What is the significance of the number 40 in Islam?

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Last Updated on 16th July 2021

Huzooraa was asked whether the number 40 had any special significance in the world of religion. 

In a letter dated 14 January 2020, Huzooraa gave the following reply: 

“The study of the Holy Quran and ahadith reveals that there is a special relationship between the number 40 and physical maturity as well as spiritual perfection. Hence, the Holy Quran, while mentioning human birth states: 

اِذَا بَلَغَ اَشُدَّهٗ وَ بَلَغَ اَرۡبَعِيۡنَ سَنَةً

‘When he attains his full maturity and reaches (the age of) forty years[…]’

“The Holy Quran states regarding Hazrat Mosessa

وَ وٰعَدۡنَا مُوۡسٰي ثَلٰثِيۡنَ لَيۡلَةً وَّ اَتۡمَمۡنٰهَا بِعَشۡرٍ فَتَمَّ مِيۡقَاتُ رَبِّهٖۤ اَرۡبَعِيۡنَ لَيۡلَةً

‘And We made Moses a promise of 30 nights and supplemented them with 10. Thus the period appointed by his Lord was completed – 40 nights.’

“Our Lord and Master, the Holiest of all the Prophets, Muhammad, the Chosen One, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was elevated to the station of prophethood at the age of 40. 

“It is narrated in ahadith that the Holy Prophetsa said that a human being stays in his mother’s womb for 40 days in the form of a sperm [nutfah], for 40 days in the form of a clot [alaqah] and for 40 days in the form of a shapeless lump [mudhghah]. Then, Allah the Exalted sends an angel to breathe the soul into him. 

“Similarly, the Holy Prophetsa said that a person who prays in congregation for 40 days being present in time for the first takbir-e-tehrimah will be acquitted of the Fire and hypocrisy. 

“The Promised Messiahas performed a chilla in Hoshiarpur for 40 days and Allah the Exalted blessed him with the grand prophecy of the Promised Son to manifest the honour of Islam and the truthfulness and greatness of the Holy Prophetsa

“Similarly, the Promised Messiahas has said that whoever would stay with him for 40 days would surely see some of the signs of Allah the Exalted. 

“Then, the age of 40 is called the age of maturity. That is why the men of the Jamaat enter the organisation of Ansarullah at the age of 40. 

“Thus, these examples prove that in worldly terms, the number 40 stands for maturity and it is used to indicate perfection in the spiritual world.” 

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