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Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 765) on the Four Levels of Meaning in the Qur’an

It is related from Ja’far ibn Muḥammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon them both!) that he said:

“The Book of God has four things: literal expression (‘ibāra), allusion (ishāra), subtleties (laṭā’if), and deepest realities (ḥaqā’iq). The literal expression is for the common folk (‘awāmm), the allusion is for the elite (khawāṣṣ), the subtleties are for the friends of God (awliyā’), and the deepest realities are for the prophets (anbiyā’).

From Spiritual Gems: The Mystical Qur’an Commentary ascribed to Ja’far al-Sadiq as contained in Sulami’s Haqa’iq al-Tafsir ((Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2011), trans. Farhana Mayer, p. 1

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1 Comment

  1. I’m really glad I learned more about Imam Ja’far over the past week or so. Knowing how closely tied he is to every branch of Islamic thought makes me believe that I, as a Sunni-identifying Muslim in the US, have been duped by ‘Islamic’ schooling systems into believing that the ‘egalitarian’ Islamic principles necessitate the destruction of any kind of hierarchical structures. His teachings are extremely important.

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