The United Submitters International is a minor Islamic group, founded by Rashad Khalifa. It is regarded by most Muslims as heretical. The group calls itself the "Submitters" and claims to follow the Qur'an Alone, rejecting hadiths and sunnah. A schism occurred within the main group after the death of Khalifa, with Edip Yuksel and a few former Submitters separating and accusing the Submitters of devoting themselves to Khalifa instead of God.
Submitters describe themselves as Qur'an Alone Muslims. There are other Islamic groups that characterize themselves as Qur'an Alone, such as many prominent Progressive Muslim groups and some of the former Tucson, Arizona group.
Academics and scholars in the Western tradition have long taken a jaundiced view of hadith (see hadith and sunnah, historiography of early Islam), believing that many of the "traditions" are later inventions. Khalifa was notable for being both a practicing Muslim and an absolutist rejector of hadith and sunnah. He argued foremost that hadith and sunnah were condemned by the Qur'an Alone ideology. He also argued that the hadith and sunnah were not credible, and that much of the elaborate structure of religious and family law, sharia, erected on the basis of the hadith, was not binding on Muslims. Indeed, he argued that the Qur'an alone was sufficient as a basis for Islam. His ideas have clearly had some influence, even outside his group of Submitters, but it would be difficult to quantify it. He promoted the slogan: The Qur'an, the whole Qur'an, and nothing but the Qur'an
While Khalifa's early publications claimed that the numerical code he saw in the Qur'an confirmed that the Qur'an was perfectly preserved, errors were found in his earlier counts. In the end, to keep the counts of certain critical words, Khalifa denounced two long-accepted verses (Sura 9:128–129) of the Qur'an as later interpolations, portraying himself as a "purifier" of the Qur'an. He claimed that the numerical patterns he found in the Qur'an showed the verses to be false He also pointed to a tradition found in Sahih Bukhari, that these verses were only found in one version of the ninth sura when the Qur'an was compiled and standardized under the early caliph Uthman ibn Affan. Furthermore he argued that those two verses are labelled as Meccan in a sura usually accepted as Medinan.
The controversy surrounding Khalifa deepened when he declared himself a Messenger of God, just as Abraham and Muhammad had been. He claimed to be the Messenger of the Covenant, prophesied in the Bible (Malachi 3:1-21, Luke 17:22-36, & Matthew 24:27) and the Qur'an (3:81), sent to purify and consolidate all God's messages into one.
Khalifa distinguished between "messengers" and "prophets" , arguing that prophets brought down scriptures from God while messengers did not. He considered Muhammad to be the final Prophet (delivering the final scripture; Qur'an) but not the last messenger. Most Muslims consider Muhammed to be both the final Prophet and the final messenger. Other Muslims henceforth considered Khalifa a heretic and an apostate.
Khalifa claimed that it was wrong to mention any name besides the name of God in any of the worship practices, including the salat, or daily prayer, and the shahadah, or confession of faith. The usual forms of prayer and confession mention Muhammad. Removing Muhammad's name was not well received by other Muslims. Khalifa argued that mentioning the name of any powerless human being in any of the worship practises was idolatry, or setting up partners beside God.
Many cultures and religions in the world have believed, or still believe, that certain numbers are especially lucky, significant, or meaningful. Khalifa argued that the number 19 had no special significance in itself, but was the common denominator of the Qur'an's mathematical code.
Before the use of the numerals now known as Arabic numerals, Semitic writing systems used characters or letters also as numerals. In time, every character was associated with a number, so that every word could be represented as a number (the sum of the numbers associated with its letters). This was taken into Arabic as the abjad system. Medieval Islamic scholars used this abjad system to write treatises on the subject of numerology and the Qur'an. Islamic numerology is referred to as 'ilm al-jafr or 'ilm al-hurūf in Arabic
The use of the abjad system became quite popular in India. Indian Muslims commonly continue to place great signifance on the number 786 (number) because it is the abjad numerological equivalent of the Islamic invocation known as the Bismillah.
Khalifa did not use the abjad system. Starting in 1969, he used computers to analyze counts of letters, words, verses (ayahs) and chapters (suras) in the Qur'an; initially he was searching for any kind of numerical pattern, specifically relating to letter frequencies in connection with the initial letters; later, having found a number of multiples of 19, he and others looked for letter, word, and other counts that were also 19-multiples. He believed that the Qur'an itself pointed to the significance of the number 19, which is mentioned in sura 74.
When Khalifa first began using a computer to "extract" patterns involving the number 19, many Muslims were both interested and supportive. However, as Khalifa became more involved with his findings, he began claiming that the patterns in the Qur'an identified him as a messenger sent by God. At this point Khalifa's "patterns" became controversial and were rejected by mainstream Islamic opinion.