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 Post subject: Re: Why keep abrogated verses?
PostPosted: 06 May 2010, 16:29 
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Pragmatic wrote:
Al-Ghazali writes on page 203 of his book that the contrast between ننسخ and ننسي in 2:106 designates the difference between not completely deleting the verse and completely deleting the verse, hence the former is taken as deleting just the ruling but not the wording of the verse, while the latter is taken as completely deleting the verse.

  1. I concede that with this interpretation, the claim is not completely outrageous as it sounded without any elaboration.

  2. I maintain that the interpretation does not hold water nonetheless, since the linguistic meaning of ننسخ that implies deleting does not have shades of deleting. The word can mean things other than deleting, e.g., copying, but when it means deleting, what is deleted is gone, and that is indeed how it is used elsewhere in the Quran, 22:52.

The more I think about it and the more I study the word naskh نسخ, the more I realize that it does not mean to remove. If you notice in verse 22:52, God says the Satan throws in words into a prophet's wish, then God does a naskh to what Satan threw and then God sets right His verses. This leads me to conclude that what Satan threw, he did not (and could not) throw into the verses and therefore nothing was removed from the verses. Instead, the wishful thoughts the prophet may have had were corrected by the revealed verses. That is the prevalent meaning of naskh as I have come to understand it: additional words to a previous saying which serve to explain it further, disambiguate it, point out exemptions and exclusions from it, point out specific provisions of it, or emphasize it.

I think that whenever God wanted to convey the removal semantic, he used other words, such as بَدّلنا, يمحو and نُنْسِها.

In Arabic, as in many other languages, words that sound similar have related meanings. A good example is درج which means stairs going up and درك which means stairs going down. I venture to guess that there is a similar semantic relationship between نسخ and مسخ (to mar, or disfigure). The former is the word often translated to abrogate, but I believe it to mean "to transform to something better" while the latter means "to transform to something worse!"

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 Post subject: Re: Why keep abrogated verses?
PostPosted: 06 May 2010, 17:33 
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Linguistic wrote:
The more I think about it and the more I study the word naskh نسخ, the more I realize that it does not mean to remove.

OK, let's follow this line. Since previous revelations were abrogated by the Quran, and at least parts of previous revelations are still there physically, there is evidence for what you say. It may not be removal/deletion, but annulment in the sense of withdrawing the divine authority. This takes us to the crux of the abrogation doctrine. Can a verse in the Quran be annulled and still be left in the text?

If the answer is no, as we postulate, this can be because

1. There were no verses revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) that were subsequently annulled.
- or -
2. Any verse that was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) and was subsequently annulled was not included in the text of the Quran.

We have concentrated on (2) as it is less overreaching, while all the anti-abrogation scholars that we have read so far (Al-Asfahany, Al-Jabri, Al-Saqqa, Al-Ghazali) take the stricter view of (1). If we argue for (2), and we are convinced that the word نسخ allows the possibility of abrogated verses not being deleted, then we need to argue against the possibility of "abrogating the ruling but not the the recitation" directly. Here is my first attempt. The following verses order the Prophet (PBUH) to follow what is revealed to him.




This helps but it is not conclusive. If we have something that orders people to follow/obey what is recited, then we have a conclusive argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Why keep abrogated verses?
PostPosted: 06 May 2010, 18:29 
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Pragmatic wrote:
OK, let's follow this line. Since previous revelations were abrogated by the Quran, and at least parts of previous revelations are still there physically, there is evidence for what you say. It may not be removal/deletion, but annulment in the sense of withdrawing the divine authority. This takes us to the crux of the abrogation doctrine. Can a verse in the Quran be annulled and still be left in the text?

My point, you see, is that abrogation is entirely a wrong translation of naskh. What the Quran did to the Torah is that it corrected what was corrupted in it, and confirmed what was not. That is what naskh means as I'm now fairly convinced: to transform to something better, clearer, detailed, specific, etc.

Thus, I'm arguing, naskh does not even mean abrogation. Abrogation or annulment is done by only one way: verses are caused to be forgotten. Put another way, a verse of any divine scripture that stays without authorized naskh correcting it is valid. If it were possible to tell which verses of the Torah were not corrupted, these verses would remain valid even after the Quran was revealed. Unfortunately, there is no way to make that distinction. That is why it was necessary to reveal the Quran.

Applying this understanding, it is possible for verses of the written text of the Quran to have undergone naskh, because they got detailed, elaborated, etc., by other verses. It is also possible that some verses of the revealed Quran were abrogated, by way of being caused to be forgotten, and those, by definition, never made it to the written text. This is pretty much in accordance with my other observation about the order of phrases in 2:106.

This is a brewing idea still and I could be wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Why keep abrogated verses?
PostPosted: 06 May 2010, 20:48 
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Linguistic wrote:
abrogation is entirely a wrong translation of naskh. What the Quran did to the Torah is that it corrected what was corrupted in it, and confirmed what was not. That is what naskh means as I'm now fairly convinced: to transform to something better, clearer, detailed, specific, etc.

...

This is a brewing idea still and I could be wrong.

It is good that we are discussing the different ideas about the intended meaning of naskh in 2:106, since this is the heart of the matter. I would just argue that the linguistic meaning of naskh, other than copying, is indeed abrogation. Maybe not deletion, but certainly invalidation/annulment. If we argue otherwise, we need to base it on the linguistic meaning and the Quranic use of the word.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 07 May 2010, 00:36 
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I may have posted this with the detailed reference before, but I could not find it so let me mention it here so that it is not forgotten. In Al-Jabri's book, he makes an interesting distinction that I have not seen before nor thought about. Instead of annulment of a ruling in a verse, he asserts severing the relationship between the ruling and the verse. The difference is subtle. The ruling may be still applicable due to other text that mandates it, so it may not be annulled per se. You just cannot rely on the abrogated verse to invoke that ruling.

Although this is perhaps too technical, it's worth mentioning in a footnote. It also makes abrogating previous revelations perfectly consistent. Many of their rulings still apply, but not because they were included in the abrogated revelation, but because they were included again in a new revelation.

The expression "withdrawing the divine authority of the verse" perfectly fits this notion as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Why keep abrogated verses?
PostPosted: 07 May 2010, 05:11 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I would just argue that the linguistic meaning of naskh, other than copying, is indeed abrogation. Maybe not deletion, but certainly invalidation/annulment. If we argue otherwise, we need to base it on the linguistic meaning and the Quranic use of the word.

Different words mean different things, though the meanings may be related. Annulment/invalidation, for instance translates إبطال, as in

And

Whereas محو means erasure, as in

And

Other related words are إدحاض as in

And إحباط as in

You see what I mean? I see نسخ as a modification to something that is still there. The modification is not to negate it but to add to it an explanation, a specification, an exemption, options, etc.

The examples often quoted in the literature to explain the linguistic uses of the word are,
  • نسخت الريح الأثر which means the wind nearly erased the tracks. If they meant total erasure, they would've said محت الريح الأثر
  • نسخ الشيب الشباب which means grey hair had its toll on youthfulness. If they wanted to say it ended it, they would've said أنهى الشيب الشباب
  • نسخ النحل العسل which means the bees carried honey from one cell to another, or that it duplicated it in every cell, which is more likely since that is what actually happens. If they wanted to say that they moved it to another cell, they would have said نقل النحل العسل
  • نسخت الشمس الظل which means the sun covered the shade. The shade isn't gone, it will be back when the sun moves away. If they wanted to say that the sun replaces the shade, they would've said أبدلت الشمس الظل
  • نسخت الريح الديار which means that the wind altered the appearance of the homes to the point that they are hardly recognizable, not that the homes are gone. If they wanted to say the homes are gone, they would have said ذهبت الريح بالديار

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 07 May 2010, 19:06 
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I am a bit confused about where this is going, so let me try to refocus by articulating the key points.

First, what we are disputing in this project is naskh the way the word was used by the pro-abrogation scholars over the centuries, and there is no doubt that they mean abrogation. Let's make it plain language. They certainly mean

The verse is not to be followed

That is what we are contesting. If that is not what is meant, then we are not contesting it.

Therefore, if we are looking into the true linguistic meaning of naskh, the only purpose for this exercise would be to verify/refute the evidence those scholars have used from the Quran and the narrations of the Sahaba involving the word naskh, lest it should have a different meaning from what they are citing it for.

In the case of the narrations of the Sahaba, it's a done deal. It is used in a different meaning which is even weaker than the meanings you discuss in the previous post. That may not be even the correct linguistic use, but that is the meaning they used it for, for better or for worse.

In the Quran, 2:106 uses the word in a particular way. It doesn't say that a verse abrogated a verse. It says that God abrogated a verse. There is no replacing or modifying entity implied by the verb naskh itself. That is implied by the rest of the verse "We bring.." I feel that it is very compelling that the meaning of naskh in 2:106 is "invalidate", "annul", or "withdraw the divine authority", especially given the context of 2:105. The other use of the verb in the Quran in 22:52 also means annul or invalidate, and that one has not been disputed.

In short, the only linguistic analysis of the word naskh that matters in this project is what does the word mean in its specific use in 2:106.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 10 May 2010, 18:04 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I am a bit confused about where this is going,
...
First, what we are disputing in this project is naskh the way the word was used by the pro-abrogation scholars over the centuries, and there is no doubt that they mean abrogation.

My purpose is to refute the abrogation doctrine at the definition stage. I contend that the formulation of the abrogation doctrine, which evidence shows was started by the companions of Ibn Mas`ood, may God have been pleased with them, is without merit. The premise I'd like to prove is that the word naskh was not used to mean abrogation.

Quote:
Let's make it plain language. They certainly mean

The verse is not to be followed

That is what we are contesting. If that is not what is meant, then we are not contesting it.

What I'm saying is that this what the subsequent scholars indeed meant, but it is not what the word linguistically means, not how the Quran used it, and not how the Sahaaba used it.

Quote:
Therefore, if we are looking into the true linguistic meaning of naskh, the only purpose for this exercise would be to verify/refute the evidence those scholars have used from the Quran and the narrations of the Sahaba involving the word naskh, lest it should have a different meaning from what they are citing it for.

Precisely. My effort in this regard is to show that the word should not have been used to mean abrogation, or "lifting a juristic ruling by a juristic later evidence." That definition has no merit, nor cause.

Quote:
In the Quran, 2:106 uses the word in a particular way. It doesn't say that a verse abrogated a verse. It says that God abrogated a verse. There is no replacing or modifying entity implied by the verb naskh itself. That is implied by the rest of the verse "We bring.." I feel that it is very compelling that the meaning of naskh in 2:106 is "invalidate", "annul", or "withdraw the divine authority", especially given the context of 2:105. The other use of the verb in the Quran in 22:52 also means annul or invalidate, and that one has not been disputed.

In short, the only linguistic analysis of the word naskh that matters in this project is what does the word mean in its specific use in 2:106.

I humbly suggest that no annulment or invalidation is implied by 2:106, rather correction or restoration. You see, what I'm seeing now, after going through 25 scholarly books, old and new, is that the word naskh should really be defined as follows,
"Explicitly stating information about a ruling that were not explicitly stated before."

That is, statement A states a ruling. Statement B came later and stated information about the same ruling that statement A did not explicitly state.

The question then arises: why? The detractors will say "it implies uncovering of new information not previously thought of." That's the charge from the Jews (البداء). That, of course, is absurd. Some of the reasons for naskh as I defined above are,
  • The ruling was not complete. It was only introduced. All Islamic rulings were not complete until the Prophet, peace be upon him, died. Rulings during the dynamic phase of the Quran and Hadeeth, were gradual and timely to train Muslims who will spread the Word, and to have the most impact on their faith. That is precisely what God mentions as the reason for sending the Quran in stages and not in one revelation.
  • The ruling was distorted, misrepresented, or misunderstood. The new statement came to correct the misunderstanding or to restore the original ruling. There are many examples of misunderstanding of a ruling. A good one is the misunderstanding of "the true way He should be feared" in 3:102. A good example of a distorted ruling is the Torah. That is why the Quran was revealed: to restore the original teachings God gave Moses (PBUH). This is not abrogation; it's revival. That is now my understanding of 2:106.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 10 May 2010, 22:12 
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Linguistic wrote:
What I'm saying is that this what the subsequent scholars indeed meant, but it is not what the word linguistically means, not how the Quran used it, and not how the Sahaaba used it.

OK, here is what we agree upon:

1. The abrogation doctrine, as advocated by the majority of subsequent scholars, asserts the annulment of some verses in the text of the Quran.

2. We believe that the abrogation doctrine is flawed.

3. The Sahaba narrations used the word naskh to mean something other than annulment, and they were misleadingly quoted (inadvertently or otherwise) by those who asserted annulment.

I think we have pretty much sealed that part, with significant support for some aspects of it from the scholarly literature. Now, here is what we seem to be disagreeing upon:

4. The word naskh means annulment among its linguistic meanings.

5. The Quran uses naskh in the sense of annulment.

6. Specifically, 2:106 uses naskh in the sense of annulment.

I respectfully maintain that the 3 last statements are true, and that the majority of pro- and anti-abrogation scholars would concur. I don't believe it is necessary, nor viable, to argue otherwise for the purpose of refuting the abrogation doctrine. Just my humble opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of abrogation
PostPosted: 11 May 2010, 06:00 
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Pragmatic wrote:
Now, here is what we seem to be disagreeing upon:

4. The word naskh means annulment among its linguistic meanings.

5. The Quran uses naskh in the sense of annulment.

6. Specifically, 2:106 uses naskh in the sense of annulment.

I respectfully maintain that the 3 last statements are true, and that the majority of pro- and anti-abrogation scholars would concur. I don't believe it is necessary, nor viable, to argue otherwise for the purpose of refuting the abrogation doctrine. Just my humble opinion.

I understand, and like I said, I'm still working on this.

According to the dictionary مقاييس اللغة, there are two understandings of naskh,

النون والسين والخاء أصلٌ واحد، إلاّ أنّه مختلفٌ في قياسِه. قال قوم: قياسُه رفْعُ شيءٍ وإثباتُ غيرِهِ مكانَه. وقال آخرون: قياسُه تحويلُ شيءٍ إلى شيءٍ

Translation: Some people said that the pattern of n-s-kh means the lifting of something and placing something else in its place. Others said that the pattern means the transforming of something into something else.

That is why I believe that the order of words in 2:106 has much significance in understanding what naskh means. It is something that leads to something better than what was, while causing to forget something leads to something that is equally good.

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