Successful Inter-Religious Workshop on the Nature of the Soul & Death

On the 16th of March 2023, The Inter-Religious Symposia (IRS) Platform held its inaugural academic workshop, looking at the theme of The Nature of the Soul and Death, from the perspectives of the three Abrahamic traditions. The IRS has been convening interfaith meetings since 2018. This workshop sought to further those efforts and project the standpoints, from renowned theologians, into the academic arena. This workshop managed to bring together scholars from various persuasions from within each of the three Abrahamic faiths, each presenting on the topic from various disciplines within religious study. Presentations included those that posed jurisprudential, theological and philosophical questions. As such, the day’s panels were arranged to discuss, firstly, how theological tenets inform jurisprudential stances on the soul and death; secondly, addressing beliefs about the transition from this life to the next; and lastly, tackling the subject of the nature of the soul itself and its possible existence before this life. Debates and discussions from the presentations spilled over into the lunch, tea and coffee breaks. Furthermore, the workshop proved to be an excellent networking event between scholars of the different faiths, thus allowing further collaborative work in the future.


The participants who presented their findings at the workshop were:


Rabbi Jeff Berger  (KAICIID Dialogue Centre and GERIS-EU)


Ritual Washing Before Burial: A Comparison
Reverend Dr Scott S. McKenna (Ayr St. Columba)


In Support of Assisted Dying: A Christian Perspective


Professor Ali Fanaei (Al-Mahdi Institute and Mofid University)


Qurʾānic Conceptions of Life, Death, and Resurrection


Professor Maria Massi Dakake (George Mason University)  The Soul, the Barzakh, and Human Transformation in Life and Death


Professor Christopher Clohessy  (The Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies)


Living Eschatologically. A Catholic Understanding of Death


Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain (Al-Mahdi Institute)


A Case for the Pre-existence of Human Souls: A Qur’ānic Perspective


Rabbi Mark L. Solomon (Leo Baeck College, London)


Not a Simple Soul: Jewish Views of the Human Psyche