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Literary significance of the Quranic Initials

Quran, the God’s final scripture is characterized by unique phenomena never found in any other book. The mathematical coding is embedded in its text and 29 suras are prefixed with 14 sets of Arabic letters known as Quranic initials. The old Islamic scholars called them “Mysterious letters” as the meaning of these letters were not known to them and the notion passed down to us that their meaning is only known to God. It is true that these 14 sets of initials consisting of 14 Arabic letters prefixed to the suras to be the physical proofs of the Quran from God were hidden from us for 14 centuries being the prophetic sign but the literary significance of these initials was not hidden from the true believers of God and His final scripture.

God has sent down the Quran for our guidance, and if He kept hidden the meaning of any parts of it, it would not serve as a clear guidance for us being perfect, fully detailed and complete as mentioned in the Quran (11:1, 6:114-115). Moreover, He has ensured that there is no ambiguity (39:28) or falsehood (10:32) in it. However, let us examine the initials followed by a few verses of the relevant suras prefixed with these initials to confirm whether the meaning was really unknown or we failed to reflect on the significance of those initials. In order to do that let us examine the initials according to the order of the revelation of the Quran as well as its arrangement in writing.

  • List of Quranic initials prefixed to the suras with their names according to arrangement in the composition of Quran
    8
    9

    Notes: Alef => A, Ayn => ‘A, Saad => S, Seen => ‘S and NuN => N => NoonWawNoon (Spelled out)

  • Below are the verses of suras prefixed with Quranic initials followed by couple of verses according to order of revelation:

[68:1-2] NuN, the pen, and what they (the people) write. You have attained a great blessing from your Lord; you are not crazy.
[50:1-2] Q., and the glorious Quran. They found it strange that a warner from among them came to them! The disbelievers said, “This is really strange.
[38:1-2] S. (Saad),and the Quran that contains the proof. Those who disbelieve have plunged into arrogance and defiance.
[7:1-2] A.L.M.S – this scripture has been revealed to you – you shall not harbor doubt about it in your heart – that you may warn with it, and to provide a reminder for the believers.
[36:1-2] Y. ‘S. And the Quran that is full of wisdom.
[19:1-3] K. H. Y. `A. S. (Kãf Hã Yã `Ayn Sãd). A narration about your Lord’s mercy towards His servant Zachariah. He called his Lord, a secret call.
[20:1-2] T. H. We did not reveal the Quran to you, to cause you any hardship.
[26:1-2] T. ‘S. M. These (letters) constitute proofs of this clarifying scripture.
[27:1-2] T.’ S. These (letters) constitute proofs of the Quran; a profound scripture. A beacon, and good news, for the believers.
[28:1-2] T. ‘S. M. These (letters) constitute proofs of this profound book.
[10:1-2] A.L.R. These (letters) are the proofs of this book of wisdom. Is it too much of a wonder for the people that we inspired a man like them? He (was inspired to say), “You shall warn the people, and give good news to those who believe that they have attained a position of prominence at their Lord.” The disbelievers said, “This is a clever magician!”
[11:1-2] A.L.R. This is a scripture whose verses have been perfected, then elucidated.* It comes from a Most Wise, Most Cognizant. Proclaiming: “You shall not worship except God. I come to you from Him as a warner, as well as a bearer of good news.
[12:1-2] A.L.R. These (letters) are proofs of this profound scripture. We have revealed it an Arabic Quran, that you may understand.
[15:1-2] A.L.R. These (letters) are proofs of this scripture; a profound Quran. Certainly, those who disbelieved will wish they were submitters.
[31:1-2] A. L. M. These (letters) constitute proofs of this book of wisdom.
[40:1-2] H. M. This revelation of the scripture is from God, the Almighty, the Omniscient.
[41:1-2] H. M. A revelation from the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know.
[42:1-3] H. M. `A. ‘S. Q. Inspiring you, and those before you, is God, the Almighty, Most Wise.
[43:1-3] H. M. And the enlightening scripture. We have rendered it an Arabic Quran, that you may understand.
[44:1-3] H. M. And this enlightening scripture. We have sent it down in a blessed night, for we are to warn.
[45:1-3] H. M. The revelation of this scripture is from God, the Almighty, Most Wise. The heavens and the earth are full of proofs for the believers.
[46:1-3] H. M.The revelation of this scripture is from God, the Almighty, Most Wise. We did not create the heavens and the earth, and everything between them except for a specific purpose, and for a finite interim. Those who disbelieve are totally oblivious to the warnings given to them.
[14:1] A.L.R.* A scripture that we revealed to you, in order to lead the people out of darkness into the light – in accordance with the will of their Lord – to the path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy.
[32:1-3] A. L. M. The book is, without a doubt, a revelation from the Lord of the universe. They said, “He fabricated it.” Indeed, this is the truth from your Lord, to warn people who never received a warner before you, that they may be guided.
[30:1-3] A. L. M. Certainly, the Romans will be defeated. In the nearest land. After their defeat, they will rise again and win.
[29:1-3] A. L. M. Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test? We have tested those before them, for God must distinguish those who are truthful, and He must expose the liars.
[2:1-3] A.L.M. This scripture is infallible; a beacon for the righteous; who believe in the unseen, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat)*, and from our provisions to them, they give to charity.
[3:1-3] A.L.M. God: there is no god except He; the Living, the Eternal. He sent down to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming all previous scriptures, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.
[13:1-2] A. L. M. R. These (letters) are proofs of this scripture. What is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, but most people do not believe. God is the One who raised the heavens without pillars that you can see, then assumed all authority. He committed the sun and the moon, each running (in its orbit) for a predetermined period. He controls all things, and explains the revelations, that you may attain certainty about meeting your Lord.

  • List of Quranic initials prefixed to suras with significance of initials according to order of revelation

    10
    11
    12
    13
    14

  • 14 sets of Quranic Initials are grouped as follows according to the preference of order of revelation with a key message for each set.

Single Occurrence Initials

15

Notes:

  • The prefixed N confirms that the person as chosen to be the messenger of God for the delivery of his Lord’s revelation is a blessed one who has to memorize the revelation as well as to write it down for proper delivery of the message.
  • The prefixed Q, S, and Y.’S confirm that the Quran is full of wonders, proofs and wisdom, which is a warning but it may seem to be a strange to the disbelievers.
  • The prefixed A.L.M.S confirms that there should not be any doubt in the scripture that revealed to you.
  • The prefixed K.H.Y.’A.S confirms the unusual events that have been mentioned in the revelation including a secret call of Zachariah to God.
  • The prefixed T.H confirms that the Quran is not revealed to be a cause of hardship for the believers.
  • The prefixed H.M followed by another prefixed `A.’S.Q confirms that God, the Almighty, Most Wise has inspired Muhammad with this revelation and He had done the same with others before him in the past.
  • The prefixed T.’S confirms that these are proofs of the scripture to be a guidance and good news for the believers.
  • The prefixed A.L.M.R confirms that these are proofs of this scripture and what is revealed in the scripture is the truth, but most people do not believe.

Multiple Occurrences Initials

11. ALM

16

Notes: The prefixed ALM confirms that:

  • these letters are proofs of the scripture.
  • this book is, without a doubt, a revelation from the Lord of the universe containing truth from our Lord.
  • the Romans will be defeated but rise up again and win.
  • God must distinguish the truthful and expose the liars.
  • this scripture is infallible; a guidance for the righteous.
  • God is the ONLY One who is to be worshiped informing us that He has sent down the previous scriptures as well.

12. T’SM

17
Notes: The prefixed T’SM confirms that these letters are proofs of the Quran.

13. ALR

18
Notes: The prefixed ALR confirms that these letters are proofs of the book of wisdom, a perfect Arabic Quran as inspired to a man among us to lead the people out of darkness into the light to the path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy.

14. HM

19
Notes: The highest number of sura is prefixed with HM which confirms that this scripture, an Arabic Quran having complete details revealed in a blessed night to warn is from God – Almighty, Omniscient; Almighty, Most Wise, and Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Gematrical (numerical) value of letters of the Arabic alphabet was known to the people when the Quran was revealed. Historical records also indicate that the Muslims were thoroughly familiar with the gematrical systemas they used to write “786” in place of the first verse of the Quran known as Basmalah.

The first occurrence of initial, N followed by the expression “The pen, and what they write” in the 2nd revelation (68:1– NuN, the pen, and what they (the people) write.) is a hint that the Quranic initials as prefixed to the suras have a specific role in the revelation, and the verses immediately follow those initials refer to them and encode their meanings, and the presence of initials at the beginning of the sura confirms the message reflecting on their numeric property being discrete.The use of this expression just after the first revelation (96:1 – Read, in the name of your Lord, who created) also indicates that the Quran need to be recorded being verbal communication to Muhammad for proper delivery of it.

Careful review of the statements that follow the Quranic initials indicates that they are basic principles around our belief and understanding of the Quran. Thus, the most important ones can be summarized as: (1) these letters are the proofs of the scripture from the Lord of the universe, (2) this scripture containing wonders, proofs and wisdom is the guidance for the righteous having truth without any doubt in it, (3) this scripture, an Arabic Quran having complete details is revealed to Muhammad in a blessed night from God, Almighty, Omniscient; Almighty, Most Wise; and Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and (4) God being the ONLY owner of our worship must use these principles to distinguish the truthful and expose the liars.

29 suras are prefixed with a set of either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 initial(s) which indicate(s) that the increase in the number of initials has occurred according to God’s plan to deal with our difficulties to understand the events immediately following these initials that have mentioned in the respective sura to instill firm belief in our hearts. At the very beginning of the revelation, initials are single-lettered but the number of initials in the set are increased in the later revelations and sura 42 is prefixed with 2 sets of initials consisting of 5 Arabic letters. The first 3 single initials confirm the crucial statements immediately followed by these initials and these initials are repeated with other initials in the later revelations as well. God has introduced single initials at the very beginning of the revelation, then their numbers are increased where necessary based on how difficult for us to accept or understand the statements.For example, the prefixed H.M is repeated 7 times with different sets of God’s attributes to confirm us that this revelation is from God while the double prefixed H.M and ‘A.’S.Q confirm that inspiration only comes from God to convince us to believe that Muhammad was a messenger of God as well as to accept the revelation that came down to him from God via Gabriel.

From the discussion above it can be concluded that the Quranic initials as prefixed to the suras has a special significance to instill our belief in our hearts and to understand the revelation as well. But the old scholars could not realize any significance of these letters except to consider them to be mysterious letters or the meaning is only known to God. If they could reflect on the known numeric property of the Quranic initials and understand the Quran as a whole they would not assign such meanings to these letters. If these letters did not have any meaning or significance to us, God would not include them in His final guidance wherein there is no ambiguity (39:28) or falsehood (10:32). In addition, if we examine many other verses of the Quran, we can observe that God has referred to many of His creations such as the star, sun, and moon as well as dawn and night before mentioning many crucial commands to convince us that these commands need our special attention to understand and follow them. It is true that these initials to be the physical proofs of the Quran from God was hidden from us for 14 centuries being prophetic sign but the significance of these initials was not hidden from the true believers of God and the Quran. So the Quran has always been and would be fully detailed, complete and perfect to serve as the guidance from the time of its revelation to the end of the world irrespective of time of eras and generations of people. Since the insincere believers have no access to the Quran (56:79, 17:45-46) when the Quran’s mathematical code is unveiled after 14 centuries of the revelation of the Quran through divine inspiration (74:30, 3:81), they cannot accept it due to their ignorance, and the history is repeated with the killing of God’s Messenger of Covenant in 1990 (2:87).
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Tafazzal (11/7/2014)