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The here and the hereafter in Islamic traditions


The aim of this project is to write a history of the Muslim paradise and hell. Researchers (PI, RF and two doctoral researchers) will assess the extent to which Islamic traditions favour or reject a view of human existence as directed toward the otherworld. They will do so by examining a variety of intellectual traditions from the inception of Islam in the 7th century CE until today. The focus of investigation will not just be on the ‘high tradition’ of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, but also on mystical, philosophical, artistic and ‘popular’ traditions, thereby avoiding a monolithic, essentialising account of Islam’s attitude toward the hereafter.

As has been argued, the relationship between this world (dunya) and the otherworld (akhira) is as important to Islam as the mind/body dualism is to the intellectual history of the West. However, no sustained effort of analysis has been made in modern Islamic Studies to reflect on the dunya/akhira relationship, and on the boundary that separates the two. This project will be the first comprehensive and systematic attempt in this direction. Five axes of research will underlie this endeavor: (1) the eschatological imaginaire, (2) material culture and the arts, (3) theology and law, (4) mysticism and philosophy, and (5) modern and contemporary visions of the hereafter.

The project (proposed duration: 48 months), which is to begin on 1 March 2011, will be based at the Utrecht University and led by Dr Christian Lange (PhD Harvard, 2006, 70%), currently Lecturer in Islamic Studies at New College/School of Divinity. The research team will include one research assistant (100%, 45 months) and two doctoral researchers (100%, 36 months). Financial support is solicited to facilitate the survey of manuscripts and manuscript research in various collections in North America, Europe and Asia, and to help organise two scholarly symposia in Islamic eschatology and one comparative conference.

Call for proposal

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Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht

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West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Christian Robert Lange (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Brigitte Burger (Ms.)
EU contribution
€ 978 368,00

Beneficiaries (2)