Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article, "Quran Contradiction: Did All The Prophets Receive the Same Book?"




Bassam Zawadi



Jochen's article could be located here and our readers should read it first before proceeding to read this rebuttal.


Three questions need to be answered:


1) What is meant by "The Book"?


2) How did they receive this revelation? We don't know of Noah or other prophets receiving revelations in book form?


3) How was it possible that all these prophets received "The Book" when we know that they received different revelations, such as Moses (peace be upon him) receiving the Torah and Jesus (peace be upon him) receiving the Gospel?


Al-Baidhawi states:

{ أُوْلَـٰئكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءاتَيْنَـٰهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ } يريد به الجنس.


"Those are they to whom We gave the Book," that is its genus. (Al-Baidhawi, Tafseer Anwaar Al-Tanzeel wa Israar Al-Ta'weel, Commentary on 6:89, Source)


That is that the Qur'an is referring to the genus of revelation. So the Torah, Psalms and Gospel are all different revelations sent to different Prophets, however they all fall under the same genus of revelation.


A very rough (and not at all sufficient) analogy could be the Bible. The Bible, according to Christians, is "a book of books". It is one book that consists of 66 different books (or 73 if you are talking to a Catholic). Each book has something in common with the other, and that is that all of them are part of the same genus of revelation (i.e., Biblical revelation).


So similarly, Muslims believe that revelations could fall under the same genus, and in this context, the genus was referred to as "The Book".


Now, the next question is how these prophets received "The Book"?


Ar-Razi said:


ويحتمل أن يكون المراد منه أن يؤتيه الله تعالى فهماً تاماً لما في الكتاب وعلماً محيطاً بحقائقه وأسراره،


And it's possible that the intended meaning is that Allah All Mighty gave complete understanding as to what is in "The Book" and full knowledge regarding its truths and secrets. (Ar-Razi, Al-Tafseer Al-Kabeer, Commentary on 6:89, Source)


Al-Samarqandi has it in his commentary:


{ أُوْلَـٰئكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءاتَيْنَـٰهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحُكْمَ } يعني العلم والفهم والفقه


"Those are they to whom We gave the Book" that means knowledge and intelligence, and understanding. (Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi, Bahr al-'Ulum, Commentary on 6:89, Source)


Al-Alusi states:


{ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَـٰهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ } أي جنسه. والمراد بإيتائه التفهيم التام لما فيه من الحقائق والتمكين من الإحاطة بالجلائل والدقائق


"Those are they to whom We gave the Book", that is its genus. It means that a complete understanding of its truths and the ability to consolidate its details in a majestic way fully has been given to them. (Al-Alusi, Rooh Al-Ma'aani, Commentary on 6:89, Source)


So here we see that it does not have to be in book form to receive revelation. We must remember that "The Book" refers to the genus of revelation. Paper, ink and book covers aren't the essential elements here, rather its the information content and its understanding. We know that the Qur'an is a book, but when the Qur'an states:


Surah 25:30


And the Messenger will say, `O my Lord, my people indeed treated this Qur'an as a thing to be discarded.'


This verse isn't simply about people discarding a hard copy of the Qur'an but abandoning it by not reciting it, implementing it, understanding it, etc. It's the actual information content plus its understanding that matters. Also, we have to remember that the Qur'an was not put into a comprehensive book form during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), yet still, during his time, it was referred to as a book in order to express its need to be written down and preserved. If Allah says that He revealed the book (Surah 3:3) no one has ever understood that this required that Allah sent a hard cover book from the heavens, but was referring to its information content.


So, the prophets receiving "The Book" (i.e., a genus of revelation) don't require them to have had the revelation written down and compiled in book form. It counts that they received the revelation if they were provided with its information content and understanding.


The next question that arises is how all these prophets might have received "The Book" when we know that they received different revelations, such as Moses (peace be upon him) receiving the Torah and Jesus (peace be upon him) receiving the Gospel.


Arabic uses The book as plural and singular, so when discussing their multitude, we say "the books." Still, when we talk about their collective unity, we say "The Book" since all prophets are sent to communicate the same faith and core message of monotheism, though with different laws of jurisprudence.  These prophets are also sent to their nations, so by saying that they received "The Book", it hints to the fact that they were sent to people with these books since this is the reason behind sending them as prophets. 

Maybe a good example is Jesus (peace be upon him), for he was taught the Torah and Gospel (Surah 3:48), yet Jesus (peace be upon him) was mentioned in verse 85 as being one of those who received "The Book." So when it comes to the oneness in purpose, it is one book (i.e. The Book) for they are under the same genus of revelation whose core message is consistent and the same. However, when it comes to laws of jurisprudence and other matters, the books are different from each other as each prophet brought his additions and deletions with the revelations they were provided. 



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