Questions about Nasikh-Mansuk abrogations theories among Muslims.

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Mike Ghouse

First of all, let me state my position on the topic, Abrogation theory was floated by those who did not get the Quran right. Their deficient knowledge about Quran has generated their own concoctions.  What is needed is for Muslims to come together and jointly declare that they reject the Nasikh Mansukh theory, if not the confusion continues, it has to be stopped now.

Let me go to the opposite end of “Abrogation theory” and hope the discussion will yield sustainable principles.

Let me add my understanding of Islam, if it is not common sense, it is not Islam.  Islam is about building cohesive societies where all humanity can live in harmony without fear with a strong foundation of truth, justice, mercy and equitability.  This translates into the highest meaning;  peace (Islam), and peace comes from all of us subscribing (the word used is Submission to Allah) to a system that works for all.

Last Saturday, I attended one of the most painful conferences in San Antonio organized by a Pastor in conjunction with ACT for America.  I have learned to deal with the most extreme people among Muslims, Christians, Jews and others with utmost patience, which ran thin this time.  One of the items they were laughing at us, and rightfully so was about the Abrogation theory.  Misinformation about Allah, Islam, Quran and the Prophet was painful to sit through and listen, particularly coming from my brothers who were former Muslims. May God bless them, and give them the knowledge to see that God is God of all humanity despite how we perceive him, her or it is one and the same.  ( ).

In the Quran conference we held in 2010,   a statement was made something to this effect;

 A few Muslims have been misled into believing in the Abrogation theory, which is the most ridiculous thing propagated over centuries.  This is how it works; Allah delivers the message to Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel in the form of verses that eventually become the Quran.  The next day or the next week Allah comes back and says, look I goofed up, I did not mean to say what I said before, it was a mistake, here is the new and better verse.  Oh, by the way when you compile the book, don’t delete the mistakes I’ve made, so people know that I can change my mind too.”  – This is serious  

Quran is about common sense, easy to understand guidance book to build cohesive societies and it is not for Muslims exclusively, it is for all people.  By being possessive about Quran we are denying the book to others. ( )

For God’s sake, don’t subscribe to the Nasikh Mansukh theory for the following reasons:

1. Allah does not make mistakes
2. What he says is what he means
3. Don’t blame Hazrat Uthman for compiling the Quran without removing God’s words
5. Forgive the Ulema’s of past of even for suggesting to negate God’s words
6. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would not have said “ I am leaving this book to you”
7. Any human with common sense should read and understand without the men in business confusing them.
8. It is time we come together and make declarations to make Quran easy for future generations

The origins for the mistakes is explained very well by Muhammad Asad, one of the best translators of Quran. It is referenced to Verse 2:106, “ Any message which, We annul or consign to oblivion We replace with a better or a similar one. [87] Dost thou not know that God has the power to will anything?”

 Asad, “The principle laid down in this passage – relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an – has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah (“message”) occurring in this, context is also used to denote a “verse;” of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been “abrogated” by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed.

Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion-which calls to mind the image of a human author correcting,  on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript  deleting one passage and replacing it with another-there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever, declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been “abrogated”. At the root of the so-called “doctrine of abrogation” may lie the inability of some of the early commentators to reconcile one Qur’anic passage with another: a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been “abrogated”.

This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the “doctrine of abrogation” as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and, furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse in question from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it.

In short, the “doctrine of abrogation” has no basis whatever in historical fact, and must be rejected. On the other hand, the apparent difficulty in interpreting the above Qur’anic passage disappears -immediately if the temp ayah is understood, correctly, as “message”, and if we read this verse in conjunction with the preceding one, which states that the Jews and the Christians refuse to accept any revelation which might supersede that of the Bible: for, if read in this way, the abrogation relates to the earlier divine messages and not to any part of the Qur’an itself.(Quran Ref: 2:106 )”

Criticism can fade away or rain on us depending on how we respond to it.  Lack of conviction in one’s faith breeds intolerance towards criticism, whereas firmness in faith can lead us to learn from criticism, explore the infinite wisdom and realize the strength of our faith (Imaan); a worthy feeling to have, instead of living in doubt and shooing criticism away (Full article – Criticism of Islam, Quran and the Prophet).

Mike Ghouse chose to be a Muslim, after being fiercely critical of how God, Prophet, Quran and Islam were presented to Muslims. The more critical he got the stronger his faith was. He urges Muslims to welcome criticism of Islam and build a strong faith. He has a strong record of learning and presenting Islam as it was meant to be. More at  
# # #
A Note and a thoroughly researched article from Mr. Iftekhar Hai follows

See below what Zaytuna graduates have learned about who has abrogated ayats from Quran and how many ayats are abrogated.
1) Ibn Kathir
2) Timizi
3) Taymiyyah, Sahib Bukhari
4) Also see more scholars below:
An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, Published by: Al-Hidaayah, P.O.Box 3332, Birmingham, UK B10 9AW, Tel: 0121 753 1889, Fax: 0121 753 2422
email:, Printed by: The Alden Group, Oxford, UK.
Review & Comments on Above   9/13/03
1) Quran warns against abrogation: Surah 15, verses 89 to 92 (Yusuf Ali translation),

“I am indeed HE that warns you (present day Ulemas, sheikhs and ayatollahs) openly and without ambiguity of such a wrath as We sent down on those (learnt of Christians & Jews) who divided the scriptures (Torah and Gospels) into arbitrary parts, also on such (Muslim Ulemas, sheikhs and ayatollahs) who have made the Quran into shreds (by applying Nasikh-Mansookh or abrogation theory) as they please.  Therefore by thy Lord, We will of certainty call them to account for all their deeds.”  (They will be punished for misleading the common people).
Case of Misinterpretation & Abrogation Theory
By Iftekhar Hai                                                                                                                               United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance
The following, Islamic scholars (quoted on page 5) have set the minds of millions of Muslims all over the world by declaring certain verses in the Quran subjected to the theory of abrogation (Nasikh & Mansookh) based on 2:106, that says, “None of our revelations (verses) do we abrogate nor cause to be forgotten, but we substitute some better or similar.”
Islamic scholars for centuries have used the example of wine to rationalize their theory of Abrogation or Nasikh-Mansookh.  They say the final verse (5:90) on wine which says it is “forbidden” or “haram” over rules previous revelations (2:219 & 4:43) that say there are numerous long term damages and side-effects  and  short-term good feeling in drinking wine and that one should not go to prayers with mind intoxicated.  This has created a mind-set setting   Abrogation Theory as applicable to Quran.
Modern day scholars say, nothing is abrogated and that every verse can be activated according to the correct circumstances, situation, place and times.  Practical reality is there are 1.5 billion Muslims and not all are perfect Muslims.  Some Muslims drink, fornicate, lie and cheat,  not all Muslims pray five times – there are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims. The first two verses speak to Muslims who are in habit of drinking.  The first two verses compliments or builds on gradually until they come to finally renouncing alcohol. 
First two verses (2:219 & 4:43)   also speak to those people who are studying Islam from the point of becoming Muslims but have not taken the final step.  In America, I find a lot of them from the African American families, also many white people who have been on drugs or alcohol.  While, most Islamic scholars say, first two verses of the Quran should be abrogated – We say….NO.  They still appeal to people who are gradually coming to know the wisdom of the Quran and who have not taken the final oath to become Muslims.
However, in Muslim countries, the third verse (5:90) should be and must be made the law of the land.  However, in an interfaith society, the third verse will never become the law of the USA or Europe.  For Muslims living in USA & Europe, the third verse should be the law.  But the first two verses (2:219 & 4:43) speak across inter-religious lines and speak strongly to those people who want to become Muslims and have not fully accepted Islam.
So the three verses of wine mentioned in the Quran is a process of gradual transformation of an individual from being victim of drug and alcohol to being a better person and a better Muslim.
So our Islamic scholars are in great error when they rationalize the theory of Abrogation by saying.  The third revelation of wine 5:90 abrogates or over-rules first two verses 2:219 & 4:43.  By this methodology they have extended the Nasikh-Mansukh Theory to the whole of the Quran, in some case abrogating over 200 verses of global significance that will be applicable in a globally connected interfaith society.  See details below……………………………PAGE 1
Also most of the world is not ruled by Islamic law; we live around peoples of other faith.  There are those in the process of studying Islam and have not entered into it fully to them the first two verses speaks with great deal of pragmatism and rationality.  African Americans have said that sometimes it takes years before they fully get integrated into Islamic principles of not drinking.  The first two verses come to them in an advisory ways and supplement until they stop drinking. 
We fully support Muslim countries making drinking alcohol illegal based on the third revelation – but the world is full of people from other faiths and in most countries Muslims are in minority.  It is up to them to adhere strictly the non-consumption of alcohol.
Muslim scholars who lived hundreds of years ago erroneously extended the theory of Abrogation on the whole Quran based on their explanation in the Islamic State. 
Here is how they explain:  Wine is mentioned in the Quran in an advisory context in three places:
1) In verse 2:219, “They ask you concerning wine and gambling, say: In them is more sin and some benefit, but the sin is greater than the benefit.”
2) In verse 4:43 “Do not approach prayer with an intoxicant mind or in a drunken state until you understand all that you say.”
3) In verse 5:90, “Intoxicants, gambling and divination of arrows (lottery, reading of tarot cards) are an abomination, of Satan’s handiwork.  Give up such abomination that you may prosper.
Satan’s plan is to create enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling and hinder you from doing good works.  So abstain.”
The scholars erroneously took the final verse 5:90 revealed to abrogate the first two verses which are previously revealed in the advisory capacity.  Verse 5:90
Page 3comes out more strongly and says very clearly “Abstain from wine, gambling and lottery or tarot card games.”      
Also the Sharia law was established making it a sin to drink and deal in any wine producing or distribution activities in the Islamic state.  The Islamic courts ruled this way for over 1400 years and used 5:90 to justify the Islamic law thereby perpetuating the theory of “abrogation or Nasikh-Mansookh.
Another line of thought to rationalize Abrogation theory is the most recently revealed verses should be taken.  In this case verse 5:90 become more important to them and they extended Abrogation theory to other aspects of the Quran.
Differences in opinions:
So what we see is applicability of some verses was incorrectly based on time factor making some verses null and void.  Other scholars say that each verse should be looked upon from situations and circumstances point of view.   This is the position taken by Mohammed Asad in his translation of the Message of the Quran.                                                                             PAGE 2
This way any verse of the Quran can be activated depending on the situation, conditions and circumstances existing in any part of the world.   The best example of this is pork or ham is haram for Muslims – but it is allowed to be eaten to avoid death through starvation.  In this situation even drinking wine is permitted to save life which may get lost due to de-hydration.
Now take the example of Muslim countries – they are at liberty to pass laws completely prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, based on verse 5:90 because all the lawmakers democratically decide so.  But in a country like USA it will never become Islamic state.  Realistically speaking, some American Muslims drink.  So the verse which says, “Do not approach prayers with a mind befogged” is activated in their minds whenever they want to pray either in the house or in the mosque.  Also, we have sizeable population of European Muslims living under secular laws of Europe.  Some European Muslims who are on border line of their spiritual ladder also are very mindful of not drinking and driving because it is not only against European laws, but Islamic law also prohibits them from drinking. But not all Muslims are on the same wave length or spiritual ladder.  Allah is well aware of this situation of Muslims and non-Muslims that is why there are three revelations on wine in the Quran that deals with different types of people, in different situations facing different circumstances and living in different times.
The universally spread QURAN OF AL HILALI & DR. MOHSIN KHAN   has abrogated numerous verses of the Quran, and have redefined key words thereby creating total chaos and mis-understanding in the minds of Muslims living all over the world.  Here are a few examples:
The often-repeated verses that say, “Any who believe in God and does righteousness will be rewarded” were declared abrogated (The Noble Quran by Al Hilali & Mohsin Khan). 
Verse 2:62  (Those who believe (Muslims) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), the Christians and the Sabians, and any who believe in God, the Last Day and does righteousness shall have their reward from their Lord on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve) which has universal appeal and is inclusive of every believer in God on the face of the earth was declared “abrogated”
The definition of a believer was limited to those who “believe in Allah and accepted Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) as the last Messenger and take the Quran as final revelation replacing all earlier revelations.” Believers in the Oneness of God from other faiths were declared, “non-believers or Kafir (infidel).
The definition of the word Islam was limited and confined only according to what Muslim scholars have written in the past thousand years.
By doing so, they declared a theological war between Muslims and the rest of the world.  Only Muslims are believers and people of other faiths are infidel or “Kafir.” They must believe in the Quran, accept Prophet Mohammad as final Prophet and convert to Islam.                         PAGE 3
This kind of demonization of other faiths is found all over the Muslim world resulting in a mind-set of arrogance and lack of desire to learn from earlier revelations, when the Quran repeatedly says, 
“To every people was send an Apostle in their own language and in their own country making things clear.”10:47, 14:4 & 16:36.   All these verses were declared Abrogated.  The Saudi version says anyone who does not accept Prophet Mohammed is a  Kafir.  It is irrelevant whether they believe in God or not.  This kind of mind-set is among all the present day Muslim scholars all over the world – very few would openly refute or challenge this overwhelming mind-set.
They also say that the earlier revelations are all (100%) changed or corrupted.
All the above teachings have infiltrated into our Muslim minds because the Saudi version was printed in millions and distributed all over the Muslim world for free. 
The universal message of the Quran became sectarian and divisive, pitting one Islamic sect against the other and every religion against Islam. This “Theory of Abrogation” has robbed Islam of its logic and reasoning and set our minds back a thousand years.
Our Islamic scholars mistakenly applied abrogation to the verses in the Quran when it should be applied to the earlier revelations, for example 2:106 refers to the Quran abrogating verses in The Bible relating to the doctrine of Trinity and Jesus being the son of God, instituted by King Constantine, a year after ascending the throne when King Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 C.E. according to Jewish convert to Islam, Mohammed Asad in interpretation “The Message of the Quran.”
Misinterpretation, the “Abrogation Theory” and selective use of Hadiths has resulted in a theological war with every civilization in the world and has created a confrontational attitude, “us against the rest of the world” kind of religious teaching found all over the world.  
Quran’s  niversal appeal of peace, love, tolerance, compassion and mercy was transformed into a Jihadic message of war and aggression to convert people to Islam by the extremists.  Verses relating to pluralism and diversity were deliberately ignored and marginalized, and verses relating to violence and war took daily importance in sermons and teachings.
Religious scholars divided the world into two camps, house of peace, where Muslims lived as (darul Islam) and house of war, where non-Muslims lived as (darul harb).
In Muslim societies, Muslims arrogantly considered themselves superior to all other believers. Learning from other cultures was not encouraged leading to their downfall.
In Darul Harb or House of War: Any one who did not accept Prophet Mohammed as final Prophet and the Quran as final revelation over all other revelations that came before were considered Kafirs – to be converted peacefully, through mild persuasion or through war.  This took on new dimensions depending on how much power the Muslim clergy exercised.
                                                                                                                                             PAGE 4
Religious cooperation to solve global problems facing humanity was never encouraged, resulting in shutting off interfaith dialogues and meetings locally, nationally and globally.   There is no consensus among Muslim scholars as to the number of verses that are abrogated, however, our religious schools still teach abrogation theory. Here is an example of prominent Islamic scholars who based their teachings on the “Theory of Abrogation or what is known as Nasikh/Mansookh Analysis” in Arabic.

Following Scholars consolidated Abrogation Theory

Islamic Scholars                                          Nasikh Cases                  Declared Mansookh

                                                                   Causing Abrogation


Abu Bakr Ibn Al-Arabee (d. 1165 c.e.)                              297                                                      105
Mustafa Zayd                                                                        283                                             6
Ibn Al Jauzi  (d. 1219 c.e)                                       247                                           22
Ibn Hazm (d. 1078 c.e.)                                          214                                                     214
Maki ibn Abu Talib (d. 1059 c.e.)                          200                                             0
Abu Jafar An-Nahaas (d. 960 c.e.)                                    134                                           20
Az-Zarqani                                                                 22                                            12
As-Suyoti d. 1533 c.e.)                                                          21                                            20
Ash-Shanqeti                                                                         7                                              7
Wali Allah-Al Dehlawi (d.1798 c.e.)                                    5                                              5         
An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, Published by: Al-Hidaayah, P.O.Box 3332, Birmingham, UK B10 9AW, Tel: 0121 753 1889, Fax: 0121 753 2422
email:, Printed by: The Alden Group, Oxford, UK.
American Islamic scholars who have come from Islamic countries are reluctant to speak, talk or write about Abrogation Theory.  Critical analysis is not encouraged.  However, most recent converts to Islam have spoken out more openly attacking Abrogation Theory below are a few examples:
Review & Comments on Above   9/13/03
1) Quran warns against abrogation: Surah 15, verses 89 to 92 (Yusuf Ali translation),
“I am indeed HE that warns you (present day Ulemas, sheikhs and ayatollahs) openly and without ambiguity of such a wrath as We sent down on those (learnt of Christians & Jews) who divided the scriptures (Torah and Gospels) into arbitrary parts, also on such (Muslim Ulemas, sheikhs and ayatollahs) who have made the Quran into shreds (by applying Nasikh-Mansookh or abrogation theory) as they please.  Therefore by thy Lord, We will of certainty call them to account for all their deeds.”  (They will be punished for misleading the common people).
2) Jamal Badawi, Ph.D., is a Professor of Management and Religious Studies in Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada. In addition to teaching in his formal field of education, Dr. Badawi is a member of the Board of Directors of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), the director of the Islamic Information Foundation, Halifax, Canada, and a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Fiqh Council. He has authored several books and articles on Islam and designed and participated in the production of nearly 350 half-hour segments of a TV series on Islam. He is also expert in Christian-Muslim Dialogues and a well known speaker in North America and abroad.
“Any claim of Nasikh[abrogation or more correctly supercession] must be carefully examined. The entire Qur’an is definitively authentic [Qat`i Al-Thoboot]. Any claim of Nasihk must be definitive, not based on mere opinion or speculation. It should be noted that earlier Muslims used the term “Nasikh” to refer also to “Takhsees” or specifying and limiting the ruling than abrogating it.
This issue is of paramount importance, since the Muslim heritage includes writings that went into unreasonable excesses in their claims of Nasikh. While some claimed that hundreds of verses were abrogated, others like Jalal Al-din Al-Suyooti narrowed them down to 19 verses, other scholars like Shah Waliyyullah Al-Dahlawi and Sobhi Al-Saleh even narrowed them down to a lesser number 6. The fact that there are legitimate disagreements about the number of abrogated verses in the Qur’an is itself an indication that some, if not most, of these claims are far from definitive. “
3) From: Hofmann. Dr. Wilfried privacy

To: “Iftekhar Hai”
Subject: Re: Need Your opinion on Abrogation in Quran
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 22:10:52 +0200

Dear Brother: In this I follow Muhammad Asad who considered it absurd that Allah (t.) should have changed His mind within a few years. What is meant when the Qur`an talks about abrogation (2:106) is the replacement of a norm found in a previous holy script (Torah & Gospels) by Qur`anic verses. All throughout, the Qur`an never derogates itself. Typically, when you ask Islamic scholars about abrogated/derogated Qur`anic verses you get the most diverse answers, ranging from several hundred (Ibn-e-Arabee & Ibn -e-Jauzee) to about four verses
(Shah Wali Allah). Operating with abrogation/derogation just proves one track minds. Contradictions will disappear if the whole of the Qur`an is taken in full consideration. 

Wa-s-salam, Murad Hofmann

4) From:  Jeffrey Lang
 "Iftekhar Hai" <>
Subject:  Re: Reforms & Renewal in Islam - Our Research
Date:  Mon, 10 Oct 2005 16:22:49 -0500
Dear Iftekhar,

  For a very thorough critique of the Theory of Nasikh I recommend John Burton, The Sources of Islamic Law, Islamic theory of abrogation, Edinburgh, 1990.

The following is an excerpt from my second book where I discuss the theory of Nasikh
and it's connection to the Dar al Harb/Dar al Islam political theory.

As I see it, the theory of abrogation, although widely accepted by Muslim scholars, has several weak points. To begin with, there is no explicit authenticated saying of Muhammed that states this theory or that asserts that some verse has permanently annulled another. All of the hadith (reports of sayings of the Prophet) that speak of abrogation are considered weak by Muslim experts. If a Companion of the Prophet felt that one verse permanently cancelled another, that was his or her personal interpretation. For Muslims, only a statement of Muhammed that a verse had been abrogated should be authoritative and there exist no reliable reports of this nature.

Verses 2:106 and 16:101 of the Quran are often cited in support of the theory of abrogation, but the context indicates that the annulled revelations referred to are those received by prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad; at the very least, this would be a very natural and plausible interpretation.
Another weakness in the theory is that among the Muslim scholars who accept it, there is wide disagreement on exactly which verses are abrogated and to what extent. In almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one writer, there are other writers who argue against the alleged abrogation. Muhammad Ali shows that even with the Companions of Muhammed we find that:

In most cases where a report is traceable to one Companion who held a certain verse to have been abrogated, there is another report traceable to another Companion to the effect that the verse was not abrogated.

It is true that when Muhammed and his Companions met new or altered situations, verses were often revealed that addressed the new circumstances, and then the Muslims would make the appropriate modifications or alterations in their behavior. But there is no reason to conclude from this that one passage of the Quran permanently annulled another. Sometimes, a particular revelation would simply elaborate on or extend a previously revealed ordinance, as in the case of the verses that prohibit drinking wine. In such cases, the earlier injunction and the new one complement each other. On other occasions, the Quran would revise prior instructions in light of changed circumstances—as in the case of the revelation of 9:5—but here again, since the different injunctions deal with different situations, there is no reason to surmise a conflict between them.
There is, in fact, no need for the theory of abrogation. It was used to resolve what Muslim scholars felt were certain contradictory Quranic injunctions, but if close attention is paid to the context of the Quran's precepts, one finds that they do not contradict each other. The Quran itself points to the absence of such internal discrepancies as proof of its divine origins (4:82). Cases where some Muslim scholars sensed a contradiction invariably deal with very different situations. Thus when interpreting the Quran's ordinances, the situational context must not be ignored, for then it becomes easy to mistake an exception for a general rule and vice versa, or to perceive a conflict between passages where none exists.
Finally, the theory of abrogation appears to claim that God has placed in the last revelation to mankind superfluous information and He has had to frequently correct Himself in the process of revealing it. This perception is very hard to square with the Quran's depiction of God. Not surprisingly, quite a number of converts to Islam informed me that they were shocked and their faith severely shaken when they first discovered this theory.

Therefore, I feel that there is no real need or justification for the classical theory of abrogation. Yet without this theory, the Quran cannot be used to support waging war other than in self-defense or against oppression. This is proved by the fact that such a massive application of the theory of abrogation is needed to justify the type of military expansion advocated by the dar al Islam/dar al harb formula. Clearly, the Quran's passages that deal with warfare weigh heavily against such unprovoked aggression.

Take care,  

5)  “The source or root causes of the above issues that sets Muslim world apart from the rest of other faiths lies in the interpretation of the Islamic scriptures.    There are many other causes.   A good interpretation can encourage a spirit of inquiry and a quest of knowledge when done in a global perspective, and on the other hand a selective, non-inclusive and tribal interpretation can close all doors of learning through “Ijtehad” dialogue and discussion.” 
Akbar Ahmad, Islamic Author, writer and Scholar. 
6) “I do not believe in abrogation or Nasik-Mansook theory, although this theory is around for more than a thousand years.”
Dr. Maher Hathout at UC Berkeley seminar organized by AMA in Summer of 2002
7) I agree entirely with everything you have said and have said exactly the same thing over and over again myself. 
Robert Crane (Faruk Abd al Haqq)
8) I have seen and read the materials before and generally don’t use English translations independent of my own adjustment to what is being offered.  When we are speaking of research then one of the primary concerns from a scholarly point of view is attempting to identify existing biases on behalf of authors that reflect their choices.  This is not unique to Islamic text and sources; rather it is a universal problem in research.  My view of the Muslim Ummah in the US is based on an examination of history of immigration, patterns of settlement and ideological adjustments to meet the needs of majority society; thus I am firmly rooted in an Ethnic Studies approach.  In doing so we can understand the processes under way in the Muslim community/s i.e. assimilation/integration vs. isolation/enclave approaches, which are normative for immigrant groups in America.  Thus, the text becomes an issue relative to the approach and not independent of it.  No fundamental disagreement of what is written or offered but the context that brought it forth is worthwhile understanding.                                                                           Hatem Bazian, Prof. Of Islamic Studies at UC Berkeley, CA   
9) “They lie who say that certain Quranic verses are abrogated.”
Syed Husain Nasr, Professor of Islam at Georgetown University, Wash. DC.
The theory of Abrogation emanates from 2:106 every scholar from all the numerous sects of Islam agrees.   
I agree with the position taken by Muhammad Asad in  “The Message of the Quran.”  The Quranic verses abrogates the additions or mis-interpretations that was done to the earlier revelations, namely, the Torah and The Bible only. 
Nothing of abrogation should be applied to any of the verses of the Quran. Every verse should be looked in accordance with place, times and circumstances.  Over a billion Muslims habitat the world and different shades of Islam exist in 56 Muslim countries.  Some countries have more Islamic laws – but most of the countries of the world have secular laws – Muslims living in secular societies must also learn what has made these societies great and learn about the good things and wholesome knowledge.
We think it is time for American Muslims to come with the translation of the Quran that will reflect a global community honoring pluralism and diversity.  This way there can be real renewal of the Islamic spirit or total surrender to the One Creator of our wonderful universe.


Between Orthodoxy and Radicalism


Dr. Raschid Bockemühl


September 2, 2008


Between Orthodoxy and Radicalism

1.                  Introduction
In his thorough refutation of the “abrogation theory” as part of the traditional interpretation of the Quran, Iftekhar Hai has commendably opened a dispute with two well-known modern ‘practitioners’ of this theory, the translators of the Quran Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan[1]. I would like to give some additional information about the problem of abrogation, in general, and to continue the critique of the above mentioned translators, in particular – all the more so that we may not watch their tremendously harmful influence all over the world without taking any action.
2.                 Abrogation Leads to Wrong Interpretation
General observations
Let me recall why the idea of ‚abrogation’ was so successful over the centuries. It is because it seemed to provide a plausible answer to some contradictions in the Quran. The Quran itself, as the word of God, repeatedly says it is free from contradiction. Nevertheless, it contains verses (or messages, or regulations) not easily to be harm-onized with other verses about the same subject – at least at first glance. So scholars began to look for explanations and ‘discovered’ the phenomenon of ‘abrogation’. This new theory stated that, if there are different verses about the same issue, the later or the latest revealed verse (al-nāsikh) ‚abrogates’ (or makes invalid) all earlier revealed verses (al-mansūkh). 
And indeed, some verses in the Quran itself seem to prove the reliability of the ‘abrogation theory’. The Lord Himself, in sura 2, verse 106, says: Whatever a verse do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it.[2]But to understand the real meaning of a Quranic message, we have at first to consult its context – at least the surrounding verses, sometimes the whole sura or even the entire Quran. The context of 2, 106 (preceding and following verses as well) show clearly that the Quran is here regarded in its relation to previous revelations (Torah or Gospel). So, abrogation – as Muhammad Asad has explained[3] – does not mean correction or change of an earlier revealed verse in the Quran itself, but of any message (or injunction, or so) in earlier revelations.
We find a confirmation of this explanation in sura 13, verses 38 and 39: And truly, We sent forth apostles before thee (…) Every age has had its revelation (38) [4]. God annuls or confirms whatever He wills – for with Him is the source of all revelations (39). These verses on ‘abrogation’, too, make it clear that the Quran is only comparable to    earlier revelations. So, wording and deeper sense of all cited verses do not prove the correctness of the ‘abrogation theory’.
It seems more likely that later revealed verses deal with the same issue more precisely (or from a different point of view, or referring to a new situation with new audience etc.) than verses revealed earlier. So, when Allah revealed messages about wine three-times, each revelation had different reasons, a different context, referred to different places, times, or situations etc. This procedure shows the Quranic method of problem-solution – as Fazlur Rahman convincingly put it: “the slow, experimental legal tackling of problemsas they arise.[5]It follows from this observation that all verses about the same subject have their own proper sense and meaning, and every Muslim may be warned against deciding by himself which of them is the real word of Allah.
Only Islam accepted by God? Additional remarks to sura 2,62
What the Quran says about the consumption of alcoholic drinks – the most famous example of the so-called ‘abrogation’ – concerns just a detail of our everyday life. Of much higher importance is what God’s revelation says about the relations between the Muslims and the believers of other religions, as this issue may influence peace or conflict between different cultures. The Quran says:  Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (2, 62 – and, nearly identical: 5, 69). The message of these verses is that all of them are faithful believers in God, irrespective of being Muslims, or Jews, etc.
But Hilali & Khan, in their tafsir (explanation), assert that these verses are no longer valid, but have been abrogated by 3, 85, which reads: And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. What at first sight seems to be a contradiction between two messages (2,62 versus 3,85; in simple words: ‘All faithful shall go to paradise’ versus ‘Only Muslims shall go to paradise’), can be easily exposed as the result of a wrong interpretation – let alone a deliberate distortion – of the Quranic words by Hilali & Khan.  
If we – as we always should, but Hilali & Khan did not – draw the attention on the context of 3,85, esp. on the preceding verses, we would better understand the message of 3,85 which is the same as in 2,62! Verses 83 and 84 read: Do they seek other than the religion of Allah, while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned. (83) Say: We believe in Allah and what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrahīm, Ismaîl, Ishāq, Yâcoub and his sons (tribes), and what was given to Mūssa, Îssa and the Prophets from our Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them, and to Him we have submitted.(84)
In Arabic the last words read: wā nahnu lahu muslimūn. This is the broader original meaning of the words Islām and Muslim (underlined in the three verses above): ‘to submit to God’, not just ‘to be a Muslim’ (in the more limited sense as ‘adherent of the later religion of Islam’) – and in thisoriginal meaning the words occur in all of the three verses. Hilali & Khan themselves, in their tafsir, give this interpretation! So, why do they separate the following verse 85 from its preceding verses? Obviously because they wanted to give Islam a more radical direction. Iftekhar Hai has clearly shown that, according to this interpretation, “the universal message of the Quran became sectarian und divisive”, accepting no believers but Muslims.
I add another observation: The explanation given by Hilali & Khan is wrong. Even these fervent defenders of the ‘abrogation theory’ ignore their own rules: According to their theory, the abrogating verse (al-nāsikh –  in our example 3, 85) must be revealed later than the abrogated verse (al-mansūkh – in our example 5,69). But sura 5 (al-mā’ida – the Table) has been revealed much later than sura 3 (ali imrān – the Family Imrān); it is even the latest revealed of all 114 suras, as nearly all scholars agree.[6]So the earlier revealed verse 3,85 can not abrogate the later revealed verse 5,69. Were Hilali & Khan so fascinated by their own theory that they overlooked the facts? It is more likely that they knew what they did – in the hope that most of the users of their translation will not know the details and therefore not discover the distortion.      
Which citeria for ‘abrogation’? Comparison between sura 2,109 and 9,29
The relation between Islam and other religions, more exactly: the superiority of Islam seems to be a favorite issue for Hilali & Khan – and ‘abrogation’ a useful means to ‘prove’ this assertion. Not only draw they a line between Muslims on the one hand and Jews and Christians on the other (see above), but also they call for fight against Jews and Christians and reject forgiveness, even though recommended by Allah.
The Quran, in sura 2, verse 109, says: Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their ownselves, even after the truth has become manifest unto them. But forgive and overlook, till Allah brings His command. Verily, Allah is able to do all things.[7]In their tafsir (explanation) of this verse, Hilali & Khan write: The provision of this verse has been abrogated by the verse 9,29.
So let us read sura 9, verse 29: Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah[8]with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. At first a short clarification: As in all other places where the Quran speaks about fighting by the Muslims, this means fighting for the purpose of defense, not aggression.[9]– Now let us analyze the comparison between the two messages, made by Hilali & Khan.
They assert that after verse 9,29 has been revealed, verse 2,109 is ‘abrogated’ and loses its validity. Now the Muslims may no longer forgive and overlook, till Allah brings His command. Now Allah has changed His opinion: The Muslims have the right – and are obliged – to fight against Jews and Christians. According to Hilali & Khan, the Quran has turned completely from forgiveness to fighting – without any plausible reason for this sudden change in the text or the context of verse 9,29.
This observation leads us to two questions to be put to Hilali & Khan: 1) What are their criteria for ‘abrogation’? 2) Who makes the decision whether a verse is (or has to be) ‘abrogated’ or not?
As we have seen with sura 2,62 (and similar verses), and we  now see again with sura 2,109 (and 9,29), Hilali & Khan don’t have any convincing criterion for abrogation – except the simple assertion that, if there is more than one verse about the same issue, the latest revealed one ‘abrogates’ all earlier revealed verses. But this is no criterion, just an assumption. This simple chronological way of thinking may be typical for human beings who, during their life, change their mind on the basis of insight and experience, but it is not necessarily the criterion for the words and deeds of God.
And as Hilali & Khan do not present a plausible criterion for abrogation, they nowhere answer the question who is entitled to decide on abrogation or not. But if there are no good reasons and no clear answers, the way is free for arbitrary decisions. They who love abrogation will practice it wherever – and in whatever religious or political  direction – they like. We have already seen in which direction the ambitions of Hilali & Khan go. The following paragraph will bring another confirmation for that – but not regarding the  problem of abrogation.
      3.               Encouraging ‘Holy War’: Hilali & Khan
Let us take the often cited sura 2, verse 190, which begins with the words: wā qātilū fī sabīli’llah alladhīna yuqātīlūnakum: ’And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you’ – and let us see how Hilali & Khan interpret this verse, and how they use their translation for carrying out their religious and political purposes.
Qātala means ‘to fight’, qitāl is ‘the fight’, that means a regular military action with soldiers and weaponry. This may not be confused with the well-known term of jihād,  derived from the verb jáhada, the translation of which is ‘to exert oneself, to make an effort, to try hard’. According to this, jihād means ‘effort’. That contains all lifelong efforts the believers have to make to improve their living and thinking. This may be a military effort, too, but very rarely and only on strict conditions. The word jihād occurs just once in the whole Quran – and then in the general meaning of ‘effort’, not of ‘warfare’ (sura 9, verse 24).
In the cited verse the Quran speaks about qitāl, that is military action, not about jihād. But that does not hinder Hilali & Khan, in their commentary, to deliberately confuse both terms. The word jihād they explain in the following non-Quranic manner: Al-Jihād (holy fighting) in Allah’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihād Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior (…) and His religion is propagated. By abandoning Jihād (may Allah protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position. (…) Jihād is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim (…)
These belligerent words and thoughts do not refer to defense (which is the only justification for Muslims to fight), but to aggression (By Jihad Islam is established; Allah’s Word is made superior; His religion is propagated). Even the famous ‘holy war’ or, as Hilali & Khan put it, the holy fighting, would only make sense, if any, as aggression, not as ‘holy defense’. Our translators and commentators did not heed the fact that Muslims, according to the Quran, don’t worship anything or anybody as ‘holy’, except Allah. Therefore, there may never be a ‘holy war’ in Islam – a term, by the way, that has been given to Islam by Christians.
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Hilali & Khan’s ideas do not reflect the definition of Jihād in the Quran (see above). Nevertheless, Jihād was the general Islamic ideology over centuries (as it was for the Crusaders). In those times, to the famous ‘Five pillars of Islam’ (as prayer, or fast, or pilgrimage) Jihād was added as the sixth pillar (though not ordained in the Quran, as the five other pillars). But these times are over. Since long time, Islam has returned to its original five pillars. In our days, only radical fundamentalists and so-called ‘Jihadists’ dream of (and sometimes work for) a revival of the sixth pillar. These people seem to be the spiritual kindred of Hilali & Khan.
Not to be misunderstood: Jihād (as ‘individual effort’) is and remains an obligatory duty on every Muslim, as Hilali & Khan correctly say. But theirdescription (holy fighting with full force of numbers and weaponry) is not only wrong, but dangerous – and under no circumstances a duty for Muslims.  
4.           Conclusion: Beware of Hilali & Khan’s ‘explanations’!   
Hilali & Khan reveal themselves to be adherents of the (old and new) Islamic orthodoxy. In using the abrogation method, among various interpretations they always  declare the most rigid version to be authoritative (e.g., total ban on alcoholic drinks according to sura 5, verses 90-91 – though there are two more lenient verses on the same subject  (2,219; 4,43).[10]They are even not afraid from manipulating the Quranic text in order to achieve their (again orthodox) predetermined aim by changing or even distorting the sense of the words (e.g., deciding that the words: All religions will have their reward with their Lord have to be refused in favour of  the words: A religion other than Islam will never be accepted by God).     
These examples help us understand the importance of attentive reading and correct explanation of the Quran. Therefore, it must be our intention as Muslims to refuse the manipulations of the Quran and the interpretations of Allah’s words given by Hilali & Khan. If we follow their interpretations, Muslims will certainly be confronted with severe negative religious and political consequences. When Hilali & Khan say Islam is superior to other (even Abrahamic!) beliefs, and when they threaten the adherents of other religions with eternal damnation, declaring this to be founded on the Quran, they will inevitably trigger aggressive reactions against the Muslims. Thus, the Muslims (!) Hilali & Khan do not help, but damage the Muslim community.

[1] Translation of the meanings of the Noble Quran in the English language. Published by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran, in Madinah.
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[2] There are some other verses confirming this message, e.g. 13, 39; or 16,101.
[3] The Message of the Qur’an. Translated and explained by Muhammad Asad. 5th edition, Dubai 2003.  See: explanation of sura 2, verse 106.
[4] In this case I took the translation by Muhammad Asad, not by Hilali & Khan – and for good reason: The last words of verse 38 (li-kulli adschli kitābun) are correctly  translated by M. Asad by the words: Every age has had its revelation. But Hilali & Khan translate: For every matter there is a decree (from Allah). This is obviously wrong and totally different from the Quranic text (!), let alone the sense of the verse and the context. Hilali & Khan, in distorting the Quranic text according to their individual interest, transform the divine revelation into a collection of ‘decrees’. – It has always been a disting-uishing feature of orthodox people to love ‘decrees’ (see footnote 7).                                                   Page 12
[5] Fazlur Rahman: Islam. 2nd edition, Chicagoand London 2002, p. 38. – Emphasis by Fazlur Rahman.
[6] In the Cairo King-Fuad-Edition sura 2 has been revealed as 87th and sura 3 as 89th, but sura 5 as 112th    of all 114 suras. In the count by the renowned German scholar Theodor Nöldeke the figures are: 91, 97, and 114 (!). In other words: nearly identical results.                                                       Page 13
[7] I am sorry for this bad translation, but thus is the text by Hilali & Khan.
[8] A tax levied from the People of the Scripture, who are under the protection of a Muslim government.
[9]This is explained in detail by Muhammad Asad in his commentary on this verse and in the famous commentary ‘Al-Manar’ by Muhammad Abduh (X, 332).                                                            Page 14
[10] I don’t want to be unfair to the ûlama’: Muslims feel gratitude to the Islamic orthodoxy for having held together the ummah for many centuries despite all centrifugal and anti-Islamic influences, and by this preventing Islam from breaking up. But for this performance orthodoxy has demanded a high price from the Muslims: They had to submit to an all-embracing system of rules and regulations of their everyday life, developed by the orthodox ûlama’ – a system that, on the other hand, consolidated the leadership and power of the ûlama’ over the hearts and minds of the believers. The stricter the rules, the stronger the power.                                                                              

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