Why is the number 786 symbolic in Islam and what does it mean?

The number 786 that many Muslims from the Sub-Continent use to signify “in the name of Allah, the ever merciful, the ever compassionate,” is derived from an ancient system of Arabic numerology called abjad. This system of numerology has a long history dating back to the Urgarty manuscripts 1500 years before the birth of Jesus (a). In this system each letter is assigned a certain number between 1 and 1000. For instance the alif is ascribed the number 1, the ya’ is ascribed the number 10, the qaaf is ascribed the number 100, and the ghayn is ascribed the number 1000.

The numbers related to the words are then added and one reaches a number signifying the word. For instance the Arabic word ‘Ali is: 70 (ayn) + 30 (lam) + 10 (ya) = 110. You can calculate the following numbers equaling 786 below:

There are a few traditions from the Imams (a) regarding the amjad system of numerology. For instance it has been reported that Imam Rida (a) said: “The first thing that Allah created for mankind to learn were the mu’jam letters.”

Harun Yahya states that abjad numerology foretold the landing on the moon in 1969. The verse of the Quran “The hour [has drawn near] and the moon has split.” (54:1) when added in the abjad system equals 1390, which is the hijri equivalent to the gregorian year 1969. Allah knows best if this is just coincidence or if there is something there.

Also, it has been reported that the Prophet of Islam (s) said: “Learn the science of interpreting abjad letters for it is sheer amazement.”

Thus, many Islamic mystics (‘ufufa) have written books on abjad numerology, including Muhyiddin Arabi. In Al-Durr al-Maknufi ‘Ilm al-Huruf, he states: “God has taught Adam the I’sm A’ẓam that the whole universe complies by. Then he (Adam) taught his son, Seth, the science of letters, which was later inherited by Idris (A.S.). Idris was a messenger that had received thirty books (scriptures) from God and was given the administrator of science of letters, mysteries of wisdom, numbers and heavens and it has been said that he was the first to write a pen. He wrote a book named “Ganje Asrār (The Treasure of Secrets)” that King Tanklū and Thābit bin Qorat Ḥarrānī have written an exposition on it. And when I met him (prophet Idrīs, in a vision)I asked of these two expositions and he answered: these two expositions only cover the external layer of the book while the rest is hidden and sealed within. Then he revealed a number of unknown secrets that the no other than great mystics are aware of. The science of letters was afterwards inherited by the Harāmisah of Egypt who were forty people.”

He continues: “Imam ‘Ali was the inheritor of the science of letters from God’s messenger, subsequently, Imam Hussein, then Imam Zayn al-Abidin, then Imam Baqir, then Imam Sadeq. And Imam Sadeq was the one who dived within the oceans of this science and revealed its secrets and the one who spoke of the science of jafr and letters and discretely write about it and said: Our knowledge is a hidden book on a patulous sheet…that is in the possession of us, Jafr Abyaḍ, Jafr Aḥmar, Jafr Akbar and Jafr Asghar who will all accompany Imam Muḥammad Mahdi at the end of time and the Imam is the only one who knows it (science of letters) complete.”