KORAN AND SELF-REFERENCE
Copyright Muhammed Asadi 1999
There was a fundamental crisis in mathematics about a hundred years ago, a basic disturbance that affected all of logic till it was repaired. Logicians realized that for centuries they had left out the concept of "Self-reference." For centuries, Aristotles rule of the "Excluded middle" had been used. This rule is a proposition that states, "Every proposition is either true or false." Somebody was smart enough to question that very proposition. What if that proposition that states that every proposition is either true or false is false? People had overlooked that for centuries. Not so the Koran. If the Koran is what it claims to be then it should be aware of self-reference, as applied to its own statements.
Paul Davies, professor or 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 it was resolved (emphasis is mine):
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 Godel proved a sweeping theorem to the effect that mathematical statements existed for which no systematic procedure could determine whether they are either true or false. The fact that there exist undecidable propositions in mathematics came as a great shock, because it seemed to undermine the entire logical foundations of the subject.
Godels theorem springs from a constellation of paradoxes that surround the subject of self-referenceThe 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. Godel went on to adapt these 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 itselfIn 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 Godels proof. By identifying the subject with the object- mapping the description of the mathematics unto the mathematics- he uncovered a Russellian paradoxical loop that led directly to the inevitability of undecidable propositions. (Davies 1993:100-101).
Godel and Einstein
"I like Islam, it is a consistent idea of religion
(Kurt Godel as quoted by Hoo Wang in "A Logical Journey: From Godel to Philosophy", Hao Wang. The MIT Press. 1996.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Massachusetts)
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: 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 Koran talks about numerous things and uses many words sometimes repeating them many times, if the author of the Koran 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 I said, "There is a mistake in the Bible,"to a crowd of pastors, there would be a great uproar and people would respond with emotion, "No there is no mistake in the Bible. Show us a mistake." I could logically show a mistake in the book by reading a passage like, "David made a mistake" See, 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 [not so otherwise] the Bible never makes such a claim, but the Koran does!
"Do they not consider the Koran with care. If it had been from anyone other than God, it would contain many (Kathirun) contradictions (Ikhtelaafun-)." Koran 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 Koran 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 (Kathirun), Ikhteelafun (contradictions, the word). Many denotes more than one. To check how many times the word "Ikhteelafun (contradictions)" occurs in the Koran, we make use of the index of every Arabic word in the Koran. Due to the work of Faud Abd al Baqi, we possess such an index of the Koran today, titled, Al- Moojam al Mofahris.
Indeed the author of the Koran is aware of self-reference and the Koran passes the test of the "mention" of words as the word "Ikhteelafun (contradictions)," is just mentioned ONCE in the whole Koran 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 see the Koran mentions the words Ikhteelafun Kathirun (Many Contradictions) and the verse says that if it came from other than God it would contain Ikhteelfun Kathirun (Many contradictions). This is a very smart move in trying to prove the Koran false but its not smart enough.
People who try to disprove the Koran by taking the last two words in conjunction are implying, in the mention of words, that if the Koran contains the words "Ikhteelafun Kathirun (many contradictions)," it came from other than God. The statement in the Koran is not saying that. It is saying that books from other than God can contain the words "Ikhteelafun Kathirun," 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 Koran did not say, "If it contains Ikhtelafun Kathirun (many contradictions) it came from other than God." It does not say that.It is because the qualifier for the verse, "Kathirun", i.e. "many" is taken out
Jesus is like Adam:
The example of Jesus with God is like that of Adam. He created him from dust and said to him, "Be," and he was (Koran 3:59)
The meaning of the statement is clear. Jesus being born without a father is like Adams creation. The new "mitochondrial eve" theory of humankinds descent gives even more credence to this comparison as it was a woman from whom the human race descended and Jesus had a mother only, as well.
However, in the mention of words, it says that the word "Jesus (Eesa)," in the Koran is like the word "Adam." It is surprising to note that indeed the word "Jesus (Eesa) [page 494 of the Index]" in its mention in the Koran is like the mention of the word "Adam [page 24 of the index]," Both words occur in the Koran twenty five times. Not only that, it is 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":
"The example of him [who forsook our signs] is as the example of the dog. If you attack him he pants with his tongue out and if you leave him alone he does the same. Such is the example of THE NATION WHICH DENIES OUR REVELATIONS (7:176)."
The Arabic word used for dog is "Kalb(singular)". The word for "dog" in the singular occurs in the Koran five times. The statement, "Nation which denies our revelations," occurs five times in the Koran also. Chapter 7:176 is the first time the word "dog (singular)" is mentioned in the Koran (see page 614 of the above mentioned index), and the first time the statement,, "The nation which denies our revelations (page 583-584 of the index)," is mentioned. Therefore the example of the "The nation which denies our revelations" is as the example of a dog (Kalb), in the mention or words.
"The blind (al-Aama) and the seeing (al-Baseer) are NOT alike. Nor are the depths of darkness (az-Zulumaat) and the light (an-Nur). Nor is the shadow (az-Zill) as the heat (al-Haroor)
[Note: 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 "the blind (al-aama)" occurs in the Koran eight times (page 488 of the index). The word used for "the seeing" above, (al-baseer), occurs nine times (page 121-122 of the index). Therefore "the blind" and "the seeing" are not alike. The statement of the Koran above which mentions that "the blind" and "the seeing" are not alike is the fifth time in succession that the word "the seeing" is used in the Koran and also the fifth time in succession that the word "the blind" is used.
The word used for "the depths of darkness," (az-Zulumat) occurs twelve (see page 438-439 of the index) times in the Koran; the word for "the light," (an-Nur), occurs thirteen times (see 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 noticed above, shows up 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 Koran, 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 chapter 13: 16, and the same trend emerges [which makes it impossible to be coincidence]:
"Say: Are the blind and the seeing equal, or are the depths of darkness equal to the light" (Koran 13:16)
If we check the succession, it is the sixth time that the word "the depths of darkness (az-Zulumat)," is used and the sixth time the word "the light (an-Nur)," is used in the Koran. 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 Koran. In chapter 35 above we saw that it was the fifth time that both words were used in the Koran. Another trend is emerging from the above also: Whenever the Koran says that something is not like the other, the positive mentioned (for example "the seeing" (+) as opposed to "the blind" (-) and "the light" (+) as opposed to the "depths of darkness" (-)) are always one more than the negative. 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 Koran but let us try one more. The statement above in chapter 35 continues:
"nor is the shadow (az-Zill) as the heat (al-Har or al-Haroor) (Koran 35:22)"
The word used for "the shadow (az-Zill)," is mentioned in the Koran four times (see page 434 of the index) and the word "the heat (al-Har)," is mentioned three times. The statement (35:22) which mentions that "the shadow" is not as "the heat," is the third time both words "az-Zill" and "al-har" are used in the Koran.
Did the Koran fail ?
"Say: The evil (al-Khabees) and the good (at-Tayyab) are not alike(Koran 5:100)"
When we come to this particular statement in the Koran on dissimilarity, the items mentioned occur an equal number of times. The word "evil (al-Khabees)," is mentioned seven times (see page 226 of the index) and the word, "the good (at-Tayyab)," seven times also (see page 432). Did the Koran 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 Koran fails only if we cut off the statement in the middle of the sentence. The verse continues:
"Say: The evil and the good are not alike; EVENTHOUGH the plenty of the evil amazes you. So be careful of your duty to God, O people that understand, so that you may SUCEED (Koran 5:100)"
If we are careful, just like 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 "evil (al-Khabees)" is separated from "good (at-Tayyab)."
"That God may separate the evil from the good and place the evil (Khabees) one upon the other also heap them ALL TOGETHER(Koran 8:37)"
Now acting on the advice of the above verse in the "mention" of words, if we "heap together" all the "evil (Khabees)," in its different forms of use in the Koran, and the many root forms, we end up with sixteen times that the word "evil" is mentioned as against seven that the word "good" is mentioned. Thus the good and the evil are not alike if we "heap them together," even though the plenty (sixteen as against seven) of the "evil" amazes us.
This itself says volumes for the inimitability of the Koran. How could a man or group of men have produced such a mathematically/logically sound book without having any formal education in logic or mathematics and without access to any computer software or indexes?
Month and Days:
In the above-mentioned index of the Koran, if we look at the times the word month (Shahr) is mentioned, it turns out to be twelve. There are twelve "months" in the Koran. The number of times the word "day" in the singular (Yaum or Yauma) is mentioned turns out to be three hundred and sixty five.
This discovery in the Koran proves as mentioned above that the Koran cannot be the work of a man or group of men living in the Arabian Desert over fourteen hundred years back. This also serves to provide evidence that the Koran hasnt been tampered with. The statements that mention, "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 are the seventh time both Jesus is mentioned and the seventh time Adam is 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.
Indeed, We have created everything with a measure (Koran 54:49)
With God, everything is measured (Koran 13:8)
Acknowledgements & Bibliography:
1.This discovery is based on the lecture, "The Amazing Quran." . The accuracy of the "mention of words," in the index Al Moojam ul Mofahris was checked many times over by myself. Page numbers are provided for anyone who would like to verify.
2. Asadi, Muhammed. 1992. Koran: A Scientific Analysis. Lahore, Pakistan.
3. Davies, Paul. 1993. The Mind of God. New York. Touchstone Books.
The Bible is not free from paradoxes (contradictions) of self-reference. The famous "Epimenides paradox" is well known. Paul, writing to Titus, says about the Cretans:
12. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own said, The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13. 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). So 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. So it is a paradox, a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This shows that the author of Titus had no idea what he/she was talking about.
THE MOTHER PAGE
Disclaimer: One reader has found some counting errors in the pattern of "unlikes" with the negative being one less than the positive. These "errors" might disrupt the pattern but do not falsify the main claim of the paper which is that the Quran does not make errors of self-reference, i.e. the unlikes are not "like" each other etc.