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The Dark Koran: A Semantic Analysis of the Koranic Darknesses (ẓulumāt) and their Metaphorical Usage

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Darkness (ẓulumāt) as a Koranic literary image has not been systematically analyzed, even though it is connected to fundamental Koranic topics such as understanding, salvation and the omniscience of God. The aim of this article is to argue for a close reading of the occurrences of ẓulumāt in the Koran and to discuss their metaphorical usage. By joining cognitive metaphor theories with the Koranic material, the article contributes to a new understanding of how and why modes of darkness are applied in the Koran. In the article, I argue for a six-fold classification of the occurrences, in which the utilization of particularly two conceptual metaphors, a mental state is darkness and protection is darkness appear. The former is employed to explain the imperative difference between belief and unbelief through the binary pair of darkness and light, whereas the latter is chosen to elucidate the omniscience of the Koranic God.

Affiliations: 1: Aarhus University


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