What is Ayat?

What is Ayat?
Ayah or Ayat is the Arabic word for evidence or sign:
"These are the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, revelations, etc.) of Allah, which We recite to you (O Muhammad) with truth. Then in which speech after Allah and His Ayat will they believe?" (Surat Al-Jathiya 45:6, Mohsin Khan translation of the Qur'an)

The word is usually used to refer to the smallest unit of the Qur'an, usually called 'verses' or 'signs' in English translations of the Qur'an. Muslims believe that each ayah of the Qur'an is a sign from God.

Chapters in the Qur'an, called suras in Arabic, are made up of several ayat, although suras vary greatly in length, ranging from 3 to 286 ayat. Within a long sura, ayat may be further divided into thematic sequences or passages.

A common myth persists that the number of ayat in the Qur'an is 6,666. In fact, the total number of ayat in all suras is 6,236; the number varies if the bismillahs are counted separately.

The verse number is written in a symbol at the end of each verse. This symbol is ۝, end of ayah.

The ayat of the Qur'an are commonly separated into two groups:
  1. Those that are Muhkam (محكم): with very clear and straight forward meanings.
  2. Those that are Mutashabeh (متشابه): with multiple interpretations.

This distinction is stated within the Qur'an itself:

"He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning) [Muhkam]; they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical [Mutashabeh]. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: 'We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:' and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding." (Ali-Imran 3:7, Yusuf Ali translation of the Qur'an)

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