The word Aayah means a sign that points to something.
Its plural is Aayaat – آيَات = signs.
As we have seen in the video, Aayah is a word that is mostly used to refer to a verse of the Quran. Its literal meaning is ‘a sign that points to something’. Any sign that points to the existence, power and greatness of Allah is referred to as an Aayah. These signs were brought forward to us by Allah to show:
1.) He is the One and only worthy of worship,
The following verse
وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِن جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ لَّيُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهَا ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَا يُشْعِرُكُمْ أَنَّهَا إِذَا جَاءَتْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
And they swear by Allah their strongest oaths that if a sign came to them, they would surely believe in it. Say, “The signs are only with Allah.” And what will make you perceive that even if a sign came, they would not believe. [6:109]
وَمَا تَأْتِيهِم مِّنْ آيَةٍ مِّنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَّا كَانُوا عَنْهَا مُعْرِضِينَ
And no sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord except that they turn away therefrom. [6:4]
2.) To remind the heedless believer so as to return back to His Lord
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّلْمُؤْمِنِين
Indeed in that is a sign for the believers. [15:77]
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ الْآخِرَةِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌ مَّجْمُوعٌ لَّهُ النَّاسُ وَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌ مَّشْهُودٌ
Indeed in that is a sign for those who fear the punishment of the Hereafter. That is a Day for which the people will be collected, and that is a Day [which will be] witnessed. [11:103]
3.) To increase the certainty of those who are steadfast.
When Zakariyyah called on His Lord for an offspring, Allah answered the prayer and sent an angel to him to give him the glad tidings of Yahya (John) who will be a righteous man and a prophet. He was shocked because he and his wife were elderly and in addition to that his wife was barren. Then He called unto Allah,
قَالَ رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً ۖ قَالَ آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا ۗ وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ
He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning.” [3:41]
An Arab poet said:
وفي كل شيء له آية * تدل على أنه واحد
And in everything is a sign * showing that He is One.
Classification of Aayaat (signs) of Allah
There are two classifications of the aayaat of Allah:
- Aayaatun Kauniyyah آيَاتٌ كَوْنِيَّة
- Aayaatun Shar’iyyah آيَاتٌ شَرْعِيَّةٌ
Aayaatun Kauniyyah آيَاتٌ كَوْنِيَّة: The ‘universal signs’ are signs that show the actions of Allah without any intermediary. These signs are so clear that no one needs to be shown or reminded of these signs before they know it is from Allah. Everyone believes that it is the work of the Creator even if they fail to worship Him. No single person has ever denied these except Firaun which Allaah reported that he only denied them openly out of injustice and arrogance but his mind knew it was the truth. Examples of these verses are the creation of the heaven, earth, human, animals, plants, sun, moon, stars and the rotation of the day and night.
اللَّهُ الَّذِي رَفَعَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا ۖ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ يُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُم بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّكُمْ تُوقِنُونَ
It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see; then He established Himself above the Throne and made subject the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain. [13:2]
وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَدَّ الْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنْهَارًا ۖ وَمِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ ۖ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [13:3]
وَفِي الْأَرْضِ قِطَعٌ مُّتَجَاوِرَاتٌ وَجَنَّاتٌ مِّنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَزَرْعٌ وَنَخِيلٌ صِنْوَانٌ وَغَيْرُ صِنْوَانٍ يُسْقَىٰ بِمَاءٍ وَاحِدٍ وَنُفَضِّلُ بَعْضَهَا عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ فِي الْأُكُلِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
And within the land are neighboring plots and gardens of grapevines and crops and palm trees, [growing] several from a root or otherwise, watered with one water; but We make some of them exceed others in [quality of] fruit. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason. [13:4]
وَفِي الْأَرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ
And on the earth are signs for those certain [in faith]. [51:20]
وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
And in yourselves. Then will you not see? [51:21]
He has even placed Ayaat in us humans.
2. Aayaatun Shar’iyyah آيَاتٌ شَرْعِيَّةٌ: The ‘legislative signs’ are signs that were sent down by Allah through the prophets. These signs were given to the prophets to convince their people that they were truly from Allah and to call people to Him. They differed from one prophet to the other. The signs given to Musa were different from the ones given to Eesa and likewise the ones given to Ibraheem were different from the ones given to Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon them. These signs were given to each prophet according to the nature of his people and what was in their environment. Allah says regarding Prophet Saalih, peace be upon him,
وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۖ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم بَيِّنَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ هَٰذِهِ نَاقَةُ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ آيَةً ۖ فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِي أَرْضِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
And to the Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih. He said, “O my people, worship Allah ; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. This is the she-camel of Allah [sent] to you as a sign. So leave her to eat within Allah’s land and do not touch her with harm, lest there seize you a painful punishment. [7:73}
He says regarding Musa,
وَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَىٰ تِسْعَ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ ۖ فَاسْأَلْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ فَقَالَ لَهُ فِرْعَوْنُ إِنِّي لَأَظُنُّكَ يَا مُوسَىٰ مَسْحُورًا
And We had certainly given Moses nine evident signs, so ask the Children of Israel [about] when he came to them and Pharaoh said to him, “Indeed I think, O Moses, that you are affected by magic.” [17:101]
The signs given to Musa, may the peace and blessings be upon, were the staff that turned into a snake, his hand turning white (Musa’s skin complexion was brown), years of famine, the Red Sea that was divided so that Bani Israa’eel could flee safely from Firaun, the flood, the locusts, lice, frogs, and blood; all sent by Allah. Despite all of these signs, there were those who still disbelieved and were drowned.
And He said regarding prophet Eesa, may peace be upon him:
وَرَسُولًا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُم مِّنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. [3:49]
These prophets and others were given their signs for people to believe in their message which was from Allah. Then Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) came and was given the revelation of the Quran. The first people to hear the message of the Quran were the Arabs who were eloquent in speech and loved to compete in their eloquence and usage of words. Allah sent down the Quran as a sign for the prophet that could neither read nor write and it is full of eloquence with nothing being able to match it. Allah challenged the Arab and all nations to bring at least a surah like one found in the Quran. (The smallest surah contains 3 verses).
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ مَا مِنَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ نَبِيٌّ إِلاَّ أُعْطِيَ آيَاتٍ مَا مِثْلُهُ آمَنَ عَلَيْهِ الْبَشَرُ، وَإِنَّمَا كَانَ الَّذِي أُوتِيتُ وَحْيًا أَوْحَاهُ اللَّهُ إِلَىَّ فَأَرْجُو أَنْ أَكُونَ أَكْثَرَهُمْ تَابِعًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ”
Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet, (ﷺ) said, “Every Prophet was given signs because of which people believed in them, but what I have been given, is Divine Inspiration (the Quran) which Allah has revealed to me. So I hope that my followers will outnumber the followers of the other Prophets on the Day of Resurrection.”
Conjugations found in the Quran:
آية = sign
آيَاتٌ = signs
May Allah make us among those who see, recognize and accept the aayaat of Allah, Aameen.