From Radical to Reformed Muslim

By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Edip Yuksel, a Kurdish-Turkish-American author and progressive activist who spent four years in Turkish prisons in the 1980’s for his political writings and activities promoting an Islamic revolution in Turkey. He experienced a paradigm change in 1986 transforming him from a Sunni Muslim leader to a reformed Muslim or rational monotheist.

Edip Yuksel has written more than twenty books and hundreds of articles on religion, politics, philosophy and law in Turkish, and numerous articles and booklets in English. He is the founder of 19.org and the Islamic Reform organization. His personal site is yuksel.org.

After receiving his bachelor degrees from the University of Arizona in Philosophy and Near Eastern Studies, Mr. Yuksel received his law degree from the same university. Today he is an Adjunct Philosophy professor at Pima Community College and teaches various classes at his children’s school.

His recent major work, Quran: a Reformist Translation, has been recently published by BrainbowPress, after being canceled by Palgrave-Macmillan, which followed the fatwa of a “very established scholar.”

Today Mr. Yuksel is a “dissident” and “ex-prisoner” in the records of the Turkish government, an “apostate” in the fatwas of Muslim clergymen, a “betrayer” in the hearts of his family, and a “reformer” in the minds of progressive Muslims.

FP: Edip Yuksel, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Yuksel: Thank you for the invitation.

FP: Tell us a bit about your youth and what influenced you to become a radical Muslim and how this landed you in Turkish prison. Share some of the things you were involved in as a Muslim radical.

Yuksel: It is a real life story filled with plots and events: activism, religious fanaticism, street fights, detentions, prisons, torture, assassinations, hijacking, secret police, import and export of revolution, fame, excommunication, fatwas, betrayal, paradigm change, religious experience, etc… I am currently trying to finish writing my life story, which is titled, In the Name of God. Let me give you some snapshots from my youth:

I became an active participant in the 1970’s political upheaval within Turkey’s student intelligentsia. I had front line experiences with the Turkish government’s violent repression of protesters in the streets of Istanbul, as we were gassed, beaten, and taken to jail for torture by police, and those events had profound effects on both my country and myself.

While a revolution, which had incubated for decades, was intensifying in Iran in 1978 and erupting in early 1979, together with my brother, I led the Raiders organization promoting a religious revolution. I put aside my education at Bosphorus University, as I did before at Middle East Technical University, and got busy to form my own underground teen organization FT-19. After losing my brother to the bullets of Turkish fascists, Gray Wolves, I plunged into political activism and protest meetings; numerous detentions.

Following my brother’s assassination by political opponents, I intensified my passionate leadership of my youth group as they promoted outright religious revolt. While jailed for this by state security police, I am held at close quarters in the same prison with the killers who murdered my brother. In one of the failed assassination attempt against me my friend, a fellow inmate, was mistaken for me and knifed nearly to death by a hired prison hitman.

I lectured, wrote articles for Islamists magazines, trained radical militants, organized Muslim youth and staged political events to spur an Islamic revolution envisioned by the founder of Ikhwan-i Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) Hasan el Benna (Egypt), Sayyid Qutub (Egypt), Abul A’la el Mawdudi (Pakistan), Said Hawwa (Syria), Ali Shariati (Iran), Khomeini (Iran), and more recently by Blind Sheik Abdurrahman and Osama Bin Laden. I established relationship with Muslim Brotherhood and other underground radical Muslim organizations, such as Hizb-i Islami of Afghanistan and Hizbu ul-Tahrir of Iraq.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I attempted to commandeer Istanbul’s airport with the members of my organization, demanding the Turkish government provide aircraft for more than 200 Muslim radicals volunteering to join the Afghan mujahideen. My attempt failed, because I was arrested by police just one day before the scheduled event, which would have high visibility in the media. I later met with Afghan resistance leader Gulbeddin Hikmetyar and gave him thousands of dollars collected from Turkish merchants, who later became notorious for his destruction of Kabul and the brutal killing of thousands of Afghanis from other tribes.

I had zeal, charisma, courage and plenty of stupidity. I was going to make a revolution in my country. Enough was enough for the rule of a secular, oppressive government and its ally the Great Satan, U.S.A. We were going to have an Islamic government that would bring economic and political justice, freedom and peace.

“Shah, Butto, Hoveyda; which infidel is next to die?”

“Sharia will chop and aggression will stop!”

“Down with America!”

“Allah-u Akbar!”

I was recruited in the late 1970’s by Iranian Islamic fundamentalists, who sought to cultivate me as an agent of the same revolutionary movement then sweeping Iran. Nearly seduced into the Ayatollah’s inner circle by the promise of exporting the revolution to Turkey, I secretly travel to Tehran for an audience with the leader of Pasdaran (the Revolutionary Guards) and leading Ayatollahs in the ministry of Irshad.

I was disappointed when I learned that my preferred method for bringing about an Islamic revolution in my country was radically different than my Iranian comrades. Though there were violent factions in my organization, even during my heydays as an Islamist leader, I was always for the use of propaganda and other peaceful means for Islamic revolution. Thus, I asked their help to establish a radio and TV station inside the border of Iran to promote a non-violent Islamic mass revolution in Turkey. Yet, the Iranian leaders offered guerilla training for Turkish Jihadies and expected intelligence on Turkish and NATO military basis in turn. The leader of Pasdaran, Abu Sharif, who with his beard, hat and uniform, looked like so much to the young Fidel Castro, asked me to delegate my comrades to gather intelligence regarding Turkish and American military bases in my country. Though I considered the USA as the Big Satan and the Turkish Republic my proximate enemy, I never even imagined myself participating in bloody wars against them.

I spent four years in Turkish jails and prisons and subjected to physical and mental torture for leading and promoting Islamic revolution in Turkey. At age 24, I became the best-selling author in Turkey. Many of my close friends and comrades decades later became congressmen, ministers and even prime ministers. For instance, Turkey’s current Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was my comrade in 1970’s and early 1980’s. He even participated in one of my illegal public demonstrations, where 300 Islamists rallied, without the permission of the military government, where I led a congregational prayer in the middle of downtown in Fatih, Istanbul. The following excerpt from a well-known Turkish political figure summarizes the kind of environment I was in and the kind of people I was in company of (Turkish characters in proper names are converted to the closest characters in Latin alphabet):

Year 1979, the chaotic years of martial law in Turkey. A month in summer. We are in a rally protesting the assassination of two Raiders in Kagithane. Our walk started in Aksaray and ended in Fatih. There we are suddenly surrounded by military and police forces and herded to military trucks. Who is not among us! From the leader of the illegal rally Edip Yüksel, to the airplane hijacker journalists Yilmaz Yalciner and Omer Yorulmaz, to Recep Tayyip Erdogan; the famous names of that era. Erdogan was the leader of MSP’s Istanbul youth organization. After spending one night at a military base, we are released without being subjected to torture or indignity.

The year that the Islamist excitement reached its zenith… An Islamic revolution had just taken place in Iran. A mujahid resistance started in Afghanistan against the communist occupation. In Pakistan, general Ziya ul Haq had established a so-called Islamist regime after ending the democratically elected Zulfikar Ali Butto’s government with a military coup.

The popular slogans frequently chanted by the youth of that era were: “Yesterday it was Iran, Pakistan; now it is your turn Musluman!” and “The non-religious state will be destroyed; Islamic government will be restored!”

These were the slogans that were declaring the faith and enthusiasm of Tayyip Erdogan and ours.

Of course, our purpose was to establish an Islamic government and islamicize the society through the state power. It did not matter whether it was through a mass revolution as it was in Iran, or through a military coup as it was in Pakistan. As long as an Islamic state could be established in a country with a majority Muslim population… But, in Turkey we believed, unlike other countries, that this goal could have been accomplished via a political party.

(Yemyesil Seriat Bembeyaz Demokrasi (All-Green Shariah, All-White Democracy), Mehmet Metiner, Dogan Kitap, Istanbul, 2004, second edition, pp 63-64. Also see: The Portrait of Tayyip Erdogan by His Consultant Mehmet Metiner, Ortak Haber, 08.07.2003. Radikal, a Turkish Newspaper, published an excerpt from the book that contains this section: http://www.radikal.com.tr/ek_haber.php?ek=r2&haberno=2341)

FP: How long did you spend in Turkish jails and prisons? Share your experience there with us. What kind of physical and mental torture were you subjected to? How did you cope?

Yuksel: I was arrested on the night of September 12, 1980 Turkish military coup as an alleged seditionist and I would spend about 4 years in prison. I was picked up like a panda from the street in Fatih/Istanbul while walking with an Egyptian and British member of Muslim Brotherhood. I was interrogated for about three weeks in horrible conditions (not much different what we know about Gitmo) by state security police. My lengthy incarceration was made even longer by periodical torture sessions for the crime of being a dissident against a repressive government.

In retrospect, I thank God for the arrest and prison time. I was so busy with the political activities that perhaps I would have never found a chance to sit down and translate the book that would lead to the paradigm change in my religious and political position. Though occasionally there was torture and very strict rules, such as not being allowed to read any book of our choice, there was a period in prison where I could find ample time to examine Deedat’s book on the mathematical structure of the Quran and then translate it. My first months in this prison provided me with a great opportunity not only to translate the book, but also to verify many of the Quranic data presented in the book. I employed my comrade inmates for the verification and falsification process. Later, I contributed to the subject matter and became its co-author. I added my studies on the scientific aspect of the Quran, and it was published. It became an instant best-selling book, for about five years crowning the top of the best-selling list in Turkey, until the religious establishment banned it.

Convicted of the charges against me by a kangaroo court for religious and political expressions that would have drawn little if any reproach in the Western world, I was sentenced to six years in prison. During the three and a half years of actual prison term, I experienced systematic torture for about one year. In a story stunningly similar to that of Billy Hayes in “Midnight Express,” I enter a terrifying world where I am solitarily confined amongst filth and vermin, routinely beaten and mentally abused, deprived of sunlight and medical care, fed adulterated food, stripped of my individuality, forced to undergo hours of political indoctrination, and, worst of all, set up by my captors as a target for fellow inmates who try repeatedly to harass me.

Let me make a comment about torture. I will never condone torture even to my ardent enemies. I do not think that a terrorist is any different than a soldier or military commander captured in a war. There is no justification in condemning torture against soldiers while justifying it against terror suspects. Torture must be categorically banned and no hypothetical horror stories should be use to justify it.

FP: So what led you to your transformation? What exactly did this transformation entail? Crystallize for us what you ended up believing and how it collided with what you once believed.

Yuksel: While doing the mandatory military service, which was an adventure on its own, I secretly corresponded with the original discoverer of the prophetic numerical structure of the Quran. He was a biochemist residing in America. During our initial correspondence I got disappointed and shocked that he was not the kind of Muslim scholar that I expected him to be. After discussing the issues via snail mail for several months, finally I received his landmark book, “Quran, Hadith, and Islam,” which changed my world in several hours in the night of July 1st 1986.

I underwent what a major transformation or paradigm change as a religious and political thinker, ultimately rejecting much of the earlier fundamentalism that had made me so popular and so targeted by the Turkish state. In a period of maturation similar to that of America’s Malcolm X, I came to recognize the profound flaws of the orthodoxy I once fervently believed in and promoted. I realized that Sunni and Shiite sects, and their modern offspring the fundamentalist Islam had severely distorted the original message of the Quran transforming it into a concoction of medieval Arab culture with borrowings from Jewish and Christian teachings. I learned that Sunni or Shiite versions of Islam have been shaped by religious and political leaders imposing their will on the masses as a method of repressive socio-political control.

I provide numerous examples and arguments in Manifesto for Islamic Reform, which is published in the end section of the Quran: a Reformist Translation. I recommend the readers to read that article, and they will be surprised to see the incredible distortion in the message of the Quran, which once created a major civilization out of a bunch of superstitious tribes. (The book can be ordered via www.brainbowpress.com or can be downloaded for free at: http://groups.google.com/group/19org/files)

FP: What consequences did you face in the Muslim community after your transformation? What did the radicals think of you after? Were you in danger? How did your family react?

Yuksel: After finishing my military service, I was detained for the eleventh time, and remained in Turkish prisons for half a year because of promoting Islamic revolution in Turkey. By then, I had no desire in promotion of such a revolution; but I expressed my contempt to the repressive Turkish legal system.

Soon after being freed from prison, I published a new book wherein I publicly renounced my religious and political fundamentalism. This break from my past severely disturbed my father, a renowned Muslim scholar, who just as publicly condemned me as an “apostate” — a branding that is widely reported in Turkey’s religious and secular press.

Following this stunning denunciation, my books were removed by Muslim fundamentalists from bookstores throughout the country and destroyed; and their publishers and retailers were threatened by the perpetrators with violence. I was repeatedly threatened, publicly assaulted and attacked several times by my former comrades and followers who became my most rabid enemies on the streets of Istanbul. Within a week after I was targeted by this campaign of terror, I realized the truth – I was marked for death. Unfairly likened to Salman Rushdie, I disappeared into hiding, and then left all that is important to me to escape to the West. (Ironically, nineteen years later, an American publishing company named Palgrave/Macmillan canceled the publication of the Reformist Translation in last minute, after its announcement in their catalogue. They were scared by a fatwa-review of a prominent Sunni scholar who falsely likened our translation to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Unfortunately, that shameless political misrepresentation was swallowed as a scholarly review by the board of Palgrave.)

FP: In the end, you had to escape to America, to the land of “The Great Satan”, leaving everything behind. This is a bit of an irony, yes?

Yuksel: Yes, it was more than a mere irony, it was irony squared! With little more than a plane ticket, the clothes on my back, and few hundred dollars in my pocket, I immigrated to the United States, where I was heartily welcomed in Arizona by my spiritual and intellectual mentor, Dr. Rashad Khalifa, an Islamic reformist whose views strongly influenced my transformation in Turkey. Khalifa was himself a controversial figure among Muslims, and had a similar experience. He was too rejected by his father who was a prominent scholar and a leader of a Sufi order in Egypt. He too lost his popularity and reputation and became the target of threats, slanders and numerous false accusations.

Eighteen years ago, when I escaped to America from Turkey to save my life, I thought I knew America. In my teenager years, America was the land of my favorite comic book heroes: Texas, Tom Mix, Captain Swing, Tom Bronx, Red Kit, etc. I was always on the side of white cowboys, hunters, and soldiers who were fighting against bad guys, such as barbaric Indians, lazy Mexicans or stupid British soldiers with funny uniforms. Then, when I became a political activist promoting an Iranian-like revolution, America was transformed into the “Great Satan,” the evil imperialist power that exploited the resources of Muslim countries through puppet regimes. I once shouted “Yankee Go Home!” Now, I am in the same home with the Yankees!

My account of first encounters with American culture; I was like Alice in wonderland. Now, I frame my seminal impressions of America in the context of Janus, the two-faced Greek god. America is at once both the land of liberty and that of a burgeoning prison industry; a place of stunning prosperity and of abject poverty; the base of the world’s peacekeeping forces and also a global war machine that terrifies it — a place where heaven meets hell.

FP: Your mentor and the discoverer of the “Secret,” Dr. Rashad Khalifa, was assassinated by associates of Osama Bin Laden in 1990. Can you talk a bit about that?

Yuksel: I came to know Rashad through Ahmad Deedat who had used his computerized studies on the Quran. I witnessed and participated in the unveiling of “The Secret”, or the mathematical code of the Quran and the Old Testament, that became controversial all around the Muslim world. After my immigration, I was hosted by Rashad and worked with him in Masjid Tucson for about a year, seven days a week, ten hours every day. (When he was alive, I called him with his first name; so I will respect that memory).

Rashad was an Egyptian-American Biochemist. He worked in the United Nations and for a while he became a science adviser to Muammar al-Qaddafi, the despot of Libya. Rashad became a popular author in Muslim world and later he dared to criticize the orthodox teaching of the Muslim clerics; he promoted a radical reformation in Islam by rejecting all sectarian teachings other than the Quran. In my archive, I have letters written to Rashad from the director of al-Azhar University and many other prominent religious scholars, expressing their disbelief and shock to hear rumors about his rejection of the sectarian teachings called Hadith and Sunna.

By referring to the Quranic verses, Dr. Khalifa demonstrated that today’s Islam has little to do with Muhammad’s original message, but rather is a religion concocted by scholars using fabricated narration and medieval Arab culture (Hadith and Sunna), and falsely attributing these to Prophet Muhammad. By incorporating their opinions, along with those mediaeval lies, Muslim scholars have created various orthodox sects promoting vicious and oppressive laws, misogyny, hatred, terror and aggression.

In February 19, 1989 a group of scholars met in Saudi Arabia to discuss the issue of Salman Rushdi. Saudi King was competing with Ayatullah’s Iran for leadership of the so-called Muslim World, and he felt that he needed to come up with something on that big controversy. When the so-called scholars issued their fatwa (religious decree) it became headline news in Muslim countries, including my homeland Turkey. Their fatwa was: “Both Rashad and Rushdi are apostates!” The world knew Rushdi, but who was Rashad? Rashad, a biochemist resident of Tucson, Arizona, had become a popular figure in Muslim countries after he discovered a secret mathematical system in the Quran via computer analysis. The consequence of the mathematical code was too difficult to be accepted by the Muslim clergymen. Consequently, they issued fatwas calling for his assassination.

In early 1990, Rashad, my friend, colleague, mentor, the discoverer of the “Secret,” was stabbed to death brutally in his Tucson mosque by men who, over a decade later, were ultimately revealed by FBI and respected American journalistic sources to be associates of the infamous Usama Bin Laden. A popular reformist Muslim thinker, Rashad dared to criticize the religious orthodoxy of Islamic dogmas, calling for radical change wherein all sectarian teachings would be rejected except for the Quran itself. (I have numerous media clips from several languages regarding the reaction of Muslim Clerics to our reformation movement. The assassination of my mentor and its aftermath was widely covered by Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly and local radio and TV stations. After September 11, the national media picked up the story. For instance, see: CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, on October 26, 2001; cover story of Newsweek, January 14, 2002 , p.44. On March 19, 2002, KPHO-TV at Phoenix , a CBS affiliate, in its evening news, broadcast an interview with me under the headline: Traces of Al Qaeda Cell in Tucson).

I was spending about 12 hours a day at Masjid Tucson, working on my Turkish books and assisting Rashad in his revision of the Final Testament. I had been at Masjid with Rashad the night before his assassination and the following morning I arrived there just two hours after Khalifa’s assassination there. As I did several times before in Turkey, — in a place most Americans would find far removed from the bitter conflicts within Islam – I again barely escaped losing my life over my beliefs.

I differ from Conservative politicians; since I have no doubt that the American foreign policy and sectarian Islam are both incubators of religious terrorism. A campaign against terrorism must have two fronts: reformation in American democracy and reformation in Islamic understanding and practice. Unfortunately, the victims of this conflict, whether they live in skyscrapers or caves, are mostly innocent people.

FP: Tell us about Quran: a Reformist Translation.

Yuksel: The Reformist Translation of the Quran offers a non-sexist and non-sectarian understanding of the divine text; it is the result of collaboration between three translators, two men (Layth al-Shaiban and I) and a woman (Martha Schulte-Nafeh). It explicitly rejects the authority of the clergy to determine the likely meaning of disputed passages. It uses logic and the language of the Quran itself as the ultimate authority in determining likely meanings, rather than ancient scholarly interpretations rooted in patriarchal hierarchies. It offers extensive cross-referencing to the Bible and provides arguments on numerous philosophical and scientific issues. It is God’s message for those who prefer reason over blind faith, for those who seek peace and ultimate freedom by submitting themselves to the Truth alone.

You may find endorsements of numerous authors and academics, and if you wish you may include them here. (Some are published at www.brainbowpress.com). I recently, shared the following announcement with people, under the title, “Following a Fatwa-Review of Establishment, Palgrave/Macmillan Abandoned the Publication of this Book”

In 2004, my colleagues and I signed a contract with Palgrave/Macmillan publishing house for the publication of Quran: a Reformist Translation. The editor and other staff of the publishing house were very encouraging and enthusiastic, and during the summer of 2006, I was personally introduced to the director of the publishing company at its New York headquarters. Palgrave even published an announcement about the upcoming Reformist Translation in their 2006 Fall/Winter Catalogue, which was later postponed to the summer of 2007. The publishing house posted information about the Reformist Translation for pre-orders at Amazon.com and other online bookstores. However, in December 2006, the editor informed me that the board had determined that my manuscript was not acceptable for publication.

Apparently, they were convinced or intimidated by a review (more accurately, a fatwa) of “a very well-established professor,” who misleadingly likened our annotated translation of the Quran to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. This was akin to a medieval publishing house turning down Martin Luther’s 95 Theses after consulting “a very well-established” Catholic Bishop! It is telling that Palgrave’s “very well-established scholar” in his several-page review, had only one substantive criticism, which consisted of our usage of a word, yes a single word in the translation: progressive.

I believe that without hearing my defense against this Sunni version of excommunication in the guise of a “scholarly review,” the publishing house committed an injustice against my person and our work. I called the publishing house and asked them to give me the chance to respond to the reviewer and defend myself and work against his disparagement and distortions; I was told he remain anonymous.

We were not surprised to hear negative remarks, insults, or false associations from a reviewer who considers a rejection of backward and bankrupt sectarian dogmas “heresy.” However, we were surprised to learn that the board of the publishing house cancelled the publication of a potentially controversial yet crucial book that would introduce the message of the Quran — the message of peace, justice, reason, and progress — without the distortion of sectarian teachings. Any scholar who can see beyond his or her office can see the growing reform movement, open or clandestine, particularly in Turkey, Malaysia , Iran, Egypt and Kazakhstan where people take great risks to question the popular sectarian dogmas.

You may visit the following websites for the full text of the letter of the Sunni scholar whose advice was taken at face value by Palgrave/Macmillan, and for our response to the letter. You may also find in the following websites, recent updates, reactions, and feedback from reviewers, our responses, related news in the media, and the activities of the global reformist movement:





Let the world hear the message. Let the West hear the voice of monotheism, the voice of reason, peace, justice and progress. Let the East and the Middle East hear the clear message of the book that they have abandoned for centuries, despite efforts by their leaders to repress it.

FP: You witnessed and participated in the unveiling of “The Secret”, or the mathematical code of the Quran and the Old Testament, that became controversial all around the Muslim world. What is this about?

Yuksel: The miraculous function of the number 19 prophesized in Chapter 74 was unveiled in 1974 through a computerized analysis of the Quran. Though, in retrospect, the implication of 19 in Chapter 74 traditionally called Hidden One, were obvious, it remained a secret for 1406 (19×74) lunar years after the revelation of the Quran. Ironically, the first words of the Chapter 74, The Hidden One, was revealing, yet the code was a divinely guarded gift allocated to the computer generation; they were the one who would need and appreciate it the most. As we have demonstrated in various books, hundreds of simple and complex algorithms, we witness the depth and breath of mathematical manipulation of Arabic, an arbitrary human language, to be profound and extraordinary.

This is the fulfillment of a Quranic challenge (17:88). While the meaning of the Quranic text and its literal excellence was kept, all its units, from chapters, verses, words to its letters were also assigned universally recognizable roles in creation of mathematical patterns. Since its discovery, the number 19 of the Quran and the Bible has increased the faith of many believers, has removed doubts in the minds of many People of the Book, and has caused discord, controversy and chaos among those who have traded the Quran with men-made sectarian teachings. This is indeed a fulfillment of a Quranic prophecy (74:30-31).

Before the discovery of the 19-based system, we were aware of a symmetrical mathematical wonder in the Quran. For example:

  • The word “month” (shahr) occurs 12 times.

  • The word “day” (yawm) occurs 365 times.

  • The word “days” (eyyam, yawmeyn) occurs 30 times.

  • The words “satan” (shaytan) & “angel” (malak), each occur 88 times.

  • The words “this world” (dunya) and “hereafter” (ahirah), each occur 115 times.

I have written several books and dozens of articles on this subject. I have also given lectures in math departments such as University of Arziona, and discussed it on live TV programs in Turkey. When I was undergraduate student in philosophy, as my honor thesis, I discussed it with Carl Sagan as another evidence for God’s existence. I am currently working on finishing an English book titled “NINETEEN: God’s Signature in Nature and Scripture.” If your readers are interested, I can give you a more comprehensive summary, with some background information, than this truncated one. Here are some examples of the numerical structure of the Quran.

  • The first verse, i.e., the opening statement “Bismillahirrahmanirrahim”, shortly “Basmalah,” consists of 19 Arabic letters.

  • The first word of Basmalah, Ism (name), without contraction, occurs in the Quran 19 times.

  • The second word of Basmalah, Allah (God) occurs 2698 times, or 19×142.

  • The third word of Basmalah, Rahman (Gracious) occurs 57 times, or 19×3.

  • The fourth word of Basmalah, Rahim (Merciful) occurs 114 times, or 19×6.

    Although this phenomenon (the opening statement consists of 19 letters, and each word occurs in multiple of 19) represents a minute portion of the code, it was described by Martin Gardner in the Scientific American as “ingenious” (September, 1981, p. 22-24)

  • The multiplication factors of the words of the Basmalah (1+142+3+6) add up to 152 or 19×8.

  • The Quran consists of 114 chapters, which is 19×6.

  • The total number of verses in the Quran including all unnumbered Basmalahs is 6346, or 19×334. If you add the digits of that number, 6+3+4+6 equals 19.

  • The Basmalah occurs 114 times, (despite its conspicuous absence from chapter 9, it occurs twice in chapter 27) and 114 is 19×6.

  • From the missing Basmalah of chapter 9 to the extra Basmalah of chapter 27, there are precisely 19 chapters.

  • The occurrence of the extra Basmalah is in 27:30. The number of the chapter and the verse add up to 57, or 19×3.

  • Each letter of the Arabic alphabet corresponds to a number according to their original sequence in the alphabet. The Arabs were using this system for calculations. When the Quran was revealed 14 centuries ago, the numbers known today did not exist. A universal system was used where the letters of the Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek alphabets were used as numerals. The number assigned to each letter is its “Gematrical Value.” The numerical values of the Arabic alphabet are shown below: [the table is omitted]

  • A study on the gematrical values of about 120 attributes of God which are mentioned in the Quran, shows that only four attributes have gematrical values which are multiples of 19. These are “Wahid” (One), “Zul Fadl al Azim” (Possessor of Infinite Grace), “Majid” (Glorous), “Jaami” (Summoner). Their gematrical value are 19 , 2698, 57, and 114 respectively, which are all divisible by 19 and correspond exactly to the frequencies of occurrence of the Basmalah’s four words.

  • The total numbers of verses where the word “Allah” (God) occurs, add up to 118123, and is 19×6217.

  • The total occurrences of the word Allah (God) in all the verses whose numbers are multiples of 19 is 133, or 19×7.

  • The key commandment: “You shall devote your worship to God alone” (in Arabic “Wahdahu”) occurs in 7:70; 39:45; 40:12,84; and 60:4. The total of these numbers adds up to 361, or 19×19.

  • The Quran is characterized by a unique phenomenon that is not found in any other book: 29 chapters are prefixed with “Quranic Initials” which remained mysterious for 1406 years. With the discovery of the code 19, we realized their major role in the Quran’s mathematical structure. The initials occur in their respective chapters in multiples of 19. For example, Chapter 19 has five letters in its beginning, K.H.Y.A’.SS., and the total occurrence of these letters in this chapter is 798, or 19×42.

  • To witness the details of the miracle of these initials, a short chapter which begins with one initial, letter “Q”, will be a good example. The frequency of “Q” in chapter 50 is 57, or 19×3. The letter “Q” occurs in the other Q-initialed chapter, i.e., chapter 42, exactly the same number of times, 57. The total occurrence of the letter “Q” in the two Q-initialed chapters is 114, which equals the number of chapters in the Quran. The description of the Quran as “Majid” (Glorious) is correlated with the frequency of occurrence of the letter “Q” in each of the Q-initialed chapters. The word “Majid” has a gematrical value of 57. Chapter 42 consists of 53 verses, and 42+53 is 95, or 19×5. Chapter 50 consists of 45 verses, and 50+45 is 95, or 19×5.

  • The Quran mentions 30 different cardinal numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 19, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 99, 100, 200, 300, 1000, 2000, 3000, 5000, 50000, & 100000. The sum of these numbers is 162146, which equals 19×8534.

  • In addition to 30 cardinal numbers, the Quran contains 8 fractions: 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3. Thus, the Quran contains 38 (19×2) different numbers. The total of fractions is approximately 2.

  • If we write down the number of each verse in the Quran, one next to the other, preceded by the number of verses in each chapter, the resulting long number consists of 12692 digits (19×668). Additionally, the huge number itself is also a multiple of 19.

(Unfortunately, some innumerate zealots are abusing this feature of the Quran through numerous arbitrary and childish numerical juggling. I caution the reader to be critical of claims of numerical discoveries in scriptures. You should not be confusing the statistically impressive examples with human manipulations and arbitrary calculations.)

It is significant that the same 19-based mathematical composition was discovered by Rabbi Judah in the 12th century AD in a preserved part of the Old Testament. Below is a quote from Studies In Jewish Mysticism:

“The people (Jews) in France made it a custom to add (in the morning prayer) the words: ” ’Ashrei temimei derekh (blessed are those who walk the righteous way),” and our Rabbi, the Pious, of blessed memory, wrote that they were completely and utterly wrong. It is all gross falsehood, because there are only nineteen times that the Holy Name is mentioned (in that portion of the morning prayer), . . . and similarly you find the word Elohim nineteen times in the pericope of Ve-’elleh shemot . . . .

“Similarly, you find that Israel were called “sons” nineteen times, and there are many other examples. All these sets of nineteen are intricately intertwined, and they contain many secrets and esoteric meanings, which are contained in more than eight volumes. Therefore, anyone who has the fear of God in him will not listen to the words of the Frenchmen who add the verse ” ’Ashrei temimei derekh (blessed are those who walk in the paths of God’s Torah, for according to their additions the Holy Name is mentioned twenty times . . . and this is a great mistake. Furthermore, in this section there are 152 words, but if you add ” ’Ashrei temimei derekh” there are 158 words. This is nonsense, for it is a great and hidden secret why there should be 152 words . . .” (Studies In Jewish Mysticism, Joseph Dan, Association for Jewish Studies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1978, p 88.)”

I recently discovered a surviving book of Rabi Judah, and it is among the research projects that I will be working on next year.

FP: Share with us your efforts on behalf of an Islamic reformation. Why is it not happening? On what foundations would it be based? Are you optimistic or pessimistic in its possibility?

Yuksel: To Tell the Truth: It is very difficult to tell the truth in a world where actors are heroes, fiction is the best-selling literature, doublespeak is the lingua franca, and capitalism is the only way of attaining freedom.

As a Reformist Muslim, a monotheist, who continuously receives death threats from Muslim fanatics, a Muslim who lost my closest friend to the knives of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorists, a Muslim who has dedicated himself to the promotion of human rights, freedom of expression, democracy and reformation in Islam, I invite Muslims to reform themselves under the light of the Quran alone.

We should seek peace and justice for all. We should attain individual freedom by submitting ourselves to God’s laws in nature and His scripture. We should use our reason, rather than submitting to superstition. We should reject the teachings of clergymen, which have doomed us to the darkness of ignorance and to the backwardness of medieval culture.

I argue that the ramifications of following the Quran alone cannot be exaggerated. It provides a paradigm shift regarding the role of women, freedom of speech, democracy, position against science and technology, criminal system, international terrorism, and peace with other nations.

The impediments against Islamic Reform movement are numerous. Let me enumerate the major ones:

1. Sectarian dogmas and practices that have distorted the message of the Quran. It is so ingrained in the culture of Muslims, they are psychologically shocked when their dogmas questioned.

2. Traditional institutions and organizations that has little tolerance to objective and critical scientific research and debate, such as al-Azhar University.

3. Backward authoritarian governments that uses religious teachings as opium of masses, such as Saudi Arabia.

4. Backward authoritarian governments that uses religious teachings as testosterone for masses, such as Iran.

5. Western financial and academic institutions that have vested interest in dealing with backward regimes. For instance, many Middle Eastern Studies at American Universities, including Harvard University.

6. Myopic American foreign policy that has been incubating and spreading the cause of Christianists and Islamists.

As an American citizen, I invite American people to be more attentive towards the foreign policy of our government. The myopic American foreign policy, which primarily serves the interests of corporations, such as the weapon and oil industries, has inadvertently helped the cause of religious terrorists. Recently, I reached the conclusion that the threat and fear “terrorism” provides political and financial benefits for some groups and thus, it is deliberately exaggerated and strengthened through reckless wars and invasions that have been creating millions of orphans, and traumatized angry people in Muslim countries.

Militant clerics, whether they are collaborators with totalitarian regimes or are dissidents, should be taken seriously. Using the language of religion and the proverbs of their forefathers, they can mobilize gullible masses, perpetrating bloody conflicts. The best way to deflate the power of militant clergymen is (1) to support intellectuals, who promote democracy and freedom, and (2) to denounce and punish the oppressive leaders, without favoring one over another, through international legal devices, such as freezing their assets in foreign countries and trying them in international tribunals.

So far, I have authored numerous books on politics, philosophy, religion, and law. Most of my books are published in Turkey, such as: Interesting Questions, Books Are Dangerous, 19 Questions for Muslims, 19 Questions For Christians, Errors in Translations of the Quran, Democracy/Theocracy/Oligarchy, Purple Letters, and The Message: Turkish Translation of the Quran.

As a founder of www.19.org, I have a network of hundreds of young activists who promote reformation in Islam, freedom of speech, democracy and peace all around the world. Together with Layth al-Shaiban, I established www.islamicreform.org to promote a paradigm-changing reform in Muslim countries. My occasional appearances on Turkish TV have created a powerful reformation movement in Turkey, which its ripple effect has been felt from Malaysia to America. Turkish reformists established 114 Organization to promote the message. There are very good news all around the world, but again, against powerful political and religious forces.

I have several unfinished English books evolving or molding in my computer. Years ago, a small British publishing house discovered my websites and offered me to publish all of my books, starting with my autobiography, In the Name of Allah. But, I am reluctant to sign a contract with a small publishing house with British accent. I am working on variety of projects, including a script for an animation movie on Muhammad’s life, and another script for a philosophical-religious comedy, titled “12 Hungry Men” I do not have contacts in Hollywood, but I submitted the treatment to a small European film company and they are very interested in producing it. I have yet to reach a decision on it.

My first English book, Quran: A Reformist Translation, is recently published. Besides the translation, it contains a lengthy introduction titled Manifesto for Islamic Reform, and arguments in footnotes making a powerful theological and philosophical case for a paradigm change in the realm of religions. We are also producing video programs and God willing they will be made available both on DVD disks and youtube.

FP: Well sir, we would clearly disagree about the foreign policy of our government, that it primarily serves, as you say, the interests of corporations and that it has helped the cause of religious terrorists, etc. Much evidence suggests that Bush’s foreign policy is legitimate and influenced by a moral clarity that sees the necessity of confronting radical Islam in key parts of the world. But we’ll have to debate and discuss this in another forum my friend.There are also, of course, scholars and critics who would take issue with some of your interpretations of Islam, and they are most welcome to begin a dialogue with you in our pages.

Edip Yuksel, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

YUKSEL: Thank you for allowing me to share the views of Islamic Reform movement with the world. The movement that started in 1974 is now getting momentum. Let me finish my words with several verses from chapter 74:

74:32 No, by the moon.

74:33 By the night when it passes.

74:34 By the morning when it shines.

74:35 It is one of the great ones.

74:36 A warning to people.

74:37 For any among you who wishes to progress or regress.


Previous Interviews with Islamic Reformers:

Thomas Haidon

Khalim Massoud

Hasan Mahmud

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine’s managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.



1 Response to “From Radical to Reformed Muslim”

  1. 1 Sukran
    December 16, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    There is an obvious error in the phylosophy of (so-called) miracle of 19: It is contravening, conflicting and violating the literal meaning of numerous of ayaths of the Qur’an, while rejecting two ayaths of the Qur’an claiming they are not in the harmony of the (so-called) miracle of 19.

    Qur’an ensures the reader it is from Allah in a whole with numerous of ayaths without any doubt: 46:8, 7:203, 14:14, 67:105, 12:111, 16:103, 17:88, especially 4:82, 69:44-45, 11:14, and so on. They have to bring some literal or metaphorical meaningful evidences, reminders or warnings from the Qur’an other than some controversial mathematical intervenes as they are Only Quranists, not mathematicians.

    There have been such claims and challenges against full authenticity of the Qur’an since the beginning of its revelution, such challenges are not new and unacceptable as always, no matter how much they try to bring evidences even from the Qur’an itself, simply because there is no literal or metaphorical verbal evidence in Qur’an.

    Many statements and declarations of Qur’an while it is describing itself gives no option to be able to think for rejection of any of its ayaths’ authenticity.

    Moreover, Qur’an does not need controversial mathematical formulas to prove its authenticity, it is obvious when it is read as a whole.

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