barzakh, al-

Term that appears in the Qurān on three separate occasions and has been interpreted in various ways by Muslim commentators.

In one sūrah (chapter), it refers to the barrier that prevents the dead from returning to earth to accomplish the good they left undone in life. It has been understood as a physical barrier between heaven and hell and as a moral prohibition by God. The term is used elsewhere in the Qurʾān to describe a barrier between two seas, one saltier than the other, whose waters meet but do not mix. In Sufism, barzakh is understood as the barrier between the material world and the world of God and the angels.

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Universalium. 2010.

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