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Visiting Speaker - Professor Christian Lange, Utrecht University

"What no eye has seen: The Development of Early Muslim Literature on Paradise and Hell"

In this talk, I provide, first, an overview of the Muslim literature about paradise and hell up to ca. 250 AH.

Event details

To illustrate the broad development that this literature underwent, I then zoom in on the well-known ‘divine saying’ (ḥadīth qudsī) that “I have prepared for my servants [in paradise] that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived”.  This is a tradition that has deep roots in the Judeo-Christian literature of Late Antiquity.  The Qur’an seems aware of it, but does not quote it. The first appearance in Muslim literature comes in the Scroll (ṣaḥīfa) of the Yemeni traditionist, Hammām b. Munabbih (d. 131/749 or 132/750).  From there, the saying undergoes a series of fascinating transformations, and ends up (in various shapes) in the canonical collections.  I discuss the theological content and implications of the various versions of the saying, and then back up my thoughts with an analysis of the chains of transmitters (isnāds) that support these versions.

Christian Lange (PhD Harvard, 2006) holds the Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Utrecht.  In his research, he seeks to inject the study of Islamic sources in Arabic and Persian with the analytical categories and approaches developed in the Study of Religion and cognate disciplines in the Humanities.  He's primarily interested in the areas of Islamic theology (eschatology in particular), Islamic law and legal theory, and Islamic mysticism.
His first book, Justice, Punishment and the Medieval Muslim Imagination (CUP, 2008), is a study of state violence under the Seljuq dynasty (11th-13th c.) in political, eschatological, and legal terms.  In pursuance of related lines of inquiry, he has co-edited a collection of essays on the topic of public violence in Islamic societies (EUP, 2009), as well as a multi-author volume on the Seljuq dynasty (EUP, 2011).  His research focus of the last couple of years has been Islamic eschatology.  His last book Paradise and hell in Islamic traditions (CUP, 2016) won this year’s British Kuwait Friendship Society Bookprize.

Christian_Lange___A4_Notice.pdf (515K)


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