The sufi interpretation of the letter Alif

Hakim Tirmidhi calls the science of letters (‘ilm al-huruf) the science of the friends of God (‘ilm al-awliya). Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi gives it lots of attention by writing about it in his second chapter of his masterpiece “The Meccan Openings”. The alif (the letter a) is isolated in writing. This means that it cannot be written connected to the letter following it. The alif thus symbolizes the transcendent, unqualified essence. The downward stroke of the alif symbolizes universal manifestation from the highest state of Being to the lowest one. Shaykh ad-Dabbagh has been a so-called ummi, an illiterate, just like the Prophet has been called ummi. The shaykh was not truly illeterate, but in his case ummi implies that he…

Sufi Symbols

Alif = a 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):…