreted as a flight from the world, al-firār min al-dunyā) and the afterlife (al-ākhira) as three consecutive stages toward ethico-religious fulfilment. Particular attention will be paid to the figures of Ibn al-Mubārak (d. 797) and Wakīʿ b. al-Jarrāḥ (d. 812 or 13), who are both authors of important zuhd manuals, and who were both committed to the idea (and probably, the praxis) of jihad.