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Computers represent data electrically and process it as electrical signals. These electrical signals are translated into binary numbers (1 and/or 0) that follow a Boolean switch logic (1 for “on” and 0 for “off”). Computers need to convert any type of information, including decimal numbers, into a binary form in order to perform work.

In the realm of spirituality, the two binary numbers 1 and 0 are manifestations of the two faces of the Prophet (SAW) which he discussed in the saying:

Whether the number 1 represents the face with the Creator and the number 0 the one with creation depends purely on the level of interpretation. Generally speaking the number 1 is a symbol of the Prophet’s face with creation because as God’s Representative he (SAW) upholds the message of Divine Oneness and holds the secret of the spiritual station of the Most Praised (*al Mahmoud)*, which gives him the single most important station in creation. As for the number 0, it is said to represent his face with God because it embodies the qualities of complete self effacement in the Divine Presence.

Spiritually speaking, computers exclusively accept signals of 1 and 0 as inputs because any other type of data is considered to be raw, unprocessed information. Thus, if we focus on numeral data, the binary forms of numbers represent their purified states while their decimal forms represent less perfect spiritual states. Indeed, the computer’s central brain can only communicate with the perfected forms of any data: its binary representation.

Thus, decimal numbers represent the earthly reality (*dunya*) because they are related to the lower forms of creation while binary numbers represent the spiritual or heavenly reality

(*akhira*) because they are exclusively made up of the two numbers that represent the two faces of the light of the Prophet (SAW).

The fact that computers need to transform each set of raw data into a pure binary form is a reflection of the fact that saints of God need to transform the raw egos of human beings into pure spirits of light that exhibit the dual characteristics of the Prophet (SAW): his spiritual superiority and his humble character.

There are two ways to convert a decimal number to binary: the division method and the subtraction method. Since the division method is the most popular one we will deal with this technique exclusively.

The division method consists of a series of simple steps involving the number **2**. Here are the three rules of the division method:

- In order to convert a decimal number to binary we divide the number by 2 and we keep track of the quotient and the remainder, dividing each remaining quotient by 2 until it is equal to 0.

- The remainder that is extracted from the division is always equal to 1 or 0 depending on the oddness or the evenness of the number that is being divided. If the quotient is odd, the remainder is equal to 1 and if it is even the remainder is equal to 0.

- The binary number is then made up of the remainder’s digits which are a sequence of 1’s and 0’s.

Let us apply what we just learned. Suppose we want to find the binary representation of the decimal number 23. Spiritually speaking it means that we want to turn the “raw” entity 23 into a more purified form that exhibit the characteristics of the Prophet’s perfect character.

23 ÷ 2 → 23 is odd so remainder is 1. Quotient is 11

11 ÷ 2 → 11 is odd so remainder is 1. Quotient is 5

5 ÷ 2 → 5 is odd so remainder is 1. Quotient is 2

2 ÷ 2 → 2 is even so remainder is 0. Quotient is 1

1 ÷ 2 → 1 is odd so remainder is 1. Quotient is 0

Stop the division process because the quotient has reached 0.

Now read the sequence of remainders starting from the last one to the first: the binary form of 23 is 10111.

The division method surely raises a series of interesting questions:

- Why do we divide by 2?

- Why do we “divide” to find the binary form?

- Why do we record 1 and 0 as remainders?

- Why do we read the binary sequence from the last remainder to the first?

Each one of these questions are discussed in the following section.

Converting a decimal number to binary means moving from the earthly world (*dunya*) to the spiritual one (*akhira*). Whenever one wishes to progress in this way one needs the support of the light of the Prophet (SAW) which possesses two properties as we saw in the first chapter. Therefore, here the number 2 points to the Prophet’s spiritual light and its dual nature.

Spiritually speaking performing a division means bringing out the secret that is hidden in a creation. It is a way of extracting the light that is deep inside us. Therefore we use the division process to extract the purified form of a decimal number.

As we noted earlier the remainder is written as 1 or 0 only. If the quotient is odd, the remainder is equal to 1 and if it is even the remainder is equal to 0. An odd quotient points to Prophet’s face with creation because in the reality of the universe he inherits God’s Encompassing and Uniqueness characteristics. Therefore, the remainder is written as 1. Similarly, an even quotient points to Prophet’s face with God because in the Divine Presence he (SAW) inherits God’s Encompassing characteristics only as God’s hidden reality (*Hu*) still remains unknown. Therefore, the remainder is written as 0.

In computing the last remainder is called the “most significant bit” (a “bit” means a binary number) because it has the greatest computer value. It is sometimes referred to as the left-most bit due to the convention in positional notation of writing more significant digits from left to write. Below is a picture of the binary form of the number 23 which we used in our previous example, with the most significant bit highlighted in gray.

In the Holy Name of God, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful,

With peace and blessings upon His Prophet Muhammad SAW

upon his holy family, and upon his blessed Companions.

Bridging the Gap between Spirituality and Science

The most significant bit (or msb) represents the reality of the Prophet (SAW). Hence, this bit among the other bits of a binary number is like the Prophet (SAW) among all the other prophets of God: like him, the msb is the last one to appear and yet the first one to possess value. The most significant bit is also called the high-order bit as it has the highest value. This name directly equates with the spiritual station of the Prophet (SAW) who is called the Most Praised (*al Mahmud*). Mawlana Rumi (q) commented on this station by relating a saying of Prophet (SAW):

Prophet’s saying could easily refer to the most significant bits of binary numbers: they are indeed the last and the foremost.

Converting a binary number to decimal means converting a pure entity into an earthly representation. In order to perform such a mathematical conversion scientists use the following technique:

- 1. Draw a ruler that is numbered from right to left (0, 1, 2, 3…10). This ruler is the ruler of powers of 2.

- 2. Place the binary number on the ruler with the last digit directly under 0, the next one under 1 and so on.

- 3. Cross out from the ruler all numbers that are directly located below the 0’s of the binary number.

- 4. Add the remaining numbers from the ruler as powers of 2.

Let us convert the binary number **11100110101** to decimal.

Hence, 11100110101 = 1845

The decimal conversion technique reveals that all decimal numbers (odd and even) are made up of powers of 2. For instance:

- 14 = 23 + 22 + 21

- 57 = 25 + 24 + 23 + 20

- 137 = 27 + 23 + 20

At this level, the decimal numbers represent the various creations and the powers of 2 the two faces of the Prophet (SAW). Hence this mathematical truth is a manifestation of the fact that the Prophet (SAW) is present in every creation as God states in the Holy Quran:

The decimal conversion technique also reveals that the decimal form of a binary number is exclusively made up of powers of 2 that are located below the 1’s. As we saw at the beginning of this chapter, these 1’s represent the prophetic face that is turned towards creation. Hence, the decimal form of a binary number originates from Prophet’s reality in the universe. The powers located below the 0’s do not make up the decimal form because Prophet’s reality with his Lord is hidden to creation.

To summarize our interpretation: a pure entity (binary number) is transformed into a less perfect form (decimal number) through the light that God granted His Prophet in creation (the 1’s on the ruler). Since creation appears in its less perfect material form through this light, it carries the dual nature of the Prophet (the powers of **2**). As for the light that God granted His Prophet (SAW) in His Presence, it is only for him it is not meant to be shared with creation; hence this light or face does not appear in the universe (the crossed out 0’s on the ruler).