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Morpho-Phonemic  Templates in the Qur’anic  Text: ALM(Alif Lam Meem)

Templates in Six Qur’anic Chapters

Researcher: Dr. Ahsan ur Rehman, Supervisor: Professor Peter Sells

School of Oriental and African Studies. University of London

Chapter 1




 In the Holy Quran, there are twenty nine chapters with separated letters. In some places, these occur in complete isolation, for instance,  (aad), Q (qaaf) and N (noon) and sometimes together as in alif laam meem, alif lam ra, and Ha meem etc. For example, chapter two ‘Cow’ (Al Baqara, chapter: 2) begins as follows:

            Alif Lam meem zalikal kitabu laraiba fihi..........     

Alif lam meem, that book without doubt………          

These letters occur in the beginning of the chapters and are considered part of the text, yet their significance is not clear.          

Chapters with these abbreviated letters may be classified into five distinct groups (both, IPA and Roman symbols are used here for the readers’ convenience)

Group 1:  individual letters, according to Ali (1993):

S 38    a:d/saad

S 50    qa:f/qaf

S 68   nu:n/noon

Group 2:  two letters

S 20   a:ha:/taa haa

S 27    a:si:n/taa seen

S 26   ya:si:n/yaa seen

S 40

S 41                a mi:m/ha meem

S 42

S 43               

S 44                 a mi:m/ha meem

S 45

S 46  

Group 3: three letters

S 2                 

S 3                 

S 29                     ālif lam mi:m/alif lam meem

S 30               

S 31                

            S 32            

S 10               

S 11                     ālif lam ra:/alif lam raa

S 12                 

S 14               

S 15               


S 26                  a:si:nmi:m/ taa seen meem

S 28              

Group 4:  four letters:

S 7      ālif lam mi:m a:d/alif lam meem saad

S 13    ālif lam mi:m ra/alif lam meem

Group 5:  five letters:

S19    ka:f ha ya: ayn a:d/ kaaf ha yaa ayn saad

S 42   ha mi:m ayn si:n qa:f/ ha meem ayn seen qaaf

1.1      Earlier Studies: A Brief Review

According toTabari (d.923), “Alif Lam Meem (ALM) is abbreviation of the names of Allah, i.e. A- Allah, L-Lateef (delicate) and M-Majeed (high).” Moreover, Tabrasi (d.550) in (Majma’ul Bayan), Mawardi (d.1058) (Tafsir Al Mawardi:  AH.62) and Bedawi (Tafsir Bedawi, 1999) and Ibne Aabbas (q. in Qurtubi 2003: 132) say, “(ALM) contain the great name of Allah (isme a‘zam).”  Furthermore, Mawardi (d.1058) and Tabrasi (d.550) define, “(ALM) are the abbreviations of “Anallaho A ‘lam” (I am the God all knowing).”  In addition, Qurtubi   translated by Aisha Bewley (2003), it is stated from Ibn Abbas and Ali that separated letters are the greatest Name( Ism-e A ‘zam)  of Allah, though we do not know how it is composed from them. Similarly, Ali bin Musa quoted in Tafsir Ibne Ishaq holds, “these are names of Allah in broken form” i.e. if you join them it becomes Al-Rehman (A L R H M, N).  Likewise, Adil (1998, p. 257), alr, haa meem, and noon join to make Al Rehman. Shirazi and ‘umar bin ‘ali (1998, p.253) quotes Sha ‘bi as calling them “the secret of God.” Besides, Tusi (1957) also calls them “oaths by Allah.”

Ali (RA) is quoted as saying in Noorul Qur’an (1994) and Shirazi in (Tafsiril Qur’an, p.13) that these are the special features of Qur’an. Similarly, Taba Tabai (1973) identifies these letters as the “speciality of Qur’an.” Mujahid and Qutada quoted by Tusi (1957) in Tibyan fi Tafsiril Qur’an, “the opening of the Qur’an.” Abu Muslim quoted by Tusi (ibid) calls them, “part of the challenge of Qur’an.” and “a tool to attract polytheists.” Moreover, Tabari defines that (ALM) are “the secrets of Qur’an” (Tabari, 1335, p. 205).

Tabrasi (d. 550) and Bedawi 1968, p. 144) highlight that these letters are the names of chapters (suras).  Ibn-e-Sina quoted by Shirazi (1957, p.198) provides a highly philosophical interpretation. Ibne Arabi says, “These stand for philosophical symbolism.” Muqatil, quoted by Tabrasi in (Majma’ul Bayan, p. 68) opines that these stand for numerical symbolism. Khalifa (1989) calculates them to stand for the number 19 saying that every alaphabet stands for a mathe matical number and the prefixed chapters have these letters in such a number that ultimately can be added to become the dividend of 19. Taba Tabai in (Tafsir Al Mizan, 1973, p.6) says that there is a strange relationship between these letters and the suras they occur.

Jones (1962) calls them “battle cries”, “contractions of words and phrases”, for ordering the Qur’anic text. Noldeke (1860 q.Jeffery1924) and Massey (1996) are of the view that that these are the ‘scribe markers’. Loth (q.Jeffery, ibid) describes that these letters are the result of “kabalistic influence on the Prophet.” Goossens, (q. in Seale, 1957) defines them as “memoria technica” a device which recollect the relative notions of the term.  Goossens statets the letters as “the remains of the names of suras” and proposes a new ordering of some suras. Besides, Bellarmy (1973) highlights them as the abbreviations of Basmala (the first verse of every chapter of Quranic text except chapter no: 12) and proposes radical changes in the letters themselves. Islahi (1989) and Taba Tabai (1973) point to the need for further research in this area.

The above survey shows that whatever is stated is based on extratrextual knowledge.  Only Noldeke (1860) and Goossens quoted by Jeffery (1924), have gone into the text and tried to look for textual links. This paper picks its lead from these sources, Noldeke from West who pointed to some links in the chapters that showed textual connection to the letters and Suyuti from East, who say that the prefixed chapters contain words and phrases that contain the prefixed letters.

It is important to note that the above information regarding these letters is not all that we have. As these are part of the Arabic alphabet, it is supposed that the available knowledge on Arabic alphabet may be relevant to our study, if it helps in an understanding of their role in the prefixed chapters. I shall return to this issue in greater details in chapter four.

1.2      Aim of the study

This paper seeks to study the templatic formation of Arabic words  and  the occurrence of these in the relevant Qur’anic text to find out whether there is any relationship between these prefixed letters and the morpho-phonemic structures of the words of the chapters that they occur in. It, therefore, follows a purely linguistic approach in which the Qur’anic text of the relevant chapters would provide the basic data.

This work aims to look at the templates that are formed from the phonemes related to these letters to see if any specific information can be derived which may point to any linguistic phenomena.

1.3      Methodology

1.3.1  Scope of the Study

As the said chapters are twenty nine in number, it would be a vast subject to be handled in a dissertation of 10,000 words. Hence, it was decided to restrict this study to the six chapters which have the ALM (alif, lam and meem) prefixed to the chapters. Henceforth, this will provide an initial step to further research on the same. For comparison sake limited representative data from other chapters such as 19, 36, 50, 68 was used.

1.3.2  Sampling Unit: line or verse?

The Qur’anic text contains verses which are referred to by numbers and are generally accepted. However, if we make verses our standard for reference, a difficulty arises as the verses are not of uniform length in different chapters thus yielding non- uniform data which cannot become the basis of an objective study. A verse may spread on one full page, 2/284 and on the other hand it may be as short as one word. It was, therefore, decided to make the first twenty lines the basis of the research and to refer to the verses by number. There is however, slight variation in the numbering of verses in different editions of the Holy Qur’an. For this paper the Qur’an published by Khadimain Haramain Sharifain Press is used as reference.   

1.3.3  Ten lines as unit of reference  

The study collects data of twenty, ten or five lines at different places; however, the standard of reference remains ten lines throughout. 

1.3.4  Data selection from Verse 2 onwards

There is, however, a need to explain why we should begin from the second verse rather than the first. The answer is that every time the chapter contains alif, lam and meemin the beginning, it is counted as the first verse itself. So, it would be better to begin from the second verse rather than the first one.

The above explanation is a convenient arrangement and helps data selection in five of the chapters. However, this leads to another difficulty: the second chapter of the text always contains shorter lines on the first page of Qur’anic volumes (for aesthetic reasons).  To overcome this difficulty, we began from the second page which is the 6thverse and is different from other chapters which all begin from the second verse.

For a general phonemic and template count, the first twenty lines of each chapter were chosen. However, for selective template sampling, five lines were selected in order to restrict the data to manageable proportions.

Having collected the data, it was possible to expose them to statistical analysis. The results showed a higher level of occurrence of ALM templates. Then in order to ensure consistency ten lines at the end of the same chapters were further checked. This helped us in two ways, firstly, that the consistency of occurrence of the templates was confirmed and second, their relation with the initial letters was established. It was followed by a series of tests to confirm or challenge the results to come to any conclusion. For this purpose, one chapter from each group (see page 1-3) was chosen.

A cursory look at the organization of groups (see page 1-3) shows we needed one chapter from Group 1, one from Group 2 and one from group 5. Group 3 and 4 are similar in their chemistry. However, we broadened the search regarding group one and included all the three chapters as they are shorter and hence manageable. To sum it up, the results obtained from the six ALM chapters were contrasted with results from the following chapters:

Group 1

1)                 Saad

2)                Qaf 

3)                 Al qalam

Group 2

4)                 Taha

Group 3          ALM/ ALR

Group 4        Alif lam meem saad

Alim lam meem raa

Group 5

5)                 Maryam

As can be seen above group 3 ALM, ALR and group 4 have two to three letters in common so no further data was collected from group 4 to avoid confusion. The results thus obtained were put in charts and graphs for clear display.

1.3.5  Procedure in steps

Step 1

1)        20 lines of a chapter listed

2)        Separate the ALM phonemes for the text chosen.

3)        Separate ALM templates for the text.

4)        Show percentage for phonemes presence.

5)        Show number of templates’ presence.

6)        See consistency of the results obtained by sample from the same chapters.

7)         Test the findings with other chapters to confirm or reject findings.

Step 2

Having established consistency of ALM templates, I moved from macro to micro level of anaylis.Different features of the [A], [L] and [M] are first discussed with the help of traditional and modern phonetic and morphological studies carried out in the field.These features are then generally and briefly surveyed in these chapters to see whether the individual letters also contribute to the templates of the text.This procedure is explained in more detail in Chapter 4.

1.3.6  Template Count

This paper looks at templates in two ways, according to modern definition of Morphology as given in 2.2 and according to traditional Arabic Morphology of ishtiqaq- akbar and asghar given in 2.1. These both are relevant to our purpose as both involve the use of specific phonemes and helps us take into account all the words and phrases that involve the particular phonemes, in this case ALM, individually as well as collectively.

1.3.7  Transliteration

In order to retrieve data, the verses of the Holy Quran have been transliterated in Roman English to facilitate common readers. For establishing link between graphemes, phonemes and morphemes, it was inevitable to introduce phonemic symbols. There are many symbols; therefore, a choice had to be made. This paper uses the symbols of Islamic studies printed by Islamic research institute, International Islamic University Islamabad.

Chapter 2


The study of Morphology, according to Ryding (2005, p.44), “Pertains to the organization, rules, and processes concerning meaningful units of language, whether they be words themselves or parts of words, such as affixes of various sorts. Meaningful components or sub-components at the word level are referred to as morphemes.” This subject emerged as a distinct sub-branch of linguistics only in the nineteenth century.The place morphology has in American Structural Linguistics can be seen in the figure given by Katamba (1993, p. 94) as follows:

Semantic level                                       deals with meaning

Syntactic level                                       deals with sentence structure

Morphological level                               deals with word – structure

Phonology (or Phonemics)                     deals with sound systems

2.1      Traditional Arabic Morphology

As this paper deals with words and templates in the Arabic language, we see how these elements were dealt with by traditional Arab scholars. It should be noted that the majority of Arabic words are derived from their triliteral roots and are called minor generation (Ishtiqaq asghar/saghir). It means that the set of permutations of a triliteral root all share the same semantic import. Hence, kataba means he wrote, kutiba means ‘was written’ and kitab means book.  Jinni (1985) recognizes a second type of derivation which he calls major derivation (ishtiqaq kabir). Instances of this would be kataba and kabatahamada and madahakabara and barakazawwaja and jawwaza. This means that the three root radicals are shared although the meaning may not be related and sequence may not be followed.

2.1.1  Ishtiqaqul Akbar 

Ishtiqaqul Akbar means that two roots share two radicals, like haram (forbidden) and sharam (shame). Hanaqa and ‘anaqa also come under the same as / ‘/ and /H/ are homorganic.

2.1.2  Ishtiqaq ul kubbar

This term refers to four lettered root which shares two radicals like in basmal, and hamdal. In the case of ishtiqaq ul kubbar, fusion of two roots takes place, so, bi ismillahbecomes basmalah similar to non analytic morphology. So, we have hamadal from alhamdo lillah, ‘abqasi from ‘abdi qais and so on. The idea behind this notion is that morphological derivation, in the early traditional Arabic linguistics, was all inclusive. It included what we have of analytic and non analytic morphology (Kaye,1989) and also what a modern morphologist would exclude, for instance, those words which share letters but do not have any derivational history are excluded from modern morphological studies and would not find a place, for example, ‘text’ and ‘tax’ or ‘exit’. These would be considered by traditional Arabic morphology as part of ishtiqaq or derivation as they share two letters ‘t’  and ‘x’ while by modern standards they are not related.

This brief description gives us some information about the Arabic derivational study where letters are considered basic and the study of words moves around letters and phonemes rather than meaning.  By this standard, alam and amal are related as both share the a,la and ma radicals despite the fact that the order is different and by modern linguistic derivational standard they would be considered unrelated. However, the Arabic verb forms or the ishtiqaq-e- saghir do fall into the category of derivational morphology. As the focus of this study is the ALM we have included every word as part of the template as long as it contains the ALM the radicals and we showed that this is what the Arab scholars agree upon.

Relation between alphabet and morphology in Arabic:

Arabic scholars recognized very early the connection between the Arabic alphabet and different Arabic morphemes and there was an undefined understanding of this link. For its importance the subject is dealt in greater details in chapter 4.

2.2      Modern Morphological Approach

A basic concept in morphology is the distinction between complex, derived analyzable words and simple, unanalyzable aplastic jamid ones (mushtaqq) morphology is restricted to the category of the second type (Asher, 1994, p.33).

Katmaba (1993), while talking of word fromation enumerates four principles, namely,  i) affixation,  ii) compounding , iii) conversion  and iv) incorporation reminds us of the presence of one more possibility of word formation i.e. infixing ‘inserting a word building element within the root’. He holds that in Semitic morphology, we encounter a situation where much of the word formation takes place root-internally. This he calls infixing and modification of the root rather than the stringing together of discrete morphemes. He gives the following examples:

1)                       Kataba                      he wrote

2)                       Kattaba        he caused to write

3)                       Kaataba        he corresponded

4)                       Takaatabuu they kept up a correspondence

5)                       Ktataba                    he wrote, copied

6)                       Kitabun                     book

7)                        Kuttabun     Koran school

8)                       Kitaabatun  act of writing

9)                       Maktabun    office

10)         Makaatibu   offices

11)         Kutiba                       it was written

12)         Nkatab                      ‘subscribe’

In the above examples, the consonant ktb is the root or the base of the templates shown above. The above list of derived words is just a glimpse of what happens in the Arabic language as the different forms of verbs along with person gender agreement are derived from the same root for example provide morphological glosses and translation:

Kataba,                       he wrote

Katabaa,                      they (two) wrote

Katabuu,                     they wrote.

Katabat,                     she wrote

Katbata,                     they two ( fem.) wrote

Mc Carthy (1979, p.81) (q.Katamba1993, p. 165) hypothesized that ‘the verb in Arabic has elements arranged on three independent tiers at the underlying level of representation in the lexicon. The three tiers being the root tier (also called the consonantal tier), the skeletal tier and the vocalic tier. I shall return to this in the last chapter. (Conclusion)

According to Bahloul (1994), “the characteristic feature of Arabic inflectional morphology has been to delineate: first, its consonantal root basis as the origin of all inflectional and derivational morphology; and second, the semantic opposition between its two basic verbal forms.”  He further states that “These verbal forms (and by extension all lexemes) are related to an invariable root. The number of these elements vary from one to five, but usually three  and following  always the same order in a number of same lexical items” (ibid, p.34).

These consonants and vowels of the root (1993) can be shown as below on different consonantal and vowel tiers.    


Thus, here we note the role of discontinuous morphemes composed of consonants which fit in together with other morphemes of vowels to formulate new words that occur according to set formula. The consonantal morpheme which makes the basis of words is known as the root of the word.

2.2.1  Definition of Root

According to Ervin, quoted in Ryding (2005, p.47), “A root is a relatively discontinuous bound morpheme, represented by two to five phonemes, typically three consonants in a certain order  which interlocks with a pattern to form a stem  that has lexical meaning.”

2.2.2  Role of Consonants and Vowels in Root

What we note is that there are two tiers of skeletal hierarchy in the word formation here. This is also called the pattern or template in which the consonants have set places and vowels have others. If the consonants change then, a semantic change occurs. For example, the change from ktb to ilm will bring the change from the field of writing to knowing.  On the other hand, a change in the vowel template will bring a grammatical change such as from kataba to katabu:


Thus, one can see how a word is derived from the same root by the change of vowels within it. A proper definition of a ‘pattern’ will help us here as discussed in the next section.

2.2.3  A Definition of Pattern

Ryding (2005, p.48) defines,  “A pattern is a bound and in many cases a discontinuous morpheme consisting of one or more vowels and slots for root phonemes [radicals] which either alone or in combination with one to three derivational affixes, interlocks with a root to form a stem, and which generally has grammatical meaning.”

2.2.4  Significance of Patterns

This definition of pattern is significant to this paper as yielding a relationship between the affixed letters in certain Qur’anic chapters. It is used to study whether these letters have a relationship with the word pattern inside the text of those chapters. The initial study shows that these letters do have a role to play in the whole pattern, i.e. not only at the root radical level but also at the pattern level.


/l/ and /m/ have their role at the consonantal tier. In the above template the [’] and[a] both exist; the former as a consonant and the later as a vowel; both these phonemes are embedded in the alif grapheme as explained in section 4.1. This leads to the conclusion that the anaylisis of alif spreads into both tiers; consonantal as well as vowel, providing /alif/ a wider scope in the morphological distribution(Ferozabadi .d.817).

This can be contrasted with ‘lm


Where ‘lm becomes part of the consonant tier however, the factor a,la,ma works as a constant in both the above words in diagram 3 and 4, where / ‘/ works as a variation. This can be seen in the following,


3 = ‘alam

4 = ‘alama

The same phonemes, when put in another order, yield the following. This shows the importance of the Morpho phonemic patterns.



1)        ‘amala

2)        ‘alama

3)        zalama

Show the constant and the variable interplay, where /a/, /l/and /ma/ make a constant component of all the three templates above.Similar phenomenon can be observed in compounds such as am lam analyzed below:


The above notion of the Arabic templates show, in the words of Katamba (Ibid) that Morphology is closely linked to morpho-phonology in Arabic grammar. The primary notion in this portion of grammar is the kalima which primarily designates a unit of the language similar to the ‘word’ in structuralist and other approaches. But the same notion is also used to designate discrete morphemes which stand in a relation of prefixaton or suffixation to the word in its capacity as a stem, for example, the definite article al (see section 4.7) and the second person masculine plural morpheme kum respectively.

In the next chapter, we analyze the Qur’anic text of six chapters to see whether any significant concentration of the ALM templates occurs that may point to a linguistic relationship.

Chapter 3


In this chapter, we look at the data of six Qur’anic chapters prefixed with alif lam and meem belonging to the third group of the prefixed letters (see pages11-12)  to know how the three letters, ALM that have been prefixed to the chapters have been distributed in the text of the same.

In the following section, we trace those templates in the chapters that involve the above lettere in words, morphemes and phrases. For this purpose, as already indicated twenty lines of each of the six chapters have been chosen. We begin with chapter Sajda ‘prostration’, the shortest of the series and the first to draw the writer’s attention for its ease and brevity.

3.1      Data from Chapter Sajda ‘Prostration’

It is to remind the readers that we begin these chapters from verse 2 as verse one is occupied by the prefixed letters only.This practice is followed for all the chapters except chapter two of the Qur’an for the reasons explained in the section  on procedure (1.4).The first line is the Qur’anic text in romanized script while the second line separates thealm elements for analysis sake.The data includes 20 lines of each chapter,while the numbers refer to the verses in the Qur’anic text; for more details please refer to section on Procedure (1.4.).

2)    Tanzilal kitabi laraiba fihi min rabbil ‘alamin

      -a    l a l   a    l a    a          m*      a   l    a la m

3)     Am yaquluna aftarahu bal huwal haqqu min rabbika

-a m  a    l a  a  a   a  a     al    a l   a        m     a      a

litunzira qauman ma

l   a   a          ma    ma

atahum nazirin min qablika la’allahum yahtadun,

a  a   m    a        m      a   l a l  a l l a m   a  a 

4)    Allahu llazi xalaqa ssamawati fi sittati ayyami summa stawa ‘alal ‘arshi ma

-a l l a   l l a   a l a a    a m a a    a   a   a m     m m a a  a    a l a l a   m

lakum min dunihi min waliyyin wa la shafi afalaa tatazakkarun.

-l a  m  m               m      a l          a l     a    a  a l a a a a    a

5)     yudabbirul amru minassama’I ilal ‘ardi summa ya ‘ruju ilayhi fi

a    l   a      m  a  a m a a l al a       m ma   a         a l          a   

yaumin kana

m      a na

miqdaruhu sanatin mimma ta ‘uddun

m      a        a  a     m m m  a 

6)    zalika ‘alimul ghaibi wash shahadati l ‘aziz urrahim

      a l a   a l  m l a         a          a a     a  l  a          a  m

7)     Allazi ahsana kulla shay’in khalaqahu wa bada’a khalqal’insani min teen

a l l a     a a  a    l l a     a       a  l a        a   a  a a    a l a l a a     m  

8)    summa ja’ala naslahu min  sulalatim mimma’im ahin

- m m a a a l a a l a   m        l a la m m m m a a 

9)    summa sawwahu wa nafakha fihi min ruHihi wa ja ‘ala lakum-u-ssam ‘a wal

-m m a  a   a        a  a a a     m       a a  l a                  l a  m       a  a      al

absara wal af’idata qalilamma tashkurun

a   a  a    a l  a  a       a l l a m m a

10)            Wa qalu ’a iza dalalna fil ’ardi ’a inna lafi khalqin jadid bal hum biliqa’I

      - a a l  a   a a  a l a l   l   a       a a a a l a    a l    a        a l   m     l a a

      rabbihim kafirun

      a       m    

11)qul yatawaffakum malakul mauti llazi wukkila bikum summa ila rabbikum

      -l   a  a       m  m a l    a l m       l l a         l a             m   m m a a l a  a  m

      turja ‘un

12)            wa law tara izil mujrimuna  nakisu ru’usihim ‘inda rabbihim rabbana absarna

- a  l a a a  a l   m      m a    a     a       m       a  a       m  a a a      a a n

wa sami ‘na farji ‘na na ‘mal salihan inna muqinun

 a   a   m  a    a      a    a   m  a l a l    a a    m

13)wa law shi’na la’a tayna kulla nafsin hudaha wa lakin haqqal qaulu minni

-a l  a    a   a l   a       a  l l a   a            a   a   a  l               a    a l  a l   m 

la’amla’nna jahannama minal jinnati wannasi ajma ‘in

a  a m l a     a  a  m a   m  a l      a  a         a   a m a

14)            fazuqu bima nasitum liqa’a yaumikum haza inna nasinakum wa zuqu ‘azabal

       -a     m a  a     m  l  a  a   a   m  m   a a   a a    a    a   m   a      a a a l

      khuldi bima kuntum ta ‘malun

       l       m a       m  a    m  a l 

Results: Sajda

Total phonemes 1028

Alif lam meem    393

Others=  635

Percentage = 38.22

Total templates:=167

ALM templates=29

* ALM templates boldened.

3.2      Other chapters with ALM.

Our next task was to check other chapters with the same letters for these patterns and then see chapters without these prefixed letters to ensure whether the same are found in these so that our claim about the specific presence of these templates is either upheld or rejected. In the forthcoming section, we present data from five other chapters with the same letters prefixed to them. As explained above we begin from verse two.

3.2.1    Chapter Lokman (Sura Luqman)

2)    Tilka ayatul kitabil hakim

-l a a  a  aa l      a  l    a    m

3)     Hudanwa rahmatal lil mohsinin=26

-a   a    a   m a a l l l m 

4)    Allazina yuqimunas salata wa yu’tunaz zakata wa hum bil aa khirati hum yuqinun=64

-a l a  a      m    a    a l  a    a     a    a   a       a   m     l     a    a       m      

5)     ’ula ’ika ‘ala hudam mirrabbihim wa  ula’ika humul muflihun

l a    a  l a       a m m  a         m   a    la     a    m  l   m l 

6)    wa minanaasi man yashtari lahwal hadisi  liyudilla ‘an sabilillahi bighairi ‘ilmin wa

a  m   a  a       m a    a   a     l  a   a l  a       l     l  a     a    a    l  a a        l m     a

yattakhiza ha huzawa ’ula’ika lahum  ‘azabbin muhin.

-a  a     a   a        a  a    la    a  l a m    a           m   =

7)     wa iza tutla ‘alaihi ayatuna walla mustakbiran ka’allam yasma ‘ha  ka’anna fi ’uznaihi

a a a    l a l    a  a   a l a   m    a    a l  a  m   a m     a     a   a     a   

waqran fa bashshirhu  bi ‘azabin ’alim. 

-a   a    a    a                                 a l m

8)    Innallazina ’amanu wa  ‘amilussalihati lahum jannatin na ‘eem

a  a l       a     m         a      a    l     a        l   a m    a      a     m

9)    Khalidina fiha wa ‘adallahi haqqan wa huwal  ‘azizil hakim

a l      a       a         a      a   a        a            a       l      a     a    m

10)            khalaqa samawati bighairi  ‘amadin tarawnaha wa ’alqa fil’ardi rawasiya’an tamida

a l a   a m a a      a   a        a   a     a  a l a    a a       a   a     a     a  m a


bikum wa bassa fiha min kulli dabbatin wa’anzalna mina ssama’i ma’an fa anbatna

m  a  a  a   a   m    l a    a  a   a   l a  m   a   a   m a    a      a  a    a   a

fiha min kulli zoujin karim

-a m        l                a

11) ha za  khalqullahi fa’aruni maza khalqallazina min dunihi balizzalimun fi dalalin

a a   a  l   l a   a   a   m a  a   a l  a       a  m         a l    a l m     a  l



12)            wa laqad ’atayna luqmana alhikmata ’anishkur lillahi wa man yashkur fa innama

a  la a    a  a  a   l a  m      a l m   a a   a      l l l a   a     m a    a  a  a  a  m a

yashkukuru lina fsihi wa man kafara fa inna Allaha ghaniyun hamid.=114

-a       l   a            a  m       a  a  a a   a  a  a l a a    a             a m

13)wa iz qala luqmanu li ibnihi wa huwa ya ‘izuhu  ya bunayya la tushrik billahi inna

a   a  a la   l   m a   l  a       a      a  a     a  a  a  l a      l a      a  a

shirka la zulmun ‘azim 

a l a     l m     a      

14)            wa wassainal insana bi walidaihi hamalathu ummuhu wahnan  ‘ala wahni wa

a     a    a  l a   a       a l                 a  m a l a    m       a   a      a l a a        a

fisaluhu fi ‘amain anishkur li wa li wa lidaika ilayyal masir

a l           a         a             l    a l    a   l        a  a l    l  m a

15)wa in jahadaka   ‘ala an tushrika bi ma laysa laka bihi ‘ilmun falaa tuti ‘huma wa

a a  a   a a a    l a a                    a     m a l      a l a a      l  m    a l a     a   a

sahib huma fi ddunya ma‘rufan //

 a         m a               a m        a     a

Results: Lokman/ Luqman

20 lines of this chapter cover 14 and some part of verse 15 marked by double slant above.Out of the total usage of 1104, 367 belong to alm group which is almost 33% of the text.


ALM0 = 367


%= 33.24

ALM templates=29

3.2.2  Data from Chapter Rome / Rum

2)    Ghulibatirrum

l   a       m

3)     Fi ’adnal ardi wa hum min ba ‘di ghalbihim sa yaghlibun

a    a la        a     m  m     a              l    m   a  a      l  

4)    Fi bid ‘i sinin lillahil amru min qablu wa mim ba’du wa youma’izin yafrahul

l l a l  a m    m      a  l    a  m  m   a    ma        a   a l      m   m        al



5)     bi nasrilahi yansuru man yasha’u wa huwal ‘zizul   rahim

a   l a      a          m a    a    a      a        al        l   a  m

6)    wa ‘a dallahi la yukhlifullahu wa ‘dahu wa lakinna aksarannasi la ya  ‘lamun

      a    a  al   a  l a        l l a     a    a      a  l a    a a    a    a   l a  a l  m

7)     Ya ‘lamuna zahiram min hayatid dunya wa hum ‘anil akhirati hum ghafilun

a   l m    a  a      a m m   a    a      a     a     m   a l   a      a    m   a l 

8)    a wa lam yatafakkaru fi anfusihim ma khalaqallahu samawati wal ’ardi wa ma

a a l a m    a   a    a    m  m a   a l   a l a      a   a    a     a l a     a  m a

baynahuma ’illa bil haqqi wa ’ajalim musamman wa ’ inna kathiram min an nasi

      a   m a l a   l      a       a   a  l m  m    m     a   a  a    a      a m   m   a

      biliqa’i rabbihim lakafirun.

      -l   a   a         m  l a

9)    ’awalam yasiru fil ’ardi fayanzuru kaifa kana ‘aqibati llazina min qablihim kanu

a  a l a m a         l a     a   a     a a a     a    a    l a    a m      a  l    m  a

ashadda minhum quwwatan wa ’asarul ’arda wa ‘amaruha  aksara mimma

a    a    a m       m     a a    a    a  a l    a  a   a   a          a  a    a a  m m


‘amaruha wa ja’athum rusuluhum bil bayyinat fama kanallahu li yazlimahum

a m a  a   a    a  a     m    l    m  l    a a m a   a a lla    l  a   l m a m   a

wa lakin kanu anfusahum yazlimun

      l a       a      a       a  m    a l m

10)            Thumma kana ‘aqibata allazina ’asa’ussuu’a an kazzabu bi’ayatillahi wa kanu biha

      m m a  a a       a   a  a  l l a   a  a      a  a   a    a   a  s l l a      a  a         a


      a        a

11)Allahu yabda’ul khalqa thumma yu ‘iduhu thumma ’ilayhi turja ‘un

      a l l a     a   a     l   a l a         m m a                 m m a a l   

12)            wa yauma taqumussa ‘atu yublisul mujrimun

      a        m a   a  m             a    l    l   m    m

13)wa lam yakullahum shuraka’ihim shufa ‘u wa kanu bishuraka’ihim kafirin

      a l a m a  l  l  a  m          a a  m           a       a   a                a  a     m  a

14)            wa yauma taqumussa ‘atu yauma’izin yatafarraqun

      a      m          m            a         a  a         a  a a a

15)Fa ammallazina ’amanu wa ‘amil-us salihat fahum fi rodatin yuhbarun

      a  a m a l a   a    a m a    a    a m l       a l a     a                               a

16)            wa ammallazina kafaru wa kazzabu bi ’ayatina wa liqa’il akhirati fa ’ula’ika// fil

a a m a l a      a a       a   a     a    a  a   a a  l     a  a l a     a     a  a l a       l

      ‘azabi muhdarun

      a    a    m

Results: Rome/Rum

Total phonemes=1048

Alm =353

Others =695

Percentage =33.68

ALM templates =28

3.2.3    Data from The Spider /Al  ‘ankabut

As usual we begin from verse 2

2)  ’a hasiban nasa an yutraku anyaqulu amanna wa hum laa yuftanun

a  a     a     a  a   a        a      a   a    l   a m  a     a       m  l a       a

3)  wa laqad fatannallazina min qablihim falaya ‘ lamannallaha allazina sadaqu wa la

a l a  a    a            a l   a  m    a  l    m   a l a a   l a m  a  l a a  a l a a    a   a   a   l a

ya ‘lamannal kazibin

a   l  m a     a   a

4)  am hasiballazina ya‘malunassayyi’ati anyasbaquna saa’a ma yahkamun

a m    a   a l a         a  m  a l a   a        a   a                         a     a   a     m

5)  man kana yarju liqa’allahi fa inna’ajalallahi la’aati wa huwassami ‘ul  ‘alim

m a  a     a a       l  a   a l a    a a         a l l a    l a        a               a m  l       l

6)  wa man jahada fa innama yujahidu linafsihi innallaha la ghaniyyun ‘anil ‘alimin

a  m  a   a  a  a  a  a   a m      a          l            a a l a      la   a        l     l m

7)   wallazin ’amanu wa ‘amilussalihati lanukaffiranna ‘anhum sayyi’ati him wa la

a l a        a m        a    m l       a l a    l             m   a a          m     a l

najziyannahum ahsanallazina ma kanu ya ‘malun

a       a     a   m a   a   alla    a  ma   a      a   m  a l

8)  wa wassaynal insana bi walidayhi husna wa in jahadaka li tushrika bi ma laysa laka

a    a        a l  a  a          a l   a         a a  a a      a  l                         m   l a   la

bihi ‘ilmun falaa tuti ‘huma ilayya marji ‘ukum fa’unabbi’ukum bima kuntum ta‘

l m     a l a           m   a l a     m          m     a        m      m            m



9)  wallazina’amanu wa  ‘amilussalihati la nadkhulannahum fissalihin

a l a       a m               a      m l         l  a   l              l              m   a l   

10)      wa minannasi man yaqulu ’amanna billahi fa iza’uzia fillahi ja ‘ala fitnatannasi ka

m   a   a    m             l    a m    a m l   a     a  a      a      l l a         la          a 


‘azabillahi wa la’in ja’a nasrum min rabbik la yaqulunna inna kunna ma ‘akum awa

a  l a        a l  a   a      m       a        l     a    l          a        m     m  a  a 

laysallahu bi a ‘lama bima fi suduuril ‘alamin

l     a l            a   l m    m a                l   a l m

11)      wa laya ‘lamannallah allazina ’amanu  wa la ya ‘lamannal munafiqin

a l a    l a ma   ll a     l l     a   a m           l     a  m  l a m       m   a

12)      wa qalallazina kafaru lillazina’amanu ittabi  ‘u sabilana  wal nahmil khatayakum wa

a a  l  l a          a         l  l a       a   m      a       a l a       a l    m l       a a  m 

ma hum bi hamilina min khatayahum min shay’in innahum lakazibun

m   m            a m l   m      a               m  m         a    a     m    l a  

13)      wa la yahmilunna ’asqalahum wa asqalan ma ‘a ’asqalihim wa la yas’alunna yaumal

a l   m  l    a   a              a  l a m    a a a l  a    m    a   a  l m   a  l      a a  l     a   m l

qiyamati ‘amma kanu ya ‘malun

a  m      m m   a       a  m l

14)      wa laqad ’arsalna nuhan ’ila qaumihi fa labisa fihim ’alfa sanatin ’illa khamsina//

a  l          a a l                   a l      m          a        m   a l                 a l l   a m  a

The total number of verses in the case of this chapter covered under 20 lines of the text are13 and some part of 14.

Result: Spider

Total phonemes =1137


Others =836

Percentage =26.4

ALM templates=40

3.2.4  The chapter Cow /Al Baqara

Now we take the first fifteen verses from the chapter cow, the longest in the series.

6)    innallazin kafaru sawa’un ‘alaihim ’a ’anzartahum ’am lam tunzirhum la yu’minun

a     l          a        a     a la   m    a  a       m                a m l a m                     l a    m

7)   khatamallahu ‘ala qulubihim wa ‘la sam ‘ihim wa ‘la  ’absarihim ghishawa  wa lahum

a   a m   a l a l a    l    m    a       l a  m    m    a   l    a    m    a   a  a   l  m

‘azabun ‘azim

a              m

8) wa min annasi man yaqulu ’aamanna billahi wa bil yaumil aakhiri wa ma hum bi

a m    a    a    m       a   l    a  m   a     ll a  a        l         m l  a        m a      m


m     m.

9)  yukhadi ‘unallah wallazina ’amanu wa ma yakhda ‘una ’illa’anfusahum wa ma

a     a l a      l l a  a    a m a     a  a     a    a     a    a l a a          m   a m a a

            yash ‘urun

10)      fi qulubihim maradun fazadahum-ul-laahu marada wa lahum ‘azabun ’alimun bima

l         m  m a       a a         m  l  l a      m  a a  a  l    a m     a       a  l m   m    

kanu yakzibun

a   a     

11)      wa ’iza qeela lahum la tufsidu fil ’ardi  qalu ’innama nahnu muslihun

a a a         l a l m  l a              l a          a l            m             m  

12)      ’ala innahum humul mufsiduna wa lakin la yash ‘urun

l a a       m      m l   m                    l a     la 

13)      wa ’iza qeela lahum’aminu kama’amanan nasa qalu ’anu’minu kama’amanas

a   a  a    l a  l a m    a m    a m a  a m a       

sufaha’  ’ala  ’innahum humussufah’u wa lakin la ya ‘lamun

      a h a      a l a a       m      m         a       a  l a    l a        l a m


14)      wa ’iza laqullazina’amanu qalu ’amanna wa iza khalau ila shayatinihim qalu

a a a  l a l l a  a   a m a     a l  a m a       a  a  a    a l a  a l      a   a    m  a l a

’inna ma ‘akum ’innama nahnu mustahzi’un

m z   m    a       m            m   

15)      ’allahu yastahzi’u bihim wa yamudduhum fi tughyanihim ya ‘mahun

a l a     a      a    a         m   a     a                         a  m          m

16)      ’ul’ika allazina shtaraudalalata bil huda fama rabihat tijaratuhum wa ma kanu

a  l a a a l a   a      a       a l  a a    l       a   a   a        a      a  a  a  m   a   m a a 


m     a  

17)      masaluhum kamasalillazi stawqada naran falamma ’ada’at mahawlahu

-a  a l  m    a m a a l l l      a   a  a     a a     a l a m m a a  a    a   a   l a     a  a  a l l

zahaballhu         binurihim wa tarakahum fi zulumatil  la yubsirun

a  a   a ll a   m                                            l m  a  l  l

18)      ’aw kasayyibin minassa ma’I fihi zulumatun wa ra ‘dun wa barqun yaj’aluna ’asabi

-a    a   a        a   a  m a          l m  a         a  a            a    a       a    l     a  a

‘ahum minas sawa ‘iqi Hazaral mauti wallahu muHitun bil kafirin

            -a  m m  a    a  a            a   a  l    a   m    a  l l a  m                l   a  

19)      yakadul barqu yakhtafu//

-a   a  l    a        a    a

The count of verses as explained in the section, Procedure, begins from verse six and goes to part of verse 19.This gives us twenty lines data to be uniform.

Results: Cow

Total phonemes=1387



Percentage= 33.1

ALM templates=34

3.2.5  Chapter House of Imran (aal-e-imran)

2) ’allahu la ’ ilaha illahu ’alhayyul qayyum

    a l a     l a al a  a ll a  a l            a      m 

3) nazzala ‘alaikal kitaba bil haqqi musaddiqal lima bayna yadayhi wa ’anzala ttaurata

a a la     l    a l    a a  l    a       m   a      a l l m a      a    a  a     a  a a  l a   a a

wal ’injeel

      a l a    l

4)  min qablu hudal linnasi wa ’anzalal furqana ’innallazina kafaru bi’ayatillahi

m       a  l     a l l     a     a  a    a l a       a  a a   a l l a     a  a     a a   ll a 


lahum ‘azabun shadidun wallahu ‘azizun zuntiqam

       la  a  m        a                a l l a                    a m

5)  ’innallaha la yakhfa ‘alaihi shay’un fil’ardi wa la fissama’i

      a  a ll a   a  l    a    a     l            l  a         a la        a m a

6)  huwallazi yusawwirukum fil’arhami kaifa yasha’u la ilaha illa huwa al ‘azizul

a l l a       a      m  l   a a m       a a   a         l a a la a l l      a l           l a   


7)   huwallazi ’anzala  ‘alaikal kitaba minhu ’ayatun muhkamatun hunna ’ummul kitab wa

a l l a   a a l a  l    a l     a  a  m     a     a      m      a  m a                      a  a  m m l

’ukharu mutashabihat fa ’ammallazina fi qulubihim zaighun fa yattabi ‘una ma

a     a      m   a   a   a   a   a m m a l l a         l       m       a  a   

 ma tashabaha minhu ’ibtigha’a al fitnati wabtigha’a ta’wilihi wa ma ya

a    a    a a m        a      a  a l        a       a  a    l       a m a      l a m   a   l

‘lamu ta’wilahu illallah warrasikhuna fil ‘ilmi yaquluna ’amanna bihi kullu min 

a lm a ll a a     a     l   l m     a   l    a  a m  a a            l l  m          a  ll      a  m

‘indi rabbi wa ma    na  yazzakkaru illa’ulul’albab

a                      m  a                               l l a l

8)  rabbana la tuzigh qulubuna ba ‘da ’iz hadaytana wa hab lana min ladun-ka rahma

a  a a   l a        l       a    a  a   a  a   a  a   a   a     l a a  m   l a       a   a  m a

’innaka ’antal wahhab

a  a  a   a    a l  a   a

9)  rabbana innaka jamiu ‘unnasi liyoumi laraiba fihi  ’innallaha la yukhliful mi ‘ad

a    a  a  a   a  a   a              a      m  l a     a     a a l l a a                   l  l   m  a

10)      ’innallazina kafaru lun tughniya ‘anhum ’amwaluhum wa la ’awladuhum minallahi

a     a l l a      a a    l       a        m   a m l a   m    a  l a   a l a  m      m  a l l a

shay’in wa’ula’ika hum waqudunnar

a     a          l a  a a     m    a            a

11)      ka da’bi aali fir’auna wallazina min qablihim kazzabu bi ’ayatina

      a  a        a a l               a l l   a  m       a  l  m    a  a             a a  a

fa’akhazahumullahu bizunubihim wallahu shadidul ‘iqab

      a a a a      m  l l a                     m    a l l a      a   l       a

12)      qul lillazina kafaru sa-tughlabuna wa tuh-sharuna ila jahannam wa bi’sal mihad

l l l a       a  a      a       l a    a    a       a                   a l a  a  a    m  a  a  a l  m  a 

13)      qad kana lakum fi fi’ataynil taqata fi’atun tuqatil fi sabilillahi wa ukhra kafiratun

a    a   a  l a   m      a      l    a a a  a        a  l       a l l l a      a   a     a    a   a

yaraunahum mislayhim ra’yal ‘ain wallahu//

                          l     m     a

Result: Aal-e- ‘imran

The count of verses from 2 to part of thirteen as marked by slant marks 1585




Percentage =35.93

ALM templates =29

Results from the above data are summarized below in Table 1.

Table No.1

S.No/ Q.S.No


ALM Phonemes %



Sampling unit






Twenty lines


‘aal-e-‘imran/house of




Twenty lines


al‘ankaboot/ spider



Twenty lines


Al rum/Rome



Twenty lines





Twenty lines





Twenty lines

The table above shows the occurrence of ALM templatess, these results were further consolidated through results of the last ten lines of the same chapters in the following section.


Consistency check

 Having confirmed the higher occurrence of ALM in the first twenty lines is significant, however, in order to see whether this high occurrence is consistent we needed at least one more sample. Last ten lines of each of the above chapters were chosen for this purpose. The results are summarized in the following section. This time, instead of providing detailed data, I choose to concentrate templates to make it reader friendly, which are given below,

Test.1 Consistency check

ALM templates from last ten lines of Baqara/ ‘Cow’

1.                 Liman


2.                 Aaman arr rasula


3.                 Bima ’unzila


4.                 Wal mu’minoon


5.                 Mala’ikatihi


6.                 Min rusulihi


7.                  Al masir


8.                 Laha ma


9.                 ‘alaiha maktasabat


10.            La taHmil


11.             Hamaltahu


12.            Min qablina



13.             TuHammilna


14.            Mala


15.             Maulana


16.            ’alqaumil


ALM templates =16

ALM templates from last ten lines of Aali ‘imran

1.                 Min ‘indillahi


2.                 Mata ‘un qalil


3.                 Be’sal mihad

4.                 Min ‘indillah

5.                 Wa ma ‘indillahi

6.                 Min ’ahli kitab

7.                  Laman

8.                 Yu’min billah

9.                 Wa ma ’unzila

10.            ’ilaikum

11.             Wa ma ’unzila

12.            ’ilaihim

13.             Lahum

ALM templates =13

ALM templates from last ten lines Al ‘ankabut

1)                 Alhamdo lillah


2)                Bal ’aksaruhum


3)                 Wa ma hazihil


4)                Mukhlisina


5)                 Falamma


6)                awalam


7)                 Wa man ’azlama


8)                Lamma


9)                ’alaisa fi jahannama


10)            Maswallil


11)            La nahdiyannahum


12)            Lama’aal


13)            ’almohsinin


ALM templates =14

ALM templates from last ten lines Rome /Ar Rum

1)                 ’al ‘alim


2)                ’almujrimoon


3)                 Ma labisu


4)                ’utul ‘ilma


5)                 Wal ’imana


6)                Labistum


7)                 Ila yaumil ba ‘s


8)                Yaumul ba ‘s


9)                Wa lakinnakum


10)            La ta ‘lamun


11)            Zalamu


12)            Wa la ’in ji’tahum


13)            ’in ’antum ’illa


14)            Wa lahum


15)            ’illa mubtilun


16)            La ya ‘lamun


ALM  templates =16

ALM Templates from the last ten lines of Lokman / Luqman:

1)                 ’alam tara


2)                Bini ‘matillahi


3)                 Li yuriyakum


4)                Mukhlisina


5)                 Falamma


6)                Yaumalla


7)                 Wa la mauloodun


8)                Fa la taghurrunnakum


9)                Wa la yaghurrunnakum



10)            ‘ilmumussa ‘a


11)            Ya‘lamu


12)            Fil ’arham


13)            ‘aleemun

ALM templates =13

ALM templates from the last ten lines of Sajda / Prostration

1)                 Ja ‘alna minhum


2)                Lamma


3)                 Yaumal qiyama


4)                ’awalam


5)                 Lahum


6)                Kam ’ahlakna


7)                 Qablihim


8)                Minal quroon


9)                ’afala yasma ‘oon


10)            ’awalam


11)            Filma’i


12)            Ta’kulu minhu


13)            Mata yamal fathu


14)            Yaumal fathu


15)            Wa lahum


ALM templates =15

Table 2:  ALM templates distribution in last ten lines.

S.No/ Q.S.No



ALM templates in last ten lines

































The following table compares the results from the first twenty and last ten lines to get an average.

Table 3:        Comparison of ALM templates distribution in first twenty and last ten lines

S.No/ Q.S.No


ALM templates in first twenty lines

ALM templates in  last ten lines

Average ALM templates per ten lines







House of Imran/‘aal-e-‘imran

























The above study shows that the first twenty and the last ten lines of these chapters have consistent occurrence of ALM templates. This proves that these six chapters have a consistent style with reference to these templates. The tables above show consistency in the occurrence of ALM. This observation is based on first twenty and last ten lines of the chapters.

In the following section, different tests have been conducted to contrast the results obtained above with results of ALM templates from non ALM chapters.( Prefixed with other than ALM). For this purpose care has been taken to include chapters from all groups. (See procedure P: 10)

3.3.1  Test 1

Looking at the results from data above we note that there is an average presence of 33% in the text with the same letters prefixed. These results may now be compared with data from other chapters that do not have the same letters prefixed. . In order to be very distinct, let us choose  Group 5 chapter as an ideal candidate for being entirely different; kaf, ha, ya ‘ain and Saad discussed below.

First test would be to trace ALM templates in the kaf ha, ya chapter and see the concentration of ALM in it. Our prediction would be a lack or sharp fall in the occurrence of the same.As a sample we chose five verses.                           

2)  zikru rahmati rabbika ‘abdahu zakariyya

-   a  m a   a      a  a    a      a   a      a

3)  iz nada rabbahu nida’an khafiyya

      -  a   a   a    a          a  a    a     a

4) qala rabbi inni wahanal ‘azmu washta ‘alarra’su wa lam’akun biduaa ‘ika rabbi

      a  l  a    a        a   a  a l  a  m   a    a   a l   a       a   l a m  a          a   a  a


      -a        a

5) wa inni khiftu al muwali min wara’i wa kanat’imra’ati ‘aqiran fa hab li min

- a a             a l  m  a l  m      a  a     a  a   a   a   a  a    a    a     a   a   l m

      ladunka waliyya.

- l   a         a l    a

6) yarisuni wa yarisu  min ’aali ya ‘qub waj ‘alhu rabbi radiyya

      -a          a   a        m     a  l   a          a      a l    a       a      a            


Total phonemes=258

A, la,ma phonemes=73

A, la, ma templates=05


We can see the difference. The ALM templates have almost disappeared here. This can now be compared with results from other chapters of Group 1 which have different letters prefixed to them. Three chapters, SaadQaaf and Al-qalam( the pen) have been chosen for contrast.

Test 2            Chapters from Group 1

3.3.2  Data from chapter Saad/14th alphabet of Arabic

Sad wal qur’ani ziz-zikr

-a       al      a     

Balillazina kafaru fi ‘izzatiwwa shiqaq

- a    a     a    a   a                         a

Kam ahlakna minqablihim min qaurnin fanadaw wa laata Hina manas

- a  m    a l a    m   a   l   m    m     a   m       a          a   la            m

Wa ‘ajibu an ja’a minhum wa qaalal kafiruna haza saHirun kazzab

No presence noted

‘a ja ‘alal aalihatan ilahan wahidan inna haza lashay’un ‘ujab

ALM templates in the above text

kam ahlakna

laata hina manas


Two templates

3.3.3  Data from chapter Qaf (Chapter 50 and 21st alphabet of Arabic)

qaf  walqur’anilmajid

a       a l        a  l m  a

bal ‘ajibu an ja’a hum munzirun minhum faqalal kafiruna haza shay’un  ‘ajib

a l    a        a   a     m   m           m      m   a   a   l a l   a   a   a  a    a   a       

’a ’iza mitna wa kunna turaban zalika raj ‘un ba ‘id

a   a   m          a     a            a  a     a   l     a        

qad ‘alimna ma tanqusul’ardu minhum wa ‘indana kitabun hafiz

   a      a l m    m    a     l      a     m     m     a      a     a    a         a

bal kazzabu bilhaqqi lamma ja’ahum fahum fi ‘amrin marih

a l   a    a        l  a      l a m   m      m     a    m   a   a           m a





ALM templates=3





Three templates, if we look at the actual morphemes we note that there are only three of the Templates in the above.

3.3.4 Data from chapter Al-qalam (the pen)

Noon walqalami wa ma yasturun

          A    l   m

Ma anta bini’mati rabbika bi majnun

No ALM templates

 wa innaka la ‘ala khuluqin azim

                       a   l              m

fa sa tubsiru wa yubsirun

bi-’ayyaikum-ul muftun

      a         ml   

Result: Three templates of ALM

Alqalam    a l   m

 khuluqin azim    l   a  m

ayyukumul muftun   a   l   m

Chapter Taha (group 2)

Ma ’anzalna ‘alaika al qur’ana litashqa

M  A     L

Illa tazkirata lliman yakhsha

                  L   M  A

Tanzilan miman khalaqa al’arda wassamawatil ‘ula.

   L       M   A

Alrahmanu ‘alal ‘arhistawa


Lahu ma fissamawati wa ma fil ’ardi wa ma bainahuma wa ma tahtassaraa.

L  A M                           M A L


Wa in tajhar bilqauli fa innahu ya ‘lamu ssirra wa ma akhfa.


Allahu la ilaha illahu lahul ’asma’ul Husna

Wa hal ’ataka Hadisu musa

Iz ra’a naran fa qaala li ’ahlihi mkusu inni ’anastu naaran la ‘alli ’aatikum minha bi qabasin ’aw ’ajidu ‘alannari huda

No ALM  templates found.

Fa lamma ’ataha nudiya ya musa


Inni ’anaa  rabbuka fakhla ‘ na ‘lakia innaka bilwadil muqaddasil tuwa

Wa ’ana akhtartuka fastami ‘ lima yuHa


Innani ’anallahu la ilaha illa.

ALM templates=10

Table 4





ALM templates in  first five lines

Average ALM per ten lines












Al Qalam










Ta ha





The results above show that ALM templates occurrence is always higher in ALM chapters.

3.3.5  Summary of the above results

First we made a survey of all the ALM chapters and found out that all these chapters showed prominent occurrence of ALM templates, three different tests were then conducted to study the occurrences of these templates confirming our initial stance that the prefixed letters were not random and did have some linguistic significance with the chapters they occurred in. Test 1 checked ALM chapters for consistency. Test 2 checked that the chapter Maryam did not have ALM templates. Test 3 also proved positive as four more non ALM prefixed chapters were checked and these showed non occurrence or lesser presence of ALM. Templates.

The next section attempts to further probe to find if there is more to this study from linguistic perspective. Our next question would be whether these letters occur randomly or these have any significance at the word level. Section 3.4 deals with this issue.

3.4      Templates in the chapters: The Linguistic Factor

This brings us to the question of morpho phonemic templates and the remaining section of this chapter is devoted to the question of words and their derivations to see if there is any such concentration in these chapters that reflect special selection on the part of the writer having preference for certain templates rather than others. In this section, we explore this idea and trace templates that utilize ALM components.

3.4.1  Concept of Morphemic Templates   

Definition of Morpheme:

As discussed earlier Katamba (1993,section 2.2.7. p.24), regarding morpheme in this section we concentrate on those templates which are complete with the ALMradicals.This means that we take another look at the said Qur’anic chapters.We also narrow down our study to the first five lines of each chapter for this purpose. But before we do this we make it clear what we mean by template in this context.

A morpho-phonemic template of a, la, and ma is considered complete when it exists in a free morpheme, such as a‘lam as in the example below; when it exists in a compund morpheme as a result of affixation such as when al is added to ’amr to make al’amr and mal to make almal or lakum is derived from laka. However it will not form a template if it is present in a sentence in three different words such as below:

Fa za lika allazi yadu ‘‘ul yatim 107/ 2

A  l                                 m

Because these are three separate morphemes and do not form a single template which will be found in similar structures wherever such structures are formed.As contrasted with the above, see the following,


a. l, m


A, l, m.

Am lam

‘a, l, m

In which, we note the ALM templates without much effort. It is these templates which are searched in the ALM chapters. We made a survey of the six chapters beginning with sajda for further explorations concentrating only on morphemic templates in the forthcoming data. First a general survey of ALM templates in Sajda (Prostration)

3.5      ALM templates in Chapter Sajda (Prostration).

1)        rabbil ‘alamin/2                   Lord of the worlds

            A,  L,  M

2)        la ‘allahum /3           O’ our Lord

            L A M


3)        al-amr/5                    The order

            A L M

4)        ‘aalimulghaib/6                    Knower of the unknown

            A L M

5)        lakum/9                                For you

6)        qalilam ma tashkuroon/9            Few of you give thanks


7)         malakul mot/11      The angel of death


8)        wukkila bikum /11             Advocated you


9)        thumma ila/             And then to


10)      al-mujrimun                        the criminals


14)      na‘mal /12                            blessed

            A M L

11)      la ’am la’nna/13                  Certainly we shall fill

            L A M

12)      minal /13                   from

            M A L

13)      ta ‘malun/14            You act


What we note is that different resources of language have been combined in a way where the templates have one fixed feature, ALM while the other components vary. In order to do so lexical items such as in lines 1, 3, 4, 14 and 17, functional such as in lines 2,7,16 and, specifically the use of article al such as in 1 and 3 has been made. Moreover certain words with the sequences have been put in phrases, which give the same effect as in  lines 5,6,8,9 and 18.In all 18 examples out of 15 verses have been notedThus a cursory look at the templates confirms what is considered initially significant with reference to the phonological role of these phonemes in the different morphological templates.Now we note these templates in five lines of each chapter as follows:

3.5.1  ALM Templates in chapter Room /Rome

Patterns of aliflam and meem have been noted for these sounds in isolation however there are many words, phrases and verses that make use of alm, patterns in sequence. These sequences may use those sounds in any order a, la, ma, a, ma or la or any other order. As long as these patterns exist we may count them as patterns of the same. Such patterns are found in

1)        al rum    alm,

2)        Ghalbihim,  a, la,ma

3)        lilla hil’amr   alm

4)        min qabli       a, la ma

5)        almu’minun, alm 

6)        al  ‘azizu rrahim, 6, alm,

7)         la ya ‘lamun, la, a, ma,

Seven  ALM templates in five lines

3.5.2  ALM   templates in ‘ankaboot/Spider

1)        yaqulu aamanna a, la, ma

2)        hum la   ma la a

3)        min qablihim   ma,a, la

4)        la ya ‘lama       la, ma,a

5)        la ya ‘lama       la, ma, a

6)        am hasibal       a,ma,la

7)        ya ‘maluna      a,ma, la

8)        man kana yarju liqa’allah ma,la,a

9)        ‘alim               a, la ,ma


Nine ALM templates in five lines

3.5.3  ALM templates in five lines of Luqman/Lokman

1)        Alhakim. A. la ma

2)        mohsinin la,la ma

3)        allazina yuqimuna ssalata a, la, ma

4)        bil aa xirati hum a, la, ma

5)        ‘la hudan min a, la, ma

6)        ‘ula’ika ..muflihu a, la ma

7)          lahum a, la, ma


ALM  templates  in five lines

3.5.4  ALM templates in five lines of  Baqara/Cow

1)        ‘alaihim    a, la, ma/ ALM

2)        am lam      a, la, ma/ ALM

3)        layu’minun   la, a, ma/ LAM

4)        xatamallah     a, m, la/ AML

5)        ‘ala qulubihim a,la,ma / ALM

6)        ‘ala sam ‘ihim   a, la,ma/ ALM

7)         ‘ala absarihim    a, la, m/ ALM

8)        Lahum                la,a, m/ LAM

9)        Man yaqulu       ma,a, la/ MLA

10)      Bilyaumi          la, a, m/ LAM

11)      Illa’anfusahum  la ,a, m/LAM


11 ALM templates in 5 lines

3.5.5  ALM templates in five lines of A'ale Imran/ House of Imran

1)        Al qayyum    a la  ma/ALM

2)        Lima              la, ma, a/LMA

3)        Min qablu       ma, a, la/MAL

4)        Lahum           la, a, ma/LAM

5)        Wallahu ‘azizun..zuntiqam     a, la, ma,/ALM

6)        Wa la fissama     a, la, ma/ALM

7)         Allazi yusawwiru-kum   a,la ma/ALM


ALM templates in five lines

This gives us the following results

Table 5

Number of morphemic templates in chapters with ALM in 5 lines.



Aali imran/ The House of Imran     


Al ‘ankaboot/Spider                       






Rum /Rome                                   

07=45 templates in all


The study above presents the occurrence of ALM templates in the ALM series and their lower occurrence in the non ALM series. In the next chapter (chapter 4), we see how the phonemes of Arabic language are represented in graphemes on the one hand and the morpheme on the other to provide a bridge between morphology and phonology interface study to be taken up in chapter five

The data above confirms that the whole text is replete with the ALM templates and there are about 45 templates that use these roots. This is significant as it points to some link between the prefixed letters and the text.

Chapter 4


4.1      Introduction

Having established the occurrence of ALM templates in these chapters, we move to the individual components of the ALM templates: A, L, and M. In this chapter, I shall show that not only the ALM templates but also templates made of the individual phonemes of these have a role in these chapters. These chapters, then, move from macro to micro level. For this purpose, phonemic and morphological aspects of these phonemes are brought out along with the traditional studies of these letters to show that these are far reaching implications involved than could be imagined by ac cursory look.

This chapter thus explores individual letters, phonemes and their morphological and other implications one by one. It begins with Alif; explores its morpheme grapheme relationship, then explores alif as a morpheme that shows how different contextual links are found in these chapters. It, then, deals with alif as a consonant as well as a vowel with examples from Arabic language as well as from Qur’anic text of the prefixed chapters. It describes the morphological examples of alif in 4.4.2 with examples. In, the meaning of alif as ‘one’ is explored in these chapters with examples. This procedure is repeated for L and M. The aim is to show the link and implication in these letters in the text. 

In the previous chapter, I hinted that the Arabic alphabet, being an important subject has been exhaustively studied by scholars. In fact, different aspects of the alphabet, such as the attachement of different phonemes, their places of articulations, morphological and syntactic implications have been covered.Thus a theoretical background of knowledge regarding distribution of these phonemes and their morphological implication already exists. What this chapter, then, aims is to combine all these efforts together and focus them on the study of the prefixed alphabet to see if there is any match between the early findings and present techniques that can help us match the morphophonemic presence in the said chapters. In other words we seek practical demonstration of the linguistic possibilities in the Qur’anic text.

First let us have a look at the consonant chart of the Arabic language; l² ل and م have been highlighted.

Table 6

Arabic phonemes, Transliteration Table

 a          ا





u       ُ­

 a           آ





i       ىِِ 











ʔ      ءـ 


th       ث









y ,    ىِِ


In this chapter, we look at the morpho phonemic distribution of the three letters; alif, lam and meem in the Arabic language. First the name of the  letter such as alif is picked for different possible forms , then, it is shown that the grapheme alif in fact stands for two different phonemes in Arabic; one consonant and one vowel; hamza and [a], [aa]. Then the vowel and consonant components are considered separately and their morphemic distribution is traced. Similar strategy is followed for the rest of the two letters, lam and meem in their spheres. In the later part of this section, we note that ALM themselve make morphemic templates and are part of many other morphemes. The six Quranic chapters show abundant use of these templates as well. This chapter aims to draw the reader’s attention to the significant behaviour of these letters in specific and other letters in general to show that in Arabic the letters or the alphabets stand for more than phonemic representation and the inevitability of a morpho-phonemic approach.

Table 7  Morpho phonemic distribution of the first letter: alif.

Name of letter



Phonological realizations




stands for,

Alif means




/’/, /a/, /a:/ and

Glottal /? /

’alf(lover, thousand),

‘ulfa (love)

‘aleef,(state of love) ’alfaat(feminine form)




4.2            Morpheme grapheme relationship           

Linguists normally interlink the phonemes of a language with morphology as Katamba (1993) has explained. However, the very name of  graphemes of a language itself point to certain morphemes: for example, the English grapheme ‘C’, and the words ‘sea’  and ‘see’ are phonologically related. Similarly, ‘ B’ is related to ‘be’ and ‘bee’. This relationship is prominent in the Arabic language and cannot be neglected as mere chance as almost all of the graphemes are related directly or indirectly  to many morphemes having very important semantic and stylistic significance.However, since, our study is restricted to alif, lam and meem, we shall deal only with these graphemes and their morphological relationship.

4.3      Alif as a morpheme

The name /alif/  (الف) itself has got four sounds, three consonants; [a’] /l/ [f] and one vowel [i]and, as its constitution indicates, it is derived from الفه‘ulfa love, it can have a defective form, which has graphologically the same form i.e. الف’alf meaning lover. It has a feminine form as she lover and its plural would be إلفات’alfaat. An adjective may be derived from the same origin as ’alf الف= ‘lover’ a feminine form allaf would mean harmony and this aspect of it is important with reference to the discussion of stylistic patterns. As  الف ’ ilf  and اليف ‘aleef, it would mean the state of love.

Its verbal subjective form would be ألوف ’uluf and its object form would be maloof مالوف.  When ’alif lets other consonants move i.e. when it acts as a vowel it is known as’alif, when it moves by itself, it becomes همزة hamza; a glottal consonant. (Ferozabadi d.817)

Alif’s nearest phonological relative, ’alf  means a thousand which is a maximum number of counting in traditional Arabic meaning many, its plural is ’aalaf and ’uloof,Ferozabadi has noted about forty different functions of ’alif, of which some of the major are, noted below.  Further survey of these chapters confirms that there is a higher frequency of the above mentioned morphemes here. A few examples are quoted below:

Yawaddu ’ahaduhum law yu ‘ammaru ’alfa sana/2:96

Each one of them loves to have a thousand year of age.

The above line is significant as it utilizes three of the above quoted features of alif, first it means one and the line mentions ‘each one’, second it mentions alf, thousand which is morphologically related to alif as explained, third it means love and the line makes a semantic link with yawaddu which means love. Interestingly such examples are plentifully present in these six chapters.

Wa hum ’uloofun./ 2:143

And they were in thousands.

Wa ma hum bidaarrina bihi min ’a Hadin…./2:102

They were not to harm anybody

The above examples show a tiny aspect of the uses of alif in these chapters.

4.3.1  Role of ’alif as a consonant/ glottal and vowel

The letter ’alif stands for two distinct phonological realizations, one the glottal [?] known as hamza and the other as the vowel [a], which may be realized as short vowel [a] or long [aa]. Thus the letter alif or [a] has a wider role to play in the templates which will be part of the study of this paper.  This is elaborated below,

-alif has therefore the following phonological forms,

        i.            Short vowel [a]

      ii.            Long vowel    [aa]

    iii.             Glottal          [?]

Examples of /a/ forming part of different morphemes

Fa ‘a la         he did

‘amala          he acted

Qatala          he fought

Examples of /aa/ forming part of different morphemes

1)                 /aa/ is used with ya to address an addressee who is present in the vicinity for example يا آدم,  ya ’adama and يا إبراهيم  ya ’ibrahim.

2)                It is used with  waw in ‘ wa +  yada’   as a cry of grief, meaning ‘oh my hand’,

3)                  It is also used to create rhymes so سبيل sabeel may be changed to سبيلا sabeela without any significant semantic change.

4)                As a long vowel, /aa/ becomes the morpheme of feminine gender, khadra’ and hamra’ from khaddar and hamar.

5)                 The /aa/ morpheme is infixed in the following to perform different functions as,

a)                 For dualizing, زيدان , from زيد meaning two Zaid(s),

b)                 To pluralize, مساجد, masajid  from مسجدmasjid

c)                 To exaggerate ; عقراب ‘aqraab from عقرب ‘aqrab (very big scorpion)

d)                In هذاhaza meaning this; it acts as demonstrative pronoun,

e)                 /aa/ in place of wav, واؤ  another phoneme and يا  ya for example, from قول  qaul, we get قال  qaal so from  كيل  kail we get كال, kaal and دساها dassaha from دسسهاdas-ha.

f)                  Changing subjective case into objective جاء أخوكJa’a ’axuka your brother came (brother is subject) رأيت أخاكra’ayta axak, I saw your brother; اخاك is objective meaning again 'your brother'.    (Change from axuk to axak).

g)                The emphatic form is created, through addition of الف  /a/ to such words as اضربن, by creating اضربنان‘idrabnan the clustering of two /n/ has been avoided

6)                  It is employed for equating سواء عليهم ___.sawa’un ‘alaihim

7)                 As a particle of اناناوانا.

Survey of these chapters confirms an enhanced occurrence of the above as well. Although it is not the aim of this paper to go into these details, initial survey confirms that the use of long and short vowels or open and half open vowels distinguishes these chapters from such chapters as ‘alqalam’ which is replete with back close vowels.

4.3.2 Examples of /hamza / glottal /a/ as a consonant forming part of different morphemes.

Glottal is part of lexical words in which it may occur in the beginning, in the middle, at the end, such as ’amar (order), sa’al,(to question), and qara’a (he read) قرأ respectively.

-hamza wasal , the joining hamza and Qata‘a;. wasl is the one that gets assimilated with the preceding sound, so ,

 Kefa ’ibnak changes into kefabnak. Here we note the elision of hamza which will be dealt in the section on elidable hamza. (See section, 4.1.4.)

8)                It is used as an interrogative particle, ’a ’anta yousuf (are you Joseph)?

9)                Also used for the first person ’a‘uuzu,  I put myself in the protection of,

10)            It is used  to make transitive verb from noun ; ’asbir from  sabar

11)            To create exclamatory effect اma ’asmi how great do they hear! How great do they see!

12)            ’alif for warning  ’ala bizikrillahi,only by the remebrance of God.

13)            It is used as an emphatic, complementizer ’anna fulanan fa‘ala kaza ان فلاناً فعل كذا verily that certain person acted this way.

14)            Making it causative, ’ajlas-hu اجلسه, made to sit,

15)            Rhetorical question ’alam ألم   which can only be retorted in positive

16)            For a positive response ألست بربكم alastu birabbikum.

The above section is related to grammatical function of the alif morpheme and I would like to restrict myself to the morpho phonemic description; however,  it will be helpful to note for future researchers that this area is worth considering and that these chapters contain a great number of the examples from the above.

4.3.3  Hamza behaviour

1)                 According to Ryding (2005), hamza behaves differently in different positions. At the end of a word preceded by a long vowel, hamza sits aloof, i.e. it is not pronounced, e.g.

-hadu:’,                        calmness

-mina:’                          calmness

-bari:’                           free, innocent

Or when it is preceded by a consonant without a vowel,

-juz’                                part

-shay’                             thing

These chapters are replete with the above occurrences.

2)        Final hamza requires a graphological seat, when preceded by a short vowel.The nature of the seat is determined by the nature of the vowel,

A half open vowel (fat-Ha), ‘the rising diacritic’ gives it an ’alif  seat,

A close front vowel gives it a yaa (without dots) seat.

While a close back vowel gives it a waw seat. See examples,

-mabda’       source

-dafi’           warm

-tanabbu’    warning

Similarly the above examples are found in the above chapters with greater abundance.

3)        Word final hamza may shift to medial position when the word gets a suffix,

Asdiqa:’+na            becomes        as diqa’una

4.3.4  -hamza plus long /aa/( madda)

A special symbol stands for hamza followed by a long /aa/ this symbol is known as madda. It is always writen above ’alif, and is sometimes referred to as alif madda, Themadda symbol is visible whether the ’alif is initial, or,

-aa’sia,      Asia

-aaxir         next

-miraa’t     mirror

The examples of the hamza madda are very frequent in these chapters.

4.3.5  -hamza Elision

-hmaza, because of its elision quality, is known as elidible or strong (Ryding 2005). Accordind to Ryding, Elidible hamza is a phonetic device affixed to the beginning of a word for ease of pronunciation. It is used only in initial position and is accompanied by a short vowel,/i/,/u/,or/a/.It is necessary to know whether an initial hamza is strong one or an elidible one, since elidible drops out in pronunciation unless it is utterance initial. For example, as mentioned in section3.1.2.9 kaifa ’ibnak, becomes kaifabnak.

4.3.6  alif as a long and short morpheme:  /a/, aa and the verbal templates

The vowel /a/ and /a:/ have a very  clearly defined role to perform in the Arabic verbal templates. They occur along with other radicals as a permanent feature for making different verbal variations, for example,

fahama         he understood,                   a, ma

yafhamu       they understand,              a, mu

fahim             understood,                         a, m

mafhum       gist,                            a, m

fahm              understanding,                   a, m

Phonologically, according to Ferozabadi,(d.n.a.) [aa] the most common phoneme is a low, long, central and unrounded vowel.

4.3.7  Lexemes beginning graphologically with الف alif, while phonologically realized by phoneme, /a/, /i/ ,.

The ’alif as a grapheme is a meeting point for many phonemes as already noted. It represents /a/,/aa/,/i/, and /?/

-’in                              = if

-’an                             = that

-’ajal                                       = time

-’aaaxira                    = next

-’aaHad                     = one

 -’aaaxir                     = next

-’aawwal                   = first

 -umma                     = mother

 -ism                           = name

It also occurs in the names of Prophets such as موسى  Musa,  يحيى,  YaHya,    داؤد,  Dawud, and in other templates, which have prefixed letters other than ’alif  lam such as, kaf,ha, ya, tasad which have this rising vowel tinge to them while ‘ain, nu:n, si:n and mi:m do not have it.

While in these chapters, the pattern of this rising vowel is knit into lexical items such as سماوات , samawaat  ‘skies’, انسان’ insan, ‘man’ ابعار , abSar, ‘eyes’ , اسرائيل ’isarail,  ‘a nation’ والناس,  wannas, ‘people’, تتجافىtatajafa, ‘go away’ , جزاءjaza’un, ‘reward’ جناتjannaat,  ‘ gardens’ ,  ‘عذاب , azab, punishment, الماء  , al-maa, ‘ water’  , النار’  annaar, ‘fire’.

Such grammatical words as, ماma, not, مالاma la, that which not اذا’iza, if  فارجعنا,    far ja’naa,  send us back, سمعناsami ‘na, we heard,  ابصرنا’abSarana we saw,كان ,kana,it was كمن, kaman, as the one آمنوaamanu  believe,بما كانو, bimaa kanu in which they used to كلماkullamaa, all that  thus creating  the pattern that exists in these chapters.

Having carried out the above study the ALM chapters were revisited and it was found that just like the ALM templates have a high frequency in the above chapters, we also have an abundant use of the above morpho phonemic phenomenon present in these chapters. As this would take us into greater details than earlier intended, I remained content with minimum details.

4.3.8  Alif as part of other morphemes and its templates: Ishtiqaq ul akbar/ Kubbar( see 2.1.1 and 2.1.2)


The survey lead us to see that in these chapters the template alif is abundantly used for example, ‘alf is found in many words listed below in various forms such as Alfasiqwhich means disobedient, Almufsid, meaninf the one who disturbs. For the sake of future researchers, the following list is provided to spark further work; (almost 163) pattern themselves in this way. The following list may help one understand this fact:

المفلحون, a f l, m, المفسدون, a l m f, السفهاء, a f, بالكافرين, a l f, تغفلو, f, l, الفاسقين, a, l, f, خليفة, a l f, فأزلهما, l, a, f, في الارض, a, l, f, فلا, a, l, f, f, l, a, افلا, a, f, l, فلولا, f, l, a, فأؤلئك, f, l, a, بغافل, a, f, l,الف, a, l, f, للكافرين, l, a, f, اللالفاسقون, a, l, f, في الآخرة, f, l, a, ذو الفضل العظيم, a, l, f, الكفر, a, l, f, ولا خوف, l, a, f, بغافلٍ, a, f, l, والفلك, a, l, f, والفحشاء, a, l, f, فلا, f, l, a, في البأساء, f, l, a, المعروف, a, l, f, فيه القرآن, f, a, l, فالئن, f, l, a, فلا, 157, f, l, a, الفجر, a, l, f, والفتنةفإن الله غفور الرحيمفي الآخرةفلا, with more examples in فلا, 230, 231, المعروف, 232, تكلففعالاًفلاالمعروف, 234, فلا,المعروف236, الفعلفلا, 240,  المعروفالصف, 243, فلما, 246,  فلمافليسفلما249, الكافرين, 252, اختلفواالكافرونفي الارضللانفصامفلماولا خوفالكافرينالفقرالفحشاءالفقراء, 273, في الارضالحافاً,ولا خوففأؤلئكولا خوف, 297, فان لمفي الارضواغفرلنا, 286.

4.3.9  The patterns of alif:  a, la and fa in chapter Aale Imran آل عمران,

The demand of consistency is that there should be alif sequence in many words and phrase just like what we noted in Baqara and other alif lam mim Surah. There is no dearth of this textual support. This can be seen in many words and phrases and the pattering data would provide an interesting study:

First five words have been analyzed for readers, who would like to see the sample,

i)          Alfurqan


‘a l f

ii)         ‘almufsidun

‘al  f

iii)        ‘alssufaha

‘a f

iv)       Bilkafirin

‘a l f

v)        Alfasiqin

‘a l f

            الفرقان, 3, في الارض, 108, 128, ولا في السماء, 4, في الارحام, 5, فاما الذينالفتنة, 6, لا يخلف, 8, آل فرعون, 10, والفضة, 5, وما ختلف, 18, تولج النهار في الليل وتولج الليل في النهار, 26, الكافرين, 27, 31,كفلها, 34, يكفل, 43, لكفرللكافرين, 130, كفروا, 50, للكفر, 167, في الكفر, 176, لاكفرن, 195, تختلفون, 54, فاما الذين, 55, فلا, 59, 175, 188, أفلا, 64, فلم, 65, 183, الا انفسهم, 69, ان الفضل, 72, ذو الفضل, 73, في اللاتين, 74, في الآخرة, 76, 84, لفريقا, 177, فأولئك, 81, 93, لا نفرق, 83, لا يخفف, 87, كفراً, 89, فان الله, 91, فاتلوها, 92, بغافلٍ, 98, ولا تفرقو, 101, فاالف, 102, الف, 104, بالمعروف, 103, المفلحون, 103, واختلفوا, 104, بالمعروف, 109, الفاسقون, 109, يفعلوا, 114, المعروف, 113, فلن, 114, في هذه الحياة, 116, تفشلا, 121, فليتوكل, 121, ألن يكفيكم, 124, والله غفور الرحيم, 128, تفلحون, 129, فعلوا, 134, فشلتمعفاالله, 155,فاستغفرلهم, 160, فليتوكل, 160, لفي, 168, فضلهخلفهم, 172, والله ذوالفضل العظيم, 174, لانفسهم, 178, كل نفس ذائقة الموت, 185, اختلاف, 190, فاغفرلنا, 193, تختلف, 194, فاالذين, 195, في البلاد, 196, خالدين فيها, 198, تفلحون, 200.

4.3.10            Alif as a grapheme meaing 'one' and its patterns in chapter Bakara/ cow:

Although semantics was not a part of this paper, we found it interesting to mention just one aspect found during the survey which is listed below. The letter alif stands for number one in the Arabic language. This chapter is the first long chapter after the prayer of Fatiha, moreover, it has the word اول, first in the 41st verse, ولا تكونو اول كافرِ به, in verse 97 احدهم is again mentioned meaning each one of them. In 102 again the word أحدِ has been used meaning 'any one' and again in the verse أحدِ has been repeated with similar meanings. In verse 136, the phrase بين أحد منهم , repeated the same words. In 164, وإلهكم إله واحد repeats number one with reference to God: Allah. In verse 266, أحدكم is repeated in a different context like a 'chime'. In 282 إحداهما is used for one of the two women twice. In 285 أحدِِ is used with reference to any of the Prophets. Thus this Surah seems to collect different 'ones' about ten times in this chapter.

Alif is not just a grapheme that embeds the different phonemes in it but it has many other implications as explained and the six chapters make the best use of all these features. This makes Quran a different text from other readers. Here, a part from the message, a very subtle use of the linguistic features has been exploited.

4.4      Distribution of lam in the Arabic language:

The particle ‘lam’ has multidimensional aspects just like ‘meem’; it has morphological, lexical, grammatical and phonological function. Phonetically, it is described as liquid, lateral.

Table 8

Name of the letter

Graphological realization

Lexical morphemes

Grammatical morphemes

Meaning of /la:m/



لوط,Lot,= the Prophet

لو لا, law la:  =if not

Wave of water

Ferozabadi (ibid) has given different uses of the /la morpheme, of which some are mentioned below,

4.4.1  The Morphemic representation of ‘la’ in Arabic language

Phonologically ‘lam’ is an essential particle of many, proper names etc. for example the name of Prophet لوط lu:t, begins with lam, Israel and Ismail end with it. It is also an integral part of the templates, such as  كلم, Kallam (to talk), Kamal, a and ma’kal, (to eat)

1)                 /la/ as a morphological particle is used as an oath to emphasise, la nablawunna fi amwalikum; we shall certainly try you in your wealth, so nablawanna becomes la nablawanna.

2)                It is used as a response to the oath for e.g allفوربك لنسئلنهم اجمعين fa wa rabbuka la nas’alannahum ajma ‘in., by your Lord, we shall ask them, here nas’alanna  becomesla nas’a lanna

3)                 It is also used as a response to innahu la zikrul lil mattaqinانه لذكر للمتقين this is verily a reminder for the God fearing,where zikru becomes la zikru

4)                As an accompanying particle with either   ان, and or law la ’antum lakunna mo’mini:nلولو لا انتم لكنا مؤمنين.

5)                 /lal/  meaning help, ya lal muslimin يا للمسلمين, come to help the Muslims,

6)                /la/ accompanying,  ان  in kullu nafsin lamma ‘laiha hafizان كل نفس لما عليها حافظ, meaning except,

7)                 /Lam/ as an  explanatory particle followed by explanation, أمت المؤمنين,’amtul mo’minin the believing girl,

8)                /la/ for appreciation la ni’ma darul muttaqinلنعمة دار المتقين, and the blessed house of the God Fearing.

9)                /la/ for condemning fa la bi’sa maswal mutakabirin فلبئس مثوى للمتكبرين, how bad the dwelling of the proud!

10)            /la/ insertion, Instead of ridfakum ردف كم it becomes ridfa lakum ردف لكم by the insertion of an extra ‘la’, between, transitive verb and its object.

11)            /la/ is an important grmmatical particle that takes, different other suffixes to become لكملهملها,  laha lahum, lakum  for her,for them,for you,respectively.

12)            As a preposition:

(a)       /li/  as a preposition in which state it takes a following vowel /I/ المال لزيد,almal li-zaid,  the wealth is for Zaid, for possession

(b)       الحمد لله         alhamdo lillah, all praises possessed by God

(c)       Specially المنبر للخطيبal member lil khati:b, the pulpit especially for the speaker,

(d)       ‘Lam’ that is near to possession جعل لكم من انفسكم ازواج, ja’ala lakum min anfusikum azwajan,created for you from yourself.,  which is like possession, but not so in fact.

(e)       /la/ showing purpose لتعرفو li ta’rafu so that you may recognize,

(f)        The emphatic /la/  ما كان الله ليطلعكم,  ma kaanallaha ;i yatli’akum, Allah is not supposed to inform.

(g)       /la/ meaning towards أوحالهاawha la-ha. that which was revealed اوحالها unites its,pronoun.

(h)       /la/ meaning upon, يخزون للاذقان  li azqan fore heads,

(i)        /la/ meaning on يوم القيامة, youmal qayama meaning on the Day of Judgment.

(j         /la/  meaning after, لدلوك الشمس,  li dalook ishams after midday,

(k)       /la/ showing consequences, ليكون له عدواً, li-yakuna lahu so that would become his enemy.

(l)        /la/ meaning surprise لإيلاف قريش,  li ‘ilafi quraishin one may wonder at the love of travel by Quraish.

13)            /la/ changing intransitive into transitive, ما اضرب زيد لعمر  ma adraba zaida li umar what a beating was given to Umer by Zaid.

14)            /la/ for emphasis يريد الله ليبن لكمyuridullahu li yubayyillakum, God intends to show you,

15)            /la/ as a threat, من شاء يؤمنمن شاء فليكفرman sha;a falyu’min, the 'la' in the second ‘lam’ is used as a threat.

An investigation of these six ALM chapters showed an enhanced behaviour of the /la/ radical in lexical and grammatical morphemes as well. Thousands of examples could be quoted, however, this factor could not be dealt further as the scope of this paper would not allow such steps. This is also left for future researchers to resolve.

4.4.2   The letter Meem and its morphophonemic distribution.

Table 9

Name of letter

Graphological realization

Lexical morphemes

Grammatical morpheme

Meaning of /mi:m/



Muttaqin= pious

/, min,ma/

     Alcoholic drink*                  

*Basair Zawit Tameez 4:475

4.4.3  Morphemic Distribution of /ma/ in Arabic language.

Phonetic Description;     Bilabial, voiced

Lexically meem occurs in the beginning, middle and end of the templates, as in

milh,    (beginnig)   salt

hamal    (middle)   to carry

lahum    (final)    meat

Grammatically it is part of the dualizing morpheme as in

-‘antuma   you two

-lakumaa   for you two

Also part of the pluralizing morpheme

-antum you all

-lakum   for you all

-meem itself means wine in Arabic as in the couplet below,

-amtazij almeem bima e zahil meaning mixing wine with water

It is part of many grammatical morphemes such as   

-ma = negative particle

-min = as a preposition meaning from

-man = who

-li-man = for whom

-hum as a suffix for third person plural

- kam = how many

-lam = negative particle,

-huma = meaning two

-bi-him =  by them

These details give the different behaviour of the Arabic alphabets and hece their significance in the text. For any reader of Arabic it becomes a serious subject that moving from phonemic status goes on to functional and semantic status.

Survey of these chapters showed an overall abundance of these /mi:m/ morphemes as well. However, to deal with this subject we need to go into the field of semantics as well as stylistics which is clearly beyond the scope of this paper.

As an example of the al morpheme, we take a look at the definite artice ‘al’,

4.5      The article ‘al’ in Arabic language and its role in ALM templates

The article ‘al’ works as an important morpheme standing as an approximate substitute for the English ‘the’. It is important from the point of view of this study as it involves /a/, and /la:/ two of the three prefixed letters for this study. It is also important as its behaviour is morpho phonemic and has already drawn the attention of linguists such as Harris, J.( 1994) and Kaye, (1995) who discuss the assimilation of /la /before the coronals.

Al- shams    ashshams

Al- qamar    al-qamar

Thus there is already indication of the morpho phonemic behaviour of the ‘al’ morpheme.

Another systematic change is seen when ‘al’ is preceded by zalika

Zalika + al- kitab becomes zalikal kitab, loss of hamza or glottal phoneme.(Preceding vowel) in non analytical morphology.This phenomenon is absent otherwise in analytic morphology such as ‘ya allah.which remains compunded into two separate morphemes and hence without elision.

The behaviour for these morphemes on the one hand and the mentioning of alif lam meem in the beginning of six different chapters alongwith the afore-mentioned other chapters and letters does draw the attention in favour of some unexplored linguistic phenomenon. It also shows that the alphabet in Arabic language have not only a phonological and graphological role to play but moves beyond to link it to morphology and hence become part of an interface between Phonology and Morphology.

4.6      ALM templates

ALM is part of many morphemes; lexical and grammatical, so words like ‘alim (painful), ‘almout,( death), ‘almal, (wealth) make use of lexical while, ’alam,( question particle),‘illam ( if they don’t), also abundantly found in these chapters. However, their presence and comparison was not part of this study, therefore, it is left for future researcher.

This chapter reveals that templates of ALM as well as templates involving different features of these letters individually and dually are found in abundance in theses chapters. As our study is restricted ALM as one template, templates made up of individual letters/ phonemes have only been touched upon to point to potential possibilities in this regard. This chapter breaks the ALM templates into their atoms and finds that at the atomic level there is significant role that can be analyzed into different morpho phonemic constituents.

Chapter 5


5.1      Introduction

I began this paper by giving an idea about the occurrence of the prefixed letters in the Qur’anic text. For this purpose, the required chapters, prefixed with ALM were surveyed for phonemic templates and it was found that these sounds did occur with more frequency in some chapters. In order to see whether these were just an incidental presence or there was a templative consistency, the data were further analyzed .The survey showed that the distribution of morpho phonemic templates containing different phonemes is correlated with their chapters’ prefixed characters.

This chapter looks at the significance of this phenomenon and relates it to the aural effect of the Qur’anic chapters which are meant to be read aloud not only for their meanings but also for their auditory aesthetics.  It is also related to prosodic morphology which can represent morphological infixing. This chapter, first, explains the necessity of prosodic morphology for the explanation of Arabic templates which involve more than concatenation, and then moves to show these templates with ALMfeatures are formed. The chapter ends with conclusions in the form of observations.

5.2      Prosodic Morphology and the Arabic Templates

As we noted in chapter 1, Arabic morphology depends on infixing. According to Katamba (1993, p.172), this raises insurmountable problems for a theory which assumes that morphemes are made up of morphs. In non-concatenative morphological systems, where words are not necessarily made up of sequences of morphemes in a row, it is common to find discontinuous morphemes which are interrupted by infixes (Harris, 1951). This kind of situation then requires a different approach and Prosodic Morphology fills this gap.

Prosodic Morphology as defined by Katamba ‘incorporates the morpheme tier hypotheses. This is the claim that in the lexicon the representation of each morpheme in a word occupies a separate tier…So lexicon representation contains another tier, namely the morpheme tier.’(ibid: 172)

In this paper, I have also tried to trace those words and morphemes which provide an obvious link by their internal elements to a certain unity. As far as the semantic or structural unity or stylistic variation of these morphemes is concerned, the present study does not claim to have made any probe and leaves the question for future researchers. However, the phonological and morphemic unity results in consonance and assonance which runs like a thread in all the morphemes made up of the three elements already mentioned creating a sonic unity.  This unity moves beyond the unit of letters, graphemes and spreads to morpheme level.

Prosodic morphology also provides explanation to the melody of words by providing a higher tier over the root and skeletal tier to stand for the musicality of the words which explains many rhetorical concepts such as assonance, consonance and sonority.

Prosodic morphology then provides the following template which answers many questions about the melody of the template with reference to the ALM tier.

Thus, it proves that the melodic tier is supported on the one hand by the similarity of rhythm produced by the vowel sounds at the melodic tier and on the other hand by the sonority produced by the consonants, la, ma, which are considered as the most sonorant sounds on the sonorance scale  (see section, 5.3.2).

It is, therefore, found in our study that the ALM become part of the root tier, skeletal tier as well as the vocalic melody tier and play a vital role in the musicality of the text. The prefixed letters, by dint of being phonemes make a dominant pattern in the templates of these chapters. In the following section we take a closer look at these templates and see how this is achieved.

5.3      The root formation and the ALM factor

The root of many words such as ‘ilm, ‘amal, plus words that take al as a definite article become the source treasure of the utilization of ALM templates resulting in such derivations as

Al mo’minun,    the believers

Al masjid,           the mosque

Al mashriq          the east

Al maghrib,        the west


‘amila,                he worked          

‘amiluss salihat  good actions 

‘alima                he knew

Ya ‘lamuna       they know

‘alimun             scholars

Al-mal              wealth

Allahumma       O’our Lord

5.4      Sonority

The Holy Qur’an was revealed in the oral tradition of Arabic folk literature which was heard more than read. Its sonic value, therefore, needed extra care. Even today, the Qur’anic text reaches more ears than eyes as there are more recitations of the same heard in three daily loud prayers. In the month of Ramadan, the whole Qur’an is recited during the thirty days of fasting. The musical character that suits a soft listening requires that the text is made up of sonorant phonemes. Linguists agree that /a/, /l/ and /m/are more sonorant sounds than /b/, /g/, and /d/. The following scale of sonority may further explain this, (see Harris (1994), Katamba (1993),   and Leech (1988) on sonority).The term of sonority hierarchy is introduced by Hooper (1972) which shows that some segments are more sonorant in the syllables. The following hierarchy shows the levels of sonority.

Sonority Table

Least sonority







Voiceless obstruents

Voiced obstruents




Vowels (high, mid and low)

Greatest sonority


We can see on the above scale that the vowel /a/ is the most sonorant, /l/ as a lateral falls top in consonants and while nasal /m/ follows it. This supports the case of sonority for the ALM templates.

The Qur’anic text is claimed to have many other qualities such as consonance and assonance Rauf (2003). This study points to the field of consonance and assonance more specifically which needs closer probing. It remains to be studied what the significance of other letters is in this context and whether there is uniformity in the distributional behavior of other letters in other chapters of the Qur’an. For example, what effect is produced by sonorant phonemes on the semantics of the text?

5.5      Observations

A number of observations may be drawn from the results of the study:

Observation 1

When a certain set of phonemes is prefixed to a chapter in the Holy Qur’an, that set of templates is present in that very chapter with higher frequency than templates of other phonemes..

Observation 2

ALM templates are directly related to ALM radicals prefixed to six chapters.

Observation 3

This study testifies that the ALM templates are more highly concentrated in ALM chapters than those that do not have them. What is more significant is that the style of these chapters is consistent and follows an average ALM template count throughout these chapters.. We can now conclude that chapters with prefixed letters refer to the templates of the said chapters and the matrix of text in these chapters is composed more with these letters than other chapters.

Observation 4

i)          ALM Templates jointly and [A], [l], and [M] templates working separately make the major portion of these chapters.

ii)        ALM working jointly can be part of lexical as well as grammatical morphemes.

iii)      A, L and M working separately can behave in the same manner i.e. they can work lexically as well as grammatical morphemes.

Observation 5

 Factors other than the mere presence of templates are involved and therefore no sharp conclusions can be drawn at this stage. Broader studies must be carried on the lines pointed out by this paper to confirm the results given above. Lastly, some more questions have arisen during the study which has been put under the following section:

5.6      Further Research Questions

1.           Do these letters have any significant relationship with the lexical choices of words, structures of phrases and verses from a phonological, morphological, syntactic or semantic perspective with the chapters they precede?

2.           Can the above phenomenon (1) be extended to phrases, events or stories of   prophets?

3.           Does this finding point to intertextual and intratextual context?

4.           Do these letters provide a link that permeates through every chapter they prefix?

5.            Does this link continue consistently in other chapters that share two or three of these prefixed letters?

6.            Are there links of cohesion and coherence related to these letters (phonemic, lexical etc)?

7.            Is there any partial link between chapters with one or two similar letters?

8.            Is there any relation between the way these letters have been used and the inimitability aspect of the Qur’an?

9.           Is there any evidence in the Arabic literary tradition of the use of letters / alphabet in this way?

10.      Finally can this study be used as a sample for all the prefixed chapters?



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Anwaar at-tanzeel wa Asraar at-ta'weel It's very brief and needs to be read with footnotes. So it has like 20 volume commentaries on it. There's a really good commentary on it called the Haashiya of Muhyideen Shaykh Zaada on the Tafseer of al-Qaadhi al-Baydhawi. This can be purchased in 4 or 8 volumes. The 4 volume one re-printed by Daar Ihyaa at-Turaath is the better print.

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Author Info:

Dr. Ahsan ur Rehman is a gold medalist in Linguistics from Karachi University. He did his MA in English Literature and Linguistics in 1979 and 1982 from university of Karachi respectively. He has been teaching English language, stylistics and Linguistics at the International Islamic University since 1992. Before joining this university, he served at the Sind Government Education Department as Assistant Professor and Prof D’ Anglais   in Algeria.

In his present work which is his MS Dissertation from the University of London (SOAS) he takes the stance that the prefixed letters in the Qur’anic text have a significant role to play in the chapters of the Qur’an which have them prefixed. This work is part of the greater work he has undertaken in his PhD thesis and serves as a basis for the same.


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