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 Post subject: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2010, 05:25 
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In his book, علم أصول الفقه, Professor Ahmed Ibrahim writes about scholars opinions that consensus can abrogate authentic text. They cited for example two cases:

  • That at the time of Abu-Bakr, may God have been pleased with him, the Sahaaba agreed on dropping the share of new and potential Muslims (المؤلفة قلوبهم) from Zakah distribution, even though such share was clearly specified in 9:60.
  • That Ibn Abbaas said to Uthmaan, may God have been pleased with them, "Why would you reduce the share of a mother in inheritance from one third to one sixth when there are surviving siblings?" Uthmaan replied, "Your people did that."

Professor Ibrahim answered both points that there was actually no consensus on either matter. He concludes that consensus cannot abrogate authentic text.

I agree with his conclusion, but I don't quite see his rationale. What if there was consensus on the two matters cited? Would that have made a difference?

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2010, 06:33 
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Linguistic wrote:
Professor Ibrahim answered both points that there was actually no consensus on either matter. He concludes that consensus cannot abrogate authentic text.

I agree with his conclusion, but I don't quite see his rationale. What if there was consensus on the two matters cited? Would that have made a difference?

At more than one level, I agree that consensus cannot abrogate text, so I am addressing only the logic in the OP rather than the conclusion.

1. It seems to me that the above examples would be used to argue "can Sahaba rulings abrogate text?" because in both examples, it was Sahaba (Khalifa and other Sahaba) that made the ruling. I believe that this what Professor Ibrahim is referring to, just making the point that the examples do not show evidence of consensus.

2. Trying to prove that X can abrogate Y by showing that in some instance X was used to overrule Y is fundamentally flawed. It is a purely 'precedent' argument and precedent in and of itself is not a proof of validity.

3. I believe that in the case of consensus, people are implicitly invoking the hadeeth to the effect that a unanimous conclusion of the nation cannot be wrong, so they are deriving the authority from that hadeeth, not from the precedent. The simplest argument against this line of reasoning is that there is no unanimity that any text was abrogated, period, notwithstanding what is used to abrogate it, so the hadeeth about unanimity does not apply to any abrogation claim.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 22 Apr 2010, 03:59 
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Ali Hasan Al-Areedh, in his book فتح المنان في نسخ القرآن, defines consensus as follows, "the agreement of all Muslim scholars in an era about a juristic matter, as long as there is no voiced dissension. Consensus of others does not count, and those who differ with them are not considered."

So, a group of people decide on a matter and dismiss the differing opinions and that constitutes consensus? Isn't that what the Church did, in violation of the teachings of Jesus (PBUH)?

He then follows by saying that the majority of scholars said that consensus cannot abrogate authentic text, but that some said it can. Those who said it can quoted the consensus that the "will verse", 2:180, was abrogated by the consensus, and so was temporary marriage.

I don't know what these are talking about. Those who said that the will verse was abrogated were a minority and they said it was abrogated by the inheritance verses, not be consensus. I've offered my humble reasoning why the verse remains valid today.

As for temporary marriage, it was abrogated by the authentic hadeeth, not by consensus. It was also initiated by the Hadeeth, not the Quran.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2010, 03:46 
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On page 59 of his book, Al-Jabri quotes an interesting argument by Al-Fanari and Al-Shirazi that consensus cannot abrogate authentic text. The argument is that consensus is patently something that only happened after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) since at his time, he would have to be part of that consensus (let alone that nobody else's opinion would matter in that case) and therefore it would be Sunna not consensus. Since consensus can only happen after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), it cannot abrogate authentic text since abrogation cannot occur after the time of revelation.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 23 May 2010, 20:19 
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On page 69 of his book, الناسخ والمنسوخ بين الإثبات والنفي, Al-Jabri states that the Maalikis opined that consensus can abrogate the Quran, while some of them maintained that consensus cannot abrogate consensus! So, in their view, the consensus of humans prone to error can overrule divine text but not the consensus of other feeble humans. It is beyond belief that any Muslim scholar would actually say that, but apparently some did.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 24 May 2010, 00:53 
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Linguistic wrote:
On page 69 of his book, الناسخ والمنسوخ بين الإثبات والنفي, Al-Jabri states that the Maalikis opined that consensus can abrogate the Quran, while some of them maintained that consensus cannot abrogate consensus! So, in their view, the consensus of humans prone to error can overrule divine text but not the consensus of other feeble humans. It is beyond belief that any Muslim scholar would actually say that, but apparently some did.

Very difficult to interpret this by something other than a power grab, unfortunately.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 27 May 2010, 16:43 
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One of the examples quoted in the literature to back up the claim that consensus can abrogate the Quran, is that Abu-Bakr, by suggestion from Umar, may God have been pleased with them, has stopped distributing Zakah to potential Muslims, المؤلفة قلوبهم. The point being that Muslims no longer had to appease powerful non-Muslims who may otherwise hurt Muslims.

Dr. Az-Zalmi, in his book التبيان لرفع غموض النسخ في القرآن, page 12, cites this issue and argues that it is an example of a contingent command; once the contingency was gone, so is the command. He agrees that the contingency, namely, the need to appease powerful non-Muslims, is no longer there. Thus, it's an expiration, not abrogation.

I don't know how authentic this report about Abu-Bakr and Umar is, but I find it implausible. It paints the share to potential Muslims as a bribe or protection money! To begin with, the Arabic phrase means "those whose hearts are being reconciled". Thus, it refers to people who are new to Islam or are seriously considering it, but are having difficulty or apprehension about it. This situation arises all the time, whether Muslims are strong or weak. It is happening today a lot. I've read stories of young converts who were kicked out of their parents house when they accepted Islam and found themselves on the street! How is it possible not to help them from the Zakah revenue; it's a must IMHO.

In fact, this issue also means that people believe that analogy (القياس) can abrogate the Quran! That's because the determination of the purpose of the share to potential Muslims is merely an opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010, 05:44 
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There are many abrogation claims that have verse 9:60


abrogate other verses, and these are discussed in the corresponding threads. There is also a claim that 9:60 itself was abrogated by consensus, since the people in one of its categories were not given the alms during the time of the Sahaba. You made an excellent hand-written remark, Linguistic, that I saw when I was reading the copy of Al-Zalmi's book that you read, too. You said that إنما in 9:60 means that these are the exclusive categories which means that the alms cannot be given to someone else, but it does not require that all categories listed get alms. This means that the Sahaba practice was consistent with 9:60.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 28 Nov 2010, 13:56 
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Sheikh Sha`raawi, may God bless his soul, mentioned the point of elimination of the share of المؤلفة قلوبهم (those whose hearts are being reconciled to Islam, 9:60) in his book الطريق إلى الإيمان. He said that the share was not eliminated, but suspended, because there were no such people at the time of Abu-Bakr and Umar. He gives another example, that in oil-rich countries, there are no longer any poor or needy, so does that mean that their shares have been abrogated?

The Sheikh, rahimahullah, mentions also the accusation levied at Umar during the year of famine, that he canceled the penalty for theft. He did not. He simply found its pre-requisites not fulfilled! People who stole that year, did so out of hunger. The penalty for theft cannot be applied unless the thief has enough to feed himself and his family, assessed at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, at a quarter of a Dinar.

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 Post subject: Re: Can consensus abrogate authentic text?
PostPosted: 20 Jun 2013, 22:44 
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While we're talking about 9:60 and the cancellation, or suspension of the share of alms to be given to converts, it is important to notice that 9:60 does not say that the eight categories of deserving recipients are to be given equal shares, nor does it say they all must be given something. It simply specifies eligibility.

Thus, if consensus was at some point that converts were ineligible, then such consensus would be in contradiction to 9:60 and would have no valid basis.

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