Lata’if Al-Isharat: Subtle Allusions

Lata'if Al-Isharat

Translation by Kristin Zahra Sands
Kashf Al-Asrar

Subtle Allusions (Lataʾif al-isharat) is a line-by-line Arabic Qurʾanic commentary by the scholar and Sufi master Abu l-Qasim al-Qushayri (d.465/1074), who was also the author of the influential and widely read handbook on Sufism known as the Risala. Qushayri believed, like other Sufis, that the Qurʾan has layers upon layers of meaning, and that the attempt to reduce these layers to definitive interpretations demonstrates the limitations of the intellect rather than fidelity to the text. He suggested instead that the meaning of the Qurʾan is something to be discovered on an ongoing basis by individuals who are deeply engaged in reflection and other spiritual practices. Qushayri demonstrates this kind of interpretation in the Lataʾif with his own and other Sufis’ comments and meditations on the entire Qurʾan, not just the passages that would seem to be particularly conducive to a more interiorized or mystical reading. The commentary is noteworthy for its literary quality.