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Ilm Ul-Huroof

Throughout the painting of this Huroof Series, I have been honoured to learn such valuable insights about the beautiful letters themselves. Join me on this journey of learning and enlightenment, as I illuminate the letters in more than one way...

 

ا

The alif represents the number one and belongs to 
the element of fire.

Because of its shape the alif resembles the numeral 1. It symbolizes the selfness of God as well as His unity. Thus, this letter takes on the archetypal value of the whole alphabet, which it begins and is thus also identified with Adam, the father of humankind (and thus any diacritical sign affirming this letter’s value is identified with Eve).

The three main positions of the Islamic prayer are:

· Standing, like the alif
· Kneeling, like the dal
· Prostrating, like the mim.

These three letters also make up the name Adm (Adam). According to the Sufi Ibn Ata Allah Abbas (d. 1309): “this name (alif) is derived from ulfa (good company), because it unites and agrees (ta’lif) with the other letters”. 

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh writes about this letter that it “corresponds with the obeying the recommendations, which is part of contraction”.

ح

The sixth letter in the Arab alphabet represents number eight and belongs to the element of earth.

This letter, which symbolizes human intuition, has an esoteric meaning for the Sufis, as it is the first letter of the verb habba (to love): “Inna Allah jameel yuhibbu al-jamaal”, which means “truly God is beautiful and loves beauty”. Thus also the saying: “Habba man habba wakariha man kariha” or “He loves whomsoever He chooses to and He hates whomsoever He wishes to”. The letter ‘ha’ denotes the Essence in terms of appearance, presence and existence.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘ha’ corresponds to perfect mercy, which is a part of prophecy.

 

 

 

د

In the science of the secrets of letters it represents number four and belongs to the element of earth.

According to the Sufis and in the contemplations of the Hurufi it symbolizes the equilibrium of all things created. Because of all this and also because it is the initial letter of the verb daaba fi aaw ‘alaa (to work; to labour; to be committed; to make an effort in something for someone; to work with commitment, to do something with effort; to labour unceasingly; to apply oneself; to dedicate oneself; to be constant; to become accustomed to) in the esoterical world this letter represents the earthly condition of human beings who are forced to labour in the realm of material things, but must also evolve spiritually and strive to behave in the best possible way among a multitude of challenges and temptations.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘dal’ corresponds to purity, which is a part of the spirit.

 

ر

The tenth letter of the Arab alphabet represents number two hundred and belongs to the element of earth.

It symbolizes a part, a message, the sura.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘ra’ corresponds to the noble conquest of the self, which is a part of expansion.

 

 

س

In the science of the secrets of the letters it represents number sixty and belongs to the element of water, though in North Africa it is believed to belong to the element of fire.

It symbolizes the glory of God.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘sin’ corresponds to the act of ‘lowering the wing of tenderness with goodness’, which is a part of expansion.

 

ص

The ‘saad’ is the fourteenth letter of the Arab alphabet. In the ‘ilm al-horuf it represents number ninety and belongs to the element of water.

It symbolizes sincerity and truth.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘saad’ corresponds to the perfect reason, which is a part of the Adamic state.

 

 

ع

The ‘ayn is the eighteenth letter of the Arab alphabet.

In the science of the secrets of letters it represents number seventy and belongs to the element of earth.

It symbolizes the source of intellect.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘ayn’ corresponds to forgiveness, which is a part of prophecy.

 

 

ک

‘Kaaf’ is the twenty-second letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number twenty and belongs to the element of water.

It symbolizes the verb of creation, i.e. kun (= be!).

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘kaaf’ corresponds to knowledge of God, the Elevated, which is a part of prophecy.

 

 

 

ل

‘Laam’ is the twenty-third letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number thirty and belongs to the element of earth.

It symbolizes perfect understanding. As this is the Ramadan alphabet it should be mentioned that the ‘night of power’ starts in Arabic with the ‘laam’. This is a night in which the seeker is favoured with a special state of illumination, in which he learns his true potential and rank in relation to the Beloved. It is the time when the seeker begins to arrive at the Source of Union and the stage of those who are matured in deep wisdom.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘laam’ corresponds to perfect science, which is a part of the message.

 

م

The ‘mim’ is the twenty-fourth letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number forty and belongs to the element of fire.

The ‘mim’ starts and ends with a ‘m’, which points out that we’ll return to the One we came from, the One without beginning nor end. As the first and second ‘m’ are different, we may be reminded of the fact that He never repeats the same manifestation twice. For some the ‘mim’ symbolizes the duality 1. power of matter / 2. power of God.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘mim’ corresponds to virility,
which is a part of the Adamic state.

و

The ‘waaw’ is the twenty-seventh letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number six and belongs to the element of air.

For the Sufi masters this letter symbolizes the mystical promise of the total assent to God. Shaykh al-Qashani remarks that this letter denotes the universal aspect of the whole.

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi gives quite some attention to the ‘waaw’ in his ‘Fotuhat al-Makkiya’ and in a booklet dealing with the ‘mim’, the ‘waaw’ and the ‘nun’. The ‘waaw’ has in common with the two last mentioned letters that its beginning and its ending are similar, which points out that we’ll return to the One we came from, the One without beginning nor end. As the first and second ‘waaw’ are different, we may be reminded of the fact that He never repeats the same manifestation twice. Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi tells that the ‘waaw’ is the first perfect number, as the number six symbolizes the perfect human being. Its divisions are similar to itself, because its half is three; its third is two and its sixth is one and the addition of its sixth, third and half is equal to six. The letter ‘waaw’ is the product of two eminent letters, the ‘baa’ (=2) and the ‘jim’ (=3). The product of these two letters is again 6, the number of the letter ‘waaw’, so this ‘waaw’ also has the qualities of the two other letters. As we have seen that 5 is the number of the letter ‘haa’, it is also 2+3. This explains in part why the ‘waaw’ has been realized by the ‘haa’. The shaykh also deals with the similarities in shape between the ‘waaw’ and the ‘haa’. All of it is an indication of the connecting force, which unites the spiritual being with its most elevated (the shaykh uses the term ‘ali = 111, perhaps symbolizing with the supreme pole) side. He finishes by writing that ‘the one who obtains the knowledge of the secrets of the ‘waaw’ thus acquires the revelation of the supreme sciences according to the most pure modality.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘waaw’ corresponds to the quality
of dying when you still are alive, which is a part of the message.

 

ھ

‘Haa’ is the twenty-sixth letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number five, just as in the Syriac and Canaanite alphabets. It belongs to the element of fire.

It is the symbol of orientation to God. According to shaykh al-Qashani: “This letter denotes the Essence in terms of appearance, presence and existence”.

Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘haa’ corresponds to the detesting of what is opposite, which is a part of contraction.

 

Which have you fallen in love with?