Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation and the Fate of Others.

Author:Nguyen, Martin
Position:Book review
 
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Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation and the Fate of Others. Edited by MOHAMMAD HASSAN KHALIL. NEW YORK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013. Pp. xxii + 335. $99 (cloth); $35 (paper).

The edited volume Between Heaven and Hell arose out of an international symposium held in April 2010 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Mohammad Khalil, one of the symposium organizers and the editor of the present collection, has brought together an impressive array of scholarly contributions that examine Muslim theological positions on the question of salvation. Adding to the timeliness of the book is its focus on one specific set of soteriological issues, namely, those dealing with the salvation of non-Muslims. As a whole, the volume includes a judicious selection of papers originally presented at the symposium in addition to three new pieces by Mohammad Fadel, Tim Winter, and Reza Shah-Kazemi. Tariq Ramadan provides a brief foreword followed by a scholarly introduction by Khalil. The rest of the book is comprised of thirteen chapters separated into six parts. Despite the number of contributions, the volume maintains a thematic unity throughout, with many pieces directly referencing or critiquing other pieces in the collection. As a result, the book benefits from a conversational dynamism not always found with edited volumes.

Furthermore, the present volume is an important complement to Khalil's earlier work Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), where the author examined the theological positions of Abu Hamid al-GhazalI (d. 505/1111), Muhyi 1-Din Ibn al-'Arabi (d. 638/1240), and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) on the same issue. Between Heaven and Hell not only provides additional historical and contemporary perspectives but also offers alternative readings of several of the scholars previously examined. The inclusion of these differing approaches and analyses both broadens and enriches its overall contribution.

Between Heaven and Hell, however, is not a conventional work of Islamic Studies scholarship. Rather than simply presenting the typically expected collection of textual, historical, and sociological studies, the book also includes theological arguments. The authors of the latter variety write unambiguously as invested scholars of faith and members of Muslim communities. Their contributions are synthetic or constructive in form and sometimes normative in tone. But the inclusion of theological essays...

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