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Majalis-ul Muayyadiya - by Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Life and Lectures of Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Lecture 11 - The Meaning of the Mysterious Letters

The Holy Qur'an says, "Alif, laam, meem zalikat kitabo la raibfeehi." Some of the commentators of the Qur'an explain this verse by saying that ‘Alif' ‘laam' ‘meem' mean an oath taken by God. Alif they say is taken from the word ‘Allah', ‘laam' from Gabriel and ‘meem' from Mohammed. Although some of these commentators do not believe in the ‘taweel' and are too proud to accept their explanation, in this particular instance, their commentary is very much near to the interpretation of the exponents of the ‘taweel'.

The largest number of such disconnected letters used in the Qur'an is five, ‘Kaaf', ‘haa', ‘yaa', ‘ain', ‘saad' and ‘haa' ‘meem' ‘ain' ‘seen' ‘qaaf' are the specimens of the five disconnected letters. The least number of such letters used in the Qur'an is one. ‘Saad and ‘qaaf' and ‘noon' are the specimens of single letters. All such letters known in Arabic as ‘huruf-muqatta-at' are used in the Qur'an for the purpose of taking an oath. As a rule, one never takes oath by anything, which is not dignified or dear to him. In this instance God has taken oath by two spiritual powers which are the first cause of the Universe and the final point in its evolution, namely the universal intellect and universal soul and by one physical being who holds the highest position in His world of creation and who is the of His ‘Hudud' on earth.

By taking an oath by these three mighty powers God lays emphasis on what He wishes to express by the verse. The word ‘zalika' used in the verse is a demonstrative pronoun corresponding to ‘that' in English. Since, the word ‘that' is always used for something distant and never for something close by, the expression ‘zalikal-kitab' meaning ‘that book', does not refer to the Qur'an which is in front of our eyes. It refers to the book other than the Qur'an.

The word ‘kitab' etymologically means a well arranged combination of words. Just as the word ‘kateeba' stands for an orderly group of soldiers, the word ‘kitab' stands for a well arranged number of chapters and verses dealing with the commands and prohibitions and instructive events from the past history. This is what the Qur'an consists of.

It is related on good authority that the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali bin Abu Talib was one day reading the Qur'an. In the course of his reading when he arrived at the following verse, "This book of ours speaks the truth," he stopped reading. He placed the Qur'an on his head and said, "O book of God speak. O book of God speak. O book of God speak." By repeating this thrice he has made it clear to us that he is the ‘speaking book' of God and that the Qur'an is the ‘silent book'. Had he and the Imams from his progeny not dived deep into the Qur'an and taken out from it, its hidden treasures, the real meaning of the Qur'an would have remained as hidden as the latent fire in the stone. The doors of truth would have been closed to us forever.

Just as the latent fire in the stone cannot come out unless it is struck by the flint, similarly the doors of the Qur'an will not open unless the ‘speaking book', the Imam, opens them for us. The silent book, the Qur'an, is like clay and the speaking book, the Imam, is like the potter. The book is like the steel and the Imam is the moulder. The book is like the wood and the Imam is the carpenter. They are both complementary to each other.

It is in this connection that the Prophet has said; "I am leaving amongst you two weighty things. The one is the book of God and the second is my ‘Ahl-e-Bait'. If you stick to them you will never be lost." He added to this by saying: "They will never part with each other until they return to me at the ‘hauz-e-kausar'." He meant to say that the book of God and the ‘Ahl-e-bait' are inseparable. The one cannot exist without the other.

In conclusion, the speaking book, the interpreter of the silent book, is undoubtedly selected by God as the ‘wasee' of Mohammed, just as Mohammed himself is selected by Him as His Prophet. The Qur'anic phrase  'Hsudallil-muttaqeen' meaning guidance for the God-fearing people which is used as an additional description of the book of God lays further emphasis on the point that the ‘kitabun-Natiq', and the Imams from his progeny, are the only source of guidance for mankind.

Lecture 12

Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Another article on Al Muayyad by Mohamed Adra
Poetry by Al Muayyad
Al Muayyad's protege Nasir Khusraw
Poetry by Nasir Khusraw
Ismaili Heroes Check out the Al Muayyad Section
History of the Imams

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