1 minute read

Heaven and Hell


The Koran abounds in references to "the Fire," "the Burning," and "the Gardens beneath which rivers flow." Beyond the Koran, many hadith (sayings) and other, later records of oral traditions develop Islamic eschatology. The account of Muhammad's Ascension, which retraces the Prophet's progress from hell to paradise, resembles Asian and European accounts in organization and vividness. In the late eighth century, the Sufi mystic Rabi ah of Basra claimed that neither fear of hell nor hope for heaven befit the pious soul: "O God! if I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine everlasting beauty!"


Bernstein, Alan E. The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Conze, Edward, ed. Buddhist Scriptures. London: Penguin, 1959.

Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas. 3 vols. Translated by Willard R. Trask. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978–1985.

Gardiner, Eileen, ed. Visions of Heaven and Hell before Dante. New York: Italica Press, 1989.

King, Charles. "The Living and the Dead: Ancient Roman Conceptions of the Afterlife." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1998.

McDannell, Colleen, and Bernhard Lang. Heaven: A History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988.

O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger, ed., with Daniel Gold, David Haberman, and David Shulman. Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Smith, Jane Idleman, and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981.

Wright, J. Edward. The Early History of Heaven. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Zaleski, Carol. Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Alan E. Bernstein

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Habit memory: to HeterodontHeaven and Hell - Egypt, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancient Greek Religion, Etruscans And Romans, Judaism