What's in a name?
Arabic words belong to a wonderful root system that leads the inquisitive mind through a network of connected meanings. The word 'Alamiyah is from the Arabic language. By following its linguistic path we uncover a wealth of words that are related not only in structure and language but also in meaning.
'Alamiyah is derived from the three-letter root 'a-li-ma, meaning to know. The word 'Alamiyah is connected to the word ‘aalam which means the universe and all that it contains including humankind. 'Alamiyah is also linked to the word 'alamaat (or ayaat) meaning signswhich, when unders tood correctly, are designed to direct us to the 'Aalim, the One Who Knows all things; completely, comprehensively and perfectly. The One who knows the 'aalam and its intricacies in its entirety can only be its Creator. Hence al-‘Aalim is a name reserved especially for God.
It is significant that the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him), the one sent by God to direct humankind to Him; the greatest sign sent to the worlds (‘aalameen) was given the noble titles of Alam al-Iman – Sign (Banner) of Faith, Alam al-Yaqin - Sign (Banner) of Certainty and Alam al-Huda - Sign (Teacher) of guidance. Another title given to the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him) was Saahibul 'Alaamah - companion and possessor of the Sign since it was to him (Peace be upon him), that the greatest sign was revealed.
The most evident and undeniable of signs ('alamaat) by which an individual can come to know God, is his own self. This isconfirmed through the teachingofthe Prophet (Peace be upon him) - "He who knows himself knows his Lord".
It is from the Compassion of God that every moment of our lives is an opportunity to know and draw closer to Him. This understanding broadens our vision to make our daily actions meaningful and a channel for Divine Compassion, through the relationships that we build with others. These relationships aresigns ('alamaat) of a deep and nurturing relationship with God. By engaging with and observing the ‘aalam in this way, the student begins to understand the reality of knowledge ('ilm) contained within the universe and himself. He is learning to read the signs ('alamaat or ayaat) of God in both. He is learning to read the universe