Jalal Abualrub’s "pack of lies"

Ignorance or Deception?

It is a regular feature of Abualrub's propaganda articles to call all those LIARS who dare to express an opinion that is annoying to Abualrub. In my view, that is an absolutely unacceptable behavior, and I have informed him about this in private communication. In fact, he even refers to my private email in this article:

Jochen Katz , of answeringislam.org, has at least one complaint. He recently stated in one of his emails to me that I, Jalal Abualrub, have a habit of accusing Evangelicals of lying. Hence, here is an article in which I will explain why I feel this strongly about Evangelicals. ...

And before Jochen sends me another protest via email as to my continued use of the word ‘lying' while describing Evangelical writings, ...

Abualrub is apparently not willing to listen to a friendly private advice to change his language. Instead, he goes right on, feeling himself fully justified to do so. However, his feelings do not set the standard of what is appropriate or inappropriate in reasoned discussions and debates. It seems that he needs to be called to account publically for his unacceptable behavior.

Although this is a problem in nearly every article that Abualrub has published in response to Christians, I will refer to and quote from only one of his articles, i.e. his first response to our section on contradictory statements in the Qur'an.

On Answering Islam we have published a number of articles comparing various statements in the Qur'an that appear to be contradictory. Abualrub is quite irate about that, and therefore he attacks me and all Evangelicals with personal insults. Let me quote some of his statements to illustrate the point:

... I am disgusted by the level of ignorance and intentional deceit that this man and his authors resort to so as to satisfy their rage and extreme hatred for Islam. ...

This is only an ‘ advance payment ' to be followed by extensive rebuttals of the list of lies that Katz and his authors have compiled thinking that this would frustrate the glorious spread of Islam that is being witnessed all over the world. No doubt, Falsehood shall be exposed and Truth shall become triumphant, and the Unjust shall come to know the consequences of their wicked actions when they meet the One and Only Creator of all that exists.

... Instead of recognizing their deficient knowledge in the Quran, they resort to the easier course of action, lying.

... One should carefully read these Verses as transliterated from the original Arabic and judge for oneself if three [sic] is a contradiction in the Quran, or if this is a lie invented by ‘Katz & Cohorts':

By reading these three Verses, one must conclude the following: that the words, “ with your Lord ”, appear only once in these three Verses; that these three Verses are discussing three different topics, i.e. three different contexts, i.e. three distinct stories, i.e. the very ‘thing' that if one hides, one becomes liable to be called ‘a liar'. Katz now knows why I justly and frequently accuse many Evangelicals of lying.

I promise Katz and his authors that I will dismantle the terrible PACK OF LIES posted on their website ... (Source; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Note: The title of this paper is obviously derived from that last statement. As indicated by the quotation marks, the phrase "pack of lies" belong to Abualrub since he is the one who used that expression to refer to our website.

Before we can discuss Abualrub's charges, we need to be clear about the definitions. Does Abualrub even know what is and what is not a lie?

Lying means to deliberately state (say, write, publish, propagate) something which one knows to be wrong.

Not every wrong statement is a lie. There are various categories of errors and mistakes. The most trivial ones are like typos. Despite knowing how to spell a word correctly, one still types it incorrectly occasionally. Checking this situation against our definition, we conclude: Although one knows this spelling to be wrong, it is only a mistake. It is not a lie, because it is not intentional.

Next, there are errors of fact. For hundreds of years people believed and stated that the sun orbits around the earth just like the moon. Those people were not lying. They were in error, they were mistaken. They did not know better. They were honest and sincere but wrong. New research into issues of science and history is constantly correcting such errors. Nevertheless, every day millions of people continue to make false statements about issues which have already been clarified by modern science but which most people simply do not yet know about. These are not lies, they are errors. Usually people readily correct themselves on these issues, after they find out they were wrong.

"Power corrupts" is a well known saying. There is a lot of dishonesty and corruption and lying going on in politics all around the world. Some corrupt leaders know exactly that they are lying to the public and even to their own followers. However, their followers who repeat these statements are not lying. They have been misled. They believe the words of their leader to be true, and repeat it because they think it is true. Oftentimes a leader makes a statement and his followers then repeat the same statement, but in the first case it is a lie, in the second case it is an error because they did not know that they have listened to a lie.

Whether or not a statement is a lie is determined mainly by the intention of the person who issued the statement. Actually, with a small change of definition, people can be lying while they are saying the truth. Person A may be convinced that person B committed a crime (theft, fraud, murder, ...), but for whatever reason wants to protect him from punishment and propagates that this person is innocent. However, it is possible that A is wrong in his conviction, and B is actually innocent. In such a case, I would still say that A lied, because he intended to mislead, although he accidentally and unknowingly said the truth.

Finally, there are many issues on which one can legitimately hold different opinions. Should the president of a country be elected directly by the people, or should the people elect representatives and the representatives (e.g. the parliament) then elect the president? Should the health care system be run by the government and be paid out of taxes, or should it be organized in such a way that people have to pay private insurance companies if they want health insurance? People often have very strong convictions about these issues, but since there is no obvious standard on which to decide right or wrong, one cannot say with certainty that one way is the only correct way and others are wrong, and that those who are propagating the wrong way are therefore liars.

Regarding certain events in history people often have different opinions. Quite often we simply do not have all the pieces to the puzzle to know for sure what exactly happened and why. Various interpretations are possible. Different people can honestly and sincerely hold to different interpretations.

Texts, also religious texts, regularly allow different interpretations. Catholics and Protestants differ in their understanding of some Biblical passages. Presbyterians and Pentecostal Christians differ in their interpretation of some other passages. Various Muslim groups (Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, etc.), or even individuals within the same group, differ in their interpretation of certain passages in the Qur'an. They honestly and sincerely hold to different convictions. None of them is lying.

Unless one can prove that the other side lied, i.e. that they deliberately said what they know to be wrong, it is unacceptable to accuse them of lying.

Back to Abualrub's article. Disregarding the seventy percent of empty but highly emotional polemics, the only real issue discussed by Abualrub was the question whether or not the statements in Surah 22:47, 32:5, and 70:4 are contradictory, as suggested in an article on our site. Here are the verses:

And they will bid thee hasten on the Doom, and Allah faileth not His promise, but lo! a Day with Allah is as a thousand years of what ye reckon. S. 22:47

He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth; then it ascendeth unto Him in a Day, whereof the measure is a thousand years of that ye reckon. S. 32:5

From Allah, Lord of the Ascending Stairways (Whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years. S. 70:3-4

The Qur'an Contradictions section contains an article that lists several numerical difficulties in the Qur'an. The above verses are referred to in the first section of that article, which asks the following question:

Numerical discrepancies in the Qur'an:

Does Allah's day equal to 1,000 (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 years (Sura 70:4)?

Observe how similar 32:5 and 70:4 are worded (in English - I don't know the Arabic) "ascend unto him in a day the measure whereof is [fifty] thousand years [of your reckoning]."

Maybe it originally was "fifty thousand" in both and "fifty" dropped out in one place? A corrupted manuscript? Or does God just not know how to relate the length of his days to human years?

Muslim responses: First, second, third, fourth

These links to Muslim responses on this question show that we are more than willing to engage in a respectful discussion of these issues with any Muslim who desires to do so. And, those articles show that there exist Muslims who are able to discuss such issues with us without feeling the need to insult us.

This present article is not the place for an in-depth discussion of these verses. That has already been done in great detail in the earlier discussions (refer to the above links) and now also in Sam Shamoun's new response to Abualrub.

I want to highlight only the following observation. Al-Qurtubi is one of the respected classical Muslim commentators on the Qur'an. In his Tafsir (commentary), we find the following statements made in the discussion of Surah 32:5, one of the above verses in question:

"A day, the space whereof will be a thousand years" is the day of resurrection, based upon the sayings that were narrated earlier …

As for the verse, "The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years (Sura 70:4)" THIS IS IN CONFLICT WITH THE PREVIOUS VERSE (Sura 32:5). Abdullah Ibn Fairuz Al-Dilmy asked Abdullah Ibn Abbas about this verse, as well as Allah’s saying, "a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years" (Sura 70:4) and his response was, "These are days that were named by the Most High, AND I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. For I would hate to say about it (the Day) WHAT I DO NOT KNOW."

Sa’id Ibn Al-Musa’yib was then asked about (the difference in the Day) and he replied, "I DO NOT KNOW." I then informed him about the response of Ibn Abbas (regarding this topic) so Ibn Al-Musa’yib replied to (me) the inquirer, "This Ibn Abbas has refrained from commenting on this issue and he is more knowledgeable than I." ... (quoted as found in this article)

Roughly ten years ago, when I discovered this discrepancy and I wrote the question, "Does Allah's day equal to 1,000 (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 years (Sura 70:4)?" (see above), I did not have access to the classical commentaries. I was at the very beginning of my discussions with Muslims and my own personal study of the Qur'an. Muslims asked me questions on what they considered contradictions in the Bible, and I asked questions about what appeared to be contradictions in the Qur'an.

Jalal Abualrub feels that this gives him the necessary justification to call me a liar, who is practicing intentional deceit, who commits wicked actions, that this is a lie invented by ‘Katz & Cohorts’, and all this only to satisfy their rage and extreme hatred for Islam.

Could it be that it is actually somebody else who is "raging" here, and acting in "extreme hatred"?

Today I know that I simply discovered on my own something that respectable Muslims had discovered and written about before. Ibn Abbas "refrained from commenting on this issue" because he could not resolve the discrepancy. Al-Qurtubi even states explicitly that S. 70:4 poses a problem when taken together with S. 32:5. Is Abualrub now going to insult Ibn Abbas and al-Qurtubi and call them liars?

I merely stated the very same problem that is found already in the classical Muslim commentaries. The only difference is that I am a non-Muslim and do not believe the Qur'an to be from God, while those people believed in the divine origin of the Qur'an despite the fact that they could not resolve this problem.

Question: Is Abualrub going to apologize to us as publically as he has attacked and insulted us with his false accusations?

Let me make a final observation regarding the formulations of Abualrub's insults:

... I am disgusted by the level of ignorance and intentional deceit that this man and his authors resort to so as to satisfy their rage and extreme hatred for Islam. ...

... Instead of recognizing their deficient knowledge in the Quran, they resort to the easier course of action, lying.

Abualrub got so emotional about the whole affair that he did not even realize that his accusations are self-contradictory. Let me quote again my above definition of what constitutes lying.

Lying means to deliberately state (say, write, publish, propagate) something which one knows to be wrong.

Abualrub accuses me/us at the same time of IGNORANCE and LYING (DECEIT). I recognize that both charges, ignorance and lying, have substantial polemical value, i.e. they evoke in the audience a negative emotional reaction towards us. However, both of these charges do not go together very well, and only a couple of seconds of calm reflection should be sufficient to make that obvious.

I don't believe that these statements in the Qur'an can be easily and satisfactorily reconciled, but for argument's sake let's assume that I am wrong, and al-Qurtubi is wrong, and there is actually no contradiction.

Then my claim that there is a contradiction could have been made out of ignorance. However, if I sincerely believe there is a contradiction, and I simply do not know better, then I am not lying. If it is ignorance, then it is not a lie but an erroneous opinion, an error.

If, on the other hand, I had lied, then this means I said it is a contradiction although I know the solution how to harmonize those verses. If I lied, then I was not ignorant.

It is EITHER ignorance (deficient knowledge) OR lying and deceit but NOT BOTH.

It remains to ask, again, whether Abualrub is actually ignorant of the meaning of the words "lie", "liar", "deceit" that he uses so frequently, or whether he uses them incorrectly deliberately, i.e. deceitfully. As we have seen above, intentional false statements are lies. People who intentionally make false statements are liars. Is that not correct, Mr. Abualrub?

We have to pose the same question of "ignorance or deception" also in regard to his use or rather non-use of Ibn Abbas' and al-Qurtubi's admission that they were not able to resolve the conflict between Surah 32:5 and 70:4.

Did you, Jalal Abualrub, know or did you not know that Ibn Abbas and al-Qurtubi considered the tension between these two verses a problem? Were you merely ignorant about this, or did you deliberately hide this from your readers and sought to deceive them with your emotional attack on me personally, on all authors of Answering Islam, and on Evangelicals in general?

Let me present just one quotation from Abualrub's next installment of attacks; a statement which may be relevant here:

For instance, I –Jalal Abualrub- am a Muslim author with more than 50 books in print and two decades of dedicating my time and effort to explaining Islam to mankind. I wrote detailed scientific rebuttals on Taghlibi’s Sujud article and also on one of the articles Katz posted where I challenged him to bring two Quranic Verses wherein is stated these words: “A day with Allah is...” and each of these Verses mentions a different number. All what Katz did instead is describe me as ignorant. What type of arrogance is this? (Source page now defunct; underline emphasis mine)

Ignorance or deception, Mr. Abualrub? The above statement suggests that he doesn't like the option of being considered ignorant. Does that then mean that he knew the statements by Ibn Abbas and al-Qurtubi, but wanted to deceive his readership by hiding them? Abualrub does not have to respond to everything in this present article, but I would certainly like to know his answer to this one question.

Actually, there is another deceptive trick in the above paragraph. Abualrub makes it appear as if I had responded to his article on "a day with Allah is ..." by calling him ignorant. That is simply not true. I published my critique of Abualrub's response to Wail Taghlibi on 25 February 2005. Until today, 29 April 2005, this was my last article commenting on anything written by Abualrub. Two weeks later, on 12 March 2005, Abualrub published his article on the "a day with Allah is ..." problem. Does Abualrub consider me to be a prophet, or how can we explain that he accuses me of responding arrogantly in February to an article that he only published in March?

Abualrub's responses to us have so far been incoherent and illogical. They reveal more about the emotional state of the author than they refute anything we have written. Not only are they little more than an outburst of anger, a sign of his hatred for anyone who dares to question Islam, his insults and personal attacks are simply unacceptable in academic discourse, and only expose his lack of manners.

With this background information, the reader should be well-equipped to read Abualrub's latest vitriolic attack, and come to his own conclusions. It is not worth my time to actually respond to this nonsense in any detail. Just carefully compare my article with his response and things will become quite clear. If Abualrub wants to discuss the relevant issues in respectful manner, we are ready. If he does little more than hurling insults, then he cannot expect us to take him seriously. And pointing to his 50+ published books won't make a bit of a difference in that regard.

Answering Islam policies

As promised in our policy statement, we will either correct or remove false claims, even complete articles, if a reader can prove to us that they are objectively wrong. We have made good on that promise already several times (cf. the article Material Removed from the "Answering Islam" Site). This promise holds for any errors of fact. Matters on which one can legitimately hold different opinions are another issue. However, even in that case, Muslims who disagree with any part of our critique of Islam, and who write a response to it, may request that we link to their response and we will honor the author's request, so that readers of our site can have easy access to all views on such matters of disagreement.

This promise has been on our site from its very beginning in 1995. We serve the Lord of Truth. We are fully committed to the pursuit of truth, to diligently research the facts, to carefully examine the data, to present well-reasoned conclusions, and we are willing to enter into at times perhaps tough but always fair discussions with those who disagree with us.

We know we are only human, we are as prone to make errors as anybody else. That is why we need that above mentioned promise to correct our errors when they are pointed out to us.

It would have been perfectly fine if Jalal Abualrub had written: Katz is wrong on this issue, Katz is mistaken in his claims, Katz made considerable errors in his article, or some such formulation. Then Abualrub could have presented his understanding and explanation of these verses, and concluded that there is therefore no contradiction. We would either have accepted it — we are actually able to accept correction and apologize for errors — or we would have written a careful and respectful response explaining why we disagree.

However, we will not silently suffer abuse. We are not his dhimmis. If Abualrub insists on insults and personal attacks, he will be exposed for it, mercilessly.

Jochen Katz

Responses to Jalal Abualrub
Answering Islam Home Page