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2 Jean-Jacques Walter

Analysis of the Koran Using Mathematical Code Theory Babylon and Jerusalem Talmud, and accounts of historical events. Some of these
sources appeared five centuries before Islam, while others, notably the Jewish and
Christian legends, were written just prior to its emergence. All were present in this
region by the time Islam was born.
Jean-Jacques Walter This combination of disciplines produced new research results and re-
quired the formation of a jury whose composition was unusual in academia.

Jean-Jacques Walter wurde 2013 an der Universität von Toulouse promoviert

2. Code Theory
mit der Arbeit „Le Coran révélé par la Théorie des Codes“. In ihr untersucht er Code theory enables the functioning of computers, the Internet, image com-
den Koran mit einer Methode, die unter der Bezeichnung „Analysis of Text Data pression for digital pictures, multi-channels TV-reception, and many other
(ATD)“ bekannt geworden ist, und die auch zur Analyse von Texten durch z.B. indispensable technologies of the modern world. A written text is an oral speech
Geheimdienste angewendet wird. Für die mathematischen Details dieser that is coded as a series of characters, an image on a TV screen or a photograph is
Methode wird auf seine publizierte Dissertation hingewiesen. coded by a sequence of pixels, and all of these are represented by a sequence of
Im Folgenden publizieren wir seinen Beitrag, obwohl gegen eine Reihe seiner bits. Computers use sequences of symbols represented by bits. Code theory
Thesen sowohl von Inârah-Mitgliedern als auch von anderen Teilnehmern der applies to any sequence of symbols.
Tagung in Otzenhausen starke Bedenken geäußert worden sind – sie müssten in Military information operators first developed this code theory during the
weiterführenden Gesprächen diskutiert werden. Diese betrafen allerdings in Second World War. Their objective was to decipher encrypted messages ex-
erster Linie einzelne philologische sowie historische Interpretationen der von der changed between Nazi Germany and its allies. After the war, work on this
Methode gelieferten Daten (z.B. die im Appendix zu findenden Überlegungen), theory was continued by high-ranking mathematicians such as Alan Turing
weniger das Prinzip der Untersuchung. Weil aber durch diese Arbeit eine neue (responsible for some of the principles of modern information science), Janos
methodische Herangehensweise für die Koranforschung vorgelegt wird, die auch von Neumann (the greatest expert in artificial intelligence of his time), and
bei anderen klassischen Texten wertvolle Ergebnisse geliefert hat, und die Claude Elwood Shannon (who authored the founding theorems of information
prinzipiell für die Analyse von Schichten der Textgenese geeignet erscheint, theory).
waren die Herausgeber trotz des bisher nur vorläufigen Standes der Debatte der In conducting research for my thesis, I used the branch of code theory that
Meinung, sie sollte einer größeren Leserschaft als Diskussionsgrundlage vorge- applies to written texts. It is called Analysis of Text Data (ATD).
stellt werden. Die englische Version stammt vom Autor selbst und wurde nicht
übersetzt. 3. The Mathematical Signature
You are likely familiar with the music of Mozart or Debussy. Now, let’s say, you
PART I hear a piece of music that you have not heard before. Listening to only a few bars
can provide enough clues to ascertain whether it is a work by Mozart, Debussy, or
1. The Methodology someone else. Say a friend calls you on the phone. With his first word, you know
who is calling. Your brain has identified a “signature” that tells you the identity of
This thesis presents the results of an analysis of the Koran using mathematical
the composer, or the person who is talking.
code theory and information on Islam and on its environment in the Middle East
Analysis of Text Data (ATD) can recognize this kind of signature in a
during the first two centuries after Muhammad. The environment includes:
written text. Proust, for instance, wrote in especially long sentences. Since
Greek, Jewish and Christian legends present in the region, the theology of local
every sentence finishes with a period, the number of periods among every
sects, Apocryphal Acts, Christian Antiphonies, the Bible, relevant sections of the
Mathematical Code Theory 3 4 Jean-Jacques Walter

thousand letters in a work by Proust is lower than that in texts written by most the Koran was written by multiple authors. The difficulty of this approach lies
other authors. This clue alone is not enough to identify a text by Proust, but a in the fact that it is less developed because it has few practical uses, so the freely
few dozen or even hundreds of clues of this kind can be aggregated to form a available toolbox for this approach is empty.
“signature” that can be identified with certainty. Planning and writing algorithms is a task for applied mathematics. In the
The mathematical “signature” of an author can identify his writings among field of characters ATD, the mathematical solution needed to extract a
texts from different authors. It works like biological DNA: if you have a DNA “signature” from a heap of figures has to be invented, and then the algorithm
sample of a person, from their hair or in a drop of their blood, you can that will implement the solution can be written. In order to invent the
determine whether any other sample comes from this person. mathematical solution, a researcher must possess specific competences at a
The mathematical signature can also be used to reveal how many authors very high level, mainly in a creative capacity. Only researchers in mathematics
are responsible for a text. In order to apply this method to the Koran two work at this level and there are not many of them, only about a thousand in the
conditions had to be met. world, among whom two hundred and fifty live in France.1
The first stumbling block in applying ATD to the Koran is the need to find
one or two mathematical researchers willing to work in this field.
4. First Condition: Mathematical Competence
There are two branches of ATD. The first relates to words. Only some words are
5. Second Condition: Historical Knowledge
considered significant and are counted, and their order of succession is taken into
account. This method reveals the meaning of a text. A mathematical signature can be detected only in texts that are long enough,
The second relates to characters: letters, figures, spaces, punctuation marks, generally about a thousand characters.2
etc. Not only are the individual characters are counted, but also the two- The Koran contains more than six thousand verses, each with an average of
character combinations or couples (aa, ab, ac, etc). In Arabic writing, there are one hundred Arabic characters. At least ten verses must be grouped together in
more than a thousand combinations of two characters. The same is done with order to detect a signature.
the three-character combinations; in Arabic writing, there are more than However, the Koran is a rhapsody, jumping every few verses from pillar to
30,000 of those. This counting results in an enormous heap of figures. A post. Thirty-seven different fragments allude to Abraham, twenty-nine to
“signature” must then be extracted from this heap. Complex mathematical Noah, and these fragments are seemingly randomly scattered throughout the
treatments, founded on high-level mathematical theories, are then used to text. It is the same with many topics. A few consecutive verses may be devoted
extract a relatively simple signature from the heap.
The first approach, counting words, has many uses. American spy groups
are said to intercept sixty million e-mails every day and treat them with word 1 The mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize is the Field Medal. 58 have been
ATD in order to identify relevant messages exchanged between terrorists or given, worldwide, since 1936. 12 went to Frenchmen, 12 to Americans, 9 to Russians, 5
persons of interest to the American government. Some large companies receive to Englishmen, 3 to Japanese citizens, 2 to Belgians, 2 to Australians, and one each to 13
tens of thousands of e-mails from their customers daily and they use ATD to various nationalities. In the last 25 years, there have been seven Frenchmen and two US
synthesize the requests and complaints they contain. Automatic translation citizens among the winners. About one fourth of the world’s best mathematicians are
programs use the same methods. A large number of researchers work in this now in France.
field and have created a myriad of data processing tools, called algorithms, 2 The researchers I worked with have made new developments to date texts.
many of which are freely available. As a result of this large toolbox, the ATD These developments did not succeed in dating the verses of the Koran that were studied
approach which analyzes words is rather simple to use. for this project, but they did make it possible to determine an author signature using
The second approach relating to the use of characters is the only one able to only around five hundreds characters. The algorithms were not rewritten using these
identify a “signature” and therefore capable of exploring the hypothesis that developments because the algorithm in use was sufficient, and the researchers had no
time to make the rewrites.
Mathematical Code Theory 5 6 Jean-Jacques Walter

to a topic, but then the Koran jumps to another topic, only coming back to the 7. Stylistic Components
first one twenty, fifty, sometimes a thousand verses later.
Using what I know about Islam and the Islamic environment, I identified twenty-
How, then, can one assemble all the verses written by the same author? The
eight themes. I posited that a different author was responsible for each theme and
solution is to identify the preferred themes of each author. The themes cannot
that each author possessed a mathematically identifiable signature.
have been chosen at random.
I grouped together the verses of the Koran according to these twenty-eight
In order to create such a grouping of verses – and this is, after the mathe-
themes to form twenty-eight sets called components.
matical competence, the second condition – a large knowledge of Islam and
I worked with mathematical researchers who invented and wrote the
the environment in the Middle East at the time of Islam’s birth is needed.
required algorithms needed to identify the signatures presumed to exist, and I
Up to now, these two conditions have never been simultaneously met. That
then applied these algorithms to the twenty-eight components.
is why this approach has never been used before.
Of these 28 components, 21 have such a special style that there is more than
a 999,999 chance in a million that each one was written by an author different
6. What is Certain and What is Probable from those who wrote the rest of the Koran.
Five components exhibit a less unique, although still special style, with the
Henri Poincaré3 was the first to introduce a concept that is now fundamental to
most identifiable having a 999,993 chance in a million of being the work of an
the field of science: to test the validity of a theory, you must deduce an unknown
author different from the rest of the Koran; and the least identifiable having a
but predicted fact or result from it. If the predicted result is not observed, then
97 chance in 100 of being the work of a different author.
the theory is wrong. If the predicted result is observed, the theory may be true,
The last two have 81 and 58 chance in 100 of being the work of an author
but it is not certain, since it is possible that another theory could predict the same
different from the rest of the Koran.
result. Poincaré gives the example of Kepler’s theory of elliptic trajectories. A
In total, twenty-six components out of twenty-eight exhibit an identifiable
single observation of a planet deviating from its ellipse would have disproven
Kepler’s theory. However, if a planet were observed in ten different positions
along the ellipse, one could theorize that the real trajectory of the planet was a
zigzag that periodically crossed the ellipse, and that by chance, the planet was 8. First Result: The Number of Authors of the Koran
zigzagging across the ellipse just when the observations were made. With each
8.1 Are Twenty-Six Authors Responsible for the Koran?
new observation of a planet moving along an ellipse, the theory of elliptic
trajectories becomes more likely, though not definitive. A theory gains credibility This cannot be said, because one single author could have been interested in the
when it withstands many attempts to invalidate it, but logically, it can never themes X, Y, Z.
attain absolute certainty. One might think it would be possible to determine whether X exhibits the
This paper proposes a number of hypotheses about the Koran, and predicts same signature as Y or Z, but it is unfortunately not that simple. An author
certain mathematical results based on these hypotheses. If a result was not never writes exactly in the same manner more than once. If he writes two texts,
observed, the hypothesis is certainly wrong. If the result was observed, it is still the signatures will look very much the same, but they will not be identical.
possible to question the hypothesis, and to offer a different hypothesis
8.2 Is Similarity Enough to Identify a Single Author?
predicting the same result or results. Each reader can assess for him – or herself
– the plausibility of each hypothesis I offer, according to how difficult it is to To answer this question I used a mathematical tool called “distance”. It is a
find another hypothesis predicting the same result or results. number which quantifies the similarity between two objects. A zero “distance”
means that the two objects are exactly the same. A small “distance” means that the
two objects are very similar. A large “distance” means that the two objects are
3 Henri Poincaré, La science et l’hypothèse, Flammarion, 1902, Paris. It is quite distinct. For instance, the genetic distance between a pair of twins is zero,
currently available on Kindle.
Mathematical Code Theory 7 8 Jean-Jacques Walter

between two brothers it is small, and between an Inuit person and a Zulu it is component is very small. These six components are certainly each the work of a
huge. single author, with each one different from one component to another.
If the “distance” between the signatures of two components is small4, Other components among the nineteen were formed by bringing together
meaning the signatures look alike, can it be said that the same author has some components of the initial twenty-eight because they exhibited a similar
written both? Yes, if the signatures are well characterized, which is the case if signature. The similar signature indicates that these components are the work
there are enough characters in the two components (typically more than of the same author α, or the same pair of authors α, β, or the same group α, β,
10,000). If the number of characters is smaller, it is possible that the same γ, or α, β, γ, δ, etc., with these authors α, β, γ, δ, etc. being distinct from those
author wrote both but we cannot be certain. The smaller the number of of the rest of the Koran.
characters, the less certainty we have. The Koran was written by nineteen authors at least if each component has
If the “distance” is large, can it be concluded that the two authors are dif- one single author, or by more than nineteen if some components have more
ferent? Yes, if there are enough characters to identify a signature (typically than one author. Let us imagine that we put the names of these authors in a
1,000). This number is smaller than the number needed to determine simi- sack, and that we pick a pair of names, called α and β, at random. We then put
larity, because a large difference is easier to establish than a close similarity. α and β back in the sack, mix everything, and pull out a pair of names again.
Using this “distance” tool, we have grouped together the components that What are our chances of finding the same pair α and β a second time? Not
appear to be the work of one author. This led us to identify nineteen even one in one hundred. If we try a third time, we wouldn’t have even one
independent components. chance in ten thousand of finding the same pair again.
If components X and Y exhibit the same signature, were they written by a
8.3 Are Nineteen Authors Responsible for the Koran?
single author, or by a pair of authors who wrote X and also Y? The previous
A problem remains: two authors, or three, or tens, or more could have written on reasoning shows that the hypothesis of two authors does not have even one
the same theme. Their signatures are mixed ‒ and they form a global signature. chance in a hundred of being right. And if three components X, Y, Z exhibit
How can we know if a verse comes from author α, or β, or γ, or yet another the same signature, there is not even one chance in ten thousand that the same
author when all of their verses are intermixed? In order to come to a pair of authors would have written the three components.
conclusion with certainty, we would need to study the signature of each verse, If we study the case of three authors instead of two, the probabilities
a task that mathematics cannot perform because, as explained before, an become infinitesimal.
average of ten verses are needed to identify a signature. We can, therefore, conclude that when two or three components are com-
bined, because they exhibit the same signature, it is very probable that the
8.4 How can we resolve this problem?
grouping is the work of one single author.
Among the nineteen identified signatures, six consist of components containing Among the nineteen components, five are grouped: two of them unite two
only a limited number of characters – hardly more than a thousand, about half a components each from among the initial twenty-eight, two others unite three
page. The likelihood that several authors contributed to such a limited components each, and one unites four. These five components obtained by
grouping were each written by a single author who is different from one
grouping to another.
To summarize, out of nineteen components remaining, six have a single
4 Here is the meaning of a small distance: if we take the twenty eight components author because they have a small number of characters and five because they
two by two in every possible manner, 378 different pairs can be formed. The distance results from grouping. The total is only nine, because two components are at
between the two members of each pair is computed. These 378 distances form two sets, the same time a grouping and contain a small number of characters.
the first comprises 36 distances, the second 342 distances. In average, the 36 distances What about the ten other components? They probably have several
are ten times shorter that the 342. The two sets are neatly separated. These 36 distances authors. How many? We can obtain an answer by studying the distribution of
are the small ones.
Mathematical Code Theory 9 10 Jean-Jacques Walter

the number of characters in the nine single-author components – and applying The doctrine of the uncreated Koran likely appeared around 750. Watt posits the
this distribution to the ten several-authors components. oldest discussion on this belief took place during the reign of Harūn al-Rašīd,
between 780 and 809, which confirms a first formulation around 7507. By
The Fact:
around 800 it was generally accepted as true.
There are nineteen different signatures in the Koran. Among them, nine belong A rather famous school contested it. The school was founded by Wāsil Ibn
to a single author, and ten belong to several authors. ‘Atāʾ one century after Muhammad’s death. It strived to base its teachings on
reason. The members of this school were later called Mu‘tazilites, and they
The Hypothesis:
were successful for a brief time, particularly from 833 to 8478, because three
The length distribution of the writings of each author of the ten components successive caliphs protected them. When the third protector died, the next9
believed to be the work of multiple authors is the same as that of the nine declared Mu‘tazilism heretical, putting to death some of the leaders and jailing
components believed to be the work of a single author. Each of the single authors the others. A small number of Mu‘tazilites escaped to the extreme East of the
has a different signature. Muslim Empire, at the Indian border, where the school disappeared. A few
isolated scholars survived in Basra until 933, and in Baghdad until 1025. One
The Conclusion: of these, Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ašʿarī, who was supposed to become the leader of the
The Koran has at least thirty authors, at most one hundred, last Mu‘tazilite remnants, suddenly became an opponent and in turn founded a
but most probably around fifty.5 different school. This last scholar salvaged the idea of the uncreated Koran and
Does a hypothesis exist that could reconcile the belief that the Koran was written succeeded in making it compulsory learning in the entire Islamic region.
by one author, as traditional Muslims contend, with the nineteen different From 920, any objection to this belief was severely repressed, and, as a
signatures? result, all opposition to this belief disappeared from political and theological
writings. Today, and for the last thousand years, any Muslim who contests the
belief in the uncreated Koran becomes an apostate and is condemned to death.
9. Second result: the duration of the writing of the Koran These fluctuations in attitude toward the belief make the dating of one of the
Is it possible to assign a date to one of the nineteen identified components of the components of the Koran possible, because according to this belief, Allah is the
Koran? The answer is yes. I will start with a hypothesis, and show that this speaker of all verses in the Koran.
hypothesis is right. This statement poses a problem: in 315 verses10 the speaker cannot be
The hypothesis is founded on the Islamic belief in the “uncreated Koran”. Allah. For instance: “Oh Allah, Master of the absolute authority”. Obviously,
This doctrine rests on two beliefs: this is not uttered by Allah, but by a person invoking Allah. Can we conclude
First: Allah himself wrote the Koran before the world was created (fourteen
billion years ago).
7 W. Montgomery Watt, The Formative Period of Islamic Thought, Edinburgh
Second: Allah wrote the Koran in Arabic because Allah spoke Arabic with
University Press, Edinburg, 1973.
the angels, before the creation of the world.
8 Al Maʾmūn reigned from 813 to 833. He forbade the thesis of uncreated Koran
This belief has a contentious history. It was first set out in al-Fiqh al-Akbar II6,
just before his death, in 833. His brother, Al-Mu‘tasim, who succeeded him as caliph
the oldest treatise on Islamic beliefs. It is attributed to Abu anīfa or to his pupils
from 833 to 842, maintained the prohibition, and the succeeding caliph, Al-Wāṯiq, from
who transcribed his teachings. Abu anīfa taught from 737 until his death in 767.
842 to 847, did similarly.
9 Ǧa‘far al-Mutawakkil.
5 We get a kind of bell curve, with a minimum, a maximum, and between them, a 10 The word Say! at the beginning of either a verse or paragraph is present 236
maximum probability. times in the Koran plus another 73 times under a similar form, for instance, Say to the
6 Al-Fiqh al-Akbar II, page 89. unbelievers!, and another six times after a rhetorical question, followed by: Answer!
Mathematical Code Theory 11 12 Jean-Jacques Walter

that the idea of an uncreated Koran is false? No, because the situation is saved The 135 verses are scattered far apart in the Koran and concern various
by adding Say! at the beginning of the verse. Because of this addition, the verse questions. Aside from the fact that Allah cannot be the speaker, there is no
is no longer a person invoking Allah. It becomes, instead, Allah telling a person reason to group them together.
the invocation he wants to hear. If the proposed hypothesis is false, then these 135 verses were written by the
Here is the hypothesis we propose: the 315 verses were written without the same authors who wrote the rest of the Koran, at the same time as the rest of
initial Say! before 750, when the belief that some verses were spoken by the Koran was written, and they would not exhibit a special signature.
persons was permitted. Between 750 and 800 – when belief in the uncreated However, if the proposed hypothesis is right, then these 135 verses were
Koran became compulsory – the Say! was added to protect this belief. written in a narrow slice of time by one or several authors who were different
However, this trick does not solve another set of problems: 135 verses that from those who wrote the rest of the Koran in the two preceding centuries. In
cannot be said by Allah are lacking the initial Say! For instance: “Lord! Do not order to prove this, we must find a distinctive signature.
permit that our hearts go astray once you have given us guidance!” The Lord This is exactly what we did find. The signature of these verses has more than
being Allah, he cannot invoke himself, and Allah’s heart cannot go astray. a 999,999 chance in a million of being significant. This means that these verses
The hypothesis we propose assumes that these verses could not have been were added to the Koran by a single source, between 833 and 847, most
written before 750 because, if they were, they would have been equipped with a probably to prove that the concept of the uncreated Koran was false at a time
Say!, as the other verses had been. This means they were written later, and the when the caliphs wanted to reject this belief.
only possible period is between 833 and 847, when the reigning caliphs who
The Facts:
favoured the Mu‘tazilites forbade belief in the uncreated Koran.
Why did the writers of the Koran not add the saving Say! when belief in the The 135 verses that directly contradict the theory of an uncreated
uncreated Koran became compulsory again at the end of the ninth century? Koran were written by one or several authors different from those
According to our hypothesis, the reason is simple: it would have been who wrote the rest of the Koran.
necessary to destroy every copy of the Koran made between 833 and 847 to Despite these 135 verses, any Muslim who argues against the theory
hide the proof that the 135 new verses were late additions. The total destruc- of the uncreated Koran is considered apostate, and hence, deserves
tion of all existing copies of the Koran and their replacement by new texts had death.
already been accomplished at least twice before, the first time by ɈUṯmān, These 135 verses could only have been written between 833 and 847.
around 30 years after Muhammad’s death, and the second by al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ, 60
years after Muhammad’s death. These acts made it possible to change the text
The Hypothesis:
of the Koran to adapt it to a new situation while pretending that not a comma
had been altered. However, this method was laborious, since all existing copies These 135 verses were written between 833 and 847, at a time when belief in the
of the Koran had to be destroyed, with no exception. The emergence of just theory of the uncreated Koran was forbidden, in order to show that this theory
one unrevised copy would have proved that the Koran had been altered. By the was wrong. At the end of the ninth century, when belief in the theory became
second half of the ninth century, more than two 200 years after Muhammad’s compulsory again, the verses were not removed, because, at that time, there were
death, the Muslim Empire extended from Spain to the Indus region and too so many Korans in circulation, it was impossible to destroy all of them and
many copies of the Koran were available. Uṯmān and al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ’s brutal and distribute a new version that did not contradict this theory.
.speedy method was no longer possible
The Conclusion:
This means that, according to our hypothesis, these 135 verses were written
between 833 and 847, more than two centuries after Muhammad’s death. How The Koran was written over a period of time
can we be sure of this? spanning slightly more than two centuries.
Mathematical Code Theory 13 14 Jean-Jacques Walter

Is it possible to find a hypothesis that supports the three facts above and the Hence, the summit of the dome should be near the two-thirds mark, i.e. 67%).
notion that the Koran was written over a period of just 22 years? This is exactly what we find. If we group the 19 different components this way,
the number of components assigned to Mecca is:
10. Third result: Mecca and Medina 0 20 40 60 80
to 20% to 40% to 60% to 80% to 100%
The sorting of surahs into Meccan and Medinan has no basis in any historical
3 2 3 7 4
tradition. Persian grammarians construed this by guesswork, more than two
centuries after Muhammad’s death, in accordance with the history of Muhammad If we look at the proportion of the components assigned to Medina, rather than
as told by the Sīra. In Mecca, Muhammad was purportedly the chief of a small Mecca, the histogram would be the inverse of this one, and the conclusion would
sect. The surahs that concern moral topics, tell stories, or paraphrase the Bible, be the same.
have been assigned to this period. In Medina, Muhammad was purportedly the Persian grammarians generally assigned the components located on the far
commander-in-chief of an army, the head of an ideological police force and the left of the table (0 to 40%) to Medina. For example, 85% of the component
founder of a new State. The surahs containing at least one verse concerning “Prodding to war” was assigned to the Medinan group. The components
sociological or political topics are assumed to have been written in Medina. Some located on the far right were mainly assigned to the Meccan group. For
linguists also distinguish between the writing styles of the two periods, arguing example, 97% of the component “Arab legends” was assigned to the Meccan
that the style of the Medinan period is more abrupt than that of the Meccan group.
period. Each of the components has a specific style that is mathematically iden-
A first approach is to study the distribution of the surahs between Meccan tifiable. Some linguists have identified an “abrupt style” in certain verses
and Medinan periods. assigned to Medina, and have made erroneous generalizations, contending that
The Persian grammarians based their assignments on the hypothesis that this abrupt style is characteristic of every verse assigned to Medina. However,
the themes discussed in Medina and in Mecca were different. this style is only characteristic of the components that appear in the far left of
We made the assignment to the various components on the similar idea the table above.
that different themes can be assigned to different authors. We confirmed that A second approach is to determine whether a difference in style can be
our assignment had a basis in reality by studying the “signature” of the identified between the surahs assigned to Mecca and those to Medina.
components. Let us take an example from literature. As time passes, a person changes
Thus, if the assignments made by the Persian grammarians were based in and, if this person is a writer, his writing style changes progressively. How
reality, and since they rested on the same principle that I used to allocate the many years must pass before a change in style reaches a level high enough to be
components, their assignment of verses to either Mecca or Medina and our detected? The ATD applied to Victor Hugo’s works shows that, when
assignment of components should be consistent. The components would be analyzing texts containing a few thousand characters, a span of ten years is
subtopics within the Medinan or Meccan groups and would therefore be enough. With the Koran, we have much more than a few thousand characters:
completely within the Meccan group or the Medinan group. there are 230,000 Arabic characters in the Medinan period, and 470,000 Arabic
If, by contrast, the assignments made by the Persian grammarians had no characters in the Meccan period. Each period purportedly lasted ten years.
basis in reality, there would be no correlation between the components and the With such a mass of text, a ten-year time-frame would yield a noticeable
Meccan and Medinan groups. In this case, each of the 19 components would difference11. However, no difference in style can be detected. According to the
be partially in the Meccan group and partially in the Medinan group. A
histogram of the proportion of the components assigned to Mecca would form
a kind of dome whose summit would be near the 67% mark (two-thirds of the
Koran is alleged to have been written in Mecca, and one-third in Medina. 11 Both the Medinan and the Meccan period are supposed to have lasted ten years.
So the time difference between the last year of Mecca and the first year of Medina is
Mathematical Code Theory 15 16 Jean-Jacques Walter

algorithms, the very small difference in signature has a 96% chance of being 11. Fourth result: Muhammad
due to a random fluctuation.
The name of Muhammad appears only four times in the Koran, scattered among
A third approach relates to a time mismatch: the Persian grammarians’
four different surahs: the 3, 33, 47 and 4812. The verses that mention
distribution of the surahs implies that the Koran was written over the course of
Muhammad contain breaks in the prosodic rhythm. Hence, some linguists
22 years. We have seen proof that it was written over a span of more than 200
contend that the name of Muhammad was interpolated in the Koran long after
Muhammad’s death.
Each of these three approaches shows that the distinction between the
These verses were consolidated to form a component. This component
Meccan and Medinan suras does not make sense.
exhibits a signature that has more than a 999,999 chance in a million of being
The Facts written by a different author from those who wrote the rest of the Koran.
Because these four mentions combined contain only 1,076 characters, they are
The allocation of the number of characters in the 19 components
considered short texts and, hence, written by a single author – indeed an
between the Medinan and Meccan groups is incompatible with the
idea that there is a distinction between the Meccan and Medinan
The question is: When were these verses written?
The first historical mention of Muhammad is on a coin minted in 685 in
The idea that the Meccan suras were written an average of ten years
Bishapur, Persia, sixty years after his death. Nothing in this source confirms
before the Medinan ones is incompatible with the stylistic identity of
that Muhammad was considered to be the prophet of Islam at that time.
the two groups.
There are no earlier mentions of Muhammad, but there are later ones, on
A Koran written over the course of two centuries is incompatible
coins minted by ʿAbd al-Malik, on inscriptions and on papyri. Only from the
with the idea that it was written in 22 years.
ninth century on, do such artifacts state that Muhammad was the founding
Hypothesis prophet of Islam. Before the ninth century, they neither affirm nor deny this.

The succession from Mecca to Medina has no historical basis. The Facts:
The name of Muhammad was introduced in the Koran by a single
Conclusion author, distinct from the other authors who contributed to the
The alleged difference between the Meccan and Medinan surahs is an Muhammad was mentioned for the first time 60 years after his
artifact created by later grammarians. Is has no significance. death, but references identifying him as the prophet of Islam appear
no earlier than 200 years after his death.
Is it possible to devise a hypothesis that is consistent with Muslim tradition
and also explains the three facts above?
The Hypothesis:
Muhammad was enthroned as the founding prophet of Islam at least 60 years
after his death and possibly probably much later. His name was introduced in the
Koran by a later author, an interpolator.

zero, while the difference between the first year of Mecca and the last year of Medina is 12 There is also another possible appearance: surah 61, verse, 6 mentions Aḥmad,
20 years. The average is ten years. not Muḥammad. It has not been included in this component.
Mathematical Code Theory 17 18 Jean-Jacques Walter

The Conclusion: someone who looked like him or by someone whom God had changed to look
like Christ in order to save his Messiah. Others, including Muslims, offer another
Muhammad was enthroned as the prophet founder of Islam
explanation: without noticing, the Romans crucified a simple “appearance”.
at least 60 years after his death and possibly much later.
Muslims do not explain what this “appearance” was.
There is a very special relationship between Muslims and Nazarenes; they
Alternative hypothesis share beliefs that are not found in any other religion or sect. According to the
Nazarenes, Christ was “put in reserve” in Heaven and is waiting for the end of
Every pre-ninth century inscription identifying Muhammad as the founding times to come. Then he will descend from Heaven to take command of the
prophet of Islam could have been destroyed by happenstance, leaving only the army of Just Men (namely the Nazarenes themselves), conquer the world, and
inscriptions that did not identify him as the prophet. Is such a hypothesis bequeath his conquest to the Nazarenes.
credible? Islam says something similar: at the end of times, the Mahdi (“the rightly
In addition, what hypothesis could explain that the verses mentioning guided one”) will take command of the army of Just Men (this time the Mus-
Muhammad were all written by a single author, different from those who lims), conquer the earth, and bequeath it to Muslims. According to Islam,
wrote the rest of the Koran? Christ was “put in reserve” in Heaven, and will return at the end of times to
help the Mahdi in his conquest.
12. Fifth Result: The Source of Islam Islam assigns the conquest of the earth to two persons, Christ and Mahdi,
while Nazarenes assign it to Christ alone.
12.1 Christ In fact, Muslim and Nazarene theologies are more than similar, they are
The Koran contains 49 verses concerning Christ (6,202 characters). Together identical. The most famous Muslim historian, Ibn Ḫaldūn, quotes a contem-
they form a component that has a 999,999 chance in a million of having been porary disciple and close friend of Muhammad, Anas ibn Malik14 as saying:
written by one or several authors different from those who wrote the rest of the “The Mahdi will be Christ himself”. In early Islam, the Mahdi was not a
Koran. different person; it was simply a title of Christ, the “rightly guided one”. Early
At the time and in the regions where Islam was born, there existed a sect Islamic theology was exactly the same as that of the Nazarenes’. Later, the
named the Nazarenes. In a letter to Saint Augustine, dated 404, Saint Jerome primitive tradition was overshadowed, and the title of Mahdi became an
describes this sect13: independent person, different from Christ.
“Until today, in all the synagogues of the Orient, there is a sect named In this area, modern Islam presents a very strange statement: Muhammad
the minim [‘heretical’ in Hebrew] which is condemned by the Pharisees will not descend from Heaven to impose Islam on the whole world. Christ will
[i.e., the Jews of rabbinical tradition]. They are commonly called do that!
Nazarenes. They believe in Christ, son of God, born from Virgin Mary,
and they say that he suffered and resurrected under Pontius Pilate. In
Him too we believe, but they want to be at the same time Jews and
14 Anas ibn Malik lived from 612 to 709, or 712 according to other sources. When
Christians, and they are neither Jews nor Christians.”
he was about 15 he joined Muhammad, and followed him until Muhammad died. 128
Islam, Nazarenes, various other religions and Christian sects (especially the
hadiths belonging to the Buḫārī and Muslim collections, which are considered the most
Docetans, the Arians and the Manicheans) state that Christ is a great Prophet, but
reliable, quote the name of Anas ibn Malik as the first transmitter in the isnād of 2,286
not God, and that he did not die on the cross. These groups developed their own
hadiths among the 19,305 transmitted by one of the thirteen first transmitters. An isnād
beliefs about the crucifixion. Some say that Christ was replaced on the cross by
is the chain of witnesses cited to justify the truth of a hadith. The first transmitter is the
one who begins the chain. He is supposed to have heard the hadiths from Muhammad
13 Letter of Saint Jerome N°112. The part quoted is identified as number 13. himself.
Mathematical Code Theory 19 20 Jean-Jacques Walter

Muslims consider Muhammad to be the greatest among all prophets, the reign of God, would wine be permitted. According to Origen16 and Saint
last before the end of times, the center of their religion. In spite of this, he does Ephrem the Syrian,17 he who refuses to drink wine on earth will be rewarded:
not lead the final war. By contrast, Christ plays no part in the worship, “The vine of heaven will run at him, one after the other, to offer him their
ordinary teaching, or usual practices of Islam – nonetheless, he will lead the bunch of grapes”.
righteous in the final war. Muslims introduced in their creed this contradictory prohibition, taking
Another trace of the prevailing role played by Christ in early Islam, and of only the ritual practice and forgetting the Nazarene theology that introduced it.
the late introduction of Muhammad in the Koran, is the number of verses The Islamic Heaven will flow with “rivers of wine, a delight for those who
devoted to each: 49 to Christ and only 4 to Muhammad. drink it”18, and the saved will drink “a rare wine, sealed by a musk seal.”19
Behind the Mahdi tradition another one is hidden: the return of Christ. It This very special inconsistency, the prohibition on earth of a product of
has been deliberately erased, yet an indelible trace remains. heavenly excellence, signals the Nazarene origin of this aspect of Islamic creed.
The role played by Christ in the war at the end of times reveals the
Nazarene origin in this part of the Islamic creed.
12.3 Women
12.2 Heaven
The thirty-five verses concerning women (10,916 characters) were compiled as
The forty verses on Heaven (9,002 characters) were written by one or several one component. As with the two previous components, it has a 999,999 chance
authors different from those who wrote the rest of the Koran, with a probability in a million of being the work of one or several authors different from those who
of more than 999,999 in a million. wrote the rest of the Koran.
At this time, Nazarenes, Muslims and other local sects shared the same In their time, the Nazarenes permitted polygamy up to four wives and
concept of Heaven as a place where the saved would be rewarded with excel- forbade public life to women, who could only leave their home in special cir-
lent food and beautiful women. cumstances while wearing a veil. Muslims have done the same from their very
Nazarenes and Muslims added something very special to this idea, which is beginning up to now.
not found in the beliefs of any other creed, regardless of the place or era: wine. Many religions, for instance Hinduism, view women as inferior, and poly-
Both visions of Heaven offer a large quantity of wine; “whole rivers” says gamy is a widespread custom. However, limiting polygamy to four wives,
the Koran, even though the faithful are forbidden to drink it on earth. How requiring that women wear a veil in public are traditions that belong only to
does one explain the forbidding of a heavenly drink? Islam gives no expla- archaic Judaism, Nazarenism and Islam.
nation, but the Nazarenes do. These customs originated in archaic Judaism and were then adopted by the
As Jews, and then Christians, Nazarenes viewed wine as a symbol of the Nazarenes. Islam could not have borrowed them from Judaism, considering
celestial kingdom15, but forbade its consumption on earth because, as Christ the Koran states that the Jews “falsified the Scriptures”20, and calls them
was but a prophet, the celestial kingdom had not yet begun. Wine could be
drunk only in Heaven where God would be openly manifested to everyone. For
the Nazarenes, drinking wine on earth was proclaiming that Christ was God,
an idea that they rabidly rejected. 16 Origen, Commentary on the Leviticus, VII.
This prohibition went so far that the Nazarenes, in their transposition of 17 Saint Ephrem
the Christian mass, replaced wine with water. Only in Heaven, under the actual Origen reports the same tradition among the Nazarenes, it can be concluded that
Nazarenes’ ideas were shared by the majority of the local people at that time.
18 Surah 47, verse 15.
19 Surah 83, verses 25 and 26.
15 Isaiah, 5, 1-7. Song of Songs, tenth poem. Mt, 20, 1-17. Mt 21, 33-44. Mat 26, 20 Surah 2, verses 75 and 79; surah 3, verse 78; surah 4, verse 46; surah 5, verses 13,
26-28. John, 15, 1, 4, 5. 15 and 41; surah 6, verse 91; surah 7, verse 162.
Mathematical Code Theory 21 22 Jean-Jacques Walter

monkeys21, pigs22 and cursed by Allah23, while speaking positively about the 13. Sixth Result: The Foundation of the First Islam
Nazarenes, whose beliefs about Christ and Heaven were incorporated into
The Koran fulminates against against the “associators” in one hundred and eigh-
Islam. It is therefore highly probable that Islam borrowed the customs con-
teen verses. According to Muslims scholars, “associators” has three meanings:
cerning women, including polygamy, from Nazarene theology.
Christians, polytheists or idolatrous worshippers. However, it can be proved that
The use of “distance”, which quantifies the degree of similarity between
“associators” means only Christians (see appendix). The hostile language in the
“signatures”, shows that these three components – Christ, Heaven and women
Koran is the result of a misinterpretation; the Koran confuses the Holy Trinity
– have between them a “distance” of 2.5. The average “distance” between these
with tritheism.24
three components and the rest of the Koran is 24. The “signatures” of these
These 118 condemnations of Christianity were compiled into one com-
three components are very similar and, at the same time, different from those
ponent (21,262 characters). It has more than a 999,999 chance in a million of
of the other components of the Koran. These three components must,
being the work of one or several authors different from those who wrote the
therefore, be united.
rest of the Koran. In fact, we’ll see that there was just one author. Let us call
Using the previously explained reasoning regarding the similarity of
him A.
signatures, we can deduce that a single author wrote these three components.
The Koran condemns the worshipping of idols25, as a sign of polytheism.
The Facts There are only ten such condemnations. They were gathered in one compo-
nent (2,920 characters) which has a 99,998 chance in 100,000 of being the work
A single author, different from the other authors of the Koran, wrote the sections
of one or several authors different from those who wrote the rest of the Koran.
of the Koran that refer to Nazarene theology, which was distinct from the
Here, too, there was one single author, different from A. Let us call him B.
theology of the other sects that existed in that region of the world when Islam was
Is the call for monotheism common to all authors of the Koran, as a pre-
condition shared by all Muslims, or the declaration of only one among the
Hypothesis Koran’s many authors26? To analyze this, the 169 verses calling for mono-

This author knew and approved of Nazarene theology, or was himself a Nazarene,
24 Christians give to God the name of Father and to Jesus the name of Son. The use
he was one of the leaders of early Islam, and he had enough influence to introduce
of these words attempts to express in language, using a metaphor, a reality that exceeds
the doctrine of that religion into the Koran.
the possibilities of language. The Nazarenes in the first centuries AD spoke Aramaic. In
Conclusion this language, the word “spirit” has a feminine gender. Hence, in some of their liturgical
texts, the Nazarenes used to refer to the Holy Spirit as the “mother of Jesus” and God as
Muslim theology is nothing new; it is a quasi “copy and paste” of
the “father of Jesus”. This way of speaking explains the misinterpretation made by the
Nazarene theology, and this “copying and pasting” was done by only
author of this part of the Koran. He spoke a basic Aramaic, probably what merchants
one among the approximately fifty authors of the Koran.
used, since Aramaic was the language of trade. Being uninterested in theology, he
What other hypothesis could account for the addition in the Koran of distinctive
understood “mother of Jesus” at face value, unaware that this expression meant the
aspects of Nazarene theology by a single author who was different from the other
Holy Spirit. As a result, he thought that Mary was a part of the Trinity and concluded
authors of the Koran?
that she was a goddess. Hence, Islam accused the Christians of being polytheists.
25 The Tāġūt, Wadd, Suwāʿ, Yaġūṯ, Yaʿūq, Nasr (Surah 71, verse 23.).
26 The calls to adore only one God are uttered 271 times (some verses contain
more than one call for monotheism). The context shows that, in 74 instances, the per-
21 Surah 2, verse 65; surah 5, verse 60; surah 7, verse 166. sons accused of polytheism are exclusively Christians. In other instances it may or may
22 Surah 5, verse 60. not concern Christians only. In some rare cases, the context implies that the persons are
23 Surah 5, verset 64. not Christians. These cases contain breaks from the prosodic rhythm, which show that
Mathematical Code Theory 23 24 Jean-Jacques Walter

theism (17,245 characters) were combined into one component, which has, interested in using monotheism to condemn polytheists. This lack of interest in
again, more than a 999,999 chance in a million of being the work of one or polytheism eliminates the possibility that he wanted to condemn Christians as
several authors different from those who wrote the rest of the Koran. Here, too, polytheists. In this case, authors A and C are different.
there was one single author, different from B. Let us call him C. If, by contrast, anti-Christianity was actually the basis for early Islam,
Thus monotheism was by no means a fundamental belief shared by all author A would have condemned Christians and pointed to polytheism as the
authors of the Koran but rather the preoccupation of a single author. It did not reason to condemn them. In this case, authors A and C would be the same
hold any importance to the other authors of the Koran nor, likely, to early person.
Muslims. Looking at the distance between the signatures of component A, Anti-
Here is a contradiction. In modern Islam, Christians are ostensibly less Christianity, and C, Call to Monotheism, allows us to determine whether these
opposed than idolatrous worshippers. For example, the latter must be put to components were written by a single author, or two different authors. The
death as soon as they are identified, while Christians are “only” deprived poli- conclusion is unambiguous: there is only one author.27
tical rights, held for ransom and subjugated. In addition, according to Islamic
The Facts
tradition, the Kaʿba (the shrine in Mecca) had 360 pictures painted on its walls
(other traditions say these figures surrounded the Kaʿba building). When A single author, both A and C, who was different from the other
Muhammad returned to Mecca as a victor, he ordered the destruction of all authors of the Koran, introduced both monotheism and condem-
idolatrous representations, but not the images of Jesus and Mary. nation of the “associators” into the Koran.
If Christians are less guilty than idol worshippers, why are they condemned A single author, B, who was different from the other authors of the
more often than idol worshippers in the Koran? Koran, including author A and C, introduced condemnation of idol
This can be explained by looking at causality in the relationship between worshippers into the Koran.
early Islam and Christianity. The common view is that monotheism is at the Testimony by John of Damascus confirms that the “associators”
basis of Islam, and that Islam condemns Christians for polytheism. Let us were Christians only (see Appendix).
consider the inverse thesis: anti-Christianity as the basis of early Islam. This If “associator” actually means idol worshipper or polytheist, this
hypothesis views monotheism simply as an anti-Christian tool. According to creates various inconsistencies in the text of the Koran (see
Islam, Christians believe that Mary is a goddess and Christ is another god, Appendix).
distinct from the universal Creator. If this were true, Christians would be If naṣārā means Christians, this creates various inconsistencies in
polytheists. The Koran claims they are, and according to the inverse thesis, the text of the Koran, some of which have been acknowledged by
would promote monotheism solely to condemn Christianity. Hamidullah28 (see Appendix).
Would each proposition, the one describing the common causality and the
one describing its inverse, have resulted in different and verifiable
27 The distance between Call to Monotheism and Associators is only one, which in-
consequences? dicates a significant resemblance between the signatures, and thus, that they were
The Crucial Test written by the same author. By contrast, there is a distance of nine between Call to
Monotheism and Condemnation of Idolatry, and more than nine between
Let us suppose that monotheism was the foundation of early Islam. Author C, Associators and Condemnation of Idolatry. The latter component is at a greater
who introduced monotheism into the Koran, exhibits a different signature from distance than the other two components, signifying a different signature and a
author B, who condemned idol worshippers. Therefore, author C was not different author.
28 Muhammad Hamidullah was a scholar and a researcher of Islamology. He was
born in southern India in 1908, received a doctorate of philosophy in Germany in 1932,
they are probably later interpolations intended to hide the anti-Christianity of most and became a lecturer at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Bonn. In the early 1950s,
verses about “those who associate”. he contributed to the writing of Pakistan’s constitution. In 1952, he began living in Paris
Mathematical Code Theory 25 26 Jean-Jacques Walter

In the Koran, the Holy Trinity is considered to be an example of tritheism,

because of a mistaken contention that the Virgin Mary was a member of the PART II
Trinity, and based on this error, the Koran condemns Christians as polytheists.
1. A New View on Islam
1.1 How the Thesis Jury Reacted
The single author A and C was fundamentally anti-Christian and used mono-
I was prepared for serious objections from the jury. Saying that the Koran was
theism as an argument against Christianity. However, monotheism, as a belief, written by fifty authors in the two centuries following Muhammad’s death, and
did not interest him so he did not also condemn idol worshippers. that Muhammad became the founding prophet of Islam at the earliest sixty years
The other authors of the Koran were so uninterested in monotheism that after his death and probably two centuries later, does not fit with accepted ideas. I
they did not include calls for monotheism in the sections that they wrote.
was surprised to find the contrary; these conclusions were accepted with ease by a
Conclusion very qualified jury. My thesis was accepted without objection, except for details,
most probably because, in the last fifteen years, the knowledge regarding the
Early Islam was not founded on monotheism, but on anti-Christianity. formation of Islam has expanded considerably.

An alternative hypothesis contending that monotheism is the foundation of Islam 1.2 The situation before 2000
would need to explain the six facts above. Until this date, all information about early Islam came from very late Islamic
sources. There is no complete copy of the Koran before the ninth century, two
centuries after Muhammad‘s death. The Sīra, the history of Muhammad, was also
written two centuries after his death. The collections of hadiths, which report the
memorable words or acts of Muhammad, were written between two hundred and
fifty and three hundred years after his death. Muslim scholars say that all of these
documents originated in oral traditions, which have now disappeared.
The caliphs, having both the duty to interfere in the field of religious ideas
and the political power to do so, monitored the formation and the content of
all religious and historical documents. They took the initiative to gather the
texts forming the Koran and ordered the writing of Muhammad’s history (the
caliph al-Manṣūr arranged for the first text to be written, and it was modified
under the supervision of his successors). The hadiths were compiled after more
than two centuries of alleged oral tradition. During this entire period, the
caliphs controlled both the ideas and the writings on Islam. The deviants and
Islamic dissidents, especially the Shiites and the Mu‘tazilites, were killed and
the survivors bitterly criticized the caliphs’ systematic destruction of all their
The official documents, the Koran, the collection of hadiths, and the Sīra,
were written under political control and used as ideological cement to solidify
the Muslim Empire.
where he worked as a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research and as a
professor at a French university. He is considered a leading Islamic scholar.
Mathematical Code Theory 27 28 Jean-Jacques Walter

1.3 Ancient doubts about the official history of early Islam East, and among them the movements that would give birth to Islam. These
texts contain allusions, descriptions and anecdotes concerning the creeds,
All documents telling the history of the first two centuries of Islam have dis-
religious practices, activities and wars of Muhammad’s followers. These pieces
appeared. The dating of the very rare and short documents that Muslim scholars
of information date from the beginning of Islam or the period immediately
assign to the seventh or eighth centuries is questionable. Western experts,
after, which make them more plausible than the Islamic documents written
particularly Professor Karl Heinz Ohlig, a specialist in this field, say that they are
two, sometimes three centuries later. This information, generally incidental
poorly dated and all were in fact written during the ninth century.
remarks amongst abundant prose, and often written without any polemical
Muslim scholars say that civil war and violence are responsible for these
view, was not intended to provide historical evidence of Islamic history, only to
disappearances, which is weakly plausible, considering that, in the same region
describe the events of the time.
at the same time, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Armenia, Georgian and Coptic
Enormous work is required to examine this information; hundreds or
texts did not disappear.
thousands of pages must be consulted, without any guarantee of finding any-
These circumstances have led to the contention that the history of early
thing useful. The relevant information is limited to paragraphs a few lines long,
Islam, as told by Muslim scholars, is a progressive fabrication, developed over
lost among enormous volumes in Syriac, Georgian, Greek or Latin! But these
two centuries under the political control of the caliphs. According to this idea,
pieces of unintentional information about Islam are extremely precious. For
the early documents disappeared not because of civil wars, but because they
example, the discovery of statements in four completely different texts
were deliberately destroyed to hide the fabrication of a political ideology
indicating that Muhammad was himself commanding the Muslim army at the
presented as a religion to give it the prestige and credibility that are widely
battle of Gaza in 634 leads us to question why, two centuries later, caliph
associated with religions.
historians stated that Muhammad died in 632.
Harald Motzki sums up the situation as follows:29
These new sources, as well as other works, make more plausible the
“On one side, it is not possible to write a historical biography of the
contention that the Koran is the work of a plurality of authors writing a long
Prophet without being accused of making an uncritical use of the
time after Muhammad’s death.
sources. While on the other side, when a critical use of the sources is
made, it is simply impossible to write such a biography.” The position of an informed Muslim
Alfred Louis de Prémare states that: 30
How does one “save Islam”, given this flow of new information? A Muslim
“Any biography of the prophet of Islam has no more value than a novel
scholar who remains a believer, but has the capacity to understand this wealth of
which is hoped to be historical.”
knowledge, attempts to justify his belief by stating that the Koran is an “empty
The new situation shell” into which generations of scholars and legists poured their own
interpretations. According to him, the true Islam would not be founded on the
In the past ten years, historians, particularly Alfred Louis de Prémare and Harald
Koran, but on these interpretations. Hence, Islam remains true even if the Koran
Motzki, have examined sources, either from Muhammad’s time or slightly later
is a political document written on the caliphs’ orders without any religious value,
which had never been studied before.
and those who conclude that the loss of credibility of the Koran means the loss of
Chroniclers, monks and sometimes bishops had written these documents
credibility of Islam are reprehensible “ideologues”.
in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic or Persian. In
This position shows that a Muslim scholar, when he is informed, can no
most cases, these authors reported events that were happening in their region.
longer support the idea that Muhammad is the founding prophet of Islam, who
They often mentioned the activities of various sects congregating in the Middle
proclaimed the Koran as the word of Allah.
This position is intellectually conceivable but leaves open a question: what
29 Harald Motzki, The Biography of Muhammad. The Issue of the Sources. Intro- is Islam’s source of legitimacy? If it is Allah speaking through Muhammad, a
duction, Brill, Leiden-Boston-Cologne, Academic Publisher, 2000. Muslim can accept to “kill and be killed in Allah’s path” because he is hoping to
30 Alfred-Louis de Prémare, Les fondations de l’islam, Le Seuil, Paris, 2002.
Mathematical Code Theory 29 30 Jean-Jacques Walter

reach Heaven. However, if the source of legitimacy is a number of scholars and John of Damascus was born John Mansour in 676, and died in 749. He was
legislators who cannot grant access to Heaven, the call to kill and be killed is a Christian theologian, Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church. He
less convincing. described the situation that he observed around him in 746, a century after
Muhammad’s death, by writing31:
Proof, not Innovation
“They call us associators, because, according to them, we introduce an
This thesis presents six assertions. The first five are: associate beside God, by saying that Christ is God’s son and God
The Koran was written by at least thirty, probably fifty, and at most himself.”
one hundred authors. This text records a common usage of the term “associators” at the time, while the
The Koran was written over a span of more than two hundred years. Persian grammarians guessed at a possible meaning hundreds of years later. A
The designation of surahs as either Meccan or Medinan has no record such as this by John of Damascus is more trustworthy than a guess.
meaning. Some verses of the Koran show without ambiguity that “those who
Muhammad was enthroned as founder of Islam, at the earliest, sixty associate” are Christians:
years after his death. “Yes, those who say:
Early Islam stemmed from a sect which was present in the Middle ‘God is the Messiah, son of Mary’, are impious
East at that time: the Nazarenes. Now, the Messiah said ‘O sons of Israel !
With respect to these five assertions, this thesis brings no new knowledge, but Adore God, my Lord and your Lord.’
rather proof confirming previous conjectures. With the flow of new information God forbids Paradise to whoever gives associates to God.
pouring into the scholarship on Islam, these conjectures have already been His abode will be in fire.
convincingly sourced and argued. There is no defender for the unjust.”32
The sixth assertion is new: that the foundation of early Islam was not Another verse implies the same meaning for ‘those who associate’:
monotheism, but anti-Christianity. Considering virulent anti-Christianity of “They have taken their scholars and their monks and also the Messiah,
Islam, especially in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this is hardly a son of Mary, as Lord, instead of God.
surprise. This thesis shows that anti-Christianity was inscribed in Islam’s genes But they received only the order to adore the only God: there is no God
from the very beginning. but him ! Glory to him ! Excluding any associate.”33
It is quite clear in these verses that those who associate are Christians because only
The nature of Islam
Christians believe that the Messiah, Christ, is God. As Associators, they are unjust
Islam is not a religion founded by an inspired prophet; it is a political ideology and preordained to Hell.
fabricated by a crushing power over the course of two centuries. The fabricators This reproach is exactly the same as the one expressed by the Nazarenes,
gave it the apparent form of a religion to harness the power religions possess over who said that proclaiming Christ as “God born from God, Light born from
the human mind. Light” was associating Christ with God, which was heretical.
In the same surah, ten verses later, verse 82 reads:34

14. Appendix: The “Associators”

31 John of Damascus, Traité des hérésies, 100ième hérésie, Sources Chrétiennes, N°
Muslim scholars usually translate the word mušrikūn, meaning “associators”, as 383, Paris, Cerf, 1992. Some scholars contend that the writings of John of Damascus
“polytheists” or “idol worshippers”. were the work of one of his followers and date from the ninth century. Whomever
Their translation is based on guesswork conducted by Persian grammarians the author, this text does not constitute guesswork; it records the usage of a term as
more than two and a half centuries after the death of Muhammad. The writing observed by the author at the time.
32 Surah
of John of Damascus contradicts this translation.
33 Surah 9, verse 31.
Mathematical Code Theory 31 32 Jean-Jacques Walter

“You will observe that the men most hostile to the believers are the Jews sect. He is more accurate than his colleagues, but his honesty leaves him with
and those who associate. the same insoluble problems: there are several meanings for “associators” and
You will observe that the men most near to the believers by friendship several names for Christians; and Christians are, when called Nazarenes, a
are those who say: yes, we are Nazarene.” Muslim’s best friends, but when called associators, unjust and condemned to
We find again a reference to the associators, who, as in the previously quoted Hell.
verse, are strongly opposed to Muslims, who are the just preordained for Paradise. The attempt to hide the presence of the Nazarenes by claiming that this
By contrast, the Nazarenes, who do not associate, are the best friends of Muslims. word means Christians is also apparent in verse 51 of the same sura:
This is consistent, but Muslim tradition makes it inconsistent by maintai- “O you, believers ! Do not take as friends Jews or Nazarenes.”
ning that the word mušrikūn, means Christian in verse 72, but means idol In this sentence, taking into account the context, “Nazarenes” means “Chris-
worshiper in verse 82: the same word is given a different meaning. tians”. However, Antoine Moussali has shown that the words “or Nazarenes” are
To this first inconsistency, Muslim tradition adds a second: Christians, an interpolation betrayed by a break in the prosodic rhythm.35
called associators in verse 72, are then called Nazarenes in verse 82. The same Besides the break in the rhythm, this is revealed to be an interpolation
meaning is now expressed by another word. because it introduces an inconsistency: verse 82 says that Nazarenes are the
Then, a third inconsistency: in verse 72, Christians are called “associators” best friends of Muslims; however, verse 51 says that they are as bad as the Jews,
and they are condemned to Hell: in verse 82, their name is now “Nazarene” who are, according to the Koran, people who falsify the Gospel36 and are
and they are described as being so just and honourable that they are a Muslim’s monkeys and pigs37.
best friends. The other verses where naṣārā seems to mean “Christians” are also inter-
These inconsistencies aim to hide the true meaning of verse 82: polations. Joseph Azzi, a Lebanese monk and Professor of Philosophy and
Muslims’ best friends are the Nazarenes. Islamology at the University of Kaslik in Lebanon, wrote several scholarly
The authors of the Koran left a major clue revealing the origin of Islam, which books38 in which he identified several interpolations hiding the meaning of
had to be hidden in order to maintain Muhammad’s position as the founder of naṣārā through inconsistencies and breaks in prosodic rhythm39.
Islam. Later Muslim scholars noted this, upon examining a version of the Koran In addition, Muslim texts concerning Waraqa prove that naṣārā cannot
that was too widely available to be destroyed and replaced. A new interpretation mean “Christian”. Waraqa, a Nazarene priest, was, with Muhammad “one of
of the text solved the problem but resulted in serial inconsistencies. the leaders and the guide of the Arabs”40. If he had been a Christian, he would
Although most Muslim scholars insist that “naṣārā” means Christians,
there are some exceptions, the most eminent being Muhammad Hamidullah, a 35 Antoine Moussali, La croix et le croissant, Paris, Editions de Paris, 1998.
Professor who lived most of his life in the West. He obtained a doctorate in 36 Surah 2, verses 75 and 79; surah 3, verse 78; surah 4, verse 46; surah 5, verses 13, 15
Islamic international law from Bonn University in Germany, then spent nearly and 41; surah 6, verse 91; surah 7, verse 162.
30 years in France where he was accepted as a researcher at the Centre National 37 Surah 2, verse 65; surah 5, verse 60; Surah 7, verse 166.
de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He was the first Muslim to translate the 38 The most well-known is Le prêtre et le Prophète: aux sources du Coran, Maison-
Koran from Arabic into French. The previous translations were all made by neuve et Larose, Paris 2001.
Europeans (Kasimiski, Masson, Blachère, etc.). 39 Joseph Azzi, opus cit. The interpolations are: surah 2, verses 111, 120 and 140, and
surah 3, verse 167.
First published in 1959 and improved in the following years, Hamidullah’s
40 Al Halabi wrote a biography of Muhammad, using mainly information from Ibn
translation has been printed millions of times and is considered an au- Hišām. Some older information may have reached him by oral tradition. Other
thoritative version in academic circles. He translates naṣārā as “Nazarene”, and authors reporting the same are in Mecquoise, I, 123 and Alépine, I, 155. The author
explains in a footnote that the Nazarenes were members of a Jewish-Christian of Mecquoise is Ahmad Zini, and the complete title of his work is “The Prophetic
Life and Muhammadian Traces”. The author of Alépine is Ali ben Bourhâne ed
Dine el Halabi, and the complete title of his work is “The life of the very faithful
34 Surah 5, verse 82. Muhammad”. Both books were published in a set of three volumes, by Al Istiqamat,
Mathematical Code Theory 33

have said that Christ was God, which would have made him an associator. He
could not have been a leader and a guide to those who believed that associators
were condemned to Hell.
One more piece of evidence shows that naṣārā could not mean “Christian”:
Waraqa had translated the sacred books of naṣārā from Hebrew to Arabic.41 If
naṣārā had meant Christian, he would have translated them from the language
of the sacred Christian books. At that time and in the preceding six centuries,
that language was Latin in the Western part of the Roman Empire, Greek in
the Eastern part, and Syriac in the Near East. The only sacred books in Hebrew
belonged to Jews and Nazarenes because they were Judaizing. Waraqa could
not have translated Jewish books for the benefit of early Muslims, since the
Koran condemns the Jews.
The only sacred books in Hebrew that Waraqa could have translated were
the ones produced by the Nazarenes.
The translation of naṣārā as Christian is intended to hide the presence of
Nazarenes in the origins of the Koran, and produces the inconsistencies out-
lined here. To give some verisimilitude to this translation, interpolations were
introduced in which naṣārā meant Christian according to the context.
However, many inconsistencies remain.
These interpolations and interpretations show that the writing of the Koran
was done in successive layers. The first layer, dating before 650, named the
Nazarenes, explicitly in some verses, implicitly in others. A second, later layer
is intended to hide the Nazarenes using various means, including the addition
of interpolations which changed the meaning of the text and the
interpretations by Muslim scholars. However, the scholars were unable to
avoid inconsistencies and contradictions because the presence of the
Nazarenes was too obvious to be completely hidden.
Later, over the course of the ensuing two centuries, more layers were added.

Cairo 1962. Quoted by Joseph Azzi, in Le Prêtre et le Prophète: aux sources du Coran.
Maisonneuve & Larose, Paris, 2001
41 Al Buḫarī, Saḥīḥ, Book 1 (Beginning of revelation), Chapter 1. Muslim, Saḥīḥ, I, 78 et 79. Ibn Hi

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