The Küng Controversy: An Analysis of Jochen Katz’s Recent Tirade

Some time ago, MENJ1 published Hans Kung’s view of the Prophet Muhammad (P) along with a brief editor’s note. It seems that Jochen Katz was quite outraged at this2 but more so at the “editor’s note” and soon after published a “response”.

In short, Katz is saying that Kung 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 Kung conveys the Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad(P).” Of course the editor did not argue that Hans Kung is representing all the Christians and has recently corrected his statement so that it now reads: “…Hans Kung 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 Kung does not speak for all Christians, Answering Islam certainly does not speak for all Christians.

Katz writes:

    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 therefore 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.

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. 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. 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.

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.

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. 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.

Katz says:

    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 Kung here did he state or imply that his presentation of Kung’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 Kung. Moreover, in the future, we will present similar views and opinions of other Christians as well for the reading of others.

Katz writes:

    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 Kung’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.

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. 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.

Katz writes:

    Hans Kung’s article does not deal with the arguments we have presented.

Neither did MENJ claim or suggest that Hans Kung had dealt with any “arguments” on Answering Islam, so why is Katz giving the false impression as if MENJ suggested that Kung’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.

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 opinions. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Footnotes

  1. In his capacity as executive editor of Bismika Allahuma []
  2. Perhaps what came across Katz’s mind was “how dare a Christian say something positive about Muhammad(P)?” []

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