Concept of abrogation of Ayas

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The traditionalist’s concept of abrogation (نسخ) of Ayas of Al-Quran is that some of the Ayas in Al-Quran have been abrogated or superseded by other Ayas. The concept originated from their inability to explain some Ayas of Quran so they termed those Ayats as abrogated and considered Ayat 2:106 as the justification of the concept of abrogation of Ayas.

The abrogated Ayas are not indicated by Quran nor in any Hadith, the Prophet has pointed out any Ayas which were abrogated. It was later scholars who faced difficulty in explaining certain Ayas in relation to other Ayas, therefore they used the Ayat 2:106 as pretext for declaring a number of Ayas as abrogated. Scholars have differed considerably in the number of abrogated Ayats. Some consider the number of abrogated Ayats to be over 500 and some consider it to be less than 10. However, no one dares to strike out from the Book, the Ayas they deem abrogated.

The Book (Al-Quran) has been sent for all people and for all ages. Is it not impossible for Allah to send a Book whose instructions are valid for all times? It does not make sense that Ayas of Al-Quran were abrogated so frequently within a period of 23 years in history, because of changing conditions, and then after 23 years, it was set for the rest of eternity. Were all the changes in the world, happening during these 23 years and after that no changes were to occur to warrant further abrogation of Ayas. This concept of abrogation does not hold ground as we know that conditions of the world change all the time.

We will review the concept of abrogation in the light of Ayas of Quran to see if this concept is really about the cancellation of Ayas or it means something else:

11:1   الر ۚ كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ

A.L.R. a Book, whose Ayats have been (firmly) established , and then explained,- from One Who is Wise and Well-acquainted.

2:106  مَا نَنسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِّنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا ۗ أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

What we abrogate/cancel or cause to be forgotten (concepts different from spirit of Allah) from an Ayat, We substitute something better or similar. Don’t you know that Allah Has power over all things?

Normally with Ayats there are preconceived notions attached to them. These are from Satan. So Allah, cancels these notions (by other Ayas) and confirms the true Spirit/understanding of Ayats. Therefore, what is cancelled from the Ayats, are the things introduced by Satan and not the Ayas themselves.

22:52   وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

And We have not sent  before you a Messenger nor a Prophet except when he wishes, Satan encounters in his wishes. So Allah cancels what Satan encounters, then Allah confirms His Ayas/Signs and Allah is knowing, wise.

16:101  وَإِذَا بَدَّلْنَا آيَةً مَّكَانَ آيَةٍ ۙ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُنَزِّلُ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُفْتَرٍ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

When We substitute the place of one Ayat with another Ayat and Allah knows best what He reveals ,- they say, “You are but a forger”. but most of them do not understand.

When the Messenger delivers understanding of a certain topic from Al-Quran to the people, he explains it with the help of Ayas from various Suras of Al-Quran. The order of these Ayas related to a certain topic is not necessary in their original order or place in the Book. For example if a topic of ‘Talaq’ is explained by the Messenger, he will explain with the help of Ayas from Sura 66 (Al-Talaq), Sura 2 (Baqara) and various other Suras.  The order of Ayas in this explanation will not be in the order in which they occur in Al-Quran. When this is done and the spirit of the words of Allah related to the said topic is conveyed to people, and if this understanding/spirit is different from people’s previous beliefs, they say that the Messenger has invented it himself.

 

 

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