God says in the Noble Quran:
Alif, Lam, Meem. This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of God. Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them.
“Alif, Lam, Meem” are Arabic single letters – usually come at the beginning of some Quran units (Suras) Quran interpreters differ in referring to their meanings.
One of the most authentic Quran interpreting books is known as Al-Mizan, which says that these letters refer to meanings Only God – Exalted Be He – and His Messenger Mohammed (God’s Blessings Be Upon Him and His Pure Family) understand, where human beings are incapable of grasping that meaning, but it is possible to realize that there is a special connection between these letters and the other verses in the same Quran unit.
There is a number of narrations by the Ahlul-Bayet (Peace Be Upon Them) that talk about the meaning of the letters, but that meaning narrated cannot be the definite meaning the letters carry.
Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “The Noble Quran has four things: First, phrases, which are for ordinary people; second, signs, which are for the faithful; third, minute meanings implied within the Quranic text, which are for the apostles; fourth, facts, which are for the prophets.” The narration, hereby, is telling that the human comprehension level does not qualify human beings to grasp the meaning of verses comprehensively; this is proof of the miraculous nature of the Noble Quran, and the holy verse that is composed of three separate alphabetical letters “Alif, Lam, Meem” is another proof that Quran cannot be comprehensively grasped by human beings.
There are some other narrations that talk about the same verse such as:
Imam El-Hasan El-Esker (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Quraish and Jewish people belied the Noble Quran and said that it was but an act of magic, but God said, ‘Alif, Lam, Meem. This is the Book (Quran),’ which means: ‘O Mohammed, this is the book (Quran) that we revealed to you has verses composed of single alphabetical letters within your language; thus, compose such verses with such meanings if you are veracious’.”
Sufain, son of Sa’ad Eth-Thowri said, “I said to imam Ja’fer Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him), ‘O son of the Messenger of God, what is the meaning of (Alif, Lam, Meem)?’ The Imam said, “This is the first verse of El-Baqara unit (Sura) in the Noble Quran, which means that God is the One and Only.””
In the Arabic language, each of the letters “Alif, Lam, Meem” indicates one of the letters in three words: “Ena Allah El-Melik,” which is translated into English as: “I am God, the One and Only.”
Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “’Alif, Lam, Meem’ are a letter of the letters that compose the Greatest name of God that the Prophet Mohammed and his pure family The Ahlul-Bayet (Peace Be Upon Them) gather with other letters and use in praying to God so God immediately responds.”
Therefore, such symbols cannot be understood but by the apostles, Imams, and prophets, for the Greatest name of God has a special characteristic.
The verse: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of God” indicates that the Noble Quran was descended in the Arabic language; therefore, people who belied the Quran should compose like the ones in the Quran, if they are veracious. Thus, the Quran also indicates that people are incapable of composing such verses, saying: “Say, ‘If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.’”
The verse, “This is the Book (Quran) about which there is no doubt” indicates that God reveals the Quran to the Prophet, and no-one can belie it or distort it.
The verse continues to say: “A guidance for those conscious of God,” which indicates that those who observe God and do good deeds will please God.
Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “The verse: ‘A guidance for those conscious of God’ means our Shia Muslims.” The Ahlul-Bayet (Peace Be Upon Them), as known, are the true interpreters of the Quran, and the Prophet Mohammed (God’s Blessings Be Upon Him and His Pure Family) said, “O people, I am leaving with you that which if you hold on to, you shall never go astray: the Book of God (Quran) and my family, the Ahlul-Bayet.” Thus, what the verse mentions of the merits of the true believers are the same merits and characteristics available in the Shia Muslims, as the Ahlul-Bayte (Peace Be Upon Them) said.
The verse says: “Those who believe in the unseen,” which is a description of the true believers that the Quran is their guidance, as Imam El-Hasan El-Eskeri said. The Imam also said, "Those who believe in the unseen" means that human beings ought to believe in anything that is not perceived or sensed, such as the Resurrection Day, the Day of Reckoning, Paradise, Hell, monotheism; anything unseen but perceived or acknowledged based on proof, such as Adam, Eve, Idris, Noah, Ibrahim, and other prophets who ought to be believed by the human beings who never saw them.” This is the true meaning of believing in the unseen.
Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) was asked his opinion about the part of the holy verse, which says: “Those who believe in the unseen.” The Imam said that it means those who believe in the Muslim Masaya, the Awaited Imam Mohammed El-Mehdi (Peace Be Upon Him), and that he is existed, and he is the true word of God.
It is narrated that Yahya, son of El-Qasim said that he asked Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) about the meaning of the verse: “Alif, Lam, Meem. This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of God. Who believe in the unseen.” The Imam replied, “Those who are conscious of God are the followers of Imam Ali (Peace Be Upon Him), and ‘believe in the unseen’ means to believe in the occult Imam, which is supported by God Who says in the Quran: ‘And they say, "Why is a sign not sent down to him from his Lord?" So say, "The unseen is only for Allah [to administer], so wait; indeed, I am with you among those who wait.’”
The last part of the verse says: “[Those who] establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them” means establishing prayer, that is, performing it comprehensively, as required. Provision, as mentioned in the verse, is more than what is consumed: food, residency, cloths, knowledge, health, and other things. And for those who spend what God provides for them, Imam Es-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Those who share the knowledge - we shared with them – with others, and teach the others what we taught them.”
By: Ibrahim Es-Senjiri
Translated by: Mohammed Alobaidi