The Quran Code adds up to mathematical wonder
Dear SE: These are some facts about the Quran: the words "Al-Hayat" (life) and "Al-Maout" (death) are mentioned 145 times each; the words "devil" and "angel" are each mentioned 88 times; the words "Al-Rajl" (man) and "Al-Mara'a" (woman) are each mentioned 24 times. Just as there are 12 months in a year, the word "Al-Shahr" (month) is mentioned 12 times. Similarly, the word "Al-Yahom" (day) is mentioned 365 times.
Some might consider these coincidences or logical uses, but Muslims believe that there's something deeper at work and the mathematical formulas hidden within the Quran represent the key answers to the nature of God. Remember that Muslims believe that the Quran is the last message of God, told to the Prophet Mohammed, and completes the Torah, the Zabur and the Bible.
The really interesting proof of the mathematics of the holy book, however, is known as the Quran Code. An Egyptian chemist discovered in 1968 a connection between the first verse of the Quran and its structure. You might have heard this phrase on airplanes when the prayer is played or read it in my columns: "Bismallah Al Rahman Al Rahim", which means: "In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful." In Arabic, this phrase contains 19 characters. The first part "Bis" is a form of Ism, which means name; the word appears in the Quran 19 times. There are 2,698 occurrences of the word "Allah"; 2,698 is divisible by 19 exactly 142 times. "Al Rahman" occurs in three multiples of 19 or 57 times, "Al Rahmin" six times 19 or 114 times. Pretty cool, eh?
But it doesn't stop there. The first chapter revealed to Prophet Mohammed was Chapter 96. Now, 96 is not divisible by 19, but there are 19 verses in the chapter. And the first five verses ever revealed contain 76 letters, or 19 times four. The whole chapter has 304 letters, or 19 times 16.
So you see why I believe that the Quran is unique in the history of literature? Every element of the Quran is composed with some mathematical purpose. But despite all of this, you'll never find a Muslim worship or believe in these numbers, because in Islam it's frowned upon to believe in any thing but Allah. These numbers and discoveries are seen to prove that the Quran is not written by a human and is the word of God.
Dear Ali: We know so little about Saudi Arabia in the West. What can you tell us about it? I know it's the home of Mecca; perhaps that's a good place to start. RP, London
Dear RP: Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the region and shares borders with every Gulf country. It features diverse landscapes, from mountains and the Empty Quarter to seas, islands and oases. The Kingdom's population is around 30 million and Saudis live everywhere from suburbs and cities to villages and towns. In general, the more access a place has to the sea, the more modern it is. You will see ports, airports and shopping malls in these cities.
There's a wide variance from the very rich to very poor. The poor live in ways that seem untouched by time. There are areas that go back thousands and thousands of years with artefacts that could fill up five Guggenheims. The east coast has beaches and locals like to stay in nearby chalets.
You're right to start with Mecca, as it's home to the Kaaba, but Medina is also home to a holy mosque, that of the Prophet Mohammed. These cities are some of the most-visited in the world, as Muslims flock to see the birthplace of Islam. Jeddah is a beautiful city with a view of the Red Sea.
Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.
Updated: April 17, 2014 04:00 AM