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Luxenberg and mysterious letters in the Qur'an

Reader comment on item: Study the Koran?

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Nov 8, 2014 at 08:59

Dr. Pipes

I would like to remind readers that if they wish to view the Syriac script they must down load it first

I want to bring to your attention that Luxenberg seems to be on the right track in his reading of the mysterious lettersor الحروف المقطعة that we find in the introduction to many Suras in the Qur'an.

In Ibn Warraq's book "Christmas in the Qur'an" he addresses these strange letters and he makes it very clear that it is still work in progress

Take the case of ALM in Q2:1 and in the Quranic text it is as follows


al-Tabari provides 14 very different explanations for ALM


And it is very clear that he did not know and why would it be this way that by the 3rd century of Islam the Ulama had no clue about what these mysterious letters mean and this very well could be that there was a disconnect in the history of the Quranic text and that the text either pre-dates Muhammad or the the text for reasons still unknown was not an authoritative text until the 3rd century of islam but by then what the Quranic text is really saying was lost to the Persian Ulama sitting in distant Mesopotamia

ALM has a long wavy madda sign above the three letters and madda really means a long be it vowel or consonant and this is how it is recited

aliiif laaam miiim

Luxenberg reminds his readers that it was a common practice in Syriac (as well as Coptic) texts to abbreviate a sentence by using the first letter in each word and the reader must be familiar with such abbreviation. Luxenberg believes that the Arabic ALM or الم represents the Syriac ܐܠܡ or ALM and it stands for ܐܡܪ ܠܝ ܡܪܝܐ or Emar Li Marya or in Arabic قال لي الرب or Qala Li al-Rabb or The Lord Spoke to Me and he reminds the readers that this is a sentence that appears very often in the OT with regard to the prophets

He believes that this reading of Quranic ALM is supported by the fact that we can read the next cluster of these letters and in this case ALR or الر which appears in Q10:1 and 11:1 and 12:1 and 14:1 and 15:1 as Syriac ܐܠܪ or ALR which means ܐܡܪ ܠܝ ܪܒܐ or Emar Li Rabba which is Arabic it would be قال لي الرب or Qala Li al-Rabb or the Lord Spoke to Me

He goes on one more step by reading the cluster ALMS or المص (Q7"1) as Syriac ܐܡܪ ܠܝ ܡܪܝܐ ܨܒܐܘܬ or Emar Li Marya Sabaot or in Arabic قال لي الرب الصباوت or Qala Li al-Rabb al-Saba'ut or The Mighty/Strong Lord Spoke to me

It seems that as per Luxenberg Abu Musa al-Hariri in his 1979 book Qis wa Nabi reached the same conclusion that ALM is really a Syriac Siglum


Again I would like to reming the readers that this is all provisional. However I believe that he might be on the right track


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