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'.)
Knowledge and beauties of the Quran and the Promised
of excellence of a writing /
Analysis and explanation of words
of the verse /
Moral aspects of these verses
of existence of God and truth of Prophet Muhammad
about colours in all nations /
in Arabic /
Wealth of terms in Arabic for colours
and spiritual colour-blindness /
Scientific miracle of the Quran
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)
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.
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.
excellence of a writing
The excellence of a writing is judged from three aspects:
- The eloquence, beauty and arrangement of its words.
- Its philosophical, scientific or scholarly value.
- 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.
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.
(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.
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."
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 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."
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.
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
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)
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."
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
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:
- The Divine bounty of rain and of light is the doer or subject.
- The thing upon which rain or light falls is the object.
- 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.
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:
- In the beginning, colour was not considered as something separate
from the coloured object.
- At the second stage, the idea of light
and darkness developed.
- Then, besides black and white, the concept of red
came into existence.
- At the fourth stage, the idea of the yellow
colour was born.
- Then green began to
be considered as distinct from yellow.
- At the sixth stage, the concept of blue
came into being.
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
- varn ja -- from the same caste, or of the same colour.
- varn jayanas -- superior by caste, or of a good colour.
- varn tava -- of another caste, or another colour.
- varn dharm -- occupation of one's own caste.
- varn vostha -- caste division.
- varn dev -- god of one's caste, Agni of the Brahmins, Indra
of the Kashtaris, Vishva deva of the Vesh.
- varn samyog -- marriage in one's own caste.
- varn sansarg -- marriage in another caste, or forbidden
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
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.
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
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.