bismillAhi r-raHmAni r-raHiym


19: STUDY PROBLEMS		     Rev 1.01, June 10,	1995

(c)1995	Marjan Publications, P.O. Box 459, San Quentin,	CA 94964,
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1.0 Introduction.
1.1 What is the	Qur'an?
1.2 What, precisely, is	counted?
1.3 Is the data	filtered before	presentation?
1.4 Is the data	verifiable?
1.5 Summary.

1.0 Introduction.
This document is planted as a seed; it is hoped	that it	will grow
into an	authoritative discussion of the	problems involved in the
study of what has been asserted	to be a	"numerical miracle" in
the Qur'an. The	editor of this FAQ, and	the author of the initial
draft, is AbdulraHman Lomax ( Corrections and
comments are invited; permission to incorporate	them into the
next draft will	be assumed unless it is	denied.

Because	the initial person to report the kind of phenomena we
will be	discussing was Rashad Khalifa, late of Tucson, Arizona,
USA, and he also made numerous claims considered heretical by
many, the subject is tainted with suspicion. However, Khalifa
claimed	that the "miracle" was objectively verifiable. As such,
it should stand	regardless of the truth	or falsity of the
remainder of his claims. Allah,	the Most High, has said	in his
book (49:6) "... If a wicked person comes to you with news
[nabaa'], ascertain the	truth, lest you	harm people in

Further, it remains to be demonstrated that the	"miracle" of the
nineteen, or the other numerical phenomena claimed by Khalifa and
others,	if valid, would	prove that Khalifa was correct in his
other claims, such as the wholesale rejection of hadith. A full
discussion of all this is outside the scope of this document,
which will not discuss the character and the other claims of
Rashad Khalifa;	rather we will attempt to define the problems
involved in looking at the Qur'an itself to determine if the
claims of a "numerical miracle"	are justified. Here is what
Khalifa	said in	the preface to his book, a book	which was
intended to be definitive and irrefutable, *Qur'an, Visual
Presentation of	the Miracle*:

"There now exists physical evidence for	a message from God to the
world. This marks the advent of	a new era in religion; an era
where FAITH is no longer needed. There is no need to "believe,"
when one "knows." People of the	past generations were required to
believe	in God,	and uphold His commandments ON FAITH. With the
advent of the physical evidence	reported in this book, we no
longer believe that God	exists;	we KNOW	that God exists. Such
knowledge is ascertained through God's final scripture,	Quran,
wherein	overwhelming physical evidence has been	encoded.
"Employing the ultimate	in scientific proof, namely, mathematics,
the evidence comes in the form of an extremely intricate code.
Thus, every word, indeed every letter in Quran is placed in
accordance with	a mathematical design that is clearly beyond
human ability. [...]

"Not only does the evidence prove the authenticity and perfect
preservation of	the Qur'an, but	it also	confirms the miracles of
previous messengers [....]

"[...] Upon reviewing the evidence here, and examining the
appropriate narrations,	the reader will	be as positively certain
as an eyewitness."

It must	be noted that Khalifa, without explicitly acknowledging
it, later denied his quoted affirmation	of the "authenticity and
perfect	preservation" of the Qur'an he reproduced in his book.
Certain	of his counts in *Visual Presentation* were erroneous,
and he eventually claimed that 9:128-129 were not authentically
Qur'anic, referring to these verses as the "false verses."

This document will not attempt to conclude whether or not Khalifa
was correct in his conclusions;	rather it will examine how we
might investigate the problem. In this investigation, certain
errors or anomalies in the work	of Khalifa will	be mentioned. We
have seen objections that this is "focusing on the errors of a
dead man" instead, presumably, of looking to see if there is an
actual miracle.	Lomax's	response is that these anomalies are
mentioned as examples of the pitfalls involved in these	studies.
He agrees that the errors of Khalifa do	not prove that there is
no miracle.

This brings us to the first difficulty:

1.1 What is the	Qur'an?

Is the Qur'an a	particular written text? Since a copy necessarily
differs	in some	points (large or small,	or even	very small) from
an original, is	the Qur'an something that can be copied? Or is it
an ideal, a form (sura)	which the copies follow	with greater or
lesser degrees of perfection?

Traditionally, the consensus of	the reciters has had greater
authority than any particular written text.

Khalifa	generally used the received text of the	Qur'an known as
Hafs, written in the Egyptian style. There are other received
texts, which differ in certain respects	from the text he used.

For example, in	Warsh (another common version),	the first verse
of the Qur'an, called the invocation, is not given a number;
rather the first numbered verse	begins with "al-Hamdu lillah"
(Praise	belongs	to Allah). There are other differences as well,
essentially matters of spelling. Normally this is not a	problem,
but if one is counting letters,	words, or numbered verses, as
Khalifa	did in claiming	miracles, these	differences become

But suppose that the Hafs version showed the phenomena Khalifa
asserted and the others	did not? Would this not	simply show that
Hafs was correct and the others	wrong?

Theoretically this might be true; however, Khalifa did not always
follow the received Hafs version. In particular, he modified
spelling in at least two places: at 7:69 he changed a Sad to a
Sin, and at 68:1 he spelled out	the initial letter, thus adding
two extra letters. It could be said that he was	following
pronunciation, but in numerous instances, he emphasized	that it
was the	written	Qur'an that was	being studied and counted, not
the pronunciation. He justified	the change at 7:69 by referring
to the Tashkent	Qur'an,	which is perhaps the oldest extant copy,
and the	change at 68:1 by claiming that	it was spelled out in the
"original text." He never specified what, exactly, this	"original
text" was, or where it could be	found. (The copy of the	Tashkent
Qur'an available to Lomax does not extend to Sura 68, and Khalifa
did not	mention	it in this connection.)

So, perhaps Khalifa is referring to the	Tashkent Qur'an, as
modified by removing the "false	verses." But the Tashkent Qur'an
does not match the Hafs	which he normally counts, in many, many
respects. For example, 3:37 in all the current received	versions
(as far	as Lomax knows)	has the	phrase "inna 'llAh," and it is
missing	from the Tashkent Qur'an (which, in context has	very
little effect on meaning: it is	only a phrase of emphasis). This,
of course, would affect	Khalifa's count	of the word "Allah,"
which is crucial to his	theory.

However, we could start	with what is, to be sure, a widely
accepted text of the Qur'an, the Egyptian Hafs which Khalifa
generally used.	If we could find substantial evidence of a
numerical code in that text, then it *might* be	possible to
search for anomalies in	the text, to see if some modification of
the text, preferably but not necessarily with some authority from
another	text or	hadith,	makes the pattern initially found more
complete. But if we can	pick and choose	from the various sources,
there appears the second difficulty.

1.2 What, precisely, is	counted?

How can	we tell	the difference between a genuine miracle and a
numerical pattern which	is created by manipulating the data or
the method of analysis?	Such manipulation can occur, for example,
by choosing among different texts or definitions of what is being
counted, or by choosing	particular ways	of analyzing the data
over other ways	which do not show the desired pattern.

I will give an example of each of these, from Khalifa's	work,
*Qur'an, the Final Testament*, the current edition of his
translation, p.	625-626:

"We find that "The Quran" is mentioned 58 times	in the Quran.
However, verse 10:15 refers to 'a Quran	other than this,' and
therefore cannot be counted. Thus, 'this Quran'	is mentioned in
the Quran 57 times, 19x3. The suras where the word 'Quran,' in
all its	grammatical forms, is mentioned	are 38,	19x2. The sum of
numbers	assigned to the	suras and verses where the word	'Quran,'
in all its grammatical forms occurs, is	4408, 19x232."

Looking	in the Kassis concordance, I find 70 occurrences of
Qur'an.	Of course, this	includes "all grammatical forms."
Checking the number of different suras in which	the word is
mentioned, it is, indeed 38.

The mention at 10:15 is	discarded because of reasoning regarding
its meaning. It	appears	that we	are not	counting words,	but
meanings, and this opens a whole can of	worms. If it is	meaning
which is being counted,	then we	are faced with all the places
where another word is used to mean the Qur'an, including where it
is clear that it is specifically "this Qur'an."	In fact, at
10:15, contrary	to Khalifa's assertion,	the real Qur'an	is
mentioned, using the relative pronoun "hadha," "this." Further,
at this	verse, the word	"Qur'an" is in the genetive indefinite
form (qur'anin), so it is difficult to understand why it was
included, in the first place, in the count of "The Qur'an," which
would be "al-Qur'an."

I find 52 occurrences of "al-Qur'an." What was Khalifa counting?
He wrote:

"Two other grammatical forms of	the word 'Quran' occur in 12
verses.	These include the word 'Quranun' and the word 'Quranahu.'
One of these occurrences, in 13:31 [,] refers to 'another Quran'
that [would] cause the mountains to crumble. Another occurrence,
in 41:44, refers to 'a non-Arabic Quran.' These	two occurrences,
therefore, are excluded. Table 23 shows	a list of the suras and
verses where the word 'Quran,' in all its grammatical forms,

Table 23 agrees	with the Kassis	concordance if 10:15, 13:31, and
41:44 are added	back in. Note, once again, that	some words were
excluded because their meaning does not	meet some standard. Here
is the list of all the forms other than	"al-Qur'an," organized by
the form of the	word (note that	there are four forms, not two):

Qur'anin (genetive): 10:15*, 10:61, 15:1.
Qur'anan (accusative): 12:2, 13:31*, 17:106, 20:113, 38:28, 41:3,
41:44*,	42:7, 43:3, 72:1.
Qur'anun (nominative): 36:69, 56:77, 85:21.
Qur'anahu (verb	+ pronoun): 75:17, 75:18.

The forms excluded by Khalifa on the basis of meaning other than
*the* Qur'an are marked	with asterisks.	However, since some of
the other occurrences could also be referring to other than our
Qur'an (a few of them are ambiguous), we are no	longer looking at
purely objective facts.	In particular, the verbs are really a
different word ("Recite" instead of "Recitation"), but they are
counted	in the second and third	of Khalifa's statistics.

Khalifa	did not	specify, in his	latest edition,	what other two
forms were included in his count of 57 for "the	Qur'an." We know
that it	was not	"Quranahu" and "Qur'anun," because he mentioned
those as part of the "other forms." So that leaves "Quranin" and
"Quranan." Lomax finds no way to reconcile the counts with the

For those who do not know Arabic, the three indefinite forms,
distinguished only by the termination at the end, "un,"	"an," or
"in," are only different because they are being	used as	the
subject	of the sentence, the object of the verb, or genetively
(the object of a prepostion or an indicator of possession). The
meaning	of the word itself is not changed; only	its place in the
sentence changes between these three terminations.

The point is not only that there are hidden manipulations of the
data going on, unstated	premises, and the like,	but also that
these choices are arbitrary. If	one looks at Khalifa's counting
of other words,	different standards are	applied	in each	case. On
close examinatin, "word" is not	a precisely defined term. The
only unifying thread is	that methods of	counting are chosen which
lead to	a multiple of 19.

This leads us to the third difficulty.

1.3 Is the data	filtered before	presentation?

How can	we distinguish between selective presentation of data and
a truly	signifigant pattern? This is similar to	the difficulty
discussed in 1.2, but, the description is from a different,
statistically-based, point of view.

Suppose	we have	ten, or	a hundred, or a	thousand statistics from
the Qur'an which are multiples of 19. Does this	prove that there
is a "numerical	miracle?" From a book even less	complex	than the
Qur'an,	it would be possible to	generate more counts than there
are atoms in the universe, and,	presuming that the data	was
random,	on the average,	one out	of 19 of these counts would be
divisible by 19. One could start generating counts of different
things in the book, and	collect	the ones which are divisible by
19. The	size of	such a list is limited only by the persistence of
the one	searching for divisible	counts.

Only in	one publication, to date, from Khalifa's followers, is
there even a small start toward	answering this question, and the
analysis presented there was seriously flawed. It will be given
here as	an example of how easy it is to	be misled.

>From *Beyond Probability, God's Message in Mathematics*, by
Abdullah Arik, Series I: The Opening Statement of the Quran (The
Basmalah) [sic]*:

Arik presents a	series of "Facts" in which he takes the	letters
and words of the Bismallah (bsm	allh alrhmn alrhym) and	generates
numbers	with them. 8 of	these facts use	the following form:

A number is generated by writing the numbers 1,	2, 3, and 4,
interspersed with numbers derived from the corresponding words in
the Bismillah. The first fact in this form asserted by Arik,
called "Fact 2," is "the sequence number of each word in the
Basmalah followed by the number	of letters in it." This	is:

1 3 2 4	3 6 4 6	= 19 x 19 x 36686.
^   ^	^   ^
He then	asks the question, "what is the	probability (chances) for
the Basmalah's mathematical composition	to occur by coincidence?
Can we compute this probability? If we can, how? Based on our
assumption of coincidental occurrence, we can treat each number
in Facts 2-9 as	a random number."

He proceeds to generate	all possible eight-digit numbers which
satisfy	the criteria that the first, third, fifth, and seventh
numbers	are 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively, and the number is
divisible by 19, finding 527 such numbers, and he compares this
with the 100 million possible eight-digit numbers, concluding
that, "We can say that the probability of the occurrence of the
mathematical phenomenon	[,] described in Fact 2, is 189,753 to 1.

He meant "1 in 189,753." However, actually, the	probability is 1
in 19. The discrepancy between these two figures is explained by
the fact that he took his exprimental condition	(1a2b3c4d) and
treated	these fixed numbers as if they were random variables.
Thus only one out of 10,000 eight digit	numbers	is included in
the experiment,	from the outset; since one in 19 of these numbers
could be expected to be	divisible by 19	(this is the normal
case), the theoretical prediction of the result	of his
(erroneous) calculation	would be in in 190,000.	The remaining
discrepancy is basically round-off error caused	by his method.

Moreover, the entire analysis is incorrect. Since the statistics
given are selected out of a much larger	body of	statistics, it is
certainly true that it is not a	coincidence that they are
divisible by 19. They were *selected* that way.	Unless it were
shown that the sample was unbiased, that statistics were not
examined and discarded (because	they were not divisible	by 19),
the numbers given in Arik's work prove nothing more than the
persistence of Arik and	his sources. None of Khalifa's followers
have done the kind of global analysis necessary	to convert a list
of interesting numbers into a statistical proof.

There is a fourth difficulty which applies in some cases:

1.4 Is the data	verifiable?

As an example, Khalifa reported	counts of the letters known as
"initial letters," which prefix	some of	the chapters of	the
Qur'an.	Uniformly, he presents these counts as being divisible by
19. It is easy to miss,	however, that he does not always count or
combine	letter counts in the same way to produce a total. This is
another	example	of arbitrary counting criteria.

However, with the Suras	which contain alif as an initial letter,
he always uses the same	overall	pattern: he adds up the	count of
all the	letters	which initial the chapter, within the chapter. He
reports	all of these counts as divisible by 19.	Since there are
13 chapters with alif as an initial letter, this, if true, is
strong evidence	for the	existence of a pattern in the text. From
random data, to	find a method of analysis which	would produce
this kind of pattern would require examining an	estimated 4 x
10^16 statistics. (This	is 4 followed by 16 zeros.) The
difference between this	statistic and those reported by	Arik is
that a single counting method, which can be stated in a	few
words, is applied precisely to all examples (at	least, all
examples containing alif), whereas the counting	or calculation
method changes with each statistic in Arik's work.

However, counts	of alif	are impossible to verify. In *Visual
Presentation,* Khalifa presented verse-by-verse	counts of alif.
His counts do not match	his own	published text of the Qur'an. It
is apparent, from this,	that he	is counting hamza as alif. But he
does not always	count hamza: for example, both 3:158 and 30:51
contain	the same word, la'in, which contains a hamza (represented
by the apostrophe); but	Khalifa	counts 4 alifs in 3:158,
apparently including this hamza, but only 6 alifs in 51:30,
excluding the same hamza. This is particularly odd in light of
the fact that Khalifa strongly blasted his critics for denying
that the Bismillah contains only 19 letters because they pointed
to similar unwritten letters.

(Hamza was not written in the earliest Qur'ans.)

Particularly because of	the history of Khalifa's counts	of alif
(they changed radically	over the years:	the alif count in Baqara
increased from 4502 to 4592), Lomax concludes that errors in
counting other initial letters forced Khalifa to reanalyze his
alif counting in order to keep the total counts	at multiples of
19. He re-analyzed until he believed he	had found a method of
counting that produced the "miraculous"	numbers, but he	did not
go so far as to	apply the new criteria to all cases; he	stopped
as soon	as he had the results he wanted. Neither did he	state
explicitly his criteria	for counting.

Further, since there are known errors in his counts where there
are no hamzas to manipulate, the statistics cannot be accepted,
even if	the alif counts	were correct: He counts	16 alifs in
13:41, where there are only 15 and no extra hamzas, and	he misses
a lam at 30:21 (He counts 7; there are 8).
By no means has	this discussion	mentioned every	error which
Khalifa	is known to have made; only one	or a few examples of each
type of	error has been given.

1.5 Summary.

It is the opinion of Lomax that	it will	never be possible to
prove that there is no "numerical miracle" in the Qur'an;
however, it can	be said	that, until the	questions raised in this
document are addressed and answered, it	remains	to be
demonstrated that this kind of "miracle" exists.

'AbdulraHman Lomax
P.O. Box 459
San Quentin, CA	94964

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