Evidence from Islamic Sources
Collected by Sam Shamoun
We present here a list that highlights some of the many verses that have been abrogated. We are quite aware that not all Muslims believe that the Quran abrogates itself and would therefore reject the traditions presented here. Yet, the aim of our paper is to provide a handy list for Christians witnessing to or dialoguing with Muslims who do believe that the Quran abrogates itself. We want to provide evidence for those that do accept the authority of these sources. We chose to cite only the views of Muslim scholars where they identify the abrogated verses.
But before we do so, we would like to cite Brother Mark’s quotation of Muslim scholar Ahmad Von Denffer regarding the conflicting views held by Muslim scholars over the precise nature of abrogation:
Von Denffer defines it clearly as:
“What is Abrogated?The ‘founding’ scholars couldn’t even agree in ‘basic principles’ over what abrogates what between the Sunnah and Qur’an!
According to some scholars the Qur’an abrogates only the Qur’an. They base their view on suras 2:106 and 16:101. According to them the Qur’an does not abrogate the sunna nor does the sunna abrogate the Qur’an. This is, in particular, the view held by Shafi’i.
Others are of the opinion that the Qur’an may abrogate the Qur’an as well as the sunna. They base their view on Sura 53:3-4.
There is also the view that there are four classes of naskh:
1 Qur’an abrogates Qur’an.
2 Qur’an abrogates sunna.
3 Sunna abrogates Qur’an.
4 Sunna abrogates sunna.” (Ulum, Von Denffer, p. 107f)
(Brother Mark, A ‘Perfect’ Qur’an, p. 230, online edition)
Brother Mark continues:
A number of citations from an article by A. Rippin on Naskh follow:
– “Although the companions of Muhammad are reported to have discussed naskh, and even to have disagreed over the abrogation of a particular verse, references to the generation of the companions in the naskh literature are relatively infrequent.[[N.B. – Footnote 9 states: But see Ibn Salama, al-Nasikh wa ‘l-mansukh (Cairo 1315/1899), 142-3, where `Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas disagree over the abrogation of Q4/94; `Ali maintained that the verse was abrogated by Q4/115 and 4/48, while Ibn ‘Abbas held that it remained muhkama.”]] (p. 117)
– “In classical texts on abrogation we frequently encounter references to disagreements among tabi’is over the status of a particular verse.
For example, although the majority of scholars consider Q2/62 to have been abrogated by Q3/85, Mujahid ibn Jabr (d. 101/722) and al-Dahhak ibn Muzahim (d 105/723) considered the verse to be muhkama.” (p. 119)
– “The number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased dramatically between the eighth and eleventh centuries (al-Zuhri mentions 42 abrogated verses, al-Nahhas 138, and Ibn Salama, 238), at which point an upper limit seems to have been reached (Ibn ‘Ata’iqi identifies 231 abrogated verses, and al-Farsi, 248). (p.122)
– “al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505) recognised only twenty  instances of true abrogation and Shah Wali Allah (d 1762) reduced that number to five .
[N.B. – Footnote 26 states: “these figures are mentioned in Ernest Hahn, ‘Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s The Controversy over Abrogation (in the Qur’an): An Annotated Translation, MW64 (1974), 124.]Ibn al-’Ata’iqi, on the other hand, while citing 231 instances of abrogation, appendixes the phrase wa fihi nazar, indicating doubt or uncertainty to his discussion of twenty-six  verses.”
With such wide variations in understanding one must wonder how Muslim scholars can declare, like Ibn Salama, that ‘science of abrogation and abrogated verse’ is, in the investigation of the Qur’an, the starting point! Furthermore he states that one is ‘deficient’ (naqis) who, before mastering the doctrine of abrogation engages in a true (scientific) study of the Qur’an. [see Ibn Salama p 4-5] (p. 123)
– “Anas ibn Malik (d. C. 92/710) for example, related that during the lifetime of Muhammad the believers used to recite a sura equal in length to sura 9 (‘Repentance’), but that he could only remember one verse from this sura, namely, If the son of Adam had two valleys made of silver…’”
[[N.B. – Footnote 34 states: “Ibn al-’Ata’iqi, p. 23; cf. Ibn Salama, pp 10ff”]] (p. 125)
– “There is also considerable disagreement over the scope of abrogation within the Qur’an itself. At one extreme, there were apparently certain people who argued that ‘the Qur’an does not contain either an abrogated or an abrogating verse’.
[[N.B. – Footnote 38 states: “Ibn Salama, p. 26; cf. Al-Nahhas, pp 2-3”]], these people, according to Ibn Salama, ‘have deviated from the truth and by virtue of their lying, have turned away from God’. [[N.B.- Footnote 39 reads “Ibn Salama, p. 26]]At the other extreme were those scholars who maintained that any narrative, positive command, or prohibition in the Qur’an may be abrogated.” [[N.B. – Footnote 40 states: “Al-Nahhas, pp. 2-3”]] (p. 126)
With the foregoing behind us we now turn our attention to the hadith collections usually considered to be authoritative by Sunni Muslims.
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 13:
The Prophet prayed facing Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka’ba (at Mecca). (So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered ‘Asr prayers (in his Mosque facing Ka’ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. A man from among those who had prayed with him, went out and passed by some people offering prayer in another mosque, and they were in the state of bowing. He said, “I, (swearing by Allah,) testify that I have prayed with the Prophet facing Mecca.” Hearing that, they turned their faces to the Ka’ba while they were still bowing. Some men had died before the Qibla was changed towards the Ka’ba. They had been killed and we did not know what to say about them (i.e. whether their prayers towards Jerusalem were accepted or not). So Allah revealed:– “And Allah would never make your faith (i.e. prayer) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered (towards Jerusalem). Truly Allah is Full of Pity, Most Merciful towards mankind.” (2.143)
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 32:
That he heard Ibn ‘Abbas reciting the Divine Verse:–
“And for those who can fast they had a choice either fast, or feed a poor for every day..” (2.184) Ibn ‘Abbas said, “This Verse is not abrogated, but it is meant for old men and old women who have no strength to fast, so they should feed one poor person for each day of fasting (instead of fasting).
The next two traditions disagree with Ibn Abbas’ claim.
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 33:
Ibn ‘Umar recited:
“They had a choice, either fast or feed a poor for every day …” and added, “This Verse is abrogated.”
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 34:
When the Divine Revelation:
“For those who can fast, they had a choice either fast, or feed a poor for every day,” (2.184) was revealed, it was permissible for one to give a ransom and give up fasting, till the Verse succeeding it was revealed and abrogated it.
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 53:
Narrated Ibn Az-Zubair:
I said to ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (while he was collecting the Qur’an) regarding the Verse:– “Those of you who die and leave wives …” (2.240) “This Verse was abrogated by another Verse. So why should you write it? (Or leave it in the Qur’an)?” ‘Uthman said. “O son of my brother! I will not shift anything of it from its place.” (see also Number 60)
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 54:
(regarding the Verse):– “Those of you who die and leave wives behind. They – (their wives) — shall wait (as regards their marriage ) for four months and ten days).” (2.234)
The widow, according to this Verse, was to spend this period of waiting with her husband’s family, so Allah revealed: “Those of you who die and leave wives (i.e. widows) should bequeath for their wives, a year’s maintenance and residences without turning them out, but if they leave (their residence), there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves provided it is honorable.’ (i.e. lawful marriage) (2.240).
So Allah entitled the widow to be bequeathed extra maintenance for seven months and twenty nights, and that is the completion of one year. If she wished she could stay (in her husband’s home) according to the will, and she could leave it if she wished, as Allah says:
“… without turning them out, but if they leave (the residence), there is no blame on you.” So the ‘Idda (i.e. four months and ten days as it) is obligatory for her.
‘Ata said: Ibn ‘Abbas said, “This Verse, i.e. the Statement of Allah: “…without turning them out …” cancelled the obligation of staying for the waiting period in her dead husband’s house, and she can complete this period wherever she likes.” ‘Ata’s aid: If she wished, she could complete her ‘Idda by staying in her dead husband’s residence according to the will or leave it according to Allah’s Statement:–
“There is no blame on you for what they do with themselves.” ‘Ata’ added: Later the regulations of inheritance came and abrogated the order of the dwelling of the widow (in her dead husband’s house), so she could complete the ‘Idda wherever she likes. And it was no longer necessary to provide her with a residence. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “This Verse abrogated her (i.e. widow’s) dwelling in her dead husband’s house and she could complete the ‘Idda (i.e. four months and ten days) wherever she liked, as Allah’s Statement says:–“…without turning them out…”
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 68:
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
This Verse:–“Whether you show what is in your minds or conceal it …” (2.284) was abrogated.
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 69:
Narrated Marwan Al-Asghar:
A man from the companions of Allah’s Apostle who I think, was Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Verse:– ‘Whether you show what is in your minds or conceal it …’ was abrogated by the Verse following it.”
Book 001, Number 0228:
It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that when it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him): To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and whether you disclose that which is in your mind or conceal it, Allah will call you to account according to it. Then He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He Pleases; and Allah is over everything Potent” (ii. 284). the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) felt it hard and severe and they came to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and sat down on their knees and said: Messenger of Allah, we were assigned some duties which were within our power to perform, such as prayer, fasting, struggling (in the cause of Allah), charity. Then this (the above-mentioned) verse was revealed unto you and it is beyond our power to live up to it. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Do you intend to say what the people of two books (Jews and Christians) said before you: “We hear and disobey”? You should rather say: “We hear and we obey, (we seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord! and unto Thee is the return.” And they said: “We hear and we obey, (we seek) Thy forgiveness, Our Lord! and unto Thee is the return.” When the people recited it and it smoothly flowed on their tongues, then Allah revealed immediately afterwards: “The Apostle believes in that which is sent down unto him from his Lord, and so do the believers. Each one believes in Allah and His Angels and His Books and His Apostles, saying: We differentiate not between any of His Apostles and they say: We hearken and we obey: (we seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord! and unto Thee is the return” (ii. 285). When they did that, Allah abrogated this (verse) and the Great, Majestic Allah revealed: “Allah burdens not a soul beyond its capacity. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. Our Lord, punish us not if we forget or make a mistake.” (The Prophet said:) Yes, our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us. (The Prophet said:) Yes, our Lord, impose not on us (burdens) which we have not the strength to bear (The Prophet said:) Yes, and pardon us and grant us protection! and have mercy on us. Thou art our Patron, so grant us victory over the disbelieving people” (ii. 286). He (the Lord) said: Yes.
Book 003, Number 0675:
Abu al. ‘Ala’ b. al-Shikhkhir said: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) abrogated some of his commands by others, just as the Qur’an abrogates some part with the other.
Book 004, Number 1317:
Al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib reported: This verse was revealed (in this way): “Guard the prayers and the ‘Asr prayer.” We recited it (in this very way) so long as Allah desired. Allah, then, abrogated it and it was revealed: “Guard the prayers, and the middle prayer.” A person who was sitting with Shaqiq (one of the narrators in the chain of transmitters) said: Now it implies the ‘Asr prayer. Upon this al-Bara’ said: I have already informed you how this (verse) was revealed and how Allah abrogated it, and Allah knows best. Imam Muslim said: Ashja’i narrated it from Sufyan al-Thauri, who narrated it from al-Aswad b. Qais, who narrated it from ‘Uqba, who narrated it from al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib who said: We recited with the Prophet (may peace be upon him) (the above-mentioned verse like this, i. e. instead of Salat al- Wusta, Salat al-‘Asr) for a certain period, as it has been mentioned (in the above-quoted hadith).
Hadith number in Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 1233
‘A’ishah’s Hadith, may Allah be pleased with her.
Zurarah reported: Sa’d bin Hisham bin ‘Amir decided to participate in an expedition in the cause of Allah. When he came to Medina, he met some of its people. They dissuaded him from doing such a thing, and informed him that a group of six men had decided to do so during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) forbade them to do it, and asked: Is there not in me a good example for you? And when they narrated this to him (Sa’d bin Hisham), he returned to his wife, though he had divorced her and made (people) witness to his reconciliation. He then came to Ibn ‘Abbas and asked him about the Witr of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). Ibn ‘Abbas asked: Should I not lead you to one who knows best among the people of the world about the Witr of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? He asked: Who is it? He (Ibn ‘Abbas) said: It is ‘A’ishah. So go to her and ask her (about Witr) and then come to me and inform me about the answer that she would give you. So I came to Hakim bin Aflah and requested him to take me to her. He said: I would not go to her, for I forbade her to speak anything (about the conflict) between the two groups, but she refused (to accept my advice) and went (to participate in that conflict). I (requested) him (Hakim) with an oath to lead me to her. So we went to ‘A’ishah and we begged permission to meet her. She granted us permission and we went in. She asked: Are you Hakim? (She recognized him). He replied: Yes. She asked: Who is there with you? He said: He is Sa’d bin Hisham. She asked: Which Hisham? He said: He is Hisham bin ‘Amir. She blessed him (‘Amir) with mercy from Allah and spoke good of him (Qatadah said that he died as a martyr in Uhud). I said: Mother of the Believers, tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). She asked: Do you not read the Qur’an? I said: Yes. Upon this she said: The character of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was the Qur’an. He said: I felt inclined to get up and not ask anything (further) till I die. But then I changed my mind and said: Inform me about the observance (of the Night Prayer) of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). She asked: Did you not recite: “O you wrapped up”? He said: Yes. She said:Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, made the observance of the Night Prayer at the beginning of this surah obligatory. So the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and his Companions around him observed this (Night Prayer) FOR ONE YEAR. Allah held back the concluding portion of this surah FOR TWELVE MONTHS in the heaven till (at the end of this period) Allah revealed the concluding verses of this surah which lightened (the burden of this Prayer), and the Night Prayer became a supererogatory Prayer after being an obligatory one. I said: Mother of the Believers, inform me about the Witr of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) she said: I used to prepare tooth stick for him, water for his ablution, and Allah would rouse him to the extent He wished during the night. He would use the tooth stick, and perform ablution, and would offer nine rak’ahs and would not sit but in the eighth one and would remember Allah, and praise Him and supplicate Him, then he would get up without uttering the salutation and pray the ninth rak’ah. He would then sit, remember Allah, praise Him and supplicate Him and then utter a salutation loud enough for us to hear. He would then pray two rak’ahs sitting after uttering the salutation and that made eleven rak’ahs. O my son, but when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) grew old and put on flesh, he observed Witr of seven, doing in the two rak’ahs as he had done formerly, and that made nine. O my son, and when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the Prayer, he liked to keep on observing it, and when sleep or pain overpowered him and made it impossible (for him) to observe the Prayer at night, he prayed twelve rak’ahs during the day. I am not aware of Allah’s Prophet (may peace be upon him) having recited the whole Qur’an during one single night, or praying through the night till morning, or fasting a complete month except Ramadan. He (the narrator) said: I then went to Ibn ‘Abbas and narrated to him the Hadith (transmitted from her), and he said: She says the truth If I went to her and got into her presence, I would have listened to it orally from her. He said: If I were to know that you do not go to her, I would not have transmitted this Hadith to you narrated by her. (Source; Arabic text)
Book 004, Number 1433:
Anas b. Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) invoked curse in the morning (prayer) for thirty days upon those who killed the Companions (of the Holy Prophet) at Bi’r Ma’una. He cursed (the tribes) of Ri’l, Dhakwan, Lihyan, and Usayya, who had disobeyed Allah and His Messenger (may peace be upon him). Anas said: Allah the Exalted and Great revealed (a verse) regarding those who were killed at Bi’r Ma’una, and we recited it, till it was abrogated later on (and the verse was like this):, convey to it our people the tidings that we have met our Lord, and He was pleased with us and we were pleased with Him”.
Book 043, Number 7173:
Sa’id b. Jubair reported: I said to Ibn Abbas: Will the repentance of that person be accepted who kills a believer intentionally? He said: No. I recited to him this verse of Sura al-Furqan (xix.): “And those who call not upon another god with Allah and slay not the soul which Allah has forbidden except in the cause of justice” to the end of the verse. He said: This is a Meccan versewhich has been abrogated by a verse revealed at Medina: “He who slays a believer intentionally, for him is the requital of Hell-Fire where he would abide for ever,” and in the narration of Ibn Hisham (the words are): I recited to him this verse of Sura al-Furqan: “Except one who made repentance.” (see also Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 285)
SUNAN ABU DAWUD
Book 5, Number 1299:
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:
In Surat al-Muzzammil (73), the verse: “Keep vigil at night but a little, a half thereof” (2-3) has been abrogated by the following verse: “He knoweth that ye count it not, and turneth unto you in mercy. Recite then of the Qur’an that which is easy for you” (v.20). The phrase “the vigil of the night” (nashi’at al-layl) means the early hours of the night. They (the companions) would pray (the tahajjud prayer) in the early hours of the night.
He (Ibn Abbas) says: It is advisable to offer the prayer at night (tahajjud), prescribed by Allah for you (in the early hours of the night). This is because when a person sleeps, he does not know when he will awake. The words “speech more certain” (aqwamu qilan) means that this time is more suitable for the understanding of the Qur’an. He says: The verse: “Lo, thou hast by day a chain of business” (v.7) means engagement for long periods (in the day’s work).
Book 5, Number 1300:
Ibn ‘Abbas said: When the opening verses of Surah asl-muzzammil (lxxiii.), were revealed, the Companions would pray as long as they would pray during Ramadan until its last verses were revealed. The period between the revelation of its opening and the last verses was one year.
Book 12, Number 2275:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three monthly courses; and then said: And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months. This was abrogated from the former verse. Again he said: (O ye who believe, if ye wed believing women) and divorce them before ye have touched them, then there is no period that ye should reckon.
Book 30, Number 30.3.17:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr ibn Hazm from Amra bint Abd ar-Rahman that A’isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Amongst what was sent down of the Qur’an was ‘ten known sucklings make haram’ – then it was abrogated by ‘five known sucklings’. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, it was what is now recited of the Qur’an.”
Yahya said that Malik said, “One does not act on this.”
Comment: Neither the abrogating nor the abrogated verses on suckling appear in the text of the Quran today.
Book 37, Number 37.5.4b:
Yahya said that he heard Malik say, “This ayat is abrogated. It is the word of Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, ‘If he leaves goods, the testament is for parents and kinsmen.’ What came down about the division of the fixed shares of inheritance in the Book of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted, abrogated it” …
FROM TAFSIR IBN KATHIR
Ibn Kathir claims that S. 33:52 was abrogated by 33:50.
More than one of the scholars, such as Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd, Ibn Jarir and others stated that this Ayah was revealed as a reward to the wives of the Prophet expressing Allah’s pleasure with them for their excellent decision in choosing Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, when the Messenger of Allah gave them the choice, as we have stated above. When they chose the Messenger of Allah their reward was that Allah restricted him to these wives, and forbade him to marry anyone else or to change them for other wives, even if he was attracted to their beauty – apart from slave-girls and prisoners of war, with regard to whom there was no sin on him. THEN ALLAH LIFTED THE RESTRICTION STATED IN THIS AYAH AND PERMITTED HIM TO MARRY MORE WOMEN, but he did not marry anyone else, so that the favor of the Messenger of Allah towards them would be clear.
Imam Ahmad recorded that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: ‘The Messenger of Allah did not die until Allah permitted (marriage to other) women for him.’ It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i in their Sunans. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 8 (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition, September 2000], p. 21; cf. the online edition; bold and capital emphasis ours)
According to Ibn Kathir Surah 9:5 abrogated every peace treaty that had been made with the idolaters:
This is the Ayah of the Sword …
<But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.>
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations… In the two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
<I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay Zakah.>
This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, “It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, EVERY TREATY, AND EVERY TERM.” Al-‘Awfi said that Ibn ‘Abbas commented: “No idolator had any more treaty or promise ever since Sura Bara’ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara’ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi’ Al-Akhir.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 4 (Surat Al-A’raf to the end of Surah Yunus), by Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, First Edition: May 2000, pp. 375, 377; cf. online edition; bold italic and capital emphasis ours)
Here is our final example. Ibn Kathir states that Muhammad added an exception clause to Surah 4:95 as a result of a blind man complaining about the passage:
Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “When the Ayah …
<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home),>
was revealed, the Messenger of Allah called Zayd and commanded him to write it. Then, Ibn Umm Maktum came and mentioned that he was blind. Allah revealed …
<except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame)>.”
Al-Bukhari recorded that Sahl bin Sa`d As-Sa`di said, “I saw Marwan bin Al-Hakam sitting in the Masjid. I came and sat by his side. He told us that Zayd bin Thabit told him that Allah’s Messenger dictated this Ayah to him …
<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled, and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah>
Ibn Umm Maktum came to the Prophet as he was dictating that very Ayah to me. Ibn Umm Maktum said, `O Allah’s Messenger! By Allah, if I had power, I would surely take part in Jihad.’ He was a blind man. So Allah sent down revelation to His Messenger while his thigh was on mine and it became so heavy for me that I feared that my thigh would be broken. That ended after Allah revealed …
<except those who are disabled>.” This was recorded by Al-Bukhari. At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said …
<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled>, refers to those who did not go to the battle of Badr and those who went to Badr. When the battle of Badr was about to occur, Abu Ahmad bin Jahsh and Ibn Umm Maktum said, `We are blind, O Messenger of Allah! Do we have an excuse’ The Ayah …
<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled> was revealed. Allah made those who fight, above those who sit in their homes not hindered by disability. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 2, parts 3, 4, & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), by Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, First Edition: March 2000, pp. 555, 556; cf. the online edition)
Although the last quotation above is, strictly speaking, not an example of abrogation, it does serve the purpose of showing how Muhammad was quick to change the revelation to suit his own purposes as well as the purposes of his community.
We could provide more examples from Ibn Kathir, but for the sake of brevity these should suffice.
Here is another example of Muhammad having to change the revelation to suit the purposes and fears of his followers:
O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand. For the present Allah has made light your burden, and He knows that there is weakness in you; so if there are a hundred patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand they shall overcome two thousand by Allah’s permission, and Allah is with the patient. S. 8:65-66 Shakir
Ibn Ishaq, in his Sirat Rasulullah, reports that:
Then He said: ‘O prophet, God is sufficient for thee and the believers who follow thee. O prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast ones among you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for there are hundred of you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for they are senseless people,’ i.e. they do not fight with a good intention nor for truth nor have they knowledge of what is good and what is evil. Abdullah b. Abu Najih from ‘Ata’ b. Abu Ribah from ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas told me that when this verse came down it came as a shock to the Muslims who took it hard that twenty should have to fight two hundred, and a hundred fight a thousand. So God relieved them AND CANCELED THE VERSE WITH ANOTHER SAYING: ‘Now has God relieved you and He knows that there is weakness amongst you, so if there are a hundred steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you they shall overcome two thousand by God’s permission, for God is with the steadfast.’ (‘Abdullah) said, ‘When they numbered half of the enemy it was wrong for them to run from them; but if they were less than half they were not bound to fight and it was permissible for the, to withdraw.’ (Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad [Oxford University Press, Karachi, tenth impression 1995], p. 326; bold and capital emphasis ours)
One wonders if in fact Allah had known that there was weakness amongst the Muslims then why even “reveal” the first passage instead of simply “revealing” the second, more easier one?
HILALI-KHAN TRANSLATION OF THE QURAN
The following list is taken from Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud Din Al-Hilali & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s The Noble Qur’an – English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary, King Fahd Complex For the Printing of the Holy Qur’an, Madinah, K.S.A. You can find this list pretty much in all the Hilali-Khan’s Quranic translations, irrespective of date or publisher.
1. 3:85 abrogates 2:62 and 5:69
(V. 2:62) This Verse (and Verse 5:69), mentioned in the Qur’an should not be misinterpreted by the reader as mentioned by Ibn Abbas … (Tafsir At-Tabari) that the provision of this Verse was abrogated by the Verse 3:85 … (fn. 1, p. 14; see also fn. 1, p. 157)
2. 9:29 abrogates 2:109
(V. 2:109) The provision of this verse has been abrogated by the (V. 9:29). (Tafsir At-Tabari) (fn. 1, p. 21)
3. 2:185 abrogates 184
(V. 2:184) The provision of this Verse has been abrogated by the next Verse: 185, with a few exceptions, i.e. very old person, or pregnancy, etc. (fn. 1, p. 37)
4. 9:36 abrogates 2:217 and 45:14
(V. 2:217) The provision of this Verse has been abrogated by Verse 9:36. Jihad cf., (V. 2:216). (fn. 2, p. 46; see also fn. 1, p. 677)
5. 5:90 abrogates 2:219
(V. 2:219) The provision of this Verse concerning alcoholic drinks and gambling has been abrogated by the Verse 5:90. (fn. 1, p. 47)
6. 4:12 abrogates 2:240
(V. 2:240): The provision of this Verse has been abrogated by Verse (4:12). (fn. 1, p. 53)
7. 24:2 abrogates 4:15-16
(V. 4:15) The provision of this Verse has been abrogated by the Verses of (V. 24:2), ordaining lashing for the unmarried and stoning to death for the married, when four witnesses testify to the crime. (fn. 1, p. 109)
We conclude this paper by presenting the following comments from Von Denffer:
The Abrogated Verses
There are, according to Ibn Salama, [Op cit., see pp.6-8 for the names of these suras.] a well-known author on the subject:
- 43 suras with neither nasikh or mansukh.
- 6 suras with nasikh but no mansukh.
- 40 suras with mansukh but no nasikh.
- 25 suras with both nasikh and mansukh.
According to Suyuti’s Itqan there are 21 instances in the Qur’an, where a revelation has been abrogated by another.
He also indicates that there is a difference of opinion about some of these: e.g. 4: 8, 24: 58, etc. [Itqan, II, pp.20-3; Kamal, op.cit., pp.101-9 also gives Suyuti’s complete list.]
Some scholars have attempted to reduce the number of abrogations in the Qur’an even further, by explaining the relationships between the verses in some special ways, e.g. by pointing out that no legal abrogation is involved, or that for certain reasons the naskh is not genuine
Shah Waliullah (d. 1759) the great Muslim scholar from India only retained the following 5 out of Suyuti’s 21 cases as genuine:
Mansukh 2: 180 nasikh 4: 11, 12 Mansukh 2:240 nasikh 2: 234. Mansukh 8:65 nasikh 8: 62. Mansukh 30:50 nasikh 33: 52. Mansukh 58: 12 nasikh 58: 13.
A case listed by Suyuti, which has no direct legal implication is the following:
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: When the verse: ‘If there are 20 amongst you, patient and persevering, they will overcome two hundred’, was revealed, it became hard on the Muslims, when it became compulsory that one Muslim ought not to flee before 10 (non-Muslims) so Allah lightened the order by revealing: ‘but now Allah has lightened your (task) for He knows that there is weakness in you. But (even so) if there are 100 amongst you who are patient and persevering, they will overcome 200 (non-Muslims)’ (8: 66).
So when Allah reduced the number of enemies that Muslims should withstand, their patience and perseverence against the enemy decreased as much as their task was lightened for them. [Bukhari, VI, No.176.]
(Source: Ahmad Von Denfer, Ulum al Qur’an)
We come to the end of our paper. We truly hope that this list will prove helpful to Christians as they endeavor to show Muslims why the Quran cannot be the Word of God.