Refutation to ‘Abrogation in the Qur’an’ by Ustaz Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah” (Qur’an 2:2)

This is in response to the article here:

http://www.lamppostproductions.com/abrogation-in-the-quran-shaykh-abdullah-bin-hamid-ali/

I would encourage you to understand the background of the individual that I am going to be responding to.

http://www.lamppostproductions.com/abdullah-bin-hamid-ali/

 

This post is somewhat personal.  Ustaz Abdallah Bin Hamid Ali is a credit to the ‘Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah.’ 

When I was frustrated with responses from other Imams and teachers, he was the one person that I felt was reliable.  When other people would advance their positions no matter the cost to intellectual honesty, Ustaz Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali was one person I felt drew a line in the sands.

A person of principle and integrity.

Unfortunately, that changed drastically with his rather attack upon a post that I had made on Facebook.

The post itself had to do with the alleged ‘doctrine of abrogation’.  It seems that he would have wanted to message me in private to share his concerns.  I do not know of a time in the past that did not take his sincere advice to heart. To this was a rather odd turn.

Yet, in the holy month of Ramadan, Ustaz Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali had nothing better to do than to carelessly lash out at a post I had made.

I truly wondered than (as I do now) what was his condition at that time? Was it a bad day?  Was he facing some personal challenges in his life?  It was so uncharacteristic of him.

I don’t understand how you comment on a post, on my wall (not your own wall) then I respond, and you get upset and delete me?

How does that work?

Allah (swt) knows best.  Maybe he did not trust in his abilities to engage with the material in a meaningful way.

 

Those things aside, I cannot dismiss the fact that it was with great sadness that Ustaz Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali had deleted me as ‘friend’ or contact on Facebook. May Allah (swt) bless him and continue to use him as a source of benefit for the Muslim community.

 

May Allah (swt) continue to bless him, the staff at ‘Lamppost productions’, and bless us with the knowledge he has provided. His articles are well researched, for the most part.

After all, a lamppost if I may borrow an expression from a friend “only lighting up minimal areas”. Al hamdulillah. As long as we are bringing some light that is what matters.

 

 

Let me dissect the material that our respected Ustaz Abdullah presents in the above article entitled: “Abrogation in the Qur’an -Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali”

“It is true that scholars have differed greatly about the number of verses in the Qur’an which have been abrogated as you have outlined above. There is no agreement on the number of verses that have been abrogated, but there is a general agreement that abrogation has happened and that there are “some” abrogated verses. This much cannot be denied, especially since there are two verses in particular in the Qur’an itself that clearly establish the reality of abrogation from the way they read and the way they have been understood historically by scholars. Those two verses are 2:106 and 16:101.” -Abdullah bin Hamid Ali.

 

My comments:

The opening act itself is filled with uncertainties.

“There is no agreement on the number of verses.”  Yet, there are “some”.

How many are there Ustaz Abdullah?

How many is “some“?

Also, notice what seems like a certain statement “in particular in the Qur’an itself that clearly establishes the reality of abrogation from the way they read”  is actually an indication that Ustaz Abdullah himself is not sure if it establishes abrogation, in the way that people have claimed.

Hence this is followed up with this statement:  “and the way they have been understood historically by scholars.”

Now those familiar with reading Prima-Qur’an know to be careful when you see the word ‘scholars’.  Because more often than not it is meant to refer to the scholars of one’s sectarian affiliation.

Because there are scholars who did not believe that the Qur’an abrogates other verses of the Qur’an. Scholars such as Abu Muslim Al-Isfahani.

Ustaz Abdullah follows this up by a paragraph that has some element of truth, mixed with assumptions, and interestingly enough a caveat that allows for a wholesale retreat from the position of abrogation altogether.

“As for the elimination of the ruling and the text together, this kind of abrogation can also not be denied in light of the fact that we all as Muslims believe that the Qur’an abrogates the rulings of the Torah and Gospel which conflicts with what is found in the Qur’an.”-Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

 

Maybe Ustaz Abdullah could tell us what ‘ruling’ in the Gospel was abrogated by the Qur’an?

He continues,

“Beyond that, we can differ, of course, about whether or not certain Qur’anic verses were revealed and then later removed from the Holy Book. Not believing that such a thing has occurred does not threaten one’s faith.”-Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

 

It certainly doesn’t threaten my faith. Al hamdulillah.

 

Ustaz Abdullah continues…

“What is also true is that many of the verses which were claimed to have been abrogated in actuality merely qualified other unqualified sources or specified certain other general scriptural sources.”

How very true is this!

Even Yasir Qadhi in his book, ‘Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an

states:

The reason that such a diverse opinion exist is that many verses are considered examples of naskh, when IN FACT they are examples of takhsees, or do not fall under naskh at all.” Source: (page 251)

Ustaz Abdullah continues…

“That notwithstanding, there still are verses in the Qur’an if not accepted as being an abrogated “ruling” would lead to the conclusion that there is indeed a contradiction in the Qur’an: a thing the Qur’an itself totally rejects as a claim (Qur’an 4:82).”

 

Now I want to stop right there for a moment. Did it not occur to Ustaz Abdullah and to many readers that perhaps one of the reasons the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ was invented was to help scholars tackle what they perceived to be as ‘contradictions’ in the sacred text?

 

Also what Ustaz Abdullah has mentioned doesn’t help matters at all. In fact, he inadvertently admitted to a contradiction in the Qur’an, negating the very clear verse of Qur’an 4:82. Also indirectly casting aspersions on the sacred authority of the Qur’an!

Remember he said, “There is no agreement on the number of verses which have been abrogated.”

If there is no agreement as to what abrogates and what is abrogated how can we guard our faith against the astonishing claim that “there still are verses in the Qur’an if not accepted as being an abrogated “ruling” would lead to the conclusion that there is indeed a contradiction in the Qur’an.”?

Furthermore, there would still be a contradiction in the Qur’an according to this view.  The text is still in the mushaf, its just that we are asked to turn a blind eye to its ruling being in effect!

“But this is an honored Qur’an Inscribed in Preserved Slate.” (Qur’an 85:21-22)

Not only that we have this Qur’an preserved in the Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz –as a tablet filled with contradictions!

And lastly, as Ustaz Abdullah has published works on Ashari theology maybe he would do well to ponder.

“We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth one better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?” (Qur’an 2:106)

If this is in reference to the divine, the eternal pre-existent speech of Allah (swt), then how can some of the divine speech even be considered’ to be better than other divine speech?

Ustaz Abdullah gives two “examples” of what he feels his ‘abrogation’. 

Now as I said in the previous entry, in regards to Mufti Taqi Usmani that he would not ‘bring a knife to a gunfight’. I also believe the same to be true about Ustaz Abdullah.

In other words, Ustaz Abdullah is not going to bring examples that he feels are weak. He will bring examples he feels are strong. Let us see how strong those examples are.

 

Ustaz Abdullah says,

“Take for instance that when speaking of the punishment for female fornicators Sura 4:15 stipulates that they should be detained “in their homes until death reaches them or Allah makes a way for them.” But Sura 24:2 makes the punishment 100 stripes. Even if we say that Allah mentioned in the first verse, “until Allah makes a way for them”, and 100 stripes is the way made, so there is no abrogation, that would not be a coherent argument, since this is the essence of abrogation which is defined as “the lifting of an earlier RULING by a later RULING.”

and Ustaz Abdullah continues

“Another example of this is that 2:240 regarding a woman’s mourning period after her husband’s death, it is mentioned to be for a complete year. However, in 2:234 the mourning period is 4 months and 10 days. If one does not abrogate the other, what sort of rationale can be presented to explain these two separate rulings.”

 

 

So let us deal with both of these examples of abrogation’.

I was keen to note two points in the first example’

1) He did not choose to mention the context, meaning verse 16. (4:16)

2) That Ustaz Abdullah thinks that 4:15 of the  Qur’an is in reference to “punishment for female fornicators.” 

He has to make such a presumption that the verse is in reference to ‘female fornicators’ rather than sexual offenses in general.

So we will consult the following translations of the Qur’an as Ustaz Abdullah has not translated the Qur’an (as a whole) into English (to my knowledge).

 

http://quran.com/4/15-16

“Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them OR Allah ordains for them [another] way.

What is clear in the above verse is that the women are under house arrest.  What is not clear is the statement, ‘or Allah ordains for them another way’.

This is a counter-situation for house arrest, so we need to look at it closely.

In fact, I was quite surprised that Ustaz Abdullah had stated:

“Even if we say that Allah mentioned in the first verse, “until Allah makes a way for them”, and 100 stripes is the way made, so there is no abrogation, that would not be a coherent argument since this is the essence of abrogation which is defined as “the lifting of an earlier RULING by a later RULING.”

What ruling does Ustaz Abdullah see being lifted?  Verse 4:15 is still in effect. They remain under house arrest (in the houses).; not necessarily ‘their own house’, until death.  Or Allah (swt) provides a way for them.

One of the possible ways is given by Allah (swt) here:

“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 24:32)

So this is an example of a verse qualifying another verse as Ustaz Abdullah stated above

many of the verses which were claimed to have been abrogated in actuality merely qualified other unqualified sources or specified certain other general scriptural sources…”

So where he may see the past scholars calling something abrogated in reality being takhsees or ‘specification is exactly the same thing I see Ustaz Abdullah doing with verse 4:15

There is some interesting commentary that Joseph Islam has here:

http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=319.0

Let us look at the other alleged example of abrogation’ as mentioned by Ustaz Abdullah.

“(In the case of) those of you who are about to die and leave behind them wives, they should bequeath unto their wives a provision for the year without turning them out, but if they go out (of their own accord) there is no sin for you in that which they do of themselves within their rights. Allah is Mighty, Wise.”(Qur’an 2:240)

&

“Such of you as die and leave behind them wives, they (the wives) shall wait, keeping themselves apart, four months and ten days. And when they reach the term (prescribed for them) then there is no sin for you in aught that they may do with themselves in decency. Allah is Informed of what ye do.” (Qur’an 2:234)

Ustaz Abdullah says,

“Another example of this is that 2:240 regarding a woman’s mourning period after her husband’s death, it is mentioned to be for a complete year. However, in 2:234 the mourning period is 4 months and 10 days. If one does not abrogate the other, what sort of rationale can be presented to explain these two separate rulings.”

I smiled when I read this.  Well, he answered himself!  How about the fact that 2:240 and 2:234 are indeed two separate rulings, that address two separate situations!

Because obviously, the confusion stems from the fact that Ustaz Abdulah as well as the bulk of scholars see these two verses as addressing the same topics!

That is why dear readers you need to think. Any time anyone makes a claim, rather it is me, Ustaz Abdullah or whomever, first ask yourself ‘is the claim itself factual?’

The first point of consideration is that verse 2:234 is said to have come before verse 2:240!

The proponents of abrogation have argued that the order of the verses in the mushaf is not reflective of their chronological order.

However, the noted scholar Isfahani states that putting an abrogating verse before the verse it abrogates would be have been poor form; and something not attributed to Allah.

Source: (Al-Isfahani, multaqat Tami al-Ta’wil li-Mukham al-Tanzil, p. 29)

Question 1) is 2:234 and 2:240 a reference to the same thing?

The term “mata’ is found in 2:240 but not in 2:234!

mata is in reference to provision.

http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=mtE#(2:240:8)

Thus it is claimed the women were allowed to one year of provision and this was reduced to 4 months and 10 days.

In his commentary on 2:240 in his voluminous exegesis of the Qur’an, Razi attributes to Mujahid another interesting view that accommodates both 2:234 and 2:240 without resulting in abrogation by suggesting that they describe two different situations.

Mujahid says that 2:234 is about the widow who decides not to stay in her dead husband’s house and not to use the money he left for her living expenses.  Her wait is 4 months and 10 days.  2:240 describes the widow who chooses not to continue to live in her matrimonial house and rely on his money for her living expenses. Her wait is 12 months.

Source: ( Al-Razi, Mafatih, Al-Ghaib: Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, VI, p. 171)

“It is clear that verse 2:240 introduces a right and not a duty as many of the usulis have claimed. First, what is being introduced is described as “mata’ (provision).”  Second, the verse proscribes the “ikhraj (expulsion)” of the widow. Third, the widow can leave at any point: “But if they leave.” Fourth, the right/duty period in 2:234 has to be observed in full, whereas the stay in 2:240 can be cut short at any point by the widow. Khudari*who dismisses the suggestion of abrogation in these verses, briefly points out that they talk about different issues.”

Source: (Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law, by Louay Fatoohi page 167)

Source: (al-Khudri, Usul al-Fiqh, p. 252)

Conclusion:

In conclusion, it can be seen that neither of the cases that Ustaz Abdullah presents as being examples of abrogation can be proven to be as such. Ustaz Abdullah would not bring examples he thought were weak. He brought what he felt were two strong examples.

In fact when the Qur’an is allowed to interpret the Qur’an, without fear of ‘contradiction’ we can see that passages/verses shed light on other passages/verses.

 

Ustaz Abdullah bin Hamid Ali failed to establish abrogation in the Qur’an.

 

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Refutation to ‘Abrogation in the Qur’an’ by Ustaz Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali

  1. Ammar

    I concur with you regarding 2:234 and 2:240 but I am confused by what you are saying regarding 4:15 issue… May be its your writing (for this article) or maybe its because I don’t know the context in which Abdullah was speaking (as I haven’t seen his text). Anyways, After reading it several times I am concluding that you do not think 24:2 is a “way out” for 4:15. If that’s the case then how are these 2 ayas different from each other in terms of assigning punishment? The 4:15 is only about women while 24:2 is about both sexes. Can you please elaborate as to how 24:2 “specifies” 4:15?

    • The link to Ustaz Abdullah’s article is provided. However, he does not give the translation.

      You are correct that I do not see 24:2 as a “way out” for 4:15 and 4:16 for that matter.

      Zina is defined in as premarital or extramarital sex. It covers Fahisha indecent acts. However, indecent acts (Fahisha) may not necessarily be sexual contact.

      For example young couples groping one another in a public place would be considered fahisha but not necessarily zina.

      Even to my limited knowledge, some of the fuqaha (even those who believe in stoning) go so far as to say that penetration must have taken place).

      This is why I included the link to Joseph Islam’s excellent comments on 4:15-4:16.

      These two ayats need to be seen together.

      Examples:

      “Wala taqraboo azZINAinnahu kana FAHISHAtan wasaa sabeela” (Holy Qur’an 17:32)

      Zina is without doubt an indecent act. However, the reverse is not true, not all indecent acts are Zina.

      “Walootan ith qalaliqawmihi ata/toona alFAHISHAta ma sabaqakum bihamin ahadin mina alAAalameen” (Holy Qur’an 7:80)

      It is interesting that this is used in the context of the people of Lot.

      Now it would be exegetical stretch to say that this necessarily meant sexual intimacy.

      Men kissing men or women kissing women in public could be an example of fahisha.

      Thus, 4:15-4:16 when taken together look to address a homosexual scenario, rather than heterosexual scenario.

      I don’t think that 24:2 “specifies” 4:15 at all.

      The ‘way out’ is ambiguous but one of the possibilities is that these people will be married.

      I hope that this is helpful, or that it causes us to investigate the issue further insh’Allah.

  2. Ammar

    Thanks for the explanation brother. I didn’t notice the distinction between fahisha/zina… I was under the assumption that they are alluding to the same thing (One of the pitfalls when you don’t understand the arabic)

  3. Ammar

    Brother, revisiting this topic, I have doubts about the 24:3 as a way out for 4:15. Using the logic you used for Ustad Abdullah, the text in 24:3 seems to be referring to “zani” and not “fahisha” and therefore couldn’t be considered a way out for 4:15 which is about fahisha (‘sexual offenses in general’)

    I personally, also doubt the way 24:3 is translated but that is a topic for another day as it sets a “permanent punishment” regardless of tauba… but Allah knows best

    • Your right Ammar, very good points. A better verse for 4:15 is 24:32 “Marry those among who who are single”

      As far as the way 24:3 is translated, I don’t really have anything to add to that at the moment.

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