The term Quran code (also known as Code 19) refers to the claim that the Quranic text contains a hidden mathematically complex code. Advocates think that the code represents a mathematical proof of the divine authorship of the Quran and they also think that it can be used to identify orthographic errors within the Quranic text. Proponents of the Quran code claim that the Quran code is based on statistical procedures compared to the Bible code, which is ostensibly based on steganography. However, this claim has not been confirmed by any independent mathematical or scientific institute.
In 1969, Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian-American biochemist, began analyzing the separated letters of the Quran (also called Quranic initials or Muqattaʿat), and the Quran to examine certain sequences of numbers. In 1973 he published the book Miracle of the Quran: Significance of the Mysterious Alphabets, in which he describes the Quranic initials through enumerations and distributions.
Khalifa then claimed to have discovered a mathematical code in the Quran in 1974, which is based on the number 19. He wrote the book The Computer Speaks: God’s Message to the World, in which he thematizes this Quran code. For the existence of such a code, based on the number 19, he relies on Surah 74, verse 30: "Over it is nineteen,".
Proponents of this claim, such as the Submitters, who are members of United Submitters International, an association initiated by Rashad Khalifa, as well as a part of Quranists and traditional Muslims, often use certain word counts, checksums and cross sums to legitimize this code.
Edip Yüksel, a Turkish Quranistic author and colleague of Rashad Khalifa, makes the following claims in his book Nineteen: God’s Signature in Nature and Scripture (assuming that 9:128-129 does not belong to the Quran, see section Criticism):
The Quran consists of 114 surahs, of which a total of 29 surahs are provided with separated letters, Muqattaʿat or also called Quranic initials. These are listed in the following table:
|Number of the Surah||Initial letter(s)||Number of Verse in that Surah|
|42||Ḥāʾ–Mīm and ʿAin–Sīn–Qāf||53|
Rashad Khalifa claims in his book The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World that the separated letters of the Quran, or so called Quranic Initials show patterns of 19 within the Quran's 29 initialised Surahs.
He assumed, among other things, that the correct spelling or reading of the word "basṭatan", which occurs in Surah 7, verse 69, contains the Arabic letter Sīn instead of Sād. He supports his assertion by the fact that, for example, in the Samarkand Codex, an old Quran manuscript, the spelling with the letter Sīn is present.
|Alif ا 1|
|Yā' 10 ي||Ṭā' 9 ط||Ḥā' 8 ح||Zāy 7 ز||Wāw 6 و||Hā' 5 ه||Dāl 4 د||Dschīm 3 ج||Bā' 2 ب|
|Qāf 100 ق||Sād 90 ص||Fā' 80 ف||ʿAin 70 ع||Sīn 60 س||Nūn 50 ن||Mīm 40 م||Lām 30 ل||Kāf 20 ك|
|Ghain 1000 غ||Zā' 900 ظ||Dād 800 ض||Dhāl 700 ذ||Chā' 600 خ||Thā' 500 ث||Tā' 400 ت||Schīn 300 ش||Rā' 200 ر|
Abdullah Arik, a Quranistic author, uses this method in his book Beyond Probability: God's Message in Mathematics to analyze the Basmala gematrically. He gives various numerological arguments relying on these values to bolster his arguments.
Khalifa's research received little attention in the Western world. In 1980, Martin Gardner mentioned Khalifa's work in Scientific American. In 1997, after Khalifa already had passed away, he devoted a short article to the subject while being a columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer.
Criticism of these ideas typically follows standard critiques of numerology. Stochastic processes, in particular, explain the way that patterns of the sort being claimed arise in any large dataset.
There is also criticism from numerous Muslims regarding this claim. Among other things, Khalifa claimed that two verses in the Quran text, namely Surah 9, verse 128 and 129, were humanly added. He supports this claim by the hadith Sahīh al-Buchārī 7425, according to which Zaid ibn Thābit discovered the Quran verses 9:128–129 only at one person, namely Chuzaima al-Ansari, when he wanted to collect the Quran and its corresponding verses. Thus, Khalifa claims that the Quran has only 6346 verses instead of 6348, because if you take these two verses into account, the result is, for example, 2699 for the occurrence of the word "Allah" and 115 for the word "Rahim", both of which are not multiples of 19. He also claimed that the initial "Nūn" in Surah 68 should be spelled differently, namely "Nūn Wāw Nūn". This leads to 133 (19×7) nūns in Surah 68 instead of 132, which is not a multiple of 19. However, such a spelling for this initial has not yet been found in a Quranic manuscript.
His counting of the Alif and the Lām in accordingly initiated surahs are also questioned. Since the number of Alif in some words is controversial, this causes problems with the frequency of this letter in surahs that are initiated with this letter, among other things.
Furthermore, the version of the Quran code is questioned, as it is only used for certain aspects or Quranic initials. Surahs that are not initiated are not fully examined in this context. Since early Quran manuscripts differ orthographically in certain passages, it makes it difficult to reconstruct an "urtext" – or in another expression a "primordial text" – for the Quran, which in turn is used for letter enumerations as well as gematria.