Israel's Response to the Covenant


 Bassam Zawadi



Sam Shamoun authored an article trying to highlight how the Qur'an contradicts the Bible over here. Brother Iqbal replied back here, which provoked a response from Jochen Katz here. 

Our readers should first read Shamoun's article, then Iqbal's, and then Jochen's before continuing any further. 

I believe that brother Iqbal has done a fine job presenting his case; however, I would like to bring into light some other ways to understand the utterance "We hear, and we disobey." 

Abu Hayyan has it in his commentary: 


قول ابن عباس: كانوا إذا نظروا إلى الجبل قالوا:
سمعنا وأطعنا }
[النساء: 46]، وإذا نظروا إلى الكتاب قالوا: { سمعنا وعصينا }. وقيل: القول هنا مجاز، ولم ينطقوا بشيء من الجملتين، ولكن لما لم يقبلوا شيئاً مما أمروا به، جعلوا كالناطقين بذلك. وقيل: يعبر بالقول للشيء عما يفهم به من حاله، وإن لم يكن نطق.

Ibn Abbass said: When they used to look at the mountain they would say: We hear and obey (Surah 4:46). When they used to look at the Book they would say: We hear and disobey. It is said that the speech here is metaphorical and that they uttered neither of the statements, however when they don't accept to do something which they were ordered to do they become like those who uttered such statements. It is also said that it was a method of vocalizing something in order to understand its state, even though nothing was uttered.  (Abu Hayyan, Al-Bahr Al-Muheet, Commentary on 2:93, Source)

Al-Qurtubi states:  

اُخْتُلِفَ هَلْ صَدَرَ مِنْهُمْ هَذَا اللَّفْظ حَقِيقَة بِاللِّسَانِ نُطْقًا , أَوْ يَكُونُونَ فَعَلُوا فِعْلًا قَامَ مَقَام الْقَوْل فَيَكُون مَجَازًا , كَمَا قَالَ : اِمْتَلَأَ الْحَوْض وَقَالَ قَطْنِي مَهْلًا رُوَيْدًا قَدْ مَلَأْت بَطْنِي 

There is a difference of opinion as to whether they have actually uttered this with their lips or whether they performed an action according to the meaning of the statement, hence we take it metaphorically, just like the statement of the poet: The reservoir became filled and said: Inhabit me gently (or slowly) for my stomach has become full. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 2:93, Source)

 Ar-Razi says: 

أن إظلال الجبل لاشك أنه من أعظم المخوفات ومع ذلك فقد أصروا على كفرهم وصرحوا بقولهم { سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا } وهذا يدل على أن التخويف وإن عظم لا يوجب الانقياد. 

The shadow of the mountain is, with no doubt, one of the scariest things. Despite that, they insisted on their disbelief and declared, "We hear and disobey," this indicates that intimidation - despite being great - does not necessarily bring about submission. (Ar-Razi, Al-Tafseer Al-Kabeer, Commentary on 2:93, Source)

Al-Samarqandi has it in his commentary: 

ويقال: إنهم يقولون في الظاهر سمعنا، ويضمرون في أنفسهم وعصينا أمرك. 

And it is said: They said openly "we hear" while concealing to themselves "we disobey your command" (Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi, Bahr al-'Ulum, commentary on 2:93, Source) 

 Al-Baghawi states: 


وقيل: سمعنا بالآذان وعصينا بالقلوب، قال أهل المعاني: إنهم لم يقولوا هذا بألسنتهم ولكن لما سمعوا وتلقوه بالعصيان فنسب ذلك إلى القول اتساعاً 

It is said that it means that they heard with their ears but were disobeyed with their hearts. The commentators said: They didn't say that with their tongues; instead, when they heard and disobeyed, this utterance was extended to them. (Al-Baghawi, Ma'alim at-Tanzeel, Commentary on 2:93, Source)

Shaykh Mitwali Al-Sha'rawi gives his perspective: 

القول هو عمل اللسان والفعل للجوارح كلها ما عدا اللسان.. هناك قول وفعل وعمل.. القول أن تنطق بلسانك والفعل أن تقوم جوارحك بالتنفيذ.. والعمل أن يطابق القول الفعل.. هم: { قَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا } هم سمعوا ما قاله لهم الله سبحانه وتعالى وعصوه.. ولكن (عصينا) على أي شيء معطوفة؟.. إنها ليست معطوفة على " سمعنا ".. ولكنها معطوفة على (قالوا).. قالوا سمعنا في القول وفي الفعل عصينا.. وليس معنى ذلك أنهم قالوا بلسانهم عصينا في الفعل.. فالمشكلة جاءت من عطف عصينا على سمعنا.. فتحسب أنهم قالوا الكلمتين.. لا.. هم قالوا سمعنا ولكنهم لم ينفذوا فلم يفعلوا. والله سبحانه وتعالى يريدهم أن يسمعوا سماع طاعة لا سماع تجرد أي مجرد سماع.. ولكنهم سمعوا ولم يفعلوا شيئا فكأن عدم فعلهم معصية. 

Speech is the function of the tongue and the working of the organs except for the tongue. There is speech, work, and function. Speech is to speak with your tongue. Work is to stimulate your organs to execute. Function is to conform speech and work. They said, "We hear and disobey". They heard what Allah All Mighty said to them and disobeyed; however, "we disobey" is joined to what? It is not joined to "we hear"; rather, it is joined to "they said". They said they heard it in speech, but they disobeyed it at work. That doesn't mean that they said with their tongues that they disobeyed. So the problem came by joining "we disobey" with "we hear", so you assume they said both words. No. They said, "We hear," but didn't perform accordingly, so they didn't work. Allah All Mighty wants them to hear the hearing of obedience and not just hear ordinarily; however, they heard and didn't work accordingly, which implies disobedience. (Shaykh Mitwali Al Sha'rawi, Khawatir Muhammad Mitwali Al Sha'rawi, Commentary on 2:93, Source) 

So here we see that it's possible that the statements attributed were either metaphorical or exemplifying their actions. Or that both statements were actually uttered, and the Qur'an focused on the one that was eventually acted upon. Another opinion states that they actually said this out of defiance, while another states that this is what was intended in their hearts. All opinions appear to be valid, though some are applicable for being criticized and would require a defense. So, one may opt for any of the valid positions he finds convincing. Missionaries must refute all possible options to mount a successful critique of the Qur'an.




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