One need only to see an aerial view of the Ka’aba in Makkah with Muslim pilgrims circling the central shrine in tawaf to recall how central the circle is in Islam. This is in effect the center of the Islamic world, and in a form of worship, the pilgrims or Hojjaj must circle it, thus also participating in the making of a circle. Now we recall that the architecture of the Quran is also circle-based, one could even say in three dimensions as in the shell of a chambered nautilus. But the scope of this discussion is so far reaching, the symbolism contained in Quranic architecture so profound, it may be more enlightening to include more graphics to do justice to the idea of dynamic symmetry in relationship to cycles, returning (to our Creator Allah), the creation, the divine Message itself, and last but not least (as you shall see in the Quran), us.
One of the most important and yet illusory elements of human life is time. It begins for us when we are born and when time as we know it ends, this is signified by our death. So our concept of time is completely tied up, for us, with birth and death. But for Allah, who is neither born nor dies, time cannot be as we know it. For Allah, time has no boundaries. Many thinkers have thought of this as a circle.
The Qur’an is usually interpreted and studied based directly on the meanings of the ayat, just as one interprets any other book. Style, appearance, frequency of occurrence of specific phrases and words, the appearance of individual letters at the beginning of some Suras (“Quranic Initials”), and even the more symbolic meaning of certain narratives, such as the lives of prophets, and “graphic” elements such as the physical appearance of letters or size of Suras, are rarely studied with an eye to discover their importance or meaning in the Qur’an.
After looking at Al-Fatiha, the first Sura of the Qur’an, it’s time to go back to the overall structure, to see if we can find meaning and purpose in it.