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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 02 Feb 2010, 00:39 
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Scholars have wondered what does God mean by "bring one better". Aren't all verses of the Quran equally good? Many opinions were offered and one that makes a lot of sense, and has been used to support the abrogation doctrine, is that the abrogating verses offer the believer more good than the abrogated ones, such as reducing the requirements without reducing the reward.

I thought of something today which I'm inclined to believe is more direct, and you guessed it, it supports the notion that no abrogation occurred in the Quran. See if you agree with me:

I believe that there is a direct correspondence in the verse: the phrase بخير منها (one better) corresponds to ننسخ من آية (remove, or abrogate a verse), while أو مثلها (or one like it) corresponds to أو ننسها (or cause it to be forgotten). Thus, when God abrogates a verse, He brings a better one; when He causes a verse to be forgotten, He brings one similar to it.

How does that annul the notion of abrogation in the Quran? Because all verses of the Quran are equally good, they can only be caused to be forgotten, never abrogated. But verses of the Quran abrogated verses of the Torah and the Gospel even those that have survived editing. The Quran is superior to those scriptures, or God would not have allowed them to be edited and lost.

This interpretation is consistent with the following hadeeth, rated Saheeh (authentic) by Al-Albaani,

عن ابن أبزى عن أبيه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أغفل آية، فلما صلى قال: أفي القوم أبي؟ فقال أبي: آية كذا نسخت أم نسيتها؟ قال: بل أنسيتها

Translation:
During a congregational prayer, the prophet (PBUH) left out a verse. When he was done, he asked, "Is Ubayy around?" Ubayy replied and asked the prophet, "Such and such verse - was it abrogated or did you forget it?" The prophet replied, "No I was caused to forget it."

Notice that the prophet (PBUH) acknowledged that he left out a verse, but rejected both suggestions of Ubayy: abrogation and that he forgot the verse. He asserted that he "was caused to forget it." That is what happens to verses of the Quran that God no longer wants to be recited or be part of the written Quran.

The prophet's rejection of abrogation is the reason I favor the above interpretation of 2:106 and why I maintain that no abrogation exists in the text of the Quran. His rejection of the assumption that he may have forgotten the verse is consistent with God's promise in,

Verse 87:6 makes it clear that the prophet (PBUH) on his own will not forget any revelation, and the exception in 87:7 is when God may cause him to forget.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 02 Feb 2010, 04:32 
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Linguistic wrote:
the following hadeeth, rated Saheeh (authentic) by Al-Albaani,
عن ابن أبزى عن أبيه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أغفل آية، فلما صلى قال: أفي القوم أبي؟ فقال أبي: آية كذا نسخت أم نسيتها؟ قال: بل أنسيتها
Translation:
During a congregational prayer, the prophet (PBUH) left out a verse. When he was done, he asked, "Is Ubayy around?" Ubayy replied and asked the prophet, "Such and such verse - was it abrogated or did you forget it?" The prophet replied, "No I was caused to forget it."

Notice that the prophet (PBUH) acknowledged that he left out a verse, but rejected both suggestions of Ubayy: abrogation and that he forgot the verse. He asserted that he "was caused to forget it." That is what happens to verses of the Quran that God no longer wants to be recited or be part of the written Quran.

The prophet's rejection of abrogation is the reason I favor the above interpretation of 2:106 and why I maintain that no abrogation exists in the text of the Quran. His rejection of the assumption that he may have forgotten the verse is consistent with God's promise in 87:6,7.

Verse 87:6 makes it clear that the prophet (PBUH) on his own will not forget any revelation, and the exception in 87:7 is when God may cause him to forget.

Valuable information and analysis. The authentic hadeeth you quoted is central to the discussion, and even more so are verses 87:6,7.

As you point out, this information answers the question about how verses from the Quran can possibly be forgotten. It may seem that abrogating a verse is a planned action, while forgetting a verse sounds more like an accident. Your evidence leaves no doubt that forgetting a verse is also a planned action by God, and that no accidental forgetting can take place per 87:6,7. Regardless of the pro/con of the abrogation doctrine, this analysis should be highlighted when we report our results.

This also leaves little or no doubt that there had been revealed verses that did not make it to the text of the Quran (specifically, those made to be forgotten). No wonder that even those who reject the abrogation doctrine, as it relates to verses that survived in the text, concede the possibility that other verses may have been gone. Although some may find this not 'neat', I have absolutely no problem with the notion, and I believe it fits with the notion of the 'dynamic period' of the Quran without any difficulty.

Now let me address the other side of the coin, whether some verses that were gone from the Quran were abrogated rather than made to be forgotten. The notion may sound even less 'neat' because of the theological opinion that a verse can be abrogated while its ruling remains valid. As I read more about the subject, I find this opinion to be shaky, and I will post the details when the picture is complete in my mind inshaallah. Other than that opinion, there is really no consequential difference of having abrogated verses that were gone from the text of the Quran versus having forgotten verses. The reason I am mentioning this is to point out that we do not have to argue that such verses didn't exist in the course of substantiating the thesis of this project. Plausible as the argument may be, we risk having a point of attack with no upside as far as substantiating our thesis is concerned.

Let me close by saying FWIW that I do not have an opinion yet about the existence of abrogated verses that are gone from the text. I can see that it's a more critical issue than the forgotten verses, but I have no tangible reason to dismiss the possibility.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 04 Feb 2010, 20:31 
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I tried to find out whether the Quran ever referred to the contents of the Injeel (Bible) or the Torah as verses, to substantiate the interpretation of 2:106 that builds on 2:105. There are 12 mentions of the Injeel in the Quran, and none of them includes the word verse (آية). There are 16 mentions of the Torah in the Quran and two of them include the word آية. It is not clear cut that the reference is to the contents of the Torah, but it is a likely interpretation in my view.





As always, there is the question of whether آية refers specifically to a verse, or more generally to a "sign." However, for the purpose at hand, what we are concerned about is whether the contents of the Torah are referred to by the Arabic word آية since this is the same word used in 2:106.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2010, 01:43 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I tried to find out whether the Quran ever referred to the contents of the Injeel (Bible) or the Torah as verses, to substantiate the interpretation of 2:106 that builds on 2:105.
...
As always, there is the question of whether آية refers specifically to a verse, or more generally to a "sign." However, for the purpose at hand, what we are concerned about is whether the contents of the Torah are referred to by the Arabic word آية since this is the same word used in 2:106.

IMHO, the reason you won't find a reference to specific verses of the older scriptures is that the Quran abrogated the whole of the older scriptures, not verse by verse. To specify verses would open the door to the people of the Book to argue that some of the verses in their books are still valid and incumbent upon Muslims too. It is documented that many Muslim scholars have accepted that the laws of prior nations (شرع من قبلنا) is legislation for Muslims too. You find this in the Hanafi school of thought, for instance. I disagree, not only because 16:101 and 2:106 both were revealed in response to claims of the Jews that the Torah was not and could not have been abrogated, but also because the laws of prior nations are for them only and not for us, evidenced by


In this verse,

God calls every message of every one of His messengers His signs. There is consensus between scholars that the abrogated sign referred to in 2:106, knowing the circumstances of its revelation, is the Torah.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2010, 06:25 
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Linguistic wrote:
IMHO, the reason you won't find a reference to specific verses of the older scriptures is that the Quran abrogated the whole of the older scriptures, not verse by verse. To specify verses would open the door to the people of the Book to argue that some of the verses in their books are still valid and incumbent upon Muslims too.

I may have not expressed myself clearly. I was only looking to see if the word آية was used by the Quran to refer to the contents of previous books, as a way of supporting the interpretation that the phrase ما ننسخ من آية in 2:106 applies to these books.

Having said that, I agree with what you said in your post. If my memory serves me right, and it seldom does :), there is a hadeeth that instructs us, when faced with what the People of the Book assert based on their scriptures, not to believe them and not to disbelieve them. IMHO, this captures not only that these scriptures were corrupted over time, but also that the original scriptures have been abrogated.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 21:29 
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Linguistic wrote:
"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.

To add insult to injury, not only did people treat the conditioned-upon part in 2:106 as if it was a statement not a condition, they actually challenged that the second part has to occur when the condition is satisfied. This would be like considering the statment: "If you win the Nobel Prize, you will get international recognition" as saying that you will win the Nobel Prize, and that when you win it, you may not get international recognition! Here are the details from volume 1 of this book.

Item 280 on pages 188-189: The author challenges a statement by Al-Aamedey that claims that it is a consensus with few exceptions that abrogation can occur without a substitute. The author used the abrogation verse 2:106 as direct evidence for his challenge, and also used the substitution verse 16:101 as part of his argument.

Item 282 on pages 189-190: The author quotes the opinion of Imam Al-Shafeiy that states that abrogation cannot happen without a substitute.

One final observation. The argument that was used to conclude that no substitute is needed in abrogation is quoted in Items 273-279 on pages 183-188. The argument uses claims of abrogation that do not have substitutes as an illustration that abrogation can happen without substitute. This is fatally flawed logic. Instead of using a rule to decide abrogation claims, they use abrogation claims to decide a rule, which creates a circular argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2010, 21:52 
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Pragmatic wrote:
there is a hadeeth that instructs us, when faced with what the People of the Book assert based on their scriptures, not to believe them and not to disbelieve them.

Yes, here it is. It is rated authentic by Al-Albaani who says that it is reported by Al-Bukhaari,

عن ابن أبي نملة عن أبيه قال: كنت عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ دخل عليه رجل من اليهود فقال: يا محمد أتُكَلم هذه الجنازة؟ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: الله أعلم، فقال اليهودي: أنا أشهد أنها تكلم، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ما حدثكم أهل الكتاب فلا تصدقوهم ولا تكذبوهم، وقولوا: آمنا بالله وكتبه ورسله، فإن كان حقا لم تكذبوهم، وإن كان باطلا لم تصدقوهم.

قال الألباني : وتكلم الجنازة مما ينبغي أن يصدق به لثبوت ذلك في بعض الأحاديث الصحيحة، كقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا وضعت الجنازة، واحتملها الرجال على أعناقهم، فإن كانت صالحة قالت: قدموني قدموني، وإن كانت غير صالحة قالت: يا ويلها أين يذهبون بها؟ يسمع صوتها كل شيء إلا الإنسان، ولو سمعه لصعق. أخرجه البخاري وغيره، وهو في أحكام الجنائز ص 72. فقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم جوابا عن سؤال اليهودي: الله أعلم. الظاهر أنه كان قبل أن يوحى إليه بهذا الحديث الصحيح الصريح في تكلم الجنازة وبصوت. والله أعلم. ثم إن الحديث في صحيح البخاري من حديث أبي هريرة مرفوعا دون قوله: فإن كان حقا

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 07 Feb 2010, 02:01 
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Singular آية referring to a previous book

Pragmatic wrote:
I was only looking to see if the word آية was used by the Quran to refer to the contents of previous books, as a way of supporting the interpretation that the phrase ما ننسخ من آية in 2:106 applies to these books.

This issue is even more important than I thought. Dr. Zaid (Item 330 on page 229 in volume 1 of his book) challenges the interpretation of آية as belonging to previous books, based on the lack of definition of آية in this capacity in the major dictionaries. He is a thorough researcher so I won't question his evidence, but I believe that finding verses in the Quran that refer to the contents of previous books as آية will trump that. We already saw some examples in the above posts. Here is another example with an important feature:


Granted that آية here could mean sign rather than verse (to emphasize that miracles are from God given the human nature of the messengers as shown by their marriages), but it could very well be verse or an entire book of verses, which goes with the 'book' in 'every epoch has a book' (my translation of the last part of 13:38). This example has the important feature that آية is mentioned in the singular in reference to an entire book of revelations (under the interpretation that it is indeed a book that is being referred to), which would be significant for the interpretation of abrogation in 2:106 as referring to previous books, since 2:106 also uses آية in the singular. This issue was raised in a previous post:

Linguistic wrote:
the Quran abrogated the whole of the older scriptures, not verse by verse.

One more thing to note is that verse 13:38 is actually the one before


which is sometimes used to substantiate the abrogation doctrine. Dr. Zaid happens to believe that this particular verse refers to previous books. The key point of this post is that the word آية was used to refer to previous books in 13:38. IMHO, verse 13:39 helps reinforce this interpretation.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2010, 03:30 
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Interpretation by Muhammad Abduh

Imam Muhammad Abduh, a famous Egyptian scholar of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, is reported to have been anti-abrogation. To put this in context, he was famous for countering the tendency at that time to exaggerate the 'mythical' part of the religion, so he put quite a bit of effort in being "down to earth" in his understanding of various religious components.

His interpretation of 2:106, according to this book (volume 1, item 349, pages 246-247) is that the word "آية" in 2:106 does not mean verse, but it means sign, as in miracle. This interpretation is shared by a previous Sufi scholar, Muhyi-Aldeen Ibn-Arabi. His reasoning for choosing this interpretation of the word is that

  1. The end of 2:106 says "Don't you know that God is most capable of all things?" which fits the miracle interpretation, whereas a similar statement about His knowledge or wisdom would have fit the idea of abrogation better.
  2. The difficulty that some scholars have in interpreting "caused to be forgotten," when "آية" is interpreted as verse, to the extent that some thought it meant "left as is and not abrogated" which wouldn't make sense given that 2:106 says that something better was brought.
  3. In the following verse, God says "Or you want to ask your messenger like Moses was asked before" and Moses was asked for miracles by both the Israelites and the folk of Pharaoh.
  4. The other reading of the verse (due to Ibn Katheer and Abu-Amr) uses a word which means "delay" in place of that which means "cause to be forgotten." Under this reading, miracle can fit but abrogation of verses cannot.

Muhammad Abduh follows this analysis by commenting that this interpretation is superior in logic and flows naturally without labored effort to direct the meaning of words. The author of the book later counters these arguments in detail, defending the interpretation of "آية" as verse as the only plausible interpretation.

Just a side note. In refuting the arguments of Muhammad Abduh, the author exercised total courtesy and respect, neither of which he afforded another scholar, Abu-Muslim Al-Asfahani, whose arguments he also refuted. The reason I am mentioning this is that it shows how the environment can affect the writing of the scholars. Muhammad Abduh was a respected scholar by many in the Egyptian theological community, to which the author belonged, while Al-Asfahani had become really fair game for pro-abrogation scholars to attack.

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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation of the Abrogation Verse 2:106
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2010, 23:23 
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Interpretation by Dr. Mostafa Zaid

In his book about abrogation, Dr. Zaid dedicated pages 244-258 of volume 1 to the interpretation of 2:106 by him and by others. He also interpreted 16:101 and 13:39 as part of the Quranic basis for the abrogation doctrine.

He made it a point to interpret each verse using the context of the verses before and after, and as a result he came up with what I believe is an objective and sensible interpretation for the other two verses, concluding that the abrogation aspect of 16:101 is about verses within the Quran while in 13:39 it is about previous books. When it came to 2:106, his use of the context was far less logical in my view. Here are the highlights of his interpretation and my opinion about them FWIW.

  1. He concludes that "abolish" is the only plausible meaning among the linguistic alternatives for the word "نسخ" (abrogate) as used in 2:106. (I agree)

  2. He concludes that "Quranic verse" is the only plausible meaning for the word "آية" (verse) as used in 2:106. He specifically excludes the other related meaning which is "verses in previous holy books", based on the fact that such meaning is not mentioned in Arabic dictionaries. We have already addressed this point. (I disagree)

  3. He concedes that the verse does not imply that abrogation has in fact occurred, in view of the conditional expression. He defers to 16:101 for his conclusion that abrogation has occurred. (I agree)

  4. He spent quite a bit interpreting the verses leading up to 2:106, but with a twist. The effort seems directed at treating 2:105 as a culmination of the verses before it, rather than a preamble to the verse after it, which is 2:106. I am not sure what role this argument could possibly play in his effort to interpret 2:106 other than to preempt the use of 2:105 as a preamble to 2:106, thus dismissing its evidence that the word 'abrogation' in 2:106 is about previous holy books, not the Quran, without having to address that evidence directly. (I disagree)

  5. He does not mention or counter the interpretation of 2:106 as a follow-up to 2:105. I know for a fact that this interpretation was mentioned by Asad who predated Zaid, but it is possible that Zaid did not look at non-Arabic references. I wonder if relating 2:106 to 2:105 was mentioned in any of the traditional exegeses of the Quran. I just find it strange that he is not addressing this interpretation, while he addressed far less plausible interpretations. Anyway, as we mentioned in the previous point, he treats 2:105 as a culmination of previous verses about the enemies of Islam, and uses this to argue that this fits that 2:106 would talk about abrogating Quranic verses since this also is a point of attack by the enemies of Islam. (I disagree)

  6. He concludes that the meaning of "ننسها" is indeed "cause to be forgotten" and that means the verse is completely gone. (I agree)

  7. He uses the previous point to argue that "نسخ", by contrast, means gone in ruling but remains in reciting. (I disagree)

  8. He interprets the purpose of end of the verse (the description of God as most capable "قدير") as to threaten the disbelievers and to warn the Muslims about them. (I disagree)

I have developed respect for Dr. Zaid as I studiously read chunks of what he wrote in detail. My impressions about how he handled different parts may be colored by my own opinion about his conclusions in those parts, but I genuinely believe that his arguments in the interpretation of 2:106 are the weakest, sometimes most labored, of all that I have read from him so far.

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