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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2010, 04:43 
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Pragmatic wrote:
Pragmatic wrote:
In the Quran, 2:106 uses the word in a particular way. It doesn't say that a verse abrogated a verse. It says that God abrogated a verse. There is no replacing or modifying entity implied by the verb naskh itself.
This will be a speculative post, as I have no evidence for what I am going to suggest other than being logically plausible. To be accurate, I am focusing on the above-quoted mode of use for the verb نسخ, by someone rather than by something.
I wondered why نسخ has two somewhat contradictory meanings, copy versus annul. I suggest that the origin is one meaning, which is the opposite of حفظ (to preserve or to guard). You can see how 'copy' fits this as well; if I give you a document to preserve, you shouldn't copy it to others.

The two linguistic meanings of naskh, annulment (destroying, removing) and copying (transfer) are discussed in Zaid's book (items 64-85 on pages 57-68 of volume 1) and Jum'a's book (pages 9-20) ad nauseum. One point that is unique in Zaid's treatment is that he researched the use of the Hebrew word for naskh (which is phonetically similar) and found exactly 4 uses of it in the Old Testament, all of which mean annulment.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2010, 17:35 
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Pragmatic wrote:
One point that is unique in Zaid's treatment is that he researched the use of the Hebrew word for naskh (which is phonetically similar) and found exactly 4 uses of it in the Old Testament, all of which mean annulment.

While both Hebrew and Arabic are Semitic siblings, it does not necessarily follow that words sounding the same are semantically identical. I'm no Hebrew linguist but perhaps Zayd was, so I'll concede that the two words are semantically equivalent. The funny thing is that the four examples Dr. Zayd quotes from the Old Testament where the word נסך (pronounced nasekh), none of them were translated into Arabic as نسخ (naskh)! Was the translator unaware of what the word naskh in Arabic means?

Zayd's conclusion that all the meanings of the word naskh mean displacement (إزالة) is erroneous IMHO, and I suspect that he settled on that in order to justify that abrogation did occur in the Quran. I've shown in other posts that the only thing common between the many meanings of the word naskh is that a matter is revisited and some action is done to it. For text, that's editing. The reason for such editing is what determines which meaning applies. For instance, a text may be visited in order to copy it to another medium, such as implied by

In which the actions and words of people are recorded, thus copying them from the real time medium to the written medium. Text may be revisited in order to elaborate it, make it specific, itemize exceptions or exemptions from it, detail it, or correct what people thought it meant. It can also be revisited to delete it or replace it. All of those meanings were indeed used by the Sahaaba and other scholars when they opined that one text did naskh to another.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2010, 17:55 
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Linguistic wrote:
All of those meanings were indeed used by the Sahaaba and other scholars when they opined that one text did naskh to another.

I agree with your views about the weakness of the Hebrew link. I think it is worth investigating further to see if something can be concluded from it. However, the way the Sahaba and other scholars adapted the word naskh to describe something that is not born by the strict linguistic meaning of the word (at the time 2:106 was revealed) has no implication whatsoever on the interpretation of 2:106.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2010, 23:37 
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In his book تنزيه آي القرآن عن النسخ والنقصان, page 12, author Haani Taahir cites Ash-Shaatibi from his book الموافقات في أصول الأحكام, volume 3, page 74, saying naskh means that the first text is not intended (!) but the second is. He adds that this applies too to specifying a generality and limiting the unlimited.

At first blush, this sounds really strange because it implies that the one who issued the first text did not know what he was doing. But Ash-Shaatibi elaborates in the following paragraph by saying that the unlimited would have meant no limits if it weren't for the limiting text, and the general would have meant no special treatment if it weren't for the specifying text. He said that is similar to abrogation and concludes that this is why the word naskh has been used for specifying the generality and limiting the unlimited, etc.

That argument has lead him to the right conclusion, but was too complex. A simpler argument is that naskh means any action applied to an established matter, be that copying, deleting, modifying, elaborating, etc. Abrogation, therefore, is a subset of naskh, not its definition.

Ash-Shaatibi follows his argument with twenty examples that illustrate his point. Some of these examples that Taahir quotes are 26:227/26:224-226, 24:29/24:27 and 8:41/8:1.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2010, 03:17 
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Linguistic wrote:
A simpler argument is that naskh means any action applied to an established matter, be that copying, deleting, modifying, elaborating, etc. Abrogation, therefore, is a subset of naskh, not its definition.

I could not tell from your phrasing whether this remains a point of disagreement. Are you talking here about the linguistic definition (which I maintain is the only one that matters in 2:106), or about how people adapted the use of the word after 2:106 was revealed? Again, to reiterate, I concede that abrogation (annulment) is not the only meaning of naskh, but it is one of the two meanings of that word, the second being copying/transfer. That is what is analyzed ad nauseum by Zaid and Jum'a as mentioned in the above post.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2010, 15:44 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I could not tell from your phrasing whether this remains a point of disagreement. Are you talking here about the linguistic definition (which I maintain is the only one that matters in 2:106), or about how people adapted the use of the word after 2:106 was revealed? Again, to reiterate, I concede that abrogation (annulment) is not the only meaning of naskh, but it is one of the two meanings of that word, the second being copying/transfer.

We have not resolved our disagreement and may not be able to. You see only two semantics of the word naskh while I see more. The linguistic definition of the word can only be interpreted from how the Arabs used the word. I've shown in several posts above that the Arabs' usage of the word illustrates that it means more than annulment or transfer.

Many scholars have pointed out that transfer (نقل) is not an accurate semantic, since many examples quoted do not involve an actual transfer. The better semantic is transformation (تحويل), which is what the dictionary مقاييس اللغة asserts. That is why you and I differ. Transformation includes annulment and copying but is not limited to them.

The other semantic the linguists pointed out is displacement (إزالة). That would include annulment/abrogation as well as replacement.

I, therefore, conclude that the linguistic meaning of naskh is any action done to an established matter, from duplicating it to canceling it and every thing in between.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2010, 17:16 
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Linguistic wrote:
The linguistic definition of the word can only be interpreted from how the Arabs used the word

... at the time 2:106 was revealed. Nothing else matters.

I am sorry that we cannot come to an agreement on this core issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 13 Oct 2010, 05:03 
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As he discusses the difference between abrogation and specification, Haani Taahir, in his book تنزيه آي القرآن عن النسخ والنقصان, page 147, gives the definition of specification as stated by Badraan Abul-`Aynayn in his book أصول الفقه, (My translation and emphasis),

"Specifying a generality is to divert a word that is general from its generality, to separate some of what was included in it and making it apply only to those few, such that the ruling does not apply except to the specific few, or more precisely, explaining that what was meant by the generality is the specificity."

I respectfully but strongly disagree! The generality was meant, or else God would not have said it! What the specificity does is to make a specific ruling for the few, but for everybody else the generality is the ruling.

Taahir gives an example that he hoped would illustrate Abul-`Aynayn's definition. He says if a ruling says, "Do not marry a polytheist", it may mean "do not marry from the people of the Book". Then when another ruling comes and says, "You may marry from the people of the Book" then we conclude that the later specificity explained what was not meant by the generality.

I strongly disagree. In this example, "do not marry a polytheist" did not imply not marrying from the people of the Book; they are not polytheist! Anybody thinking otherwise is the one who got it wrong. The ruling was meant as is. The "specificity" confirmed that people of the Book are not polytheist. If this example is used to prove abrogation, it should be an example that verses came to abrogate the wrong understanding of prior verses. This is the abrogation claim of 5:5/2:221. Taahir gives it as an example that Ibn Abbaas and the early scholars did not mean abrogation when they used the word naskh, since nobody has ever said that it was OK for Muslims to marry polytheists, which would be the result of abrogating 2:221.

Taahir gives more examples:

  • 24:60/24:31. Taahir says that nobody has ever said that it was OK now for women to dress lightly, which would be the conclusion from abrogating 24:31. Instead, what Ibn Abbaas meant by naskh is specification, or exception, for older ladies. I agree.

  • 40:7/42:5. Here nobody has ever suggested that the angels no longer ask forgiveness for people on earth, which would be the conclusion from abrogating 42:5. Instead, what the scholars meant by naskh in this case is a specification, or explanation, that what was meant by 42:5 is the believers. I don't agree. As I argued in that topic, the general statement in 42:5 includes believers and the specific statement in 40:7 does not exclude disbelievers. Therefore, 40:7 confirms 42:5 for believers.

  • 65:4/2:240. Taahir says that no one has suggested that Ibn Mas`ood, who used the word naskh for this case, has suggested that the waiting period of four months and ten days has been canceled. Instead, what he meant was that 65:4 made a specific ruling for divorced pregnant women. I agree. Also see the topic for confirmation of this conclusion in the story of Abus-Sanaabil.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 13 Oct 2010, 20:31 
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Taahir continues to give examples that the word naskh does not necessarily mean abrogation when the Sahaaba used it in their narrations. On pages 149-150 of his book تنزيه آي القرآن عن النسخ والنقصان, he argues about limiting text being called naskh. He says that what the scholars meant was that the limiting text is qualifying text of what was unlimited or unqualified and that's different from abrogation.

As an example, he cites the 17:18/42:20 claim. He says that what Ibn Abbaas meant when he used the word naskh here was that 17:18 qualified 42:20, which was not qualified.

Taahir says that he is not surprised that the Sahaaba used the word naskh in their narrations. What surprises him is that the latter scholars limited the meaning of naskh and then cited those narrations as supporting evidence for their definition!

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 14 Oct 2010, 05:01 
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Taahir continues his argument that the word naskh was used by the Sahaaba to mean more than abrogation. On page 150-153 of his book تنزيه آي القرآن عن النسخ والنقصان, he addresses three patterns that have been called naskh but are obviously not abrogation:

  1. Elaborating on the brief. As an example, he quotes the command in the ablution verse,

    the part that says "And wipe of your heads." The Hadeeth explained exactly what is meant.

    Another example is what Ibn Salaama wrote that 4:11-12 abrogated 4:7. He called that naskh but it is obvious elaboration of what is meant by share in 4:7. He quotes Ibn Al`Arabi criticizing scholars who make the wrong conclusions from what the scholars write because they do not understand the meanings of the words they used! Couldn't agree more.

  2. Disambiguating the ambiguous. As an example of that, he quotes 64:16/3:102. He says that Qataada, who used the word naskh in his narration about this case certainly understood that 64:16 meant it disambiguated the ambiguous imperative of 3:102.

  3. Exceptions. There are too many examples of that. Taahir cites 26:227/26:224-226 and 2:229/2:229.

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