Land to water ratio miracle in the Qur'an

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According to some, the Qur'an describes the ratio of land to water on Earth. That is approximately 71% water and 29% land.[1] This ratio isn't stated anywhere in the Qur'an, but according to claimants, the ratio is hidden in a ratio of word counts.

The counted words are al-barr (ٱلْبَرّ) for "land" and al-bahr (ٱلْبَحْرِ) for "water" (though the word al-bahr means "the sea", not "water")

Al-Barr - land

The trilateral root of the word بَرّ (barr) is برر (b-r-r). From this root we can derive many words. Besides "land", there is the meaning of "righteousness" and "kindness". Al-Barr (The Most Kind) is one of the names of Allah.[2] The word barr consists of only two letters ب (b) and ر (r), but there is a shadda sign above the ر, which makes it double length in pronunciation (رّ - rr). Above the ب is a fatha sign which determines the barr vowel (بَ).

This is the list of all the occurrences of words with the root برر in the Qur'an:

Count Verse Word in Arabic Transliteration Translation
1 2:44 بِٱلْبِرِّ bi-al-birri in righteousness
2 2:177 ٱلْبِرَّ al-birra the righteousness
3 2:177 ٱلْبِرَّ al-birra the righteous
4 2:189 ٱلْبِرُّ al-birru the righteousness
5 2:189 ٱلْبِرَّ al-birra the righteous
6 2:224 تَبَرُّوا۟ tabarroo you do good
7 3:92 ٱلْبِرَّ al-birra the righteousness
8 3:193 ٱلْأَبْرَارِ al-abrari the righteous
9 3:198 لِّلْأَبْرَارِ lil-abrari for the righteous
10 5:2 ٱلْبِرِّ al-birri the righteousness
11 5:96 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 1
12 6:59 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 2
13 6:63 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 3
14 6:97 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 4
15 10:22 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 5
16 17:67 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 6
17 17:68 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 7
18 17:70 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 8
19 19:14 وَبَرًّا wa-barran and dutiful
20 19:32 وَبَرًّا wa-barran and dutiful
21 27:63 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 9
22 29:65 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 10
23 30:41 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 11
24 31:32 ٱلْبَرِّ al-barri the land 12
25 52:28 ٱلْبَرُّ al-barru the Most Kind
26 58:9 بِٱلْبِرِّ bil-birri for righteousness
27 60:8 تَبَرُّوهُمْ tabarroo-hum you deal kindly
28 76:5 ٱلْأَبْرَارَ al-abrara the righteous
29 80:16 بَرَرَةٍ bararatin dutiful
30 82:13 ٱلْأَبْرَارَ al-abrara the righteous
31 83:18 ٱلْأَبْرَارِ al-abrari the righteous
32 83:22 ٱلْأَبْرَارَ al-abrara the righteous

The -i ending in al-barri means that the word is in the genitive case.

There are 12 occurrences of this word. They are all exactly the same forms. There are no prefixes, no plural and dual forms, no differences in diacritics, like in word counts for other words. And all other words from the same root have a totally different meaning. Rarely are word counts so clear

Apologist mental gymnastics

Some also count the word "creature" (ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ, al-bariyyati)[3] in these two verses:

  • 1) The verse 98:6 which says that Christians and Jews are the worst of creatures (شَرُّ ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ, sharru albariyyati):
    • Dr. Ghali translation: "Surely (the ones) who have disbelieved among the population of the Book (Or: family of the Book; i.e., the Jews and Christians) and the associators (Those who associate others with Allah) will be in the Fire of Hell, eternally (abiding) therein; those are they who are the most evil beings (Literally: Initiated creatures)."
      • Note here Dr. Ghali translates شَرُّ (sharru) as "initiated" and not "worst", although the word sharr is used in the Qur'an only in the sense of "evil".[4]
    • Muhsin Khan translation: "Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures."
    • Pickthall translation: "Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings."
    • Shakir translation: "Surely those who disbelieve from among the followers of the Book and the polytheists shall be in the fire of hell, abiding therein; they are the worst of men."
    • Yusuf Ali translation: "Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures."
  • 2) The verse 98:7 which claims that those who believe in Muhammad (not christians and jews) are the "best creatures" (خَيْرُ ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ, khayru albariyyati):
    • Sahih international translation: "Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds - those are the best of creatures."
    • The other translations also translate the word ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ (al-bariyyati) as "creatures".

Why do some chose to count the word "creature" as the word "land"? This is because they choose to translate the word ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ (al-bariyyati) as "land-creatures", although as we've seen, all the major translations translated it simply as "creatures". This group argues that the word al-bariyyati is derived from the same root برر (b-r-r) as the word al-barr (land) and therefore their meanings are connected. The word ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ (al-bariyyati), however, lacks the double r. It is derived from a completely different root برا (b-r-a) [5]! These words are not connected in meaning. al-bariyyati has nothing to do with land. Furthermore, the alternate rendition of the verse suggests verse 98:6 to mean "christians and jews are the worst of land-creatures" and the verse 98:7 to mean "muslims are the best of land-creatures", implying, perhaps, that in the sea, there are sea-creatures worse than christians and better than muslims. Such an implication is, of course, absurd, and would seem to rule out the possibility of an alternative translation.

As we shall see, however, even the inclusion of these two extra words fails to achieve the 29:71 ratio that is sought.

Al-Bahr - sea (not water)

The root for the word ٱلْبَحْر (al-bahr) is simply بحر (b-h-r). The words land (barr) and sea (bahr) often appear together in a verse.

A list of all occurrences of words with the root بحر in the Qur'an:

Count Verse Word in Arabic Transliteration Translation Number
1 2:50 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 1
2 2:164 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 2
3 5:96 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 3
4 5:103 بَحِيرَةٍ baheeratin Bahirah * singular 4
5 6:59 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 5
6 6:63 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri' and the sea singular 6
7 6:97 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 7
8 7:138 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 8
9 7:163 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 9
10 10:22 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 10
11 10:90 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 11
12 14:32 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 12
13 16:14 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 13
14 17:66 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 14
15 17:67 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 15
16 17:70 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 16
17 18:60 ٱلْبَحْرَيْنِ al-bahrayni the two seas dual 1
18 18:61 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 17
19 18:63 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 18
20 18:79 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 19
21 18:109 ٱلْبَحْرُ al-bahru the sea singular 20
22 18:109 ٱلْبَحْرُ al-bahru the sea singular 21
23 20:77 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 22
24 22:65 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 23
25 24:40 بَحْرٍ bahrin a sea singular 24
26 25:53 ٱلْبَحْرَيْنِ al-bahrayni the two seas dual 2
27 26:63 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 25
28 27:61 ٱلْبَحْرَيْنِ albahrayni the two seas dual 3
29 27:63 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 26
30 30:41 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 27
31 31:27 وَٱلْبَحْرُ wal-bahru and the sea singular 28
32 31:27 أَبْحُرٍ abhurin [seven] seas plural 1
33 31:31 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 29
34 35:12 ٱلْبَحْرَانِ al-bahrani the two seas dual 4
35 42:32 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 30
36 44:24 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 31
37 45:12 ٱلْبَحْرَ al-bahra the sea singular 32
38 52:6 وَٱلْبَحْرِ wal-bahri and the sea singular 33
39 55:19 ٱلْبَحْرَيْنِ al-bahrayni the two seas dual 5
40 55:24 ٱلْبَحْرِ al-bahri the sea singular 34
41 81:6 ٱلْبِحَارُ al-biharu the seas plural 2
42 82:3 ٱلْبِحَارُ al-biharu the seas plural 3
  • In the verse 5:103, Bahira is a name for a she-camel.[6]
  • The -i, -u and -a endings in the transliteration just determine the case:
    • -u nominative
    • -i genitive
    • -a accusative

This word count is questionable, because there are dual and plural forms. Should the dual be counted as 2?Let's do some math and convert the ratio to percentage to see whether we get the desired 29% land and 71% water percentages:

  • 12/45 = 0.2667 that means approximately 27% land
  • 33/45 = 0.7333 that means approximately 73% water

27:73 is the word count ratio and 29:71 is the actual land to water ratio. They are not the same.

If one attempts this with the 41 occurrences of the word "sea" in all its forms, and 12 + 41 = 53, then you get:

  • 12 / 53 = 0.2264 that means approximately 23% land
  • 41 / 53 = 0.7736 that means approximately 77% water

Again, 23:77 is not 29:71.

The only coincidence appears to be that there is more of the word "sea" than "land", just like there is more water than land on earth.

Further Problems

Additionally, the word al-bahr means "sea" and not water. Does the word "sea" include oceans, lakes or rivers? And the Qur'an talks about rivers (أَنْهَٰرٌ, al-anharun) a lot. So shouldn't we add the word counts for "sea" and "river" to get the "water" percentage?

It is also worth noting that the word counts for "land" and "sea" are not in the same ratio as land and water on earth.

See also

References

  1. http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/8o.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Islam
  3. http://www.answering-christianity.com/land_sea_ratio_miracle.htm
  4. http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=%24rr
  5. http://corpus.quran.com/wordmorphology.jsp?location=(98:6:16)
  6. Muhsin Khan provides an explanation in his translation of this verse (5:103), "Allah has not instituted things like Bahirah (a she-camel whose milk was spared for the idols and nobody was allowed to milk it) or a Sa'ibah (a she-camel let loose for free pasture for their false gods, e.g. idols, etc., and nothing was allowed to be carried on it), or a Wasilah (a she-camel set free for idols because it has given birth to a she-camel at its first delivery and then again gives birth to a she-camel at its second delivery) or a Ham (a stallion-camel freed from work for their idols, after it had finished a number of copulations assigned for it, all these animals were liberated in honour of idols as practised by pagan Arabs in the pre-Islamic period). But those who disbelieve invent lies against Allah, and most of them have no understanding."