Abrogation means to abolish or make obsolete by something else and believe it or not there are some Muslims that actually believe that some verses of the Quran, the complete Word of Allah, are abrogated or annulled by other verses and even, may Allah forgive them, the hadith! They base this on misunderstood verses from the Quran, which has become a secondary source of Islam, the first being the hadith which contains vast amounts of contradictory and absurd sayings that only a book like Bukhari can do justice to. If you have never read a complete chapter of Bukhari then I suggest you do so, you will be shocked and surprised at what you are reading.
Some scholars have painstakingly gone through the Quran and “found” verses that have been abrogated by another so they claim these are not relevant anymore. The verses of the Quran which are quoted by those who want to deviate from the straight path to justify their falsehood are:-
Surah 2 verse 106 None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?
Surah 16 verse 101
When We substitute one revelation for another, - and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "You are only a forger": but most of them do not understand.
On the face of it these verses can be used to say that abrogation has taken place, but what is being abrogated? Kafirs are those people who deny the truth and what they do is take words out of context and give a totally false impression to the one they are meant to show. Look at the previous verses from those quoted above and the truth is revealed, here illustrated by the clear English of Dr Shabir Ahmed:-
Surah 2 verses 99-107
2:99 Surely, We have revealed unto you clear verses, and none will deny them but those who drift away from reason.
2:100 (This reflects in their daily lives.) Is it not so that whenever they make a pledge with others, a party among them breaks it (and others feel liberated from their collective responsibility)? Nay, indeed! Most of them choose to disbelieve.
2:101 And now that a Messenger has come unto them from God confirming the Truth in what they have, a party among those who were given the Scripture before, cast the Book of God (the Bible) behind their backs as though unaware of what it says (concerning the advent of Prophet Muhammad).
2:102 (They had followed conjecture in the past as well.) Some satanic folk spread a rumor in the Kingdom of Solomon. Solomon never disbelieved in the Divine Laws, but the satanic folk did. They fabricated a story that two angels Haaroot and Maaroot had descended in Babylon and taught magic to some people; and that they used to warn people, “We are only a temptation, therefore be not oblivious to the rational Divine Laws.” The rumor further stated that people learned magic from both of them and learned how to create discord between a man and his wife. They could harm none against the Divine Laws. And what they try to learn only harms them and does not profits them. Indeed, they ought to know that any person indulging in this trade (the so-called occult sciences) will be a loser in the long run, and shall have no portion in the Hereafter. And certainly, evil is the price for which they sell their humanity, if they only knew better.
2:103 If they had believed (in the immutability of the Divine Laws) and remained mindful (of this fact), the reward for their actions would have been far better from God’s Presence. This is so because they would have, then, used this knowledge.
[Divine Laws never change 33:62, 35:43, 48:23, and you will never find even a slight turn in them 17:77]
2:104 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Never say to the Prophet, "Raaina - listen to us.” Instead, say, "Unzurna!” (Grant us attention). And then listen intently. There is a painful consequence for the rejecters of Divine Commands.
[Ya ayyuhallazeena aamanu is generally, but inaccurately, translated as “O You who believe!”, “O Believers!”, “O You of faith! O Faithfuls!” etc. - Firstly, aamanu is a verb. Secondly, attaining to belief must be an act consciously undertaken after due reflection and with free will. ‘Passive’ faith such as claiming to be a ‘believer by birth’ has no merit in the Sight of God. See 4:136, 12:108. Also, choosing to believe in Truth is a great blessing of God. Hence, my rendition: O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Ra’ina with a slight twist of the tongue and in very similar Hebrew words has derogatory meanings to it, e.g. “Be our shepherd”, “O Our proud one!”, “May deafness befall you.” Some Jews resorted to these kinds of insults to the Prophet (4:46). The Lesson is this: Be not ambiguous and speak words straight to the point. 33:70]
2:105 Neither the deniers from among the People of the Book nor the idolaters love that any good thing should be bestowed upon you from your Lord. But God chooses for His Grace (of Revelation) whom He wills. For, God is the (non-discriminating) Lord of Infinite Bounty. [3:70-71, 16:30]
2:106 Any Message (of aforetime) that We revoke or cause to be lost to history, We replace it with a better or similar one. Do you not know that God is the Supreme Controller of all things and events?
[Some of the People of the Book question why a new Revelation was necessary. The evolution of human civilization has now come to a point where the Final Message for all mankind can be given, implemented and preserved forever. So, the Qur’an is now the perfected Message for all mankind at all times; its exact preservation guaranteed by none but the Almighty Himself. 5:48, 6:115-116, 15:9, 16:101, 22:52]
2:107 Do you not know that to God belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth? And (if you defy His Commands you will find that) you have no patron or helper besides God. [He is fully Cognizant of your needs, and knows the messages and timings of His revelations]
The verses make perfect sense if you understand what was happening at the time of the Prophet. Many people amongst the Jews and Christians in particular did not believe that he was a rightly guided Messenger of Allah and criticised him for bringing new revelation that was not in their existing religious texts. They said their books were truthful and from Allah so could not understand why the Quran condemned their beliefs and practices. Allah is saying that the Quran is from Him and the true criteria to judge right from wrong. Previous revelations had been corrupted, distorted, lost and above all many writings had been forged and falsely attributed to Allah. It was these that the Quran came to abrogate, to abolish, and not the very words that Allah was revealing in its pages. A closer look at Surah 16 confirms this;
Surah 16 verses 98-105
16:98 When you read the Qur’an, seek refuge in God against Satan, the rejected one. [One’s own straying thoughts may divert the attention]
16:99 He (Satan) has no power over those who truly believe and put their trust in their Lord.
16:100 His power is over those only who befriend him, and who assign ‘partners’ to God.
16:101 When We replace one Revelation with by another; and God knows best what He reveals; they say, “You are but a forger.” But most of them do not know [that human civilization has evolved sufficiently to be given the perfected Final Message superseding previous Scriptures, and that the Qur’an will remain a watcher over them. 5:48]
16:102 Tell them, “Gabriel has brought it down from your Lord in Absolute Truth. This Revelation will keep firm in thought and action, those who accept it. And it will provide Guidance and good news to Submitters.” [Roohul Qudus = Sacred Energy = Gabriel 2:97. Rooh, Raooh = Soothing Mercy 12:87. Trustworthy angel 26:193]
16:103 We know well what they say, “It is but a man teaching him!” The tongue of him they so maliciously point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.
16:104 Indeed, those who refuse to acknowledge God's verses, God does not intervene to show them the lighted road, and for them is a painful suffering. [Ayaatillah = God’s verses = Divine Revelation = Qur’anic verses = Also implies God’s signs in the Book and in the Universe, depending on the context]
16:105 It is those who reject God's messages that invent this falsehood (of a man teaching the Prophet). And it is they who are lying.
The next verses are even clearer as to what Allah is trying to explain and the consequences to those who differ with His Revelation.
Surah 22 verse 51-55 22:51 Whereas those who strive against Our messages seeking to defeat their purpose, they are destined to face the Insurmountable Barrier.
22:52 Yet whenever We sent a Messenger or Prophet before you, Satan (satanic people) tried to confound the central aims of the Message. But God, renders null and void all the aspirations Satan had. And God makes His messages clear in and by themselves. For, God is All Knowing, Wise.
[Satanic people then tried to alter his teachings after he passed on. God sent another Messenger to restore the purity of His messages. Then, God revealed His Final Message and Himself guaranteed its accuracy and preservation. 5:48, 6:113-116, 15:9, 16:101, 22:52]
22:53 (God allows) these satanic people to advance their aspirations so that He might make this conspiracy a test for people and distinguish (the true believers in the Divine Revelation) from those who have a disease in their hearts and who are hardened of heart. Surely, those who relegate the Divine Revelation in favor of human aspirations create great schism and sectarianism. [Zulm = Displacing something from its rightful place = Oppression = Violation of human rights = Relegation of the Truth = Wrongdoing. 2:53]
22:54 Those who have been given knowledge, will recognize that this (Qur’an) is the Truth from your Lord, and so they accept it. Then their hearts are made humble to it. For verily, God Himself is the Guide of those who choose to believe, unto a Straight Way. [5:48, 15:19]
22:55 And those who reject Faith will not cease to remain in suspense until the Hour suddenly comes upon them, or there comes to them the suffering of a barren day (devoid of all hope).
Allah’s message to mankind has been the same from time immemorial. Abraham was a Muslim who revealed the Islamic Message to his people, as did Moses, David, and Jesus etc. After each of their deaths forgers attributed words and practices to them that needed another Messenger to reinstate the truth (this has gone on up until today since the vast majority of hadith are blatant forgeries which can be easily proved since they go against the teachings of the Quran). Unfortunately for the so-called Muslim forgers, the Quran is in the same form that was revealed to the last Messenger, Prophet Mohammad, so we should study it with clear minds and use it’s knowledge to judge ours and everyone else’s lives and differentiate truth from falsehood.
Those that say verses in the Quran are abrogated by other verses in it are only deceiving themselves and any ignorant person who does not want to seek the truth. The main cause of this false belief are the hadith; many scholars at the time that hadith were being collected stated that many hadith go against the Quran so how can they be truthful. In order to spread falsehood the hadith conspirators have tried to show that if the Quran has abrogations and contradictions then what matter if the hadith has them! Both, they claimed, are divinely inspired, but are written in human language and reflect human actions, so their imperfections are there for this very reason. A so-called Muslim has to believe that Allah has given mankind an imperfect Book (even though the Quran says it is fully detailed, complete and from Allah the All-Knowing) in order to follow false hadith! Congratulations to them!
Some may say that the Quran says it substitutes one “ayat” for another so this means one part of the Quran is abrogated by another. Ayat means “sign”, “verses” and it also refers to those revelations given to previous Prophets. It is all these verses that were forged by earlier peoples that were the ones being replaced and updated by Allah in His final Revelation. The Quran always repeats itself in different places so taking words and meanings out of context to justify the totally ignorant idea of abrogation is exactly what someone wants who intends to misguide others and is misguided themselves!
Surah 6 verses 114-117 6:114 Say, “Shall I seek for Judge and Ruler someone other than God? He it is Who has revealed this Book, well expounded in detail for you.” Those whom We have given the Book know that this is revealed in Truth from your Lord. Be not among those who argue for the sake of argument.
6:115 Perfected is the Word of your Lord in Truth and Justice. None can change His Words and His Laws. And He is the Profound Hearer, the Knower. [6:34, 6:115, 10:64, 17:77, 18:27, 33:38, 33:62, 40:85, 48:23]
6:116 (People will confront you with what the majority is doing.) Now if you pay heed to, or get intimidated by majority of those who live on earth, they will lead you astray from God’s Way. Most of the people follow nothing but conjecture and they only live by guesswork.
6:117 Only your Lord (shows the Right Path and) knows best those who stray and those who are rightly guided.
The Quran again shows us what it is so that we can have no doubt about its origins. A Book from Allah Himself and not written by any human being, poet, madman, forger etc. Those who reject the Quran or cause doubt about its words and meanings are nothing but liars. If you reject my words that I have written here then you are rejecting the Quran itself, I am quoting from its verses, so stop calling yourselves Muslims since you have not submitted your wills to the Will of Allah but follow man made hadith forgeries leading you away from Allah.
If this is still not enough for you then what do the following verses mean?
Surah 28 verses 85-88
28:85 Surely, He Who has made this Qur’an a binding duty upon you, will assuredly bring you back to the Destination of Bliss. Say, "My Lord is best Aware as to who is rightly guided and who is obviously lost in error."
[I agree with Muhammad Asad that the second person singular in this verse applies to every person who chooses the Qur’an as the Guide. From then on, it is a change of direction to a new destination in this world and in the Hereafter]
28:86 (O Prophet) you never expected that this Book will be bestowed upon you. But it is a Mercy from your Lord (to all humanity). Hence, you shall never side with the rejecters.
28:87 And let them not divert you from God's messages after they have been sent down unto you. But, invite people to your Lord and be not of the company of those who uphold systems other than the Divinely ordained System of Life.
28:88 (Keeping pristine the Divinely ordained System of Life), call not upon human ‘authorities’ and manmade systems as gods side by side with God. There is no god but He. Everything is mortal except His Eternal Self. To Him belong all Governance and all Judgment, and unto Him you shall be returned.
In Surah 28 verse 85 the Quran uses the word “Faradh” which means “binding” but you cannot get this meaning from some translations, for example by Y. Ali (below), either he deliberately distorted the meaning or he did not have the intellect to understand the words he was translating (many modern scholars say his book is the best translation and I have my doubts about their intentions when it is full of Bible English and meandering phrases).
Surah 28 verses 85-88 (Y.Ali)
Most surely He Who ordained the Quran for you, will bring you back to the Place of Return.
The whole Quran is therefore totally bound to our belief, faith and way of life and in no way, shape or form has any verse, letter or full stop been placed there except by the intention of Allah. The whole Quran is to be followed and no amount of deception from “abrogators” (or should I say “alligators” who eat rotten flesh) should be believed.
Surah 3 verses 98-106.
3:98 Say, “O People of the Book! Why do you reject God's messages when God Himself is Witness to all that you do?”
3:99 Say, “O People of the Book! Why do you bar from the Path of God, him who chooses to believe? – Seeking to make it crooked, even though you are witnesses (to the Truth).” But God is not unaware of whatever you do.
3:100 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! If you were to heed a group of those who have been given the Scripture before, they might turn you back to the darkness of ignorance after you have chosen to acknowledge the Truth.
[The very act of heeding or obeying others against the messages of God is an indication that such people have not understood the beauty in these messages]
3:101 How could you choose the darkness of ignorance when God's messages are being conveyed to you and His Messenger is in your midst (implementing these messages in the society)? Whoever holds fast to God (dismissing all other 'authorities'), is already guided onto a Straight Path. [3:144]
3:102 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Live upright being mindful of God in a manner befitting to Him. Let not death overtake you but that you are Muslims.
3:103 You must hold fast, all of you together, to the Bond of God and be not divided into sects. (The Bond or Rope of God is the Qur’an which is an Unbreakable Support 2:256.) Remember God’s Favor upon you when you were enemies and, almost overnight, He brought mutual affection in your hearts. Thus, you became brothers and sisters by His Grace. And recall that you were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He saved you from it. (Various tribes used to attack one another, and personal enmity plagued them.) This is how effectively God has made His messages clear for you to journey on the lighted road. [6:165, 30:31-32, Huda = Guidance = Walk the right path = Travel on a lighted road]
3:104 Let there be a community among you that invites to all that is good, advocating virtue and deterring vice. They are the truly successful.
[Verses 2:143, 3:110 and 22:78 assign this duty to the entire Muslim community. Ma'roof = Virtue = Kindness = All that is good = Declared Ma’roof by the Qur’an. Munkar = Vice = Evil = All that is wrong = Declared Munkar by the Qur’an. 2:143, 3:109, 23:1, 61:2-3]
3:105 Do not be like those who became divided and disputed after all evidence of the Truth had come unto them. For, they have incurred a tremendous suffering.
[Sectarianism, schism and division stand in the way of unity of all mankind. Bayyinaat = Clear evidences. 6:159-160, 30:32, 42:43]
3:106 On that Day, some faces will shine with joy and some faces will be portraits of gloom. (The former are those who hold on to the Bond of God, and the latter are those who get lost in their sectarian beliefs.) Those who will be portraits of gloom, will be told, "Ah, did you, (by falling to sectarianism) elect disbelief after embracing Faith? Taste then, the punishment for your disbelief (and electing to live in the darkness of ignorance).
The “People of the Book” refers to anyone that has received Revelation from Allah which today also means Muslims. These “obstructing people” try to make crooked what is straight, they spread lies where there is truth and they deceive themselves as well as others. We all become apostates if we follow the wrong path by falsely believing in abrogating verses and it is only by studying the Word of Allah that the Truth becomes known to us. Stoning of apostates in this life is an abomination (see section on the Punishment of Apostates) but it is nothing to the punishment of hellfire we will face if we do not amend our ways and stay true to the Word of Allah.
Surah 13 verses 36-39
13:36 Hence, they to whom We have given the Book, rejoice in what is revealed to you (O Prophet). But, among the (dissenting) groups, there are those who deny a part of it. Say, “I am commanded only that I serve God and associate none with Him. Unto Him I invite all mankind, and He is my goal.” [The dissenting groups even preach that some of the verses are abrogated or that they have a hidden meaning!]
13:37 Thus, We have revealed it, a Decisive Authority in Arabic. (O Prophet) indeed if you got influenced by people’s likes and dislikes after the knowledge has come to you, you will have no protector or defender against God.
13:38 And certainly We sent messengers before you, and We appointed for them wives and children as well. It was not given to any Messenger that he could bring a sign (the requital they hastened for), but it came according to God’s Law of Respite. For every rise and for every fall, there is a Written Law. [7:34. All messengers were mortal human beings and they conveyed God's Revelation as commanded. Please note that all of them had wives and children, and think of Jesus!]
13:39 God blots out and establishes communities according to His Laws. Nations rise and fall accordingly, and with Him is the Ultimate Decree.
The above refers to Messengers who were appointed to their people for their time. Some laws were applicable then but no longer valid, they became abrogated:-
Surah 3 verses 48-50 (regarding the Jesus)
3:48 “And God will teach him the Scripture and the wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel.”
3:49 And He will be a Messenger to the Children of Israel. He will say to them, “I come to you with Revelation from your Lord. If you follow me, I will raise you from dust to the heights of glory by the Command of God (7:176). The blind among you will begin to see the Truth. Those of you who are spotted with sin, I will heal them, and I shall grant real life to those who are just dragging on without purpose; all by God’s Leave, according to His Laws. I am here to establish justice and equity. I shall see to it how much you hoard in your houses and how much you spend on the community. My teachings are sufficient signs for you to believe.”
3:50 “I confirm the Truth in the Torah before me, and make permissible to you some of what was forbidden. I have come with your Lord’s Revelation. Be mindful of His Commands and obey me.”
Laws were applied for punishment or “educating” a rebellious people which no longer applies.
Surah 4 verses 160-162
4:160 Due to the transgressions of the Jews We had forbidden them good things that were before allowed them, because of their consistent hindering from the Way of God.
4:161 Their clergy made usury permissible although it was forbidden, and they devoured the wealth of people with falsification. We have readied for the rejecters grievous suffering.
4:162 Among them (the Jews) these are those who are well founded in knowledge. And have attained conviction in what has been revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you. They are supporters of the Divine System and of the Just Economic Order, believers in God and in the Last Day. We shall soon give them an immense reward. [Islam is for all humanity. Any prior affiliations are irrelevant. 2:62, 3:19, 4:125]
As if abrogation was not enough, we have notable scholars of Islam stating that some words and verses were lost or taken out by Allah from the Quran during its twenty two years of revelation! This is all based on the mistranslation of Surah 2 verse 106, quoted above from Dr Shabir, but here from Yusuf Ali:-
Surah 2 verse 106
106. None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
This leads to ridiculous accounts of “lost” verses, for example the stoning to death of adulterers, and Tabari in his Tasfir, vol ii, stating that some Surahs were longer than the present ones. In some accounts companions of the Prophet had written down verses which “disappeared” over night from their pages because Allah wanted them abrogating and caused them to be forgotten! (Suhnun, al-Mudaw-wana al-kubra, I, 107). This, and many other appalling attacks on the Quran by so-called Muslims, has provided readymade fuel for the rejecters of Allah’s Revelation to put before already biased individuals who are denied the truth of this Book.
The Quran was given to mankind as the Final Revelation of Allah, to be applicable for all time, and it is to our shame that we say that some verses are no longer applicable because another verse abolishes its ruling. It is a binding seal, never to be corrupted by the lying hands of man, but the lying tongues have not let it be understood in peace. Without the whole Quran being a complete revelation, there is no point in having a “Seal of the Prophets”!
Surah 33 verses 38-41
33:38 There could be no difficulty to any Prophet in what God has assigned unto him as a duty. That was God’s Law for those who passed on before. And the Commandment of God is a determined decree.
[God helps His messengers and they consider none of their duties difficult in spite of all the strife involved. Sunnatillah = Laws of God. In the World of Command He makes Laws as He wills. Then He implements these Laws in the World of Creation (the Universe). And then He neither changes them, nor makes any exceptions. 7:54, 17:77, 33:38, 33:62, 35:43, 40:85, 48:23]
33:39 (And such will be His way with all) those who convey the messages of God and fear Him, and fear none but God. (They know that) none can take account as God does.
33:40 Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is God’s Messenger and the Closing Seal of all prophets. And God, indeed, is Knower of all things.
33:41 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Remember God with much remembrance. [Be ever mindful of God’s messages. Now it will be up to you to carry His Message to mankind. 3:110, 35:32]