The Qur’an claims to be the eternal Revelation of God. If true, how can an eternal Book of Allah have such time-bound revelations in it? The Qur’an itself admits that some of its verses were abrogated and replaced by others verses. The entire Qur’an was compiled within a time frame of merely twenty-three years. Why should Allah change his mind within such a short period of time?
To abrogate means to abolish, annul, rescind, repeal or revoke. The Qur’an is the only religious book that abrogates its own teachings. The concept of abrogation in the Qur’an is that Allah reveals a verse in the Qur’an that invalidates an earlier verse in the same Qur’an. This may lead to numerous difficulties for the readers of the Qur’an. In fact, it raises many questions. For example:
- How can a Muslim know what is abrogated and what is not?
- Since the abrogated verses still exist in the Qur’an, what is the use of these abrogated verses for Muslims now?
- Would not this pose a problem for the ordinary readers of the Qur’an to verify what is abrogated and what is not?
- How would an average Muslim know what is abrogated and what is not, when even scholar disagree among themselves as to the numbers of verses that are abrogated?
- Would not this then mean that the Qur’an requires someone of a higher scholastic level to understand it and therefore it is not meant for the average Muslim?
- What if a Muslim followed a command in the Qur’an that was actually abrogated and did not realized it – would it be counted as sin?
- Why should the Qur’an abrogate parts of itself?
However, if the Qur’an is the genuine Word of God, then the commandments written in it must by no means be abrogated. Its contents must remain intact and its messages unchanged. And amazingly Allah agrees:
Surah 6:115: “The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.” (Khalifa)
“The Words of your Lord have been completed with credibility and justice; there is no way to change His Words. He is the Hearer, the Knower.” (Farook Malik)
However, note the contradiction in Surah 2:106:
“Whatever verse we shall abrogate, or cause (thee) to forget, we will bring a better one than it, or one like unto it. Dost thou not know that God is almighty?” (Sale)
“None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things?” (Yusuf Ali)
The concept of “abrogation” in the Qur’an is that Allah reveals a latter verse that both supersedes and annuls an earlier verse in the same Qur’an. Abrogation means to annul or cancel something with appropriate or legal authority. In this case, the authority is none other than Allah himself. Surah 2:106 is central to the doctrine of abrogation that is taught in Islam. Why does an all-wise God need to reveal “better” or “similar” verses to replace verses that he had inspired only a few years or even days earlier? Surah 2:106 is clearly making the claim that Allah will change and cause the older verses to be forgotten by revealing better verses or verses similar in kind. To emphasize the point, Allah states that he has power over all things.
Why replace one verse with another if they are similar. If the Qur’an is the Word of God, should it not be perfect from the start? How can one perfect verse be better than another perfect verse? So, how can Allah claim to substitute his perfect verse(s) with something better? How can a divinely perfect revelation be improved upon? The fact that some of its verses needed to be replaced within a short period of just 23 years – the time it took to complete the Qur’an – proves that the Qur’an’s claim to be a book for all time and for all peoples is a lie. This means some of Allah’s eternal words were applicable for only a very short period and not for all eternity as it is claimed. Islamic sources show that some verses were even abrogated the following day after it was revealed. How could the eternal book of Allah have such time-bound revelations in it?
The true reason for the necessity of abrogation in the Qur’an is because of the existence of contradictions in it. Muslim scholars try to explain away the internal contradictions in the Qur’an by stating that certain passages of the Qur’an are abrogated (Mansukh) by verses revealed chronologically later in the Qur’an. The verses which replace them are referred to as the abrogator (Nasikh). The problem is that there is no way to say with certainty as to which disagreeing verses are mansukh and which are nasikh. This is because the order in which the Qur’an was written down was not done chronologically but according to the length of the chapters. Thus, Muslim scholars disagree on the estimation of the number of verses that are abrogated. They differ in their opinion as much as between 5 to 500 verses. This shows that the science of abrogation is an inexact science. No one really knows exactly how many of the verses were abrogated. There is no agreement even among the scholars as to what all the abrogated verses are.
Moreover, early Islamic records show that many of the Surahs (Chapters) were not revealed to Muhammad at one specific instance but were delivered piecemeal over a period of time. The Islamic records also show that some later verses were added to earlier Surahs under the direction of Muhammad. Additions of earlier verses to the later Surahs were also compiled under his instruction. Thus, within a given Surah there may be found verses that were revealed early, and others that were revealed quite late. One example of the disorderly chronology is that Surahs 2:193, 2:216 and 2:217 were revealed at the beginning of Muhammad’s arrival in Medina. And it took another six years to reveal Surahs 2:190, 2:191 and 2:192. Yet Surah 2:193 (which was revealed six years earlier) was inserted to follow Surah 2:192. How could it then be known which contradicting verses were the more authoritative? Without context and chronology, the “abrogated” and “abrogator” verses render the entire Qur’an irrelevant. For example, if one verse encourages slavery and another condemns it, which is to be believed and followed?
Qur’an translator and scholar, Yusuf Ali in his defense of the doctrine of abrogation claims that there is a need for progressive revelation within the Qur’an. He said: “its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time.” Christians, too, believe in progressive revelation. This is surely true in the case of Biblical history, as God reveals his will for his people progressively as they move forward from the time when they received his promises to the time when they lived through its fulfillment and beyond that. And from the time when the Israelites advanced from dwelling as slaves in a foreign land to becoming a powerful superior nation of their own. Historically, this covers a period of many generations. The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to 98 C.E.
But how can one make the same claim of progressive revelation for a book written within a time frame of just 23 years? As stated above, the period comprising the full revelation of the Holy Bible spans more than a 1,600 years. The “needs and exigencies” do indeed change in that amount of time. Thus, the revelations would reflect those changes. To demand the same for a revelation of a mere 23 years suggests that Allah is not all-knowing. Most Islamic scholars deceitfully conceal the true reason for abrogation in Islam but thankfully not all.
Al-Baydawi (d. 1286 C.E.) is one of Islam’s foremost scholars. His greatest legacy was his Qur’anic exegesis, which served as a standard text in Islamic educational institutions around the Muslim world for many centuries. He stated the real purpose for the revealing of Surah 2:106:
“This verse was given because the Jews and the infidels said that Muhammad ordered his followers to do something, then He prohibited them from it and commanded them to do something opposite to it. Abrogation means eliminating reading it as an act of worship or eliminating the ordinance inferred from it, or both of them. To forget it means to remove it from hearts.” (p. 22)
This shows that it was a habit of Muhammad to state something to his followers with the claim that it was revealed to him by Allah, but then later to inform them that Allah had invalidated it. Thus, the infidels used to say, “Muhammad utters something today and abolishes it tomorrow.” (See Zamakh-shari, part I, p. 303)
Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505 C.E.) is another renowned Muslim scholar who is given the title, “Son of Books.” He is one of the latter-day authorities of the Shafi’i School, whose degree of Ijtihad is accepted and agreed upon. In Asbab al-Nuzul, p. 19, al-Suyuti wrote:
“Ibn ’Abbas himself said, ‘Sometimes the revelation used to descend on the prophet during the night and then he forgot it during daytime, thus God sent down this verse: 2:106.”
Is it acceptable or sensible to think that God changes his mind during the course of the night? Can the eternal Word of God which was revealed during the night become invalid the following day? Is this what Yusuf Ali meant by progressive revelation in Islam? Ibn ’Abbas is not the only one to testify to this irrationality in Islam. Even Caliph Umar similarly stated the following:
“Two men read a Surah which the apostle of God had taught them, yet one night they rose up to pray but they failed to remember one word of it. The next morning, they went to the apostle of God and related it to him. He told them, ‘It is one of those, which have been abrogated, thus, forget about it…”’ (Refer to the Itqan, 3:74).
Can you believe this? Not only is the forgetfulness of the Prophet is taken as an indication of abrogation by Allah but even the forgetfulness of ordinary Muslims were considered as such. What happened to the written verses. Were they also made to disappear by Allah? Does not this prove that much of the Qur’an was not put into written form during the time of Muhammad?
Muhammad used to say, “I forgot the verse because God made me forget it and it was abrogated.” This strange behavior of forgetting and abrogating led the unbelievers to say that Muhammad is “a forger.” They did not believe that Muhammad received any inspiration from God by virtue of the fact that he changes his mind whenever he wishes. In fact, a verse can be found in the Qur’an referring to this debate, which was waged between Muhammad and the unbelievers:
Surah 16:101: “And when We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation, – and Allah knoweth best what He revealeth – they say: Lo! thou art but inventing. Most of them know not.” (Pickthall)
“And when We exchange a verse in the place of another verse and God knows very well what He is sending down — they say, ‘Thou art a mere forger!’ Nay, but the most of them have no knowledge.” (Arberry)
This Qur’anic verse shows that a number of people living during the time of Muhammad were troubled at this concept of abrogation. In response to the claim that new revelations superseded the older ones, they said to Muhammad, “Thou art a mere forger.” And they are absolutely right.
The defense of the doctrine of abrogation by Muslim scholars is meaningless and will not suffice because circumstances do not change drastically within a few hours of the night. Bear in mind the fact that Ibn’ Abbas testified that a verse would be received during the night and abrogated the following day. This leaves Muslims with the difficulty of having a deity who remains inconsistent and who frequently changes his revealed purpose. This being the case, how can Muslims really trust the promises of Allah regarding their eternal salvation?
As stated in the Qur’an, we are also told that it is the pleasure of Allah to change or confirm whatever he chooses to do so:
Surah 13:39: “Allah makes to pass away and establishes what He pleases, and with Him is the basis of the Book.” (Shakir)
If Allah in the Qur’an manifests himself as the arbitrary god who acts as he pleases without even honoring his own sayings, then he is acting in a way that is totally foreign to the truths taught in the Holy Bible. God does not change and neither does his teachings. Every instance of abrogation is a problem for the doctrine of an unchanging God.
Jehovah the God of the Holy Bible is different. He does not change. As such, he can be totally trusted in fulfilling all his promises:
Malachi 3:6: “I am Jehovah and I do not change.”
The Bible is a book for all peoples and applicable for all time. However, the doctrine of abrogation in the Qur’an proves that it could not even fit the requirements of one specific man and his associates who resided in one specific place and at one specific time. Islam is the only religion that abrogates its own teachings. Additionally, Muslim scholars have failed to answer the question as to how the doctrine of abrogation stands in relation to the Qur’anic affirmation that Allah’s word is unchangeable.
The concept by Muslims that Allah, as the absolute sovereign can alter his commands and replace them at will appears to be in harmony with their narrow view of God, but it is certainly at odds with the character of an all-knowing and all-wise God. We will now consider an example of abrogation that proves that it has nothing to do with the requirements of changing times as Muslims claim. As we consider the following example in Surah 8:65, please take note of the prophetic nature of this verse.
Surah 8:65: “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.” (Shakir)
Allah prophesizes in no uncertain terms that each Muslims warrior will be able to defeat by ten-fold the number of his enemies – a ratio of 1 to 10. This is truly an astounding feat. Since this is a prophetic promise made by Allah to Muhammad, it is to be achieved, not by the strength of the individual Muslim soldier but by the divine power of the all-knowing Allah. However, this verse was abrogated shortly (one verse later) by the following Qur’anic verse:
Surah 8:66: “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.” (Shakir)
Surah 8:66 was revealed a short time later – but only after Muhammad’s followers complained bitterly at the impossible odds they would face when they engage their enemies in battles.
“Abdullah told me that when this verse came down it was a shock to the Muslims who took it hard. They were afraid, as the odds were too great. So Allah relieved them and cancelled the verse with another: ‘Now has Allah relieved you and He knows that there is a weakness among you, so if there are 100 (rather than 20) they shall vanquish 200.’”
“When God imposed on them that each one of them should fight ten, it became a burden and an unbearable (task) for them. Thus, God removed the burden from them and each one was (requested) to fight two men.” (Asbab al-Nuzul, p. 134).
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 176:
Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Verse:–‘If there are twenty steadfast amongst you (Muslims), they will overcome two-hundred (non-Muslims).’ was revealed, it became hard on the Muslims when it became compulsory that one Muslim ought not to flee (in war) before ten (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. So if there are of you one-hundred steadfast, they will overcome (two-hundred (non-Muslims).’ (8.66) So when Allah reduced the number of enemies which Muslims should withstand, their patience and perseverance against the enemy decreased as much as their task was lightened for them.
We have so many evidences in these two Qur’anic verses to prove Islam false through and through. Consider the following:
- Why did the prophecy of Almighty Allah fail in its fulfillment?
- Does not this show that Allah is incapable of seeing through to the fulfillment of his promises in the Qur’an?
- Does this not also prove that Allah cannot be the Almighty God as he claims?
- Why it is a habit of Allah to decree an ordinance and then change his mind and replace it shortly with a lighter or easier commandment?
- Does not the fact that Allah got it wrong the first time shows that he is also learning by trial and error just like any imperfect human?
- Why did not Allah know that the Muslims would be unable to cope with his demand to defeat their enemies ten times their number?
- Is it not true that Allah had to abrogate his eternal Words in the Qur’an because he failed to understand the capability of his warriors?
- Why was the ratio dropped from 1:10 to 1:2? Is it not so because only now Allah came to realize the weakness of the Muslims? Why did not Allah know this truth just one verse away?
Even though Allah is dealing with one specific people in one specific time period and in one specific location, he got it wrong. If Allah is in truth the all-knowing God, he would have known the weakness of the Muslims before revealing Surah 8:65. As a result, he had to inspire Surah 8:66 to abrogate Surah 8:65. Allah could have spared Muslims much anxiety, had he given the better text right from the start.
Contrary to the claims made by Muslims, it is not because of changing times, but because of the shortcomings of Allah that the doctrine of abrogation exists in the Qur’an. Think, if even the negative reaction of humans against the commandments of Allah can result in the abrogation of Allah’s eternal revelation, of what value are the words of Allah in the Qur’an? This also shows that the Muslim warriors did not trust the exaggerated claims made by Allah. The fact that Allah quickly withdrew his demands shows that the Muslim warriors were more realistic than Allah. Here we have a case of men correcting God. The truth is, Muhammad in the guise of Allah has failed to comprehend the strength his followers. Thus, he ordered something drastic, and then changed it when he found it too difficult to be implemented.
When defending the doctrine of abrogation, Muslim apologists usually say that Qur’anic abrogation is a form of progressive revelation, where human societies that were unprepared for stricter rules, were gradually introduced to them through the initial introduction of less strict rules. This is acceptable if it is true. But as we have seen in the above case, the opposite is true. The stricter commandment was abrogated by the one more lenient. Allah’s failure to understand humans resulted in the abrogation of his verses. This shows that he cannot be our Creator. Muslims scholars will not hesitate to lie to defend Islam. Another example of abrogation on account of “lightening the burden of Muslims” is found in Surah 73:1-2 and Surah 73:20.
Surah 73:1-2: “O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad)! Stand (to pray) all night, except a little.” (Hilali-Khan)
However, the above two verses are abrogated by the last verse of the very same Surah:
Surah 73:20: “Verily, your Lord knows that you do stand (to pray at night) a little less than two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so do a party of those with you, And Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that you are unable to pray the whole night, so He has turned to you (in mercy). So, recite you of the Qur’an as much as may be easy for you.” (Hilali-Khan)
The directive to “Stand to pray all night, except a little” in Surah 73:2 is abrogated by Surah 73:20 – the last verse of the same Surah. But then it was abrogated again by the implementation of the five daily prayers. Thus, the abrogator was abrogated. Tafsir al-Jalalayn is a classical Sunni Tafsir of the Qur’an. It is recognized as one of the most important exegeses of the Qur’an. In relation to the above verses, al-Jalalayn stated (p. 491):
“When God imposed the night prayers, Muslims’ feet swelled as they stood during the night for prayer; thus, God lightened it for them by saying, ‘Pray as much as you are able.”’
Did not Allah know that the earlier ordinance was going to be difficult for Muslims? Did he realize this only after their feet became swollen? Again, we can see that Allah’s failure in his judgment resulted in the abrogation of the Qur’anic verses. It shows that many of the “better” revelations are revealed on the basis of trial and error. But, one of the real reasons behind the concept of abrogation is that Muhammad intended to make the performing of the Islamic rites and worship easier on his followers so as to hold on to their approval and satisfaction with his teachings. If he decreed something which later seemed to be too difficult for his followers to apply and they remonstrated against it, he would “lighten” it immediately and claim that Allah had ordered him to rescind what he previously uttered. And the verses he recited earlier were replaced by new ones. And, whenever he forgot what he related to his followers, he spared himself the embarrassment by claiming that Allah had abrogated what he conveyed to them before. As proven earlier in this article, Muhammad tends to forget. Quite a number of Islamic sources prove this point. We will now look at another example of Muhammad’s forgetfulness:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 823:
Narrated By ‘Aisha : The Prophet heard a man (reciting Qur’an) in the Mosque, and he said, “May Allah bestow His Mercy upon him. No doubt, he made me remember such-and such Verses of such-and-such Surah which I dropped (from my memory).
Muhammad forgot some verses and one of his friends reminded him of them. However, when there was no one to remind him, he claimed that these verses have been abrogated by Allah. We saw this to be true previously when two of his followers told him that they had forgotten some of the verses which he had taught them. Muhammad told them that these verses “have been abrogated, thus, forget about it.” In truth, the doctrine of abrogation is nothing more than an implicit admission that the Qur’an contradicts itself. This is true because a verse is considered to be abrogated only when two verses cannot be reconciled with each other. In other words, when two verses in the Qur’an contradict each other. Yet, Muslims are faced with another dilemma when the Qur’an declares that no part of it is at variance (in disagreement) with another:
Surah 4:82: “Will they not then meditate on the Qur’an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy.” (Shakir)
The above Qur’anic verse denies the occurrence of any contradiction in the Qur’an. Thus, the teaching of abrogation of contradictory verses in the Qur’an poses a serious problem for Muslims. The Qur’an denies and yet at the same time acknowledges the existence of such conflicting scriptures. To overcome the existence of contradictions in the Qur’an, Islam came up with the doctrine of abrogation. Yet the Qur’an denies Muslims this right to justify contradiction in the Qur’an with the revelation of Surah 4:82 – which is yet another contradiction in the Qur’an. If there are no contradictions, as Surah 4:82 claims, why is there a need to abrogate? The answer to this dilemma is obvious, but apparently not to Muslims. A god who changes his mind repeatedly over a score of years and needs a verse to deal with his contradictions cannot be the true God.
Change of mind after the making of a decision is a normal and frequent occurrence in the lives of human beings who cannot at any time know all the relevant facts. The human mind is limited and prone to error by external manifestations that could be deceptive. Human beings learn from both experience and by the painful recognition of past mistakes. Thus, it is fitting and desirable that men should revise their erroneous decisions. However, for Allah to revise or change his orders within such short intervals is unacceptable. Is he not supposed to be omniscient and omnipotent? God is supposed to have infinite wisdom and cannot err in his judgment. We will now consider another example of abrogation in the Qur’an. In the early days of his mission, Muhammad claimed that strong drink made from dates or grapes was a sign of Allah’s wholesome provision to humanity. He said it was evident proof of Allah’s goodness and a visible “sign for those who are wise” and “for a people who use their understanding.” Initially, Muslims were permitted to drink the fermented beverages of dates or grapes.
Surah 16:67: “And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.” (Yusuf Ali)
“And of the fruits of the date-palms and the grapes, whence you obtain intoxicating drink and wholesome food. Verily in that is a Sign for a people who use their understanding.” (Sher Ali)
Later on, when Muslims came to prayers in a drunken state, Allah said:
Surah 4:43: “O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when ye are drunken…” (Pickthall)
Still later, Muhammad banned all alcoholic beverages as an abomination of Satan. The following Qur’anic verses completely prohibited the consumption of any alcoholic beverages.
Surah 5:90-91: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, – of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?” (Yusuf Ali)
At first, the Qur’an claims that alcoholic drinks are a wholesome provision and a sign of Allah’s beneficence. However, in the end, the Qur’an claims that alcoholic drinks are an abomination of Satan. How can something that was considered as a “wholesome drink” and “a sign for those who are wise” – a short while ago – suddenly transform into “Satan’s handwork”? Here is a clear contradiction between the claims that alcoholic drinks are a sign of Allah’s bountifulness and the later claim that alcoholic drinks are an abomination of Satan.
As an aside, the evident lack of chronological order in the Qur’an can be seen here. Notice how the verse that appears later (Surah 16:67) in the Qur’an approves the intake of alcoholic drinks while the verses that appear earlier (Surah 5:90-91) forbids it. In reality, Surah 5:90-91 was revealed after Surah 16:67. If Muslims were to insist that the chapters and verses in the Qur’an are written chronologically, then tell them that alcohol is not prohibited in Islam.
We will now address a false claim by Muslims. As noted, the prohibition of alcohol was at first restricted to places of worship and only later was it forbidden altogether. Muslim scholars fondly use this account as evidence of progressive revelation in the Qur’an. They claim that the Arab community was used to drinking alcohol and hence this method was used to gradually prevent it.
Firstly, if this is true, why must Allah consider intoxicated drink as a “wholesome drink” and “a sign (of Allah’s benevolence) for those who are wise”? Would not this send a wrong signal to those Arabs who are already battling with this habit?
Secondly, this method of progressive revelation does not have precedence or similarities in other commands of Allah in the Qur’an. In fact, the opposite is true. For example, the Arabs were used to worshipping multiple gods before they worshipped Allah, yet, from the very beginning – no progressive changes here – they were told to abandon this form of worship altogether. In fact, there are many other laws that were given in the Qur’an that demanded immediate changes.
Thirdly, this claim of progressive prohibition only stands to benefit those who lived during the time when these “progressive” Qur’anic verses were revealed. All those who become Muslims after the Qur’an’s completion, if they have been consuming alcohol, will have to abide by the one final Qur’anic verse which forbids alcohol altogether. They do not have the luxury of progressive prohibition by means of progressive revelation. If Allah can expect those who became Muslims later on to change and accept Islam, without the benefit of “progressive” revelation, why should the Arabs in Muhammad’s time be treated any different?
This would then mean that even if the claim of “progressive” revelation is true, only a small band of Muslims who lived at the time of the Qur’an’s revelation – 23 short years – benefited from it. From then onwards till today, for millions of Muslims, from the very start, they have to live by the only final verse forbidding alcohol altogether. If the final single text – without the benefits of the preceding progressive verses – can become “law” for all Muslims ever since it was given, why can it not also be “law” for the Arabs from the very start? It is clear that the claim made by Muslims is not valid when all the factors are taken into consideration.
The truth is, Allah did not intend to reveal his laws progressively as claimed by Muslim scholars. Allah was, in fact, learning as he went along. He was learning by trial and error. As noted in the earlier example pertaining to Allah’s warriors, Allah had to quickly change the ratio from 1:10 to 1:2 because he did not understand and did not know the makeup of his warriors. The fact that the changes made is quite significant – from 1:10 to 1:2 – only serves to prove Allah’s gross miscalculations. Allah was ignorant. He went contrary to the very spirit of progressive revelation, he regressed. Instead of building the warriors strength and courage gradually and in stages, he overwhelmed them by an unreasonable demand and in the end, he had to dishonorably abrogate his eternal words in the mother of all books – the Holy Qur’an.
If Allah is indeed all-powerful and all-knowing, why would he need to revise and correct himself so often? The question that Muslims must ask themselves is, “Why must Allah abrogate portions of his own Qur’an so frequently?”
God is supposed to be all-knowing. New circumstances or developments should not surprise him. Since Muslims claim that the Qur’an is uncreated and it existed with Allah for eternity, is it not puzzling that Allah only discovered that some verses had to be changed after he revealed them to Muhammad? Why has it taken such a long time for Allah to find out that he was wrong about many things – among them, the strength of his warriors?
Well-known Iranian Muslim scholar Ali Dashti stated accurately:
“It must always be borne in mind that most of the Qur’anic laws and ordinances were formulated in response to random incidents and petitions from aggrieved persons. There are some inconsistencies in them and in the reasons that there are abrogating and abrogated ordinances…. The Qur’anic laws are brief and were insufficient for the needs of the huge Muslim community…” (Ali Dashti, 23 Years)
Muhammad in the guise of Allah had to change the rules according to the developing circumstances of the Muslim community. His failures and errors, both as an illiterate and as an imperfect man, is reflected in the Qur’an, resulting in Allah taking the blame for it. This cast doubts on the credibility of the Qur’an and its claim that it is the perfect revelation of God.
The Qur’an also admits very clearly that Allah annuls the falsehood that Satan casts into the revelation of Allah. This means that Satan has the power to infuse verses in what Muhammad claims to be an inspiration from God. In fact, Satan was able to place on Muhammad’s tongue certain words by which he praised the pagan goddesses – words that found its way into the Qur’an. Allah is said to have eventually abrogated these verses of Satan from the Qur’an. Although this subject was discussed in an earlier article, we will nevertheless briefly discuss it here to strengthen our argument.
This incident, well known as the Satanic Verses, is confirmed and recorded by Suyuti, Jalalayn, Ibn Kathir, Baydawi, Zamakhshari, Ibn Hisham, and Ibn Abbas (Muhammad’s cousin) along with the rest of the companions. These scholars are the super heavyweights in Islam.
In Surah 22:52 we find the following admission:
“Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before you, but; when he did recite the revelation or narrated or spoke, Shaitan (Satan) threw (some falsehood) in it. But Allah abolishes that which Shaitan (Satan) throws in. Then Allah establishes His Revelations. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (Hilali-Khan)
“Whenever We sent any messenger or prophet before you, and he recited anything of Our revelation, Satan tampered with it. But God abrogates Satan’s interjections and then He firmly reaffirms His revelations. God is all knowing and all wise.” (W. Khan)
Al-Suyuti says in Asbab of the Nuzul (p. 184):
“Muhammad was in Mecca. He read the chapter of the Star. When he uttered, ‘Have you seen the Lat, the ’Uzza, and the other third Manat?’, Satan instilled in his tongue, ‘These are the exulted idols (daughters of God) whose intercession is hoped.’ The infidels said that Muhammad had mentioned their gods with good words. Then when he prostrated, they prostrated, too.”
On page 282 of the Commentary (Tafsir) of al-Jalalayn, we read:
“Gabriel came to Muhammad after that and told him that Satan had thrust these words into his tongue. Muhammad became sad, then Gabriel delivered this verse to him to comfort him.”
In his book, “The Kash-shaf,” al-Zamakh-shari (part 3, pp. 164, 165), asserts:
“This episode which Muhammad experienced is common knowledge and unquestionable, and is related to us by the companions of Muhammad.”
It is fitting here to refer to ibn Hisham’s statement in his book, “The Prophetic Biography.” In part 2, p. 126, ibn Hisham states:
“When some Muslims immigrated to Ethiopia, they received the news that the inhabitants of Mecca had accepted them. They returned to find that it was false news The reason was that the apostle of God, as he was reading the chapter of Star (53:19, 20), mentioned the idols of Mecca. Satan instilled in his recitation their praises and he (Muhammad) acknowledged their intervention. The infidels were overjoyed and said, ‘He mentioned our idols (gods) with good words.’ Then God sent down this verse (22:52). Gabriel told Muhammad, ‘I did not bring to you these verses (about the idols).’”
While it is difficult enough, as it is, to understand Allah’s abrogation of what he himself has inspired, Muslims now have to contend with the fact that Allah also abrogates the verses inspired by Satan in the Qur’an. (Surah 22:52). This raises some questions. How was Satan able to intervene and distort the revelation when Muhammad was under the inspiration of Allah? Are not Muslims taught that prophets and apostles are infallible— at least in matters of inspiration? How was Satan able to imitate the Qur’anic text with the same Qur’anic literary characteristics and with the profound Arabic eloquence, style and articulation of Allah – to the extent that even Muhammad was unable to tell the difference? How was Satan able to deceive Muhammad so thoroughly that he told the people that these were God’s words? How was Satan able to reveal a verse that blended with the rest of the Qur’anic verses? Eventually Allah’s greatest Prophet had to yield and confess, “No, Satan was the one who ill-whispered to me with these words.”
The doctrine of abrogation in Islam is strong evidence that inconsistencies exists in the Qur’an. The fact that Muslim scholars and jurists teach that the latest verse on any controversial subject abrogates all earlier verses that contradicted it proves that they are aware of the opposing views in Allah’s book. This is an admission that the Qur’an contains contradictory verses in it. This means that there are contradictory teachings within its pages. It is also an admission that the Qur’an contains the invalid words of Allah in it – verses that are no longer applicable to Muslims. As such, the doctrine of abrogation nullifies the claim that every word in the Qur’an is eternal. It only takes one lie to disprove the Qur’an. Well, we have discovered not only irrefutable lies but also inconsistencies in the Qur’an. And this gives us tremendous reasons to reject Islam. In contrast, the Scriptures of Jehovah remains forever.
Isaiah 40:8: “The green grass has dried up, the blossom has withered; but as for the word of our God, it will last to time indefinite.”
Psalms 119:89: “To time indefinite, O Jehovah, Your word is stationed in the heavens.”
1 Peter 1:25: “But the saying of Jehovah endures forever.”
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