Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Who were the deniers of the afterlife in the Qur’an? "

Tue, April 27, 2010 | ART 1.120

4:30 PM

Who were the deniers of the afterlife in the Qur’an?
a talk by
Patricia Crone, Institute for Advanced Study

The Qur’an is our only reliable source for the religious milieu in which Islam arose, but what kind of milieu was it? The Islamic tradition insists that throughout his period in Mecca, Muhammad was confronting Arabian pagans of a straightforward polytheist kind.

Ten years ago it was suggested that, Arabian though they may have been, the opponents were actually monotheists abusively written off as polytheists. No attempt has been made to prove or disprove this hypothesis so far, nor is it going to be easy to do so, given that the Qur’an is notoriously allusive. On top of that, the opponents seem to have been a diverse lot.

This lecture will focus on a particular group among them, undoubtedly the most extreme in that its members denied the existence of life after death, and possibly even of God.  What sort of beliefs might they represent and with what wider religious trends in the Near East might they be connected?

Patricia Crone is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She is the author, most recently, of From Arabian Tribes to Islamic Empire: army, state and society in the Near East 600-850; From Kavad to al-Ghazali: religion, law, and political thought in the Near East 600-1100; and God’s Rule: government and Islam.

Sponsored by: Center and Department for Middle Eastern Studies; the Department of Religious Studies; and the Department of Art and Art History

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