|This new book by historian Adel S. Bishtawi was initially intended to be an Arabic version of Origin of the Arabic Numerals – a natural history of numbers the 2nd edition of which was published in 2009. However, the author and his team discovered new materials which led to a much expanded edition that included the unveiling of the origin of the famous Phoenician alphabet as well the origin of the Arabic numeration system, the Arabic numerals, measurements, weights, litigation and money. The following three parts of the Book of Origin will unveil the origin of ancient Arabic (wrongly and misleadingly described as proto-Semitic), the life and lands of ancient Arabs and the origin of religions.
For the part concerned with the origin of the Arab numeration system and the Arabic numerals, this book has two stories to tell both of which have never been told in a book before. Because they are naturally simple, they may sound outrageous. This should not be of concern, since shocking one’s readership with simple facts is one reason why many authors write their books. The author and his team are confident that most of what they have discovered in the course of our original research is correct. Some of their findings will bring immense relief to millions. They may also bring immense frustration to others. They were guided in their research by a sincere desire to bring closure to a serious controversy that was sparked essentially by two orientalists hired by the East India Company two centuries ago. Their story is the best-kept secret in the history of numbers and now is a good time to reveal it.
Their other story is much older and simpler. Contrary to the accounts and suggestions in almost every book extant, all Arabic numerals are hand and finger formations.
Clues to the origin of the Arabic numeral system are found in ancient Arabian and the original meaning of number “1” in some languages descending from that great mother tongue is ‘finger’. How old this mother tongue of the ancient Arabians is, we cannot say. What is commonly known is that early written symbols were based on pictograms that appeared around 5000 BC in places such as the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and certain parts of the Mediterranean. Our numerals are often described as ‘symbols’, ‘glyphs’, ‘forms’, ‘ideograms’, and several other terms. However, they are not any of these. Except for the zero which doubles as an ideogram, every numeral in our system is a pictogram, one of the oldest forms of miniature drawings known to have been used by our ancient ancestors.
A combination of Eastern and Western Arabic Numerals
For 200 years, Greeks, Romans, Boethius, Iberian Goths and a few others have been declared inventors and originators of our Numeric language. Credible proof has never been provided, but the Arabic numeric system, first appropriated by William Jones and Henry T. Colebrooke, two of the most prominent orientalists stationed in India, can at last be re-claimed by its rightful owners. This book claims to solve one of the greatest remaining mysteries of the history of mathematics. Because number representations are older than writing, our numerals may hold the key to solving another great mystery – the origin of our universal alphabet, and therefore the origin of civilisation.
Part I of the Book of Origins (Natural Foundations of Arab Civilisation) consists of 26 chapters in almost 700 pages. To explain why did ancient Arabs needed an advanced numeration system and an advanced but simple alphabet, it was important to point out that Arabs are the oldest trading nation on Earth. Trade needs an effective numeration system, it needs money, accurate measurements, weights, a litigation system, navigation instruments and much more. Ancient Arabs also needed a simple alphabet that incorporated many numeral shapes that were adjusted to fit their right to left orientation.
A special chapter discusses the origin of a number of important words long believed to be of Greek origin. One such word is Drachma known in Arabic as Dirham. Bishtawi has revealed that the word Dirham is not a single word but two distinct words and both are ancient Arabic not Greek. Another word revealed as of Arabic origin is Abax (abacus), a third is xiphos (sword), a fourth is Hermes, a fifth is fulk (boat) and so is Injil (Bible), Angel, Iblis, Satan and many other words.