Issue 83/3 – 2015

Issue 83/3 – 2015

17/12/2015 Tana Dluhosova


 

Contents

 

Bronislav Ostřanský and Miroslav Melčák
Introduction to the Special Issue on Death, Graves and the Hereafter in Islam: Muslim Perceptions of the Last Things During the Middle Ages and Today
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….381–384

About the Authors

BRONISLAV OSTŘANSKÝ, PhD, is a research fellow at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. He graduated from Charles University, Prague, specialising in the Arabic language and the history and culture of Islamic countries (PhD in 2005). His research focuses mainly on medieval Islamic thought, especially mysticism (Sufism). He is author and co-author of several monographs devoted to Islamic society – e.g., Dokonalý člověk a jeho svět v zrcadle islámské mystiky (The Perfect Man and His World in the Mirror of Islamic Mysticism, in Czech), Praha 2004. He has also translated an anthology of Sufi writings into Czech – Hledání skrytého pokladu (The Quest for the Hidden Treasure), Praha 2008, and selected chapters from al-Maqrīzī’s work Popsání pozoruhodností Egypta (The Description of Sights of Egypt), Praha 2012. Currently, he is focusing on the so called “Sufi psychology of the Path,” as depicted in various medieval treatises.
e-mail: ostransky@orient.cas.cz

MIROSLAV MELČÁK, PhD, is a research fellow at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. He obtained his PhD degree in 2009 at the Department of the Middle East and Africa, Charles University, Prague – doctoral dissertation, in Czech: “Vývoj vnímání waif v egyptské společnosti, 1805–1953” (Changing Perceptions of waqf in Egyptian Society, 1805–1953). His areas of interests cover social and cultural history of the Middle East. He has authored articles on awqāf in Syria and Egypt (12th–20th c.) and Islamic urbanism in northern Mesopotamia (10th–15th c.). He is currently a research team member of the projects “Monuments of Mosul in Danger” and “Medieval Urban Landscape in Northeastern Mesopotamia.”
e-mail: melcak@orient.cas.cz

Articles

 

 

Marco Demichelis
Fanā’ al-Nār Within Early Kalām and Mysticism: An Analysis Covering the Eighth and Ninth Centuries
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………385–410

 

 The annihilation of the fire (fanā’ al-nār), is an expression used by Ibn Taymiyya in Al-Radd ‘alā man Qāla bi-Fanā’ al-Janna wa-l-Nār.  It acts as a rejoinder to those who maintain that the annihilation of the Garden and the Fire within Islamic theology is a fascinating theory that could quite easily be confused with the Christian Patristic apokatastasis  or the falsafa  cosmological hypothesis, which emerged in the works of al-Kindī (d. 873) and Fakhr ad-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1209).

Jane I. Smith and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, in The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (New York: OUP, 2012), supported the argument that the nature of Heaven and Hell has been subjected to a range of interpretations stretching from the purely literal to the utterly allegorical. Hell is a place of just chastisement for sin, an everlasting location for sinning believers; whether or not any punishment there would be truly eternal, has been the subject of considerable dispute.

My objective in this article is not to focus on al-Ghazālī or Ibn al-Taymiyya, but on those scholars who, at an earlier stage, had elaborated a rational speculation on the fanā’ al-nār. At the same time, this article does not set out to provide a comparative analysis linked with the late Patristic authors or Manichean and Zoroastrian influences which, conversely, appear as possible theories. The main goal is to uncover the backgrounds of the authors in Islamic kalām and mysticism who, preceding the Ghazalian phase, were engaged in elaborating the annihilation of the fire. Al-Baghdādī (‘Abd al-Qāhir b. Ṭāhir, d. 1037) in Al-Farq bayna al-Firaq, argues that the Mu‘tazilite Abū al-Hudhayl al-‘Allāf (d. 850), probably influenced by Ḍirār ibn ‘Amr (d. unknown) and Jahm Ibn Safwān (d. 746), were the first to theorise on the finiteness of both Heaven and Hell. However, it  is plausible that different early Muslim mystics from the same century also supported the annihilation of at least the latter. All options remain open to debate.

Keywords

kalām | mysticism | fanā’ al-nār  | Mu‘tazila | eschatology | hell

About the Author

MARCO DEIMCHELIS, PhD, is a research fellow in Islamic Studies and History of the Middle East within the Department of Religious Studies at the Catholic University of Milan. His work is in the field of Fana’ al-Nar (the Annihilation of Hell) within Islamic Eschatology and Kalam. During 2014 he was engaged as Visiting Research Fellow within the Council of Middle Eastern Studies of Yale University. Before this, he obtained a PhD in the History of Islamic Thought University of Genoa (MA at Dalarna Hogskolan, MA at the University of Turin, BA at the University of Turin). Dr Demichelis has already published Storia dei Popoli Arabi. Dal Profit Muhammad all Primavere Arabe (Torino: Ananke, 2013), a pedagogical text for undergraduates; this publication followed the release of his PhD thesis Il Pensiero Mu‘tazilita. Region e Fede tea Basra e Baghdad new primi secoli dell ’Islam by Harmattan (Torino 2011), which addressed the theological and political thought of the Mu‘tazilite school between the eighth and ninth centuries. Marco Demichelis has also had academic articles published in the following peer reviewed journals: Oriente Moderno, JNES, Annali di Scienze Religiose, Arab Studies Quarterly and Parole de l ’Orient.

e-mail: Marco.Demichelis@unicatt.it

 

Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf and Lisa Maria Franke
Narrative Reconfigurations of Islamic Eschatological Signs: The Portents of the “Hour” in Grey Literature and on the Internet
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..411–437

Current political developments have not only been interpreted by Muslim religious scholars and individual laymen as signs, which inaugurate the end of time (ashrāṭ al-sā ‘a ), but these eschatological interpretations have also been and still are being instrumentalized by various religious and political groups. Among them, for example, the IS (dawn islāmiyya ) in Iraq and Syria, which has inaugurated an eschatological fear that is mirrored in numerous online discussion forums and online publications. Especially in social media and grey literature, motifs and figures that appear at the end of time according to the aḥādīth  and the Qur’an, are often reinterpreted and synthesised with other sources, ideologies, worldview and conspiracy theories. The article explores these narrative reconfigurations, focusing on these central motifs or figures: the Dajjāl and its apocalyptic antagonist, the Mahdī, tribulations and trials (fiat ) and the political victory over a perceived enemy. It reveals that the “end” and the last things identified in these narratives are often reinterpreted as a political turn and change in the here and now through spatial and historical reconfigurations. We argue that the functions of these narratives are manifold: They can provide a simple orientation by means of a clear cut dualistic identification of good and evil, or they can offer meaning to otherwise hardly understandable or bearable events. They can also act as a call for political action in a declared sacral conflict.

Keywords

Islamic eschatology | narrative reconfiguration | aḥādīth  | portents of the “hour” | Dajjāl | Mahdī | fiat  | Malāḥim | cyber-Islam

About the Authors

SABINE DAMIR-GEILSDORF is a professor of Islamic Studies at the Oriental Seminar, the University of Cologne. Her research interests include Islamism, developments in Islamic law, migration in the Arab Gulf States, Islam in Germany, and constructions of gender orders. Her published monographs are, Die ,nab‘ erinnern. Palästinensische Narrative des ersten arabisch-israelischen Kliegs 1948 (Habilitation, Göttingen 2008) and Herrschaft und Gesellschaft. Der islamistische Wegbereitere Sayyid Qutb und seine Rezeption (PhD thesis, Würzburg 2003).
e-mail: s.damir-geilsdorf@uni-koeln.de

LISA MARIA FRANKE received her PhD in Arabic Studies in 2011 from the University of Leipzig, Germany. Her book is entitled At the Doors of Paradise – Discourses of Female Self-Sacrifice, Martyrdom and Resistance in Palestine. Her main fields of interest are martyrdom in Islam, colloquial poetry, realms of knowledge and resistance, contemporary constructions of gender and identity, as well as religious-political movements.
e-mail: liza.franke@googlemail.com

 

Mária Lacináková
Death and the Hereafter in Islamic Tradition According to al-Kisā’ī
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….439–474

The objective of this study is to present the views on death and the hereafter as described by four manuscripts of the medieval collection of Islamic orally transmitted stories, Kitāb ‘Ağā’ib al-Malakūt,  compiled by al-Kisā’ī. An attempt has been made to take selected pieces of information gained from its chapters on this topic and review them through reference to interpretations of the same scenes and notions in texts that constitute the basis of Islamic doctrine (‘aqīda), such as Quranic exegeses, ḥadīṯs and their exegeses, as well as a number of books focusing on fatwas, Islamic law, history, morals etc. The author has striven to elucidate and comment on the level of agreement (or otherwise) that exists between the images presented in the collection and the data acknowledged or even prescribed by the Islamic authorities as fundamental tenets of belief.

Keywords

Kitāb ‘Ağā’ib al-Malakūt | al-Qur’ān | Quranic exegeses |  ḥadīṯs | death | soul | grave | angels | believers | infidels | manuscripts

About the Author

MÁRIA LACINÁKOVÁ, MA, an internal PhD student of Arabic linguistics at Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Arts, the Department of Classical and Semitic Philology (Slovakia). Graduated in 2011 from the same faculty (translation and interpreting: English and Arabic languages and cultures). Her dissertation thesis, entitled al-Kisā’ī: Kitāb ‘Ağā’ib al-Malakūt. The Way of Preservation and Linguistic Aspect of Manuscripts, is aimed at providing a linguistic analysis of five manuscripts and an edition of a selection of the given medieval collection of Arabic Islamic religious stories.
e-mail: m.lacinakova@gmail.com

 

Bronislav Ostřanský
The Sufi Journey to the Next World: The Sepulchral Symbolism of Muslim Mystics, Its Context and Interpretations
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….475–500

 Since the very birth of Islam, the Last Things have become a subject of passionate dispute among Muslims. In addition to the “external” approaches of Islamic jurists and theologians with regard to death, funerals, the Hereafter, etc., Sufis have incorporated sepulchral images into their symbolic ways of expression. This article sets out to precisely discuss such Sufi symbolism and the interpretation has a twofold goal: first, to discuss the emblematic approaches to the Last Things, within the framework of Sufi spiritual legacy. The second objective is to prove that symbolic interpretation of the eschatological journey has its demonstrable “earthly counterpart” within Sufi teaching about the spiritual progress of the human being.

Keywords

death | tomb | eschatology | Sufism | symbolism | interpretation

About the Author

BRONISLAV OSTŘANSKÝ, PhD, is a research fellow at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. He graduated from Charles University, Prague, specialising in the Arabic language and the history and culture of Islamic countries (PhD in 2005). His research focuses mainly on medieval Islamic thought, especially mysticism (Sufism). He is author and co-author of several monographs devoted to Islamic society – e.g., Dokonalý člověk a jeho svět v zrcadle islámské mystiky (The Perfect Man and His World in the Mirror of Islamic Mysticism, in Czech), Praha 2004. He has also translated an anthology of Sufi writings into Czech – Hledání skrytého pokladu (The Quest for the Hidden Treasure), Praha 2008, and selected chapters from al-Maqrīzī’s work Popsání pozoruhodností Egypta (The Description of Sights of Egypt), Praha 2012. Currently, he is focusing on the so called “Sufi psychology of the Path,” as depicted in various medieval treatises.
e-mail: ostransky@orient.cas.cz

 

Věra Exnerová
The Veneration and Visitation of the Graves of Saints in Soviet Central Asia. Insights from the Southern Ferghana Valley, Uzbekistan
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….501–536

 The article contributes to the development of a deeper understanding of the changes in the practice of venerating and visiting of the graves of saints in Central Asia during the Soviet period. For this purpose, the article explores the archival reports and oral histories from the region of the southern Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan from the 1920s to the1980s. The article reveals that the broad “categories” often used to study the issues associated with the graves of saints and their visitation, such as the ideological conflict between communist politics and Islam, or the gap between normative and popular Islam, are largely insufficient when describing the practice during this period. The common “schemes” are blurred or interconnected – “believers” used the Soviet system to fulfil their goal of venerating the graves of saints, while the local authorities often helped to retain the practice, or eliminate it, as determined by the needs of their own career advancement. In addition, the process of hagiography continued under the new conditions, irrespective of the levels of education or the individual stances towards the state that existed among the different actors. For the most part, people learned how to combine both Soviet modernity and the veneration of the graves of saints in innovative ways. This analysis contributes to the innovative research process in relation to Islam in Soviet Central Asia. The article also seeks to contribute to the recent debate about the graves of saints and the gap between normative and popular Islam.

Keywords

graves of saints | Soviet period | Uzbekistan | Ferghana Valley | oral history | local practices

About the Author

VĚRA EXNEROVÁ is a research fellow at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. She holds her PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts at Charles University in Prague. Věra Exnerová was Fulbright-Masaryk fellow at Harvard University (2005/2006), visiting fellow at Institut Français d’Études sur l’adie Centrale (2007 and 2008) and Moscow State University (2000 and 2002). In 2007–8 she lived and worked in Afghanistan. In her research, Věra Exnerová uses Soviet and British archival documents and oral history accounts to explore different aspects of Islam and politics in the Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan. Her publications include “Caught Between the Muslim Community and the State: the Role of the Local Uzbek Authorities in Ferghana Valley, 1950s–1980s.” Journal od Muslim Minority Affairs 26:1 (2006): 101–12; Islam in Central Asia during the Tsarist and Soviet Regimes (on the example of the Farghona Valley). Prague: Karolin, 2009, or “Radical Islam from Below: The Mujaddidiya and Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the Ferghana Valley,” in Pauline Jones Luong, Islam, Society and Politics in Central Asia (University of Pittsburg Press, forthcoming).
e-mail: exnerova@orient.cas.cz

 

Jeanine Dağyeli
How to Do a Burial Right: Negotiations of Identity, Religious Practice and the State
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….537–567

 The “correct” performance of death and burial rituals is a highly contested field in Central Asia today. Scripturalist or other reform-minded Muslims, as well as governments, each for their own reasons, often harshly criticise their co-religionists’ death-related practices for being unlawful, superstitious and wasteful. For many Central Asians, lamentations, mourning and commemoration ceremonies have an emblematic value. Even if people do not observe all of the traditions over the one year mourning period, or are not familiar with the symbolism and meaning of single rituals, they know that these exist and form an integral part of a mourning system which is regarded as a valued element of one’s own “traditional” (i.e., pre-Soviet) culture. Only after all the required ceremonies during the one year mourning cycle have been performed, can the deceased be successfully integrated into the world of spirits and take on their new role as guardian of the descendants. The conceptualisation of the mutual relationship between the living and the dead is informed by the belief that they are symbiotic and that the welfare of both parties is dependent on the other.

Keywords

Mourning | lamentation | commemoration | conspicuous consumption | criticism of death rituals | mutual relations between the living and the dead

About the Author

JEANINE DAĞYELI is a post-doctoral research fellow at Centrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. She studied sociology in Erlangen, as well as Central Asian and Islamic Studies at Humboldt-University in Berlin, where she obtained her PhD in 2008, her dissertation being on Central Asian craft codices. She has conducted ethnographic and archival research in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Her main research interests include the (historical) anthropology of Central Asia, especially labour, the moral economy and perceptions of illness, death and the afterlife.
e-mail: jeanine.dagyeli@zirs.uni-halle.de

 

Petr Kubálek
End of Islam, End of Time. An Eschatological Reading of Yezidism
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….569–598

 The article summarises and analyses Yezidi texts on the final battle before the End of Time that reflect the community’s thorny history of relations with Islam. The author pursues an intertextual and historical contextual reading that provides plastic explanations for symbols, metaphors, and allusions found in the Yezidi texts on the End of Time. Moreover, an eschatological reading of other Yezidi texts that are not primarily concerned with the End of Time suggests that eschatological visions may once have been much more prominent in the community’s mind-set than is the case at present. The article is likely to be the first of its kind in the field of Yezidism.

Keywords

End of Time | Islam | Middle East | minority | Yazidi | Yezidi

About the Author

PETR KUBÁLEK, MA, is a graduate from Charles University, Prague where he completed study programmes in Arabic Studies and Studies in History and Cultures of Islamic Countries (his master’s thesis on the eschatology of Yezidism being submitted in 2009). In his current PhD studies at the same university, Kubálek is engaged in research on Arabic spoken as a second language by Kurds in Iraq. He has co-authored a documentary film on Yezidism and an exhibition on Kurdish history and culture. Kubálek collaborates with the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and also works for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
e-mail: kurdistan@centrum.cz

 

 

Our Contributors
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….599–601

Contents of Volume 83 (2015)
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….603–604