Alif. Lam. Ra.1
A DIVINE WRIT [is this], with messages that have been made clear in and by themselves, and have been distinctly spelled out as well2
- [bestowed upon you] out of the grace of One who is wise, all-aware,
See Appendix II. In the somewhat strange opinion of Sibawayh (cf. Manar XII, 3) and of Razi in his commentary on this verse, the letters Alif-Lam-Ra represent the title of this surah and ought therefore to be read in conjunction with the following sentence, thus: "Alif-Lam-Ra is a divine writ...", etc. However, this opinion conflicts sharply with that of several earlier authorities of great standing, e.g., Az-Zajjaj (quoted by Razi), and is, moreover, unacceptable in view of the fact that a number of other surahs are preceded by such letter-symbols without any syntactic possibility of their being regarded as "titles".
According to Zamakhshari and Razi, the conjunction thumma at the beginning of the clause thumma fussilat (lit., "and then have been distinctly spelled out") does not denote a sequence in time but, rather, a coordination of qualities or conditions; therefore my rendering. As regards my translation of the phrase uhkimat ayatuhu as "messages that have been made clear in and by themselves", see the first sentence of 3:7 as well as the corresponding note , which explains the expression ayat muhkamat. Rashid Rida' interprets this phrase in the same sense (see Manar XII, 3f.).