Academic Programs 
      

CONCEPTS OF THE AFTERLIFE IN THE QUR’AN AND HADITH    (SC-623)
Winter/Spring 2008

A consideration of the Islamic eschatological narrative as presented in the Qur’an, beginning with the death of the individual and ending with habitation in the final abodes of the Garden or the Fire. We will look at how this narrative is supplemented by Islamic tradition, and how it compares in its general outline with the concepts of life after death in the scriptures of other religious traditions. NOTE: This is an intermediate graduate level course. Successful completion of one previous course in Islam or permission of the instructor is required.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:50 PM, beginning January 31


Jane I. Smith
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations
 

Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9532
email: jismith@hartsem.edu

 

Course Syllabus



Course Description:

A consideration of the Islamic eschatological narrative as presented in the Qur’an, beginning with the death of the individual and ending with habitation in the final abodes of the Garden or the Fire. We will look at how this narrative is supplemented by Islamic tradition, and how it compares in its general outline with the concepts of life after death in the scriptures of other religious traditions. NOTE: This is an intermediate graduate level course. Successful completion of one previous course in Islam or permission of the instructor is required.

Assigned Texts:

The Holy Qur’an (recommended translations: (a) Majid Fakhry, The Qur’an. A Modern English Version. (b) A.Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an. Text, Translation and Commentary. (c) Sayyid Abul A‘la Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an.

Jane Smith and Yvonne Haddad, The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981. [Reprinted by Oxford University Press, 2003]

The Precious Pearl, a translation with notes of Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali's al-Durra al-Fakhira. "Studies in World Religions," Scholars Press, 1979 (to be distributed in class).

Additional readings to be determined.

Week One: January 31

Theme: Introduction to the course; the text of the Qur’an
Reading:
(1) Jane Smith, “Reflections on Aspects of Immortality in Islam,”
Harvard Theological Review, Dec-March 1977
(2) Jane I. Smith, “The Afterlife,” pp. 81-95 in Lawrence Sullivan,
Death, Afterlife, and the Soul

Week Two: February 7

Theme: The Being of God and the Nature of the Universe
Reading:
(1) Daniel A. Madigan, “Themes and Topics,” in Jane Dammen
McAuliffe, The Qur’an, pp. 79-95
(2) Smith and Haddad, Islamic Understanding of Death and
Resurrection
, chapter one

Week Three: February 14

Theme: Who are human beings?
Reading:
(1) Michael Marmura, “Islamic Concepts of the Soul,” pp. 223-231,
in Lawrence Sullivan, Death, Afterlife, and the Soul
(2) Peter Awn, Satan’s Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis in Sufi
Psychology
, pp. 33-45

Week Four: February 21

Theme: The relationship of human and divine
Reading: catch-up

Week Five: February 28

Theme: The meaning of death
Reading:
(1) Ruqaiyya Waris Maqsood, “What will happen to me after I die?” pp.
146-68 in After Death, Life!
(2 and 3) Alford T. Welch, “Death and Dying in the Qur’an”, pp. 183-199 and Earle Waugh, “Muharram Rites: Community Death and Rebirth, pp. 200-213, both in Reynolds and Waugh, Religious Encounters with Death

Week Six: March 6

Theme: Death and afterlife in Hinduism and Buddhism
Reading:
(1) “Buddhism,” pp. 85-108 and (2) “Hinduism,” pp. 157-84 in
Johnson and McGee, eds., How Different Religions View Death and Afterlife

Week Seven: March 14

Theme: Death and afterlife in Judaism and Christianity
Reading:
(1) Jack Bemporad, “Judaic Concepts of the Soul,” pp. 205-221 in
Lawrence Sullivan, Death, Afterlife and the Soul
(2) Alan L. Ponn, “Judaism,” in Johnson and McGee, eds., How Different
Religions View Death and Afterlife
, pp. 205-228
(3) George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future, pp. 3-42

Week Eight: March 20

READING WEEK: NO CLASS

Week Nine: March 27

Theme: Barzakh and Signs of the Hour
Reading:
(1) Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Precious Pearl, entire
(2) Barbara Stowasser, “The End is Near: Minor and Major Signs
of the Hour in Islamic Texts and Contexts,” pp. 45-67 in
Amanat and Collins, Apocalypse and Violence
(3) Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, “Messianism and the Mahdi,” in Seyyed
Hossein Nasr et al, eds, Expectation of the Miollenium. Shi‘ism in
History,
pp. 24-43.
(4) David Cook, Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic, 1-33 [optional]

Week Ten: April 3

Theme: Resurrection and Judgment
Reading:
(1) Smith and Haddad, Islamic Understanding of Death and
Resurrection,
chapters two and four

Week Eleven: April 10

Theme: Destiny of those who have fared well
Reading:
(1) Smith and Haddad, Islamic Understanding of Death and
Resurrection,
chapters three and five
(2) Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, “Eternal Life,” pp. 208-227 in
After Death, Life!

Week Twelve: April 17

NO CLASS: INSTRUCTOR AWAY

Week Thirteen: April 24

Theme: Destiny of those who have not fared well
Reading: catch-up

Week Fourteen: May 1

Theme: Contingent issues; conclusion
Reading: M. S. Stern, “Al-Ghazzali on Repentance,” pp. 4-19
Ali Unal, compiler, The Resurrection and the Afterlife, pp. 194-227
(Said Nursi)

Course requirements:

Students are expected (a) to read and be ready to discuss all assigned readings, (b) research Qur’an commentaries and hadith collections in English (those who can read the Arabic tafsir and hadith are encouraged to do so) and report on them, and (c) write a 10+ page paper on a topic of their choice.


 

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