The meaning of the mysterious letters in the Qur’an

Posted on Posted in Article, Blog, Open Access

The question of the meaning of the mysterious letters in the Quran – known in Arabic as the muqaṭṭaʿāt – has both intrigued and frustrated Muslims since the time of the revelation over 1,400 years ago.

Many theories have been advanced as to the meaning of the muqaṭṭaʿāt – or mysterious letters – none of them convincing. In the final analysis, the truth is that, so far, no-one has understood what these letters mean. There is no shame in not knowing, if one admits as much.

This presentation provides a fully cogent, logical and demonstrable explanation of the muqaṭṭaʿāt – or mysterious letters – in the Quran.

You may find the entire presentation in written form at Article XX in the Appendix to The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation which – as ever – may be downloaded free or purchased in hardback at the links below.

Article XX in the Appendix of The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation also contains within its own appendix:

  • a summary of those theories of the mysterious letters in the Quran extant prior to these findings
  • a full summary on the case of kitāb at 27:1

Existing theories and the case of kitāb at 27:1 are touched on here, but a full discussion of them would distract from the thrust of this presentation. The full notes on 27:1 – and why kitāb there is in the nominative –may be read also as a separate article.

NOTE: This is materially same presentation as found in that series of six videos on the muqaṭṭaʿāt I released last year, but with a small number of minor improvements. I have revamped the whole presentation, and – I hope – explained the subject better here.


Download the full Reference Edition of The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation as an e-book free!

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation by Sam Gerrans demonstrates that the Qur’an – contrary to what Traditionalist Islam claims – may be comprehensively understood and robustly defended without recourse to later hearsay (i.e. the hadīth literature).
The reference edition of this work totals over 536,000 words. It comprises the entire Arabic text, a full parallel translation into English, 9,000 footnotes, and accompanying articles.
This project is entirely self-financed and predicated on the principle of paying it forward: giving first and trusting that good people will give back. This means the e-book – and all updates – are made available at no charge.
Readers are asked only to give back in accordance with their means if they find the author’s work valuable to them.
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• Edition: 5.0 (notes)
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• Release date: 29, December 2016
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NOTE: The author’s understanding – and thus his translation – of the Qur’an is based upon that system of Qur’anic hermeneutics which is summarised and meticulously demonstrated in The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (Reference Edition).
That system of hermeneutics includes:
• preference for definitions found within the Qur’an over those found elsewhere
• the application of detailed (fully referenced) pan-textual analysis
• the consistent enforcement of proven values across the text
• the rejection of pre-existing allegiance to claims originating in texts other than the Qur’an
The author considers engaging only those objections levelled at either his translation of particular terms or attendant exegesis which are comparably evidence-based; that is, they both demonstrate proper understanding of the system of hermeneutics employed in The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (Reference Edition) and provide evidence superior to that which it provides – being based upon either the same system of hermeneutics, or upon one which demonstrates superior results when applied to the text as a whole.