Apocalypse and the Antichrist Dajjal in Islam.
Ahmed Bijan’s eschatology revisited
Apocalypse and the Antichrist in Islam offers a detailed analysis of Islamic eschatology and the figure of the Islamic Antichrist Dajjal, against the background of the earliest Islamic traditions, Judeo-Christian lore, and an Iranian heritage offering even glimpses of an ancient reptilian shapeshifter. One part of the book is devoted to the use of eschatology in the pivotal 15th century Ottoman Turkish cosmography Dürr-i meknûn, traditionally ascribed to Ahmed Bican (Bijan). This is the, slightly revised, English translation of Kaptein’s original Dutch 1997 study.
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Laban Kaptein, Apocalypse and the Antichrist Dajjal in Islam. Ahmed Bijan’s eschatology revisited. Price: € 66.
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Apocalypse and Antichrist in Islam
Originally written in 1997 in the Dutch language, this study was and remains the sole monograph devoted entirely to Ahmed Bijan’s eschatology, and the little researched Islamic Antichrist: the terrible Dajjal. Kaptein offers an extensive, detailed analysis of topoi and themes that make up the figure of Dajjal and the account of the End of the World. It also becomes clear that Bijan was not an ‘apocalyptic’ and that he did not in any way employ End Time imagery to comment on his own times and tribulations. Next the remaining question gets answered: why then did Ahmed Bijan write what he wrote in the way that he did?
Discussion regarding the End of the World in Middle East Studies
There is also a hearty discussion on method: it appears that the field of Middle East Studies needs a thorough revision of its ways of studying the time honoured genre of The End of the World. Only too often is the research guided by one’s personal expectations about a given period rather than its relevant contemporary texts. Then there’s the abundance of plain truisms, rounded Year 1000’s and sweeping statements that obscure more than they clarify. And surely no meaningful results can come from the sort of reasoning that proclaims persons or periods to be apocalyptic because they are either anonymous, silent on the matter or absent altogether… which is then quoted as ‘proof’ that they must be apocalyptic, why else would they try and hide it!
In the press
‘The most important stud[ies] upon the Daǧǧâl (…), above all, L. Kaptein, Eindtijd’ — Roberto Tottoli, ‘ ‘Ḥadîṯs’ and traditions in some recent books upon the Daǧǧâl (Antichrist)’, Oriente Moderno, Nuova serie, Anno 21 (82), Nr. 1, Hadith in Modern Islam (2002).
‘on the important but still poorly understood place of apocalypticism in the early Ottoman period, see especially (…) Laban Kaptein, Apocalypse and the Antichrist Dajjal in Islam’ — Dimitri Kastritsis, ‘The Alexander Romance and the rise of the Ottoman Empire’, Islamic literature and intellectual life in fourteenth and fifteenth-century Anatolia, Eds. A.C.S. Peacock and Sara Nur Yıldız, (Würzburg: Ergon, 2016), p. 244.
Roberto Tottoli, Oriente Moderno 94 (2014), p. 262-264:
‘[Apocalypse & the Antichrist is] one of the few relevant studies on eschatology and apocalyptic traditions and literature in Medieval Islam. (…) The topics are dealt with comprehensively and with a wide use of sources. (…) Kaptein articulates a complete description of the main themes of Islamic eschatology (…) the appendices (…) are much useful for many reasons (…) fifteen years after the appearance of the original Dutch, still one the most relevant essays on eschatology. It is a comprehensive description of early traditions but along with this, a useful introduction to the use of this material in later literature and the circulation of it in Islamic literature as a whole.’
Der Islam 91-1 (May 2014): ‘Kaptein underlines a new approach towards apocalypticism (…) excellent study’
Gottfried Hagen and Ethan L. Menchinger, ‘Ottoman Historical Thought’, in: A Companion to Global Historical Thought, Prasenjit Duara, Viren Murthy, and Andrew Sartori (eds.), Chichester (West-Sussex) – Malden (MA): Wiley Blackwell Publishers, 2014:
‘Laban Kaptein (…) caution[s] against a tendency to explain the emergence of apocalyptic themes with specific social and political events (…). His point is supported by (…) apocalyptic themes may be more relevant to the moral dimension, as reminders of the inevitability of Judgment, than as part of a presentist political discourse.’
— Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı (publisher), İslâm Ansiklopedisi, vol. 9 (2019), pp. 69–72, İlyas Çelebi, ‘İslâmiyet’te Deccâl’.