Rashad Khalifa

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Rashad Khalifa
رشاد خليفة
Born(1935-11-19)November 19, 1935
DiedJanuary 31, 1990(1990-01-31) (aged 54)
Cause of deathAssassination[1]
Known forMathematically analysing the Quran via computers and translating it[2][3][4]
ChildrenSam Khalifa and Beth Bujarski

Rashad Khalifa (Arabic: رشاد خليفة; November 19, 1935 – January 31, 1990) was an Egyptian-American biochemist, closely associated with the United Submitters International (USI), an organization which promotes the practice and study of Quran-only Islam.[5] His teachings were opposed by Traditionalist Muslims and he was assassinated on January 31, 1990.[6][7] He is also known for his claims regarding the existence of a Quran code, also known as Code 19.


Khalifa was born in Egypt on November 19, 1935. He obtained an honors degree from Ain Shams University, Egypt, before he emigrated to the United States in 1959. He later earned a Master's Degree in biochemistry from University of Arizona and a Ph.D. from University of California, Riverside.[8] He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and lived in Tucson, Arizona.[8] He was married to an American woman and they had a son and a daughter together.

Khalifa worked as a science adviser for the Libyan government for about one year, after which he worked as a chemist for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. He next worked as a senior chemist in Arizona's State Office of Chemistry in 1980.[9]

He founded the United Submitters International (USI), an organization that promulgated his beliefs.[10]


He saw his role as purging the accretions that found their way into Islam via hadith and sunnah, which he claimed were corrupted.[11] Instead, he believed that the beliefs and practices of Islam should be based on the Quran alone.[12]

Starting in 1968, Khalifa used computers to analyze the frequency of letters and words in the Quran. He published his findings in 1973 in the book Miracle of the Quran: Significance of the Mysterious Alphabets, in 1981 in the book The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World, and in 1982 in the book Quran: Visual Presentation of the Miracle.[13] Khalifa claimed that the Quran, unlike the Hadith, was incorruptible because it contained a mathematical structure based on the number 19, namely the Quran code or known as Code 19. For example, he claimed that this mathematical structure rejected the Quranic verses 9:128-129.[14] Some Muslims objected to this interpretation.[11][15] However, Khalifa believed this mathematical structure prevented the Quran from being adulterated and that it was proof of its divine authorship.[16]

Khalifa's research did not receive much attention in the West. In 1980, Martin Gardner mentioned it in Scientific American.[17] Gardner later wrote a more extensive and critical review of Khalifa and his work.[18]


On January 31, 1990, Khalifa was found stabbed to death inside the Masjid (Mosque) of Tucson, Arizona, which he founded. He was stabbed multiple times.

Nineteen years after the murder, on April 28, 2009, the Calgary Police Services of Canada arrested Glen Cusford Francis, a 52-year-old citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, on suspicion of having killed Rashad Khalifa.[6] Investigators in Tucson learned that Francis, who was going by the name Benjamin Phillips, had begun his studies under Khalifa in January 1990. Phillips disappeared shortly after the slaying,[6] and was said to have left the country. An investigation revealed Phillips and Francis were the same man when the police analyzed fingerprints found in Phillips' apartment. A specialty unit of the Tucson Police Department progressed in its investigation in 2006 and in December 2008, and was able to use DNA testing on forensic evidence from the crime scene to tie Francis to the assassination.[19] In October 2009, a Canadian judge ordered Francis's extradition to the United States to face trial.[20]

The trial for the murder began on December 11, 2012. On December 19, the jury, after a three-hour deliberation, found Glen Francis guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.[21] Prior to the Francis trial, James Williams, an alleged member of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra organization, was convicted of conspiracy in the slaying.[7] Williams disappeared in 1994 on the day of his sentencing.[22] In 2000, Williams was apprehended attempting to re-enter the United States and was sentenced to serve 69 years in prison. In 2003, his convictions were upheld on appeal by the Colorado Court of Appeals, except for one count of forgery.[23][24]


  • Miracle of the Quran: Significance of the Mysterious Alphabets, Islamic Productions, St. Louis, Missouri, 1973.
  • The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World, Renaissance Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1981.
  • Qur'an: The Final Scripture, Islamic Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1981.
  • Qur'an: Visual Presentation of the Miracle, Islamic Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1982.
  • Qur'an, Hadith and Islam, Islamic Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1982.
  • Qur'an: The Final Testament, Islamic Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1989.


  1. ^ Brownfield, Paul (2013-01-01). "Briefly a Rising Star, Forever a Mourning Son (Published 2013)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  2. ^ SAALEH, ABDURRAHMAAN (2016). "Sectarian Islam in America: The Case of United Submitters International-The Foundation". Islamic Studies. 55 (3/4): 235–259. ISSN 0578-8072. JSTOR 44739746.
  3. ^ A.Ş, Kidega Elektronik Tic ve Yayıncılık. "Rashad Khalifa Kimdir? Biyografisi, Kitapları - Kidega". kidega.com (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  4. ^ Brownfield, Paul (2013-01-01). "Briefly a Rising Star, Forever a Mourning Son (Published 2013)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  5. ^ The Qur'anists, Academia.edu, Accessed January 25, 2020
  6. ^ a b c Massinon, Stephane (April 30, 2009). "Calgary police nab suspect in imam killing". National Post. The National Post Company. Retrieved 2009-05-23.[dead link]
  7. ^ a b Eric Anderson, "Slain Islamic leader was outspoken; Khalifa's teachings from Tucson angered Muslims worldwide", Denver Post, 21 October 1993, p21.
  8. ^ a b "Submission (Islam): Rashad Khalifa (Messenger of the Covenant), summary and facts". www.masjidtucson.org. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  9. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rashad Khalifa.
  10. ^ Rashad Khalifa (September 1989). "Why the name change" (PDF). Submission Perspective. 57: 1.
  11. ^ a b Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith, Mission to America: five Islamic sectarian communities in North America, University Press of Florida, 1993, pp. 153 and 160
  12. ^ Aisha Y. Musa, Hadith As Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 87-92
  13. ^ Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith, Mission to America: five Islamic sectarian communities in North America, pp. 141-142
  14. ^ "Two False verses; A Deeper Look | Submission.org - Your best source for Submission (Islam)". submission.org. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  15. ^ Rashad Khalifa Purifier or Pretender?, Islamicawareness.net, Accessed January 25, 2020
  16. ^ Letter to Signs Magazine, 19.org, Accessed January 25, 2020
  17. ^ Gardner, Martin (1980), Mathematical Games, Scientific American, September 1980, pp. 16–20.
  18. ^ Gardner, Martin (September–October 1997). "The numerology of Dr. Rashad Khalifa". Skeptical Inquirer.
  19. ^ Slade, Daryl (May 22, 2009). "Fugitive held in slaying of American imam denied bail". The Vancouver Sun. Canwest Publishing Inc. Archived from the original on June 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  20. ^ Martin, Kevin. "Calgary suspect closer to trial for U.S. murder". The Calgary Sun. Sun Media. Archived from the original on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  21. ^ Komarnicki, Jamie. "Calgarian faces life sentence for 1990 murder of controversial U.S. imam". Calgary Herald. Postmedia Network. Archived from the original on 2012-12-28. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  22. ^ Dick Foster, "Extremist is 'not to be found'; Little hope held of finding Al-Fuqra fugitive", Rocky Mountain News, 25 February 1994, p8.
  23. ^ People v. James D. Williams, (Colo. App. 01CA0781, Aug. 7, 2003) (not selected for official publication)
  24. ^ "Attorney General Announces Sentence". Colorado Department of Law. 2001-03-16. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-29.

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