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A scientific reading of the Quran


 A scientific reading of the Quran

 Fouzia Madani, Doctor of history and philosophy of science


Farid Gabteni’s study dedicated to the Quran, The Sun Rises in the West[1], is undeniably a landmark event, for more than one reason. Firstly, because it shines a spotlight on a multitude of strange and disconcerting coincidences which punctuate the Quranic text. The author’s unprecedented approach consists in highlighting the singular character of the Quran through verifiable results. Such demonstrations prove a flawless balance, within which the categorisation of chapters, the number of each verse and their total number, as well as the word and letter count, all play their part. The results thus obtained intersect resulting in a sequencing whose precision of the organisation and degree of development enable Farid Gabteni to draw conclusions of a scientific[2] nature, which involve the transcendent origin of the Quran.
Secondly, this study seeks to analyse the varying aspects of this sacred text. In order to do so, it avoids the use of rhetoric or apologetics and all observations are expressed in a descriptive language calling on mathematical tools such as statistics and arithmetic, which are seemingly far removed from the field of religious texts.
One of the significant merits of this research is that it sets itself apart through its characteristic method and scope. It offers a perspective which is much more precise, systematic, and complete than those of previous attempts. Furthermore, this new edition will deeply alter the perception which is held of this field of study.
We must recognise that this field of research, termed “numerical miracle of the Quran,” remains relatively unknown and is sometimes mired by controversy. The term “numerical” is in truth an inaccurate way of defining the nature of Farid Gabteni’s works. His approach could be described as “scientific reading.” In fact, the researcher proposes the deciphering of an underlying numerical structure within the Quran, without overlooking the intellectual and spiritual dimension characterising this text.
In this respect, we should emphasise the ambition of this research, to reconcile quantitative approaches with semantic and argumentative analyses. To this end, we believe we have discerned two complementary approaches that rely on interaction between form and content.
The first focuses on the numerical data present in the Quranic corpus, identifying occurrences, but also the specificities of figures, letters and words. The second, relying on argumentative analyses, explores the meanings of passages of the Quranic discourse in greater depth.
One of the major strengths of this study is precisely the quest for meaning and the effort made by Farid Gabteni to distance himself from the exegetical literature and understand the full complexity which lies behind the framework of formal data, without limiting himself to mere reading of quantities, measurements and equations.
The first volume is the perfect illustration, as while drawing the reader’s attention to the numerical connections between different verses and chapters, the ta’wîl, or search for original meaning, focuses a wide range of resources, such as etymology and linguistic analysis, shedding light on the text and, in other words, strengthens, or even fits with the formal structure of verses and chapters.
To gain a better perspective of the thoroughness and scope of this study, we must bear in mind the didactic method employed. It is illustrated by tables and processes of verification, as well as by introductions to the revelation of the Quran, notions of codicology and above all a summary of the Quranic Readings, all of which offers non-specialists access to the very heart of the field of study. To that, we must add that the researcher took the different Readings and the numerous countings of the Quran into consideration, which was not the case in the previous efforts of his predecessors, as they were thought to be the sole domain of specialists.
It is also worth pointing out that, in accordance with what he states in his introduction, Farid Gabteni unquestionably alters and corrects the preceding efforts in this field that remained incomplete. He thereby opens up new perspectives on later research. Throughout his works, the researcher continually demonstrates that the counts and numerical links exposed in this book gain meaning whereby they highlight the enunciative and argumentative guidelines of a revealed text, which transcends time.
For an even more comprehensive understanding of the scope of this work, it is also useful to discuss the background at work and two prevailing ideas within Islam. On the one hand, the relationship between Revelation and Science, and on the other, the phenomenon of the inimitability of the Quran.
The relationship between Revelation and Science in Islam continues to point in the direction of a total adequacy, despite the sometimes tense relations between theologians and philosophers. By Science, we must consider science in the broad meaning of the word and any knowledge which yields facts.
In Islam, the knowledge of God is achieved by means of Revelation and Science. The idea of the unity of knowledge arises from it, along with the notion that all knowledge must by definition lead to knowledge of the Divine. The commands within the Quran to explore nature and phenomena have the essential motivation of discovering the mark of the Creator therein. The famous 12th century Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) summarises the harmony between Revelation and Science in the following axiom: “As given that this Revelation is truth, and it calls for the practice of rational examination which ensures knowledge of the truth, then we, Muslims, know from proven science that the examination (of beings) through demonstration will not lead to any form of contradiction with the teachings provided by the revealed Text: as truth cannot contradict the truth, but can instead only align with it and bear witness to it”[3].
There is, in The Sun Rises in the West, this idea which is interesting to behold, to see, in the incitation of the Quran to Science, further evidence of the harmony between Revelation and Science in Islam. The Quran contains nothing which serves to contradict Science and a fortiori modern science. A useful example of this approach is given in the chapters The Origin and The Arranging[4], where emphasis is placed on the finality of science and the importance of instruction and the acquisition of knowledge.
Farid Gabteni reiterates this stance and takes it one step further. In our opinion, the initial intention of his research is to assert, by means of a number of demonstrations, that, as it is the case for the Universe, everything leads to proof that the Quran follows a highly intricate sequence, which itself obeys strict mathematical rules. On the basis of these axioms, there is no form of contradiction between scientific revelation and Quranic revelation. It is no longer solely Revelation (in the Quran) which testifies to the relevance of sciences and the warm welcome offered to them, but instead science, and more precisely mathematics, a particular branch of science[5], which enable demonstration and verification of the statements at the heart of this material object which is Writing.
On the basis of this logic, in this study, the mathematical tool is used to provide access to data and operations in order to decrypt the mechanisms at work within this communication deemed as divine. Furthermore, there is no interference within this scientific approach caused by opinion or prejudice as only reason is sought.
Let us extrapolate reason to its fullest extent, the Universe is structured and regulated because it is the work of God. By the same token, the Quran, the word of God, proceeds from the same order, and therefore, the order of these two facts can only translate a single Truth.
For Galileo, nature, written in mathematical language, was also a revelation[6], as the man of science eventually achieves it, being capable of using reason and experience to identify universal laws.
Starting from the principle that science does not invent, but rather discovers, then why not logically consider that Revelation, as a Word of God, would be governed by an order or regularities that the man of science would eventually come to describe and experience?
Besides, through the work of Farid Gabteni, the traditional theme of the inimitability of the Quran (‘iΣjâz al-Qur’ân) is updated and extended through a figure of scientific, or even mathematical, inimitability (‘iΣjâz Σilmî) of the sacred text. A new theme which is proving its legitimacy to many researchers, through several verses of the Quran which portray the “unattainable” challenge set by God to man to provide a comparable book, whether that be in form or content.
Let us remember that throughout the history of Islamic thought, this concept covers a variety of aspects, whether they be linked to the content or the style of the Quran. Therefore, the emphasis is placed on the originality of the Quranic message and its timelessness. The Quran is scrutinised in order to discover linguistic and stylistic elements that could demonstrate the inimitable character of its style and sequencing. Studies, such as Naẓm al-Qur’ân, of Al-Jâḥiẓ[7] and that of Al-Bâqillânî[8], are representative of this trend.
Nowadays, the inimitability of the Quran (‘iΣjâz al-Qur’ân), from a scientific and mathematical point of view, is presented as a guarantee of the divine essence of this sacred text dating back to the 7th century of our era. Furthermore, The Sun Rises in the West, particularly in its second volume, points out the numerous coding systems at work within the Quran, a framework of sorts onto which the Quranic discourse is attached, which highlights a proven, transcendent intention.
To conclude, let us point out another unprecedented element of scope of this study which brings together different fields of investigation, and emphasises the interest of bridges between the different fields of science and the different domains of expertise, the boundaries of which are no longer so set in stone.
In addition to epistemologists, this study will be of interest to specialists in disciplines that have so far gone overlooked, such as mathematics and its different branches of logic, algebra, probabilities and statistics. These researchers are now able to address the degree of relevance within this field of study as well as the nature of the links and coherence of the results of this work, opening up unimaginable perspectives that we have only just begun to perceive.


[1] Farid Gabteni, Le Soleil se lève à l’Occident, Albouraq (ed.), 1999, 2000; CIRS (ed.), 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010; SCDOFG (ed.), 2016, 2017, 2018. Arabic edition: Farid Gabteni فريد قبطاني , Tulû al-shams min maghribihâ (طلـوع الشمـس من مغربهـا), Albouraq (ed.), 1999, 2000; SCDOFG (ed.), 2018.

[2] Used in this case as a qualifier to describe the specific characteristics of science, such as rigor and exigency.

[3] Averroès, Traité décisif, Paris, Éditions Sindbad, 1988.

[4] Cf. volume 1.

[5] The word "mathematics" comes from the Greek μάθημα (máthēma), which means ‘science, knowledge’; thereafter, it has taken the meaning we know today.

[6] The word "revelation" comes from the Latin revelare, which means "to unveil, make known what was hidden, secret".

[7] Abû ΣUthmân ΣAmr Ibn Baḥr Al-Jâḥiẓ (died in 869) is a Mu'tazili writer. He addressed this matter in a book on this subject, Naẓm al-Qur’ân, which was never found.

[8] The judge Abû Bakr Al-Bâqillânî (died in 1013) is an Ash'ari theologian. He dedicated a book, ’IΣjâza l-Qur’ân, to explain what distinguishes the Quran from the other texts.


For Enlightened Islam: the mathematical order of the Quranic text

For Enlightened Islam: the mathematical order of the Quranic text

Ismaël Omarjee, Doctor of history and philosophy of science
Many pioneers of the scientific arena, most of the founders of modern science, have reached conclusions of metaphysical nature, on the basis of the study of nature and its intelligibility. For instance, the idea of a divine origin and order is characteristic of Isaac Newton’s thinking. In conclusion to his major work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, he wrote: This most elegant system of the sun, planets and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being[1]. Neither was Albert Einstein a stranger to metaphysical reflection, stating for example: The individual feels the vanity of human desires and aims, and the nobility and marvelous order which are revealed in nature and in the world of thought. He feels the individual destiny as an imprisonment and seeks to experience the totality of existence as a unity full of significance[2]. Georges Lemaître, one of the principal founders of modern cosmology, proposed the following idea: Science is beautiful, worthy in its own right of love and service, given that it reflects the creative thought of God[3]. Another eminent figure of 20th century physics, Abdus Salam, stated that: For the believer, this wonderful world structure which our intelligence has reached is no more than the briefest glimpse of the divine plan, akin to plucking a few threads from a spectacular tapestry. The only attitude that we can adopt when faced with the profound depth of the world’s radiant beauty in our exploration of it is one of religious respect[4].
The metaphysical issue is still raised within the scientific community. For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of the review Science, held a conference in 1999 on Cosmic Questions, whose programme included a day dedicated to the following topic: Is the Universe designed? On this occasion, for instance, were asserted the compatibility of Darwinian evolutionism with the faith in a Creator or even the idea according to which quantum physics in no way reduces the credibility of materialism and scientism. Furthermore, the progresses in astrophysics led some scientists not to exclude that evolution and the characteristics of the Universe are marked by a plan or a creative principle. According to them, the laws and constants of the Universe must be adjusted in an extremely precise way so that life and thought can appear, since the slightest variation of them would render impossible the emergence of any form of complexity. These ideas come from scientists who recognize the current theories, not from supporters of the creationist thesis, or that known under the name of “Intelligent Design,” which are both critical of the theory of evolution.
The idea of an opposition between “creation” and “evolution” forms part of the controversy involving the notions of creationism and evolutionism[5]. Varying responses have been given regarding the question of their compatibility. It is not our aim to present and study them here. We will limit ourselves to clarifying that at the heart of the cultural area concerning the Quran, which is this work’s primary object of study, is proposed and largely shared the idea according to which the sacred text of the seventh century in no way contradicts the naturalist idea of an evolutionary process since the beginnings of the Universe, even going so far finds some alignment with it. This process, conceived of as natural, is therefore thought of as the chosen mode of creation, the work of Transcendence. On this basis, evolution and creation, science and theology, stand in agreement, in their complete acceptance of each of these notions. Finally, within this logic of monotheistic nature, if it is a miracle, it is not to be found in the whole, but is instead represented by the whole itself: whole of the Universe and its laws, a unified and organized whole, not the whole of miracles, of timeless creations, of out of laws, out of rules, abnormal or paranormal events[6].
Let us note that the Quran mentions the general idea of regularities characterizing the creation: (…) Then you will not find for God’s Mode a change (…)[7]. We can point out, with the reference to this idea, that the calculated and regulated nature of astronomical phenomena, for example, represents a Quranic subject[8]. Laws and constants, the mathematical dimension of the Universe and the unitary traits of the world appear to the knowledgeable believer as an expression of divine will, a manifestation of the intelligence, the permanency, the measurement, the rule, offered to reason, to the human spirit. In this regard, the observation of nature and the intelligence of phenomena, the study of divine signs, the comprehension of the order established by an omnipresent Creator, are encouraged: Certainly in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for men of understanding – Those who remember God, standing and sitting and on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (…)[9]. In general, in numerous verses, and since the very first revelead, the Quran insists on the importance of an awareness of the Creator’s work, on the observation and the full exercise of reason. The spiritual journey consequently defines itself as a natural and rational journey, a journey of conscience and science, an act of knowledge and recognition.
Farid Gabteni’s firm and complete commitment to the Islam of knowledge, the original Islam, the enlightened Islam, explains his method of research concerning the Quranic text, and, beyond, the sacred texts of monotheism. On the basis of his research, the author culminates in the highlight of a mathematical order encoded in the Revelation, of an underlying calculation, which is all the more surprising, and which could not be the product of pure chance. He thereby establishes the existence of a structural and structuring message, both signifier and evidence. The following statements come as a result. The Book, like the Universe, is mathematically structured and understandable. The history of their respective development-advent is thus conceived as mathematically directed, the expression of a sovereign intelligence, which reveals itself within and through the human mind. In other words, a reality of thought, an integral order, a general mathematical rule, a science of oneness, presiding over the real, come to light: (…) Then you will not find for God’s Mode a change (…). Creation and Revelation both lead to their shared, unique origin.
This natural order, this mathematical modality of the “great book”, according to Galileo’s formula, appears as the teaching of the human intelligence, fruit of an evolution whose roots are found in the minutes of cosmic origins, to the consciousness. Science and conscience become the marks of a plan, reflections and signs, within the human mind, of the Origin, of the Intelligence.
Farid Gabteni’s work presents an additional dimension: that of their unitary aspect in the field of monotheism. Indeed, starting from the Quran, the author integrates the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament to his research. The work’s first volume thus contains a section entitled “Messianic air”, which exposes the results of a crossover study of the three texts, where their respective elements articulate with each other and complete each other. These works constitute therefore a practical example of the meeting among the three great religions claiming the same origin, the Abrahamic origin, on their common foundation: The One.
This work, by lifting a veil on the reading and the richness of the Quran, reminds and confirms its revealed nature, its timeless truth: The Unique God Without associate, The Absolute Reality, The Uncreated, who created everything. To this end, the two volumes of the book complement one another. The decisive conclusions reached in the first volume are backed up and supported by the second volume. For instance, the hiterto misunderstood and enigmatic letter codes of the Quran[10], the study of which finds its natural place in this work outlining an encoded and unsuspected science, show their significant and enlightening dimension. In fine, by showing the way, this work promotes a thorough and extended[11] study of the divine Book, which conveys a masterful and unequalled teaching.
The present publication of Farid Gabteni’s works has been enriched with additional developments. The rigorous mathematical-textual developments of the work, its quintessence[12], their innovative and founding character, their profound consequences in the field of science, philosophy and theology, create a singular and significant achievement within the history of thought. They build a far-reaching field of rationality and knowledge, where science and conscience become one. This science leads to enrich our thinking on the nature of the real[13] and the very meaning of the word knowledge[14].
Let us also add that the work, along with the presentation of the results obtained and the method used by the author, is directed at a general public, at the researcher as well as the non-specialist. There again is found its specificity, in terms of scope, in the context of the now highly specialised fields of sciences.
[1] Newton, Isaac, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Scholie general.

[2] Einstein, Albert, Œuvres choisies, Volume 5, Seuil-CNRS, 1991, p.156.

[3] This idea was proposed in 1934, on receiving the Francqui Prize.

[4] Abdus Salam un physicien, Entretien avec Jacques Vauthier, ed. Beauchesne, 1990.

[5] The opposition between creationism and evolutionism is essentially borne of the divergent positions respectively dictated by literal sense of the biblical verses, on the one hand, and by the scientific research, sometimes coupled with a different exegesis of these verses, on the other hand.

[6] Quranic verses such as follows are put forward to support these ideas, in accordance with the idea of a unified origin of plurality, whose current reality is conceived as its development and expression, and with the idea of cosmic expansion:
  - "Have those who denigrated not seen that certainly the skies and the earth were compact? Then We Separated them, and We Formed from water every living thing (…)" (sura 21, verse 30),
  - "And the sky, We Built it with hands, and certainly We Are assuredly (its) Expander" (sura 51, verse 47).

[7] Sura 35, verse 43.

[8] A verse such as the following furthers this idea: "The sun and the moon by calculation" (sura 55, verse 5).

[9] Sura 3, verses 190-191.

[10] Letters that are located and uttered at the beginning of some suras, without making up words.

[11]  Multidisciplinary among others.

[12] The work for the large part comprises mathematical-textual developments. It has also been supplemented by theological comments as well as historical and linguistic analyses. We define the work’s quintessence as the convincing and enlightening heart of these mathematical-textual developments.

[13] That is to say, an enrichment of the reflection on Scripture, the nature of nature, man’s place in the Universe or, in other words, the cosmological and human History, the subject of the ultimate origin, the proof of God’s existence.

[14] For all of these reasons, this work represents a profound source of study favouring various disciplines, ranging from exact sciences to epistemology and metaphysics.