Sweden: The number “786” banned on license plates — could offend Muslims

Bismillah, the first verse of the first “sura” of the Qur’an, bismi-llāhi ar-raḥmāni ar-raḥīmi.

A man in southern Overland Park has been driving around in a car for the last ten years that has the number combination “786” on the license plate. When he came to renew its licence, however, he was stopped by the Swedish Transport Agency, who said that the figures can be seen as offensive.

The background is that authority, thanks to Google, has come up with the figure 786 can be used for the “bismillah” — an important concept in the Koran, which roughly means “in the name of Allah”.

“It alludes, for example, to religion, drugs and sex, and we will not accept in our policy,” said Thomas Elm of Swedish Transport Agency to Skanska Dagbladet.

According to the local newspaper was the man “very disappointed” over the decision…

Transportation Board decision cannot be appealed.

[Another quick translation, this time from Swedish].

From Wikipedia:

The total value of the letters of Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, according to the standard Abjadi system of numerology, is 786. This number has therefore acquired a significance in folk Islam and Near Eastern folk magic. A recommendation of reciting the basmala 786 times in sequence is recorded in Al-Buni. Sündermann (2006) reports the recommendation of a contemporary “spiritual healer” from Syria recommends the recitation of the basmala 786 times over a cup of water, which is then to be ingested as medicine.

It has also become common to abbreviate the phrase by typing “786”, especially in online communication, and especially among South Asian Muslims.