Land to water ratio miracle in the Qur'an

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According to some apologists, 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 apologists, the ratio is supposed to be hidden in a ratio of word counts.

The counted words are al-barr (ٱلْبَرّ) for "land" and al-bahr (ٱلْبَحْرِ) for "water", but the word al-bahr actually means "the sea".

Al-Barr - land[edit]

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 is no question about this word count. There are clearly 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 the word count is so clear.

Apologist mental gymnastics[edit]

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

  • 1) The hateful 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)."
      • Here Dr. Ghali tries to make the verse less hateful by translating 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 arrogant verse 98:7 which basically 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".

Now the question is, why do apologists count the word "creature" as the word "land"? Well, they translate the word ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ (al-bariyyati) as "land-creatures", although as we've seen, all the major translations translated it simply as "creatures". Apologists try to make it seem 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 somehow connected. And this is not the case. The word ٱلْبَرِيَّةِ (al-bariyyati) doesn't have the double r for a reason. 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. Also when we consider the 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", then does it mean that in the sea, there are sea-creatures worse than christians and better than muslims?

Also it is worth to mention that even when they do count these occurrences, they still fail to get the ratio of 29% land and 71% water!

Al-Bahr - sea (not water)[edit]

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?

One way is counting only the singular forms of the word "sea", that is 33 occurrences. In that case, the "land":"sea" word count ratio is 12:33. And 12+33=45. The first question is why is it not 100? Why is it not already in percentage? Wouldn't it seem to be less of a coincidence if there were 71 occurrences of "water" and 29 occurrences of "land"?

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

Well, as it turns out, there is no miracle at all. Not even a coincidence! 27:73 is the word count ratio and 29:71 is the actual land to water ratio. They are clearly not the same.

But we found 41 occurrences of the word "sea" in all its forms. So let's give it another chance with the number 41. And 12 + 41 = 53.

  • 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 match is that there is more of the words "sea" than "land", just like there is more water than land on earth. Which is not very miraculous, because people live on land, so it is more probable that they will write more about the land, than about the sea.

Conclusions[edit]

  • The water to land ratio is not stated in any verse of the Qur'an. So the claim that the Qur'an describes the ratio is a lie.
    • How did Muhammad's companions figure out this information about the land to water ratio? If they counted various ratios of word counts, how did they recognize which word count ratio has a significance? And how did they know which counting method to choose, when they didn't know (no modern scientist told them) which number they want to get?
      • The Qur'an needs science, so that people can figure out (after science already told it to them) the ratio from word counts. However science does not need the Qur'an at all to describe the ratio and provides actual evidence. So which one is more valuable?
  • Ratio of word counts does not imply the ratio of occurrences of the meanings of the words in the world. This is ridiculous and not scientific in any way.
    • Also 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?
    • What other ratios are described this way? Is the moon / earth mass ratio described by the word counts for "moon" and "earth"?
  • There are floods, icebergs melting.. the ratio of land to water is always changing. But the ratio of the word counts will never change. So even if the Qur'an described the ratio and it was 100% accurate, then it was wrong somewhere in history and will be wrong in the future. Shouldn't the Qur'an rather describe physical or mathematical facts, that are not changing with time? And preferably describe them in a verse and not in word counts, so that we know this is not a coincidence?

And finally:

  • The word counts for "land" and "sea" are not in the same ratio as land and water on earth. Apologists try absurd counting methods and even then they fail to get the desired result. There is absolutely nothing miraculous.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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."