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): “this name (alif) is derived from ulfa (good company), because it unites and agrees (ta’lif) with the other letters”. For some, however, the alif represents Satan, because like him it does not bow to God.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh writes about this letter that it “corresponds with the obeying the recommendations, which is part of contraction”.
Ba = b
The letter ba represents the number two and belongs to the element of air.
Just as the alif is the first vertical letter, ba is the first horizontal letter and it is suitable for representing other letters such as ta, tha and nun, according to the diacritical signs placed above or below the stroke. It is the initial letter par excellence, because it opens the basmala (In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), the formula with which all the suras of the Qur’an, except for the ninth, begin. The Bible, incidentally, also begins with a B.
The diacritical sign placed below the stroke represents, for Sufis, the origin, essence and being of all things, in strict analogy with the bindu (.) of Tantrism and Yoga. For this reason some esoterically inclined Muslims believe that the content of all revealed Scripture:
1. is found in the Qur’an
2. in turn that the content of the Qur’an is found all in the first sura, the Fatiha
3. that all the content of the Fatiha resides in the basmala
4. and the whole content of the basmala is enclosed insides B’s diacritical point.
This exegesis was accepted by, among others Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (seventh century) and Abd al-Karim al-Jili (d. 1494) according to whom the B of Bismi represents the resplendent beauty of God (Bahaa’), the S his greatness (Sanaa’) and the L his sovereignty (Mamlaka).
According to shaykh ad-Dabbaagh the Ba corresponds to inner peace, which is part of the message.
Ta = t
This letter represents number four hundred and belongs to the element of air.
This letter has great esoteric value, especially for the Sufis, because it is the first letter of the term tawhid, the science of professing God and His singleness (wahda) and so it symbolizes monotheism, faith in the oneness of God. It also symbolizes the state of ecstasy, the discovery of and return to God (tawba). In this respect, the great Sufi martyr Hosayn Mansur al-Hallaj (857-922) wrote a poem (Muhatta’at # 40 with a mim rhyme and a wafer meter) wherein he traces the word tawhid through enigmas: “Three letters without diacritical signs, two with signs and this is the whole speech. The first designates those who find it and the other serves for everyone to say ‘yes’. As to the other letters, it is the mystery of the night, where it is no longer a question of travelling or stopping”.
Explaining the above, we note that in Arabic the term tawhid is written with two letters, each of which has two diacritical signs, the ta and the ya, and three letters without signs: the waw, the ha and the dal.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh says about the ta that it corresponds to the perfection of the apparent senses, being a part of the Adamic state.
Tha = th
In the science of the secrets of letters this letter represents number five hundred and belongs to the element of water.
It is a symbol of consolidation (thobut).
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh writes that the tha corresponds to justice, which is a part of contraction.
Jim = j
The fifth letter in the Arabic alphabet represents number three and belongs to the element of water.
In the art of tajwid (reciting the Qur’an) it has the characteristics of sonority, tonicity and softening and the antonymies of vibration, lowering and opening.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘jim’ corresponds to patience, which is a part of prophecy.
Ha = h
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.
Kha = kh
According to the science of the secrets of letters the ‘kha’ represents number six hundred and belongs to the element earth.
In the esoteric literature of the Sufi brotherhoods it symbolizes the eternal good (khayr daa’im).
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘kha’ corresponds to the experience (‘taste’) of lights, which is a part of the spirit.
Dal = d
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.
Dhal = dh
In the ‘elm al-horuf it represents number seven hundred. It belongs to the element of fire.
In Sufi esoteric knowledge it symbolizes the heart of an idea, the kernel of a thing.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘dhal’ corresponds to the knowledge of languages, which is a part of science.
Ra = r
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.
Za = z
Za represents number seven and belongs to the element of water.
It symbolizes achievement. In esoteric alchemy it represents the process of change, because it is the initial letter of the terms
– mercury (zaybaq)
– vitriol (zaaj)
– sulphuric acid (zayb, zaagin
‘Zaar’ is also the exorcism practiced by women.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘za’ corresponds to sincerity with everyone, which is a part of the message.
Sin = s
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.
Shin = sh
In the science of the secrets of the letters it represents number three hundred and belongs to the element of fire, while in North Africa it is believed to belong to the element of earth.
The ‘shin’ or sh is the abrevation of sharia: path, way. In Sufi esoteric knowledge this letter symbolizes personal destiny.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘shin’ corresponds to the complete force in the introversion, which is a part of contraction.
Saad = s
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.
Daad = d
‘Daad’ is the fifteenth letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number eight hundred and belongs to the element of air.
It symbolizes ‘to disclose’.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘daad’ corresponds to the act of saying nothing but the truth, which is a part of prophecy.
Taa = t
‘Taa’ is the sixteenth letter of the Arab alphabet. It represents number nine and belongs to the element of fire.
In the esoteric texts of the Sufi masters this letter, taken in isolation, symbolizes divine holiness.
Shaykh ad-Dabbaagh informs us that the ‘taa’ corresponds to discernment, which is a part of the spirit.