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God’s Name and the Figure 786

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 3/14/04

Q.1. In our part of the world most people replace the practice of starting a letter or an action with God’s name by writing the figure 786 instead. Is this correct?

Q.2. What is meant by Barzaq?

S. Ahmad

A. People do this in order to avoid the possibility that a paper with God’s name written on it should be thrown in a trash bin. They say that this figure is equivalent to writing the phrase Bism Allah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem, which means “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent.” The figure is arrived at by assigning a value to each letter of the Arabic alphabet, starting 1,2,3, then 10,20,30, etc. If you replace each letter of the Arabic phrase with its value and add these values together, we get this total figure. People think that this is an appropriate replacement, to the extent that recently in England, mobile telephone lines starting with this figure were sold for several times their normal price.

Although the thought of respecting God’s name and ensuring that it is not thrown in the wrong place is commendable, there is absolutely no basis for this belief and the replacement of the phrase with this figure, or any other symbol for that matter. People should use the phrase as it is, and when a paper containing it, or containing a verse from the Qur’an, or God’s name is to be disposed of, that piece of paper can be shredded, or burned, or buried. Any such way of disposing with it is permissible.

Q.2. The correct word is barzakh which, linguistically speaking, means “a separation between two things.” However, in specialized usage, it means the gap between one’s death and the resurrection on the Day of Judgment. Scholars agree that it represents a form of life, but we do not know much about it. The word is mentioned in the Qur’an: “When death approaches any of them, he prays: ‘My Lord! Let me return to life, so that I might act righteously in whatever I have failed to do!’ No indeed! It is but a meaningless word he utters. Behind them there is a barrier until the Day when all will be raised from the dead.” (23: 99-100) You note that the verse refers to “a barrier” separating them till the Day of Resurrection.

The word “barrier” here is the translation of the Arabic word barzakh, which separates those who depart this life from the life to come.

Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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