Fana' al-Nar within early Kalam and Mysticism. An analysis covering the Eighth and Ninth Centuries

Autores: Demichelis, Marco
Título de la revista: ARCHIV ORIENTALNI
ISSN: 0044-8699
Volumen: 83
Número: 3
Páginas: 385 - 410
Fecha de publicación: 2015
The annihilation of the fire (fana' al-nar], is an expression used by Ibn Taymiyya in Al-Radd 'ala man Qala bi-Fana' al-Janna wa-l-Nar. It acts as a rejoinder to those who maintain that the annihilation of the Garden and the Fire within Islamic theology is a fascinating theory that could quite easily be confused with the Christian Patristic apokatastasis or the falsafa cosmological hypothesis, which emerged in the works of al-Kindi (d. 873) and Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi (d. 1209). Jane I. Smith and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, in The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (New York: OUP, 2012), supported the argument that the nature of Heaven and Hell has been subjected to a range of interpretations stretching from the purely literal to the utterly allegorical. Hell is a place of just chastisement for sin, an everlasting location for sinning believers; whether or not any punishment there would be truly eternal, has been the subject of considerable dispute. My objective in this article is not to focus on al-Ghazali or Ibn al-Taymiyya, but on those scholars who, at an earlier stage, had elaborated a rational speculation on the fana' al-nar. At the same time, this article does not set out to provide a comparative analysis linked with the late Patristic authors or Manichean and Zoroastrian influences which, conversely, appear as possible theories. The main goal is to uncover the backgrounds of the authors in Islamic kalam and mysticism who, preceding the Ghazalian phase, were engaged in elaborating the annihilation of the fire. Al-Baghdadi ('Abd al-Qahir b. Tahir, d. 1037) in Al-Farq bayna al-Firaq, argues that the Mu'tazilite Abu al-Hudhayl al-'Allaf (d. 850), probably influenced by Dirar ibn 'Amr (d. unknown) and Jahm Ibn Safwan (d. 746), were the first to theorize on the finiteness of both Heaven and Hell. However, it is plausible that different early Muslim mystics from the same century also supported the annihilation of at least the latter. All options remain open to debate.