Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article, "Eternal Security for Wrongdoers? How Muhammad Corrupted the Qur'an"


Bassam Zawadi


Jochen Katz's article can be found here. I encourage readers to read Jochen's article first and then read my rebuttal to him.

Jochen said:

The phrase "those who believe" is used in the Qur'an over and over again to refer to the Muslims, the followers of Muhammad's message, i.e. "those who believe" (in the message of Islam). And at the core of this message is the belief in the existence of only one god, Allah, and the unity of this god (tawhid), and the rejection of any other things or beings as deities.

However, because that is so, their second parenthetical comment is utter nonsense. It is simply not possible to "worship none but Allah" (explanation of the first part of the verse) AND to "worship others besides Allah" (explanation of the second part of the verse) at the same time.

It has never dawned on Jochen that the verse is trying to say that those who have come to believe in Allah (become Muslims) and don't fall into Shirk (end up as apostates or commit acts of disbelief) will have eternal security. Or that the verse is emphasizing that once you have become a believer and remain on that path and don't fall astray by committing Shirk, you will have eternal security.

I don't understand what is so complicated here.

There is no contradiction between someone being a Muslim and, at the same time, restraining from Shirk. At the same time, I am a Muslim and resist becoming a Christian. One might argue that my remaining a Muslim by default implies that I am resistant to becoming a Christian as well. However, there is nothing wrong with me saying that for emphasis.

For example, I might say, "I am going to continue remaining sober and never have another drink again."

Now the statement "I am going to continue remaining sober" already implies that the person is not going to have another drink, however people do speak this way sometimes if they would like to emphasize a point.

Another example could be, "I am going to keep driving fast and not slow down for anybody." Obviously, when the person says that he is going to keep driving fast, that would also mean he will not slow down at all. Again, this is for emphasis.

Thus, the verse in the Qur'an stresses the importance of avoiding Shirk so that someone can be a believer and inherit eternal security. The verse also indirectly implies that someone can be a believer and become an apostate by committing shirk. Therefore, the believer must always be on guard and avoid Shirk as much as possible.

Jochen said:

As one can see, iniquity, injustice, wrongdoing, etc. is the meaning in which this word is regularly used in the Qur'an, and often it has nothing to do with idolatry, but may be mistreatment of women, injustice done to orphans, etc. This word refers very generally to "wrongdoing" of many kinds..

Therefore, after realizing this danger, he immediately reacted; he quickly abrogated the obvious meaning and substitute the clear actual meaning by something rather harmless, condition that any Muslim would meet by definition. However, this new meaning is actually nonsense, as we have seen above. 

It appears that Jochen didn't carefully read the very hadith that he posted in his article where the Prophet (peace be upon him) shows that the word zulm does and could refer to polytheism: 

Narrated 'Abdullah:
When the Verse:-- 'Those who believe and mix not their belief with wrong.' was revealed, the Muslims felt it very hard on them and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who amongst us does not do wrong to himself?" He replied, "The Verse does not mean this. But that (wrong) means to associate others in worship to Allah: Don't you listen to what Luqman said to his son when he was advising him, "O my son! Join not others in worship with Allah. Verily joining others in worship with Allah is a great wrong indeed." (31.13) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 639) 

The Arabic word zulm, which means inequity or justice, covers polytheism, killing, stealing, etc., and it is only the context that can denote what is specifically being spoken about.

Jochen erroneously assumes that the word zulm could only mean "bad deeds" per se. This is not the case. For instance, we see that the word zulm is applied to someone who evicts a widow from her marital home during the time of her 'iddah (Surah 65:1), and we see that in Surah 2:254 that the disbelievers are those that commit zulm. Now, it does not necessarily follow that those who evict widows before the 'iddah are disbelievers. Their zulm is not a sin as significant as the disbelievers.

We see that the word zulm must be adequately understood in each specific context. The Prophet (peace be upon him) clarified what it was referring to in Surah 6:82 (since that is one of his duties as a Messenger), and there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the Prophet (peace be upon him) came up with some obscure meaning for the word zulm. Rather, when we read the Qur'an as a whole, we see that the word zulm does and could actually refer to polytheism and rejection of Allah in some instances (e.g., Surah 2:254, 31:13, etc.), and Surah 6:82 just so happens to be one of them.



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