on the throne of His almightiness.”(20:5) Since the feelings of the mass of people are thus, it is imperative according to eloquence and guidance that their understanding is taken into account, and their feelings are respected, and their intellects are deferred to, and allowance is made for their ideas. Like someone who speaks with a child has to come down to his level so that he can get the child to understand in a friendly manner. The literary devices and styles of the Qur’an (al-asālīb al-Qur’āniyya) in such places, that show regard for the mass of people are called “divine condescension to human minds (al-tanazzulāt al-ilāhiyya ilā ‘uqūl al-bashar).” It is to put [people’s] minds at ease. For this reason it sets the forms [depicted by] the allegorical verses before the people’s eyes like telescopes. Haven’t you seen how most of the eloquent literati use figures of speech (al-isti‘ārāt) to depict subtle meanings or to portray disparate ideas. Thus, the allegorical verses are figures of speech of an abstruse (ghāmiḍ) kind for they depict abstruse truths.
As for there being obscure (mushkil) expressions, this is due either to the subtlety and profundity of what they signify, and the conciseness and loftiness of the style, and the obscurities of the Qur’an are of this sort; or to the ambiguity of the words and tangled expressions, which is contrary to eloquence and the Qur’an is exempt from this. So now, you sceptic! Isn’t it pure eloquence to so easily bring close to the common people’s understanding these profound truths which are so distant from everyone? For eloquence is to speak conformably to any given situation. Dwell on this!
The Answer to the Second Doubt, which is the Qur’an’s vagueness concerning the shaping of creation, although the modern sciences are explicit.
Understand that included in the tree of the world is the desire to be perfected (mayl al-istikmāl), out of which branches the inclination to progress found in man. The inclination to progress resembles a seed that sprouts and grows as a result of numerous experiences, and takes form and expands through the meeting of minds [and exchange of ideas] and produces the fruits of successive sciences, whereby the following can arise only after the previous one has come into being, and the previous one can only be preliminary to the subsequent one after it has been universally accepted. Consequently, if ten centuries ago a person wanted to teach science – remembering that sciences are born only as the result of numerous experiments – and call people to it, all he would have done would have been to confuse their minds and caused them to fall into error. For instance, if the Qur’an had