Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article, "Should he say it, did he say it, or will he say it?


Bassam Zawadi

The article can be located here.  

Jochen presents three different arguments. One is from Surah 21:4, the second is from Surah 23:112, and the third is from Surah 20:121-128. 

In Surah 21:4, I don't see the argument. The verse is clearly and most likely in the past tense.  

In Surah 23:112, the verse is in the past tense because Allah is not bound by time as we are, and He is showing us that He knows what will happen. Also, the context is speaking about the Day of Judgment. So Allah does not have to repeatedly say, "Then this will happen, and then that will happen." 

Similarly, Allah uses the past tense for His Coming on the Day of Judgment in Surah 89:22 and in 19:30, indicating that He has given Jesus revelation while he was a baby. 

Why is that so?

cites several opinions on the meaning of Jesus' statement. The strongest one is that Jesus intended to say that God has decreed that the Book (Gospel) will be revealed to him. So, the verse is in the past tense since it refers to the act of decreeing.  

A similar figure of speech is found in Surah 108:1, where God says that He has given (in the past tense) the Prophet (peace be upon him) a river in heaven. Obviously, once the verse was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he was still on planet earth and didn't have the river in his possession. However, the verse is trying to signify the reality of Allah's promise and decree.  

So, we can apply the same logic to any verse that uses the verb in the past tense when speaking about a future event. It emphasizes Allah's decree of what will happen and that He is speaking from His perspective.  

It is a surprise why Christians would have difficulty with this when they believe that specific Old Testament passages such as Hosea 11:1, which is in the past tense, also refer to a future event (the coming of Jesus).

Thus, when Jochen Katz says: 

Why didn't the author of the Qur'an use the future tense in these last two verses? Is that the clarity and eloquence of the Qur'an? I find it difficult to believe that using the wrong tense is more eloquent than using the correct one. 

If he wants to ensure consistency, then the Muslim personification of Jochen Katz could rightly argue back: 

Why didn't the author of the Bible use the future tense when wanting to prophesize about the future Jesus? Is that the clarity and eloquence of the Bible? I find it difficult to believe that using the wrong tense is more eloquent than using the correct one.  

Now, Christians would argue back regarding the Hebrew language being different than modern languages regarding "tenses" (see here), just as we would say back regarding the Arabic language. But as we all know, Christians like to employ double standards.

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