Zahir (Islam)

For other uses, see Zahir (disambiguation).

Zahir (Arabic: ظاهر) is an Arabic term used in certain exegeses of Quran to denote that which is external and manifest.[1] Certain esoteric interpretations of Islam maintain that the Quran has an exoteric or apparent meaning, known as zahir, as well as an underlying esoteric meaning known as batin. Batin can only be interpreted by a figure of esoteric knowledge. For Shi'a Muslims, the Imam of the Time is alone capable in understanding the esoteric meaning.

In Sufism, the actions of an individual are the zahir while the intention within the heart is the batin.[2] Zahir is the world of bodies whereas batin is the world of souls. Sufis believe in the purification of the batin through their spiritual guide to assure a zahir which follows Shariat.

Zahir is also the underlying principle of the Ẓāhiriyya, a school of thought in Islamic jurisprudence and theology known for its insistence on sticking to the manifest or apparent meaning of expressions in the Quran and the Sunnah.


  1. "Zahir - Oxford Islamic Studies Online". University of Oxford. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  2. "Exoteric and Esoteric".
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