Can we start words with alif? like in الشَّمْس?

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Salaamun Alaykum,
Insha’Allah this will find you well. I have registered on the Arabic literacy course, but also have some other material. In the other material I have, it says that alif is not a letter, and is only used to elongate. But what about the word ‘al’ in al-Shams for instance, that is translated as ‘the’. Also, in surah al-Fateha we have اهْدِ, therefore the alif is at the beginning of a word.
Please advise asap. Fi amanillah Farah

The Answer

Wa alikom asslam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

This is partially correct. You CAN’T start a word with alif. It is a letter, though, and it is indeed used only as a long vowel.
Words like الشمس  they don’t start with alif, it starts with hamza, and these are two different letters. We call that type of hamza: Hamza Al-wasl which is the type of hamza that is always attached to the beginning of the definite article الــ

Please follow this lesson to understand more the difference and how to work with them:
There are also infographics on our websites that will help you greatly in shaa Allah. Check them out here:

If you still have questions about this topic or other topics, please contact us.
Asslamo alikom

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