Alif lām mīm: God knows best what He means by these [letters].
Alif lām mīm: God knows best what He means by these [letters].
Alif Lām Mīm. The sending down of the Book, wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of the Worlds.
It has been said that when the Exalted Lord created the light of MuḤammad's innate disposition, He kept it in the Presence of His exaltedness as long as He wanted. It remained before God one hundred thousand years. It has also been said that for two thousand years He was gazing on it 70,000 times a day, and with each gaze He would drape it with a new light and a new generosity.
He kept the light of this disposition in His Presence for thousands of years, and each day He would look upon it with the attribute of favor. With each gaze it would gain another secret and mystery, another caress and gentleness, another knowledge and understanding.
In those gazes, the secret core of his disposition was told that the level of the Qur'an's exalted- ness would preserve the level of his sinlessness, and this awareness became firmly rooted in his disposition. When his very clay along with the secret core of his disposition was brought into this world, the revelation sent down from the Exalted Threshold turned toward him. He was saying, "I hope that this is the realization of the promise given to me at that time."
In order to soothe his heart and confirm this thought, the Lord of the Worlds sent down this verse: "Alif Lām Mīm." Alif alludes to God, Lām alludes to Gabriel, and Mīm alludes to MuḤammad. He is saying, "By My divinity, Gabriel's holiness, and your splendor, O MuḤammad, this revelation is the Qur'an that We promised would be the keeper of your prophecy's level and the miracle of your good fortune.
"Wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of the Worlds. There is no doubt that it is Our missive to Our servants, Our address to Our friends. In every corner We have someone burning in hope of seeing Us, in every nook someone distracted, his heart tied to Our love and his tongue busy with Our mention and remembrance. The poor are needy for Our threshold, the yearners anxious for Our vision."
In every city You have bondsmen and servants, the whole world is full of Your familiars.
Who indeed am I, what service can I render? You have plenty of the burnt in the world.
Several Surahs of the Qur'an begin with one or the other such introductory sentence, which is meant to declare at the outset therefrom this discourse is being issued. This is apparently the same sort of an introductory sentence as an announcer speaks in the beginning of a radio program to tell which radio station he is speaking from. But unlike the ordinary announcement from a radio station, when the extraordinary declaration at the beginning of a Surah is made to the effect that this message is being issued by the Ruler of the Universe, it is not merely meant to specify the origin of the discourse, but, besides, it also puts forward a big claim, a great challenge and a severe warning, for at the very outset it gives the big news that this.is not human but the Lord of the Worlds' Word. This declaration at once brings man face to face with the grave question: "Should I or should I not accept this claim? If I accept it I shall have to bow my head in submission before it for ever. Then, I shall be left with no freedom concerning it. If I do not accept it, I shall have to take the great risk that if it be really the Lord of the Worlds' Word, I shall have to meet with eternal misery and misfortune in consequence of rejecting it." That is why this introductory sentence solely on account of its extraordinary nature compels man to listen to this Word with frill attention and seriousness,. and then take the decision whether he would accept it as Divine Word or not;
Here, what has been said is not merely that this Book has been sent down by the Lord of the Worlds, but, besides, it also asserts most forcefully:" It is without any doubt the Book of God: there is absolutely no room for doubt about its having been revealed by Allah." If this assertive sentence is studied in the actual context itself, it will be seen that it contains the argument also along with the assertion, and this argument was not hidden from the people of Makkah before whom the assertion was being made. The whole life of the person presenting it had been spent before them. They had known him before he presented the Book as well as after he had presented it. They knew that the person presenting the Book with that assertion was the most righteous, the most serious and the most pious and virtuous man of their society. They also knew that until a day before he made the claim to Prophethood, no one had ever heard from him those things which he had started presenting suddenly just after his claim to Prophethood. They found a marked difference between the diction and style used in the Book and the diction and style used by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) himself, in his daily life, and they also recognized naturally that one and the same person could not have two styles so different from each other. They were also experiencing the highly miraculous literature being presented in the Book and, being the Arabic speaking people themselves, knew that all their literary men and poets were feeling utterly helpless in producing anything the like of it. They were also not unaware that there was a world of difference between the literary productions and orations of their poets and sorcerers and orators, and the Divine discourses being recited before them and the sublimity of the pure themes being presented in them. They did not see in the Book and in the message of the one presenting it any trace whatever of selfishness, which is always present in the work and message of a false claimant to prophethood. They could not find out, however, hard they might have tried, that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) by laying claim to Prophethood was trying to secure a certain benefit for himself or his family or his clan and tribe, or that he had any vested interest in the message he gave. Then, they could also see what sort of the people of their society were being drawn to his message and what great revolution was taking place in them as soon as they came in contact with his invitation. AII these things together supported and proved the assertion and claim. That is why in that background it was enough to say that it is beyond any doubt a Book that pas been sent down by the Lord of the Worlds. No further argument was needed to substantiate the claim.
After the above introductory sentence, the first objection of the polytheists of Makkah, which they raised concerning the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet, is being dealt with.
This is not merely a question but also an expression of great surprise and astonishment. It means to imply this: In spite of all those things on account of which this Book is, without any doubt, a Revelation from Allah, do those people yet say stubbornly that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) has himself forged it and is falsely attributing it to Allah? Don't they feet any shame in uttering such a senseless and baseless accusation? Don't they at all realize what opinion will those people form who are aware of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) and his work and his discourses and also understand the Book, when they hear their absurd accusation?
Just as in the first verse it was considered sufficient to say, 'It is without any doubt the Book of God," and no further argument was needed to be advanced to prove the Qur'an to be Divine Word, so in this verse also the only thing being said to refine the disbelievers' charge that the Qur'an was being forged is: "It is the Truth from your Lord." The reason for it is the same as we have given in E.N. 1 above. The listeners were well aware of the person who was presenting the Qur'an, of the environment in which he was presenting it and the confidence and grace with which he was presenting it; they also knew the Book, its diction and literary excellence and its themes; they were also feeling the influence and impact it was having on contemporary society of Makkah. Under those conditions the Book's being the Truth sent down by the Lord of the Worlds, was such an evident factual reality that the mere mention of it in clear and definite terms was enough to refute the accusation of the disbelievers. Any attempt to strengthen this assertion by resort to reasoning would have caused it to be weakened instead. The case would be like this. Supposing it's day and the sun is shining bright, and a stubborn person calls it a dark night. To refute him it would be enough to say: "Do you call it a night when the bright day is clearly visible all around`.'" If after this, one tried to bring logical arguments to prove the day to be day. it would not in any way strengthen the reply but would rather weaken it instead.
That is; "Just, as its being the Truth and a Revelation from Allah is absolutely certain, so is its being based on wisdom and Allah's mercy for you also evident. You yourselves know that for the past many centuries no Prophet has been raised among you, and you also know that your entire nation has been involved in ignorance and moral degeneration and sheer backwardness. In a state like this if a Prophet has been raised among you to awaken you and show you the right way, you should not be surprised. This was a great need which Allah has fulfilled for the sake of your own welfare and well-being.
One should note that in Arabia the light of the true Faith was first of all spread by the Prophets Hud and- Salih, who lived in the pre-historic age. They were followed by the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, who lived 2,500 years before the Holy Prophet. After them the last Prophet to be raised in Arabia before the Holy Prophet was the Prophet Shu'aib, who had passed about 2,000 years earlier. This is a very long period. That is why it has been said, and rightly so, that no warner had come to those people. This did not mean that no warner had ever come to them, but it meant that the people had long stood in need of a warner.
Here, another question may arise in the minds, which should be answered straightaway. One may ask: When no Prophet had come to the Arabs for hundreds of years before the Holy Prophet, what would be the basis of accountability of the people who had lived in that age of ignorance? They could not tell guidance from deviation and error. Then, if they had gone astray, how could they be held responsible for their deviation? The answer is this: The detailed knowledge of the true Faith might have been lost to those people, but even in that age of ignorance the people were not unaware that the true Faith was based on TauhId, and the Prophets had never taught idol-worship to their followers. This truth was also contained in those traditions which the Arabs had received from the Prophets born in their own land, and they were also aware of this through the teachings of the Prophets Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon all of them) who had been born in the land adjoining their own. In the traditions of Arabia also it was well known that in the earliest times the Arabs' real religion was the Religion of Abraham and that idol-worship had been.introduced among them by a person named `Amr bin Luhayy. In spite of the prevalence of shirk and idol-worship, there were living in different parts of Arabia many such people, who rejected shirk, professed Tauhid and openly condemned offering of sacrifices at the shrines of idols. In the age close to the Holy Prophet's own, there had passed people like Quss bin Sa`idat-il-Iyadi, Umayyah bin Abi as-Salt, Suwaid bin `Amr alMustaliqi, Waki' bin Salamah bin Zuhair al-Iyadi', `Amr bin Jundub al-Juhani, Abu Qais Sarmah bin Abi Anas, Zaid bin `Amr bin Nufail, Waraqah bin Naufal, 'Uthman bin al-Huwairith, `Ubaidah bin Jahsh, `Amir bin az-Zarb al-'Advani ' Allaf bin Shahab at-Tamimi;, Al-Mutalammis bin Umayyah al-Kinani;, Zuhair bin Abi Salma, Khalid bin Sinan bin Ghais al-'Absi, `Abdullah al-Quda`i and many others, who were known as Hunafa'. These people publicly professed Tauhid as the basis of the Faith and declared their dissociation from the religion of the mushriks. Obviously they had got this concept from whatever had remained behind from the influence of the teaching of the Prophets. Moreover, the inscriptions belonging to the 4th and 5th centuries A. D., which have been discovered in Yaman as a result of modern archaeological research and investigation, reveal that a monotheistic religion existed there in that age, whose followers acknowledged ar-Rahman (the All-Merciful) and Rabb-us-sama' wa!-ard ( Lord of the heavens and earth) alone as the One and only Deity. An inscription. dated 378 A.D. has been found from the ruins of a house of worship, which says that this house of worship has been built for the worship of "God of heavens" or "Lord of heavens". In an inscription of 465 A.D. there are words which clearly point to the doctrine of Tauhid. Similarly, an inscription of 512 A.D. has been discovered at Zabad, a place between the river Euphrates and Qinnasrin, in northern Arabia, bearing the words: Bism-ilahu, la 'izza illa lahu, /a shukra, ills lahv. All this shows that before the advent of the Holy Prophet, the teachings of the former Prophets had not altogether been forgotten, and there still existed many means which at least reminded man of the truth: "Your God is only One God. " (For further explanation, see E.N. 84 of Surah AI-Furqan).
And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Alif. Lam. Mim.): '(Alif. Lam. Mim.) He says: I am Allah, I know; it is also said that it is an oath by which Allah swore.