Naskh (tafsir)

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Naskh (tafsir)
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{{Quran}}Naskh ((wikt:نسخ|نسخ)) is an Arabic word usually translated as "(wikt:abrogation|abrogation)". In Islamic legal exegesis (or tafsir), naskh is a theory developed to resolve seemingly contradictory rulings of Islamic revelation by superseding or canceling the earlier revelation. In the widely recognizedBurton, "Those Are the High-Flying Cranes", JSS, 15, 1970: p.250 and "classic" form of naskh,Hazimi, Abu Bakr. Al-I’tbar, 5-6Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: pp.56 an Islamic regulation/ruling (hukm) is abrogated in favor of another, but the text the hukm is based on is not eliminated.(#JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.456Some examples of Islamic rulings based on naskh include a gradual ban on consumption of alcohol (originally alcohol was not banned but Muslims were told that the bad outweighed the good in drinking), and a change in the direction (the qibla) that should be faced when praying salat (originally Muslims faced Jerusalem, but this was changed to face the Kaaba in Mecca).BOOK, Dogan, Recep, Usul al-Fiqh: Methodology of Islamic Jurisprudence, 2013, Tughra Books.,weblink 5 July 2018, Naskh (Abrogation), A text or ruling which has been abrogated is called mansukh; a text or ruling which abrogates is known as the nasikh.Roslan Abdul-Rahim ‘NASKH Al-QUR’AN A Theological And Juridical Reconsideration Of The Theory Of Abrogation And Its Impact On Qur’anic Exegesis’ (PhD thesis, Temple University 2011)BOOK, bible, 1954, Several Quranic verses state that some revelations have been abrogated and superseded by later revelations, and narrations from Muhammad's companions mention abrogated verses or rulings of the religion. The principle of abrogation of an older verse by a new verse in the Quran, or within the Hadiths is an accepted principle of all four Sunni maḏāhib or schools of fiqh (jurisprudence), and was an established principle in Sharia by at least the 9th century,Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: pp.43-44, 56-59, 122-124 (though since the 19th century, modernist and Islamist scholars have argued against the concept of naskh, defending the absolute validity of the Quran).Johanna Pink Sunnitischer Tafs?r in der modernen islamischen Welt: Akademische Traditionen, Popularisierung und nationalstaatliche Interessen BRILL, 11.11.2010 {{ISBN|9789004185920}} pp. 114-115However, with few exceptions, Islamic revelations do not state which Quranic verses or hadith have been abrogated, and Muslim exegetes and jurists have disagreed over which and how many hadith and verses of the Quran are recognized as abrogated,BOOK, Jane McAuliffe, Barry Walfish, Joseph Goering, With reverence for the word : medieval scriptural exegesis in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Oxford University Press, New York Oxford, 2010, 978-0-19-975575-2, 448–450, with estimates varying from less than ten to over 500.BOOK, Fatoohi, Louay, Abrogation in the Qur'an and Islamic Law, 2013, Routledge., 3,weblink 8 July 2018, 9781136217272, Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.184 Other issues of disagreement include whether the Quran (the central religious text of Islam) can be abrogated by the Sunnah (the body of traditional social and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community), or vice versa — a disagreement between the Shafi'i and Hanafi schools of fiqh;Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.37 and whether verses of the Quran may be abrogated at all, instead of reinterpreted and more narrowly defined — an approach favored by a minority of scholars.WEB, Mohammed, Khaleel, Muhammad Al-Ghazali's View on Abrogation in the Qur'an,weblink, 26 August 2018, December 20, 1999, Some commonly abrogating and abrogated verses{{#tag:ref>Sources:">

Definition and etymology {| class"wikitable floatright"; border: 1px solid #BBB;Some commonly abrogating and abrogated verses{{#tag:ref>Sources:

  • Abu al-Kasim Hibat-Allah bin Salama (d. 1019), An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh, pp. 4-5, 8;
  • Ahmad bin Muhammad an-Nahhas, (d. circa 1515), An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh, pp. 4-12JOURNAL, Bukay, David, Peace or Jihad? Abrogation in Islam, Middle East Quarterly, 14, 4, Fall 2007,weblink 4 April 2019, |group=Note}}
! Verse Abrogating! Verse Abrogated! Issue
B=N, ; NS>B=N, Ahl al-Kitab
B=N, | People of the Book
B=N, | Satan and his daughters
B=N, | Adultery and fornication
B=N, | Night prayer
In the Arabic language naskh () can be defined as abolition, abolishment, abrogation, cancellation, invalidation, copying, transcription, according to the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic.BOOK, Hans Wehr, J. Milton Cowan, 1979, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Spoken Language Services, 4th,weblink 23 July 2018, As an Islamic term, there is a lack of agreement among scholars on what exactly al-Naskh is, (according to several sources).
  • According to Louay Fatoohi, "the term naskh never appears in the Qur’an in the meaning it acquired in Islamic law". A detailed examination of the two Quranic verses "seen by scholars as providing support to the principle of abrogation", shows that neither actually refers to "the concept of abrogation".WEB, FATOOHI, LOUAY, An Overview of "Abrogation in the Qur'an and Islamic Law: A Critical Study of the Concept of 'Naskh' and its Impact" Law, Qur'an,weblink Quranic Studies, 24 July 2018,
  • Israr Ahmad Khan states that those who have read "the works of Abu Ubayd, al-Nahhas, Makki, Ibn al-Arabi, Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Zarkashi, al-Suyuti, and al-Dehlawi on the issue of abrogation will be confused regarding its definition".BOOK, Khan, Israr Ahmad, Ayoub, Mahmoud, Contemporary Approaches to the Qur'an and Sunnah, 2012, International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), 4,weblink 18 July 2018, 9781565645776,
  • John Burton complains that the "greatest imaginable confusion reigns as to the definition of the term naskh", and that "an appalling degree of muddle" surrounds the meaning of verse Q.2:106(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", 1985): p.452 — "the Abrogation verse". And that "the constant confusion of 'suppression' with 'supersession'" causes the reader "endless difficulty".(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.468
  • Ahmad Ali Al-Imam states "most scholars ... differ on many points", of naskh, "particularly on its meaning, modes, and examples".BOOK, Al-Imam, Ahmad Ali, Variant Readings of the Qurʼan: A Critical Study of Their Historical and ..., 2006, International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), 32,weblink 16 December 2018, 9781565644205, {{tag:ref|see also Abdul-Rahim: "naskh remains a problematic theory, if not a difficult and divisive one", citing Zayd, Mustafa. (1963). Al-Naskh fi al-Qur’an al-Karim, Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-‘Arabi.: v.1, 4.Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.55 but "when it concerns the technical conception of naskh, there is no disagreement among naskh scholars".Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.56|group=Note}}
Disputes over what defines naskh include
  • whether the wording of the Quran can be abrogated while the ruling based on it is not (most scholars believe the ruling must be abrogated also),
  • whether a verse in the Qur'an can abrogate a ruling in the Sunnah and vice versa — which means going across the two different forms of divine revelation, (most scholars believe this is permissible),WEB, Azeem, Hafiz Muhammad, Theory of Naskh (Abrogation) in Islamic Law,weblink Hafiz Muhammad Azeem, Advocate, 22 July 2018, 17 January 2018, and
  • whether any Islamic revelation may be abrogated at all, or whether when God talks about replacing revelation (in "the abrogation verses" of the Qur'an: Q.2:106 and Q.16:101, see below) He is referring only to revelation which came before the Quran, (i.e. the Abrahamic revelation of the Torah and Gospel) and which is replaced by the Quran; (some scholars support this position).Hasan, "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1(1), 1965: p.188 {{tag:ref|Aslam Jayrajpan dismisses abrogation by saying "God's words are too lofty to be abrogated by human opinion", but this suggests the Torah and Gospel are not God's words.|group=Note}}
Another issue was how broadly naskh should be defined, with early Muslim scholars having{{#tag:ref|which at least in part explains the wide difference in the estimates in the number of abrogated verses."According to Shah Waliy Allah, the use of the term naskh in its general sense by the early generation highly enhanced the number of the repealed verses which reached five hundred. He thinks on this basis that the number of the repealed verses in the later ages was less than it was in the earlier time."Al-ZurqSni, Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Baqi, Shark al-Zurqani 'ala 'l-Mawahib al-ladunniyah, Cairo, 1291 A.H., I : 326-27 fHasan, A., "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1965: p.186|group=Note}} including things that later scholars did not consider naskh, such as:Hasan, "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1965: p.185WEB, Abu Amina Elias, NOBLE QURAN القرآن الكريم Abrogation and specification in the Quran,weblink Faith in Allah, 9 July 2018, 10 December 2014, WEB, What Does the Term "Abrogated" Really Mean?,weblink Quran Academy, 9 July 2018, 30 August 2017,
  1. exceptions to earlier verses,Ibn Qayyim, I'lam al-Musaqq'in, Delhi, 1313 A.H., I:12
  2. particularization of the meaning of a verse (known as taksees, see below), and
  3. clarifications of earlier verses.{{tag:ref| Abu Amina Elias agrees: "Confusion [over the defintion of naskh/abrogation] occurs because the word `abrogation` developed a technical meaning later on that was not the same as it was used by the earliest interpreters of the Quran. The righteous predecessors, such as Ibn Abbas and others, would use the term abrogation to mean a number of situations that did not involved the cancellation of previous verses." These situations included "the removal of the general, absolute, and outward meaning, whether by specification, restriction, interpreting an absolute as limited, or by explanation and clarification. Even they would refer to it as exceptional and conditional."WEB, Abu Amina Elias, Abrogation and specification in the Quran,weblink Faith in Allah, 31 August 2018, December 10, 2014, |group=Note}}
Definitions of naskh given by Islamic scholars include:
  • "abrogation, revocation, repeal. Theoretical tool used to resolve contradictions in Quranic verses, hadith literature, tafsir (Quranic exegesis), and usul al-fiqh (roots of law), whereby later verses (or reports or decisions) abrogate earlier ones," (Oxford Dictionary of Islam);WEB, Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This?,weblink Oxford Islamic Studies Online, 5 July 2018,
  • an exegetical (explaining) theory of the repeal or abolition of a law for divine commands in the Quran and the Hadith, wherein the contradictory verses, within or between these Islamic scriptures, are analyzed (David S. Powers);David S. Powers (Sept 1982), On the Abrogation of the Bequest Verses, David S. Powers, Arabica, 29(3), Brill, pp. 246-247, 249-287 Through Naskh, the superseding verse as well as the superseded verse(s) are determined for the purposes of formulating Sharia.Hossein Modarressi (1993), Early Debates on the Integrity of the Qur'ān: A Brief Survey, Journal: Studia Islamica, Vol. 77, pp. 7-8SUIÇMEZ, Yusuf (2006), Abrogation in Hadith, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 23, No 4, pp. 33-35
  • "lifting a ruling indicated by a shar‘i text, on the basis of evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah", (Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)WEB, Saalih al-Munajjid, Muhammad, 105746: Abrogation in the Qur'an, and the order of its soorahs and verses,weblink Islam Question and Answer, 26 January 2014, 5 July 2018,
  • "obliteration, cancellation, transfer, suppression, suspension" depending on the context, (Badshah, Naeem, et. al.);Badshah, Naeem, et. al. (2011), Perceptions of different schools of thoughts regarding abrogation in the Quran, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research In Business, 3(3), pp. 494-498(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", 1985): p.452-469Liaquat Ali Khan (2008), Jurodynamics of Islamic Law, Rutgers Law Review, Vol.61, No.2, p.255
  • suspension or replacement of one Sharia ruling by another with the conditions that the ruling that suspends/replaces is of a subsequent origin, and that the two rulings are enacted separately from one another, (Recep Dogan); Ahmad hassan, 'The theory of Naskh' [1965] 1(1) Dr Muhammad Hamidullah Library, IIU, Islamabad (These rulings may not only be commands and prohibitions but also other degrees of approval and disapproval known as Ahkam: Mustahabb (recommended), Makruh (discouraged) and mubah (allowed).
  • removal of an Islamic command by a legally valid argument (raf al-hukm al-Shar'i bi dalil shar'i) (Al-Zurqani). {{tag:ref|
Some other descriptions and definitions of naskh: Descriptions of Naskh by Sunni legal theorists of the tenth and eleventh centuries include:
  • God’s "replacing a ruling established by the lawgiver’s address with another ruling";
  • "temporal indication of a ruling's duration."J.A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad, 2014: p.98-99
John Burton cites three scholars of Quranic interpretation with three different definitions of abrogation supporting different definitions of abrogation
  1. Suddi: naskh means withdrawal (qabd).
  2. Ibn 'Abbas: it means 'replacement' (tabdil) (Q. 16: 101).
  3. Ibn abi Najih reports from the followers of Ibn Mas'uid: 'We endorse (nuthbit, cf. Q. 13: 39) the wording, but replace (nubaddil, cf. Q. 16: 101) the ruling.' (known as naskh al-hukm dūna al-tilāwa see below).Tabari 473ff(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.459
The phrase al-nāsikh wal-mansūkh (الناسخ والمنسوخ, "the abrogating and abrogated [verses]") is often used in study of Naskh; both nasikh and mansukh share the same root as naskh.|group=Note}}

Scriptural basis


According to non-Muslim scholar of Islam John Burton, "no single verse" in the Quran "unequivocally points to the naskh of any other verse", (nor does any "irreproachable" hadith identify "any one verse as having either undergone or effected naskh").Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.19 Islamic Modernist mufti Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) also stated “the Quran nowhere announced that verse so-and-so is naskh, or that verse such-and-such is Mansukh.”[Muhammad Abduh, Tafsir al-Manar, Cairo, 1912, 150ffBurton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.31Many of the verses believed to indicate the principle of naskh do not contain any form of the word naskh, i.e. any word with the triconsonantal root n-s-kh, instead they use "in place of" (baddal), "effaceth " (yamhua), "withdraw" (nathhabanna لَنَذْهَبَنَّ), "forget" (tansha تَنسَىٰٓ ) which are all interpreted to refer to the process of naskh:
  • QURAN, 16, 101, p, nosup, And when We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation, - and Allah knoweth best what He revealeth ...,
  • QURAN, 13, 39, p, nosup, Allah effaceth what He will, and establisheth (what He will), and with Him is the source of ordinance., John Burton (1990), Islamic Theories of Abrogation, pp. 54-68, Edinburgh University Press, {{ISBN|0-7486-0108-2}}
  • QURAN, 17, 86, p, nosup, ... And if We willed We could withdraw that which We have revealed unto thee, then wouldst thou find no guardian for thee against Us in respect thereof. ...",
  • QURAN, 87, 6, 7, p, nosup, We shall make thee read (O Muhammad) so that thou shalt not forget, Save that which Allah willeth. Lo! He knoweth the disclosed and that which still is hidden.",
Of the four verses within the Qur'ān that do contain some form of the word naskh — verses Q.7:154, Q.45:29, Q.22:52, and Q.2:106 — in two cases the word has nothing to do with abrogation of divine revelation, but is used in the context of texts and scribal activity:
  • QURAN, 7, 154, y, nosup, in the writing [nuskhah] thereon, -- and
  • QURAN, 45, 29, y, nosup, For We were wont to put on Record [nastansikh] all that ye did,
The two verse that do involve abrogation are
  • QURAN, 22, 52, nosup, , a verse allegedly referring to the Satanic Verse(s), (see below) and
  • QURAN, 2, 106, nosup, , which is called a "Verse of abrogation".

Verses of abrogation

Q.2:106 and Q16.101 are the two "verses of abrogation" contained in the Quran.Harald Motzki (2006), in The Cambridge Companion to the Qur'ān, Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|978-0521539340}}, pp. 59-67Wael B. Hallaq (2009), Sharī'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|978-0521861472}}, pp. 96-97A Rippin (1984), Al-Zuhrī Naskh al-Qur'ān and the problem of early Tafsīr texts, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 47, Issue 01, pp. 22-43Rippin, "Al-Zuhrī, Naskh al-Qur'ān", BSOAS, 47, 1984: pp.22-43 |Qur'an 2:106|||}}||}}They establish the principle in Islam that an older divine revelation may be abrogated and substituted with another one,Mohammad Akram (1987), The Principles of Abrogation, PhD Thesis awarded by University of St Andrews, Advisor: John Burton, United Kingdom, pp. 213-214 a principle that has been historically accepted and applied by vast majority of Islamic jurists of both the Quran and the Sunnah.BOOK, An-Na'im, Abdullahi Ahmed, Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law, 1990, Syracuse University Press. ., 57,weblink 15 September 2018, 9780815627067, BOOK, Sookhdeo, Patrick, Understanding Islamic Theology, 2013, BookBaby, McLean, VA,weblink 15 September 2018, 1, Sources of Islam, John Burton (1990), Islamic Theories of Abrogation, p. 55, p. 205, Edinburgh University Press, {{ISBN|0-7486-0108-2}} Only Q.2:106 uses a form of the word naskh (specifically "nanskh" meaning "we abrogate"). Although there "are no less than a dozen" readings/interpretations of verse Q.2:106 (according to Khaleel Mohammed citing John Burton),Burton, John. The Collection Of The Qur'an, Cambridge: University Press, 1977, p.48 the "majority of exegetes" (scholars of the interpretation of the Quran),{{#tag:ref|known as mufassireen|group=Note}} find 2:106 indicative of two varieties of naskh (see below):
  • "supersession", i.e. the "suspension" and replacement of the old verse without its elimination (process known as naskh al-hukm duna al-tilawa, or ibdāl in arabic)"(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.456 or
  • "suppression", i.e. the nullification/elimination of the old verse from the Mus'haf (the written Quran compiled after Muhammad's death) (process known as naskh al-hukm wa-'l-tilawa, or ibtāl in arabic).
Two verse also suggest abrogation can refer to either these two meanings,
  • QURAN, 16, 101, ns, n, We substitute one ayah for another", -- suggests naskh is supersession/substitution (tabdÄ«l, related to ibdāl).(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.453
  • QURAN, 22, 52, ns, n, God eradicated (azala) and nullifies (yubtil, related to ibtāl) what the Devil insinuates, -- refers "solely to eradication or nullification" according to scholar Al-Fakhr al-Razi.7 al-Fakhr al-Razi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 32 pts., in 16 vols., Tehran, [n.d.], II, 226.(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.455
In addition, traditional non-religious Arabic sayings, poetry, etc. used to determine the meaning of Quranic terms also suggest abrogation means either suppression or supersession.{{#tag:ref|for example
  • nasakhat al-shams al-zill 'sunlight replaced shadow', and
  • nasakha al-shaib al-shabāb 'old age replaced youth ', and
  • nasakhat al-rÄ«th al-āthār 'the wind obliterated the traces
Sayings like these are often used to try to determine how a word is used in the Quran. (#JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.453, 455|group=Note}} The verse Q.16:101 was employed by the founder of the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence — Imam Shafi'i — as proof that a Qur'ānic verse can only be abrogated by another Qur'ānic verse. (see below){{citation needed|date=January 2016}}
Dissenting views
Orthodox/pro-naskh scholars (like Ali b. Muhammad b. Ibrahim 'Ala al-Din, known as al-Khazin) argues that Abrogation Verse 2:106 was revealed in response to allegations by unbelievers in Mecca "that Muhammad decides a ruling, then abrogates it!". However according to Mohammed al-Ghazali this explanation cannot be true because the verse was revealed in Mecca where at the time "no such laws" were being, Muhammad. "Kayfa Nata'amal Ma' Al-Qur'an." Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1992, pp.80-84 Another argument against the orthodox interpretation of the verse is that the word translated as "revelation" (ayah) in the two Verses of Abrogation is more accurately translated (according to Khaleel Mohammed) as "sign" — as in a sign "sent down by God to guide humankind to Him". Revelation being only one kind of sign, what is abrogated may be something other than a verse in the Quran.

Satanic verses and abrogation

{{see also|Satanic Verses}}The one other Quranic verse using naskh in sense of abrogation is Q.22:52.
  • QURAN, 22, 52, ns, n, Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and Allah will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom., QURAN, 22, 52, ns,
This verse, is cited by historian and exegete Tabarī in connection with the incident of the so-called "Satanic Verses",{{#tag:ref|Where Muhammad is alleged to have recited al-Najm 53:19-20 ‘Have you then considered Al-Laat, and Al-‘Uzzaa (two idols of the pagan Arabs), And Manaat (another idol of the pagan Arabs), the other third?’, and then allegedly added a verse put into his mouth by Satan: ‘they are the exalted gharaneeq, whose intercession is to be hoped for’ — intercession being a violation of the Islamic principle of monotheism.WEB, Saalih al-Munajjid, Muhammad, 4135: "Satanic verses",weblink Islam Question and Answer, 9 July 2018, 31 May 2000, |group=Note}} Tabarī's interpretation (Tafsīr), states that God removed some of the early verses that the devil had cast into the Quran (making worship of other deities permissible) and replaced them in later verses.Burton, "Those Are the High-Flying Cranes", JSS, 15, 1970: p.265 It supports an interpretation of naskh as eradication (izāla) so as not to be found in the written Quran (Mus'haf) and thus made acceptable the idea of naskh as the nullification of a verse and ruling — naskh al-hukm wa-'l-tilāwa — without any (immediate) replacement.Ibn Taymiyyah also identified "something that Satan has managed to insinuate into Revelation through Prophetic error" is naskh-ed by a divine verse, (which he calls al-naw' al-ikharmin al-naskh).Shahab Ahmed (1998), Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses, Journal: Studia Islamica, Vol. 87, pp. 105-108But later exegetes such as Makkī insist that since the verse was insinuated by the Devil into the Prophet's recital, and not revealed by God, that verse Q.22:52 only provides for establishes the Islamic legitimacy of the concept of naskh for satanic not divine revelation.(#JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.454 (note 6) (And according to the current consensus of Muslims, the verses were actually a fabrication by Quraysh tribesmen and enemies of Muhammad, and were never part of the Quran.){{#tag:ref|while "a number" of classical scholars like Musa b. 'Uqbah, Ibn Ishaq, Abu Ma'shar, al-Tabari, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Mardawayh and Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalam have accepted the report about this episode as genuine" (according to Ahmad Hasan), based on the isnad (chain of transmitters of the report), other eminent classical scholars reject the report which if it were true would mean "that Satan could tamper with the Divine Revelation".Hasan, "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1965: p.182 According to the current orthodox interpretation, the verses were actually a fabrication by Quraysh tribesmen and enemies of Muhammad. After telling Islam-hating unbelievers how they were filled with inspiration and fell to the ground in prostration upon accidentally hearing Muhammad recite verses from the Qur'an, they were threatened with harm. Overcome with cowardice, the tribesmen invented a story that Muhammad had offered to let them become Muslims and still keep their idol worship.|group=Note}}


There is no equivalent to the Quranic "Verses of abrogation" in the sunnah. No "generally accepted statements can be adduced from the sunnah to vindicate the application of the theory to Sunnah texts", according to John Burton.{{#tag:ref| there is a hadith reporting that Abdullah ibn Umar heard Muhammad say ‘Some of my hadiths supersede others`, but its isnad (chain of transmission) “is not regarded as credit-worthy by the Hadith specialists.” |group=Note}}However scholars state that hadith were abrogated just as the Quran was. Kitab al-I'tibar states that early Muslim Urwah ibn Zubayr declared, "I testify that my father told me that the Prophet would make a statement, then subsequently replace in with another statement, just as the Quran, in certain places, supersedes other parts." Usama ibn-Munqidh, Kitab al-I'tibar p.23Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.40 Abu al-‘Ala’ ibn al-Shikhkhir (d. 107/725),a Tabi‘i, (i.e. one of the generation of Muslims who followed the Sahaba -- the companions of Muhammad) is reported to have said much the same thing according to a Sahih Muslim hadith.{{#tag:ref|Abu al. 'Ala' b. al-Shikhkhir said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) abrogated some of his commands by others, just as the Qur'an abrogates some part with the other.WEB, Muslim, Sahih Muslim » The Book of Menstruation » Hadith. كتاب الحيض 3 The Book of Menstruation. Chapter (21),weblink, 27 March 2019, cited in Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.60|group=Note}}


In "general terms", the idea of a divine process whereby the decisions of a monotheist God can be superseded by His later decisions precedes "even the foundation of Islam itself," (according to John Burton), being found in Gospel of the Hebrews 8:13;Hebrews 8 10:9Hebrews 10 of the Torah.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: pp.18While Muhammad is reported to have abrogated parts of the sunnah by "explicit abrogation" (see below), there are no reports of him talking about abrogated verses in the Quran or explaining any theory of abrogation. Thus the classical theory of naskh "cannot go back to the Prophet". This is an argument against the theory according to its opponents — "it is inconceivable that the Prophet had left such an important problem to the discretion of the people ..."Hasan, A., "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1965: p.186
Reports of companions emphasizing its importance
There are, however, introductory stories in almost all classical naskh works about how (younger) companions of Muhammad — some of his "oldest and most determined supporters" revered by pious Muslims — emphasized the importance of belief in and knowledge of the theory of naskh.{{#tag:ref|According to John Burton: "There is an extensive Islamic literature on naskh and at the forefront of most books devoted to this science, a sense of the crucial nature of this particular branch of learning is inculcated by the use of a series of hadiths which purport to establish the high antiquity, and hence in the eyes of Tradition-minded Muslims, the high respectability of the science of naskh by projecting its cultivation back into the generation of the Prophet's oldest and most determined supporters. ... " Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.37|group=Note}} Many recount an incident where a Kufan preacher is banned from expounding the Quran on account of his ignorance of the principles of naskh by an early 'ilmic authority figure (usually Rashidun Caliph 'Alī, but sometimes also Ibn 'Abbās, cousin of Muhammad and hadith narrator).Powers, The Exegetical Genre nāsikh al-Qur'ān wa mansūkhuhu, {{ISBN|0-19-826546-8}}, p. 124{{sfn|Rippin|1984|p=26, 38}}Rippin, "Al-Zuhrī, Naskh al-Qur'ān", BSOAS, 47, 1984: pp.26, 38 In one report Ali told a judge who had no knowledge of nasikh that he was "deluded and misleading others", in another he evicted a preacher from a mosque for being ignorant of the science of abrogation. Umar is reported to have told Muslims that despite the fact that Ubay ibn Ka'b was "the best Quranic expert among us ... we ignore some of what" he says because he disregarded abrogation and told others he refused to "abandon anything I heard from the Messenger of Allah".WEB, Fatoohi, Louay, The Importance of Abrogation,weblink Qur’anic Studies, 8 September 2012, 5 July 2018, BOOK, Fatoohi, Louay, Abrogation in the Qur'an and Islamic Law, 2013, Routledge, 1–3,weblink 8 July 2018, 9781136217272, Another set of Hadith emphasize how those who speak publicly on fiqh (Islamic law) without expert knowledge in naskh not only endanger their own immortal souls but also the souls of those who listening to them.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.39Some (John Burton) have questioned the authenticity of these hadith, finding them suspiciously convenient for proponents of naskh and especially for experts in the field. (Not only do they provide validity for the theory from "the mouths of men believed to have known the Prophet's mind best",Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.38 but the reports specifically call for judicial or religious offices in the community to be occupied by those trained in "this indispensable knowledge".)
Early reliable evidence
However even if these reports were later fabrications and the rules of naskh were not directly passed down from Muhammad to the Salaf Muslims, it is known that the idea that some Qur'anic verses were abrogated can be found towards the end of the first century of Islam, and the development of theories of naskh can be dated "with certainty" to the time of Imam Shafi'i (d.204 AH).The early schools of law that were in existence towards the end of the first century of Islam included the idea of abrogation in the Qur'anic verses. Ibrahim al-Nakha'i (d.96 AH/714) is reported to have said that the part of verse Q.5:106 — which allows a non-Muslim to bear witness to the bequest of a Muslim during a journey if the Muslim is on their death bed — was abrogated to require the witness to be a Muslim.The principle of abrogation (without its naskh terminology) makes an early appearance in the Muwatta' of Mālik (d.179 AH/795 ) according to John Burton and Ahmad Hasan.{{#tag:ref|Muwatta of Imam Malik is one of its earliest documented appearances according to Rippin, putting aside dubiously attributed works, such as the Naskh al-Qur-ān of "al-Zuhrī",Rippin, BSOAS 47Rippin, "Al-Zuhrī, Naskh al-Qur'ān", BSOAS, 47, 1984: p.??|group=Note}} At one point Malik notes that "his teacher Zuhrī had told him that the Muslims had adopted as standard the latest of all the Prophet's reported actions" when there is a conflict. In another chapter Mālik states that of the two conflicting Qur'ān rulings, "one had replaced the other". Elsewhere, Mālik "rejects the notion that a ruling remains valid despite the withdrawal" of the (supposed) Qur'ān verse the ruling is based on.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.viii{{#tag:ref|"In his review of the question of whether the Muslim traveler should observe or may postpone the obligation to fast during the month of Ramadān, which involves him in a comparison of conflicting opinion reported from many prominent Muslims of the past, including contradictory reports as to the practice of the Prophet himself, Mālik states that his teacher Zuhrī had told him that the Muslims had adopted as standard the latest of all the Prophet's reported actions... while in another chapter Mālik himself actually states that of the two relevant Kur'ān rulings, one had replaced the other. Elsewhere, Mālik rejects the notion that a ruling remains valid despite the reported withdrawal of the wording of the supposed Kur'ān 'verse' said to have originally imposed the ruling in question."|group=Note}}However, according to Abdul-Rahim, "the earliest extant materials ever written" on the tafsir genre, naskh al-Qur’an came earlier than Malik. The two works — Kitab al-Nasikh wa al-Mansukh fi Kitab Allah Ta‘ala by Qatadah ibn Di‘amah al-Sadusi (d. 117/735) and Kitab al-Nasikh wa al-Mansukh by Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 124/742).Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.54 — begin "immediately to point to the abrogated in the Qur’an" feeling no need to elucidate what naskh is. According to Abdul-Rahim, the fact that these and other early works followed this practice indicates a "widespread understanding of naskh" in the Muslim world at that time.
Naskh meaning evolved as early applications of the concept were abandoned (like other technical terms within Islamic exegesis — such as asbāb al-nuzūl, the historical context in which Quranic verses were revealed). In early works of tafsīr (before about 150 AH), Naskh was used to refer to a ruling that narrowed rather than replaced an earlier one (nasakha min [al-āya] — "an exception is provided to [the verse]").Rippin, "Al-Zuhrī, Naskh al-Qur'ān", BSOAS, 47, 1984: p.42 This usage was later reformulated by Shāfi'ī as takhsīs (specification/exception).
The "elaboration of the theories" of naskh can be dated with certainty to the last half of the second century of Islam, when Imam Shafi'i (d.204 AH/820), in his work Risāla, (and in the somewhat later Ikhtilāf al-Hadīth") worked to resolve the "apparent discrepancies between certain Qur'ānic verses and others; between certain hadith and others; and, most serious of all, between certain Qur'ānic verses and certain hadīths", according to John Burton.John Burton, Journal of Semitic Studies 15, {{ISSN|0022-4480}}, p. 250 Ibrahim al-Nakha'i (d. 96/714) is reported to have said that verse Q.5:106 was abrogated{{#tag:ref| Q.5:106 allowed a non-Muslim to bear witness to the bequest of a Muslim during a journey if the Muslim is on their death bed, and was allegedly abrogated so that the witness had to be a Muslim.Hasan, "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 4 (2), 1965: p.184 |group=Note}} Naskh as "a technical term meaning 'abrogation'" was used "early on in exegesis, for example, in Muqātil's [d. 149-150] Khams mi'a āya and his tafsīr.Rippin, BSOAS 47, p. 41Rippin, "Al-Zuhrī, Naskh al-Qur'ān", BSOAS, 47, 1984: p.41 "'Ilm al-Nasikh wa'l-Mansukh" (Knowledge of the Abrogating and Abrogated) became one of the Islamic sciences. Naskh become more important following As-Shafi’i establishment of the principle that hadith of Muhammad overruled all other reports from Companions or others on the same subject, John Burton argues, because it led to the growth in hadith attributed to the Prophet since “far too many ... were mutually contradictory”, some contradicting the Quran, “and that their use might court the risk of error” (the view of some of the Mu’tazila of the era). This created a danger that the use of prophetic hadith as the basis of law would be rejected.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: pp.40-41
Medieval times
At least by the eleventh century the classical concept of naskh of the Quran and Sunnah was widely accepted enough for one scholar — Ibn Hilal al-Nahwi — to assert that "whoever says" that there is no abrogation in Islam "is not a believer, but rather a kafir, denying that with which Muhammad came. He must renounce his position or be killed". Mustafa, Muhammad Salih 'Ali. "Al-Naskh fi al-Qur'an al-Karim: Mafhumuhu, Wa Tarikuhu, wa Da'awahu". Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1988. page 18
Modernist dissent
A "celebrated icon" of deniers and rejecters of naskh was the fourth-century Hijri scholar, Abu Muslim al-Isfahani, who was very much in the minority and whose work on naskh Jami‘al-Ta’wil (al-Amidi, al-Ihkam, v.3, 115), has been lost to history.Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.60 But "concentrated criticism of the abrogation concept only started in the latter part" of the nineteenth century, according to Khaleel Mohammad,. According to Karel Steenbrink, "most" of the modernist or reformist scholars of that era (Muhammad Abduh, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and Rashid Rida), considered the theory of abrogation of the Quran invalid. Muhammad al-Ghazali, writing in 1992, stated "the position taken by all the modern scholars whom I have met, or listened to, or whose works I have read, is contrary to the understanding of naskh that became so widespread among the later exegetes, namely that there exists naskh (if accepted) as meaning the abrogation of verses of the Qur'an."Two lesser known scholars who wrote work and spoke against naskh of Islamic revelation in more depth in the 20th century were Muhammad Amin (an Azhar graduate, active at the beginning of the 20th century),Mustafa, Muhammad Salih 'Ali. "Al-Naskh fi al-Qur'an al-Karim: Mafhumuhu, Wa Tarikuhu, wa Da'awahu." Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1988: 17 and 'Abd al-Muta'al al-Jabri (who wrote his Master's thesis -- entitled Naskh As I Understand It In The Islamic Shari'ah -- at the University of Cairo in 1949).Mustafa, Muhammad Salih 'Ali. "Al-Naskh fi al-Qur'an al-Karim: Mafhumuhu, Wa Tarikuhu, wa Da'awahu." Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1988: 16

Need and scope

Dealing with apparent contradictions

Islam teaches that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad over 23 years (609-632 CE) until the year of his death. The customs and practices of Muhammad over this same period are known as the Sunnah, and reports of them are known as ahadith. From early in Islam's history, scholars noted that contradictory commands existed in the Quran,Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.1-3 among hadith of the Sunnah,Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.3-4 as well as between verses of the Quran and the hadith.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.4-5Since Islam calls on humanity to obey the Quran and imitate the behavior of the prophet, and also because "a defining claim of Sunni Islam" is that no two authentic hadith could contradict each other or the Quran, (and because some verses in the Quran at least seemed to contradict each other) scholars worked to resolve these apparent contradictions in the verses that give regulations to Muslims.(#JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.458This became especially important, (as mentioned above), after the principle of fiqh was established that in forming Islamic law, hadith attributed to Muhammad overruled those attributed to all other early Muslims on the same issue. This lead to the growth in the number of these hadith and contradictions between them, created a danger to their legitimacy as the basis of sharia law.While hadith tell of rules of naskh being passed down directly from Muhammad's closest Companions (sahabah) and future Muslim leaders — others believe it more likely ideas about naskh originated later. Ahman Hasan speculates that the idea of the abrogation of certain Qur'anic verses "emerged" early in the history of Islam when commentators and the jurisconsults seeking to reconcile the "apparently contradictory verses", looked to the Quranic verses such as Q.16:110 — "... We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation ..." — to develop a theory that some later verses replaced the commands of earlier ones.Hasan, "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 4 (2), 1965: p.184John Burton argues that naskh was first employed by Islamic scholars ("usulis") in the second century of Islam working to develop principles (usul al-fiqh) for the Islamic law (fiqh) and seeking to explain why some fiqh rulings were not founded on Quranic/Sunnah revelation. By this time the Islamic empire spanned three continents and fiqh had been established in the different regions but usulis found rulings in certain verses of the Quran and parts of the Sunnah had been ignored in their formulation. To explain this, Burton argues, they developed the concept of naskh to declare that the verses/parts had been abrogated.{{#tag:ref|According to John Burton, "the suppression of an original Quran ruling without, however, the suppression of the original wording as well, is the rationalisation worked out by usulis to explain instances in which they perceived certain Quran verse, or certain sunnas to be inoperative. Their rulings had not been taken up in the formulation of fiqh. Verses and hadiths alike had been ignored." |group=Note}} In theory, naskh formed part of a hierarchy of techniques used by scholars of Islamic law working with hadith. Scholars first strove to “harmonize” hadith, (i.e. to make them fit together by reinterpreting them).BOOK, Fatoohi, Louay, Abrogation in the Qur'an and Islamic Law, 2013, Routledge, 4,weblink 8 July 2018, 9781136217272, If that failed they would look for signs of abrogation (that one saying/doing/inaction by Muhammad was earlier than the other and had been replaced by the later saying/doing/inaction). If there was no opportunity for abrogation, they would check the isnad -- chains of transmission of the hadith -- to see if the transmission of one hadith was superior to another. Finally, if they found no difference in the isnad, they would approve the hadith they found "closest to the overall message of the Quran and Sunnah".J.A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad, 2014: p.104-5
But according to scholars such as David S. Powers and John Burton, while the doctrine of abrogation may have cleared up contradictions, it "poses a difficult theological problem" because it seems to suggest God was changing His mind,JOURNAL, Powers, David S., Arabica, On the Abrogation of the Bequest Verses, September 1982, 29, 3, 246–295, 4056186, 10.1163/157005882X00301, or has realized something He was unaware of when revealing the original verse. For an eternally all-knowing deity this was theologically impossible and logically absurd — in fact an act of "unbelief" in Islam itself.Mustafa, 1, 110 cited in Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.30 Liaquat Ali Khan (2008), "Jurodynamics of Islamic Law", Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 240-242Also foreclosing on the possibility of any improvisation of Quranic verses was the belief of Sunni scholars that the Quran was not written/spoken during the course of its revelation, in fact not even created/written by God, but is as ageless as God himself, uncreated, an attribute of God (like being all-powerful, beneficient, merciful, etc.), its original copy being the "mother of the book" — umm al-kitab — kept in the presence of God (Q.13:39; Q.43:4), the earthly Quran being only a copy of it.BOOK, Morgan, Diane, Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice,weblink ABC-CLIO, 3 March 2019, 30, 2010, 9780313360251, (The Mutazilah argued that the Qur'an could not be both eternal and subject to abrogation, with a new verse abrogating an earlier one.)JOURNAL, Hasan, Ahmad, The Theory of Naskh, Islamic Studies, June 1965, 4, 2, 184, AHToN1965, 20832797, Skeptics such as Ali Dashti found the naskh process suspiciously similar to the human process of "revising ... past decisions or plans" after "learning from experience and recognising mistakes".BOOK, Dashti, Ali, Twenty Three Years, 1994, Mazda, Costa Mesa CA, 1-56859-029-6, 155, WEBSITE, Dashti, Ali, Twenty Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, 1994, F. R. C. Bagley, translator,weblink 113–114, When the Quran defends abrogation/naskh against those who scoffed at it ("Do not you know that Allah over every thing?" Q.2:106; "they say, "Thou art but a forger" ... Allah knows best what He reveals" Q.16:101), Dashti asks if the "scoffers" were suspicious "precisely because God is capable of everything", and so would have no need to abrogate a verse after revealing it.BOOK, Ibn Warraq, Why I'm Not a Muslim, 1995, Prometheus, NY, 0879759844, 115,weblink 3 March 2019, Roslan Abdul-Rahim points out that after a verse was revealed criticizing Muslim slackers and urging Muslims to fight jihad, a blind Muslim (‘Abd Allah ibn Umm Maktum) protested to Muhammad that his eyesight prevented him from fighting. "Almost instantaneously" another amended verse was sent down{{#tag:ref|Roslan Abdul-Rahim describes the reports of the asbab or circumstances of the naskh as having "the potential to be even embarrassing for the Muslims".Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.67|group=Note}} with the qualifier "except the disabled".QURAN, 4, 95, nosup, Not equal are those among the believers who are ‘seated’ (at home) [except the disabled] and those who strive in the path of God with their possessions and their selves ...",


At least in part in answer to these criticisms, some explanations and defenses have been offered for the theory of abrogation — principally that the revising of commands by God to his creatures is all done according to a plan.:
  • aspects of the Quran’s message and the Prophet’s teachings had to change as circumstances changed in the Muslim community encountered over the course of Muhammad's more than two decade term as prophet
    • "one rule might not always be suitable for every situation. Far from Allah changing his mind, abrogation demonstrates the wisdom of Allah in legislating rules for their appropriate time and context. For most rules in Islam, there exist circumstances that warrant an exception to the rule." (Abu Amina Elias)
    • Rather than a way for scholars to deal with contradictions in scripture, preachers argued that naskh was God's way of dealing with different situations the Muslim community encountered over the course of Muhammad's more than two decade term as prophet. It "was quite possible for something to be beneficial for them in one situation, and detrimental in another", (such as fasting during Ramadan, where eating is allowed at night, but forbidden in the day), so that God might well abrogate something after it was no longer beneficial. (Ibn Qudamah)ibn Qudamah (al-Maqdis), Ahmad. "Ibn Qudamah Wa Atharuhu al-Usuliyah." (Edited by al-Sa'id, 'Abd Al-'Aziz). Riyadh: Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, 1983: 2.71
    • "Islam abrogates all previous codes of which it is the perfection — If contemporary law is subject to constant alteration to meet changing conditions, why is it impossible that laws given to one people at one time should be abrogated elsewhere at another time?" (Al-Shahrastani)
    • Naskh an expression of “the notion that aspects of the Quran’s message and the Prophet’s teachings developed over time". (Or, since God is all knowing, naskh was said to be what happened when the expiration points were reached for of those rulings God intended as temporary all along.) (J.A.C. Brown)J.A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad, 2014: p.98-99
    • God "knows the temporariness or permanence of any ruling from the time He issues it." (Louay Fatoohi)WEB, FATOOHI, LOUAY, The Importance of Abrogation,weblink Qur’anic Studies, 23 August 2018,
  • Major changes in behavior called for by Islam (banning of consumption of alcohol) should be abolished gradually, meaning that the early lenient commands are abrogated by later stricter ones — demonstrating that this abrogation was pre-planned, not the correction of a mistake;
  • Alternately naskh provides takhfÄ«f (lightening), abrogation "was generally directed to making things easier",(al-Suyuti)Richard Bell, Introduction to the Quran, Edinburgh, 1954, 99-100Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.xAbu Jafar Muhammad b. Jarir, Jami' al-Bayan 'an ta'wil ay al-Qur'an, ed. Shakir, 15 vols. (to date), Cairo, 1954- , II, 482-3; cited in Burton, "Exegis of Q.2:106 and the Islamic Theories of Naskh", BSOAS, 48, 1985(JBEQITN1985|Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985): p.462 either by introducing a more lenient rule -- or if introducing a more onerous one, by helping believers attain greater reward in the Hereafter.Burton, Islamic Theories of Abrogation, 1990: p.116
  • Verses are abrogated to replace them with something that will improve human welfare. (Al-Zamakhshari)Al-Zamakhshari, Mahmud b. `Umar, al-Kashshaf, 4 volumes, Cairo, 1358/1948, v.1 p.232
  • The 'style' of Divine revelation is "direct and absolute", without "clauses, exceptions and qualification". This makes necessary the occasional modification of these broad commands with "more specific" meanings, which is "generally" what naskh does. (Cyril Glasse)BOOK, Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, 2001, Altamira, 0759101892, 340–341,
  • It serves a way for God to test the obedience of believers, who may be troubled and confused that God changed divine law to declares something good that at one time was denounced as evil and vice versa. (Ibn Kathir)WEB, Ibn Kathir, Naskh occurs even though the Jews deny it,weblink Quran Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 5 March 2019, He decides what He wills, there is no opponent for His judgment, and no one can question Him about what He does, while they shall be questioned. He tests His servants and their obedience to His Messengers by the Naskh. He commands a matter containing a benefit which He knows of, and then He out of His wisdom, prohibits it.,
  • Finally, the question why itself is out of line.
    • "whoever rejects abrogation has rejected His sovereignty and might" (Saalih al-Munajjid quoting ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan as-Sa‘di);
    • "abrogation as a mechanism that perfectly reflects God’s omnipotence. God can change any ruling with another at any point in time He sees fit" (Louay Fatoohi);
    • "God orders men's actions as He pleases and must not be asked what He is doing" (Al-Shahrastani);Al-Shahrastani, Kitab Nihayat al-Iqdam fi 'Ilm al-Kalam, ed. and trans, by Alfred Guillaume, Oxford, 1934, pp. 158-59, quoted in Donaldson, Dwight, M., Studies in Muslim Ethics, London, 1953, p. 52.Hasan, A., "The Theory of Naskh", Islamic Studies, 1965: p.187
    • "The sound mind does not deny that there could be a Naskh in Allah's commandments, for He decides what He wills, just as He does what He wills" (Ibn Kathir).


The "classical" and oft cited example of how naskh was used in stages to guide a major change in the behavior of the faithful was the banning of alcohol, implemented in three verses. It has been described as an act of wisdom, needed because an abrupt total ban would have been too harsh and impractical. "Arab society in the beginning was not ready to abandon drinking alcohol. They needed to strengthen their faith in order to overcome their desire to drink."WEB, FATOOHI, LOUAY, The Importance of Abrogation,weblink Qur’anic Studies, 23 August 2018, WEB,weblink Abrogation (Naskh) in the Quran and the wisdom behind abrogation, Questions on Islam, 4 March 2019, The first verse gently discouraged Muslims from drinking alcohol:
  • QURAN, 2, 2:219, nosup, They ask you about [the] intoxicants and [the] games of chance Say, "In both of them (is) a sin great, and (some) benefits for [the] people. But sin of both of them (is) greater than (the) benefit of (the) two., WEB,weblink al-Baqarah 2:240,,
The second prohibited Muslims from being drunk during one kind of activity -- praying salat:
  • QURAN, 4, 43, nosup, O you who believe[d]! (Do) not go near the prayer while you (are) intoxicated until you know what you are saying and not (when you are) impure except (when) passing (through) a way until you have bathed., WEB,weblink An-Nisa' 4:43,,
And finally, once Muslim were "ready for it", alcohol (along with gambling) was totally prohibited:
  • QURAN, 5, 90, nosup, O you who believe! Verily the intoxicants and [the] games of chance and (sacrifices at) altars and divining arrows (are an) abomination from (the) work (of) the Shaitaan, so avoid it so that you may (be) successful, WEB,weblink at-Taubah 5:90,,

Ratio of enemy warriors to Muslims

Two verses Imam Al-Shafi'i cites as "the clearest evidence"

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