Rafed English

Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) - Verses 1-3

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

1. " Kaf'k',Ha'h',Ya'y','Ain ''A',Sad's'."

2. (This is) a mention of the mercy of your Lord unto His servant Zechariah."

3. " When he called upon his Lord in secret."


The mentioned letters are among the 'Abbreviated Letters' of the Qur'an in which some mysteries and secrets are hidden. Some Islamic traditions indicate that each of these letters is a sign of one of the great names of Allah (The Names Most Beautiful). Kaf 'K' refers to /kafi/ (The Sufficient); Ha 'H' refers to /hadi/ (The Guide); Ya 'Y' refers to /waliyy/ (The Friend, The Protector, The Surety, The Patron); 'Ain 'A' refers to /'alim/ (The Knower); and Sad 'S' refers to /Sadiq-ul-wa'd/ (The One Who is Truthful in His promises). Sometimes, in some supplications, Allah (s.w.t.) is invoked through these abbreviated letters, in this manner: "O Lord! by Ka, Ha, Ya, 'Ain, Sad." In a supplication, for instance, Hadrat Ali-ibn-Abitalib (a.s.) said: "O Allah! We ask you, O'Kaf, Ha, Ya, 'Ain, Sad!" 1

Some Islamic traditions state that these abbreviated letters indicate the event of the uprising of Imam Hussayn in Karbala, as follows: Kaf refers to 'Karbal?', Ha refers to 'Halak' (the slaughter of the Prophet's progeny), Ya refers to 'Yazid', 'Ain refers to the subject of 'Atash (thirst), and Sad refers to 'S?abr' (the patience and steadfastness of Imam Hussayn and his self-sacrificing supporters).

It should be noted, of course, that the verses of the Qur'an have the capacity to have different meanings but despite the variety of meanings, they do not conflict with each other.

After the abbreviated letters at the beginning of Sura Maryam, the first verse concerning the story of Zechariah begins. It says:

(This is) a mention of the mercy of your Lord unto His servant Zechariah."

This event occurred at the time when Zachariah was very worried and sad because he did not have a child, and he, worshipping Him, called upon his Lord secretly. The verse says:

" When he called upon his Lord in secret."

The Arabic term /nida/ means 'to call with a loud voice', and the Qur'anic word /xafiyya/ means 'in secret' not in a low voice, since such a call cannot be performed 'silently', but it can be done secretly.

Perhaps, the invocation of Zechariah, done in secret, was for the reason that his people would not scoff at him by saying why that old man wished Allah for a son.

Some Islamic literature indicates that the best supplication is that which is asked in secret, and the best provision is that which is sufficient. (Tafsir-i-Majma'-ul-Bayan)


1. Majma'-ul-Bayan, the Commentary

Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah Maryam" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"

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