Examination of Alleged Cases of Abrogation in the Entry on ‘Abrogation’ in Leiden’s Encyclopedia of Islam
Abrogation is one of the important and controversial issues pertaining to the Qurʾān. In the eyes of erstwhile scholars, abrogation was used mostly in the literal sense of ‘displacement’ such that they would refer to any restriction, limitation or anything that would exclude something from the general rule as an ‘abrogator’ (nāsikh). However, later scholars considered the concept of abrogation to be far more limited in scope and made a clear distinction between abrogation and the general and specific, the absolute and limited, and exceptions. Since the term abrogation has not been consistently used by scholars, there is a great deal of disagreement on the number of abrogating and abrogated verses such that erstwhile scholars have reported large numbers of abrogating and abrogated verses, while in contemporary times, due to careful attention given to the terminological meaning of abrogation, it is applied only if there is a profound discrepancy between the two verses that is impossible to harmonize. For this reason, there are said to be much fewer abrogated verses and some have even denied the existence of a single abrogated verse in the Qurʾān. However, Orientalists have, without exception, defined abrogation in a manner that would lead to the maximum number of abrogating and abrogated verses. Since they consider abrogation to be the result of contradictions in the Qurʾān and the existence of contradictions in the Qurʾān is considered to be a flaw, they are keen to portray the number of abrogating and abrogated verses as many. The entry on ‘Abrogation’ in Leiden’s Encyclopedia of Islam is one of the instances that need to be critically reviewed. In this article, we have surveyed all the cases where the said article in the encyclopedia claims that abrogation took place and concluded that actual abrogation has not taken place in any of the mentioned cases. In the Qurʾān, there is no truly abrogated verse in the technical sense, and all cases mentioned are either instances of limitations on absolute rulings or specifics of general laws, or cases of prima-facie and conditional abrogation.
Article Type:
Research/Original Article
The Qur’an from Orientalists Point of View Qur’an and Orientalists, No. 26, 2019
103 - 116
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