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Seeing God in Sufi Qur’an Commentaries

Crossings between This World and the Otherworld

Pieter Coppens

Paperback (Forthcoming)
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Discusses the concept of the vision of God in Sufi Qur’an Commentaries

  • First in-depth study of the concept of the vision of God in Sufi eschatology, not only focusing on the hereafter, but also on this-worldly vision
  • Compares five understudied tafsīr sources, gaining new insights into the genre of Sufi tafsīr and its intertextuality
  • First study that intensively deals with the yet unpublished Qur’an commentary of Shams al-Dīn al-Daylamī
  • Includes detailed descriptions of Sufi imaginations of Paradise and Hell and discussions of Qur’anic passages on Adam, Moses and Muhammad related to seeing God

This history of Sufi conceptions of the hereafter – often imagined as a place of corporeal reward (Paradise) or punishment (Hell) – is built upon the study of five medieval Sufi Qur’an commentaries. Pieter Coppens shows that boundary crossing from this world to the otherworld, and vice versa, revolves around the idea of meeting with and the vision of God; a vision which for some Sufis is not limited to the hereafter. The Qur’anic texts selected for study – all key verses on seeing God – are placed in their broader religious and social context and are shown to provide a useful and varied source for the reconstruction of a history of Sufi eschatology and the vision of God.


List of abbreviations
1. Introduction
2. Sufi commentaries from the 4th/10th to the 7th/13th centuries: the rise of a genre
3. The ultimate boundary crossing: Paradise and Hell in the commentaries
4. The first boundary crossing: Adam descending
5. Excursus: embodying the vision of God in theology and Sufism
6. Arinī: declined at the boundary?
7. A vision at the utmost boundary
8. Conclusion
Unpublished sources
Primary Sources
Secondary sources

About the Author

Pieter Coppens is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Theology of VU University, Amsterdam. Besides Islamic eschatology, his research focuses on the history of Qur’anic Exegesis and the history of Sufism.

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