Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article, "A Plain Error and Contradiction in the Qur'an: Who suffers loss if Muhammad was wrong?"


Bassam Zawadi

My refutation to Jochen Katz is asking him one question:

Where on earth does the verse say that no one else will also suffer from someone's misguidance?

Jochen doesn't even know what the verse is saying.

The verse does not say that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) were to be led astray, he would be the only one affected by his misguidance. The verse says that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) were to be led astray, IT WOULD BE BECAUSE OF HIMSELF. He would have erred due to his loss of ability to follow the straight path.

Imam Suyuti states:

Say: 'If I go astray, from the truth, I will be going astray only to my own loss, that is to say, the sin of my going astray shall be held against me; and if I am rightly guided, it will have been by what my Lord reveals to me, of the Qur'ān and wisdom. Truly He is Hearer, of supplications, Nigh'. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 34:50, Source)

Ibn Abbaas states:

(Say) to them, O Muhammad: (If I err) from the Truth and guidance, (I err only to my own loss) he says: the punishment of that is against my soul, (and if I am rightly guided) to the Truth and guidance (it is because of that which my Lord hath revealed unto me) that I am guided. (Lo! He is Hearer) of he who calls Him, (Nigh) in responding to whoever calls Him. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Commentary on Surah 34:50, Source

Also, refer to the commentaries of Qurtubi, Baidawi, and Zamakhshari, which essentially say the same thing.

The verse says that if the Prophet (peace be upon him) were to become misguided and decided not to follow the straight path, he would end up harming himself. This is what the translators wanted to communicate. It doesn't mean that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the only one who would be affected by this whole process. It is only saying that his choosing the wrong path would only end up hurting him.

Let me give a real-life example so that Jochen can understand it better.

The father says to his child 'you'd only end up getting sick if you don't wear your jacket like I told you'.

What the father is telling his child is that he would only end up hurting himself by getting sick if he didn't listen to his father and wear his jacket.

However, the mother might be affected by the child's illness since she would have to spend time taking care of her child if he were to get sick.

Thus, according to Jochen's logic, the father's statement is factually incorrect. Yet, Jochen doesn't realize that this is how people speak, and he simply needs to back off with his hair-splitting analysis of the technicalities of people's speech.

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