Skip links

Chapter on the Significance of Arithmetic, Geometrical and Musical Harmony

Prophets and Philosophers concur Allah’s Tavhid (is a single entity) and that all else amongst creation is manifested by a combination of elements.

When Allah sought to create the universe he began with 2 basic elements; form and substance. All materials were formed from the four elements, fire, air, water and تراب (soil) and contain the four properties hot, cold, wet and dry.

From these were fashioned all that is found upon the face of the earth – be it animals, plants or minerals.

All these elements have differing characters, properties and forms. They are found in different locations, often with opposing qualities which cannot be combined except by external intelligence. And when this combination is not in the correct proportion then their product is improper.

An example of this is music. The highest string (of an instrument) will emit a thin, high sound and the lowest a broad, deep sound. They will not sound harmonious unless arranged by a skilled composer. Only if the composition is proper will the sound be pleasing to the ear. This applies also to the meters in poetry and verse. The correct balance and composition of words produce a piece that is pleasing to listen too. Calligraphy also requires proper proportioning of the letters; otherwise the script will appear distorted. Similarly a proper balance of colour and shade is required when painting in order to produce an attractive result.

The limbs of the body have to be in harmony; when they are suitably proportioned the overall figure look attractive. The proportions of constituents in medicine have to be correct in order to achieve the desired effect of treatment, otherwise it will result in further complications.The same concept applies to the cooking of food; the correct proportion of ingredients and cooking conditions will result in a dish that pleases.

In the mineral world, the correct proportion of constituents and their associated environmental factors will determine the quality of metal that results. If all the contributing factors and proportions are at their optimum then pure gold will result. Less optimum conditions will produce silver while poor conditions will result in iron, lead or copper.The same principles apply to the formation of animals and plants – how they develop, their colour, taste, smell all are the result of the four elements within them. When the elements are in balance, the outcome is at its best.

Character traits in humans are affected by these balances and imbalances as well. If the element fire is disproportionally high then this results in offspring, who are over active and quick to get angry, their boldness will border on recklessness and generosity verge on wastefulness.

Where cold is the dominating element in the human constitution then the person will be slow in action, low in anger and more inclined towards cowardliness and thriftiness.

We are citing examples from all forms of existence in order to highlight the significance of the science of harmony, better known as music. This science has been given the name of music which is the arrangement of tunes and melodies because music most clearly represents it. The ancient philosophers found the fundamentals of tunes and melodies from the understanding of arithmetic and geometric ratios and from the combination of the two found the harmonious ratio.