Palindrome in the Quran Sura 74:3

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This article analyses the supposed palindrome in the Quranic verse 74:3.

Verse 74:3 in the Quran

In context:

74:1 يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ O you who covers himself [with a garment],

74:2 قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ Arise and warn

74:3 وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ And your Lord glorify

74:4 وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ And your clothing purify

74:5 وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ And uncleanliness avoid

The verse 74:3 consists of two words:

  • وَرَبَّكَ - wa-rabba-ka - "and your lord" (literally and-lord-yours)
  • فَكَبِّرْ - fa-kabbir - "glorify" (literally and/then-glorify)

The (non-existing) palindrome

A palindrome is a text that is spelled exactly the same when read backwards. For example the word "rotator":

r o t a t o r (spelled forwards)

r o t a t o r (spelled backwards)

The word rotator

Here is the Arabic text spelled forward and backwards:

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ

رِبَّكَ فَكَبَّرَو

w a r a b b a k a f a k a b b i r (spelled forwards)

r i b b a k a f a k a b b a r u (spelled backwards)

The verse is NOT a palindrome.

Apologetic mental gymnastics

Dropping the first letter

The "reason" is that maybe in this verse و (wa) doesn't mean "and" and it is only an indicator for starting a sentence. Even if this was true, it would still not be a palindrome:

r a b b a k a f a k a b b i r (spelled forwards)

r i b b a k a f a k a b b a r (spelled backwards)

a non-palindrome

This failed on the second letter.

Besides that, most translators translate the و as "and" and the translation "and" fits into the context of the verse.

Dropping diacritics

The "problematic" vowels a and i are indicated by diacritics. If we now, after deleting the letter و ignored the diacritics we would have only the Arabic letters:

ربك فكبر

ر ب ك ف ك ب ر

r b k f k b r

But this is no longer a word. Every Arabic word has diacritics and when they are not written the reader is supposed to know them by heart.

And this is the supposed "miraculous" palindrome. Three letters r-b-k around f. So it's similar to the example "rotator" except that the word rotator is a real palindrome and doesn't require mental gymnastics.

Real palindromes

There are many websites which contain long palindromic sentences. For example:

See also