Responses to Bismika Allahuma
On 23 December 2005, the Muslim website Bismika Allahuma republished an article by Hans Küng stating his opinion that Christians should move towards acknowledging Muhammad as a prophet of God. On 29 December 2005, I published a short piece containing two points of critique. The first point responded to a statement in the introductory comment by the Muslim editor. The second point highlighted one major problem in Hans Küng's argument that, in my view, invalidates his whole thesis.
Apparently, my article stepped on their toes in a painful way, since it resulted in a flurry of irate responses from MENJ and some others at Bismika Allahuma. Most of these were quite silly as the reader will see when he reads them in sequence. To make this comparison easier, I am simply going to append my comments on those reactions after my original article.
But before delving into this exchange itself, it may help to put this discussion into its proper historical context. The Bismika Allahuma team states on their "ABOUT" page:
The purpose of this website is to facilitate Muslim responses to the various mendacious polemics and distortions of Islam by the Christian missionaries and their anti-Islamic allies that are being spread over the Internet. Established since 1997, we moved to our own domain in 2002 and have not looked back since. Our aim is to become the premier source of information by Muslims to counter all forms of anti-Islamic propaganda by the Christian missionaries and their allies over the Internet, insha'allah.
If this site had been the new kid on the block, or had just begun to collect some articles on different opinions about Muhammad, the whole issue would look very different. But that is not so. There is a history to this discussion that cannot be ignored if one wants to understand what is going on.
MENJ has debated us for over eight years. Occasionally he has brought up other issues, or responded to articles found on other websites, but the vast majority of his publications from 1997 up to September 2005, the time when he revamped his website, and changed his approach somewhat, was to publish (a) attacks on the Bible, on the Apostle Paul, and on various doctrines of the Christian faith, and (b) responses to our critique of Islam. (Only part (b) shows up in his purpose statement, though.) A great many of the articles making up the debates between Bismika Allahuma and Answering Islam dealt with various aspects of Muhammad's claims to be a prophet from the one true God. This is natural as Muhammad's claim to prophethood is one of the central issues of disagreement between Christians and Muslims.
It is my conviction that one cannot in intellectual integrity accept Muhammad as a genuine prophet of God and remain a Christian. If Muhammad was the last prophet of God, who brought God's final message, then one has to believe in and submit to his message, i.e. become a Muslim. If Dr. Küng and some others infected by the virus of pluralism, relativism and political correctness want to give in to the Muslim demand to acknowledge Muhammad as a prophet but still remain Christians they are neither taking the Bible seriously nor Islam. Both Christianity and Islam make the claim to proclaim absolute divine truth and demand obedience to their message.
Here are just two examples why Islam cannot be reconciled with the Bible: (1) An essential part of the Christian faith is to testify that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16-17). It is a matter of divine revelation. The Qur'an attacks this creedal statement in very strong words (Sura 9:30), calling it a sign of paganism, and calls down the curse of Allah on those who say such a thing. (2) The death of Jesus on the cross as atonement for our sins is at the core of the Christian Gospel. The Qur'an denies not only the meaning of Jesus' death, but also denies the historical event as such: Jesus was not crucified (Sura 4:157).
How Dr. Küng can claim to be a Christian, and even a Catholic Christian, when the center of the Catholic Mass is the commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus, but also accept Muhammad as a true prophet despite the fact that he denies and attacks these central Christian doctrines, is quite a mystery.
Can anyone be a prophet in the tradition of the Biblical prophets who denies and attacks the central message of Jesus as documented in the Bible? I see only two ways of understanding Küng's verdict: Either he does not have a problem to call those prophets whose message contradicts the Word of God, i.e. anyone who sincerely believes to be prophet should be acknowledged to be one, whether his message is compatible with God's Word or not; or he believes in a God who contradicts himself. One day he can declare Jesus to be the Son of God, and the next he condemns those who believed his earlier pronouncement. One day he proclaims that all who believe in the atoning death of Jesus will be saved, and the next day he denies that Jesus even died at all.
However, the focus of my response was not the person of Hans Küng, but the use of his article by Bismika Allahuma. So, let me return to the issue at hand.
This article stands in a tradition of publishing statements of non-Muslims who acknowledge Muhammad as sincere, genuine or even explicitly calling him a prophet in the Biblical tradition. See their publications of statements to this effect by Karen Armstrong, Alfred Guillaume, D. B. MacDonald, W. Montgomery Watt. The article by Hans Küng is simply one in a sequence of similar arguments by Bismika Allahuma, all of them appealing to such "authorities" to make their case. In the above mentioned instances, the appeal was rather direct. In the case of the article by Hans Küng the conclusion and desired message was already contained in the article in a very explicit form, so they did not have to comment or expand on it. In any case, it is just one more "Christian scholar" whose opinion is used to counter the arguments raised by Christians against the prophethood of Muhammad. This purpose was not spelled out explicitly in the article, but against this background, it should not really be hard to grasp.
Finally, I never objected to the publication of this article. It is certainly legitimate for Bismika Allahuma to draw attention to these statements. But it is just as legitimate for us to raise our objections to the arguments. What is more than strange is the Muslim outrage about my critique of their use of Küng's article.
Karen Armstrong is a former nun, and now a best-selling author of religious books, but she not a scholar. As far as I know, she does not hold a university position and does not publish in academic journals. Her writings are all on the popular level. Guillaume, MacDonald and Watt were all orientalist scholars but not (known as) Christian theologians. As controversial as he is, Küng is a rather well known Christian theologian. Perhaps the Muslim publishers felt that his endorsement of Muhammad should therefore carry a lot of weight in this discussion. This may explain their emotional reactions when my critique of this publication rained on their parade and apparently dashed those hopes. Nobody becomes so intensely angry about something he considers irrelevant.
With this said, the reader is invited to read my initial article and then continue with my replies to the belligerent Muslim reactions:
Responses to Bismika Allahuma
MENJ has published an excerpt of an article by Hans Küng. I am not going to discuss Küng's claims point by point, but want to take exception with the editorial note that introduces the article, underline emphasis being mine:
Hans Küng On “Is Muhammad A Prophet”?
(Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt taken from "Christianity and World Religions: Dialogue with Islam", in Leonard Swidler (ed.), Muslims in Dialogue: The Evolution of A Dialogue, vol. 3 (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992) by the German Christian philosopher Hans Küng who conveys the Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad (P). We do not neccessarily agree with everything that has been said here.)
MENJ has great difficulties to answer our arguments against Muhammad's claim to prophethood. Not being able to respond with anything that is truly convincing, he seemingly tries to oust us from this debate by claiming that our arguments are not genuinely Christian, and therefore, by implication, Christians and others should not listen to us.
How else is one to understand the move that he now elevates Hans Küng's personal opinion to the place of being the only true, authentic or valid Christian opinion on Muhammad? Or what exactly did MENJ want to convey by labelling this article "THE Christian opinion" in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam?
There is no question that Küng is famous, but he is as controversial as he is famous. He is certainly not the uncontested representative of Christianity.
Apart from the minor error that Hans Küng is Swiss, not German, he is a Catholic and does not represent Protestant or Evangelical Christianity. Neither does he represent the Catholic Church. He was a professor of Catholic theology at the University of Tübingen (Germany), but the Vatican (in 1979) and then also the body of German Bishops (in 1980) withdrew Küng's permission to teach theology. He no longer has the authority to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Not only is he no longer allowed to speak for the church, some bishops have forbidden him to even speak in a church (*).
Admittedly, there are quite a few people who like him, for a good part because he criticizes the authority of the Pope. Nevertheless, he does not have any mandate to speak for the Catholic Church, let alone for all of Christianity. He only voices his personal opinions.
The use of this article by MENJ is nothing but the fallacy of appeal to authority. Even if he had quoted and appealed to the Pope, this would still not exempt him from dealing with the facts and arguments. We never said that Muhammad is not a prophet because the Vatican or some other Christian authority denies him that position, but we evaluated Muhammad's claims to prophethood on the basis of the biblical criteria for a true prophet. Muhammad clearly fails those.
Hans Küng's article does not deal with the arguments we have presented. Maybe MENJ wants to invite Dr. Küng to directly respond to those arguments?
Dr. Küng is welcome to study the papers listed in our general section on the life and teachings of Muhammad, and to examine in particular the arguments presented in the series of articles by Silas, Sam Shamoun and MENJ debating on the prophethood of Muhammad. If he can correct us on the basis of the Bible, we certainly want to hear it.
Whether or not Dr. Küng is going to enter the discussion, the readers should aquaint themselves with the facts and arguments that are listed in these articles and which need to be taken into consideration in order to reach an informed conclusion.
Nevertheless, without going through his claims point by point, let me highlight one very basic but fatal flaw in Dr. Küng's thesis. He argues that Christians should accept Muhammad as a prophet of God on the basis of some alleged similarities in his life and teachings when compared to the Old Testament prophets.
The Bible speaks not only about true prophets but many times warns the believers of falling prey to false prophets, and that anyone who claims to be a prophet needs to be tested whether he genuinely is from God or only a pretender. This examination is done in the above linked articles. Here I only want to establish one foundational principle.
How are we going to distinguish the true from the false, the genuine from the fake?
How does one detect forgery in any object? What do I need to look for? Similarities or differences? Whether looking at bank notes or paintings, on Rolex watches and their replicas, or on Saddam Hussein and the doubles he employed to fool people, it is always the differences that expose the forgery.
Isn't this the very purpose of a forgery, to make it look like the original? It is utterly naive to look for a set of similarities but ignore the differences and then conclude that the two objects are basically the same.
Nobody in his right mind would conclude that a $100 bill should be accepted as genuine if it meets eight out of ten criteria. No, if there are two features that are wrong, then it is exposed as a forgery. One may be full of admiration for the skill of the forgerer, but still has to reject the product as the forgery that it is.
As somebody said very wisely: The most dangerous lie is the one that looks most like the truth.
I agree, one can certainly find many superficial similarities between Muhammad and some of the Biblical prophets, but is the "prophet of Islam" in agreement with them in the core of his teachings, and in the way he acted in his life? Definitely not.
Presenting only a list of similarities without dealing with the differences when evaluating the claim of a prophet is to utterly fail as a Christian theologian. It is spiritual blindness to pay less attention to the differences in an alleged prophet than one would give to the bank notes in one's wallet.
Muhammad went even further, he worked hard to make the original conform to the copy be re-narrating the Biblical stories in a changed way. This is discussed in detail in the article I am ALL the prophets.
A clarification to the above analogy [added 5 January 2006]: Obviously, not all genuine $100 bank notes are identical. They all bear a different serial number. Moreover, by circulation and usage they will get smudges, tears, and some people even scribble on them. All of these will make individual notes unique and different from other bank notes, genuine or forged. Similarly, the various Biblical prophets are not identical, they are not simply copies of each other. They all have their individuality and uniqueness because they are different people, and because they lived in different times and delivered their message into a different context. The different serial number or a tear and smudges are differences to other genuine bank notes, but they are either intentional differences (the serial number) or incidental differences (tears, smudges) that do not invalidate their authenticity as genuine bank notes. However, a missing water mark would be an essential feature which would expose a bank note as a fraud. Thus, all similarities and differences between the Biblical prophets and later people claiming to be prophets need to be discussed separately, and it needs to be determined whether certain features are incidental, resulting from the context, and which features are essential. The essential characteristics will determine whether a bank note is genuine or forged, and the essential characteristics for prophets will determine whether they are truly from God.
The above article, published on 29 December 2005, received an immediate angry reaction by Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ). Before I quote and comment on his response, let me summarize:
My short article above made two points: (1) An objection to labelling Hans Küng's article THE Christian position (whether this was done intenionally or not), and clarifying why Küng's article may well reflect his personal opinion but is not in any way representative of Christianity as a whole, or even any particular church. (2) Explaining one important reason why Küng fails to establish his claim of Muhammad being a prophet in the Biblical tradition, i.e. a failure in his methodology seeking out only similarities but ignoring essential differences.
Now let us examine what MENJ published as response:
Splitting hairs, the “Jochen Katz” way
30 December 2005CE | 29 Dhul-Qadah 1426AH
Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi
Answering Islam has posted an early reaction in objection to our publishing of Han Küng on the Prophet Muhammad(P). There are several issues in this reaction by Jochen Katz, the de facto dictator of Answering Islam, that needs to be corrected. We shall briefly respond to each of the allegations, which are:
Characterizing my article as "Splitting hairs" is an attempt to declare what I wrote to be utterly irrelevant. That is fine with me. Just like MENJ, I decide for myself what is worth my time to write about. I never did nor do I intend to submit future topics for approval by MENJ. I write for a wide readership and will happily leave it to them to decide what they find relevant or irrelevant. Nobody is forced to read what I publish.
I don't think that my first article was splitting hairs at all, but short and right on target. However, I am intentionally going to split some of MENJ's hairs in my evaluation of his reaction.
For those who are interested in truth, it should be irrelevant whether a response is early or late since it is the content that counts. Did MENJ pay me a compliment when calling my response "early"? Whatever his intention, fact is that my response came six days after he had published his article. In contrast, his response went online only one day after I had published mine. How much more must MENJ now be complimented for being able to respond so fast!
Calling me "the de facto dictator of Answering Islam" is merely an insult and has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic of the discussion. I can't imagine in what way I am supposed to have power over anybody since everyone publishing on Answering Islam does so on a voluntary basis. I am one of the editors, I make suggestions to the authors who submit articles, and the authors regularly thank me for catching their errors and improving their articles. In fact, if they do not like my suggestions and prefer a different formulation, I usually agree to publish it the way they want it. In any case, the internet is free and everyone can take his articles and offer them to whatever website he wants, or even start his own site. This label was meant as a slur, an insult, but it is merely silly. If I am a dictator, then every editor of every newspaper or magazine, whether in print or in electronic format, is a dictator.
If MENJ has to begin his answer with an insult of the person he disagrees with, that is not really raising expectations that we are going to read a quality rebuttal. What is more, even if I were a dictator, it would not make anything I write more true or less true. Arguments are to be judged on their own merits. Attacking the author instead of answering the arguments is the classical fallacy of ad hominem and merely exposes the weakness of the person who uses this method. Therefore, thank you for trying to insult me: The one who is throwing mud is the one who is losing ground.
MENJ now proceeds with a supposed first allegation that needs to be corrected:
- Jochen Katz seems to come to too fast a conclusion in assuming that I (MENJ) have exclusive control of Bismika Allahuma's editorial policies. We do not know how he runs things at his website, nor do we care about it. It should be stated right here from the start that Bismika Allahuma is an online collaboration of several Muslim individuals who are concerned about the deen and wish to see a site facilitating their rebuttals to the Christian and anti-Islamic forces on the Internet. Bismika Allahuma does not revolve around one individual by the name of "MENJ". We run things here in accordance to a shura', Muslim consultation. This is not my personal site, which can be accessed here. Katz needs to stop imposing his Nazi heritage on us in equating Bismika Allahuma with "MENJ" and "MENJ" with Bismika Allahuma as, save for the fact that I have indeed co-founded this site with a partner, this project is not my own and I assume no dictatorial control over it, unlike how Katz may be assumed to have dictatorial control over his site.
Thank you, MENJ, for refuting yourself from one sentence to the next. After just claiming that I am the DE FACTO dictator of Answering Islam, you now admit: "We do not know how he runs things at his website, nor do we care about it." Well, "de facto" means that it is a fact. Now you say you have no clue about those things that you just declared to be a fact. How can you accuse me to be a dictator if you clearly do not know how I run the site? Could it be that intense anger had clouded your reasoning while writing this article? Or are you regularly calling things facts, although you know that you made them up yourself, even at the time when you are in control of your mind and emotions?
My Nazi heritage? Another unfounded accusation, an attempt of insult. Be my guest, MENJ, and dig your own grave by multiplying your ad hominems.
Bearing a Jewish family name (Katz), it is indeed highly likely for me to have a Nazi heritage. Conclusions of a very sharp mind, congratulations! For clarification: Our family has been Christian for many generations. My grandfather was a lay preacher in a Christian fellowship. And he suffered substantial persecution for his opposition to the Nazi regime.
For many years MENJ was nearly the only name that appeared on his website. For all practical purposes, it was his site. Maybe he had a co-founder, but MENJ was the writer. Perhaps the other person was the technical webmaster. To the outside world, MENJ was Bismika Allahuma. This may have changed more recently. Fine. There are certainly more authors now than there used to be. Still, his reaction is completely overblown. I did not analyze the structure of Bismika Allahuma in my article, nor did I comment on MENJ's position within the multinational corporation of Bismika Allahuma but I simply responded to the editorial comment. It is important to carefully read what is stated, and also pay attention to what is not stated. I did not even say that MENJ authored this editorial comment. I wrote that MENJ published this article -- something which MENJ does not deny, and which another one of his authors even confirms explicitly (here). In fact, MENJ is the "executive editor of Bismika Allahuma" which makes it even more likely that this editorial comment at least passed over his desk and was approved by him, if he did not write it himself. (Note also: MENJ does not even deny that he is the author of that note.) So, in conclusion, what exactly is all this noise about?
However, the sequence of articles that I mentioned in my introduction above were all written by MENJ. This article was of the same nature, apparently with the same purpose in mind, as the other three articles in which endorsements of Muhammad by non-Muslim authors were appealed to. For this reason, I put it into this history. I apologize if I erroneously associated MENJ with something he completely disagrees with and does not want to be connected to. Maybe he should resign as chief-editor if he does not want to be held responsible for its publications.
- Jochen Katz takes issue with a simple sentence: "the Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad(P)". We have never said that Kung's opinion represents all Christians or that his words is the sole canonical authority that all Christians must follow. Katz must have been reading too much into the text. Again, how things are run at Bismika Allahuma is totally different from how Katz with his dictatorship run things at his website. However, to satisfy Katz's ego and to make our explanation clearer, we have reworded the text. We hope that Katz will no longer have any complaints about how the sentence was worded.
Thank you for the correction. As I wrote above, maybe it was intentional and maybe it wasn't. Maybe I read too much into the formulation, maybe not. After clarifying the background and history of our debates on this issue, it should be clear that my conclusions were certainly not without warrant.
In any case, you corrected a statement that you have now understood was clearly wrong. That is good. This could have been corrected without a barrage of insults, without that hateful attack on my person, and that would have been the end of it, but now it is what it is and you will have to live with the fact that I am examining your reactions as well.
- Since Katz seems to have wasted his (and our) time complaining about such a minor issue about whether Küng is speaking on behalf of "THE Christian" community or one of the various diverse Christian opinions, we will not be bothered about the rest of his polemical diatribe. As usual, Katz loves to split hairs and as a testament to his undying hatred of the Prophet Muhammad (P), tries to cast doubt on the scholarly credentials of Hans Küng. Now, we know who Hans Küng is, and he is a well-known authority who is often invited to speak at universities in the Muslim World. Now who is one obscure (Nazi!) German mathematician by the name of "Jochen Katz" is, compared to the world-renowned Catholic theologian1 by the name of Hans Küng?
That was a mouthful. Let me chew it over bit by bit. Similarly to my comment on your accusation of "splitting hairs", feel free to think that I have wasted MY time, but it was entirely your own free decision to waste YOUR time. If you think it was a waste of time to respond to my article, then do not blame it on me. I did not force you to write anything.
You felt it necessary or at least worthwhile to publish Küng's opinion on the prophethood of Muhammad; I felt it worthwhile to object to the misleading editorial comment, and to put the article in some perspective by publishing a critique of it. Anything wrong about that?
Now, apparently you do not consider it worthwhile to bother about responding to my critique of Hans Küng's argument. That is entirely your decision. In my view that was the essential argument in my article and some readers may get the impression that you are running away from facing the argument. As I said before, I am not forcing you to respond to anything. I don't think it is sufficient to call it a "polemical diatribe" to get rid of it. It pointed out what I consider to be the basic failure in Küng's argument and without fixing it, the whole thesis is empty.
Do I have an "undying hatred of the Prophet Muhammad"? Who cares? Do my arguments in the debate become more true or less true whether I have the alleged burning anger and hatred, or because I arrived at my conclusions based on calm analysis? MENJ, give it up to paint me as a villain, a raging monster, and begin dealing with the arguments. Most of your readers would become a lot more impressed if you did. Your writing is full of emotions, and what I read isn't giving the impression that you are driven by love and sympathy. Would an emotion of hatred disqualify anybody from being part of this discussion? If no, what is your point? If yes, then make sure your criteria won't come back to haunt you.
Just for the record: No, I do not have hatred for Muhammad. I have great concern for those many people who have been led astray by him and by the system that he was instrumental in creating. But that is not an emotional matter for me. I feel a responsibility to warn people and give them a chance to see both sides, not only the Muslim eulogies. After that, it is everyone's personal decision what he or she does with this information.
Where did I try "to cast doubt on the scholarly credentials of Hans Küng"? I never questioned that he rightfully earned his doctorate or acted fraudulently in his academic career. I am sure he wrote much that meets academic standards and that he worked hard to be appointed to the positions that he held. However, that is irrelevant for our discussion. Even scholars can make mistakes, even scholars are human and make wrong arguments at times. I never questioned Küng's scholarly credentials, but I pointed out what I consider a major flaw in this particular argument under discussion. That is all. Also, people may be very scholarly in academic terms but spiritually blind. Even MENJ will probably agree with me that there are excellent scholars in various field who are atheists. Despite their scholarly credentials, they are spiritually blind in their denial of God. Well, spiritual blindness is not restricted to atheists, but even Christian theologians can have their blind spots. Since the Bible explicitly warns of false prophets and even gives clear criteria, it is failure as a Christian theologian to ignore this, and from a Biblical perspective it is spiritual blindness to ignore the striking dissimilarities between Muhammad and the Biblical prophets in both his teachings and his behavior when compared to the message and life of the Biblical prophets.
Küng is a celebrity, no question, and he may even be an authority on some things, but that does not mean that he is an authority on everything and that his statements cannot or should not be questioned. Since he became famous mostly because of his opposition to the claim of papal infallibility, he would be the last one to demand the silencing of his critics. MENJ completely misrepresents and carricatures what I wrote. I never compared Katz to Küng in any way: not as people, not in their overall achievement in life, not in the number of people who know them. All of that is irrelevant to the discussion. I gave a very clear critique of one of his articles, pointing out a basic flaw in the reasoning. That is all. And that is anybody's right. Küng can reply if he wants, and MENJ can reply if he wants, or not reply, just as he chooses. However, until it is refuted with arguments instead of ad hominems and the fallacy of appeal to authority, my point will be out there for people to evaluate its strength for themselves.
Whether or not Küng is often invited to speak at universities in the Muslim World is irrelevant. Ideologically based institutions are mostly inviting people who will tell them what they like to hear. If Küng were an ardent critic of Muhammad and Islam, he would certainly not be invited — no matter how famous and authoritative he would be in the rest of the world.
In the final analysis, what matters for a genuine Christian believer is not Küng's opinion or my opinion but what the Bible says about prophets like Muhammad. What if Hans Küng (or some other famous theologians) would endorse Baha'ullah or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as prophets similar to the Biblical prophets, and the latter as the Indian Messiah that he claimed to be? Would Küng's celebrity status and the fact that he will then be invited to speak at Baha'i and Ahmadi institutions really be a reason for MENJ to accept them as prophets?
MENJ asks: Who is one obscure (Nazi!) German mathematician by the name of "Jochen Katz" ...? Obscure? Fine. I never claimed any authority for me as a person. German? Correct. Mathematician? Yes, correct as well. (Nazi!) ? Another silly personal attack by one outraged Muslim polemicist who has still not learned the value of freedom of speech in open and controversial discourse. I critiqued one of the articles published by MENJ. I leave it to the reader to decide whether that is sufficient justification for publishing an attack on me that is full of personal insults.
Yet, MENJ's accusation of me being a Nazi goes way beyond his other juvenile insults or simple foul language. It is baseless, tasteless and enormous, even worse than throwing "bastard" in my face, which he used soon after. By this term he claims that I endorse the hatred of all Jews and support the idea of having them and other minorities exterminated. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior.
MENJ's last point:
- Lastly, Katz decides to beat a dead horse by preaching about the so-called "falsehood" of the Prophet Muhammad (P). Since Katz was so hung up about Küng's glowing tribute to the Prophet Muhammad (P) and questioned Küng's "representation" of the Christian community2, may we be justified in saying that Katz's opinion is only one opinion and does not represent ALL Christians in their opinion of the Prophet (P)?
Muhammad's claim to prophethood will be debated as long as there are Christians, or other non-Muslims for that matter. I am not aware that anyone finally settled this issue. It is far from being a dead horse.
Neither did I preach about the falsehood of Muhammad in the above article. Even if I had done so, I have as much a right to preach about the falsehood of Muhammad as MENJ takes the liberty to preach about the falsehood of the Apostle Paul.
In this first article, I did not mention even one specific point in which Muhammad is wrong. I gave a general comment about the methodology of evaluating anyone who claims to be a prophet, and stated why I believe Küng's approach to be wrong. What I said applies to anyone with a claim to prophethood, whether Joseph Smith, Baha'ullah, or Muhammad. Apparently even mentioning aspects of the necessary criteria caused MENJ to feel so threatened that he had the impression that I was already exposing Muhammad before I even applied the criteria to his person. Yes, I stated that if one does apply the correct criteria to Muhammad's message and life, then he fails them, but I did not discuss any of them. I only referred the readers to articles in which this discussion is presented.
Finally, in regard to his concluding question: Yes, you certainly may say that my opinion is only one among many. I never claimed to be appointed as a spokesman for any church or group of Christians, let alone Christianity as a whole. I don't feel it necessary to make such fallacious appeals to authority. Yes, my articles are my personal opinion (although it may be shared by others), just as MENJ's articles are his personal opinion, just as Küng's articles are his personal opinion. And there is nothing wrong with having a personal opinion, nor in publishing a personal opinion.
The question is not whether it is "only one opinion" among many different ones existing out there, the issue is whether an opinion/argument is well-documented and well-reasoned. The world is full of weak arguments by many people, including many famous people. God has given us a brain so that we may use it without being blinded by the fame of a name.
The strength of our articles is solely in their arguments, not in any credentials or alleged authority. I never wanted it to be otherwise. Jochen Katz has no desire for fame in this world. If some readers become convinced by what I write after weighing the arguments in my articles against the arguments in Muslim articles, then I rejoice, but my reward is with my Lord and does not depend on the opinions of Muslims or Christians.
It is those arguments that MENJ tries to avoid and detract from by attacking me/us personally but ignoring the substance of what was written. That is certainly obvious in the above response.
Two days later, MENJ followed up with another posting that is found in his blog:
On that German bastard and his polemics
01 Dhul-Hijjah 1426AH
I just found out through my web logs that xypre has made a comment on one of my Op-Ed articles in response to that German dictatorial bastard who owns Answering Islam. You think I sound bitter? Well, of course I am bitter. That German bastard obviously does not know what he is talking about, but I am not going to repeat what I have said here. It suffices to note that the bastard is simply reading too much into the text and making meanings (which are not there) out of thin air.
Anyway, I thank xypre for the assessment he has made. He, unlike that German bastard, sounds like a fair person and does not read polemical intent into the text. For that, you have my appreciation.
Wallahi, Jochen Katz…if you ever step your foot in Malaysia, it will be to your great surprise that I will find great pleasure in putting my fist in your face. Oh, gee…now I sound like a terrorist, don’t I? Like hell I care!
Wallahi, Jochen Katz…if you ever step your foot in Malaysia, it will be to your great surprise that I will find great pleasure in putting my fist in your face.
"The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence." That is a quotation I recently stumbled upon, and it does not seem to be entirely inappropriate to bring it to attention at this occasion.
Really, there is not much to comment on here. Nothing beyond insults way below the belt (bastard), and a threat of physical violence. No, your announced course of action won't be a surprise at all to anyone who has read the Islamic source texts. Muhammad killed many who dared to question his status as a prophet, cf. Muhammad and his personal enemies. Pakistan even has the death penalty for insulting Muhammad officially on its law books, cf. this documentation. Where exactly should the surprise come from?
Apart from this, I want to point out that the comment by xypre is worth reading as a further evaluation of Küng's position by a third party that has not been involved in the history of debates between MENJ and Answering Islam on the issue of Muhammad's claims to prophethood.
Only day later, on 2 January 2006, Bismika Allahuma published yet another response to my little article. Okay then, let's not get tired prematurely and continue.
The Küng Controversy: An analysis of Jochen Katz’s recent tirade
02 January 2006CE | 02 Dhul-Hijjah 1426AH
Aragorn of Arathorn
Let's quickly consult a dictionary for a definition:
A long angry speech; a violent denunciation; a prolonged outburst full of censure or abuse. (Source)
I will leave it to the readers to decide whether that term was an accurate description of my short and to the point article. (With short I obviously mean only my first article, not the entirety of this page which has become rather lengthy by now.) Violent? An outburst full of abuse? Hm, does that remind us of something we have seen recently?
Granted, the author did not intend to be accurate but tried to stack the deck before starting the discussion. To each one what he prefers and deserves.
Hm, I still feel like splitting hairs... Note that date! Only four days after my article (29 December), this is still an early response compared to my late response (six days after their article). If MENJ, the executive editor of Bismika Allahuma, intended "early" to be a derogatory epithet, he should at least have delayed the response of his author until it would be later than mine. But one can't be mindful of everything all the time, right?
Coming to think of it ... Maybe that was meant sarcastic and he wanted to say that a response nearly a week later was rather late? After all, Bismika Allahuma recently made this announcement:
72 hour response
01 November 2005CE | 29 Ramadhan 1426AH
In the future, we intend to come up with a 72-hour response time policy, i.e. whenever Answering Islam rolls out a new polemic, it will be dissected, analysed, refuted by our team and published within 72 hours. This will be implemented in stages, insha'allah. Please pray for the success of this agenda. (Source)
Is "early" now good or bad? I am confused. At least the above statement is proof positive that Bismika Allahuma does indeed have a rather strong focus on responding to our site, despite claims to the contrary.
Anyway, after having been held up by the header for so long, let's finally proceed into the content of the response.
Some time ago, MENJ1 published Hans Kung's view of the Prophet Muhammad(P) along with a brief editor's note.
1. In his capacity as executive editor of Bismika Allahuma
Since this won't happen too often, I just wanted to take the occasion to congratulate the author on making a correct statement after starting on the wrong foot with the terminology in the title. Moreover, given MENJ's earlier outcry displayed above, it can't harm to place text and footnote in close proximity here, so that the reader can see it together. Onwards in the text by Aragorn of Arathorn:
It seems that Jochen Katz was quite outraged at this2 but more so at the "editor's note" and soon after published a "response".
Excuse me. Where exactly was I outraged? The rage of MENJ was obvious in what I quoted from him above. But what statement of my article did lead you to that conclusion? I simply and factually objected to a formulation and pointed out a conceptual error in Küng's thesis. That is all.
In short, Katz is saying that Küng is only expressing his own personal opinion about the Prophet Muhammad(P) and does not represent all Christians. He objects to the editor's following statement (underlined by Katz): ". . . Hans Küng who conveys the Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad(P)."
Of course the editor did not argue that Hans Küng was representing all the Christians and has recently corrected his statement so that it now reads: "…Hans Küng who conveys a Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad(P)." Certainly, there is no one view among Christians regarding Prophet Muhammad(P) and so, just as Hans Küng does not speak for all Christians, Answering Islam certainly does not speak for all Christians.
I have already commented on the history which led me to the stated conclusion. I do not need to repeat myself here. It was certainly not without foundation. [However, as this history will become important again, I am giving a very detailed outline of it below.]
Again, I never pretended to speak for all Christians but that, too, was already explained above.
Aragorn of Arathorn (AoA) continues:
MENJ has great difficulties to answer our arguments against Muhammad's claim to prophethood. Not being able to respond with anything that is truly convincing, he seemingly tries to oust us from this debate by claiming that our arguments are not genuinely Christian, and therefore Christians and others should not listen to us.
This is a senseless argument. It does not follow that you are "ignoring" or plan not to address issues simply because you, on one occasion, bring to light someone's view on a particular subject. bismikaallahuma.org deals with a variety of subjects related to Islam (and Christianity) and so wide ranging papers are to be found therein. At times responses to Answering Islam are uploaded (and stated as such) and on other occasions, different papers are put up that do not relate to something presented within Answering Islam. Katz, it seems, has a very difficult time understanding this.
Not at all difficult. Given that you have not even tried to explain this before, don't you think it shows a certain prejudice on your part to conclude that I have difficult time understanding this?
I agree, in the new set-up of your site, barely three and a half months old, you now have a broader spectrum of materials. Before that time, which is before you joined this effort, bismikaallahuma.org was rather narrowly focused on responding to Answering Islam besides attacking the Bible in general. Even now, the above quoted "72 hour response time policy" gives evidence how much Answering Islam is the focus of your attention. There is no point in trying to downplay this.
On this instance, MENJ simply presented one particular Christians view regarding Prophet Muhammad(P) merely to show that not all Christians think alike or have the same views, opinions and beliefs about Prophet Muhammad(P). I don't see how Katz concluded from this that MENJ "seemingly" tried to "oust" others from the discussions by putting online the views of a Christian scholar. Instead, this seems to be one of Katz's delusions.
Your name appeared on this site the first time only a few weeks ago. Unless you are yet another reincarnation of Johnny Bravo, a.k.a. Usman Sheikh, a previously industrious author who mysteriously disappeared from your site after his efforts in this particular project got prematurely aborted (cf. this series of articles), you have simply not been around long enough to know much about this history.
It is always dangerous to barge into something of which you don't have a clue. Whether old or new, you did not care enough to get informed before you started writing. Apparently you have not even read MENJ's earlier "rebuttals" on this very issue despite the fact that I explicitly referred to them in my article. Never publish a rebuttal before knowing all the facts.
Here is what MENJ wrote in the second round of the discussion:
In their hasty attempt to obfuscate and attack anything that invalidates their claims regarding the Prophet's(P) experiences during the period known as the Fatrah, the Christian missionary Sam Shamoun had released a verbal barrage of rhetorical nonsense in his (ridiculously-)titled "A Christian Perspective[!] of the Fatrah of Muhammad". Needless to mention, it is neither "Christian" nor it is balanced in its "perspective", as the author simply remains true to the form of the missionary tradition. ... After bawling out nonsensical paragraphs of what we consider as having nothing to do with his alleged "Christian Perspective" of the Fatrah, Sam Shamoun claims: ... (Source; underline emphasis mine)
MENJ did exactly what I had said: He claimed that our perspective, in this case Sam Shamoun's perspective, is not even a (genuine or legitimate) Christian perspective. And in the paper currently under discussion he wrote or at least approved somebody's comment that what Küng wrote is THE Christian perspective. True, he could not but correct this statement after I had voiced my objection, but it all fits hand in glove. This editorial comment was absolutely consistent with what he had written earlier.
If nothing else, this discussion has forced both MENJ and you to admit that
"... may we be justified in saying that Katz's opinion is only one opinion and does not represent ALL Christians in their opinion of the Prophet (P)?" (MENJ)
"Certainly, there is no one view among Christians regarding Prophet Muhammad(P) and so, just as Hans Küng does not speak for all Christians, Answering Islam certainly does not speak for all Christians." (AoA)
Leaving open how many Christians each of these opinions represents, and which opinion is the one closer to the biblical view, you are now at least implicitly admitting that our position is a legitimately Christian one. Turning your negative statement into a positive one: None of us is speaking for all Christians, but we are speaking for some Christians, just as Hans Küng is speaking for some Christians. So, this is definite progress, and a clear reversal of earlier statements on your site.
Similarly, it is hard to see how he could come up with the wondrous conclusion that MENJ supposedly has "difficulties" answering the polemics at Answering Islam or that he is allegedly "not able to respond" to the polemics. This is Katz's wishful thinking.
As you have apparently not yet read these exchanges, at least not carefully enough, I would recommend that you first do so. Maybe conclusion is based on a lot more than wishful thinking.
In short, when MENJ published the views of one Christian, or that other time wrote a paper addressing an issue/topic not commented upon at answering-islam, it does not mean that he "seemingly" tries to oust others, or that he is ignoring something. The writers of Bismika Allahuma will continue dealing with missionary polemics, as it is convinient for them, and also continue presenting papers on other subject matters.
There is no objection against publishing whatever he likes, and he does not have to restrict himself to responses to articles published by us. My comments were very specific to formulations used in this particular debate, not in reference to articles by him in general.
However, we have seen in this very example, that he indeed ignored my main argument against Küng's thesis despite the fact that he introduced his rebuttal with these words:
There are several issues in this reaction by Jochen Katz, the de facto dictator of Answering Islam, that needs to be corrected. We shall briefly respond to each of the allegations, which are ... (underline emphasis mine)
There were only two points in my article. Despite his promise, he responded only to the first one and completely ignored the second one, unless AoA considers the statement, "we will not be bothered about the rest of his polemical diatribe", to be sufficient to be counted as a response.
Furthermore, Katz simply attempts to poison the well when he unleashes his subjective personal opinions regarding the effectiveness of MENJ's replies as if they are uncontested "facts" observable by all. Using the same type of "argument", I can say: I think MENJ has done a fantastic job in exposing many polemics and that Katz and his friends have difficulties defending their claims, the historicity and integrity of the New Testament in particular, and are utterly incapable to respond with anything that is truly convincing. So, will Katz and his friends stop writing after reading this opinion of mine and depart from the scene fully convinced that they are doing a rather lousy job because I say so? Such types of "arguments" only reveal Katz's inner frustrations.
My only frustration is currently that I have to discuss with somebody who does not read what I wrote and writes mere nonsense. Every one of my articles is my subjective opinion, just as every one of your articles is your subjective opinion. Have you ever operated under any other assumption? Do you live with the illusion that you are able to write objectively, without any bias? Then your condition is worse than I imagined.
Side note: The beginning of knowledge is to realize how little we know. Already Socrates realized that. And the beginning of becoming more objective is to realize how subjective and biased everyone of us is by nature. Recognizing your own biases and assumptions is the first step to move beyond them and to start thinking afresh. It is the controversial debate of subjective opinions (without trying to threaten those who hold opposing views) that can lead us to more objective insights. When new ideas are considered threats and questioning our religious convictions is censored, then people have no chance to leave their subjective opinions. What is the reason that most Muslim societies try to keep a tight control of the media? Why is the fear factor so important in Islam?
Back to our discussion: I was not talking about every issue that MENJ has ever written about. I did not mention "the historicity and integrity of the New Testament in particular". Why are you trying to distract from the very specific debate on the topic whether or not Muhammad is a true prophet of God, a prophet in the tradition of the biblical prophets? This and only this was the topic in the article Hans Küng On “Is Muhammad A Prophet?”, this and only this was discussed in my article that responded to yours. And for this specific issue I gave the links to the earlier articles on the same topic, so that not one of the readers of my article would have to depend on my subjective opinion, but could immediately check out those papers and evaluate them for himself.
Nowhere did I expect readers to simply believe me without checking into the discussion and documentation for themselves. In my article I gave the relevant links and urged people to read them. So, your above paragraph completely missed the target. It is a mere straw man argument.
Let me repeat what I had written with some added emphasis:
Dr. Küng is welcome to study the papers listed in our general section on the life and teachings of Muhammad, and to examine in particular the arguments presented in the series of articles by Silas, Sam Shamoun and MENJ debating on the prophethood of Muhammad. If he can correct us on the basis of the Bible, we certainly want to hear it.
Whether or not Dr. Küng is going to enter the discussion, the readers should aquaint themselves with the facts and arguments that are listed in these articles and which need to be taken into consideration in order to reach an informed conclusion.
Do you see anything of "just believe me, there is no need to bother with checking out the sources or thinking for yourself"? Your carricature of my approach is a rather desperate attempt to mislead your readers.
Katz also writes:
The use of this article by MENJ is nothing but the fallacy of appeal to authority.
Well, is there something "wrong" in presenting someone's views and opinions for the reading of others? MENJ was, after all, not using Kung in support of any argument, but simply presenting one Christian opinion. There is nothing wrong with this. Therefore he was not committing the fallacy of appeal to authority.
Again, there is nothing wrong with "presenting someone's views and opinions for the reading of others". I have said that many times by now. That was not my point in the original article. With nearly every statement, context is crucial. This article was not published in a vacuum. This article was not published without a purpose even though the purpose was not explicitly mentioned by adding a commentary or conclusion by the Muslim editor. It still had a purpose. What was that purpose? What was the effect that the editor hoped to achieve by publishing it?
Is there anything wrong in pondering what may be the unstated purpose behind a certain publication and then discussing it? Obviously, there is a certain danger of getting those conclusions wrong, since it was not spelled out explicitly, but I can leave it to the judgment of the readers whether I made a sufficiently coherent case in what I wrote.
Let me present you, as well as the general reader, with another thought: If my educated guess about the intention behind publishing this article had been completely wrong, it would probably not have gotten this violent reaction. You would rather have silently rejoiced that you fooled me. Because I am groping in the dark in regard to your true purpose, it will be even more certain that it will achieve its actual goal. As a general rule, people do not get angry about what is irrelevant to them. If they get angry then usually because somebody destroyed what they have worked for. Could it be that my interpretation as to the purpose of this publication was right on target, and because it rendered the article pretty much useless, this explains why the reactions are what they are?
To illustrate: If there are not one but ten different Christian opinions about Muhammad then by reducing the verdict on Küng's statement from "the Christian opinion" to "a Christian opinion" the article lost 90% of its face value by simple statistics. If, in addition, my second point invalidated Küng's reasoning then it moved from an original 100% down to virtually zero. No wonder that MENJ got rather mad at me for having to change "the" to "a". Again, this is speculation but it makes sense of the observed facts. Why else would he call me a "dictator", "Nazi!" and "bastard"?
Furthermore, is appealing to an authority always wrong? In the papers on Katz's own website, numerous Christian apologists, missionaries and orientalists are quoted as authorities in support of this or that argument. So if Katz has no problems when it comes to appealing to authorities in arguments against Islam, then he should not object to Muslims when they appeal to authorities in support of their own arguments. However, let me remind you again: since there are many views current among Christians regarding Prophet Muhammad(P), something that would not be denied by Katz, MENJ presented the view of one particular Christian scholar for others to read. Katz is reading too much into the paper on this occasion.
AoA seems to not to have understood what the fallacy of appeal to authority is. It is beyond the scope of this exchange to discuss this fundamental concept. Instead of making a general statement (his subjective misinterpretation of what we are doing) as if it were a fact, he would have to point out where exactly we are committing this fallacy. As it stands, his statement is a claim without any evidence.
Even if he had quoted and appealed to the Pope, this would still not exempt him from dealing with the facts and arguments.
Of course, and where did MENJ say or indicate that he would ignore dealing with the alleged "facts" and "arguments" because he is quoting Küng? Where did he state or imply that his presentation of Küng's view "settled" everything once and for all so that there was no longer any need for him to address the polemics on Answering Islam or any other site for that matter? Nowhere. Katz is "engaging" with suggestions that were simply never made or even implied. Really, Katz…take it easy and don't try to read what is not there. As readers will see, the contributers to Bismika Allahuma will continue refuting missionary polemics and exposing — what we believe are — distortions, despite the presentation of the views of Hans Küng. Moreover, in the future, we will present similar views and opinions of other Christians as well for the reading of others.
Again, I was not talking about addressing this or that arbitrary topic on our site or elsewhere. I was very specific. I commented only on MENJ's response or lack thereof in regard to the discussion of the prophethood of Muhammad. Here again are the relevant links: one, two. Those are not the only relevant pages. They are only the starting points that contain further links to all the relevant articles in this discussion.
Perhaps I should rather spell them out in detail since a simple reference was clearly not sufficient last time. Okay, then, let me expand on the table that is contained in the first of the above given links.
|||Silas' original article:||Muhammad's Suicide Attempts|
|||Reply by MENJ:||The Fatrah: Intermission of the Prophet Muhammad|
|||Response to MENJ  by Sam Shamoun:||A Christian Perspective of the Fatrah of Muhammad|
|||Response to MENJ  by Silas:||Comments on a Response to "Muhammad's Suicide Attempts"|
|||Reply by MENJ to  & :||The Psychological Impact of The Fatrah Experience|
|||Response to MENJ  by Sam Shamoun:||The complete failure of MENJ's alleged "Decisive Refutation"|
|||MENJ's appeal to authority (1)
(replying to one statement in )
The Genuineness of The Prophet(P)|
& Its Similarity With The Experiences of the Biblical Prophets
|||Response to MENJ  by Sam Shamoun:||The Dissimilarity of Muhammad’s Religious Experiences|
With The Experiences of the Biblical Prophets
|||MENJ's (?) appeal to authority (2)||Hans Küng On “Is Muhammad A Prophet?”|
|||Response to  by Jochen Katz:||This present discussion|
Article  was MENJ's first and very explicit appeal to authority in this matter. In article  it was only implicit, but it nevertheless was the second appeal to authority on this very same issue. Could it be that MENJ (?) did not explicitly connect it with our earlier discussion in the hope that we would not connect it either? In any case, it clearly belongs into this context.
Another series of articles relevant to this topic is Sam Shamoun's rebuttal to Usman Sheikh's attempt to defend Muhammad's claim to prophethood:
|||Muhammad's Bewitchment ([Part 1], [Part 2], [Part 3])|
|||Reply to  by Nadir Ahmed & Usman Sheikh|
|||Response to  by Sam Shamoun|
|||Muslim article on this topic (but not a direct response to the above arguments)|
|||Response to  by Sam Shamoun|
Looking at all these articles, at the entirety of the discussion, it is my personal and subjective opinion that the responses provided by MENJ / Bismika Allahuma have not been convincing. Nevertheless, so that the reader can form his own opinion and does not have to take my word for it, all the necessary links are provided here.
Based on the above listed sequence of articles, it appears that MENJ has now switched to posting opinions of others in this general area instead of answering to our arguments. Hans Küng is not dealing with our arguments. His article only adds to the number of people who think Muhammad is a prophet, but it does nothing to refute the objections raised in the above articles. However, this issue is not decided by the number of votes. Quality cannot be substituted by quantity. Therefore, I maintain my evaluation that in the context of this history, this publication was nothing but an (implicit) appeal to authority.
Here is another rather interesting observation: When the above listed articles (, , , ) were first published on Bismika Allahuma,  linked to ,  linked to  & ,  linked to , and  linked to , making it explicit in each case which article was responded to. After Bismika Allahuma was revamped in September 2005, all those links were removed from the articles. It is not that Bismika Allahuma has a new principle to no longer link to the articles they are responding to (there are still links in other articles responding to our site or other sites, e.g., *, *, *). However, the links are removed on the above articles and — as far as I can see — on all of those articles that directly and strongly question the prophethood of Muhammad.
Based on this observation, it seems that AoA is simply not aware of or up-to-date in regard to the procedures of the site he is working for when he claims:
... At times responses to Answering Islam are uploaded (and stated as such) ...
Take for example the above listed article  and try to guess whom MENJ is responding to. It mentions neither the name of our site, Answering Islam, nor Sam Shamoun, the name of the author of the article the quotation is taken from, nor does he reference the URL of the article they are responding to. It only refers several times to "the missionary" as if there is only one such missionary and everyone knows him so well that no further details are necessary.
The same observation can be made about article . Even though every other quotation that is found in this article is meticulously referenced in the footnotes, the quotation taken from Silas' paper remains undocumented. Neither the name of the author, nor the title of the paper, nor the address of the webpage is given. The paper only speaks about "one particular missionary" and "The aforementioned missionary". These responses (*, *) to two other articles by Silas do not have links either, although another article (*) that was uploaded on the same day, contains a link to the article on our site that it is responding to.
Article  betrays that there once was a link since it begins with the words: "The following is our partial response to the tirade authored by the belligerent Christian missionary Sam Shamoun, to be found here." However, the "here" consists of nothing more than four simple letters. The link was removed. Although the name of the author is provided at this time, it is hardly sufficient since we have more than 300 articles by Sam Shamoun on our site, and some more articles by this prolific writer are located on other websites.
More examples could be given. Obviously, MENJ can easily put back all those links and I expect him to do so quickly, since this observation is just too incriminating. Nevertheless, this is the current state at the time of publication of my response to AoA (7 January 2006, 10 AM German time).
Given this observation, the author's attack on me that was discussed above appears even more silly and hypocritical. We are consistently linking to allow easy comparison (see also our site policies), while Bismika Allahuma is not.
We never said that Muhammad is not a prophet because the Vatican or some other Christian authority denies him that position, but we evaluated Muhammad's claims to prophethood on the basis of the biblical criteria for a true prophet. Muhammad clearly fails those.
First, neither did MENJ say or imply that Muhammad(P) is a prophet "because" the Vatican or some other Christian authority says so, nor did he imply that Katz and his friends should accept Muhammad(P) based on Küng's view, so what is Katz talking about and "responding" to? Therefore Katz's comments are utterly baseless. Essentially, Katz is making a huge fuss over the presentation of one Christians view and is letting his imagination run wild to give his audience the wrong and misleading impression about our editor's stance. His purpose, it seems to me, is to deliberately simplify the editor's brief note through a systematic distortion and construction of red herrings.
It will be up to the reader to decide whether or not I have given sufficient evidence, or if all of this was baseless. There is nothing more to add, this ground has already been covered.
Second, Katz again presents his personal subjective opinions as if they are "facts" observable by all. We certainly do not believe that he has made any sensible arguments and we will continue addressing his polemics on this website, letting the readers decide for themselves.
Currently at least, you are not making it easy for the readers to decide for themselves. One could get the impression that you would prefer it if readers see only your articles without comparing them to those that you are allegedly refuting. Perhaps you will add back those links in the future and correct this so that the readers are enabled to decide for themselves who makes sensible arguments and who does not.
Nor has he "demonstrated" that the Bible is the inerrant word of God to act as credible criteria for any matter. For him to use the Bible as a "criteria" means nothing to Muslims since we don't accept the Bible and using ones scriptures in this manner only amounts to circular reasoning.
The credibility of the Bible was not the topic of the discussion. Küng claimed that Muhammad was a prophet in the tradition of the Biblical prophets. Such a claim can only be made on the assumption of the reliability of the Bible. Otherwise you will arrive at rather intersting conclusions, e.g.: Muhammad stands in the tradition of prophets whose books all got corrupted. Muhammad is a prophet in the tradition of prophets whose books cannot be trusted. Not really the conclusions that you wanted to achieve, right?
Wouldn't you agree that you published this article because you wanted the readers to accept Küng's main conclusion (even though you may not be in agreement with every detail of the argument or the formulation of it)?
Isn't it somewhat schizophrenic to work so hard — not only in regard to this article but in the whole debate listed above — to get Muhammad accepted as a prophet in the tradition of the Biblical prophets, but reject the Bible as a book that defines those criteria for deciding what a true prophet is? What "tradition of the Biblical prophets" are you referring to if those criteria cannot be taken from the Bible?
Well, it is your own book, the Qur'an, which constantly appeals to the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians. Appealing to something that you reject as authoritative is self-contradictory and self-destructive. You may want to study the articles found here (*, *, *).
Hans Küng's article does not deal with the arguments we have presented.
Neither did MENJ claim or suggest that Hans Küng dealt with any "arguments" on Answering Islam, so why is Katz giving the false impression as if MENJ suggested that Küng's paper addressed any or all polemics at Answering Islam? Katz can do nothing more than mislead his readers through the concoction of fictitious scenarios.
This paragraph is completely silly. That is the whole point of an appeal to authority, i.e. not having to deal with the arguments. My above quoted sentence is a simple factual statement about Küng's article. MENJ is not mentioned in it. It contains absolutely no claim, or suggestion or implied impression of what MENJ thought this paper contains. In fact, in my article I said the very opposite of what you accuse me of. I said that MENJ tries to get us out of this debate (by claiming our arguments are not Christian to begin with) because he does not want to deal with these arguments. How you can then accuse me of trying to give the impression that MENJ claimed to answer our arguments with that paper is beyond me. You are desperately groping to make up some charges against me, but it isn't looking good for you.
Katz proceeds with his strange line of reasoning and ends:
Muhammad went even further, he worked hard to make the original conform to the copy be re-narrating the Biblical stories in a changed way. This is discussed in detail in the article "I am ALL the prophets".
Again he shares with us his subjected [sic!] opinions.
Wow, you cut out half of my paper, removing every bit of my main argument against Küng's thesis. So, both MENJ and AoA decided to ignore this argument. That is quite telling. And I agree, taking only the last sentence of my article, it looks like a strange line of reasoning. It was not strange when read in context, though. In fact, it was not even part of my argument, but only a recommendation for further reading, i.e. a reference to an article that discussed a related issue. So, for those interested in my actual line of reasoning, I would recommend to go back to the article and (re)read the bit that was removed.
In order to expose the full extent of his incompetence, AoA concludes his response with this:
Now I do not plan to deal with the above referred paper here, but, to briefly comment, its message can be summed up as follows:
Because the Bible says A and the Qur'an says B, the Qur'an is wrong because the Bible is the word of God and so it must always be right.
I don't know about others, but I am not impressed with this line of argument. From the Muslim perspective, similarities and differences between the Qur'anic and Biblical accounts is no problem at all since that only means that God has corrected the mistakes within the Biblical accounts and revealed the true accounts within the Qur'an. Christians might say "but this is circular argument, you have assumed the Qur'an to be inspired", but the Christians have also conveniently assumed the Bible to be inspired and inerrant to put forth their arguments.
That summary has nothing to do with my paper. I wonder whether you actually read it. Since you were not able to summarize the paper, it is not surprising that you were not impressed. If that had been the line of reasoning, I would not have been impressed either. That paper makes a number of observations that explain the possible reason for the differences. That is completely different from your above misrepresentation. In any case, since you did not deal with this paper, I see no point in dealing here with that which you did not deal with here. I may deal with your response if and when you actually deal with my paper. Fair enough?
However, so that you won't miss the point next time over, let me give an analogy in order to clarify what this paper is really about.
Anyone who has ever read detective stories knows that one of the essential issues in investigating a crime, particularly if there are several possible suspects, is the question of who had a motive to commit the crime. People are both lazy and fear punishment if discovered. So, if there is no benefit they will usually not risk the associated dangers. In our case, we have two books giving different versions of the same stories. The question is: Which party had an interest in corrupting the stories of the biblical prophets? Who expected to gain a benefit from doing so? You claim that the Bible is wrong and the suspect who is responsible for the corruption are the Jews and/or Christians. My suspect is Muhammad. What I did in this paper is to present the possible motivation of Muhammad for changing the stories of the Biblical prophets. Since Muhammad had a strong motive, I conclude it is therefore probable that he is guilty and, consequently, the Qur'an is wrong.
Speaking in the above analogy, you summarized my paper as if I had argued: Suspect B (Muhammad) is guilty because suspect A is my friend, and therefore he cannot have done it. That is a complete misrepresentation. I did not argue on the basis of personal commitment or sympathy. I made a clear case for a possible motive. That is what you have to deal with. If you want to refute my paper, I am ALL the prophets, you need to show that my case for Muhammad's motive is wrong or, at least, that suspect A (the Jews / Christians) had a much stronger motivation for corrupting those stories. Alternatively, you have to bring clear proof, e.g. eyewitness testimony, that suspect A committed the crime despite the apparent lack of a motive.
Putting aside our suppositions and beliefs for a moment, how can we know that the Biblical accounts are really "the original"? What evidence is there to show the Bible is right in everything it says? I have not seen Katz and his friends present such evidence that we can all analyze. They have simply and piously assumed the Bible to be "inspired" and thus "correct" no matter what, and so this assumption of "inspiration" is the bases of their arguments for the rejection of the Qur'an. Not impressive.
The question about the authenticity, reliability and credibility of the Bible is certainly important, but it was simply not the topic of Küng's article, nor the topic of my comment on Küng's article. I like sticking to the topic, discussing one issue at a time, and not constantly getting side-tracked into a dozen different directions. Maybe you have not seen it, because you never even tried to look?
How about you apply yourself to all the unanswered issues that are found in the articles listed above, instead of throwing out red herrings?
Muslims have already started to refute such types of unimpressive "arguments" from the Christians and will continue to do so in the future. For now see these refutations.
Well, that is a nice list of many topics, but as far as I could see, none of them responds either to my present article, nor to the one that I recommended as further reading and which you decided to completely misrepresent in your "summary".
Now, let me repay Katz with the same favour by applying his example upon the New Testament:
Matthew and Luke re-narrated Mark in a changed way in their gospels by presenting a different "Jesus". The author of the gospel of John went even further and re-narrated in a changed way the story of Jesus. Paul went even further by re-narrating the entire salvation history in a changed way in his epistles.
Your language betrays you. It is about repaying, about revenge, not about dealing with the arguments. You have not understood my article, so it is no wonder you are trying to mix apples and oranges. The two have nothing to do with each other. Since you have not actually made a reasoned argument, there is nothing to refute.
A note on the name Aragorn of Arathorn:
It is rather obvious that the author is writing under a pseudonym. However, it is not just any pseudonym, but the name of a very special character in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". Aragorn was the true king of Gondor (hence "Return of the King"). Given that kingship is rejected in Islam for anyone but Allah, i.e. there is no sovereignty except Allah's, one could certainly wonder what this Muslim was thinking by assuming this pseudonym.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The vilest name in Allah's sight is Malik al-Amlak (King of Kings). The narration transmitted on the authority of Shaiba (contains these words): There is no king but Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. Sufyan said: Similarly, the word Shahinshah (is also the vilest appellation). Ahmad b. Hanbal said: I asked Abu 'Amr about the meaning of Akhna. He said: The vilest. (Sahih Muslim, Book 025, Number 5338, see also Number 5339)
Even more, Tolkien was a Christian and his trilogy conveys much of biblical truth in form of fiction. It is not an allegory with every character having a direct correspondent, but Aragorn is nevertheless a type/symbol for Jesus who will return and resume rulership over the kingdom that is rightfully his (cf. John 1, Luke 19, Revelation 19). These parallels are observed by many, and in contexts that have nothing to do with religious discussion, e.g.
... let's take as an example the notion of a "King of Kings" like Jesus the Christ, or Aragorn of Arathorn in J.R.R. Tolkien's ringlore ... (Source)
So, assuming the name "Aragorn of Arathorn" is truly a sign of humility. The King of kings and righful ruler of this world?
And, of the course, the central theme of "The Lord of the Rings" is about laying down power (Frodo and the ring quest), whereas Muhammad took it up. [Frodo is another symbol for the ministry of Jesus, as he effectively "dies" (and is reborn through his journey from the Grey Havens) to bring the ring quest to fruition and destroy the power of evil (Mark 10:45, Matthew 16:21, 1 John 3:8).] One may also observe parallels between the rule of Sauron, seeking to squash any self expression and individuality, and that of Islam ...
To gain a deeper understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien and his legacy, visit Lord of the Rings: True Mythology.
Event history of this discussion so far:
|||23 December 2005||MENJ posts:||Hans Küng On “Is Muhammad A Prophet?”|
|||29 December 2005||Review of  by J. Katz:||Is Hans Küng the New Pope?|
|30 December 2005||based on my objections, MENJ corrects several errors in the editorial comment|
|||30 December 2005||Reply to  by MENJ:||Splitting hairs, the “Jochen Katz” way|
|||1 January 2006||Reply to  by MENJ:||On that German bastard and his polemics|
|||2 January 2006||Reply to  by AoA:||The Küng Controversy: An analysis of Jochen Katz’s recent tirade|
|||5 January 2006||J. Katz:||Introduction, Clarification, Reply to , Reply to  are added to this page|
|6 or 7 January 2006||MENJ quickly removes posting  from his blog|
|||7 January 2006||J. Katz:||Reply to  is added to this page|
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