Āyatullah Jawadī on The Disjointed Letters

Āyatullah Jawadī on The Disjointed Letters

ن و القلم و ما يسطرون

Nun. By the Pen and what they write1

The following is an abridged translation of Āyatullah Jawadī Āmulī’s discussion concerning the hurūf al-muqatt’āt, the disjointed letters which are found at the beginning of some chapters of the Qurān.

Shaikh Jawadī begins his discussion by recounting some features related to the presence of these letters which are as follows:

  1. These letters are specific to the Qurān in so far as nothing similar to them is found in other divine books such as the Torah or Bible.
  2. The hurūf al-muqatt’āt are not specific to Meccan or Medinan chapters of the Qurān. There are 27 Meccan chapters and 2 Medinan chapters, a total of 29, that contain the hurūf al-muqatt’āt.
  3. The hurūf al-muqatt’āt at the beginning of chapters range from being 1-5 letters long such as;
    1. ق, ص, ن
    2. طس, یس
    3. الم, الر, طسم
    4. المص, المر
    5. كهيعص, حم عسق
  4. Some of the hurūf al-muqatt’āt have been counted as part of a verse, others as a complete verse and others as two verses.
  5. Some of the hurūf al-muqatt’āt have been repeated many times such as ص, which has been mentioned independently in sūrah Sād and in sura al-‘araf as part of المص. Other have only been mentioned once such as ن. Interestingly, حم has been mentioned 7 times and the chapters in which حم has been mentioned are collectively referred to as the “Hawāmīm al-sab’ah” (حواميم السبعة).
  6. There are 14 hurūf al-muqatt’āt (not counting repetitions) which are as follows; ي ,ه ,ن ,م ,ل ,ك ,ق ,ع ,ط ,ص ,س ,ر ,ح ,ا
  7. Some exegetes have mentioned the view that by organising the hurūf al-muqatt’āt in different ways, statements such as “صراط علي حق نمسكه” (The path of ‘Alī is the truth and we hold steadfast to it) or “علي حق نمسك صراطه” (‘Alī is the truth, we hold steadfast onto his path) can be formed2. Although this is an interesting point, there is no reliable proof for it. Ālūsī, after mentioning what the Shiites have formed using the hurūf al-muqatt’āt proposes other formations in favour of the ahl al-sunnah such as “صحّ طريقك مع السنة” (Your path is correct if in accordance with the sunnah(tradition))3.
    1. The lesson learned from this example that pertains to this or any discussion is that views and opinions which are offered should not be flawed; that is, they should be supported by either rational evidence or reliable textual evidence (from the Qurān or ahadith corpus).

Sheikh Jawadī then goes onto recount 20 different opinions concerning the interpretation of the hurūf al-muqatt’āt according to different exegetes. Continue reading “Āyatullah Jawadī on The Disjointed Letters”

  1. al-Qalam 68:1-2
  2. Bahrānī, al-Burhān fī Tafsīr al-Qurān v. 1 pg. 167
  3. Ālūsī, Rūh al-M’ānī v. 1 pg. 172