One might imagine that God would choose for Himself a significant and meaningful name, but most names for God in various languages don’t have particularly meaningful qualities. But the name “Allah” in Arabic does. Written using 3 unique letters to form a 4-letter Name, that number 4 by design matches the number of chambers in the human heart. We shall show how these letters combine visual, sonic, and functional connections to the human heart, while also exemplifying Yang/Yin attributes whose perfection is categorically unique to Allah the Exalted.
Although there are a number of different forms of this name in the Quran, Arabic letters being more fluid than English letters, I’m referring here to the basic form as seen above. All the properties discussed below in reference to this form of the Name adhere to the other forms (derived from its placement in text), since it is the essential Name.
(For an explanation of the importance of Allah’s Names in general, read this.)
The first letter of Allah’s Name is Aleph ا, and looks like a numeral one. It represents Allah’s singularity and indivisibility in space (never broken into “parts” or “incarnated” as something else) and time (eternal, no beginning or end, but initiator of all creation). In Arabic—a calligraphic script in which some letters connect and others don’t— aleph doesn’t connect with any other letters to its left, the direction in which the language flows. It also looks like a scepter, a visual symbol of authority, Allah the Exalted being the Supreme Power.
The next letter, Lam ل, is pronounced exactly like the letter “L” which in its capital form looks similar to the “lam”, just reversed (as the language moves in a different direction) and more curved, like a hook. And that’s interesting because in Arabic the lam is literally used as a connecting letter, like we use prepositions in English, in this case like “to,” “with,” or “for.” So in Arabic, the Lam performs the function of connecting. It even sounds like a connection (pronounced exactly like “L”). The two lam’s then represent/ symbolize our connection to Allah the Exalted.
Allah connects with us in two ways, represented by His two great attribute-names: 1) with unimaginable power, as the infinitive or ultimate of power, the Almighty, Al-Rahman (a yang attribute, the ancient Chinese word indicating “The Creative/ Powerful”); and with all-encompassing mercy and receptivity, as the All-Merciful, Al-Raheem (the Name exemplifying the yin attribute here identified with mercy/ compassion, defined in Chinese tradition as “The Receptive”). These two Names reflect and even sound like Yang, Yin.
It is Allah who alone encompasses BOTH polarities (for they are dynamic/ synergistic) in perfect dynamic balance, the Almighty and the All-Merciful, ONE, inseparable, indivisible. No doubt the Chinese people were also sent prophets with Divine revelations, but over time the names became “concepts”. The Quran mentions that it tells us about many of the prophets but not all of them, so it is reasonable to consider that the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang came from the same Source of inspiration: Allah the Exalted, not as an idol, concept, or part of creation but as the Creator, in a category by Himself and entirely above and without properties exhibited in the category of His creation such as feminine gender, weakness, or darkness, often associated with “yin;” or arrogance, showing off, cruelty or bullying, or masculine gender often associated with “yang.” Note here that Allah has no gender and the male gender pronouns in Arabic are used as a general human reference to both genders collectively, as well as rather unpredictably in reference to what we think of as “inanimate objects” or non-gendered things, such as dirt, items of clothing, iron, the moon (male in Arabic), etc.
Allah the Exalted’s attributes as Almighty/ All-Merciful, Creator/ Receptive, Yang/Yin, are reflected in all creation, but not fully embodied in perfect synergy except with Allah, for there can only be One Almighty, All-Merciful by definition.
Finally the last letter of Allah’s name, the Arabic letter Heh ه which looks like a circle in its basic form, is pronounced like the letter “h”, like a breath. The sound represents the breath of life. And its appearance as a circle symbolizes that we return to Allah, resurrected.
So in His very name we have a great sign: first, of Allah’s authority and singularity represented by the aleph as a one. Followed by two connecting lams representing the two ways Allah connects with us, power and mercy, followed by the heh representing the circle of return to Allah which is also a breath, a sign of resurrection. This Name, with the letters comprising it and their placement, is not randomly chosen, but is a highly communicative sign of His presence and Being, including our relationship with Him. But there’s more.
The Heart of Creation
Now over the two lam’s you’ll notice a diacritical mark called a shadda placed like a crown over His name, which helps in pronunciation, telling the reader to “hold” that sound (of the lams) a little longer. It looks like a small cursive “w”, or you could say, like a mini version of the two connected lams, but smaller and shorter.
Visually you can see the combination of the two lams and the shadda with two much smaller spaces form a visual graphic like the four chambers of the heart: the two atria or receptive chambers and the two power chambers, the pumps or ventricles.
The first observation I had which started me on this revelatory process was listening to the sound of the name Allah, Allah, Allah… It sounds like a heartbeat! The heartbeat is a pair of beats, and the name Allah has two syllables, one strong and one weak, so let’s examine what happens in the human heart itself.
Oxygen-depleted, literally “dead” blood enters one of the atria or “receiving”/ receptive chambers (in this case the right atrium) of the heart — representing mercy (yin) — from where it goes to the matching right ventricle, which being a strong muscle, a pump, a power (yang) chamber, pumps it at low pressure (showing “mercy”/yin balancing power/yang) into the lungs, with sensitivity to the lungs’ delicate tissue. This low pressure is an aspect of receptivity and mercy within the right pump or power function, the ventricle. Note that the direction of the flow of blood is the same as the direction in which Allah’s Name is written in Arabic: from right to left.
The lungs then oxygenate the blood, thus “resurrecting” the dead blood into living blood, analogous to how Allah “breathed into Adam from His Spirit” as it is described in the Quran. From there the now-living blood enters the left atrium/ receiving chamber, which sends it to the left ventricle/ power chamber, which pumps it at a very high pressure (exemplifying full might or yang) to the entire body.
Thus we have in our very hearts an example or representation of what Allah/ God does: resurrects us with every heartbeat! From dead blood to living blood. We don’t even think about it or do anything, and so we take it for granted. What also happens is that with each heartbeat Allah’s Name is invoked, simultaneously with every resurrection of your lifeblood, and that of every living, heart-bearing creature.
And so the name Allah represents in four letters, the same number of the chambers of our human hearts, the Power and Receptivity dynamic of creation, of life, death, and resurrection as we can see in the dynamic power of our own hearts. And what is this name when pronounced? In Arabic it is called thikr Allah or the invocation/ remembering of Allah. In that sense the heart is the seat or home of our memory (remembering), where Allah’s actual name is invoked continuously as long as we are alive without our even being aware of it or able to consciously control it. We are powered by thikr Allah or the invocation of Allah’s Name. And indeed everything in existence/ creation is powered by thikr Allah in ways beyond the scope of our knowledge. And who would want His name invoked continuously as long as we’re alive? Clearly, the One whose name is being invoked. Who created us and everything else.
So after this heartbeat we return to the letter heh, a breath, the oxygen which replenished and “resurrected” our “dead” blood. It also represents our return to Allah. Indeed, we also intake breath regularly, thus filling our lungs again with oxygen as the heart continuously revives our lifeblood in the cycle of death and resurrection without which we could not even live, could not breathe again.We may think of life as a “state” of being but it is very much a dynamic cycle showing us how our very survival is intimately and with every heartbeat depending upon Allah.
Many people think of God as being somehow “removed” in a higher place, somehow static as we think of eternity as a kind of stasis, when time stops, and time is what we feel as the dynamic of our lives. But Allah the Exalted is in a category by Himself, so there categorically nothing like Him or his equal. He is wholly and uninterruptedly alive, as His great attribute name Al-Hayy, the Living, expresses. He is both All-powerful and All-Merciful, over all things yet also ineffably present in our very hearts, all-capable, in ways beyond our comprehension.
The Quran says that Allah is closer to us than our jugular veins (Surat Qaf 50:16). Not removed to some distant place or unaware of what we think or do, as many in modern society may guess. No! He is the only One entirely and intimately aware of us on the deepest and most comprehensive level. Closer and more essential by far than our jugular vein.