‘Abrogation’: A new understanding

I predicate this essay on my belief that not all the revelations to the Prophets were necessarily inscribed in scripture. The Mohkamat most certainly were but not all of those that addressed man’s temporal needs as these were continually evolving.

I have now come to understand who it is that Allah Subhana speaks of when He mentions Al-Yahud/An-Nasara or just Yahud/Nasara. The latter is a broader reference to the whole community (2:111, 62:6 etc) while the former is a more specific group (2:120, 5:82 etc) – a subset. It is imperative that we appreciate these subtleties lest we perpetuate ignorance through our own misinterpretation of this beautiful book of prose and poetry.

In each of the following verses of the Noble Quran – 2:106, 7:154, 22:52 and 45:29 where a variant of Nasakha has been used there is commonality. I believe when Allah Subhana speaks of writing something He uses Kataba and only when something has been inscribed He uses Nasakha. The inscription could be on parchment, tablet or in a book that He has either sent down to a Prophet or is with Him. This is the shade of difference that I have noticed having sifted through verses in the Noble Quran containing Kataba and Nasakha.

‘What Nansakh of Ayat or to forget it We bring better of it or similar to it’ 2:106

An Ayah in the Noble Quran can be a ‘Miracle’ 17:101, a ‘Sign’ 19:10, an ‘Example’ 25:37 or a ‘Verse’ 38:29. If in this instance Ayat is a ‘Verse’ then how can something written in the Noble Quran be forgotten and why would a ‘Verse’ be ‘Abrogated’ only to be replaced by one ‘similar to it’.
The context to Nansakh is better understood if we consider the following verses in the Noble Quran:

‘So, for the transgression of those who are Jews We made unlawful on them good things that were hitherto lawful to them; and for their hindering many from Allah’s way’ 4:160
‘It was only prescribed the Sabbath upon those who disputed about it’ 16:124

It is evident from the above and 6:146 that certain dietary and some other restrictions were imposed on ‘those who are Jews’ on account of their obstinate rebellion and disbelief.

‘Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture nor the idolaters like that there should be sent down to you any good from your Lord; but Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills’ 2:105

We are made aware in the Noble Quran that there were among ‘those who are Jews’ a faction – referred to as Al-Yahud, which had taken as Auliya the heathen Arabs (5:80). It is likely that the revelations to Prophet Muhammad were much less restrictive and the consequent angst of Al-Yahud and Al-Mushrikun is the substance of 2:106. Al-Yahud would not accept the mitigation in dietary and some other (2:187) matters because they believed that At-Taurat was an immutable Al-Kitab. We know from 2:105 ‘but Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills’ – the followers of Prophet Muhammad, just as He did afore with the Children of Israel at the time of Prophet Jesus:

‘And as one attesting the truth of what came before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of that forbidden to you’ 3:50

Prophet Jesus confirms the integrity of At-Taurat and then informs ‘those who are Jews’ of the Nasakha in Al-Injeel – ‘to make lawful for you some of that forbidden to you’. Note that the changes are reflected in Al-Injeel and not in At-Taurat itself and the scope of the ‘to make lawful’ is limited to just ‘some of that’. By virtue of extrapolation Al-Quran Al-Karim must also adhere to this principle of Nasakha; and as a discernible consequence of the imperfection of Man.

The Holy Scriptures as revealed to Moses in the Torah, David in the Psalms, Jesus in the Gospels and Muhammad in the Quran reflect and conform to the natural laws evident in all of creation. Only an ‘Omniscient’ ‘One God’ could ensure that His revelations to the Prophets were relevant to the human condition in this given construct; not in some improbable utopia.

As mentioned earlier Allah Subhana in verses 2:106, 7:154, 22:52 and 45:29 has used Nasakha only when something has been inscribed on parchment, tablet or in a book. If verse 2:106 were to be considered on its own merits I would interpret it as follows:

‘What We inscribe of Ayat (Verse) or We cause to forget of Ayat (Miracle, sign or example) We are Able to bring better of it or similar to it’