What happens after death but before the final resurrection? This is the intermediate state. For most Muslims, it is called the barzakh, and it is a fantastical and frightening time in the grave. Throughout history and today this belief has been discussed and expressed in many forms: from Ṣūfī dreamscapes to theological tests of orthodoxy. But where does the barzakh come from first?
In A Place Between Two Places: The Qurʾānic Barzakh, George Archer reconstructs the barzakh's early history. Analyzing sixteen of the Qurʾān's sūras in search of oral formulae, subtextual hints, and concentric parallelisms, the early barzakh is exposed as a response to the saint cults of late antiquity, and most especially, the cult of the divine Christ. From here, the Qurʾānic vision of the barzakh is traced forward through later prophetic biographies, Islamic architecture, and the ḥadīth literature in order to show how the barzakh developed into the distinctive eschatological claims of the Islamic Middle Ages.
Winner of the 26th World Award for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, honouring the best works on Islamic and Iranian Studies (2018)
Chapter I. Introduction, or "That Second Kingdom" (1)
Chapter II. Method, or "The Barrier Between Us and Our Ancestors" (63)
Chapter III. An Excavation of the Cave (107)
Chapter IV. Sleep Cycles: The Intra-Qurʾānic Development of the Barzakh (193)
Chapter V. Dreams of Muḥammad: the Medieval Barzakh (291)
Chapter VI. Orality Translation, Soul-Sleep, and the Monothteistic Imagination (387)
Bibliography and Works Cited (425)