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Ilm-al-Huruf

A metaphysical science of Arabic Letterism



Arabic, the language that exists beyond all rules and standards and yet simultaneously creates all rules and standards for Muslims, in the form of the Qur’an, the Holy Book, is a miracle in itself.


Thus, it was perhaps only natural that a discipline would develop around it with time. And it did: Ilm means "knowledge", whilst Huruf means "letters", - thus giving the science its name: Ilm-al-Huruf, the science of letters. it is the science of the special qualities of each of the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet and their diverse qualities when combined with one another.


Inseparable from the science of paranormal squares, it is thus often shunned today as "Ulum-al-Ghayb" - "Knowledge of the Unseen" - a power which Muslims believe rests only with Allah (God) - thereby declaring the science Haram (forbidden). However, the science is perhaps more inclined toward metaphysics than mysticism, as is the assumption.


The discipline developed at Muslim Courts, particularly during the Abbasid period in Baghdad. The science is important to Sufi tradition even today.


According to the masters of this discipline, the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are divided into two types: luminous letters and dark letters.


The alphabets are then divided into four groups based upon the four natural elements of fire (naar), air (hawaa), water (maa’), and earth (turaab); and the four natural temperaments (tabee`at arba`a): hot (haraara) , dry (yabuusa) wet (ratuuba); and cold (baruuda); the sciences of ‘awfaaq’ and ‘huruuf’ naturally accompany the sciences of physical and metaphysical medicine.


The dark letters are seven – the letters: ‘jeem’ (ج), ‘zaa’ (ز), ‘fa’ (ف), ‘thaa’ (ث), ‘khaa’ (خ), ‘dhaw’ (ظ), and ‘sheen’ (ش). ‘Dark’ in this context does not mean malevolent or evil, as Imam as-Suyuti explained. None of these seven ‘dark’ letters can be found in the opening chapter of the Qur’an, al-Faatiha. Apart from Ahadith, Sunnah, and many notable Imam's endorsing the Surah as a remedy for illness, Ilm-al-Huruf also considers the chapter a cure for all physical and metaphysical imbalances and illnesses.

It is also one of the sciences which was used to treat illness by medics in courts. One of the key fundamental axioms of applied Islamic medicine in physiognomic or physic ailments is the principle: “The cure for every ailment is in its opposite.”


It is based upon the principal idea of the efficacy of the curing abilities of the Qur’an, the Asma-ul-Husna, the names of Prophets and Angels, that the sciences of ‘awfaaq’ and ‘huruf’ were developed to such advanced levels if we consider the diverse physical and metaphysical sciences developed at Muslim courts.


The practitioners of the science are divided into two overarching groups: those concerned with the special qualities of the letters (Khawwas-al-Huruf) and those who focus on the underlying realities of the letters (Haqaiq-al-Huruf).


The science also gave birth to the Abjad table, an arrangement of the Arabic alphabet according to the occurrence of its 28 letters in a series of eight symbolic "words".


The first of these words is "Abjad" itself. In Arabic, "A", "B", "Ǧ", "D" make the word "abjad", which means "alphabet".


In the table, every letter has a numeric value.


Talismanic objects have also been known to use the Abjad coding system.


It can also be used for composing tarikh (dates) or chronograms.


The complex numerological system, the Ilm-al-Huruf, and astrology were often used and interpreted together at medieval Muslim courts before events such as conquests and royal marriages were planned. They were also used to treat illness, in talismans, and to read and interpret omens.




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