Glorify Your Lord

Apart from the linguistic miraculousness, the verse is a miracle at an extrinsic or semantic level
Glorify Your Lord
Representational Pic

The magnificence of the Quran lies in the fact that it is the Word of Allah, the most accurate and the truthful speech. Its grandeur, bears the holy book itself, is such that had it been sent down upon a mountain, from the fear of Allah the mountain would have "humbled and split asunder" (Surah Al-Hashr, verse 21). Talking about its extraordinary greatness, the prophet of Islam (SAW) says, "Every Prophet was given miracles because of which people believed, but what I have been given, is Divine Inspiration which Allah has revealed to me. So I hope that my followers will outnumber the followers of the other Prophets on the Day of Resurrection" (Sahih al-Bukhari).

Though the entire Quran is a miracle, the 3rd verse of Surah Al-Muddassir (chapter 74) is no less a marvel. The verse which reads "Wa Rabbaka Fakkabir" ("And Magnify the glory of your Lord") stands as an evidence of the Greatness of Allah in itself, both linguistically and semantically. When reduced to Arabic alphabet, the verse is comprised of a total of 10 letters i.e. Waaw, Raa, Baa, Baa, Kaaf, Faa, Kaaf, Baa, Baa and Raa.

Nouman Ali Khan, an American Islamic preacher and Arabic instructor, while discussing the same verse reveals that Waaw in Arabic has twenty-six functions; one of them is that it is used to begin a sentence in Arabic in the same sense as the first letter of any sentence in English language must be capital. Therefore, we are now left with nine Arabic letters from the verse i.e. Raa (R), Baa (B), Baa (B), Kaaf (K), Faa (F), Kaaf (K), Baa (B), Baa (B) and Raa (R). These nine letters, as shown below, whether read backward or forward form the same syntax of the given verse- "Rabbaka Fakabbir"- thereby forming a palindrome:

(Read Forward) →R B B K F K B B R

R B B K F K B B R ← (Read Backward)

This verse, which aims at declaring the Greatness of Allah, glorifies His Greatness at two levels. At the intrinsic level, it forms a palindrome. This is a miracle not only because the greatest syntactic order has been used to talk about the Greatness of the Great but also if translated into any other language, the palindrome fails to occur. Apart from the linguistic miraculousness, the verse is a miracle at an extrinsic or semantic level. In simple words, the Greatness which the verse verbalizes gets reflected from an external source also. Therefore, the verse, most possibly, is not a closed Saussurian structure but involves an external signifier. This external source can be recognised as Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA).

To understand the possible connection between the verse, directing to magnify the Greatness of Allah, and DNA, we at least need to know that much like the palindrome in the verse, there occurs a palindrome in deoxyribonucleic acid also. According to Watson-Crick Proposal the two strands of a DNA composing one double helix are anti-parallel to each other, that is they run in opposite directions. If one chain runs in the 5'→3' direction, its partner must run in the opposite 3'→5' direction. Also in a DNA, an adenine base (A) on one strand will always find itself bonded to a thymine base (T) on the another strand. Likewise, guanine base (G) is always bonded to cytosine (C). The nucleotide sequences of the two strands arising thereby are always fixed relative to one another; this fixed relationship makes the two strands of the double helix complimentary to one another.

Gerald C Karp in his book "Cell and Molecular Biology" further mentions that during the 1970s the restriction enzymes (Restriction Endonucleases) isolated from several hundred different Prokaryotic organisms together recognised over hundred different nucleotide sequences. The sequences recognised by most of these enzymes are characterised by a particular type of internal symmetry, like the vide-infra sequence recognised by the enzyme EcoR1:

↓ (site of cleavage)

3'——C T T A A G——5'

5'——G A A T T C——3

(site of cleavage) ↑

This segment of DNA, writes C. Karp, is said to have two-fold rotational symmetry because it can be rotated 180° without any change in base sequence. Thus, if one reads the sequence in the same direction (3'→5' or 5'→3') on either strand, the same order of bases is observed. A sequence with this type of symmetry is what is known as Palindrome in DNA.

Paralleling the two palindromes, one surely sees a connection, a connection of greatness. If asked what is the most complex and amazing thing Allah ever created, the answer will mostly be the "life", and perhaps in the life a human being. The next question one is naturally directed to is about the base of the life in any human body or in any living organism, I mean the most vital thing in a living body. No sooner this question surfaces than a DNA or a gene comes to mind. Why should it not? Its functionality being miscellaneous, DNA specially serves as a site of instructions for life to develop, nourish and reproduce, the sequences that lead to molecule formation like proteins on which the cells thrive. Resources being widely available, I need not list all the functions to monumentalize DNA as a natural wonder of the world; however, if one is made to pick from life a single thing that is marvellously great, it will frequently be DNA and in DNA perhaps the palindrome itself.

Coming back to the palindrome in the given verse of the Quran and keeping in mind what has been discussed so far, the extrinsic greatness I tried to touch earlier is certainly reflected, at least, from the DNA. Since our Lord created a great thing, along with all other Creation, in the form of DNA, the greatness of this creation must be used or directed to glorify His Greatness, which again takes us back to meaning of the verse "And Magnify the glory of your Lord". The connection between DNA and the verse is maintained by the two palindromes. Just like the four different letters (representing the four chemical bases) of English alphabet get repeated to form the palindrome in DNA i.e. C T A and G, the same number of letters of Arabic alphabet repeat themselves in the given verse to make a palindrome, represented by R B K and F. It is noteworthy that the exact mirroring of the letters does not matter because the names given to the chemical bases are not natural, what matters is the number of different letters getting repeated in each palindrome. Hence it seems one palindrome is reflected from the other, and together they direct us to the Greatness of the Creator.

Aadil Hussain is pursing MA English from JMI, Delhi

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