The Noon Centre for ’Qura~nic Studies and Research specialises in ’Qura~nic Studies. One of its priorities is the carrying out of research into numerical and mathematical miracles in the ’Qura~n. This is because the world of mathematics and numbers is the world of provable facts, Math having virtually become the language of physical and social sciences. And why should this not be so when the whole universe is based on numbers? Allaah says: “He takes into account every single thing.” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Annaml, verse 28.)
Thus far, the numerical miracles of the ’Qura~n have not been given their due merit. This may have been justified in the past, but in the modern computer age it is surprising to find that we are still only at the beginning of the road, and the research is still scant.
At the Noon Centre, we are aware that attracting the attention of researchers, scholars and lay readers requires massive research and effort to impress new factual findings on minds, although we are also aware that hesitation and reservation about what is new is a healthy phenomenon. Thus, we feel that our duty is to give evidence for the credibility and significance of numbers in miracle studies in the ’Qura~n in particular and in ’Qura~nic Studies in general.
In this small book, the Noon Centre’s first fruit, the reader will find six chapters which give evidence of the mathematical miracles in the Holy ’Qura~n. The reader will observe that each chapter is a basis for a mathematical line of thinking. We thereby aim to draw the attention of those interested to the possibilities, on the basis of which we can conduct research on mathematical miracles. What is suggested is a mere sample of examples and logical premises to get the researcher “on the road”.
Despite our conviction that there are other lines of approach, we have nonetheless limited ourselves to these six. In themselves they should be more than enough to give an idea of what we mean when we talk of the mathematical miracles of the ’Qura~n.
Some people ask about the usefulness of such studies. It might be sufficient to say that we are dealing with what exists as part of the composition of the Holy ’Qura~n – that is, we research and describe our findings. Nothing more. In other words, we describe the Holy ’Qura~n from a numerical perspective.
Even this is not without value, and there must be repercussions in ’Qura~nic Studies in general. We have felt that some of these benefits are:
- This perspective helps to clarify the issue of the miracle of the ’Qura~n, making it easier for people engaged in da’awah to present proofs and establish evidence, and for seekers of the truth to reach certainty;
- It helps to settle many controversial issues pertaining to ’Qura~nic sciences such as: the use of the ’Qura~nic script that is known as Ottoman script; the order of the surahs (chapters of the ’Qura~n); the names of the surahs; the number of ayat (verses) in each surah, and so on;
- It greatly helps to refute the doubts of orientalists and sceptics that relate to the compiling and writing down of the first copy of the Holy ’Qura~n (the Mu's’haf). Some of the meanings of the verses become clear, such as: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; And We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Al’hijr, verse 9);
- It helps with the interpretation of the Holy ’Qura~n. The discovery of the numerical structure of the universe has also helped the understanding of many facts about creation and its miracles;
- There are logical premises that suggest the possibility of understanding the universe in the light of ’Qura~nic numbers and vice versa. Why should this not be so when the Creator is also the one who revealed the ’Qura~n?
This is only a little of what we hope to achieve with Allaah’s help, and Allaah is the Guardian of Success.
Chapter number 74: Almuddathir (The Cloaked One) – An Introduction to a Numerical Miracle
Absolutely the first verse of the Holy ’Qura~n to be revealed to the Prophet Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.) in his prophethood stage was: “Recite! In the name of thy Lord the Creator, who created mankind from a clot of blood…” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Al‘ala’q, verse 1.)
However, the first revelation in the Prophet’s mission or apostolic phase was “O, thou wrapped up in a mantle…” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 1.)
In other words, the revelation of surah 96 to Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.) made him a Prophet. When he received surah 74, he was asked therein to deliver a message to mankind and eo ipso became a Messenger, or Apostle.
What concerns us in this context is the chapter of Almuddathir, which is the first revelation of Apostlehood, rather than Prophethood.
Because the chapter was not revealed in its entirety on one occasion, it records the first moments, and the ensuing attempts to refute, oppose, resist and nullify the truth of the ’Qura~n.
The chapter discusses the failure of the Idolaters in this respect, a failure that reduced them to defiance and antagonism. In this they were like all the arrogant; like all those whose hearts and minds are filled with self-interest and lust; like all those who, accustomed to a situation, no matter how bad, detest all change, even one that brings with it blessing and goodness.
Because of this tendency in people, there has to be a shock, a threat that will break down the barriers and throw aside the veils that conceal. There has to be a sense of danger in order to mobilise energies to revolt against customs, traditions and norms.
Hence there is the threat of sa’qar (hell-fire) - “Naught doth it permit to endure and naught doth it leave alone.” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 28). Sa’qar burns and changes all the features of transient beauty - “Darkening and changing the colour of man” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 29) - that lure those oblivious of the illusory nature of this transient present life. The ’Qura~n then proceeds with: “Above it are nineteen.” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 30). Hell-fire is watched over by nineteen angels.
It is possible that there are nineteen of these noble creatures or nineteen types or categories. We do not know.
In his book “Fi ’Thilaal Al’Qura~n” (The Shades of Meaning in the ’Qura~n) Sayyid ’Qu’tb surmises: “Why there are nineteen – whatever this number signifies – is a matter known to Allaah who harmonised all existence and creates in proportion and measure.” Though ultimately we agree with this, we ask if the number here is to be considered as one of those verses in the ‘Qura-an that is beyond comprehension because they relate to the metaphysical, where no person can appreciate any part of its significance or its implications, or if it is rather a hint to open the mind to the many meanings and mysteries contained in the ’Qura~n.
However, we believe in the rule that we should try to understand utterances, not disregard them as meaningless, and we believe that the key to unlocking many of these mysteries is to be found in the ayat: “Above it are nineteen. And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for unbelievers…” (The Holy’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 31).
The ’Qura~n thus provides a detail of this mysterious number: “We have fixed their number only as a trial for unbelievers…” We do not want to explore the meanings of the Arabic word jaal (to fix their number), but we simply find that the verse states that this number is a trial for the unbelievers. If we refer to the meaning of the Arabic word fitnah (trial), we find that its root meaning means to expose gold ore to fire to separate the gold from the impurities by smelting. Thus, each process intends to extract the usable from the useless. The target group, then, is the group of unbelievers. Number 19, as stated in the Holy ’Qura~n, can thus be seen as a “sorter”, separating the righteous from the wicked.
Some interpreters hold that stating the number 19 in the ayah is there merely to tempt the idolaters of the ’Quraysh into making the issue an object of inquiry and ridicule. However, this opinion views the word fitnah only in a negative light, seeing it as a source of no good.
However, fitnah has other shades of meaning that depend on the true nature of the one who is exposed to it, what Allaah knows of them, and what Allaah wills. Thus, Allaah leads astray whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases as we find if we consider verse 155 of chapter 7 (Ala‘raaf), where Allaah says through the words of Moosa (Moses): “This is no more than a trial. By it Thou causest whom Thou wilt to stray, and Thou leadest whom Thou wilt into the right path.”
“And We have fixed their number only as a trial for unbelievers – in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the believers may increase in faith – and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the unbelievers may say ‘What doth Allaah intend by this mathal?’” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 31).
Mustafa Khayry says in his work, “Almu’qta’taf Min ‘Uyoon Attafaaseer” (Selections from the Leading Interpretations):
“This number has become an instrument of temptation for unbelievers in two ways:
- They say mockingly: Why are there not twenty? And,
- They say: How can only 19 be sufficient for punishing most of the creatures of the world from the beginning of creation to the Day of Resurrection?
The theme of these two questions is the denial of the omnipotence of God.” It is obvious that such an argument relates to the unbeliever whose mistaken approach leads him to false conclusions. But the question still remains: How can such a number divide the unbelievers’ camp in such a way that out of it can emerge those who believe to join the believers’ group?
So, how can this number, or this trial, be a cause for certainty for the People of the Book? Most interpreters say: “They will find what Allaah has told us about the number of hell-fire guardians compatible with what they already believe.” But we do not know how this agreement in one fact can result in certainty for the People of the Book. We know that there are agreements in various matters and that there are divergences.
hat prevents us from explaining this agreement in the light of the above quotation? And if agreement in this little fact can lead to certainty for the People of the Book and to the increase of faith in those who believe, how can you eradicate doubt in order “that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the believers….” Is it logical or sensible to think that all this issues from the agreement of the fact that states that the gyhuardians of hell-fire are nineteen?
The verse continues: “And that those in whose hearts is a disease and the unbelievers may say ‘What doth Allaah intend by this mathal?’” (The Holy ’Qura~n [T.M.Q.], chapter of Almuddathir, verse 31).
Some interpreters understand: “What doth Allaah intend by this mathal (saying)?” is a question to suggest that this number is as strange as the saying. Others say that this mathal is their description rather than their number, i.e. what Allaah means by describing the guardians as 19. So how can this small number be able to punish so many of the Jinn and humanity who are sent to hell-fire?
et others hold that these verses talk about the future. This belief stems from the fact that the Makkan chapters were the earliest of the revelations and they discuss hypocrites, “those in whose hearts is a disease”, and that hypocrisy appeared only in Madeenah. To a certain extent this is acceptable, but although interpreting the mathal as a description is correct, it does not resolve the matter, so we will try here to express our opinion, which may contribute to the interpretation of the verse.
We say that if you ask a Christian or a Jew about evidence that proves the existence of the Creator, you find them producing evidence approximating to that of the Muslim approach, which contradicts the approach of an atheist. And if you ask a Christian or a Jew about prophecies and the supernatural, similarly, you will find them giving evidence from an approach somewhat similar to that of the Muslim.
This is because between us there is no controversy about our belief in the Unseen or the notion of religion, but rather about whether faith fits in with reality or not, and it is a controversy that also relates to the details of Islamic law. Thus, Muslims and the People of the Book do not argue about the existence of the Creator but about His attributes, actions, laws and judgements. Atheists and hypocrites, on the other hand, deny the very idea of religion and make tangible material things the ultimate goal and the ultimate end.
In the Next issue:
Continuation of Noon Studies’ Chapter 1 on Numerical Miracles in the Holy ‘Qura-an
First Signs of Numerical Miracles In the Holy Qur’an.
Author: Bassam Jarrar.
Reviewed by: Tariq Hamideh and Basim Albassumi.
Publisher: Noon Center for ‘Qura-anic Studies & Researches.
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