The essay will discuss the death and burial narratives that associate with Adam, the first human being in the Islamic religious literature called Qisas al-ambiya or Stories of the Biblical prophets (Boeschoten and Vandamme 107). The stories relate to the discursive religious communities that articulate political identities. The author examines the reburials of political figures in Eastern Europe preceding the collapse of Russian Empire. The paper provides an argument concerning Islamic narratives on the death and burial of Biblical figures such as Adam that redefine and reinstitutes boundaries to identify and distinguish Muslims and other religious sects. The paper will offer an extensive understanding that will develop multiple and competing assertions in the effort to monopolize activities that relate with death. Nasir al-Din al-Rabghuzi’sQisas Al-Anbiya is religious literature written in 1310 AD in Khwarezmian, Turkey (Boeschoten and Vandamme 109). The text is a crucial Islamic literature from Turkey that contains different theological discourse, historical linguistics, popular stories, literal criticism, and poems in Islamic studies. The literature is an original literature with a collection of stories concerning prophets. Nasir works with the inspiration from Persia and Arabia while he collects materials and traditions recently translated in English. The audience of al-Rabghuzi includes non-Arabian citizens that would like to understand medieval Arabic, Turkey, and Persian works.
Al-Rabghuzi explores some of the questions such as the meaning of the burial practices in the process of religious practices. How the act of appropriation occurs in the diverse settings that compete to monopolize the interpretation of shared narratives. How the process relates tostruggles over authority within the religious groups. The Islamic literature the qisas al-anbiya is set in the Umma period where two issues emerge (1) validity of Islamic assertions in relation to Christian and Jews (2) Question concerning the person with authority to speak for Muslims. The story of Adam’s death recounts for exploration of the issues in the qisas al-anbiya (Boeschoten and Vandamme 117).
The genre of medieval Islamic religious literature the qisas al-anbiya originates in the exhortations and storytelling of diverse religious and political functions. Some of the functions of Prophet Muhammad is to recite the Quran while recalling the actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad while recounting the tales of pre-Islamic prophets. That function serves to fortify the unity and spirits of Muslim soldiers in the war of conquest. (2) Another function was to spread an invitation of faith called da’wa to proclaim the virtues of Islam on the conquered nations. The ambivalent and complex structure of qussa reveal an underlying tension that relate with the struggle for power and authority in the formations of political and legal institutions. In the first century, the qussas operation centre on the nascent religion in the political and legal institutions. In addition to that, qussas function as part of the network of people in the Islamic law that shapes the ritual behavior (Boeschoten and Vandamme 123). Umayyad caliphs attempt to harness the popularity of the preachers that create the storyteller to infuse religious instruction with the political intention to reinforce Islamic solidarity and the loyalty of Umayyad in Muslim.
Some of the studies that address Adam in the Quran include qisas al-anbiya that focus on his character as a Khilafa. Other studies that examine Adam narrative is the centrality of myth in the Islamic religious texts. Adam story competes among the Sunni and Shiite factions in a bid to define Islamic orthopraxy. The study mentions Adam demise in identity and difference among Muslims and the People of the Book that include Jews, non-Muslims, and Christians. al-Rabghuzi focuses on the death and burial of the first Biblical prophet in the religious text such as the qisas al-ambiya and also the comparative analysis in religious milieus. Narratives that focus on the demise and interment of Adam tend to associate with group formation and transformation. Death symbols are effective political symbols since they are excellent to accumulate an essential to political transformation. Al-Rabghuzi says corpses evoke uncertainty and fear associated with cosmic concerns in explaining the importance of life and death. Death according to the author is a quintessential issue concerning reality experienced by humans. Religions tend to monopolize on practices that relate with death that include formal notions of burial integrated with rituals. Corpses are not significant what matters are how individuals construe death. Corpses acquire meaning since they serve as mirrors to the diverse existential claims in a society(Boeschoten and Vandamme 132). The Islamic retellings concerning the death and burial of biblical patriarchs and prophets such as Adam do not have locatable concrete form since they are susceptible to different localities. Death and burial of founding fathers serve as totemic externalizations in the collective consciousness.
Eastern Europe post-Russian Empire has mythical bodies subject to physical exhumation and reburial. The Islamic materials revisit Biblical narratives to perform an imaginative conception of Muslim identity in the mythical origins of monotheism. The post-Soviet faces the challenge of national identity concerning the dimensions of modern politics.
Thematically, the qisas al-anbiya literature addresses similar concerns that appear in scholarly concerns on the Quran that are significant in Quran. Some of formal Quran exegesis compare with biblical narratives of informal preaching. Both discourses flesh out Quranic assertions and Islamic practices that explain the origins of monotheism. The Quranic account of creation in reference to biblical events presents disconnections. The Quran assumes that the listener is familiar with biblical details of creation since Quran depicts a brief reference to remind the listener concerning the contents. Commentators fill the Quranic ellipses seem to integrate the Jewish and Christian materials. The story of creation of the first human, Adam helps to locate Prophet Muhammad within the chain of messages sent by God to humans. The Muslim reading depicts biblical figures such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as prophets that bear messages just like Muhammad brings messages depicted in the Quran. Biblical prophets serve as prototypes for Muhammad since the Quran provides a recasting of the biblical figures. The most relevant theme depicted by qisas al-anbiya literature is the end of human life and ultimate judgment where an individual will proceed to paradise or eternal damnation. Preachers go out of the way to assure listeners concerning God’s mercy given the threat of damnation that serves as a forewarning to ensure individuals do not engage in a careless disobedience (Boeschoten and Vandamme 138). Suffering is an omnipresent reality in the medieval Islamic world that compares to the European Christendom that occurs in the same period. Preaching literature in both, communities depict suffering as the repercussion of failure to follow the divine commandments. The Muslim and Christian preachers promise an end to suffering to individuals that repent sincerely and renounce their wicked ways. Muslim preachers such as al-Hurayfish draw heavily on the tales of the pre-Islamic prophets such as Adam. The intrinsic storytelling enterprise is a large project to disseminate Islamic dispositions in the wider populace. Apolycalptic themes reflect the preoccupation of suffering in the precarious medieval life. The themes serve to reinforce living with the divine mandate that expound on issues of scholars and preachers.
According to Al-Rabghuzi, right living guarantees bliss in paradise after accomplishing the mortal life with its suffering. The eschatological repercussion of improper behavior provides moral sanction to secure obedience to the model of piety they propound. Scholars and preachers institute a right practice among the elites and practices anan axis of tension, and that involves a conflict between Sunni and Shii. The tension influences Sunni compilations are all in the qisas al-anbiya materials (Boeschoten and Vandamme 152). According to Al-Rabghuzi, the text attempts to restore Sunnism due to Fatmid imposition in Egypt that reflects Adam as an ideal prototype, Prophet Muhammad, and Abbasid caliphs. Some of the virtues attributed to Adam, as God’s caliph to guarantee God’s divine writ entrusted to Muhammad and his successors.
In direct contrast, Al-Rabghuzi portrays Adam as an anchor in an attempt to conquer Sunni claims. Seth receives knowledge through the illumination of divine light in the origins that precede human creation by two millennia. The customs of takhdir involves placing fresh cut tree branches inside the burial site and the flattening of the ground over the grave to portray Adam’s death and burial. The reburials of biblical figures in the qisas al anbiya recounted the intersexual terrain of monotheistic imagination that has a distinct Islamic pattern. The choice of text reflects the centrality of complication in tafsir and qisas materials. A typological approach focuses its attention to scholarly and popular use of materials. Of all the medieval works Al-Rabghuzi’s stories of the prophets throughout the world since, they are original to bear witness throughout the Islamic world.
Boeschoten, J.O’Kane, andM. Vandamme. Stories of the Prophets written by Al-Rabghuzi: Illustrated Manuscripts of Qiṣaṣ Al-anbiyā ̓. Costa Mesa, Calif.: Mazda, (1999): 106-163. Print.