Quran Mystery Letters?

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Mystery Letters of Quran
* Alief * Laam * Meem *Taa
* Haa * Aein * Saad * Qaf *

Do They Mean Anything?

Centuries of contemplation and discussion amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars have failed to provide any concrete evidence from the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, or the Quran itself for that matter for understanding that is mutually accepted by the intellectual community at large. 

Such an undertaking would require more than a short page or two on the Internet, especially in a news oriented website such as this.

However, we feel at least, the question must be dealt with from the perspective of a simple mind (like mine) for a simple answer, in simple English, inshallah.

tree diagram of the Qur'anic initial letters,
labelled with the respective numbers of occurrences.
To be read right to left.

and here is


The suras that contain these letters are: sura 2sura 3sura 7sura 10sura 11sura 12sura 13sura 14sura 15sura 19sura 20sura 26sura 27sura 28sura 29sura 30sura 31sura 32sura 36sura 38sura 40sura 41sura 42sura 43sura 44sura 45sura 46sura 50sura 68.

Laam and Meem are conjoined and both are written with prolongation sign/Mark. One letter is written in two styles. [Refer 19:01 and 20:01] Letter 20:01 is used only in the beginning and middle of a word and that in 19:01 is not used as such. الم is also the First Ayah of Sura 3, 29, 30, 31 and 32 [total 6].

Classical opinions

Tomes have been written over the centuries on the possible meanings and probable significance of these 'mystical letters' as they are sometimes called. Opinions have been numerous but a consensus elusive. There is no reliable report of Muhammad having used such expressions in his ordinary speech, or his having thrown light on its usage in the Qur'an. And, more importantly, none of his Companions seemed to have asked him about it. This apparent lack of inquisitiveness is cited as proof that such abbreviations were well known to the Arabs of the time and were in vogue long before the advent of Islam.

One well-known opinion is that these letters stand for words or phrases related to God and His Attributes. The famous CompanionsIbn Abbas and Ibn Mas'ud are said to have favored this view, as cited by Abu Hayyan al Andalusi in his Bahr Al Muhit. As plausible as it may sound, this opinion does not find favor among other classical commentators, because the possible combinations of letters are virtually infinite and the Attributes they represent seem to be chosen arbitrarily. For example, the translator Maulina Muhammad Ali translates these letters in his editions of the Holy Qur'an as follows:

Alif (ا): an abbreviation for Ana (أنا, I am)
Ḥā (ح): an abbreviation for Al-Ḥamīd (الحميد, the Praised),
Rā (ر): an abbreviation for the Seeing,
Sīn (س): as either an abbreviation for Man or an abbreviation for As-Samī' (السميع, the Hearing),
Ṣād (ص): an abbreviation for As-Ṣādiq (الصادق‎, the Truthful),
Ṭā (ط): as either an abbreviation for the Benignant or an interjection equivalent to O (in dialect),
ʿAyn (ع): an abbreviation for Al-'Alīm (العليم, the Knowing),
Qāf (ق): an abbreviation for the Almighty,
Kāf (ك): an abbreviation for Al-Kāfi (كافي, the Sufficient),
Lām (ل): an abbreviation for Allāh (الله, using the second letter),
Mīm (م): as either an abbreviation for Al-'Alīm (العليم, the Knowing, using the ending letter) or for Al-Majīd (المجيد, the Glorious),
Nūn (ن): a word meaning Inkstand,
Hā (ه): as either an abbreviation for Al-Hādīy (الهادي, the Guide) or an abbreviation for Man (in dialect), and
Yā (ي): an interjection equivalent to O.

Quran myster letters

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, a classical commentator of the Qur'an, has noted some twenty opinions regarding these letters, and mentions multiple opinions that these letters present the names of the Surahs as appointed by God. In addition, he mentions that Arabs would name things after such letters (for example, 'money' as 'ع', clouds as 'غ', and fish as 'ن')


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