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 Post subject: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 10:03 
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In this thread, I would like to discuss an idea that has been alluded to in other threads, and that is vital for refuting some of the most common abrogation claims. If and when the discussion crystallizes in a validation rule, we can add that to the list of rules we have. To explain the title, the static phase of the Quran is after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) with the complete text finalized, while the dynamic phase was during the life of the Prophet when the Quranic verses were still being revealed over time.

Here is the idea. The essence of the abrogation doctrine is that change in legislation from one ruling to another over time constitutes abrogation. I would like to argue that change in legislation that is applicable only during the life of the Prophet (PBUH) should not be considered abrogation, because such legislation should not be viewed by us as legislation in the first place. A ruling that applies only during the life of the Prophet ceases to be a ruling upon his death. It becomes a historical statement if you will. That is not annulment. That is just a new, permanent role. Consider for example


Nobody will claim that this verse is abrogated, for lack of an abrogating verse if nothing else. However, the effect of the ruling is gone. This doesn't mean that the verse is annulled. It only means that the verse plays a different role in the static phase of the Quran from the dynamic phase, that of a historical fact and a principle of conduct rather than an applicable ruling. Why is it then that the following verse in the text of the Quran would be considered abrogated?


It is not a ruling for us regardless of what role it played during the life of the Prophet. It may be setting a principle that limiting the access to a leader may be sanctioned. When 58:13 modifies it, they together set the principle that limiting the access, while sanctioned, should be avoided as much as possible. Neither of the verses is annulled, nor do they dictate any rule on us. They just set a principle for us, and they do that together.

If we focus on the question "are there abrogated verses in the complete text of the Quran as the Prophet left it for us?", we realize that a verse whose ruling changed but wouldn't affect us has not in fact been annulled, as there is no difference between that and a verse whose ruling did not change but wouldn't affect us anyway. Neither contains a ruling for us, so there is nothing to annul.

Please criticize and add to the argument. We have to get this right.

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 10:53 
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Pragmatic wrote:
the static phase of the Quran is after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) with the complete text finalized, while the dynamic phase was during the life of the Prophet when the Quranic verses were still being revealed over time.
Here is the idea. The essence of the abrogation doctrine is that change in legislation from one ruling to another over time constitutes abrogation. I would like to argue that change in legislation that is applicable only during the life of the Prophet (PBUH) should not be considered abrogation

While the emphasized part of the quote is the critical part of the static/dynamic dichotomy in terms of refuting some important abrogation claims, there is another angle to this dichotomy that is worth discussing, and that is the role that the time of revelation plays or doesn't play in the text of the Quran. In this post, I will just relate this question to the abrogation issue, without delving into the question itself in earnest.

In volume 1 of this book, the author asserts that the timing information is irrelevant in inferring a ruling from two verses that elaborate or restrict one another (in contrast to two verses where one abrogates the other, since we need the timing information to know which one was abrogated). Here is the relevant passage in Item 216 on page 139:

"The difference (due to when the exception was revealed) has no impact after the end of the revelation period. Whether the exception was revealed at the same time as the ruling, or came later, they were both included in the Quran and the Sunna and became part of the juristic texts. These texts for us are one law, parts of which may elaborate or restrict other parts."

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 20:19 
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I agree that the distinction between the two phases is important to note. However, in terms of our thesis, the question to ask is: during the dynamic phase of the Quran, was any verse abrogated but nevertheless made it to the static phase?

Many hadeeths affirm that there were verses of the Quran that were "caused to be forgotten" and those never made it to the written text and were never again recited by the prophet (PBUH). The prophet, peace be upon him, was the one who dictated the Quran to be written and it was he who ordered the sequence of verses that we have today. Thus, two questions immediately come to mind,

  1. If any verse in the text he dictated was abrogated, why didn't he say so?
  2. If any verse in the text he dictated was abrogated, why didn't he explain why it was, and what abrogated it?

To fail to do that is to fail to convey the message, God forbid. And if he didn't know, and he was directly inspired by God, then how can anybody else know?

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 20:25 
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Pragmatic wrote:
In volume 1 of this book, the author asserts that the timing information is irrelevant in inferring a ruling from two verses that elaborate or restrict one another (in contrast to two verses where one abrogates the other, since we need the timing information to know which one was abrogated). Here is the relevant passage in Item 216 on page 139:

"The difference (due to when the exception was revealed) has no impact after the end of the revelation period. Whether the exception was revealed at the same time as the ruling, or came later, they were both included in the Quran and the Sunna and became part of the juristic texts. These texts for us are one law, parts of which may elaborate or restrict other parts."

How can that be? It's against the laws of physics! An abrogation of a ruling does not just apply to us, but also to the contemporaries of the Prophet, peace be upon him. You can't logically tell them, "I'm going to abrogate something now that is yet to be revealed!"

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 20:45 
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Linguistic wrote:
How can that be? It's against the laws of physics! An abrogation of a ruling does not just apply to us, but also to the contemporaries of the Prophet, peace be upon him. You can't logically tell them, "I'm going to abrogate something now that is yet to be revealed!"

I guess my translation was poor (I should be banned since this is a translation site :)). Dr. Zaid is saying that the timing information about when the verses were revealed plays no role in the inference of a ruling based on two verses that complement each other (through exception or elaboration), since both verses are equal regardless of when they were revealed. He contrasts that with the critical role the time of revelation plays in abrogating one of two verses by the other. The reason this got my attention is that I am thinking (tentatively, until I study the matter further) that the timing information of revelation is not part of the text, and therefore is relevant only during the dynamic phase of the Quran. This has implications on the thesis of this project.

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2010, 03:29 
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For the purpose of organization of thoughts, here are different components related to the static/dynamic dichotomy, which can be addressed here or in the appropriate threads.

1. General discussion of the wisdom of the dynamic phase and the role served by having the revelations spread over time and the rulings distributed among verses. This neither strengthens nor weakens the case for the abrogation doctrine. It just puts the discussion in perspective. (discussed in the next post of this thread)

2. The assertion that change in rulings during the period of revelation which does not affect anyone after that period should not count as abrogation. The assertion should be substantiated as well as challenged. (discussed in the first post of this thread)

3. The question of whether the relative timing of revelations matters at all once the text of the Quran was complete. The idea here is that time played a role only during the period of revelation. (discussed in the second post of this thread)

4. The question of whether the exposure of the Sahaba to actual instances of abrogation (of verses that were gone) made them take for granted that abrogation of Quranic verses is a fact, and not worry about it since they had the Prophet (PBUH) during his life to tell them which verses were abrogated. Did some of them extrapolate the idea to verses in the text of the Quran, as it was left for us by the Prophet, without fully realizing the leap? (not discussed yet)

5. The definition of the word abrogation has evolved (at least for some) between the time of the revelation and later times of Islamic scholarship. How does this affect the interpretation of statements involving 'abrogation' made by different people at different times. (discussed in this post in another thread)

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2010, 08:10 
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Revelation Over Time

Pragmatic wrote:
1. General discussion of the wisdom of the dynamic phase and the role served by having the revelations spread over time and the rulings distributed among verses.

Here are the main components related to this question.

  • Quran versus previous revelations. Without appealing to 2:106 or the abrogation doctrine, there is no question that the Quran indicates that the previous holy books (Bible, Torah, etc.) were abrogated. They were annulled in the sense that God withdrew their divine authority, and they were replaced wholly and permanently with the Quran. The previous revelations were predestined for a specific time duration from the start. This fundamental Islamic belief should put to rest the quarrel with the enemies of Islam about the "change of mind" attacks, and it has nothing to do with the abrogation doctrine as it evolved.

  • Time spread of Quranic revelations. The wisdom of having the Quran revealed over time is explicitly stated in the Quran itself,


    The Quran is not only a document for the Muslims after the Prophet (PBUH). It is also a support mechanism for the Prophet as he faces difficulties, invites people to Islam as a new religion, and establishes the Islamic state. For example, consider the morale boost to early Muslims who were about to fight an uphill war when they receive a fresh verse in the Quran reassuring them. The effect would not be the same if the entire Quranic text were in place ahead of time. In addition, the circumstances of each revelation add life to the words being revealed, and enable the Prophet (PBUH) to elaborate and interpret through his action the significance of each revelation.

  • Time spread and change. With or without abrogation, the mere fact that the revelation of the Quran was done over time means that the rules of the religion were changing over time. It is an unavoidable side effect of the time spread. Even if none of the verses affected the ruling of previous verses in any shape or form, there would still be change since a prohibition for example will change the de facto permission that preceded it. If you accept that a changing body of rules took place over the period of the revelation, and there is really no alternative to accepting that, it is really not a fundamental difference to have the change implemented by some new verses replacing old ones. As long as it is known which verses replaced which, and as long as the text of the Quran that the Prophet (PBUH) leaves us is finalized, there is really no dilemma at all. In engineering terms, the dynamics of the revelation may necessitate an overshoot to arrive more efficiently at the steady state.

  • Splitting a ruling between Quranic verses. IMHO, irrespective of the time factor in and of itself, there is an added significance to splitting a ruling among non-consecutive verses in the Quran, instead of stating the ruling with all its exceptions and elaborations in one place. A case in point is اللعان. When a ruling in one verse is amended in later verses rather than in the same verse, it underlines the fact that the rule is not absolute, but subject to exceptions when a compelling situation arises. If the exception was made in the same verse as part of the original ruling, it is more likely that people would take it as the only allowable exception and that the ruling, stated with its exception, is otherwise absolute. In the case of اللعان, another situation might arise that may also be considered an exception, for example rape. If a victim of rape reports the incident, it stands to logic that there is no need for 4 witnesses to prevent the victim from receiving the penalty for slander. It may well be that "اللعان" protocol is applicable in such case. Just my humble opinion, and God knows best.

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 21 May 2010, 03:32 
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On page 157 of his book, Nada briefly alludes to the static/dynamic aspect when he addresses the abrogation case of 58:12-13 by saying that there is no point now in talking about whether or not 58:12 was abrogated because the ruling ceased to be applicable with the death of the Prophet (PBUH). This got me thinking. Are we trying to argue that there are no abrogated verses in the text of the Quran, or are we trying to argue that such verses would make no difference for us?

It is possible to argue that there may be abrogation of verses in the Quran that are limited in their scope to the life of the Prophet for the following reasons

  • The timing of different revelations was known and meaningful during that time, so there is no ambiguity about which ruling would overrule which.

  • The fact that "the verse is not to be followed any more" is patent after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), whether or not it was abrogated or not. The only difference for us is whether the verse can be used for القياس or not.

  • The historical value of the verses is unchanged since the question of abrogation is academic in this case.

Personally, I am convinced that there are no actual cases of abrogation in that category, but it is worth discussing since that covers two of the big 3 abrogation claims.

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 21 May 2010, 17:19 
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Pragmatic wrote:
This got me thinking. Are we trying to argue that there are no abrogated verses in the text of the Quran, or are we trying to argue that such verses would make no difference for us?

I suspect that's why most Muslims were not even aware that scholars have advocated the abrogation doctrine; it did not affect their life or faith. This is no longer true, because extremists nowadays use abrogation to justify their mass murder campaign!

See the topics "Consequences of abrogation" and "Consequences of non-abrogation" for further discussion on that.

Quote:
  • The fact that "the verse is not to be followed any more" is patent after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), whether or not it was abrogated or not. The only difference for us is whether the verse can be used for القياس or not.

IMHO, analogy easily applies, for instance 58:12-13 can be applied to any prominent Muslim ruler or jurist by analogy.

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 Post subject: Re: Static and Dynamic Phases of the Quran
PostPosted: 04 Oct 2010, 05:44 
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Pragmatic wrote:
1. General discussion of the wisdom of the dynamic phase and the role served by having the revelations spread over time and the rulings distributed among verses. This neither strengthens nor weakens the case for the abrogation doctrine. It just puts the discussion in perspective.

An excellent demonstration of that is what Abdullah ibn Hamza Aş-Şa`di Al-Yamaani wrote in his book التبيان في الناسخ والنسوخ في القرآن المجيد, pages 131-134, as he discussed the abrogation claim of 25:68-70. He quotes Abdullah ibn Al-Husayn ibn Al-Qaasim, from his book الناسخ والمنسوخ, volume 2, telling the story of a few Muslims who reverted to polytheism. He quotes the story in the context of his argument that murder is graver than apostasy.

The story starts with Tu`ma ibn Ubayriq and Al-Haarith ibn Suwayd ibn Aş-Şaamit reverted to polytheism and went back to Mecca. Shortly after, Al-Haarith regretted and wrote to his brother, Al-Jallaas, in Medina that he regretted and wanted to go back to Islam. He said, "Is there repentance for me? If not, I'll just wander in the land." Al-Jallaas was sitting with the Prophet (PBUH) when this verse was revealed,

So, Al-Jallaas wrote to his brother saying, "There is no repentance for you with the Messenger of God, but repent and maybe God will give you a way out." Shortly after, this verse was revealed,

Al-Jallaas wrote to his brother that repentance has been revealed. He came back to Medina and the Prophet (PBUH) accepted him. Others who reverted and went back to Mecca with him, said, "We're just like Al-Haarith, looking out for Muhammad's demise (نتربص به ريب المنون). If we figure it (بدا لنا), we'd go back to him and he will accept us like he accepted him." That's when this verse was revealed,

Those people remained polytheists, and some of them died that way, until the Prophet's triumphant return to Mecca, when they surrendered to the Prophet (PBUH) and declared Islam again and the Prophet (PBUH) accepted. About those who died without repentance, this verse was revealed,


The progression of events and how the Quran was paced to match them is most interesting. For the early Muslims, they were witnessing a living revelation, a real-time guidance unfolding.

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