Rebuttal To Jochen Katz's Article "Qur'an Contradiction: Good News About Painful Torture?"
Jochen Katz's article could be located here. We advise the readers to read his short article first.
Jochen Katz is arguing that it doesn't make sense that good news could be given to those to who are going to hell, since there is nothing good or pleasant about going to hell. On the contrary it is bad news.
I have two responses to this.
Firstly, the Arabic word fabashirhumm could just mean to let someone know like Imam Tabari states in his commentary on Surah 3:21. So the word bashhir could only mean 'letting someone know". The context of the verse denotes whether it is in the positive sense (glad tidings) or negative sense or just plain neutral sense. The context in this verse does not denote that it is in the positive sense, thus it should not be translated as 'glad tidings'.
Secondly (and this is the opinion that I opt for), Allah was being sarcastic as a way to mock and disgrace the disbelievers.
Imam Suyuti in his commentary on Surah 3:21 says...
So give them good tidings, let them know, of a painful chastisement. The use of 'good tidings' here is meant as a sarcastic ridicule of them (the fā' [of fa-bashshirhum, so give them good tidings] is considered part of the predicate of inna because its noun, that is, its relative clause, resembles a conditional [sc. in yakfurūna, 'if they disbelieve.', fa-bashshirhum, 'then, give them good tidings.']). (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 3:21, Source)
Thus, this is only a figure of speech that Allah has used. There is no contradiction.