Esoteric Interpretations of the Qur’an

Esoteric Interpretations of the Qur’an: The Foundations of Shia Ismaili Ta’wil

The third Caliph, Uthman, published an official copy of the Qur’an based on the variant versions circulating among some of the companions. However, two prominent scribes of the Qur’an whom the Prophet Muhammad had trusted – Ibn Ma‘sud and Ubayy ibn Ka‘b – opposed Uthman’s codification project. Ever since, Muslims have disagreed over the meaning and interpretation of the Qur’an in numerous respects. The most popular genre of Qur’an commentary is called tafsir which consists of legal, ethical, historical, contextual and religious explanations of the outward and literal meanings of the Qur’an. One area of disagreement for Muslim interpreters and exegetes of the Qur’an is whether the Qur’an has an esoteric, hidden or spiritual meaning that goes beyond the literal and surface meaning of the Arabic words. In pre-modern times, most Qur’anic exegetes from the Mu‘tazilis, Ash‘aris, Twelver Shi‘as, Sufis, Philosophers and Isma‘ili Shi‘as maintained that the Qur’an does indeed have hidden (batini) spiritual meanings and esoteric interpretations (ta’wil). Only the literalists and the Hanbalis disagreed with this. Today, however, many interpretations of the Qur’an, including those of the fundamentalists, literalists and even mainstream translations are impoverished because they remain at the literal and surface meaning of the Qur’an.

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About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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