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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