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Title: 'To Hell and back' : a study of the concepts of Hell and intercession in early Islam
Author: Hamza, Feras
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2002
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This dissertation is primarily a study of the idea of temporary Hell-fire punishment for the grave sinners of the Muslim community. The doctrine is taught by Islamic orthodoxy, both Sunni and Shi'i, but its historical development has not been examined by modern scholars. The present study is offered as a preliminary investigation of this concept. Probably under influence from the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the concept of temporary Hell-fire punishment found its way into the nascent Muslim theology of the early second century A.H. But at the time of its emergence (c. 700-750 A.D.), and for many decades afterwards, the idea faced resistance from 'scripturalists' within Muslim society who found no explicit support for it in the Qur'an. Muslim traditionalists sought to reconcile it with the text of the Qur'an, and eventually adopted it as a theological solution to the divisive and long-standing question of the fate of the Muslim grave sinner in the next world. Within the early Muslim community, however, there also existed the belief, first attested on a Dome of the Rock inscription (c. 691-2 AD), of the eschatological intercession (shafa'a) of the Prophet. The Qur'an had not explicitly granted the Prophet such a privilege, but given the 'monotheistic' precedent of prophets and holy men as intercessors, and a widely-held esteem among pre-Islamic Arabs for the figure of the 'intercessor' (shafi'), it was not long before Muhammad was acknowledged as the intercessor par excellence on the Day of Resurrection. For the first 150 years, there were almost no discussions about the Prophet's shafdca, but sometime between the second and third century A.H., the issue, according to the our Iraqi historical sources, became a point of controversy. This was probably because Muslim scripturalists, who had opposed the idea of temporary Hell-fire, were now resisting the traditionalist doctrine that the Prophet's shafa'a would help grave sinners exit from Hell.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Muslim