Abdulla Galadari, Assistant Professor, Humanities & Social Sciences, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi UAE
This paper compares the Qurʾanic concept of the “barzakh,” which is usually understood as the barrier between the realm of the living and the dead, with the concept of the bosom of Abraham in Luke’s parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The motif of the bosom of Abraham is analysed from within the wider Jewish traditions that existed in rabbinic literature that were in circulation during Late Antiquity to identify the relationship of this motif and its re-articulation in the Qurʾan.
There are various intertextualities between the Qurʾanic concept and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. For example, Qurʾan 57:12–13 illustrates a difference between those who enjoy heaven and those who are in hell, and there is a barrier between them. The same can also be said in Qurʾan 7:41–53. This may be related to the chasm suggested by Abraham between himself and the rich man (i.e., Luke 16:25–26). Qurʾan 7:50 states that the people in hell will ask the people in heaven to pour some water on them, and the answer is that it is forbidden to the non-believers. This request is similar to the rich man’s, who asks Abraham to send Lazarus to him with water (i.e., Luke 16:24). Qurʾan 23:99–100 states that someone dies and requests to be returned to this life to change their deeds, but the answer implies that the dead cannot return to this life and change their deeds, as there is a “barzakh” between them. Similarly, Qurʾan 7:52–53 suggests that God has sent books and messengers to warn the people, but they did not heed them, and then they ask to be returned to change their deeds and live a righteous life. The same occurs when the rich man asks Abraham for Lazarus to return to warn the rich man’s family, and the answer is that his family already have Moses and the Prophets, and if they do not believe in them, then they will not believe someone who rises from the dead (i.e., Luke 16:27–31).
With many intertextualities that exist between the Qurʾan and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, this paper attempts to understand if this motif was the backdrop of the Qurʾanic re-articulation.