Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article "Quran Error and Contradiction: Can One Be A Believer in God And Oppose Muhammad At The Same Time?"
Jochen Katz's article could be located here.
Jochen Katz said:
The Quran makes the following claim:
Thou wilt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who resist God and His Apostle, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). God will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of God. Truly it is the Party of God that will achieve Felicity. Sura 58:22 Yusuf Ali
You will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger even though they were their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred (people). . Al-Hilali & Khan
Note that this first sentence in this verse is not a command but it is formulated as a statement of fact. A command is not invalidated by the existence of some or even many people who disobey it. But a general claim stating something as a certain fact can easily be proven wrong by providing counterexamples.
The first statement in the above quoted verse is wrong for several reasons.
I find it hard to imagine that there do not exist converts to Islam (whether former Christians, agnostics, atheists, pagans, or else), i.e. people who now sincerely believe in Allah and the Last Day but who still love their fathers or sons and brothers despite their disbelief in Islam and rejection of Muhammad as a messenger from God. Taken as a statement of fact about all Muslims this claim in Sura 58:22 was certainly as wrong in Muhammad's time as it is wrong today. As fierce and harsh as some Muslims can be, most Muslims are quite normal people, and the above statement cannot possibly be true of all Muslims in the way it is stated.
First of all, the verse is speaking about loving those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger by waging war against them. One must look at the historical context of the verse.
Ibn Kathir states in his commentary...
(even though they were their fathers), was revealed in the case of Abu `Ubaydah, when he killed his father during the battle of Badr, while the Ayah,
(or their sons) was revealed in the case of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq when he intended to kill his (disbelieving) son, `Abdur-Rahman, (during Badr), while the Ayah,
(or their brothers) was revealed about the case of Mus`ab bin `Umayr, who killed his brother, `Ubayd bin `Umayr, during Badr, and that the Ayah,
(or their kindred) was revealed about the case of `Umar, who killed one of his relatives during Badr, and also that this Ayah was revealed in the case of Hamzah, `Ali and Ubaydah bin Al-Harith. They killed their close relatives `Utbah, Shaybah and Al-Walid bin `Utbah that day. Allah knows best. A similar matter is when Allah's Messenger consulted with his Companions about what should be done with the captives of Badr. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq thought that they should accept ransom for them so the Muslims could use the money to strengthen themselves. He mentioned the fact that the captured were the cousins and the kindred, and that they might embrace Islam later on, by Allah's help. `Umar said, "But I have a different opinion, O Allah's Messenger! Let me kill so-and-so, my relative, and let `Ali kill `Aqil (`Ali's brother), and so-and-so kill so-and-so. Let us make it known to Allah that we have no mercy in our hearts for the idolators.'' Allah said,
(For such He has written faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Ruh from Himself.) means, those who have the quality of not befriending those who oppose Allah and His Messenger , even if they are their fathers or brothers, are those whom Allah has decreed faith, meaning, happiness, in their hearts and made faith dear to their hearts and happiness reside therein. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Commentary on Surah 58:22, Source)
Of course no sincere believer who truly believes in Allah as his Lord and is fully aware of the Day of Judgment will have love towards people fighting Islam.
Christians such as Jochen might argue back that Christianity teaches that you could (or even should) love one that is fighting you for your faith, so why is it not possible for Muslims to love those who fight them and still remain believers?
This false reasoning is a result of erroneously assuming that belief in Allah only entails accepting Islam as a true religion and that Kufr (rejection of truth by disbelief) only entails denying its truth.
This is false; for there are 5 types of Kufr (disbelief) (see here) that one could commit that would render a person to be a believer no more. And love for those who rejected the love of Allah and fights against the religion that He has established takes one out of the fold of Islam. Thus, from an Islamic perspective one cannot hold love towards those who are fighting Allah and His Messenger and be a believer in the eyes of Allah at the same time even if he accepts Islam as being a true religion of God. For Kufr is not only by belief but by actions as well.
(Another example is someone who blasphemes against Allah or His Messenger. Even if he believes that Islam is a true religion, his act of blasphemy would excommunicate him from Islam. So Kufr is not only by belief, but by actions as well)
Thus, love towards Kuffar fighting the religion is an act of Kufr as well.
Please note that the love that I have been discussing so far is divine love and not natural love, as I will clarify below.
In regards to converts having love towards their non Muslim parents, Jochen fails to differentiate between emotions that are natural and emotions that are for the sake of Allah and are more of a 'divine' kind of love.
For example, in Islam we are prohibited to have fear for anyone besides Allah. However, this fear is a fear that is more 'divine' (only fearing Allah in the sense that He is the ultimate being in control of my affairs) rather than natural fear (I would be scared if you locked me up in a cage with a lion).
Similarly, we naturally tend to have love for materialism (its natural to love money, fancy cars, etc.) but it is totally forbidden to have "divine" love for materialism (in that it becomes more important to you than anything else and becomes your main goal in life).
Now, do Muslim converts have 'natural love' towards their non Muslim parents? Of course they do. But can a true Muslim believer have 'divine love' for them in the sense that they love them for what they stand for (for their constant rejection of Islam)? The answer is no and such a person is not deemed a believer.
Jochen Katz said:
Anyone who knows the Christian faith knows that Christians believe in God and in the Last Day.
Moreover, there are plenty of Christians (i.e. people who believe in God and the Last Day) who love other Christians who also resist and oppose Islam. To be specific: My father is a devout Christian who loves me, the author of this article, and I obviously resist and oppose Muhammad and his message. And there are plenty of other Christians around me, who love me and have made friendship with me. Thus, Sura 58:22 is objectively wrong.
When the Qur'an says "believe in Allah and the last day", it doesn't simply mean that you believe in the existence of a God and a Day of Judgment. It necessitates that one must correctly believe in Allah. Truth faith in Allah has four conditions...
(I) Belief in God's existence.
(II) God is the Supreme Lord.
(III) God Alone is entitled to worship.
(IV) God is known by His Most Beautiful Names and Attributes.
Christians might affirm points 1, 2 but definitely not points 3 and 4 according to the criteria laid about by Islam (which is what matters).
Christians would believe that Jesus is worthy of worship, which according to the Islamic criteria is polytheism. This is blatant violation of point 3.
As for point 4, Christians would also object to some of the attributes that Allah has mentioned for Himself (I might mention examples of these in another article).
Thus, Muslims do not believe that anyone properly believes in Allah if he or she is not a Muslim. Thus, Christians do not fall under the category of this verse.
Jochen Katz said:
However, this statement is not only factually wrong, it also creates a logical contradiction in the Quran because the Quran itself states explicitly that Christians are among those who believe in God and in the Last Day:
Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. S. 2:62
Those who believe (in the Qur'an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. S. 5:69
The Christians and Jews that are being referred to in Surah 2:62 are those that followed the true teachings of Jesus and Moses (peace be upon them both) during their time. It also refers to those that have the true understanding of the Gospel and Torah, eventually leading them to recognize the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and following today's Islamic law. (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Tafsir Jalalayn)
It is not referring to today's Trinitarians and Jews.
Jochen Katz said:
And the Quran is adamant in its claim that Christians and Muslims believe in the same one God:
And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. S. 29:46
I don't see where this verse says that Christians and Muslims believe in the same one God. How could we when Muslims don't believe Jesus is God?
The verse is only saying that our God is one. Whether one acknowledges the true God or not does not change the fact that the true God is still that person's God.
Just because Christians might not acknowledge Allah (in the Islamic understanding) as their God, this does not mean that Allah is not their God. Similarly, Christians would still believe that Jesus is the God of the Muslims even though Muslims reject the idea of Jesus being God.
Even if the verse does state that both Muslims and Christians believe in the same God, this does not necessarily imply that we both believe in and submit to Him in the correct way that we should.