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 Post subject: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 27 Jan 2010, 01:55 
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This topic is to put together the elements of this research project. I'll attempt to do that with a series of questions that need to be answered. Please comment and I'll maintain this post per your comments.

  • 1. What is abrogation? How do you define it?
  • 2. Why do we need to discuss or study it? What happens if we neglect the issue?
  • 3. Can abrogation happen? Prove it.
  • 4. Why would abrogation happen?
  • 5. What was said to have been abrogated? Who said it and Why?
  • 6. What was said to have abrogated what? Who said it and why?
  • 7. How do we know that? What is the proof?
  • 8. Are there counter-arguments to the above questions? Did any scholars disagree? Who were they and what were their arguments?
  • 9. Can a concrete conclusion be reached?

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 27 Jan 2010, 09:36 
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Linguistic wrote:
Please comment

In my mind, It may be a bit early to formulate a final vision, but here is the picture I see based on the evidence and discussions we have had so far.

1. Define the thesis: We have to limit the scope to "abrogated verses that survived in the text of the Quran" and discuss the opinions in the literature only through this lens. To the extent that we can, we should avoid debating the issues that do not have direct bearing on this question. (pretty much done)

2. Enlist support: We should enumerate the major scholars who agree with the premise that there are no abrogated verses in the Quran, and cite their arguments whenever they are related to points we make. (a lot of digging up needed)

3. Rebut the opposition: We should counter the major scholars who support the abrogation doctrine by pinning down what exactly they support and what reasoning they provide for such support. This should be done very respectfully. (more digging up and analysis needed)

4. Explain away the basis: We should crisply articulate the interpretation of 2:106 to counter the main argument of "why would God reveal 2:106 if there are no abrogated verses in the Quran?" We should comment on (lack of) relevance of other verses (e.g., 16:101 and 3:7) to our specific thesis. (we are in excellent shape)

5. Refute the claims: We should counter each example of an abrogation claim of a verse forcefully, and cite those who agree that the verse is not abrogated even among those who in general believe in the abrogation doctrine. (we are in very good shape)

6. Discredit the notion: We should argue that having abrogated verses in the text would be inconsistent with some of the statements mentioned in the Quran. We should pick only the most compelling statements and cite arguments to the same effect by credible scholars. (we are on our way)

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 27 Jan 2010, 17:56 
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Excellent. And I'd add to your point below, which follows up on my point #9,

Pragmatic wrote:
6. Discredit the notion: We should argue that having abrogated verses in the text would be inconsistent with some of the statements mentioned in the Quran. We should pick only the most compelling statements and cite arguments to the same effect by credible scholars. (we are on our way)

I'd add that consensus on which verses were abrogated could not be achieved. That by itself casts doubt on the notion. You see, one of the arguments repeatedly made is that the notion of abrogation is agreed to by all knowledgeable scholars. But when you pin down what they said, you discover that they disagreed on virtually everything. So, where is the consensus? And if the Quran does not explicitly say it, the Hadeeth doesn't, and the scholars cannot agree, how can the case be made?

BTW, the word إجماع is always translated "consensus." I read the excellent book, "`Ilm Usool Al-Fiqh" by Abdul-Wahhab Khallaaf again yesterday and he noted that the word means "determination".

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 27 Jan 2010, 19:41 
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Linguistic wrote:
I'd add that consensus on which verses were abrogated could not be achieved. That by itself casts doubt on the notion. You see, one of the arguments repeatedly made is that the notion of abrogation is agreed to by all knowledgeable scholars. But when you pin down what they said, you discover that they disagreed on virtually everything.

Excellent point. We should substantiate this with specific facts, again in a respectful way.

If knowing which verses are abrogated is so important that not knowing them calls for statements like "هلكت وأهلكت" , then how come the scholars, even those who are pro-abrogation, can't agree on which verses are abrogated?

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 28 Jan 2010, 21:08 
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Linguistic wrote:
This topic is to put together the elements of this research project. I'll attempt to do that with a series of questions that need to be answered. Please comment and I'll maintain this post per your comments.

  • 1. What is abrogation? How do you define it?

Under that element, some sub-questions need to be answered:
  • 1.1 What does the word mean in the language?
  • 1.2 How is the word defined in the fundamental sciences (Usool)?
  • 1.3 How is the word defined in the law (Sharee`a)?
  • 1.4 What types of abrogation are there?

Commenting on 1.4, we should state which type we are discussing in this project and why and also why we are not discussing the other types.

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 29 Jan 2010, 05:49 
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Linguistic wrote:
  • 1.1 What does the word mean in the language?
  • 1.2 How is the word defined in the fundamental sciences (Usool)?
  • 1.3 How is the word defined in the law (Sharee`a)?
  • 1.4 What types of abrogation are there?

Commenting on 1.4, we should state which type we are discussing in this project and why and also why we are not discussing the other types.

These questions pinpoint the biggest misunderstanding/misinformation in the abrogation literature. I discussed some aspects of this when I addressed the terminology in the Definition thread. Basically, people are mixing the linguistic, theological, and legalistic uses of the word "نسخ" (abrogate) both when they make statements and when they quote a scholarly opinion.

As for Point 1.4, I feel that the "types" of abrogation are artificial notions that make abrogation a science in search of facts rather than the other way around like it should be. While we obviously need to connect our statements to the standard terminology used in the literature, once we make this connection I prefer to use the expression "abrogated verses in the text of the Quran" rather than the subcategory expression used in the abrogation doctrine.

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2010, 09:20 
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Linguistic wrote:
BTW, the word إجماع is always translated "consensus." I read the excellent book, "`Ilm Usool Al-Fiqh" by Abdul-Wahhab Khallaaf again yesterday and he noted that the word means "determination" not "consensus."

The definition of إجماع , and the use of its method in the abrogation arena, are addressed extensively in volume 1 of this book. Here are the highlights (I will translate إجماع as consensus for the purpose of this post in order not to inject my own opinion about what the term means).

Item 261 on page 174: The author states factually that "It is impossible that the nation would reach a false consensus."

Item 301 on page 201: The author attributes the difference of opinion about whether إجماع is enough to abrogate by pointing out that people used the word إجماع to mean different things. The majority of scholars and originalists rejected that consensus is enough, while Imam Al-Thaherey defined إجماع as direct evidence or proof from the Quran or the Sunna, and asserted that it would be enough to abrogate. Not surprising given his unconventional definition.

Item 308 on page 208: In the course of demolishing an argument of Al-Karkhy, a distinguished Hanafi scholar according to the author, that certain opinions can overrule a verse, the author says "does the statement of the Hanafis, assuming it is their consensus, constitute a consensus of all the scholars of the nation, without disagreement from one of them" (emphasis added). This shows that the author is treating إجماع as meaning unanimity not just consensus, at least in this instance.

Finally, the author quotes a reference in footnote 1 of Item 260 on pages 172-173 about whether a later consensus can abrogate an earlier consensus. While this is not directly relevant to this project since we are addressing the abrogation of verses only, it has an impact in a different way. There was arguably a consensus about the validity of the abrogation doctrine in the past, and there is a possibility that a consensus will build against it at some point given that a number of recent scholars reject it outright. It will be rather ironic if the abrogation doctrine gets abrogated. :)

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 00:50 
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Pragmatic wrote:
In my mind, It may be a bit early to formulate a final vision, but here is the picture I see based on the evidence and discussions we have had so far.

An additional point to the 6 points in that post:

7. How did this happen: Even if our arguments are convincing, people may have doubts because the abrogation doctrine has been entrenched in Islamic thought for 14 centuries. We need to explain how a false doctrine can persist that long.

Having spent some time with the abrogation literature old and new, I believe that there are 3 main culprits.

  1. Ambiguous Definition: People used the word نسخ to refer to something other than annulment of a verse. This resulted in mixing a number of legitimate juristic concepts with the concept of annulment of verses. In particular, the word نسخ under different meanings appeared in some narrations of the Sahaba, and these were later construed as supporting evidence for the abrogation doctrine.

  2. Reactionary Bias: The enemies of Islam attacked the notion of abrogation in principle, and that led to a reaction of Muslims to defend the notion and to shy away from questioning it. The irony is that the enemy attacks were against the Torah being abrogated, something that is not controversial in Islam and has nothing to do with the abrogation doctrine as it evolved.

  3. Unity Pressure: In abrogation and in other theological issues, there is a strong tendency of scholars to seek unity and resist dissent, in order to avoid Fitna. This created pressure on everyone to conform to the abrogation doctrine once it took hold. Slanderous attacks were made against anyone who disagreed, and that can result in serious bias in the scholarly peer system, both in terms of which opinions get to be expressed and which opinions get to be cited, thus creating a self-fulfilling consensus.

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 19:25 
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Pragmatic wrote:
Item 261 on page 174: The author states factually that "It is impossible that the nation would reach a false consensus."

I agree, but the reason is that consensus of opinion is impossible! Consensus is possible only on direct, authentic statements where opinion has no role.

Realizing that, majority opinion should not be taken as a mandate, but rather a guide. In other words, it can arguably be a valid, but contestable proof method (طرق الإثبات الشرعية) and never at the same level as the Quran and the authentic Sunna. Neither the Quran, nor the Sunna have named any verse abrogated. Given the gravity of the claim and the potential injustice in the law it can result in, the silence of the Quran and the Sunna should have been the end of discussion.

Quote:
Finally, the author discusses whether a later consensus can overrule an earlier consensus, something that may be applicable to the abrogation doctrine as a whole, since there was arguably a consensus about its validity in the past, and there is a possibility that a consensus will build against it at some point given that a number of recent scholars reject it outright. In footnote 1 in Item 260 on pages 172-173, the author quotes a detailed opinion that says that a later consensus can 'abrogate' an earlier consensus. It will be rather ironic if the abrogation doctrine gets abrogated. :)

And what's a Muslim judge to do? This goes to show you that abrogation is a road that should not have been traveled. I'm reminded of this verse,

The problem is that scholars ventured into an unknown and did so with opinion. The inevitable result is confusion. The straight path would have been to agree that no abrogation has occurred in the text and any apparent discrepancy would be the theme of analysis (Ijtihaad) instead of making an assumption of abrogation to resolve the discrepancy then struggle to make the charge of abrogation stick.

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 Post subject: Re: The elements of this project
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2010, 07:17 
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Pragmatic wrote:
2. Enlist support: We should enumerate the major scholars who agree with the premise that there are no abrogated verses in the Quran, and cite their arguments whenever they are related to points we make. (a lot of digging up needed)

We probably dug up all the names: Al-Asfahaani, Muhammad Abdu (apparently he echoed Al-Asfahaani), Az-Zalmi (Trying to find his book), Sayyid Qutb (No publication), Al-Areedh (Hoping to find his booklet) and N.A. Tantaawi (His book is available);

Quote:
3. Rebut the opposition: We should counter the major scholars who support the abrogation doctrine by pinning down what exactly they support and what reasoning they provide for such support. This should be done very respectfully. (more digging up and analysis needed)

A good part of this may be related to the definition of abrogation they used. Then further support for our view comes from analyzing each case they brought up. The latter is pretty much what we've been doing. A few more cases remain.

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