Sura 19:31 & 19:94; Count of Y: How the Quran’s Mathematical Structure Preserves the Quranic Text

Sura 19, of the Quran begins with the initials كهيعص (K, H, Y, ‘A, S). This is the longest set of initials of the 14 set of Quranic initials. The letter “K / ك” in Sura 19 occurs 137 times, “H / ه” occurs 175 times, “Y / ى” occurs 343 times, “ `A / ع” occurs 117 times, and “S (Saad) / ص” occurs 26 times. Thus, the total occurrence of the five letters is 137+175+343+117+26 = 798 = 19×42.

In a book that I care not to promote, the author claims that this is inaccurate because according to his research he believes Sura 19 contains three additional ى’s in the Arabic text, making the total number of times “ى / Y” occurs in Sura 19: 346 and not 343. The author makes the following claim:

“There are two words that vary in spelling in current manuscripts, the correct spelling of the word “Ahsahum / أَحْصَاهُمْ” in verse 19:94 should have a Y, and the word “Awsani / وَأَوْصَانِي” in 19:31, should contain two Ys.”

Before addressing this claim, it’s worth noting a principle of the Quran, that it is our duty to investigate information before accepting it, especially if the source is coming from someone who is known not to be trustworthy.

[49:6] O you who believe, if a wicked person brings any news to you, you shall first investigate, lest you commit injustice towards some people, out of ignorance, then become sorry and remorseful for what you have done.

If we follow information from someone blindly then we will be just as guilty as they are.

[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.

Also, it is worth going over a little bit of background regarding Quranic manuscripts and Arabic text. When looking at the oldest manuscripts, or even in modern Quran scripts, it is not difficult to find variations in spelling with predominately three letters: waw, ya, and most notably alif. The reason is that sometimes these letters are consonants, as part of the word, and other times they are purely vowels that are added for clarity and pronunciation.

The reason for this is that for the first 200 years, the Quran manuscripts did not contain any vowels. This is because for the most part, up until that point the people who predominately accepted the Quran all spoke and understood Quranic Arabic and therefore there was no ambiguity to the meaning and pronunciation of the words in the text. But as the religion spread and time passed vowels were added to the script in order to preserve the original meaning and pronunciation of the text.

We can understand this using a modern day example. If you were to pick up a newspaper today in Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu the letters will not include vowels in the text. This is becuase the readers today are all familiar with the language and will not need these markings to understand and read the text. But this will not be the case after many years when the language, vocabulary, and meanings of that language change and someone attempting to read the newspaper 200 years in the future may mistake words, meanings, and pronunciations. So therefore the vowels help with this preservation and aid in reducing ambiguity for future readers.

So based on these variations in spelling between manuscripts how do we know which version is correct? This is where the mathematical structure of the Quran comes into play. The manuscript that would be correct is the one where the spelling preserves the mathematical structure of the Quran. If we have two manuscripts of the Quran, and one manuscript has several additional ى’s that causes an error in the mathematical structure of the Quran, and another manuscript that has spellings that maintains the mathematical structure of the Quran, then we know from that information alone which manuscript spelling is correct. 

That said, let’s look at the specific claim regarding وَأَوْصَانِي / awasani in 19:31 and أَحْصَاهُمْ / ahsahum in 19:94. As stated above, the author claimed that these two words should be written with two Y’s and one Y, respectively, based on early manuscripts that he has observed. So if we can show an early manuscript which has these words spelled with the proper counts of Y’s that preserves the mathematical integrity of the Quran then we can be certain that the correct spelling has been preserved.

Below are images of one of the earlier Quran manuscripts dated between 700 – 900AD from the Library of Berlin. In this text we see that وَأَوْصَانِي / awasani in 19:31 is written with a single Y, and that أَحْصَاهُمْ / ahsahum in 19:94 does not contain a Y. This matches what we find written in Quran’s today, and thus further confirms the immense blessing God has bestowed upon us via the mathematical miracle of the Quran.

Does this mean that there couldn’t be a manuscript written as claimed by the author? Sure, but all that proves is that since it does not correspond with the mathematical structure of the Quran then, therefore, that spelling is inaccurate. 

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I speak Arabic therefore I understand the Quran

One of the most deceptive arguments native Arab speakers make when debating the Quran is the following: “I speak Arabic therefore I understand the Quran.”

This claim on its surface is erroneous on two levels. Firstly, God tells us in the Quran that the Quran is only accessible to those who are sincere. 

[56:79] None can grasp it except the sincere.

Ironically, most Arab speakers even misunderstand this verse to believe that the word “الْمُطَهَّرُونَ” in this context means to be physically clean. So many believe that they must have ablution before they touch a Quran, and that a menstruating women should not touch a Quran. The word الْمُطَهَّرُونَ comes from the root طهر (Ta-ha-ra) this root can mean to be physically clean but also to be in reference to spiritual cleanliness as in pure, righteous, or free from impurity. Notice that the verse is not a commandment, but rather a statement of fact. 

So therefore, regardless if someone is a scholar of Arabic, if they are not sincere they will not be able to access the Quran. 

[17:45] When you read the Quran, we place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter an invisible barrier. [17:46] We place shields around their minds, to prevent them from understanding it, and deafness in their ears. And when you preach your Lord, using the Quran alone, they run away in aversion.

[41:44] If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, “Why did it come down in that language?” Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, “For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway.”

The second reason that the argument for a modern native Arab speaker to claim they understand the Quran because they know Arabic is deceptive is because the Quran is written in its own form of Arabic that is completely unique from the Arabic that is spoken today. It has its own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary that is vastly different than what is spoken by Arabs today. Even when we attempt to apply Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) to Quran we see numerous examples where the Quran follows its own standard let alone vocabulary that is not used in common day speech among native Arab speakers. This is because the MSA grammar was produced hundreds of years after the revelation of the Quran. This is a big reason to why the Quran has been so heavily misunderstood by millions for the last 1400 years despite being written in Arabic. 

The Quran was revealed 1400 years ago in perfect Arabic, but language is fluid but the Quran is not. Over 1400 years languages morph and change. Words are lost or transition to completely new meaning. Just because someone can read the letters and words does not mean that they understand the meaning of what’s being said. For example, Shakespeare wrote Hamlet over 400 years ago and most English speaking people today will not understand Shakespeare despite being able to read the words. Many of the words and phrases meant fundamentally different things at the time of Shakespeare, and if someone attempts to apply a modern filter to this classic work they will leave thinking they understand the material, but be completely mistaken. 

Now the Quran was written not 400 years ago, but 1400 years ago. In order to understand this text, one would have to know how the language was used back then and what the words meant at the time of the revelation. Obviously, this will not be accessible to the average Arab speaker today unless they have devoted to learning such material. To put this in perspective if we look at English from 1400 years ago the language would be almost unrecognizable to any modern-day speaker. The comparison would be like an English speaker attempting to understand Spanish or German. Yes, you will be able to read all the words and might be able to piece together the meaning, but unless you study the language you will have a false sense of understanding of the text. 

So the next time you hear someone make the claim that: they know Arabic and therefore they understand the Quran, know that they are most likely either being deceitful or ignorant.

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Abraham’s Circumcision Covenant with God

In 53:36-37, God informs us, that even the one who turned away from the Quran was aware of the scripture of Moses and of what was fulfilled by Abraham.

[53:33] Have you noted the one who turned away? [53:34] Rarely did he give to charity, and then very little. [53:35] Did he possess knowledge of the future? Could he see it? [53:36] Was he not informed of the teachings in the scripture of Moses? [53:37] And Abraham who fulfilled?
53361أَمْOr
53362لَمْnot
53363يُنَبَّأْhe was informed
53364بِمَاin what
53365فِي(was) in
53366صُحُفِ(the) scriptures (of)
53367مُوسَىٰMoses,
53371وَإِبْرَاهِيمَAnd (of) Abraham,
53372الَّذِيthe one who
53373وَفَّىٰhe fulfilled?

What was it that Abraham fulfilled that even the one who turned away would be aware of?

We see in in 2:124 that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord through certain commands and he fulfilled them as part of God’s covenant with Abraham and his believing descendants.

[2:124] Recall that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commands, and he fulfilled them. (God) said, "I am appointing you an imam for the people." He said, "And also my descendants?" He said, "My covenant does not include the transgressors."

2:124 informs us that God put Abraham to the test with certain commands from God and he fulfilled them. And that for this God made Abraham an imam / leader for the people and that his covenant with God was also with Abraham’s believing descendants.

What were these commandments that Abraham fulfilled that is universally known even by disbelievers?

If we ask the average person who has any familiarity of Abraham, especially one who is aware of the teaching in the scripture of Moses per 53:36, “what do they recall that Abraham “fulfilled?” they will almost universally identify one of two things.

(1) the dream where Abraham had where he thought God wanted him to sacrifice his son, or
(2) the Covenant of Circumcision.

Could the fulfillment mentioned in reference to Abraham in 53:37 and 2:124 be in reference to the dream?

2:124 indicates that it was God who tested Abraham with certain commands, and not anyone else. The only time that God tests us directly is by giving us a commandment. When God commands us to do something it is a test to see if we fulfill His commandment or not. We see this in the example of Muhammad being commanded by God to marry the divorced wife of his adopted son.

[33:36] No believing man or believing woman, if GOD and His messenger issue any command, has any choice regarding that command. Anyone who disobeys GOD and His messenger has gone far astray. [33:37] Recall that you said to the one who was blessed by GOD, and blessed by you, "Keep your wife and reverence GOD," and you hid inside yourself what GOD wished to proclaim. Thus, you feared the people, when you were supposed to fear only GOD. When Zeid was completely through with his wife, we had you marry her, in order to establish the precedent that a man can marry the divorced wife of his adopted son. GOD's commands shall be done.

We see that God tested Satan by commanding him and the angels to prostrate before Adam.

[2:34] When we said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam," they fell prostrate, except Satan; he refused, was too arrogant, and a disbeliever.

We see that God tested Adam in Paradise by commanding him not to approach the tree.

[7:19] "As for you, Adam, dwell with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom as you please, but do not approach this one tree, lest you fall in sin."

This is in contrast to the dream that Abraham had where he thought he was supposed to sacrifice his son. This dream was not from God, but instead it was from Satan. Additionally, God saved Abraham from fulfilling his dream. Therefore since this commandment did not come from God and Abraham did not fulfill his dream then therefore this could not be the fulfillment of the command referenced per 2:124 and 53:37.

Because of this, the only other option of a commandment from God that Abraham fulfilled that is universally recognized by even the non-believers is that of the Covenant of Circumcision.

Genesis 17 – The Covenant of Circumcision

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

Conclusion

Circumcision is universally accepted by all people of the book: Jews, Christian, and Muslims as part of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his future believing descendants. This is the “certain commands” that was given to Abraham by God per 2:214, and is universally recognized that Abraham fulfilled these commandments from God by even those who turn away from the message yet are aware of the teachings of the scripture of Moses per 53:36-37.

[53:33] Have you noted the one who turned away? [53:34] Rarely did he give to charity, and then very little. [53:35] Did he possess knowledge of the future? Could he see it? [53:36] Was he not informed of the teachings in the scripture of Moses? [53:37] And Abraham who fulfilled?

[2:124] Recall that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commands, and he fulfilled them. (God) said, "I am appointing you an imam for the people." He said, "And also my descendants?" He said, "My covenant does not include the transgressors."

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