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-Al-Baqarah ( البقرة )

Tafsir al-Tustari

Alif Lām MīmSahl said:Alif Lām Mīm is a name of God, Mighty and Majestic is He, and within it are meanings and attributes that people of understanding (fahm) know, not to mention the many meanings that it holds for the people of outward [knowledge]. If these letters are read separately, Alif stands for God’s assembling [things in their creation] (taʾlīf), Mighty and Majestic is He, for He brought together all things as He willed. The Lām stands for His pre-eternal grace (luṭfuhu al-qadīm) and the Mīm stands for His great glory (majduhu al-ʿaẓīm).Sahl said:Each book that God, Exalted is He, sent down contains a secret, and the secret of the Qurʾān is contained within the letters which open the sūras, because they are names and attributes, such as when He says Alif Lām Mīm [2:1; 3:1; 29:1 and 31:1], Ṣād [38:1], Alif Lām Rā [10:1; 11:1; 13:1; 14:1 and 15:1], Kāf Ḥā Yā ʿAyn Ṣād [19:1], Tā Sīn Mīm [26:1 and 28:1], Ḥā Mīm [41:1], ʿAyn Sīn Qāf. When these letters are brought together they make up the Greatest Name of God — that is, if a letter is taken from each [group] of the opening letters of the sūras, one after the other in the order that the sūras were revealed, that is, Alif Lām Rā, Ḥā Mīm, and Nūn, they form the divine name al-Raḥmān.’ Ibn ʿAbbās and Ḍaḥḥāk, on the other hand, said that Alif Lām Mīm means ‘I am God and I know’; while ʿAlī said that these are names [in the form of] ‘disconnected’ [letters], but if a letter is taken from each of the opening groups of letters, on the condition that it is not the same as the letter adjacent to it, and then they are assembled, they form one of the names of the Merciful. If this name is known and used in supplication, it will be the mightiest name by which the prayer of the supplicant who uses it will be answered.Sahl said:In the words Alif Lām Mīm, ! That Book [2:1–2], Alif stands for God (Allāh), Lām stands for the servant (ʿabd), and Mīm stands for Muḥammad . So, [through these letters] the servant may gain access to his Master from the position of affirming His oneness (tawḥīd) and by followingthe example of His Prophet. Sahl further said:I received [a tradition] on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās according to which he said: ‘God, Exalted is He, has sworn that this Book which was revealed to Muḥammad is the book from God’s presence, Exalted is He. So He said: Alif Lām Mīm, That Book... [In these words], Alif stands for God (Allāh), Lām stands for Gabriel and Mīm stands for Muḥammad , thus God, Exalted is He, has taken an oath by Himself, by the angel Gabriel and by Muḥammad .’He also said:God, Exalted is He, extracted from His Greatest Name [Allāh] the letters Alif, Lām and Hāʾ and said: Indeed I am God, the Lord of the Worlds [28:30], and for [His creatures’] sake He derived a name from among His names and made it the name of His Prophet , and He derived from the end of the name of His Prophet the name of His prophet Adam . Thus He says: That is because God is the Patron [or Friend] of those who believe, and those who disbelieve have no patron [47:11] — except the Devil, that is, Satan.

Tafsīr al-Tustarī, trans. Annabel Keeler and Ali Keeler
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