The Numerical Values (Gematria) of Letters of the Alphabet and the Numerical Miracle

by Bassam Jarrar  - Noon Center /Palestina


The Arabic alphabet comprises 29 letters. However, in the Abecedarian alphabet there are 28 because there is considered to be no difference between Hamza and Alif. What concerns us about this Abecedarian order is the link between it and the Jum’mal numerical values of the letters (the NVL) mentioned in the previous chapter. As mentioned above the system is common to both Hebrew and Arabic but the Hebrew and Abecedarian Arabic systems only coincide up to the letter ت. After that, Arabic has the extra letters ث, خ, ذ, ض, ظ and غ which can be combined in the mnemonic (though meaningless) phrase thakhath dathagh.

 

It is not easy trace the origin of the Abecedarian order and the calculation associated with it in Semitic languages because views on it have diverged in such a way that it is difficult to decide which is correct or even to make a choice between them. The Jewish clergy use it extensively, Muslims have used it in historical dating, Sufis have overused it, and fortune-tellers, magicians and sorcerers have used it too. Thus, although the calculation may have had a religious basis it has been later distorted, altered and abused.

The Abecedarian order in North Africa differs slightly from the well-known order which is used in the East. In mnemonic form the latter consists of the following letters: Abjad Hawaz Hutti Kalamun Saa’fas qurishat thakhath Dathagh. Each letter has a numerical value as shown in the table below:

 

A B G D H W Z Ha TA Y
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
K L M N Sin 'Ain F Sad Qaf -
20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 -
Ra Chin T TH KH DH Dad Dhad Ghin -
200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 -

أ

ب

ج

د

ه

و

ز

ح

ط

ي

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

ك

ل

م

ن

س

ع

ف

ص

ق

 

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

 

ر

ش

ت

ث

خ

ذ

ض

ظ

غ

 

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1000

 

 

 

 

In the Jum’mal (the NVL) it is noticed that there is no difference between the numerical values of Alif and Hamza, because it refers to the Abecedarian, rather than the Alphabetical, letters. This calculation has been used for various purposes – Muslims have used it to date battles, deaths, buildings etc. as mentioned above.

Examples of use

When Sultan Barquq, a Burji Mamluk, died, a phrase was coined indicating the date of his death. This phrase was في المشمش (fil-mishmish). [It means, literally: “In the apricot (season)” which is very short, so the implication in current usage at least is of transience]. It seems that they chose a humorous phrase, but also the numerical values of the phrase are 80+10+1+30+40+300+40+300. The total is 801, and thus Sultan Barquq died in 801 AH.

Another example is, when a poet called Dalenjawi died, his friend eulogized him in general verses and at the end dated his death with the phrase مات الشعر بعده (maat a-sha’oru ba’da) which means: “Poetry died after him.”  This came after the words “I dated…” which indicated the point at which to begin counting – i.e. after “dated”.  Thus, the date of Dalenjawi’s death is: 40+1+400+1+30+300+70+200+2+ 70+4+5=1123 AH.

It is clear that this use of calculation in chronology is thus not objectionable from a religious viewpoint because it is a matter of convention and is thus permissible. However, the misuse of this system in the areas of fortune telling, magic and sorcery has created negative associations with a system that is not intrinsically negative.

Muhammad Ben Omar Nuwawi Al-Jawi, an interpreter, Sufi and Shafi’i jurist, migrated to Makka and died there in the year 1316 AH. He produced many works, one of which is a two-volume interpretation of the Qur’an in which he said in the introduction: “I have titled this book to confirm to its date” – مراح لبيد الكسف معفىى قران مجيد. It is clear from these words that he chose a title to conform to the Jum’mal system to show the date he began writing his book (1304 AH). I have cited this particular example to give evidence of a Muslim scholar’s attitude towards the question of the Jum’mal system and to show that nothing was found to be wrong in using such a system, even for a book on Qur’anic interpretation. We have used it for generations so why don’t we reconsider using it again since we have found it to be beneficial.

Another famous Qur’anic commentator, Baidawi, says in his interpretation of the opening of Surat Al-Baqara that the Prophet (pbuh) was approached by the Jews and he recited to them the opening of Al-Baqara. They calculated the numerical values of the letters of the opening and said: “How can we enjoin a religion that will last only seventy-one years?” The Prophet (pbuh) smiled. They said: “Is there anything else?” He said: المر, الر, المص and they replied that he had confused them and they know longer knew which Faith to follow. Baidawi comments on this Hadith by saying: “His reciting to them in this order and his confirmation of their inference…” Thus, Baidawi considers that the Apostle (pbuh) confirmed their inference.

In Shihab’s commentary on Baidawi’s interpretation he says: “ This Hadith was verified by Bukhari in his history and by Ibn Jarir through Ibn Issac Al-Kalbi… Its chain of narrators is weak.” Thus we cannot rely on Baidawi’s conclusion, though on the other hand the Prophet never said anything that denied that Jum’mal had a religious basis. What matters is that there is neither evidence for denial nor confirmation. Although we must be careful not to assume that we are building on absolutely solid foundations we find that confirmation is more likely in the light of this weak Hadith. We can prove by induction that the Qur’an has kept some secrets in certain words and clauses and therefore, we assume that the Qur’an has used this linguistic convention of the Semitic languages. After all, the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic!

Since language suggests meanings there is no reason to prevent it from suggesting numerical values. The question is: How can we know that a certain phrase in the Qur’an carries such a numerical secret? Our answer to this is that this has to be proven either through Islamic legal methods or by reasoning. The reader will find that our approach to this question is new and has nothing to do with the Sufis or others, whether they did the right thing or erred and deviated. We are satisfied that the reader will be convinced by the examples of the Jum’mal system that we will give that are based only on induction and not hearsay.

Following are examples that open the door for a new direction in Jum’mal, examples that simply involve calculation based on Qur’anic vocabulary. It should be pointed out that in our research we are dealing with the Qur’anic script called Ottoman script, which is regarded by the majority of scholars as a revelation (Tawqifi) in itself, because it was supervised by the Prophet as revealed to him. Me

Example 1

The Sacred Mosque (المسجد الحرام) is defined in the Qur’an as: للذي ببكه مباركا - “at Bakka (Makkah) full of blessing” (3:96). The Jum’mal of this aya is 1063. The Farthest Mosque (المسجد الاقصى) is described: الذي بركنا حوله - “whose precincts We have blessed” (17:1). The Jum’mal of this aya is also 1063. We ask, what does it mean that they both have the same numerical value?

Example 2

Sura 17, ‘Al-Isra’, the Sura that begins with the second quotation of the first example, is also called Surat Bani Israel (‘The Children of Israel’). The Farthest Mosque is only mentioned once in the Qur’an, in this position.  The subsequent verses discuss Jewish corruption (إفساد) on earth and their being “elated with mighty arrogance” (17:4) suggesting actual political power. This combination of corruption and arrogant power shall happen twice. Each time the corruption ends with the entry of the Jews’ enemies into Masjid Al-Aqsa. In other words, the mention of Al-Aqsa necessitates mentioning Jewish corruption in the area, once before Islam and once after. Masjid Al-Aqsa (المسجد الاقصى) is written in Ottoman script as (المسجد الاقصا), the Jum’mal value of which is 361 (i.e. 19×19). As discussed above, the number 19 is the root of a Qur’anic numerical miracle. The phrase Bani Israel (بنو إسرائيل), written in the Ottoman copy as (بنو إسرءيل), also has a Jum’mal value of 361. (We have explored the further implications contained in this aya in another piece of research entitled ‘The Year 2022 and the Fall of Israel').

Example 3

Surat Al-Naml (النمل) opens with the two letters طس. The Serial order of the Sura in the Mus’haf is 27 and we have found that the frequency of the letter ط in the Sura is also 27. س on the other hand occurs 93 times in the Sura. 93 happens to be the number of verses in the Sura. Thus, the total frequency of ط  and س is 120, which is the total of the serial number of the Sura plus its number of verses. Finally, the Jum’mal of the word Naml (نمل) is 120.

Example 4

White can be considered to be the basis of all colors because white light can be refracted into the seven colors of the spectrum. If mixed in different proportions these can then create thousands of colors. The Jum’mal of white (أبيض) is 1+2+10+800=813.

  The word ابيضت (became white) occurs twice in the Qur’an. The first occurrence is in verse 107 of Sura 3, the second in verse 84 of Sura 12. The word تبيض (become white) occurs once in verse 106 of Sura 3. The word الأبيض (the white) occurs in verse 187 of Sura 2 while the word بيضاء (white) occurs 6 times: 7:108; 20:22; 26:33; 27:12; 28:32 and 37:46. Meanwhile, the words  (بيض and بيض) occur in verse 27 of Sura 35 and in verse 49 of Sura 37:

 

Word

Sura

Verse No.

ابيضت

3

107

ابيضت

12

84

تبيض

3

106

الأبيض

2

187

بيضاء

7

108

بيضاء

20

22

بيضاء

26

33

بيضاء

27

12

بيضاء

28

32

بيضاء

37

46

بيض

35

27

بيض

37

49

 

Total

813

  If we add together the verse numbers where the words which mean ‘white’ occur, we find that we have the same total as the Jum’mal of the word ‘white’ (ابيض), i.e. 813.

  Example 5

  Surat Al-Hadid is the last Sura in the first half of the Qur’an and is the only Sura named after a chemical element. Its order in the Mus’haf is 57. The Jum’mal of the word الحديد is 1+30+8+4+10+4=57 while the Jum’mal of the word حديد is 8+4+10+4=26. We have already noted that 57 is the atomic weight of iron and 26 is its atomic number.

  It is known in chemistry that the atomic number is the number of neutrons that the nucleus contains and that atomic weight is related to protons plus neutrons. So we ask: Is there a plan behind ordering the Sura according to the atomic weight of iron  (57) which coincides with the Jum’mal of the word الحديد?

  Some may say that the atomic weight of iron is 55.8 rather than 57. The fact is that there are 5 iron isotopes, which have atomic weights of 55, 56, 57, 58 and 59. What is noticeable is that Isotope 57 occurs in the middle while 55.8 is not related to atomic structure but is an average related to the percentage of the presence of each isotope in nature.

  Following are some further remarks that emphasize the special importance of the number 57 in this context:

-  The serial order of Surat Al-Hadad is 57 and the number of verses in it is 29. If we multiply 29×57 the result is 1653, which is the total of numbers 1-57. (i.e.: 1+2+3+4…+57)

The word حديد occurs in the Qur’an in Sura 22 (‘Al-Hajj’) and Sura 50 (‘Qaf’) and the word حديدا occurs in Sura 17 (‘Bani Israel’). The word الحديد occurs in Sura 18(‘Al-Kahf’), Sura 34 (‘Saba’)  and Sura 57. After Surat Al-Hadid itself the word is not mentioned. Thus the word for iron occurs 6 times in the Qur’an in 6 different Suras. The word حديدا in Sura 17 is the 667th word in the Sura while the word الحديد in Sura 18 is the 1402nd. The word حديد in Sura 22 is the 368th and the word الحديد in Sura 34 is 177th. The word حديد in Sura 50 is the 183rd word in the Sura while the word الحديد in Sura al-Hadid (number 57) is the 461st. Thus the total for all the word positions is: 667+1402+368+177+183+461=3258, the square root of which is almost exactly 57, (57.0788 in fact).

 

Word

Sura

Word no. in Sura

حديدا

17

667

الحديد

18

1402

حديد

22

368

الحديد

34

177

حديد

50

183

الحديد

57

461

 

Total

3258

 

    The word الحديد in Surat Al-Hadid comes in aya 25 as: “And We sent down iron.” In reply to the implied question as to what the wisdom behind sending down iron is, this line is followed by the answer:  “…In which is material for mighty war as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who, Unseen, will help Him and his Apostles, for Allah is full of strength, exalted in might.” If we calculate the Jum’mal of this aya we find that it is 3263, the square root of which is again just over 57. (57.12 in fact). The difference between 3263 and the total of the positions of the word حديد is 5! So, what is the secret?!

 

Example 6

  There are 29 Suras in the Qur’an opening with “luminous” letters, four of which begin with the letter ط. These are:  طه(Sura 20);  طسم(Sura 26);  طس(Sura 27); and  طسم  (Sura 28). In the chapter about verse endings in Dr Faadel Samirra’i’s book ‘Qur’anic Interpretation’, he says: “Each Sura that begins with a ط begins with a detailed narrative about Musa (Moses) before other narratives. Examples of such Suras are طه in Surat Ta-Ha (Sura 20) and طسم at the beginning of Surat Shu’araa (Sura 26). This pattern does not occur in Suras with other openings. What is held in common among Suras beginning with ط is the detailed story of Musa at the beginning (of the Sura)…”

  In our research we have noted that the letter ط occurs 19 times in Sura 28 (‘Al-Qasas’). When we read Dr Samirra’i’s words and his observation that Suras beginning with the letter ط elaborate on the story of Musa, we counted the frequency of the mentions of Musa himself and his brother Haroun (Aaron) in Surat Al-Qasas. We found that Musa’s name appeared 18 times and his brother’s once, a total of 19 appearances. It is worth noting here that among all the Prophets the concurrence between Musa and Haroun is unique – in fact they were commissioned with the message simultaneously. It is also worth noting that Sura 28 mentions no other Prophets’ names except those of Musa and Haroun (aleihi salaam).

  The numerical value of the letters making up موسى (Musa) is 116, while that of هارون (Haroun) is 261. Thus the total Jum’mal of the two is 377. On the basis of this finding four observations can be made:

  A- The word count of the verses containing the names موسى and هارون in Sura 28 is 377 which is the same value as the Jum’mal of the two names together:

 

 

Verse no.

3

7

10

15

18

19

20

29

30

 

Word count

9

22

17

38

16

32

18

27

19

 

Verse no.

31

34

36

37

38

43

44

48

76

Total

Word count

19

14

17

18

27

16

13

26

29

=377

 

 

B-  If we refer to ‘The Concordance of Qur’anic Words’ by Muhammad Fuad Abdul-Baqi, we find that the frequency of هارون is 20 occurrences. If we add up the serial numbers of these 20 Suras containing the name هارون we have a total of 377.

  -   In Suras beginning with the letter ط, the frequency of the name هارون is seven times in the following verses: 30, 70, 90 and 92 in Sura 20 (‘Ta-Ha’) which begins with طه; 13 and 48 in Sura 26 (‘Ash-Shu’araa’) which begins with طسم; and verse 34 from Sura 28 (‘Al-Qasas’) which begins with طسم. If we add these verse numbers together the total is 377, i.e. 30+70+90+92+13+48+34.

 

D- The frequency of the name موسى in Suras beginning with ط is 46 times. If we multiply the Jum’mal of موسى by its frequency in Suras beginning with ط the result is 116×46=5336. If we multiply the Jum’mal of هارون by its frequency in Suras beginning with ط the result is 261× 7=1827. Thus the total of these two figures when added together is 5336+1827=7163. The surprise here is that 7163=19×377.

We do not think that the scope of the matter is limited to these four observations. Rather we feel the need to compile the various observations hoping to come up with a law for such cases.

 

Example 7

Allah (swt) says in Sura 15: “We have without doubt sent down the message and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (‘Al-Hijr’- 15:9) The Holy Qur’an has been preserved by Allah (swt) because it has been revealed for all nations until the Day of Judgement. Previous messages, however, did not need to be preserved because each Prophet was sent to his people in particular. What is the point in preserving a message that was valid only for a certain period, for a certain people and for a certain place?

 It makes sense that this aya that describes the preservation of the Holy Qur’an is itself preserved in its position in this Sura and in other Suras. There might be more than one mathematical method to show this but here is one method that illustrates the point that involves a Jum’mal calculation:

The theme of this aya is الذكر (the message) because the aya talks about the revelation of the message and its protection. If we look for the words الذكر, which means the Holy Qur’an in this case, and find those which are prefixed by the definite article ال, we find that the word الذكر in 15:9 is the 63rd word. The next appearance of the word الذكر is word number 575 in Sura 16. Next it comes as word number 1103 in Sura 21. After this it is word number 357 in Sura 25, followed by word number 62 in Sura 36. After this it comes as the 4th word in Sura 38 and finally as word number 63 in the same Sura. See the following table:

 

Sura

Hijr

Nahl

Al-Anbiya

Al-Furqan

Ya-Seen

Sa’ad ص

ص

Total

Serial no.

15

16

21

25

36

38

38

189

Word no. in Sura

63

575

1103

357

62

4

63

227

 

2416

Note that the word الذكر in Sura 15 is the 63rd word, as is the second occurrence of the word in ص, i.e. the first and last appearance. This coincidence might make us stop and ponder the relationship between the word الذكر in the first appearance: “We have without doubt sent down the message and We will assuredly guard it [from corruption]” (15:9) and the last: “What! Has the message been sent down to him [of all persons] among us?”(38:8) If we do we to find that:

A- The first aya of Surat Sa’ad is: “Sa’ad: By the Qur’an, full of admonition…” In other words, the Sura begins by talking about الذكر, the message.

B- The verse count from 15:9 to 38:8 is 2166 words, which is 19×114, 114 being the number of Suras in the whole Qur’an, and the theme of the aya here being the revelation of the Qur’an and its protection.

C- Aya 9 of Sura 15 and aya 8 of Sura 38 consist of 19 letters of the Arabic alphabet:

(ء,ا , ب,ح ,ذ ,ر , ز,ش ,ظ ,ع ,ف ,ق ,ك ,ل ,م ,ن , ه,  وand ي), the Jum’mal of these letters being 2530. If we subtract this figure from the Jum’mal of aya 15:9 the result will be 2530-2416=114, again the total number of Suras in the Qur’an.

D- As can be seen in the table, if you add up the serial number of the Suras that contain الذكر and the word number ofالذكر  in those Suras, you will be amazed to find that the total equals the Jum’mal of 15:9, which is 2416!!!

 


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