Let Me Rephrase That!


Let Me Rephrase That!Of all the incongruities that devotees of a religion steeped in incongruities have to accept, the concept of abrogation has to be the most outlandish. Abrogation is common in the real world as better information replaces information that is out of date. In the world of revealed truths, retractions should not even be the exception. It defies logic, and therein lies the incongruity, the weirdness.

Scholars and clerics from the Middle Ages (eight to eleventh century) initially put forth these more than two hundred abrogated revelations, apparently oblivious to the uncomfortable conclusion that can be derived from their endeavour.

The inherent absurdity of an omniscient deity not getting it right the first or even the second time around may explain attempts by contemporary diviners of the Word of God to refute the very concept of abrogation. One such academic, Muhammad Asad (1900-92), argued that verse 10:64 was evidence of the immutability of Allah's Words.

10:64 Theirs is the good news in the present life and the Hereafter. And there will be no alteration of the Words of Allah. That is the great triumph.

Not so, according to another contemporary expert, Ahmad von Denffer (1949-present). For this eminent scholar, understanding abrogation is central to the correct application of God's laws. Denffer quotes four revelations to Asad's one, where Allah admits to occasionally changing His mind.

2:106 Whichever verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring instead a better or similar one. Do you not know that Allah has the power over all things?

13:39 Allah blots out and confirms what He pleases; and with Him is the Mother of the Book.

16:101 And if We replace a verse by another – and Allah knows best what He reveals – they say: “You [Muhammad] are only a forger.” Surely, most of them do not know.

17:86 If We please, We certainly can blot out that which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad); then you would find no guardian to assist you against Us.

I have no hope of competing with those who have spent a lifetime making sense of the idiosyncrasies that saturate Islamic scriptures, including the concept of abrogation, which a minority of religious experts challenge for it raises doubts about the perfection of the Koran, and by extension, that of its Author.

That said, I do offer, where I am aware of it, contextual information about both the truth that is being abrogated and its abrogator, and where warranted, I state the obvious.