Mystical experience in the men of the cave: a Lacanian reading of al-Kahf

Pengalaman mistik lelaki dalam Gua: bacaan Lacanian terhadap surah al-Kahf

  • Tayebeh Barati Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Tehran, 1417935840, Iran.
  • Pyeaam Abbasi Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, 8174673441, Iran.
Keywords: Imaginary, Symbolic, Real, Mystical Experience, Jouissance


In his contribution to psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan introduces three orders according to which every psychoanalytic phenomenon can be described. These three orders are the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. The imaginary is the order in which the subject thinks of everything as his/her own. For the subject there is no distinction between the other and the subject itself. In the symbolic order the subject comes to realise that there is a gap between him/her and the other. S/he, then, starts to feel a lack which for the rest of his/her life the subject tries to fill in. The real is considered as the most important order in which the subject tears away from the symbolic and tries to experience, once again, the unity it had in the imaginary order. It is in this phase that the subject experiences what is known as jouissance or the 'pleasure in pain'. The present study tries to look at the eighteenth chapter of the Holy Quran, al-Kahf (The Cave), in the light of psychoanalysis studies and Lacan's theories in order to analyse the mystical experience that the Men of the Cave go through to reach their final jouissance. 


Download data is not yet available.


Arberry, A. J. (trans.). (2008). The Holy Qur’ān. Qom, Iran: Ansarian Publications.

Azari, E. (2008). Lacan and the Destiny of Literature: Desire, Jouissance and the Sinthome in Shakespeare, Donne, Joyce and Ashbery. London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Booker, M. K. (1996). A Practical Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism. New York, NY: Longman Publishers.

Bowie, M. (1993). Lacan. New York, NY: Harvard University Press.

Braunstein, N. A. (2003). Desire and Jouissance in the Teachings of Lacan. In J. M. Rabate (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Lacan. London, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cirlot, J. E. (2001). A Dictionary of Symbols, Jack Sage (trans.). London: Routledge.

Djad al-Mawlā, M. A. (2008). Qur’ānic Stories. M. Zamani (trans.). Qom, Iran: Pezhvak Andisheh.

Evans, D. (1999). From Kantian Ethics to Mystical Experience: An Exploration of Jouissance. In D. Nobus (ed.), Key Concepts of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Other Press.

Evans, D. (2006). An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge.

Fink, B. (1995). The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Fink, B. (1997). A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique. London: Harvard University Press.

Ghobari Bonab, B. (2008). A Rebirth: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Al-Kahf. Salamat va Ravan, 1(1), pp. 6-13.

Grosz, E. (1990). Jacque Lacan: A Feminist Introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.

Guy, P. (2014). As Mirrors are Lonely: A Lacanian Reading on the Modern Irish Novel. London: Cambridge Scholar Publishing.

Homer, S. (2005). Jacque Lacan. London: Routledge.

Julien, P. (1994). Jacques Lacan's Return to Freud: The Real, the Symbolic and the Imaginary. D. B. Simiu (trans.). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Lacan, J. (2006). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. B. Fink (trans.). London: W. W. Norton and Company.

al-Maḥallī, J. & al-Suyūṭī, J. (2006). Tafsīr al-Jalālayn. M. Ghadermarzi (trans.). Urmia, Iran: Hosseini al-Asl Publication.

Malpas, S. & Wake, P. (2006). The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory. London: Routledge.

Milbank, A. (2002). The Victorian Gothic in English Novels and Stories, 1830-1880. In J. Hogle (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Gothic Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tabatabaie, M. H. (1995). Tafsīr al-Mīzān. M. B. M. Hamedani (trans.). Qom, Iran: Islamic Publications.

Van Haute, P. (2002). Against Adaptation: Lacan's "Subversion" of the Subject. P. Crowe & M. Vankerk (trans.). New York, NY: Other Press.

Wilden, A. (1981). Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

How to Cite
Barati, T., & Abbasi, P. (2021). Mystical experience in the men of the cave: a Lacanian reading of al-Kahf. Al-Irsyad: Journal of Islamic and Contemporary Issues, 5(2), 456-462. Retrieved from