Dictionary / Arabic - Turkish Terminology

AL-‘ÂLAM – العالم

Derived from the same root with the word ‘alam (علم ) which means “a mark or sign by which a thing is known”. Beings other than Allah are called ‘âlam since they are the means to the creator being known.

Literally: A world. A realm. A universe. A class of beings. A state or period of life. A condition or circumstance of life. The generality of mankind. The public.


“through the hikmah and qoudrah of As-Sâni’ Al-Hakîm Zuljalâl, the centres of the senses in man's head are all different, each governs the body, taking it under its disposal, so too the universe, the great human being, comprises thousands of ‘âlam one within the other like concentric circles.” The Flashes ( 378 )


“Furthermore, there is the well-known meaning of hamd: the display of the attributes of Kamâl1 .

How this is achieved: Allah Subhânahu created man and made him a comprehensive summary of the universe and an index of the book of the ‘âlam, which comprises eighteen thousand ‘âlam, and lodged in his essence a sample from each, in which is manifested one of the Names of Taâ’lâ.2 If man spends all of what is bestowed on him in the way of that for which they were created, for the purpose of performing shukr al-‘urfî which is a sort of hamd, and obeying the Sharî’ah which removes the rust of nature, each of those samples opens a mishkât3 and a window to the ‘âlam which they belong to, and becomes a mirror to the attribute that manifests in that ‘âlam and the Name which manifests there. In this way, with both rûh and material, man becomes a summary of al-‘âlam ash-shahâdah and al-‘âlam al-ghayb, and manifests what is manifested on them. Through offering hamd man becomes a place of manifestation for the Ilahî attributes of Kamâl. This is implied by what Muhyi al-Din al-'Arabi said in explanation of the Hadith:كُنْتُ كَنْزًا مَخْفِيًّا فَخَلَقْتُ الْخَلْقَ لِيَعْرِفُونِى 4 That is, I created creation to be a mirror in which I might observe My Jamâl.” Signs of Miraculousness


“since just as in man there are ma’nawî existences apart from his body, like the mind (aql), heart, rûh, imagination, and memory, certainly in al-‘âlam, which is the great human being, and in the universe, which is the tree of which man is the fruit, there are other ‘âlams apart from the material ‘âlam. Moreover, there are samâ to each ‘âlam, from al-‘âlam of the earth to al-‘âlam of Jannah.” The Words ( 595 )


“KNOW, O FRIEND, that there is no collision and repulsion between al-‘âlam of light, al-‘âlam of heat, al-‘âlam of air, al-‘âlam of electricity, al-‘âlam of gravitation, al-‘âlam of athîr, al-‘âlam al-mithâl and al-‘âlam al-barzakh. They exist together with you wherever you are, without one preventing and being mixed with the other.” Al-Mathnawi al-Nuri (192) 


“It is further required by hikmah and mind; that from majarrat as-samâ5 to the closest planet, they should consist of seven levels in different states and formations, and that each level, each ‘âlam, from al-‘âlam of the earth to al-‘âlam al-barzakh and al-‘âlam al-mîsal, to al-‘âlam al-akhirah, should be a samâ, like a roof.” The Words ( 595 )


“Rabb  رَبِّ

That is, He who raises and tarbiyyah al-‘âlam with all its component parts, each of which is an ‘âlam like the greater ‘âlam, with all its atoms, like its stars dispersed, in motion, in order.

Know that Allah ‘azza wa jalla appointed for everything a point of perfection and deposited in each an inclination towards it, as though commanding it in a ma’nawî manner through this inclination to set out for the point of perfection. In its journey, each thing stands in need of what will help it and what will repulse the things that hinder it, and this is the tarbiyyah of ‘azza wa jalla. If you study the universe, you will see that it resembles human groups and nations, with each individually and collectively employed in the duties its Sâni’ has appointed for it, striving diligently, obeying the laws of its Khâliq. How surprising therefore is man, in his being an exception!”  Signs of Miraculousness ( 24 )


“In your letter, you mention that in explanations and tafsirs of رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 6 , it is said that there are “eighteen thousand ‘âlams”, and you ask the hikmah in this number.

My brother, at the moment I do not know the hikmah in the number, but I can say this much, that the phrases of Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm are not restricted to a single meaning; rather, since the Qur'an addresses all the levels of mankind, its phrases are like universals and wholes which comprise meanings for each level. The meanings which are expounded are like the parts of that universal law. Every mufassir, every ‘ârif mentions one part of that whole. Based on either his kashf, or his proofs, or his way, he prefers one meaning. Thus, in this âyah too, each group uncovered a meaning which corresponded to that number.

For example, the phrase, مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لاَ يَبْغِيَانِ 7  to which the people of walâyah attach importance, repeatedly performing dhikr of them in their awrâd, there are parts with meaning ranging from the sea of Rubûbiyyah and sea of ‘ubûdiyyah in the spheres of wujûb and imkân8 respectively, to the seas of al-‘âlam al-ghayb and al-‘âlam ash-shahâdah, and to the oceans of the North, South, East, and West, and to the Adriatic and the Persian Gulf, to the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal, and to the freshwater and salt lakes, to the various lakes of freshwater under the soil layer and the salt lakes over it and contiguous with it, and to the small lakes called the great rivers, such as the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates, and the salty seas into which they flow. Any of these may be intended or meant, and may be their literal and metaphorical meanings.

In the same way, اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 9 encompasses numerous haqiqahs. Ahl al-kashf and haqiqah interpret them differently according to their kashf.

Personally, I understand that in the samâwât are thousands of ‘âlams; some of the stars may each be ‘âlams. On the earth too, every sort of creature is an ‘âlam. Each human being is a small ‘âlam also. As for the term, رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 10 it means "every ‘âlam is administered, under tarbiyyah, and governed directly through Janâb-i Haqq's Rubûbiyyah." The Letters (386-387)


"الْعَالَمِينَ 11 "

The ين 12 denote either a grammatical ending as in the numbers عِشْرِينَ ثَلاَثِينَ 13 , or the [sound] plural. For the components of al-‘âlam are ‘âlams, or al-‘âlam is not limited to the solar system. As the poet says :14  اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ كَمْ لِلّٰهِ مِنْ فَلَكٍ ٭ تَجْرِى النُّجُومُ بِهِ وَ الشَّمْسُ وَ الْقَمَرُ

The sound plural, [properly used] for rational beings, as in the âyah 15 رَاَيْتُهُمْ لِى سَاجِدِينَ indicates that [the science of] rhetoric (balaghât) conceives of all the components of al-âlam as living and rational, speaking through the language of their being. For al-'âlam is so-called because through it As-Sâni’ is known, and it bears witness to Him and points to Him. Thus, the tarbiyyah of beings and their making known their Sâni’ indicate, like the sujûd, that they are as though conscious.” Signs of Miraculousness ( 25 )


1 (perfection)

2 “For since animals are tiny indexes of this ‘âlam, and man’s essence is a miniature sample of the universe, whatever there is in the ‘âlam, a sample of it is in man.” The Words ( 289 )

“a human being, is quite simply a miniature sample of the universe, a fruit of the tree of creation, and a seed of this ‘âlam, for he comprises samples of most of the realms of beings in the ‘âlam. It is as if the animate being is a drop filtered from the universe in an extremely fine measure.” The Words ( 302 )

The great ‘âlam, which is called the universe, and the small ‘âlam, which is its miniature sample and is called man, point to evidences of wahdâniyyah, both inside man's nafs and outside of it, that are written by the pens of qoudrah and qadar.” The Letters ( 275 )

“is man a unit of measurement, an index, a scale, and a balance to the haqiqahs of the universe.

For example, an extremely decisive evidence of the existence of Al-Lawh Al-Mahfûdh in the universe and an example of it is the faculty of memory in man. And a decisive evidence of the existence of al-‘âlam al-mithâl and an example of it is man's faculty of imagination. {Indeed, just as the elements in man indicate and point to the elements in the universe, and his bones to its stones and rocks, his hair to its plants and trees, and the blood which flows in his body and the fluids which issue from his eyes, ears, nose and mouth to the spring and mineral waters of the earth, in exactly the same way,  does man's rûh point to al-‘âlam al-arwâh, his faculty of memory to Al-Lawh Al-Mahfûdh, and his power of imagination to al-‘âlam al-mithâl, and so on. Each of his members and faculties points to a different ‘âlam and bears decisive witness to their existence} And an evidence of the existence of rûh beings in the universe and an example of them are the quwwas and subtle faculties in man. And so on. In a small measure, man may display, in a degree of shuhûd, the haqiqahs of îmân in the universe” The Flashes (458-459 )

“As man is a small ‘âlam, so is the ‘âlam a great human being. This small man is an index and summary of the great human being. The great original of the samples in man will necessarily be found in the great human being. For example, the existence of man's faculty of memory is a certain indication of the existence of Al-Lawh Al-Mahfûdh in the ‘âlam. So too everyone has observed in his nafs by sense or hads, the inner faculty named lummah ash-shaytaniyyah, situated in a corner of the heart which is the means to waswasa and a shaytanic tongue which speaks through the promptings of the quwwa al-wâhimah and the corrupted quwwa al-wâhimah, which becomes like a small shaytan and acts contrary to its owner's will and opposed to his desires-these are certain evidence to the existence of great shaytans in ‘âlam.” The Flashes ( 118 )

3 (A place where a lamp is specially placed)

4 (I was a hidden treasure, so I created creation that they may know Me.)

5 (the Milky Way)

6 (Rabb of All ‘âlams)

7 (He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together; * Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress)

8 Imkân is defined as: Contingent beings. The entire creation. The existence of them and non-existence of them have the same possibility. Whatever exists other than Al-Wâjib Al-Wujûd. Allah, Who is Al-Wâjib Al-Wujûd chooses the existence of them, through His will and Irâdah and gives them a particular essence, a specific form, a distinct identity, particular attributes, qualities with hikmah, and beneficial organs from amongst the infinite possibilities.

“Contingent beings (imkân) are equal in respect of being and non-being, there must be [a Necessary Being] who has chosen this.” Signs of Miraculousness (163)

“in the terminology of ‘Ilm al-Kalâm, contingency (imkân) is the equality on the two sides (Al-imkân musawî ad-darafayn). That is, if there is not a cause, things which are not necessary (wâjib) and unattainable but contingent and the attainment of which are possible are equal in regard to existence and non-existence, there is no difference. Few or many, big or small are the same in regard to this contingency (imkân) and equality.

Thus, creatures are contingent, and since within the sphere of contingency (imkân) their existence and non-existence are equal, it is as easy for the boundless pre-eternal qoudrah of Al-Wâjib Al-Wujûd to give existence to a single contingent being as it is to give all contingent beings existence, He clothes everything in an appropriate existence, spoils the balance of non-existence. And when the being's duties are completed, He takes off its garment of external existence and sends it apparently to non-existence, but in fact, sends it to a ma’nawî existence within the sphere of ‘Ilm.” The Rays ( 625 )

Wujûb is defined as: The totality of the Ilahî essence, Shuûnah, Attributes and Names.

9 (All hamd to Allah, Ar-Rabb of All ‘âlams)

10 (Rabb of All ‘âlams)

11 (Of all the 'âlam)

12 (yâ and nûn-that is, the two final letters of al-'âlâmîn)

13 (twenty and thirty)

14 (Alhamdulillahi, how numerous are His celestial spheres! Among them circulate the stars, and the sun and the moon.)

15 (I saw them sâjids before me) (12:4)

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