As-Salāmu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakathuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you beautiful people

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." [Qur'an 17:81]

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Abrogation in the Quran

The Quran says in the following verse:

"None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?"

[Al-Qur’an 2:106]

A reference to this is also made in chapter 16 verse 101 of Surah Nahl. The Arabic word mentioned is ayat which means ‘signs’ or ‘verses’ and which can also mean ‘revelations’. This verse of the Qur’an can be interpreted in two different ways:

a. The revelations that are abrogated are those revelations that were revealed before the Qur’an, for example the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel.

Here Allah (swt) says that He does not cause the previous revelations to be forgotten but He substitutes them with something better or similar, indicating that the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel were substituted by the Qur’an.
(16:101)- “When we replace a message with another and God knows best what He reveals, they say you have made it up. Yet most of them do not know”

Read the above verse and think carefully.

I ask, who was there to question Prophet that you have made it up yourself?

1- it couldn’t be the Sahabas for they believed him to be Prophet, they would accept whatever prophet would had said.

2- Of course it couldn’t be pagans, as they didn’t believe in the Quran so it didn’t matter to them that what was earlier and what gets abrogated. “they” would never say such a thing on one verse being replaced by another and that you made up the later verse, as they did not actually believe the Quran was from God in the first place. They actually believed Muhammad had made up the entired Quran, so it is impossible for them to hold this belief and also say you have replaced a verse that was correct and true with one which is false and from you rather than God.

Furthermore if you look at the verses before 16:101 you can see God talking about those who break the covenant with God and those who sell it for a miserable price, so it is quite clear the Quran is referring to those people who had previous revelation, thus making “they” the Jews and Christians to whom the Gosepl and Torah were given.

Thus we understand when God says;


YUSUFALI: None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?


YUSUFALI: When We substitute one revelation for another,- and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages),- they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not.
He means replace Torah and Gospel, which is replaced with something better which is the Quran

b. If we consider that the Arabic word ayat in the above verse refers to the verses of the Qur’an, and not previous revelations, then it indicates that none of the verses of the Qur’an are abrogated by Allah but substituted with something better or similar. This means that certain verses of the Qur’an, that were revealed earlier were substituted by verses that were revealed later. I agree with both the interpretations.

Many Muslims and non-Muslims misunderstand the second interpretation to mean that some of the earlier verses of the Qur’an were abrogated and no longer hold true for us today, as they have been replaced by the later verses of the Qur’an or the abrogating verses. This group of people even wrongly believe that these verses contradict each other.

Let us analyze a few such examples.

Produce a recital like the Qur’an / 10 Surahs / 1 Surah:
Some pagan Arabs alleged that the Qur’an was forged by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah (swt) challenges these Arabs in the following verse of Surah Al-Isra:
"Say: If the whole of Mankind and Jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur’an they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support." [Al-Qur’an 17:88]

Later the challenge was made easy in the following verse of Surah Al-Hud:

"Or they may say, "He forged it." Say, "Bring ye then ten Surahs forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsover ye can, other than Allah, if ye speak the truth!’." [Al-Qur’an 11:13]

It was made easier in the following verse of Surah Yunus:

"Or do they say, "He forged it"? Say: "Bring then a Surah like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!’."[Al-Qur’an 10:38]

Finally in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) further simplified the challenge:

And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your (doubts) are true.But if ye cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith". [Al-Qur’an 2:23-24]
Thus Allah (swt) made the challenges progressively easier. The progressively revealed verses of the Qur’an first challenged the pagans to produce a book like the Qur’an, then challenged them to produce ten Surahs (chapters) like those in the Qur’an, then one Surah and finally it challenges them to produce one Surah somewhat similar (mim mislihi) to the Qur’anic Surahs. This does not mean that the later verses that were revealed i.e. of Surah Baqarah chapter 2 verses 23 and 24 contradict the earlier three verses. Contradiction implies mentioning two things that cannot be possible simultaneously, or cannot take place simultaneously.
The earlier verses of the Qur’an i.e. the abrogated verses are still the word of God and the information contained in it is true to this day. For instance the challenge to produce a recital like the Qur’an stands to this day. Similarly the challenge to produce ten Surahs and one Surah exactly like the Qur’an also holds true and the last challenge of producing one surah somewhat similar to the Qur’an also holds true. It does not contradict the earlier challenges, but this is the easiest of all the challenges posed by the Qur’an. If the last challenge cannot be fulfilled, the question of anyone fulfilling the other three more difficult challenges does not arise.
Suppose I speak about a person that he is so dumb, that he would not be able to pass the year 10 in school. Later I say that he would not be able to pass the year 5, and further say that he would not be able to pass even the year 1. Finally I say that he is so dumb that he would not even be able to pass Nursery. One has to pass Nursery before one can be admitted to school. What I am stating is that the person is so dumbl as to be unable to even pass nursery. My four statements do not contradict each other, but my last statement i.e. the person would not be able to pass Nursery is sufficient to indicate the intelligence of that person. If a person cannot even pass Nursery, the question of him passing the year 1 or 5 or 10, does not arise.
Gradual prohibition of intoxicants

Another example of such verses is that related to gradual prohibition of intoxicants. The first revelation of the Qur’an to deal with intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Baqarah:
"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling say: ‘In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit’." [Al-Qur’an 2:219]

The next verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants is the following verse from Surah Nisa:

"O ye who believe! approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say" [Al-Qur’an 4:43]

The last verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Al-Maidah:

"O ye who believe! intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork; eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper."

[Al-Qur’an 5:90]

The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 22½ years. Many reforms that were brought about in the society were gradual. This was to facilitate the adoption of new laws by the people. An abrupt change in society always leads to rebellion and anarchy.

The prohibition of intoxicants was revealed in three stages. The first revelation only mentioned that in the intoxicants there is great sin and some profit but the sin is greater than the profit. The next revelation prohibited praying in an intoxicated state, indicating that one should not consume intoxicants during the day, since a Muslim has to pray five times a day. This verse does state that when one is not praying at night one is allowed to consume intoxicants. It means one may have or one may not have. The Qur’an does not comment on it. If this verse had mentioned that one is allowed to have intoxicants while not praying then there would have been a contradiction. God chose words appropriately. Finally the total prohibition of intoxicants at all times was revealed in Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 90.
This clearly indicates that the three verses do not contradict each other. Had they been contradicting, it would not have been possible to follow all the three verses simultaneously. Since a Muslim is expected to follow each and every verse of the Qur’an, only by following the last verse i.e. of Surah Maidah (5:90), he simultaneously agrees and follows the previous two verses.

Suppose I say that I do not live in Birmingham. Later I say that I do not live in West Midlands. Finally I say, I do not live in England. This does not imply that these three statements contradict each other. Each statement gives more information than the previous statement. The third statement includes the information contained in the first two statements. Thus, only by saying that I do not live in England, it is obvious, that I also do not live in Birmingham. Similarly since consuming alcohol is totally prohibited, it is obvious that praying in an intoxicated state is also prohibited and the information that in intoxicants is "great sin and some profit for men; but the sin is greater than profit" also holds true.

Qur’an does not contain any contradictions

The theory of abrogation does not imply that there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, since it is possible to follow all the verses of the Qur’an at the same time.
If there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, then it cannot be the word of God

"Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy (contradictions)."

[Al-Qur’an 4:82]


Kate said...

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Anonymous said...

'The theory of abrogation does not imply that there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, since it is possible to follow all the verses of the Qur’an at the same time.
If there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, then it cannot be the word of God'

If it's possible to follow all the verses of the Quran at the same time, then we can do whatever we want. Whether to call all Muslims to kill infidels for so-called self-defense, killing apostates and so on.

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Anonymous said...

How are we infidels supposed to believe this interpretation of the Qur'an? Look at it from our point of view; if Taqiyya is permissible by your beliefs then how is it that you expect those whom you are trying to convince that you aren't lying to simply keep infidels ignorant of how the Qur'an is perceived? It was just recently that France found several Mosques with weapons, ammo, and ISIS propaganda. So if the abrogation of the Qur'an isn't true; that there's a misunderstanding between muslims and infidels (because it is infidels that you're trying to convince in your Article), then why do so many Muslims and Mosques seem to support by action what you are saying we infidels don't understand? It's kind of an impossible sale when you have 109 verses in the latter half of the Qur'an that says what to do with infidels. What of the Billboards in Northern parts like Michigan stating that Jesus was Muslim? Muhammad was after Jesus's death. I have heard some muslims state that Moses was Muslim, but he was okay to keep pigs? I see a lot of Muslims or muslim supporters giving praise to your dissection in the belief that there is no abrogation to the Qur'an, but they already believe as you do. You have one huge obstacle in convincing others that what you or any muslim says it true and that is Taqiyya. Which gives you permission to lie to people like me... you can't use Taqiyya on other Muslims because you laws forbid it.

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Anonymous said...

The principal of what most people call abrogation as many "shaikhs" give fatwas on is nonsense.

Yes, the Ayat exists (2:106) "any message which We annul or consign to oblivion we replace with a better or similar one", it is preceded by 2:104 "Neither those from among the followers of earlier revelation who are bent on denying the truth, nor those who ascribe divinity to other beings beside God…" This sheds light on 2:106 as does 2:41 "Believe in that which I have [now] bestowed from on high confirming the truth already in your possession, and be not foremost among those who deny its truth…"

Both 2:104 and 2:41 are clear references to People of the Book, who should recognize the source and authenticity of revelation of the Qur'an.

If you are a believe in the divine nature of the Qur'an, then the Qur'an is sent, as a miracle with the protection from Allah to never be changed. Whereas prior revelation, which were just as valid, in their times were not given the permanent protection of Allah, for reasons know only to him.

The abrogation principle of one verse for another in the Qur'an is what many so called "learned" Muslims use with utterly flawed logic. One verse in the Qur'an substitute or "overruled" by another, as if a timeless all powerful all knowing God somehow could not make his mind about what should be in the Qur'an and what is not.

Muhammad Asad, one of the greatest Scholars in the last 100 years, probably the most globally recognized scholar associated with an English language translation of the Qur'an takes this issue on in his note number 87 in Surah Baqarah refering to 2:106 : some excerpts here, but please read this logically and extremely thoughtful analysis in its entirety, it starts : "The principle laid down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur'an - has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. [paraphrase due to the use of the word Ayah]" it continues "Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above that certain verses of the Qur'an have been "abrogated" by God's command before the revelation of the Qur'an was completed." Here is the meat of the commentary IMHO "Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion - which calls to mind the image of a human correcting, on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript, deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur'an to have been 'abrogated'."

One of his final quotes on the matter (same commentary) is this "In short, the "doctrine of abrogation" has no basis whatsoever in historical fact, and must be rejected."

While others can argue about this, if they want. IMO, and Allah knows best, the concept of abrogation is inconsistent with the Qur'an. 4:82 "…Had it issued from any but God, whey would surely have in it many an inner contradiction!"

Qur'an 3:7 "He it is who has bestowed from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by them-selves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after the part of the divine write which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hense, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say:'We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer - albeit non takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight."

So there it is, if you are a Muslim believe in the whole thing. None of it is by accident or a redraft.

hermanseele said...

Of course there is abrogation (and contradiction) in the Quran:
Turning our attention to what residents of Hell eat, in Quran 37:66 Allah stated that these residents eat from the tree of Zaqqum. Later Allah indicated that they shall eat only the thorny Dhari plant (Quran 88:6). Allah finally decided that the food Hell's residents shall eat shall only be the foul discharge from wounds (Quran 69:36). Our Debate Question: Does the omniscient god of the universe have logical reasons to keep changing his mind about the food for Hell's inhabitants, or instead does Muhammad have a problem recalling what he said earlier?
In Quran 60:8 we read: "Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them..." This abrogates Allah's earlier verse, "Never be a helper to the disbelievers." (Quran 28:86). Our debate question here is "Why was Allah originally opposed to Muslims being helpers to the disbelievers?"
See more at

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