In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 8, no.3), Devin J. Stewart (Emory University) reviews George Archer, A Place Between Two Places: The Qurʾānic Barzakh (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2017).
In the review, Stewart writes “In A Place between Two Places: The Qurʾānic Barzakh, George Archer addresses the term barzakh and the associated conception of an intermediate state between life and death, or life and the afterlife, in Late Antiquity, the Qurʾān, and early Islamic literature. One way to look at this work is as a response to an interpretive problem presented by the term, which occurs in three qurʾānic passages. In the first two passages, Q al-Nūr 25:53 and al-Raḥmān 55:19–20, barzakh designates a barrier—somewhat mystifying to human observers—between fresh and salt water. That the term indicates a barrier is clear from the fact that the two bodies of water are said to meet but remain separate, constituting one of the many signs of God manifested in the wondrous features of the natural world. The setting in the third passage, Q al-Muʾminūn 23:99–100, is entirely different. Here, barzakh also denotes a barrier; a dead man’s request to be returned to the world to rectify his former deeds is categorically denied, and this is declared impossible on account of the barzakh: “A barzakh stands behind such people until the day when they are resurrected.” The barrier in this case separates the realm of the dead from the realm of the living…”
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