One of the greatest tricks that the devil has pulled on the Muslim masses is convincing them that some of the verses of the Quran have been abrogated. For those who are not familiar with this concept, it is the belief that some of the verses in the Quran have been nullified by other verses in the Quran and, in some instances, the direct commandments in the Quran have been abrogated by Hadith outside the Quran.
The two verses that individuals point to in order to try to justify the above understanding of abrogation are the following.
[2:106] When we abrogate (naskh) any miracle (ayah), or cause it to be forgotten, we bring one better, or one equal to it. Do you not recognize the fact that GOD is Omnipotent?
(١٠٦) مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
[16:101] When we substitute (badl) one revelation (ayah) in place of another, and GOD is fully aware of what He reveals, they say, “You made this up!” Indeed, most of them do not know.
(١٠١) وَإِذَا بَدَّلْنَا آيَةً مَكَانَ آيَةٍ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُنَزِّلُ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُفْتَرٍ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Having such an understanding of the Quran causes two fundamental problems. The first is that linguistically this translation is wrong. Secondly, the concept contradicts the very nature of the Quran.
The Linguistic Problem with Abrogation of a Verse
The core of the mistranslation in this verse is in the word ayah ( آيَة ), which is used in the singular form in both these verses. In modern Arabic, when we use the word ayah, it is typically in reference to a single verse of the Quran, but in the Quran the term ayah ( آيَة ), in the singular form, is always in reference to either a sign, a miracle, or the entire Quran, and never in reference to a single verse.
Ayah, آيَة, in the singular form, like it is used in 2:106 and 16:101, occurs 84 times in the Quran. Every occurrence is either in reference to a sign, miracle, proof, or the entire Quran. Not once is this word in the singular form used in reference to a single verse of the Quran.
Here is a list of every occurance of ayah in the Quran in the singular form: 2:106, 2:118, 2:145, 2:211, 2:248, 15:77, 21:5, 3:13, 3:41, 3:49, 3:50, 5:114, 6:4, 6:25, 6:35, 6:37, 6:109, 6:124, 7:73, 7:106, 7:132, 7:146, 7:203, 10:20, 10:92, 10:97, 11:64, 11:103, 12:105, 13:7, 13:27, 13:38, 15:77, 16:11, 16:13, 16:65, 16:67, 16:69, 16:101, 17:12, 19:10, 19:21, 20:22, 20:47, 20:133, 21:5, 21:91, 23:50, 25:37, 26:4, 26:8, 26:67, 26:103, 26:121, 26:128, 26:139, 26:154, 26:158, 26:174, 26:190, 26:197, 27:52, 29:15, 29:35, 29:44, 30:58, 34:9, 34:15, 36:33, 36:37, 36:41, 36:46, 37:14, 40:78, 43:48, 48:20, 51:37, 54:2, 54:15, 79:20.
Pulling from any of these verses can prove this point, but one of the verses that are the clearest the ayah in the singular form is never used in reference to a single verse of the Quran can be observed in the following verse.
[10:20] They say, “How come no miracle (ayah) came down to him from his Lord?” Say, “The future belongs to GOD; so wait, and I am waiting along with you.”
(٢٠) وَيَقُولُونَ لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا الْغَيْبُ لِلَّهِ فَانْتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُنْتَظِرِينَ
Obviously, Muhammad was given verses of the Quran, but he was not given a physical miracle like what was given to Moses or Jesus. So when people asked him for an ayah, a physical miracle, God told him to say, “The future belongs to GOD; so wait, and I am waiting along with you.”
Another example can be seen in the following verse:
[6:37] They said, “If only a sign (ayah) could come down to him from his Lord!” Say, “GOD is able to send down a sign (ayah) , but most of them do not know.”
(٣٧) وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰ أَنْ يُنَزِّلَ آيَةً وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Even the plural form of ayat ( آيَات ) used in the Quran is never used to refer to a subset of verses of the Quran but is always in reference to all the verses of the Quran when used in that context. For example:
[41:3] A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know.
(٣) كِتَابٌ فُصِّلَتْ آيَاتُهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
When the Quran wants to refer to a subset of verses, it uses the word sura ( سُورَة ).
[2:23] If you have any doubt regarding what we revealed to our servant, then produce one sura like these, and call upon your own witnesses against GOD, if you are truthful.
(٢:٢٣) وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
The Quranic Problem with Abrogation of a Verse
The Quran condemns individuals who accept the Quran only partially. God literally calls the people who do this “dividers” (l-muq’tasimīna / الْمُقْتَسِمِينَ).
[15:90] We will deal with the dividers.
(٩٠) كَمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَى الْمُقْتَسِمِينَ
[15:91] They accept the Quran only partially (in separate parts).
(٩١) الَّذِينَ جَعَلُوا الْقُرْآنَ عِضِينَ
God tells us that the Quran is complete, fully detailed, and that nothing shall abrogate His words, using the same word as used in 16:101.
[6:114] Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed (mufasalan)? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِنْ رَبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ
[6:115] The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate (badal) His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
(١١٥) وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
[25:28] “Alas, woe to me, I wish I did not take that person as a friend.
(٢٨) يَاوَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا
[25:29] “He has led me away from the message after it came to me. Indeed, the devil lets down his human victims.”
(٢٩) لَقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنْسَانِ خَذُولًا
[25:30] The messenger said, “My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.”
(٣٠) وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَارَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا
Which Verses Are Supposedly Abrogated
Pending on which school of traditional Islam one subscribes to, they claim that typically anywhere between 21 to over 248 verses of the Quran habe been abrogated. Additionally, some scholars maintained that any narrative, positive command, or prohibition in the Qur’an may be abrogated.
If you look at the supposed 21 verses that have been abrogated, you realize that such a claim is absurd, and it is not that one verse overrides the other, but that the two verses are regarding different contexts or provide further detail on a subject. Let’s look at these supposed abrogated verses and do an analysis.
|Abrogated (Mansūkh)||Abrogator (Nāsikh)||Comments|
|[2:115] To GOD belongs the east and the west; wherever you go there will be the presence of GOD. GOD is Omnipresent, Omniscient.||[2:144] We have seen you turning your face about the sky (searching for the right direction). We now assign a Qiblah that is pleasing to you. Henceforth, you shall turn your face towards the Sacred Masjid. Wherever you may be, all of you shall turn your faces towards it. Those who received the previous scripture know that this is the truth from their Lord. GOD is never unaware of anything they do.||God’s presence is everywhere, but God commanded us to face the Sacred Masjid when we perform our Salat. Also, see 2:177.|
|[2:180] It is decreed that when death approaches, you shall write a will for the benefit of the parents and relatives, equitably. This is a duty upon the righteous.||[4:7] The men get a share of what the parents and the relatives leave behind. The women too shall get a share of what the parents and relatives leave behind. Whether it is a small or a large inheritance, (the women must get) a definite share.||The will for 2:180 is for those who are going off to battle, while 4:7 is for the general population. See 2:190-193.|
|[2:183] O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.||[2:187] Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. GOD knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what GOD has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset. Sexual intercourse is prohibited if you decide to retreat to the masjid (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are GOD’s laws; you shall not transgress them. GOD thus clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may attain salvation.||Fasting was decreed for the followers of the Quran, but these practices predate the Quran. See 16:123.|
|[2:184] Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.||[2:185] Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.||In 2:184, God is offering those who can fast but with great difficulty the ability to fee a poor person for each day they brake their fast. This means they attempted to fast, but then broke it. Additionally, God leaves it open for them to offer more righteous work if they are willing.|
2:185 is describing people who are not able to fast because they are ill or travelling that they can make up the fast on other days.
|[2:217] They ask you about the Sacred Months and fighting therein: say, “Fighting therein is a sacrilege. However, repelling from the path of GOD and disbelieving in Him and in the sanctity of the Sacred Mosque (Masjid), and evicting its people, are greater sacrileges in the sight of GOD. Oppression is worse than murder.” They will always fight you to revert you from your religion, if they can. Those among you who revert from their religion, and die as disbelievers, have nullified their works in this life and the Hereafter. These are the dwellers of Hell, wherein they abide forever.||[9:36] The count of months, as far as GOD is concerned, is twelve. This has been GOD’s law, since the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. This is the perfect religion; you shall not wrong your souls (by fighting) during the Sacred Months. However, you may declare all-out war against the idol worshipers (even during the Sacred Months), when they declare all-out war against you, and know that GOD is on the side of the righteous.||Both these verses are stating that fighting is not permitted during the Sacred Months, but one is allowed to fight if it is imposed on them.|
|[2:240] Those who die and leave wives, a will shall provide their wives with support for a year, provided they stay within the same household. If they leave, you commit no sin by letting them do whatever they wish, so long as righteousness is maintained. GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.||[2:234] Those who die and leave wives, their widows shall wait four months and ten days (before they remarry). Once they fulfill their interim, you commit no error by letting them do whatever righteous matters they wish to do. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.||2:240 shows that it is the husbands responsilbity in a will is to provide enough support for a minimum of a year pending on they stay within the same household.|
2:234 is regarding the four month waiting interm for a widow before she is allowed to remarry. This is in the case of pregnancy, there will not be any confusion who the father is.
|[2:284] To GOD belongs everything in the heavens and the earth. Whether you declare your innermost thoughts, or keep them hidden, GOD holds you responsible for them. He forgives whomever He wills, and punishes whomever He wills. GOD is Omnipotent.||[2:286] GOD never burdens a soul beyond its means: to its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits. “Our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make mistakes. Our Lord, and protect us from blaspheming against You, like those before us have done. Our Lord, protect us from sinning until it becomes too late for us to repent. Pardon us and forgive us. You are our Lord and Master. Grant us victory over the disbelieving people.”||Not sure how 2:286 abrogates 2:284, but a more likely verse would be 2:225, 5:89, or 33:5, where it states “GOD does not hold you responsible for the mere utterance of oaths; He holds you responsible for your innermost intentions.” This shows that even among one’s declared or hidden thoughts, God holds us responsible for our intentions. This is because we cannot always control our thoughts, but we can always control our intentions.|
|[3:102] O you who believe, you shall observe GOD as He should be observed, and do not die except as Submitters.||[64:16] Therefore, you shall reverence GOD as much as you can, and listen, and obey, and give (to charity) for your own good. Anyone who is protected from his own stinginess, these are the successful ones.||3:102, is informing us the value of observing God, while 64:16 is informing us that in order to meet this impossible requirement we are to do it to the best of our ability. This is because not only can we never value God to the extent of His deserved value (6:91), we cannot even value a single one of God’s blessings to the extent it deserves (14:34, 16:18). Therefore if we can’t even properly value a single one of God’s blessings how can we ever value God to the level He deserves? So it is out of God’s mercy that He limits this to our ability and doesn’t burden us more than that (2:286).|
|[4:15] Those who commit adultery among your women, you must have four witnesses against them, from among you. If they do bear witness, then you shall keep such women in their homes until they die, or until GOD creates an exit for them.||[24:2] The adulteress and the adulterer you shall whip each of them a hundred lashes. Do not be swayed by pity from carrying out GOD’s law, if you truly believe in GOD and the Last Day. And let a group of believers witness their penalty.||In the case of 4:15 the word that is used that is translated as adultery is l-fāḥishata ( الْفَاحِشَةَ ). While the word used in 24:2 is from the word al-zayna ( الزَّان ). Zayna requires that one of the parties in the act to be married. 4:15 on the otherhand is the punishment for a women who is not married, nor is the one she commited the act with.|
|[4:33] For each of you, we have designated shares from the inheritance left by the parents and the relatives. Also those related to you through marriage, you shall give them their due share. GOD witnesses all things.||[8:75] Those who believed afterwards, and emigrated, and strove with you, they belong with you. Those who are related to each other shall be the first to support each other, in accordance with GOD’s commandments. GOD is fully aware of all things.||Both these verses are stating that one’s blood relationships should take precedent over other relationships as far as one’s responsilbity goes.|
|[5:2] O you who believe, do not violate the rites instituted by GOD, nor the Sacred Months, nor the animals to be offered, nor the garlands marking them, nor the people who head for the Sacred Shrine (Ka’bah) seeking blessings from their Lord and approval. Once you complete the pilgrimage, you may hunt. Do not be provoked into aggression by your hatred of people who once prevented you from going to the Sacred Masjid. You shall cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety; do not cooperate in matters that are sinful and evil. You shall observe GOD. GOD is strict in enforcing retribution.||[9:36] The count of months, as far as GOD is concerned, is twelve. This has been GOD’s law, since the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. This is the perfect religion; you shall not wrong your souls (by fighting) during the Sacred Months. However, you may declare all-out war against the idol worshipers (even during the Sacred Months), when they declare all-out war against you, and know that GOD is on the side of the righteous.||5:2 is consistent with the rest of the Quran, that one is never allowed to be an aggressor in a situation (2:190-193), but we are allowed to stand up for ourselves even during the Sacred Months if provoked (42:41-42).|
|[5:42] They are upholders of lies, and eaters of illicit earnings. If they come to you to judge among them, you may judge among them, or you may disregard them. If you choose to disregard them, they cannot harm you in the least. But if you judge among them, you shall judge equitably. GOD loves those who are equitable.||[5:49] You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD’s revelations to you. Do not follow their wishes, and beware lest they divert you from some of GOD’s revelations to you. If they turn away, then know that GOD wills to punish them for some of their sins. Indeed, many people are wicked.||5:42 and 5:49 are regarding the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) and informing the prophet that he can choose to judge for them or not when asked, but if he is to judge he is to judge according to the revelations that were given to him by God (4:105).|
|[5:106] O you who believe, witnessing a will when one of you is dying shall be done by two equitable people among you. If you are traveling, then two others may do the witnessing. After observing the Contact Prayer (Salat), let the witnesses swear by GOD, to alleviate your doubts: “We will not use this to attain personal gains, even if the testator is related to us. Nor will we conceal GOD’s testimony. Otherwise, we would be sinners.”||[65:2] Once the interim is fulfilled, you may reconcile with them equitably, or go through with the separation equitably. You shall have two equitable witnesses witness the divorce before GOD. This is to enlighten those who believe in GOD and the Last Day. Anyone who reverences GOD, He will create an exit for him.||5:106 is regarding witnessing a will while 65:2 is regarding witnessing a divorce.|
|[8:65] O you prophet, you shall exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they can defeat two hundred, and a hundred of you can defeat a thousand of those who disbelieved. That is because they are people who do not understand.||[8:66] Now (that many new people have joined you) GOD has made it easier for you, for He knows that you are not as strong as you used to be. Henceforth, a hundred steadfast believers can defeat two hundred, and a thousand of you can defeat two thousand by GOD’s leave. GOD is with those who steadfastly persevere.||8:65 is describing that the believers earlier were few, but their faith per capita was stronger. 8:66 is describing that afterwards when they were many, their faith per capita is lower. This is typical, the early believers are always the strongest believers because it is harder to believe when you are early. This is confirmed in Sura 56 regarding the elite of the elite (56:10-14).|
|[9:41] You shall readily mobilize, light or heavy, and strive with your money and your lives in the cause of GOD. This is better for you, if you only knew.||[9:91] Not to be blamed are those who are weak, or ill, or do not find anything to offer, so long as they remain devoted to GOD and His messenger. The righteous among them shall not be blamed. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.||9:41 is a requirement for all who were able to moblize in the cause of God, 9:91 is providing permission for certain people who are exempt from this command.|
|[24:3] The adulterer will end up marrying an adulteress or an idol worshiper, and the adulteress will end up marrying an adulterer or an idol worshiper. This is prohibited for the believers.||[24:32] You shall encourage those of you who are single to get married. They may marry the righteous among your male and female servants, if they are poor. GOD will enrich them from His grace. GOD is Bounteous, Knower.||24:3 is stating that one who commits zyna is destined to marry someone else who has committed the act or an idol worshiper. 24:32 is encouargin those who are single to get married.|
|[24:58] O you who believe, permission must be requested by your servants and the children who have not attained puberty (before entering your rooms). This is to be done in three instances—before the Dawn Prayer, at noon when you change your clothes to rest, and after the Night Prayer. These are three private times for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to mingle with one another. GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.||[24:59] Once the children reach puberty, they must ask permission (before entering) like those who became adults before them have asked permission (before entering). GOD thus clarifies His revelations for you. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.||24:58 is the requiement for children before puberty, while 24:59 is the requriement for those after they reach puberty.|
|[33:52] Beyond the categories described to you, you are enjoined from marrying any other women, nor can you substitute a new wife (from the prohibited categories), no matter how much you admire their beauty. You must be content with those already made lawful to you. GOD is watchful over all things.||[33:50] O prophet, we made lawful for you your wives to whom you have paid their due dowry, or what you already have, as granted to you by GOD. Also lawful for you in marriage are the daughters of your father’s brothers, the daughters of your father’s sisters, the daughters of your mother’s brothers, the daughters of your mother’s sisters, who have emigrated with you. Also, if a believing woman gave herself to the prophet—by forfeiting the dowry—the prophet may marry her without a dowry, if he so wishes. However, her forfeiting of the dowry applies only to the prophet, and not to the other believers. We have already decreed their rights in regard to their spouses or what they already have. This is to spare you any embarrassment. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.||33:50 specifies that categories that are permitted in marriage for the prophet, and 33:52 is confirming that he is not allowed to marry beyond the categories specified.|
|[58:12] O you who believe, when you wish to confer with the messenger, you shall offer a charity (to the poor) before you do so. This is better for you, and purer. If you cannot afford it, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.||[58:13] If you failed to give to charity before conferring, then repented thereafter, GOD accepts your repentance. You shall observe the contact prayers (Salat), give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and obey GOD and His messenger. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.||58:12 is specifying what to do before confering with the messenger, while 58:13 is specifys that if one failed in this regard that they are to repent.|
|[60:10] O you who believe, when believing women (abandon the enemy and) ask for asylum with you, you shall test them. GOD is fully aware of their belief. Once you establish that they are believers, you shall not return them to the disbelievers. They are not lawful to remain married to them, nor shall the disbelievers be allowed to marry them. Give back the dowries that the disbelievers have paid. You commit no error by marrying them, so long as you pay them their due dowries. Do not keep disbelieving wives (if they wish to join the enemy). You may ask them for the dowry you had paid, and they may ask for what they paid. This is GOD’s rule; He rules among you. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.||[9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.||*The context of 9:5 is very specific, and meant for a particular time and place. More on this subject below.|
|[73:2] Meditate during the night, except rarely.||[73:20] Your Lord knows that you meditate during two-thirds of the night, or half of it, or one-third of it, and so do some of those who believed with you. GOD has designed the night and the day, and He knows that you cannot always do this. He has pardoned you. Instead, you shall read what you can of the Quran. He knows that some of you may be ill, others may be traveling in pursuit of GOD’s provisions, and others may be striving in the cause of GOD. You shall read what you can of it, and observe the contact prayers (Salat), give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and lend GOD a loan of righteousness. Whatever good you send ahead on behalf of your souls, you will find it at GOD far better and generously rewarded. And implore GOD for forgiveness. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.||If we read 73:2-4 we see that this matches what is stated in 73:20.|
The Verse of the Sword
If we look at the long list of supposed abrogated verses, we find that nearly 100 verses have been abrogated by Sura 9 verse 5, the infamous Verse of the Sword.
[9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
فَإِذَا انْسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Tyrannical individuals love to site this verse as superseding any of the verses that the Quran advocates justice, tolerance, compassion, and non-aggression. The irony is that if we read this verse in context, we see that this is not a carte blanche permission to kill anyone who does not accept the faith but is limited to specific people in a specific context. To understand this, we simply have to look at the adjacent verses, and it is obvious that this is specifically at a time of war when the opposing party breaks their peace treaty.
[9:1] An ultimatum is herein issued from GOD and His messenger to the idol worshipers who enter into a treaty with you. [9:2] Therefore, roam the earth freely for four months, and know that you cannot escape from GOD, and that GOD humiliates the disbelievers. [9:3] A proclamation is herein issued from GOD and His messenger to all the people on the great day of pilgrimage, that GOD has disowned the idol worshipers, and so did His messenger. Thus, if you repent, it would be better for you. But if you turn away, then know that you can never escape from GOD. Promise those who disbelieve a painful retribution. [9:4] If the idol worshipers sign a peace treaty with you, and do not violate it, nor band together with others against you, you shall fulfill your treaty with them, until the expiration date. GOD loves the righteous. [9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [9:6] If one of the idol worshipers sought safe passage with you, you shall grant him safe passage, so that he can hear the word of GOD, then send him back to his place of security. That is because they are people who do not know. [9:7] How can the idol worshipers demand any pledge from GOD and from His messenger? Exempted are those who have signed a peace treaty with you at the Sacred Masjid. If they honor and uphold such a treaty, you shall uphold it as well. GOD loves the righteous. [9:8] How can they (demand a pledge) when they never observed any rights of kinship between you and them, nor any covenant, if they ever had a chance to prevail. They pacified you with lip service, while their hearts were in opposition, and most of them are wicked. [9:9] They traded away GOD’s revelations for a cheap price. Consequently, they repulsed the people from His path. Miserable indeed is what they did! [9:10] They never observe any rights of kinship towards any believer, nor do they uphold their covenants; these are the real transgressors.
[9:11] If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), then they are your brethren in religion. We thus explain the revelations for people who know. [9:12] If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack your religion, you may fight the leaders of paganism—you are no longer bound by your covenant with them—that they may refrain. [9:13] Would you not fight people who violated their treaties, tried to banish the messenger, and they are the ones who started the war in the first place? Are you afraid of them? GOD is the One you are supposed to fear, if you are believers. [9:14] You shall fight them, for GOD will punish them at your hands, humiliate them, grant you victory over them, and cool the chests of the believers. [9:15] He will also remove the rage from the believers’ hearts. GOD redeems whomever He wills. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
The reason that Traditionalists have adopted this concept of abrogation is because their understanding of the Quran in conjunction with the Hadith causes numerous contradictions. So to reconcile this they simply say that a verse is abrogated when a contradiction is formed. Again this contradicts the very verse of the Quran.
[4:82] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than GOD, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.
(٨٢) أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِنْدِ غَيْرِ اللَّهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا
If one was to accept the concept of abrogation within the Quran, such that some verses abrogate other verses, then that in itself is a contradiction. This is because that means that the verses contradict one another, and therefore, one verse is needed to be used to overrule the other.
A better approach in studying the Quran is considering that the Quran is a complete book, such that we do not take a single verse of the Quran in isolation but consider the verse in conjunction with all the other verses of the Quran. Then if we can come up with an understanding, the first question we ask ourselves is: “does this understanding cause a contradiction in any of the verses of the Quran?” If the answer is, “yes” then this means there is an error with our understanding, and therefore it needs to be reassessed or refined.
A Complete Book
In contract theory, A contract is considered complete if the agreement could specify every possible future state of the world as well as the appropriate actions that should be taken into effect under any of these possible future outcomes. This means that every scenario and edge case is accounted for in advance. This is a theoretical concept because humans will never be able to develop a legitimate complete contract without negating many of the infinite numbers of possible scenarios or resorting to default rules to deflect unforeseen edge cases. This is the reason that companies are constantly updating their terms of service because each time a new edge case occurs, they have to update their language to account for this scenario.
This is not the case with the Quran. When God calls the Quran complete, He is letting us know that this book covers all the edge cases a person will ever deal with regarding what they need to do in order to obtain salvation from God.
[16:89] The day will come when we will raise from every community a witness from among them, and bring you as the witness of these people. We have revealed to you this book to provide explanations for everything, and guidance, and mercy, and good news for the submitters.
وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَىٰ هَٰؤُلَاءِ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
[12:111] In their history, there is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not fabricated Hadith; this (Quran) confirms all previous scriptures, provides the details of everything, and is a beacon and mercy for those who believe.
لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثًا يُفْتَرَىٰ وَلَٰكِنْ تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
[18:54] We have cited in this Quran every kind of example, but the human being is the most argumentative creature.
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الْإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا
[25:33] Whatever argument they come up with, we provide you with the truth, and the best understanding (tafsir).
(٣٣) وَلَا يَأْتُونَكَ بِمَثَلٍ إِلَّا جِئْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَأَحْسَنَ تَفْسِيرًا
If the Quran is complete, where can I find the details for…?
The natural question when people are informed that the Quran is complete is, “where do I find details regarding…some topic?”
If it is not in the Quran it is because of three reasons…
- It is not pertinent to our salvation
- It is in the Quran, but we need to be patient
- It is not in the Quran, but it is obvious
An example of the first reason can be seen in the history of the sleepers of the cave in the following verse.
It isn’t pertinent to our salvation
[18:22] Some would say, “They were three; their dog being the fourth,” while others would say, “Five; the sixth being their dog,” as they guessed. Others said, “Seven,” and the eighth was their dog. Say, “My Lord is the best knower of their number.” Only a few knew the correct number. Therefore, do not argue with them; just go along with them. You need not consult anyone about this.
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ قُلْ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِمْ مَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِمْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا
In the above verse, God is informing us that if this information was important, He would have clarified this for us without ambiguity, so since He did not, then it is not pertinent to the takeaway we are to have from their history. There are lots of items like this that are omitted from the Quran that have no bearing on our salvation. For instance, the Quran does not provide the names of Adam’s two sons. Obviously, we can go to the Bible and see it there, but again for the sake of our salvation, their names are irrelevant to the lesson from their history.
It’s in the Quran, but one needs to be patient
Regarding the second reason, God provides us the following verse, to why some details are embedded in the Quran.
[5:101] O you who believe, do not ask about matters which, if revealed to you prematurely, would hurt you. If you ask about them in light of the Quran, they will become obvious to you. GOD has deliberately overlooked them. GOD is Forgiver, Clement. [5:102] Others before you have asked the same questions, then became disbelievers therein.
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَسْأَلُوا عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ إِنْ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِنْ تَسْأَلُوا عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْآنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنْهَا وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
قَدْ سَأَلَهَا قَوْمٌ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ ثُمَّ أَصْبَحُوا بِهَا كَافِرِينَ
God tells us that as humans we will move from stage to stage (84:19), and we have to trust in God’s system that when we are ready He will make things obvious for us.
[20:114] Most Exalted is GOD, the only true King. Do not rush into uttering the Quran before it is revealed to you, and say, “My Lord, increase my knowledge.”
فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
The last reason information is not in the Quran is because it is obvious. For instance, God does not need to describe what it means to wash (5:6), to walk (2:239), eat (2:168), etc. Additionally, there are the practices of Abraham that have been preserved since they have been originally revealed e.g. Salat (Contact Prayer), Zakat (Obligatory Charity), Sayem (Fasting), Hajj (Pilgrimage) that God did not need to explain because they were already known.
These practices were all in existence when the prophet got the revelation of the Quran. All the Quran did was to purify these practices for the people. For instance, we see the Sayem (Fasting) was being practiced even before the revelation for fasting was revealed to the people.
[2:183] O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
[2:187] Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. GOD knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what GOD has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset. Sexual intercourse is prohibited if you decide to retreat to the masjid (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are GOD’s laws; you shall not transgress them. GOD thus clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may attain salvation.
أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنْكُمْ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى الَّيْلِ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنْتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
Quran is Consistent
[39:23] GOD has revealed herein the best Hadith; a book that is consistent, and points out both ways (to Heaven and Hell). The skins of those who reverence their Lord cringe therefrom, then their skins and their hearts soften up for GOD’s message. Such is GOD’s guidance; He bestows it upon whomever He wills. As for those sent astray by GOD, nothing can guide them.
اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُتَشَابِهًا مَثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ
By being consistent with no contradictions, this gives the reader of the Quran certainty that all the information one needs to render a judgment can be found in this one book. Consider if the Quran was inconsistent, in such a scenario, if there was some claim made or ruling rendered, there is always going to be an element of doubt; what if I don’t have the full picture, what if there is context missing, or what if this verse no longer applies.
Ironically this is what we find with the Hadith when compared to the Quran.
[39:29] GOD cites the example of a man who deals with disputing partners (Hadith), compared to a man who deals with only one consistent source (Quran). Are they the same? Praise be to GOD; most of them do not know.
ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
In Hadith sciences, there are two primary factors that individuals use to validate the strength and authenticity of any given Hadith. The first is if it is sahih (authentic), and the second is if it is mutawatir (mass transmitted). If the Hadith is considered sahih, this means that the chain of narrators is trustworthy, of sound mind, and is not broken. If it is mutawatir, then there are multiple chains that all claim the same narration. Except, there is a fundamental paradox that we see in the Hadith with the most authentic Hadith that are mutawatir.
As the number of narrators for any one Hadith increases, ironically, it also increases the number of variations within that Hadith. Such that each narration will slightly vary from the other narrations. This is not a ding against the integrity of the supposed witnesses but just a reality of human limitations. Consider some of the biggest events that occur today, that despite the numerous witnesses, tons of videos and audio recordings, and endless amounts of metadata, there are still disputes as to the exact details of what happened.
Or consider a bunch of students in a class listening to the teacher all taking notes. If we compare these notes after the class, we will inevitably find discrepancies in these accounts. For most instances, this isn’t going to be a big deal as long as the general message was understood, but when it comes to a source of law, the slightest differences in word choice, phrasing, etc., can cause an entire cascading effect of understanding.
For instance, I was listening to a podcast regarding a lawsuit between an HOA and a homeowner, where the language in the contract said that the homes need to be “brown, tan, or local earth tones.” Over this specific language, multiple lawsuits were filed between the HOA and the homeowner because the homeowner painted their home green. If the contract is fixed, then it is easy to make a judgment, but imagine if the contract was constantly in flux. Where tomorrow, someone finds another piece of the contract that states the colors need to be “brown, tan, or forest.” Or another that said “brown, orange, or grey.” In such a scenario, there would never be a definitive answer because inevitably, if you accept one narration, you have to disregard the other narrations.
Now consider one of the strongest Hadith, that of the supposed seven ahruf of the Quran. If you are wondering what ahruf in the Hadith means, don’t worry; so are all the scholars who study this material. Based on which narration one reads, their understanding will vary tremendously.
Here is a sample of the various hadith on this topic.
Scholars squabble over what the meaning of the seven ahruf is but typically fall into one of the following camps of understanding:
- The Seven Ahruf are seven ways of pronouncing a word
- The Seven Ahruf are seven types of Quranic verses
- The Seven Ahruf just denotes a large number
- The Seven Ahruf are the seven dialects of Arabic spoken at that time
- The Seven Ahruf refers to the seven types of differences in the Quranic readings
- The Seven Ahruf refers to synonyms of a Quranic word
- The Seven Ahruf refers to seven recitals
The absurdity of these understandings leaves people to assume that:
- There is not one Quran, but seven Qurans (Quran 10:15)
- The words in the Quran are ambiguous and are subject to change
- The Quran allows for synonyms to be added in place of words
- God did not preserve the (Quran 15:9)
- That prophet could authorize changes to the Quran to make it easy for people (Quran 10:15)
- The Quran is not sent down in one form, but seven, if not more (Quran 85:22)
Ironically, if we consult the Quran, we see that the word ahruf means distortion, so it is not surprising that this Hadith has caused people such misunderstanding regarding the Quran.
This is the irony of upholding any other Hadith as a source of law next to that of the Quran, that when one does that, it inevitably destroys their entire understanding of what the Quran even is.
Individuals who ascribe to upholding Hadith besides the Quran struggle to define what the Quran is. This is due to their erroneous understanding that the verses of the Quran were abrogated or forgotten.
According to Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an (االتقان في علوم القران), by Jalaluddin Suyuti, English Translation by Muneer Fareed it states:
Abu ‘Ubaid said: “Ismai’il b. Ibrahim reported to us, from Ayyub, from Nafi, from Ibn ‘Umar, who said:
“Nobody should say that he has committed the whole Qur’an to memory, for he does not know what is the whole Qur’an, since much of the Qur’an has been eliminated. Rather, he should say that he has memorized what is found of it.”Variant Readings of The Qur’an, Ahmad ‘Ali Al-Imam
According to followers of Hadith:
- The Quran had two additional suras, Named ‘l-Khal`a and ‘l-Hafd, that were forgotten
- Sura 33, Al-Ahzãb, which contains 73 verses, used to contain 200 verses. While another narration stated that it was originally the same length as Sura 2, Al-Baqarah, which is the longest sura in the Quran, with 286 verses
- Sura 9, Barã’ah, was originally much longer
- That the compilers of the Quran debated making the last two verses, which were falsely added to Sura 9, into its own sura, but decided instead to add it to the end of Sura 9 because there wasn’t a third verse added to it
- The verses regarding the stoning of adulterers and adult suckling were left out of the Quran
- The 113 occurrences of Basmallah in the Quran are not part of the Quran
- The Quran came down in seven modes (ahruf)
More details on these claims can be found here.
[6:114] Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِنْ رَبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ
[6:115] The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
[6:116] If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of GOD. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.
وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
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