Consider this: all these allegorical verses are of different levels, degrees, forms, and styles. Each contains subtle truths. If you take a silver flagon, decorate it with molten gold and stud it with gems, then electrify it making it shine and sparkle, you will behold in it many levels of beauty and varieties of adornment. Similarly, in all these verses, allusions and indications extend [by means of] the allegorical comparisons from their main aims to the [above-mentioned] stations, as though the underlying aim rolls along all these levels gathering tints and a share from each, making the words comprehensive summaries [of the Qur’an], or epitomes even.
[on Eloquence (or Rhetoric)]
Consider this: one who speaks expresses a meaning, then offering evidence convinces the intellect. Then too, employing allegories, he excites feelings in the conscience, so arousing either desire or distaste in the heart and preparing it to accept [his words]. Thus, eloquent speech is speech that which the intellect and conscience profit from together; it both enters the intellect, and trickles into the conscience. The allegorical comparison provides for these two aspects, for it comprises a sort of analogy, and through it the law included in the comparison is reflected in the mirror of the thing represented, as though the speech is a proposition supported by evidence. For example, you might say about a ruler who suffers hardship for the sake of his subjects: “The lofty mountain endures the burden of ice and snow, while the valleys below grow green and flourish.”
Similes form the basis of comparisons, and the function of similes is to arouse feelings of disgust or longing or sympathy or aversion or wonder or awe. Thus, the purpose of the comparison is to exalt or to denigrate or to arouse longing or aversion, or to defame or embroider or show kindness, and so on. The conscience is aroused by the form of the comparison and feelings of desire or aversion are provoked.
The need for comparisons arises from the profundity and subtlety of meanings, comparisons make these apparent; or [it arises] from the aim [what is intended by the speech] being disparate and scattered, then the comparison binds it together. The allegorical verses of the Qur’an (mutashābihāt) are of the former kind, for according to the authoritative scholars (ahl al-taḥqīq) these are a sort of elevated comparison and a means of expressing sheer truths and abstract ideas. One reason for this is that for the