TheMostReadBook.org

An English translation of the Quran that is as close as possible to the Arabic sacred text
View active topics
  Verse(s):    
View unanswered posts





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 129 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 13  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010, 04:30 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Since Verse 2:106 is the cornerstone of the abrogation doctrine, I thought that its interpretation merits its own thread. The other key verse (the substitution verse 16:101) has no bearing on the question of whether the text of the Quran has abrogated verses.

Here is my humble interpretation of 2:106, which has a significant overlap with Asad's interpretation and I am sure with other interpretations as well. It is based on putting 2:106 in the context of the preceding verse 2:105.



In 2:105, God addresses the believers (per the preceding verse 2:104) and tells them that those who do not believe (including people of the book, explicitly mentioned in the verse) don't like that good be sent down to the believers from God. A plausible interpretation of this would be that the good that God is sending down to the believers is the Quran, and that the disbelievers don't like it out of jealousy which is hinted at as the verse goes on to say that God chooses whoever He wants. This interpretation is straightforward and found in the standard books of interpreting the Quran. Now, on to 2:106.

In 2:106, God mentions that if He abrogates a verse or causes it to be forgotten, He will bring better or similar to it. Given that the preceding verse is describing how the disbelievers don't like that the Quran was sent down to us, and the Quran implicitly renders the previous books not valid any more (which is probably the reason the people of those books don't like it), it is completely reasonable to infer that what is abrogated are the verses of the previous books such as the Bible, and that the Quran is what is better or similar which God brought. This interpretation also fits the "forgotten" part, since many original verses of the Bible and previous holy books were gone.

There is one linguistic point that convinces me that this is the correct interpretation of 2:106. The Arabic word " خير " is used in both 2:105 and 2:106. The word means both "good" and "better" and also "choice" as an adjective (describing something chosen for quality). In 2:105, "خير" is what the disbelievers don't like us to get from God, and in 2:106, "خير" describes what God promises to bring if He abrogates a verse. Coming in two adjacent verses, I believe that "خير" is referring to the same thing in both verses which would be the Quran, and this supports the interpretation that 2:106 is about the Quran abrogating previous books.

Of course it is possible that 2:106 also describes verses that had been gone from the Quran during the life of the Prophet (PBUH). The main point is that there is a plausible interpretation, in fact a likely interpretation IMHO, that the verse is talking about the Quran abrogating previous books. This takes away the main point of contention that advocates of the abrogation doctrine use, which is "why would God reveal 2:106 if there were no abrogated verses in the Quran?"

That's the way I see it, and God knows best.

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010, 04:58 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: 04 May 2009, 16:10
Posts: 4434
Location: USA
Pragmatic wrote:
In 2:106, God mentions that if He abrogates a verse or causes it to be forgotten, He will bring better or similar to it. Given that the preceding verse is describing how the disbelievers don't like that the Quran was sent down, and the Quran implicitly renders the previous books not valid any more (which is probably the reason the people of those books don't like it), it is completely reasonable to infer that what is abrogated are the verses of the previous books such as the Bible, and that the Quran is what is better or similar which God brought. This interpretation also fits the "forgotten" part, since many original verses of the Bible and previous holy books were gone.

IMHO, "If" is the operative word in this verse. It states that abrogation of a sign may occur and if it does, it would be by way of a better or similar sign. It does not say that abrogation has occurred or will.

I like your interpretation a whole lot and agree that it is the most likely one given the context.

_________________
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010, 05:51 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: 04 May 2009, 16:10
Posts: 4434
Location: USA
Ibn Katheer in his exegesis seems to be saying the same thing as you, Pragmatic, that the abrogation mentioned in 2:106 is referring to the Quran abrogating the Torah. Yet, he extends the concept to abrogating verses of the Quran. His evidence is that God says, ألم تعلم أن الله على كل شيء قدير, so He is using the possibility argument to prove an actuality. He also mentions the verses that were once recited but then forgotten as evidence.

Lastly, he reports that Abu-Muslim Al-Asfahaani, an exegesis writer, rejected the doctrine of abrogation of verses that remained in the Quran. He claimed that the man gave terse answers to the cases of `Idda (2:234/2:240), Qibla (2:144/2:115), Musaabara (8:66/8:65), and Najwa (58:13/58:12), but he doesn't say what those answers were. As-Saabooni, who summarized Ibn Katheer's exegesis, says he discussed abrogation in his book, روائع البيان تفسير آيات الأحكام Volume 1 page 109.

_________________
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010, 06:42 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Linguistic wrote:
Ibn Katheer in his exegesis seems to be saying the same thing as you, Pragmatic, that the abrogation mentioned in 2:106 is referring to the Quran abrogating the Torah. Yet, he extends the concept to abrogating verses of the Quran. His evidence is that God says, ألم تعلم أن الله على كل شيء قدير, so He is using the possibility argument to prove an actuality! He also mentions the verses that were once recited but then forgotten. Again, he mixes two or three different things.

Thank you for the tip. I think that at some level, it will boil down to who has the burden of proof. I believe that the burden of proof (and a pretty heavy one at that) lies with someone who is trying to declare a verse in the Quran invalid. However, we are not preaching to the choir here, so we need to approach this wisely. We will put all the evidence we believe in, as discussed in this post.

As far as 2:106 is concerned, i think we should only aim at making the interpretation in the first post of this thread a credible alternative by gathering the names and arguments of credible scholars who concur, without attacking the other interpretations. We are going against an established doctrine here so we should be very delicate, and our aim is modest since people only need to believe that 2:106 does not necessitate that there are abrogated verses in the Quranic text.

The more forceful arguments should be the ones refuting individual abrogation claims. There, people will be open to the possibility that any given verse may not be abrogated, and there will be scholarly opinions that support our argument for any given verse, so we can afford to be forceful.

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2010, 10:02 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Sheikh Muhammad Ash-Sha`raawi interpreted 2:106 in a detailed way, and also expressed his opinion that there are indeed abrogated verses in the text of the Quran, in تفسير الشعراوي من الآية 106 الى الآية 115 من سورة البقرة (scanned pages 507-516). Here is my summary and comments about what he wrote.

  • He clearly interprets 2:106 as addressing each message of God abrogating the previous one, culminating in the Quran abrogating the Bible, and reaffirms the fact that the Quran is the final message. This interpretation is in agreement with the above posts, so it seems to be the established understanding of the verse.

  • He discusses, in detail and with logic and clarity, that different times call for different rules, and that is why God abrogates previous messages as time goes on. He also mentions that matters of faith do not change with time, and explains that when a new message abrogates the previous one, the rules are better because of changing times, but the matters of faith are similar, and that is how interprets "better or similar" in 2:106.

  • He applies the same argument to verses in the Quran abrogating other verses. He counters the argument that there cannot be abrogated verses in the Quran because it would constitute 'change of mind' or 'failure to anticipate' by arguing convincingly that abrogation does not imply that, but rather it reflects an understanding of what different times call for and legislating accordingly.

So far, I wholeheartedly agree. It is indeed possible that verses in the Quran have abrogated other verses. However, this is not the question we are addressing here. The question we are addressing here is whether abrogated verses survived in the text of the Quran. There are Hadeeth's that talk about specific abrogated/forgotten verses, but they were verses that were not included in the text of the Quran as the Prophet left it at the time of his death.

Sheikh Ash-Sha`raawi then moves on to discuss specific verses in the text of the Quran that he believes are abrogated. While doing that, he also supports the argument that statements of fact cannot be abrogated and adds that issues of faith cannot be abrogated either (slight inconsistency with his 'better or similar' argument before). He also touches on "causes to be forgotten" but that part (middle of page 513) is less convincing to me than other parts. Here are the highlights of the discussion of specific abrogated verses.

  • He does not discuss the distinction between abrogated verses that are gone from the text of the Quran and abrogated verses that survived. That issue just doesn't come up at all.

  • For the specific verses he discusses, he doesn't add to the standard arguments about the contradiction that justifies the abrogation claim, but focuses on the benefit of abrogation in these cases and on countering the arguments that challenge the abrogation claim.

  • He is most defensive when it came to the claim that 64:16 abrogated 3:102, which we discussed in this thread. He mentions a clever argument that challenges abrogation based on the observation that 64:16 is not "better or similar" when compared to 3:102, since 64:16 asks us to "fear God as much as we can" while 3:102 asks us to "fear God as He should be feared" which sounds like a better thing to do. He counters that by an argument that I find a bit labored, but is nonetheless equally clever.

Even with the main point of the thesis of this project not directly addressed, and with disagreement about specific conclusions, I found the writeup by Sheikh Ash-Sha`raawi to be the most logical and well articulated treatment I have read among all the references I have been exposed to on the subject so far.

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2010, 03:33 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: 04 May 2009, 16:10
Posts: 4434
Location: USA
It is standard methodology to interpret the Quran using the Quran, i.e., to understand one verse, one ought to see the other verses that use the same words or talk about the same subject. So, let's see if we can do that with 2:106.

Here are the other verses that mention the verb نسخ,

Which clearly states that the verb means the elimination of all traces of something. This verse also suggests that the verb أحكم is the end result of abrogation. That is, when God abrogates something, He replaces it totally with something that is fixed and carries only one meaning. Thus, should we add two more checks to our validation checklist:
• Is the abrogating verse unambiguous (Muhkama) by consensus of scholars?
• Is any trace left of the abrogated verse?

In this verse, the verb used is not نسخ but استنسخ, therefore it has another meaning even if the meanings may be related. In this verse, the verb used means to copy, or to inscribe. This semantic does not help the abrogation claim because the whole point of abrogation is replacing a ruling with a different ruling, not an identical copy of it.

In this verse, the noun is used and it means a copy or content. Like the verse just above, this does not help the abrogation claim.

Next word to investigate is آية which means "sign" but often refers to a verse. All verses revealed by God at any time are signs, but not all signs are verses. Consider,

Which gives the name آية to the night and daylight, clearly meaning sign. Interestingly, God uses a peculiar word to describe what is awesome about the sign of the day; He says, "We erased the sign of the night..." But the night is still here, so how come God says He erased it? The meaning becomes clear when we read further and encounter "and made the sign of daylight visible." This suggests that an erased sign is a sign we cannot see. This tells me that abrogated verses are unseen, i.e., verses that have not been included in the text of the Quran. This is very consistent with the other verse sometimes used as evidence of abrogation, a verse that uses the same verb يمحو used in 17:12,

I humbly conclude from all the above that the translation that is closest to the Arabic words, makes the most sense and is most consistent with what God says throughout the Quran is,
{2:106} If we [ever] remove any sign or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one that is better than it or one that is similar to it. Did you not know that God, over everything, is Powerful?

_________________
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2010, 05:58 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Linguistic wrote:
Consider,

Which gives the name آية to the night and daylight, clearly meaning sign. Interestingly, God uses an peculiar word to describe what is awesome about the sign of the day; He says, "We erased the sign of the night..." But the night is still here, so how come God says He erased it? The meaning becomes clear when we read further and encounter "and made the sign of daylight visible." This suggests that an erased sign is a sign we cannot see. This tells me that abrogated verses are unseen, i.e., verses that have not been included in the text of the Quran. This is very consistent with the other verse sometimes used as evidence of abrogation, a verse that uses the same verb يمحو used in 17:12,

Very nice angle on يمحو. Since 13:39 is sometimes used to substantiate the abrogation doctrine, this angle would argue that the verse does not support the type of abrogation that this project is concerned about, namely abrogated verses that survived in the text of the Quran.


Linguistic wrote:
should we add two more checks to our validation checklist:
• Is the abrogating verse unambiguous (Muhkama) by consensus of scholars?
• Is any trace left of the abrogated verse?

I think the checklist should be made up of criteria that the scholars who believe in the abrogation doctrine used (which holds for the current list, I think). The criteria would then have the credibility needed, and when used to argue against individual abrogation claims, it will be difficult to counter that argument since the criteria are 'legitimate'. The approach reminds me of an Egyptian expression "You take from his beard and weave for him."

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2010, 09:37 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Linguistic wrote:
IMHO, "If" is the operative word in this verse.

I can now see a new angle that is based on this observation. I think 2:106 is not a statement about abrogation per se, but really a statement about what would replace something that had been abrogated. There is no question in the Islamic faith, before or after 2:106 was revealed, that the Bible was abrogated by the Quran. When 2:105 talks about people of the book not wanting good "خير" to be sent down to Muslims, God in 2:106 is making the statement that it has to be good because He wouldn't abrogate "ما ننسخ" the previous books except with something that is better "خير" or similar.

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2010, 19:43 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: 04 May 2009, 16:10
Posts: 4434
Location: USA
Pragmatic wrote:
I think 2:106 is not a statement about abrogation per se, but really a statement about what would replace something that had been abrogated. There is no question in the Islamic faith, before or after 2:106 was revealed, that the Bible was abrogated by the Quran. When 2:105 talks about people of the book not wanting good "خير" to be sent down to Muslims, God in 2:106 is making the statement that it has to be good because He wouldn't abrogate "ما ننسخ" the previous books except with something that is better "خير" or similar.

Quite.

My emphasis, because the verse is the cornerstone of the abrogation claim, that its being a conditional statement means that the abrogation may happen. It doesn't say it has happened, nor that it will. It states a principle. It answers the claim of the Jews that the Torah could not possibly have been abrogated. Indeed, in their translation, the Zidans wrote, "For whatever order (given in earlier scriptures) We repeal ..."

Now, did abrogation happen? Sure. Like you said in another post and all exegetes concurred, the context is about the Jews. Verses of the Quran abrogated verses of the Torah. Other abrogation may have happened, but in order to know that, only God or His Messenger, by inspiration from God, can tell us. No scholar can possibly make that determination, IMHO.

One thing bothers me. I am not the first to notice that the verb ننسخ in 2:106 is in jussive mood, inescapably meaning the verse is a conditional statement, so how come I am yet to find a juristic book that discusses this aspect of the verse. I have not yet read them all, but none of what I read seems to pay attention to this fact, even the man famous for paying attention to the minutest details of every letter in the Quran, Ash-Sha`raawi. I'd really like to know why. I know that one translator, N.J. Dawood noticed and translated the verse,
"If We abrogate any verse, ..."

_________________
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 25 Jan 2010, 06:24 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: 05 May 2009, 00:16
Posts: 1784
Location: USA
Linguistic wrote:
being a conditional statement means that the abrogation may happen. It doesn't say it has happened, nor that it will. It states a principle.

Agreed. Let me ask you to do a semantic analysis of three versions of the statement, the Quranic version and two other versions that look like it, in order to pinpoint how the Quranic version is different. All three contain the following meaning:

"a verse getting abrogated" implies that "a verse that is better or similar will be brought"

but they may have additional connotations that are different. The three versions are:

... نأت بخير منها ... (with سكون tashkeel) ما ننسخ

... نأتي بخير منها ... (with ضمة tashkeel ) ما ننسخ

... إلا ونأتي بخير منها ... (with ضمة tashkeel) ما ننسخ


In all three versions, the actual assertion is the second part "a verse that is better or similar will be brought." If we pin down for each version what is it about the first part "a verse getting abrogated" that is being asserted by the Arabic construct, we may shed light on your question:

Linguistic wrote:
One thing bothers me. I am not the first to notice that the verb ننسخ in 2:106 is in jussive mood, inescapably meaning the verse is a conditional statement, so how come I am yet to find a juristic book that discusses this aspect of the verse. I have not yet read them all, but none of what I read seem to pay attention to this fact, even the man famous for paying attention to the minutest details of every letter in the Quran, Ash-Sha`raawi. I'd really like to know why. I know that one translator, N.J. Dawood noticed and translated the verse,
"If We abrogate any verse, ..."

_________________
To translate is the best way to understand


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 129 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 13  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
It is currently 26 Jun 2017, 15:35

All times are UTC

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group