3. Is the abrogated verse a statement of fact (semantically, not just syntactically)? Then it cannot be abrogated.
Something dawned on me. In this rule and in other aspects of the abrogation analysis, we are inadvertently confusing "the verse was abrogated" with "we can tell that the verse was abrogated." Bear with me.
In order for us to claim that a verse is abrogated, in the absence of a divine designation that it is, we rely on finding a contradiction between the verse and a later verse. Since contradicting a statement of fact means that it is false, which is impossible given that God is the author of that statement, the quoted rule rightly excludes statements of fact from claims of abrogation.
If you look at this argument closely, what it excludes is our ability
to determine that a statement of fact is abrogated, since we rely on contradiction as our tool. However, God has indeed abrogated many verses that do not contradict later verses, and some of them contain statements of fact. Which verses am I talking about? The verses in the Bible, the Torah, etc. When these verses were abrogated, that didn't mean that their statements of fact were false. It just meant that the verses lost their divine authority because God withdrew it. That doesn't make them false
, it just makes them unauthoritative.
This distinction does not change the quoted rule, or the other rules, as litmus tests for claims
of abrogation in the Quran. It just makes the point that the rules have to do with our ability to tell that a verse is abrogated. Of course, if no verses in the text of the Quran are abrogated, none will pass the litmus tests. At that point, we will rely on verses like 2:2 and 41:41-42 to assert that there are no abrogated verses in the text of the Quran, period, not just that we couldn't find any.