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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 07:33 
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Pragmatic wrote:
Abrogation versus Exception
...
If you say "All students should come to class except those who are sick," The exception for sick students does not remove the obligation on the others to come to class, while abrogating "all students should come to class" would remove that obligation.

That is elementary, but since several notable scholars have mixed the two concepts, the obvious has to be restated.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 08:56 
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The Narrations of Ibn Abbas

Pragmatic wrote:
2. He states unequivocal disagreement with the notion of abrogation as used by a narration from Ibn Abbas, may God we pleased with him, and substantiates his view with analysis based on established standards.

If you look at the abrogation literature, the most important figure in lending credence to those who advocate the abrogation doctrine is the distinguished Sahabi Ibn Abbas, may God be pleased with him. There is really no effective way of countering the abrogation doctrine without explaining away the narrations of Ibn Abbas that on face value seem to support the doctrine. The author of this book offers the best treatment of this issue that I have seen so far. His main point is linguistic; Ibn Abbas and other early Muslims used the word abrogation in a linguistic sense that is different from what the abrogation doctrine professes. This was discussed in this post, and elaborated further in the following passage of the book (I use the word exception to avoid more technical terms):

Item 235 on page 236: "We have presented an example of an exception that was considered by Ibn Abbas, may God be pleased with him, as an abrogation. This is when we reported that according to Al-Shatebey that Ibn Abbas said that verse 17:18 saying ' Whoever should desire the immediate, We hasten for him from it what We will to whom We intend' abrogates verse 42:20 saying 'And whoever desires the harvest of this world, We give him thereof'. It may be that he meant, assuming the narration is authentic, what we now mean by exception from something general, since there is no conflict between the two verses except that the first, which he considered abrogating, is restricted by the will of God; He wouldn't give to someone except whom He wills, and He wouldn't give except the amount He wills. The second verse, which he considered abrogated, states that those who want will be given with no restriction. Although both verses are statements of fact, and statements of fact cannot be abrogated since abrogation applies only to practical legal rulings, and although the conflict as we saw can be eliminated by subjecting the general statement to the exception, not to mention that the exception here could have been inferred anyway from the general statement without the need for the other statement since nothing happens without the will of God, let alone something in which He is the one to do it. I note that in spite of all of this, Ibn Abbas said there was abrogation as we saw, and I have no doubt that what he meant is exception."

Notice that the author alludes briefly in the passage to the question of authenticity of the narration. This is particularly relevant in the case of abrogation since what is at stake is overruling a patently authentic and exact text, so the evidence to overrule it should be held to a much higher standard. Final point. IMHO, I don't even see a conflict between the verses to begin with. Verse 42:20 says "And whoever desires the harvest of this world, We give him thereof'. There is no promise here of giving him what he asked for, but rather giving him from what he asked for. How much? That's up to God's will which, beyond being obvious, is spelled out in the second verse.

Another narration of Ibn Abbas about abrogation that was openly challenged is discussed in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 10:17 
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The Hanafi Definition

Pragmatic wrote:
3. He explains the tendency of Imam Abu-Haneefa and his followers to broaden the abrogation doctrine using the same explanation he used in the Sahaba case; namely that a different definition of the word abrogation is being used.

Among the major schools of thought in Islamic jurisprudence, the Hanafi school seems to be "more" pro-abrogation. One of the major figures in establishing the abrogation doctrine, Abu-Bakr Al-Jassas, belongs to that school. Also, the school is in the minority that accepts the principle of Sunna abrogating Quran, which opens the door for more abrogated verses in the Quran. The author of this book attributes the tendency of the Hanafi school to expand abrogation simply to the definition of abrogation that they use. In particular, they consider many cases of exception as abrogation, as discussed in Items 170-173 on pages 112-115 of volume 1 of the book, in highly technical detail. The Hanafi use of the expression "partial abrogation" is very telling of the fundamentally different way they treated the term abrogation.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 16:34 
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Pragmatic wrote:
The Narrations of Ibn Abbas
...
His (Dr. Zaid's) main point is linguistic; Ibn Abbas and other early Muslims used the word abrogation in a linguistic sense that is different from what the abrogation doctrine professes. This was discussed in this post, and elaborated further in the following passage of the book

Clearly the only definition of abrogation that matters is the linguistic one. What did the word mean to the Arabs in the Seventh Century? Scholars of old and Arabic linguists have always cited poetry from that time period to define what words mean.

Quote:
It may be that he meant, assuming the narration is authentic,
...
Notice that the author alludes briefly in the passage to the question of authenticity of the narration. This is particularly relevant in the case of abrogation since what is at stake is overruling a patently authentic and exact text, so the evidence to overrule it should be held to a much higher standard.

I find it ironic that the majority of the pro-abrogation scholars have rejected the notion that an authentic hadeeth can abrogate the Quran, but implied that they themselves can! When they said words like "this verse was abrogated by that other verse" without qualifying their statement with something like "in my opinion and understanding and God knows best", is that not tantamount to abrogating the verses themselves?

All of the pro-abrogation evidence quoting scholars is not traced back to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and therefore is not a valid juristic method (طرق الإثبات الشرعية). We've seen that there is really no consensus among the scholars in this matter, so even the disputed juristic method of majority opinion (إجماع) doesn't apply either.

Furthermore, all of those quotes are reported by "single-chain" narrations (آحاد) and therefore are weak tools of evidence.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 18:30 
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Linguistic wrote:
Clearly the only definition of abrogation that matters is the linguistic one. What did the word mean to the Arabs in the Seventh Century? Scholars of old and Arabic linguists have always cited poetry from that time period to define what words mean.

Interesting method. This might be what Asad did given that he was keen on tracing the original meaning of words.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2010, 19:14 
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Technical Definition

I would like to point out the logical distinction between the linguistic meaning and the technical meaning of words, as applied to the key word here, abrogation.

Take a word like "مشرك" that is usually translated as polytheist. The linguistic meaning of the word is "someone who makes others take part." However, the use of the word in the Quran took over, and gave the word its technical meaning "polytheist." Now, the linguistic meaning of the word was not annulled, and one may construct a legitimate phrase like مشرك في ثروته which would literally mean "someone who lets others share his wealth." However, the technical meaning in the case of "مشرك" has completely taken over and people would normally not use the word in its plain linguistic meaning any more.

When it comes to "نسخ" (abrogation), the situation is similar, but more subtle. The technical meaning is dictated by the use of the word in the abrogation verse 2:106. However, since the word "نسخ" is less central in Islam than the word "مشرك" for example, the non-technical, linguistic meaning of "نسخ" is very much alive. The problem now arises when theologists use the word "نسخ", not in its technical meaning per 2:106, but in one of the other legitimate linguistic meanings of the word. Someone may assume that they used "نسخ" in its technical meaning, and what the scholars actually meant gets "lost in translation." It seems to me that Dr. Zaid's comments on the use of the word by the early Muslims, the Hanafi school, and others, boils down to exactly that.

In this project, when we say "نسخ" , we are talkng about abrogation per 2:106 and nothing else. This means a verse gets annulled. It is clear that in much of the abrogation literature, this is not what is meant. Dr. Zaid supports the annulment definition in volume 1 of his book:

Item 294 on page 198: he says "It is lifting in the sense of erasing and deleting. Indeed the lifting of the juristic ruling is a fundamental condition of abrogation, in fact it is its essence without which it cannot be pictured."

Dr. Zaid goes on to provide a number of clear examples where the word "نسخ" was used by the early Muslims and originalists not for abrogation that annuls a verse, but rather to indicate that a particular verse cannot be taken as an absolute in view of a later verse that sheds more light on it, through exception or elaboration, and that the two verses need to be taken together to infer the correct ruling. This is within the legitimate scope of the linguistic meaning of "نسخ", but is different from the technical meaning that 2:106 addresses and that the debate about the abrogation doctrine revolves around.

In addition to the 'accidental' confusion between the technical and linguistic uses of "نسخ" in the religious literature, a Western writer points out on page 18 of his book the possibility of deliberate use of the word "نسخ" to refer to situations that do not fall under the prescription of 2:106. His view is that the generalized notions of abrogation were useful as a tool for resolving perceived conflicts in different components of the religion. Referring to these notions with the specific term "نسخ" which appears in the Quran was expedient in sanctioning them and giving them legitimacy. Advocating that there are abrogated verses in the text of the Quran then served to maintain this legitimacy. Although this is a cynical view, the fact that there is only one verse that is unanimously agreed upon as abrogated by those who believe in the doctrine, and the ruling in that verse is not actionable anyway, gives credence to the theory that abrogation in the Quran is an incidental component of the doctrine. Disclaimer: This paragraph is based on non-Muslim analysis of events, and should be viewed in this light.

Here is a somewhat related post that gives another angle.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 04 Feb 2010, 08:01 
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The Definition

Linguistic wrote:
For the purpose of this research, we define abrogation as an annulment of one ruling and replacing it with another.

I guess we have come full circle since this definition in the first post of the thread. I would modify the "ruling" part since the object of abrogation is a verse per 2:106, although that goes against the bulk of the literature where the object of "نسخ", as the word has been used, is almost always a ruling. Here is what I said about that on the first page of this thread:

Pragmatic wrote:
Verse 2:106 is what introduced the notion of abrogation, and according to it what would be abrogated is a verse. Therefore, the only relevant definition of abrogation is abrogation of a verse. Anything else is an expansion of this definition that helps confuse the issues.

Indeed, we have seen significant confusion in the literature that can be traced back to mixing the technical and linguistic definitions of the word "نسخ" and covering rulings in the Sunna and even in the Muslim traditions. Therefore, I believe the proper definition of abrogation for this project is:

إبطال آية
Annulment of a verse

I also believe that because of what 2:106 and 16:101 say, the following is an equivalent definition:

إبطال آية بتنزيل آية أخرى
Annulment of a verse through the revelation of another verse

This may all sound obvious, but having gone through some intricate details of the abrogation doctrine in the literature, it is surprising how little of the doctrine addresses this specific 'mode' of abrogation. Using this definition, the thesis of this project is whether any verse that had been annulled was still included in the text of the Quran.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 23:25 
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One more distinction that Dr. Zaid makes in his book is between "الترجيح" (accepting one side of an argument over another) and abrogation. In Item 312 on page 212, he concedes that the two notions have similarities because both of them result in choosing one side and dismissing the other, but points out that "الترجيح" is admittedly a less certain endeavor that does not have the decisive nature of abrogation.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2010, 04:38 
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The Quran - The Book

The Quran is referred to both as the Quran and the Book in different verses, and the Arabic words for those terms are derived from reading/reciting and writing, respectively. Since we are concerned in this project with the written text of the Quran, which does not include verses that may have been recited before but were abrogated or caused to be forgotten, the distinction between the two terms, Quran (reading/reciting) and Book (writing), may have significance. For example, the following verses use the reading/reciting terminology:


and they allow for the possibility that what is recited may be forgotten, while the following verses use the writing terminology:


and state that nothing in it can be invalid. If the use of the two terms is consistent with such dichotomy in other verses (a big if, yet to be researched), it may add significance, and plausibility, to the thesis of this project.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2010, 06:39 
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Pragmatic wrote:
The thesis of this project is that there are no abrogated verses in the text of the Quran.

After discussing the general idea of abrogation in Islamic tradition, Burton says on page 22 of his book: "Western scholars have hitherto confined their attention to only one aspect of the general principle of naskh - the alleged operation of naskh on the texts of the Kuran." I guess we must be Western scholars. :D

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