Rashad Khalifa

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Rashad Khalifa
Born(1935-11-19)November 19, 1935
DiedJanuary 30, 1990(1990-01-30) (aged 54)
Known forUnited Submitters International
ChildrenSam Khalifa and Beth Bujarski

Rashad Khalifa (Coptic: ⲣⲁϣⲁⲇ ϧⲁⲗⲓϥⲁ; Arabic: رشاد خليفة‎; November 19, 1935 – January 31, 1990) was an Egyptian-American biochemist, closely associated with the United Submitters International (USI), an offshoot reform Islamic group. His teachings, some of which depended on numerological analysis of the Quran, were opposed by Traditionalist Muslims. He was assassinated on January 31, 1990.


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 Arizona State University and a Ph.D. from University of California.[1] He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and lived in Tucson, Arizona.[1] 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.[2]

He was central to the founding of the USI.[3]


Khalifa said that he was a messenger of God but not a prophet, and that the archangel Gabriel "most assertively" told him that chapter 36, verse 3, of the Quran, "specifically" referred to him.[4][5] He coined the phrase "Final Testament" in reference to the Quran,[6] with his followers referring to him as "God's Messenger of the Covenant".[7] Some Muslims objected to his interpretations, based on his claim that parts of the Quran were fabricated; precluding him from being a strict Quranist.[8][9]

In his works, Khalifa claimed that the Quran contains a mathematical structure based on the number 19. Starting in 1968, Khalifa used computers to analyze the frequency of letters and words in the Quran, with his first book on the topic appearing in 1973.

Khalifa's research did not receive much attention in the West. In 1980, Martin Gardner mentioned it in Scientific American.[10] Gardner later wrote a more extensive and critical review of Khalifa and his work.[11]

Khalifa's first published report in the Arab world appeared in the Egyptian magazine Akher Sa'a, in January 1973.[12] Updates of his research were subsequently published by the same magazine later that year and again in 1975.[13][14]


On January 31, 1990, Khalifa was found stabbed to death inside the Masjid (Mosque) of Tucson, Arizona, 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 killing Rashad Khalifa.[15] 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,[15] 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.[16] In October 2009, a Canadian judge ordered Francis's extradition to the United States to face trial.[17]

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.[18] Prior to the Francis trial, James Williams, an alleged member of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra organization, was convicted of conspiracy in the slaying.[19] Williams disappeared on the day of his sentencing.[20] In 2000 Williams was apprehended attempting to re-enter the United States and was sentenced to serve 69 years in prison. His convictions were upheld on appeal by the Colorado Court of Appeals, except for one count of forgery.[21][22]


  • 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. ^ a b "Submission (Islam): Rashad Khalifa (Messenger of the Covenant), summary and facts". www.masjidtucson.org. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  2. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rashad Khalifa.
  3. ^ Rashad Khalifa (September 1989). "Why the name change" (PDF). Submission Perspective. 57: 1.
  4. ^ Appendix 2, Authorized English Version of the Quran, Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D.
  5. ^ "Appendix 2, God's Messenger of the Covenant". www.masjidtucson.org.
  6. ^ Quaranic Sciences - Page 277, Abbas Jaffer - 2009
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Two False verses; A Deeper Look | Submission.org - Your best source for Submission (Islam)". submission.org. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  9. ^ Quran : the final testament. Khalifa, Rashad. (Rev. ed. 2 ed.). Fremont, CA.: Universal Unity. 2000. pp. Appendix 24. ISBN 1881893030. OCLC 42736348.CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ Gardner, Martin (1980), Mathematical Games, Scientific American, September 1980, pp16–20.
  11. ^ Gardner, Martin (September–October 1997). "The numerology of Dr. Rashad Khalifa". Skeptical Inquirer.
  12. ^ Akher Sa'a magazine, Egypt, January 24, 1973.
  13. ^ Akher Sa'a magazine, Egypt, November 28, 1973.
  14. ^ Akher Sa'a magazine, Egypt, December 31, 1975.
  15. ^ a b Massinon, Stephane (April 30, 2009). "Calgary police nab suspect in imam killing". National Post. The National Post Company. Retrieved 2009-05-23.[dead link]
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Eric Anderson, "Slain Islamic leader was outspoken; Khalifa's teachings from Tucson angered Muslims worldwide", Denver Post, 21 October 1993, p21.
  20. ^ Dick Foster, "Extremist is 'not to be found'; Little hope held of finding Al-Fuqra fugitive", Rocky Mountain News, 25 February 1994, p8.
  21. ^ People v. James D. Williams, (Colo. App. 01CA0781, Aug. 7, 2003) (not selected for official publication)
  22. ^ "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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