This meditative or hermeneutic reading accompanies humankind along the path from this world towards the world to come and from exterior signs to their interior meaning, the ultimate sense of which lies solely with God. It is thus the Qur’an itself that inaugurates a hermeneutical path and the latter’s terminology. The Prophet and some of his companions partly defined its milestones. The first generations of Muslims took care, above all, to explain the Qur’an’s language and to link the text to those of the traditions regarding sacred history (i.e. that of the Prophet and the prophets preceding him) that could foster understanding of an often allusive text. The first glimmerings of a spiritual interpretation can nevertheless be glimpsed in the works of the first exegetes and the imams in the Prophet’s Family. Yet it was primarily the birth of a specific way of knowledge, Sufism, that started a long tradition of spiritual and esoteric Qur’anic interpretation, the history of which remains to be written.
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