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Teachings of the Qur'aan: Al-Baqarah - The Letters: Alif, Laam, Meem - Aayah 1

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  • DDN
    B i s m i l l a a h i r R a h m a a n i r R a h e e m Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi Assalaamu `Alaykum wa
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 1, 2004
       
      B i s m i l l a a h i r   R a h m a a n i r   R a h e e m

      Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi

      Assalaamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu

      Teachings of the Qur`aan

      Al-Baqarah
      Soorah 2
       
      Aayah 1
      The Letters
      Alif, Laam, Meem

      by Ayub A. Hamid
       

       

      Teachings and Running Commentary

      The Letters

      The soorah starts with a string of three letters of Arabic alphabet:

       

      1 Alif, Laam, Meem.

       

      The English equivalents of these letters are A,L,M.

       

      Some of the soorahs of the Qur-aan (29 out of 114) start with letters such as these. At the time of the revelation of the Qur-aan, it was in vogue for celebrated poets and orators to use random letters of alphabet in their literary pieces. As the Qur-aan was to dazzle the Arabs in superbness of its style over every other literary work, Allaah SWT did not leave out any aspect of style from the Qur-aan that was in vogue at that time. With the passage of time, that style became extinct, but it stayed in the Qur-aan because every letter of the Qur-aan is preserved forever. They are always included in the text and recited as its part.

       

      Since the style was familiar at the time of revelation, no enemy of Islam ever questioned the use of these letters nor did any Muslim ask the Prophet about their use. Similarly, since their meaning or significance has no bearing on the message or the guidance for which the Qur-aan was sent, neither the Prophet nor his companions ever commented on them. That is why there are no documented reports regarding this from the Prophet or his companions. Hence, when their use got out of style in literary circles, in the absence of any documentation, people started wondering why these letters were used.

       

      To answer the curiosity of people who ask about them, subsequent commentators of the Qur-aan have sometimes theorized on their significance but none of the opinions ever gained widespread acceptability.

       

      Some scholars were of the opinion that by using a string of alphabets, Arab poets used to imply that from the letters people use for their common language, they create masterpieces. They proposed that the use of such letters in the Qur-aan points out the fact that Allaah uses the letters of human language to bring about a book (the Qur-aan) that is a living miracle, which cannot be humanly duplicated.

       

      Some people think that these letters have some kind of mystic meanings; however, had there been any mystic meanings, being the teacher of the Qur-aan, the Prophet would have explained it. By the same token, anyone else who assigns some mystic meanings to these characters is just speculating, because the valid knowledge of the unseen realities can come only from the Messenger of Allaah who was directly taught by Allaah SWT. Any other human being’s opinion is merely speculation or conjecture.

       

      Some others who have reflected on the contents of the soorah to which these letters have been appended have come up with different theories. They have opined that these letters have a very strong symbolical relationship with the contents of the chapter they are appended to. The use of the same letters for multiple soorahs implies a similarity of theme and content. One researcher has determined that the Arabic letters were based on Hebrew letters of alphabet, which in turn were strongly influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphics. Hence, each letter of alphabet represented an animal or a thing and was shaped in similarity to that object. For example, Jeem (J) was represented by Jeemal (camel) and was shaped like it, so was Beth (B) for Bayt (house). Meem (M) represented water and was shaped like its wave, while Noon (N) was used to represent fish and Taa (T) was used to indicate a snake. The relationship of the letters to the subject matter of the Soorah, he suggests, is based on the original derivation of the letters from the shapes and animals they represented. For example, the chapter of the Qur-aan that starts with ‘N’ mentions the Jonah’s stay in the belly of fish, while the chapters that start with ‘T’ always mention Moses staff taking the form of a snake and those with ‘M’ mention about his crossing of the ocean or drowning of Pharaoh in the sea.[1] I observed that although it was true in the case of soorahs that started with Taa and N, this was not true in other cases. Soorah A’raaf mentions turning of Moses’ staff into a snake, but does not have Taa in the letters used in its beginning.  Similarly, many soorahs (such as Aali-‘Imraan, Ar-Ra’d, As-Sajdah, Al-Mu-min, Ash-Shoora, Al-Ahqaaf) have the letter M in their string, but do not mention a body of water, Moses’ crossing or Pharaoh’s drowning in the sea.

       

      One theory that became very popular was about a mathematical structure on the basis of nineteen. I analyzed this hypothesis as soon as it was presented and checked the arguments and evidence that was presented, but found it lacking in support from the Qur-aan itself as well as in scientific rigour and consistency. Although many people were mesmerized by it, people with knowledge of deen could see the inconsistencies and gaps in the whole approach.

       

      Regardless of what people theorize about them, they all agree that the message of the Qur-aan remains clear and complete without there being a need to know anything about the strings of these letters.

      ________________________

       

      [1] (See the Tafseers of Hameeduddeen Fraahi and Ameen Ahsan Islaahi)

       

       

       

                                                         Next: Guidance and its beneficiaries - Verses 2 - 5           

               

      Copyright ©2004, Ayub A. Hamid

      Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and

      to publish in full in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

       

      Please Note: This series is providing the teachings of the Qur'aan, not a literal translation.

      Instead of literal translation, it gives interpretive meanings of the verses, along with their contextual details.
      Please remember that any translation of the Holy Qur'aan is in fact only an expression of the translator's understanding
      of  the Word of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala, and hence cannot be equated with the Qur'aan itself.
      Only the original Arabic text can be called the Holy Qur'aan. 
       
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
       
       
      If you did not receive the following soorahs of  'Teachings of the Qur'aan' series by Ustaadz Ayub A. Hamid,  please send an email to:
       
      Al-Faatihah:  The First Verse of the Qur'aan - Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem
      Al-Faatihah:  Part 1: Name, Background, Teachings and Commentary.
      Al-Faatihah:  Part 2: The Significance and Summary.

      Al-Baqarah - Name, Background and Topics

      An-Nisaa:
      4:1-4 / 4:5-14 / 4:15-28 / 4:29-43 / 4:44-52 / 4:53-58 / 4:59-63 / 4:64-76 / 4:77-87 / 4:88-100 / 4:101-112 / 4:113-126 / 4:127-149 / 4:150-158 / 4:159 / 4:160-176.
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
       
      Karima-DDN
       
       
       
       
    • Judas Priest
      Hallow: DDN: It is to be translated into ENGLISH to mean Allah Loves Muhamad...ALM...Alif Lam Mim. === DDN wrote: === Maul Hayat | Harun Yahya |
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 2, 2004

        Hallow: DDN:

        It is to be translated into ENGLISH to mean Allah Loves Muhamad...ALM...Alif Lam Mim.
         
        === DDN wrote: ===


         
        48:8 We have truly sent thee (Muhamad) as a Witness (to mankind), as a Bringer of Glad Tidings (Comforter), and as a Warner (to sinners):
      • Gerald Fry
        DDN is a robot. ... From: Judas Priest To: ; discussing_religion@yahoogroups. Sent: 02/ 12/ 2004 9:59 PM Subject: Re: [discussing_religion] Teachings of
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 20, 2004
          DDN is a robot.
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: 02/ 12/ 2004 9:59 PM
          Subject: Re: [discussing_religion] Teachings of the Qur'aan: Al-Baqarah - The Letters: Alif, Laam, Meem - Aayah 1

          Hallow: DDN:

          It is to be translated into ENGLISH to mean Allah Loves Muhamad...ALM...Alif Lam Mim.
           
          === DDN wrote: ===


           
          48:8 We have truly sent thee (Muhamad) as a Witness (to mankind), as a Bringer of Glad Tidings (Comforter), and as a Warner (to sinners):


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