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The philosophy of colours in the Holy Quran

by Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi

(The Light & Islamic Review: Vol. 71; Nos. 4-6; Jul-Dec 1995; p. 6-10, 4-6, 5-7)

(This article, written originally in Urdu, first appeared in the Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman's periodical 'Paigham Sulh' in 1946. It has been included in the first volume of the compilation of the Maulana's Urdu articles published under the title 'Muarif-ul-Haq'.)
Introduction / Knowledge and beauties of the Quran and the Promised Messiah / Two caveats / Criteria of excellence of a writing / Analysis and explanation of words / Meaning of the verse / Moral aspects of these verses / Evidence of existence of God and truth of Prophet Muhammad / Misconceptions about colours in all nations / Colour-blind nations / Colour in Arabic / Wealth of terms in Arabic for colours / Mental and spiritual colour-blindness / Scientific miracle of the Quran / Great service of Quran and Holy Prophet /

"Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water, then brings forth with it fruits of different kinds (or colours). And in the mountains there are streaks, white and red, of different colours, and some intensely black. And of people and animals and cattle there are different colours likewise. Only those of His servants fear Allah who possess knowledge." (Holy Quran 35:27-28)

Knowledge and beauties of the Quran and the Promised Messiah

The learned persons of the Muslim nation agree that the truths and the knowledge contained in the Holy Quran will continue to be disclosed till the end of time. It is also obvious that according to the clear evidence of the words "none shall touch it except the purified ones" (the Quran 56:79), the man to whom knowledge of the Quran is disclosed in abundance cannot be a heretic and disbeliever. The history of Islam cannot present any example of a disbeliever who studied the Quran extensively and whose mission in life was to prove the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and of the Holy Quran by means of arguments and proofs whose excellence could not be matched by any of the ulama, whether of the former times or of his own time. According to the late Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, in our time Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the man who showed his love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad by means of the Holy Quran. In his first book, Barahin Ahmadiyya, the arguments and evidence on the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad which he has given from the Quran are a shining example of knowledge of the Quran. After this too, in his other books, he has spread these pearls everywhere. Would that the Muslims, instead of reading books written by the religious leaders opposed to him, study his own works and judge him fairly. To look at something only through the eyes of its opposition obscures the real nature of that thing.

However, the claim made in Barahin Ahmadiyya that 300 arguments will be adduced could not be fulfilled due to some Divine purpose. To express one's real feelings, after reading the four parts of a work of high merit like the Barahin Ahmadiyya, you wish that you could enjoy even more of the fruit of its knowledge. However, if Hazrat Mirza sahib had exhausted the knowledge of the Holy Quran and the arguments on the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, he would have deprived us of the pleasure of research and investigation, and even closed the way for us to express our love for the Holy Prophet. But these people do not come in order to close down human thinking and reflection; rather, they come to make these mental faculties even sharper and more radiant.

Two caveats

I am asked every year to make a speech on some topic at the annual Jalsa of the Anjuman. I have never published these speeches in written form, and despite repeated requests from friends I am not inclined to do so. Hazrat Amir Maulana Muhammad Ali once urged me to write a book on the topic of modern scientific knowledge and the Holy Quran. Last summer Mirza Muzaffar Baig insisted that I should collect together my articles on this topic, and they would be published. But what prevents me from so doing is that my knowledge is inadequate. While people praise my speeches every year, what I really wish is that scholarly and knowledgeable people would point out errors in them.

Secondly, the history of science itself is in fact the history of the constant errors of human thought. To interpret the Holy Quran on the basis of scientific discoveries is to invite danger. Nonetheless, it is an admitted fact that there is no error or fault in nature. Its laws are based on truth. The errors are of our thinking and the blame lies on our understanding. Similarly, the Holy Quran has the perfect quality described in the words "this Book, there is no doubt in it" (2:2). It is our reasoning, argument and deduction which can be mistaken.

After these two warnings, I present an article on the knowledge of the Quran in the light of present scientific research which was delivered as a speech at the annual Jalsa but could not be completed due to lack of time.

Criteria of excellence of a writing

The excellence of a writing is judged from three aspects:

  1. The eloquence, beauty and arrangement of its words.
  2. Its philosophical, scientific or scholarly value.
  3. Its moral and spiritual utility.

A writing may be of a high standard as regards the composition of text and use of language, but it may have no scholarly value whatsoever. Conversely, another writing may be excellent as a work of learning and knowledge, but may be totally lacking in eloquence and consist of badly joined phrases. And if, by chance, a writing possesses both qualities, but its effect upon the improvement of the morals of human beings is nothing, its moral value is nil. A writing of the highest merit and standard can only be one which combines these three qualities.

There are innumerable commentaries and expositions of the Holy Quran which have been written, and which will be written in future, but it is impossible to encompass its contents and give a gist of them because the truths revealed in it are endless and its wonders shall not cease till the end of time. The best exposition of the Quran is one which creates within the human heart an appreciation of the beauty of its language, an understanding of the truths contained in it, and a light which produces good morals.

Analysis and explanation of words

The verse upon which I spoke at the annual Jalsa possesses all these three qualities. It is as follows:

wa min al-jibali judad-un biz-un wa humr-un mukhtalif-un alwanu-ha wa gharabib sud --

"And in the mountains there are streaks, white and red, of different colours, and some intensely black."

Wa: The "and", with which these words begin, is considered by the commentators of the Quran to be the kind of "and" which introduces a new subject (wa musta'nifa), so that these words are thought to have no connection with the preceding words: "Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water..." But usually "and" is used to show a connection between the preceding and the following words, the kind of "and" which is called wa 'atifa.

On the basis that there is a connection between the two sets of words, this turns out to be an explanation about colours which is entirely in accord with present scientific knowledge. But fourteen hundred years ago no scientist or philosopher in the world knew of these discoveries.

The word wa occurs twice more: "white and red", "and (some) intensely black". The first is again the "and" of connection, but it is the kind which "refers the particular to the general", i.e. red is a particular case while white is general. This, too, discloses a discovery about colours which is now an established fact of modern knowledge.

The "and" in the words "and (some) intensely black" is the kind of "and" known as wa mugha'ira, which excludes black from the category of colours. This fact is not even now known generally, but only to the learned ones.

Min ("And in the mountains ..."): If this particle means "from" indicating the source of something, as it can do, this sheds further light on modern discoveries about colours. Even if taken as meaning "in", it expresses the power and wisdom of God.

Jibal: This is generally applied to mountains. The effect and influence of colours may be particularly seen in mountains. Sometimes the word jibal denotes something which is of great power and worthy of honour. Jibal here indicates the grandeur, power and abundance of the thing which descends from the sky bearing colours. In the Quran, the word jibal also means clouds, as in the verse: "And He sends down from the sky clouds wherein is hail" (24:43). The reaching of the rays of the sun, bearing colours, to the ground after passing through miles of extremely cold clouds, is such a magnificent phenomenon concealing within itself so much of the knowledge and wisdom of God that only modern physicists can understand it properly.

Judad: Tracts, paths, streaks, that which is fast moving -- all these meanings disclose something about modern discoveries regarding colours and light.

Biz: the word "white" in plural. This word is evidence of how perfectly aware of colours the Arabs were, and testifies to Arabic being the perfect language.

Humr: the word "red" in plural. This is to show that there is not just one colour red, but there are many shades and degrees of it. By mentioning red as the last of colours, and by ending with it "different colours", the Quran has given a perfect description which can only be appreciated by those possessing knowledge.

Mukhtalif-un alwanu-ha (lit. their different colours): the pronoun their refers to both white and red. Observing this scientific miracle of the Holy Quran, a physicist will have to concede that it is the word of God. This refers to colours occurring in pairs, a discovery made only recently.

Gharabib sud: Intensely black. After mentioning "different colours", the "and" of exclusion (wa mugha'ira) is used to exclude black from the category of colours, so that the words amount to saying: there are streaks of different colours, ranging from white to red, and there are other streaks which are intensely black. These words show a deep knowledge containing a strong evidence for scientists. Not only is black not declared to be one of the colours, but its nature is fully described as well, and this is a shining proof of the Holy Quran being the word of God.

Meaning of the verse

The verse under discussion then means as follows: 

"Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water, then brings forth with it fruits of different kinds (or colours). And from the sky and the clouds (He sends down) fast-moving waves, white and red, of different colours, and others intensely black."

The verse begins with the address: Do you not see. This indicates that it contains something worth pondering and thinking about. The purpose of drawing attention in this way is to say that no matter how beautiful a scene there may be before the eyes, however much knowledge and truth it may hold, and however many volumes of wisdom there may be in it, but a blind eye and a dead heart cannot benefit from it. The fact is that for man there are two worlds: the external world and the internal world of his knowledge. The eyes are the doorway between these two worlds, through which the external world with the facts and the knowledge relating to it enters into us. The importance of this doorway for man is obvious, but its value can only be realized when the human mind behind it is a thinking one, and most of all when the brain contains a storehouse of knowledge. The meaning of pondering or seeing is to look at something in the light of knowledge. The benefit a human being can derive from his life is proportionate to the amount of knowledge he has saved in the bank of his brain. It is impossible to draw out more from this account than the amount deposited in it.

The words a lam tara ("do you not see...?") are here used to address scientists who, by their experiments, have accumulated the treasure of knowledge in their minds. If they were to ponder over this passage of the Holy Quran with the aid of their knowledge they would see science paying respect and honour to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. But an ignorant man not given to thinking will probably not see any wisdom or beauty in the verse, just as a person who is colour blind sees everything as grey and dull. While inviting the men of knowledge to ponder and reflect over these verses, the Quran comforts the Holy Prophet Muhammad in these words: 

"If they reject you, then indeed those before them also rejected." (35:25)

meaning that if some unwise people, due to their blindness and ignorance, reject him then it is sufficient to know that nations before them also rejected their messengers even though they brought them proofs, scriptures and illuminating books. However, neither the Holy Prophet nor any Muslim can be satisfied by merely knowing that earlier people had also rejected their messengers. Therefore, after giving some scientific arguments, it is stated: "Only those of His servants fear Allah who possess knowledge." That is, there is no need to feel despondent if the ignorant do not accept you because there will be great learned persons who, being able to see these scientific arguments of the Quran, will accept Islam and reach the stage of high spiritual knowledge and fear of God.

Moral aspects of these verses

I have so far only pointed to the beauty and wisdom of the words and the intellectual arguments, which shows that these verses combine fineness of language with the rational nature of the contents. After this, the ethical view or moral aspect is also worthy of note. Just as, in outward appearance, some colours are attractive and others are repugnant, and some are therapeutic while others have an adverse effect on health, similarly the three colours mentioned here have a special moral significance. White is the colour of peace, harmony, goodness and honour, red denotes danger and war, and black is the colour of evil and ignorance. These colours in this verse also refer to three types of religious leaders (ulama). In the Quran, ulama are likened to mountains (jibal, the word mentioned in this verse), from which rivers and streams of knowledge flow, and springs and fountains of truths rise up. It says: 

"And there are some rocks out of which streams burst forth, and there are some of them which split asunder so water flows from them, and there are some of them which fall down for the fear of Allah." (2:74)

These streams and rivers may be of water which is "white, delicious to those who drink" (37:46), that is, of goodness and of refreshment to the soul. But they may be red, of blood, which turn a peaceful world into one of fiery violence. Likewise, black also refers to ulama who give rise to evil movements of darkness, and from whom come forth huge waves of vice, wickedness and false beliefs.

Evidence of existence of God and truth of Prophet Muhammad

According to several verses of the Holy Quran the diversity of colours is an evidence of the existence of God and His power and wisdom. The fact that this argument was given to the Holy Prophet Muhammad at a time when not even the greatest philosopher or scientist knew the nature of colours is a magnificent sign of the Holy Prophet's truth. An unlettered man, entirely unacquainted with scientific knowledge and living in a country devoid of the light of learning, puts forward a concept which is discovered by human knowledge a thousand years after him, gradually, through the constant research and experiments of the men of science.

The man who eventually made the discovery was proclaimed the greatest man in the world in the very centre of knowledge and learning. The inscription upon his gravestone read: "Here lies buried the greatest man in the world." Sir Isaac Newton was the man who in 1690 c.e. first discovered that white light which descends from the sky without any colour (for in every language it is said that something is either white or coloured) is in fact composed of all the colours. By observing white light passing through a prism and being divided into colours, he discovered that it was a combination of all colours. The first colour, as light emerges from a prism, is violet. This is followed by streaks of other colours, ending with red. On this basis it is said that when white light falls on a solid object it absorbs some of the colours and reflects the others back. The reflected rays reach the retina of our eyes and tell us the colour of the object. In complete darkness nothing has any colour.

The point to be noted here is that colours come down from the sky in the form of light. This concept was unknown to anyone in the world before Sir Isaac Newton. But the knowledge revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad from God not only contains a clear evidence of the existence of God, but by making this disclosure a thousand years before Newton proves the truth of the Holy Prophet to the men of science. Newton by his scientific experiment proved the truth of the statement made in the Holy Quran.

"Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water, then brings forth with it fruits of different kinds (or colours). And in the mountains there are streaks, white and red, of different colours, and others intensely black. And of people and animals and cattle there are different colours likewise. Only those of His servants fear Allah who possess knowledge." (Holy Quran 35:27-28)

1. Colours raining down from the sky. White light comes down from above bearing the colours just as rain descends from the clouds. This is another fact disclosed in this verse. More than 250 years before today, no one believed this about colours, but the great achievement of the Holy Quran is that it mentions both kinds of rain in the same verse, so that those who possess knowledge may ponder that the Quran contains not only Divine knowledge unknown to man but also shows the deep wisdom behind it.

Light from the sun is, in fact, heat of such great intensity that it has no equal in any fire on earth, and if it were to reach the surface of the earth directly everything would burn and turn to gas. But Divine wisdom has been so kind to the living creatures on earth that this heat is cooled down by passing through miles and miles of atmosphere and clouds before reaching the earth, and then that very heat evaporates water from the surface of the earth to form clouds. Read the above verse of the Holy Quran, on the one hand, and on the other the following words of a scientist: 

"The light is pouring down from the sky as certainly as if it consisted of rain drops, but with vastly greater speed."

2. Fast speed of light. The fact that light travels at a very high speed is also a modern discovery. The word judud ("streaks" in the above translation) means fast moving rays -- sar'i-us-sair. The speed of light has been reckoned to be 186,000 miles per second.

3. Just as rainfall causes the earth to produce fruit of different types and colours, so does light from above by falling on things on earth create different colours.

4. The different types of fruit are produced according to the types of soil, even though the rain which falls is the same. Likewise, the light falling everywhere is the same, but a particular thing on earth will absorb certain colours from white light and reflect the others, and when these reflected rays strike the retina of the human eye, that is seen to be the colour of that object.

5. The colours which are absorbed by a substance produce chemical changes in it, and create for us useful things. There are in nature numerous kinds of such 'receiving stations' which absorb light of certain wavelengths, producing chemical compounds as a result, and return to our eyes light of other wavelengths, creating in our brain the impression of colours. For example, the colour of the skin of an orange looks reddish-orange to us because of the mercury sulphide in it.

6. In the verse under discussion, a likeness and analogy is drawn between rain in the form of water and rain in the form of light which brings with it colours. There are three points of likeness:

  1. The Divine bounty of rain and of light is the doer or subject.
  2. The thing upon which rain or light falls is the object.
  3. The fruits and the results produced are the action or consequence.

Both kinds of rain are likened to Divine revelation, and that is the real topic of discussion. It is meant to convey that Divine revelation is a similar kind of Divine bounty coming from above which falls on the "earth" of the human heart and produces spiritual consequences. Colours are related to the physical sense of sight of man, while Divine revelation is related to his inner sight.

No reasonable person in the world can deny the need for rain and for light for the processes of nature on earth, nor can anyone believe that only some nations and countries need rain and light but others do not, nor again can anyone deny the results produced by rain and light. Yet as regards religion, atheists and deniers of revelation hold the view that high morals can be produced without spiritual rain, and that the great teachers of righteousness and goodness in the world such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha and Krishna, may peace be upon them all, came into existence without Divine favour.

Likewise, some believers in religion consider that while the benefit of rain and light is not limited to one nation, yet spiritual rain was confined to just one people and land.

7. Atheists and irreligious people usually deny the truth of religion on the grounds that there are differences in the religions. Had religion been from God, there would not have been any differences. Although in expressing this view they are ignoring the great principles and teachings which religions have in common, nonetheless they should consider the fact that the effects of rain and light on different parts of the earth and on different things on the earth are different because the capacity of absorption differs from one thing to another. Similarly, religion which is the "colouring of God" (see the Quran, 2:138) produces different effects on the differing natures of people. It is not the "colouring of God" which differs but the human hearts.

Misconceptions about colours in all nations

By studying the languages of the world, which reflect the various phases and types of human civilization, one learns that the human conception of colour has passed through seven stages:

  1. In the beginning, colour was not considered as something separate from the coloured object.
  2. At the second stage, the idea of light and darkness developed.
  3. Then, besides black and white, the concept of red came into existence.
  4. At the fourth stage, the idea of the yellow colour was born.
  5. Then green began to be considered as distinct from yellow.
  6. At the sixth stage, the concept of blue came into being.
  7. Sir Isaac Newton, at the seventh stage, put forward the theory of seven different colours.

But even this view is now considered to be the outcome of very deficient knowledge because the number of colours has at present reached about ten thousand.

In the languages of primitive human culture, even today the colours red, orange and purple are all known as red; white, yellow and green are all called white; and for black, blue and dark-blue there is only the term black.

Colour-blind nations

In some languages there is no distinctive word for colour. Thus in the Hebrew language and in the Bible there is no word for colour as such. In the translations of the Bible the word rendered as colour does not carry the significance of colour. As the Encyclopedia Biblica says under the entry colour: 

"When a Hebrew writer wishes to compare one object with another in respect to its colour, he finds it necessary to use the word ayin in the sense of appearance."

Not only is there no word in Hebrew to signify colour, in the Bible only three colours are ever mentioned by the metaphorical use of other words.

Colour in Arabic

One powerful evidence of the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and of the perfection of his mission, is that his language is one of the most comprehensive of the languages of the world. The German Professor Krenko has written of the Arabic language that "the limits of its vastness are known to none but the angels". The Arabs were surrounded by the civilizations of the Hebrews, Persians, Chaldeans and Egyptians. Now bearing in mind the maxim that "knowledge and reason not only bring material progress to a nation but also add to its language a wealth of words", the languages of these civilized nations should have been much more comprehensive and wide-ranging than Arabic. However, it is puzzling for linguistic experts to find that, as compared with the tongues of these civilized nations, the language of the Arabs is far richer.

Besides this, the essential principle of evolution, that everything is a product of its environment, seems to be violated by the Arabic language, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and the Holy Quran. The fact that Arabic is unequalled by its neighbouring languages in breadth of vocabulary, and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, arising in a land of illiterate people, excelled all the prophets in the wisdom he taught and the book he brought -- this is a miracle which cannot be explained by the laws of evolution. Those principles do apply in every type of creation in nature; however, matters which do not belong to the domain of creation (khalq) but to the domain of Divine command (amr), must not be considered as products or results of evolution but rather they are the creators and causes of evolution. Divine revelation and prophethood were never products of their environment. This is a powerful argument on the existence of God. The Holy Quran says: 

"Surely His is the creation (khalq) and the command (amr)." (7:54)

The meaning is that wherever He wishes He creates according to the law of evolution, and wherever He wishes He breaks this rule by His command.

As evidence of this, just consider the Arabic language. The languages of the neighbouring countries, such as Hebrew, Chaldean, Persian and Egyptian, are dumb in respect of colour. The Arabs called all languages other than their own as 'ajmi (dumb) not out of prejudice, but because they found that these languages, as compared to their own, were incapable of expressing the finer and higher thoughts of mankind. The civilizations of those nations may have been magnificent and ancient, but even the Greek philosopher Aristotle, despite the perfection of his knowledge and his intellectual language, knew of no more than three colours. Sir Isaac Newton, as late as the seventeenth century, revealed the existence of only seven colours. But the Arabic language has since ancient times possessed a vast stock of words to describe colours. The verse under discussion succinctly refers to this in the words: "streaks, white and red, of different colours."

"Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water, then brings forth with it fruits of different kinds (or colours). And in the mountains there are streaks, white and red, of different colours, and others intensely black. And of people and animals and cattle there are different colours likewise. Only those of His servants fear Allah who possess knowledge." -- Holy Quran 35:27-28.

The Arabic language has since ancient times possessed a vast stock of words to describe colours. The verse under discussion succinctly refers to this in the words "streaks, white and red, of different colours, and others intensely black". It says that there are innumerable streaks of white and red, and then countless colours from these two. From the dim light of the stars in a dark night to the brightness of mid-day there are numerous degrees of whiteness, which increases moment by moment. All this is encompassed by the words "white streaks" and "different colours".

In the first place, the word baid ("white") is plural, meaning that there are countless degrees of whiteness. Then by using the pronoun ha ("its") in the words mukhtalif-an alwanu-ha (lit. its different colours), it is indicated that all the colours are included in white, and that they reach an end with humr, i.e. the red-most colour which comes at the end of the series of colours. After this is mentioned gharabib sud, "intensely black", which is not a colour but is the absence and disappearance of colour. This is the sum and substance of the modern research about colour, though thousands of pages can be written in fuller and further explanation.

Wealth of terms in Arabic for colours

Modern scientists, who believe that there are innumerable colours, also tell us that the knowledge of mankind about colour has progressed very slowly. They will be surprised to learn that in the Arabic language there have existed from the beginning scores of distinct names for the variety of levels and shades of white and red. Another miracle of this language is that, unlike other languages such as English, Sanskrit, Persian etc., colours are not named after objects. This shows that in ancient times the colour of an object was considered as having a separate existence from the object itself. In Arabic, colours have their own names. In English, for example, orange is the name of a fruit, but its colour is also known as orange, which is a fruit and not a colour.

The third miracle of the Arabic language in this connection is that while in English, Sanskrit and other languages the strength or weakness of a colour is described by adjectives such as "light", "pale", "dark" etc., in Arabic instead of these inarticulate descriptions there are proper terms for these degrees. To explain it by a simple example, there are countless degrees of sweetness which your tongue can taste. Starting from a tiny amount of sugar in a glass of water, if you keep on adding more and more sugar, your tongue will detect increasing levels of sweetness. But how can you describe these levels other than by words such as slightly sweet, mildly sweet, extremely sweet etc.? A perfect language, however, will have a different word for each degree of sweetness that can be tasted.

There is no doubt that an unlimited gradation can only be described by dividing it into a limited number of degrees. Therefore even a comprehensive language is confined to giving the names of a finite number of levels. To show this miracle of the Arabic language in full detail requires a great research into the Arabic lexicon, but here we can give a few examples. Degrees of whiteness are described by the following words in Arabic: abyad, yaqaq, lahq, wadih, nasi', hijan, khalis. These seven grades of white start from "discernable white" and go to the extreme of "pure white." Besides these degrees of white, as regards things which can be white such as man, woman, horse, camel, ox, cow, ass, sheep, goat, deer, cloth, silver, bread, grapes, honey etc., there are separate words for each one of these when it is white. For instance, a white man is called azhar, while a white woman is known as ru'buba. Then there are several words for a human being according to the whiteness of colour.

The rose in Arabic is called ward, but if it is white it is not, as in other languages, called a white rose but is known as watbir. A white mountain is khaugh while a white stone is yarma'. Likewise, for minerals, trees, fruit and animals, there are separate names when they are white. Each animal has different names according to the colours of certain of its limbs. For grades of the red colour, the following words are used: ahmar, ashqar, aqshar, ashkal, sharq, madammay, madamah. A full explanation of these would require much space.

To summarize, in the whole world the language of the Arab nation is so comprehensive, in literary and intellectual terms, that it holds an unrivalled position among all the languages. Therefore this was the only suitable language for the final revealed word of God.

Mental and spiritual colour-blindness

It has been explained earlier that the advancement of man's knowledge of colours has been painfully slow. Greece was the cradle of philosophy and learning, and yet a philosopher like Aristotle knew of no more than three colours. The Chinese excelled in art, but their knowledge of colour too was deficient. In the Vedas of the Hindus there is no distinction between green and yellow, or black and blue. Hundreds of mantras of the Vedas refer to the sky, but its colour is not described as blue. The blackness of smoke is referred to by the word for blue, and it is clear that in the Vedas there is no distinction between the black and blue colours.

There is another sense in which the Vedas mention colour, which we deal with now. It is acknowledged that the number of colour-blind people in the world is only a few per million, but there are untold numbers of those who are mentally colour-blind. Almost the whole of the West and the Hindu Aryas are colour-blind in a spiritual sense. These nations consider the physical colour of human beings, white or black, as the criterion for superiority or inferiority of nations and castes, whereas the apparent colour of a man is not any indication of how good or bad he is.

The word for colour in the language of the Vedas is varn, but it is also used to mean caste. The word varn is really derived from the Arabic word laun (colour). The letter lam of the Semitic languages often gets changed into the letter r of the Aryan languages. Hundreds of words of Sanskrit are derived from Arabic words. Superiority of colour is so important with the Hindu nation that all its sacred literature, from the Vedas to the Shastras, is full of its mention. For example:

  1. varn ja -- from the same caste, or of the same colour.
  2. varn jayanas -- superior by caste, or of a good colour.
  3. varn tava -- of another caste, or another colour.
  4. varn dharm -- occupation of one's own caste.
  5. varn vostha -- caste division.
  6. varn dev -- god of one's caste, Agni of the Brahmins, Indra of the Kashtaris, Vishva deva of the Vesh.
  7. varn samyog -- marriage in one's own caste.
  8. varn sansarg -- marriage in another caste, or forbidden marriage.

Several other such examples of the use of the word for colour meaning caste can be given.

Likewise in the mantras of the Vedas, white colour of skin is considered superior and dark colour is treated with scorn and contempt. In the Rig Veda a distinction is made between the colour of the Aryas which is described as white, and the colour of the reviled enemies the Dasyus which is black. Non-Aryas are referred to as the black caste or as those with black genitals, (Rig Veda, mandal 2, sukt 20, mantra 7.) and it is said that they should be killed by the god Indra.(Rig Veda, mandal 1, sukt 130, mantra 8.)

Scientific miracle of the Quran

A man's deeds and morals have nothing to do with the colour of his skin but are related to his colouring with spiritual and godly attributes. Only a few people are blind to physical colour, but there are plenty of those who are spiritually and mentally blind. Referring to this, the Holy Quran says: 

"Surely it is not the eyes that are blind but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts." -- 22:46.

These people consider the physical white colour to be superior to black. In fact, the true colour of something is not what you see. The colour you see is the light which is reflected back, and is not absorbed, by the thing. The rose undoubtedly looks red, but when viewed in pure green light it does not look red, nor can its red colour be seen in the dark. Everything absorbs some colours from white light and reflects others back which strike our eyes and create an impression of colour. What appears to us as white absorbs very little light, and that which absorbs all the light falling on it appears to us as black. Colour is an illusion of man's mind, and not a fault of the eye. And just as the world is suffering from an illusion regarding physical colour, similarly these nations are spiritually and morally blind.

Great service of Quran and Holy Prophet

The Holy Quran has laid the world under a debt of gratitude by teaching that the value and excellence of a man is not related to his physical colour but to the colour of the Divine light and attributes within him. While explaining the nature of colours in the verses being discussed here, the Quran says: 

"And of people and animals and cattle there are different colours likewise."

Are not asses, oxen, and even stones of white and red colour? Are there not among the white nations people who are stupid, unwise and of bad character? An ass still remains an ass even though it may be white in colour, and a man being white can still be an ass.

To draw a distinction between white and black, and to rob non-white nations of their rights, is another kind of blindness of colour. It was because of this likeness that the dajjal is described in the prophecies as blind in one eye. As regards scientific discoveries and knowledge of the physical world, his sight is very bright, but from the spiritual and moral view-point these nations are blind of colour. During the last world war it was emphasised with great force that the Nazis despised the non-white nations and were proud of their Aryan blood and white colour. However, this evil was not just limited to the Nazis among the German people but is an illness spread among other European nations as well.