As you probably noticed, the verse READ and those that follow it were all about what is and how to decipher the system.
Fatiha, on the other hand, is all about making man become conscious about the concept of Allah, the system of the universe and the mechanism to which mankind is subject.
Now, continuing on this, the first verses of chapter al-Baqarah talk about what one can do to protect oneself…
So then, what can we do? Which actions will result in which consequence within this system?
Let us try to answer this with the first five verses of chapter al-Baqarah:
1. Alif Lam Meem.
2. This is the Knowledge (Book) of the reality and sunnatullah (the mechanics of the system of Allah), about which there is absolutely no doubt; it is the source of comprehension for those who seek protection.
3. Who believe in the reality (that their being comprises the compositions of the Names of Allah) unknown to them (beyond their perception), and who establish prayer (who experience the meaning of salat alongside performing its physical actions) and who spend unrequitedly from both the physical and spiritual sustenance of life that We have provided for them for the sake of Allah.
4. And who believe in what has been revealed to you from your essence (from the depths of your essence to your consciousness) and what was revealed before you, and who, of their eternal life to come, are certain (in complete submission as a result of an absolute comprehension).
5. They are in a state of HUDA (comprehension of the reality) from their Rabb (the Name composition comprising their essence) and it is they who are successful.
These verses, which outline the criteria to be successful, must be understood well, for, in order to apply something, one must first know what that thing is.
As can be seen, first and foremost it talks about the qualities and activities of those who ‘seek protection’.
So, what needs to be done to reach success and salvation?
Let’s begin with the first verse: “Alif Lam Meem.”
These are symbolic expressions. Such symbols are used to denote realities that are beyond general human comprehension. Generally, the human mind can’t evaluate things from multiple perspectives, like the blind men who, in the well-known story, try defining an elephant. As the story goes, each man feels one part of the elephant, then, when they compare their experience, they fall into dispute with one another. The one who touches the leg claims it’s a pole, the one who touches its breast says it’s a wall, the one who feels its trunk claims it’s a snake, and so on…
Indeed, if the Quran is approached only from a single aspect and the universal system it discloses is evaluated only through a single perspective, such as the interpretations of the past, the metaphoric expressions of Sufism or only through the lens of science, the resulting situation will be no different to that of the blind men in the story!
Allah employs the language of symbols to prevent literal and shallow interpretations devoid of a holistic approach and to reward those who engage in serious contemplation – not to mention elucidating certain truths that were near impossible to be discerned in the past…
Let us know with certainty that it is not possible to understand the BOOK of universality and to decipher the secrets contained therein based on one field of expertise, unless one is bestowed divine aid and guidance!
On the contrary, an attempt to synthesize the multiple layers of meanings contained in the Quran in light of one field of study is sure to be misleading.
Neither scholars of Islamic jurisprudence nor interpreters, hadith experts, Sufi masters, doctors, physicists or mathematicians can infer the complete meaning of the Quran based only on their own field of expertise. This will only lead to serious deviation.
Thus, the safest and easiest approach is to acquire as much knowledge from as many fields as possible to enable us to understand the ‘system’ in the most comprehensive way. For this, we must first realize that nothing in nature is illogical or meaningless.
Now back to the symbolic letters: Alif Lam Meem…
Various ideas have been put forth by scholars in regards to the possible meanings of these letters… It is already known that these letters and others, such as “Qaf, ha, ya, ayn, sad” and “Ha, meem, ayn, seen, qaf”, are letters among the Names of Allah and the Rasul (saw) used to pray with these Names.
Based on this, some have claimed these letters are also Names of Allah. On the other hand, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (ra) says, “Every book contains a secret of Allah. His secret in the Quran is contained in the preceding” and Hadhrat Ali (ra) says, “Every book has an essence, the essence of this book is in the syllables.”
Ibn Abbas (ra) says, “Alif denotes Names and attributes such as ‘Ahad, Awwal, Pre-eternal, Post-eternal’, Lam points to His Latif attribute, Meem is a reference to his names and attributes ‘Maleek, Maalik, Majid, Mannan’!”