Rashad Khalifa Purifier or Pretender?

By Paigham Mustafa
originally appeared in Signs magazine

Dr. Rashad Khalifa's claim to be A Divine Messengerof The Covenant has cacrsedgreat controversyand concern. This appraisal ofhis work and two translations of the Quran has a few revelations ofits own: 

 

Looking at the first English translation of the Quran by Dr. Rashad Khalifa it is
easy to be persuaded by it’s simple, clear presentation and ease of use. The
rendering is much the same as others available, the only difference, as you
might expect, is the choice of words.

Although the intricate numerical analysis based on the number 19 is included,
the language is quite modern making the reading effortless. The theme
throughout is the Oneness of God and worship to Him alone.

The revised edition is, however, something different. Apart from the obvious differences such as layout, a much longer introduction and more appendices, the focus of the contents has changed.

For those who are familiar with his earlier edition this immediately become apparent but for others who are not so well acquainted may mistake it for a translation from the original Arabic Quran instead of the misrepresentation it really is.

Rashad Khalifa's impaired claims to messengership undermine all the good that he has done. The contents of this particular translation go against the views he expressed in his previous commentary and against the Quran.

The foundation of his claim is based on the complex geometrical values of the Arabic letters and verses. Mathematics is an exact science and, while it is acceptable that the alphabet has numerical significance, any findings, which form the basis of an extraordinary claim, must be verified by a recognised authority before they can be taken as a statement of fact.

The average reader may be impressed by a string of figures, which he cannot possibly check, but unless Rashad's research can be corroborated by independent investigation, it does not have the integrity, which is required to substantiate his claim.

By establishing a formula within the Quran, Rashad's discovery of the number nineteen has had decisive impact. Many people have been so overwhelmed by this discovery that they have absorbed, without question, any other information 'supported' by this numerical miracle.

In fact, matters which common sense would normally reject have been accepted by the ingenuous and ingenious alike. This opportunity has not been missed and is used as a license to prop up, the otherwise fragile, claim as a messenger of God.

However, the discrepancies found in his two translations published some years apart are evidence that his designation is self-instated and not from the Almighty.

Rashad makes a notable distinction between prophethood and his messengership. A Messenger, he maintains, does not bring anything new and he, as a messenger of the covenant, confirms and purifies the existing scripture. And how does he refine the Quran? From Sura 9 he has removed the last two verses. In appendix 24 and under the title 'Tampering with the Word of God' he explains: "Nineteen years after the Prophet death, some scribes infected two false verses at the end of sura 9.’ And further on says: “One of the scribes suggested adding a couple of verses to honour the Prophet”.

Surely, he cannot be referring to the same Quran and the same scribes portrayed by God in Sura 80 verse 1 5- 1 6 as ... an honourable
Scripture. Exalted and pure. Written by the hands of scribes. Who are honourable and righteous?

Does this mean that the Quran we have possessed for centuries was not the authentic one? Apparently not. What seems to have happened, according to Rashad, is that for the first 19 years the Quran was perfect, then two additions took place. These appendages remained in the Quran for 1400 years until he, Rashad the messenger, came to cleanse the Quran of impurities!

In the first nineteen years undoubtedly many thousands of people all over the Islamic region must have memorised the Quran. Was it possible to inform each and everyone that certain additions had been made? Did anyone not question where these verses came from after 19 years? What has God to say about this? Offensive accusations that any alterations ever took, place are shattered by the Quran's explicit verses:

`We are in charge of putting it together in to Quran'. Sura 75.17

`Surely, we sent down this message, and surely, we will preserve it'.
Sura 15.9

`No falsehood can ever enter it, in the past or in the future; for it is a revelation from God, most wise, praiseworthy’. Sura 41.42

God sent down His message, assembled it and preserved it. To believe any verses were added is a perverted idea belonging only to those who dream to assert their own authority above God.

It is important to note that both nullified verses are included in Rashad's first translation without any reservation being expressed. As Rashad's subsequent claim to messengership is based on the numerical value of letters, words or verses in the Quran, the removal of the two verses, according to the translator's calculations, brings the composition into perfect harmony.

Exactly who is tampering with the Quran can be seen by comparing Rashad's two translations. One which was published in 198 1 and the other in 1992. Not only have many Sura titles changed in the new version, some verses have been mutilated and others interpolated with Rashad's own name

For example in his earlier translation Verse 56 in sura 25 states: `We did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mere bearer of good news, as well as a warner', but in the new version it reads: `We have sent you (Rashad) as a deliverer of good news, as well as a warner.

Another conspicuous discrepancy worthy of note is that in the early translation in appendix 1 under the title of simple facts', the word ‘God' is noted as having a count of 2,698 (19 x l42). In the later translation the count is also given as 2,698. But the two verses of Sura 9, one with the word ‘God', have been eliminated. How can the total remain the same?

In two other books by Rashad, Quran: Visual Presentation of the miracle and The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World', Rashad has counted the word 'God' only once in Sura 9.15 when it appears twice. In the later translation it has been shown in bold letters and correctly counted as two separate words. It can be assumed that other calculations may also be wrong, but it is not within the scope of Signature Publications to carry out the necessary research. However, this does raise some pertinent questions and puts Rashad's research under suspicion.

Rashad also had a vision in which he alleges to have experienced heavenly travel. In some place in the universe he was introduced to all the prophets and recognised a strong resemblance that the prophet Abraham had to his own father, uncles and, to himself.

This fantasy is in complete contrast considering the disparaging remarks he made about the people who forged such nonsense about the prophet Muhammad. In his early translation, Rashad wrote in footnotes to sura 17:1: `”Two hundred years after Muhammad, some storyteller with limited knowledge, and a lot of imagination, fabricated a story alleging a night journey…”
Rashad is supposed to have made his celestial flight in 1971. His early translation was in print in 1981 in which there is no mention of his divine status or the extra verses. If his reverent position were bestowed to purify the Quran why did he publish a translation which would undergo major surgery in the near future? Surely his utmost priority would have been to present his mathematical proof with the corrected copy.

It is his 'final testament' published in 1992, which is defective, and it is in this corrupt version that his name appears within the text of his unscrupulously paraphrased translation of the Quran. Reading the introduction and commentary of this sacrilegious text one wonder what is the source of his information. The inconsistencies found do not correspond with the mission of a messenger who has come to purge Islam of all contamination.

One of the eccentric beliefs peddled is that anyone who dies before the age of 40 goes to heaven. This crucial period, if this notion is to be accepted, is the post, which marks the human beings `coming of age’.

A person under forty is not considered responsible for his actions and anyone who does not believe this bizarre idea denies God's mercy!

What about those who idolise others besides God? Would all their sins also be absolved? Or would they be subject to certain qualifications? Sura 4.48 states: `God never forgives the idolisation of anything besides him, and He forgives all lesser often see for whomever He will. '

The Quran says nothing about all sins being forgiven for those under forty, this is only wishful thinking. In reality here is no evidence for hawking this myth to give people a false sense of security.

Another religious philosophy the Revised Version proclaims is that the job of the messenger of the covenant is to lead the righteous believers - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and others out of darkness and into light. Appendix 2 announces `... one may be a Muslim Jew, Muslim Christian, a Muslim Hindu, a Muslim Buddhist, or a Muslim Muslim'.

The theory to include all religions based on beliefs common to all faiths is not a new one. This peculiar idea has been tried, without success, by Emperor Akbar of India, M. K. Ghandi, Brahmu Samaj and other novel innovations pronouncing universal faiths. The message of the Quran is belief in One God and peace through submission to Him alone. In sura 49 verse 13 God says: `... the best among you are the most righteous... ' The righteous follows His teachings, which are in the Quran. One of the Quranic fundamentals is the equality between Man and Man.

How can Islam encompass the integral Hindu beliefs based on the racist cast system, even if they both have some other things in common? Both systems of life are incompatible. If a Hindu rejects his inherent faith and accepts the Quran as God's word then he no longer remains a Hindu and becomes a Muslim. So there is no question of him becoming a Muslim Hindu, which would be a compromise between the two faiths.

To try and assimilate other faiths into Islam in order to gain converts is a disreputable idea and the Quran warns: `Anyone who seeks other than Islam (submission) as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he will be n loser'. Sura 3.85
`As for the compromises, they will be fuels for hell. ' Sura 72. 1 5

`Submitters Perspective' (sometimes titled Muslim Perspective) is a monthly publication of the Masjid Tucson (U. S. A) of which Rashad Khalifa was the imam before his death in 1990. In the April issue number 64, his murder is likened to the termination of the Prophet Jesus’ life. It is said Rashad's soul was raised before his attackers, described as disbelievers, struck. How this comparison is known to be true is not stated -unless someone else from the Masjid Tucson has also started receiving inspiration from God.

In another issue, writer Parvaneh Parnian ends an article on Salat by saying `... Thus, in addition to the information sent down by God during the last few months, all aspects of Salat are confirmed '

The Quran says: `Who is more evil than one who invents lies then attributes them to God, or claim to have received divine revelation when nothing has been revealed'. Sura 6.93

In the February 1989 issue Rashad is quoted as saying "I was most assertively told, through Gabriel, that 5'ura 36, and more specifically verse 36.3 (Surely, you are one of the messengers), refers to me, and I was provided with the following mathematical proof ... " But in his early translation he interprets this verse as` Y.S. And this Quran that is full of wisdom; (prove that) you (Muhammad) are one of the messengers. Advocating the right path.' Sura 36.I-4

In his commentary to these verses he states: `The miraculous numerical code associated with the Quranic initials such as Y.S. here, proves that Muhammad was indeed a messenger of God'. Since Gabriel transmitted the Quran to Muhammad the obvious implication here is that Gabriel made a mistake at some point. If this not the case then Rashad has prevaricated his story.

The June 1990 issue announces that the Messenger of the Covenant has accomplished his mission. In appendix 2 of the new translation one of his principal duties was to establish a criminal justice system. Where and when, if at all, did Rashad establish such a system is not mentioned, If he has not founded such a system then his mission has not yet been completed.

The dominant factor enunciated in Rashad' s first translation was the Oneness of God and worship to Him alone. He sentiments for the idol worshipers were clearly evident. Especially those who mention a prophet's name besides God are particularly despised.

In the beginning of sura Al-Baqarah he clearly defined the three categories of people (The Believers, The Disbeliever, the Hypocrites), and in 2.285 the unconditional requisite to make no distinction between messengers is articulated. To extol one messenger above another is tantamount to idolatry.
 
 
 
 
 

Yet in the Submitters Perspective of April 1993 followers of Rashad's principles are defined as `community of Rashad’. In effect _ the disciples of Rashad are differentiating themselves not as Muslims, The Believers, but as a separate new sect belonging to the community of Rashad. How long will it be before they present themselves as `Rashadites'?

God says in the Quran: ‘Those who divide their religion into sects do not belong with you (O Muhammad). Their judgement rest with God, and He will inform them of everything they did ' Sura 6.159.
`The religion you preach is one religion and I am your Lord, so observe Me. But the people divided themselves into sects, each happy with what they have. Thus, leave them in their blunder for a while. Sura 23.52-54

In his comments to Sura 6.159 of his early translation Rashad wrote: `The only reason behind the existence of several Islamic sects today is that the Muslims' have abandoned the Quran in favour of the human opinions of their leaders who are in fact their idols’.

This is exactly what has happened. The community of Rashad has a new version of the Quran sandwiched between an introduction and commentaries, which are in fact opinion of their leaders. Conjecture, the Quran tells us in Sura 10.36, is no substitute for the truth.

America is a breeding ground for religious groups of different shades. Each tinged with the personality of its founder. The hues may be new but it's the same old colour by which they are easily recognised. The original translation of the Quran by Dr. Rashad Khalifa may have been well intended. But his present community has similarities, which can be compared with other cults.

To justify why people deny Rashad's messengership, the community of Rashad says these people are hypocrites who are expected 'to utter we do not need a messenger.' This is precisely how the Mormons defend their apocrypha (see 2 Nephi 29 Book of Mormon). The Jehovah's Witness states that there is no hell, as death is the wages of sin. The community of Rashad preach that you are guaranteed heaven if you die before you reach the age of forty even if you are evil or an atheist. They also readily incorporate all other religions so it would be easy for a Buddhist to become a 'Muslim Buddhist’ (!) This may seem a paradox to most people but not to the community of Rashad.

God says in the Quran `...you do not need to exalt your selves; He is, fully aware of the righteous' (Sura 53.32. At the end of appendix 24 of Rashad's new version, the contributors acknowledge themselves with unanimous vote of thanks for a ‘job well done'. The Quran says: `What about the one who idolises his own ego? Can you do anything for him?' Sura 25.43
 
 
 

Dr. Rashad Khalifa's discovery of the number 19 pattern in the Quran was a momentous step for Muslims all over the world. However, his changing views regarding the essence of faith, recorded in his two renditions of the Quran, are not appropriate for a man commissioned by God. To declare himself as a divine messenger was an unfortunate decision. It has overshadowed the seriousness of his previous achievement.

Unless otherwise stated all quotations of the Quran are from Rashad’s Khalifa's original translation of the (Quran published in 1981)





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