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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny

Christian and Muslim Perspectives

David Marshall

Publication Year: 2014

Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny: Christian and Muslim Perspectives is a record of the 2012 Building Bridges seminar for leading Christian and Muslim scholars, convened by Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury. The essays in this volume explore what the Bible and Qurʾān -- and the Christian and Islamic theological traditions -- have to say about death, resurrection, and human destiny. Special attention is given to the writings of al-Ghazali and Dante. Other essays explore the notion of the good death. Funeral practices of each tradition are explained. Relevant texts are included with commentary, as are personal reflections on death by several of the seminar participants. An account of the informal conversations at the seminar conveys a vivid sense of the lively, penetrating but respectful dialogue which took place. Three short pieces by Rowan Williams provide his opening comments at the seminar, and his reflections on its proceedings. The volume also contains an analysis of the Building Bridges Seminar after a decade of his leadership.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...Muhammad Abdel Haleem King Fahd Professor of Islamic Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London Asma Afsaruddin Chair and Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Near Eastern Languages...

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pp. xiii-xiv

...mention should be made of Richard Burridge, Clare Dowding, and their colleagues at King’s College London, and of Toby Howarth and Tess Young at Lambeth Palace. The extremely generous support for Building Bridges provided over many years by Georgetown University...

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pp. xv-xx

...theme of ‘‘Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny.’’ The seminar lasted from April 23–25, 2012; the first day was dedicated to public lectures at King’s College London while the second and third days consisted of private sessions at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge for the group of some...

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pp. xxi-xxiv

...helped to make us so welcome here. As the Principal, Professor Trainor, has said, this is a place naturally equipped for the kind of dialogue that we have sought to pursue; it’s a very great pleasure to be able to have the public part of our proceedings here in this historic setting. A public word of thanks is also due to Georgetown...

Part I: Surveys

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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny in the Bible


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pp. 3-18

...resurrection of the body. Many are therefore surprised to discover that belief in resurrection hardly features in the Old Testament at all. By the time of Jesus it was, in fact, a topic of controversy among different Jewish parties, with the conservative Sadducees rejecting it, the...

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Response to N. T. Wright


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pp. 19-22

...of the ‘‘two-stage postmortem reality,’’ which, he rightly says, is also expressed in classical Islamic theology. However, there is no contradiction in Islamic or, I would argue, Christian theology between asserting the reality of the resurrection of the body at the end of this cycle of time...

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Response to Reza Shah-Kazemi


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pp. 23-24

...immediately after death in the presence of Jesus himself. That, as St. Paul says, will be ‘‘far better’’ (Phil. 1:23). Shah-Kazemi implies at one point that this will itself be a form of ‘‘resurrection,’’ but the New Testament does not and would not say that. Resurrection will...

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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny: Qurānic and Islamic Perspectives


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pp. 25-38

...it, ‘‘One takes your heart, the other takes its beat.’’ Yet, while we think frequently about love and death, they both come to us uninvited and we find ourselves ready for neither, certainly not for death. The question of what happens to us beyond death is one...

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Response to Mona Siddiqui


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pp. 39-42

...underscores these connections: ‘‘God expects—indeed, wants—human beings to commit sin so that he can forgive.’’ Each person, in other words, is a process of continuous divine Creation, a constant interaction between Creator and created. In a book of Lenten lectures, Archbishop...

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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny in the Islamic Tradition


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pp. 43-56

...ethical or edifying literature that provides moral counsel and guidance for the educated Muslim. Since these genres include a prodigious amount of material and it would be impossible to do full justice to it, I will restrict my discussion to selective primary sources...

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Response to Asma Afsaruddin


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pp. 57-60

...Sajjad Rizvi’s essay in this volume speaks of the ‘‘friends of God’’ as being part of the afterlife, and I wonder whether this difference of emphasis (individual and God; individual and friends and God) indicates a significant difference? If not, I would appreciate further explanation, from a Muslim...

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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny in the Christian Tradition


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pp. 61-72

...expectation of the earliest Christians did not necessarily coincide with what later generations of Christians believed. We need to note further that the later division of Christianity, between the Greek East and the Latin West, and the fracturing of Western Christianity at the Reformation, also...

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Response to Geoffrey Rowell


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pp. 73-78

...aggregated as follows: (1) the afterlife landscape is rich and variegated; (2) some eschatological concepts and schemes lose emphasis over time, but some remain stable and dominate over longer historical periods; and (3) apparent tensions within eschatological schemes in both traditions persist...

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Dying Well: Christian Faith and Practice


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pp. 79-94

...what ‘‘should’’ be believed and practiced. My reflections cannot convey the wealth of Christian practices around dying, which vary across the world, across denominations, and even within a single congregation. I take ‘‘the West’’ as my context, in which the wider culture is simultaneously...

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Response to Harriet Harris


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pp. 95-98

...year in New York, where she was living with her family. Eventually, the American doctors advised us to take her to a local nursing home where she would be cared for until her death. But one doctor, a Muslim from Pakistan, advised us to take Zeynep back to Istanbul, so...

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A Muslim’s Perspective on the Good Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny


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pp. 99-110

...what might be a good death from a Muslim perspective, it’s worth raising the difficult question of the horror of death and the consolation and hope that religion provides against it. At least since Plato in the European metaphysical tradition and in the foundational scriptures of what became the...

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Death and the Love of Life: A Response to Sajjad Rizvi


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pp. 111-116

...century ago, a fascist general during the Spanish civil war exclaimed, ‘‘¡Viva la muerte!’’ (‘‘Long live death!’’). Though the terrorist ideologue and the fascist general were good at moving young men to wreak havoc on others and destroy themselves, they were bad interpreters of the religious traditions with which they are associated, Islam and Christianity...

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pp. 117-122

...have to anything, and I suspect that some of the passion, anger, and pain around discussion of assisted suicide, for example, has to do with the feeling that religious prohibitions are somehow denying us ownership of our own experience, ownership of our own death. That...

Part II: Texts and Commentaries

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I Corinthians 15

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pp. 125-128

...by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me...

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St. Paul on the Resurrection: I Corinthians 15


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pp. 129-142

...ships, to avoid the long, dangerous sea voyage around the south. A key city throughout the classical period of Greece and Hellenism, Corinth was sacked by the newly emerging Romans in 146 BC, and was refounded...

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Selected Qurānic Texts

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pp. 143-146

...are left to live on to such an age that they forget all they once knew. You sometimes see the earth lifeless, yet when We send down water it stirs and swells and produces every kind of joyous growth...

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Commentary on Selected Qurānic Texts


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pp. 147-152

...death and life to test you and reveal which of you does best’’ (67:2). Without this test and the resulting destiny in the next life, the creation of human beings merely for life in this world would be in vain, a futile act that does not befit God...

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Selected Passages from al-Ghazālī’s The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife

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pp. 153-160

...Know that the heart of the man who is engrossed in this world and is given over to its vanities and harbours love for its appetites must certainly be neglectful of the remembrance of death. Thus failing to recall it, when...

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Al-Ghazālī on Death


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pp. 161-166

...for Islam, the decentered nature of religious authority into a madrassa-based establishment in some respects resembling the rabbinate, has always militated against the emergence of a unanimous Muslim vote. Still, to judge by the number and geographical extent of manuscript copies...

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Selected Passages from Dante’s The Divine Comedy

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pp. 167-178

...Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d: To rear me was the task of power divine...

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The Afterlife as Presented by Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy


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pp. 179-186

...after the original sin of the first human parents, Adam and Eve, this exiled humanity longs to return home to God. Dante situates his vision of the journey from this life on earth to life after death in Holy Week, the period from Holy...

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Selected Passages from Journey to the Afterlife

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pp. 187-194

...said ‘‘Breaking a bone of a dead person is like breaking a bone of a living person’’ (Tirmidhi). It is against the dignity of a Muslim. Immediately after the death, preparations are made for washing the body...

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Muslim Funerals


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pp. 195-202

...which are performed in the same way throughout the world, are an enactment of Islam’s doctrinal, moral, and social teachings concerning death, ultimate human destiny, the dignity of the deceased, and the need to care for the bereaved and unite Muslims everywhere in a profound sense of solidarity...

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Contemporary Funeral Liturgy in the Church of England

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pp. 203-220

...Here we have restricted ourselves to material from the Church of England. The liturgical resources of other Christian traditions can also readily be explored on the internet...

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Christian Funerals


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pp. 221-230

...associated with them have different objects—most obviously, it is the dead who are commended and the living who are consoled— but their subject is the same—namely, the community who participate in the funeral service. The intention is that the liturgy will enable all these...

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Conversations in Canterbury


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pp. 231-240

...naturally given over to unscripted discussion and conversation. On the first day of the seminar, lectures were delivered at King’s College London in sessions open to the public, with opportunity for questions to the speakers from a large audience. Video recordings of these sessions are...

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pp. 241-244

...the pain of a contact between what is holy and what is compromised, weak, and flawed. If we try to imagine what it is like to be in the light of God’s presence, we become more deeply aware of the shabbiness of our humanity and our lack of any claim on the justice of God. One...

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Personal Reflections on Death

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pp. 245-258

...consolation and hope. As someone studying ancient history, it was good to be able to test out the arguments for the resurrection, but it also affects how we face death. Because Jesus entered into our human existence even to the point of experiencing death, that means that God...

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A Decade of Appreciative Conversation: The Building Bridges Seminar under Rowan Williams


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pp. 259-274

...Tony Blair and HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, invited thirty-eight Christians and Muslims to Lambeth Palace (the London home and offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury) for a seminar titled ‘‘Building Bridges: Overcoming Obstacles in Christian–Muslim Relations...


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pp. 275-288

E-ISBN-13: 9781626160552
E-ISBN-10: 1626160554

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2014