Abrogated Verses of the Quran
Fatwa No: 84587

  • Fatwa Date:27-7-2002 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 18, 1423
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Question

First of all my thanks for the previous Fatwa. I am completely satisfied from the answer. This time I have a query about Islamic Jurisprudence. My question is: What is al-Naskh (abrogation of the verses of Holy Qur'an)? Is it true that there were certain verses of the Holy Qur'an that were abrogated? If yes, which and how many verses were abrogated and why? Are the guideline so laid down in the abrogated verses still in force or not? Please justify your opinion by quoting the relevant verses or traditions.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

An-Naskh, i.e. abrogation or repeal, has two meanings in Arabic: (1) transformation and shifting from one place to another, and (2) cancellation and repeal.

In Islamic terminology, An-Naskh means to cancel and abrogate some fixed Sharee'ah rulings and to replace them with new rulings and orders.

An-Naskh can be in the Quran and the Noble Sunnah. Allah Says (what means): {We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?} [Quran 2: 106]

Allah also Says (what means): {And when We substitute a verse in place of a verse - and Allah is most knowing of what He sends down - they say, "You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies]." But most of them do not know. Say, [O Muhammad], "The Pure Spirit has brought it down from your Lord in truth to make firm those who believe and as guidance and good tidings to the Muslims."} [Quran 16: 101-102]

As for an-Naskh (the abrogation of some verses) in the Quran, it can be in any of the following modes:

1) To cancel a ruling and keep the text for reading (preference). Such as: (1) the verse of the will on behalf of relatives [2: 180]; (2) Surah al-Baqarah: 240; and (3) the verse of easing the task of fighting, Chapter 8, vese 65.

2) To cancel a ruling and the text as well, like: "It was among the recitation (of the Quran): ten known times of suckling. This was about ruling of a child's suckling." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

3) To cancel only the text not the ruling, such as the verse concerning stoning the married one who commits Zina (adultery). It was as fallows: The married man and the married woman should be stoned if they commit Zina.
An-Naskh is only related to orders and prohibitions not the tidings.

As for number of An-Naskh, as-Suyooti said in his book al-Itqaan that, 'twenty-one verses in the Quran were abrogated; some were agreed upon, while others are not. These abrogated verses are in the following Surahs: Al-Baqarah [Quran 2], Al-'Imran [Quran 3], An-Nisaa' [Quran 4], Al-Maa'idah [Quran 5], Al-Anfal [Quran 8], At-Taubah [Quran 9], An-Noor [Quran 24], Al-Ahzab [Quran 33], Al-Mujadilah [Quran 58], Al-Mumtahinah [Quran 60] and Al-Muzzammil [Quran 73]

As for the wisdom behind An-Naskh, scholars of Islam said: “Change is the nature of existence, and beings and abrogation is one of the Divine ways to address these changes. If An-Naskh is reasonable to apply to beings, then it should not be considered as strange concerning rulings about them since the Ummah is still developing and advancing towards what is better. In addition, Allah is Able to do everything and He is the Only Owner of this universe and He can do whatever He Wills. Allah Says (what means): {He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned.} [Quran 21: 23]

Thus, An-Naskh constitutes a step towards what is better and superior. An-Naskh is often a means of bringing ease and relief, since Muslims were required to follow what is higher, stronger and better in the first stage of education and building the Ummah. At first, it was obligatory to perform Qiyam al-Lail (prayer at night) or that 20 Muslims were to face 200 of the enemy.

Then, An-Naskh of those rulings constituted a form of relief, of soothing, and cancellation of hardship. Another wisdom behind An-Naskh is to bring obedience to the Divine Orders.

Here, we state that abrogated rulings should not be put into practice, since they were revealed for some fixed period of time. For example, it is not allowed to put a doer of Zina in jail since such a ruling was abrogated. Another example is that it is not allowed for a woman whose husband has died to enter into Iddah (awaiting period) as stated in Surah 2: verse 240 since it is abrogated by verse 2. 234.

Finally, An-Naskh was done only by revelation and completed during the life of Allah's Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ); it is completely incorrect to be done by consensus or analogy.

For more benefit on abrogated Quranic verses, please refer to Fataawa 207709, 388024, and 367702.

Allah knows best.

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