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Levels of Meaning in Holy Scripture: The Holy Qur'an

Dr. Ali Duran

Ya Ali Madad:

Traditionally in the esoteric traditions, understanding of Quran is regarded from the perspective of the student, and is usually divided into 4 levels of understanding:

Shariat: Shariah is the exoteric level and is related to the level of quranic civil and religious law and literal understanding of the verses of Quran. this is the lever of the Zahir, or visible.

Tariqat: the "Path", is the beginning of the hidden or "batini" understanding of Quran. Sufi orders and Ismaili tariqat begin at this level. The hermeneutic interpretation, or "Tawil" (lit: to return to the first) of the Quran begins at this level. Understanding of the amthal, or metaphors and similies of the Quran on the physical, noetic and spiritual planes is stressed. The law is interpreted from this level and certain rules of the tariqa are established for the perfection of the postulant.

Maarifat: Maarifat is the station of "Irfan", or gnosis. Here the Arif (gnostic) understands the subtleties of the Quran and is inspired from the Malakut or angelic realms. Subtleties and indications of the Beloved are seen in the sensory and internal worlds.

Haqiqat: the fruit of maarifat, the arif becomes annihilated in al-Haqq, the Divine reality, and subsists only through the qudrat, or will of Allah. This is the station alluded to by the martyr Mansur al Hallaj when he was crucified and burned for saying, "ana il Haqq" I am the Truth. This is the Divine realm, the Sinai of Lovers where only the converse between the Lover and Beloved is undestood and the Quran is the point of the Bismillah, the Mole on the Cheek of the Beloved.

If I have erred in this brief discourse, the error is mine. In truth Allah knows best.

posted on Donmeh forum
Sun, 4 Jul 1999

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content by Dr. Ali Duran
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page uploaded 28 July 1999