Tasting fire

Affective turn in Qur’anic depictions of divine punishment


  • Kathryn Kueny Fordham University


Qur'an Taste, affect, body, senses


Several Qur’anic passages suggest humans will experience God’s punishments through their sense of ‘taste.’ While the Qur’an conveys some of the ways that taste functions and relays knowledge in both earthly and paradisiacal realms, it is in the context of punishment that taste delivers the divine message more forcefully and directly than the other senses. The responses sparked by the horror of God’s pressing abhorrent flavors on one’s tongue, and down one’s throat, prompted the most strident disbeliever to cultivate a more righteous and receptive character, so that s/he may ‘taste mercy.

Author Biography

  • Kathryn Kueny, Fordham University

    Kathryn Kueny is Professor of Theology at Fordham University, where she is Director of the Middle East Studies and Religious Studies programs. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, and is the author of two books, The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, and Conceiving Identities: Maternity in Medieval Muslim Discourse and Practice, both published by SUNY Press.


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Body and Religion