Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article "Is half the Qur'an already fully detailed? Verses in conflict with the theory of a piecemeal descent of the Qur'an"
Jochen Katz's article could be found here.
Jochen argues that since the Qur'an had been revealed gradually and Surah 12:111 and 16:89 state that the Qur'an is fully detailed while they were revealed in Mecca, it therefore means:
(A) If the book was sent down complete, i.e. the whole book at once, then this claim could still be true or false but it would at least be meaningful. Or, (B) within the theory that the Qur'an was revealed piecemeal, such verses would make sense when they were revealed at the end, as the final verses added to the Qur'an.
Jochen summarizes his argument:
Here now is the reason why the repeated claim of the Qur'an to be "a detailed explanation of everything" (cf. this article) conflicts with the understanding that it was revealed piecemeal. Particularly the timing of the two verses S. 12:111 and 16:89 in the Makkan period causes the following dilemma:
A. If the Qur'an was already "a detailed explanation of everything" at the time these particular verses were revealed, what purpose does the rest of the Qur'an serve? Why was the Qur'an not finalized at that time? What more is there to add to a book that is already "a detailed explanation of everything"? Is at least a third of the Qur'an merely redundant repetition?
B. However, if the Quran was NOT YET "a detailed explanation of everything" at the time this claim was made, then the author of the Qur'an made statements that are clearly false. "God revealed" (?) something that was wrong -- at least it was wrong for some time, maybe even for several years until the Quran finally became complete and fully detailed and an explanation of everything. In other words, for at least ten years the Qur'an contained these statements that were false until the book was finally completed.
Jochen bases this whole argument on the assumption that when verses 12:111 and 16:89 say that the Qur'an is fully detailed and explains all things that the verses are trying to define "Qur'an" as only what has been revealed up to that point. The verses in no way give that indication. Here are the verses:
Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Quran) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah's existing Books (the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel) and other Scriptures of Allah) and a detailed explanation of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe. S. 12:111 Al-Hilali & Khan
One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:89 Y. Ali
No where do these verses state that only the Qur'an revealed up to that particular point in time is the Qur'an that explains all things. Rather, the verse is making a general statement about the Qur'an. The Qur'an is everything that was revealed before and after this verse. It is as simple as that.
We can give a similar example from the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it is said that all scripture is God breathed. Note that this statement was uttered before the book of Revelation (which is scripture) was written. If we were to use Jochen Katz's logic then that means that we should say that the book of Revelation is not scripture because it came after the statement uttered in 2 Timothy 3:16.
However, as Jochen might rightfully argue back, 2 Timothy 3:16 did not limit what scripture is until that particular point in time. Rather it was making a general claim regarding scripture and scripture would include all those that came before and after 2 Timothy.
Similarly, I will argue that Surah 12:111 and 16:89 does not limit the meaning of "Qur'an" to only refer to the revelations up to that particular point. Rather, it is making a general statement about the Qur'an and the Qur'anic Surahs were defined by our Prophet (peace be upon him).
In conclusion, I don't find Jochen's argument to be convincing and I find his mishandling of the Qur'anic text to be unprofessional and unscholarly.
Jochen Katz and Mutee'a Al-Fadi responded to my article above. However, I will only be addressing Jochen's comments since Mutee'a didn't add anything extra in substance to the argument.
What did these verses mean to the Muslims present at the time when they were first recited? How would they have understood them?
It of course referred to whatever was revealed from the Qur'an up until that time. However, they have also understood that the Qur'an was continuously being revealed gradually and hence the statements continuously remained true. So if the Qur'an says that one should recite the Qur'an (Surah 73:4) they didn't understand that they should only be reciting the Qur'an that was revealed up until Surah 73:4, but continuously up until the end of the revelation of the Qur'an. Hence, they were able to comply with this verse's commands easily during all the stages of the revelation of the Qur'an.
Does it really say:
Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Quran) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah's existing Books (the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel) and other Scriptures of Allah) and IN ABOUT TEN YEARS IT WILL EVEN BECOME a detailed explanation of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe. S. 12:111
The problem with these two verses still remains: The Qur'an was clearly not an explanation of all things, not even an explanation of all things of importance in Islam, at the time this claim was made.
We would like to ask Jochen what he thinks "explanation of all things" means according to the intention of the Author of the Qur'an? Does the Qur'an intend to say that it is intended to explain matters of physics, chemistry and mathematics in addition to theology? No, I think Jochen would agree that the Qur'an is intending to say that it provides a detailed explanation of how to attain salvation. Well, was this statement true during the time this verse was revealed? Of course it was. Not all Muslims who accepted Islam lived up until the time the Qur'anic revelation stopped. Many Muslims died in wars or from illnesses. Does that mean that they went to hell because they couldn't see all the laws and theological statements put forth by the Qur'an? Well of course not. We know this because the Prophet (peace be upon him) would speak about Muslims going to paradise even though they died before the completion of the revelation of the Qur'an (e.g. Summayah, Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, etc.) These Muslims will be judged according to the time and stage of Qur'anic revelation that they were living in. There were Muslims who were drinking alcohol before the Qur'an revealed that it was forbidden. Would they be held accountable for that? The answer is no. Similarly, the statement in the Qur'an regarding it being a detailed explanation of all things holds to be true for the time and people it was revealed to and since the Muslims understood that the Qur'an was making general statements of it self and not only limited itself to the time of revelation that means they also understood that as more verses of the Qur'an were being revealed then the new verses revealed wouldn't change the truth of the previous statements and that they would have to incorporate the new verses into the Qur'an now.
- The Qur'an's claim that it is a detailed explanation of all things refers to it being able to communicate everything that is relevant or important to the salvation of the individual for that time.
- Muslims were only held accountable according to the stage of the Qur'anic revelation that they were living in. So they were able to attain salvation even if they died before the completion of the revelation of the Qur'an. Hence, the statement "detailed explanation of all things" was true during their time and abided by during their time.
- The statement continued to be true despite new revelations since now the statement would have to be read by incorporating the other Qur'anic statements. So whatever was available from the Qur'an at a specific time was good enough to provide salvation to the Muslims living during that time, hence the statement "detailed explanation of all things" was true during that time.
- Now that we are reading the verse after the completion of the revelation of the Qur'an we read this verse as referring to the entire Qur'an since this is the stage we are in when reading the verse.
Another substantial problem is that the Qur'an is still not an explanation of all things, even in its final form - see the various instances of incompleteness that are listed at the end of the original article (*).
The only substantial problem is Jochen's inability to read and understand the Qur'an properly. Please refer here.