Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Gambling with Numbers

Supposed Numerical Miracles of the Qur’an: The 309th Word

Masud Masihiyyen

Many of today’s Islamic propagandists rely not only on pseudo-scientific and historic miracles, but also some numerical miracles in order to prove the supposed divine origin of the Qur’an. Thus, a new realm is added to the Muslim tactics in the promotion of Islam: mere numerical coincidences in the Islamic scripture are discovered and presented as if they are parts of a great mathematical system and meant to function as codes fascinating the believers and leading infidels back to faith.

While refuting Harun Yahya’s false miracle claim about the descent of iron in the Qur’an, I had shown how Yahya attempted to make use of numerology and force an association between the number of Surah Iron in today’s Qur’an and the total numerological values of the letters of the word “iron” in Arabic (*) in accordance with the system of calculation known as abjad. That was the first time I became familiar with modern Islamic propagandists’ flirting with numbers and I demonstrated through a humorous example that dependence on numbers sometimes causes disappointment as their aid is mostly coincidental. Despite this fact, Yahya has a separate and particular section dedicated to the so-called mathematical miracles of the Qur’an (*) on his website as he believes that the Islamic scripture is based on a system of numbers and full of mathematical codes.

Obviously, Harun Yahya is not the only modern Muslim writer who is addicted to applying the art of counting to the Qur’an and discovering many “numerical codes” in it. Caner Taslaman, another Turkish Islamic writer, attaches even more significance to this issue and tries to convince his audience that the Islamic scripture has several mathematical miracles of different categories (*). For example, Taslaman sometimes focuses on word repetitions throughout the Qur’an and asserts that these recurrences have a specific purpose, such as indicating similarity/contrast or thematic relevance. In one particular miracle claim entitled “The 309th Word”, Taslaman reveals a rather interesting link between the story of the sleepers in the cave in Surah 18 and the number of words this narrative contains (*). As this supposed numerical miracle is related to Surah 18 and the sleepers, on which I wrote a comprehensive article and presented the possibilities for the occurrence of the number 309 in it (*), I am selecting this particular miracle claim for a detailed refutation. However, it is necessary to have a general look at Yahya and Taslaman’s mathematical miracles and expose their weak points before presenting my rebuttal to the claim about the 309th word in Surah 18.

How numerical miracles are fabricated from the Qur’an

An objective reader having a look at the section of the mathematical miracles of the Qur’an on Caner Taslaman’s website may feel surprised to find the concordance1 of so many numbers and wonder how these claims can be easily refuted. It is true that Islamic propagandists like Yahya and Taslaman fabricate many scientific and historical miracles and attach them to the Qur’an through misinterpretation and every other sort of distortion. However, these numerical concordances do occur in the Qur’an2 independent of the context of a verse or narrative. How is it possible then to refute these miracle claims as mere coincidences?

A single phrase enables us to dismiss so-called mathematical codes and miracles of the Qur’an as fabricated and inconsistent false claims: arbitrary selection. The more we analyze these supposed mathematical miracles and the more questions we pose, the sooner we find out that Islamic propagandists have become crafty enough to evade consistency in their selection. They first detect some numerical coincidences in the Islamic scripture and then seek the ways of formulating them as miracles. In the process of fabrication or invention, the step of collecting some data is followed by the step of testing them in order to see how these coincidences or identical numbers could be brought together on a common ground. Unsurprisingly, this ground of concordance is also determined by these miracle inventors, who benefit from a wide range of possibilities and options.

Miraculous Word Repetitions?

Let us see with an example how miracle inventors manipulate and mislead the reader by having the total control of coincidences and determining what elements will constitute the miracle. While talking of the meaningful word repetitions in the Qur’an, Harun Yahya gives the following information:

The statement of "seven heavens" is repeated seven times. "The creation of the heavens (khalq as-samawat)" is also repeated seven times. (Source)

This numerical coincidence is presented also by Caner Taslaman, who gives a list of the verses where this phrase occurs (*). Apparently, this miracle claim is based on the identicalness of the two numbers: number of the heavens (7) and the number of the occurrence of this phrase (7) in the Islamic scripture. Once we start to ask questions and wish to see the same miracle for other phrases having the word “seven” in the Qur’an, the charm is gone and the pseudo miracle instantly crumbles. Although the phrase “seven heavens” appears seven times in the entire Qur’an, the phrase “seven years” appears not seven times, but twice (Surah 12:47-48). More, the phrase “seven gates” occurs once (Surah 15:44). Likewise, the number of the earths is taught in the Qur’an to be seven only once rather than seven times although it is said to be similar to heavens in terms of its number (Surah 65:12). Further, the word “seven” occurs in the Qur’an not seven, but twenty-four times, which is not even a multiple of seven. All these counter-examples show that this numerical miracle is nothing more than a coincidence.

Another famous miracle claim of numbers from the same category of word repetitions concerns the frequency of the word “day” in the Qur’an. Harun Yahya is delighted to give the following information:

"Day (yawm)" is repeated 365 times in singular form, while its plural and dual forms "days (ayyam and yawmayn)" together are repeated 30 times. The number of repetitions of the word "month" (shahar) is 12. (Source)

Caner Taslaman refers to the same supposed miracle:

The word “a day” (yewm) is used 365 times in the Quran. The figure 365 does not only represent the number of days in the calendar, but it is also the figure that shows the astronomical relationship between our world and the sun. When our world completes its turn around the sun, it has revolved 365 times around its own axis. In other words, when the world has completed its cycle around the sun, this means we have lived 365 days on earth. It is important that the word “a day” is used 365 times in the Quran, because the world’s revolution around the sun takes 365 days. (Source)

The first question we should pose here is who determines that the word “day” must be counted in its singular, dual and plural forms separately? The answer is simple: once we add up all these different forms of the word “day”, the fake miracle instantly disappears.3 Second, Yahya and Taslaman suppose that the occurrence of the word “day” in the Qur’an perfectly and miraculously matches the total number of days in a year. This is true only if we follow the Gregorian calendar. Since the Qur’an does not follow the solar calendar, it does not teach that there are 365 days in a year. Even if we keep this problem aside as it stems from the use of different calendars, Yahya and Taslaman face another problem: who determined that the number that the word “day” is repeated in the Qur’an must match the number of the days in a whole year? We have the right to question and know why, of all the time units, specifically a solar year is chosen. For instance, why does the word “day” NOT occur in the Qur’an seven times although there are seven days in a week? More to the point, what about the word “night” in the Qur’an? Why is the word “night” NOT repeated 365 times? Or, since different grammatical forms of the word “day” occur in the Qur’an 475 times, why does the word “night” in its various grammatical forms not occur the same number of times since there are always as many nights as there are days? We see more inconsistency rather than a miraculous system of mathematics here.

How can Harun Yahya and Caner Taslaman prove with the help of the Qur’an that the claimed 365-time occurrence of the word “day” in the Qur’an is not pure coincidence?4 There are four seasons in a year, but the word “season” does NOT occur four times in the Qur’an. Did the celestial author of the book make a mistake or got sick of performing mathematical miracles? Since there are fifty-two weeks in a year, I expect to see the word “week” occur fifty-two times in the Qur’an. However, it occurs not even once! How can we talk of mathematical miracles then?

Unlike Yahya, Taslaman incorporates the occurrence of the word “Sabbath” in the Islamic scripture into his list of mathematical miracles:

The Quran mentions Sabbath abstinences for the Jewish people. Although the Jewish people can work and lead a normal life 6 days of the week, abstinences are foreseen for the seventh day, like abstaining from hunting. According to the Quran the said abstinences are only for the Jewish people. “Sabbath” is on the seventh day of the week and the word “sebt” is used exactly seven times. (Source)

Taslaman’s argument perfectly and miraculously illustrates his manipulation of the reader through arbitrary selection. It is true that Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, but this does not necessarily restrict the number of its occurrence to seven. While counting the word “day”, Taslaman had decided that the number of the word “day” in the Qur’an had to be associated with the number of days in a year. It is not difficult to guess why he does not follow a similar course and become consistent by affiliating the word Sabbath with a year? If he establishes a similar link between the word “Sabbath” in the Qur’an and a whole year, he will get a gross mistake as a year does not have seven Sabbaths! More to the point, the word “Sabbath” must be linked to “a week” as Taslaman himself says that Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. When that link is established, the mathematical miracle above falls flat again since there are not seven Sabbaths in a week.

There is another way of exposing Taslaman’s absurd and false miracle concerning the day of Sabbath in the Qur’an. If his assertion that the seventh day of the week appears seven times in the Qur’an were truly a numerical miracle, the same Qur’an would refer to Friday six times since Friday is the sixth day of the week. However, to Taslaman’s disappointment, we see that the author of the Qur’an mentioned the sixth day of the week only once (Surah 62:9). Is this an inconsistency stemming from the writer of the Qur’an or from Taslaman’s choice?5

Additionally, both Harun Yahya and Caner Taslaman point at a few pairs and contend that their equal number of occurrence in the Islamic scripture constitutes a mathematical miracle. For example, both keep the reader informed of the significant fact (!) that the words “plant” and “tree” occur 26 times in the Qur’an (1,2). This turns out to be a pure numerical coincidence when we find out that the Qur’an does not always mention similar or related things in equal number.6 Although the author of the Qur’an frequently refers to the pair of land and sea, Yahya ironically confesses that these words do not occur in the Islamic scripture for the equal number of times. In order to evade this inconsistency and problem, he follows a different course to fabricate a new pseudo-mathematical miracle:

The word "land" appears 13 times in the Qur'an and the word "sea" 32 times, giving a total of 45 references. If we divide that number by that of the number of references to the land we arrive at the figure 28.888888888889%. The number of total references to land and sea, 45, divided by the number of references to the sea in the Qur'an, 32, is 71.111111111111%. Extraordinarily, these figures represent the exact proportions of land and sea on the Earth today. (Source)

Needless to say, Yahya is ignorant of the fact that the exact proportion of the land and sea on the Earth today is subject to change although the numbers given in the Qur’an are not going to change. Thus, we have to warn Yahya that he is fabricating temporary miracles from his Qur’an, which claims to be encompassing all times!7

The Mathematical Miracle About Jesus

Caner Taslaman sounds rather happy and excited to have discovered a manifold mathematical miracle in Surah 3:59:

The 59th verse of the sura The Family of Imran, points to a similarity between Adam and Jesus. There is no other comparison like that between any other two prophets in the Quran. How many times are these prophets’ names used in the Quran? In equal number, exactly 25 time each. (Source)

Taslaman’s argument is far from proving anything since Surah 3:59 does not explicitly or implicitly state how many times Adam and Jesus’ name are mentioned in the Qur’an. Here are a few reasonable objections to this numerical argument and so-called miracle:

First, although this particular verse (Surah 3:59) is claimed to be unique in terms of its overt emphasis on the unique similarity between Adam and Jesus, the number of repetitions is linked neither to the number of the Surah nor to that of the verse.

Second, Caner Taslaman admits that the same number of repetition given in the Qur’an for a pair of words is not confined to the concept of similarity/sameness, but is also valid for the concept of contrast/opposite.8 According to a new mathematical miracle recently discovered by a Turk living in Germany, the words “near” and “away” occur in the Qur’an ten times each (*). Likewise, Taslaman reveals that the opposite words “hot” and “cold” appear in the entire Qur’an four times each (*). These examples undermine and weaken Taslaman’s mathematical miracles because equal number of words in the Qur’an does not always and consistently indicate similarity or sameness.

Third, Harun Yahya confesses that there are other pairs of both similar and contrastive words that are repeated 25 times in the Qur’an:

The word faith (iman) (without genitive) is repeated 25 times throughout the Qur'an as is also the word infidelity (kufr).

The words "tongue" and "sermon" are both repeated 25 times. (Source)

This precious piece of information makes us aware of the fact that number 25 is not uniquely associated with Adam and Jesus in the Qur’an. Moreover, we cannot stop wondering if the author of the Islamic scripture meant to affiliate both Adam and Jesus with the notion of infidelity (kufr) when he repeated the word “kufr” 25 times in the same way as the names “Adam” and “Jesus”.

Fourth, Caner Taslaman becomes manipulative again when he determines that only Surah 3:59 presents a similarity between two prophets and this analogy must be supported by a numerical coincidence. In another verse the author of the Qur’an gave the names of four prophets and said that these four prophets had been revealed the same religion as Muhammad:

He has made plain to you of the religion what He enjoined upon Nuh and that which We have revealed to you and that which We enjoined upon Ibrahim and Musa and Isa that keep to obedience and be not divided therein; hard to the unbelievers is that which you call them to; Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns (to Him), frequently. (Surah 42:13 Shakir)

In another chapter he gave the same group of names while talking of the covenant made between God and mankind:

And when We made a covenant with the prophets and with you, and with Nuh and Ibrahim and Musa and Isa, son of Marium, and We made with them a strong covenant. (Surah 33:7 Shakir)

We would like Taslaman to answer why the names of these five figures (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad) are not repeated in the entire Qur’an for the same number of times. For example, why does the name Noah appear 44 times in contrast to Jesus, whose name appears only 25 times? Why does the name Moses appear more than a hundred times whereas the name Muhammad not even 10 times?

Besides, in Surah 5 we are said that the disbelievers from the Children of Israel were cursed by David and Jesus:

Those who disbelieved from among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and Isa, son of Marium; this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit. (Surah 5:78 Shakir)

In the entire Islamic scripture only David and Jesus are claimed to have cursed the disbelievers from among the Children of Israel. This is something only David and Jesus had in common. Why is this similarity not supported by a numerical miracle? Why does the name David occur 16 times in the Qur’an rather than 25 times? The word tongue is repeated 25 times too, but why did the author of the Qur’an fail to mention David 9 more times to make another miracle? Was it such a big challenge for him?

Again, in the Qur’an the name Noah occurs 44 times whereas the name Lot only 27 times. It is our right to ask why these names are not repeated for the identical number of times even though the verse below makes it clear that of all the prophets in the Qur’an, only Noah and Lot had treacherous wives and thus had something in common:

Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter. (Surah 66:10 Shakir)

In Surah 14:39 Abraham mentions Ishmael and Isaac as two sons that Allah granted him in his old age. Even though these two figures were related as Abraham’s children and mentioned in the same verse, their names do not have the equal times of occurrence in the Qur’an.

While elaborating on the so-called mathematical miracle regarding the names Adam and Jesus in the Qur’an, Caner Taslaman jumps into theology and makes a few false accusations to prove the Islamic teaching about Jesus true:

Some people declare Jesus incarnation of God as he was created without a father in total disregard of the omnipotence of God. God gives Adam as an example, since he was created both without father and mother. By doing so, God shows how illogical it is to attribute to Jesus divine qualifications. God, while referring to the similarity between Adam and Jesus, also supports this statement with numerical miracles using both names 25 times each in the Quran.

Taslaman’s statements are devoid of logic as they are based on the logical fallacy known as straw man. He walks in the footsteps of illiterate pagans who plagiarized from apocryphal Christian writings and reached wrong conclusions due to their misunderstandings. Christianity does not teach that Jesus is the Son of God or God in flesh because He was born of a virgin mother. If this were the case, the Evangelists Mark and John would record the narrative of Jesus’ miraculous nativity while identifying Him as the Son of God. Whoever disregards the Christian doctrine that Jesus did not become the Son of God through birth from a virgin is a liar and serves the father of lies.

Furthermore, Taslaman’s argument includes a false analogy. Adam was created directly and there was no pregnancy in his case whereas Jesus was born of a virgin who became pregnant through God’s power. Should we attribute this false analogy to Allah’s failure and use it to prove that Allah is not omnipotent?9 As for the analogy between Adam and Jesus in Surah 3:59 and the reasons underlying the time and form of its introduction, I suggest Caner Taslaman read my second article on Jesus’ ministry and miracles in the Qur’an here

Taslaman later makes a final attempt to fabricate another mathematical miracle from Surah 3:59:

It is the 59th verse of The Family of Imran, that points out the relation between Adam and Jesus. It is the only verse in which these two names are mentioned together. In this verse, both these two words are used 7th time, from the beginning of the Quran. On the other hand, if we count from the end of the Quran, it is in this verse that these words are used 19th time. (This is an example how the 19 miracle and the mathematical miracle in lexical concordance are used together)

Evidently, Taslaman owes this new so-called miracle to another arbitrary and personal selection of his: the chronological order of the Qur’an must be ignored and man-made order of the Qur’an must be used for the sake of mathematical miracles. According to the chronological order of the Qur’an, the name Jesus appeared for the first time in Surah Maryam, which was the 44th chapter of the supposed divine revelation. However, Taslaman disregards the chronological order of revelation as it prevents him from inventing many mathematical miracle claims.10

Ignored numbers and figures?

Our word search in the Qur’an reveals interesting numerical coincidences and compels us to question why these coincidences were disregarded by Caner Taslaman. For example, the names David and Solomon occur 16 times each. It is the same case with the names Isaac and Jacob! Why did Taslaman disregard these miracles? Maybe it is high time we took over the job of detecting some numerical coincidences in the Islamic scripture and attaching to them significant and mysterious meanings. We should start with the name Ishmael. This name occurs 12 times in the Qur’an in contrast to the repetition of the nouns Isaac and Jacob 16 times each. The difference might be reflecting the Biblical teaching that the divine promises and blessings were bestowed on Abraham’s progeny descending through Isaac.11

More strikingly, the names Muhammad and Qaroun (Korah) occur in the Qur’an for the equal number of times: 4 times each. What kind of a conclusion should we draw from this numerical parallelism? In what regards were Muhammad and Qaroun (Korah) related?

Mathematical Miracles in the Gospels

After having an overall analysis of Caner Taslaman’s dance with numbers and his false numerical miracles, we can now imitate him by fabricating some mathematical miracles from the Gospels with the aim of having some fun and showing him how easy it is to present some numerical coincidences as divinely revealed miracles.

Let’s begin with some minor miracles and codes by quoting from Luke 10:17 in Greek:12

῾Υπέστρεψαν δὲ οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα μετὰ χαρᾶς λέγοντες· Κύριε, καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ὑποτάσσεται ἡμῖν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου.

Luke 10:17 contains 17 words, which is equal to the number of the verse. More, the first sentence of Jesus’ dialogue with His disciples returning from a mission is recorded in Luke 10:17. The final sentence of this dialogue just before Jesus’ exultation in the Spirit occurs in verse 20, and this verse amazingly has 20 words!

πλὴν ἐν τούτῳ μὴ χαίρετε, ὅτι τὰ πνεύματα ὑμῖν ὑποτάσσεται· χαίρετε δὲ ὅτι τὰ ὀνόματα ὑμῶν ἐγράφη ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

Here is another miracle: Mark 6:6 has 12 words, which is two times six (6+6):

Kαὶ ἐθαύμαζε διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν. Καὶ περιῆγε τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων.

It is possible to see a miracle of the same kind in John 10:10: This verse contains 20 words as 10+10 equals 20:

ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσι καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν.

A wonderful miracle based on word repetition: the names of John the Baptist’s parents (Zechariah and Elizabeth) occur in the Gospel of Luke for the equal number of times:

Zechariah       Elizabeth
1:5   1:5
1:12   1:7
1:13   1:13
1:18   1:24
1:21   1:36
1:40   1:40
1:59   1:41
1:67   1:41
3:2   1:57
9 times   9 times

The reason why these names occur for the equal number of times in the Gospel of Luke is most likely that:

  • They were a couple.
  • They are the first mentioned couple in the Gospel of Luke.
  • They were related as they both descended from the Levites.

If we focus on differences rather than similarities, we see that the name Elizabeth occurs only in the first chapter of Luke (9 times) whereas the name Zechariah occurs eight times in the first chapter of Luke and for the final time in the third chapter of Luke. Why is this difference? I shall explain why Zechariah’s name occurs in the third chapter of Luke while revealing and analyzing a related numerical miracle below, but the fact that the name Zechariah occurs 8 times in the first chapter of Luke has a deep meaning and purpose, leading us to another numerical wonder and connection.

Although both Zechariah and Elizabeth descended from a priestly family, only Zechariah was a priest and Luke narrated in the first chapter of his Gospel how Zechariah saw an angelic vision while serving in the Temple. Luke provided the information that Zechariah was from the priestly division of Abijah. People who are not familiar with the Bible may not know that there were twenty-four priestly divisions in Judaism and of these, Abijah was the eighth (1 Chronicles 24:10). Let’s bring these data together to see the marvelous connection between Zechariah and Abijah:

  • Zechariah was a priest from the division of Abijah.
  • Abijah belonged to the 8th of the twenty-four divisions.
  • Zechariah’s name occurs 8 times in the first chapter of Luke.

Further, the names Abijah and Aaron occur in Luke 1:5 along with Zechariah’s name. If we count the words between the names Abijah and Aaron, we are astonished to see that Abijah is exactly the 8th word before the word Aaron:

... Αβιά, καὶ  ἡ  γυνὴ  αὐτοῦ  ἐκ  τῶν θυγατέρων ᾿Ααρών, ...
    8          1  

Apart from these miracles, we have a few other numerical wonders related to Zechariah in the Gospel of Luke. To refresh our knowledge, Luke is the only Evangelist to mention Zechariah and narrate the story of John’s miraculous birth to an old man (Zechariah) and his barren wife (Elizabeth). Thus, Zechariah’s story resembles that of Abraham’s in that Abraham had miraculously fathered Isaac despite his old age and his wife’s sterility. This parallelism is related by Luke through an intricate mathematical code. First, the name Zechariah occurs for the first time in Luke 1:5. If we count the words from the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, the name Zechariah becomes the 55th word. The name Abraham, on the other hand, appears for the first time in the 55th verse of Luke’s Gospel.

Zechariah: 55th word in Luke 1.

Abraham: First occurs in Luke 1:55

Let’s keep this significant point in mind and proceed to the analysis of Luke 3.

As I briefly stated above, the name Zechariah occurs for the 9th and last time in the third chapter of Luke (3:2). The numbers of this reference (3 and 2) are miraculously connected to Abraham. 3 is the number of times the name Abraham occurs in this chapter whilst 2 is the number of times John the Baptist, Zechariah’s miraculously born son, refers to Father Abraham.

Abraham (three times in Luke 3, two of these references by Zechariah’s son)

  • 3:8
  • 3:8
  • 3:34

If we remember that the name Abraham occurred for the first time in 1:55, we discover another mathematical miracle: in the third chapter of Luke on the genealogy of the ancestors Abraham appears as the 55th person! This also makes Zechariah and Abraham more similar as they both are related to number 55. More strikingly, both Zechariah and Abraham turn out to be related to numbers 5 and 55 at the same time. In the first chapter of Luke the name Zechariah is in the 5th verse and appears as the 55th word whilst in the third chapter of Luke Abraham appears as the 55th person on the genealogical list and this is simultaneously the 5th time of his occurrence in the Gospel of Luke:


  1. 1:55
  2. 1:73
  3. 3:8
  4. 3:8
  5. 3:34

Five times. The fifth time he occurs as the 55th ancestor.

Finally, the first time Zechariah mentions Abraham (1:73), the name Abraham is the 5th word! In this verse there are totally 11 words. 11 times 5 makes 55, which is again the number related to both Zechariah and Abraham.

ὅρκον  ὃν  ὤμοσε  πρὸς ᾿Αβραὰμ τὸν  πατέρα  ἡμῶν,  τοῦ  δοῦναι ἡμῖν.
        5    11

The mathematical miracles in the Gospel of Luke are not limited to Zechariah and Abraham. We can see a few miracles concerning the word Galilee in this Gospel. The word Galilee occurs for the first time in 1:26. After the infancy narrative Luke recounts the period of Jesus’ baptism at the age of 30 and makes another reference to Galilee. To compare:

᾿Εν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀπεστάλη ὁ ἄγγελος Γαβριὴλ ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰς πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ᾗ ὄνομα Ναζαρέτ (Luke 1:26)

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος, ἡγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιλάτου τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας, καὶ τετραρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας ῾Ηρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετραρχοῦντος τῆς ᾿Ιτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς ᾿Αβιληνῆς τετραρχοῦντος (Luke 3:1)

In both of these verses Galilee is the 17th word.

Besides, the word Galilee occurs in the infancy narrative for the first time in 1:26 and last time in 2:39. The difference between 39 and 26 is 13. In 2:39 the word Galilee is amazingly the 13th word!

Καὶ ὡς ἐτέλεσαν ἅπαντα τὰ κατὰ τὸν νόμον Κυρίου, ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἑαυτῶν Ναζαρέτ. (Luke 2:39)

Caner Taslaman’s Pseudo-miracle of Number 309 in Surah 18

Under the section of (pseudo) miracles related to number 19 Caner Taslaman reveals another mathematical wonder present in the narrative of the sleepers in Surah 18.

We have seen earlier that the mathematical miracle in lexical concordance can be presented in many different ways. The concordance in the Quran is sometimes given as lexical concordance with the universe and sometimes as lexical concordance merely.

Here Taslaman means that not all numerical miracles of the Qur’an should be expected to be relevant and consistent as he makes use of different tactics in the invention of pseudo miracles.

We shall see a different type of miracle in this section. The 18th sura, The Cave, relates the story of seven sleepers who had slept in a cave for 300 years, 9 years were added to this time period.

Nine years added by whom? Does Taslaman mean that those youths first slept for 300 years and woke up, but then were put back to sleep by Allah for 9 more years?

We shall see why this number was not given directly as 309, but mentioned as above in the sections on the 19 miracle. If this number was given as 309 then the total of the numbers given in the Quran would not be a multiply of 19.

Taslaman binds the particular formulation of the number in Surah 18 to his fundamental miracle claim regarding number 19. However, his colleague Harun Yahya links the same formulation to the difference between solar and lunar calendars and contends that Allah managed to calculate the time gap between two different calendars accurately. I have already addressed and refuted this pseudo miracle concerning the number 309 in my comprehensive analysis of the story of the sleepers (*). The difference between Taslaman and Yahya's theory on the presentation of the number 309 in Surah 18 is significant as it shows that it is possible to fabricate various false miracle claims from one and same verse. Let’s continue examining Taslaman’s miracle claim related to Surah 18:25:

In the 9th verse of 18th sura, the youth who stay in a cave are mentioned. Until the 25th verse, all the verses are about these young people and in the 25th verse, it is told that these youths stayed in the cave for 300+9 years. If we start counting the words from 9th verse which talks about these young people, the word that comes right after the expression “And they stayed in their cave…” is the 309th word. From the beginning of these young people’s adventure until the end of the time they stayed in the cave, the story is told in 308 words and the 309th word is the word 300+9 years which is the time they stayed in the cave.

This is an interesting yet intricate mathematical miracle indeed. We know that the author of the Qur’an gave an unreasonable number for the time the youths spent in the cave most probably due to his hasty conclusions and plagiarism from the Arabic Gospel of Infancy.13 However, Caner Taslaman seems zealous to defend this number and support its veracity with the help of a numerical coincidence. In order to be sure that Taslaman is once more becoming manipulative and misleading, it is crucial to reckon the steps he follows in the process of the fabrication of this miracle.

First, he chooses to construct his miracle on number 309, which occurs only once in the entire Qur’an in the narrative of the sleepers in Surah 18.14

Second, he chooses to make an association between this number and the number of the words occurring in the narrative of the sleepers.

Third, he chooses to start counting the words in Surah 18 from verse 9 up to verse 25, where the figure 309 appears. Although this is a reasonable choice as the first 8 verses of the Surah are not related to the narrative of the sleepers and thus to number 309, Taslaman chooses to ignore the fact that the story of the sleepers is given in Surah 18 in two steps: first, a summary of the events is introduced before the author of the Qur’an starts recounting the story in details.

[18:9] Or, do you think that the Fellows of the Cave and the Inscription were of Our wonderful signs?

[18:10] When the youths sought refuge in the cave, they said: Our Lord! grant us mercy from Thee, and provide for us a right course in our affair.

[18:11] So We prevented them from hearing in the cave for a number of years.

[18:12] Then We raised them up that We might know which of the two parties was best able to compute the time for which they remained. (Surah 18:9-12 Shakir)

The narrative actually begins in the following verse:

We relate to you their story with the truth; surely they were youths who believed in their Lord and We increased them in guidance. (Surah 18:13 Shakir)

Obviously, Taslaman chose to start counting the words from the 9th verse of this chapter although the author of the Qur’an started to narrate the detailed story of the sleepers, which is separated from its summary in verses 9 through 12, in verse 13. However, Taslaman became indifferent to this fact because he had to take verse 9 as the starting point of his miraculous numerical match. Otherwise, it would be impossible for him to devise this miracle.

Fourth, Taslaman similarly chose to ignore the fact that there is an interpolation in the narrative of the sleepers in Surah 18.

[18:22] (Some) say: (They are) three, the fourth of them being their dog; and (others) say: Five, the sixth of them being their dog, making conjectures at what is unknown; and (others yet) say: Seven, and the eighth of them is their dog. Say: My Lord best knows their number, none knows them but a few; therefore contend not in the matter of them but with an outward contention, and do not question concerning them any of them.

[18:23] And do not say of anything: Surely I will do it tomorrow,

[18:24] Unless Allah pleases; and remember your Lord when you forget and say: Maybe my Lord will guide me to a nearer course to the right than this.

[18:25] And they remained in their cave three hundred years and (some) add (another) nine. (Surah 18:22-25 Shakir)

The two bolded verses above are not directly related to the account of the sleeping youths. The person devising this chapter dropped the story of the sleepers at a point in order to give some advice to Muhammad about taking the divine will and permission into consideration while making plans. Still, Taslaman disregarded this interpolation and felt free to add the number of the words in verses 23 and 24 into his miracle claim, for otherwise it would be unthinkable for him to invent his numerical miracle. What is worse is that Taslaman even lied when he said, “Until the 25th verse, all the verses are about these young people and in the 25th verse, it is told that these youths stayed in the cave for 300+9 years.” Verses 23 and 24 are evidently about Muhammad rather than the sleeping youths unless we believe that Muhammad was one of the sleepers!

Fifth, despite his zeal and efforts, Taslaman failed to fabricate an exact numerical miracle by matching the number of the words in the verses Surah 18:9 through 25 with the number of the years the sleepers are claimed to have remained in the cave. Being aware of this problem, he made the following statement to conceal the truth from his readers:

From the beginning of these young people’s adventure until the end of the time they stayed in the cave, the story is told in 308 words and the 309th word is the word 300+9 years which is the time they stayed in the cave.

Taslaman naively expects us to believe that 300+9 years is a single word in Surah 18:25!

And they remained in their cave three hundred years and (some) add (another) nine. (Surah 18:25 Shakir)

Walabithoo fee kahfihim thalatha mi-atin sineena waizdadoo tisAAan (Arabic transliteration)

The original language of the verse gives the phrase “300+9 years” in five words. This makes the word “thalatha”, which means 3, the 309th word in the narrative of the sleepers, destroying Taslaman’s numerical miracle:

Walabithoo fee kahfihim thalatha mi-atin sineena waizdadoo tisAAan
306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313

And they remained: 306th word
In: 307th word
Their cave: 308th word
Three: 309th word
Hundred: 310th word
Years: 311th word
And add: 312th word
Nine: 313th word

We are sorry to make Caner Taslaman disappointed and upset, but he should have been aware of the fact that the phrase “three hundred years and add nine” is not and cannot be considered a single word. Ignoring this crucial piece of information, he made vain efforts to attach another false numerical miracle to the Qur’an.

Further, a couple of points are worth mentioning with regard to Taslaman’s false miracle entitled “The 309th Word”. Under the section of numerical miracles related to number 19, Taslaman asserts that in Surah 18:25 number 309 was given in two parts (300 years and add nine) because otherwise the total sum of the whole numbers in the Qur’an would not be a multiple of 19 (*). He incorporates the number given in Surah 29:14 into the same miracle claim since this verse also gives number 950 implicitly through a mathematical process (a thousand years save/less fifty). He evidently treats these numbers as if they were two separate figures for the sake of his fundamental miracle of 19. However, while propagating the supposed numerical miracle in Surah 18:25 and inventing a hoax from the number of the words occurring in this chapter, he tends to treat 309 as one single number and a single word! Finally, he cannot derive a similar numerical miracle from the number given in Surah 29:14.

True Numerical Miracles in the Gospel of Matthew

We reveal with honor that in contrast to Taslaman’s false numerical miracle refuted above, there are exact numerical matches in the Gospel of Matthew. For instance, in the verse below the 7th word means 7 in Greek:

τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει μεθ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτὰ ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ, καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. (Matthew 12:45)

In the verse below the 10th word is Decapolis, which is a word meaning 10 cities:

καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ Δεκαπόλεως καὶ ῾Ιεροσολύμων καὶ ᾿Ιουδαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ ᾿Ιορδάνου. (Matthew 4:25)

More, ten times ten makes a hundred. This is amazingly equal to the number that we get when we multiply the number of this chapter (4) with the number of this verse (25); 4 x 25 = 100! Taslaman should not be jealous about the wonderful numerical miracles of the Bible. Instead, he should abandon the Qur’an and embrace the Bible as the true word of God.


Our analysis has shown that Muslim propagandists’ reliance on numerology and their zeal to concoct miracles from pure numerical coincidences in the Qur’an only contribute to Islamic humor and is one way or another related to dishonesty. This is because these propagandists ignore the notion of consistency and benefit from a large number of possibilities to reach their goal. A similar attitude taken by Christians for the sole purpose of fun and retaliation does produce similar or better numerical miracles from the Gospels. Our hope is that Muslim writers who dedicate websites to the revelation of supposed mathematical miracles from the Qur’an will one day come to their senses and stop gambling with numerology.


1 Concordance: agreement; concord; harmony (*).

2 And with a certain amount of effort, one can probably find them in many or most books.

3 Besides, there are many more forms of the word “day” in the singular, but those with certain prefixes or suffixes are disregarded to arrive at the desired number. A detailed discussion of this matter is found in the article The 365 Days Hoax.

4 To remember, it is not really occurring 365 times, but by certain inclusion and exclusion decisions. Thus, it is MADE to come out with that number. See the previous footnote.

5 This is strange as for Muslims, the Friday “replaces” the Sabbath of the Jews as the day of congregation. Also, the Christian day of congregation (Sunday) is not mentioned even once.

6 E.g. other plants, like herbs or grain is not mentioned a similar number of times. Of various different kinds of plants, only the word tree is accidentally of the same number and is therefore chosen for this particular miracle claim.

7 As the earth warms up – as so many people warn us it does – then more ice will melt and large land areas will be submerged. The surface area of the sea will increase and the dry land will decrease. On the other hand, in the ice age, large masses of water were frozen, so that the surface area of land was larger and of the sea was lower than the current ratio. No one denies or objects to this scientific fact. However, the ratio provided by Harun Yahya looks dubious as it is only supported by an Islamic website that fails to substantiate this assertion. Wikipedia gives the surface area as 70.8% water and 29.2% land, but adds a cautionary note to that (*). In short, the ratio is indeed close, but not exact as Yahya claims.

8 There are also words that occur the same number of times in the Qur’an although they are by no means related. For instance, the words “dog” and “iron” appear 5 times each.

9 In fact, there are plenty of dissimilarities between Adam and Jesus, see this article.

10 All of Taslaman's calculations are based on the traditional order of the Qur’an chapters rather than the chronological one.

11 The interesting point is that the names “David” and “Solomon” also occur 16 times in the entire Qur’an. This could lead Muslim propagandists and miracle hunters into a wrong conclusion that the same number of occurrence in the above examples points at a father-son relationship and thus at a numerical system. However, this would be nothing more than hasty generalization. The names Zechariah, which occurs 7 times, and John, which occurs 5 times in the Qur’an may be given as examples that debunk this faulty generalization.

12 All the Biblical references in Greek are taken from the Byzantine text type (also known as the Majority Text) on this website.

13 For further information see my article here

14 It is worth noting that this number, which is essential for Taslaman’s fundamental miracle claim about number 19 in the Qur’an, is not divisible by 19 and thus not directly related to it. Taslaman needs all the other whole numbers of the Qur’an to associate number 309 with number 19.

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