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Centre for Islamic Studies at SOAS

f tafsr as a Mirror: al-Qushayr the murshid in his Laif al-ishrt / : Author(s): Annabel Keeler and Source: Journal of Qur'anic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-21 Published by: Edinburgh University Press on behalf of the Centre for Islamic Studies at SOAS Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25728196 . Accessed: 23/08/2013 12:31
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Sufi tafsir as aMirror: al-Qushayri the murshid in his Lata?if al-ishdrat


Paul Nwyia once described the Sufi exegesis of the Qur'an as 'a play of mirrors between the inward (batiri) of themystic and the inward (batin) of the scripture.'1 This evocative metaphor is apt in a number of ways. Firstly, it recalls the Sufis' own recommendation that the seeker should remove the rust of worldliness from the The idea of mirror of his soul or heart, polishing it so that itmay reflect the truth. reflection in a mirror is furthersuggestive of an illuminative insight that is received, mirrors' in contrast to the kind of knowledge that ismentally acquired; and the 'play of two suggests a reflective infinity,a possibility of proceeding to ever-deeper levels as the one works upon the other.

Some of the ideas evoked by Nwyia's metaphor are included in the Sufis' own discussions of the nature and conditions of the esoteric interpretationof theQur'an. For example, the need for polishing themirror of the soul as a prerequisite for Qur'an interpretation is indicated by a saying of Ibn cAta3 al-Adaml (d. 309/922), cited in the early 5th/l1thcentury commentary of Abu cAbd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 412/1021), the Haqa'iq al-tafsir:2

The [esoteric] meanings alluded to in theQur'an (isharat al-Qur?an) will only be understood by one who has purified his 'secret' (sirr) from all attachment to theworld and everything itcontains.3 and likewise, by a saying of al-Hallaj (d. 309/922):4 Only to the extent of his outward and inward piety and his mystical knowledge (ma crifa)will the believer discover the inner meanings of
the Qur'an.

That the understanding of the innermeanings of theQur'an is an illumination to be received, rather than knowledge to be acquired, is indicated by the Sufis' definition of it as '[divinely granted] unveilings' (mukashafat) and 'states' (munazalatf - the use of the third form verb in these terms indicates a kind of reciprocity, an 'interactive' receptivity and openness to the divine, again one thinks of the play of

The numinous, arcane nature of Sufi exegesis is indicated by al-SulamT himself when, in the introduction to his Haqa'iq al-tafsir, he states that the esoteric

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2 Journal of Qur'anic


knowledge of the Qur'an comprises 4[its] exclusive secrets (khawass al-asrar), subtleties (lataJif) and hidden wonders (maknunat baddJicihi).'1 Abu'l-Qasim al on in the introduction to his esoteric commentary the Qushayri (d. 465/1072), Qur'an, the Lata3if al-isharat, writes that it comprises 'subtleties of [its]mysteries and lights' (lata3if asrdrihi wa-anwarihi), 'delicate allusions' (daqiq ishardtihi), (khafi rumuzihi) and 'hidden mysteries' {maknunat). Again, al-Qushayri emphasises that these are a divine grace, by saying that God has 'illumined' (lawwaha) these hidden mysteries to (or for) the secrets (li-asrar) of the chosen (asfiyaJ) among His servants. The idea of reflection evoked by Nwyia's mirrormetaphor is also conveyed, albeit in a differentway, in some of these Sufi definitions - or, more precisely, a different kind of reflection is indicated by them. For, while the same object will appear as an identical image in any truemirror, be it round or square, large or small, the truths reflected in Sufi interpretations of the scripture, indeed on any one verse, show considerable diversity, and we may note the plural used in the titles of al-Sulamfs and al-Qushayri's commentaries: HaqaJiq al-tafsir, Lata"if al-isharat. Explaining this diversity in the esoteric interpretationof theQur'an, al-Qushayri states: 'Sufis articulate [the inner meanings] of the Qur'an according to the [various] levels (maratib) of their [inner] lights and capacities (anwar wa-aqdarihim).^ A similar statement ismade by the earlier Sufi, Abu Nasr al-Sarraj (d. 378/998). Although, as far as we know, al-Sarraj did not compile any tafslrof his own, several pages of his treatise on Sufism, theKitab al-luma\ are devoted to Sufis' elicitation of meanings (mustanbatat) from theQur'an and Hadith. Al-Sarraj explains thateach Sufi exegete speaks 'according to theirparticular state (hal), and indicates meanings on the basis of theirmystical experience (wajd)\ and he observes that diversity in the field of esoteric knowledge is a mercy, just as it is (according to a saying attributed to the Prophet) a mercy in the realm of exoteric science, because mystics of every sort whether novices or adepts, whether engaged in works of devotion or in spiritual meditation - can derive profit from their words.9 of these statements then, one would expect to find in Sufi of the Qur'an a diversity thatmirrors the degree and variety of interpretations can therefore benefit mystical experience of each and every commentator, and On the basis mystics at every stage of the way. However, a close study of Sufi commentaries reveals that they reflect not only the states, stations and spiritual ranks of mystics, but also their doctrines, their approach to the spiritual path, and even, as we shall see, theirpersons. It is this mirroring that I want to explore here with reference to the Lata"if al-isharat of al-Qushayri, a Sufi commentary that has received far less attention than itdeserves; indeed it appears that theLata 'ij is not always considered to be altogether a mystical or esoteric commentary on the Qur'an.10 This is surprising given that al-Qushayri's celebrated 'Epistle on Sufism', theRisdla fi cilm 'concealed allegories'

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 3 al-tasawwuf or Risala Qushayriyya, is said to have been one of themost widely read works in the field of Islamic mysticism, and indeed is so well known that it is often simply referred to as the Risala.11 It is true that al-Qushayri is also known as the author of several treatises on Ashcari theology,12 and that he acquired a reputation for being a sober and cautious mystic.13 Nonetheless, after the Risala, the Lata'if al-isharat is held to be the second most important major work among al-Qushayri's to be an esoteric intended his Lata'if commentary, having already composed an exoteric commentary in his younger years.15Moreover, the Lata"if is said to have been used as a source by later Sufi al-Kasham (d. 606/1209), cAbd al-Razzaq exegetes, such as Ruzbihan Baqli Sufi writings.14 Certainly, al-Qushayri (d. 730/1329) and Ismacil Haqql BurQsawI (d. 1137/1724),16 while Rashid al-Din MaybudI was heavily dependent on it in thewriting of his Persian commentary, the Kashf al-asrar. The examples I shall cite in this paper should adequately demonstrate the esoteric nature of the content of the Lata3if}1 However, in the course of thisdiscussion I shall point out aspects of thework that might lead some to consider it as not truly belonging to the genre of mystical commentaries on the

Before looking at the content of theLataJif a few remarks should be made about the style and method of al-Qushayri's commentary. Firstly, it is worth noting that the Lata'if appears to have been composed, and does not, therefore, appear to fall into the category of the kind of exegesis described by Gerhard Bowering as 'mystically inspired utterances' in response to the Qur'anic recitation, that are (later) 'jotted down' next to theQur'anic phrases.18 Al-Qushayri's work is consistently written in an eloquent literary style of Arabic, often in rhyming prose, with abundant, sometimes powerful use of imagery and metaphor, and the inclusion of numerous - farmore than is to be found in al-Sulami's couplets of poetry (often love poetry)

commentary, for example.19 Among Sufi commentators al-Qushayri is unusual in having attempted to comment in some way on all the verses of theQur'an, though
often this involves no more than a comment on one or two phrases in the verse.

Inevitably, some verses of theQur'an appeared to al-Qushayri to have less potential than others for esoteric interpretation,and therefore occasionally his commentary does not appear to go beyond an elaboration or explanation of a verse in its literal, exoteric sense.20 The inclusion of this kind ofmaterial may have helped to create the impression that the Lata "if is not a mystical commentary on the Qur'an. Further contributing to this perception may be the fact that al-Qushayri frequently presents a concise explanation of the exoteric meaning of the verse before expounding the esoteric allusion it contains.21 There appear to be two reasons for this: in some instances al-Qushayri clearly feels that the outward meaning of the verses requires some kind of explanation or emphasis; in others, he employs the exoteric interpretationas the basis or startingpoint for an esoteric analogy thathe wishes to

draw from the verse. Either way, he usually makes a clear distinction between the

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4 Journal of Qur'anic


exoteric and esoteric exegetical approaches, referring to the formerwith expressions such as 'in the language of [conventional] exegesis' (bi-lisdn al-tafsir), and to the latter as 'the allusion in it [is]' (wa'l-ishara fihi). Examples of this juxtaposition and/or linking of outer and inner meanings will be seen in due course. Turning now to the content of the Lata1 if,and our theme of tafslr as a mirror, the firstquestion that might be asked is whether or not we find in the commentary the cautious sober, al-Qushayri theAshcari theologian, known to us from al-Risala al Qushayriyyal The answer to this question must be, to a certain extent, affirmative. Like most Sufis, al-Qushayri insists on the principle that inner realisation or truth (haqiqa) cannot be attained without observance of the religious law (Sharica). This may, in fact, be one of the reasons for his frequently preceding his esoteric interpretation of a verse with some reference to its exoteric meaning, as noted 22 above. But we also find him expressing this principle in a manner that indicates some proclivity for the way of sobriety in mysticism, as when, for example, he interprets those upon whom is God's blessing (Q. 1:6) as 'those in whom the proprieties and precepts of the Sharfa are preserved when they are overwhelmed by the sudden descent of realities [to theirhearts] (cinda ghalabat bawadih al-haqa^iq), so that they do not leave the bounds of knowledge (hadd al-cilm) or in any way absent themselves from the rulings of the Sharica'.23 Al-Qushayri actually precedes this interpretation with thewords 'and it is said' (wa-qila), which, one might argue, does not preclude its being of his own hand. Yet, al-Qushayri's interpretation of another verse throws a different light on this principle. In his commentary on the words [those who] keep up theprayer... (Q. 2:3), he states:24

The companions from among the generality [of believers] (fumum) strive at the opening of their prayers to bring their hearts to the apprehension (macrifa) of the obligatory practice they are performing, but they do not withdraw from the valleys of heedlessness (ghafla). As for the companions from among the elite, theybring theirhearts to apprehension of what they are performing, but they do not withdraw from the realities of union (wusla). There is a great difference between the one who is absent while carrying out the rites of the law, but in the realms of heedlessness, and the one who is absent, but returns to the rites of the law,with the realities of union. The above passage provides an explanation for a preceding statement in which al-Qushayri makes a subtle link between believing in the unseen, referred to in the firstpart of the verse, and the state of the elite in theirperformance of the prayer:25 One who believes in the unseen (ghayb) by witnessing the unseen (bi-shuhud al-ghayb) vanishes (ghaba) inwitnessing the unseen and becomes absent [fromhimself] for the sake of [what is] unseen (sara

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 5 it comes to making the prayer, ghayban li-ghaybin).26 When [it involves his] establishing its pillars and traditions, then becoming absent from witnessing these by his 'vision' (ruJya) of the One to whom the prayer is being made. So, the ordinances that are commanded are preserved for him throughwhat is coming to him from God, he being effaced from consideration of them. The souls [of such servants] are facing the qibla while theirhearts are immersed in the realities of union. This interpretation is suggestive of a sobriety that is not merely a matter of caution, but is rather in conformity with themystical doctrines of Abu'l-Qasim al-Junayd (d. 297/910). One is reminded, for example, of his doctrine of annihilation 'after' annihilation (fana3 al-fana?).
_ _ 27

As far as al-Qushayri theAshcari theologian is concerned, points of dogma certainly occur here and there, though it should be pointed out thatmost Sufi commentaries include some elements of theology, especially concerning the doctrine of divine preordination, for example. But in the Lata3if al-isharat al-Qushayri does not indulge in lengthy theological dispute or argumentation; points of dogma are rather included in passing, as when he comments at an exoteric level on those who believe in the unseen (Q. 2:3), and briefly explains that the 'unseen' is beyond thebounds of self-evident knowledge (idtiraf), in contradistinction to other religious matters which may be known through deduction and analogy (istidlal). This is before he passes on to a more mystical interpretationof 'those who believe in the unseen' as: 'those whom He frees frommental perception and searching, by the unveiling of lights ... for once the suns of their secrets have risen, they have no need of the lamps of 28 rational deduction (istidlal)' Another instance iswhen he comments on thewords God does not shyfrom drawing comparisons even with something a small as a gnat or something larger (Q. 2:26), and explains that, since in relation toGod existence is in reality smaller than a single atom of the dust of the air, there is no difference vis a-vis His might between theThrone and a gnat - the creation of the Throne is not harder nor the creation of the gnat easier forHim, forHe is exalted beyond being affected by easiness or difficulty.29 We also find al-Qushayri as both Shafici/Ashcari and Sufi reflected inhis interpretation of Q. Lead 1:5:30


(wusul), or that reliance on customary forms of instruction (muctad min al-talqin) should bar our way to spiritual insight
(istibsar) ....

us on the straight path ... lest stopping in the lands of blind imitation (taqlld) should hinder us from attainment [of the spiritual

which was specifically indicated by Turning now to another kind of 'reflection', that both al-Qushayri's and al-Sarraj's definitions of esoteric interpretation,we find

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6 Journal of Qur'anic


numerous comments in theLata3ifthat appear to be informed by states and stations experienced by its author. A few examples will suffice to illustrate thishere. One instance is when al-Qushayri comments on Q. 2:25, Whenever they are given sustenance from thefruits of these gardens, theywill say: We have been given this

before, which describes the state of the believers in Paradise. As mentioned above, by clarifying the outermeaning al-Qushayri frequently commences his interpretation of the verse in some way. Thus he observes that, although when the believers in Paradise are given the fruit they suppose it to be as before, when they taste it they which takes the form find it to be superior. Then follows his mystical interpretation, of an analogy:31 It is the same way for the possessors of realities. Their inward states are constantly being elevated, so thatwhen one is raised from his [previous] state, he supposes that what he will come to at that moment will be like thatwhich preceded it,but when he experiences [lit. 'tastes'] it,he finds it to be superior by twice as much. Another example is al-Qushayri's commentary on Q. 2:106, Any revelation thatWe cause to be superseded or forgotten, We replace itwith something better or similar. which follows on directly from the verse Here we find an allegorical interpretation as a gloss: 'that is,He moves you from one state (hal) to one above it,or higher than it, and the branch of your union is ever verdant and blooming and the star of your favour is ever rising.' As can be seen, al-Qushayri's allegorical interpretationof this verse has been embellished with metaphors. These metaphors are added to, as he goes on to explain, again in the form of a gloss:32 We never take away any of the traces of worship (or 'service', cibada) without exchanging for them the lights of servanthood (cubudiyya), andWe never take away any of the lights of servanthood

without causing to rise in theirplace themoons of slavery (cubuda). Yet another example is his commentary on Q. 36:39, We have determined phases for the moon until finally it becomes like an old date-stalk. In this interpretation al-Qushayri explains the stage in which the seeker is gradually increasing in while at the same time his self or nafs (symbolised by the divinely-bestowed insight, ana3). moon) iswaning so thateventually he attains the state of annihilation inGod if or vacillation (talwin), But the person at this level is still at the stage of changeability and al-Qushayri then contrasts this stage with themore advanced station of stability (tamkin)which is symbolised by the sun. He writes: The allusion in this verse is that the servant, at the time of seeking (talab), is in a fragile state (raqiq al-hal), weak {in certainty (yaqin)} and limited in understanding. Then he reflects (yufakkir) until his

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 7 insight (basira) increases, and {his state is perfected} until he becomes complete, like the [full] moon [which] then gradually diminishes as it comes closer to the sun, littleby little,and the closer more it increases in nearness to the sun'], it comes to the sun [lit. 'the more itdecreases in itself,until it is annihilated, hidden, no longer the it starts to become distant from the sun and itmoves furtherand furtheraway until it becomes [again] full who could bring about this alteration in it?Only the decree of theOne who is visible. Then mighty and all-knowing. The one who resembles the sun is themystic (carif) who is constantly in the radiance of his gnosis (macrifatihi). He is the possessor of stability (tamkiri), not vascillating (mutalawwin). [His sun] rises permanently from the zodiac of his felicity; and is not darkened [lit. 'taken'] by any eclipse nor veiled by any clouds. Al-Qushayri continues this interpretation by explaining how the servant who resembles themoon in his changeability, is taken from the state of expansion (bast) to the boundary of union (wisal) but is then brought back to lassitude (fatra) and falls into a state of contraction (qabd), until eventually God is generous with him and elevates him again to his state of proximity and perfection. In such examples it can be seen how fully al-Qushayri has allegorised theQur'anic imagery.Moreover, he often provides a continuity in his application of these metaphors from one verse to another that is rare among earlier Sufi commentators. In thisway he seems to look
forward to later commentators such as c Abd al-Razzaq al-Kashani.34

In some of his interpretationsal-Qushayri shows an acute understanding of what we might call 'spiritual psychology' as he explains how a statemay be experienced at different levels of human consciousness. So, in his commentary on Moses' coming to thewaters ofMidian, Q. 28:22, he writes:35 Outwardly he reached the springs of Midian, but in his heart he reached the springs of intimacy and ease (uns wa-rawh). There are different springs: the springs of the heart (qalb) are the gardens of expansion (riyad al-bast) [where seekers experience] revelations of the [divine] presence (kushufat al-muhadara) and delight in all kinds of [divine] graces (mulatafa); the springs of spirits (arwah) are the places of witnessing where they experience the revelation of the of lights contemplation and become absent from all perception of themselves; the springs of secrets (asrar) are the courts of divine - for there is no self and unity (tawhid), and there the control isGod's no perception, no heart and no intimacy, it is annihilation in the

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8 Journal of Qur'anic eternal (istihldk fi'l-samadiyya) kulliyya).


and effacement in the all (fand3 bi'l

In these interpretations,al-Qushayri is clearly alluding to states that are experienced by seekers who are advanced on the path. However, inmany of his comments we also find him discussing pitfalls that face thewayfarer atmore elementary stages of the spiritual way. The powerful language that he uses in these interpretationsoften conveys the sense of exasperation thathe feels here we are seeing another side of al-Qushayri, namely that of the spiritual master (murshid) in charge of numerous disciples, and responsible for theirwell-being and progress.36 The following are a few examples of thiskind of interpretation. The first such example is al-Qushayri's comment on theQur'anic simile inQ. 2:17, They are likepeople who [labour to] kindle a fire, and when it lights up everything around themGod takes away all their light, leaving them in utterdarkness, unable to see. Al-Qushayri begins by explaining that outwardly this simile refers to the hypocrites, and then continues by showing that themystical allusion in the verse refers to:37 The person who has a good beginning in travelling the path of spiritual aspiration (irdda) and strives for a time,but then experiences

one hardship after another, and turns back to the worldliness of his state prior to his attainment of the truth,subsequently returning to the human darkness he was inbefore. Al-Qushayri's metaphorical language now comes into play:

His branch put forth leaves but never bore fruit ... Lethargy quickly eclipsed themoons of his attentiveness. The hand of divine wrath (qahr) repels him, after [initially] the tongue of divine gentleness (lutf)had summoned him. Another example is al-Qushayri's commentary on Q. 2:14, which says of the meet those who believe they say, 'We believe', but when they hypocrites: When they go to their own satans, they say, 'We are with you, we were only mocking.' Al-Qushayri firstlycomments at the literal level, explaining that the hypocrites want 38 to combine two things,but theywill be denied themboth, and he then remarks: Similarly, the one who tries to combine theway of spiritual aspiration (irdda) with what the people of habit (cdda) are doing will not be able to bring these two things together, because two opposites cannot be night approaches from one side,39day flees from the other. The person who has a companion in every district and an attachment in {every} corner of his heart, will be subject to vicissitudes, {divided between attachments}. His heart is ever in

united ...When

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 9 ruins, he has no enjoyment from life. In reality he gains no nourishment from his heart. And again commenting on the last part of the same verse he says:40 Those who cast the reins into the hands of their lustswill be lured by them into the vales of separateness (tafriqa), and theywill not be able to gain a foothold in any station, because theywill be swept away by those lusts into thewildernesses of alienation. The analogical connection between the hypocrites who are being referred to in the verse, and those who are trying to combine spiritualitywith worldliness or theirown pleasure and lust is, as far as al-Qushayri is concerned, a real one because he sees them both to be sufferingfrom the same psychological flaw. Al-Qushayri draws on some evocative Qur'anic imagery when, commenting on Q. 2:9, he discusses the situation of the person who falls into the trap of confusing their own ego with the divine T, which deception leads to the hardest of punishments, al-Qushayri says, 'for they are seeing a mirage, supposing it to be something to drink, but when they come to it, theydiscover it to be nothing; instead, they findGod, and He gives them theirrecompense'41 Itwill have been noted that many of these interpretationsdiscussing the situation of are those who subject to hazards on the spiritual path take the form of an analogy drawn from verses which exoterically refer to hypocrites or unbelievers. However, sometimes these discussions occur in other contexts, as in the following, which inspired by the Qur'anic imagery of the verse. Here al-Qushayri is commenting on Q. 36:41, Another sign for them is thatWe carried their seed in the laden Ark, and in his commentary he also introduces the imagery of appears ay a 43, IfWe wished, We could drown them; theycould not be saved. The passage rich in rhymingprose:42 The allusion in this verse is to the carrying of [His] creatures in the ark of safety (salama) across the sea of destiny amid the clashing of (talatum amwajiha), through every kind of fluctuation and impact (taghylr wa-ta'thir). How many a servant is drowning in his busy-ness both day and night (fi-ishtighdlihi fi-laylihi wa-naharihi), not resting for one minute from the labour of his activities (min kadd af alihi), or from enduring the drudgery of his work (muqasat tacab acmalihi) and the accumulation of his wealth {jam0 malihi). This drives him to forgetfulness of his end and his final [abode] (caqibatihi and causes his preoccupation with his children and wa-ma'alihi) household (waladihi wa- ciyalihi) to dominate his thought and concern itswaves is to have been

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10 Journal of Qur'anic (fikrihiwa-bdlihi)


and so his effort does nothing but harm him (ma

sacyuhu ilia fi-wabdlihi). Sometimes, in addition to these insights into spiritual psychology, al-Qushayri's interpretations even provide us with some glimpses into the social background of

Sufism. One example is when he interprets those who 'cause corruption on earth' (Q. 2:11 and 12) as being people who reject the divine proof thathas come to them in the form of admonitory thoughts. The result of this rejection, al-Qushayri explains, is that 'God strips away the blessing in their states and in exchange gives them ears that are deaf to Him. Moreover He afflicts them with opposing the 43 spiritual path (tarlqa) and withholds from them any belief in it' And there follows this interesting observation: 'Just as the apostate is the most severe in enmity towards theMuslims, so the person who returns toworldliness and to theways of habit from the way of spiritual aspiration (irdda) is themost severe of people in most remote from Sufis.' rejecting this Sufi way, and the In his commentary on the next verse, When it is said to them: Believe as the others believe, theysay: Shall we believe as the foolish do? (Q. 2:13), al-Qushayri draws an analogy with wealthy people who, when they are commanded to give up their worldliness, describe the people of guidance (rushd) as 'lazy and incompetent, and say that the dervishes don't know anything, and have no property, status, comfort or livelihood!'.44 One can sense the exasperation of al-Qushayri, the spiritualmaster, in his comment on another part of theQur'anic simile cited earlier (i.e. Q. 2:17): They move on when the light from the lightning comes, but when there is dark around them they stop (Q. 2:20). He writes:45 Similarly just when heedless people are becoming attentive to the truths that are being preached to them, so that their hearts are beginning to soften, or some fear enters them which draws them

nearer to repentance, theygo back and start to think itover. Then they consult those who are closest to them, and their families and children indicate that they should return to the world, and start giving them advice and browbeating them about being weak and incapable, so their spiritual resolve isweakened and theiraspiration falls away.


who sever the bonds thatGod has commanded to be joined (bi-waslihi) and who spread corruption on the earth (Q. 2:27). Al-Qushayri states:46 to Among those things which the servant has been commanded maintain [lit. 'join'] is the protection of the rights (dhimdm) of the

also find interpretations in al-Qushayri's Lata0if which raise the subject of on thewords those spiritual courtesy (adab) in Sufism. One example is his comment

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 11 people of this spiritual path, and the outlay that ismade to accomplish this is that of sincere aspirations not the expenditure of wealth.47 Their endeavours are entirely dedicated to the continuance of the means of this tariqa and the regulation of its affairs,while theirhearts are turned towards the expectation of God's guardianship of its people. The 'corruption on earth' of this tariqa is their [the adepts'?] neglect are peripheral to the states they are experiencing,48 so that they occupy each other (yatashaghaluna) with their talk and their [own] concerns at the expense of providing of others who

guidance to an aspirant (irshad murid) or sharpening the keenness of a seeker (ishhadh qasid), and this is one of the things that God, be He glorified, does not approve of from them. Such interpretationsare perhaps an indication of the structuringand formalisation of the Sufi way within the tariqa which was beginning to take place during this period49 This involved not only the composition of Sufi manuals but also the compilation of lists of rules of conduct for Sufis. Al-Sularm, who, after the death of Abu CA1Ial-Daqqaq, was al-Qushayri's spiritualmaster for a time,was the author of one such work on this subject.50 In the mirror of al-Qushayri's Lata3if we can also see reflected the sense of responsibility that is borne by the spiritualmaster. The context for this example is al Qushayri's commentary on Q. 8:25, which reads Beware of discord (fitna) that harms not only the wrongdoers among you: know that God is severe in His punishment. Al-Qushayri begins his interpretation by explaining the implications of

this verse in termsof the Sharica, the gist of which is that a person may be taken as a criminal, even if he has not actually committed a crime, simply by aiding and abetting in the crime.51Al-Qushayri then turns to the esoteric interpretation,starting from the point of view of spiritual psychology. He observes thatwhen the servant 'commits a slip with his lower self (nafs), a tribulation (fitna) from itwill be visited

upon his heart, in the form of an immediate {hardening (al-qaswa al-mucajjala)}, while his nafs will be afflicted by a punishment to come, and moreover, when the tribulation from that slip emanates from the heart (qalb) upon its desiring what is not right, a tribulation, in turn,will be visited upon his secret (sirr) in the form of a


then applies

this same principle

to the spiritual community, and


the senior person [on the path] (muqaddam) does what is not permissible for [one of] his rank, then the blessings thatwere being passed from him to his followers and disciples will be cut off, and

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12 Journal of Qur'anic


{their being cut off from these blessings} is their share from the fitna, even though theydid not themselves commit any sin. And he continues with another anonymous comment:54 It is said thatwhen great people [of the path] are silent instead of reprimanding their juniors,55 then they will suffer tribulation {for having omitted to point out to them}, with regard to the things that they [the juniors] did. As they say: Tf fools are not reprimanded they
are as good as commanded.'


the leaders are in effect being punished for neglecting to forbid wrong (nahi al-munkar) in the spiritual path.

This principle is then applied more widely, as al-Qushayri continues:56 Further it is said thatwhen a renunciant (zahid) lowers himself by taking a dispensation in the law, allowing himself to takemore from though it be permissible (haldl) according to the sacred law, the tribulation for that will be conveyed to the initiates he is training, and [the tribulation for]whatever worldly desire appears in him. [Moreover] abandoning the world than suffices him for his needs, that abstemiousness will result in his being lost in the vales of heedlessness and with worldly preoccupation. Likewise, when theworshipper (cdbid) deviates fromwhat is harder and leaves offwhat is nobler (awla)?1 this is conveyed to those who are keen in their spiritual striving.They get set in theway of laziness, then vacuity, and the abandoning of spiritual exertion leads them to following theirpassions ... even

... [Similarly] when themystic (cdrif) turnsback to something which holds some pleasure for him, the disciple looks at him, and lassitude with the sincerity of the state (munazala) that he had, and interferes thatbecomes [thedisciple's] portion of the mystic. fitna of the We can see in these examples not only the spiritual psychology of the individual a 'social mystic, renunciant or worshipper, but also what might be called psychology'

such as the renunciant (zahid) and theworshipper (or devotee, cdbid) as well as the mystic (carif), each having theirown disciples. This brings tomind the diversity of were coexisting inKhurasan during thisperiod. spiritualmovements that
? ? 58

of the spiritual community. Again, there are principles in these on the path. interpretations that relate to the adab of aspirants towards their fellows of of different mention is worth Also types spiritual wayfarers al-Qushayri's noting

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 13 Many of the extracts so far examined may have given a somewhat austere impression of our commentator. However, the final example from the Lata?if al-isharat that I shall discuss here is one that reflects a warmer, more spontaneous side of al-Qushayri, namely his interpretationofMoses and the theophany ofMount Sinai (Q. 7:143). This interpretationalso exemplifies al-Qushayri's use of the theme of mystical al-Sulaml's Haqa'iq love, which features more prominently in the Lata3if than it does in and, indeed, more than one might expect from al-tafsir

al-Qushayri's Risala, where the subject of love is restricted to his chapters on mahabba and shawq.59 In this case, the interpretationwould seem to confirm observation that Sufi exegesis often represents freer and more spontaneous expressions of Sufi doctrine than are to be found in themore apologetic manuals of Sufism.60 Gerhard Bowering's Before discussing al-Qushayri's commentary it isworth quoting Q. 7:143 in full: When Moses him, he said, said, came at the timeWe appointed, and his Lord spoke to 'My Lord, show Yourself tome! Let me see You!' He

but look at thatmountain; if it remains see will Me.' When his Lord revealed Himself to standing firm you the mountain, He made it crumble. Moses fell down unconscious. When he recovered, he said, 'Glory be to You! To You I turn in repentance! I am the first to believe!'

'You shall not see Me

Al-Qushayri begins his commentary on this verse in the form of an expanded gloss on theQur'anic words, When Moses came at the time We appointed'?1 came theway of those who are full of desire, theway of those who are madly in love. Moses came, and therewas nothing left to Moses of Moses. Thousands of men have travelled great distances Moses and no one mentioned them, but here isMoses steps and youths will be recitingWhen Moses appointed till theResurrection. who took just a few came at the timeWe

To begin with, al-Qushayri explains Moses' request for vision as being the effect of the overwhelming of ecstasy upon him when he heard the divine speech, and thenhe explains it in another way:62 When he heard God's speech, Moses became utterly intoxicated, so he uttered what he uttered. And the drunkard (sukran) will not be

brought to account forwhat he says. Don't you see that in the text of theBook Moses is not reprimanded for a single word? Here is probably an allusion to the phenomenon of the ecstatic utterance (shath, pi. shathiyyat), themost famous of which were attributed to al-Hallaj and Abu YazTd al-Bistaml (Bayazid). These were a subject of much controversy in Sufism.63 By

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14 Journal of Qur'anic


Moses' request as a snath al-Qushayri appears here to be condoning it, interpreting though he was careful to exclude the shathiyyat of both al-Hallaj and BayazTd from his Risala.64 Al-Qushayri introduces an element of charm to his commentary by relating the tradition that Moses attempted to gather as many things as possible to say when He came to themeeting with God, and took itupon himself to speak for people,65 asking them, 'Do you need anything fromGod? Is there something you want to say toHim? For I am going to commune with Him.' But, al-Qushayri relates, when he came and heard God's speech he could not remember anything, not one word; instead he spoke moment and said, 'MyLord, show according towhat overwhelmed his heart at that me see to me! Let You!' Yourself More interpretations are added, each bringing another insight into the effect of

mystical ecstasy:66 The person who desires the beloved most intensely is the one who is was that Moses was deep-rooted in union, closest to thebeloved. So it in the place of intimate communing (munajat) with God, curtained all round with [divine] care, vanquished by the sudden onslaughts of ecstatic attainment. Then in themidst of all that he was saying 'My - as if he was absent Lord, show Yourself to me! letme see You!' from the Truth! But then, themore people drink, the thirstier they become, Union the closer they become, the more their desire increases. inevitably goes on requiring perfection. Thus God protects the

secrets ofHis chosen ones from lassitude (fatra). Or again: Moses


spoke with the tongue of utter neediness and said, 'Show Yourself tome - letme at least have one look! This affair is killing

in a number of Al-Qushayri also comments on God's denial of vision toMoses Moses was much greater in ways. In one of these, he explains that the affliction for God's saying 'Look at thatmountain; if it remains standing firm you will see me', than ifGod unequivocal But instead, by saying fia-sawfd? (you will) He increasedMoses' desire forwhat had been denied and, having increased his expectation, He then made the mountain crumble. But cruelty (qahr) is theway (sunna) of thebeloved.68 Moses was made to suffereven more by being commanded to Al-Qushayri adds that look at other than the Beloved. But the greatest of all afflictions for him was to see God manifesting Himself to themountain, so that themountain was able to see God had simply said, 'You shall not see me', because the latterwas an refusal, and at least there is a certain comfort in renouncing all hope.

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 15 whereas he was not, and al-Qushayri adds 'that,by God, was hard indeed!' In spite was to be compensation for of this, there Moses, for al-Qushayri informsus that after Moses had fainted at the sight of God's manifestation upon themountain, he was granted, in that state of annihilation from himself, the unveiling of the realities of

ihaqa3iq al-ahadiyya), and, al-Qushayri adds, 'the Absolute Truth [i.e. Moses than Moses God] after the annihilation of the traces ofMoses, was better for as to of better God God is the than himself, just remaining witnessing through creature subsisting in itself'.69 Here we have a clear reference to the mystical doctrine of annihilation from self if ana3) and subsisting inGod (baqa3). It is noteworthy that many of the themes that al-Qushayri has incorporated into his are central to Islamic love mysticism: the sense of longing, of 7:143 interpretation Q. which becomes more intense with proximity to theBeloved; the intoxication of the lover in communion with theBeloved; the cruelty of the Beloved; the desire on the part of the lover not to see anyone other than theBeloved; and, of course, the lover's jealousy.70 These elements do not feature in any of the comments on Q. 7:143 in al-Sulami's Haqa3iq al-tafsirn How do we therefore explain the unequivocal presence of love in al-Qushayri's interpretationhere and elsewhere in his Lata3if al-isharat? Certainly, al-Qushayri was not himself known to be a assembled proponent of love mysticism. Yet I believe what we may be seeing in his somewhat discreet expression of these themes is, in fact, an indirect reflection of the spiritual climate in Nlshapur at that time, a time when love mysticism was becoming increasingly prevalent among Sufis. Conclusion Sufi Qur'an interpretation, as Sufis themselves have described it, reflects the spiritual capacity, the degree of illumination and the diversity of states and stations


experienced by each and every commentator. From the examples drawn from al Qushayri's Lata3if al-isharat examined in this article, it can be said that Sufi interpretation equally mirrors the particular doctrines, spiritual outlook and temperament (e.g. sober and cautious, or intoxicated), and personal preoccupations and responsibilities of the commentator. It can also inform us of codes of conduct among Sufis, and even provide us with glimpses into the interactionof Sufis with the non-Sufi community. In thisway we can more broadly see a reflection of the process of ordering and structuringof Sufism within the tariqa, with a growing sense of its identitywithin society at large. I would suggest that one may also be seeing in al-Qushayri's Lata3if an indirect reflection of thewider cultural and spiritual ethos of Khurasan at a time when dynamic element in Sufism.72 the doctrines of love mysticism were becoming a

In themirror of al-Qushayri's Lata3if al-isharat, we see above all a Sufi master, concerned and inspired to elicit from theQur'anic verses spiritual guidance (irshad)

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16 Journal of Qur'anic


that can be of benefit not only to adepts, but those at themore elementary stages of the Path; perhaps he even intended his comments to be of help to others who had vocations to be murshidun.

NOTES * In the preparationof thispaper I have made use of both IbrahimBasyum's edition of the
Lata3if from { and al-isharat Istanbul. (Cairo: Insertions Dar made made d'exegese al-Katib on will be al-cArabi, 1968-71), and the basis of the manuscript indicated in the endnotes. l'histoire de Joseph' will the Kupriilii 117 manuscript be between the symbols

}, and corrections 'Un cas

Corbin (Tehran: Tahuri, 1977), pp. 407-23, p. 409. Kitabfurushl-yi

2 Abu Kutub cAbd al-Rahman 2001), al-Sulami, vol. Haqa'iq al-cIlmiyya, musulmans (Beirut: Dar El-Mashreq, here are cImran's recent edition, the selections 2, p. 302;

1 P. Nwyia,


in S.H.

Nasr, Melanges


al-tafslr, ed. S. cImran, (2 vols. Beirut: Dar al P. Nwyia (ed.), Trois ceuvres inedites de mystiques of the HaqaJiq 1986), p. 155. Editions al-tafslr used edited by Nwyia in his Trois ceuvres inedites,

MS Or. 9433. and the BritishLibrarymanuscript

3 The word sirr, meaning literally 'secret',

is a term used

of perceptionor locus ofmystical experience deep within thehuman being. It suggestsboth of the higher themysterious, indefinablenature of this inner 'organ', and the ineffability
realities English, in or through it. There that are experienced it is rendered sometimes though by 'inmost being' or is no adequate translation such such expressions On this subject, of this word as in 'innermost Kamada,

by Sufis

to describe

a subtle



Term Sirr (Secret) inSufiLata3 if 'A Studyof the Theories', Orient 19 (1983), pp. 7-28.
4 Al-Sulami, Rashid f. 45a. See also Abu'1-Fadl Or. 9433, 1, p. 157; MS Haqa'iq al-tafslr, vol. CA.A. Hikmat ed. wa-cuddat al-DIn al-asrar al-abrdr, Kashf Maybudi, vol. 1, pp. 229-30. vol. 2, pp. 612-13; 1952-60), (10 vols. Tehran: Amir Kabir, example al-Sulami,

'innermost mystery'.

see Shigeru

Haqa'iq al-tafslr, vol. 1, p. 19; MS Or. 9433, f. lb. See also Abu vol. 1, Dar al-Khayr, culum al-dln 1417/1997), (6 vols. Damascus: of fard kifaya), question ch. 2, section 2 (on the knowledge 3); p. 30 (part 1.1, K. al-cIlm, vol. 2, pp. 612-13. Kashf al-asrar, Maybudi, 5 For Hamid al-Ghazali, IhyaJ 6 See W. Caspari Wright, and Edited A Grammar with Numerous Language: of The Arabic Additions by W. Wright, Or. 9433 f. Translated from the German by W. Robertson of 3rd edn, revised

Smith andM.J. de Goeje (Cambridge:Cambridge UniversityPress, 1967), pp. 33-4.

7 Al-Sulami, cImran's Haqa'iq p. 19. ifal-isharat, al-lumac p. 31. he alludes to its esoteric can lists the Lata3if al-isharat along as being of in the category tafslr al-Qur?dn, See his commentaries. of 'esoteric' the category content, 'Sufi Koran Commentary: vol. 1, p. 41. Likewise ed. R.A. in MS Kupriilii Gibb 117, f. lb. Memorial Series, Lata0 Kitab al-tafslr, MS lb. The word maknunat is absent from edition,

8 Al-Qushayri, 9 Al-Sarraj, Nicholson's 10 Alan with

(London: Luzac, and Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1914), p. 107; the translation is adapted from
summary, Godlas, although





wal-baydn al-Kashf as distinct from commentaries

overview of Sufi tafslr, in his article on the internet comprehensive A Survey of the Genre', http://www.uga.edu/islam/sufismtafsir.html. 11 A.J. Arberry described in Arabic' subject [i.e. Sufism] J.Arberry, Sufism: An Account Numerous editions

as 'the most esteemed and popular book on the Risala al-Qushayri's see A. for which and 'the principal study of all later scholars', Allen and Islam the Unwin, 1950), p. 7. (London: Mystics of of are available, one of the best known being that published in

of the Risala

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 17


as The Principles ofSufism (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1992).

12 For (5 vols. a list of some Leiden: E.J. siratuhu 1972), of these works Brill, pp. 44-6. 1937^2), Some dthdruhu see Brockelmann,

by Dar



in 1966.

It has been part-translated

by Barbara

von Schlegel


der arabischen 770-2; (Cairo: I. Basyum, Majmac by R.M.

Litteratur al-Imam al-Buhuth Frank in


1, pp. Supplementband madhhabuhu fi'l-tasawwuf of these treatises have been



15 (1982), pp. 53-8, and MIDEO

of Abu SacId ibn Abi'l-Khayr.

16 (1983), pp. 59-94.

See, for example,


13 This reputation may have accrued to him in part because of anecdotes related in the Asrdr al-tawhid fl maqdmdt ShaykhAbi Sacid, ed.Muhammad Rida ShaficiKadkani (2 vols.
Tehran: found can be Intisharat-i Agah, translation of which 1, pp. 74-6 (an English 1987), vol. The Secrets in John O'Kane, Oneness Mazda and (California: of God's Mystical Persica, 1992), pp. 156-7) cautious biography Muhammad ibn Munawwar,

and Kadkani's al introduction, pp. 41-2. However, to is due the character of the sober, Qushrayri's probably mainly image apologetic as having been Risala itself, which Arberry describes 'carefully designed' (Arberry, Sufism, p. on another quote while states that from Arberry, 71, emphasis mine), Knysh, drawing throughout the Risala al-Qushayri 'portrays Sufism as "a fairly rigid and clearly definable way Bibliotheca of life and

Boston and Kbln: E.J. Brill, 2000), p. 132. See also J. Sufism in al Mojaddedi, 'Legitimizing Studia Islamica 90 J. The Risala', 37-50; (2000), pp. Qushayri's Biographical Mojaddedi,
Tradition from in Sufism (London: ch. 4, for al-Qushayri's exclusion of al-Hallaj Curzon, 2001), was the biographical section of his Risala. al-Samarrai writes that al-Qushayri Qasim and then a Suft'(Q. The Theme of Ascension inMystical al-Samarrai, 'primarily a theologian

system of thought'".

See A. Knysh,



A Short History


Writings (Baghdad: National Printand PublishingCompany, 1968), p. 46).


14 Other mystical works by al-Qushayri in recent printed editions include: available the Tartib a short treatise on dhikr (remembrance of God), edited and translated into English in on Islamic Piety and Mysticism, F. Meier, tr. John O'Kane Essays (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1999), pp. 93-133; the Arbaca 1969); Nahw Nahw the Tahbirfi cilm al-tadhkir, ed. I. Basyum al-cArabI, (Cairo: Dar al-Katib 1968); rasdHl fi'l-tasawwuf ed. Q. al-Samarrai al-cIlmi (Baghdad: al-Majmac al-cIraqi, the Kitab al-micrdj, ed. A.H. Abdel Kader al-Hadftha, (Cairo: Dar al-Kutub 1964); the

ed. I. Basyum al-Jindl (Cairo: cAlam al-Fikr, and A.CA. the al-kabir, al-qulub 1994); ed. A.CA. al-Jindi (Tarabulus: al-Dar al-cArabiyya liT-Kitab, al-qulub al-saghir, 1977). Titles of further Sufi treatises by al-Qushayri be found in al-Samarrai, Theme may of as a 'Abu al-Qasim and Ascension, p. 279; Rashid Ahmad (Jullandri), al-Qushayri Theologian Commentator', 15 Halm's Islamic on Quarterly 13 (1969), p. 35; Basyum, al-Imdm al-Qushayri, pp. 44-6. article in the Encyclopaedia in (art. al-Qushayri of Islam 'Kushayri' his Lata0if Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edn, vol. 5, p. 526), states that al-Qushayri composed al-ishdrdt before the year 410/1019. it is more his mystical However, likely that he composed later in his life, at the time he was composing his other Sufi works, such as the commentary which was completed in the year 438/1046. to al-FarisI IVl Risala, (Kitab al-siydq According ta?rikh Nisdbur, Cairo: al-Matbaca was ed. in facsimile

al-kubrd (6 vols. Series, 35 (London:Mouton, 1965), f. 97a) and Subkl (Tabaqdt al-Shdficiyya
al-Husayniyya, al-Tafsir 1324/1906), and Farisi vol. commentary al-kabir, informs earlier 3, p. 245), the title of al-Qushayri's us that this al-Qushayri composed

by R.N.


in The Histories

of Nishdpur,



work before410 AH. A fragment ofQur'anic commentary entitledTafsirQushayri has been in MS Leiden and Rashid Ahmad has edited a portion of thismanuscript, 811, preserved
assuming 'Tafsir it to be part of al-Qushayri's in Sufi Literature with Particular 'Abu al-Tafsir Reference al-kabir (see his unpublished al-Qushayri' PhD thesis,


of Cambridge, 1967)). The part of this thesis relating to al-Qushayri has been published as
Ahmad (Jullandri), 13 (1969), al-Qasim Islamic Quarterly pp. 6-69. al-Qushayri The MS Leiden as a Theologian and Commentator', 811 consists of fifteen sessions of a

to Abu'l-Qasim


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18 Journal of Qur'anic



were tobe a genuine composition 414 AH, coveringQ. 57:21 toQ. 66:12. If thiscommentary
of al-Qushayri, then it would the since work includes youth, cAbd al-Jabbar, Abu Muslim indicate, numerous that he had Muctazili surprisingly, citations of well-known MuctazilTs, Abu CA1I al-Jubba?I and Abu in his leanings such as Qadi CA1I al-Farisi.








the years



Although theirnames are not given in full,Rashid Ahmad has identifiedthem througha
with identical or similar comments cited in the commentary of Fakhr al-Dln al comparison In the fragment attributed to al-Qushayri Razi his 'Abu al-Qasim (see pp. 41-6). al-Qushayri', are followed have mercy and such as these names upon him', 'may God by honorifics are not contested, as is the case in al-Razi's furthermore, their comments tafslr. Also present ibn Mucadh ibn in this fragment are comments such as Yahya and Fudayl by earlier mycics is entitled al-Tayslrfi cilm often attributed to al-Qushayri cIyad. Another exoteric commentary al-QurJan, al-tafslr or al-Tayslr fil-tafslr though this is more likely an abridgement by al son, Abu Nasr Qushayri's or of another commentary Das Sendschreiben cAbd al-Rahim of his own. On iiber al-Qushayri, this subject, either of his father's see also Fritz Meier, al-Tafslr 'Philologika al-kablr, XIIF, XII


Oriens 3 (1950), pp. 31-107, pp. 46-7, and Gerhard Bowering's review ofRichard Gramlich, Orientalia 58 (1989), pp. 569-72. (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1989), in
16 See Ahmad (Jullandri), 'Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri', pp. 67-8. Al-Qusayrls das Sufitum, Freiburger Islamstudien Band,

17 It is also evident from examples cited by Bowering in his discussion of al-Qushayri's

Oriens on Q. 24:35, Text and Sufi Interpretation', in his 'The Light Verse: Qurianic in her from numerous translated by Kristin Z. Sands (2001) pp. 113^-4; examples on the QurJan and New York: in Classical Islam (London Routledge, Sufi Commentaries in Jane cited in A. Knysh, art. 'Sufism and the Qur3an' and from some of the examples 2006); commentary 36 McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2006), vol. 5, pp. 137-59. The Mystical Vision 18 G. Bowering, al-Tustarl Hermeneutics the Sahl of Sufi of Existence (d. 283/896) in Classical (Berlin Islam: York: The De Qur?anic Gruyter,


and New

1980), p. 135.

19 Ibn Khallikan discusses Translation Ibn Khallikan's

notes and

al-Qushayri's separation

the union

that which for poetry, especially particular predilection translation of See M.G. de Slane's of lover and beloved. Ibn Khallikan's Duprat, 2:250, 251 1842-71), Biographical vol. 2, p. and Q. Dictionary, 154. Oriental

as al-acyan Wafayat Fund (4 vols. Paris: Benjamin see his comments on Q.

20 For example,

and 258,


no Sufi commentary 21 Although to draw a sharp always possible meaning, as However,

it is not is entirely devoid of exoteric comments. Moreover, an exoteric and an esoteric line between what constitutes

or theological of an ethical in the case of comments nature, for example. on to the to the exoteric meaning before moving manner of alluding al-Qushayri's who follows a fairly consistent pattern in the Lata1 if One Sufi commentator esoteric meaning the his entire who structured is further took this principle commentary, Kashf Maybudi, (majlis) so as to juxtapose of the Qur'an. sections of exoteric and esoteric interpretation on each session


22 This principlemay also have been a motive behindMaybudi's juxtapositionof exoteric

The See Chapter Two of my Sufi Hermeneutics: in the Kashf al-asrar. Press al-Dln Rashid (Oxford: Oxford University Maybudi Commentary of Qur'an late 2006). with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, forthcoming association and esoteric interpretation 1, p. 51. Basyum's interpolation of the word in

vol. Lata3 if al-isharat, 23 Al-Qushayri, f. 6a. is confirmed by MS Kupriilii,


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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 19

24 Al-Qushayri, Lata1 if al-isharat, vol. 1, p. 57. The translation of the Qur'an are taken from M.A.S. the majority of following from the Qur'an, citations A New Translation The Qur'an: Press, 2004). (Oxford: Oxford University 25 Al-Qushayri, Lata1 ifal-isharat, vol. 1, pp. 56-7.

cited here, and Abdel Haleem,

26 That is to say, he becomes absent from this world to theextent thathe is present inGod.
See Bakr the definitions al-Kalabadhi, al-Khanjl, of ghayba and hudur in Abu Nasr Kitab li-madhhab ahl al-tacarruf 1933), p. 87, tr.A.J. Arberry 1977), ed. . p. cAbd 112; al-lumac, p. 340; Abu al-Sarraj, Kitab ed. A.J. Arberry (Cairo: al-tasawwuf as Doctrine of the Sufis, reprint (Cambridge: Abu'l-Qasim Mahmud al-Qushayri, and Mahmud al-Risdla al ibn al-Sharif

Maktabat Cambridge Qushayriyya substituted

(Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-Hadltha, 1966), pp. 214ff.On thebasis of theKupriiluMS

'li-ghayibin Abdel for 'yughlbu Kader's translation and Works of Junayd's epistle no. 15, on Gibb Memorial tawhld Series, in A.H. 22

Press, University ft cilm al-tasawwuf,


I have

27 See A.H. Kader, The

Luzac, 1976),pp. 53-4 (Arabic) and p. 174 (English).

28 Al-Qushayri, Lata1 ifal-isharat, vol. vol. 1, p. 56. 1, p. 70. See 29 Al-Qushayri, Lata1 if al-isharat, refutation of the ascription of place

Life, Personality

of al-Junayd,




in relation

succinct but adamant al-Qushayri's to God, on Q. 2:29 in his commentary

(p. 74).
30 Al-Qushayri, Lata1 476/1083) concerning vol. 10, p. 137. 31 Al-QushayrT, vol. 1, p. 50. On the views of al-ShaficI if al-isharat, art. 'Taklld' in Encyclopaedia taqlid see N. Calder, and al-ShlrazI of Islam, (d. 2nd edn,


vol. vol.

1, p. 70. 1, pp. 111-12. f. 20a. Basyunl's correction (al-cubuda in

32 Al-Qushayri, al-isharat, Lata3if is confirmed place of al-Lubudiyya) 33 Al-QushayrT, 34 On Coran Lata'if al-isharat,

by MS


vol. 3, p. 218. see Pierre Lory, Les Commentaires Les Deuz Oceans, (Paris: 1980). esoteriques du

the hermeneutics d'apres Abd Lata1

of al-Kashanl, al-Qdshdnt


35 Al-Qushayri,


vol. 3, p. 62. CA1I al-Daqqaq, of his master, to be known as well as his son-in-law,

was 36 Al-Qushayri the foremost disciple of Abu and it is known that at some point after the death Abu cAll's According institution debates. History madrasa, to Richard which Bulliet, where eventually on the basis Sufi came

history, took place rather than classes in law or legal See R. Bulliet, The Patricians A Study in Medieval Islamic Social of Nishapur: Harvard University Press, 1, p. 250. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1973), appendix and a place activities Lata1 Lata1 ifal-ishdrdt, ifal-ishdrdt, vol. vol. 1, pp. 67-8. 1, p. 64.

of al-FarisI's

took charge of al-Qushayri as al-Qushayri's madrasa. was really a Sufi this madrasa

37 Al-QushayrT, 38 Al-QushayrT,


39 This is according to theKupriiliiMS, which has Hdha aqbala al-layV, insteadof 'idhd
al-layV in the Basyum Lata1 edition. ifal-ishdrdt, vol. 1, p. 64.

40 Al-QushayrT,

hefinds onlyGod, who pays him his account in but,when he gets there, full God is swiftin
reckoning. manner, providing since It is interesting in its outer that al-Qushayri is alluding to this verse in an esoteric the verse is to the disbelievers. Thus he is meaning referring interpretation for two verses at the same time. to note

41 Al-QushayrT, vol. 1, p. 61. The allusion is to Q. 24:39, But the deeds of al-ishdrdt, Lata'if are like a mirage those who disbelieve in a desert: the thirsty person thinks there will be water

an esoteric

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20 Journal of Qur'anic


42 Al-Qushayri, 43 Al-Qushayri, 44 Al-Qushayri, 45 Al-Qushayri, 46 Al-Qushayri, 47 The word 48 Ihmaluhum

Lata0 Lata0 Lata0 Lata0 Lata0 dhimam hawashi

ifal-isharat, ifal-isharat, ifal-isharat, ifal-isharat, ifal-isharat, can also mean ahwalihim

vol. 3, p. 218. vol. vol. vol. vol. 1, p. 63. 1, p. 63. 1, p. 67. 1, p. 72.

security of life and property.

umurihim. Alternatively, this could mean 'their wa-atraf about the peripheral aspects or outer effects of their states'. In any case, I being undisciplined in the BasyunI have corrected Hma man lahum' edition to 'ihmalihim', and Htraq umurihim' ' as per MS Kupriilii, seem to make more sense in the to atraf umurihim' f. 12b, both of which context. 49 On aspects in Sufism see Margaret Malamud, and of this development 'Sufi Organisations in Medieval International Journal Eastern of Authority of Middle Nishapur', Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism, tr. John O' Kane (Leiden: E.J. Brill,

Structures Fritz Meier,

Studies 26 (1994), pp. 427^12; FritzMeier, 'Khurasan and theEnd of Classical Sufism' in 1999), pp. 189-219.
50 First published nafs wa-mudawatuha, Jerusalem athar-i in the Sufi (Jerusalem: Majmuca-yi conduct 74. This in Abu ed. Abu and cAbd

cAbd al-Rahman intr. Etan Press, Academic


al-Sufiyya and cUyub al 1 Memorial Series, Kohlberg, Schloessinger in N. (ed.), 1976), Pourjavady republished Jawamic adab al-Sulami (Tehran: Iran University Press,


1369/1980-1). Abu SacId ibnAbl'l-Khayr is reported to have drawn up a list of rules for
see Frye, Histories vol. 2, p. for which of Nishapur, lodge or khanaqdh, in Islamic Mysticism Studies list of rules may be found translated in R.A. Nicholson,

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), p. 46, and in A. Schimmel,Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), p. 243. Later Adab al-muridinofAbu'l-Najib al-Suhrawardi (d. 563/1168), works on Sufi adab include the
al-ddab of Yahya and the Fusils 'A Kubrawi Manual of Sufism: The Waley, in L. Lewisohn Bakharzi' of Yahya Fusus al-adab (ed.), The Legacy Sufism of Persian to the subject of A introduction 289-310. Nicmatullahi, 1992), pp. good (London: Khanaqah-i on Islamic inMeier, 'A Book of Etiquette for Sufis' is Fritz Meier's Sufi adab works Essays the Adab al-muridin Bakharzi (d. 736/1335-6). of Najm On al-Dln al-Kubra (618/1221), the latter, see M.I. pp. 49-92, Piety and Mysticism, On al-muridin. Kubra's Adab 'Ma bi-majlis-i Pourjavady, adab-i Irani', Nashr-i Danish, 51 Al-Qushayri, 52 Al-Qushayri, Lata0 which includes the concept sukhan mihtaran 16:4 (2000), vol. a paraphrase al-Dln in English of Najm see also adab among early mystics cAbd Allah Mubarak nagu'im: farsi gu'i-yi of al N. va

pp. 21-5.


1, p. 616. vol.

has immediate edition 1, p. 616. Basyum's and for the heart al-muc (al-caqiiba punishment' 'delayed ajjald) (al-caquba punishment also be there would is stylistically more pleasing. However, for the nafs, which al-mu?ajjala) heart from the nature the tribulation of the a logic in al-Qushayri's (i.e. the describing as well as f. in MS mentioned 'immediate 99a) Kupriilii, al-mucajjald), (al-qaswa hardening' Lata?if al-isharat,

the nature of the tribulationfor the secret (i.e. 'veiling' or hujba) in both theMS
edition. Lata0 ifal-isharat, Lata0 icinda Lata0 vol. 1, p. 616. vol. 1, p. 616. which is absent from MS Kupriilii, f. 99a.



53 Al-Qushayri, 54 Also 55 I have

al-Qushayri, omitted


tarkihim adhkarihim' vol.

56 Al-Qushayri,


1, p. 617.

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Sufi tafsiras aMirror 21

57 This here. 58 See mystiques Bulliet,

is according

to Basyum's


The MS


f. 99b


to be defective

J. Chabbi,

and sufi in thehistoriesofNlshapur in showing theoccurrenceof the terms cdbid,zdhid, cdrif

The Patricians of Nishapur, pp. 41-2. has already been made of al-Qushayri's fondness for love poetry, but we also to the theme of love, as for that his interpretations allude in his example on Sura 12 will be discussed below. interpretation of Q. 2:1. His commentary find Hallaq 1990), and D. p. 55. Little (eds),

sur le developpement des mouvements et 'Remarques historique ascetiques au Khurasan', Studia Islamica 46 and the statistical tables (1977), pp. 6-72,

59 Mention often

60 G. Bbwering, 'The Qur?an Commentary of al-SulamF W.B. in to Charles Islamic Studies Presented J. Adams (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 61 Al-Qushayri, 62 Al-Qushayri, Lata0 Lata0 ifal-ishdrdt, ifal-ishdrdt, vol. vol. 1, p. 564. 1, p. 565.

see CarlW. Ernst, 63 On thephenomenonof shathiyydt Words ofEcstasy inSufism (Albany:

State University of New York Press, 1985).

64 See J. Mojaddedi, The Biographical Tradition,pp. 116-17. 65 That is, reading khalq according to the MS Kupriilu, f. 88a, as opposed to haqq in the
Basyum edition. 66 Al-Qushayri, 67 Al-Qushayri, 68 Al-QushayrT, Lata3 Lata0 Lata0 ifal-ishdrdt, ifal-ishdrdt, ifal-ishdrdt, vol. vol. vol. 1, p. 565. 1, pp. 565-6. 1, p. 567. 1, p. 566. On to 'shuhud the basis of MS f. 88a, I have Kupriilii, seems more which bVl-khalq'

69 Al-QushayrT, vol. Lata0if al-ishdrdt, corrected 'shuhud al-haqd?iq hVl-haqq\ likely in the context of the words

that follow:

al-haqq bVl-haqq\ 'atammu min baqa? al-khalq

such as Ahmad Ghazali, mysticism Shihab al-DTn Ahmad SamcanT.

70 All these elements are to be found in thewritings of proponents of KhurasanT love

RashTd al-DTn MaybudT, cAyn al-Qudat HamadanT and


71 I have found thisequally to be thecase in thecomparative studyof Sufi commentarieson

is particularly This evident in relation to the Yusuf that I am at present completing. to be associated with theme of love in al-Qushayri's figure of Jacob, who begins Lata0if al there is virtually no mention of love in relation to him in the commentary ishdrdt, while of al ethos which Three ismuch more reflected inMaybudT's Hermeneutics. Sufi for which see

SulamT. 72 An





and Four

of my


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