The Sura of the Aljaferia

Fragments of Original Inscriptions in the AljaferiaFragments of Original Inscriptions in the AljaferiaIn my first blog on the Aljaferia of Zaragoza, I mentioned that some verses, or Sura, from the Koran were carved on the inner walls of the palace.

A little more research revealed that there were two Sura from the Koran used to decorate the walls of the palace: portions of Sura number 36 and Sura number 67. You can see various translations of each of these Sura and the rest of the Koran, and hear how they sound when read (the Koran was written in verse so the sound is quite lovely) here.

Here are translations of the verses that once decorated the walls of the Aljaferia:

Sura 36, 33-40

And a sign for them is the dead earth. We have brought it to life and brought forth from it grain, and from it they eat.

And We have made therein gardens of date-palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.

So that they may eat of the fruit thereof, and their hands made it not. Will they not, then, give thanks?

Exalted is He who created all pairs - from what the earth grows and from themselves and from that which they do not know.

And a sign for them is the night, We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are in darkness.

And the sun runs [on course] toward its stopping point. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.

And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf.

Reproduction of Inscription with full PolychromeReproduction of Inscription with full Polychrome


Sura 67, 1-11

Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power;-

Who created death and life to try you, whichever of you is fairest in deeds; and He is The Ever-Mighty, The Ever-Forgiving.


Who has created the seven heavens one above another, you can see no fault in the creations of the Most Beneficent. Then look again: "Can you see any rifts?"

Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim.

And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame.

And for the ones who have disbelieved in their Lord there is the torment of Hell; and miserable is the Destiny!

When they are flung therein they hear its roaring as it boileth up,

It almost bursts up with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: "Did no warner come to you?"

They say: Yea, verily, a warner came unto us; but we denied and said: Allah hath naught revealed; ye are in naught but a great error.

And they will say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!"

So they acknowledge their sins; but far removed (from mercy) are the dwellers in the flames.

 Inscriptions as they look todayInscriptions as they look today

I was fascinated by this idea of the Seven Heavens and looked for other references to this concept in the Koran. I found these in Sura 41:

Then He completed and finished from their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days and He made in each heaven its affair. And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard (from the devils by using them as missiles against the devils). Such is the Decree of Him the All-Mighty, the All-Knower.

And certainly We made above you seven heavens; and never are We heedless of creation.

Verily, Allah! Unto Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, He gives life and He causes death. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.

Thereafter return the gaze, again and again, (Literally: recurring twice) the gaze turns over to you spurned, and it (becomes) regretfully most weary.

There are some that argue that the concept of Seven Heavens is supported by astrophysics. Those who are more scientifically inclined than I am will have to judge for themselves.