I have a question regarding abrogations in Islam during the time of prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam. My question is: how can we be sure that the authentic hadiths that we have today were not abrogated (i.e., sometime after that but before the demise of prophet Muhammad) and there was a new ruling on the matter? There are many matters in which there were abrogations, matters that we know of, so I am thinking that maybe there are matters that were abrogated and that we do not know of? So how can we follow the authentic and good hadiths without knowing for sure that they were not abrogated?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
You should know that the basic principle is that the ahaadeeth were not abrogated; however, this does not negate the fact that there are some abrogated ahaadeeth. For instance, the Prophet used to forbid visiting graves and storing the sacrificial meat, as was narrated by Imaam Muslim and others; it was narrated that the Prophet used to forbid visiting graves, drinking in (certain kinds of) containers, and storing the sacrificial meat for more than three days. Later, he said, "I used to forbid you from visiting graves, you may visit them for they are a reminder of the Hereafter; and I used to forbid you from drinking in certain containers, you may drink from them but avoid everything that intoxicates; and I used to forbid you from storing the sacrificial meat for more than three days, you may store them as long as you wish." [Ahmad]
Scholars of Usool Fiqh and other scholars stated that among the conditions of abrogation are that the abrogating text (naasikh) was revealed (spoken) after the abrogated text (mansookh), and that the naasikh and mansookh cannot possibly exist together at the same time (because they are contradictory). These two important conditions must be met in order for the abrogation to be valid. Dr. Muhammad ibn Husayn ibn Hasan Al-Jeezaani wrote:
"Third Condition: the mansookh must chronologically precede the naasikh. This could be identified through many ways, some of which are the following:
- Ijmaaʻ (consensus): Muslim scholars collectively agree to the contrary of a text, thus indicating that it had been abrogated, since the Muslim nation is never in consensus over an error. The consensus of the Muslim nation in this regard indicates that the more recent text abrogates the older one, not that consensus is the reason for abrogation in and of itself, as mentioned earlier.
- The statements and actions of the Prophet ; when a hadeeth narrator says, 'Such-and-such text was revealed and was later abrogated or such-and-such was legislated and later on deemed forbidden.'
- Identifying the date the hadeeth was said; thus identifying the naasikh through its more recent date in the presence of a contradictory text.
The abrogated and abrogating texts are identified through reported evidence and not through logical reasoning or analogy.
The fourth condition is that the naasikh and mansookh texts cannot exist simultaneously because they contradict each other." [Maʻaalim Usool Al-Fiqh]
The basic principle in the field of hadeeth is that the ahaadeeth are not abrogated and that there are conditions of abrogation that must be met, it can be fairly said that the claim that some matters may have been abrogated and we do not know of them is a false claim lacking supportive evidence. Moreover, it contradicts the basic principle in this regard, namely the obligation to act upon authentic ahaadeeth and that they are not abrogated.
Allaah knows best.
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