The Mathematical Miracle of the Quran: Fact or Fiction?
There are a growing number of Muslims who believe that there is an intricate mathematical code embedded in the Quran that constitutes a miracle. They say that the entire book is mathematically composed in such a way that it would be impossible for a human to imitate it, and that this is proof that it was authored by God - but is this true? I examine the claims made in my book, A Miracle on Trial: A Critical Analysis of the Mathematical Miracle of the Quran. It is available in eBook, and will be coming to print soon:
In it I tried to be as unbiased as possible and use only the most rigorous methods of analysis possible. If you wish to go further in depth, please see the full book, which has multiple tables of data and detailed explanations – but here is a brief outline:
*** Special thanks go out to thereligionofpeace.com for allowing me to put up this article. ***
Math is a scary topic for most people. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it is because it is misunderstood and complex. Statistics are even scarier for some, but they are at least easily understood: If I say there is a 10% chance of rain or a 35% chance of winning, people know exactly what I mean – but when the calculations behind such statements are manipulative or mistaken, the vast majority of people are unable to tell. Therefore, the statement “the numbers don’t lie” is not always true.
The Miracle is based around the prime number 19, and multiples thereof. Essentially, it is claimed that throughout the Quran, there are so many multiples of 19 that this number is divinely coded within the scripture. For example, there are 114 chapters within the Quran, and 114 = 19x6. Also, there are 6,346 verses in the Quran, or 19x334. There are also facts that take multiple variables into account, such as this one:
“Verse 2:55 is one where people are demanding ‘physical evidence’ from God that this is His scripture, which is the Mathematical Miracle; 2 + 55 = 57 (19x3), and this verse is the exact 19th occurrence of the word ‘God’ in the entire Quran.”
Then, there are the “mysterious initials” within the Quran. These are letters such as “A.L.R.” which start out 29 of the 114 chapters of the book. They are seemingly random, and have no known explanation as to their existence. With that said, the Quran seems to claim that they prove the divine authorship of the book, as showcased is one of the mysterious verses below:
Quran, 12:1: A.L.R. These (letters) are proofs of this profound scripture.
Rashad Khalifa, the man who discovered the Mathematical Miracle, claimed that if you counted up the frequencies of each of these letters in their respective chapters, they always resulted in multiples of 19. As there are 14 sets of initials on 29 chapters it would be quite a coincidence, and in fact a near impossibility, for this to have occurred by chance. These initials along with the other facts (such as the ones listed previously) combine with some verses in the Quran referencing the number 19, and allegedly prove that the scripture is from God as no human could have authored such an intricate code.
To actually figure out how significant this entire phenomenon was, I had to set out to compile an exhaustive list of every fact put forth by, and verify them by hand, which I did (including counting all of the letters in the Arabic Quran).
The vast majority of these facts are true, admittedly. However, what is not true is their significance: There are so many numbers to pull from, that we can make just about anything a multiple of 19. For example, let’s say we are looking at verse 3:18 (without even knowing what it says). We could say, count the number of words in the verse, count the number of letters in the verse, add together the digits of the verse and chapter numbers, take just the verse number, take the number of occurrences of the word “God” before this verse, etc. Then I could take any two or three or even four of these and add them together if they didn’t work on their own. This means that I could take any verse in the Quran, and find a way to force a multiple of 19 from it. This meant that the majority of the verified facts had to be assigned a probability of 1 (100%) because, no matter what, we would have found a way to make them appear. This greatly reduced the statistical significance of the majority of these claims.
After reviewing all of the claims, and verifying each by hand, a few things became clear: First of all, almost everything claimed was just simply numerology, like the example above. Secondly, the only things of significance were the initials, because everything else could be manipulated to produce multiples of 19 (and, in fact, they had been manipulated). With that in mind, however, the group that most closely followed Rashad Khalifa and continued his work after his death, also manipulated the letter counts. In fact, 9 of the 14 initial groups have been altered to “fit the code,” which I detail in more depth in the book.
Accepting the Challenge, and the Real Probabilities
Next, the Quran has within its text a challenge to those who disbelieve in it to produce ten chapters like those found in the Quran to prove that a human being can make them. Supposedly, as only God could author the Quran, this challenge is impossible to complete. According to those that believe in the Mathematical Miracle, this is a challenge issued by God saying “no one can ever replicate the intricate mathematics that I have interlaced into the Quran.”
In my book, I have a chapter dedicated to a fake holy text that I wrote. It is ten chapters long, and within it are 361 (19x19) verses. It is a completely coherent text, with religious laws and duties spelled out (all made up of course), written in verse (just like the Quran), and has 282 multiples of 19 within it that imitate the ones found in the Quran both in form and content. To put this into perspective, my book has 361 verses and 282 facts, which means that 78% of the verses on average are specially coded. Compare this to the Quran: There are 6,346 verses, and 385 facts in total. To prove my point, I also show in my book that any text would contain such a code, especially if we allow ourselves the ability to manipulate the text. To this end, I demonstrated that we could find a code similar to the one in the Quran using the Book of Mormon without actually finding it (this is what is known in math as an “existence proof.”) This would not be difficult to find, although it might be tedious.
Arguments Against My Book
Some Muslims have already begun attacking my work as unsound. Therefore, let me address each argument I’ve heard here:
Argument 1: The book Beyond Probability shows that you are wrong. Your math is invalid.
What Abdullah Arik did in his book was assume that every fact had a 1 in 19 probability of occurring, when this is untrue. He also assumed that all of the facts were important in their exact form, when in reality that doesn’t matter (for example, if I manipulated the text so that the number of verses was no longer a multiple of 19, but I created two new unrelated multiples of 19, this would change the form of the Miracle). What Mr. Arik calculated then was the probability of the Mathematical Miracle occurring by chance and in its exact form. I corrected his calculations in my book, and I came up with this: The chance of the Mathematical Miracle occurring by chance and in its exact form is 1 in 1946. This is an extremely small probability.
However, this is not what is in dispute. First, the Miracle did not occur by chance because Rashad Khalifa and the Submitters have made many alterations to the text of the Quran to make the code work, eliminating the “chance” part. Secondly, a similar code can be found in any other book, as demonstrated in the text.
Argument 2: You talk about how “exact form” doesn’t matter, but it does. God created specific facts and if you cannot replicate them then you have done nothing.
I find that this argument comes from a misunderstanding of what I mean by “exact form” when critiquing the book Beyond Probability. What I mean is this: The Mathematical Miracle hinges on many claims such as the following:
“If we add together all chapter numbers where there are initials, plus the number of initials in each chapter (counting N twice, as it occurs twice in the spelling of the letter: NuN), plus the number of initialed verses, we end up with 931 (19x49).”
Notice that this has three variables to it: 1) All of the chapter numbers with initials, 2) the number of initials in each chapter, and 3) the number of initialed verses. Abdullah Arik says that this has a 1 in 19 chance of occurring, but it really does not because the form of the fact could change – or in other words, we could pick different variables. In his calculations, he assumes that this is the only way to generate this particular fact, and that all such facts are “fixed” in this sense. In reality, the Submitters could just pull together two, three, or four random numbers that actually worked – in other words, they don’t care what variables work, just that some of them do.
Additionally, although it would be tedious, it would be possible to create a book that imitates the Quranic code down to the exact form of every fact, given enough manipulation. I did not do this, but instead I created one with a similar and statistically superior code.
Argument 3: You did not do any of your work on the original Arabic text, so your work is invalid.
I did all of my research on the Arabic text.
Argument 4: Rashad Khalifa was a heretic, and you pulled data from his work, therefore everything in here is tainted by Satan.
It is true that some Muslims believe that Rashad Khalifa was an infidel and a heretic, but he was the one who unveiled the Mathematical Miracle. Therefore, it is only right that I pull the claims and data from his work instead of from a third party, because he was the originator. The belief that he was a heretic does not change his claims about mathematics.
Argument 5: You aren’t a scientist, you don’t have a doctoral degree, and better men than you have proven that all of these numbers are correct.
Scientists can be wrong, and my credentials don’t prove or disprove my arguments. What other scientists have done is verify all of the numbers put forth about the Mathematical Miracle just as I have done. I agree, all of the numbers exist as stated. What I argue against is the significance of these figures.
Argument 6: Because you left Islam, God has blinded you to His Miracle; therefore we know you are lying.
There is a contradiction in the Quran if you believe this. In the Quran, verses 74:30-31 state that the Mathematical Miracle exists to convince people that this is a divine scripture. However, verse 2:118 says that God only manifests miracles to believers, and does not show them to disbelievers. Thus, the Miracle can only be seen by believers, but it is meant to convince disbelievers. This is a contradiction, and is thus impossible - therefore, I could not be blinded to the miracle.
This is the essence of my book, and in order to keep this article short, I have cut out the majority of the details of my arguments. Of course, my book details them in more depth, if you care to examine them. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and if you have any questions please reach out to me through Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14789148.Matthew_Stanley?from_search=true).