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How many words are in the Qur'an?

By Samuel Green


How many words are in the Qur’an? This may seem like a straight forward question to answer, but when one searches one is presented with multiple answers. For instance, Al-Suyuti gives three answers: 77934, 77437, and 77277,1 but many others can be found online. Few explain how the number was calculated. In this article the number of words in the Qur’an will be counted, and the method of counting explained, and the reason why there are multiple answers explained too.

It was found that there are 77915 words in the Hafs Qur’an and that this number cannot automatically be transferred to other Qur’ans because Qur’ans vary in their number of words depending upon which qira’a (reading) they are.


First the Qur’an will be defined, then what constitutes an Arabic word for counting, and the counting method explained. Finally the results of the counting process will be presented. After this there will be a discussion of the results.

Defining the Qur’an

The Qur’an used in this article is the qira’a (reading) of `Aasim transmitted by Imam Hafs - the Hafs Qur’an. This is the most common Arabic Qur’an used today. The text used was that found in the Microsoft Word (MS) Qur’an Add-In.2 A brief history of the Hafs Qur’an is as follows.

Muhammad never collected the words of the Qur’an into one book.3 Instead this was done by his companions. These companions made different collections which had different numbers of suras and words.4 The caliph Uthman standardised one collection and banned the others.5 The Uthmanic Qur’an has been transmitted through ten canonical qira’at (readings).6 These different readings do not have the same number of words. For instance, the Hafs Qur’an has a huwa in sura 57:24 which other Qur’ans do not have;7 and it considers the Basmala8 at the start of each sura to be a verse of that sura while other Qur’ans do not.9 The Basmala is made up of four words. This means the Hafs Qur’an has an extra four words for each sura compared to some of the other readings. These word differences make the number of words in the Hafs Qur’an unique.

Defining Arabic words and counting

The method for counting was to install the Qur’an Add-In to MS Word. This Add-In allows the Arabic text of the Hafs Qur’an to be imported into a document where MS Word automatically counts the words. MS Word counts Arabic words in ‘units’, thus, prefixes like waw, bi, la, and ki, which are attached to a word are counted as part of that one word. When importing the text the ayah (verse) number option was turned off because the verse number was found to be included in the word count. Several short suras were counted manually to test that the MS Word count was correct, and it was found to be so. When each sura was imported the first and last few words were compared to a printed Hafs Qur’an to confirm that the entire sura was present. Finally, as discussed earlier, the Hafs Qur’an considers the Basmala to be the first verse of each sura. The Qur’an Add-In did not include the Basmala at the start of each sura except for sura 1. Therefore, the four words of the Basmala needed to be added manually to the word count for all suras except sura 1 and 9. Sura 9 does not have a Basmala.


1 al-Fatihah2939 az-Zumar117777 al-Mursalat185
2 al-Baqarah612340 al-Mu’min122478 an-Naba177
3 Ali `Imran348541 Ha Mim79879 an-Nazilat184
4 an-Nisa375142 ash-Shura86480 `Abasa137
5 al-Ma’idah280743 az-Zukhruf83581 at-Takweer108
6 al-An`am305544 ad-Dukhan35082 al-Infitar84
7 al-A`raf332545 al-Jathiyah49283 al-Mutaffifeen173
8 al-Anfal123846 al-Ahqaf64884 al-Inshiqaq111
9 at-Tawbah249847 Muhammad54385 al-Buruj113
10 Yunus183648 al-Fath56486 at-Tariq65
11 Hud192049 al-Hujurat35287 al-A`la76
12 Yusuf178050 Qaf37788 al-Ghashiyah96
13 ar-Ra`d85951 adh-Dhariyat36489 al-Fajr141
14 Ibraheem83552 at-Tur31690 al-Balad86
15 al-Hijr66053 an-Najm36491 ash-Shams58
16 an-Nahl184954 al-Qamar34692 al-Layl75
17 al-Isra’156155 ar-Rahman35593 adh-Dhuha44
18 al-Kahf158356 al-Waqi`ah38494 ash-Sharh31
19 Maryam96457 al-Hadeed57895 at-Teen38
20 TaHa134058 al-Mujadilah47696 al-`Alaq76
21 al-Anbiya117459 al-Hashr44997 al-Qadr34
22 al-Hajj127860 al-Mumtahinah35298 al-Bayyinah98
23 al-Mu’minum105461 as-Saff22599 az-Zalzalah40
24 an-Nur132062 al-Jumu`ah179100 al-`Aadiyat44
25 al-Furqan89763 al-Munafiqun184101 al-Qari`ah40
26 ash-Shu`ara132464 at-Taghabun245102 at-Takathur32
27 an-Naml115565 at-Talaq291103 al-`Asr18
28 al-Qasas143766 at-Tahreem253104 al-Humazah37
29 al-`Ankabut98467 al-Mulk338105 al-Fil27
30 ar-Rum82468 al-Qalam304106 Quraysh21
31 Luqman55069 al-Haqqah262107 al-Ma`un29
32 as-Sajdah37870 al-Ma`arij221108 al-Kawthar14
33 al-Ahzab129171 Nuh230109 al-Kafirun30
34 Saba88772 al-Jinn289110 an-Nasr23
35 Fatir78173 al-Muzzammil203111 al-Masad27
36 Ya Seen73274 al-Muddaththir259112 al-Ikhlas19
37 as-Saffat86675 al-Qiyamah168113 al-Falaq27
38 Sad73776 al-Insan247114 an-Nas24Total


There were three main accuracy issues regarding this counting process. First, that the Arabic files used in MS Word were of the Hafs Qur’an. This was confirmed by looking at specific verses which identify the Hafs Qur’an. However, as has been shown, the Hafs Qur’an includes the Basmala as the first verse of every sura except sura 9, and the MS Qur’an Add-In did not have this. This shows the Qur’an Add-In does not reflect Imam Hafs’ understanding of the Qur’an at every point. Second, that the digital method of representing words corresponded to the actual number of words. This was confirmed by manually counting several smaller suras and comparing them to the MS Word word count.

Finally, that the Arabic files used were complete. This was confirmed by checking the first and last few words of every sura in MS Word against a printed Hafs Qur’an. However, it was still assumed that the text was complete between these beginning and end checks.

The question could be asked, is digital counting inferior to manual counting? I do not believe so, because manual counting would introduce different potential errors that would need to be checked for.

Using MS Word to count the words of the Hafs Qur’an was straight forward and could be used for other Qur’ans or books if the text is available.

How does the number of 77915 compare to traditional Muslim word counts? Al-Suyuti provides us with some classical word counts.

People numbered the words of the Qur’an as seventy-seven thousand, nine hundred and thirty-four words [77934]. Another opinion is seventy-seven thousand, four hundred and thirty-seven [77437]: or seventy-seven thousand, two hundred and seventy-seven words [77277]. There are other opinions as well. It is said that the reason for the differences in numbering the words is that each word has its own truth, metaphoric value, expression and writing; expressing each of them is possible, and each scholar expressed a possibility.10

It is seen that the result of this article is within an acceptable range when compared to classical Islamic estimates. But why is there no exact number? Theoretically, it should be possible to count the number of words and arrive at an exact number. Al-Suyuti says the differences may be because of the “metaphoric value” of some words. This is to be doubted. A simpler explanation is that agreement of what the exact words of the Qur’an are has not yet been reached. There is no consensus as to what the exact Qur'an is.


How many words are there in the Qur’an? This article has shown that a number can be given but it must be specified which Qur’an is being referred to. In this case there was found to be 77915 words in the Hafs Qur’an. It is hoped that this number will be useful in statistical analysis of the Qur’an and in apologetics.


1 Imam Jalal-al-Din Abd al-Rahman al-Suyuti, The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’an (Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, translated by Prof. Hamid Algar and others.) Garnet Publishing Limited: Reading, UK, 2011, p. 166.

4 Ahmad von Denffer, `Ulum al-Qur’an - An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, U.K.: The Islamic Foundation, 1994, pp. 46-52.

6 Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Al-Hidaayah Publishing: U.K., 1999, pp. 184-206.

8 The Basmala is the phrase, In the name of Allah the gracious and merciful, at the start of each sura except for sura 9.

9 Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, pp. 157-158.

10 Al-Suyuti, p. 166.

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