Hafizon Academy Logo

Reflection on The Broken Letters in The Quran- Huroof-E-Muqatta’at

When reciting surah Al Baqrah, you say alif lam mim, those three words combined, are at the start of the first verse.

Well, it’s not only  Al Baqrah, there are many Quranic surahs whose first verse is nothing but broken letters of the Arabic alphabet. such as surah hud, for example, starting with Alif, Lam, and Ra.

Broken letters or Muqattaʿat are one of the Quranic phenomena that tantalized Muslim scholars because they don’t know what it literally means. what’s their significance? is there some interpretation to it?

Of course, no one can claim literally its meaning, However, this article will keep you up with some reflections on Huroof-e-Muqatta’at with attempts of Muslim scholars to decipher its mystery. so, keep reading

The Meaning of Muqatta’at in Arabic

Muqatta’at is broken, disjoined letters, that compose the beginning of 29 surahs in the noble Quran. And those broken letters are combined in this phrase («نص حكيم قاطع له سر»

Below are the surahs with the broken letters, with which it starts

SurahMuqatta’at (in English)Muqatta’at (in Arabic)
Al-Baqarah البقرةAlif lam meemالم
Al Imran آل عمرانAlif lam meemالم
al-Aʿrāf الأعراف Alif lam meem sadالمص
Yūnus يونسAlif lam Raالر
Hūd هودAlif lam Raالر
Yūsuf يوسفAlif lam Raالر
Ar-Raʿd الرعدAlif lam meem Raالمر
Ibrāhīm إبراهيم Alif lam Raالر
al-Ḥijr الحجرAlif lam Raالر
Maryam مريم Kaf Ha Ya Ain sad كهيعص
Ṭā Hā طهṬā Hāطه
ash-Shuʿārāʾ الشعراءṬa Sin Mim طسم
an-Naml النملṬa Sīn طس
al-Qaṣaṣ القصص Ṭa Sin Mim طسم
al-ʿAnkabūt العنكبوبAlif lam Mim الم
ar-Rūm الرومAlif lam Mim الم
Luqmān لقمانAlif lam Mim الم
as-Sajdah السجدةAlif lam Mim الم
Yā Sīn يسYā Sīnيس
Ṣād صادsad ص
Ghāfir غافر Ha mimحم
Fuṣṣilat فصلتHa mimحم
ash-Shūrā الشورىḤa Mīm, Ain Sin Qaf حم عسق
Az-Zukhruf الزخرفHa Mimحم
Al Dukhān الدخانHa Mimحم
al-Jāthiya الجاثيةHa Mimحم
al-Aḥqāf الأحقافHa Mimحم
Qāf قQafق
Al-Qalam القلمNun ن

How Many Broken Letters Are There in The Quran?

After deleting the duplicated letters, the total number of broken letters in the Quran’d be 14, Which are {ا ح ر س ص ط ع ق ك ل م ن ه ي}, ordered alphabetically.

And you can notice that the number of those letters is 1/2 of the Arabic alphabet (28 letters)

The combination of those letters if ordered like ( ن ص ح ك ي م ل ه س ر ق ا ط ع), ‘ll form a forecful sentence نص حكيم له سر قاطع

Read also: How to Apply Iqlab Rule in Tajweed?

Mysteries Behind the Broken Letters

There is no hadith of the prophet Muhammad that reveals the exact meaning of those mysterious letters, and in the first age of Islam, the companions of the prophets don’t question the meaning of those letters, and they considered it as one of the mysteries that Allah keep it secret for himself and don’t inform it to any of his servants.

However, the followers who come after them have attempted to explore the meaning and unravel the confusion about it, and we’re about to convey to your right noew their opinions regarding this topic.

1) It’s a Secret of Allah

  • Amir al-Sha’bi and Sufyan al-Thawri, two of the great scholars in Islam, held that those letters are thea secret of Allah in the holy Quran, and it’s considered of the similarities that allah restricted its knowledge to himself and no one has the right to talk about it, but as Muslims, we should believe in it and read it the way it was revealed. and those opinions are derived from Abu Bakr, and ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālibv
  • Likewise, Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi, a Hanafite jurist and Quran commentator narrated from Abu Bakr, Amr, and ibn Masud that these letters are hidden. unraveled mysteries
  • Abu Hatim, a notable hadith scholar, and Athari theologian said that: ” we didn’t find the broken letters in the quran except at the beginning of the surahs and we don’t know what allah means by it?
  • “, Allah Almighty revealed this Qur’an, and showed people in his book what he willed, and concealed some of those meanings from all the world, And those secrets allah hid for himself, you aren’t responsible for it and aren’t judged for it, But you’re responsible by those obvious words allah showed you. So, you aren’t aware of all of what’s included in the Quran, and you don’t act according to what you knew.
  • Abū Bakr al-Anbārī interpreted it, saying that some of the Qur’anic letters are kept as a secret, As a test from God Almighty and a test, so whoever believes in them will be rewarded, and whoever disbelieves and doubts is a sinner.

Read also: How to Apply Iqlab Rule in Tajweed?

2) It’s of The Similarities in Quran

‘A’ishah said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) recited this verse: “He, it is who has sent down to thee the Book: in it are verses basic or fundamental . . . .” Up to “men of understanding”. She said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then said: When you see those people who follow that which is allegorical in the Quran, those are the people whom Allah has named (in the Quran). So avoid them.

And some scholars interpreted that by saying the broken letters are among the similarities that nobody knows its meanings except Allah, and we agree upon this hypothesis.

Other Opinions About the Broken Letters

Another camp of Islamic scholars has urged that those letters have meaning. so let’s delve into what they said

  • It’s narrated that Ibn abbas and Ali said that al-huruf Muqatta’at is the greatest name of allah, but he doesn’t know its meaning literally.
  • Al-Suyuti Quoted that Ibn abbas said they are a group of disjointed letters, each indicates to a name of Allah, so الم means أنا الله أعلم (I Allah knows), المص means أنا الله أفصل ( I Allah judge), الر means أنا الله أرى ( I Allah see), and ق means قادر( powerful). However, we don’t agree with this opinion, because it has no roots in the holy book or sunnah.
  • Quṭrub and other Muslim Tafseer scholars said it’s an indication of the Arabic alphabet and a challenge for Arabs that the Quran is composed of the same letters they speak with. Quṭrub said that pagan Arabs were reluctant to the Quran, however, when listening to alif laam meem, they marveled at those letters.
  • And we see it can be a little agreeable opinion, however, still, it’s not a fact and also it supposes that Quran is only geared at pagans but surah Al Baqrah and Al Imran are revealed in Al Madinah and includes Islamic teachings to the believers, and at the same time start with الم.
  • Also, A group of muslim scholars, said that those letters are keys to some names like, Alif is a key named Allah, Lam is a key named Al Latif, and Meem is a key named Al Majeed (This is similar to what ibn abbas mentioned before and we do disagree with)
  • Zayd bin Aslam said that it’s the names of Quranic surahs (and totally we disagree with the opinion because there is no evidence underpinning it in the sunnah.
  • And there are various sayings that have no evidence such as ibn abbas’ interpretation that those letters are something Allah swears by, and many scholars have refuted this argument because swear in Arabic should be connected to a letter such as إن، لقد، قد ، ما and if those letters don’t exist, there is no swear.

Read also: The [Ultimate] Guide to Qalqalah: Examples, Rules, and Letters


broken letters are some separate Arabic letters found in some of the Quranic surahs such as Hud, Al Ahqaf, and Al Imran, and they’re 14 letters that count for half of the Arabic alphabet.

Many muslim scholars attempted to give various interpretations for those letters and unravel their meanings. However, we believe that they’re a secret known to allah and no one can claim its meaning as long as there is no text in Quran or sunnah that interpret it, And we also think it’s of the similarities in Quran as he said

He is the One Who has revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ the Book, of which some verses are precise—they are the foundation of the Book—while others are elusive.1 Those with deviant hearts follow the elusive verses seeking ˹to spread˺ doubt through their ˹false˺ interpretations—but none grasps their ˹full˺ meaning except Allah. As for those well-grounded in knowledge, they say, “We believe in this ˹Quran˺—it is all from our Lord.” But none will be mindful ˹of this˺ except people of reason. (Al Imran, 7)

At last, knowing the meanings or not knowing won’t have an effect, and worshipping allah isn’t based on it, so it’s better to stop arguing about its meanings, and pay attention to how we worship allah and believe in him, maybe we can find a road leading to his ultimate, divine wisdom.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Hafizon Academy Logo
    We are Hafizon Academy, an online Quran teaching academy that provides Quran courses online, memorization techniques, and tajweed rules. Our mission is to help Muslims all over the world learn and understand the Quran.
    We provide you with the convenience of all available payment methods
    © 2023 Hafizon Academy. All rights reserved.