Creation as Text: The Graphological Trope in Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur

Creation as Text: The Graphological Trope in Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur In Journal of Qur’anic Studies (Edinburgh University Press)

by Dr Colin Paul Turner


Metaphor is a literary conceit which has been used by writers since the earliest recorded narratives, with a twofold function. One function is purely artistic, with the writer creating images designed to enchant the reader through their aesthetic appeal. The other, more practical, function is to give the reader greater intellectual access to the concept, object, or character that is being described in a metaphorical manner. The use of metaphors and alternative descriptive imagery and multi-layered comparisons can help the reader to break down recalcitrant concepts and problems, thus rendering them more manageable and easy to grasp. The present study is an introductory analysis of extended metaphor in the work of the Ottoman theologian Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1876–1960), with particular reference to the use of what I term the ‘graphological trope’ in his magnum opus, the six-thousand-page exegesis of the Qur’an known as the Risāle-i nūr (‘The Epistles of Light’). Here my intention is simply to draw attention to Nursi’s use of a particular literary conceit that is deserving of further study. Of the few works on Nursi and his teachings that stand up to serious academic scrutiny, nothing of substance has been written about the language of the Risāle-i nūr.

It is to be hoped that this initial analysis will break new ground and spur other, more capable scholars on to a more extensive survey and analysis of imagery in Nursi’s oeuvre.

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