Written in Arabic, the work is a philosophical and mystical interpretation of some verses of the Quran.
Ṣadr ad-Din Muhammad Shirazi (1571-1640), more commonly known as Mulla Sadra, was an Iranian Twelver Shia Islamic mystic, philosopher, and theologian and the founder of the school of Hikma al-Muta’aliya.
He lived in the cities of Shiraz, Qazvin, Isfahan and Qom before settling in a village named Kahak, near Qom, to spend the final years of his life.
He has introduced his philosophical system in the book Asfar al-Arba’a (four journeys). He had mastery in different fields of knowledge but was mostly involved in philosophy.
Tafsir al-Quran al-Karim and Sharh Usul al-Kafi are also among his books.
In Tafsir al-Quran al-Karim, Mulla Sadra introduces four common interpretation methods, calling one of them the method of “those steadfast in knowledge”, which is the same method used by messengers of God and Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS) in understanding the Quran. He says this method is for those chosen by God to discover the truths, spiritual meanings, mystical secrets and signs of revelation.
In discovering a special meaning or divine sign, they never undermine the apparent meaning and do not destroy the hidden meaning, he says.
Mulla Sadra considers this method the only comprehensive method to understand and experience the divine and hidden meanings of the Quran, which cannot be achieved via Arabic grammatical rules and meanings of words because if that were possible, all Arabic language scholars could reveal the secrets of the Quran.
He believes that the most important and reliable interpretation method is the intuitive method that originates from the light of prophethood and Imamate.
He considers intuitive knowledge to be the best and most valuable form of cognition and a means for reaching salvation.
Features of Mulla Sadra’s Quran Exegesis
Mulla Sadra mostly begins the interpretation of each verse with a discussion of the words and offers different views of scholars about a word or phrase in the verse, without contradicting any of them. Sometimes he goes further and tries to show the superiority of one of the views.
He pays more attention to Kufi and Basri readings of the Quran and mentions views from some figures like Nakhaei, Qatada and Hassan Basri and then talks about the Sha’an Nuzul (reason of revelation) of the verse.
He also discusses difficult words and then based on his mystical view, offers his interpretation.
Mulla Sadra interprets the Quran with the Quran. Moreover, he mentions others’ interpretations whether he agrees with them or not.
Translations of his interpretations of some of the Surahs of the Quran like Surahs Al-Waqi’a, Al-Jumu’a, Triq, Al-A’ala and Noor have been published in Persian.