The problem of the relevance of time and space to the Qurʾānic text

Burhanettin Tatar


In the classical ages of Islamic thought, the problem of the relevance of time and space to the Qurʾānic text was generally understood in terms of cosmology and ontology, which assumed a division between matter and intellect (soul), earth and heaven, the symbolic and the rational, and the signifier (expression) and the signified (concept). Most classical Muslim thinkers took time and space at the level of the signifier to be a kind of prison to be escaped and at the level of the signified as a moment and place of the self-presence of metaphysical truth. In our global age, constant changes in the semantics/creations of new times and spaces force us to view the problem of the relevance of time and space to the Qurʾānic text from a different perspective. This paper attempts to first analyze the classical formulations of the above problem, and then to briefly delineate a way of poetical thinking that tries to grasp time and space as a form of revelation of new opportunities (kairos) and potentialities, which interpreters can discover in front of the text as a realm of signifiers.


Time and space, relevance, Qurʾānic text, Islamic theology, Islamic philosophy, Islamic Sufism, logoi, kairos

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