Chapter

Beyond Polemics and Pluralism

Reza Shah-Kazemi

in Between Heaven and Hell

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199945399
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945399.003.0004
Beyond Polemics and Pluralism

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In chapter 4, Reza Shah-Kazemi argues that the Qur’an is intrinsically “universalist,” meaning, it celebrates religious diversity and all who are righteous, be they Muslim or otherwise. Thus, a Christian, for instance, need not convert to Islam to be saved, and this is something that Islamic scripture itself explicitly affirms. The Qur’an is universalist, then, inasmuch as it embraces all of the revealed religions. Shah-Kazemi combines this universal approach to salvation with an emphasis on the normativity of the Islamic faith by arguing that a true universality must include, rather than preclude, particularity, going so far as to include a mode of exclusivism. This mode of exclusivism is identified by Shah-Kazemi, basing himself on the Sufi tradition, with an exclusion of all syncretism, that is, with an emphasis on the need to pursue the spiritual life within the framework of Islam alone; and with the belief that Islam is the most complete religion, at least partly on account of its very universality—a paradigm-challenging articulation of Islamic “supersession.”

Keywords: Islam; Muslim; Salvation; diversity (or: religious diversity); Qur’an; Sufism; universalism; pluralism; heaven; hell

Chapter.  7612 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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