Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?
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Author:  Linguistic [ 28 Sep 2010, 18:59 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Haani Taahir, in his book تنزيه آي القرآن عن النسخ والنقصان, page 163, rejects this claim saying, "Staying up in prayer was a mandate on the Prophet (PBUH) and remained so and was recommended for the believers and remained so."

I respectfully disagree that it was recommended for the believers initially, unless one extrapolates from the recommendation to the Prophet (PBUH) to his followers, which is why Muslims thought it was a mandate on them and why many scholars thought it was abrogated.

On page 124, Taahir shows why the command was not a mandate on Muslims by drawing attention to the phrase "And a bevy of those with you" in 73:20, which means some imitated the Prophet (PBUH) and some did not. If it were a mandate, then how can any Muslim not comply with it?

He also states the well known fact that 73:1-4 were revealed very early on, before the Prophet (PBUH) had followers.

Author:  Linguistic [ 14 Dec 2010, 16:58 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Pragmatic wrote:
5. The entire basis of the abrogation claim is a narration of A'isha, may God be pleased with her.

That is exactly why Dr. Mustafa Zayd was confident that this is a valid abrogation claim and he approved it in his book النسخ في القرآن الكريم, volume 2, pages 297-304 (items 1212-1225). He quotes the full text of the hadeeth, and it's a good thing he does, because it shows clearly that `Aa'isha, may God have been pleased with her, is the one who made the conclusion of abrogation; it was not the Prophet, peace be upon him. That is not proof of abrogation, per our validation rule #0, which Dr. Zayd has advocated repeatedly in his thesis and used to refute claims with.

Dr. Zayd also takes from the hadeeth that the command in 73:1-4 was for all Muslims, not just the Prophet (PBUH). That is not what the verses say, nor is it what `Aa'isha said either! What she said was:

فإن الله عز وجل افترض قيام الليل في أول هذه السورة، فقام نبي الله وأصحابه حولا، وأمسك الله خاتمتها اثني عشر شهرا في السماء، حتى أنزل الله في آخر هذه السورة التخفيف، فصار قيام الليل تطوعا بعد فريضة

Translation: God, may He be esteemed and prominent, had mandated staying up at night (in prayer) in the beginning of this Chapter, so the Prophet of God and his fellows stayed up [at night praying] for a year. God withheld the ending for twelve months in heaven, until God sent down in the ending of this Chapter the easing; staying up became voluntary after being mandatory. Reported by Muslim.

So, she did not say whom the command was for, only that Sahaaba followed it.

Pragmatic wrote:
6. This abrogation case is intermingled in the theological dispute about whether only the 5 prayers are required. The opinions about that are less unequivocal than what one would expect.

Dr. Zayd brings up that discussion, quoting Ash-Shaafi`i, who concluded like he does, that Tahajjud prayer was mandated on all but remained mandated on the Prophet only, peace be upon him. Other than `Aa'isha's interpretation, I don't see how the conclusion can be made that the mandate was on anybody but the Prophet (PBUH).

Pragmatic wrote:
7. Some prominent scholars do not see this as an abrogation case, including Ka'b Al-Ahbar, Hasan Basri, and Al-Suddi.

Funny that Dr. Zayd quotes those three as backing up his conclusion! Even though what they said, and what he said, was that the phrase فاقرؤوا ماتيسر منه (So, recite what you can from it) in 73:20 refers to actual recitation of the Quran, not prayer. Thus, what they said, and what he should've concluded from his own argument, was that the subject of 73:20 is recitation of the Quran, while the subject of 73:1-4 is prayer, and therefore, the verses do not abrogate each other.

What is also funny is that Dr. Zayd actually disagrees with Ash-Shaaf`i in much of his analysis of these verses, especially his conclusion that 73:20 was itself abrogated by

In fact, Dr. Zayd has disagreed and refuted the arguments of several Sahaaba and subsequent scholars who stated claims of abrogation and used that word in their narrations. So, why then does he set the rule that a narration that states an abrogation is proof of it, though the narration is not attributed to the Prophet (PBUH)?

Author:  Linguistic [ 03 Jan 2011, 00:53 ]
Post subject:  Re: Who said what

Linguistic wrote:
Muhammad Al-Khudhari (Bek) (according to Jamaal `Ataaya and quoted by Nada),

I looked it up, in Al-Khudhari's book أصول الفقه, page 255, and what he said was (my translation), "It appears that this is a case of lightening, so it is a lifting of the first ruling which requires standing up [in prayer] most of the night."

That does not sound like he's against the claim, rather for it.

Author:  Linguistic [ 09 Apr 2011, 15:32 ]
Post subject:  Re: Who said what

Linguistic wrote:
Ibn Khuzayma said that what abrogated 73:1-2 is 73:3 which is something I wondered why no scholar has mentioned. Now I know that two have! Ibn Khuzayma as well as Ibn Salaama in his book الناسخ والمنسوخ في القرآن الكريم, page 130.

Ibn Salaama also says on the same page that 73:3 was in turn abrogated by

So, he believes that God abrogated his command twice in four verses that He revealed at the same time!

Linguistic wrote:
He also said that the clause ورتل القرآن ترتيلا (and recite the Quran well) was abrogated by 20:2. Is that a strange claim or what? Reciting the Quran well does not make the reciter's life hard!

Along the same line, Ibn Salaama says that

was abrogated by

He must have thought that a "heavy utterance" is literal. And while the revelations were indeed physically exhausting to the Prophet (PBUH), their heaviness is mostly metaphorical, i.e., seriousness and importance. There is no cause to claim abrogation here simply because verse 73:5 was not annulled! Most of the revelations were hard on the Prophet (PBUH) until the end. What verse 4:28 means is that God is graceful and He did not require us to do anything that we couldn't do and that He knows our weaknesses and has designed His commands to accommodate them.

Author:  Pragmatic [ 09 Apr 2011, 17:49 ]
Post subject:  Re: Who said what

Linguistic wrote:
He must have thought that a "heavy utterance" is literal. And while the revelations were indeed physically exhausting to the Prophet (PBUH), their heaviness is mostly metaphorical, i.e., seriousness and importance. There is no cause to claim abrogation here simply because verse 73:5 was not annulled!

It is unannulable (if that's a word :)). Even if he believes that "heavy" refers to the physical burden on the Prophet (PBUH) as he received the revelation, that has already happened and therefore cannot be annulled. It's a statement of fact made tangible by what actually happened.

Author:  Linguistic [ 29 Jul 2013, 13:43 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

This is the first abrogation claim Dr. Muhamad Saalih Ali Mustafa discusses in his book النسخ في القرآن الكريم - مفهومه وتاريخه ودعاواه, pages 43-44. He presents the arguments for and against this claim:

  • The mandate became optional.

    I respectfully submit that there was never a mandate of night prayer. A mandate is what you are rewarded if you do and punished if you don't. There is no text that says that we or the Prophet (PBUH) would be punished if we did not pray at night.

  • The required portion of the night was reduced to half to one third to what the believer is able to offer. Dr. Mustafa comments on this argument saying that this is a rule in Islam: You do what is required as best as you can, per

    But the portion was not reduced. These are all options to choose from. One night, the Prophet (PBUH) may have more energy to stand up half the night. Narrations show that the Prophet's night prayers varied from 9 to 13 bowings. And they also varied in duration. Some nights, he stood in prayer so long his wife worried his feet may swell. Other nights he prayed quickly and went back to bed.

  • The mandate remained for the Prophet (PBUH), per

    As I stated before, 17:79 clearly makes it a recommendation, not a mandate. So, this would be an argument for the claim, not against it. But it is not, because it simply clarifies that 73:2-4 were recommendations and not mandates. The fact that Prophet (PBUH) was committed to night prayer does not mean it was a mandate. He simply wanted to please God.

Author:  Linguistic [ 13 Oct 2013, 19:14 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Abu-Abdillah Shu`la, in his book صفوة الراسخ في علم المنسوخ والناسخ, page 181, seems to agree with this claim though he does not come out and say it. He mentions several points:

  • While 73:1-4 address the Prophet (PBUH) only, 73:20 "clearly" includes all Muslims in the mandate. Shu`la says that was the opinion of Ibn Abbaas and `Aa'isha. Shu`la says that it was the practice of the Arabs to address the chief with a command and assume that his followers are included. That may have been their custom and it would explain why they did what they did, but 73:1-4 was very particular in addressing the Prophet (PBUH) alone. It called him "the bundled-up one", referring to the time of the first revelation of the Quran, which frightened the Prophet (PBUH) so much that he had shivers and ran home to his wife asking her to bundle him up in heavy clothes.

    The following verses explain further why God is asking the Prophet to do this,

    The task is going to be heavy. Night worship is ideal for building up the Prophet (PBUH) to handle it. And he will have plenty of time in the daytime to rest.

    None of that applies to the rest of the Muslims. They therefore were not included, implicitly or otherwise, in the command. They mandated this command on themselves but God clearly did not.

  • Muslims did not know how much of the night is a third or a half of it, so they ended up spending all night worshiping, to the point that their feet swell and their faces were pale!

  • According to Ibn Abbaas, 73:20 was revealed in Medina, a year after 73:1-4. Well, that simply can't be, since 73:1-4 were revealed very early on in Mecca, evidenced by the fact that Khadeeja, may God have been pleased with her, was still alive! She was the only wife the Prophet (PBUH) had while in Mecca. She was the wife he ran to and asked to bundle him up for his shivers. Such narration (by Abu-`Ubayd) cannot therefore be authentic.

Author:  Linguistic [ 26 Apr 2014, 19:40 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Dehlvi approves of this claim, in his book الفوز الكبير في أصول التفسير, page 67, but with a twist! He says that the command of night prayer was never a mandate; it was an emphasized recommendation. And that what 73:20 did, in his view, was to remove the emphasis.

Well, that is not exactly what the foundationists mean by abrogation, because the ruling has not been reversed or annulled; it remains a recommendation. So, technically, Dehlvi did not actually approve of this abrogation claim although he has stated that he did.

Author:  Linguistic [ 22 Oct 2017, 19:38 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Professor Ali Hasaballah, in his book أصول التشريع الإسلامي, pages 32-58, talks at length about the Sunna and its role in Islamic rulings. As he talks about the practical Sunna, i.e., Sunna learned from the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) rather than what he said, he points out that some of his practices were not meant to be followed by others. As an example, Muslims started to extend fasting time because they observed the Prophet do that. He told them "I'm not like any of you. I dwell with my Lord! He feeds me and pours me drink."

And another example is,

Which he says mandates night prayer on the Prophet and only on him. While I agree that it's not mandated on Muslims at large, I disagree that it was mandated on the Prophet (PBUH) either. The word نافلة لك (an extra for you) makes that clear. There is a difference between order and mandate.

And this verse confirms two things mentioned by 73:1-4 and thus refutes any claim they have been abrogated, namely that the night prayer is ordered for the Prophet (PBUH) and that it is ordered for him only. The fact that many of his followers followed suit does not prove that they too were ordered.

Now, someone might concede that but argue that 73:20 includes the Prophet (PBUH). But the excuse was addressed to Muslims at large and not the Prophet. We know that because of 17:79.

Author:  Linguistic [ 15 Sep 2018, 15:58 ]
Post subject:  Re: Did 73:20 abrogate 73:1-4?

Linguistic wrote:
These are great arguments. Now let me answer them humbly:
  • The word أُحِلَّ does not necessarily mean that something was forbidden before. Consider 5:96. Sea food was never forbidden to Muslims before.
  • The phrase تختانون أنفسكم does not necessarily mean they did something wrong; it can mean that they thought they were doing something wrong. It also may mean that because they misunderstood, they may have stopped themselves from doing something allowed and that added an unnecessary hardship on them.
  • The clauses فتاب عليكم وعفا عنكم can be understood to mean that God is not reprimanding them for misunderstanding and thus they may breathe a sigh of relief. The word تاب has been used in that sense elsewhere, for example, 9:117.
    The verse clearly says that they almost deviated. Thus they did not sin, just were about to. The verse's use of تاب therefore eases the minds of those who thought they had sinned by thinking of deviation.
    Also, the word عفا has been used elsewhere to mean "don't worry", for instance, 5:95, which clearly says that the past is forgotten; those who did that in the past need not agonize over it.

Just like in the above claim, the word علِم (He knew) is mentioned in 73:20. The question naturally arises: Of course God knew Muslims could not keep up with the nighttime worship, so why did He let them do it for such a long time (a whole year according to narrations) before He revealed the relief?

There are several possible answers to this good question. Let me offer some,

  • Faith building. Night prayer and recitation of the Quran strengthens faith, commitment and resolve. It is a good thing to do, although it's not required, precisely because it's too hard on most people.

  • Discipline. The extra load Muslims put on themselves is like a child being sent to his room to reflect on what he did wrong! Consider, albeit a different context,

    Those three men were "sent to their rooms", so to speak. They felt like they have no friend in the world. And when hey realized that God is their only hope, He allowed them to repent and He accepted their repentance.

    When God's words are misunderstood, Muslims need to rethink them. Muslims are not to misinterpret God's words, even if that leads to good deeds.

  • Teaching Muslims that God will eventually ease things on them. Muslims need to have faith that God will lift their hardship.

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