Let Me Rephrase That!
One Abrogating One
Abrogated verses and their abrogator are from WikiIslam, November 12, 2014.
WikiIslam uses the words abrogated to identify the verse or parts of a verse that are no longer valid, and abrogator to identify the verse or verses or portion of a verse which have replaced the original. I have adopted their nomenclature.
Where verses are presented side-by-side, the abrogated is on the left, the abrogator on the right. Verses in either column in italics are there for continuity and context only.
Wherever you see the command "say", usually at the beginning of a revelation, this is Allah addressing the Prophet Muhammad, telling him what to say, usually in response to an inquiry or accusation made earlier.
Abul A’la Moududi’s (also spelt Maududi) [1903-1979] is a pre-eminent Islamic scholar journalist, theologian, Muslim revivalist, Islamist philosopher and the first recipient of the King Faisal International Award for his services to Islam and Islamic studies. Of the more than 120 books he wrote, he is most famous for his magnum opus The Meaning of the Qur'an. When Fakhry‘s crisp translation is not sufficient, it is Moududi I most often turn to for a clarification which I enclose in () if inserted inside a verse.
A one-to-one replacement is the simplest form of abrogation, one verse received earlier is fully or partially replaced by a more current version. The abrogator is often within the same chapter as the verse it is abrogating, an indication that it may have been sent in response to a question from a member of the Prophet's audience during his allocution. Allah confirmed this in a revelation about members of the Prophet's audience sneaking out before His Messenger had finished delivering his latest surah.
9:127 And whenever a Surah is revealed, they look at each other [saying]: “Does anyone see you?” Then they turn away. Allah has turned away their hearts, because they are a people who do not understand.
I have no hope of competing with scholars who have spent their lifetime trying to make sense of the idiosyncrasies which saturate Islamic scriptures, including the concept of abrogation about which there is much disagreement as to what is abrogated, with a minority of religious experts questioning the very concept of abrogation, for it raises doubts about the perfection of the Koran and by extension that of its Author.
Having said that, I do offer, where it exists, contextual and historical information about both the abrogated and the abrogator, and where warranted, state the obvious.
Charity Becomes a Tax
The fact that the lowest numbered verse abrogated is to nullify a revealed truth about charity being desirable but not compulsory to one where the Prophet is empowered to demand it, in and of itself could be considered noteworthy.
The "voluntary alms" whose amount Allah reveals is to be determined and collected by His Messenger have become the obligatory Zakat, the third of the five pillars of Islam.
1. Shahadah, declaring allegiance to God.
2. Salat, daily prayers.
3. Zakat, annual charity.
4. Saum, month-long fasting.
5. Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Charity (Zakat) is the only one of the Five Pillars of Islam that has nothing, or next to nothing to do with worshipping Allah except, perhaps, in an indirect sort way, when you give it in furtherance of His Cause.
47:38 There you are; you are called upon to spend freely in Allah’s Cause, but some of you are niggardly. Yet he who is niggardly is only niggardly against himself. Allah is the All-Sufficient and you are the destitute. If you turn back, He will replace you by a people other than you, and they will not be like you at all.
Cynics might argue that Allah instinctively appreciated the strategic value of helping people in need in recruiting for His Cause.
An understanding of the persuasive power of giving that was not lost on the Islamists who, during the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan in 2010 disrupted aid from Western Countries while facilitating the distribution of the inadequate contributions from Islamic regimes; or in Somalia where Allah’s militants stopped food shipments from Western nations from reaching famine ravaged portions of the country.
A Change of Heart
Once-upon-a-time, Allah was much more tolerant of other religions.
A Change of Direction
If it hadn't been for the Jews of Medina, Islam would have been dead on arrival. It was the Jews of Medina, and their Arab neighbours, with whom they lived in relative harmony, who welcomed and offered sanctuary to God's Messenger after he fled Mecca where his fellow Arabs had tried to kill him. The Prophet’s brethren wanted to do away with God’s latest spokesperson for denying the gods and goddesses of their ancestors by proclaiming one universal god for all.
The Jews of Medina began doubting the wisdom of welcoming the Prophet and his followers when, to make ends meet, they started raiding the Meccan caravans which passed between Medina and the Red Sea. These raids would lead to the battle of Badr which ignited the Arab Civil War and the wars of conquest of lands controlled by unbelievers or lesser believers and which continue to this day e.g. Islamic State.
After the victory at Badr, God's Messenger felt confident enough to impose his will on his former friends who had become his harshest critics. Two of the three tribes chose exile; one chose to tough it out. A fatal mistake!
Before the Prophet's falling out with the Jews of Medina, the believers prostrated themselves in the direction of Jerusalem during their daily prayers, not Mecca. Before the breakup, Allah did not care in which direction you prayed; He was everywhere after all.
Entering a House Other Than Your Own
Allah is often quick, as a god should be, to change His mind when realizing that what He revealed as a sacred immutable truth minutes, hours, days even months earlier was not realistic, such as demanding that you always ask permission to enter a house other than your own. What about an empty house which circumstances require you enter?
Something for the Tax Collector
Revelation 9:60 abrogates revelation 2:215 and allocates part of "the bounty" to pay those who collect the tax, to buy off enemies of Islam, to pay unbelievers who will not help the believers otherwise, on war-making to subdue those who will not submit (the part about "spending in Allah's Path" …
Allah Becomes an Unforgiving God
There was a time when Allah would have forgiven a heretic who returned to the fold if asked to do so by His Messenger.
The last unbelievers Allah would forgive, as a favour to His favourite and greatest Messenger, were the Prophet's mother and father.
Indoctrination and War Go Hand-in-Hand
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror ..." (Bukhari 52.220)
As the believers made progress is subjugating through the force of arms and terror the non-Muslims of the Peninsula and more warriors joined the Muslims, if only to indulge in the general plunder of the unbelievers' property, indoctrination of these new recruits into the new religion took on a new urgency.
Allah expected some of the believers to stay behind for another strategic reason, anticipating a tactic used today in the modern propaganda wars, that of spreading misinformation or what is commonly referred to as War’s First Casualty, the truth.
4:72 Indeed, among you is one who will stay behind, so that if a disaster befalls you, he will say: “Allah has favoured me, since I have not been a martyr with them.”
4:73 If, however, a bounty from God comes to you, he will say, as though there was no friendship between you and him: “Would that I had been with them; then I would have won a great victory.”
Safa, Marwa and the Religion of Abraham
Islam considers Hagar the legitimate wife of Abraham and her son his first heir and father of the Arabs.
In the Koran, Abraham makes near impossible treks across the length of the Arabian Peninsula to pay homage to Allah at Mecca and to visit with his wife’s former servant Hagar and their son Isma'il (also spelled Ishmael).
Of course, none of these visits are mentioned in the Bible and there is no historical or archaeological evidence of the Patriarch of Muslims and Jews crossing the deserts of Arabia to spend time in Mecca which, at the time, if it existed at all, would have been nothing more than a nomadic settlement.
The entire Hajj ritual is an attempt to recreate the rite Abraham is alleged to have performed to honour Allah when he visited Mecca and His Ka'ba. Over time, Allah was joined at the Ka'ba by other gods, the so-called idols, which caused Him and later His Messenger extreme distress.
During the so-called pagan interlude when Allah had to share his Ka'ba with other gods – and would-you-believe goddesses – the pagans introduced rituals such as going around the Ka'ba naked, probably after having more than a few sips of wine. Bowing up and down as you circled the sacred stone that Adam brought with him from Paradise (Appendix Adam - Paradise Lost) had become more of a dance than a sacred rite, and poetry was recited in the sacred precinct. Abraham's somber pilgrimage had taken on the aspect of a festival of fun and worship.
The Prophet would take the fun out of the pilgrimage, but this still left the believers wary of performing rituals which, from their limited perspective, were pagan rituals.
One of these rituals was the re-enactment of Hagar frantically running seven times between Safa and Marwa, names of the two mountains (hills really) near Mecca looking for water after being abandoned there by Abraham with their son Isma`il.
Adding to the believers' uneasiness, the pagans had place idols, which the Prophet ordered destroyed, on the hills. To sooth their troubled mind Allah sent a revelation, verse 2:158 assuring the believers that re-enacting Hagar's desperate search for water was not a sin. The verse may actually have had to do with going "around them"; perhaps to avoid confusion Allah replaced the verse with one about Abraham. Understood, is if Abraham did it, it could not be wrong.
From Curser to Pardoner of Jews
When the Prophet sought refuge in Medina he was welcomed by the Jews, not only because he believed in the one God of the Torah, but they saw him as a man who could settle disputes between them and the Arabs of the oasis city. He became in fact the ultimate judge and jury of Medina in both secular and religious affairs.
In the post-Jesus era, the Jews were moving away from the more brutal punishments specified in the Torah, such as the stoning of adulterers. The Prophet would have none of it. He literally ruled by the Book, whether that book was the Koran or the Torah.
Abdullah bin Salam was a former rabbi and a respected member of the Jewish community before he converted to Islam. He became a Muslim after a short meeting with the Prophet where God's Messenger answered three fatuous questions to the rabbi's satisfaction.
It was fortuitous that the angel Gabriel, whom bin Salam then considered an enemy of the Jews, had just had a conversation with the Prophet about what was on bin Salam's mind.
Abdullah bin Salam heard the news of the arrival of Allah's Apostle (at Medina) while he was on a farm collecting its fruits. So he came to the Prophet and said, "I will ask you about three things which nobody knows unless he be a prophet. Firstly, what is the first portent of the Hour? What is the first meal of the people of Paradise? And what makes a baby look like its father or mother?"
The Prophet said, "Just now Gabriel has informed me about that."
Abdullah said, "Gabriel?"
The Prophet said, "Yes."
Abdullah said, "He, among the angels is the enemy of the Jews."
On that the Prophet recited this Holy Verse: "Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel (let him die in his fury!) for he has brought it (i.e. Qur'an) down to your heart by Allah's permission." (2:97)
Then he added, "As for the first portent of the Hour, it will be a fire that will collect the people from the East to West. And as for the first meal of the people of Paradise, it will be the caudite (i.e. extra) lobe of the fish liver. And if a man's discharge proceeded that of the woman, then the child resembles the father, and if the woman's discharge proceeded that of the man, then the child resembles the mother."
On hearing that, Abdullah said, "I testify that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that you are the Apostle of Allah, O, Allah's Apostle; the Jews are liars, and if they should come to know that I have embraced Islam, they would accuse me of being a liar."
In the meantime some Jews came (to the Prophet) and he asked them, "What is Abdullah's status amongst you?"
They replied, "He is the best amongst us, and he is our chief and the son of our chief."
The Prophet said, "What would you think if Abdullah bin Salam embraced Islam?"
They replied, "May Allah protect him from this!"
Then 'Abdullah came out and said, "I testify that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah."
The Jews then said, "Abdullah is the worst of us and the son of the worst of us," and disparaged him.
On that Abdullah said, "O Allah's Apostle! This is what I was afraid of!"
In a case brought before him which got a mention in the Koran, God's Messenger forced the Jews – over whom he had ultimate authority under the negotiated Constitution of Medina – to stick to the old ways, many of which became the news ways of the Koran.
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse.
Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?"
They replied, "(But) we announce their crime and lash them."
Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm."
They brought and opened the Torah and one of them
Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there.
They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm.
The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. (Abdullah bin Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.")
What they tried to concealed from His Messenger infuriated Allah, as evident in revelation 2:159, but perhaps only for a moment. Revelation 2:160 does not so much annulled revelation 2:159 as attenuate Allah's anger against the Jews, if only for the time being.
Providing for a Widow
Having the deceased in the abrogating revelation leave a year's provision to his widows is welcomed and will stand them in good staid when they are forced to leave their former home that a son or a male relative of their deceased husband, whom Islamic law recognizes as the sole proprietor of the family home, will undoubtedly have inherited.
Dying a Believer by Doing What a Believer Does
It goes without saying that you should not die except as a Muslim. If you do as a Muslim does, as explained in verse 64:16 Allah sent to replace 3:102, you will die a believer making the verse it replaces unnecessary.
A Blood-Money Conundrum I
Payments in blood and chattel and retaliation in kind are central concepts in Islam. The price was obliquely set by Allah during the Prophet's grandfather's lifetime.
Abd al-Muttalib, in another variation of the story of Abraham and Isaac and the thwarted immolation, had promised Allah to sacrifice his tenth son if He gave him ten male heirs. When the time came for al-Muttalib to keep his promise, he consulted a dervish to find out if he could fulfil his promise to God in some other manner that did not involve killing his tenth son, Abdullah, who was destined to be God’s Messenger’s father.
The dervish the Prophet’s grandfather consulted was no ordinary soothsayer; he was a dervish with jinns in his employ who specialized in eavesdropping on Allah’s conversations with his angels and on the angels talking among themselves. They would fly as close as possible to the lowest of the seven levels of heaven, the one closest to the earth, dogging rocks thrown by the angels to keep them away, to find out what Allah had to say about was happening down below.
To try to answer his client’s question, the dervish sent his jinns to eavesdrop on God’s conversation. One reported that Allah, in a conversation with an angel, had indicated that he would be happy with a sacrifice of camels. But how many camels!
The dervish then threw some dice (bone fragments of some type according to Virgil Gheorghiu author of La vie de Mahomet) to divine an answer.
In his assessment of the way the fragments scattered, which may not have been unlike reading tea leaves, the dervish said that they indicated that God would be satisfied with a payment of one hundred camels.
This is the price the Prophet reminded the faithful in his Last Khutba i.e. last sermon shortly before he died, that Allah had set as the blood-payment to the family or clan of the deceased for a non-premeditated homicide – what our legal system defines as the crime of manslaughter.
And intentional murder shall be punished according to talion law; where the murderess intention is not clear and the victim is killed using a club or a stone it will cost the perpetrator one hundred camels as blood money. Whoever demands more is a man from the time of ignorance. (Hamidullah)
What part of revelation 4:92 is abrogated by revelation 9:1, if any, we cannot say with certainty; but we can be sure it is not the portion about blood-money. This conclusion is based on the Prophet, in his last khutba, restating Allah's position on blood-money.
Overcoming Ten to Overcoming Two
When Allah said that one believer could overcome ten armed unbelievers, battles were very much decided in man-to-man combat with swords and spears. Today, a believer with a bomb can easily kill ten unbelievers. Then, it was extremely unrealistic to expect one believer to triumph over ten unbelievers bent on making him a martyr.
Knowing the future and the improvement in body weaponry e.g. the suicide vest that would make it child's play, pun intended, for one believer to do away, in a flash of fire and shrapnel, with scores of Allah's real and imaginary enemies, why did Allah revise downward His per capita estimate as to how many unbelievers a believer could kill. Had He stuck to His original estimate, today He might be considered both a god and a visionary by more than the credulous.
Marriage is Good, Adultery Bad
It is not clear if revelation 24:32 is an abrogating revelation or simply there to emphasize Allah's preference for married people.
Depending on how quickly Allah changed His mind (if He actually did) as to whom an adulteress and adulterer could marry, an adulterous couple in love, if they were willing to endure a good whipping, would be automatically divorced and available to marry each other.
24:2 The adulteress and the adulterer, whip each one of them a hundred lashes; and let no pity move you in Allah’s religion, regarding them; if you believe in Allah and the Hereafter. And let a group of believers witness their punishment.
An adulteress might have also been able to get out of an abusive relationship without having to pay a ransom.
2:229 Divorce may be pronounced twice. Then they (women) are to be retained in a rightful manner or released with kindness. And it is unlawful for you [men] to take back anything of what you have given them unless both parties fear that they cannot comply with Allah’s Bounds (by obeying His commands). If you fear that they cannot do that, then it is no offence if the woman ransoms herself [pays money to be set free]. Those are the bounds set by Allah. Do not transgress them. Those who transgress the bounds set by Allah are the wrongdoers.
My list of abrogated verses does not include another revelation about the punishment of adulteresses where Allah has to think about a suitable penance, which verse 24:2 would appear to abrogate.
4:15 As for those of your women who commit adultery, call four witnesses from your own against them; and if they testify then detain them in the houses till death overtakes them or Allah opens another way for them.
Some scholars maintain that both revealed truths 24:3 and 4:15 were abrogated by what is known as the Lost Verse, an alleged revelation in which Allah finally settles on stoning as the most appropriate punishment for an adulteress.
From Whipping to Pardoning Slanderers of Chaste Women
Revelation 24:4 was probably sent in the heat of the moment, the heat being generated by accusations that the Prophet's child-bride had committed adultery.
Aisha got lost in the desert one evening and was returned to her husband the next day by the young man who found her. Needless to say, rumors, which severely distressed God's Messenger, ran rampant, prompting Allah to issue a warning to those who would slander the wife of his greatest and last spokesperson. (You may ignore the fact that the abrogated and abrogating verses come after Allah's tirade in the following verses against those who would accuse Aisha of betraying her husband. Even within surahs, order of precedence is ignored. Past, present and future is for mortals.)
24:11 Those who spread the slander (against Aisha, wife of the Prophet, according to the commentators) are a band of you. Do not reckon it an evil for you; rather it is a good thing for you. Every one of them will be credited with the sin he has earned, and he who bore the brunt of it shall have a terrible punishment.
24:12 Would that the believers, men and women, when you heard it (the slander) had though well of themselves saying: “This is manifest slander!”
24:13 And would that they had brought forth four witnesses [to vouch for it]! But since they did not bring any witnesses, those are, in Allah’s sight, the real liars.
The Prophet's son-in-law Ali, even suggested that Aisha be stoned, telling his father-in-law that “Allah has not placed any limits on the choice of a wife. They are plentiful.” After Allah calmed down, perhaps after realizing that His Messenger's son-in-law might have to be whipped, He communicated to the angel Gabriel, who passed it on the Prophet, that, on second thought, if an accuser of chase women repented, he should not be whipped.
Generalities about a Woman's Finery
When you see a middle-aged or older women still draped in that dark tent-like garment, this is based on a recommendation of Allah's, "that to refrain" from removing cumbersome layers of garment is better, even if no finery is exhibited in doing so.
For women who are still young enough to bear children, even removing an outer garment is out of the question. Again, revelation 24:60 is not a verse that abrogates, so much as adds to what Allah decreed post-pubescent females should wear and how they should behave if males are in the vicinity.
Slave-Girls and Children Close By and You're Naked
Revelation 25:58 appears to sanction intimacy between a slave-owner and his slave-girls and an employer and an employee i.e. maid if after having seen their employer/owner naked three times they can't resist wanting to get closer. There is of course no hint of sanctioned impropriety in the alleged abrogating revelation which extends the requirement to ask for leave to post-pubescent children before approaching their father, one has to assume when he is getting ready for prayer.
Those who believe in Allah and only Allah and repentant murderers – but perhaps not adulterers, revelation 25:68 – will be given a shot at Paradise, unless, as the partially abrogating revelation makes clear, the murdered and his murderer are believers and the homicide was pre-meditated.
You will, of course, not find a single verse about believers killing unbelievers expecting to be punished as such murders are implicitly if not explicitly condoned unless the murdered is a Christian or a Jew who has humbly paid the right-to-live-tax i.e. the jizya.
Wives for the Messenger
Pre-Islamic Arabs made no distinction between adopted and natural born sons until Allah decreed a distinction so that His Messenger could marry his adopted son's wife.
33:4 Allah did not create two hearts within the breast of any man; and He did not make your wives, whom you compare to your mothers’ backs; and He did not make your [adopted] sons your sons in fact. That is your own claim, by your words of mouth. Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the Right Path.
God's Messenger walked in on his daughter-in-law Zaynab when she was almost naked and he just had to have her. His adopted son divorced her so that the man he considered his father could marry her. Allah quickly confirmed the righteous of what Zayd had done, and what the Prophet did after.
33:37 And [remember] when you said to him whom Allah favoured and you favoured: (this is addressed to Zayd regarding his wife Zaynab) “Hold on to your wife and fear Allah”, while you concealed within yourself what Allah would reveal and feared other men, whereas Allah had a better right to be feared by you. Then, when Zayd had satisfied his desire for her, We gave her to you in marriage; so that the believers should not be at fault, regarding the wives of their adopted sons, once they have satisfied their desire for them. For Allah’s Command must be accomplished.
Even Aisha was taken aback, telling her husband that when it came to his accumulation of bed-partners: "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." Bukhari 60.675.
This may have been the sentiment of many for Allah to send down a revelation telling His Messenger that enough is enough, revelation 33:52 (another revelation nullified by a higher numbered verse), which He later abrogated replacing it with a reveal truth, revelation 33:50, which confirmed the double-standard when it came to women an ordinary believer and His Messenger could marry.
It is one of the Koran's most confounding mysteries – if you don't believe that a man was using god to get women into his bed – that a god, in a book meant to be the ultimate guide for mankind as to how to live a god-fearing life, spent so much time on the sex life of just one man?
If that sex life was to be held up as an example to the faithful, then perhaps it would have its place in such as book, but as an exception to Allah’s rules for the ordinary believer? I don't think so.
In seeking to please His Messenger when it came to whom he could have intimate relations with, Allah did a tremendous disservice to Muslim orphan boys, a disservice which is felt to this day.
The reveal truths changing the relationship between adopted sons and their surrogate parent so that God’s Messenger could add his daughter-in-law Zaynab to his collection of wives, concubines and slave-girl have been interpreted to mean that Islam is against Western style adoption, resulting in an untold number of children in the Islamic world who have no one to call father.
The Prophet as Savior
At first glance 48:2 leaves you wondering, like so many revelations, as to why and what is it abrogating.
Often the answer is in the preceding or following revelation, in this instance it is the revelations that introduces the abrogated verse.
39:11 Say: “I have been commanded to worship Allah, professing to Him the religion sincerely.
39:12 “And I have been commanded to be the first of those who submit.”
Jesus was sent to do what needed to be done so his followers would be saved, and so it would seem was the Prophet.
They Also Carry Allah's Throne
Angels do more than just praise the Lord and ask for forgiveness for the believers, as the verse which abrogates a portion of 42:5 makes clear.
Wages for the Messenger
Verse 42:23 is a Meccan verse as is its abrogator. However, revelation 42:23 may have been received during the time that the Prophet's wife Khadijah was still solvent and therefore he could afford to preach for nothing. Khadijah, a wealthy older Meccan woman hired the good-looking trader – and later married (her third, his first) the allegedly illiterate young man – to accompany her caravans to and from Damascus
During his time in Mecca the Prophet would spend all of his and his wife’s wealth on the promotion of his new religion. In asking for a voluntary wage in the revelation that abrogates the verse about asking for no payment for the Message he is delivering, Allah communicates to His Messenger to say that He will be watching.
Again, ignore the sequence which appears to have an earlier revelation abrogate a future revelation, a jumble which was kindly described by Justin Wintle author of History of Islam as “jumping from one subject to another in a sort of unfurling stream of supra-consciousness” i.e. a consciousness or awareness that is beyond our understanding.