The Sacred Arabic Numerals

The drawings of the ten Arabic numerals began with the study of the Arabic language and research of the traditional calligraphy seen in numerous examples in Qur’ans, mosques and on various objects. The image below left is an example of a preliminary drawing where some of the colour and composition details are investigated.  The composition of shapes follows an alternating order beginning with a circle then a square. The use of the circle and square are shapes that are central  to the traditional designs seen in Islamic art and archtecture.


The image below right is a drawing of the ten numerals in black and white.  Each numeral is in it’s final form.  When using a traditional calligraphy pen the initial mark, called a noktah, is made to begin forming each numeral. The noktah looks similar to the Arabic number zero or a diamond shape which is the size of the pen nib width. The pen stroke begins at the top and then continues in a downward stroke. The numbers are qualitative and quantative entities. Their outward or exoteric expression is as mathematical numbers and there also exists an essence, in Arabic a batin (باطن ), which is a esoteric quality that distinguishes one number from another. This distinguishing feature is a representation of Unity whereby all numbers relate to their source. The numerals 1, 5, 7 and 0 will be briefly discussed.


One represents Allah or God the Creator, primordial, eternal and permanent. One is the principle and the origin of all numbers.







Five represents the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. In nature the qualities of ether, fire, air, water and earth exist. In this drawing the number five is gold leafed



The number seven represents the seven visible planets, the Sun, Moon and the five planets closest to the sun in our solar system, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The moon is represented in this drawing. The number seven also represents the seven days of the week.


The number zero or sifr in Arabic like the other nine numbers has a quantitative quality in that it represents nothing but when added to one the two numbers represent ten and so on. The qualitative or esoteric meaning of zero is the Divine Essence. God is One, Eternal not restricted to the domain of something or nothing.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.