What is the meaning of Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad with which Surah Maryam begins?
At the beginning of Surat Maryam, Kaf is a letter, Ha is a letter, Ya is a letter, `Ayn is a letter, and Sad is a letter. And, as Ibn `Abbas (r) and other muhaqqiqeen and muhadditheen said, that they are letters. And it is said that it is a name that is one of Allah’s (swt) Holy Names, min Asmaa’ihi ‘l-Husna. These five letters describe five different Holy Names of Allah (swt). That is why Sayyidina Zakariyya (as) began his du`a with Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad, because every du`a has something that if you know its secret, or the method or the approach with which to approach Allah (swt), you will be fulfilled with your request. And he knew what is behind Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad, and that’s why he called upon his Lord using Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad, and that’s why his du`a was accepted.
That is why in du`a, we read, Ya Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad, because it is Ismun min Asmaau’Llah, a Name from Allah’s Beautiful Names and Attributes. Similarly Ya Ha Mim `Ayn Sin Qaf. Huwa ismun min Asmaau’Llah, a Name from Allah’s Beautiful Names and Attributes. Ya Ha Mim, Ya Ya Sin, Ya Ta Ha – they are all Names of Allah (swt), as Ibn `Abbas (ra) said. Those are Divine Names. That’s why, in du`a, we read Bismillahi ‘r-Rahmani ‘r-Raheem, Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad, Ha Mim `Ayn Sin Qaf, Iyyaka na`bud wa iyyaka nasta`een. Allahu Lateefun bi `ibaadihi yarzuqu man yashaa.
Shaykh Hisham Kabbani
[from Tafsir Surat Maryam taken from Ruh al-Bayan of Shaykh Isma`il Hakki Bursevi]