The Meaning of al-`Ālamīn | Ibn Kathīr

Al-`Ālamīn is plural for `Ālam, which encompasses everything in existence except Allāh. The word `Ālam is itself a plural word, having no singular form. The `Ālamīn are different creations that exist in the heavens and the earth, on land and at sea. Every generation of creation is called an `Ālam. Al-Farra` and Abū `Ubayd said, “`Ālam includes all that has a mind, the Jinns, mankind, the angels and the devils, but not the animals.” Also, Zayd bin Aslam and Abū Muhaysin said, `Ālam includes all that Allāh has created with a soul.” Further, Qatādah said about,

﴿رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ﴾

(The Lord of the `Ālamīn), “Every type of creation is an `Ālam.” Az-Zajjaj also said, “Ālam encompasses everything that Allah created, in this life and in the Hereafter.” Al-Qurtubi commented, “This is the correct meaning, that the `Ālam encompasses everything that Allāh created in both worlds. Similarly, Allāh said,

﴿قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَـلَمِينَ – قَالَ رَبُّ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَآ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّوقِنِينَ ﴾

(Fir`awn (Pharaoh) said: “And what is the Lord of the `Ālamīn” Musa (Moses) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty”) (26:23-24).

– Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, Tafsīr ibn Kathīr

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