الآية رقم (1) - الم

(1) - (Alif, Lam, Meem.)

The Sura of Al-Baqara tackles issues such as resurrection and the afterlife, human life, some rules with respect to the Qibla and Hajj, some rules with respect to women and breastfeeding, and debts and the prohibition of usury. Then, (Al-Baqara) is concluded by the believers saying: “we hear and obey.’ Next, we move to the first issue that follows the above rules: the issue of the heavenly messages before Islam and the unity of the religion. Allah (swt) says:

{ شرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ}

(He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein.) (Ash-Shura: 13)

So, the religion brings together and never divides; It units and never disperses. On the other hand, all the religions revealed by (swt) and called for by the messengers were about different rules that are suitable for different times. Yet, the faith has remained one based on the (Shahada): ‘There is no God but Allah.’ The doctrine, reward, punishment, paradise, hell, and the stories of the prophets are all one; and (swt) says in the Holy Quran:

{ نحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ}

(We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an although you were, before it, among the unaware.) (Yusuf: 3)

The stories tell us about incidents that have taken place throughout history, and such stories are one in all the heavenly messages. Moreover, (Al-Baqara) is concluded by stating that we, as believers, have to believe in all past messengers and books and not to make any distinction among them in terms of belief in them. The example Allah (swt) wants to give with respect to past religions and messengers is about Jesus Christ (PBUH), his family, grandmother, and the environment in which Virgin Mary used to live. Thus, we have the Sura of (Aal-Imran – the family of Imran).

Who are (Aal-Imran)? They are the family of Virgin Mary, and the Sura is named after them:

 إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ * ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِن بَعْضٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ * إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ * فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

(Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran over the worlds – % Descendants, some of them from others. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. % [Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” % But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah].”) (Aal-Imran: 33-36)

Moreover, this Sura is one of the lengthy Suras of the Holy Quran after the Sura of (Al-Baqara). Prophet Muhammad (saws) speaks about both Suras (Al-Baqara & Aal-Imran) and said:

“Recite Al-Baqara and Aal-Imran; the two shining ones; for on the day of resurrection they will come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks* pleading for those who recite them[1].”


Verse: 1

{الم }

(Alif, Lam, Meem.)

This Sura, like (Al-Baqara) starts with the separate letters: {Alif, Lam, Meem.} It’s a must, however, to recall some of the themes we get from the separate letters at the beginning of the Suras whenever we have them. What’s the point behind the separate letters? Allah (swt) says:

{ كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ}

([This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.) (Saad: 29)

Thus, the Quran is meant to remined of, reflect upon, and benefit from. What’s the point, then, of (Alif, Lam, Meem; and:

{ كهيعص}

(Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.) (Mayram: 1)

{ ن}

(Nun…) (Al-Qalam: 1)

{ الر}

(Alif, Lam, Ra…) (Yunus: 1)

And what’s the benefit of all the separate letters mentioned in the Book of (swt)? Here, we have to answer by reason in order to convince others. For us, we take the religion for granted because we’re Muslims. Nonetheless, we have to state the wisdom in that for other when we know such wisdom and convey what major clerics have said about the separate letters. The question we have to answer now is: don’t we get benefit out of what we don’t how it’s done? For example, you benefit from electricity; yet, you don’t know its nature. Your house is lit by electricity. So, we can benefit from the things whose nature is unknown to us. The question here is: why do we benefit from the separate letters without knowing the wisdom in them? This is because the Holy Quran is the saying of Allah (swt); and there’s a big difference between what (swt) says and what humans say. They can’t be of the same structure and expressions except for the ones which the Almighty intends to clarify for people. Still, there are secrets which Allah (swt) has kept for himself in the Holy Quran. That’s why, Prophet Muhammad (saws) says:

“The superiority of Allah’s words over all other words is like Allah’s superiority over His creatures[2].”

The action must always be attributed to the doer. So, there are precise and unspecific verse in the word of Allah (swt). And, Allah (swt) speaks about the precise and unspecific verses after three. Besides, the separate letters, including (Alif, Lam, Meem.) with which this Sura begins, are among the unspecified verses that we don’t know the reality of their meanings, but we believe in and benefit from them. Prophet Muhammad (saws) says:

“Whoever recites a letter from Allah’s Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter[3].”

Therefore, we benefit from every letter we read in the Book of Allah (swt), the Holy Quran.

The other thing is that whenever you read the Holy Quran you do that with all the secrets Allah has kept in it and not with your understanding only. All human-made books are read and understood, but the Holy Quran, which is the sayings and attributes of Allah, is read with two things:

1-    Reason and understanding, and

2-    With a key, that is the secret Allah has kept in there.

Therefore, (Alif, Lam, Meem.) is one of the secrets of Allah. On the other hand, some scholars say that those letters are mean for drawing one’s attention, while other say they are the same of the letters the Holy Quran is made up with. Others suggest that they are the name of the Surah. The end here is miraculous, though. And the question here is: ‘is there any author in the world who would write a letter or a word in a book to be presented to people and say that they’ll keep the meaning of the word or the letter to themselves?” This is a proof that the Holy Quran is By Allah (swt) because if it’s written by a prophet or a human, they dare not write letters unknown to people and keep their secret to themselves. This is an evident proof that the Holy Quran is the sayings of Allah, as (swt) describes it:

{ تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ مِنَ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ}

(The revelation of the Book is from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.) (Al-Jaathiya: 2)

and no human has to do with it:

 {أمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ ۚ بَلْ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ لِتُنذِرَ قَوْمًا مَّا أَتَاهُم مِّن نَّذِيرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ}

(Or do they say, “He invented it”? Rather, it is the truth from your Lord, [O Muhammad], that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you [so] perhaps they will be guided..) (As-Sajda: 3)

The separate letters form half of the Arabic Alphabet and when are put together they give an expression in Arabic (Nasun Hakimun Lahu Sirrun Qate’ – A wise text with a definite secret). As such, it’s miraculous to put those letters in one expression that means a text with a definite secret.

Moreover, the separate letters are written (in Arabic transcript) the same way as other words in other verses where the same letters are read by their sounds rather than their names. For example, (Alif, Lam, Meem.) is spelled the same way as in other verses in the Holy Quran like “Alam’ which is made up of (Ali, Lam, Meem) in Arabic orthography but means “haven’t you” as in:

{ أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِعَادٍ}

(Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad -.) (Al-Fajr: 6)

{ أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ}

(Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?) (Al-Fil: 1)

The Prophet (saws) has been taught that by Garbiel (PBUH). To that reason, scholars say that the Holy Quran can only be taught verbally through the master clerics who have authenticity traced back to the time of Prophet Muhammad (saws).

[1] Hadith no. 1989, Chapter: on the addiction to reciting the Holy Quran, the nineteenth of the branches of belief, Shuab-ul-Iman (The Branches of Belief)

[2] Hadith no. 3357, Chapter: The superiority of Allah’s words over all other words, The Superiority of the Quran, Sunan Ad-Darimi

[3] Hadith no. 2910, Chapter: the reward for whoever recites a letter of the Quran, The Virtues of the Quran Vol. Sunan At-Tirmidhi