We have revealed this consummate reminder and absolutely We will safeguard it.

[Verse 15:9]


The self-reference theorem can be applied perfectly to the Quran. It works in a

similar way to that in which a check digit operates in a barcode.  The statements in the

Quran can be checked with each other to verify and validate the information.  We can

see that comparative word occurrences as a logical demonstration of how the Quran

meets the test of self-reference, where other books claiming to be divine guidance do not.


There was a fundamental crisis around the turn of the 20th century: a basic disturbance that affected all logic until it was repaired. Logicians realised that for centuries they had left out the concept of ‘Self-reference’. For centuries, Aristotle’s rule of the ‘Excluded Middle’ had been used. This rule is a proposition that states “Every proposition is either true or false”. But what if that proposition is in itself false? People did not pose this question for centuries; not so in the Quran. If the Quran is what it claims to be then it should be aware of self-reference as applied to its own statements.


Paul Davies, professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, in his book, ‘The Mind of God’ (1992), talks about how self-reference shook the very foundations of logic and how, eventually, the issue was resolved. In spite of its superficial plausibility, the formalist interpretation of mathematics received a severe blow in 1931. In that year the Austrian mathematician and logician, Kurt Gödel, proved that there are some mathematical statements for which no systematic procedure is able to determine whether they are true or false. The fact that there can be un-decidable propositions in mathematics came as a great shock, because it seemed to undermine the entire logical foundations of the subject.


Gödel’s theorem springs from a constellation of paradoxes that surrounds the notion of self-reference. The great mathematician and philosopher, Bertrand Russell, demonstrated that the existence of such paradoxes strikes at the very heart of logic, and undermines any straightforward attempt to construct mathematics rigorously on a logical foundation.


Gödel went on to adapt the difficulties of self-reference to the subject of mathematics in a brilliant and unusual manner. He considered the relationship between the description of mathematics and the mathematics itself. In this way, logical operations about mathematics can be made to correspond to the mathematical operations themselves, and this is the essence of the self-referential character of Gödel’s proof. By identifying the subject with the object – mapping the description of the mathematics onto the mathematics – he uncovered a Russellian paradoxical loop that led directly to the inevitability of un-decidable propositions (Davies 1993: pages 100-101).


Self-reference takes into consideration the ‘use’ and the ‘mention’ of words. When you ‘use’ a word, it is the meaning of the word that is implied. When you ‘mention’ a word, you are talking about the word and not its meaning. Every sentence can thus talk about the words it is using or the meaning of the word. As an example of ‘mentioning’, if I say, “Youth comes before manhood”, it would be logically incorrect unless specified, the reason being that, in the dictionary, “manhood” (the word and not its meaning), comes before “youth” (the word). Since the Quran talks about numerous things and uses many words, often repeating them many times, if the author of the Quran was a man or group of men we should find many opportunities to find such logical errors of self-reference in the book. However, we find something amazing when we apply the self-reference check.


If we say, “There is a mistake in the Bible” to Billy Graham, for example, he may respond, “No, there is no mistake in the Bible. Show me a mistake.” A mistake could logically be shown in the book by reading a passage like “David made a mistake…”: the word mistake is in the Bible. Now, if the Bible were to say: “There is NO mistake in this book”, it would be falsified and disproved logically by that example. This is no trick, it involves delicate matters of logic. However, safely for now, the Bible never makes such a claim, but the Quran does:


“Why do they not study and consider the Quran with care? If it were from other than God they would have found in it many (kathirun)contradictions(ikhteelafun).”  Verse 4:82.

The meaning of the statement (use of words) is clear. Considering the nature of the Book and its diverse topics and areas of discussion, if the Book had a human origin, it should be easy to find discrepancies in it. If we consider the ‘mention’ of the words, a different picture emerges. Let us see if the Quran passes its own falsification test on the criteria of ‘self-reference’ using the ‘mention’ of words.


In the ‘mention’ of the word contradictions (ikhteelafun), the meaning that emerges is: if the book had a human origin, it should contain many contradictions, the word). Many denotes more than one. To check how many times the word ‘ikhteelafun’ (contradictions) occurs in the Quran, we make use of an index of every Arabic word in the Quran. Due to the work of Faud Abd al Baqi, we possess such an index of the Quran today, titled ‘Al Moojam al Mofarhis’.


Indeed, the author of the Quran is aware of self-reference and the Quran passes the test of the ‘mention’ of words, as the word ‘ikhteelafun’ (contradictions) is mentioned just once in the whole Quran: in this particular verse; not many (kathirun) times, but only once.


Some people band together the last two words of this verse – many (kathirun) contradictions (ikhteelafun). Then they say the Quran mentions the words ikhteelafun kathirun (Many Contradictions) and the verse says that if it came from other than God, it would contain ikhteelafun kathirun (many contradictions). This is a very smart move in trying to prove the Quran false, but it’s not smart enough.


People who try to disprove the Quran by taking the last two words in conjunction are implying, in the mention of words, that if the Quran contains the words ‘ikhteelafun kathirun’ (many contradictions), it was written by other than God. The statement in the Quran is not saying that: it is saying that books from other than God can contain those words, but so also can a book from God. Thus they fall into the famous Fallacy of the Converse in logic.  Rain means wet streets, but wet streets do not necessarily mean rain. Similarly, the Quran did not say: “If it contains ikhteelafun kathirun (many contradictions), it came from other than God”. It does not say that. By banding the two words ikhteelafun kathirun (many contradictions) together, they remove the qualifier, kathirun (many) which changes the statement.


Jesus is like Adam


“The example of Jesus (Arabic: Eesa), with God, is like that of Adam; He created him with a different constitution and commanded him to “Be” and he was created.” Verse 3:59.


The meaning of the statement is clear: Jesus’ birth is initiated like Adam. However, in the mention of words, it says that the word ‘Jesus’ in the Quran is like the word ‘Adam’. It is surprising to note that indeed the word ‘Jesus’ (page 494 of the index) in its mention in the Quran is like the mention of the word ‘Adam’ (page 24 of the index). Both words occur in the Quran twenty-five times. Not only that, they are in the same order of succession. The verse that mentions that they are like each other is the seventh time the word ‘Jesus’ is mentioned and the seventh time ‘Adam’ is mentioned.


The example of a dog


“Thus, he [who rejected our guidance] was like a dog, whether you petted him or ignored him, he just panted. Such is the example of people who reject Our signs.”Verse 7:176.

The Arabic word used for dog is ‘kalb’ (singular). The word for dog in the singular occurs in the Quran five times. The statement “people who reject our signs” occurs five times in the Quran also. Verse 7:176 is the first time the word ‘dog’ (singular) is mentioned in the Quran (page 614 of the above mentioned index), and the first time the statement “people who reject our signs” (pages 583-584 of the index) is mentioned. Therefore the example of “people who reject our signs” is like the example of a dog (kalb), in the mention of words.


Blind and seeing not alike:


“The blind (al-aama) and the seeing (al-baseer) are not equal. Nor are the depths of darkness (az-zulmaat) and the light (an-nur). Nor are the coolness of shade (az-zill) and the heat (al-haroor) of the sun.” Verses 35:19-21.


Please make sure while checking the count in the index that you take note of the word ‘the’. For example, ‘the light’ (an-nur) is different from just ‘light’ (nur). Therefore attention needs to be paid, while counting, to the specific or the general usage of the word.


The word for ‘the blind’ (al-aama) occurs in the Quran eight times (page 448 of the index). The word used for ‘the seeing’ (al-baseer) occurs nine times (pages 121-122 of the index). Therefore ‘the blind’ and ‘the seeing’ are not alike. The statement of the Quran above which mentions that ‘the blind’ and ‘the seeing’ are not alike is the fifth time in succession that the word for ‘the seeing’ is used in the Quran and also the fifth time in succession that the word for ‘the blind’ is used.


The word used for “the depths of darkness” (az-zulumat) occurs twelve times in the Quran (pages 438-439 of the index) and the word for ‘the light’ (an-nur) occurs thirteen times (page 725 of the index). Thus “the depths of darkness” (az-zulumat) are not the same as ‘the light’ (an-nur).


The other trend that we notice above appears in these words too. The statement above which mentions that ‘the light’ is not as “the depths of darkness” is the tenth time both words are used in the Quran, if we take into consideration the use of the words in successive progression in the Book.


Another amazing thing that we notice is that the same statement is repeated in verse 13:16, and the same trend emerges (which makes it impossible to be a coincidence): “Say: ‘Are the blind and the seeing equal or is the depths of darkness equal to the light?’ ” [Verse 13:16].


If we check the succession, it is the sixth time the word for ‘the depths of darkness’ (az-zulumat) is used and the sixth time the word for ‘the light’ (an-Nur) is used in the Quran. We can do the same with the first part that we already covered above: ‘The blind’ (al-aama) are not as ‘the seeing’ (al-baseer). In the verse above, chapter 13, it is the third time the word ‘the blind’ (al-aama) is used and the third time the word ‘the seeing’ (al-baseer) is used (in the verse which says one is not like the other) in the Quran. In chapter 35 above, we saw that it was the fifth time that both words were used in the Quran.


Another trend is also emerging from the above: whenever the Quran says that something is not like the other, the positive mentioned is always one more than the negative. For example ‘the seeing’ (+) as opposed to ‘the blind’ (-) and ‘the light’ (+) as opposed to ‘the depths of darkness’ (-). As we saw above, ‘the seeing’ (al-baseer) is mentioned nine times as opposed to the eight of ‘the blind’ (al-aama). Similarly, “the light (an-nur) is mentioned thirteen times as opposed to the twelve times that “the depths of darkness” (az-zulumat) is mentioned.


The above examples should be enough to confirm this amazing trend in the Quran, but let us look at another instance. The statement above in verse 35 continues:


“… nor are the coolness of the shade (az-zill) and the heat (al-haroor) of the sun.” Verse 35:21.


The word used for ‘shade’ (az-zill) is mentioned in the Quran four times (page 434 of the index) and the word ‘the heat’ (al-har) is mentioned three times. The statement (Verse 35:21) which mentions that ‘the shade’ is not the same as ‘the heat’ is the third time both words ‘az-zill’ and ‘al-har’ are used in the Quran.


Did the Quran Fail?

“Proclaim: The evil (al-khabees) and the good (at-tayyab) are not  alike… ” [Verse 5:100].


When we come to this particular statement in the Quran on dissimilarity, the items mentioned occur an equal number of times. The word ‘the evil’ (al-khabees) is mentioned seven times (page 226 of the index) and the word ‘the good’ (at-tayyab) seven times also (page 432 of the index). Did the Quran fail? According to our trend above, the negative (the evil) should be one less than the positive (the good). How come ‘the evil’ is one more than what it should be? The Quran fails only if we cut off the statement in the middle of the sentence. The verse needs to be read in full:


“Proclaim: The evil and the good are not alike, even if the abundance of evil amazes you. You shall fulfil your duty to God, those who possess intelligence and understanding, that you may succeed.” [Verse 5:100].


If we are careful, just as the above statement mentions, we notice that God joins together all ‘the evil’ (al-khabees) in the use of words, i.e. all different forms of the word and not only ‘the evil’ (al-khabees), in order to differentiate between evil and good. Thus ‘the evil’ (al-khabees) is separated from ‘the good’ (at-tayyab).


“God will separate the evil from the good, and the evil (khabees) will clamber upon each other, then heaped together, they will fall over themselves in a hell of their own making. Such are the losers.” [Verse 8:37].


Now, acting on the advice of the above verse in the mention of words, if we heaped together all the ‘evil’ (khabees) in its different forms of use in the Quran, and the many root forms, we end up with sixteen times that the word ‘evil’ is mentioned as against seven for the word ‘good’. Thus the good and the evil are not alike if we ‘heap them together’, even though the abundance (sixteen against seven) of the ‘evil’ amazes us.


This itself says volumes for the inimitability of the Quran. How could a man or group of men have produced such a mathematically and logically sound book without having any formal education in logic or mathematics and without access to any computer software or indexes?  Furthermore, the Quran negates the absurd and widely held belief that it was first written on bone, palm leaves and stones, or that it had no particular order or sequence in Muhammad’s lifetime. See verses 2:2; 6:91; 15:9; 75:17; 80:15.


Months and days


In the index of the Quran, if we look at the number of times the word ‘month’ (shahr) is mentioned, it turns out to be twelve. There are twelve ‘months’ in the Quran. The number of times the word ‘day’ in the singular (yaum or yauma) is mentioned turns out to be three hundred and sixty five.


The self-reference also serves to provide evidence that the Quran hasn’t been tampered with. The statement that mentions ‘this is like that’, for example, is the same in succession in the ‘mention’ of words. The verse that says that “Jesus is like Adam”, for example, is the seventh time both Jesus and Adam are mentioned. If there were any tampering, in the setting of the chapters or the numbering of the verses or additions or deletions, this sequence would break down. The Quran is a much too sophisticated work to be that of a simple desert man, who would never have been able to keep track of all the accurate positioning and counted use of words, as well as maintaining the integrity of the message.


Indeed, Everything We created in precise proportion and measure. [Verse 54:49].

Everything in His domain is perfectly measured by God. [Verse 13:8].

We have revealed this consummate reminder and absolutely We will safeguard it. [Verse 15:9].


The Bible paradox


Is the Bible free from contradictions of self-reference? The famous ‘Epimenedes paradox’ is well known. Paul, writing to Titus, says about the Cretans: “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own said, The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true…” (Titus 1:12-13, The Bible). An analysis based on self-reference tells us that if the statement that Cretans are always liars is true, then, since “one of themselves” (a Cretan) said this, it must be a lie, since Cretans always lie (according to the statement made). If the statement is true then it is a lie (based on self-reference). Only if the statement that “Cretans are always liars” is false can this ‘witness’ be true. Therefore it’s a paradox, a contradiction that cannot be resolved. Although this evidence does not prove anything about the Quran, what it does show is that the author of Titus knew nothing about self-reference, which if the scripture is claimed to be a divine message would be absolutely critical.