Do the Disconnected Letters Carry Meaning?: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

During question and answer session of his explanation of the book Lum’ah al-I’tiqaad, sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh responded to the following question:

سؤال: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور ما معناها؟

Question: The letters at the beginnings of some surahs – what are their meanings?

الجواب: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور تسمى الحروف المقطعة، والراجح في معناها أنها للإشارة إلى أن هذا القرآن كلماته متألفة من جنس هذه الأحرف، وإذا كان كذلك وهذه الأحرف هي التي يتكلم العرب بها ويؤلفون بها كلامهم، فإن ذلك يدل على أن القرآن معجز، فكأن الله – سبحانه وتعالى- يقول للناس: هذا القرآن مكون من هذه الأحرف التي تتكلمون بها وتنشئون بها كلامكم، وليس من أحرف أخر، ومع هذا أنتم لا تستطيعون أن تأتوا بمثله، ولا بمثل عشر سور، ولا بمثل سورة منه، وهذا يدل على عظم الإعجاز، ويدل على هذا التفسير الاستقراء، والاستقراء أحد أوجه الأدلة التي ينبغي العناية بها، فتجد أن معظم السور التي في أولها الأحرف المقطعة يعقبها ذكر القرآن أو الكتاب، قال جل وعلا:) الم * ذلك الكتاب لا ريب (. [البقرة: 1-2]. ـ

Response: These letters at the beginnings of some surahs are called the “Disconnected Letters” [al-Huroof al-Muqatta’a], and the strongest position regarding their meanings is that they are a sign indicating that the words of this Qur’an are composed of these types of letter. So then if that is the case and these are the very same letters which the Arabs use to speak and of which their speech is composed, then this demonstrates that the Qur’an is miraculous and inimitable. It is as if Allah is saying to mankind, “This Qur’an is made up of these very same letters which you use to speak and which make up your discourse – not any other letters. However, despite that, you are not able to produce the likes of it, nor the likes of ten of its chapters, nor the likes of even one of its chapters.” So this points to the grand miraculous nature of the Qur’an

And detailed scholarly examination of the Qur’an also points to this same position, as detailed scholarly examination is one form of evidence which should be given due consideration. For you find that most of the surahs that begin with the Disconnected Letters immediately follow them up by mentioning the Qur’an or the Scripture. Allah said:

الم * ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

Alif Lam Meem * This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for the muttaqoon [2:1-2]

وقال تبارك وتعالى:) الم * الله لا إله إلا هو الحي القيوم * نزل عليك الكتاب بالحق (. [آل عمران: 1-3]. وقال جل من قائل:) المص * كتاب أنزل إليك فلا يكن في صدرك حرج (. [الأعراف: 1-2]. وقال سبحانه وتعالى:) الر كتاب أحكمت آياته ثم فصلت من لدن حكيم خبير (. [هود: 1]. وقال أيضا عز وجل:) الر تلك آيات الكتاب الحكيم (. [يونس: 1]. وقال:) الم * تنزيل الكتاب لا ريب فيه من رب العالمين (. [السجدة: 1-2]. وقال أيضا:) حم * تنزيل من الرحمن الرحيم (. [فصلت: 1-2]. وقال:) ق والقرآن المجيد ([ق: 1] . ـ

And He said:

الم * اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ * نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ

Alif Lam Meem * Allah – there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, al-Hayy, al-Qayyoom* He has sent down upon you the scripture in truth… [3:1-3]

and He, Exalted is He, said:

المص * كِتَابٌ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ فَلَا يَكُن فِي صَدْرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِّنْهُ لِتُنذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Alif Lam Meem Sad * [This is] a Book revealed to you – so let there not be in your breast distress… [7:1-2]

and He said:

الر ۚ كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ

Alif Lam Ra . [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted. [11:1]

and He also said:

الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ

Alif Lam Ra . These are the verses of the clear Book [10:1]

and He said:

الم * تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Alif Lam Meem * [This is] the revelation of the Book about which there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds. [32:1-2]

and He also said:

حم * تَنزِيلٌ مِّنَ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Ha Meem * [This is] a revelation from the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful [41:1-2]

and He said:

ق ۚ وَالْقُرْآنِ الْمَجِيدِ

Qaf . By the Glorious Quran. [50:1]

إذن أكثر السور التي ابتدأت بالأحرف المقطعة يعقبها ذكر الكتاب والقرآن، وهذا يدل على أن كلماته متكونة من هذه الأحرف، فائتوا يا كفار يا من لم تصدقوا برسالة محمد -صلى الله عليه وسلم- بمثل هذا القرآن، أو بمثل عشر سور مثله مفتريات، أو بمثل آية، وهذا فيه أبلغ اإعجاز، ولا يوجد في السلف من يقول: لا نعلم معناها. فمن يقول: الله أعلم بمعناها. بمعنى: لا يعلم أحد معناها. فلا. ـ

So, most of the surahs that begin with the Disconnected Letters immediately follow them up with some mention of the scripture and the Qur’an. This shows that the words of these surahs are made up of these very same letters. So then, O disbeliever, O you who does not believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (ﷺ), produce the likes of this Qur’an, or the likes of ten of its chapters, these chapters which you demean. Or even the likes of a single ayah. This shows the height of the Qur’an’s miraculous inimitable nature.

And one does not find any of the salaf who said, “we do not know what these mean.” And those who said, “Allah knows best what they mean”, they did not say this to mean that no one knows what they mean. Not at all.

ومن الأمور التي يشيع فيها الخطأ أن يقال: إن الأحرف المقطعة من المتشابه. هذا من قول الأشاعرة، ويريدون بقولهم: إنها من المتشابه. يعني لا أحد يعلم معناها. وهذا غير صحيح، فليس عندنا شيء في القرآن ولا في السنة لا أحد يعلم معناه، بل لا بد أن يكون هناك طائفة تعلم معناه؛ لأن العلم بمعاني الكتاب والسنة محفوظ بحفظ الكتاب والسنة، فلا يجوز أن نقول: إن الأحرف المقطعة ليس لها معنى، لأن الله -جل وعلا- أنزل القرآن وأمر بتدبره فقال:) أفلا يتدبرون القرآن (. [سورة: 82]. ولم يستثن الله -جل وعلا- آية ولا كلمة من القرآن من الأمر بالتدبر، ويدخل في ذلك الحروف المقطعة، وهذا يبين لك أن القول الظاهر الصحيح الثابت هو أن الأحرف المقطعة لها معنى على نحو ما أوضحنا لك. ـ

One of the mistakes which has become widespread is to say that the Disconnected Letters fall under the category of the mutashaabih [ambiguous] verses. This is the view of the Ash’aris, and what they mean when they say, “these are only mutashaabih verses” is that no one knows their meanings. But this is not correct, for there is nothing with us of the Qur’an or of the Sunnah which no one knows its meanings. On the contrary, of course there is somebody who knows its meanings, for knowledge of the meanings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah is protected and preserved along with the preservation of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. So it is not permissible to say that the Disconnected Letters do not carry any meaning, for Allah has sent down the Qur’an and commanded us to contemplate it. For he said:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ

Do they not carefully consider the Qur’an? [4:82]

and Allah did not exclude any ayah or any word of the Qur’an from this command to contemplate it. So this command includes the Disconnected Letters. Thus it should be clear to you that the clear, correct, and well-ground position on this matter is that the Disconnected Letters do carry meaning in the manner that we have explained to you.

[Questions regarding Lum’ah al-I’tiqaad. Retrieved from the sheikh’s website here.]

See also: The Disconnected Letters: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: A Common Theme of the Disconnected Letters: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: The Meanings of Muhkam, Mutashaabih, and Ta’weel: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

See also: Who knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di

3 thoughts on “Do the Disconnected Letters Carry Meaning?: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

  1. Pingback: The Disconnected Letters: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Who knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: A Common Theme of the Disconnected Letters: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

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