Narrations on the “Place of Return” (maʿād). Religious and philosophical eschatologies in comparison in Baghdad and surroundings (10th-11th cent.)

Postdoctoral project supervised by Cecilia Martini

Sara Abram

God’s oneness and the imminence of the “Day of Reckoning” are the most dominant subjects of the first revelations that Muḥammad, the prophet of Islām, announces to the tribes of Mecca (7th cent.). The ultimate destiny of humanity as described by the Quran and the Sunna poses today, as well as in ancient times, questions that are by no means negligible. The project aims to frame how the vivid representations of the Universal Judgement, the pleasures of Paradise, and the torments of Hell have been assimilated and interpreted by the different intellectual currents of Islamic thought (traditionalist, theological-speculative and mystical-esoteric) to better place the perspective I intend to shed light on: the philosophical one. The interpretations of the so-called falāsifa, compared to the literal readings of the Quran and to the many Islamic “narrations” on the topic, turn out to be among the highest expressions of intellectual autonomy that the history of Islamic thought has ever known. The preliminary study of falāsifa’s conception of the soul and the hereafter – together with the identification of the ancient and late antique Greek sources that they used – will led to a better contextualization of the two case studies that I intend to analyze: the hitherto unedited Book on the Knowledge of the Hereafter by the mathematician and philosopher Abū Ḥāmid al-Isfizārī (10th-11th cent.) and the Treatise on the Philosophical Description of the Hereafter by the Persian physician and philosopher Abū l-Faraǧ ʿAlī ibn Hindū (d. 1029/1032).