Debating Torment of the Grave: An Optimality-Theoretic Account of (Inter) Textuality

Rasheed Saleem Al-Jarrah


Influenced by the on-going discussion on textuality (Halliday and Hassan 1976, 1985, Hassan 1984; Sperber and Wilson 1986/1995) and shielded with the basic premises and conventional notations of some linguistic theory, namely Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky, 1993, McCarthy and Prince, 1993a, b), this study aims to present a new religious outlook of grave torment that depends mainly on ijtihad (re-interpretations of the scriptures). The main thrust of the argument is like this: grave torment (we believe) is never backed up by verses of the Holy Qur'an. This is not to present a view that conflicts with the previously established canon of belief, but to show two things: (1) the reported prophetic evidence about grave torment is violable; and (2) the often-cited Qur'anic evidence for grave punishment is misinterpreted. In order to do just that, some of the local and global intuitions invoked by some Qur'anic verse (commonly alluded to as evidence for grave torment) are brought to light.

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