Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 1

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ الٓمٓ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Alif, Lām, Meem.

Qur'an Dictionary

Click word/image to view Qur'an Dictionary
Word Arabic word
(3:1:1)

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note...

These letters are mentioned here in order to draw people’s attention to the fact that this book, the Qur’ān, is composed of the same type of letters as those available to the Arabs addressed by it. It remains at the same time a miraculous book which they cannot imitate despite the fact that their language is composed of the same letters. This most probable of explanations helps us understand, without difficulty, the need for such references to the nature of the Qur’ān in many sūrahs that open with individual letters. In the preceding sūrah al-Baqarah, this reference points to the challenge thrown down subsequently in the sūrah in these terms: “If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant, then produce one sūrah comparable to it and call upon all your witnesses, other than God, if you were truthful.” (2: 23)
 
In this sūrah a different occasion necessitates this reference to the letters of which the Qur’ān is composed. The sūrah stresses that this Book is revealed by God, the One and only deity. It is yet composed of letters and words in the same way as earlier revelations acknowledged by their followers, who are primarily addressed by this sūrah. There is nothing new in the fact that God has chosen to reveal this Book to His Messenger in this way.

The مقطعات‎ حروف Huruf Muqatta’at

The مقطعاتحروف Huruf Muqatta’at "disjointed letters" are combinations of between one and five Arabic letters appearing at the beginning of 29 out of the 114 Surahs of the Quran (approximately 33% of Surahs). The letters are written together like a word, but each letter is pronounced separately. Some of these are a complete Ayat in it of themselves whilst others are part of a longer Ayat (some qurra number the endings of Ayat differently).  There is only one instance, Surah 42: Shura (Ha Mim, Ayn Sin Qaf), where the disjointed letters are part of two separate Ayaat.

Meaning of the Muqatta’at

A group of scholars refrained from interpreting Ayaat which contain Huruf Muqatta’at and it was not narrated that the Prophet explained them. It is preferable to say Allah knows better about what they mean. However, it was narrated that some of the scholars, even amongst the Sahabah, did interpret them and they differed in their interpretation. 

Some of the scholars who tried to discover the wisdom behind these letters said; these letters mentioned at the beginning of Surahs point to the miraculous nature of the Qur’an, and implies that all mankind is unable to match it, even though it is composed of the letters that they use in their daily speech.

Ibn Kathir writes, "The individual letters in the beginning of some Surahs are among those things whose knowledge Allah has kept only for Himself. This was reported from Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and Ibn Mas’ud. It was said that these letters are the names of some of the Surahs. The wisdom behind mentioning these letters in the beginning of the Surahs, regardless of the exact meanings of these letters, is that they testify to the miracle of the Qur'an. Indeed, the servants are unable to produce something like the Qur'an, although it is comprised of the same letters with which they speak to each other."

One of the benefits of these letters is a rhetorical benefit; O you disbelievers, how come you cannot come up with a similar Qur'an to this one? Aren't these the same letters you use in your daily speech? So why can't you produce a similar Qur'an if it is not from Allah?

We do not know their true meaning and this humbles mankind - people who recite letters in their daily speech but they do not have full knowledge of the meanings of all words. In Surah al Fatihah, we asked Allah to 'guide us to the upright path'. These letters show that we cannot be guided by our own will and we need Allah's help. The letters show that we cannot know and understand everything, so we should put more hope and reliance upon Allah. Allah lets us know that if you really want to get guidance from this Book - you will have to ask Allah to give you understanding of this religion, you cannot know it of your own accord. So an arrogant attitude will prevent you from true knowledge, and submission to Allah will open the doors for true understanding.

Analysis and Figures

There are 29 Surahs that have the Huruf Muqatta’at. These are:

1. Surah 2: al-Baqarah - Alif Lam Mim الم

2. Surah 3: ale-Imran - Alif Lam Mim الم

3. Surah 7: al-A'raf - Alif Lam Mim Sad المص

4. Surah 10: Yunus - Alif Lam Ra الر

5. Surah 11: Hūd - Alif Lam Ra الر

6. Surah 12: Yusuf - Alif Lam Ra الر

7. Surah 13: ar-Ra'd - Alif Lam Mim Ra المر

8. Surah 14: Ibrahim - Alif Lam Ra الر

9. Surah 15: al-Hijr - Alif Lam Ra الر

10. Surah 19: Maryam - Kaf Ha Ya Ain Sad كهيعص

11. Surah 20: Ta Ha - Ta Ha طه

12. Surah 26: ash-Shuʿara - Ta Sin Mim طسم

13. Surah 27: an-Naml - Ta Sin طس

14. Surah 28: al-Qasas - Ta-Sin Mim طسم

 15. Surah 29: al-Ankabut  - Alif Lam Mim الم

16. Surah 30: ar-Rum  - Alif Lam Mim الم

17. Surah 31: Luqman -  Alif Lam Mim الم

18. Surah 32: as-Sajdah - Alif Lam Mim الم

19. Surah 36: Ya Sin - Ya Sin يس

20. Surah 38: Saad - Saad ص

21. Surah 40: Ghafir - Ha Mim حم

22. Surah 41: Fussilat - Ha Mim حم

23. Surah 42: ash-Shura - Ha Mim; Ain Sin Qaf حم عسق

24. Surah 43: Az-Zukhruf Ha Mim حم

25. Surah 44: ad-Dukhan - Ha Mim حم

26. Surah 45: al-Jathiya Ḥā Mīm حم

27. Surah 46: al-AHqaf - Ha Mim حم

28. Surah 50: Qaf - Qaf ق

29.Surah 68: Al-Qalam - Nun ن

Four Surahs are named after their Muqatta'at letters, Surah Ta-Ha (20), Ya-Sin (36), Sad (38) and Qaf (50).

14, 14 and 14

Of the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet, exactly one half appear as Muqatta'at, either singly or in combinations of two, three, four or five letters. The most frequent are Alif Lam Mim and Ha Mim, occurring six times each.

The 14 letters that are used as Muqatta'at are; alif أ, ha هـ, Ha ح, ta ط, ya ي, kaf ك, lam ل, mim م, nun ن, sin س, ayn ع, saad ص, qaf ق, ra ر.

The 14 letters that are not used are; ba ب, ta ت, tha ث, jeem ج, kha خ, dal د, dhal ذ, zal ز, dzha ظ, dhad ض, ghayn غ, fa ف, sheen ش, waw و.

Interestingly, there is also a total combination of 14 patterns used;

1. Alif Lam Mim الم

2. Alif Lam Mim Sad المص

3. Alif Lam Ra الر

4. Alif Lam Mim Ra المر

5. Kaf Ha Ya Ain Sad كهيعص

6. Ta Ha طه

7. Ta Sin Mim طسم

8. Ta Sin طس

9. Ya Sin يس

10. Saad ص

11. Ha Mim حم

12. Ha Mim; Ain Sin Qaf حم عسق

13. Qaf ق

14. Nun ن

Combinations of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 letters.

a.    Three Surahs begin with only one letter:

(i)    Surah 38: Sad with Sad

(ii)   Surah 50: Qaf with Qaf

(iii)  Surah 68: Qalam  with Nun

b.    The combination of two letters occurs in 10 Surahs:

Three of them occur only once each:

(i)   Surah 20: Ta Ha  has Ta Ha

(ii)  Surah 27: al Naml has Ta Seen

(iii) Surah 36: Ya Sin  has Ya Seen

Ha Meem occurs in seven consecutive Surahs from Surah 40 to Surah 46:

(i)    Surah 40: Ghafir

(ii)   Surah 41: Fussilat

(iii)  Surah 42: ash-Shura 

(iv)  Surah 43: az-Zukhruf 

(v)   Surah 44: ad-Dukhan 

(vi)  Surah 45: al-Jathiyah 

(vii) Surah 46:al-Ahqaf 

c.    There are three combinations of three letters each occurring in 14 Surahs. 

Alif Laam Meem occurs in six Surahs

(i)   Surah Al Baqarah  2

(ii)  Surah Ali ‘Imran  3

(iii) Surah Al ‘Ankabut  29

(iv) Surah Al Rum  30

(v)  Surah Luqman  31

(vi) Surah Al Sajdah  32

Alif Laam Ra   occurs in six consecutive Surahs: Surah 10 to Surah 15:

(i)    Surah Yunus  10

(ii)   Surah Hud  11

(iii)  Surah Yusuf  12

(iv)  Surah Al Rad  13

(v)   Surah Ibrahim  14

(vi)  Surah Al Hijr  15

Ta Seen Meem  occurs in two Surahs:

(i)   Surah Al-Shura  26

(ii)  Surah Al-Qasas  28

d.    Combination of four letters occurs twice:

(i)   Surah Aaraf  7: Alif Laam Meem Sad

(ii)  Surah Ar-Ra`d  13: Alif Laam Meem Ra

e.    Combination of five letters occurs twice:

(i)   Surah Maryam  19 begins with Kaf Ha Ya Ayn Sad

(ii)   Surah Al-Shura  42 begins with Ha Meem Ayn Seen Qaf

 

Some reflections on the Disjointed Letters - حروف مقطعات‎ Huruf Muqatta’at

The human body is composed of various fundamental elements that are found in nature. Clay and dust are composed of the same fundamental elements. Yet it would be absurd to say that a human being is exactly the same as the dust. We can all have access to the elements that are found in the human body, and add a few gallons of water, which is the constitution of the human body. We know the elements in the human body and yet we are at a loss when asked the secret of life.

Similarly the Qur’an addresses those people who reject its Divine authority. It tells them that this Qur’an, is in your own language, and over which the Arabs took pride. It is composed of the same letters that the Arabs used to express themselves most eloquently. The Arabs were very proud of their language and Arabic was at its peak when the Qur’an was revealed. With the letters Alif Lam Mim, Ya Sin, Ha-Mim, etc., (in English we would say A, B, C, D) the Qur’an challenges mankind to produce a Surah  similar to the Qur’an, in beauty, elegance, accuracy and truth, if they doubt its authenticity.

Initially, the Qur’an challenges all the men and jinn to produce a recital like the Qur’an and adds that they would not be able to do it even if they backed each other. This challenge is mentioned in Surah Isra (17:88) and in Surah Tur (52:34). Later the Qur’an repeats the challenge in Surah Hud (11:13) by saying produce ten Surahs like it and later in Surah Yunus (10:38) produce one surah like it and finally the easiest challenge is given in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:23).

"And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your doubts are true. But if ye cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith." (2:23-24).

The Arabs are noted for their rhetoric ability, eloquence and meaningful expression. Just as the constituents of the human body are known to us and can be obtained by us, the letters comprising the Qur’an, such as Alif Lam Mim are known to us, and used frequently to formulate words. Life cannot be created by us, even if we possess knowledge of the constituents of the human body. Similarly we cannot capture the same eloquence and beauty of expression, accuracy and truth that we find in the Qur’an, despite knowing the letters that constitute the Qu’ran. The Qur’an thus proves its Divine origin.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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“This Surah consists of four discourses:

  • The first discourse (v. 1-32) was probably revealed soon after the Battle of Badr.
  • The second discourse (v. 33-63) was revealed in 9 A.H. (After Hijrah - migration from Makkah to Madinah) on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christians of Najran.
  • The third discourse (v. 64-120) appears to have been revealed immediately after the first one.
  • The fourth discourse (v. 121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud.” [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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1. The Believers had met with all sorts of trials and hardships about which they had been forewarned in Al-Baqarah. Though they had come out victorious in the Battle of Badr they were not out of danger yet. Their victory had aroused the enmity of all those powers in Arabia which were opposed to the islamic Movement. Signs of threatening storms had begun to appear on all sides and the Muslims were in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. It looked as if the whole Arabian world around the tiny state of Madinah - which was no more than a village state at that time - was bent upon blotting out its very existence. This state of war was also adversely affecting its economy which had already been badly disturbed by the influx of the Muslim refugees from Makkah.

2. Then there was the disturbing problem of the Jewish clans who lived in the suburbs of Madinah. They were discarding the treaties of alliance they had made with the Prophet after his migration from Makkah. So much so that on the occasion of the Battle of Badr these people of the Book sympathized with the evil aims of the idolaters in spite of the fact that their fundamental articles of Faith - Monotheism, Prophethood and Life-after-death - were the same as those of the Muslims. After the Battle of Badr they openly began to incite the Quraysh and other Arab clans to wreak their vengeance on the Muslims. Thus those Jewish clans set aside their centuries-old friendly and neighbourly relations with the people of Madinah. At last when their mischievous actions and breaches of treaties became unbearable the Prophet attacked the Bani-Qaynuqah, the most mischievous of all the other Jewish clans who had conspired with the hypocrites of Madinah and the idolatrous Arab clans to encircle the Believers on all sides. The magnitude of the peril might be judged from the fact that even the life of the Prophet himself was always in danger. Therefore his Companions slept in their armours during that period and kept watch at night to guard against any sudden attack and whenever the Prophet happened to be out of sight even for a short while they would at once set out in search of him.

3. This incitement by the Jews added fuel to the fire which was burning in the hearts of the Quraysh and they began to make preparations to avenge the defeat they had suffered at Badr. A year after this an army of 3000 strong marched out of Makkah to invade Madinah and a battle took place at the foot of Mount Uhud. The Prophet came out of Madinah with one thousand men to meet the enemy. While they were marching to the battlefield three hundred hypocrites deserted the army and returned to Madinah but there still remained a small band of hypocrites among the seven hundred who accompanied the Prophet. They played their part and did their utmost to create mischief and chaos in the ranks of the Believers during the Battle. This was the first clear indication of the fact that within the fold of the Muslim Community there was quite a large number of saboteurs who were always ready to conspire with the external enemies to harm their own brethren.

4. Though the devices of the hypocrites had played a great part in the set-back at Uhud, the weaknesses of the Muslims themselves contributed no less to it. And it was but natural that the Muslims should show signs of moral weakness for they were a new community which had only recently been formed on a new ideology and had not as yet got a thorough moral training. Naturally in this second hard test of their physical and moral strength some weaknesses came to the surface. That is why a detailed review of the Battle of Uhud was needed to warn the Muslims of their shortcomings and to issue instructions for their reform. It should also be noted that this review of the Battle is quite different from the reviews that are usually made by generals on similar occasions.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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Muhammad Al-Luhaidan (Recitation)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B9pe7peE8g