Symbolic exegesis of the Qur’an based on the claim that there is an inner (batini) meaning behind the external (zahiri) text. By extension, it can be applied to other scriptures, as well as to rituals and the whole of nature. The theory and practice of this hermeneutical method was elaborated by Ismaili thinkers such as Ja’far b. Mansur al-Yaman (d. 2nd half 10th century), al-Qadi al-Nu‘man (d. 974) and Nasir Khusraw (d. ca. 1088). As a result Ismailis were, sometimes pejoratively, termed batinis (esotericists). According to the authors mentioned above, while the revelation (tanzil) was delivered by the prophet to all people, the knowledge of its ta’wil rests with the imam, the sole authoritative source of interpretation, and they considered that this ta’wil should not be disclosed to the masses, lest it is misunderstood.